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|I'm apprehensive about uploading this in case I need to go back and change story details to avoid plot holes, but whatever... And I tried formatting the story better, but fact is, I'm no good with html. |
I'm really really happy everyone liked the beginning of the story, I may yet change the title, and um... enjoy?
A slim, catlike figure slid through the darkness, creating a ripple in the shadows. The city was abnormally quiet, devoid of even the white noise of cars and crickets. The silence seemed to be an oppressive force, but the figure sliding through the alley didn't seem to notice or care. He had a mission, and if it meant stopping the world to get through with it, he would.
* * *
Beatrice Lloyd was eating her cereal when she picked up her newspaper, and was amazed to read the front cover: Break-In At the Community Center. The Community Center, that rang a bell. She looked at the black and white photo of the inside of the building. It showed the inside of main hall. And it struck her suddenly: The University of Magicks-the building had been converted into a Community Center. She would have to certainly check in to that...
* * *
Clem Thomson was among the first to sign up that day for a night school course at the Community Center, claiming he needed the classes to go to college. He had signed up for the first class on the list. The clerk at the Community Center was politely trying to explain to the sudden onrush of people, that the classes would be temporarily paused for the next week anyhow.
* * *
Artemis was studying his lunar calendar at his desk, noting to himself that the next full moon was in two days, when the bell rang. Classes, still chattering from lunch, streamed into the room. His eyes gravitated immediately towards Alexis, who seemed to be pointedly ignoring him. Another boy in the class caught his attention-he, like many of the other adults Artemis knew, was studying the schedule of Community Center classes. "Tyler, are you taking a class? I didn't know you needed extra classes." Artemis asked nonchalantly. Tyler was one of the best students in the school and certainly had no reason to retake a class. Tyler looked up at his teacher and shrugged.
"It's for personal interest actually, a language class." Tyler said. He was probably being honest, yet Artemis's instincts kept telling him otherwise.
Alexis gravitated over to the table. "Funny," she mumbled under her breath, so, unbeknownst to her, only Artemis's wolf ears could catch it, "My mom was also looking at the Community Center classes..."
* * *
She may have not have had much common sense, but Alexis was no idiot. The Community Center was only several blocks from her apartment, and she rode her bike there after school. The scene that greeting her came as a surprise: the usually empty campus of the Center was crowded with people, the police to investigate the recent break in, but also the crowds of people who had decided they wanted to sign up for additional classes. Most of them were her mother's age, and seemed to know each other, chatting animatedly. A few others stood off on their own, and several teenagers were grouped together as well. And in a far area of the lawn, sitting cross-legged and eating a sandwich, far from everyone else, was her teacher. He seemed to have an invisible force field around him, because people were purposely avoiding him, though several nervously glanced and nodded politely at him. Perhaps it was because he was in a different age group than them, she didn't know, but she strolled over to him, dodging people who were already picnicking on the grass, patiently waiting for their turn to enter the registration office.
Night was falling early, and the blue sky was already turning a misty purple. Ferox, who did not seem to see Alexis, was beginning to get up; some of the other people realized that there was too much of a wait for them to get their turn tonight, and left slowly. Alexis called over the dispersing crowds "Mr. Ferox!" as she ran toward him though. If her mother wouldn't tell what happened last night, maybe he would.
"Alexis?" he said, looking around. His sharp eyes caught her among the crowd, and he made way toward her, the sky growing darker by the minute. Alexis noted, even in the dim light, how ...yellow... his strange eyes were, flashing in the darkness. In the light, they seemed more like a brownish amber, but in the dusk, his eyes gleamed golden. Suddenly, Alexis felt a cold fear rise in her, and felt the urge to run away. But the next moment, Artemis was by her side, grinning handsomely, and she forgot all about the cold feeling in the pit of her stomach. "What are you doing here?" he asked.
"I was going to ask you that, actually." She said, sourly. "What happened last night? Mom wouldn't tell me, and being it was about my little incident in class, I feel I have a right to know." She said stubbornly.
Artemis chewed his tongue for a moment, looking up at the sky vaguely. "Fine, I'll tell you. But not as a teacher. For this evening, I'm your friend. And what I say, you may not believe, but you'll have to. Can you come over to my place?"
Alexis was surprised that it had gone so easily. "Um... well, I'd like to ask my mom first, I have a cell phone." She added, and Mr. Ferox made himself comfortable on a stone bench, falling onto it lazily, watching the crowds disperse, with his eyes half closed. Alexis rolled her eyes while the phone rang "You're very lazy, aren't you?" she said, and then began talking with her mom. "I can come." She said finally. "Mom didn't sound so pleased really, but she seemed to trust you a lot."
Artemis raised his eyebrows. Despite himself, he was surprised that Alexis trusted him so much as to come over to his house, and realized how na´ve she was. On the other hand, maybe that's the way it was for normal people who didn't have to worry about ripping other people's throats out.
They walked down the empty streets silently, the streetlamps over the broad, empty roads began turning on, and the houses on either side of the roads were beginning to quiet. After a few blocks, they reached Artemis's apartment. He knew it wasn't smart for a werewolf to live in an apartment with so many people, but he couldn't afford a new house every time he was driven out of town. As they began climbing the staircase, Alexis shivering in the cold, crisp air, she asked: "The fire? Am I going insane?"
Artemis glanced at her face and saw the faint glimmer of tears. He nearly laughed out loud; she was frightened of the power she had discovered within herself. "No," he answered, opening to door to his apartment. "Forgive the mess," he said apologetically, "Sit on the couch." He turned on a dim light that scarcely served to brighten up the room. Alexis couldn't help but feel a pang of sympathy for her teacher, living so squalidly. She knew that teachers didn't get paid that much (her English teacher constantly complained of it), but she was sure none of them lived this poorly. There was something different about Mr. Ferox.
"What was it then, Mr. Ferox? And why is it you're so calm about it? I mean, most people would have just freaked out. You know it wasn't cause the heat in my hand or whatever it was you said, right?" she began saying, all at once.
Artemis laughed again, smiling. "I'm your friend for tonight, call me Artemis. Or Art, whichever. Art is two less syllables to say." He added in his typical laziness, which Alexis had not realized extended this far. "I'll show you why I'm so unsurprised, but you can't shout. Actually, first, let me just..." he began walking around the room, making the same motions and mutterings he had as when created the Silencing Charm when he spoke with Olivia. "There, now no one can hear us anyhow. Don't be scared, I'll just do a fancy version of that trick you pulled at school." Having never completed his magical education, Artemis never learned how to do magic without slight hand motions or mumblings to channel or aim the magic. It was not truly a big inconvenience, he was sure he'd be able to do magic anyhow, though the spell might missed the target he was aiming at without his hand to aim it.
He put a finger to his mouth, as though motioning for her to silence, but instead, with his other hand, he pushed Alexis back a bit behind him and faced the balcony, inhaling heavily. Then he exhaled.
Alexis clapped a hand over her mouth as a jet of fire streamed out of his mouth, but instead of hitting and damaging the balcony, they stopped just short of it formed a sphere of fire about the size of a basketball and looked like a small star, which faded away moments after, simply extinguishing itself. "Some of the simpler magic. Though our generation never did complete its magical training anyhow." He explained. Alexis was in shock still. Finally, she choked out the word "...magic?"
Artemis smiled. "The Community Center. That used to be a university of the magicks, that's why everyone is suddenly trying to sign up, the magical world forgot about the UM until the building of the Community Center appeared in the newspaper about the break-in. I'm going to go check into it myself later," he added, mostly to himself. "They shut the University down, and decided to make it as though magic never existed. And it worked. I mean, even when I was a kid, it wasn't well known. People stopped believing in it. I mean, no one believes in Santa Claus anymore, right?"
Alexis blinked a few times, and then asked. "Wait, does this mean Santa Claus is real then?"
Artemis laughed. "As real as the Tooth Fairy. That means no..." he added, glancing at her confused expression.
"Um. How do you know my mom?"
"When went to school together." He said mildly surprised. "I thought you'd figure that much. And I was friends with your father."
"But you're so much younger..." Alexis began.
Artemis chewed his lip, wondering what to say to her. If he explained that undead aged more slowly, then he'd have to explain, first of all, that he was undead, and more important, that he was a werewolf. She would either laugh in his face and ask if this was a joke, which he was sure she would do anyhow later, after the impact of the magical flame left her mind, or she would panic. He chose to avoid the question, and waved his hand. "I'll explain that later. But I want to talk about you first."
"Wait!" Alexis said, starting to grow angry. "How do I know this isn't some weird trick...? I mean, this seems too crazy to be real almost, and why didn't mom tell me about this?"
Artemis sighed. Yes, he had known that when the shock wore off, she would respond this way. "It was her choice not to tell you. Its illegal to tell anyhow, and she stopped keeping in contact with the magical world after your dad disappeared and your brother left. She was upset and-"
"I have a brother?" Alexis shouted, jumping off the couch. Artemis clapped a hand over his mouth guiltily.
"I didn't mean to say that... Livvy is going to kill me..." he added to himself, but he continued, before Alexis could resume shouting. "Oh well, I disagree with your mother in this respect, so I will tell you, and then we'll continue our talk about magic."
"Good, you'd better." Alexis said darkly and defiantly.
"Well, in many cases, when people with manifested magical abilities -you see, everyone has magical abilities that can be brought out, but for some, they are born with a stronger sense that needs controlling -I mean." He paused and waved a hand idly, having already lost track of conversation. "Okay. Right. One of the reasons for a university of magic is to help people with manifested magic to control their power. Unfortunately, there are a lot more magical accidents now without the University, but it wouldn't have helped your brother in any case, because he would have been too young for the University at the time. It's very rare for a young child to have a magical mishap unless they have a very strong sense of magic, as in your brother's case.
"When he was about five -he's nineteen now, so you know-he had a dog. This was when your parents still kept in contact with me and all of the other friends from school, I was over when the event occurred. Well, your brother, Alex, had a dog, Brownie, I think he was called. Brownie was not a young dog, your mother had had the dog for some time before Alex was even born. Alex was in his room playing with the dog, your parents and some other friends and I were downstairs drinking a coffee, when we felt a strong wave of magic from Alex's room, so we went to see what was up.
"The dog, Brownie, hadn't been feeling well lately, and had actually died while Alex was playing with him in the room, and we were downstairs. When we found Alex, he was hugging the dead dog, but he was emanating magic. We didn't realize what he was doing until the dog started twitching. Alex was trying to bring the dog back to life, but what he was doing was pouring his own life into the dog meanwhile. Alex was dying and the dog was coming back to life. We finally pulled Alex off of the dog, but it was very hard to keep him alive... he had nearly completed the transfer, and that was a strong bit of magic there.
"I'd never seen your father so scared, but he managed saved the boy. We helped a bit, but I don't know what your father did really, he seemed to be making up spells and charms on the spot. Unfortunately, we couldn't restore Alex fully. The dog died, and Alex... he was, and remains unalive. He isn't dead though either," he added at Alexis's confused expression. "He is like a half ghost. But he needed to be sent off to a place where he could learn to control his magic, plus its hard for an obviously nonhuman creature, like a vampire or a werewolf, or in his case, a ghost, to live in a big city without a lot of self control. The only person willing to teach your brother was one of the teachers who had taught at the UM... that's the University of Magic. The teacher lived somewhere in Wales, I'm not sure about the specifics, but from what I understand, he's just died about a week ago, so I don't know what your brother is going to do. I'll ask your mother later. Um... and please don't tell your mother I told you all this..."
Alexis raised her eyebrows. "Like hell I won't..." she muttered, but Artemis's ears picked it up.
He shrugged. "Why not, she probably won't kill me too slowly and painfully, being I am her friend..." he looked at the clock - it was nearing ten. "How about you go home tonight, and we'll talk more about magic later?"
"Tomorrow?" Alexis asked hopefully. She was going to have a talk with her mother, see if her teacher was just crazy, or if she did have a brother, and what about magic...? It was hard to believe it was true, but harder to believe otherwise with the proof thrown right in her face. She'd have to think about it...
Artemis looked unsure, and glanced at his calendar. Alexis followed his gaze, and saw that the box indicating the next day was circled. "Until five in that case. I have something I need to do after."
Alexis nodded. "That's okay then."
* * *
Coming back to his apartment from walking Alexis home, Artemis vaguely wondered to himself if he had done the right thing in telling her about Alex. He reached into his pocket though, to reread the letter sent to him a week ago, and decided that it would be better for her to know what was coming, rather than being shocked.
Misunderstood Malefactors #1: Straw into Gold
|The Luckless: Prologue|
The Luckless: Chapter I