Site of the writer Andrew Wood

There was a bit of a delay in posting this, but here it is. Hope people enjoy it 🙂

 

Flash Fiction Series – The Calling of a Myth

Episode Four

The Capital was a hustle and bustle soup of market traders, entertainers, beggars and black market merchants. The sheer noise from the immense crowds was enough to raise the dead in a furious show of revival.

Justine followed a hooded figure with her dark, chocolate eyes as it slipped out from a doorway on the far side of the plaza. Any other person would not have noticed such a thing amidst the sea of people, but Justine felt the barrier that covered this person’s mind – it was stronger than any other mental ward she had ever encountered in her time as a psychic mage. Curiosity soon got the better of her.

As she waded through a variety of shoppers, traders and tourists, her mind was constantly projecting toward the one she could not touch. Her pursuit was becoming more and more frantic. She was not overly keen on coming back to Netheryn after this escapade. If this person was who she was tasked in finding then her first question would be why.

Her trail guided her down a side street that was scattered with a few dodgy dealers who obviously peddled wares that had either been stolen or ‘relocated’ before their initial destination could be reached. Either way she had never been one to enter into such a dark market that bred out and out mistrust and deception.

Another turn led into an empty alley.

The shrouded psyche faded into nothing.

Justine felt her heart skip a beat as she skidded to a halt, the scraping of her shoes echoing through the cobbled ravine. Where had her target gone? She glanced from side to side and then behind her, insecurity and paranoia gripping her chest like a deathly claw. She was suddenly fearful of what was going to happen next, regardless of it being good or bad. Her run of adrenaline had bled dry and she was now beginning to shake, the palms of her hands sweating with anticipation. What had just happened?

She did not hear a thing before it was too late.

The hooded figure came out of the shadows and wrestled her up against the opposite wall, an exotic looking dagger flashing in one slender hand. The blade was pressed against her neck with enough force to hurt, but not break the skin. The other arm was pressed dominantly across her chest to keep her against the cold brick façade behind her. She felt a warm breath from beneath the hood softly stroke her cheeks without malice or murderous intent.

‘Who are you?’ said the attacker in a calm yet aggressive tone.

Justine did not know what to make of this person. ‘I… I…’ She clenched her teeth and tried desperately to regulate her breathing. ‘My name is… Justine.’ She winced as the man exerted more force with the weapon.

‘Why are you following me?’ he asked in the same manner.

‘I was ordered to seek out a man that was apparently immune to mind magic.’

‘You are a very good psychic mage, Justine,’ said the man sincerely. ‘I had to adjust myself at the right time to give me this advantage.’

She locked eyes with his as best she could given the fact his face was mostly hidden. ‘Adjust… yourself?’

The man laughed casually, the arm he had across her chest relenting slightly and giving her some space to breath. ‘As soon as you hit my barrier I knew you were there, watching me like some vulture hanging over a dying animal. Who sent you?’

Justine swallowed dryly as she felt a desert form in her mouth. ‘M… my teacher – Lord Mage Velkus.’

‘Who does he work for? Where are his loyalties?’

She felt the dagger dancing on her neck menacingly. ‘W… with the School of Magic as far as I’m aware.’

‘West of here? The school in the middle lands?’ There was an air of franticness in the man’s voice, almost eager.

Justine nodded fearfully. The hold on her was released and the dagger sheathed in her attacker’s belt. She massaged her neck before coughing, sharp pain shooting up her throat.

‘I am sorry, Justine,’ the man apologised as he removed the hood from his head to reveal silver hair, sharp stubbly features and a pair of crystal-like eyes that stared directly into her soul without relent. ‘My name is Xander.’

‘I was told that you are someone from a long lost warrior tribe that used to reside in the northern lands before the freeze four centuries ago.’ Justine steadied her breathing enough to calm the rest of her body down.

Xander raised an eyebrow. ‘I’m afraid you are misinformed, lady. I am an Evenian.’

Justine was immediately dumbstruck.

‘The Evenians were a secret breed of people from every corner of the realm – we are trained and enhanced both physically and magically.’

‘I… I’ve never heard of the Evenians.’ Justine licked her lips before biting her tongue.

‘You’re not supposed to hear of us – we are a secret and we strived to make it that way. We’ve played a hand in the formation of this world as you know it for centuries.’ Xander looked to either end of the alley. ‘I am one of the last few Evenians in this land.’

Justine hesitated. ‘Why are you telling me this? You’ve just had a dagger to my throat and now you’re giving me your life story…’

‘You are unaware of the fact that I have seen your mind, obviously.’

This took Justine by complete surprise. A psychic mage was trained to detect and repel any intrusion into their minds, but she had not felt a single thing attempt to breach her mental defences. ‘How?’ she asked with a shrill voice, shock radiating from her.

‘My training allows me to completely block all sensory abilities and reflect them back at whoever is directing them.’

She was still dumbfounded.

‘But, unfortunately, time is of the essence. I need to return to my lodgings. If you choose to, you can accompany me and I can tell you more.’

‘But… why? Why would you divulge such information so easily?’

Xander breathed heavily through his nose. ‘Because I have seen your heart, Justine… and your soul.’

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