WARNING: CONTAINS VIOLENCE AND COARSE LANGUAGE INCLUDING SWEARING
Nixion Strange punched the bag with an extreme ferocity only someone like he could muster. In fact it was quite possible, even likely, that Nixion was the only one who could must that much ferocity. Nixion was someone with so much pent up anger, so much rage, that he would take it out on anyone who got in his way. That was a good description of Nixion.
He quickly changed his tactic and went for two low punches before coming up with a high one after. The punching bag swayed violently and threatened to snap off the string. In a fight, Nixion never wanted anyone predicting his attacks which was the reason most of his time was spent attacking the punching bag brutally these days. Each time, each day, he would use a different kind of combination until he had mastered it, then would extend it until by the end of the day he would have a combination of attacks that would last an age. With each hit, Nixion grew angrier and angrier; he was unstable and unpredictable. Soon the punching bag began insulting his intelligence in Nixion’s mind. Practically growling in anger, Nixion forgot about being tactical now, forgot his combination he had been working on for the last two hours, and punched the bag. Hard. Incredibly hard. He hit it once. Twice. Three times. He punched it as hard as he could again and again and again, every punch simply making him angrier. Every punch brought back another painful memory. Punch. His kidnapping. Punch. The torture. Punch. The brainwashing. Punch. The murder.
Tears did not gather in his eyes, instead they gathered in his mind before being pulverized and mutating themselves into misshapen forms of rage and Nixion snapped. He roared in a blind rage and a single punch to where the gut on a human would be took the punching bag spinning off the rope that connected it to the ceiling and it came crashing onto the floor. He and the bag went rolling across the ground of his dojo and Nixion dived after it. He landed on top of the bag and sent fists raining down upon it. In a matter of minutes the bag threatened to spill it’s sand over the floor and Nixion was only too happy to assist it.
“I HATE YOU!” he bellowed and there was a huge swipe and next second sand was pouring out of a large gash across the punching bag. Nixon sat on top of it holding the machete he had just pulled out from his jacket in his hand. He slowly stood up, panting heavily in a controlled fury. He wiped his forehead, ridding it of sweat before hearing something in the room. In the second he realized he wasn’t alone, Nixion blurred and spun, his machete held to the intruders throat. A glare leaped to his face when he saw who it was. Standing in front of him were Nixion’s…friends. His machete was held to Zathract Mist’s throat who stood there with a cocky smirk on his face. Nixion just called him Mist. He just called him Nix. The two pissed each other off to unbelievable amounts. Mist had once saved Nixion’s life, and he would never let him forget it. His black hair fell over his ears and back of his head. He had emerald eyes that practically gaze into ones soul. That was all quite weird and always made Nixion feel uneasy, no matter how different he pretended. He was a Necromancer, an elemental, and a person who viewed anyone as a “bad guy” to be despised. Since Nixion used to be a ‘bad guy, it was safe to say that that he and Mist argued. A lot. An unnaturally unnerving amount, every time they met.
Next was Kali Nole. She was the oldest in the room, a full sixty-two years old, though, if you looked at her, she would only seem twenty-two. She had the odd adept ability to turn her hands into small weapons, anything she needed. Nixion had seen them become knifes, guns, and even a small bomb, which she had thrown at of group of sorcerers. Though they seemed to have a limit to the number of bullets, and bombs she could make. Knifes were by far the easiest to create, she had said once, and definitely her favourite. She had shoulder length gold hair, brown eyes, and had a good sense of humour.
After her was Thomas Phillips. He had the ability to bend metal with ease, as if it was tinfoil. The easiness ranged from the different types of metal, but he could bend, or brake, nearly metal he came in contact with. It had its uses, sure, but Nxion could never understand why Thomas hadn’t chosen an ability more…interesting. He was slightly younger, and shorter, than Nixion. He had blue eyes and blonde hair, and wore what a normal thirteen year old would. He was a good fighter. One of the best. Still, Nixion was confident he could beat him, kill him. It would only take a single touch.
He banished the thoughts from his head and Nixion's eyes flickered to the last person in the room. At the end was Mahogany Reen. She was an old girl, to say the least. She loved to use magic in everyday life, but for some reason hated to use it in a fight unless faced with no other option. Nixion never understood that either. She seemed intrigued by people’s personalities, and was, by far, the kindest of everyone here.
“Why are you here?” he asked roughly not lowering the machete and looking at each of them. Mist grinned, Kali pretended to pout, Thomas rolled his eyes and Mahogany frowned at him.
“Trouble,” said Mist, still grinning. “And you’re not gonna like it.”
Kali drove them in her van. She had a Mercedes as well, but since no one else had a licence, she had to drive everyone in situations like this. Nixion did not find it amusing, instead he found it annoying. He never liked sitting in cars and definitely not long trips such as this; they pissed him off. Everything pissed him off. Technically, Mahogany was old enough to get a licence, but she kept failing the driver’s test. Each time the topic was bought up all she did was mumble something about drag racing and then diverted the conversation to exotic foods. It was a long drive and with each red light they stopped at Nixion groaned in a bored tone and attempted to fight the urge to push Kali out of the driver’s seat and stamp on the gas. He managed to remain patient enough to last the journey but one they arrived, Nixion did not feel any better. No one had told him the destination, admittedly he had not asked, but Nixion had expected it to be almost anything but the Australian Sanctuary. Nixion’s face collapsed into a glare and consumed his expression and mood. This was the place he had almost died. Should Nixion have had a different attitude, perhaps he would have admitted that he had also attempted to murder the Grand Mages while in there, but he didn’t and still hated the place. To add to his misfortune, this was also where his old house was, near to where he was kidnapped. Nixion repressed a shudder and continued glaring as memories flooded his mind, the barricade holding them back collapsing suddenly and violently against his will…
Nixion was ten and his name wasn’t Nixion. Aiden was ten and he had no troubles in the world other than lack of sleep and a slowly growing homework load that waited for him on his bedroom table. He was very much dreading the time when he arrived home in a few minutes and would be forced with having to complete some of it before he could submerge into blissful sleep. And then of course there would be school again. Aiden did not like school much, but he continued going every day anyway. In the back of his mind a stray thought always told him that his life should be so much more, would be so much more, if only he would let it. The bag on his back was heavy and Aiden dragged his eyes up from the footpath below him to look at his surroundings. Small shops were lined up beside Aiden and across the road from him. In front of him was a black car that was parked with windows dark, obscuring whoever may be sitting in it. He continued walking and out of the corner of his eye saw two men wearing black open the doors of the car as he passed it.
One of the men was slightly smaller and hunched over and wore a top hat Aiden had seen magicians wear. The other had a leaner and larger build, his expression making Aiden feel uneasy. He continued walking and strained his ears to hear the two men’s conversation.
“And you’re sure you can do this?” the hunched over man asked with a thin and raspy voice.
“He’s a kid,” the large of the men replied dismissively. Aiden’s heart leaped but did not change his pace. “How hard can it be? I want my payment now.” There was a short pause and Aiden turned his head slightly in time to see the large man ticking away a large envelope stuffed with what he guessed was cash. “Thank you.” The man said and begun walking towards Aiden. He was seriously scared now and he wondered vaguely why his knees were now knocking together each time he took a new step. He could hear the man getting closer…and then Aiden ran. Next second, however, he was on the ground, the large man on top of him
“L-leave me al-alone.” Aiden trembled in a gasp. The man smirked.
“Sorry,” he said. “Can’t do that. Don’t worry though; it’ll only be a year, as far as I hear.” And then a cloth was clamped over his mouth. With a breath, Aiden’s vision suddenly grew blurry and the faint voice in the back of his head said “chloroform” in a knowing tone before Aiden passed out.
“Nixion,” someone said. A hand was gripping his arm painfully tight. He was bought back to the present abruptly and he realized they were in an old, dirty canteen of an abandoned school; the entrance to the Sanctuary. The staircase leading down into it was already revealed so someone had already presented valid magic to the tile on the ground. He scowled. Mist scowled back at him.
“And we just had to come here?” Nixion asked him, disgusted. “Sometimes I think you’re trying to get me killed.” Mist gave him a look.
“We need the Sanctuary’s resources.” He told Nixion. “And I’m obligated under Sanctuary regulations to inform the Elders of something of this magnitude.”
“Which,” Nixion continued. “Brings me to my second thing to complain about. Why am I even here? Why do I have to help you?”
“Again.” Nixion added.
“What?” Mist asked him.
“Help you again.” Nixion continued. Mist rolled his eyes and spoke again.
“Look, okay? I know you don’t like the Sanctuary much-.”
“Much? MUCH?” Nixion roared. “Last time I was here, they tried to kill me! You’re damn well right I don’t like the Sanctuary much!”
Thomas stepped forward
“Shut up, both of you. The door’s open, and we’re going inside.” He glared at Nixion as if daring him to disagree. Nixion glared right back at him.
They probably would have continued to glower at each other for a couple of more hours, but Kali got impatient and walked forwards down the staircase.
“Come on,” she called after them.
Thomas took an extra five seconds to stare at Nixion, and then he followed her, Mahogany close behind. Nixion looked around and realised that only he and Mist was left. They looked at each other for half a second before Nixion hurried after the rest of the group; almost being killed was one thing, being left alone with Mist was a whole different level of torture.
The five of them looked like a very odd group walking through the Sanctuary. Kali had her hands in front of her and seemed to be testing how fast she could alter her fingers into knives and back. Mahogany used the air to lift her off the ground and suspend her in the air every few seconds before dropping back to the ground and repeating the process. Thomas had yanked a long rusted pipe from the canteen on his way in and was now folding it into an origami crane after having flattened it out to a simple piece of square steel. Mist was humming a metal tune and Nixion was humming a different metal tune. Both kept set expressions but the two were trying to become louder than the other making it sound like a cow giving birth whenever notes clashed. Nixion had to admit, it sounded horrible, but continued at it, not giving up a chance to annoy Mist.
Mist pushed open the door and stepped into a large circular room lit with flames on torches hung on the walls. The entire place was built with huge creamy coloured bricks that gave the whole thing an ancient castle feeling. The Administrator turned to them and hurried forwards as the two stopped humming and Nixion’s glare leaped back to his face.
“Um…” the Administrator said in a voice that indicated a struggle. He closed his eyes, opened them again, and pointed at Mist. “Zathract,” he said before moving his finger to Mahogany. “Ms Reen, Kali and…Uh…” he closed his eyes again and with one hand pointed at Thomas, the other hitting his head hard. The Administrators eyes flew open. “David!” he said with a huge smile. “That’s right, David!”
“Uh, no,” Thomas said frowning. “My name’s-”
“Wonderful!” the Administrator said, not hearing Thomas speaking. “It’s the first time I’ve got everyone in a group large than two!”
Nixion frowned too.
“Do I not exist?” he asked. “Oh, don’t get me wrong though, I don’t want to be here. I was perfectly content ripping a punching bag to shreds, but apparently I have to come to the damn Sanctuary, my potential death place. I would at least like to be recognized for sacrificing precious moments of my life.”
The Administrator glared at Nixion.
“I don’t like you.” He said, not smiling anymore.
“I don’t like you either, honestly.” Nixion replied. “I hate this place. I hate Mist too.”
“Cheers.” Zathract said quickly.
“You almost killed me.” The Administrator said quietly. Nixion shrugged.
“I distinctly remember slicing your throat, actually.” He said casually.
“Yes, you killed my twin brother.”
“I’m deeply sorry.”
“No you’re not!” the Administrator snarled.
“Couldn’t be closer to the truth.” Nixion agreed.
“We request an audience with the Elder Council.” Mist said before the Administrator could continue the argument.
“Of course.” He said, back to his cheery mood. “Do you have an appointment?”
“No.” Mist replied.
“I shall inform them and be back when they have time to see you.” He said and bustled off.
“Come on then…” Mist sighed and trudged off to a door close by, everyone else following him. The door had the words “Waiting Room” etched into it and a memory of him blasting the door down forced its way back into Nixion’s mind. He sat down in a comfortable chair in the next room while the others sat around him.
“Do you think we’ll be waiting long?” Kali asked.
“Last time we were all here we were fighting Nix who ended up killing a quarter of the staff.” Mist replied.
Nixion frowned. “I could’ve sworn that there were more.” He said slowly.
Mist ignored the interruption. “Yes, I think we’ll be waiting long.”
They sat around in the waiting room for an hour before the Administrator finally came to see them again. In the time that had elapsed Nixion entertained himself by complaining about the Sanctuary which annoyed Mist, Mahogany and Kali, they’re expressions and retorts of which kept him amused for the most part. At his word, everyone stood up and followed the Administrator out of the room, Nixion lagging behind long enough to annoy Kali again which bought another smirk to his face. They stepped through a large door while the Administrator stayed behind and found themselves in a huge room with the three Elders sitting high above them on chairs concealed from their sight by rounded cylinder material that curved around each of them. The Grand Mage’s eyebrows rose slightly at the sight of the group.
“Zathract Mist,” he said. “And accomplices I have not seen since battling the menace behind you.”
“You’re sounding very impressive today, Grand Mage.” Mist said cheerfully. The Grand Mage sighed.
“Yes, apparently I’m supposed to at least pretend to sound what they call “professional” one a week.” He informed Mist.
“Indeed. So, what brings you here? And why have you bought a criminal along with you?” his eyes narrowed in on Nxion and for some reason, Mist didn’t speak. All three of the Elders were looking at him intently now. “I remember you…” the Grand Mage said softly. Seeing his chance, Nixion slowly raised a hand, his glare still on his face and the Grand Mage’s eyes widened as his hand extended a palm towards him.
“Hi,” he said brightly, glare vanishing and palm snapping into a cheerful wave. At the flick the Grand Mage ducked quickly behind the cylinder, the Elder on the right curled into a ball trying to hide himself and the other had attempted to hide behind a fork.
“What is he doing here?” the Grand Mage asked as he sat back up and his college discarded the fork. Nixion grinned again on the inside as the memory of his machete to the Grand Mage’s throat flashed into his mind. He was assuming they hadn’t forgotten the incident either. Mist glanced around at him, scowled, before turning back to the Elders.
“He was proven innocent of all charges. He has every right to be here.” Mist said, though also gave a hint of dislike towards Nixion.
“That is true,” the Grand Mage said, “But it doesn’t give him a right to greet us in such a manner.”
“What, waving?” Nixion asked incredulously.
“Waving, indeed.” The Grand Mage nodded.
“I’ll…try not to do it in the future.” Nixon said uncertainly.
“That’s all I ask.”
“Grand Mage,” the Elder on the left spoke up. “Requesting permission to arm myself with a shield wider than a fork.”
“Permission granted.” The Grand Mage said and slammed a pen onto the table in front of him like a mallet, shattering it upon impact. The Grand Mage swiped the bits of plastic pen away from him and continued talking to Mist.
“So, why are you here then?”
“As you know, there is a serious problem slowly rising in the country.” Mist said, finally getting to business and Nixion begun paying attention.
“Is this about Home Mart not selling the milky cheese anymore?” the Grande Mage asked.
“No,” Mist said. But that’s dreadful too. This is about a secret organization of Sorcerers called…” he hesitated.
“I’m sure I can handle the name.” the Grand Mage assured him.
“I’m not sure you can, actually.” Mist replied slowly. “It’s a terrifying title.”
“Alliteration.” Mahogany said suddenly in a sing-song voice.
“State it, none the less.” The Grand Mage continued.
“They’re called…Super Happy Fun Time Turtle-”
“Wait, what?” one of the Elders asked.
“Sorry, that was the movie Nix was watching last night.”
He scowled at Mist.
“No, I’m serious now. They’re called “Lvin’ Evil More Often Than Not. Or L.E.M.O.N. for short.”
“But there’s a T in there.” The Grand Mage frowned. “Shouldn’t it be L.E.M.O.T.N?”
“Well, there not very good spellers…”
“I swear,” the Grand Mage said, “Just state the damn-”
“No, no, they’re Lemon-Cheese-”
“For god’s sake, just-!”
“The Remaining,” Mist said, banishing the grin from his face. “They’re called the Remaining.”
“Right,” the Grand Mage said, his face turning a little less red. “And what do we know about them?”
“Almost nothing,” Mist admitted. “I’ve been investigating odd cases now and then, and I began to notice a pattern. Jail breaks, murders, theft, kidnappings.”
Nixion stomach lurched at the last word, but he didn’t say anything.
“What pattern relates to these things?” the Grand Mage asked.
“Certain people disappearing, certain people being sighted, certain people escaping, you know.” Mist said casually.
“Ah, yeah.” The Grand Mage replied. “Anything other than people?”
“All the things happened to people involved in the war. The kidnappings and murders were done to old war time leaders, the thefts were done on old war weapons, and the jail breaks were done on old war buddies from the other side.”
“So these guys are focused on the War.” The Grand Mage said. “Joy.”
One of the Elders leant forward. “And for how long have these crimes been going on.
“Over the last eighty years.”
Everyone looked at Mist and said nothing. Nixion knew why they were looking so worried. Over eighty years, the Remaining would have had plenty of time to get allies, kill enemies’, and have a huge, deadly plan, ready and set to go any time.
“Why weren’t we alerted sooner?!” the Grand Mage asked, his eyes wide.
“Because I only noticed them when I started investigating the break-out of Charles Hamond.” Mist replied, his eyes narrowing.
Charles Hamond, warlock on the side battling alongside Mevolent, was in charge of defeating the Australian Sanctuary in the war. He had been feared, and still was, all over Australia. No one ever knew how Mevolent’s men managed to convince the warlock to join forces with them during the war, but it happened and Charles was one of the small number of warlocks who ever joined a side.
The Grand Mage took a deep breath. “Alright. You, again, have all of the Sanctuary’s resources during this crisis.”
“Thanks very much.” Mist said gruffly.
“Just fix it.” The Grand Mage said in a tired voice as they walked for the door.
“Have I ever let you down before?”
“Oh,” Mist muttered. “Yes…that one time.” They exited the building and only talked again when they were walking away from the canteen and travelling in the school.
“Alright, if we have to solve this, then we’ll need help.” Mist had taken the tone of authority. Nixion didn’t like this.
“I know a few people,” Kali said. “They might help us.”
“Alright, Kali, Thomas and Mahogany, you go as a group,” Mist said. “Get as many people as you can that you know can be trusted and I’ll go with Nix to get some others.”
Nixion looked at him. “What?” he asked pissed again.
“I’m not happy with it either,” Mist said. “Me, you.” He shook his head. “No.”
“I don’t want to go with you.”
“You have no choice.”
“I hate you right now.”
“It’s almost like we have a telepathic link that makes us feel the same way.” Mist said as they strode away from the three walking in the opposite direction. Nixion glowered.
DEATH-OBSESSED IDIOTS, BLOODSUCKING MORONS AND THE GIRL
Seeing as Kali was the only one who could drive, Nixion and Mist had to catch the bus to their destination. They were doing a classified mission for the Australian Sanctuary on which the fate of the country, possibly even the world, could depend and yet, they were taking the bus. Nixion was really beginning to hate doing jobs for the Sanctuary. He would have asked whether or not they could have taken Mist’s motorbike if it were not for the fact that they would have to take the bus to his house anyway. He also didn’t like the idea of sitting behind Mist. So they took the bus and the two swayed as it turned a corner sharply. Mist was making a checklist of the people who they should go and see. Nixion could never understand Mist. A checklist, seriously? From the day they met, Mist had been weird and argumentative against everything Nixion thought. He could never see from Nixion’s point of view and away from his own narrow minded one. Admittedly, Nixion was exactly the same towards Mist but he didn’t see it that way. Mist was convinced that Nixion needed to change, that being a “bad guy”, was the worst thing imaginable and even though Nixion wasn’t like that anymore, his attitude of hatred had not shifted, something Mist despised. Nixion had been perfectly happy being a murderer. Being insane may have had something to do with it. The part about being hunted around the world was a downer, but it had at least been fun. Well, maybe not fun, but it was definitely better than this.
Mist looked down at the first name on his checklist. He had most of their numbers, but he had said it was easier to convince someone in person. Nixion totally agreed. How can you torture someone from a phone? He supposed it would be easy for Mist; anyone would agree to his terms just to stop him talking to them.
“Okay, we’re here.” Mist stood up as the bus rounded another corner and motioned for the bus driver to pull up. After he did so and the doors opened, Nixion and Mist walked off it and strode up a hill. They walked for only thirty seconds before Mist stopped him and walked up the pathway to a familiar looking house. Nixion couldn’t remember why it rang a bell in his mind though.
“This is Gabriel Cobalt’s house,” Mist said, as if reading Nixion’s mind. Now he realised why it looked familiar. He had been here before, back when he was insane. Gabriel did not take sides and was basically a nice guy. He had given Nixion a place to stay for a few nights when he was in such a bad state he couldn’t bring himself to kill an ant. Of course, it cost him a favour, but Nixion and obliged willingly. Honestly, it wasn’t even that hard. The sorcerer hadn’t put up much of a fight after Nixion had regained his strength.
They walked up the driveway and somehow made it to the door without arguing. Mist knocked and waited patiently for an answer. At last, a pale young woman answered the door, surveyed the two for a moment before stood back as an invitation of welcoming. As they walked along the long hallway and past the woman, Mist and Nixion observed the objects on pedestals and hanging from the wall. They sat down and waited for Gabriel while Nixion cast his mind back to the start of his decent to madness, the beginning of his torture…
Aiden’s eyes opened slowly, his vision unfocused, blurry and groggy. He was thoroughly confused but under that a thick layer of fear gripped at his soul tightly. It took him a second to remember what had happened, but when he did, he looked around wildly, panic rising inside. He remembered someone jamming something over his mouth and then blacking out. After that there was nothing to remember. Aiden’s eyesight slowly returned and he saw he was the only person in a small room. It was empty except for a door, which he was facing, and a single chair, on which he was currently bound to. Before he could attempt to break free of the chair, the door swung open and the smaller of the men from the street walked through, a smug grin on his face.
“The physic said you could take it.” the man said as he approached Aiden. “Not like the others. They didn’t last. Weren’t strong enough.” Aiden waited until he was bent down, looking right at him before he spat in his face. The man staggered back, wiping most of it away and while he lowered one hand, the other remained clamped to his eye. A glare leaped to the man’s face and he spun around and crossed half the room in a single step to deliver a fist which collided with Aiden’s check. His head snapped sideways and stars burst from his eyesight, his world spinning.
“What do you want with me?” he asked, his vision blurry once again, head spinning. He could not actually see him, but Aiden knew the man was smiling.
“I’m going to teach you something almost no one else can do. It’ll be hard, and you’ll never be the same afterwards, but it’s worth it. For me, anyway.”
“Why though?” Aiden asked in a scared voice. “I just want to go home.”
“You’ll see this from my point of view one day. I need to pass on the tradition to someone, and fortunately for you, kid, it looks like that one guy’s gonna be you.” He turned and walked for the door again. “Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll get along fine.” He walked out. Aiden felt his heart beating wildly. When the man came back, he was pushing a tray with metal objects on them. Most of them were pointy.
The man made his way back to Aiden before looking down at the tray and adopted an expression of deep thought. Finally he picked one out and turned on Aiden whose vision was now clear again. The object came closer and closer and before he knew it, Aiden was screaming.
“Nixion.” Mist was looking at him with a glare.
“What?” he asked a little defensively. Mist made a gesture to someone standing in front of them. Gabriel Cobalt stood a few feet away, half smiling.
“You okay Nix?” he asked.
“Yes.” Nixion glowered. “And don’t call me “Nix”.”
Gabriel shrugged but did not object and waited for either Mist or Nixion to speak next.
The room was filled with a few weapons, mostly made of metal and insanely pointy, but mainly it was filled with shelves and shelves and more shelves of books. Some were tiny and thin, other were huge and held an incredibly thick amount of text. It was not just that room either, Nixion remembered; the entire house was filled with virtually nothing but food, weapons and books. Gabriel walked away from the lounge they were sitting on and sat behind a desk not too far away and continued to wait for someone to speak.
Everyone knew Gabriel’s story. He wasn’t well known and most of the tales that were told had Gabriel entitled under a different name. Still, many people in the country had at least heard of the way Gabriel discovered magic and quickly ascended to amazing levels of power simply through symbols. He even created some of his own which he subcategorized under the name of “Sigils”.
At the age of 20, Gabriel stumbled across a book full of instructions on how to learn symbol magic. Interested at the fantasy, Gabriel read through it and became more interested with whoever wrote it, even though he didn't actually believe any of it. Unfortunately for him there was no information on the author, not even a name, thus leaving him with no leads on which to conduct a search with. Though he didn’t believe in anything the book said, Gabriel marvelled at how amazing it would be to have the kind of things written, the kind of power. In an attempt he knew would not work to get the power mentioned in the book, Gabriel carved a symbol into his hand. As soon as it was completed, power surged through Gabriel and his fists pumped with energy. Within five minutes the symbol had faded, but his power remained and Gabriel stood mobile, amazed. Finally he moved and marvelled at the incredible power he now had at his disposal, the book suddenly becoming clear. He then decided that all this was actually real and realized that it was also dangerous, that there would be other people like him now too. Magic…He decided to keep it a secret. Gabriel then moved away from his family and got an apartment far away from them in order to protect them. He barricaded himself and became isolated to the outside world while doing nothing but study magic. He eventually found more and more books and became an expert on symbols and arcane languages magic
Gabriel soon realized that he was aging slower and assumed that that was because he was learning magic. He got more and more books on other kinds of magic and learned all about the secret magical subculture. He then chose a magic type, Adept, and became a sorcerer. Gabriel finally moved from the apartment again and sought out his own house.
Gabriel waited a few more moments and when the pair did not speak up; he decided to break the silence.
“Nixion,” he said softly. “Zathract, it’s such a pleasure.” his smile made him look slightly sinister.
“This isn’t a social visit,” Nixion said coldly. He hated being here. It reminded him of a weaker version of himself and Nixion hated being weak.
“We need to know where these people are.” Mist said in a business-like fashion and handed Gabriel the list he had made. He flicked through it slowly making, occasionally making comments such as “Her, really?” or “Hold on, is he even alive?” Eventually, he handed the list back to Mist. “I can tell you where three of those people are, but the other four I know nothing of their current location.”
“Thank you,” Mist said curtly. “It’s very much appreciated.”
“Before I divulge the information though,” Gabriel said. “I also noticed my name was on there.” He raised an eyebrow. “May I ask what the list is for?”
“Potential allies for a potential upcoming war against a group of Sorcerers.” Mist said dismissively.
“And who are the Sorcerers?” he asked.
“They call themselves-” Mist started but Nixion turned on him before he continue.
“I swear to god I will kill you if you go through with that again.” He said menacingly. Cobalt raised another eyebrow but did nothing more and waited for Mist to talk again.
“They’re called The Remaining.” Mist told Gabriel looking slightly disappointed.
“And you mentioned a war?”
“Is that a bit of an exaggeration?” Gabriel grinned.
“I wouldn’t say so.” Mist replied, shaking his head.
“No.” Nixion said, almost at the same time.
Gabriel grinned again.
“You two make quite a cute couple.”
Nixion’s hand flew to his machete, anger flaring inside of him. Gabriel did not move and continued smiling, amused.
“So will you help us?” Mist asked, managing to keep his voice completely empty of emotion, a feat Nixion would not have managed at that moment.
“I’ll give you the addresses of these three people.” He said.
“And what about helping us yourself?” Mist asked.
“And why would I?” Gabriel asked. “I could die in this potential war.” Nixion had to admit, it was a good answer.
“You could die if you don’t help us and we fail.” He said.
“You make a good point.” Gabriel replied.
“So will you help?” Mist asked again while Nixion’s hand slowly released his machete.
“No, I think I’ll sit this one out and watch it unfold.” Gabriel scribbled down something on the checklist and handed it back to Mist. Gabriel smiled again, but this time it was cold. “Now get out.”
Mist shook his head sadly, as if he actually expected better, and got up from the lounge, Nixion following. He caught sight of Gabriel muttering something under his breath as they left and went back to writing something on a sheet of paper he had in front of him. They stepped out of the house and begun walking again, now without any method of transportation.
“Did the bastard leave us anything of value?” he asked, bored.
“He gave us addresses like he said...” Mist muttered, scanning the sheet. “I already know where one is so if we can convince all four of the ones we can see to help us in addition to the people the others manage to get, we should be going along nicely.”
“So, which four lucky idiots will join us in our suicide mission?” Nixion asked.
“Gabriel gave us the addresses of Neon Dark, Jake Hunter and Lyra Blue.”
“Neon dark?” he laughed. “What sort of name is that?”
Mist looked at him. “He’s a Necromancer.” He explained when Nixion did not speak again.
Nixion’s grin faded.
“It had to be a Necromancer… I hate Necromancers.”
“At least it’s not a vampire.” Mist told him.
“Yeah, at least there’s that.” He admitted and looked at Mist. His face fell again at his expression. “There’s a vampire there too, isn’t there.”
“Jake Hunter’s not like-” Mist begun, but Nixion roared, cutting him off.
“I hate vampires!” he bellowed.
“You hate everything.” Mist said irritably as they turned a corner.
“Yes, but the top three things on my Hate List are Necromancers, vampires and you. Not necessarily in that order.”
“You have a list?” Mist asked sceptically.
“We need him.” Mist said. “We need them both. Neon’s rebellious and doesn’t even live in the Australian Temple. Apparently he’s also a good fighter.”
Nixion glowered and kicked a rock, sending it flying and narrowly missed a passing car which bleared its horn at him. Nixion ignored it and continued glaring.
“I hate you.” He said finally.
“You hate everything.” Mist repeated.
“I hate vampires even more than I hate Necromancers.” Nixion complained. He was not pleased with the first two people on Mist’s list. That is if a vampire could even be counted as a person. “What about that third one then?” he growled. “Blue someone.”
“Lyra Blue.” Mist corrected. “I think you’ll like her. She’s not a zombie, not a Necromancer, not a vampire, not an idiot. She’s an adept with most of her magic focused on her weapons. She’s an excellent fighter, very good.
Nixion sighed. “What about the last one?” he asked. “The one you already knew?”
“Vai Melt.” Mist replied. “She’s another Necromancer.”
Nixions glare flared again along with his anger.
“Don’t worry, she’s also different.”
“I’m going to kill you if we survive this.” Nixion assured Mist.
“I’m sure you’ll try your best.”
Nixion sighed again.
“Well, who are we seeing first?”
“Vai Melt. The Temple’s closest for us and if we’re lucky, Neon will be there too.
“OK,” Nixion muttered, quelling his anger. “OK, let’s go see the death-obsessed girl and the idiot who chose an idiotic name.”
It wasn’t another bus trip. It was ten times worse. Being stuck in the back seat of a taxi for thirty minutes beside Mist and an unbelievably talkative driver was complete and utter torture. The second they got out, Nixion practically roared in anger and shouted some things at the driver he probably shouldn’t have once he had driven out of earshot. Mist told him to shut up and they walked into the graveyard that contained the Necromancer Temple of Australia. Nixion was surprised that the Temple was here; he knew Necromancers were practically obsessed with death but he thought that placing the Temple in a graveyard was pushing it a bit.
“Gah…” Mist muttered, shaking his hands as they passed a gravestone.
“What?” Nixion asked him, confused.
“My hands, they’re burning. There’s so much death around here.”
“And…you’re hands burn because of dead things?” he asked.
Mist gave him a look.
“My gloves channel my Necromancy, idiot.” He muttered.
“Oh, that’s right, you’re a death-obsessive idiot too.” Nixion replied with heaviness.
Mist ignored him and leant over a large grave stone shaped like a rectangle. He rapped three times on it and gave out a hollow echo as he did so. Mist recoiled, shaking his hand again before the gravestone opened and a Necromancer stuck his head out.
“What?” he asked Mist.
“We’re here to see Vai Melt and Neon Dark if he’s in. Tell Vai it’s Zathract.” Mist told him.
“Oh, it’s you,” the man muttered. “Zathract Listy, or something. Yeah, whatever, get in.” he stepped to the side and the two climbed in, Nixion trying his best not to laugh at the misinterpretation of Mist’s last name.
They walked along the dimly lit corridor away from the entrance. The walls were lit with flame in torches again, just like the Sanctuary, but Nixon was still almost laughing.
“OK,” Mist said, turning around and stopping Nixion. “OK, stop. What the hell is so funny?”
Finally he burst out laughing and almost doubled over. “What?” Mist asked incredulously. Nixion calmed himself and looked up at Mist.
“From now on I’m calling you “Listy”.” He said defiantly. Suddenly Mist brought his gloved fist up and hit him across the face. Nixion staggered back, clutching his cheek.
“Do what you like.” Mist shrugged and continued walking. Nixion followed, cursing him under his breath. They reached the wooden door at the end and Mist pushed it open, entrails of shadows slowly unravelling from his glove as he did so. They recoiled back inside it as he took his hand away from the handle and they stepped into the next room. The Temple was large and complicatedly built and was lit with proper lights that hung high above them instead of the flames in the previous corridor. Mist began walking along another long corridor with many doors along the walls that held too many different types of rooms for Nixion to remember. They continued walking for around five minutes before Nixion grew impatient again and asked the obvious question.
“Where exactly are we going?” he asked of Mist.
“Vai’s usually in her personal quarters of the Temple,” Mist told him. “So that’s where we’re headed.”
“And how long until we get there?”
“Eh…two seconds, maybe?” he turned into a door suddenly and Nixion had to double back having not caught on to the fact that they had arrived. Muttering darkly, he followed Mist into the room where a tall woman with black hair that fell to her waist sat in a meditative position, eyes closed.
She cocked her head in a weird kind of accepting manner and slowly opened her eyes.
“Hello, Zathract.” She said. Her voice was calm and cool, collected. Silky.
“Vai.” Mist said, nodding in response. “We have come to ask a favour of you.”
“Indeed?” Melt asked but did not say anything more. Nixion was wondering whether a weird kind silence was in fashion for weirdos. Cobalt, now the Necromancer. Someone needed to start speaking soon and it sure as hell wasn’t going to be him. He didn’t speak unless he had to, but that was different. That was him.
“There’s a group of sorcerers entitled “The Remaining,” Mist said, taking lead. “And we’re fairly certain we’re on the threshold of another war.”
Vai tilted her head slightly to the side.
“Does war have a threshold, exactly?” she asked.
“My point is,” Mist continued. “We have consulted the Elder Council and basically, we need to track them down and stop them.”
“And you want my help?” Vai positioned her sentence as a question but Nixion could tell it was a statement.
“Will you help?” Mist asked. There was a silence that stretched for a while before Melt spoke again.
“I will not engage in the detective work as such, but if a battle breaks out and a war begins, alert me and I’ll come and assist you.”
“Thank you for your time, Vai.” Mist said.
“Anytime.” She smiled.
“Oh, one more thing. Do you know a Necromancer named Neon Dark?” he asked doubling back.
“Oh, yes. Him. A weird name, wouldn’t you say?”
Nixion nodded in agreement.
“Yes, he’s currently in the Temple but doesn’t like to stick here. In fact, I he’s probably leaving right about now.”
“Thanks.” Mist said quickly and ran from the room, Nixion close behind. They reached the wooded door again to see someone walking at the very end of the corridor.
“Hey!” Mist called, running up to him. The man did not stop walking.
“Idiot!” Nixion yelled at him, trying to catch his attention. The man stopped and turned slowly.
“Are you Neon Dark?” Mist asked after they had sprinted the length of the corridor. Nixion shook his hand having caught it in one of the balls if flame on the way.
Neon Dark nodded but did not speak.
“Idiotic name.” Nixion snarled at him, annoyed again.
“Shut up.” Mist scowled before turning back to Neon. “We have a problem.”
“You do indeed.” Neon said steadily. His voice was calm but had a trace of roughness in it that made Nixion feel uneasy. “Your boyfriend seems to have a bit of a temper.” Nixion’s hand flew to his machete and was out before Mist’s hand finished blurring from his daggers.
“One more person says that,” Nixion snarled. “And I swear I’ll slit their throat.”
Mist lowered his daggers, composing himself but Nixion remained holding his machete. Dark did not seem to mind, nor had he even flinched as the two drew weapons on him.
“As I said,” Mist continued calmly. “We have a problem. To put it simply, seeing as I really aren’t in the mood of explaining details currently, a war is soon to break out. We are gathering allies and want you to help us stopping this happen.”
Neon Dark did not move for a moment.
“How do you know you can trust me?” he asked.
“We don’t.” Mist shrugged. “But sometimes a risk’s all you have.”
“Fair enough.” Dark nodded. “If it’s a risk you’re willing to take. What do you need me to do?”
“Right now?” Nixion asked, taken aback at the sudden acceptance to joining.
“Right now, whenever.” Dark shrugged.
“Come with us.” Mist shrugged and Nixion groaned. Another moron to deal with. “We’re still recruiting.”
Mist walked past Neon and he stared at Nixion. He snarled at Dark once more before following Mist, Dark close behind him.
“Really?” Nixion asked. He was complaining. Again. “We’re going to see the vampire? Why can’t we ask the normal person first?”
Mist glared at him while Neon walked silently behind them, expressionless.
“You’re lucky there’s no one to hear you.” He said cautiously.
“Whatever.” Nixion grumbled. “I hate vampires.”
“So you said.” Neon said, speaking for the first time since they had left the Temple, over an hour ago.
“I hate Necromancers too.” He shot at Dark.
“You mentioned that quite a few times as well.” Neon replied calmly.
“Shut up,” Nixion snarled. “No one asked for your opinion.” He saw Dark shrug but he continued to ignore the Necromancer. He did not seem to mind.
“And explain to me again why we’re walking there?” Nixion asked yet again.
“Because it’s only an hour’s walk.” Mist replied irritably.
“Why can’t we take a bus or something?!” Nixion yelled in frustration. Mist stopped walking and spun around.
“Look around!” he yelled, waving his gloved hands at the sunny, tree-infested street. “Look around and tell me if you see a bus!”
Nixion remained silent for a moment before resuming his walking, Mist taking lead and shaking his head. Neon had not stopped. Every time, it seemed, the travelling seemed to be getting worse. The bus trip, Nixion felt like killing someone, but managed to keep his temper in check. As for the taxi drive, he was surprised he hadn’t murdered the driver. But now? Now he would be walking to see a vampire with Mist and an idiotic Necromancer who called himself Neon Dark. He dared not think about the trip to Lyra Blue’s house after they had seen the vampire. He didn’t want to think of a worse way to get there than this, if it were possible. And then there would be all the idiots that Thomas and Mahogany and Kali recruited to deal with. The way Nixion saw it, the sooner they killed The Remaining morons, the better and the sooner he could get on with ripping up insulting punching bags.
His legs did not ache but his brain did. It was overloading with boredom, Nixion assumed that over an hour of walking with two idiots with nothing to look forward to at the destination would do that to you. Either way, when Mist finally turned into a house on the side of a street, Nixion sighed in relief and almost laughed in happiness. Then he remembered they would be talking to a vampire and sulkiness washed over him again. Mist rapped twice on the door and almost immediately it swung open revealing a tall, pale teenager with messy brown hair.
“You’re Jake Hunter?” Mist asked, not bothering with greetings. The vampire nodded once. “We’re here to ask a favour.”
Jake titled his head slightly.
“What would a detective want from a vampire?” he asked after a pause, not bothering to explain how he knew of Mist’s occupation.
“We are on the brink of another war, a group of Sorcerers named The Remaining are gathering strength and are poised to take over. We want to stop them, but we request your assistance.” Mist said. It was not fast, but not slow either. Enough for the vampire to grasp what was going on..
There was silence for at least thirty seconds and after looking back at Neon, Nixion became even more frustrated at the fact that he was the only one impatient at the lack of an answer.
“OK.” He said finally, a simple answer and Nixon’s face fell; now he was working with a vampire.
Nixion was wrong; the rip over to Lyra Blue’s house was much more calming than the walk over to Hunter’s house. Nixion still could not quite believe that in a single day his life had gone from his normal routine to recruiting a Necromancer and a vampire for a team that will combat a group of evil Sorcerers of which contains a Warlock. They were sitting in a bus again. At first Nixion’s expression turned cold at the sight of it but his mood rapidly changed the moment he stepped inside it. It was one of the new ones; the chairs were larger and more comfortable, it was air-conditioned and quickly cooled Nixion down from the boiling heat that ate at him outside, and even better; there was no one else on the bus. So he took a seat right at the back while the other three spread around the rest of the bus. At first Nixion had thought that Mist or Dark would come to sit beside him to annoy him but the two of them took seats right up the front, something he was very grateful for; he didn’t want to have to pay for the cleaning of a large bloodstain and rip spread across the backseat.
The trip took over two hours and although the travel was a huge improvement from the rest of the day spent moving across the country, the sheer amount of time spent sitting down and not beating someone up, or even arguing, with someone was beginning to nag Nixion again. He found himself with his head pressed against the window, eyes jumping from tree to tree, house to house, positioned on the street in front of him, right hand clutching his machete far too tightly. He did not shift his position, however. It did not comfort him, the machete, but it did give him some sense of power knowing that he could smash open the window of the bus if he needed to. Far too slowly, the streets were swept away from Nixion’s eye sight and hills and farm houses, the countryside, flew in to take its place. He unstuck his forehead from the glass and sat facing the back of Hunter’s head, hand still clutching his machete. Nixion had absolutely no interest watching lazy cows graze while he suffered the misfortune of travelling with a fool, a Necromancer, a vampire and an oddity driver, not even absentmindedly.
An hour later, streets came back into view and then cities. Only one city, actually and Nixion went back to watching; he had always liked cities; especially at night. He liked the night even more though. It was now night. The sun had set half an hour ago and during that time, Nixion had envied Mist for having sunglasses blocking the burning sun out from devouring his sight. He did not say anything, of course. He was beyond voicing such tiny details of annoyance. He also saw the vampire injecting something into his arm during the time of the sun setting. Probably something to stop him from becoming a beast in half an hour.
Finally, Mist stood up and walked to the front of the bus, said something to the driver and they pulled up. Nixion leaped to his feet and was almost thrown off them at once; he had been mobile in a sitting position for over two hours and his legs were not prepared for a sudden resume of duties. They woke up and held Nixion upright after two seconds, however, and he quickly walked to the front of the bus where the doors now stood open, pushing aside the Necromancer as he did so. He did not thank the driver as Mist and Dark did, but the vampire acted like Nixion. It didn’t increase his liking for him though. Mist payed up and then hopped off after his companions before walking directly to the small brick house in front of them. Nixion just realized that Mist and Dark could have simply Shadow-Walked from one place to another until they arrived and silently he thanked them for taking the bus ride so he was not left alone with the vampire.
“Good timing.” Mist muttered checking something Nixion could not see.
“Good timing?” he asked, bemused. “It’s nine, at least! Who wants to talk at this hour? And even more, it’s you who’s doing the talking!”
Mist shrugged and ignored Nixion’s insult.
“Lyra prefers the night.” He said. Mist took the lead again and walked over to the door and knocked four times as Nixion caught sight of the bus rounding a corner in the distance.
The door opened and Lyra Blue stood there.
She had silky jagged black hair that stretched to her shoulders. She was slim, and looked to be in her twenties, though Nixion knew she was probably older than that. She was pale, and for a moment Nixion was afraid she was another vampire. She wore clothes that were black and red, and her eyes were brown, like Nixion’s.
“Hello?” she asked, raising an eyebrow. “Can I help you?”
“Lyra Blue?” Mist asked.
“Yes.” She said delicately. “Who’s asking?”
“Don’t you know who we are?” Nixion asked, surprised.
“Are you going to answer my question?” Lyra continued.
“Do you always answer a question with another question?” Nixion continued talking, surprised that Mist was letting him.
“I asked you first.” Lyra was grinning, but Nixion guessed that she wouldn’t talk to them forever. Mist had apparently come to the same conclusion.
“We’re here on behalf of the Sanctuary.” He said, stopping Nixion.
Her smile became a little less warm.
“I don’t like the Sanctuary.” She said.
“I can relate.” Nixion assured her.
“Shut up,” Mist said, turning to him and then back to Lyra.”
“We heard you could help us.” He said.
“I don’t help the Sanctuary either.”
“We’re not really the Sanctuary,” Nixion said, ignoring the glare coming from Mist for speaking again. ‘Really the Sanctuary is helping us. And trust me, I don’t like doing this much either.”
“Can we come in?” It was the third thing Nixion had heard the vampire say, and his tone was calm and convincing.
Lyra looked between Nixion and Mist, then to Dark and finally to Hunter.
“Alright,” she finally said, and walked in, leaving the others to follow her. Hunter closed the door behind him softly and followed.
They walked through her house, the others looking at pictures on the walls, and books in the selves, but Nixion didn’t care. For the third time in twenty-four hours, he was back to thinking about his past. Vaugely he wondered why he continued doing this, but did not reject the tide of swarming memories that offered a tale.
He was no longer called Aiden. Somewhere along the way, he had changed it. He was now Nixion. And Nixion was angry.
He had failed again.
Through the time he had been tortured and brainwashed, he had changed.
He was now a killer.
A killer with mood swings with switched between cold, angry and blood-thirsty, to frightened, scared and timid. The moods took him and at whatever time. It could be at a torture session, while sleeping, or during the he was trying to kill someone.
He had mastered bone-breaking. He could kill someone with a tap and intentions. As long as he had motivation and a finger to someone, he could snap every bone in their body. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was every time he got close, every time he was about to murder them, he changed. He became frightened, and he didn’t want to kill anyone while he was like that.
That annoyed him whenever he wasn’t in that state.
Because every other moment of his life was spent with a burning desire to murder someone, obliterate their existence brutally, tear apart every bone and deliver the package of ultimate pain before ending the life of the victim.
He was still in the same place. His home, now. He didn’t know what else to call it. It was where he had been for the last… how long had it been? The Man had told him it had been eight months at some point recently, but it was hard to keep track of time. It did not matter though, and Nixion was never bored. He supposed he would have been glad of that if it were not that the thing occupying him was the torture. In fact, now he was beginning to go insane. He did not want it to happen, but he could feel his sanity slowly seeping away from his body and the insanity slowly spreading inside like a disease. He could not stop it either.
Every so often, the man would bring someone in, bound and chained, helpless. Nixion was always glad when this happened; finally, a chance to kill someone again. Every time, however, his mood suddenly swung into reluctance before he channelled his energy into the victim. Nixion just failed again and was currently screaming as the man dug a silver instrument deep into his flesh. Occasionally the victims were allowed to battle Nixion. He was always able to fight them, that was easy. Killing was the part that got him though. And after that, more torture was brought raining down upon him.
Finally the man withdrew the instrument form his arm and swooped down, a fist colliding with his temple and Nixion collapsed backwards, darkness enveloping his vision.
Nixion looked up. The man was gone. He had no idea how long he had been out for, nor did he care. He simply got up of the ground and sat down in the chair. The man no longer bound him the chair anymore. Once he had confirmed Nixion had gotten used to the torture, he had stopped tying him up and simply left Nixion to roam around the small room.
He sat back in the chair and looked around at the room. He needed some chalk, he decided, for when he was finally insane. So he could draw all those crazy things on the walls like the people did in the movies inside the asylums or prisons. He was looking forward to that. He would need to request it of the man when he next came in. The door opened and the man came in. Nixion remained silent, expecting more torture. Instead, the man leaned a machete against the wall, and reached into his pocket, bringing out a vial. The vial was filled with a murky green liquid and Nixion did not recoil, though quite disgusted.
“You will drink this.” the man commanded of him.
Nixion nodded, having no desire to disagree.
“OK.” He said simply, no emotion coming to him. “Why?”
The Man glowered.
“Because my torturing doesn’t seem to be working. This will drive you insane and into the kind of person I want.”
“An insane killer?” Nixion asked.
“You’ll drink it then?”
“OK.” He agreed. “But can I have some chalk to draw with on the walls for when I’m insane?”
The man laughed and for a moment he was afraid the man might reject. But then he composed and replied.
“Of course.” He said. “That’s the best part of being insane.”
“I thought that was the killing.” Nixion said, confused.
“Other than the killing.” The man said.
Nixion took the vial and looked into the liquid from above. He was mildly disappointed it wasn’t bubbling. It did not have a cork on it either. Oh well, it was just one more step to make it easier. He was about to become insane. And there might not even be any more torture.
“I’d like to think that we’ve become good friends.” The man said, smiling darkly.
“I’d like to think that too.” Nixion replied, raising the vial to his mouth. “But it’s not true. I still loathe you.” He pressed it against his lips and devoured the liquid. It was hot and it ran down his throat, smooth and powerful. The vial was lowered and released and it smashed on impact with the floor. Nixion’s mind snapped, suddenly a headache leaping to surround his brain. He ignored it and stood.
The frightened Nixion, the young Nixion, the old Nixion…he was dead. The real Nixion stood and looked the man dead in the eye. He smiled. Nixion was insane and he loved it. It was blissful and he did not need to think to act. He simply did what he did, no want, need or desire in the world. No care, no interest…other than murder.
He smiled back at the man and did not speak. He simply raised a hand and forced a finger onto the man’s forehead. He saw the man’s smile drop and become laced with fear, not able to move. Nixion’s grin suddenly transformed into a happiness of pure evil, pure insanity. And the power surged through his body, from his core, all around him. But it quickly found it’s direction, it’s road, the place to go. It surged, sped down his arm and into his finger before exploding away from it and burst into the air. In slow motion he saw the energy shimmer for a fraction of a second before it contracted on the man and blood flew everywhere.
He let the man fall to the ground, his body now misshapen and deformed, bones sticking out in every pace. Nixion grinned a grin of evil, blood scattered all over his face and clothes. He bent down, retrieved the machete the man had laid down and slowly walked from the room, away from the man who had held him captive for almost a year.
It was clear now. The memories retracted into the depths of his mind and Nixion sat there. He did not know where. He did not know what he was sitting on, nor who the person talking to him to the left was. He had not been released. He had murdered the man…He had killed him.
“Is he alright or can I hit him?” Lyra asked.
Nixion looked up, quickly coming back to earth. They were in the lounge room. Everyone was looking at him oddly. This was the second time he had done this while in someone’s home.
Mist grabbed his arm suddenly.
“Can I talk to you?” he asked, but the look in his eye made Nixion know that he had to accept. He nodded and they stood up and followed Mist back into the hallway.
“OK.” Mist said talking quietly. “I’m not going to pester you about this, I’m going to ask you once. What’s going on with you?”.
“Nothing.” Nixion said and turned to walk back into the other room but Mist grabbed his arm and sent shadows of darkness to bind his hand and Nixion’s arm together. Damn those gloves…
“That is the third time that you’ve done that.” Mist said. “I want to know what’s going on.”
“Well, I’m not telling you.” Nixion glared, talking just as quietly.
“Fine.” Mist sighed. “I suppose that’s reasonable, but from now on, can you please just try and concentrate?”
Nixion studied Mist. He wasn’t angry…he was concerned. Concerned.
“Yes.” He muttered. “Fine.”
The shadows retreated and the two walked back into the room.
Lyra was looking from Dark to Hunter, a tamed expression of curiosity playing on her face.
They sat down again and Lyra finally spoke.
“So,” she said, watching as Nixion fell onto a seat, arms folded. “Why are you here?”
“We need your help,” Mist said, and launched himself into another explanation about Hamond’s escape, and The Remaining.
Lyra looked at them.
“I can manage this situation without you.” She said finally. A shocked silence followed her words. “You can toddle off back to the Sanctuary and leave this to me.”
“You can’t.” Mist said, not looking worried. “You don’t know the magnitude of this situation.”
“And you do?” Lyra asked sceptically.
“We need your help, Lyra.” Mist said. “And let’s face it, you need to help us.”
She thought about it, and then grinned.
“Fine,” she said. “I’ll assist you,” Mist begun to speak, but Lyra wasn’t quite finished yet. “If,” she continued, “Nixion fights me.”
A shocked silence filled the room.
Nixion leaned forward.
“You want me…to fight you…?” he asked in doubt.
“Yes.” She was still grinning, but everyone knew she was being serious.
“I don’t think that-” Mist started, but Nixion interrupted him.
“Let’s go then,” he said and stood up.
“Then let the games begin.” She said, following his movements.
They were standing out in the backyard, surrounded by green grass. Lyra was holding two knifes, and was in a fighting stance. Nixion had his machete crossed over him, the point near the ground. Everyone else was watching from the fence, a good distance away.
You know how some people say you could cut the tension in the air? Well, the tension was so thick that you’d need a chainsaw just to scratch it.
Nixion made the first move. He ran towards her, swinging his machete directed at her throat. She dodged it, rolling across the ground, and tried to cut him across the leg as he passed. He quickly bought his machete flying down to meet it and the two struggled for a minute before Lyra rolled backwards and came up, waiting for the next attack.
They paused, assessing each other’s techniques and style. Nixion would have preferred fighting without weapons, mainly because Lyra was a weapons specialist. Nixon was at least glad that she was only using two weapons. He had seen her take all kinds of battle accessories from her jacket.
This time, she lunged forward, one knife pointing toward his heart. Nixion managed to stumble backward, but still received a cut across his chest. He quickly brought his machete up, and missed her by an inch. Nixion snarled and charged, swinging and slicing at her. He managed to make a small cut on her elbow, and grinned. His grin vanished at once when she came in with a fist and Nixion dived to the side, rolled on the grass and spun, flinging his machete at Lyra. She spun in the air, rolled and caught the machete in her mouth before placing one of her knives back in her jacket and taking the blade. Nixion’s face fell and took two steps back, now becoming anxious. Lyra grinned at him and calmly moved in, one knife moving to cut his stomach and his machete moving up to his head but Nixion grabber her wrists and smashed his head into hers sending her staggering back. When he recovered, he realized he was now holding his machete again and Lyra’s knife.
He swung his machete at her, aiming for her neck. She raised her arm and blocked the attack by hitting his arm away. He wasted no time, however and bought her knife flying up to slice her neck and she only just spun in time. Nixion sliced at her legs, and she only just managed to jump it, now gasping.
He charged at her, swinging and cutting again. The difference this time was that he was actually striking her, her lightning fast reflexes only just stopping the blades from inflicting fatal injuries to her body. He became more and more reckless with each injury he inflicted upon her and soon became smug. He brought both weapons up for her head and she ducked, pushed off the ground and shot a kick up that hit Nixion’s chin sending him staggering back. He spun, raising his blades but Lyra was already there. She sent one, two, three fists into his face and followed up with a second kick which sent Nixion stumbling to the side. Lyra pounded a fist into his head one last time and Nixion fell to the ground. He rolled quickly and flipped up to see Lyra standing with a pistol in her hand.
“Hell.” He said before she opened fire. He blurred from his place and rebounded off the house as bullets flew for his legs. He caught sight of Mist and Dark laughing while Hunter stood there looking bored. He made a mental note to kill them all once he was done here. He flipped as another bullet shot past him and Nixon spun and released Lyra’s knife from his grip. It flew and she caught sight of it just too late. She leant to one side quickly but it still caught her on the cheek and she gasped in pain before glaring at Nixion, seething in anger.
“You’re the one who wanted a fight.” Nixion said just before she opened fire again and he cursed. This time bullets few everywhere, aimed at his chest, head, anything. He rolled quickly and darted around Lyra, rebounded off the house once again and collided with her. They both fell to the ground and rolled, Lyra coming up on top sending four punches raining down on him before Nixion forced his knee up to hit the back of her head. Her body was forced forwards at the blow and Nixion quickly bought his own fist up to hit her sending her rocking backwards instead. He lashed out, a kick making contact and she rolled off him while he rolled the other way and came up holding the gun.
Lyra froze, a playful smile on her face. She slowly stood up and walked towards Nixion, knelt in front of him and pressed her forehead into the pistol, knife clutched tightly in her hand.
“Go on then.” She panted. “Shoot.”
Nixion laughed darkly and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened…it was empty.
“Son of a-”
Lyra’s blade came soaring out of nowhere and lashed against his check and Nixion rolled backwards in pain. He picked himself up and cursed again as Lyra pulled a second pistol from her jacket and emptied the magazine on him, gun shots ringing out loudly.
Nixion leaped into the air once more as the final bullet shot from the gun and streaked through his leg. He cried out in pain and collapsed when he landed, blood leaking from his wound. He found he was next to her and flipped his machete and slammed the handle of it into her chin and she staggered back, clutching it. Nixion spun on the ground and hit her legs with his and she tripped and fell while he cried out in pain again. She rolled to the left and jumped up. She quickly slammed the end of her knife against Nixion’s chin. He rolled once more and leaped to his feet…foot…whatever.
Lyra gathered her strength and launched herself up too, charging at him again. A fist flew out of nowhere, hit his stomach hard and he doubled over, his hand somehow finding Lyra’s arm. A grin rose to his face and he shot power through his hand. A loud crack shot from Lyra’s arm and she staggered backwards while Nixion hopped around. Her glare blazed in pain and she shot forwards one last time. Her elbow smashed into his jaw and it broke before her leg swept the ground from him. He fell and lost his grip on the machete. Before it had even hit the ground, Lyra stooped and grabbed the hilt of Nixion’s weapon as he landed don his back, face screwed up in pain.
He looked up at her, his own machete pointed at his heart.
“Game over.” She gasped.
Mist ran forward drawing his knifes looking cautious but Lyra had already discarded the weapon and helped Nixion up with her unscathed arm.
“You’re good,” she panted amazed.
Nixon clutched at his jaw, wincing in pain and not even trying to respond.
“But he lost?” Mist asked sceptically. He would have hit him if he had the strength.
“He did, but no one’s got that closes in years.” She grinned.
Nixion mumbled something about a rematch, and she laughed. The laugh quickly turned into a wince, and she looked at her broken limb.
“Yeah, I’ll help you,” she said to Mist. “Partly because I want a rematch too.”
Mist sighed while Nixion made a sound which could have been a laugh or an insult.
“Come on,” Mist said. “Let’s get you two to the Sanctuary.”
THE IDIOTS WHO CALL THEMSELVES HEALERS
Lyra had a blue van and Zathract said he would drive to the Sanctuary; he honestly didn’t think the police would be on patrol at two in the morning. He got in the driver’s seat while Hunter got in beside him and Dark made himself at home in the backseat with Lyra and Nixion, both of whom were now unconscious. Lyra had pulled out a tranquilliser gun from her jacket and handed it to Zathract before they had left. Lyra, having known already that Zathract would use it to put both her and Nixion to sleep before they departed was ready for the shot, but Zathract had to use Dark to distract Nixion while he injected the fluid in to his bloodstream. Nixion, he knew, would not be happy when he awoke. But that would be in the future, and he currently had two unconscious people to lug into a van. As Zathract pulled out of the driveway and begun the seven hour trip back into familiar surroundings and to the Australian Sanctuary, he silently mused at the thought that the two in the back were dreaming about more fighting, a rematch. He told Hunter and Dark that they would probably get there around seven in the morning if they were lucky with traffic, which they probably wouldn’t be once the sun rose, so they could sleep if they wanted. However, Hunter had informed him quietly that he was used to not getting any sleep for nights on end and Dark had simply told him that he wasn’t sleepy. So Zathract continued to drive while the two exchanged tales. Dark made it clear that he didn’t like vampires and Hunter made it clear that he didn’t like Necromancers, but each of them made it quite clear that they liked one another, neither being what was expected of their kind. And Zathract listened through all of it, boredom seeping through his mind and wondering whether he would survive if he attempted to shut them up by killing them and if they would survive the battle with The Remaining if he did succeed in taking their lives. He decided against it and attempted to ignore the boring conversations they discussed.
Once they left the city and got into the country side again, Zathract decided that he liked it out here better for driving. There were no traffic lights, no speed limits, no street lights and no horns honking wildly from drunken teens. After almost an hour of doing nothing but resisting the urge of slamming his head against the wheel in frustration at the Necromancer and the vampire, Zathract pulled himself back to earth after letting his mind wonder for a while to find that the two had stopped talking. And he continued driving for five minutes with dead silence.
“Have you ever been attacked by seven people at once?” Dark asked just as Zathract was about to ask something himself and groaned in frustration silently as Hunter replied.
“Oh, yes,” he said darkly. “And they almost succeeded too.”
“And why were you attacked?” Neon asked, curious.
“Oh, various reasons.” Jake replied casually. “Most likely because I had just killed another vampire.”
“Ah,” Dark smiled. “So I can safely assume that it was other vampires also attempting to kill you?”
“Most definitely.” Hunter nodded.
“…Shut…Up…” Mist whispered through gritted teeth the hands concealed under his gloves white with gripping the wheel.
“What was that?” Dark asked having actually not caught Mist’s sentence.
“Oh, nothing.” Zathract replied cheerfully, his voice now becoming audible for the first time since he suggested they sleep. “I was just saying that I’ve been attacked by twenty seven sorcerers and six vampires at the same time. And killed them all.”
Dark and Hunter fell silent again and he grinned to himself in the darkness, pleased with his unintended tactic to shut them up. More country and farm passed them as Zathract continued to pile on the speed, his grin slowly fading now and the silence solidifying in the van. Tiredness slowly seeped in and begun to clog Zathract’s mind and head begun to droop over the wheel.
“Mist, I am going to kill you!” a deafening yell from the back seat woke up Dark, who had been sleeping, and brought both Zathract and Hunter back to their senses while Lyra continued to rest peacefully beside the now moving figure stifling with anger.
“You do not,” Nixion raged. “Under any circumstances, tranquillize me!” then his hands suddenly leaped to his jaw and clutched it as the pain kicked in brutally.
Zathract shook his head in frustration and returned his attention to the task of driving as a cow mooed loudly from behind them.
They were at the Sanctuary and Zathract, Dark and Hunter had had to endure the rest of the four and a half hours of the journey back listening to Nixion complaining in a mumble due to his broken jaw about several things including his apparent intense pain, Zathract’s slow driving, problems with vampires, flaws in Necromancy, being tranquillized and Mist in general. In fact, they were all quite unpleasantly surprised that Nixion could manage a mumble at all, let alone the loud shout he had made when he awoke. Which was quite unfortunate in everyone else’s opinion. They were all more than content without Nixion complaining. It was half past seven by the time they pulled up against the school and by this point, Lyra had begun to stir, her eyes opening. Zathract laughed as Hunter was pushed away from Lyra bitterly as he attempted to help her down from the van. It appeared she was still drowsy though and had to walk along slowly from behind as they made their way into the school, the slowly rising higher and higher into the sky behind them.
Zathract lead the group with Dark and Hunter behind him walking side by side, the latter looking quite disgruntled, with Nixion trailing behind, clutching his jaw and wincing with each step, and Lyra bringing up the rear walking slowly and gasping each time her right arm moved. They continued walking, through the darkened school, into the practically destroyed canteen, where Zathract knelt for a moment to allow the tile to detect the traces of magic in the flame he held to it, before proceeding down the staircase and into the Sanctuary. No one spoke as the group marched across the long passageway lit by flame. In fact, it wasn’t much of a march. Zathract strode normally, Hunter and Dark’s backs arched forward slightly to display a feeling of boredom and Nixion half staggered forwards while Lyra attempted a faster pace before finding it too difficult to increase her speed and dropping back to her slower one making her look like she was giving off short bursts of energy every few seconds. As usual, Zathract reflected, they were not anywhere near the term “normal”. Normal was boring though. The way the walls and ceilings were built and how the light of the fire illuminated the corridor reminded Zathract very much of the movie settings of ancient castles, the ones with knight armour standing in the corridors and where the kings all wore robes. Of course, the three Elders had to wear robes, but they resembled little of the silky red ones with fluffy outlining that the kings he was thinking of wore. Zathract pushed the thoughts from his mind and continued walking, nearing the wooden door at the end and smiling to himself at how typical it was of him to be thinking of films at a time like this.
He reached the end of the passageway, pushed open the wooden door stepped into the Australian Sanctuary as the Administrator greeted him again, the other filing in behind him.
“What this time?” the Administrator asked Zathract as Nixion slumped against the wall, hand still clutching at his jaw.
“We need healers.” Zathract replied. “Medical attention for these two.” He gestured quickly at Nixion and to Lyra who had remained standing unsupported but looked unbalanced. The Administrator glared at Nixion for a fraction of a second, but quickly nodded curtly and hurried off. Ten seconds later, seven people dressed in white clothes came running out, four holding two stretchers. Zathract stepped back with Dark and Hunter as Nixion and Lyra were carefully laid on the stretchers and carried off.
Zathract tried not to laugh at Nixion glaring up at the healer trying to remove his hand from his mouth to inspect it.
There were healers dressed in stupid white clothes all around him and the huge light was blinding. Nixion was lying on a long steel platform and was strapped down to it. It was a much friendlier environment than the room he was locked in for a year and tortured, but the scene was familiar enough to set his memories back to pain again.
They were all dead and Nixion was standing in the middle of the room with their broken, lifeless bodies scattered around him, all of which were drenched in blood, as was he. Their once pure white clothes were now torn and bloody, worn and beaten. Nixion’s face was consumed with a maniacal grin accompanied with insane laugher of madness. He was slightly hunched over and his hand clutching the bloodstained machete hung loosely by his side. Nixion’s laughter slowly dimmed and then died, the silence starting to press in on him. It was the kind of silence that was impossible to contain, the kind that walls could not hold. Nixion could not appreciate it, would not. It bore down on him and expanded, slowly but steadily; purposefully as if it had a goal. It was delicate and powerful, but vulnerable. And then the silence shattered; a sharp knife cut through it in the form of Nixion’s voice.
“DEAD!” he bellowed and begun to laugh again. They were all dead, all the people in the building. His former prison, the small room he had been kept in for so long, tortured in, was behind him, the door leading into it positioned somewhere to the left of a corridor to the side. There was a dead body in there too. Nixion grinned darkly at the memory. The once white walls, just like the once white clothes, were now stained and covered in blood from all different people. Nixion remained hunched over as his shoulders and back shook slightly with his laughter which was then ceased abruptly. It would have unnerved everyone, if anyone was still alive. Then his head slowly rose upwards as the silence snuck back in carefully, his eyes now narrowing and his eyebrows contracting to create a fierce glare as if the blood splatter on the wall had just insulted him.
“I’M NOT GIVING IT TO YOU!” he roared at the wall and the silence scampered back out again as Nixion straightened up and looked away from the wall after two more seconds of hardened rage. An exit. He needed an exit out of the building, some way to get out of here, the prison. His prison…his prison.
Nixion staggered forwards, his left leg landed heavily and he wobbled sideways for a second before getting his balance back in check. His laugh that escaped from his mouth again turned sharp in the instant Nixion’s weight shifted to his right leg and a cross between a growl and a gasp of pain filled the room as pain surged through his mind and leg simultaneously.
“Revenge…” he muttered, forgetting about his leg at once and took another staggered step forwards. “Will be…IT!” he spun around and his hand flew upwards, finger pointed now at a double door with blood splattered all over it. “THAT IT REVENGE! NOW!” Nixion abandoned his old direction and marched towards the door, finger still firmly pointing at it accusingly. He stepped over a dead body and lowered his hands when he reached the door. His eyes travelled up and down the door, examining it carefully and softly muttered words flittered from his mouth that hung slightly open. Nixion’s hand met the door and he begun stroking it softly.
“Mine…it…lovely…DIE!” he rolled forwards and crashed into the double door with such force that they were knocked off its hinges and clattered loudly in the next corridor as Nixion stepped over them, now walking purposefully towards a second door, moving with an air of brutal purpose, seemingly knowing where he was going.
“BANG!” How was Nixion suddenly holding a gun? Perhaps a better question would be “why did he just shoot it at the light above him, plunging the corridor in to complete darkness?”, or a better one still, “why did he discard it the second after doing this?” It didn’t seem to matter to Nixion. He continued walking quickly forwards and turned what he imagined would be a corner.
Nixion staggered backwards, roared in fury and slammed his fist into the wall before getting it stuck in there and spent the next five minutes in a blind rage, screaming, thrashing and lashing out, trying to free his hand from the large ditch in the wall.
He kicked it in the end which somehow dislodged his fist and he quickly slammed his other one into the insolent wall before turning around and smashing through a second door.
And there, right there, in front of his eyes, was the most horrible, mind-numbingly, blindingly, terribly, disgustingly horrid thing Nixion had ever seen. Impure and natural; horrifying to see, a feeling to bleed against. Something to kill, yet something he could not, something no one could. Impossible in itself to exist, something so impure, something so unnaturally bright; it gazed into Nixion’s soul and was already torturing him. Why? After all this time, why was something else ten times as worse taking away all the numbness and blissful nothingness insanity bought with it and handing him back pain and fear? He writhed and shielded his eyes against his eternal enemy: sunlight.
Sunlight. Those eternal, never wavering rays of impurity. They were still his enemy. Just like this huge bright light bearing down on him now was. The only difference between the two situations was…rather a lot of things, honestly. Nixion was now lying on a steel bed thing and a healer dressed in white was leaning over him, asking him something. He laughed silently. The healer looked just like one of the people dressed in the uniforms he had killed all those years ago. He probably didn’t have enough strength at this point to kill anyone though. Or did he? His jaw didn’t hurt anymore. He could actually feel his fingers. Did this mean that the healers had already operated on him?
Argh, there’s the pain! God damn, no, they have not operated yet!
Lyra was sitting in a comfortable red chair, her eyes closed and was failing in her attempt to ignore the searing pain in her arm miserably. There were three healers doing things to her, but she didn’t trust them to give her anything to eat or drink to fix her arm, or even to numb the pain. Lyra wouldn’t even accept the numbing leaves they had offered her and so they had quickly bustled about, trying to fix up her injuries in some other way. The chances that they were actually people intend on poisoning her were very, very slim, but it was a chance all the same. And if that was a change, then the chances that they would end up poisoning her would be reduced significantly if she refused all substances to be taken orally.
As much as her pain ate at her, annoyance was biting its way through her flesh too; annoyance at the stupid, idiotic healers. As if it would take them half an hour to devise a method to at least numb a broken arm without having the victim digest something. Idiots. Zathract Mist most likely had something on him more worth her time than these fools. Admittedly, they were doing everything they could for her; it just wasn’t nearly enough to satisfy.
“Ms Blue,” a man said timidly.
“Call me that again and I’ll slit your throat.” She snarled, eyes still closed.
There was a short pause before the man recovered.
“I’m terribly sorry,” he continued. “Lyra-”
“Never mind. Call me Ms Blue.” She sighed.
The man muttered something and continued.
“We have found a way to-“”
“Well it’s about bloody time.” Lyra snapped, eyes flying open. “Hurry up. Go on.” She waved him away with her good hand and winced as her other arm shifted ever so slightly. The idiots that existed in this world…
“Zathract Mist,” someone to his right said. Zathract opened his eyes and turned his head to face the Grand Mage as he approached the detective. He pushed himself off the wall and turned his whole body to face the Grand Mage and smiled.
“Grand Mage.” He replied, inclining his head slightly as a sign of welcoming. Then he paused. “I’ve been meaning to ask; what’s your name?”
“I can’t always call you Grand Mage, can I?” he asked.
“Thyrow Slit.” The Grand Mage informed him and Zathract raised his eyebrows.
“What?” Zathract asked. “Thyrow? Thyrow?”
“What’s wrong with it?”
Zathract shrugged again.
“Sounds a lot like Shakespeare is all.”
“Never liked him?”
“I never liked poetry much.”
“You don’t say.” Slit replied. “Are you OK?”
“I’m swell.” Zathract grinned. “And since I’ve never used the word “swell” in a sentence before, I’ve probably cracked too.”
“There are some people who can never surprise you.” The Grand Mage grinned back. Then he clapped his hands and got down to business. “So,” He said. “Is the situation being handled?”
“You think it isn’t?”
“It’s my job to check.”
“Well, to answer your question, yes. In addition to myself, Nixion, Kali, Mahogany and Thomas, we’ve now got Jake Hunter, Neon Dark and Lyra Blue to assist us.”
“A vampire, necromancer and experienced weapons dealer.” The Grand Mage sighed.
“Vai Melt has agreed to assist if a battle breaks out that could jeopardize the country and Gabriel Cobalt doesn’t seem to want to help.”
“Any news on Mahogany, Thomas and Kali yet?” Zathract continued.
“Not yet.” Slit replied. “I don’t suppose you bothered setting a time and date to regroup, did you?”
“Why bother?” Mist asked as he pulled out his phone and dialled a number. It rung three times before Mahogany Reed answered.
“Moo.” came her voice from the other end.
“Boom.” Mist replied and cut the onomatopoeia. “Where are you?” the phone went dead. Zathract looked at the screen. She had hung up.
“Moo.” Came her voice again from behind him and Zathract didn’t even bother voicing his annoyance before turning to see Mahogany, Kali, Thomas and one other wearing a cocky smirk.
“Get off me.” Nixion snarled, shoving a female healer off him as she tried to check his mouth for any more missing teeth and he stalked from the room, his temper rising steadily. The healers did not chase after him as he had expected them to. Nixion didn’t know whether to be grateful or annoyed. He’d settle with annoyed. He was in an annoyed kind of mood. A door to his side flew open and Lyra paced out of it muttering darkly about uselessness. Her arm seemed to be fixed.
“What happened to you?” Nixion asked her and she turned to face him before continuing walking along the corridor, now walking beside him.
“Idiot people.” She glowered. “They call themselves healers…as if they can’t find a way to fix an arm without forcing me to eat something…”
Nixion almost laughed but decided he wanted to keep him jaw unbroken for as long as possible again. They turned into a second corridor, no idea where they were going, to run into Zathract, Kali, Thomas, Mahogany, a new person and the Grand Mage all standing around, stuck in a very sticky silence.
“You aren’t getting you job back.” The Grande Mage said. “That’s all there is to it.” And he walked off without another word. At first Nixion thought that he had been talking to Mist, but when he saw the look on the new persons’ face, he saw that he had been wrong. Not that he cared much: this new person would probably end up dying before long. As the Grand Mage exited the scene, Hunter and Dark walked in and joined them.
“Who are you?” Nixion asked the new guy. “Never mind, I don’t care.” He continued before the newbie could answer who actually didn’t seem to care much. Nixion turned on Mist. “So this is the team?” Nixion asked as the vampire and the necromancer neared. Mist nodded.
“Looks like it then.” He replied.
“Right.” Thomas said.
“Let’s go save the world then.” Mist said. He turned and walked off, most of the group following suite.
“Cliché…” Nixion heard Mahogany say cheerfully from behind as they walked towards the exit of the Sanctuary.
STIRKE ONE, YOU’RE OUT
Nixion was sure that they’d fail. They would never stand a chance with this crew of pathetic misfits. They had a vampire, a necromancer, an elementalist, a metal-bender-person-thingy, a person who could change the shape of her hands, and two people who had no magic besides fighting abilitieswhatsoever. Lyra was good, Nixion knew seeing as he had battled her himself. She was impressive,formidableand deadly. Overall, a rather excellent combination of skills. But Nixion didn’t trust this new person Thomas, Kali and Mahogany had brought back with them. He did not know who he was and, although this rule had been broken many times in the past few days, Nixion was firm that he didn’t trust anyone he didn’t know. Even people he did know. Nixion pondered over this for an hour and found that on the inside, the only person he really trusted was Mist. He vowed never to tell anyone this. He took a dislike to this new person at once. Even ignoring the fact that he seemed to share his and Mist’s liking for nothing but black, Nixion got bad vibes coming from him. He knew that this newbie would either be extremely annoying or over-the-top with a fearless attitude and try and take over Mist’s lead on the group. Mist’s lead? Since when had Nixion agreed to that? Mist was not leading this team…or was he?
His name was Stavan, Kali informed them all, and was an ex-Cleaver, fired for “inappropriate behaviour”. That didn’t exactly make him any more popular with Nixion. When Mist had asked Kali how she knew him she had said “We’re old friends.” But Nixion had heard something weird when she had said “friends”. He assumed this meant that she really didn’t like him at all, but knew that he would be helpful in battle.
Either that or they had dated…
Now that he took a closer look, it seemed that this newbie really did dress a lot like Mist in particular. He dressed all in complete black. A black jacket stretched down to his boots which were also black. A black shirt accompanied by black pants hung loosely on his body. His hair was black too, but, unlike Mist’s, it spiked up a bit and had been cut messily. He carried a Clever’s Scythe with him and Nixion wondered why he still had one. Surely the Sanctuary would have taken it back when he had been fired. Nixion hated the cocky grin, that confident smile, that seemed permanently plastered to his face. It didn’t get better when he got the feeling that it wasn’t there because he was eternally happy, but more because he really was going to be the annoying, arrogant person Nixion had suspected of him earlier. Mist was leaning against a wall, the fire that hung in its holder behind him sending flickering lights to play on the back of his hair. He was making a plan with Thomas and Hunter and he seemed to be disagreeing with them over something. Dark was somewhere else in the Sanctuary, doing something that Nixion didn’t care about. Lyra, Kali and Mahogany were talking to Stavan, and he was licking up the attention. Mahogany seemed to like him well enough, but it was clear that Lyra didn’t think much of him and Kali was shifting around, biting her lip absent minded and looking down at the ground, holding one of her own arms by the elbow.
Nixion was sure that Mist and himself would do well, of course. Nixion couldn’t go wrong and as for Mist, the chances are that he had already been in similar situations such as this plenty of times before. When it came to terms of fighting, Nixon was rather good if he said so himself. Not much stood in his way when he wanted something. And Mist was even better. Not that he’d ever tell Mist that. Mist must never know how much Nixion doubted himself. However, Mist would really be doing most of the work on this case. Nixion was rubbish at nearly anything but fighting. Thomas could bend metal. That was it. Lyra was a weapons expert, not a detective, nor was Mahogany, but Nixion really had no idea what she did for a living. Kali wasn’t much of a detective as far as he knew and as for this Stavan…Well, he’d see what he could do soon enough. And Dark and Hunter were simply there. A necromancer and a vampire. God, help him…
Nixion himself was sitting in a dark corner, alone. He had no interest in making plans, or talking to Stavan. Or anyone else. Yet, he had an unsettling urge to talk to someone. Throughout all his life, even before the kidnapping, Nixion (Aiden back then) had preferred to be alone. He liked the silence, the solitude, the way he could think without interruption. So when he felt the urge to talk to people, like now, it confused him. Sometimes even worried him. He didn’t like it when he was confused. He liked it even less when he was worried. If he was worried then it usually meant his life was in danger. And though this situation didn’t involve imminent death, Stavan’s stupidity that Nixion was sure was there, could very easily lead him to his death, should he allow it. He made a mental note to himself never to trust Stavan or do anything he suggested, even if Mist agreed to it.
…Why was he placing Mist’s opinion in a position of power? That in itself was unnatural. Something was wrong with Nixion today. Perhaps the Healer’s had done something to him. He made another mental note to slaughter them all should he ever be driven into insanity again.
He looked up and Nixion became aware of Stavan standing over him. He allowed himself a second to scowl at himself for not noticing sooner and then redirected his scowl at Stavan who was grinning like a…a cat… Nixion had once read about it in a book. A…Cherry cat? He wasn’t sure…It wasn’t that Nixion couldn’t remember, it was that Nixion could barely read. Damn limited education, he thought angrily. Or rather, damn the bastards who kidnapped him and shoved him into that stupid room where that idiot man shoved that stupid, metal knife up his-
“Can I sit down?” Stavan asked, gesturing to the floor besides Nixion. Damn limited chairs, too, he continued in his head. Nixion thought for a moment of Stavan’s request.
“No.” he decided firmly.
Stavan laughed as if he appreciated the joke and waited for Nixion to say something else.
When he didn’t, Stavan’s brow furrowed for a moment before sitting himself down beside Nixion awkwardly.
“Oh, for…” Nixion muttered and shifted away from Stavan. Because he was taller than Nixion, he had a harder time getting comfortable. He didn’t think the scythe strapped to his back helped.
“So,” he said, giving up trying to get comfortable and grinning and Nxion. “You just looked so lonely here, by yourself that I had to sit here. I just didn’t have a choice.”
Nixion made a sound that may have been a conformation or a threat as he vomited on the inside. Stavan took it as the former and continued.
“I hear you have quite the reputation for a thirteen year old kid.” He said happily, still looking at Nixion while he looked determinedly away. He realized after a few seconds he was staring at Lyra and he hurriedly redirected his gaze down to the ground as their eyes interlocked for a second. “And not all of its good.”
“Fourteen,” Nixion practically growled. “And almost fifteen now.”
Nixion hated birthdays. They reminded him of home, and how he could never go back there. A lot of things reminded him of home. Even hot dogs…somehow…
Nixion noticed that somehow Stavan was talking about one of his fights. At first, Nixion was sceptical, and thought he was making a lot of it up. But as the details got more complicated and exciting, the more Nixion found himself listening to every word.
“There’s no way you could get a vampires head to do that,” Nixion tried to stop grinning. Stavan seemed to give off a certain enthusiasm that was contagious.
“But I did,” Stavan said, sitting up taller and grinning madly. “I’m talented like that.”
“Prove it.” Nixion almost laughed.
Stavan paused, then searched his pockets for something. “Oh. It seems I don’t have a vampire head handy at the moment. Do you?”
Nixion thought for a moment, then looked at Hunter
“I have an idea where you could get one.” He replied.
Stavan laughed. Against his better judgement, Nixion found himself liking the ex-Cleaver.
“How’d you get fired anyway?” Nixion asked.
Stavan’s grin seemed to disappear for a second. Then he smiled, but it wasn’t as enthusiastic as his grin was.
“They didn’t seem to think that my behaviour was appropriate for a Cleaver.”
“Why?” Nixion was curious. The way he said it, it seemed like the Sanctuary had blown something he did out of proportion.
Now Stavan’s grin was back. “Apparently,” he said, “Dancing when people pass, or pretending to attack citizens visiting the Sanctuary is inappropriate.”
“You actually did that?”
“What? Me? No, I would never do something so irresponsible.” Stavan said in a pompous manner.
“So they fired you for dancing?” Nixion asked sceptically. He thought this was highly unfair.
“Yeah.” He laughed along. “I had a great track record. I was a great fighter, and saved lots of lives heaps of times. But I didn’t take orders well. I did my own thing, and even if it worked, they weren’t happy.”
Nixion frowned, partially because it sounded so much like him.
“Why would you become a cleaver if you weren’t serious and didn’t take orders?” he asked.
“My family were powerful sorcerers, but I just wasn’t that good at magic.” He said and Nixion could tell he was now getting the “My Past” speech. “I was trying to become an elemental, but I was horrible at it. Even after a three years of training, I had trouble even to make a spark appear. When I pushed the air, I was lucky if someone stumbled a bit. Then I found out about Cleavers. Guards, enforcers and the army all in one, and limited magic required. It was perfect, I thought. When the surge came around, I locked myself into fighting magic, and became a cleaver.”
“Seems fair enough.”
Stavan was about to say something when Mist spoke up. “Alright,” he said, a sense if achievement in his voice. ‘We have a plan. We’ve had Sanctuary detectives searching for evidence of any of the Remaining, so we can find someone”
“So we’ve had other people looking for clues, and we’re the ones who get to fight?” Nixion asked. “I like that.”
Mist glared at him.
“Sorry,” Nixion said, obviously not sorry at all. Mist shrugged, accepting the apology that held no meaning behind it far faster than he expected.
“So far we’ve come up with three leads. I think we should split into three groups.” Mist continued. “The first lead, the most promising one will be taken by Stavan, Hunter and Kali.”
Nixion frowned. Stavan was good according to both Mist and Stavan, and Kali was alright. But why send Hunter on that mission? They had never seen him fight. And why wouldn’t Mist want to go on this one personally? If it was one that was most likely to amount to something, surely he would want to see it himself.
“The second lead is going to be taken by Lyra, Mahogany and Dark.”
Nixion groaned. He might have had a limited education, but even he could work out who was left.
“And finally, me, Nixion and Thomas will take the third, least likely lead.” Mist finished, clapping his hands together and grinning at Nixion maddeningly, silently tempting him to burst out in anger.
Then Mist began talking about where the groups were going, and what sort of lead was it. Nixion was barley listening. They were going on the worst lead. This was going to be boring. And he was going with Mist.
This was going to be so boring…
Nixion struggled up, Stavan doing the same beside him and they joined the rest of the team that had assembled around Mist. He really did seem to be taking charge…
“So you all know where you’re going then?” he asked the group at large after four more minutes. “Excellent. Get going then.” They all turned away and swarmed for the exit corridor to the right leaving Thomas, Mist and Nixion alone. Thomas remained for a few seconds, then headed for the exit too. Mist made to follow him, but muttered something to Nixion as he passed.
“It’s good to see you’ve made a friend.” He grinned.
Nixion, Mist and Thomas were going to “visit” (Thomas had used that word in an attempt to cheer Nixion up when he had started muttering darkly which earned him a punch to the gut. Mist had not approved of this action but Thomas had said not to worry) an old factory that had been used by a few sorcerers who had needed a place to stay while on the run from the Sanctuary a few years back. Hidden and barely noticed, it was a good place to hide out. However, it was unlikely that any of the Remaining would be stupid enough to hide in it, especially since the Sanctuary had made a note to go and check on the place every two months.
“Why’d you give us the worst place to go?” Nixion complained darkly as they walked towards the horribly unlikely lead. He only just managed to restrain himself from saying “And making us take one of the worse team members along too.”.
Thomas was only thirteen, and his magic was a strange ability to have. Nixion failed to see how it would be useful in a fight. He had never seen Thomas fight, and despite reassurances that he was a good combatant from Mist, he still thought that Thomas was mostly, if not entirely, useless to the rest of the group.
“Think of it as a test,” Mist said.
“A test?” Nixion asked him incredulously.
“I’m testing a hunch I have.”
Nixion looked at him for a second, but when it became clear that he wasn’t going to say anymore, Nixion simply scowled at the ground as they continued walking, rocks and other useless things crunching under his boot from below.
Within a few minutes, they were outside the door to the factory. It was made of what looked to be rusting metal. Mist nodded at Thomas, and he went off somewhere along the side. Before Nixion could ask how they had devised the form of sign language without his knowledge, Mist held his ear up to the door and listened intensely. Nixion scowled at the door as Mist listen to it. Thomas was doing his own thing, Mist was being the door whisperer, and Nixion was in the dark, completely confused about what was going on. Mist listened for another few seconds, then nodded to himself and looked at Nixion.
“I can’t hear anything,” he said, looking slightly worried. “But that doesn’t mean it’s safe, so be alert.” Mist muttered quietly.
“Come on,” Nixion said, annoyed. “What are the chances that somebody’s here? Why did we even bother coming to this place?”
“I’m ready.” Thomas’ voice came from behind Nixion, and he turned around.
Thomas was wearing what appeared to be armour made of metal that he had torn of something. It wasn't pretty, but it looked threatening. It was made up of different pieces of the same reddish metal. The pieces were pushed tightly together, and it looked crumbled but stable. There were gaps for the eyes, and another for the mouth. At the hands, there were no fingers, just a mitten style four fingers together, and the thumb separate. Only Thomas’ power let him move in the armour, moving the metal as he walked, or raised his arm. He could be the young Ned Kelly.
Nixion raised his eyebrows, seeing for the first time that Thomas’ power could be useful. Mist simply nodded and opened the factory door, revealing a long corridor. It creaked as it opened, so if anyone was here, they’d hear about it. And every step Thomas took clanged against the concrete floor. Stealth was out of the question, so they quickly ran through the corridor, hoping to catch anyone there before they could prepare themselves. As they slammed through the doors at the end of the corridor, they found them waiting.
An army of Hollow Men were standing there, spread throughout the ground floor of the factory. On the second floor, there was a stage sort of thing, where people from the second floor could see onto the first. It wasn’t quite a balcony. More of a weird distortion of the ground. Like a chunk had been carelessly slabbed on. On that stage was a man. He was an average man, nothing stood out about him. If Nixion had seen him on the street, he would have ignored him. However, here, with the man grinning down at them, and an army of Hollow Men surrounding them, Nixion felt compelled to pay attention.
The man was average in height and size. He had black hair, and brown eyes. He was wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Absolutely nothing stood out about him. Except for the fact that he was in the factory.
Mist straightened up and drew his daggers calmly. “Keeve.” He nodded to the man as if he was greeting an old acquaintance. “I thought you were in Germany?.”
The man, obviously named Keeve, unless Mist just decided to call one of the Hollow Men that, smiled.
“You don’t know a lot of things,” he said, wiping hair that didn’t reach his eyes out of his eyes.
Then he looked at Nixion.
“Quite the little psychopath, aren’t you?” he asked him, obviously having done his research on Nixion already. “Sure you’re on the right side?”
Nixion opened his mouth to say something threatening, but Mist interrupted him before he spoke.
“Why are you here?” he asked. “Surely you’d know that we’d find you here. Or is it just a recent move?”
Nixion had no idea what he was on about, but Keeve smiled.
“Work it out,” he said, and by some signal, all the Hollow Men moved towards them.
Nixion drew his machete quickly, and in the same movement cut through a Hollow Men’s stomach sending horrid gasses leaking through the room. Mist sliced through a Hollow Men carelessly and leaped around the skin that crumpled to the ground and ran for the stairs. Thomas simply punched the papery army, making holes in their skin, causing them to deflate. Nixion cut through them, but the machete was too big, and the hallow men were crowding around him, making it hard to use the weapon properly. He was pushed from behind, sending him into Mist’s path. He staggered away for a second, ran into another Hollow Man and returned to Mist after slicing it open again.
Nixion looked up at the stage, judging how far it was. Then he nodded and said to Mist, “I’m going to jump up there.”
“What?” Mist asked him incredulously, and he knew that he was underestimating the power of this enemy Mist had already encountered before. No, I’ll go.”
Nixion shook his head quickly, ducking under a Hollow Man fist and slicing it’s head off in succession.
“My magic doesn’t work on Hollow Men,” he said. “And I don’t have enough room to fight properly. I’m going up.”
Mist said something - probably a warning - but Nixion was no longer listening. He ran forward a few steps and pushed off the ground, his right foot landing on a Hollow Men head. He used that as a platform, and managed to get his fingers on the edge of the stage. He pulled himself up, rolled and came up with his machete shining against the air menacingly. Keeve was just standing there, not disturbed in the slightest about the ex-serial killer standing in front of him. Can you be an ex-serial killer? It didn’t sound right to Nixion. What changes you from being a murder and an ex-murder? Do you have to have stopped for a certain amount of time…? He should know this type of stuff.
Keeve smiled at him.
“Are you sure you’re on the right side?” he repeated. “It’s not too late to change.” He held out his hand as if inviting him over to the dark side. Nixion wondered if they had cookies. He could see it now…
“Come, Nixion. Join us, convert to the dark side. We have cookies.”
“Thanks, but I’ll pass.” Nixion snarled, pulling himself away from the temptation of what could have been a potential cookie fest.
Keeve’s fingers curled into his palm and clenched into a fist.
“That was a one-time offer boy,” he warned. He waited a second before nodding. Nixion wondered why he was so interested. The Keeve opened his mouth and unleashed a sonic wave.
The wave screeched and shook Nixion’s ears. His eyes screwed up and Nixion staggered back, his hands clutching at his ears as the machete clattered to the ground. This sonic wave was killing him. The pain ate at him and his brain shook violently, all form of thought cut off.
Nixion attempted to back away from it. The sonic wave went all the way to the wall at the other end of the factory, but Nixion’s head was scrambled, and by instinct he backed away. Luck suddenly decided to help him and Nixion tripped over his own feet which sent him sideways, out of the path of the sonic wave, and crashing to the ground. Out of the corner of his eye, Nixion caught sight of Keeve turning to Mist and Thomas battling on the ground below and unleashed another sonic wave crashing down on them.
Mist saw what was coming for him just in time and managed to leap out of the way. Thomas, in his heavy armour, didn’t. All the Hollow Men within the reach of the sonic wave swelled up and exploded sending the room into a never ending spiral of putrid smelling gas. Nixion thought that Thomas would be protected by his armour. But when the sonic wave hit him, he brought his arms up to his head, as if trying to protect it and Nixion could hear his screams.
Nixion tried to stand, but felt dizzy. He could barely see, his vision was all blurry and his head pounded. Every part of him felt sore, as if he had just been fighting for several days straight. He felt drained.
Mist used the air to get himself up to the stage. Keeve pulled away from the sonic wave, and turned to him. Thomas was still screaming, but they were getting quieter and Nixion saw he was on the ground now, barely conscious.
Keeve let loose another sonic wave, and it knocked Mist backwards. Nixion wasn’t caught in it and used this to his advantage. Despite his disorientation and pain, Nixion staggered forwards and launched himself into Keeve, knocking him sideways and stopping the sonic wave. Mist hadn’t screamed in pain and was already on his feet again but one of his eyes was shut and his was clutching at his shoulder painfully. The sonic wave stopped, and through his blurred vision, Nixion could see Keeve running away, out a door at the back to of stage. Mist was up first, running after him. Nixion took a second to get his bearing and ran after Mist. Unlike Mist, he walked forward cautiously. He picked up his machete, which was still vibrating slightly, and walked towards to door. They would be way ahead of him by now, if they were still running. He had no hope of catching up. He was tired, and felt like he needed to sleep. His skin stung and his head was killing him. Nixion peeked around the door, and saw it split into two corridors. The left was in perfect order, everything straight and neat. The right had glass on the floor from exploded picture frames, pieces of a wooden table spread everywhere and dents in the metal walls. Nixion took a wild guess and went right.
He tried to listen for the obvious sound of the sonic wave, but his ears were ringing and Nixion could barely hear anyway. His footsteps sounded muffled, as if he had cotton wool in his ears. At the end of the corridor, it had a left turn. Nixion took it and saw more damage littered across the once neat hallways. Nixion took a few more steps then heard something that he could only describe as a vibrating in the air. His machete vibrated a little faster, and he started running. He took a right turn and just saw Mist taking a left turn. Nixion quickly followed, and in a few seconds was running right behind Mist as they chased Keeve.
Keeve looked over his shoulder and saw that they were gaining on him. He looks tired, Nixion thought. He realised that his magic took a lot out of him.
Keeve quickly spun around and a sonic wave bigger than all the others hit Mist and Nixion. Nixion felt as if his head was splitting apart. His eyesight faded to hazy impressions, and a few seconds later, his hearing stopped. His bones felt like they were being pushed apart from the inside, and his muscles felt like they were dying. And that was nothing compared to Mist. Mist had been just a few steps behind Keeve when he was hit, and it affected him worse than it did to Nixion. And yet he still saw Mist staggering around as the sonic wave dissipated. For three seconds Nixion was amazed at Mist still on his feet. But then he collapsed onto his knees and lost consciousness as the rest of his body came crashing onto the ground. Nixion was at least two meters behind Mist, but he didn’t think he could stand another second of it. He fell down onto his back, his body numb, and was about to fall into blissful unconsciousness when the pain really kicked in. Instead of forcing Nixion into a black out, it woke him up instead. Head still pounding, body still screaming at him, Nixion blinked for a second, confused. Then he saw that Keeve thought he had fallen. Nixion sat up and looked at where Keeve had been standing. He was gone, thinking he had won. The numbness then stopped, and Nixion rolled onto his side and threw up. His head felt like it was made of jelly. He wasn’t even on his feet, yet he was swaying. Nixion got to his feet and took an unsteady step. The world was spinning, but Nixion could barely see any of it anyway. He blinked a few times to get his vision clearer, and looked down at Mist.
Through his blurred eyes, he couldn’t see if he was alright, but after a few seconds, Mist began to stir. Nixion saw this as a good sign, and went after Keeve. He couldn’t let someone attack him like that and get away with it. If he was a person who thought about things before doing them, he might have realised that it was unlikely that he would beat anyone in his condition. But Nixion wasn’t a thinker. He was a man of action, and his action right now was staggering after Keeve. And occasionally falling over too.
After a few steps he began to get into a rhythm. After a while, he was practically running. He guessed which corners to turn, and hoped he was right. It was all he could do to prevent himself from spewing every two seconds, he couldn’t stop to think which corner to turn around.
In a couple of minutes, he rounded a seventh corner and saw Keeve walking calmly. Nixion’s anger overtook him, and ignoring the pain, he charged towards Keeve. The man frowned and turned, just in time to see the handle of a machete slam into his face.
Keeve stumbled backwards, trying to concentrate despite the steady flow of blood now streaming down from his nose. Nixion dropped his machete and tapped his fingertips against Keeve’s collarbone. Keeve opened his mouth and screamed without making a sound. Nixion swept his legs from under him and frowned. Something wasn’t right. Keeve was on the ground moaning silently. That was it. Keeve was making noise, Nixion just couldn’t hear it. Where were the screams, the sound of bones snapping? Nixion knelt down, and gripping Keeve’s hair, slammed his head against the ground. No, not even knocking sound. Nixion stood and kicked Keeve in the ribs. He was unconscious now, but it made Nixion feel better. He touched his ear and realised his ears were bleeding. He hoped the Sanctuary Healers got here in time to fix them. He dragged Keeve into a room, got a pair of shackles and cuffed Keeve, putting the chains behind the bed post. Then he punched him in the jaw for good measure.
Nixion turned away from Keeve and began walking back to where he had left Mist. By the time he got there, having taken a few wrong turns, Mist was standing up and had already called the Sanctuary. It soon became apparent that he couldn’t hear any more than Nixion could so the two just nodded to each other and made their way back to Thomas. He didn’t know how the Sanctuary officials were going to find Keeve, but chances were they would strip the place down looking for him anyway so it didn’t really matter. Instead, Mist started making movements to go and check on Thomas.
Nixion nodded and ran ahead of Mist back towards Thomas. He had completely forgotten about him.
When he got to the stage, he looked down and saw that Thomas was lying there. Weak, Nixion thought. Both he and Mist were up by now, but Thomas was still lying there, unconscious.
He walked down the stairs and stood over Thomas.
“Get up,” he said sceptically. Although he couldn’t hear himself, he was sure it was audible, even with armour on. Then he realised that Thomas might be deaf too. He knelt down and shook him.
Something wasn’t right with the armour. He touched a piece at the arm, and then peeled it off. It was more like tinfoil then the original metal. The he saw Thomas’ skin.
It was like someone had taken a hammer to it. His arm was bruised and yellow. Every so often, a small rupture was there, like the hammer had managed to get through to the flesh in some places. Nixion touched his arm. It was cold. Nixion looked up at Mist as horror surged through him.
Nixion out Thomas on his back and ripped of the face armour.
He was definitely dead. His blank eyes looked up at the ceiling. Thomas’ face was the same as his arm; bruised and ruptured. Blood was pooling from his ears. Nixion realised that when he heard Thomas’ scream getting quieter, it hadn’t been him getting over the pain. It had been him dying.
Nixion scowled. This boy was only thirteen. He had a family. He had a life outside fighting. He didn’t deserve to die.
Nixion stood and looked at the stage. Mist was standing there dragging an unconscious Keeve behind him. Nixion didn’t care how he had managed to find the criminal so quickly. Despite what Nixion had thought about Thomas before, he realized he really didn’t want him gone. Nixion looked at Mist and shook his head. Mist closed his eyes for a second. Then he looked up and threw Keeve over the side of the stage. He followed, using the air to cushion his fall. Keeve hit the ground hard, and Mist, after landing, kicked his head hard as he walked to Nixion.
Suddenly, Mist looked over his shoulder, and Nixion spun around, thinking it was more Hollow Men. In actual fact, it was the Cleavers, running through the door, followed by other Sanctuary agents and Healers. Nixion looked at Keeve as he was dragged away by Cleavers.
He was going to pay for this.
Him and the rest of the Remaining…
ANOTHER IDIOTC HEALER
“Your hearing is going to be fine, you’ll be pleased to hear.” the Sanctuary doctor said, peering into Nixion’s ears, completely ignoring his personal space. On the outside Nixion made an effort to scowl.
On the inside he remained slumped and depressed. He was still recovering from the death of Thomas. Nixion felt that it had been his own fault that Thomas, the thirteen year old boy with a caring family, had been killed. In actual fact, Nixion had had nothing to do with the boy’s death, but he still felt guilty for some unknown reason. It was only then did Nixion realize what was going on. These things kept happening inside of him, things that he kept feeling that normally don’t stir at all; Nixion was changing, and, thus far, he could not tell whether or not he liked where he was heading. Nixion was brought back to Earth by the Healer who bent down and spoke louder and closer to his ear.
“Or perhaps not…” the healer said purposefully.
Nixion let out a yell of surprise and jerked away from the healer as he laughed. His mood did not lift, but Nixion could not help being slightly glad that his hearing was going to be fine. He had been worried that they had been delayed for too long or damage done had been too extensive.
“Don’t try something like that again or you’ll find your world a land of pain.” Nixion continued in a snarl, trying to appear like his usual arrogant, superior self.
“Uh…right.” The healer said shiftily, seeming to regret his moment of amusement which made Nixion feel superior again, more like his usual self. They were back at the Sanctuary. Again. Nixion could see now that this would most likely be the base of their operations until this was all over. He had originally thought that Mist might have wanted to use his house/base for the main meeting place and, at the time, Nixion had despised the idea. He now found himself wishing they were using his place for the base of operations. He felt so involved in this now. Keeve, Nixion had been informed ten minutes ago by an irritable Mist, was currently being looked at by advanced Healer’s and Sanctuary doctors. Nixion was all for killing Keeve on the spot, but apparently that was illegal. Still, Nixion doubted that the Grand Mage would really mind. He didn’t seem the responsible kind of type.
“Well…yes, you might have a little bit of a hard time hearing for the rest of the day, but no permanent damage has been done.” the healer continued uncomfortably as if frightened of displeasing Nixion. Now he laughed on the inside.
Nixion was saved from having to answer the healer by Mist slowly entering the room, one hand on his forehead.
“Headache…” he muttered in reply to Nixion’s inquiring raised eyebrow. Mist had been sombre since they had found Thomas dead, and didn’t even seem to care about the fate of his hearing. Instead, he had busied himself with debriefing the Grand Mage, who was apparently now obligated to personally oversee the investigation now that someone had been killed, and other tedious tasks such as the writing of the report on the incident and the paperwork for Thomas’s death.
“The report’s done, the Grand Mage has specially assigned a squad of fifteen Cleavers to our use whenever we need them on this case and apparently, we are the top people on the priority list to everyone working at the Sanctuary.” Mist told Nixion, squinting as he struggled to form understandable thoughts through his headache. He sighed and looked up at the healer.
“How was Thomas killed?” Mist asked the healer in a hollow voice. This was something Nixion still did not understand. Why had a weak sonic wave attack from Keeve killed Thomas while one ten times as strong had not killed either him or Mist? Did the intensity vary for different people? The healer sighed.
“The soundwaves bounced off the metal again and again, getting more intense every time it did so, until Thomas was killed. Unfortunately for him, the only type of metal powerful enough to rebound the sonic waves from Keeve was the kind he happened to be wearing at the time. It also weakened the structure of the metal until it was able to be torn be non-magical means. It was just bad luck that Thomas had that metal on at the time; any other would only protect him. Quite unfortunate, really…”
“Unfortunate?” Mist asked incredulously. “Unfortunate? Someone lost their life and it was unfortuna-?” Nixion cut in quickly to avoid an argument.
“And how’s Keeve doing?” he asked sharply. This made Mist stop talking at once and Nixion knew why. They were obviously being played here. The Remaining had been waiting for them. A quick search of the rooms showed that they weren’t being used, so Keeve and the Hollow Men must have gotten there recently, tipped off by someone. They wouldn’t have been stupid enough to actually stay there, so the army must have been an ambush, an ambush for Mist, Nixion and Thomas, obviously. So this meant that one of their allies was actually a traitor. The only way to find that out would be to get the information out of Keeve. Nixion was confused about one thing though; why had it been such a bad ambush? He knew that The Remaining must have placed the only metal that would kill Thomas there on purpose and picked Keeve to lead the attack because he would be able to produce the sonic waves to kill whoever was wearing it. Which could only really be Thomas seeing as he was the only who could bend the metal to fit him. They only had one of The Remaining there. They could’ve all attacked at once and killed Nixion and Mist along with Thomas. So why hadn’t they? The only explanation that Nixion could think of was that they wanted everyone else alive. And that unnerved him. The image of Keeve trying to get him to change sides, to join The Remaining, flashed into Nixion’s head and he shivered. It involved him. He knew it did. The healer frowned at a checklist he had raised to eyelevel.
“He has…” he said as if preparing himself for something. “One snapped collarbone, two minor fractures in his skull and one major, three broken ribs, one of which has punched his lung, and extensive muscle damage in his right shoulder. His left arm is broken...” he continued, scanning the list. “There’s a hairline fracture along his left shin has apparently lost all vision in his right eye.” One of the Sanctuary agents nearby overheard and looked up at them in surprise. Nixion shrugged.
“When we do things, we make sure we do them right.” He said a matter-of-factly. For the first time since the fight, Mist looked like he might smile. He seemed to struggle for a moment, though, and the smile decided not to make an appearance.
“We need to talk to him,” Mist said tonelessly. “Now.” The healer looked bemused.
“Keeve isn’t fit for any kind of interrogation at this time and will not even be stable for a few days at the least. Your friend here damaged him quite extensively, and he needs to be kept under extreme medical care.” He said, gesturing to Nixion.
“It wasn’t all me,” Nixion replied, pointing to Mist. “He threw him off the stage.” This made the healer look even grumpier, if possible.
“Can’t you just do a quick patch up? Like a mortal doctor, but faster.” Mist asked him in the same, dead voice. The healer gave him a look.
“Do you want me to read the list of injuries again?” he asked sceptically.
“When will he be ready then?” Mist asked, impatience making an entry into his tone. The healer sighed, shook his head and checked another clipboard. After making a few adjustments to it with a pen, he looked back up at Mist with an answer.
“I would prefer to have him alone for a few weeks at least to make sure he is going to stay alive, but the Grand Mage has given us all orders to have whatever you want read.” He said irritably. “So give us a few hours. He’ll be stable an in a condition to talk…” with that, he strode out of the room, a tray of tools in his hands that reminded Nixion horribly of the sharp objects that had been used to torture him.
Mist remained immobile for a moment more, then nodded and exited the room again, Nixion following suit.
“I’ve changed my mind.” Nixion informed him. “I like the Grand Mage.”
Mist rolled his eyes.
“So what now, then?” Nixion asked him. Mist half yawned as he answered.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m dead tired. I’m going to catch some sleep.” Nixion nodded but did not reply, and started thinking hard. Making a decision on the spot, Nixion began to walk towards the lounge where a few couches lay holding the majority of the group and Mist followed. But Nixion quickly changed direction again and he saw that Mist appeared to be thinking so hard, he didn’t even notice when Nixion lead him to the holding cells. He turned on Mist once they had stopped and Mist was snapped out of his trance.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” he asked angrily.
“Why are we here…?” Mist asked, looking around the prison cells and ignoring Nixion’s own question. He was the one who hadn’t been paying attention, thinking about his past. If Mist was doing this as well, they could miss something important. One of them had to be paying attention to the things happening around them, and it sure as hell wasn’t going to be Nixion.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Nixion repeated and Mist bit his lip. Then he said something to Nixion that was so unlike Mist that Nixion had to grin. “Only as a last resort,” he warned Nixion.
“Yeah, sure.” He replied quickly, but he was buzzing at the chance of doing something like that. Mist gave him a sad look as if he knew that he was enjoying the fact that he was loving something that everyone else would hate. Nixion was being pitied. Nixion didn’t care though. He walked back towards the lounge, thinking happy, violent thoughts. He was still thinking them as he fell asleep and his dreams were of violent days.
“You be deaded,“ Nixion said happily to the corpse. Not that the corpse could hear him. Kind of hard to do without a head. Nixion swaggered over to another corpse. He frowned at it as it shivered and stared up at him, looking frightened. This corpse wasn’t dead. It was an alive corpse. Was it a corpse if it wasn’t dead? A corpse was a dead body, and this body was definitely alive. It was an alive corpse, Nixion decided. It would be dead, but it just wasn’t now. The alive corpse splayed its hand, and Nixion was sent flying backwards through the air. Grunting, he landed heavily on the grass and grinned after sitting up. It was a magic alive corpse. He leaped up and easily dodged a fireball that had been hurled in his general direction. Nixion didn’t get the chance to fight as much as he wanted to anymore. Mostly he just killed people. Mortals and sorcerers alike, neither group ever put up much of a fight, which was a shame. Today he had decided to stalk a group of people to this grassy area, and had taken leisure in killing them. He wasn’t quite sure how he had managed to miss this one. Vaguely, Nixion wondered whether or not they had all been sorcerers. It didn’t matter anymore, though, so he stopped dwelling on it.
He moved out of the way as the magic alive corpse pushed the air again, and stepped closer to it. He punched it in the stomach and it fell over, gasping. This wasn’t a good fight. This was all too easy. This was making Nixion sad. Or maybe annoyed. Sannoyed. Sannoyed or…or…
“Annad.” He said out loud, leaning over the magic alive corpse, snarling.
“Huh?” the magic alive corpse asked him, desperately trying to get to its feet.
“ANNAD!” Nixion roared, his hand suddenly brandishing his machete. “ANNAD!” his machete-arm flew around the air wildly and as the magic alive corpse attempted to push him backwards with the air again, Nixion cut off its hand with a vicious swipe.
It roared and clutched its stump to its chest. The roar turn into pitiful weeping and Nixion shook his head, trying to clear it. It still had one good hand but just sat there, crying. Nixion plunged his machete into the magic alive corpse’s chest, and it became just a corpse. He laughed for a moment, before bringing a glare to his face which was directed at the grass.
“No,” he said firmly. “Dead corpse.” Then he grinned evilly, and ran off into the night. Except that it was more of an uneasy stagger away from the scene. And it was broad daylight.
Nixion opened his eyes and realised he was grinning. At once he wiped it off his face and glared around the room to make sure no one had seen. Especially not Mist; it wouldn’t do him justice…
Insanity was fun. Of course, Nixion was insane now, but the state of which he was in currently was nothing compared to the madness that had once consumed him. When he cast a look around the room again, however, Nixion saw that Mist was not there. He was probably pacing in front of the Interrogation Rooms waiting to be let in to see Keeve… Satisfied at the sight of everyone else in the group asleep except for Hunter and Dark (who were both gazing blankly at the wall like a pair of Siamese Idiots), Nixion stood up and stretched. Nixion vaguely registered that he was hungry. Then he saw the time. Keeve should be ready by now. Food could wait. He walked towards the Interrogation Rooms, completely ignoring the medical facility. Mist had told him to go straight to the Interrogation Rooms; Keeve seeing them before interrogation might make him a little less scared…Or something. Nixion didn’t get how, but he didn’t care. Nor did he actually understand. When he got there, Mist was waiting. Just like he had thought…
“He’s ready,” Mist said at once before walking into one of the rooms. Nixion took a deep breath before following, amazed that Mist had waited for him. Keeve was sitting in a chair looking thoroughly depressed. A large bandage was wrapped completely around his head like a turban, only an extension had also been wrapped around his eye. His arm and leg were both in casts and a large rise in his clothing around the ribs told Nixion that they were also covered in bandages. There was a table in front of him, and a chair on the other side. He was shackled, each hand cuffed to the arm of the chair. The magic in the room wasn’t bound, but his magic was because of the handcuffs. Mist sat in front of him. Nixion stood, leaning against the wall. Keeve looked at Mist, seeming amused. “How are you feeling?” Mist asked. Keeve moved a little.
“Sore.” he said. “But healing.” Then he smiled. “How are your ears?” Nixion had to bite back his response. “There fine,” Mist said.
“And the little Thomas boy?”
Nixion felt furry rise up in him. He would have loved to smash that smiling face against the table. Instead, he walked over and stepped on his prisoner regulation shoe, which was paper thin. “Would you like a glass of water?” he asked innocently, while under the table his boot crushed Keeve’s foot. Keeve gasped and looked up at him. It took a second, but he shook his head. Nixion smiled and stepped back to the wall.
“Thomas is dead,” Mist said, like nothing had ever happened. “As I’m sure you know.”
Keeve looked at him, his eyes still watering.
“I don’t know what you mean.” He said finally.
“We know The Remaining have a traitor inside our group. Who is it?”
Keeve raised his eyebrows. “A traitor? I think you’re a little confused.”
“Tell us. Please.” Mist was practically begging. This interrogation was going horribly…Keeve stayed silent.
“Last chance,” Nixion said threateningly. No reply. Mist sighed and stood up. He nodded at Nixion and walked out the door. Nixion moved around and stood opposite Keeve at the table. Keeve watched Mist leave. Then he smiled at Nixion.
“What’s this?” he asked, now regaining his composure. “Good cop bad cop?”
“Something like that,” Nixion agreed, then pushed the table powerfully. It slammed right into Keeve’s chest, knocking him over in the chair. Nixion pulled the table back and walked over to Keeve, who was lying on the floor, gasping and wincing. “Who’s the traitor?” he asked brutally. Keeve just shook his head. Nixion smiled.
“You don’t want to do this with me.” He waited a few seconds, then reached down and tapped Keeves elbow. Keeve howled in pain as his good arm broke. “Just tell me who the traitor is,” Nixion demanded. Keeve sobbed in pain, but didn’t say a word. Nixion pulled a key out of his pocket, and released Keeve’s arms from the chair. Before Keeve could try anything, Nixion pulled his broken arm behind Keeve and shackled it to his other arm. Nixion then pushed Keeve to the ground. Keeve moaned as his broken arm was put beneath him, keeping all his weight on it. “I’m giving you one last chance. Tell me what I want to know.” Keeve stared defiantly at Nixion. Nixion tapped his fingertips against Keeve’s knee, making sure to break it in such a way that the bone pressed into the muscles tendons behind the knee. Keeve opened his eyes wide in shock. He tried to breathe but only wheezed. “Who is the traitor?” Nixion asked. “Who?” Nixion stepped on Keeve’s knee, pressing the bone even deeper into the muscle tendons. Keeve screamed and screamed, the sound reverberating against the walls sending them crashing against Nixion’s ears which reminded him horribly of the sonic waves. Nixion knew, even with the Sanctuary Healers, that Keeve may never be able to walk again. Keeve nodded furiously, still screaming. Nixion stepped off the knee and knelt down to Keeve. “Do we have a traitor?” Nixion asked.
“Yes,” Keeve moaned
“Who?” Keeve shook his head again. Nixion pressed down on his knee with one hand.
“I don’t know,” Keeve cried. Nixion stopped pressing down on Keeve’s knee.
“You don’t know?”
“I was never told. Someone called me from a blocked number and told me everything about you guys.”
“Male or female?”
“They had one of those voice changer things. I couldn’t tell.” He gasped. Nixion sighed and stood up.
“You really are a pathetic criminal, you know…” He walked out the door and saw a passing Sanctuary agent. “Will you tell the Healers that they missed some injuries on that prisoner,” he said, motioning back to the room before turning to Mist.
“There aren’t any cameras in there.” Mist told him.
“Good.” Nixion replied. “Erasing the tapes would have taken a while.”
Mist looked at Nixion.
“We shouldn’t have done that,” he said, bitting his lip again. Nixion shrugged.
“We found out that we have a traitor, didn’t we?” In truth, Nixion was regretting it as well. He hadn’t enjoyed that as much as he thought he would, which surprised him. Once, he would have loved doing stuff like that. Was he changing?
“Yeah, but we didn’t find out who,” Mist said. “And we basically already knew that.”
“So what do we do now?” Nixion asked him dejectedly. They had no leads, and had someone watching their every move. Mist looked at Nixion.
“We wing it.” He said simply. And walked off.
Hammond looked at the girl, the anger plain on his face while the bewilderment surged through his voice, somehow making one word sound like a death threat.
The girl nodded.
“Cornucopia.” She repeated, the fact that she seemed thoroughly unconcerned by the tone of darkness in his voice displeasing Hammond at an even higher rate. “It was a cornucopia of sounds. At the street.”
Hammond rubbed his temple irritably in an attempt to cut off the headache he could feel coming on before it reached its full potential.
“And what does cornucopia mean?” he asked in a grinding voice, only slightly less threateningly than his previous sentence. Or word. Whatever.
The girl frowned and looked up at the ceiling.
“I don’t know.” She said slowly after a long pause just, answering just in time to stop Hammond commanding an answer. “But it sounds exotic, don’t you think? ‘Cornucopia’…”
Hammond growled menacingly… If this girl had been anyone else, she would be dead at this moment. Actually, she would have been dead long before this moment. Most likely the second she had set foot in his office. For she had annoyed him the second she had stepped into his office. But unfortunately, this girl had just happened to be his niece. Hammond’s sister had asked him to take care of the girl for a few weeks. This was day two and already he was thinking about killing her in the most painful way possible. He had hoped that she might have her mother’s evil streak, but instead she got her father’s idiotic head. And she had picked the worst possible name ever for herself.
The stupidity of some people…
A small translucent button suddenly flashed blue and Hammond pressed it at once, opening the door in front of him to let in one of his workers, relieved at the excuse to end the horribly structured conversation with his niece. A small man dressed in a black suit with dark sunglasses walked in slowly, professionally, as he had been taught. It was a well-known fact that Hammond hated bad news. Most people would almost always be punished if they bought to him nothing but bad news. Punished quite brutally… Yet it was also a well-known fact that Hammond wanted to know anything and everything that happened, good and bad news alike. Piles of unread mission reports on successful or failed Remaining assignments lay neatly stacked on his desk while the reports that had been read lay crammed in a huge filing cabinet behind him, having slowly amassed over the years.
“Sir, I’m afraid we have some bad news,” he said hesitantly once he had come to a halt in front of Hammond’s desk. Hammond now recognized the man; he was Arlov Travvinks. Hammond knew his workers, employees, servants and slaves all by their voices rather than appearance. This was mostly because Hammond was almost always reading a report while talking to his working Remaining’s and therefor, did not actually look at them. It may appear weird, but, naturally, Hammond killed anyone who raised the matter. He did not have time for such impotent pests…
“Yes…” Hammond asked him, already short on patience “What is it?”
“I had a dream about fluffy cloud bunnies last night.” She said expectantly. “They were incredibly vicious for their size and the way they ripped apart the goat like that really made the entire thing vivid.”
For a moment, Hammond was slightly stunned at the sound of his niece, who he had thought to be something of a day dreamer of things most people thought were comforting, say something so evilly explicit. It was only for a moment, however, and Hammond was soon pointing a gun at the back of Clousdina’s head while she examined the wall with a fascinated expression. It took all of his self-control to put the gun down and face the man again, and even then he had come far too close to putting a bullet through her brain of which who knew what went on inside…
“Sir,” Arlov said, coughing himself into speech. “Galko’s plans in England have been delayed due to cause of the Sanctuary, unfortunately, venturing too close to his base of operations in an unrelated investigation. He has had to pack up the machine and move elsewhere.”
Hammond took a deep breath, which, instead of calming him, only aggravated him more.
“Why? Why hasn’t he just killed them all?” he asked irritably, turning around to the cabinet in search of Galko’s file.
“Because, uh, he can’t, sir.... He doesn’t have the resources we have here. Sir.” Arlov added quickly.
Hammond abandoned searching for Galko’s file and leant forward on the desk, his head pounding.
“You don’t need resources to put fear into people.” He said confidently. “Just me getting out of jail has put tons of fear into people. With a small group, you can do any number of things.”
“Yes sir.” Arlov said, bowing slightly. “Of course sir.”
“Shut up.” Hammond demanded of him and Arlov straighten up looking flustered, even with the sunglasses on. “And what of our plans then?”
“Going forward without interruption, sir.” He said, seemingly glad that he could bring Hammond some kind of good news. “Forgive me, sir, but may I ask…Why did you let Keeve be captured?”
Hammond’s hand found the gun which he had lay down on the desk and aimed it at the man’s face who recorrected himself at once.
“My deepest apologizes, sir.” He gasped, bowing again. “I meant to disrespect, sir.”
“May you ask?” Hammond repeated Arlov. “Why, of course, Arlov. Go ahead.”
There was a slight hesitation befoee Arlov straightened up again slowly.
“Really, sir?” he asked nervously.
He was dead before he hit the ground.
“No.” Hammond growled at the corpse. “No you may not ask.”
“Can I ask?” Clousdina looked over at Hammond, a curious expression on her face. She didn’t seem bothered by the dead body lying on the carpet. Perhaps there was hope for her after all.
Hammond struggled to stand; he had spent a long time in prison, cut off from his magic. Being a warlock, they had to have a special cell to make sure he didn’t die, and that kept him from completely aging. Instead, he just aged faster than a sorcerer, and slower than a mortal. So instead of the young man that had entered the cell, and the old man that should have come out of it, he was about forty five. Not too bad, but it was still taking some getting used to his new restrictions.
Hammond stood up, looking at his niece.
“No.” he said with much less aggression than the last time he had addressed her.
“Why not?” she asked.
“Because I said so.”
“Why should I listen to you?”
“Shut up…” Hammond growled.
“You know, it would be easier to just tell me.” Clousdina said teasingly. She knew what she was doing.
“Because, my dear girl,” he said, trying to bring a smirk to his face. “If they know they have a traitor, they won’t trust anyone else. They won’t trust their team, and they’ll make the mistake of thinking that they don’t need the team. We’ll take them down, and nothing will stand between us and victory. Happy now?”
“That’s kind of an overused line, don’t you think?”
“‘Nothing standing between us and victory’. It’s a little overused.”
“Isn’t there another word for that?”
“Isn’t there another word for that?”
“You mean repetition?” she asked.
“No, I meant cliché…”
“Oh. Well come to think of it, the world ‘cliché’ is a little overused too.”
“Shut up.” Hammond sighed.
Hammond stepped over the body and made his way over to the door. He opened it and shouted for the nearest girl to come over. She trotted over as fast as her little high-heeled shoes allowed her to, a terrified expression plastered to her face.
“Send someone to clean that up,” he said, nodded his head back into his room. “Or do it yourself. I don’t care.” The girl peered over his shoulder and her face turned even paler.
“And spread the word. We need to start phase two.” He added with a note of urgency.
The girl nodded and walked away. Actually, it was more of a stagger…
A few seconds later, Clousdina yelled from the room.
“Phase two? That’s the best you could come up with? What a terrible title!”
Hammond closed his eyes.
He needed to kill someone soon.
‘We wing it.’
Nixion had absolutely no idea what that meant. He didn’t mind all that much, though, because he figured that if Mist knew what he was saying (however random it was), then he knew what it meant, which also meant that, in this case, he knew what he was going to do. What were they going to do? They were going to wing it. And Mist probably knew what to wing and how to do it. With a lot of effort, Nixion vaguely managed to string together the fact that they would wing the spy in the group, but even then he was confused, if not more.
Despite everything that had happened in the rather short amount of time he and Mist had arrived back at the Sanctuary, Thomas-less, Nixion found himself yearning to talk to Stavan again as they made their way back to the lounge, away from the Interrogation Rooms. Stavan seemed to be taking on a role of a new friend in Nixion’s mind. Was it possible that Stavan actually did count Nixion as a friend too? Other than Mist, Nixion did not actually have any friends. Even though the two drove each other up the wall and had come close to being killed by one another in the past, they had, seemingly, become far friendlier towards each other in the past few days. Stavan was different though. At the very least, he seemed to share Nixion’s complete disregard for rules and knack for recklessness. Maybe he didn’t enjoy killing as much as Nixion did, if at all, but either way, he was more like him than Mist was. Or was he…?
Nixion was pondering over this when he became aware of a pair of footsteps following him and Mist from behind. At once he wheeled around and faced the follower, his lethal glare dropping from his face as soon as it had flown up at the sight of the person. It took Mist several seconds to realize that he was now alone in his continued walking and had to backtrack a bit to join Nixion who did not look at him. The follower had stopped walking too and was facing Nixion looking a little flustered. And for a moment, Nixion did not see the person dressed formally, neatly, in front of him with a slight redness creeping up his neck at being caught before his chosen moment to act. Instead, he saw the same person many years ago, battered, ragged, bloody, kneeling. With Nixion standing above, in the same dimly lit corridor, holding a machete and laughing insanely.
Grand Mage Thyrow Slit was kneeling in front of him, clothes ripped, face bloody, hair wild, expression desperate and full of blistering rage.
“Don’t kill me…” he half gasped. “Please don’t kill me.”
“You be deaded soon.” Nixion laughed from in front of him, his machete held loosely in his hand while blood slowly dripped off of it. “You soon be deaded.”
The Grand Mage stayed silent, obviously not sure what to say in response to that. There was silence for a few moments in which Nixion’s laughter died and he stared deep into the Grand Mage’s eyes. He gazed back, mesmerised, terrified, outraged. “YOU BE DEADED!” Nixion roared suddenly, breaking the silence brutally which caused the Grand Mage to jerk backwards in shock. Nixion let out another long, harsh laugh at this, his body hanging backwards loosely, face turning to the ceiling. The entire thing was very amusing, he thought. The Grand Mage was kneeling in front of him, Nixion, and was about to be killed by him, Nixion. He, Nixion, was about to kill the Grand Mage. The Grand Mage. Of Australia. And he, Nixion, was going to kill him.
Eventually, his laughter died down again and Nixion closed his eyes, trying to concentrate. Concentration. That was Nixion’s new hobby. The drug that had been given to him by the man in his prison a year ago seemed to be beginning to wear off now. He was still insane, still had the uncontrollable urge to murder people as viciously as possible, still had that horrible headache, that strain on his mind that told him it was snapped, broken, but through that, he was beginning to make sense of things. Small things. Things like recognition. He knew some of the basic things: His name was Nixion Strange which was the name he had taken under advisement of that man. His real name was Aiden (Nixion still did not remember his last name). He had been tortured. He should kill people. And then some other things that Nixion did not even know how he had come to learn: He was in the Australian Sanctuary, the person kneeling in front of him in a horrid sweat with a panicky expression across his face was the Grand Mage of Australia. Nixion could feel deformed strings of sanity returning to him, and, thus far, he could not tell whether or not he liked it anymore.
His body slowly recoiled itself back to face the Grand Mage again where his eyes slowly opened again, a dark glare across his face as he breathed heavily. The Grand Mage was sweating heavily. Large, dark rings were imprinted under his eyes and his wet brow was furrowed as if trying to work out what Nixion was doing.
“Deaded…” Nixion repeated darkly to the Grand Mage. And with that, Nixion slowly raised his machete, the blood still slowly dripping off it and a look of horror increased on the Grand Mage’s face, head shaking violently.
“No.” he said shakily. “No…please, no. Don’t…please…” Ha! The Grand Mage was begging. The Grand Mage was begging to him, to Nixion. Ha!
“DEADED!” Nixion roared, and plunged the dagger into the wall. “You be deaded!” he was laughing again, pointing to the Grand Mage as he desperately tried to take his machete out of the wall. But he quickly stopped, noting the confusion and desperation on the Grand Mage’s face slowly transforming into a concentration and disbelief. At the same moment, Nixion became aware of steady footsteps making their way towards him.
“Oooh…” Nixion muttered, glaring at the Grand Mage, another string of sanity suddenly wrapping itself around Nixion’s mind uncomfortably. “Yeah. You’re deaded, Mage. You be deaded now…”
The footsteps became faster and closer and Nixion abandoned his attempt to dislodge the machete which was now firmly fixed in the wall and turned around to face the person who had now drawn to a halt in front of him. His eyes were emerald green, his black hair fell over his ears and he held a dagger in his hand.
“Nixion?” came the same voice from beside him as Nixion swayed. And as he turned his head to look at Mist, for a moment he was still entrapped in his past. Instinctive, Nixion’s fist came hurling forwards and smashed into Mist’s jaw sending him staggering backwards, clutching at his mouth and groaning in pain.
“What the hell?!” he roared, backing up against the wall and doubling over in pain. There was a bloody tooth lying on the ground… Nixion was in shock. He just stood there, wide eyed and stunned at what he had done and did not attempt to resist as the Cleavers that came running on the scene quickly pushed him on to the ground. “Let him go.” Mist gasped as quickly as possible, a groan of agony distinct in his voice. The pair hands that were grabbing Nixion were strong and powerful. He looked up and saw that the Grand Mage was dragging Nixion to his feet and waving the Cleavers away. Suddenly, life surged back into Nixion and he staggered backwards, gasping and cursing loudly. Mist spat a mixture of saliva and blood onto the polished ground before placing his hands firmly back on his jaw.
“I’m…sorry…” Nixion muttered, staring at Mist in shock. “I didn’t mean to…I mean you were…holding a dagger…”
“…What?” the Grand mage asked incredulously.
“I…nothing…” Nixion said after a while, brow furrowed and feeling horrible. “Sorry, Mist.”
Mist raised his eyebrows coldly but did not reply.
“Are you OK?” Nixion asked him, slowly making more and more sense of what had happened.
“On top of the bloody world.” Mist practically snarled back. Nixion could not blame him…
The Grand Mage swiftly summoned a healer to his side and gave the order to take care of Mist. “Nixion, you come with me, please.” He said afterwards as Mist stumbled off with the healer, brushing away the hand to steady him impatiently. Nixion’s stomach dropped. The last time he had been alone with the Grand Mage, he had almost killed him; Nixion had just relived that himself. He was not sure what to expect as the Grand Mage led him back along the brightly lit corridor and then into a dark, depressing room that stunk of rotting metal.
Perhaps the Grand Mage was going to give him a lecture on self-control. Or maybe he would suggest seeing a professional physiatrist…Nixion almost laughed at the thought. But Nixion knew, when he saw the concern in the Grand Mage’s face, that he was going to be talking to him about something very, very serious indeed. Even in the dimly lit room, Nixion could see the sags and creases in the Grand Mage’s face lined with worry, the face that had changed so much since the version Nixion had seen of him minutes ago; broken, sweating, desperate.
“Nixion,” he started, studying him intensely as though wondering whether or not he should have thought this through more carefully. He did not say anything. He simply waited for the Grand Mage to continue; he honestly did not think it would be wise to interrupt the Grand Mage while he was in this different, less-than-happy state anyway. And besides, Nixion still did not feel comfortable in his presence. Yes, the Grand Mage seemed to have forgiven him and yes, Nixion trusted him now, as much as he trusted anyone, anyway, but he still felt uneasy. There was still a small amount of tension whenever they were in the same room, with or without company (it was always with). Of course there was going to be; Nixion had once almost killed the Grand Mage and half the Sanctuary Staff a few years previously, in his days of madness, his days of murder. But today, now, at that moment, Nixion did not detect any tension due to past events. Instead there was something more sinister, something deadly, something that the Grand Mage knew.
“Nixion…” he repeated, more slowly this time, thinking hard. He bit his lip, released it and opened his mouth repetitively as if thinking of the best way to put something. Yes, the Grand Mage knew something… Nixion thought frantically of something he or Mist may have done wrong, but the only thing that came to mind was the interrogation of Keeve half an hour ago. Nixion did not think this had anything to do with a few bent rules. The Grand Mage opened his mouth and left it hanging there for a few moments, then finally decided on something to say.
“…I know you have a traitor.” He said finally, and Nixion was taken aback.
“What?” he asked, aghast. “How did you…?”
“Nixion,” he sighed with an air of trying not to sound irrational. “Please. I’m the Grand Mage of Australia. This is a Sanctuary that I completely re-designed. I know things.”
“Ah…” Nixion muttered. “Right…”
“I know you have a traitor.” The Grand Mage repeated. “And…” he hesitated, then cut himself off completely.
“And…?” Nixion pressed him after a moment or two, eager to find out what this was about. The Grand Mage sighed deeply, then took a deep breath in, whether he was trying to calm himself or trying to delay the moment where he would have to tell Nixion, he could not tell.
“And…” he continued… “I think I know who it is.”
“What?!” Nixion asked much louder than he had originally intended to and the Grand Mage hushed him. Nixion obeyed only because now he knew that this was important. “Who?” he asked in almost a whisper.
The Grand Mage hesitated. Again. Unsure. Then something dawned on Nixion, something so out of place, something so obvious, that he was enraged at himself for not spotting it sooner.
“Wait…” he muttered. “Why didn’t you have Mist here at the same time…?” he asked slowly. The Grand Mage sighed again. Sighing seemed to be the new fashion.
But Nixion still could not figure it out. Why would the Grand Mage hide this from Mist? He was practically leading the team, getting the investigation moving, doing the recruiting, doing all the work, gathering all the information and organizing everything that had to be done. Nixion could not think of any rational reason the Grand Mage would have to keep Mist away from a piece of information like this, something this vital. But then he did think of something. There was one reason. The only thing that Nixion could think of. It was really the only reason he would have to keep Mist away from this. And that was…
“No…” Nixion muttered absent-mindedly. “No, that’s not possible.”
“Nixion,” the Grand Mage continued, ignoring him, continuing with the problem, the situation, the information.
“I think the traitor’s Mist.”