Category: Story Time


So many of you know that I am participating in the absolutely amazing National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. I’m taking this as an opportunity to write the novel I have been conceptualizing for the last decade and have been too damned chicken-shit to commit to.

The goal: Finish my novel by the midnight of Nov 30th with no less than 50,000. (More than that will be amazing)

The novel is for all intents and purposes my go at writing the first arc of an ongoing urban fantasy series.

The novel itself doesn’t have a title yet, but I am sharing with all of you my opening chapter. I hope you all enjoy it and I appreciate your support.

Without further ado, Prelude in Holy Shit Minor

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My chest felt like it was going to explode at any moment now, it burned so much. I kept moving though, kept running. I ran hard under the eerie glow of the twin moons, and the shadow followed – oozing and slithering. My feet, aching and throbbing, beat a rough tattoo into the softened earth beneath me. I could feel the air whistling past me as I rocketed myself between the trees and brush and across the dark forest.

I could hear the low and hungry growl of the shadow-thing dogging my steps, and I knew it was gaining ground on me. More terrified than I should admit to being, I ran harder, gritting my teeth with my effort, grunting as the branches and brush scratched my face. I could feel the soft and warm trickle of blood as it flowed easily from a wound and down to my jawline. I could also hear the low rumble of what sounded like laughter coming from the thing behind me. I fought every instinct to glance behind me at it, far too afraid to look into that darkness and falter, too afraid of what that thing would do to me if I looked back for just a moment.

You will not survive this, Windwalker… Came a dark and hollowed whisper from behind me. The voice reverberated inside of my mind and I shivered involuntarily at its assault upon my psyche. …you will falter, you will suffer, and then…

         My throat dried as I came to the end of the path, a path that led me to the edge of a cliff, I didn’t stop, I couldn’t….not this time…

….ah! You will be MINE!!

I launched myself off of the cliff and began to descend to the forest below. In mid fall, I twisted myself around in time enough to see the shadow-blob-thing stop at the edge and shudder. I smiled and gave the shadow a parting gift.

I presented it with the one fingered salute…

…With both hands.

Yeah, the shadow thing didn’t really appreciate that.

It shuddered, once, and two dark tendrils shot from its, well, whatever you want to call it, and skewered me through both shoulders. A current of unimaginable pain welled up and set my body ablaze pretty much instantly. For a few seconds I was blinded from the pain and all I could see was white,

Then I saw things I didn’t want to.

I saw my mother, my adopted mother, arguing with my adopted father. The only family I had ever known was tearing itself apart. I watched her walk out on my dad and me, never to be seen again.

I saw my ex girlfriend, all fire and fear, staring at me as if I were an abomination, before running out of our apartment and leaving me alone, never to be seen again.

I saw my city, my hometown, ravaged by the great grandmother of a storm. Watched it then tear itself apart with rage and fear while I was helpless to stop it.

Last, I saw myself, alone and in the dark.

My vision cleared and I saw the shadow again, but now it had taken a shape that resembled something human-ish and androgynous. It stood on the edge of the cliff with its hands outstretched to me, it’s index fingers extended into the tendrils that now impaled me by the shoulders. I grit my teeth to the searing pain as I watched a wide fanged grin appear where there hadn’t even been a face before. The shadow-person lifted me up slowly and retracted its finger/tentacles so that I was brought before its face, its putrid breath became my only distraction from the pain in my shoulders.

Honestly, I would have preferred the pain..

The shadow tilted its head at me. You are an intriguing one, young mageling. Strong willed beyond reasoning. Even now, you resist me. You have a great potential for power, yet you struggle and suffer needlessly. I saw its tongue, long and writhing, slide over its fanged teeth and then flick itself in my direction as if to taste me. I have tasted your pain, boy. Your suffering is potent, the wine from which your tears are simply the spilled droplets. I could take this pain from you, feed on it so that you feel it no longer… Its voice began to resemble something sly, something that craved, even desired… I could bind my gifts with your own and we could be so…wonderful together…just…accept me into you and release me from this hell.

          I blinked at the shadow’s words, teeth clenching from the pain in my shoulders. “So you mean to say…” I spoke through my teeth “…that you want to, what, bond with me? You want to engage in a symbiotic relationship because you claim to be compatible with me, is that it?”

The shadow being shivered a bit and its smile grew wider, more eager, more desperate. It leaned in closer to me. If it had a nose we would have been nose to nose. As it was, we were nose to, well, teeth. Yessss! It hissed excitedly. You and I should be one…together…complete… It generally started to remind of of all of the films I had seen involving crazy ex-girlfriends, just freakier.

“You have got to be out of your dark, little mind.” I grunted at it. “Every comic I’ve ever read gives examples of why deals like this are a damned terrible idea. No way!” I spat blood into the things face, where its eyes should have been.

You DARE refuse me….Changeling?? The thing growled at me, unhinging it’s jaws and expanding them, causing its face to appear even more monstrous than before.

“I would rather die, shadow.” I growled at it through my own teeth, still clenched tightly.

Yes…I can see that’s true, changeling. Would that I could, your wish would be verily granted. Alas…this it said with a disappointed hiss in its voice. …I cannot end you here. Know this, boy: I will enter your world, I will find you there, and I will make this offer to you again. You would do well to accept me, changeling. Because I promise you this: dismiss me again, and I will utterly destroy you; body and soul. THAT will be your destiny!

             I took a deep breath and stared the shadow in its blank face, the blood I had spat at it dripped from its, now extended, jaw. “And you, Nightmarish Shadow, can Fuck right OFF!!”  I kicked myself away from it, feeling the sharpened tendrils cut into me again and then leave me as I tumbled backward and into the brush below.  As I fell, I could see the thing shift into a four-legged creature that appeared to have the shape of a headless bear with several writhing tentacles flailing about as it roared in anger and frustration.

I will have you, Windwalker…one way, or the other…

             I tumbled through several tree branches before I was finally able to move my arms enough to grab on to one sturdy enough that it might hold me.

It didn’t.

I landed hard on my shoulder, dirt and grass and flowers smashed into my face. There was the shock of pain and then the world span about me as I lay there, eyes shut tight against it all.  After a few moments, or maybe an eternity, I managed to push myself up onto my hands and knees, despite the throbbing and stabbing protests of my shoulders where the shadow impaled me. Blood dripped onto the soil next to my hands and I pushed myself up so that I sat on my feet. I looked at my shoulders and wasn’t surprised in the slightest by what I saw.

The white robes that I always found myself wearing in this place were stained with blood at the shoulders,  where a gaping hole in the cloth, which was either linen or silk, sat just below each collarbone. I rotated my shoulders a bit and winced a bit at the pain, though it did seem to be fading or even numbing itself away.  I took a long and deep breath and closed my eyes. What in the hell was that thing? What, exactly, did it want to possess me for?

I opened my eyes again and surveyed my surroundings. I was in a clearing…or a glade of some kind that seemed to be obscured from view by an archway made of tall and impossibly old trees. As I looked around further, I found that the trees practically surrounded me. It wasn’t an archway. It was a dome, a gorgeous dome of trees colored in wild greens and purples and blues. It made this place look familiar in a way that I could not grasp, but I knew that I had been here before. When? Why?

It was then that I noticed the pond a few yards from where I knelt. It was a shimmering crystal blue pond, surrounded by orchids, lilies, and windflowers. It made me think of the musical Hair. I didn’t know quite why, but I couldn’t look away from it. I was transfixed with it and couldn’t turn away.

It didn’t help that it started to call my name.

It was more like a whisper, in a voice that was clearly female. I couldn’t explain how I knew that, I just knew that it needed me, it pulled at the core of me and I could not ignore it. I crawled over to it, my heart racing, my breath catching, ignoring the pain coursing through my shoulders and arms. My mind raced in anticipation: her voice was beautiful and promised to belong to someone equally beautiful…

Man, did I need a girlfriend!!

I finally made my way to the edge of the pond and looked down into it.

“Oh, you’re here!” the voice responded happily. “I didn’t think you’d come.”

I blinked.

I blinked again.

Then, to be certain, I looked away from the pond and then looked back again.

A beautiful woman, appearing to be in her mid twenties, was staring back up at me from under the water. She had a beautiful heart shaped face that you just felt compelled to cradle in your palms. Her almond-shaped eyes were a bright and intense shade of green and her mouth was a ruby red bow, full and smiling. I couldn’t help but wonder what it would feel like to be kissed by her.

Her eyes suddenly widened, as if she heard my thought, and she smiled a wide and wondrous smile that lit up her cream colored face. I could feel my face warm and my lips curl into a smile just as wide.

And then I noticed something when I looked at her hair.

It was red, the deep kind of crimson red that you don’t see in natural human hair, but you do see in cartoons, dye jobs, and in blood, and it looked to be shoulder length. That, however wasn’t what I noticed about her, wasn’t what diverted my attention from her absolute beauty.  Well, it was part of it…

The other part was that her hair was on fire. It was underwater, and it was on fire.

I must have looked alarmed, because her expression changed and she said my name again. “Listen to me, love. There isn’t much time! That thing is breaking down the veil between its prison and your reality and will get in. You have to stop it, somehow.” her voice sounded distant, as if carried over the wind from some far off place, but it sent a shimmer of bells alight within me and I felt several things at once: joy, desire, and a longing that felt like it had always been there, though I had never ever felt anything like it. “Woah!” her eyes grew wide and curious. “Did you feel that?”

All I could do was smile and nod and mutter “Mmm-hmm…”

She laughed and I knew that I could live a full and complete life, sustained by that sound alone. I saw her reach her hand up towards me and it rose from out of the shallow pool, slender and alive and beautiful. It touched my face and sent a feeling like molten fire through me. Well, you can actually replace the fire with pure molten desire and need and yearning. She caressed my face and down my jawline and pulled me into a warm and beautiful feeling that I almost completely lost myself in. My eyes started to blur, but I could see her face slowly rising above the surface of the water to meet mine.

My lips met hers and I thought, at that very moment, that I had died and had somehow made it to paradise, or that I had become paradise, or that her lips were paradise. Hell, they had to be. No kiss, no kiss in the whole of recorded human history, could have ever been as completely amazing as that one kiss at that very moment. I could feel her other hand at my chest, at my heart, burning…almost like…but the thought was interrupted, because the kiss suddenly became more perfect, more amazing. I wondered briefly if this was the way that gods kiss, then I concluded that I didn’t care. No kiss could ever compare to hers. It was like the core of the universe had found its way inside of my chest and then exploded, all of the heat and fire and hope of all of creation seemed to well up and expand inside of me.

Needless to say, I did not want it to stop.

Our lips parted after what seemed like the lifetime of several hundred stars, and we both breathed raggedly, as if the kiss was an act of lovemaking. In a sense, it had been. She stared up at me, the tips of her hair floating in the air as if they were still underwater, and still aflame, burning brightly. She smiled up at me and I smiled back. “Wow!” she said, her voice still sounding so very far away. “that was…very unexpected. Amazing, but unexpected.” I could see her checks were beginning to flush and my own face warmed when she bit her bottom lip.

“Yeah….wow!” was all I was able to say, my heart burning and pounding in my chest.

Her smile suddenly became wickedly delighted. “I really shouldn’t…aw, fuck it!” and she put both arms around my neck, pulled me to her lips, and then pulled me head first into the pond with her.

*                     *                          *                          *                           *                            *                    *                   *                       *

To be continued…

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Well…I’ll be Damned…

a short in the universe of Sol: the Windwalker

I knew it was her from the way she placed her hand on my shoulder. She had a way of doing so that was subtle and sexy to the point of being almost maddening, her gentle finger caressing the taut flesh and muscle between my shoulder-blade and collarbone. The intimate touch brought back memories of late night music making interrupted and followed by late night “music making”. It caused my vision to blur and my chest to heave in a mix of desire and sudden anger at the memory, a memory that I had pushed into the darkened, venomous spider filled corners of my mind. My eyes fluttered, unfocused, from the short story I was grading at the bar to the barkeep. Matt, the Parkway’s owner, had been pouring a pitcher of dark brew to take to the group seated at the door of the tavern.

The Parkway was a small place, a place that melded much of old world England’s dark wood and stone appearance with things like pinball machines, sports television, pool tables, and a large stage in the back area built of antique-looking Red Oak wood. It was a place of beauty and history. It would remind someone who was a fan of Shakespeare of the old Inns that held drinking taverns in the basement or on the first floor. Or even of an old drinking hole found in some old town that Tolkien might have imagined.

Suddenly, all I wanted to do was to leave that place, even if it meant leveling house that Matt built!

Seeing the look in my face, Matt’s expression became one of bedeviled bemusement as he watched my eyes reconfigure themselves. I straightened my glasses and turned to face her, revolving on the barstool and nearly dropping my pen when our eyes met for a millisecond, before I turned them away. My heart jackhammered in my chest and my palms started to sweat. I could feel my hands begin to shake and my mouth attempt to rebel against me by drying out. I summoned my nerve, as well as an old, pained anger, and took a deep breath.

“Hello Rachel.” was all I could say to my ex-fiancée without causing her to spontaneously burst into flames in front of me.

She stood there, smiling at me. Her red-brown hair hanging in ringlets that framed her smooth, caramel colored face; her mouth giving off such a smile as could melt the heart of a cave troll. Her deep brown eyes scanned over my face as she came to lean next to me against the adjacent stool, without sitting. The blue jeans and tight biker jacket showing off her curves in just the right way as to make men notice…and drool. “Hey Mal, I hoped I would find you here.” She looked at the paper I was grading, covered in red marks and scribbles. “Dang, Mal! You still doing homework in strange bars? Nice to know that some things haven’t changed.” She laughed, and it evoked a memory of falling rain and her warm skin against mine.

I shook the memory from my head and took off my glasses so she could see the full silver of my eyes. I took up my wineglass, filled with Mead, and took in a swig to moisten my mouth. I could feel the heat begin to well up behind my eyes. “What are you doing in Tacoma?” My voice lowered as I tried to steady my anger.

“Wow!” she responded in surprise. “Hi Rachel, how have you been? What have you been up to? You look fantastic! It’s been so long since we’ve seen each other, we really should catch up!” She sat on the stool next to me and frowned. “At least, I think that’s the way normal human conversation is supposed to unfold. I might be wrong though!”

I looked her dead in the face, summoning up the memory of her running out of the door of our apartment, of her calling me a freak, of her screaming at me of how she couldn’t believe that she ever loved a creature like me. It took me years of traveling and soul-searching to get over her and what she had said to me all those years ago. Now that I was settled in Tacoma, Washington (a city far from my home town of New Orleans and all of the memories and pain that that place evoked in me) and had a pretty decent life as a High-school creative writing teacher and Wizard-Vigilante, she appears with her unspoken threat to taint even this place for me. I felt my eyes narrow of their own accord. “Alright then. Hi Rachel, how have you been? What have you been up to? You look fantastic! It’s been so long since we’ve seen each other, we really should catch up! Oh, and how’s life treated you since the night you called me an inhuman freak and completely crushed my heart and walked out on me without so much as a goodbye?” I took a slow breath and struggled not to shatter the glass in my hand. “Was that Human enough for you? I wouldn’t know – not being one and all.” I turned to face the bar again, noticing the shocked expression on Matt’s face as I drained my glass and pushed it towards him calmly. “Can I have another, please?” I asked, a bit too casually.

Matt’s eyes went wide with confusion. “Sure, Mal.” he looked at Rachel, hesitant. “A drink for you, Miss?”

I could feel her taking her eyes off of me and bringing them to the barkeep. Her voice was little more than a whisper. “A Merlot, please.”

Matt nodded, passing us both our drinks after a moment. I sipped mine slowly, focusing only on the sweet-yet-sour taste of the honey-wine. It provided a delicious distraction. It was a long moment of slow breathing and looking at nothing before she spoke.

“That wasn’t fair, Mal.”

“No” I spoke, calmly shifting my students’ papers into a stack to place in my briefcase. “Leaving me like that wasn’t fair of you at all, was it?” I looked at her, keeping the anger out of my voice as much as I could. “Then you walk in here, after three and a half years, as if nothing happened and you expect what? A Hug? A Kiss? A ‘How’s it goin’ old buddy, old pal, here have a drink. No, don’t worry about that whole breaking my heart thing, all good!’ ?” I took another swig of my Mead. “How fair is that, Rache’?” I cast her a quick glance before turning back to my paper. This was beginning to play out like some strange soap opera. If I weren’t so busy being angry, I’m sure I would have been thoroughly amused.

“There hasn’t been a day that’s gone by when I hadn’t thought of you, of how stupid that was of me to just run out of there without talking to you more, fully hearing you out!” She sniffed, and I realized that her voice was breaking. Dear Bright Lady, was she crying? “I’m sorry, Mal. I know I hurt you, badly, and I know how much it meant to you that you told me that. I get it now, okay?” Holy shit, her voice was quivering. “I was scared, I was confused, I was an idiot child and you deserve to be angry with me, but I was angry too!” and now the heat was in her voice, invoking another set of memories: lengthy arguments followed by tearful kisses and noises that had no more to do with the argument than lightning across the sky would. “You could have told me all of this in the beginning, could have let me in on your secret when we got serious! Then you propose to me and then wait until after graduation to tell me you weren’t a normal human being, that you were different and you didn’t know why; How was I supposed to feel?”

So I guess we really were going to do this right here, right now, after all this time. Ok. Fine!

“You were supposed to understand.” I quietly growled, still not looking at her. “You were supposed to love me anyway, supposed to support me, tell me that everything was okay and that you still wanted me, you were supposed to BE THERE for me. I didn’t tell you any of that in the beginning because I was afraid that you would do exactly what you wound up doing ANYWAY!”

I looked at her, finally, and, by the Stars above me, there were actual tears in her eyes. They were the same tears I saw the day her mother passed away, and then later at the funeral. These were tears of anger, of regret, of a longing for understanding that she’d never have. I remembered holding her in my arms on that autumn evening, wishing that there was something that I could have done to make it better, to help her understand, but I couldn’t understand either – not then. I shook the memory from me as I returned her intent gaze, there was something strange about the way she looked at me now, staring at me hard as the tears fell, as if expecting something – then it hit me what it was.

“You’re waiting for a Imprint, aren’t you?” I spoke aloud, more to myself than to her, feeling my eyes widen as hers did, both with the knowledge that the illusions and Glamour were no longer necessary. “You…you know what I am?” I moved closer to her, able to feel her breath against my face. “How long have you known.”

Rachel looked at me and sighed, she was never good at lying to me, especially when it was important. “I didn’t-don’t. Not completely, at least. I only recently started suspecting.” She wiped the tears from her eyes and looked at me pleadingly. “The moment I saw the reports of you on the news.” She stared at her hand then. “It cemented a truth I’d been denying about myself.” She whispered, looking around her nervously before reaching out to the glass of wine on the bar.

My mouth fell open as I watched it slide across the cherry wood and stop, cupped snugly, in her waiting hand. “You’re one of the Kin!” I breathed, opening my Second Sight to her to see the threading energies of the Weaving (so named because of the way the swirling threads of magical energy weaved together to create everything around us in an intricate and beautiful tapestry) swirling in furious patterns around her in the erratic way that is prone to advanced level Mages who are still not completely in control of their powers.

But the Second Sight does much more than that. With it, you see the world as is truly is, and everything in it. From the true aspects of each individual being to the things that lurk invisible – from the threads of the Weaving that move through and make up EVERYTHING, to the beings, spirits, and worlds and even echoes of worlds beneath and behind our own. To a full blown Wizard, reality is as tangible as a tapestry: traveling between the realities only requires that one knows how to reach out to the energies of the Weaving and open a hole in the fabric of reality without ripping the one you’re in apart. Furthermore, from the most beautiful to the most horrifying, what you See when you use the Sight stays with you … permanently. No matter what Glamor or illusion magic is used, no matter what shell or skin that being wears – you KNOW what lies beneath and that will be all you see for as long as you have eyes in your mind. Trick is, however, is to not keep the Sight going for too long a period at a time. Too much exposure has been known to drive even the most hardened veteran Wizards very insane. Dragons are noted as being the only beings that can withstand prolonged exposure to the Sight, mainly because that is they way they normally perceive everything. Explains why the surviving Dragonkin are wiser than most of the still living Gods – and slightly more insane, come to that!

“You’re not a neophyte, either.” I gasped, studying her thread-work “You’re advanced in your training in a way it would take years to achieve in a normal human Mageling, I’m impressed.”

Her eyes went wide as I closed my Sight, and she shushed me and clasped her hand to my mouth. Her scent leapt into my nostril and I was lost in another flurry of memories. “Shhhhhh! It’s not safe to talk about this openly.” She looked around, now noticeably afraid. “What if someone heard you?”

I took her hand away from my mouth and smiled for the first time since I laid eyes on her tonight. She clearly hadn’t learned her paranoia from a book, and I began to wonder whom her master was. “The Parkway is an Other friendly tavern, Rache. Nearly everyone in here is Sanguis Arcanum of some kind or another.” I laughed. “Didn’t you look around when you came in here?”

She did this time, she actually Saw. She saw the group of Vampires in the corner, drinking high glasses of warmed blood; the band of Sidhe men singing drinking songs at a long table near the entryway, flagons of Mead held high as they drunkenly swayed to and fro, the pair of Angels at a booth playing Shogi and drinking Cider; and then the group of college kids clearly having a great time being among the strangely unique people here, unaware that there was one among them – a pretty blond young sophomore woman – also a werewolf.

Ah, youth!

She turned her eyes back to me. “My God!” They were wide with shock. “They’re actually what I think they are?”

I nodded. “Yeah,” I sipped more Mead. “The Gods, when they’re here, usually hang out in the back room and drink and play pool until closing. They tend to be a friendly bunch, once you get to know them… except for Tyr. He can be a real asshole sometimes!” I took another look at her and narrowed my eyes. “Wait! You said that you saw news reports about me…”

“About the WindWalker, yeah.” she said, drinking the last of her wine after she had closed her own Sight. She waved Matt over, “Can I get more of this? This is fantastic!” She smiled. “Nice coat, by the way. You always did have a thing for the longer styles.”

Matt just stood there, in shock of her. He looked at me, clearly puzzled. I nodded to him and he poured her another glass eyeing us both. I hoped she didn’t notice that. Well, how could she not?

“Did I just out you?” she whispered. “Shit, Mal! I’m sorry, I didn’t -”

I shook my head. “No. Matthew is one of the few people in this place that know about my double life and my, er, unique situation.”

Matt smiled at that as he wiped down one end of the bar.

Rachel looked at me, quizzically. “Unique how, exactly?”

I drank more of the Mead from my glass. “Why, exactly, should I tell you about that? Furthermore, you didn’t answer my question. Why are you in Tacoma?”

She drank from her new glass as Matt refilled mine. “Still stubborn as hell.” She said with a smirk. “That hasn’t changed either.

“You’re here to kill me, aren’t you?” I sipped my Mead. “That’s it. You’re dating someone now and I know too much about you, and you’re here to kill me. Is that it? Death by Brain Aneurysm, right? Is that how you plan to do it? Good luck with that! ”

“Still odd sense of humor too!” she replied

“Wokka, Wokka, Wokka!” I said, channeling my inner Fozzie Bear. “Talk, lady!”

She sighed deeply and shook her head at me. “Fine, fine!! I’m here with my band. The drummer is from around here and we’re staying in town for a couple of days while we tour a couple of clubs. Happy?”

“Elated!” I raised an eyebrow. “I don’t remember Reggie being from around here. I thought he was from Philly!”

She smiled at that. “Reggie had a baby about a year ago, he’s taking a break to be with his wife and son.”

I whistled out a breath. “Well, Shit! I AM getting old! People getting married and having kids. Must be a nice life, eh?”

Rachel narrowed her eyes at me. “How long before you let that go, Mal?”

“How long you got, Red?” I smirked, taking another swig. She hated that nickname, and I knew it. Goddess, I get cheap when I’m angry and bitter-like.

“You’re a lot braver than I remember, that’s new for you!” She remarked, giving her wine glass a turn with her finger.

“Not really a new thing.” I replied, making my own glass hover an inch or two above the bar. “I just don’t have to hide it anymore!” I waggled my eyebrows. “How did you manage to find me here?” Making my voice as serious as I could.

She turned to face me, her face pained now. “That was pure accident.” She admitted, frowning. “I came in here the other night to inquire about a possible spot for a gig and saw you on stage with a band, covering that Simply Red piece. I didn’t know that this was where you eventually ended up after you left New Orleans until that night. I asked the girl working the bar about you and she said that you were in here most nights, grading papers.” She stared at me in cynical disbelief. “You’re a teacher now? You?”

I sighed. I was going to have a word with Mariangelle the next time I saw her. “Yeah, well, it pays the bills when the music can’t.” I chuckled a little. “Gotta make a living doing something worthwhile, yeah?”

“Yeah, I guess.” she turned back to the bar. “I just never pegged you as a High-School Teacher, Mal.”

“Things change.” I looked at her. “I sling spells and grade papers, and look – the world is still spinning on it’s axis!”

She laughed hard this time, her eyes sparkling. It almost made me forget how angry I was at her and, in turn, made me remember that I deeply missed her. My expression must of changed because she stopped laughing and gave me a girlishly awkward look that I recognized as one I’d seen a hundred times before. “So, uh, you said you’d tell me what you meant, you know, by unique and all that!”

I smiled at her. “Rachel Lawrence, I told you no such thing!” I made sure not to say her middle name at all. Things like names have a power to them. Know a thing’s full name and then pronounce the name, with every inflection, perfectly and add even a tiny bit of magical will, and you have immediate power over it. People and names are no different, if you know their true name – the name they were given at birth – then it gives you a direct channel to their souls, and that can translate into dangerous and deadly magic… so I’ve been told.

“Well, you’re no fun!”

“I’m just a mean old Wizard, ain’t I?” I started to pack my papers when I realized I had a full glass of Mead left. Matt stood there, waiting. His eyes suddenly serious, and strangely curious.

“She’s persistent.” The wise older man said to me. “I don’t see any harm in showing her. She IS part of your past, part of what you’ve become. Might as well give her some knowledge as to what she gave up. You may see something in her relevant to your own path.”

“A wise man, your friend there.” She said, raising her glass to him.

I sighed. “He should be.” I looked at him and then at her. “He’s well over two thousand years old!”

She spit out her wine across the table, just missing Matt. “Say again?” She sputtered out, just barely.

I pointed a finger at Matt. “He just cleaned that.”

“I’ll buy a bottle of that wine.” She winked at him. “Explain the age thing!”

I shook my head. “ Fine.” I rubbed my eyes in exasperation. “Remember Matthew the Evangelist, writer of the Gospel, Apostle to Jesus?” Knowing her upbringing as a Catholic would make the question almost impossible to resist.

Rachel eyed me. “Yeah?”

I looked over at Matt, he looked damned good for his age. not a day over 40. “Rachel, meet Matthew: Apostle to Jesus, and one of the oldest living Wizards I know. He was a direct student of the one people call Jesus, who was one of the very first of the humans to learn the art! He also brews a mean batch of Mead!” I raised my glass to him. “Best I ever had and the only stuff I drink when I come to this bar”

“Which is every night when you’re not out and about.” Matt laughed.

Rachel looked at him and then at me, her eyes as wide as I had ever seen them. She had been a very devout Catholic the last I had seen her. “Jesus was NOT the son of God, he was a Wizard?”

Matt nodded, smiling. “One of the best people I ever knew, a man of incredible power but also of great patience and compassion.” he poured himself a glass of his Mead. “Not a God, no, but a God amongst men.” He raised a glass and I followed suit, Rachel did so as well – mostly still in shock and confusion. We all drank to the long passed Wizard.

“So was the crucifixion just a story as well?”

Matt frowned. “Not exactly: Jesus was kidnapped from his home while sleeping. He was drugged and beaten severely to keep him from using his powers effectively. He was then hung on a cross for all of three days. At the end of the third day, his body burst into a thousand bright streams of light and vanished.” Matt’s eyes began to water at the memory. “That’s how we knew that he was with us no more, and yet with us always.”

Rachel sipped more of her wine. “So he became one with The Weaving, then?”

Matt nodded, and wiped at his eyes with his bar towel. “Many of us since then have had visions of him, or have even spoken with him through The Weaving. It was he who kept me from ending Judas.” a very grave look washed over him and I could feel the traces of a very old anger, yet to be reconciled. “What became of him is not known. Gods of our ancestors have mercy on him, because I will not do so a second time.”

“Then he did betray Jesus?” Rachel asked.

Matt nodded again. “He did.” He answered grimly. “He also started the great war that drove all Sanguis Arcanum into hiding all that time ago.” He looked over at me. “He is also partly the reason that you exist, Mal. You are the bridge between the worlds, son. You represent the hope of all of us!”

Well, no pressure there!

“It’s going to take an insane amount of power to merge the realms, Matthew.” I sighed, the thoughts spinning and careening in my mind. “I don’t think I’m strong enough for that yet.”

Matt walked over to me and placed a hand on my shoulder. “As the Windwalker, it is your destiny, son.”

Rachel looked between the two of us, the look of utter and total confusion that I had come to know in the years of our past relationship washed across her face. “Destiny?” She put down her glass. “Mal, what is he talking about? Why does he say WindWalker as if it’s more than just your use-name.” She pleaded, and I knew, then, that if I didn’t tell her that she wouldn’t let it go. She would continue to ask and wonder and dig until it threatened to expose me to the rest of the world.

Tenacity. Great.

I turned to face her, took a deep breath, and locked eyes with her; allowing my mind to unlock the psychic barriers I learned to use against Psycomancers and other practitioners in general. “Remember,” I warned. “you asked for this.” I placed my thumb, index, and middle fingers against the left side of her face – index and middle on either side of her temple – and breathed deeply, opening my mind to her.

The walls fell and the Imprint began.

Imprinting upon a soul works like this: a person’s eyes are the windows to his soul. Everyone has heard this saying. Everyone. Anyone who has even the slightest magical talent or even knowledge that Magic exists know that it’s possible to step through that window and take a peek at the soul and its living quarters. They see you, truly See you: every truth in you, all the things that people hide about themselves, the very essence of their true nature can be Seen, and in startling, crystal clear HD-Surround detail. Beautiful or Hideous, your soul’s tapestry is laid out, bare and naked, for the viewer to See, and it works both ways. The person your viewing can See into you too, unless you know how to not See those things or not be Seen in turn. The tricky part about it all is that whatever you See stays with you, and you never view that person in the same way ever again.

So far, only three people have been allowed to see me that way, and each of them were in tears by the end of it: My long time teacher, Khun-Du’an; my best friend, Julius, who was also a 275 year old Vampire; and Matt. Rachel had just made four.

And I showed her everything.

I started with my being found under the tree and took her through my life: the discovery of my abilities; the divorce of my adopted parents; the time period when I went out helping people with my face hidden beneath a scarf and hoodie (yeah I was a cheesy neophyte super-hero); our failed relationship and all of the pain and doubt thereafter; my Failure at Hurricane Katrina; the dreams of Ea, the realm of the Sanguis Arcanum; the meeting of my true birthmother, The Star Goddess, Mira, as well as my Godmothers – Titania: Queen of the Sidhe, and Asharaa: Queen of the Elves; and the revelation that I was the Windwalker: destined to be the most powerful Wizard in known history, and the one being who could reunite the Mortal realm with Ea – as it was 2,000 years before. I even let her see my training, the rigorous work that went into learning all of the Magic I now wield, in Ea – where time literally moves at a different pace than it does in the Mortal world – making me, effectively, somewhere around 75 years old by mortal standards (the fact that I was born with the ability to regenerate on a cellular level as well as the fact that I was also, for all intents and purposes, created by magic and was a literal walking matrix of it, rendered me immortal and allows me to age at about the same rate as the old dragons of legend – insanely slow). While I had spent decades training in Ea, only a week passed in the mortal world.

All of this happened, all of this Seen, within a fraction of a second in commonly perceived time.

I began to pull away from the Imprint when something happened that I did not expect. I got an odd burning sensation behind my eyes and everything around me vanished into darkness. I saw Rachel standing before me, but not as I had known her in the past, nor as I knew her now. She stood before me dressed in all white, hair moving in what felt like etherial winds swirling around her. She had her eyes closed but I could see a series of runes and sigils tattooed around her left eye in a violent tribal pattern. It reminded me, immediately, of the sigils that were etched into my own face in the half sunburst pattern beneath my eyes that made me look like I was always crying magic, as well as the ones tattooed around my forearms that served as my hands-free substitute for wands, staves, or any other handheld foci. It was an old magic, and dangerous if in untrained or malicious hands.

So why did she have this?

Just as my mind formed the question I began to feel a burning cold sensation that was painfully familiar, though I couldn’t figure out why just then to save my life. What I did know was that the sensation seemed to radiate from Rachel, who now stood, legs akimbo, with her long white coat billowing in the wind and her arms outstretched at either side. I could hear low whispered chanting in an old tongue that sent shivers up my spine and began to choke the breath from me. I started to move towards her, to reach for her, to try to shake her out of the trance she seemed to be in. I could see her mouth moving in time with the whispering – it was her. She was the one chanting! I took a step backwards from her and the shadows around her erupted into oozing black mist, shaping itself into immaterial talons and tentacles. I shouted her name, shouted for her to snap out of it.

She opened her eyes then.

They were Jet Black.

I came out of the vision with a start, hearing the chanting still in my head. Matt was kneeling over me, shaking me and calling my name. Rachel knelt next to him, dressed in the same clothing she wore earlier and looking no different than she did when the Imprinting began. The group of Sidhe men were also gathered around, worried expressions lining their previously drunken faces. Say what you want, but Sidhe men can drink anyone and anything under a table with no problem whatsoever. They were great designated drivers.

“What just happened to me?” I finally managed to say weakly, sitting myself up.

Rachel moved closer and fought myself not to flinch or move away, my heart did begin to race unreasonably though. She didn’t notice. That didn’t change either, obviously. “You passed out.” She said. “Then you started mumbling something in a language we couldn’t understand.” She looked at Matt who didn’t take his eyes off of me. “And then, you started shaking. That’s when we started to shake you.”

“Are you alright?” Matt asked, the worry in his voice scared me. He handed me a glass of crystal clear water. I took it and drained it down quickly. I didn’t realize that I had still been shaking until I had taken the glass from him.

“Yeah,” I groaned, taking a breath and giving Matt my hand. “I think so.” He and Rachel pulled me to my feet.

I felt another hand on my shoulder. I turned to face one of the Sidhe men, a tall, dark man with amber eyes and emerald hair tousled about his head in a kind of Halo. “There are signs and portents seeded in you, little one” He said to me. His voice was deep and grave. “Pay them heed and you may yet avert great tragedy, on all sides.” One side of his mouth lifted into a grin. “Our folk are with you, Malak Grant, for we know to whom you are beholden and cherished. Be thee well, and may the stars be with you, Stormrider.” He looked around the room slowly after using one of the nicknames the Sidhe peoples had given me. “May they be with us all!” He walked back to where is group waited for him at the front of the tavern, they all bowed their heads in salute. Then they vanished in a cyclone of leaves and light.

Faeries: you just have to love these folk.

“I think…I need my bed.” I lied, my grip on Matt’s arm tightening so I knew that he would get the hint. I saw his eyes widen. He’d gotten it.

Rachel chimed in first. “I can take you to your apartment, if…if you like.”

“You should likely head straight to your people,” Matt spoke up immediately, not taking his eyes off me. “I’ll get the boy home.” he looked behind him then. “Lilah’!” he bellowed into the kitchen. “Close up tonight, you hear? I’m taking our boy home!”

A tall and curvy beauty with bronze hair burst out of the kitchen door then. Her sparkling gold eyes were pinched with worry. For a woman of her age, she was damned hot!

“Mal?” She squeaked, running to his side. Goddess, she actually squeaked. “Is he alright?”

Matt kissed his wife on the cheek. “Just took a nasty spill, Delilah. Nothin’ to fret over. I’ll be back soon.” I swear I saw him wink at her. She calmed then, and simply nodded.

Rachel stepped forward. “Are you sure?” she was worried now as well. I was just trying to keep from falling over again. My body felt rubbery and the edge of the bar offered little in the way of comforting support. I tried to nod my head in some kind of reply.

“It’s no trouble, Miss.” Matt patted her shoulder. “You go home and be safe. You know how and where to find him again.”

She nodded and walked over to me, looking pained as if trying to make a decision. She grabbed my arm then, leaned forward and kissed the corner of my mouth, slow and gentle. It was strange, feeling her lips on mine again, after all that time. The memory of them suddenly came crashing back into focus and I almost turned my face to meet it fully, but the vision was still fresh in my head. So I simply smiled at her. “We’ll talk soon, Mal.” She whispered in my ear. She gave me one last kiss on the cheek, and was gone.

Matt waited a few heartbeats and then locked the door behind her. I looked around the tavern, it had seemed to have emptied itself save for the two of us and Delilah. He helped me, still weak and shaky, into a small room just behind the kitchen. Delilah brought in a bottle of Mead to us and left the room to finish up in the kitchen, closing the door behind her.

Matt looked me in the face as he poured us each a glass. He passed my glass to me and squeezed my arm. “Based on what you told me of this woman in the past, I’m sure your mind is processing a lot.” he dared a grin.

“Shit!” I breathed out. “Just when I think I’m done with that bit of my past, it walks into my favorite bar!” I gave a weak chuckle and sipped the Mead gingerly. It was a stronger one than any he had given me before. It seemed sweeter and more potent, it tasted of an old sadness and of confusion. He must have been saving this bottle for an occasion like this.

Matt laughed and took a swig of his glass. “You saw something, didn’t you, kid?” he looked up at me, his expression becoming serious. “When you Imprinted with her, you saw something?”

So I told him what I saw.

“You’re kidding me, right?” he frowned, in shock and certain disbelief.

So then I showed him.

“Stars above me!” Matt breathed out, gasping for breath. Looking as if he had just been kicked in the chest.

I took another sip of the wine.”What do you think it means?” I asked pensively.

He sat back in his chair and rubbed his temples. “I think it means that the shit’s about to seriously hit the fan.”

We sat in the dark and finished out the Mead, not wanting to think about what might be coming, or what it could mean for all of us.

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