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A Beautiful Friendship

Discussion in 'Creative Archive' started by Chadwyck, Mar 22, 2012.

  1. This is a one-shot that is also sort've the prelude to a fic that is coming soon. After I finish Family Affair. A new character approaches.

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    The sun beat down on the landscape, a desolate desert wasteland that stretched out as far as the eye could see. It wasn’t something that many people crossed on foot; most opted to take a speeder through the wastes to the great cities beyond. At the very least, travelers would wait for a caravan to pass through, opting to use a crawler; they would travel through the desert at a much slower pace, but the fellow travelers would ensure the trip wasn’t dull, and the guide would ensure that everyone would make it through safe.

    However, one man was walking across the scorching sands of the deathtrap known as the Gryswald Wastes. A ragged cloak trailed behind him, whipping back and forth in the sudden gusts of sand filled air. His face was hidden behind a mask that covered his nose and mouth from the sand, and goggles for his eyes. Atop his head was a black, warlock cap that was as frayed and threadbare as his cloak. Blue-black hair peaked out from beneath the hat and caught the sunlight as he struggled against the heat. Beneath his cloak he wore a lightweight tunic, black with a violet fringe, and white pants that tumbled down his legs into his brown calf-high, cuffed boots.

    His own breath was stifling behind the mask, but he dare not remove it for fear of inhaling nothing but sand. It was a pretty pitiful position to be in, to be sure, but according to the map he haggled away from the shady looking character at the caravan post, he was almost to his destination. Moryyakech, a city with a rich history; it was filled with ancient buildings, nearly crumbling from age. They had a vast collection of artifacts that had been found in the various ruins of the desert; all of them housed in a museum carved into the stone of an enormous rock face that overlooked the city.

    The man could have used a spell of transportation to arrive at the town, but that would have been a huge spike in magical readings; the town had a natural distrust of magicians of any kind, after what happened centuries ago. Coming in on a speeder or in a caravan would have been no good, either, they scan every passenger for magical readings before they enter the city. No, if he wanted to go to Moryyakech, which he did, he needed to go on foot, and sneak his way into the city.

    After another hour of walking, dragging his feet through the sand, he saw the city stretch out before him on the horizon. “I suppose,” he mused aloud as he drew near the city, “that it’s time for me to lose the hat. It sorta gives it away.” He reached up and plucked his hat off his head, medium length, blue-black hair already whipping about in the breeze, unprotected. He held his hat out before him in his right hand, and after a second, a glowing circle appeared in his palm, beneath the hat, and the piece of clothing vanished. The man had stored his hat in a space between dimensions that was all his own. Like a pocket, but one with infinite space.

    He reached the outskirts of town with little trouble, and already he could see the effects of powerful mages at work. Mages that worked for the local government, no doubt. The sand seemed to halt before it ever came near the first of the villagers houses, and it was replaced with lush grass that was soft to the touch, like cotton spread out on the ground. The man lowered his mask and removed his goggles, noting that it was probably safe to do so within the town. With his face unobstructed it was plain to see that he was young, no older than eighteen years of age.

    “Interesting place. For distrusting mages so much, there’s a lot of magic being used here.” The young man noted with mild interest.

    “Well, that’s just because the sultan ensures that this magic is only performed by his personal court of wizards; no one uses it without his express permission.”

    The sudden answer to his unintended conversation caused the young man to jump slightly, afraid his cover had been blown already thanks to his carelessness. “Oh, you don’t say. I just found it interesting is all.” He nervously replied, turning to see who had responded to his thickheaded statement. To his surprise, it wasn’t a guard waiting to run him through with a spear, it was a rather harmless looking old man.

    The old man smiled, and added, “so what’s your name, my son? And what brings you all the way out here to Moryyakech, you’re obviously not with a caravan, and the speeder docks are on the other side of town.”

    “My name,” the young man hesitated, it didn’t seem like this old man was a threat, so he figured there was no harm in revealing only his name, “it’s Alistair Ravenholm. I walked through the wastes, I’m... on a pilgrimage, you see. One of my trials was to arrive here safely after walking through the harsh desert.”

    “Ah, a holy man, are you? Working to become a cleric, then?”

    “As my father was before me.” Alistair, as the boy was named, laughed nervously. Scratching the back of his head, he noticed for the first time what the old man was wearing. Priestly robes, and the overcoat of a grand cleric; he’d just lied to a man of the church, about being a man of the church, no less.

    “That’s good to hear, it is wonderful to see you taking an interest in the work of a cleric, young Alistair. I work exclusively from the Holy City, so I’m afraid I didn’t know your father. The name is Balthasar McCormick, and I suppose soon I’ll be your superior.” He laughed heartily.

    “Balthasar.” Another man started speaking, and Alistair had not noticed him before this moment. Had he been standing behind the priest the entire time? Alistair couldn’t remember. He was tall and lean, but Alistair could tell there was more strength in his body than in a hundred Olympian athletes. He had black hair and pale skin, he was dressed in a Victorian style suit, complete with a pleated shirt, and the most striking feature about him was his eye color: blood red irises peered out of his perfectly shaped eyes.

    “Ah, quite right, Draven, er... Damien... Whichever you prefer; I’m still getting used to the whole idea of you changing your name.”

    “Draven is fine, my friend. You knew me from before I became a new man. However, we should be off, Balthasar. The sun is strong for someone as freshly awakened as I.”

    “Then let us be off, Draven.” Balthasar, the priest, looked at Alistair with a smile. He extended a hand to him and Alistair took it hesitantly. “The museum is that way, but the sultan has barred access to anyone without special access. Careful in your journey, my son.” Balthasar smiled conspiratorially, walking away with the other man, toward the nearby inn. The priest had left something in Alistair’s hand, it was a ring bearing the seal of the church.

    “Special access, he said?” Alistair asked himself, watching the priest and the mysterious man go on their way. “Just who was that guy?”

    Alistair had no time to worry about the priest and his odd companion, he had come with a mission after all, and he was one step closer to success. With the seal of the church in his possession, he could pose as a cleric of the church and request access to the exhibit. It was somewhere in the museum, he knew that it was. He wasn’t going to give up until he found the artifact that he was seeking.

    “You know that the boy intends to steal an artifact from the museum, don’t you?” The man, Damien, spoke to the priest, now that both of them were safely away from the sunlight.

    “One can’t steal from someone who never truly possessed the item. You’ve been around longer than I have, you know that most of the artifacts in that museum are stolen property. What’s the harm in the boy taking the one he seeks?”

    “But why help him?”

    “Call it an act of faith. I was here, in this city, because I’ve just resurrected you. Now, before I have the chance to leave, I run into an apprentice mage. I sense that his motive is pure, and I was placed here to help him achieve his goal.”

    “You were always so trusting, old friend, even of a vampire like me. How can you see the good in people so easily?”

    “I am a man of God. His will is with me.”

    Damien smiled and leaned back in the bed. Closing his eyes and slipping off into a deep slumber.

    --------------------------------------

    “Halt! Sorry, sir, but the museum is closed to the public right now, we are updating the security systems and no one is allowed in until upgrades are complete.” A self-important pair of fancily clad gentlemen stood guard in front of the museum doors. They were some of the Sultan’s top guard in the city, reserved for guarding the most important locations such as the palace and the museum. Still, they should buckle when faced with a seal of the church, so Alistair continued on with his plan.

    He put on his best unamused face and produced the ring, which he was wearing on his left middle finger, as was customary of Clerics to do. “I assure you, I am no mere member of the public. I am a Cleric in the church, as you can see, sent from the Holy City to inspect the security system you are implementing into the museum.”

    The two guards exchanged glances, before the first one continued again. “How did the church know we were upgrading our security? It’s been kept secret until we started installation, and that was just yesterday.”

    Alistair faltered for a brief second, but then recovered with a new line of lies. “This museum holds some of the most important artifacts found in centuries; you think that the church doesn’t keep a close watch over what’s happening with said artifacts?”

    “Of course, sir Cleric, but you must understand that we’ve received no news of your coming.”

    “It was kept a secret, I’m sure you can respect that.” He smiled at them both. “If my presence was announced, it would have hardly been a surprise inspection, now would it?”

    “Very well, sir, I suppose we can let you inside for a moment. But no more than a few minutes at most. The Sultan made it perfectly clear that we are not meant to allow anyone access.”

    “A few minutes is all I’ll need, gentleman. Just a routine check to make sure that the security system is up to date.” Alistair smiled and slid through the heavy, oak doors that led into the museum.

    Once inside the building, built into the side of the mountain, he realized just how huge the facility was. There were artifacts lining every wall; each one was protected by a display case that was undoubtedly lined with all sorts of sensors that would alert the staff of any change, if the temperature rose even a single degree, it was being monitored and investigated.

    The air was stale and a little bit humid, the cave-turned-museum was dark and the only light came from underwhelming bulbs that didn’t give off enough glow, resulting in a low level of light that made it difficult to see where one was going. It was an eerie place, even though it was meant to be a museum open to the public; perhaps with other people around it would seem less disquieting.

    Though, all things considered, it was much better for the museum to be empty. It would make stealing the object Alistair was seeking much too difficult with other people around. He had been lucky to arrive just as they started increasing their security measures, most of them would be offline while the upgrade took place. That seemed to happen to him a lot, seemingly random acts of incredibly good luck. It was a nice blessing, especially in a place that would cut off both of his hands for trying to steal a piece of fruit, he could only imagine what would happen if he were to be caught trying to steal this particular artifact.

    Dusty, old display cases lined the walls: scrolls found in caves in the middle of the desert, pottery from what may have been the previous location of Atlantis, a spear that held incredibly magical power from the Crusades. There was no shortage of impressive treasures lining the walls, but there was one thing that Alistair wanted above all others. A book. An extremely ancient and powerful book of spells that held the key to all magic.

    He had it on good faith that it was here, and a wizard with that book of spells would be one of the most powerful beings on the planet -- maybe even in the universe. Such was the nature of the magic it possessed within it’s very pages.

    The young wizard stumbled, allowing himself to get so caught up in his thoughts that he had forgotten the location through which he was currently trekking, the cave’s footing was far from being even. “I best get moving, that man at the entrance didn’t give me much time to look around,” he reminded himself as he ducked around a corner, keeping his eyes sharp for the ancient tomes. He felt more than knew that he was on the right track, and toyed with the idea of turning around, but found it to be the wrong choice, seeing the first heavy, leather bound tomes in the display cases.

    “Good, now it should be around here somewhere. Where are you, my little friend?” Alistair mumbled to himself and he began to look through the glass cases with negative results. He heard a door open somewhere in the distance, the sound carrying easily through the caverns of the museum, echoing off of the walls and telling the young man that there was indeed someone coming. He didn’t have the luxury of time on his side, so he quickly closed his eyes and focused; trying his hardest to find the book that was the greatest source of magic.

    Several tomes stood out to him, and he sighed thinking that this whole endeavor was about to fall apart, when an strong wave of magical energy seemed to wash over him. There could be no mistake about it, the book would be at the source of this energy, it was as if it were calling out to him, drawing him closer.

    There it was, in a long forgotten drawer, near the back of the room; a single tome sat within the fragile looking case. Alistair smiled and gingerly opened the case, finding little difficulty as he traded fiddling with the lock for simply casting a small spell that broke the mechanism and unlatched the display.

    “I’ve found you at long last. The Arcane Dictionary of All-things Magic.”

    “Oh, please. You’re looking for that moron? Why settle for someone less that perfect?”

    The sudden reply to his statement made the young mage jump, nearly dropping the book in the process.

    “Oi! Watch what you’re doing.”

    “Who... Hello?”

    “Yes, hi. Down here. You almost dropped me.”

    Alistair glanced down at the book and noticed, for the first time, that on the cover was what appeared to be a beautiful young woman. She had long, red hair and wore an emerald dress that shimmered beneath a gaudy, violet robe.

    “You’re the Arcane Dictionary of All-things Magic?”

    The woman stifled a laugh, “hardly,” she replied with an annoyed look. “I am so much better. My maker named me the Encyclopedia of Vital Enchantments, but you can call me Eve. To what do I owe the pleasure?”

    For a second, Alistair let it all sink in, but then smiled. So she wasn’t the book he was expecting, that magic aura was undoubtedly hers, which meant that this tome would be just as powerful as the other. “My name is Alistair Ravenholm, and I am looking for a way to hone my magic.”

    The woman flashed him a toothy grin, “then you have come to the right place, boy. That old display case was getting quite dull anyway, I’m an adventurer at heart; two hundred years is too long for someone like me to be trapped alone, though I suppose it’s better than being locked in there with... him.” She seemed sickened by the idea, whatever it was.

    Alistair raised an eyebrow at this, and was about to ask to whom Eve was referring, but something interrupted his train of thought before he could even form the question in his mind.

    “You! What are you doing? You aren’t from the church!”

    Alistair sighed nervously, not really knowing what to do and knowing full well what the guard had followed him into the museum for. He’d taken too long and the man came to check up on him, finding him with a rare artifact in his hand alerted him to the fact that something wasn’t quite right. Now, Alistair saw his reaction before the man had even decided to follow through with it, he would radio in that there was a theft taking place and the whole city would be put on high alert; he would be hunted down and probably put to death.

    Alistair didn’t even have the chance to stop the man, his hand was at his radio and he was calling it in immediately.

    Almost instantly, the sound of footsteps echoed throughout the caverns as guards, undoubtedly armed to the teeth, marched in to secure the area and capture the person responsible.

    “Can’t we talk about this?” Alistair pleaded anxiously, he really didn’t want to hurt anyone, but he was left with little option. In order to confirm this, Eve decided to chime in.

    “Time for talk is over, boy, if you want to live, show me what you can do. Otherwise it looks like I’ll be back in that case and you’ll be in a hole somewhere.” The tome didn’t sound worried; in fact, it sounded like she was looking forward to seeing how things played out. She couldn’t make a pact to train this boy without seeing his magical prowess beforehand. What a perfect opportunity this would make, she thought with a wicked grin.

    “Look, I’m really sorry about this!” Alistair shouted, raising his arm in front of his face. While waving his hand toward the man he muttered something under his breath. A small gust of wind kicked up and sent the guard spiraling back into the wall, knocking him out cold. He didn’t want to kill anyone, after all, and only injured the man at all because the alternative was bleak to say the least. However, now there were people rushing at him from every direction, and he needed to escape now if he wanted to see the light of day again.

    Alistair grabbed his hat from the spacial pocket he commanded, which to an onlooker would have appeared to be him grabbing the hat out of thin air with a single motion of his hand, and placed it atop his head once more. Now that his cover was blown, there was no sense to be without his favorite accessory, after all.

    “I suppose you look the role a little better now, but how do you propose to escape this situation? Long range teleport?” Eve asked, frowning a bit at the young man’s lack of urgency.

    “Afraid the most I’ve ever managed on my own is a short range teleport, but it’s a start at least.”

    The warlock put his hand in front of him, gripping Eve tightly in his free hand, he began murmuring to himself. Within seconds, he flourished his hand above his head and disappeared with a small popping noise, the result of air rushing the fill the space he had been occupying.

    The duo reappeared just outside the museum. It was less than ideal, but far better than being surrounded by armed guards.

    The entirety of the city guard was out searching for Alistair, now that it was out that he was not only a mage, but had stolen from the museum. Undoubtedly by now the other guards had found the first guard unconscious and discovered that the thief was missing; which would be an impossibility if not for the aid of magic.

    As if on cue, three guards rounded the corner and didn’t even spare a second before rushing toward Alistair with a trio of spears. The young mage thrust a palm in front of him, freezing the ground before him, two of the guards lost their footing and tumbled to the ground, but the third recovered and continued his attack.

    Alistair twisted, blocking the spear with a sword that had magically appeared in his hand. Just one of the many other item that the mage carried around with him in his spatial pocket. The blade was as beautiful as it was effective; being made of enchanted steel, etched with runes to produce magically properties, and embedded with several crystals in the hilt that amplified magic abilities for the wielder. The sword had belonged to a race of mystics who protected the blade for centuries. Alistair had decided that it would be better suited in the hands of a man who would use it for all it was intended for.

    After deflecting the spear, Alistair brought the sword’s hilt up into the man’s gut, knocking him out cold with one blow.

    Eve was impressed at the young man’s dexterity, she would have fun training him into something much more powerful than what he was now. It would prove to be far more interesting than the centuries of solitude in the museum at the very least.

    Without missing a beat, Alistair took off running toward the desert; the direction from which he had entered the city only a short while before. Maybe his plan could have been thought through a bit better, he’d barely made it here the first time through the unforgiving desert, he didn’t know how well he would make it with an army of angry Moroccans chasing him.

    He probably wouldn’t ever get to find out, either. Alistair’s foot caught on a stone protruding out of the sand by the houses he where he had met the priest and his companion. “Uncoordinated, through and through. Looks like you’re a dead man, boy. Guess I’ll have to wait a few more years to find a pupil to train,” Eve waved dismissively on her book cover, like Alistair losing his life was a small issue compared to her being trapped back in the museum.

    The young mage didn’t even have time to respond, several of the Moroccan guards had surrounded him, and taking him alive didn’t seem to be high on their priority list. However, their spears didn’t impale him, and this fact was enough to cause him to open his eyes, as he’d shut them tight in anticipation of his death.

    “Gentlemen, good work, you’ve apprehended the criminal.”

    “I know that voice,” Alistair whispered, looking up. Sure enough, the priest who had given him the means of infiltrating the museum was standing beside him, while his compatriot helped Alistair to his feet.

    “We’ve received countless reports of a young man impersonating a Cleric all over the area, and our sources told us that it was likely he’d strike again here. The museum is an enticing target for thieves such as him.”

    “How do we know that you’re actually a priest, then?” One of the guards asked, it was the man who let Alistair into the museum in the first place; obviously he wasn’t keen on being tricked in the same way twice.

    “Oh, yes, of course. If you’d turn around and look, I’m sure there’s a stained glass window of me somewhere. I’m Father Balthasar McCormick, Saint of the Holy Church.”

    Suddenly, several eyes in the group of soldiers widened with recognition. “Of course, Father McCormick, forgive us. We had no idea you were still in the area after your business had concluded with the Sultan.”

    “I got the call that there may be an attempted theft at the museum so I stuck around. Good thing I did too, I’ll take things from here, gentlemen.” The priest took Alistair’s free arm, Damien still held his other.

    “Would it be possible for you to return the artifact to us, Father?”

    Balthasar looked down and noticed the item in question for the first time. A brief flash of anger crossed his face before he returned to his good natured self. “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid that’s evidence that my friends at the church will need to see. We’ll be sure to get it back to you as soon as possible.”

    Slowly the group of guards dispersed, leaving only the three men and the book. “To think that they had something as powerful as this tome hidden away. Did you know they had the Encyclopedia?” Balthasar asked.

    “No, I was originally looking for the Arcane Dictionary--”

    “Foolishly looking,” Eve added with a huff, “you don’t need that blowhard, I’m more power and less useless. All in an easy to carry form.”

    “Of course, I meant no disrespect, Eve,” Alistair said, rubbing the back of his head. “So, now that it’s been sorted out, are you going to let me go?”

    Damien chuckled slightly before Balthasar replied. “I’m afraid not. Like it or not, you were caught stealing, even if the Sultan has no right to hold the Encyclopedia of Vital Enchantments in his museum, I can’t just let you go and let the church take the fall.”

    “But you’re the one who helped me get in there!” Alistair complained, causing Damien to squeeze harder on his arm and silence him.

    “You want the whole country to know that I aided you in a crime? I helped you get in, I didn’t know you were going to get caught. Plus, I needed to confirm my suspicions. There are things in there they shouldn’t have, Eve here is proof of that. Unfortunately for you, though, I still need to sentence you with something. Though, I think I’ve got an idea.”

    Alistair was liking this arrangement less and less with each passing moment. “So, I’m getting punished for doing exactly what you wanted?”

    “No, you’re getting punished for stealing. However, since it was precisely what I wanted. Your punishment will be to receive training from a powerful sorceress who can help you master your abilities.”

    “Training?” Alistair didn’t mind the idea of receiving some training, “who exactly is this sorceress?”

    “Oh, I think you’ll like her, she’s got a talking book just like you.”
     

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