American Mages Pt. 1

As Abigail ran into the abandoned building, she thought she might have gotten away from the Strange Men. They had been hot on her heels and she knew that if they caught her, she would definitely be shipped off to the High Tower. That was where they put mages they disagreed with and without anything resembling a human trial. Sometimes the tower trip was accompanied by a very inhuman execution. It was either that or timeless imprisonment. Abby was not sure which one was worse. She did not intend to find out. She quickly climbed into an old cabinet and pulled her legs in before she closed the door. There was no way this was going to work.

The Strange Men, two of them, entered the building. Abby could hear the soft rhythm of their breathing devices. She focused on her own breathing, trying to keep it as quiet as possible. It was very difficult as panic started to rise in her chest. She did not have a lot of tricks left with her to get out of this situation and she did not want to waste them in case there were more obstacles. The cabinet was suddenly yanked open. She had totally been in her own head, forgetting to keep track of the Strange Men’s footsteps. She cursed herself as one of the gray-skinned goons grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her out. She tripped on unsteady legs and fell face first on the ground.

When she pushed herself up she could feel a trickle of blood flowing from her forehead and she sighed. She would have to use magick, there was no way around it now. If she made a break for it, the two would use one of their gadgets to make her stop moving, perhaps permanently. She quickly took inventory of what she had in her head and found something fun. It was not perfect but it would work. She deftly pulled a card from her jacket and slapped it against her forehead, soaking it with her own blood. She could feel the magick start to spark and she grinned.

“From dreams to thought and from thought to reality!” She called out and the Strange Men were confused. She threw the card down onto the ground. “Off with their heads!”

The card started to smoke but it was red smoke and out of the smoke rose a lithe, crowned woman wearing a wicked dress with hearts all over it. The woman smiled and an axe formed from the smoke and fell into the Queen of Heart’s hands. She swung at the first startled Strange Man and his head went flying. The other one was barely able to put up a fight before his head bounced on the floor as well. Their brown blood sprayed all over the walls and the floor and the Queen seemed to revel as she too was sprayed with it. Then, just like that, the Queen was gone again.

“Snicker-Snack,” Abby said softly as the card on the floor finished burning away.

It had only been ten years since magick had revealed itself in earnest to the human population of Earth. In doing so, the magick opened people’s eyes to the magical creatures that had existed in the world all along. Even then, it was only a small percentage of the human population who knew about magick. An even smaller percentage was actually able to perform spells. Only bargains with the fae unlocked the first spells, humans had to stumble around after that before eventually learning to create their own. Pockets of so-called mages existed around the world and traded secrets.

The Strange Men had first appeared almost a year earlier and stories were told of them hauling mages away kicking and screaming to a tower that was invisible to normal humans. Mages could see it, though, and it was terrifying both because of its size and the vibrations it gave off. Nobody knew exactly what the Strange Men wanted. Most people figured that they generally disapproved of humans gaining magick and were out to put a stop to it. The Strange Men were theorized to be a twisted offshoot of the fae even though the fae denied it up and down. Abby thought they were their own thing, but either none of her contacts knew or none of them were telling her the truth. It was probably both.

Abby got back on to her feet and dusted herself off. She reached into her jacket and pulled out a little antiseptic cream and rubbed it into the cut on her forehead and winced at the sting. The bleeding stopped and she hoped it would not scar. Not that she was entering any more pageants, she had kind of lost interest when she learned she could do real magick. She used the flow of magick to make things from books she had read come to life and serve her. In mage circles, this made her what was called a ‘summoner’. She called herself a ‘story summoner’ because it had a special ring to it. She had no idea if any other summoners were using her motif. She had not met any but it was a big world.

Thankfully, no more Strange Men accosted her for the rest of her walk. Jamin was standing just inside of the door of the safehouse when Abby got in. She did not see him while she was reapplying the wards which she did by miming tying a blue ribbon across the door. As she turned to move further down the stairs, she saw him and nearly jumped three feet.

“Jam!” She yelled. “You scared me! You can’t just stand there silently.”

“Sorry,” he said. “I was just watching out for you.” Jamin was a ‘transmuter’ and he did a lot of changing the form and composition of objects by touch. He was carrying a large, solid rod of metal on his back but Abby knew that it could change into any weapon. She also knew that he used his abilities to sense movement in the same way that a spider can feel the slightest movement in its web.

“Thank you,” Abby said. “I can take care of myself.”

“You sure can,” he agreed. “However, there is a new mark on your forehead.”

“Well, there were two Strange Men on the way here but the Queen took care of it,” Abby said with a shrug.

“Strange Men, huh?” He asked. “That’s the first sighting in a while now. I’m glad you got away but the Queen is pretty messy and kind of scary.”

“Yeah,” Abby agreed. “She’s not ideal but she is effective. Now, who summoned the summoner?”

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