The Final Calling Excerpt
Please keep in mind that this scene is A. Edited from its original state and B. A work in progress that’s subject to change as writing nears completion. Other than that, I hope you enjoy it!
Isaac exited his temporary abode with a single idea in mind—scouting town for Perosian spies and assassins intent on locating and killing Edith.
After all, if he’d been tracked for centuries as a fugitive, he had no doubts she’d get the same treatment because of the prophecy. So he was taking every precaution to make certain no one knew her identity, from scouting her hometown to employing a trusted spy network that would spread misinformation and divert potential assassins—and it seemed to be working.
In the past few weeks, he’d only encountered a handful shadow fiends—spies adept at stealth and relaying information—and he doubted tonight would turn up a different story.
Still, scouting was the only activity he actually enjoyed anymore. Making sure Edith would be safe when she returned was fulfilling, and after his earlier dream, the distraction was much appreciated.
But no matter how much better ensuring Edith’s protection made him feel, after only a few bites of his tortilla wrap, Isaac knew he wouldn’t be able to finish it off. The flavor was enjoyable, but his heart simply wasn’t into eating, getting as far as the business district two blocks away before he tossed it aside purposefully.
The food flew through the air—and right into the open passenger’s window of a car that had just run a stop sign and was now recklessly speeding by. In turn, the vehicle swerved, slamming into a fire hydrant on the opposite side of the street.
The loud screech and crash soon followed by the driver’s shouts of angered confusion made the demon grin. Mortal flailing will never not be funny.
A few people rushed around the corner when they heard the crash, and Isaac would’ve stayed to admire his handiwork. But he hoped scouting might provide him with something a little more entertaining, deciding to take a shortcut between two buildings in his search for potential problems.
And damned if that wasn’t where he found one.
But this problem wasn’t exactly what he’d expected—it was sorceress-shaped and called itself Chandra.
Isaac thought his eyes were playing tricks on him at first, but there she was, standing near the center of the alley, her mien just as impassive as ever. Such austerity made it difficult to tell why she’d decided to show up, and her greeting didn’t offer any clues either.
“Hello, Isaac. It’s been a while,” she started, looking him over. “You’ve lost weight.”
Isaac rolled his eyes without responding to the observation. “Unless you have something to tell me about Edith, I don’t wanna fucking hear it.”
“Funny you should mention her because she’s the exact reason I’m here.”
Isaac’s gut clenched at her declaration, a strange sensation after so long feeling nothing but apathy to most situations. But he hid his desire to know more under a mask of calm, returning, “Oh? What happened? Did she fuck up and blow Mystikkar away?”
Chandra didn’t even crack a smile. Instead, her face was a mask of sincerity when she replied, “Edith is one of the best students Mystikkar has seen in quite some time, well on her way to becoming a formidable enchantress, which is fitting considering the prophecy, don’t you think?”
Some unidentifiable part of Isaac bloomed with pride in hearing this. Enchanters were supposed to be pretty high up on the food chain in mage society. But Edith’s achievements meant little unless she was returning to Terra.
“So?” he asked indifferently.
“So,” the sorceress echoed, “as per our bargain, I’m alerting you that she’s already achieved the necessary skill to attempt her Final Calling, and she’s accepted it. So I’ve released her from training.”
Now Isaac let his interest show. But he didn’t quite get the chance to demand to know where Edith was when Chandra lifted a hand to stop him. “Before you teleport in a frenzy to find her, there’s something you have to know.”
“It’s Rothario. I learned soon after Edith’s departure that he’s once again sent spies to try attaining the truth behind my instructor status. So there’s a chance he knows of Edith now, or soon will, meaning she could be followed this very night, and as her mentor, there is nothing I can do to protect her … ”
Chandra trailed off to let him fill in the blanks, and Isaac was already balling his fists. He couldn’t remember Rothario, the Steward of Perosia, but as he’d told Ulric once, if given the chance, I’d strangle him just for my extended stay in the Pit, and might just take so much pleasure watching the life drain out of him I’d come in my pants.
“Where is she?” he impulsively demanded.
In response, Chandra began wordlessly teleporting away, unable to take any action that would aid Edith’s Calling without nullifying it. Still, Isaac didn’t actually have to ask, knowing the best place to start looking would be his mate’s apartment.
And if Rothario did know about her, it would be imperative to act fast.
So Isaac got started without hesitation, realizing on the way that for the first time in over two years, he actually felt … unburdened.
The sensation had a devious grin lifting his lips.
Time to claim what’s mine.
Edith hadn’t expected to feel so strange being back home. It wasn’t her first trip back to Terra since she’d started training, but knowing she probably wouldn’t return to Mystikkar anytime soon was … odd.
Maybe it was due to the fact that everything in her apartment was exactly the way she’d left it ten months prior because of a magical hold Chandra placed on her belongings, making it seem as if she’d never left. The food in her refrigerator hadn’t spoiled, bills weren’t piled up in the mailbox, and all of her utilities were still working.
Even her cell phone was fully charged despite the fact that she’d left it unplugged.
But the hold had broken the moment she’d stepped foot inside, meaning everything would now return to normal—not that she planned on staying long anyway. The first sign for her Calling could appear at any moment, and who knew what she’d have to acquire, or if she’d even figure it out before coming under attack by some assassin.
If any were even looking for her.
But most importantly, Edith wanted to see Charlotte again after spending so long away, and an added benefit of visiting was that Ulric did mercenary work, and probably had experience dealing with assassins.
So it would definitely be worth a trip.
With the thought in mind, Edith eagerly changed out of her light blue apprentice robe in favor of donning something more suitable for the mortal world—a plain black top and a pair of jeans—then adjourned to her bathroom and flipped on the lights. There, she stood at the sink to brush her hair and tie it into a ponytail before leaving, trying to envision what her friend’s home looked like now. The framework without walls had been impressive, so she could only imagine.
But her musings quickly died when she looked in the mirror and noticed … movement behind her.
Freezing in place, she inspected the reflection more closely to make certain her eyes weren’t playing tricks, realizing with no lack of consternation that her face wasn’t the only one in the mirror.
In the doorway was … an apparition, or so it appeared to be. The creature was nearly translucent, but the way the light broke around its form was a clear indication that someone, or something, was standing a few feet behind her.
The shape of the body was lanky and tall, and her mind reeled over the reasons for its presence in her home. Assassin? Or am I actually seeing a ghost?
The latter seemed much more unlikely than the former, and without turning from the mirror, she asked, “I’m guessing you’re not here to collect the rent.”
Eerily, the being shook its head in the negative—then reached for her.
Only two things occurred to Edith in response. First, this was definitely an assassin, and second, she needed to get the hell out of there.
Yet the monster never laid a hand on her. Instead, the lights suddenly went out in the moderately sized bathroom, an event that altered her assailant’s being altogether. As soon as the room was sufficiently dimmed, it became tangible.
Where the creature was once hard to see, now there was a solid, featureless shadow, or it was just too dark for her eyes to make out its face. Either way, it stopped reaching as if surprised by the diminished illumination, and likewise, Edith didn’t expect anyone to attack the monster from behind.
But that was exactly what happened.
In the space of a single moment, two thick arms wrapped around the creature and, with what looked like little effort, hauled it out of her bathroom completely. A crash then sounded in the bedroom beyond the door, and Edith hurried forward to watch as the shadowy monster was pinned down by an unknown man.
Whoever he was, he had a strong build with what looked like dark, wavy hair in the dim light, wearing a black shirt, jeans, and boots. But the way he was growling told Edith he definitely wasn’t human.
Even still, the moment he glimpsed her standing near the doorway from the corner of his eyes, he mentioned casually, “Oh hey, I’ll introduce myself in a minute. Just don’t turn the lights back on until this fucker’s dead.”
Edith blinked at the remark, which only sounded strange because of his nonchalant tone. But his directions to keep the lights off informed her that they were dealing with a shadow fiend—creatures who were only tangible and could only be killed if it was dark.
As soon as she realized it, the monster suddenly rolled and knocked the man away hard enough to send him flying into a nightstand, breaking her jewelry box and a decorative vase. Following the movement, it quickly stood with a low, garbled cry, and lunged toward a window in attempt to escape.
“Oh no you don’t.” Using a little magic, Edith sealed the room tight, the doors to the bathroom and bedroom both slamming shut just as the fiend jumped—but the window didn’t break.
Instead, it merely crashed into the glass, and the strange man was right back on top of it in an instant.
Nothing about their fight could’ve been described as gentle. Even more furniture was knocked over and items demolished—mostly because her so-called savior decided to use them as weapons, such as breaking a bed post to hammer into his enemy’s skull.
Topping it off, their movements were loud enough that Edith feared a neighbor might call the police.
Still, it was evident that the stranger was just fucking with the fiend when she heard him laughing and taunting as he got the upper hand. Grasping each of the monster’s wrists, he quickly spun himself beneath its arms with a growl of effort, flipping the monster over onto the floor, its legs slamming into her dresser hard enough to break away the covers of the drawers.
While holding the fiend’s arms in place, the stranger lifted a leg and slammed his boot down into it’s head with an inhuman snarl, crushing it’s skull which exploded in a puff of smoke.
Still, the fiend continued struggling—not that the stranger was finished.
With a show of strength, he placed his boot on the monster’s chest and ruthlessly ripped one arm off, then the other. With each dismemberment, the appendages would go up in smoke, until finally, the torso disappeared after losing its legs.
The moment things grew silent again, Edith took a deep breath and looked around her bedroom. It hadn’t been entirely decimated by the fight, but there were plenty of things broken, irreplaceable things—or they would’ve been if she wasn’t on her way to becoming an enchantress.
So instead of yelling goddamn it as her first instinct directed, she opted to chastise the stranger.
“I hope you’re done, because—,” Edith stopped when his gaze turned on her, revealing the most vivid amber eyes she’d ever seen, like two flames glowing through the darkness. What’s more, they’d pinned her with a look of interest so intense that her heart skipped as she involuntarily took a step back.
“You’re fucking beautiful,” he spoke, his tone deep—and reverent.
Just as she asked the question, the stranger was upon her. She gasped at his sudden teleportation, throwing herself against the wall as he slowly leaned in, bracing his hands by her shoulders.
For all intents and purposes, he looked as if he wanted to kiss her absolutely senseless.
Strangely, she wasn’t sure she’d mind …
The Final Calling is coming in Spring 2016!