Oliver Granger sat on the church wall, his legs barely touching the ground as he swung them back and forth, waiting nervously for the person who had sent the note to appear.
The note, crumpled in his hands from re-reading it obsessively felt heavy in his fingers, as though each word represented an added weight on his shoulders, and in some ways it did.
In truth, the note was every bit a reminder of what he had done and what troubles he faced because of it. In this case, somebody had just taken the time to write it down for him, and Granger couldn't help but wonder, who? It was this question that had led him to enter out into the cold December night, blind to his surroundings and driven only by his thirst to know.
Though snow had yet to fall there was a bitter chill to the air that Granger had felt arrive each morning when a new layer of frost covered the earth. It was always at this time of the year that his sense of the earth grew stronger. The frost, much like a tainted layer ever present in the back of his thoughts, cold and sometimes painful, was a part of him that he could never escape.
Pushing his glasses higher on to the bridge of his crooked nose, Granger looked across the road to where Familiars rushed through the streets. London was always busy, and the mass of people seemed to blur into a constant faceless crowd . Granger sat watching them, trying to work out who they were and where they were going. Yet at the back of his mind, he couldn't help but question his sanity or even his own safety in acceding to the writer's one request.
The note had arrived two days ago by means of magic. Fragments of the paper had formed before his very eyes in a swirl of green and golden mist, before dropping the fully fashioned note lightly into his lap, as he woke in the damp chair that had served as his bed for the past week.
The room in which he currently resided was situated within the outskirts of the city, above an old fabric shop that must have gone out of business long ago. Disused and abandoned, the old shop smelt of mould and the earth. It reminded Granger of his youth and the troubled times he had faced before the Guild had found him.
Though he could have easily found refuge in a place much more sanitary, Granger let fate take its cause by bringing him back to a place similar to where his life began; a cyclical response that somewhere inside he had always known he would inevitably achieve.
Granger had grown concerned over how the note had come to correctly find him. No one knew of his whereabouts, he had made sure of that when he had disposed of the girl. So how had the note tracked him?
This was the second question, among countless others that had resulted in the sleepless nights that had left his eyes dark and weary. It was ultimately the question that had motivated him to enter the centre of the city and place himself in the situation no lesser than of a sitting duck.
Yet the burning need to know had urged him on.
Footsteps echoed from the right, pulling Granger from his thoughts and back in to the cold night. Two cloaked figures approached him; their hoods drawn, concealing their faces in a block of darkness.
Granger sat up straighter, immediately drawn to the pair like a moth to a flame. He knew without a doubt that they had come for him.
The figures each wore a dark cloak under which Granger saw the attire of well-made suits. One, had a petite figure, leading him to believe that it was a woman; the question of who however still remained unanswered.
The couple moved forwards, each step forcing the air out of Granger's lungs as though their closeness was draining every bit of his inner core. Yet at the same time, he longed for them to move closer, his gaze mesmerised and stolen.
"Now, now Evange, we don't want to kill him before we get our information, do we?" The voice of the male figure stood on the left spoke to his cohort warningly, a hint of sarcasm shadowing his tone.
The female looked to the male dishearteningly, though Granger could see nothing but the same darkness that veiled both of their faces. A layer of sweat built at the back of his neck, sticking the fabric of his unwashed shirt closer to his skin. Despite having heard what the man had said, he still couldn't help but be drawn closer to him; caught like a fly in their web, he waited.
"Oliver Granger I believe." The man stated offering a gloved hand out in greeting. His voice was deep and rich and Granger couldn't help but notice the slight hint of an accent seep through as the man pronounced his name. Though Granger couldn't be sure, he recognised the man's accent as South African. Reaching out he gripped the man's hand firmly, temporarily burying the unease he felt somewhere that would not disturb him.
"Well done. I am South African Mr Granger." The man smiled, pulling Granger closer to him so that he could see for the first time the man's yellow stained teeth. A scar ran from the side of his mouth vertically reaching just above the tip of his sharpened chin; a perfect line that further deformed his ghostly features.
"H-How did you―" Granger stumbled over his words, shocked by what the figure had said and almost certain he had not voiced his previous thought. Granger stared back at the man, willing a name to the face that considered him. His efforts were tired though as he found no match, though his thoughts reminded him that he would have remembered those eyes if they had met before. So cold and blue they seemed to freeze whatever they laid sight on. The pain of morning frost seemed innocent in comparison to the icy sting that pierced his skin now.
"I would have thought someone of your calibre would have understood by now that there are some things in this world that even our kind doesn't understand." the man spoke calmly.
Granger's eyebrow lifted, "Our kind?" he queried, a small smile forming at his lips at the phrase.
"My gift," the man spoke, "leads you to believe that I am something different. But I'm just like you Mr Granger, I was born an Elemental also. However we differ in that I, fortunately, have more power, and will survive much longer than you ever will, my friend. Unlike the Guild you so quickly abandoned, my allies are loyal and we serve only one law and one purpose. Our goal is focused and our goal will be complete."
"And what is you're goal?" Granger gulped, taking in the figure that stood before him, his voice weak and unsteady.
"Oh I think you already know the answer to that question, Oliver Granger." The stranger smiled, his hand still firmly gripping Granger's sleeve as he leaned in closer. "Now you have information we really do require." the man grinned, his voice turning ever so apologetic as his grip grew stronger.
Granger tensed, his whole body reacting to the icy chill that slowly climbed his body, working it's way up from his wrists, along his arms and back down along his spine. The glamour that surrounded them shielded the city form hearing Granger's screams. The shadow that enveloped him in their darkness was hidden from the world, leaving Granger helpless to their power.
In the corner of his eyes Granger saw the female dancing with excitement like a child.
The man began to rapidly mutter incantations under his breath as though they were lyrics to a song he had sung a thousand times. The ice penetrated his mind- crawling its way through every word or thought he had ever had, including some that he had long forgot.
The pain was excruciating, his screams now silent as the weight that formed inside his head began to grow impossibly heavier and heavier.
A high pitch squeal sounded to his right as the woman laughed in glee at his suffering. The twisted image of her leaning closer etched across his eyes, swaying him back and forth under the tight vice of the males arm. Nothing but pain entered his thoughts as the seconds seemed to drift slowly into minutes as they sifted through his mind. Then just as quick as it had begun, the pain seized. The cloaked figure dropped Granger's weakened state to the floor.
"Can I kill him now?" Evange asked, her voice eerily soft as she looked hopefully at the man. Her hands folding into each other, begging for the opportunity.
The man, still concealed within the shadows, turned away from them both, his head dipping in thought. "Not yet. Soon. I promise. But I think Mr. Granger needs to live for just a little while longer yet."
Evange slumped, her mouth twisting into a tight hold that prevented her protests from escaping. She looked down at Granger's near-lifeless body. "Soon then." she smiled. "I simply cannot wait."
The pair walked away as Granger slumped against the curb and off the pavement. His body spread into the road as he watched through heavy eyelids the two figures walk away until the darkness took them once again.
The pain that was present only moments ago, tickled his body like an echo. Granger closed his eyes and breathed slowly, before whispering a name he hadn't spoken in years. He vanished through the current and landed on a cold hardwood floor of an office.