Author's note: Hello readers young and old, shy and bold. Umm...well I mainly do work on Fanfic, but after a while you feel the need to go outside your comfort zone. Now naturally I still stayed reasonably close by using personal characters who I've from time to time used in my Fanfic stories. Don't worry there will be no connection to those stories on the other side. This is all unrelated and honestly just a fun side project I've thought of doing. These aren't as long as my usual Fanfic chapters so I don't spend nearly as much time on them.
Chapter 1: The (in Retrospective kind of Awful) Offer of a Lifetime
Humanity has made itself infamous to try to explain every facet of life, whether they truly know it or not. Take electricity for example, Nikola Tesla was a man decades ahead of his time but probably couldn't explain the inner workings of a one hundred and twenty eight gigabyte hard drive. He would claim it to be fiction, or science fiction in this case. But people still revere Tesla for his genius, even if he appeared to be a real life mad scientist, and there are some caveats to that. Some of those people who look up to Tesla are a little odd and have taken after his mild insanity. However that is not the point, the real point is to lay the foundation that all throughout history try to explain what they do not know. Volcanoes, earthquakes, the first motion picture is said to have frighten people out of their seats because it was of a train coming right at them. Through all that though, there is one thing that humans have never truly grasped.
A tad cliche to announce it such a distinct way but there is truly no other way to bring about this subject. It is truly awe inspiring. Commanding the earth, summon fire to your fingertips, bring down whole armies with bolts of lightning, and flood whole mountains in a rush of water. Yes it is safe to say that back then magic was truly the deciding factor in the old days. So the question is what happened?
Surely such a driving force would definitely shape the world that would be present in front of our very eyes. Well it was, for a short while back in the early beginnings of the twelfth century. While many see him as a mythical figure, and one of mystery and intrigue, many magicians, or as they are known as 'Mages' because...they hate long names or some crap like that, the name 'Merlin' only brings strife and anger. But more on that later, what good is exposition if it used immediately? Right now the curtain must pull up on the characters in this tale, many years past the days of Merlin, past the days of knights in shining armor, and past the days of Nikola Tesla. To the present, to the year two thousand fifteen where this tale begins on a high note…
Travis sat in an interrogation room, by himself, with an awful light that was irritating his eyes, he had no glass of water to quench his thirst which had only increased ever since he got there, and worst of all he had a massive headache. Can't help a brother out with some aspirin? Apparently not.
"Oh," he said in a long sigh, "what a day." He looked up at the ceiling, the lamp above only slightly hurting his corneas. "And I thought that physics test was going to be my biggest worry," he closed his eyes and took a breath, he hated sitting, it was monotonous, not to mention his back was not in the best of shape. Maybe his mother was right about how long he spent on the computer? Maybe she was wrong though, after all he learned how to fix the dishwasher with the internet so hey….solutions. "Yeah…." he cheered thinking about everything he had just witnessed. He swore he never seen that brunette chick so angry before in his life, she smashed a goddamn vending machine in two for goodness sake. Thinking about it more he subconsciously tipped the chair backwards placing his foot on the edge of the table to rock him back and forth.
The door clicked opened.
"Aw shit!" Travis yelped before falling over. The back of the chair proving that hard plastic does not cushion a fall. He groaned out some more expletives while nursing his shoulder. The teenager pulled the chair back up and saw who had entered in the room.
Sitting down across from him when he finally got back down, on all four legs of the chair this time, was an older looking gentleman. A mixed of black and grey hair that stood in a curly mess making a natural looking Jew Fro that barely went above his head. His face was tired, if the dark rings around his eyes were anything to go by, a manilla colored folder laid on the table. Probably Travis' last will and testimony he was going to have to sign.
Upon looking more intently at Travis the man gave a sigh and pulled out a pair of glasses. "Let's see here," upon opening the folder Travis saw it was full of stuff about himself. Pictures, test scores, medical records...Pizza Hut orders? These guys weren't a group of hardcore stalkers were they?
"Travis Basco," the man announced, "I'm going to call you Travis is that alright?" He lowered the a paper just enough to make eye contact with the other across the table.
Travis merely shrugged in response and said, "You could call me a damn piece of shit that my mother picked up from the sewer and I wouldn't complain right now."
"Travis will do," Travis' words didn't phase the older man, "but try not to avoid profanity in front of your teachers, it will create a bad impression."
"Well if it makes you feel any better, I haven't got the best impression of you lot," Travis's smile died down when the teacher stared him down again. "Listen I've been through a lot today, I would just like to go home, take a nap, eat something, take another nap, and maybe find the strength to get to school so I can take yet another nap."
"Hmm, so that's really how you feel? Well I can definitely understand your position dear Travis, but as much as many think, there are some of us who think you can be of some use to us."
That made Travis take a hitched breath and give him a confused look, "You see that right there? When you say stuff like that I don't really think trusting you is a good idea. You make it sound like a cult or something." He finished the statement with a chuckle, when the teacher's face didn't move Travis feared the worst, "It isn't a cult right? Right?!"
The teacher chuckled, "No, but we get that a lot. Hmm...let's see no clubs, stellar grades, spends time in the metal and auto shop after school for a minimum of two hours almost everyday, lives with just your mother, had an both an older brother and sister who moved out after college, and declined entering into the advanced classes. Nearly a perfect bill of health except for a left eye that was struck by shrapnel when a screw broke and shattered. How's that doing anyway? I heard you had to have surgery?"
Travis' left eye blinked independently a few times, they were very slow blinks as the strength had not completely returned. He kept his eye open and reached with his hand, pulling out a contact lens. What remained was a somewhat damaged eye that was bloodshot, large spots of red that distinguished from the usual red, the once blue now a distorted looking violet. He placed the contact back in making it mirror his regular and undamaged right eye. "All things considered, I can't complain."
"Good to hear. Back to the point, you have basically just existed in high school, never made any waves, never influenced it, you just were there. You're a smart kid, why not do more?"
"I don't like to stand out, high school is not what I would call the biggest highlight of our lives. It's only three years out of what our, hopefully, long lives. I'm not going to fret over something like homecoming or having to ask out girls."
"But what about the future? A lot is placed on what you do in high school, bad grades can determine the next ten years of your life."
"Listen I don't particularly care too much of about that stuff, and I'm not worrying about it either. I have my whole life after this to figure out what I want to do so I'm not going to fret about it, I'm only in my second year after all."
"True, very insightful."
"I feel like there's a 'but' incoming."
"No, not at all, if that's all you wanted then I get to leave, I'll make sure they don't let the door hit you on the way out," the teacher stacked up all his papers and stood up, he was about to leave but turned around and looked at Travis over his shoulder, "but if you want to truly know about what you saw then you can. You just have to give me your word about a few things."
"My word?" Travis paused, bit his lip, and sighed in defeat, "Fine what is it."
"Excellent why don't we start with what happened around four thirty this afternoon."
Travis leaned back in his chair, tipping the two legs again precariously and rocking himself with his foot. "Well to answer that question we would have to go back. You said it yourself, I spend about two hours in the auto shop in the school almost everyday."
Travis yawned, his eyelids shut begging him to go to sleep, backpack slung over his grey sweatshirt covered back. Subconsciously his hands went into his blue jean pockets, feeling his pickup keys and phone in the two pockets. When he opened his eyes he found himself at the very far left corner of campus, a large red brick building. The place Travis spent a lot of his time in school and out of school.
~As usual I found myself at the Tech Building, someplace I can relax, my mother doesn't get home until five so staying alone at the house gets on my nerves. The metal shops are where I can decompress and get frustrations out.~
Upon entering the shop he saw multiple metal tables in the room, a plethora of hand tools, a car on cinder blocks, tires, rims, an assortment of car parts, welding stations, milling machines and , lathes. It smelled like coolant, tobacco, and burning if that made any sense. Travis thought it was heaven. A wall of lockers was where he went initially, pulling out his keys he opened his locker revealing a welding mask, gloves, safety glasses, and more. A piece of metal with a welded joint was the first project he needed to work on. So he grabbed his welding mask and gloves and went over to the welding stations. But the door opened stopping him.
"Thought I might find you in here."
"C'mon Reese what do you take me for?" Travis shrugged with a chuckle.
Reese and Travis were close friends, despite being separated by a year in schooling. He was taller than Travis, which irked Travis to some extent, but more lankier where as Travis wasn't. Travis also tended to walk a bit crouched while Reese was always straight and almost at attention. It wasn't odd to see Reese in the shop, it where the two met, worked together, and did projects for class. It was also where they would go to skip class when they were disinterested or hated the teacher. Usually it was the last one. Reese's hair was short and fuzzy in a way, while Travis' was longer and wavy. But they were both colored a light brown, on the cusp of blonde. Reese may have only been about sixteen but he already had a full chin of facial hair which irked Travis even more than the height thing.
His jeans looked skinny on him but it was rather his bird legs giving that impression, a blue and grey plaid button up shirt stayed open like a jacket showing a black t-shirt. His green eyes unmarred, unlike Travis' which he kept secret from everyone. He didn't need to stand out.
"I thought you had a club meeting today?" Travis asked, putting the metal on a work table and leaning it against it himself. Reese was apart of multiple clubs it seemed like, but worst of all was the student government sponsored one. At the moment Travis couldn't recall the exact name of the club.
"Oh I do, in fact I'm heading over there right now, I just came by to tell you the janitors are going to do some deep cleaning. Try not to wander, you might get gassed by something."
"I thought that only worked on roaches and other pests?" Travis skeptically asked. When Reese gave him a coy smile Travis' face deadpanned, "Very funny asshole."
"I thought so," Reese started to walk away, "I'll lock you in, if anyone comes in just try to be polite about it."
"When am I not polite?"
"In the past three hours or the whole day?" Reese asked.
"Shut up," so Travis was a bit of jerk.
"See ya man."
~Now looking back, my suspicion of his visit does make sense, and I don't blame him…..okay maybe a little but still I can't fault him. So the time kind of flew by with little to nothing happening outside of the occasional close call with the welding torch.~
It was amazing how two hours just seem to pass by with little to nothing happening, the only movement was from Travis, going between tools and stations. When he looked at the clock it read four fifteen.
"Should probably think about cleaning up," he told himself, wiping off some sweat with a piece of cloth. His hands were dirty, coolant and grease staining them black. Metal shavings littered his clothes from the milling and lathe machines.
By the time he got everything put away and cleaned himself up it was high time to leave. When he left the room though and entered the hallway something seemed off. Usually when they clean it should smell like chemicals, primarily chlorine, but there was none. Plus the janitors usually smelled like cigarette smoke, but alas that was missing too. It was almost like they didn't do anything at all. Like Reese lied about it.
Why would anyone lie about something so benign as cleaning?
~Now obviously we know why, but still he had to come up with such stupid cover story?~
~Just get back to the story.~
~Fine, fine, have it your way. So from the parking lot was where I go, the shops are some of the furthest rooms from the lot. So I have to cut through the school to get there. Naturally I went through there and then…~
Travis was walking through the halls, taking it slow as he usually did. The rooms mostly locked and dark passed him by one at a time sometimes two. "I still have the physics test to study for," he said while yawning again and cracking his knuckles. "Not to mention that math test, and that history paper due next week."
What Travis wasn't expecting was to hear a loud 'thud' coming from the ceiling, or rather the floor above him. It sounded like someone was going to crash through the top. Now usually in a high school, scuffles were somewhat common but never indoors. Travis would know as he'd been in one or two before. Should he look into it? Go home? In the end his feet turned around to the stairs and walked up to the next floor. Upon walking up he found one of the rooms still lit, the light casting on the wall.
"Strange," he thought, "most clubs would have ended by now." Now most people at this point would turn around but the curiosity was eating at him, mainly because of Reese acting a little odd. It felt like he was being over cautious, Reese was, as if he was wanting to hide something. He heard voices, but they were muffled and incoherent, but there was a multitude of them. Happy, joyful, and laughing voices by the looks of it, whoever they were, it sounded like a good time. Again he should have left but he kept pressing on, getting up to the window and finding out who was in there. Upon looking he immediately hit the wall hiding himself.
"Reese?" Travis thought upon seeing his friend in the room. Now it was only natural to expect your friend who did a lot of clubs to still be doing one. But upon seeing what they were doing Travis was beginning to question everything he knew about his friend.
Inside were multiple people, as noted earlier, some he knew and some he didn't. They were gathered in a circle of chairs, a strange circle on the floor with old runes and symbols glowed off the ground. Now glowing circles could have meant many things, none of which Travis really wanted to find out about. The word 'cult' appeared in about three fourths of those options.
~You really have a fascination with cults don't you?~
~Hey who's telling the story here? Shut up and let me finish.~
Turning his back to the weird...whatever it was, Travis walked a bit faster than usual, looking every now and then behind his back to make sure he wasn't being followed. He still couldn't help that it felt like someone was watching him though, like they were just around the corner. What felt like a small eternity to him finally ended when he reached the parking lot where his car was one of the last few there. He put his backpack in the bed of his truck and by the time he got back t o the door and put his key in the lock he was stopped by a familiar face.
"Hey Travis what's up?" Reese asked him, still looking the same as when he left the metal shop.
Travis' logic based and analytical mind started to run wild, various excuses and scenarios running through his head. How did he get here so fast? There was no one behind him. Did he see Travis through the window? Travis had to play this cool, thankfully he was good at that.
"Not much Reese, just finishing up, need to get home and do my homework. I have a few tests coming up, you know how it is."
"Yeah, yeah sure," Reese was stalling, it was clear as day, his body language was not at all subtle. "Hey out of curiosity, did you cross through the main building?"
"Yeah, of course, easiest way to get here is through the main building. You've walked down with me Reese. The hell is wrong with you?"
"Oh nothing, just wondering. One more question, did you stay on the main floor or did you go upstairs?"
"Shit he knows," subconsciously Travis leaned back on the bed of his truck, his arms behind his back. His right arm reaching under the lip of the bed grabbing a handle. "No man, why would I? Nothing up there this time of day. Most clubs are done by this time."
"Hmm, interesting," the way he scratched his chin hair only proved Reese could not be trusted with anything if he laid it on this thick.
"What's with you man? You're acting odd?" Travis was gripping the handle tightly.
"Don't worry man, I just got told that you were sneaking around and maybe noticed something you weren't supposed to."
Multiple expletives went through Travis' mind, "What the hell am I not supposed to notice? You hiding something Reese?"
"Don't turn this around Travis, I know that you saw us up there."
"Well fuck," Travis breathed in a deep breath, not very convincing. "That really depends," he was trying to salvage whatever he could, "what did I see Reese? All I saw was you guys singing kumbaya in a glowstick circle."
"Travis I'm not playing around, this is serious."
"Oh this is serious?" Travis started to play around, "Look at you Reese playing the big bad angry guy. I'm so scared of the cultist. What the fuck you gonna do?" Upon saying it Travis felt something wrap around his ankle. When he looked down he saw a...tree root? It had pierced the asphalt and had a tight grip on his leg. The root was still moving to adjust itself. Travis was at a small loss for words. "I see," was all he could say, "...well then this has been an eventful evening Reese, congrats at being able to control...um roots. But I gotta go, so please release me."
Reese sighed, Travis could already tell this wasn't going to be good, "I'm sorry man but I can't, you've seen too much."
Whenever that is said in movies or fiction in general that usually means that the person dies soon afterwards, like in ten seconds or less. So with his fight or flight instinct being on overdrive for the past two minutes, he chose to fight.
With a quick movement Travis swung his right hand around, a metal file about a half inch thick in his hand. Reese averted his head away making the file just miss narrowly. Reese then came in and looked like he was going to punch his friend but was met by Travis left hand coming and and holding it back. Quickly Travis flipped the file around in his hand so it was facing away from sky. Travis brought it down but was met by Reese's other hand. The two were at a deadlock, but Reese was more composed looking while Travis was gritting his teeth. Reese then took a breath and started to utter something very quietly. Travis couldn't make it out exactly, but by the time he focused on Reese he noted there was another root, behind Reese's shoulder looking right at Travis.
"I'm sorry man, but I have to do this. Impetus!"
"Sorry come agai-" Travis was stopped when he felt a bludgeoning pain strike him in the back of the head. Everything went black from there.
The teacher that sat across from Travis put down the final piece of paper down as Travis got to wrapping up his story. "Everything went black, I wake up here with a pounding headache and then you walked in. Well that's it, that's the story."
"Hmm," the teacher said, his finger traced his chin, sizing up Travis, "well you're not lying that's for sure. Reese's report on the matter matches up with your take. Albeit he didn't mention that he slapped you with a vine, he told me you hit your head on your truck."
"Well I have no more questions for you, depending on what happens next we may see each other again, or never again."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Travis asked.
"Don't worry you'll get the shpiel, just like everyone."
But wait I-" The door slammed close before he could finish leaving Travis all alone again. "Well fuck, what have I got into now?"
"I told you this was serious."
The voice came from the corner of the room was the same voice Travis trusted and heard until recently today.
"Reese," Travis acknowledged, but not looking right at him. He had been in the room when the teacher came in, but stayed in the corner. "You got a lot of nerve after what you did."
"What? What I was supposed to? You were the one who broke the rules," Reese walked forward and sat down, forcing Travis to look at him. An angry sneer was on Travis' face, his face did tend to make people uneasy. Reese now understood why he wears that contact lense.
"What rules Reese? How the hell am I supposed to follow something that I don't know about? Try to have some logic in your words druid boy."
"Oh we're going to childish nicknames now are we? I think I can make a few about you purple eye."
"We leave the eye out of this Reese," Travis pointed at him, "I would rather not talk about it."
"Fine," the air was a bit tense, Reese hoped he could ease it, "you obviously have a few questions. Go ahead and ask."
"Okay what the fuck is going on? Who the fuck are you really? What the fuck is all this? And when can I get a fucking drink of water with some aspirin? My head is killing me."
"Well then, those are interesting questions," Reese leaned back in his chair. "Travis, what would you do if I said that there might be magic in the world?"
"Well if you asked me yesterday I would laugh at you and call you stupid."
"I'm going to laugh at you and call you fucking stupid."
Travis' pristine eye twitched. Was Reese testing him or was he telling the truth. He wanted to laugh at him...but he saw the roots, the kumbaya circle glowing, and not to mention that teacher seemed a little off.
"Please tell me you're lying," Travis' face fell in his hands.
"I wish, I didn't want you to get involved in this. I wanted one damn normal friend here," Reese chuckled.
"It's sad that you would consider me normal," Travis had to admit that he was a little odd ball.
"True, but you didn't use magic or had any knowledge of magic so to me you were normal. Now to answer your second question, I'm still me, I'm still Reese. You just know a bit more about me. So as proper introduction," Reese stood up and stretched out a hand, a green circle appearing in his hand where a flower grew out of his palm, "my name is Reese Martins, practicing Mage of Nature and the Natural Arts. Pleasure to meet you."
It looked mystical for a moment but Travis' face fell into a fit laughter as Reese attempted to be cool. He never could be, it was his curse. "Looks like I wasn't too far off about that druid comment," Travis said between laughs.
"Travis, bring it back."
"Okay fine, so you're a….a….ma-ge, yeah that don't sound right I'm sorry."
"Eh no worries, I wouldn't know what that's like though. I've known about magic my entire life."
"You have?" Travis was thoroughly surprised, he just assumed Reese was subjected to the same treatment he was. Maybe Travis was just unlucky…
"Yeah, both my parents are mages, but they were a little disappointed that I didn't go down with the usual route for my family."
"And what's that? Becoming a fairy?"
"No, my family are mainly fire mages. I'm very much a stark contrast from them."
"Would you prefer if I said I come from fairies?"
Travis nodded ever so slightly and smiled, "Maybe." Reese chuckled along, the hostility was completely gone now and it seemed like they were just two friends just talking. "Alright, so what the hell is really going on Reese? Magic exists, it will take me a while to get used to that but why the hell are you guys going so far as to imprison me?"
"Well it wasn't my intention for us to take you in, we were just planning to alter your memories to make you think this was all a dream."
"Alter my memories? What kind of psychos are you guys?"
"We could just erase them, but that only increases the risk of Alzheimer's in your older years, why do you think the rate has increased exponentially?"
"You mean that-" Reese nodded but stopped Travis from blowing up.
"We didn't know it increased those kind of things until much later, when it was prominent technique and was being done all over the world. Now we just make small adjustments using magic."
"So why didn't you?"
"You said you had a headache right?"
"Yeah, and it's a real pain in the ass right now. Do you got any aspirin?" Travis clutched his head as a ring went into his ear.
"Aspirin won't do you much good Travis, not in this case."
"And why's that my tree hugger loving friend?"
"Because you've been exposed to magic and your body is having to accept it at an unnatural age. Most mages start in their early childhood."
"Okay so I've been exposed to magic, what does that mean? Can't be anything good I reckon."
"Actually, it isn't all that. It just means that you really can't live a normal life anymore," when Reese saw Travis confused, worried, and slightly quizzical face he went on, "when a non-magic person is influenced by outside magic it stimulates the part of the body that is responsible for generating magical energy."
"How cliche…" Travis gave a deadpan stare and his voice was flat.
"They're cliche for a reason. When the soul starts to make magical energy, the younger a person is, the easier it is for their body to adapt, that's why many parents have their kids influenced by magic at a young age. When you get older and you get exposed your brain cannot comprehend what is happening causing it to hurt. The large the energy the worse the headache. What basically happens is your brain recognizes you have a soul but cannot accept it happening due to the fact that magic appears to be illogical to most. When you accept that magic is logical then it should end. Make sense?"
Travis was silent, Reese recognized that stare he was giving, it was Travis' analytical look when he judged situations. One eyebrow raised, the other curved upwards, now that Reese knew about the contact lense he could make out where it caught up with his eye's movement. Finally, as if giving up, he exhaled. "Okay fine, I believe you, I'll believe all of this magical crap. Can I leave now?"
"No actually, we still have one more thing to get to business about."
"What the fuck man? What else do we have to do-"
"He's ready!" Reese yelled over him. Maybe a second later the same teacher came back in with a female teacher he recognized in toe carrying a large amount of papers and a ornate wooden box.
"Congrats Travis Basco, you're now a mage."
Huh, you made it this far, you deserve a gold sticker. This was refreshing to write something with little to prior knowledge. I wasn't entirely sure where to put this in the categories (I was thinking fantasy which is an incredibly generic topic), but I decided manga mainly because I used other manga and anime as influences for this little piece of fiction. Travis and Reese are OCs who appear in one of my stories on Fanfic and are loosely based off some friends I had back in highschool. Anyways, see ya later suckers.