Luke rushed over to Churbel. He'd searched for Sasha all night, and it was early morning before he gave up. There was one last place she could have gone. With a dark pit in his gut, he went to the graveyard. Despite the fact it meant he wasted his time coming here, Luke felt relieved to not find her at his mentor's grave.
Luke felt awkward. He'd been so focused on finding Sasha, he hadn't visited the grave in about...damn. Seventeen years. Did that make him a bad person?
Luke brushed some dirt off the headstone. Roland Drocht. Luke was never sure what kind of man his mentor was. When he trained Luke in magic he was kind and patient. He had few friends, but he always loved talking with them. And his eyes lit up as he talked about magic and the mysteries behind it.
But Roland had dark moments. When interacting with strangers or those who he didn't agree with, Roland became angry and arrogant. Arguing with them until they either agreed with him or left. A few times, this resulted in a fight. Luke couldn't say Roland hadn't started some of them.
The first thing Roland ever asked Luke to do, was trust him. Trust that he knew best, that he never pushed Luke farther than he could go, that he would care for Luke. To trust that when he did something and didn't tell Luke about it, it was for a good reason.
Seventeen years ago, Roland went somewhere with Sasha, didn't tell Luke what he was doing or where he was going. "Trust me Luke, I'm not getting into anything over my head." Four months later he was found dead, and Sasha disappeared. Grief hit Luke like a hammer, he'd lost control, and made an ass of himself because.
I always trusted you, Luke thought. Always. Why didn't you tell me what you were doing, why couldn't you trust me? Luke shook his head, clearing his thoughts.
No matter what Roland did at the end, he always cared for Luke. Whatever faults he had, he always tried to be a good man. To say anything else would be disrespectful.
Luke paid his respects and stood to leave. As he turned he saw someone entering the graveyard. Ah, he thought, I was early.
Sasha strode through the gates, she hadn't noticed Luke yet. Luke had always hated Sasha. She intruded on his time with Roland and was always condescending to him. This hatred deepened as he got older.
Sasha knew why Roland died, and never told anyone about it. Luke hunted her for years, and he only found her twice before. Both times he'd lost her because he attacked first, and never got the chance to ask questions.
This time would be different. He would talk with Sasha, find out what happened to Roland and gain peace. Then he would kill her.
"Hey." Luke called out. Sasha searched for the voice and saw Luke. She raised her guard, Luke could sense the magic radiating from her. After a few seconds, when it was clear Luke wasn't a threat, she sauntered over to him. She held an orchid in her hand, like the ones that grew outside the graveyard.
"Fancy seeing you here." She appraised him, "You've changed. What have you been up to all these years?"
"Living my best life." Luke said with false humor, I'm told I've become something of a woman chaser."
"Not a very good one. I mean, you've missed me for years haven't you?" She smirked at him, Luke glared back. Sasha shrugged, she dropped the dandelion onto the grave.
"If I hadn't come to pay my respects, I bet you'd never have found me."
"How is a single dandelion, you picked from nearby, paying respects to the man you got killed?"
The shine in her eyes dimmed and her smile disappeared. "Its the thought that counts. Its more respectful than starting a fight at their grave."
Luke felt a flash of shame at the memory. A few minutes after the funeral, after everyone left, he'd found Sasha at Roland's grave. In a rage at her hiding for months and keeping a secret about what happened to Roland, Luke attacked her. He tried to force what happened out of her, but got crushed. After that, Sasha truly went on the run.
"Its sad we have so little to remember him by, other than the memories we made with him."
"Yes. I reckon you have a few more than me."
Sasha sighed, "This is what I've always hated the most about you. You're so unwilling to just come out and say what you want. If you want to ask, ask. If you want to kill me, try. I swear to god, half the reason I've avoided you is because I knew I would have to deal with this shit from you. Roland hated it too, but he was too nice to say it."
Luke clenched his fists, fighting the rage burning within him. He knew she wasn't even trying to rile him, this was how she talked with everybody. Except Roland, she'd liked him.
"What were you and Roland doing before he got killed?"
"He asked my help with a theory on magic he'd been mulling over for a while. The results were quite amazing if I do say so myself."
"What results, what theory?"
Sasha raised a finger, "uhp, its my turn to ask." Luke sighed, but let her continue.
"How do you feel about the conflict between the Revelists and the Cabal?"
Luke was confused. Why bring politics into this?
"Don't much care for either side. If you're asking if I'm going to get involved, no. Both sides have good points to them but I don't want to fight for either side."
Sasha gave him a flat stare. "Ten years and you still have that centrist mindset? Typical. And a lie too."
"How am I lying, I don't care about either side."
"Not exactly true though. All your friends who aren't independent side with the cabal, and you've helped them with their missions in the past."
"Because they needed the help. Sure, when I help them I'm also helping the Cabal. But I'm supporting what heir doing not the Cabal. I don't like a lot of what the Cabal does. Besides, both sides have a point on how magic should be used. Either way, I'm staying neutral."
"I find that hard to believe. After all, on one side, you have your friends, and on the Revelist side, there's me."
"What?" Luke said, confused and tired.
"I've been working with the Revelists on this big project for a year now. Its big, world changing and its happening now. And I mean now as in right now, today, in New York. Speaking of, I need your help with something..."
Although Luke wanted to know what she meant, and he would find out, Luke didn't wait for Sasha to explain. She wasn't giving Luke what she wanted, and was doing it on purpose. Giving half answers, changing the topic to what she wanted. She was controlling the conversation, like she controlled when they fought and when they met. Luke was sick of it. It was clear talking wasn't going to work anymore.
Luke reached within himself, drawing from his mana pool. Touching it sent a jolt of adrenaline through his body, the cruder parts of the magic community called it a magic high, Luke was inclined to agree with them. Luke didn't bother to shape his mana, instead unleashing it in a wave of kinetic force. It collided with Sasha mid sentence, knocking her violently into the air.
All of this happened within the space of a second.
She used her own mana to twist herself in the air, managing to land on all fours.
Luke prepared himself for a counter attack but it never came.
Sasha stood and brushed the dust off her clothes. She gave Luke a flat stare. "Do you not remember what happened the last time we fought, how I left you screaming on the ground?"
Luke wasn't the mage he was seventeen years ago. He shaped his mana into a rough sphere, he gave it mass and direction, to heat the air around it, to use the mana it was made from as a fuel source. As it shot towards Sasha, Luke willed the fireball to burn. Sasha snarled and charged, channeling kinetic mana into her arm. She would bat the fireball to the side, then go for Luke.
Luke shot the fireball with a quick kinetic dart. On impact, it detonated the mana inside construct. The fireball exploded against Sasha in a wave of heat and force. Her momentum carried her through it, Luke heard her shriek in pain. She stumbled out and Luke pounced on her, bringing them to the ground. Luke got on top of her and pressed his hands against her head.
Wait. The questions. You haven't gotten your answers yet!
Luke willed heat into his hands, ignoring the voice of reason. As warmth burned through his hands, as he saw Sasha's eyes widen in panic, as Luke prepared to squeeze, Luke heard Sasha scream "I have a son!"
Luke froze. "What?"
She slammed her forehead into his face. Luke reeled backwards, Sasha pressed a hand to his chest, summoned a kinetic wave to her hand, and blasted Luke off her.
It hurt, but the blast wasn't meant to kill. Sasha had her hands out, ready to blast Luke if he tried anything. Luke knew he was beat, and raised his hands in surrender. Sasha took a deep breath.
"Roland and I had an intimate relationship. I found out I was pregnant a few months after Roland died. I should have had an abortion, but I didn't and now here we. He should be about seventeen now."
"What? What?! Why are you telling me this now?"
"Because if you don't go help them, Roland's son is going to die. I left them in New York five years ago. And, as I was trying to tell you, the Revelists going to attack it at midday today."
Sasha dropped her guard and walked over to Roland's gravestone. She leaned against it and stared at Luke.
Roland had a son? His mentor was having sex with Sasha? Luke shuddered in revulsion. He knew Roland had secrets but this?
"Wait, you left them five years ago? You abandoned your own child?"
"It was too dangerous for me to stay in one place for a long time. That was how the Revelists found me." She shrugged. "And I don't like the kid, Alex. He was always sullen, it got on my nerves.
"So you're a terrible mother on top of everything else."
"Oh fuck off, I was decent when it counted."
"You abandoned your child!"
"And now its up to you to rescue him."
"Why won't you do it? He's your son."
"If I tried to contact him, the Revelists would find out and would use him against me."
Luke didn't believe she cared about her own son, even if he was used as blackmail against her. "Why me?" he asked. "You hate me. Why would you choose me to go help him?"
"You won't harm a child, so you can't use him as blackmail. I want them out of harm's way for now."
Sasha looked at Roland's grave. She seemed lost in thought. Was she remembering the good times she had with Roland, or his death?
"I want to change the world." Sasha declared. "In ways Roland would agree with, even if he wouldn't like my methods. In a way, I'm being more true to his ideals than you ever were. As much as I hate you, you're the only other person you cares about what Roland believed in, the wonder of magic. And I know you won't help me willingly, so this. So lies and deceit and tricking you into helping the world"
Luke shook his head. "You're insane. I don't know what you're doing, but I'm going to stop you. I won't let you pervert Roland's dream."
Sasha smiled, giving Luke a pitiful look. "If you want to try, head for New York."
She reached into her pocket, Luke put his guard up. Sasha smirked and pulled out a small phone. "If you want to talk to me later, use this." She tossed the phone to Luke. As he reached out to catch it, Sasha thrust her hands forward and shot a fireball at him. Luke caught the phone and hurriedly sent out a counter blast of Kinetic magic. It dampened the force but Luke was still lifted off his feet and crashed hard onto the ground. He looked around, Sasha was gone. Damn.
Luke clenched the phone in his hand, he wanted to smash it in frustration.
Luke had severe anger problems when he was younger, which in conjunction with his awakening magic skills, came close to ruining his life. It was only with Roland's counseling he was able to steer himself away from the path he'd been walking.
Luke closed his eyes and counted to twenty, drumming his free hand against the ground to work away his loose energy. When he opened his eyes, he was still angry, but he could think.
The phone was a small burner phone. Sasha would have her own phone, which she would dispose of after one call. To keep it longer would risk having it trace back to her. She'd said it was for if he wanted to call her, meaning she wouldn't initiate the conversation.
He might need to check the phone over in case there were any traps placed on it, but otherwise he saw no problems with keeping it.
New York. The Revelists were doing something dangerous there, and once the Cabal found out, they would be forced to act. It would become a battle ground soon, was Luke willing to go?
But the Cabal might not know what was happening unless he told them. Would it be better to send word about what was happening to them and let them sort it out? Plus, if he didn't alert them and what the Revelists did turned out to be deadly, he would be responsible. He wouldn't be able to meet his friend's eyes. Luke resolved to warn his Cabal friends, whether he went or not.
The only reason Luke could think of going would be for the kid. You had a son Roland, and you never knew. Did Roland even want kids? He would have been a good father, Luke thought, he was a good mentor after all.
Luke still couldn't believe what Roland had done. He'd taken in this angry little teenager with control of his magic. Was more of a danger to himself than anyone else, but still. And Roland had just… taken care of him. Luke often thought about what his life would have been like without Roland, he drew many conclusions but the one he kept coming back to was he'd be screwed.
Luke thought of Roland's kid, Alex. What is he like? Does he have magic? Does he understand what it is or how to us it? Luke paused. Still a teen, probably didn't know how to control his magic, his mom abandoned him when he was fourteen years old, he was living on the streets. And Luke was thinking of leaving them like that? Nah, he thought, fuck that.
Luke stood and went to his car. It was early morning, but even if he drove fast, he would arrive at New York around midday. Luke hoped he wouldn't be too late.