REVISED version of
Black Halo: the Witch & the Guardian
is coming out on 12/9/2015!
PART 1 (Prologue, Chapter 1)
PART 2 (Interlude 1)
PART 3 (Chapter 2, Chapter 3)
With the Light, came Magic, and the Witch. As mysterious as she was fearsome, and as powerful as she was merciless, the Witch almost succeeded in ending the world until she was vanquished by a hero and his comrades.
This is the legend of the Witch and the Guardian.
Centuries after the nigh calamity, this legend is as much as almost anyone knows of what truly happened back then and as much of an explanation anyone has of what ended an era in human civilization.
Though the people may never learn the whole story, you as the reader will follow the days that led up to how a young girl named Lily became immortalized as the Witch though her name, dreams and life became forgotten.
Landris stalked after the hooded boy with all the care and attention of a proper predator, though part of him wished to simply ambush the man and be done with it. He moved through the crowds while maintaining what he thought to be the perfect distance from the redhead—close enough to keep his heart beating with excitement, but far enough to keep the prey deaf to it.
To Julian and Sarah, Landris’s movements seemed unnaturally skillful. He seemed to know the exact moment to change his pace and know exactly how to incorporate the oncoming traffic of pedestrians as part of his camouflage. Though, his talent in espionage wasn’t too surprising as Landris always seemed to excel during the training and athletics back at the facility. His talent seemed near uncanny and unreachable to most of the other students.
“Do you think that’s really him?” Julian jogged up next to Landris. Sarah quickly followed after her friend.
“Don’t know. Seems like it,” Landris whispered his reply back without turning his attention away. He was completely in tune with his target.
“Maybe instead of stalking the guy, we can try to talk to him,” Sarah suggested. The two boys responded by giving her a dumbfounded look.
“He might not be—” Sarah let out a defeated sigh. “…never mind.”
Landris shortened his stride as he saw the hooded man stop at the red cross-walk sign. Julian and Sarah stopped with Landris, and the three clumped up together as if they were enjoying a chat. Landris peeked at his prey and had a funny feeling that the man was peeking back at them. But it was difficult to tell with that hood shrouding most of his head.
“Should one of us wait for Mr. Jung?” Sarah asked as the group began picking up the pace after the redhead.
“Is he still at the diner?” Julian looked back at the restaurant which was, by now, the size of a small toy. Mr. Jung was on his phone catching up behind them at a steady pace. He nodded to them to go on.
The redhead knows, Landris instincts warned him. Doesn’t it make sense for someone who’s with the most wanted person in the world to develop some sort of extraordinary perception for this sort of thing?
The redheaded boy led the Silver Aegis students further and further away into the outskirts of the city. More and more abandoned buildings and less and less people filled the streets.
He’s either flushing us out or—Landris’s heart beat slightly faster with the next thought—…he’s leading us to her.
“He’s sure confident, isn’t he,” Julian whispered to Sarah as they trailed a few steps behind Landris.
“Suppose that’s why he’s the leader,” Sarah replied with a hint of respect in her speech.
The graying sky was fitting for the silent and desolate emptiness of the outskirts. The bustling signs of life that the city had died, and only the occasional whispers of the autumn wind accompanied the footsteps of the few who remained. The students and their instructor continued their slow and gradually more obvious pursuit.
The redhead suddenly turned off the main sidewalk and slipped into an alleyway between some buildings.
Landris tossed aside the subtlety and ran after the man. Julian, Sarah and Mr. Jung followed after the two.
By the time Landris turned into the alleyway, all there was were traces of what he guessed to be the redhead’s ‘gift’. Blue streams of energy lingered in the air, dancing lazily before fading like smoke. Landris looked up. The redhead looked down at him from the top of the building. His hood had fallen down from the jump revealing his iconic crimson hair. The redheaded teen looked startled. He had guessed that someone was after him, but he didn’t expect to be right. The drinks the redhead had carried with him had spilled from the leap. He inspected the drinks before deciding to keep them. After returning the hood to its proper place, he walked away.
Landris tightened his legs. Beneath his jeans, the veins of his legs began to glow in luminescent light.
“Lan—Landris!” Julian managed to catch up moments before Landris’s leap. His shaking voice and legs hadn’t caught up to him until that moment. Face to face with the Witch’s friend, Julian’s nerves struck without a warning. Even when he grasped why he was shaking, Julian still couldn’t manage to keep himself steady.
Landris completed the jump, soaring into the air and landing on the top of the building right about where the redhead stood. Sarah and Mr. Jung arrived at the alleyway only to hear Landris land on the rooftop above them.
“Go,” Mr. Jung instructed his other student without missing a beat. “Julian, Go!”
Julian looked at Mr. Jung helplessly and decided to hide his trembling hands by clenching them to a fist.
“Julian…” Sarah called out to him with a worried look. Her look gutted Julian and the shame of his cowardice acted as courage.
He looked above and saw Landris’s broad back standing tall about to confront the redhead. The one chosen by the Witch to serve her.
“Are you alright?” Sarah asked as she gently placed both of her hands around Julian’s shoulders and studied his face. Whatever look was on his face wasn’t the face Julian wanted to show Sarah. “You don’t have to go, Julian. Landris can take care of this.”
Clenched fist. Clenched teeth. Julian disappeared before Sarah’s eyes.
…According to the records, the Magic of the past seemed entirely different than the way it is today. It is speculated that it is due to the streams of aether itself were not yet fully developed in the world, and the human species’ bodies were not yet ready to accept them naturally. Instead, each individual’s bodies reacted to the aether differently. Those whose bodies were predisposed to react to certain types of aether reacted to them by acquiring certain specific talents of Magic even without the need to manipulate and conform the streams…
The redheaded teen stood at the center of the rooftop when he heard the noise behind him. He cringed at his suspicion of what the noise could be and let out a sigh of frustration when it was proven correct as he turned to find his stalker. It was bad as he could have asked for. He wasn’t just any curious stalker, he was a fellow Gifted.
Countless particles of light gathered in an instant and formed Julian next to Landris. Julian looked below and saw Sarah looking up at him with worried eyes. It was a look that he didn’t want to receive from Sarah. He turned to the redhead and decided to face him as Landris would.
“What are you guys?” the redheaded teen asked with a voice just loud enough to be heard across the distance that separated him and his chasers.
Julian unconsciously glanced at Landris for his guidance—his lead.
“We’re Gifted like you!” Landris yelled back. “We just want to talk!”
“Are you with Emily?!” the redhead asked. The hint of puzzlement on his pursuer’s face confirmed to the redhead his suspicion that his stalkers were definitely unwelcome solicitors.
Sarah looked up at her two friends, uncertain how she could join them. Mr. Jung, on the phone requesting for assistance, inspected the main streets. A few pedestrians who noticed the boy leaping to the rooftops were already on their phones. She guessed, some were calling the police while others filmed the event.
“So, talk!” the redhead demanded.
“Like this? I’m pretty sure it’d be best for all of us to find somewhere away from the public eyes! That tomato-red hair of yours is pretty eye-catching.” Landris wanted to say ‘an eyesore.’
“Or, it sounds like it’d be best for all of us if we just go our separate ways!” the redheaded teen raised his voice slightly.
“Look!” Landris paused for a moment, looking for the friendly tone to his voice. “We are a group of Gifted who are looking for more of us to band together. To provide a safe place for all of us. Even for you and your friend!” This scenario was annoying; it would be simpler, quicker, and more satisfying for him to simply rush the redheaded ingrate and drag him back with them.
“No, thanks!” the redhead curtly replied and turned around. He had figured they might have had an idea who he was, but the confirmation gave him no reason to stay.
It was time for Julian to step out of Landris’s shadow. The only way for him to grow was for him to take the steps forward. Pushed by the urge to prove himself, Julian appeared next to the redhead and grabbed onto his arm. His eyes met with the redhead’s eyes. Julian quickly realized he wasn’t ready to meet the eyes of someone who was willing to fight for his life.
“W-wait.” Julian felt as if those words were squeezed out of a pinhole.
“Your legs are shaking,” the redhead calmly spoke, realizing the boy to be not much of a threat. “Perhaps whatever you guys are doing, you’re not suited for it.” The teen snatched his arm away from Julian’s grasp and began to walk away. Julian’s face contorted with shame and frustration with himself—especially at the slight relief he felt inside.
Landris moved next to Julian, and they watched the redhead leap across to the adjacent building. His body jetted off streams of blue light and confirmed to Landris what he saw earlier was indeed that boy’s ‘gift’. Though even at this point, he was uncertain what the specifics of it were. The unknown was strangely exhilarating and made his heart pound. Landris felt awakened as if he knew that the redhead wouldn’t disappoint him as his prey. The small smile on Landris face startled Julian and made him further realize that they were of different breed.
“Julian,” Landris called out to his frozen stiff companion. The better option than chasing after the man himself depended on his lackluster comrade.
“Julian!” Landris raised his voice and finally grasped Julian’s attention. “You want to make up for what you did right here?”
Julian felt twisted inside. What was it that made him and Landris so dissimilar? Were they truly just built differently? He always thought, at the very least, he would be able to find courage and talent during the times when they counted. That when the call to action came, he would rise to it.
“You’re the one who’s going to have to fix this, Julian.” Landris placed one hand on Julian’s shoulder. His hands were large compared to Julian’s bony shoulders, and the hand felt like a mantle had been placed protectively upon his shoulders. Julian hated the comfort it gave him.
“You have to go after him because it’s going to be a mess if I do,” Landris spoke softly but sternly. Julian responded simply by nodding.
“I’ll go look for somewhere private where you can bring him. You got your phone on you?” Landris began inspecting the buildings that surrounded them.
It took a bit for Julian to process what Landris was asking. Once he realized it, he looked at Landris with widened eyes.
“Y-yeah, b-but,” Julian tried to explain why what Landris was asking would be unreasonable. Perhaps even impossible.
“Alright, I’ll call you once I find the place.” Landris ignored Julian’s protests to force the boy into action.
“Landris, I don’t think this is a good idea. You know that I can’t…”
“Julian!” Landris raised his voice. “We have no time for this. It’s time to man up. Your time to prove yourself, alright?” Landris stared right into Julian’s eyes. His eyes pierced through Julian’s straw exterior and shaking heart. Julian simply nodded. For the first time, he felt a genuine respect for Landris and even the sense that he was their leader.
“Sarah isn’t going to be with a baby forever,” Landris said as he turned away.
Julian looked over yonder at the adjacent building the redhead had gone to, and disappeared from where he stood.
Landris jumped off the rooftop back down to the alleyway below.
“Landris, what’s going on? What about Julian?” Sarah tried to grab Landris who briskly walked past her and Mr. Jung.
Julian stood on the edge of the adjacent building’s rooftop and looked down below at the alleyway. His teleportation was nearly silent, and it didn’t alert the redhead walking through. The Witch’s lackey headed the main street. Sirens were wailing from afar and closing in.
“Seriously?” The redhead muttered as Julian appeared few feet in front of him.
Julian’s stomach twisted as he worked his mouth, but nothing came out. His mind was frozen. Were they about to fight? Was he about to be murdered? What would Landris do?
What would Landris do? Really?
The redhead began to walk towards Julian.
“I thought I was pretty clear. Just let me through,” the teen spoke as he approached the scrawnier and the younger looking one of the two stalkers.
“Look…” Julian’s lips quivered. “Just… just come with us.”
“No,” The Witch’s friend replied. “And you should rethink being a part of any groups with the Gifted. That usually means trouble.”
As the redhead walked past him, Julian grabbed the man’s arm again. A position that was far too familiar to both of them now.
“Let go,” the Witch’s friend spoke. He had also heard the sirens and was running out of patience.
Feeling as if the redhead was looking down on him like Landris would, Julian threw a punch and landed it squarely on the boy’s face. The blow didn’t seem to do much more than make him very irritated. For a moment, they stared at one another in silence as the redhead contemplated his next action.
The redhead, streams jetting from his body, grabbed a hold of Julian and tossed him towards one end of the alleyway. Julian helplessly flailed his arms and legs until he hit the wall and slid to the ground. The Witch’s friend turned the other way and ran with the streams still emanating from his body. He was fast; perhaps even as fast as Landris. Julian quickly came up with an idea that he knew he may regret. The phone vibrated in Julian’s pocket. Ignoring the list of consequences growing in his mind, he teleported once more.
Julian appeared as close as he could to the redhead. Close enough that at his speed, the redheaded teen wouldn’t be able to stop in time. His plan in near completion, Julian braced himself with the little time he had. The collision with the redhead sent Julian flying into countless particles as he immediately teleported again.
The sheepish stalker’s howl of pain came from behind the redhead and before he realized what had happened. The particles gathered behind him in an instant and carried Julian through with all of the momentum from the collision. The two collided again and they tumbled onto the ground. Luckily for Julian, he was on top. Realizing his plan had worked Julian smiled through the pain.
Writhing in pain, Julian quickly took out his vibrating phone from his pocket and turned it on.
“Hey, we’re ready. You got him?” Julian heard Landris’s voice through his phone, and latched onto the redhead’s jacket tightly with one hand and held his phone with the other.
Although teleporting with inanimate objects was tested to be as natural for Julian as traveling by himself, when it came to living things it proved to be far more difficult. The success rate was currently about twenty percent. Out of five attempts, failures resulted in anywhere from Julian and the test subject failing to appear at the designated location, Julian and the test subject appearing in separate locations, and the final failure that resulted in Julian refusing to do anymore testing which resulted in the test subject ending up at the end of the teleportation much differently than how it had started. It was a result traumatizing enough that Director Jones allowed Julian to stop as well.
Julian stared at his phone. Landris had called him in a video call and presented Julian the empty room. With a heavy breath and a grunt, Julian spoke to the Witch’s friend, “Just so you know, I’m really sorry if we…”
And Julian and the redhead dispersed into countless particles.
Revised Edition of Black Halo: the Witch & the Guardian will be released on 12/9/2015!
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