She awoke as she always did, naked and next to the body of some man who had been far more attractive when she was drunk than when she was sober. The room smelt thick of cigarettes and the memory of smoke that was etched into the walls and carpets from years of filling the room with smoke so thick one could not see. Plucking the glasses — sharp, cat eyed, and thick rimmed — from the bed side table, she slid her feet from the warmth of the body next to her and to the floor where her slippers lay waiting.
From the covers she flew, discarding them in her wake, uncaring for the body of the man who had no more business remaining in her house. She took three steps before she was searching for her robe. Turning back to her bed, her side was neatly tucked into the bed and a silken robe lay atop it. Snatching it, she haphazardly threw it around her body and rounded the room divider of her studio loft. Her kitchenette was chilled and unused that morning, other than the steaming hot cup of coffee waiting for her in one of her favorite mugs.
Hand around the handle she brought the brew to her lips, and moved to the door, tightening the sash on her robe ever so slightly more. One by one the locks undid themselves, all twenty, with a single move of her hand. Then the door itself unlocked a few more times, with the hidden charms within the frame, before a low rumbling chime asked her for confirmation, which she gave with little more than a “hmm.”
The door opened for her, without her having to move an inch or to touch it herself. Outside, the morning was bright. The city movement was bustling. The totality of loudened horns, screaming, chatter, vehicles, and incessant sounds of magic lit up her once silent loft. At her doorstep there were three men dressed in their blue uniforms, sharp and crisp. A four layer suit: pants, shirt, vest, jacket that buttoned up the front fully and had the capes over the back and arms, each with a different inner color dependent on the department they were a part of. Buttons and designs upon their blue uniforms were standard, but the service bars and medals were a sign of term length, honor, and rank. The three men were of different ranks and two shared a department: Magister and Black, Sorcerer and Silver, Apprentice and Silver. What department the two colors belonged to, she did not remember.
“What can I do for you?” She asked, craving a cigarette to clear her mind of the oncoming headache that was caused from the light and the noise.
“—“ The man in black called her by her last name. She did not particularly like her last name. Too many memories. Too many mistakes. Too much drama associated with a name such as it. “We have come to ask your assistance in a case.”
“My assistance?” She was perhaps the last one that anyone in the Magic Bureau would look for. Note how they don’t even use your name. Her name, the one she was given, that came after her last name, always. Title. Last Name. First name. That was how it was for her. Only no one called her by her title anymore, not after — bad memories were better suited for the memory box, she reminded herself. “What ever would you need my assistance for? I’m a reporter now. If you need something, ask my father.”
She went to turn, the door reacting to her movement, but a gasp from inside — those who watched, and always reacted, but remained silent– made her return her gaze to the door, to see the man with the black cloak, stopping it. “We would ask for your father, but we can not.”
“My mother then.”
“We can not.”
“I suppose you can not ask my siblings either? What did they do? Destroy the magical archives and lose their titles and status? I left that world long ago. I do not wish to return.”
“You do not have much of a choice,” the Sorcerer in silver stated. “They are missing. Your family is missing.”
“Hardly an issue. They go missing all the time.” She glared at the man in black, wanting to cut his fingers off as he held open her door.
“Their candles went out.” The young silver stated, and all her anger disappeared into confusion. The day that a candle for a mage went out was the day that they died. Her family had died? “And then they came back. And then they went out. It has been going on for hours.”
Flickering candles? Returning and the disappearing of their presence? Was such a thing possible? She had theorized it in her —
“Is this true?” She did not ask them, but the ears that heard her from inside her home, behind her. The eyes that watched her daily from within her own home, but never spoke to her. They would know.
“Yes Mistress.” The answer came from a voice she had not expected to hear. How had she gotten in past the wards? How had she gotten into the house? Her pulse accelerated a bit before she forced herself into a calm. She knew that voice. Poppy was her name. Which species of demon was she? No… One of the high ranked elves? Her family had far too many familiars of all different races for her to know for sure. However, for Poppy to be here and for the answer not to come from one of the pixies, fairies, or gremlins, meant that this was serious. The demons and elves remained with her parents, even her own personal familiars had left her behind.
“Well that is a predicament.” She felt her hand radiating heat and the mug within shattered. “Look at that. You broke my favorite cup with this news. I am terribly distraught.”
“—-“ The man in the black cloak used her first name now. Did she know him? She didn’t remember. “You must come to the Bureau.”
“I don’t suppose I have much of a choice do I?” She asked and then with a flick of her hand, sent the man in black back, and her door slammed shut.
She was a lonely reporter, who partied with her friends on the weekends. She was a succubus who slept with those who breathed, magical or not. She lived for the party, the liquor, the drugs, and the freedom that came from being able to up and leave when ever and how ever she so wished. This had been her life for years. Her best works were about a case of missing girls, having helped to find their location, and the tabloids about the Mills sisters: two so called Sorcerers who were boosting to get their mage abilities higher than Wizard level.
She was not…
Her fury erupted in the house, sending a tremor through everything that was in there. Magic sparked and furniture flew. What would have been a mess was not, as she spotted food and another mug of coffee sitting on the counter next to the beautiful woman who was Poppy.
“We will buy you another mug.” Poppy had always been the symbol of purity and serenity to her. For Poppy was the epitome of white: hair the color of clouds, eyes the color of smoke, skin the shade of froth on the ocean — sea foam white. Poppy had sharp features with an angled jaw line and long pointed ears that were revealed by her hair that was pulled up in a bun. She was dressed in all black, a suit tailored to her flat body. Elves were gawky — not curvy, straight, thin, symmetrical, as Poppy was. In all of this was perfection. In all this was tranquility, like starring into the black water at night where the moon’s reflection was all that could be seen.
Peace was what she needed in this moment. Peace was beginning to overwhelm her.
“No point. That one’s sentimental value is all too important.” All the sentimental value of what she never wanted to remember at this moment or again. To the realms with what ever meaning it had held before. The room exploded once more as she released her hold on the magic she had been using. What had gotten into her? A bit of bad news and she was acting like a child who had no better self control over their magic than an animal. She was a trained mage for realms sake. She could not be acting in such a manner. She took up the new cup of coffee. “How long have they been missing?”
“Less than a day. The Bureau only sent over an investigation team this morning, after they noticed the oddity. It took me some time to come to you, with your wards.”
“They were on a trip, the familiars, but there is no connection at the present time.”
“All of them?”
“Your father’s First did not return and I can not sense his link to the house.”
“How many were with them?” With her entire family on a trip, they would have taken much of their staff. All of their Firsts, Seconds, perhaps Thirds would have gone. “No, don’t answer that. If you can not feel their link to the house, then that could either mean they are dead or broken in their summon.”
Not that she had ever heard of a breaking of a familiar contract outside of death or her family releasing them. Even then, the death of her family left the familiar tethered to their family line and name, the house. Poppy was her great grandmother’s First. Their line was ancient and they had an ancient selection of familiars remaining who had infinite lives and or those of the lesser races who had not yet died. Her family never released familiars. Only death could take them.
Poppy did not say that they had died, simply that she could not feel them connected. If it were true, that they were not dead, she’d be able to resummon all the higher familiars, with the proper protocols that were in place within her family home — not that she wanted to return there. Banished familiars was something that happened often enough that there had to be protocols to get them back. After all, high ranked familiars were not so easy to kill. If they were dead, that was another issue all together. The only way she would know that, was if their names were black in the Book of Names, and only she would be able to read it.
She had to go home. Worse, she would have to go to the Bureau.
“What happened?” She heard the voice of the man in her bed, gruff and awkward. He had sounded sexier when she was drunk too. Placing her mug down, a resolve filled within her that did not often come in her sobriety, not anymore.
“Send him away.” She demanded of the servants who heard her. She couldn’t even remember his name. Now he didn’t matter.
“Yes Mistress.” Poppy answered for them.
“Not you, Poppy. I need you to help me.” She walked towards her closet in her room. The wardrobe pulled apart to reveal the secret back compartment, wherein laid her uniforms. Blue with a black cape and iron hem. The hundreds of medals that could decorate it were pinned inside of the wardrobe and only one was needed: a simple iron star that would be placed above her upper left breast pocket. She could hear the scuffle of the man who had probably been gagged and forced into clothes, as he was taken from her room and out the door.
When she stepped from her house a multitude of minutes later, the Mage Bureau men were there waiting for her, as were a few other figures: her familiars. The eyes of the Apprentice were on her in adoration, or perhaps shock. She could see the man from her bed hovering a bit away trying to get a better view of the woman who had kicked him out moments before.
“Mistress.” Her familiars bowed to her, unable to have access to her flat for many a spell of reasons.
“Grand Magister.” The man in black greeted her. She remembered him now. Oliver was his name, she believed.
“Let us go.” She stepped ahead of all of them, as was protocol. Her familiars filing in behind her in a wave of intimidation. First, Second, and Third familiar all of the highest class rank for familiars, along with Poppy, who seemed not to be leaving any time soon. This was going to be a long day. “Does anyone have a cigarette?”
Yeah so I had some weird dream of a magical land of familiars and sorcery. Of this girl who was a high ranking military/magical official discharged, or given leave for some reason. This is me trying to make sense of it in any way I seem to be able to.
I liked the whole reverse gender role of the washed up detective who drinks and smokes a lot, that we see in a lot of literature. I’m also a fantasy freak, so obviously this has magic. In truth I never really got a name so I simply omitted it, the dream didn’t have one. I’m not exactly expecting to continue this. Maybe, I might come back to it in the future, but I doubt it.
Friday and Saturday there will be four chapters for YP. Until then,