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The worst part about waking inside of a vision is how disconcerting it is. You know that your mind is aware, but aren’t sure if your body is there or safely in bed where you went to sleep at. In addition to that normal issue is that I have already found that these particular visions have a disturbing habit of bearing consequences in my reality. Not just for the possible future, but painful and immediate to me. I had come out both of the previous visions injured in some form or another.
I had realized that they weren’t really what one would call a vision as I had gotten glimpses of the future through the use of Time Magicks in the past. What I experienced in these instances was closer in reality to a seeking than a vision. However similar to a seeking as they were, it still wasn’t the same thing. What concerned me than anything is that if were killed during these occurrences was I may actually die instead of waking in my own bed. It seems to me that my enemy was trying to kill me here in the future they intend to bring about before I could stop them for bringing their plans to fruition in the past. My best guess is that while the enemy in this time knows who I am, the version that exists in my time space doesn’t. There are too many theories involving time travel, both scientific and Magickal that make me think my nemesis is unable to warn his past self about me without causing some form of paradox event. This is all just guesswork on my part because while I am adept at Time Magick and gaining understanding and control of it steadily; there is still much that I am unsure off. I started learning everything I could about time theory because after traveling back in time and causing my own Awakening to happen as it did in the past I had thought of the “Grandfather Paradox.” The grandfather paradox is a time travel theory that suggests that altering an individual timeline is impossible and creates the argument for parallel timelines or branching universe theory among others. The basic idea is this:
An individual creates a time machine of some sort. Another person takes the time machine and travels back in time to kill the inventor’s grandfather before his father was born. Since the grandfather died before having any children the inventor was never born so how the time machine could have been taken to the past when the man who invented never existed to do so?
I know that things beyond scientific explanation exist, not the least of which is that there are other dimensions and planes that most have not and will never see. My trip to the past was not through temporal sciences or Time Magicks. My theory about how it happened and why I didn’t create a Grandfather Paradox has to do with the nature of how I ended up in the past as well as the fact that I ensured that everything happened as it did the first time. I didn’t travel through time as space to the past so much as went from the linear time frame in which I was living into an timeless existence of sentient energy within the space between spaces. Every plane has rules to how things work, not all of them are even remotely like our own. Todash Space on the other hand doesn’t have any of those rules so when I made my escape by using my perception of reality I was spit back out as my subconscious mind and Avatar had to have known what needed to happen the night of my Awakening. Avatars have access to more knowledge and power than they automatically share with the mage they Awaken. The reasons for performing a seeking is to allow both the Mage and their Avatar to bind even closer, share more knowledge and for both of them to gain more power than before. When a Mage dies the Avatar is freed to search out a new potential with all of the power and knowledge they gained intact. What happens when a being ascends has been debated. The theory I lean towards is that they become in a sense a god. They leave this plane and create a new reality with their own belief paradigm shaped by their perceptions of reality. This would explain why each plane, dimension and timeline had its own rules and why travel between such planes while difficult was possible.
So here I was standing on the outskirts of the ruins of Las Vegas in the future again. The property damage this time around seemed worse with most of the larger hotels and casino’s leveled. There seemed to be more damage to the surrounding areas as well with entire neighborhood being nothing more than scorched earth. It was daylight this time and I could see a crater were Nellis air force base used to be. There towering condo building all over town just piles of rubble in the desert. The Stratosphere tower stood tall above the ruins in perfect condition. I focused on the ground around the tower using Magick to enhance my vision. Surrounding the tower was an army of creatures ranging from Werewolves, Zombies and a few horrors that shouldn’t exist in reality. I decided to stay away from the tower for now. I mentally reached into the connection with my Avatar to find Sindee in this time stream but couldn’t sense the connection, just a gaping psychic wound and a strange resonance echoing in the power I tapped.
I reached out with sensory magick across the valley to analyze the changes since my last visit here. This potential future was worse than the last as I sensed very little life or magick in the valley. The only supernatural beings that I could get any kind of read on were surrounding the tower. I spread my awareness up toward the top of the tower to find a level or power and a palpable sense of evil sitting inside. The moment when sensed the touch of this being I felt a probe tracing back towards me. I cut of the flow of Magick to my senses and shielding myself, wrapping myself mentally with a wall of air spinning and deflecting anything searching for me away. There are many ways to shield your mind, different ways of envisioning the mental barriers and reasons for using the different types. Shielding with walls of stone or brick work well for combat and can be used to hold up against assaults on the mind. These are less useful for when trying to go undetected because they are a solid beacon that something is there to be assaulted. Some people use fire and water or whatever material works best for them or the situation. I can and have learned to use many different shields but prefer air most of the time. Air is all but invisible while being one of nature’s deadliest forces, capable of driving straw through a steel sign in a hurricane. In the situation here I used it deflect around me anything sent my way, guiding gently away from me so that I was no more than a breeze across the land.
Once shielded I started to move across the land quickly, traveling out of the area where I had used the magick in the event someone came to investigate the occurrence. Every being’s magic left some kind of signature detectable and unique to the caster and if you understand had it work you could identify what and who that person was. There are also techniques for leaving as little of the signature as possible. Sensory magick almost never leaves a trace, but you need to be careful of the amount of power put into it. I traveled over land instead of following the streets in the open, moving from standing building to rubble watching for anyone or thing around me. I was moving across the valley toward the Existence carefully. My goal was to get a read on what was happened or was happening to cause this particular branch of the timeline to come into play. The sun was setting as I started getting close to the club. I started to move more swiftly as there was less rubble in the industrial areas of the city. About a half mile from the club my night got a lot worse as I sensed several supernatural being tracking me. I had made it about three more blocks before the shit hit the fan. Halfway across a street covered in rubble and remains I stopped, surrounded by a group of vampires. There were eight of them and that was more than I could fight hand to hand even with all of my physical abilities enhanced to their limits. They seemed feral, clothing hanging from their bodies in tatters. Most seemed emaciated, as though starving for lack of prey in the valley. My only chance for survival was to destroy them in a way could kill me from the backlash. One thing from the books that humanity got right was that vampires are very flammable. I decided that I would rather possibly die fighting rather than die as food.
I tapped into my magick, feeling that strange resonance again as I pulled the power to me shaping the spell. The spell or rote I intended is referred to as friction curse by many of the mages that I have met and worked with. What it does is convert the kinetic energy of a target into fire. In this instance the amount of energy I pulled and the focus I had for the casting would immolate all of my attackers. This particular action was one of the most vulgar uses of magick and in no way would be coincidental meaning the backlash would be brutal and have a chance off killing me or putting me into a quiet where I’d be unable to stop what was coming. While those possibilities were not something I welcomed, certain death would leave me in possible worse position. As usual I was going to put my life on the line to protect everyone I could. I just wish that more people would act to protect the world instead of trying to force their desires upon it.
Once I had the rote ready to go and the power drawn to me, I used just a touch of Life Magick to open a wound letting the smell of blood into the air for these feral beasts. The moment they moved to attack I cast the friction curse on all of them. All eight were ash before they made it halfway to me. The additional speed that vampires have creates more friction thus creating a hotter, deadlier inferno around their bodies. I braced myself and accepted the backlash mentally in order to reduce the damage to my body. I must have stood there for about the longest thirty seconds of my entire life. It was about that point that I realized that there was no backlash coming for breaking reality. That told me that the Ascension war had spilled out into the view of humanity causing a paradigm shift. People believed in magick and the supernatural bringing things into reality that had no business being there. I turned and ran for the Existence full out.
When I arrived there and saw not the fortification against this future, but a burnt out ruin I knew part of what had brought this timeline into play. I dropped all pretense of stealth and used Correspondence Magick to “step” from in front of the club to my home. Upon arriving there to see the house gone was sickening to me. I keep fighting to protect humanity from the future only to find things worse each time I had one of these visions. I walked around the property, searching for any sign to tell me what happened here. The structure of the house was gone, the wall of the basement and the area around the node crumbled. There was no gateway there this time; unfortunately I could sense no power from a node any longer either. The magick that had created the node had either faded or been intentionally destroyed, possibly that is what destroyed the house.
I continued to search the property, moving around and back towards the mountains at the edge of the valley behind it. That is where I found the tombstones on a patch of bare earth. I didn’t want to look at the names engraved upon them even though I needed to know who was there. There were four markers side by side along the mountains edge. The first name I read broke my heart, Jacqueline Dupree. It said that she had died March first 2013. As I continued on to the next stone that break in my heart shattered it to pieces, Arthur Masters. That explained the condition of the Existence, at least in part. The odd thing was the date recorded for his death was the same as Jaq’s. The third stone took those shattered pieces of my heart and ground them into dust and ash in my throat as the name listed was my own. I had to find out what happened to stop this from happening. Even if it cost me my life I would change what was coming to save this city and more importantly my friends. Arthur was needed to protect the world and had more power at his disposal to do so than I would ever attain. It seems as though I had died on the same day as Jaq and Arthur as well. With my name read I wanted to fight my instincts to look at the final tombstone, I didn’t want to see the name I was dreading would be there. I also knew that if there was going to be any way for me to change this possibility, I needed all of the information I could get. I read the last tombstone, checking the date first. As it was the same March first as the other three I moved my eyes up to read the name: Sindee Graves.
Forget heart break, forget pain; there aren’t words in any language to describe what I felt at that moment. I left out a sound that was raw emotion, part scream, part howl and all despair. Despair is more dangerous than any enemy that could attack you from without. It was also worse than any other emotion. Pain, both physical and mental can hurt and can tear you up inside. Despair is worse because it makes you numb, makes you not care about anyone or anything. It can paralyze you and eat away at your soul. Despair can destroy the mind in ways that the worst physical pain can’t. Despair is a wound and a poison to the soul. I wanted to just curl up there and disappear because without Sindee there was nothing for me to fight for. Seeing her name on that tombstone had not broken my heart, it cut my heart right from my chest and took my soul with it.
I simply laid there on the sand and rock as the moon shined its light down upon my body. I wanted to fight this feeling, but couldn’t find the will to do it. I’d lost too many people in my life and now I lost the one who made my life whole again after everything that had happened. As the sun began to rise again over the eastern mountains I saw someone walking toward me. I figured it was death coming to collect the living dead from this time, and I welcomed it. As the figured moved closer I could tell it was a woman. That was the last thing I realized before the darkness of despair pulled me into the oblivion of the unconscious.
When I woke again, I had hoped to be in my bed at home. I didn’t expect it for as far as reality was concerned I was dead and shouldn’t exist. I really didn’t expect to wake up again. I was lying in a bed it a large room. There was a small lamp beside the bed that game me a little light, but anything outside of 10 feet was shrouded in darkness. I still felt hollow inside even more so because once I woke I instantly reached for the connection to Sindee and felt her absence again. It took every bit of will I had to force myself to sit up. I knew if there was any chance of changing what I had seen, I needed to find out more before I was forced back to the past again.
Once I managed to sit up the woman I’d seen stepped out of the darkness around me. She was tall, a little more than six feet with a slender athletic build and long limbs. She was stunningly beautiful. Her face was a slightly elongated over with sharp cheekbones and chin. Her mouth was just the right size fitting the rest of her features perfectly. The lips were the pale pink color of sunset’s light appearing soft and fill. Her nose was sharply angled down with the slightest up tilt at the end. Her eyes were Dichromatic with the left a bright blue like a cloudless spring day with flecks of gold; the right was heavily gray the shade of approaching storm clouds with slashes of silver. Her long hair hung down her back falling to her knees. It was pure white with streaks of clack and all shades of gray throughout. Her skin was a pale creamy white like falling snow with an inner glow like lightning. She wore a long pale blue sun dress that hugged her form from shoulder to waist before flaring out into a flowing skirt. As she closed with me the scent of a spring rainstorm wafted ahead of her. I had never seen or met anyone like her before and had no idea what she was. Through my awareness of the supernatural I knew she was not human, but I couldn’t classify what she was.
She stepped up to the bedside in front of where I sat, “You were able to get and a move on your own, that is good.” Her voice was gentle like a breeze through the trees. She turned away for a moment then turned back to me holding a glass of water, “You need to drink this and then eat before we talk. There is much to discuss and only a short time for us to do so.”
My throat was raw as though sandpaper had been used to scrape away the skin from the inside. I was either severely dehydrated or it was raw for the screams and wails I let out before I lost consciousness. I opened my mouth and started to speak, “Who a…..”
I had barely gotten the first word out what the glass was pressed to my mouth tilted so that the water slowly flowed into my abused throat. “Drink this now and eat what I bring, then we will talk. If you do that we will save a lot of time arguing and have more time to talk. Don’t let stubborn pride or horrid pain get in the way of learning what you need to here,” Her tone was still gentle but had the undercurrents of thunder to it dispelling any arguments I could have made.
While I drank the water quickly, I didn’t just drain the glass instantly as that would have done nothing good for my throat or my stomach. As I was drinking she returned with a small tray table and some food. The food was a thin stew, hearty with a lot of liquid and a hot loaf of fresh bread and some fresh fruit and cheese. There wasn’t a lot, but I was still unable to finish it all because of the empty feeling inside me had nothing to do with hunger or thirst. While I was eating she brought a small chair into the pool of light and sat down across from me.
“I’ll tell you a few things before you start asking questions so that we can hurry things along and get you any information you may be able to use before you return to your time. My name is Skye and while you have no idea who I am yet, I am quite familiar with you Andrew. I have watched you for a long time and from your perspective we will meet for the first time very soon. What you have been experiencing with the trips to the future I call a Dream Quest. What happens to you in these will always affect your body when you return for it is as real here and now as it is then and there. In three weeks from where you are an event will cause this particular timeline to be the most likely outcome for the prime material planes timeline. While all possible futures do occur in alternate time streams and realities, the original reality from which all other stems is in danger. That original reality is what many call the Prime Material Plane, the core of all realities. You must ensure that not only this event is stopped. Arthur Masters and Jacqueline Dupree must survive, and I would greatly prefer it if you and Sindee did as well for eventually my reality is dependent upon the four of you doing what is needed. I can’t tell you anymore about that, and even if I did you will not remember most of this conversation. You will remember that there is event ahead and anything else related to stopping and surviving the dangers it presents.” She fell silent and looked at me expectantly.
The first thought that crossed my mind since she already named herself come out of its own accord, “What are you Skye?”
“Though you will not remember any of this, I will give you the simplest answer. I am an Aspect and I will explain nothing else of them until we meet in your future since you will remember nothing of me once you return to your own time.”
I hate cryptic, but since Sindee’s life was on the line in my near future I would accept it for now, “What can you tell me about this event?”
“I can tell you that the being who will cause it was once as human as you are and now is even more dangerous an enemy that the Nephandi you have been fighting.” He face took on a sad countenance before she continued, “The Nephandi has a long reaching goal and desire for power that can be disrupted and stopped if you ever are able to discover their identity. The being you will face has nothing but a desire for chaos and destruction, a rage brought about by pain and vengeance. This enemy will not be alone and will stop at nothing to bring about the ends it is driving for. I do not know what those ends are, only that if you are unable to stop this attack, the future you see here will be the end of all realities.”
“Do you where this event was centered?” I asked.
“I can’t say for certain as I was unable to see the event itself. However, it appears that it happened at Arthur’s Existence or your home; quite possibly at both locations.” Her answered while informative was not exactly useful.
“Can you tell me was there a Resonance, a magick signature or sorts, left behind by the being that caused this?” I asked quickly.
“I am not familiar with this idea, what do you mean?” Skye tilted her head to the side a little, her features scrunching up in a look of confusion and inquisitiveness.
“Every being that I’ve met thus far that uses any kind of magic leaves a kind of signature. The mind and personality of the caster imprints a resonance that is detectable by those who know of them and can be used to identify not just the kind of magic used but also the identity of the caster.” I took a breath before continuing, “This Resonance as it is called is the supernatural equivalent of a fingerprint for mortals.”
“I have never heard of this technique, how did you learn of it?” She asked.
“I never learned of it formally, I came out of a seeking with the knowledge. I have not trained anyone about it as I thought it was common knowledge that all magic user would eventually discover.” Knowing that was not the case now I started to put together a plant to stop this event, “Skye, I need to get to the Existence and my home before this Dream Quest ends.” I stood up to move and the blankets fell from my lap. That’s when I realized I wasn’t wearing anything and had some healing cuts along my legs, arms, chest and sides. I flushed red standing before this woman swinging in the breeze so to speak and sat back down, yanking the blanket back up to cover myself, “What happened to my clothes?”
She quietly answered, “They hung it tatters from you. You had looked as though you were mauled by some creature before I was the damage to your hands and fingers. I believe in your loss, you were trying to physically join them now and tore and claw at your own body. I treated your wounds as best I could within the limits of you powers in this current plane. You have been unconscious here in this timeline for two days before awakening. I have clothing for you to wear, and we must hurry. I’ve been doing my best to keep you hear as long as possible to aid, but my powers are quite limited. It is your own Magick that has been bringing you these visions or Dream Quests.” She stepped out of the light and quickly returned with clothing for me.
I dressed quickly in faded, torn jeans and a comfortable t-shirt. As soon as I was ready I turned to Skye, “Are you able to travel distance quickly or do I need to take you with me?”
“I am able to travel quite quickly, but I can’t take anyone with me here in this current reality,” She answered.
“I’m going to step to the Existence and find out what I can, after that I will move to my home to do the same. How fast can you travel?”
“I can get from here to the existence in seconds, the other trip would take a few minutes because of how far out your home is,” was how she replied.
“Then allow me,” was all I said before stepping to her side, taking her arm gently by the elbow and using the same rote I used before to travel the interspacing distance instantly. I couldn’t use these spells in my own time without a serious backlash yet. In time I will perfect the shunting technique Arthur showed us in the mountains but until I do, I won’t risk death by throwing the most vulgar magick around like it was nothing. Upon touching her arm, the energy flow through me felt like a current running though my nerves.
She giggled as we came out the other side of the spell and staggered. The amazing eyes of hers glazed as though she had a nice alcohol buzz. “That was amazing,” she practically sang as she regained her balance using a wall near where we came out at.
I immediately set to work but heading into the middle of where the Existence used to stand in this reality and knelt in the rubble. I focused first on my natural awareness of all thing supernatural and then tapped into all nine spheres of sensory magick to look for this mysterious beings signature. I quickly found and mentally filtered out Arthur and his staff’s signatures as well as the protection from the original building that still remained. After that I filtered any low level signatures that would interfere with my search. As I steadily worked away all traces that had nothing to do with the destruction of the place I was left with something that made little sense to me at that moment. There were traces of True Magick mixed with hedge wizardry and some form of blood magic, possibly vampiric in nature. The problem was none of the signatures were complete enough to completely identify fully, let alone tell me who or what the casters were.
After deciding there was nothing more for me to discover here I decided to quickly move to my house to search there. I ran back to Skye still leaning on the wall and asked, “Ready to move on?”
“I think so, still a little dizzy from that last time. Not sure why though.”
I took her arm once again, watching her eyes as I did so this time. As I felt the current running through my body the gold and silver highlights in her eyes seemed to glow brightly even as they glassed over again. We stepped through the distance instantly as before coming out right where the node had been created. Skye was again staggered, even more so that the first time. “That was amazing, I have never felt anything like that before,” she sang again in an even higher pitch that before. Her words slurred a little and her eyes continued to glow through their glassy appearance.
“Skye, have you ever been on contact with a Mage using their magick before?” I asked as an idea struck me.
“No, you are the only Mage that exis… I mean the only Mage I have ever known.” She replied in the sing-song voice of hers.
I caught that she changed what she was saying and had an idea as to how that would end. If all planes had collapsed into the Prime Material Plane, there was no longer a way to connect Mages and their Avatars. My being in two time streams at once is the only reason I could continue to tap into the magick I use. “I think your physiology doesn’t mesh well with my magick, you’re in a state that can be described as power drunk or high.”
She giggle sounding like a young girl instead of the woman she appeared as she replied, “It feels so wonderful though, I have never experienced anything like it.” She continued to dance around in the area.
I knelt down again, spreading my sense both normal and magick to repeat the process I used at the Existence. It was quicker and faster to do the filtering of powers here as I had known all the supernatural that used powers here regularly. What took more time and complicated things was the residual resonance of the node and how it was a knot in all realities. As I completed the task I came to the same sense of wrongness as the club. The signatures were of the same type but incomplete. I sat there thinking for a few minutes before I was struck with why there were only partial signatures at each location.
I tapped into the Magick and pulled energy to me a quickly as possible. Gathering a scrap of power I could for what I was about to do. In my time a spell this Vulgar would destroy me either from a physical backlash or Quiet so intense that with the despair and emotional pain I was in would most likely keep me from ever again leaving with my mind intact. Fortunately, here I had no such worry. I focused on Matter, Correspondence and Prime magicks in order to Co-locate the Existence and my home. Co-locating in the act of taking two separate places and making them exist together and separate at the same time. I knew the drain that this spell would have on my energy reserves and knew I had minutes if not seconds to figure out what I needed to. I pulled from my memory the partial signature I felt at the existence and sought it out, then did the same again for my home. I took the two portions and brought them together searing it into my memory using both my will and Mind Magick. I was fighting with using so much magick at once when Skye rushed up to me and placed her hands on my shoulders. I again felt the current of energy running though my system. The spells came under my control as this energy entered me. I was able to focus and fix the signature in my mind. My skin started to crawl and burn with power I was containing. I felt the skin tear open over my ribs, the scent of blood flowing to my nostrils as my clothing began to stick to my body. The pain and sensation stopped as I passed out.
I awoke from the pain and shouted one word before passing out again, “Lich.”
Sometime later I woke in my own bed. While I was no longer bleeding, the pain of my wounds was still fresh. Sitting beside with her face creased in worry was the woman who makes my life worth living; the single most beautiful woman who ever existed, my wife Sindee. Seeing my eyes open she immediately stood up and stepped right next to me. She reached down and grabbed my wrist, checking my pulse. After that she leaned down, kissed me with a tender passion that still brought aches and pain across my body. “I’m glad that you have finally wakened up. You have been practically comatose since we laid down last night. It’s now just after nice pm.”
“I….” I didn’t know what to say as the pain of finding her tombstone was fresh and now having her back was overwhelming my ability to think. As I tried to speak a fresh wave a physical pain washed over me. I felt as though someone had run me through a meat grinder before tossing me on the barbeque to cook. I flesh was tight in some places and loose, even torn open in others. When I breathed I could feel the pull of stitches or stapled from both sides over the ribs. I groaned and writhed on the bed bringing new waves of pain before I could force my body to remain still.
Sindee leaned back over me, placing her hands upon my forehead. I felt the pulse of Magick from her as the pain lessened, “I have been unable to heal the injuries Andrew. I was able to increase the rate at which your own body will heal the damage, but I can’t directly affect the wounds with Magick for some reason,” she explained as tears ran down her cheeks.
I forced myself past the emotion keeping me from speaking, “I understand.” I reached up through the pain, careful of ribs, to caress her cheek and wipe away the tears there. “The injuries are Magick in nature and therefore require a level of Magick that I don’t know and you haven’t had to try yet.” I stopped speaking for a few minutes to catch my breath before continuing to speak with her, “Call Arthur and Jaq please, have them come over as soon as possible.”
“Right away, they asked me to do so anyway after I told them about the first time you woke up.” She looked down at me with concern written on her features, “You screamed in pain and then yelled a single word before you passed out again from pain and blood loss. You screamed the word lich. I’ve never heard it before from you or anything I’ve read, here or at Arthur’s. Who or What is a Lich?”
“I’d prefer to explain it once, but I will tell you know if you want to know”
“Let me know what a Lich is and I’ll save any further questions for when Arthur and Jaq get here,” she stated. I couldn’t really argue and didn’t actually want to anyway. I was just happy to be back here with her.
“A Lich is one of the most dangerous types of supernatural that theoretically exist. Though has been deemed possible, no one that I know of has ever seen one, or seen one and lived to tell about it. They are a hybrid of sorts. A Mage that created and used a complex ritual that allowed them to turn themselves into a Vampire while still maintaining their Avatars is what a Lich is in theory. I’m not sure what that would do to the creatures mind and an Avatar typically required a living breathing body in order to maintain its connection. So the ritual and spells that create this thing also twist the magick that creates the bond between Avatar and Mage. What than does to either of them, I can’t imagine. Hopefully Arthur will have some knowledge of Lich or we’ll be flying blind on this one. I’ll explain the rest of the vision and the injuries, at least as much as I can remember once they get here.”
While we waited for our guests, Sindee brought me some soup and forced me to eat it, “The food will help give your body the energy needed to heal. You could also use it if you’re going to try and stay awake to talk.” She checked my pulse again after I ate and cleaned the wounds with a warm sponge and cleanser.
I looked up at her as she worked on the chest and neck area, “I am the luckiest man in the world in that you’re my wife. I’m married to an incredible doctor, an accomplished mage, and beautiful woman and most importantly, someone who loves me as much as I love her.”
She smiled, “I bet you say that to any woman who gives you a sponge bath.” She laughed as she said it making me feel better seeing some of the stress over my injuries leave her features. If she can make jokes my situation must be improving.
A few minutes later she had me clean, dry and in a pair of loose sweat shorts and a robe. She got me out of the bed and assisted me in walking to the living room so I could put me feet up and rest while I explained everything I remembered from my vision to Arthur, Jaq and her. “Thank you for helping me.” Sindee simply nodded her acceptance.
Jaq and Arthur arrived a few minutes later when I heard the roar of his engine and screech of the brakes when they pulled in. They came up to the door and before they knocked I called out, “Just come on in you two.”
As the door opened Jaq had a huge smile on her face and Arthur looked as pale as a ghost. His visage struck me with something I couldn’t bring to mind. After a moment, I shook it off as I don’t forget anything as I have a perfect memory since my Awakening. Looking at the color, or lack thereof, in Arthur’s features, “Jaq did you have to scare the courage out of Arthur with your driving?”
She laughed, “It’s not my fault. I still find it amazing that he stands up to and fights Vampires, Werewolves and other supernatural beings trying to kill him on a regular basis but can’t hold himself together when I drive.”
I smiled back, “I think it’s less his being afraid of your driving as he can ensure you both survive an accident. The same cannot however be said for the car and that is his baby.”
Jaq laughed and looked over her shoulder at him, “That’s not what you were saying last night.” She looked back at me, winked and laughed.
Arthur chuckled as well, “That’s true my list of priorities has changed since we met, but that car does hold some sentimental value. After all it was that care where we first started talking as we drove to the Existence the night we met.”
She smiled and looked very pleased, “You know smooth talk like that might convince me that you aren’t just trying to seduce me.”
Arthur’s reply was artful, “To seduce my way into your heart is the only thing that I wish as you have already taken possession of mine.” He stared straight into her eyes, looking through them into her soul and showing his own.
Jaq just stood staring back in silence, unable to speak past the lump in her throat. She stepped up to Arthur, wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him close pressing the curves over her body against his leaving no space between them. Again I was filled with joy at the fact that they met.
Sindee stood over my shoulder behind the chair I was stretched out on watching the scene unfold. She tilted my head back, leaned down over me so that she could kiss me. After a few minutes all four of us came up for air. I looked over to Arthur and Jaq, “As much as I would prefer for this to be purely a social call, we have much to discuss about the near future.”
Jaw and Arthur sat down on the love seat, sitting practically on top of each other even though they had plenty of room to spare. Sindee curled up on the couch close to me, but not against as we would normally prefer due to my injuries. Arthur spoke up, “Tell us what happened and why you screamed Lich when you came out of your vision.”
I took a deep breath and immediately regretted it for the flash of pain I brought. “After laying down tonight I went into another of my visions of the future. I have come to understand that they aren’t visions so much as co-locating time streams. I figured that part out because when I went forward this time all possible worlds had collapsed into the Prime Material Plane. There were no more branches or parallel worlds.” I took a few shallow breaths before continuing. Something about how I had learned all this was nagging me as I couldn’t quite remember. As I tried to the concern about it faded from my mind and I moved on, “Once I arrived there I sensed almost no human life at all. The city was in complete ruins with only the Stratosphere standing above it all in pristine condition. I enhanced my eyesight and pushed my sensed out to the tower. Surrounding it were scores of different supernatural creatures that shouldn’t have existed on this place because of disbelief. With my sense I detected and powerful evil sitting enthroned in the tower. I headed for the Existence to see if it still stood as a bastion against the evil of the world. It had been turned into charred rubble and scorched earth.”
I took my time telling the story as it was painful to remember and relate as well as taxing what energy I had, “Right before I got to the club’s location I was surrounded by feral, emaciated vampires and used friction curse to kill them. I was waiting for the backlash from such a vulgar use of magick and nothing happened. Somehow I don’t believe there are any mages left in that future with the collapse of Planes and dimensions into one. I used Correspondence to step from the Club to my home. There was nothing left of the houses structure. The basement was a crater and the node was gone. As nodes are a twist in the fabric of reality, my guess is that all nodes were destroyed in the collapse as well.”
“I continued to explore the property looking for any sign of what had caused all of this when I came across something that crushed my heart with pain and despair, making it impossible for me to function for a time. I found four graves at the back edge of our property here, just against the mountains.” I took a deep breath, ignoring the physical pain as it was nothing compared to emotions passing through me, “the Graves were ours.” I stopped there for the time being unable to continue and to give them time to absorb the shock of my revelation.
Sindee paled and looked at me with love. I could feel through our bond that while she was shocked and concerned, she was sending reassurance to me that we were alive and she held faith in my ability to change what I had seen as I had done before. Despite the pain I was in, I reached over and drew her gently against my side under my left arm. She reached over up and wrapped her left hand in mine, bringing our wedding bands together which always seemed to fill us with comfort.
Across from us on the love seat, Arthur and Jaq pressed closer together. They held to each other providing support to each other. I hoped once again that they would one day share the bond through magick that Sindee and I did. Jaq was the first to break the silence before I was able to continue, “You said near future, so I need to ask; When?”
I continued the story with my reply, “The first of March, about three week from now. There’s more and I’m going to explain it. It will just take time because neither Sindee nor I can heal the wounds I suffered.” Before anyone could interrupt with questions I held up my hand to forestall comments and continued the explanation, “The wounds are part of it all so we’ll discuss them at the end. I was out of it for a few day from despair and the trauma of my mind wrapping around the fact that not only was I dead, but that I had failed to protect any of you; I felt it was my failure that cost Sindee her life and I was unable to function or even think through the guilt for some time. Once I had recovered enough to continue searching for answers I went back to the club and the house to search for a Resonance Signature in order to figure out who or what caused the destruction wrought at both location.”
Jaq and Sindee both looked at me like I said something strange and even Arthur looked intrigued and curious. Jaq and Sindee both asked at the same time, “What’s a Resonance Signature?!?!” While I got that in stereo Arthur quirked up an eyebrow in a questioning manner.
“It’s my name for something I knowledge I gained after my last seeking. I came to realize that any use of supernatural power leaves a mark or stain on reality as it alters things. These marks are unique in my experience not only to the power but to the wielder of that power as well. All four of us are Mages, or at least three of us and the fourth something different and more powerful but started off as a Mage. When we use a rote or even case a spell or ritual that we infuse with magick the signatures are different from one of us to the next. There are partial similarities that identify the power used as mage magick of the spheres use, but the parts that are uniquely formed from out mind and intent in the casting differentiates the signatures. It is like the resonance frequency of jewels and crystals that scientists use to identify some things that they can’t see. That’s why I call it a Resonance Signature.”
Arthur looked thoughtful for a moment before replying, “I know what you’re talking about know. I never gave it a name or thought much about it, but have seen and used the knowledge in the past. I’ve not met any other people in my travels or at the Existence that know anything about what you just described. I’d suggest keeping it between the four of us for the time being. It may be something that people are meant to discover on their own as they learn to harness and use magick.”
“Okay, I’ll agree with that. However Arthur, we should both make sure that Sindee and Jaq are taught how to see and recognize these signatures as soon as possible.” He nodded his agreement as did both Sindee and Jaq so I continued, “What I found at each location was not a complete signature. Each signature was only partial; however there was some overlap as well. When I realized this I came to an idea of what had happened. I decided to attempt one more major act of vulgar magick to aid in solving this mystery in order to help us all survive what is coming. Using the idea that our enemy co-located the properties as part of whatever magick they were using I chose to do the same to read the Resonance of the Magicks. It took more energy that I had ever pulled through me before and I came close to losing control. As I was about to fail I got a sudden influx of power and control that felt as though someone was running electricity through my nervous system. It allowed me to latch onto the resonance even as it caused the massive trauma to my body. What I found in the resonance was something theorized but up until now I figured to be impossible. The magic traces indicated that the powers in use consisted of True Magick, Vampiric Power and some form of Blood Magic. What shocked me was while there were those two or three types of power in use, the signature portions all pointed to one caster. Not as though a group worked together with one person controlling the intent of the spell as all of the peoples signatures would have been in the resonance in some way, but just one being accessing forms of power that are supposed to be impossible to find in anyone being. The Resonance Signature could only be that of a Lich. A Vampire Mage.” At that statement everyone fell into silence. The mood of the room was so thick you could almost see the shadows of tension flowing from all of our bodies.
None of us wanted to break the silence this time so I decided to do it, “We now have about three weeks to figure out a way to stop a Lich from killing us and bringing about the destruction of all realities.” Every one of us broke into laughter, not out of hilarity but from the absurdity that we four were out classed by something we’d never run into before.
Arthur spoke, “I am quite capable of enforcing the rules of the Existence, more so because of all the protections in place combined with my Magick but I’ve also never run into a Lich. My guess is that the co-location with your property brought a Node into the club allowing this Lich to tap into the potential power of the realities and Todash space as well. I don’t know if my protections could stop that. I figure based on what you described that they won’t stand to that so I need to call in some favors.”
“Sounds like a plan. I’ll do what I can to prepare from here while I recover from my injuries. The healing is already accelerated thanks to Sindee, but I may be out of commission for a good portion of the next few weeks. I should be healed and ready to go when the time comes however.” I tried to force a smile to my face, but the reactions I received suggested it looked more like a grimace.
Arthur stood and reached into his inside jacket pocket as he crossed towards me, “Stand up Andrew and lose the robe.” I gave him an incredulous look considering that Sindee, he and Jaw were all in the room. He gave me a patronizing look, “You don’t have anything than we all haven’t seen before.”
I looked him in the face and replied, “I just don’t want to make Jaq blush or you feel insignificant when my body is revealed.”
All three of them laughed at the joke, happy that my sense of humor was at least partially intact. Arthur’s response was simple, “Get up on your feet and take off the robe or I’ll let them do it.”
I looked him in the eyes and sat there, “Not going to happen in either case. You want to get my clothes off it is going to take a nice meal and lots of drinks. Even then I don’t guarantee you’ll succeed in your endeavor.”
He turned, looked at Jaq and Sindee and said, “Ladies if you will take care of the patient please?”
Sindee and Jaq strode over, gently grabbed me under my arms and pulled me to my feet. I had to put my feet down and stand because falling would more painful than any embarrassment at being stripped by two gorgeous women in front of Arthur. Once I was on my feet Sindee opened the robe and slid it off of me. I was standing in my living room in just a pair of shorts. Under normal circumstances I am quite proud of my body and the work I’ve done to keep it healthy. Right now however I was in a beat, burned and bruised mess. I’m a little vain sometimes, so sue me.
Arthur pulled something out of his inside jacket pocket. It was some kind of jewel or crystal inside some kind of precious metals. It was about six inches long and three inches at the widest point. It was teardrop in shape and glowed with and inner light. I could feel the power of it as soon as he pulled it out, it was some form of talisman. “What is that Arthur?”
“It will take care of most of the wounds you have leaving you in need of a day or two to rest and recover your strength. It is a very old talisman, more a legendary artifact than a talisman as it wasn’t created so much as it turned from a simple piece of jewelry into an item of power. Most still call it an artifact due to the Mage that had owned it when the conversion took place. It had once belonged to the man that Arthurian Mythos calls Merlin.” The reverence in his voice for the object and the man who it belonged to made me want to ask more about it and also stilled my tongue before I made an ass of myself. He passed the jewel over all of the wounds I had received that he could see. The ribs healed almost immediately sealing the wounds and the staples disappeared. Once he was done with the visible wounds he looked my shoulder at Sindee and Jaq. Jaq excused herself and went outside for some air. Once she closed the door behind her, Sindee dropped my shorts allowing Arthur to work on the other wounds.
Once he knelt down to see what he was doing I couldn’t resist the juvenile joke as I was being somewhat mortified by this experience even though he was helping me, “While you’re down there Arthur…” I trailed off leaving the statement implied.
He was quick on the reply, “As you said, a nice meal and many, many drinks. Besides, I don’t have a magnifying glass and a pair of tweezers.”
Sindee gave his a gentle swat on the back of his head, “That’s my husband you’re talking about.” She laughed then continued, “Make sure you do a good job there, I still want children someday.” The look on her face was one of humor, but the light in her eyes at the same time told me that she really did want children, plural as she said.
I looked into her amused and thoughtful expression, “I’m open to a large family as you know about mine from our talks. Just how many children were you thinking about?”
She took a few minutes to think about it before answering, “I’m not sure. I want at least two, but am willing to have several. I enjoyed the stories you told me of your growing up in such a large family.” Her expression switched from thoughtful to mischievous in a blink, “Besides think about all the fun we’ll have in making them in the first place.” Her smile went from bright to sexy and teasing and had the desired effect on me she wanted. Unfortunately it was not something Arthur wanted.
“Hey, hey, hey!!!! Sindee can you please not encourage him, I already said It would take a good meal and lots of drinks.” He laughed and said, “Down boy, just think of the Lich or something and stop pointing that thing at me.” He quickly finished up and stepped away, “Sindee, please help him put that thing away before he hurts somebody.”
I leaned down now that most of the pain was gone and pulled my shorts back up. Now that the ordeal was over I pulled the robe back on and sat down, my energy failing me. Jaq came back in and laughed at my embarrassment. I simple sat there and smiled. We called it a night and agreed to meet back at the Existence in the next few days for a strategy session. Sindee helped me to my feet and into the bedroom. As much as I wanted and loved her, I had no strength or energy at the moment and was back to sleep as my head hit the pillows. I slept and dreamed about a strange woman, speaking to me and telling me secrets. As soon as I woke in the morning all memory of the dream faded away like a feather on a breeze.