Phew! Video editing finished! I'll be able to go to bed after posting it on our store's YouTube channel: Grandma outdid herself for the week's predictions with her tarot reading. She must have been an actress in another life as she embodies the cliché of the fortune teller: she does tons of it, but it works given that we have nearly 100,000 subscribers who follow “The Pythian Oracle”. I turn off the computer when a loud scream coming from the kitchen makes me rush out of my room.
- Grandmother !? Everything is fine ?!
Not only does she not answer me, but here she is still talking to herself... My grandmother is so into her role as an "esoteric mystic" that she is in the habit of conversing out loud with her "guide" named Dick Malone, a so-called gangster from the 50s from Chicago who has been “communicating” with her for as long as I can remember… But strangely, there, all pale and stiff, she is “talking” with Shujin and Bokhor?
Where did Dick go?
- Grandmother ! But what's happening to you?
—Hurry up, Sybille! Come quickly with me! We only have a little time!
— But... but where do you want to go at 1 a.m.?!
— In the courtyard of our building, he is injured and we have to hide him!
Confused, I rush after Grandma who has just run out of the apartment and downstairs much faster than her canonical age of seventy would suggest. And there, half hidden by the trash containers, lies indeed a stranger. He is passed out and appears to be in a bad state.
—Ah, don't start, Dick! Instead, help us find a solution to mount it at home!
Hey, here’s Dick again, I was thinking too…
— Sybille, go get the delivery cart. We're going to slide it on and put it in the reserve: it's not great, but it's the best we can do. Afterwards, go to the bathroom and bring back the first aid kit!
While sprinting towards the store, I wonder what trouble Grandma, who has a knack for that, it must be admitted, is getting us into again! But she doesn’t really give me time to think given the urgency with which she wants “to move”…
The cow weighs a dead donkey, the guy !
Somehow, we managed to bring him in and lay him down on a cardboard “mattress”. Luckily I haven't already thrown away the dismantled packaging from our last delivery this afternoon! He has a nasty wound on his chest and back, like a second-degree burn that's not pretty at all, not to mention the bruises that dot his body from head to toe.
“I remember, Dick, it’s all right,” said Grandma. I manage. I'll get the balms and healing stones.
Well, I'm mainly going to bring back some disinfectant and bandages, otherwise the guy will die before dawn, and I don't see myself explaining how we ended up with a dead man to the police: " But I assure you, Mr. “agent, my grandmother’s guide told us where to find this man to treat him with stones ”… I can imagine the face of the police officer who would take us straight to the Sainte-Anne psychiatric hospital – but this would still be better than a prison cell ?
“Honestly, Dick, did you want me to leave him to die in the yard?
—And what does that make one clamsé more or less? You're going to get yourself into trouble: a guy doesn't find himself in this state because he has a "little problem"! Why did you listen to these ghosts? Usually, they give you messages that you sometimes don't even relay, but you never intervene in any other way? I'm the only ghost you have to listen to!!!
And come on, Dick is doing his big underworld kingpin act...
— There, it was an emergency, I tell you. This boy has an important role to play in the history of the world of Mages. Without him, their society will implode!
— By the Almighty Godfather, stop believing all the nonsense that crazy minds can tell you! Mages? What next ? Besides, if he can die, then your guy isn't that magical, right?!
I am summoned to the Atrium – our HQ located in a beautiful Haussmann building in the 6th arrondissement of Paris – for the annual meeting between the leaders of our magical community, our three Magisters from Europe, Africa and Asia. And I'm late... My mission took me longer than expected, but I should have known that with those damn Mages of America. It is the only continent which no longer has its own leader and which fell under the tutelage of Europe twenty years ago, but that does not prevent some ambitious people from wanting to proclaim themselves Magister regularly. As the First Electi in my squadron, I am the guarantor of our laws and must bring them back into line frequently! OK, I destroyed this one because he was so narrow-minded. But hey, we’re not going to quibble about the syntax…
Tykala, our Magister of Europe will be happy to learn that order and calm have returned to the other side of the Atlantic, and that this umpteenth putsch attempt will not have lasted more than a week. Absorbed by my unflattering thoughts about these “Iznogoud” Mages who want to become Magister instead of Magister, as they are nicknamed in my squadron, I take a few seconds, opening the doors, to understand what is happening in front of me .
Erick, my commander, is standing, with at his feet the bodies of Shujin, Magister of Asia and Bokhor, Magister of Africa, sprawled on the ground. I rush over and kneel next to Shujin. Given the depth of the wound on his throat, he did not have time to realize what was happening to him or to cast a healing spell: he was dead before even touching the slab...
—Erick? What happened ? Are you doing well ? Where is Tykala?
I can't stand up until my commander attacks me with a fireball that explodes my chest – or at least that's the impression it gives me . Drawing on my years of training, I ignore the pain and quickly roll to the side to take temporary shelter, behind one of the large marble columns that decorate our state room.
—Erick? But what is happening to you?!
His response in a voice full of jubilation, totally incongruous in this situation, makes my blood run cold.
— Well Dimitri, I'm glad you finally arrived! All these years of training and the one time you're truly needed, you're late. You were on the verge of missing the party! Tsss… Yet you are the special guest of this meeting! You killed Shujin and Bokhor! And glory to me, who cut you down before you could do the same to Tykala!
—No one will believe such a thing! I wasn't even present at this interview! And why do you think I would have done that?
- Let's see, Dimitri, no one will doubt when I tell them how you waited until the Magisters were alone after their official meeting, and that you finally showed your true face... It must be said that perfidy is hereditary in your family, don't is this not ?
He is right. Despite myself, the lead weight that has weighed on my shoulders for twenty years becomes even heavier. My father, Julius, the former Magister of Europe, treacherously murdered that of America, Mattheus, two decades ago. But he was stopped by his best friend, Kyrios, who managed to injure him enough to hold him back until the Electi intervened. He never explained his actions and was executed, bringing shame to our name.
Four years old at the time, I didn't want to believe this story, but Kyrios himself told it to me over and over again. In memory of his relationship with my father "before his madness", he took me in and raised me while everyone also demanded my elimination so as not to risk "family contamination", given that no one has ever knew why he acted like that. For twenty years, I have redeemed my name by placing myself at the service of the community of Mages: I have become the best of the Electi, and yet that will not be enough to give me the slightest benefit of the doubt. They are all there waiting for my misstep, and Kyrios has repeatedly been warned that he will regret his charitable gesture one day. My heart bleeds more at the thought than from Erick's attack. The only person who is kind to me, and to whom I owe my life, will be destroyed by this lie. His “lack of discernment” may even cost him dearly in terms of his place within our community. He might even be disavowed as Tykala's advisor! She only tolerates me with the influence of Kyrios, because it is thanks to him that she managed to take the head of the Mages of Europe AND America as heir of Mattheus. Kyrios maneuvered well to atone for the faults of my father, and implemented this solution to avoid open war between our two continents. But I understand it because if I too had to regularly see the son of my father's murderer, I would undoubtedly seize the slightest pretext to take revenge. I don't really blame him for that, but I feel bad for Kyrios who shouldn't have to suffer from this plot, after everything he's done for me! All these thoughts collide in my skull, and the conclusion that my only possibility of being able to prevent such a thing is to escape, so that I can then try to prove my innocence, imposes itself on me.
I then gather my strength and prepare an isolation spell. I will only get one chance, I realize that. Therefore, I calculate in my head: there are twenty-two steps to the door and Erick will certainly trigger another attack as soon as I show him even one square centimeter of target... This will make wrong…
1, 2, 3! I jump up and run towards the large doors of the Atrium. As anticipated, Erick launches a new fearsome fireball that knocks me flat onto the ground, destroying my back! But in my fall, I manage to reach the doors of the Atrium which I slam, releasing the spell which locks Erick in the room.
The latter's arrogance is his weak point: under the pretext that he is a commander, he believes himself to be the strongest, but even if he is very powerful, I learned a long time ago to hide my potential. Because with my “tainted heredity”, I would then have presented too great a danger in the eyes of these petty and suspicious Mages towards me. Already, becoming the First of the Electi was a calculated risk on my part. I am constantly in a very precarious balance in order to be, in the eyes of my community, a force to rely on and not to constitute a threat that must be eliminated. Erick threw a powerful attack at me, but he didn't see fit to put all his energy into it at once. It is undoubtedly this error that allows me to get up as best I can, and slip out of the seat, protected by an invisibility spell that I hastily cast. I avoid the Mages who come running, alerted by the knocks on the doors and Erick's cries of rage which fill the floor. Only, using so much energy in a row, while my body is also fighting injuries, ends up getting the better of me. On the verge of fainting, I am forced to hide behind containers in the small courtyard into which I entered during my escape. I cast, with my last strength, a healing spell against the burns which are a real torture before everything turns black.
I regain consciousness without moving, barely opening my eyes, hearing voices... of women... I am lying on my side, half naked, and covered in a kind of pasty balm that smells horribly strong and bad. Where am I ? Did they finally find me? Footsteps approach and I stand ready to intervene even if my body protests at the slightest movement.