The world is on the brink of chaos, but only we know it. War is on our doorstep, and only we can stop it. Two weeks ago, I was a shy, reserved young woman running an esoteric shop with my eccentric grandmother Sarah, and Selena—or Barbie, as I call her because of her looks—my outgoing SBFF (Sister and Best Friend Forever).
Two weeks ago, I had absolutely no idea that I came from a line of female psychics, that my grandmother was connected to the ghost of a gangster from 1950s Chicago, or that my life was about to be turned upside down by a wizard as handsome as a god and hunted by his community.
Two weeks ago, I had a home, a refuge from humans and their narrow minds. I had no idea that the building would be destroyed, or that Sarah would sacrifice herself to save us.
Two weeks ago, my main concern was managing the inventory of our shop, Pythia's Oracle. I never imagined that I would become a pillar of the magical revolution. And yet… Today, our eclectic “family,” which also includes a cop and a hacker, is being hunted by the Electi, elite Magi—wizard—soldiers on the orders of their Magister Tykala, and we have every intention of turning the tide , thank you very much!
“We've been holed up here for almost a week now,” says Dimitri, the gorgeous, 1.75-meter-tall wizard with ice blue eyes who makes my heart skip a beat. “We have to decide what we're going to do, because although we're temporarily safe here, we're also prisoners. Please, Charlie, that's not a reproach at all. On the contrary, we're grateful for your hospitality.”
“Don't worry, I understand your feelings perfectly,” replies Charlie, a genius hacker with the physique of an Australian surfer. “And I'm not at peace either. The fact that the Magi haven't made a move since the leader of your community sentenced you to death doesn't tell me a thing. They're probably up to something!”
“We've pissed them off, too, by stealing their truck,” I say, thinking aloud. “If, as we suspect, the contents allowed them to absorb energy from the people they killed to increase their power, maybe they're looking for something to replace it in a hurry? So, maybe we're no longer their priority when the war with the continents of Africa and Asia is on their doorstep?”
“I don't think we'll be so lucky,” replies Jarod, a 1.90-meter-tall cop with rugged good looks and a crush on Barbie.
Like his childhood friend Charlie, Jarod's life was turned upside down when we met two weeks ago. Magic played a part in bringing us together, but I'm convinced it was the heart that bonded us so quickly; especially Grandmother's heart! Each of us, in our own way, has been wounded by the world, without a family, and has chosen to rebuild one that resembles us by accepting ourselves as we are. Dick, the ghost and former Chicago gangster, says it reminds him of the early days of his Colombo clan, when he was defending his territory and they were just a handful of guys “who weren't cold-hearted, but had the ambition to overcome all.”
Because we're mad at Magister Tykala! Not only does she kill people by stealing their energy to increase her power, but she also sentenced Dimitri to death and caused the death of my grandmother! Jarod was the cop investigating the women murdered by the Magi. Dimitri was second-in-command to Erick, the commander of the Electi, who was tricked by Erick into looking like he'd committed the murders of Magisters from Africa and Asia. When Dimitri managed to prove his innocence and asked to leave the community to let him live with us as a human, he was sentenced to death, and he only managed to escape in extremis. It was my grandmother who had dragged us all into helping Dimitri in the first place, and she even sacrificed her life to save us. So, we've taken refuge in the warehouse that serves as Charlie's secret office for his hacking activities, and we're trying to figure out how to get out of this seemingly impossible situation.
“I spoke to Master Laurent—the notary—and he confirmed that we could make an appointment with his counterpart to visit the estate in New Orleans next week,” I say to reignite the debate.
The notary in charge of my grandmother's estate found a property in Louisiana through Charlie's scouting that would still belong to my family even if we knew nothing about it. Our ancestor is said to have fled America to seek refuge in Paris, and with all the discoveries made by the wizards, it seems imperative that we go there. Perhaps we'll find the answers we're looking for, including a way to stop Magister Tykala and understand how she manages to steal energy from the people she kills. If we can cut off her power base, we can defeat her and prevent her from enslaving and exploiting other Magisters. Perhaps by saving this community from enslavement by a power-hungry despot and protecting humanity from mass murder, Dimitri can live in peace with us. He would no longer have to hide and run.
This sword of Damocles has been hanging over his head for a week now, and it will only end if Tykala is prevented from obtaining the status of Maestro—the sole leader of all the wizards in the world, according to legend.
“I'll book us a private jet at Le Bourget,” Charlie announces.
“And how are we going to pay for that plane?” Barbie asks doubtfully. “We don't have much left after settling Grandma's estate.”
Barbie, my SBFF since she was a teenager, was secretly adopted by Sarah, and we are now sisters in law and in heart. We found out at the notary's office with Grandma's will.
“Maybe when I found the hidden accounts of the dirty cops who tried to screw the Zlotoff brothers, an unfortunate slip of the fingers emptied them to send the money to another hidden account,” he says with a smile, obviously very pleased with himself.
The Zlotoff brothers are arms dealers who were manipulated into working for the Magi with the help of corrupt officials. They didn't like it, and the rogue agents who maneuvered for the Magi all “met unfortunate accidents.” Dick says poetic justice was served, but I have to admit I feel sorry for their families.
“Charlie! But that’s theft!” Jarod can't help but react. “The police should've seized that money as evidence to charge those dirty cops!”
“Look,” he replies angrily, “the cops are all dead, and the police have closed the case. So, who's missing all that money, huh? Besides, we’ve got to finance our operation.”
“He's got a point,” I say despite my scruples. “Being on the run, as Dick says, isn't easy, and money is crucial. After that, Charlie, a private jet—”
“Hey, if we're going to be fugitives, we might as well do it in style! Besides, with all the money they've amassed, we'll still have plenty to last us after this escapade, don't worry,” Charlie replies with a wink.
“But how much was there?” Barbie asks.
“Nearly three million euros in all. And now that the world has gone Uberized, even a plane doesn't cost that much. I’ve already found a company that offers a round-trip flight for less than fifty thousand euros for two weeks!”
“Not only is it classy,” Dimitri adds, “but it’ll make boarding a lot easier. With an invisibility spell on top of my camouflage spell, I'll be able to sneak in more easily than on a normal commercial flight.”
Of course, considering that he's wanted by the Magi, that's a strong argument. He was also wanted by the police, accused of killing a policeman—thanks to the Magi—but the commissioner managed to bury the case with Jarod's and Charlie's help. Appropriately, they provided video surveillance of a “fake” Dimitri at five different locations in the city. Dimitri in five different parts of France at the time of the murder he was suspected of committing. Given the number of people who made the sketch, the commissioner with Drew the APB to avoid risking too many police mistakes.
“So, when can we go, Charlie?” I ask.
“I've already laid out some options, just in case. If I confirm before 3:00 pm today, we can leave tomorrow morning at 11:00 am”
“Okay, then I'll tell the notary to set up a meeting with his counterpart in New Orleans for the day after tomorrow.”