Chapter 1: Death Stalks a City
Forty years earlier...
"You must go Irene!" Alastor pleaded with his wife.
"No! I won't leave you," she cried, clutching their kitten tightly to her chest and refusing to leave their home.
"You must, if there's any chance for our son and you to survive," he insisted.
"Then come with me!"
"You know I can't. Magnus will only follow, take the medallion then kill us. If I don't stay to delay him, he'll go after you and use you to make me give it to him. No, you and our son must live and protect the medallion while I must stay to face him."
Her beautiful green eyes filled with tears and body trembled with fear and sorrow. Around her neck a heavy silver necklace gleamed in the dying light of the day. Out of sight, hidden in her blouse, was the attached medallion nestled between her breasts.
He felt as if his heart would shatter sending her away but there was no other choice. His family must live or his death would be meaningless. Magnus would think nothing of killing her to obtain the medallion. Power was everything to the dark wizard, nothing else mattered...not love...family...or even money.
The medallion held tremendous magical energy that could make the one who held it all powerful. His family line had been given the task, centuries ago, to keep it safe from any who dared to use it for evil and they had been successful though many had lost their lives over the years. Now only himself, wife and son were left to protect it.
Magnus had vanished more than a century ago but had recently reappeared and was killing any and all he suspected of harboring the medallion. Alastor had done his best to keep themselves hidden from the dark wizard's searching eyes for years but, not long after his son's birth, someone had betrayed them.
Just a few hours ago, another friend had warned them they'd been found out. Alastor had only enough time to make hurried arrangements and transfer of money before time ran out. Now all that was left was to send his family away while he faced the dark wizard's wrath alone.
"You must leave now, Irene. Guard the medallion...use no magic...live as an Ordinary, it will help keep you and our son hidden," he instructed her, as he put the strap of a hastily packed bag of personal items over her shoulder and began to hustle her out the door.
"Alastor, no!" She pleaded, dragging her feet.
"Hurry, love. Your mother waits for you at the end of the road. Go with her quickly. I won't know where she takes you and its best that way," he said tightly then as he prepared to open the door, he paused to pull her close for a last embrace and kiss, taking her sweet scent into his nose for the last time then doing the same with his sleeping son.
"Alastor, will we see each other again?" she sobbed, tears falling down her face, as he pulled away from her.
"I...don't know love. Go...be safe...I love you!" He said, his heart breaking as he hurried her down the walk.
Terror and anguish were in her eyes and she wanted nothing more than to cling to him but she controlled herself, whispering a choked, "I love you, too..." before running across their neatly trimmed lawn for the road and the car sitting with its lights and motor on waiting for them as dusk began to fall.
Swallowing his own fear and sorrow, Alastor turned away as the car took off and ran hurriedly back through his front door, closing and locking it behind him. Raising his paws, he quickly muttered a spell that would trap the dark wizard in the house with him...he hoped. He knew his magic wasn't as strong as Magnus'. The most he could hope for was his trap would at least delay the wizard long enough for his family to get far enough away.
As the night deepened, he went around and destroyed all traces that he even had a family, to muddy the trail even further then waited for death to arrive.
Present time, Bureau of Dark Magic Affairs...
"Do you think he's found it?" The young tiger male asked, surrounded by books and research files that seemed to spill everywhere on his desk.
Moria Callahan sighed as she leaned against the door frame to Nolan's cramped office. She thought about his question. He was tense as indicated by his rapidly tapping pencil. The news he just heard had upset him a great deal.
"No, definitely not. If he had it the whole world would know it by now. No, these deaths clearly indicate he's still looking for it. The council agrees but fear he may have found a clue to its location if the trail of dead bodies were left by him. As you know, there's been no active sign of Magnus for years until now. Only the lure of actually locating the medallion would bring him out of hiding at last. That's why I'm being sent to Megakat City to try and confirm if the deaths were magical in nature.
"Excuse me, but I thought the medallion was lost when Alastor Finnegan was killed," Nolan objected, a deep frown pulling at his face, giving him a pinched look.
"It wasn't found in the burned wreckage of their home so it has been assumed he hid it somewhere before Magnus found him," she said, shaking her head.
"Yeah? But who would he trust it with? Only the Finnegan's could handle the thing safely," he reminded her.
Shrugging, she said, "We don't know for certain but it is thought his wife and son survived to escape with it. There was no trace left to determine one way or the other since the house burned to ash. If I were him, I would have sent them away. Now that Magnus has reappeared, it gives credence to that assumption or he wouldn't still be looking for it. Of course, we have no clue where they might be or if the wife and kitten are still alive after all this time. All we do have is a trail of dead bodies."
"So now you're going on a wild goose chase hoping to catch a whiff of its existence, eh?" He asked sourly.
"I don't like it much either but we have to start somewhere," she said, resigned to a long search. "At least we know only a member of the Finnegan family can use the medallion so it's safe from outside influence."
"Then, if there are no survivor's of the Finnegan family, Magnus can't use the medallion at all."
"Correct. However, since he's come out of hiding, it appears he at least thinks there's a survivor so it's in our best interest to find whoever it is first before he can force that person to activate the medallion or prove there are no survivors and the medallion is lost forever. Guess which one I'm voting for?" Moria smirked.
"I'm with you on that," Nolan sighed, worry reflected in his eyes as he finished with, "Well, be careful out there, Moria. That city is nuts and dangerous and we can't afford to lose you."
"I'll keep both eyes peeled, promise. Now I've got to get going. Check in with you later," she said, warmly, turning and leaving his office.
"It makes no sense! There isn't a mark on the bodies but they are unmistakably dead and you say you can't determine the cause of death?" Feral barked at the ME. It had already been a trying day for the Commander and this news wasn't making it any easier.
Dr. Lance scowled at Feral in annoyance, frustration plain in his body language. "That' exactly what I'm telling you. Their hearts stopped but there is no medical reason for it. Every one of these victims were perfectly healthy before it...whatever it was...happened."
Feral huffed, just as annoyed at the ME. He hated it when strange things happened but he wasn't surprised since the weird, strange and magical always happened in this city.
"So could it be magic?" He asked because he had to though it left a nasty taste in his mouth and made him feel like an idiot.
The ME eyed him, askance. "Now how would I be able to detect that? If it weren't for the Pastmaster and Mad Kat, I would have said you needed to have your head examined Commander but unfortunately we do know magic is possible but we don't have any way to detect it."
"Yeah, well I just thought I'd ask anyway," Feral grumbled, unhappily, rubbing the back of his neck.
Lance had no response to that as he covered the body of the thirty something male once more then slid the body back into the wall storage unit.
Feral glared at the wall of neat units, five of which held the recent victims of an unknown killer. Scowling to himself, he turned and stalked out of the morgue. As he made for his car he went over the meager evidence of this bizarre case. All the bodies were middle aged, healthy, and had simply dropped dead for absolutely no reason. None of the deaths appeared to be the direct result of an omega attack...at least none they could find.
That's all I need is another magical enemy around...joy! He thought, sourly.
Across the world from Megakat City...
Moira walked out of her office and down the quiet road of their secluded town. Her home was located in a small country called Lorcan De Seine, a small magical community nestled among towering mountains and hidden in a huge sheltering forest. It's larger neighbors knew them best for their production of fantastic herbal remedies and beautifully handmade whicker furniture.
It possessed a small airport, shipping and handling company, communication/satellite company, healer's hospital, farmer's market, blacksmith, post office, vet, the whicker furniture factory, a school, council building, the Headquarters of the B.D.M.A., and dozens of other small cottage industries that brought income to the small population. They lived their lives peacefully and were very happy.
An aura of magic and great age suffused the very fiber of the town and its environs. That was because this was where magic still existed once it retreated from the nonbelievers of the modern world. The population were direct descendants of the wizards that lived in ancient Megalith City and those few that were even descendants of Queen Callista herself.
Though they were a simple folk and preferred to live off the land and with nature rather than the fast paced and hectic life of the modern cities of their neighbors, that didn't mean they didn't like some of the modern conveniences found in those cities.
Since no visitors were allowed to find their hidden home, a modern and powerful satellite was set up to catch the signals sent out by the nearby modern metropolis north of them. In this fashion, they were able to keep up with the times...receiving news, TV programs, current music, and be a part of the world wide web, though to keep their secret their IP address was carefully encrypted so as to be impossible to locate. The computer was one of the ways the B.D.M.A. was able to keep tabs on possible magical problems around the world.
So, despite their more modest lifestyle, many of the residents owned TVs, radios, computers, DVD's and CD players. No cell phones, however, as they used other means, like a scrying pool, to speak to each other over a distance for better security. They also didn't use modern vehicles except for trucks to haul their products and airplanes to carry them off to distant places. Horse drawn carts, bicycles, foot power, and magic were the preferred method of travel around town.
The Bureau of Dark Magic main function was to maintain peace in the town and protect it from outside dangers. Also, they kept alert for those magic users who abused their power for personal gain and wrecking havoc over the innocent Kats of the world. The non-magical Kats were commonly called Ordinaries though the term was never used around them as Ordinaries didn't really believe much in magic except for the poor unfortunates living in Megakat City.
Though they were very good at their jobs, sometimes they weren't always successful. The dark wizard Magnus was a prime example, managing to elude them for decades. It made Moria angry that this evil creature still walked the world but so far he hadn't caused any trouble, at least none they could attribute to him.
Meanwhile, in the city she was about to visit, they had been suffering the depredations of the dead sorcerer known as the Pastmaster. The B.D.M.A. were annoyed that this slippery wizard had been able to successfully evade them. The main reason was the Bureau had no operatives living in Megakat City because it was just too chaotic and laden with various weird energies that disrupted their own magic if they stayed too long. The length of time varied by individual. She had no idea how long she'd be able to stand it so needed to do what she had to rather quickly, if possible.
So, because they couldn't stay in the city long enough, they had never been able to be there whenever the Pastmaster dropped in. However, luckily, the inhabitants had managed to drive him off though not end his depredations. That's what she admired about them was their incredible resourcefulness and bravery. Maybe, if she was lucky, the ugly creature would show up and she could banish him for good. Wishful thinking, she sighed.
She realized she'd reached the end of the street during her ruminating and was only a few paces from her home. She went in to her simple but comfortable cottage and packed a bag. Making sure she hadn't left anything running and setting an automatic watering spell to keep her plants alive, she readied herself to depart.
Picturing in her mind the location she'd gotten from Nolan earlier, she focused then whispered the traveling spell. Immediately, her body was swept away by a current of energy that flicked her from home to her destination in the blink of an eye. She blinked her eyes and took a deep breath to settle herself then looked around her.
Sighing in relief, she smiled to herself. She had appeared in the park like she'd planned and no one was around to have spotted her rather odd arrival.
It was a bit warmer here than her home so she paused, setting her bag on the ground to take her coat off and draping it over her arm, then picking up her bag once more. Getting her bearings, she walked across the lush lawn and through the trees till she reached the sidewalk outside the park. She winced at the noise level, much higher than her home, and raised her paw to signal a taxi.