That's how I came to find myself in front of the British Museum. How I came across the bodies – mauled, Stabbed and magicked – of a score of night watchmen. How I found myself in the middle of a power struggle between a family of practitioners and how I came to be the focus of their undivided rage.
As I said, days like those start as normally as any other. God, fate, the deities, magic and it's white council… they don't give you warnings mid-morning that you're going to be fighting for your life by the end of the day. That would just be too fair on the people that stood for them.
The old warlock's staff blast slammed into my shield like a freaking freight train. My back slammed into the wall, quickly followed by my head. The middle aged warlock and then Shaun followed up his attack in quick succession.
Shaun's attack, as it turned out, was the strongest. He put all of his lust, his youthful pride and impotent rage into his attack and it knocked me from my feet. The attack – a fire ball – did nothing to lessen the shield, but bloody hell did it hurt. It was the most painful of the attacks, but thank god it was first.
The middle aged warlock cast lightning across the room. The lightning raked across my shield, I could feel it weakening. It didn't crack, it held, but barely. The attack was the most dangerous of the three. If it had gone first I wouldn't have survived any other. Second would probably have been too much. It's just a bloody good thing that Shaun had been so impatient.
"Hold." The elder warlock growled.
I heard laughter. I was just about to spit and curse at them for laughing at me, but then I realised that the laughter wasn't coming from them, it was coming from me. Yeah, I think I'd gone mad. I forced myself back to my feet, looking up at the Warlocks. I'm not sure if I'd meant to carry on laughing or not, but I did, looking up at them.
"That all you got?" I heard myself ask through the ringing in my head as I stumbled back against the wall.
"Fool boy." One of them said, the father I think. "I'll take care of this."
"No, wait." The eldest rumbled, stepping into the room and walking up to my shield. "That should have shattered his shield."
"I'll just-" Shaun started.
"What?" The grandfather asked, turning on him. "Try to destroy everything in front of you like you did a moment ago? Wise move boy, you ever consider the fact that he's holding the crown?" Shaun growled, he clearly didn't like to be talked down to. "Bad enough you destroyed half the wall, there's no chance they aren't going to investigate this now."
"We killed twenty guards coming here, there was going to be an investigation." The father pointed out.
"Perhaps, son, but now the crown will be the focus." The grandfather pointed out.
The middle Warlock frowned for a moment and nodded. "What do you suggest, we can't just let him live, and we need the crown."
"Give me a moment." He said, walking across to me. He looked down at me and I raised my eyes to look at him. "What's your name boy?" he asked.
I laughed again. "Yeah, that'll work." I said, shaking my head. "What's yours?"
He smiled at me, "You know not to hand out your name, that's good. What else do you know?"
"Enough." I said. "Let's just say 'if knowledge is power then I'm a freaking god.'"
He chuckled. "I doubt that. What are you doing here?"
I thought for a moment, what was the harm in telling him, if it kept him talking. "This, mister Warlock, is an ill-advised attempt to save the world from your plan." I explained.
He raised his eyebrows. "My plan?"
I nodded. "You're trying to enchant the crown with faith magic to turn it into a slave bind." I said. "You want to stop her from blocking the spells targeting England."
He smiled, impressed. "And how did you come to this conclusion?"
I considered the question for a moment, but didn't answer it, instead turning back on myself for a moment. "What I don't understand is why faith magic?" I asked. He cocked his head to the side, as if he didn't understand the question. "You could have drugged up some of shaun's college friends, set off an orgy and powered your spell with lust, or you could have brought sacrifices and used their death curses… why faith?"
He nodded, opening his mouth with a little 'ah' as he understood. "Yes, well my reasons are threefold."
"Grandfather, you waste time." Shaun interrupted.
The elder warlock turned on his grandson. "Callibrum." He rumbled. A quick burst of wind knocked him from his feet, sending him sprawling to the floor. "Interrupt me again and I will not hesitate to kill you."
The boy opened his mouth to argue, but deflated. "Yes Grandfather." He said, standing up.
The elder nodded and returned to me. "First, I could not use another type of magic, I would have had to create the magic here, or else take the crown with me, and that was a risk I would not take. I couldn't kill people for the spell, nor could I have an orgy here. It would leave too much evidence, too many trails that might have found their way back to me."
"Second, the magic was here, for the taking. I need only access it, a practically limitless source ready for my uses." He paced as he spoke, not unlike Mars. "And third… The queen is protected by a very powerful magical shield. It was created at the dawn of England by a very powerful Wizard. He used the faith that people had in their monarch to create it and powered it with the faith that the people had in the country." He turned away from me and looked around at the building. "I needed to use that same faith to bypass the Queens defences."
"But you're not using the faith in the queen-"
"Same faith different focus." He said, turning back to me and waving a dismissive hand. "You know all those ridiculous gangs of England loving racists? The hate groups that wear the cross of the English flag like it means something anymore?" I nodded. "They power the shield now. The protection has grown weak and given me an opportunity to strike."
"But why would you want to destroy England?" I asked.
He chuckled. "You're thinking too small, boy. I'm not going just destroying Britain. What do you think would happen if over a thousand dark spells impacted on this tiny little island?"
"They'd destroy it…" I said, frowning.
"The first couple, yes. But what about the rest? Still over a thousand spells directed at the planet."
I took in a sharp breath, eyes widening. He meant to destroy the world… "But you'd be dead… What could you possibly gain?"
"You mean other than enough fear and death magic to be able to ascend and take my rightful place as a god?" He asked, somehow puffing up. "I'll be rid of the white council for one thing." He grumbled, shaking his head.
I frowned up at him. "I won't let you have the crown." I told him.
"My dear boy, you don't have a choice." He responded. There was a click and I felt my shield come tumbling down. My eyes widened and he breathed out, relaxing. "Ah." He said.
I realised what had happened a moment too late; he'd been stalling me, keeping my concentration while his magic worked its way through my shield, finding all of its weak points and then in one burst, disengaged it.
I raised my arm and tried to pour the magic back into the shield, but nothing happened. I could feel the old wizards magic all over my shield bracelet now, stopping me from re-applying it. "It is a great shame that I have to kill you boy, I quite like you." He said. "I would offer you the chance to join me, however I can see that it's not a choice you'd willingly take." He raised his hand to me. "The crown."
I looked between him and his family, gripping the crown tightly. I shook my head and he sighed. "Then you leave me no choice." He raised his blasting rod and opened his mouth to kill me.
Without thinking I threw words at him in an attempt to slow him down. "Your son and grandson will turn on you." I said.
He stopped before speaking and looked down at me. He shook his head, "Family means something, even to us Warlocks, boy."
"They were going to cast the enchantment without you." I continued. "Your grandson thinks you're a paranoid old fool, that he and his father could best you."
"He's lying." Shaun said, glaring at me.
"I'm not." I responded. "Ask your werewolf. They think themselves your superior."
He narrowed his eyes at me for a moment before turning to the Hexenwolf. "Is it true?" He asked, noting the wolf-man's defensive posture for the first time. "Cain. Speak."
The hexenwolf's eyes darted between me and his brother. "It is-"
"You're not going to listen to this boy, are you grandfather?" Shaun growled, gripping his blasting rod. "Let us just kill him and be done with this." He raised the rod. "Corporo!" He rumbled, one of the latin words for Kill.
Fire leapt from the end of his rod, but the elder warlock growled, "Callibrum!" a gust of wind lanced through the fire, dispelling it and the old Warlock stood between the two of them and myself. "Try to kill him without my permission again and I will make sure that you never use magic again, Boy."
"Grandfather, this is foolish. We do not have time to argue." Shaun said, lowering his rod slightly.
"Shaun." His father rumbled, stepping forward and placing a hand on the youngest Warlock's shoulder. The boy stepped back and the middle-aged warlock took his place. "Father. He implied that there's another coming." The warlock said. "He's trying to stall you until the other can arrive."
"I'm not!" I lied. "They were about to start enchanting when I took the crown."
He turned to me. "Is someone else coming?" He asked. I opened my mouth to lie, but decided against it. "Yes."
"You see, Grandfather?"
"Who?" the eldest responded.
"Mars, wizard of the White Council." Came a familiar voice from the doorway.
Everyone turned to find Mars stood there in a long grey coat with his wizards staff held in front of him for protection and his blasting rod pointed at the oldest wizard. "Mars!" I exclaimed, relief washing through me, slackening every tense muscle in my body- which it turns out was all of them.
"You should have teleported home, Alex." He said before turning to the others. "Perhaps you'd like to test your skills on someone who's left legally required education." He offered.
The eldest warlock turned to the others and nodded. The hexenwolf transformed into it's wolf form and they attacked. I looked up to watch them but found my view obscured. The eldest Warlock stepped in front of me, looking down at me. "Look into my eyes, boy." He said. I looked up at him, but focussed on his nose. I didn't want to soul gaze him, that kind of thing stayed with you, and I didn't at all like the idea of his soul mixing with mine.
"Look. Into. My. Eyes." He growled, grabbing me by the scruff of the neck and lifting me up to my full height. He pulled a knife from his inside pocket and held it to my throat. "I will not hesitate." He assured me.
I took a breath and looked up into his eyes and he looked into mine.
There was a strange lurching sensation as I was dragged into his soul, glaring deep at it. There's no real way to describe someone's soul, no words I used would do justice to the complexity of the person's entire nature.
As close as I could describe it, the Warlock's soul was empty. It was very well organised, neat and tidy, like a roman building with lots of white marble columns and perfectly angled shapes, but nothing else, except upside down pentagrams all over the walls.
It felt so cold. So lonely. I could feel how he desperately clung to his family, though he felt nothing for them he wanted to. I felt how he wanted nothing more than to feel something for another person, how he hoped with every move he made that he'd find a way to love, even to like.
I almost started to weep I felt so alone within his soul, and then it was done. I found myself back in the exhibit as pieces of wall rained down on me.
The Warlock looked down at me with a mixture of shock, awe and interest. "Curious…" he said. I have no idea what he saw when he looked into my soul, looking in a mirror doesn't work the same way as looking into someone else's eyes, so I was just as interested as his reaction to my soul as he was in my soul itself. "Very curious. You said that my family planned on betraying me?" I nodded. "I believe you." He said.
"I am willing to make a deal with you here, boy." I looked up at the old man as he turned back to me. "Give me your first name and I will leave. I will take my wolf and go."
I frowned. "No." I said, shaking my head.
"If I enter this fight, boy, Mars and you will both die."
"They'll still be here." I said. "I'll probably die anyway." He opened his mouth to speak, but I cut him off. "Help me defeat them and I'll give it to you." He frowned at me and nodded. "Alex." I told him. "Alexander." I clarified.
He narrowed his eyes at me and mouthed the word, before nodding. He looked around at his sons and grandson. "Cain." He said. The hexenwolf had just landed heavily against a nearby wall. It looked up at the old man and nodded. "We're leaving." It turned to the others. "No. If they survive this they can find us."
The wolf nodded and straightened up.
The Man walked confidently towards the door, staff and rod in hand just in case. As he moved the fight came clear to me. Mars wasn't doing too well. He blocked and deflected as best he could but there were too many of them. They attacked too quickly, never letting up.
An attack struck Mars' arm and sent him spinning backwards. He landed hard but raised his shield again with his working arm, powering it with his wizard staff and shield bracelet.
I looked up at the old Warlock as he reached the door. "You promised your help." I shouted. He looked at his people and then at me and nodded. He raised his blasting rod and threw it. The weapon soared across the room, behind the two Warlocks and landed with a clatter on the floor, rolling towards me.
My eyes widened and I looked up at the doorway. The man and his wolf were gone. I turned to Mars again just as their combined attacks slammed him back, obliterating his shield. "Kill him." The father growled.
"NO!" I shouted, grabbing the blasting rod and leaping to my feet. I pointed the rod and screamed the word 'ettocuhetts' from Pictish. Again, no idea what it means, but that's magic for you.
I vaguely remember seeing Mars call out to me, his lips looked like the word stop was being shouted, but I didn't. I reached inside for all my power. I don't even know what I touched. Will? Faith? All the good things that Mars had told me to use? No. They weren't strong enough.
The two warlocks were slammed back against the wall. Their heads cracked loudly against the wall and then they fell to the floor. I took in a deep breath and dropped the rod, suddenly weak. I staggered backwards and then down to one knee, breathing hard.
I looked up at the two Warlocks and Mars. The Wizard got unsteadily to his feet and stumbled to the others. He fell down at their side and pressed his fingers to their throats. He bowed his head and cursed, reaching up and drawing their eyes closed.
A shiver ran down my spine and he looked up at me.
"Dead." He said. "What have you done…" he sighed, shaking his head. "What Have You Done!" He shouted. He grabbed my coat in silence and pulled me to my feet, dragging me from the building before anything further happened.