Authors: Al K. Line
Dark Magic Enforcer Book 1
Al K. Line
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Copyright © 2016, Al K. Line. All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
I'm to blame, I don't deny it, but how was I supposed to know it would get so out of hand? There was an empty chair calling to me like a cushion amid an ocean of rusty and poisonous nails, so I sat down. I was exhausted, disorientated, probably deranged, and I didn't even remember my own name. Anyway, I won fair and square.
Of course I don't think the poor man deserved to die, and I know it was extreme and very, very stupid, but after the night I'd had it wasn't right to blame me. Not entirely, anyway.
I wasn't myself, at that point in time I wasn't anyone. I was a thing, a dark puppet on corrupted strings, being laughed at and played with, made a mockery of. A vessel sending a message to those from my world—stay away.
It was an accident, I swear. I didn't know what the hell was going on. I didn't even know how I ended up there as it was all a blur.
One minute I was walking, not thinking about anything, the next I came across these people in the park and sat down at a chair. This old guy, the dead one, looked at me, and I knew right away I'd won.
"Do you play?" asked the Grandmaster.
"Now and then," I replied. "At least I think I do."
He gave me a look that annoyed the hell out of me, but I knew I had to stay calm. Something inside told me that, even though my head was as black as his chess pieces, but I knew the game. Chess.
"Your move, white first."
I took my move and, well, I could see the game. I have a touch of the seer, but I usually stay well clear of that as it's a fast route to insanity. Something was off, a lot actually, and I knew the game I was playing like I'd just read it in a book.
Don't ask me how, but it's like the old man knew too, and he took a while to make his first move after mine.
Next came me again. I didn't have to think, I
The Grandmaster moved again. He was sweating, acting real nervous, and glanced around repeatedly to see who was watching. Everything had gone silent; the other players and observers knew something was up. One guy was holding his cell phone up, pointing it at us. I moved my piece without thinking, then after what felt like a lifetime he reluctantly made his move.
I placed my King down.
He looked at me like I was some kind of weirdo, then scowled at the board as if it was life and death, not just chess.
Reluctantly, he picked up his piece, stared at it like maybe there were answers to be found, but there was nothing there but loss. He knew. He did what he could but we both saw the inevitable.
Five moves for me and it was all over.
His teeth clenched, his eyes nearly exploded out of his head, and I could see it coming. But I was tired and confused, half lost to the darkness inside of me. He stood up, eyes unbelieving, shouting, calling me a cheat and a trickster. And then he flipped the board.
I flipped something right back at him.
I punched out, feeling my tight suit jacket chafe as my arm and fist moved on auto-pilot, not trying to hit the guy, but something else.
Then reality spat me back out. I doubled over, sick and feeling like I'd been caught in a stampede of a thousand trolls racing for a pile of free chalk. My vision went, my head kind of contracted, every part of me hurt and my limbs felt like lumps of burning iron. You think a hangover is bad? You've never felt anything like this.
Using strong magic is like drinking so much alcohol that your brain is dessicated, dried up and cracked open like a coconut, the fluid seeping out in sick black blobs full of poisonous venom that jumps back in through your eyes and trickles down your throat to burn your belly like a thousand hot chillies. But worse.
I ran. Staggered would better describe it, I guess.
The Grandmaster was dead. Everyone was going nuts, and I just ran, tried to hide. I was lost, alone, confused, taken by the sickness. And afraid. I had no idea who I was or what I'd done, how I'd done it or why I was so out of it.
Why was I so sick? What had happened? Was any of it real?
My clothes were dirty, my skin crawled like my veins were full of scalding wax, my palms itched so bad I wanted to rub them on razors just to ease the hurt, and I was numb inside, empty of my own self.
Somebody had done this to me.
I just had to find out who, and why.
They call me Black Spark, Dark Magic Enforcer, even though my name is Faz Pound, a.k.a. Spark to most that know me, or know of me. And if you meet me I'll shake your hand, smile nicely, and be on my way, but chances are you will never have that dubious honor.
I don't exactly allow Regulars to see me at all. I'm the everyman, the person you can never recall, the man you can neither describe nor remember. I walk the line between worlds and I live in both, but am only truly memorable in one, and it isn't yours.
I'm a shadow, a blur of a person. A dark mist in your consciousness and that's the way I like it.
Magic isn't all shiny lights and big pots of gold, it's dark and dangerous and you don't get a warm fuzzy glow when you use it.
You feel sick to your stomach, as though every demon in the netherworlds is trying to claw its way up into the world via your guts.
It burns, it hurts, it makes you want to puke, and there is no nice blue glow of magic that tickles your fingertips and dances in the air like fae off on vacation, sprinkling priceless dust as they go.
What you get when you use magic, when you draw it from the Empty, is a sinkhole of horror as insanity tries to take you, and if you're caught in the crossfire you'll probably want to rip out your insides and claw at your face and poke your eyes out with sticks. Blunt ones.
That's just if you happen to be close. If it's directed at you, well, you are seriously out of luck, my friend. I can use it, not that I particularly like to, but it's there, part of who I am. I'm adept, and it comes with the job. I'm good at my job. Usually.
Sorry for being so dramatic, but that's what stories are for, right? Going on a journey, learning new things, having fun at someone else's expense—in this case mine—and hopefully rooting for the good guy. Yeah, that's me too, honest it is. Sure, I have my faults, but I am the good guy.
Nobody messes with me and gets away with it though. Nobody.
So, here's what I found out once the sickness passed and I could think straight.
The World's a Lie
The world, this place we get to sink or swim in for a blink of a god's eye, is not what most people imagine. You think of it as making sense, of everything having a reason, and obeying these laws you've been taught in school or by your parents—all that stuff. I hate to be the one to tell you, but it's all nonsense.
Not quite a lie, but not the whole truth either.
It's worse than you can possibly imagine. A lot worse. There are demons, there are vampires, there are beautiful and terrifying fae with their ears that make me go weak at the knees. Trolls, goblins, gremlins—endless true Hidden—and all manner of humans with access to the Empty in varying degrees.
There are even unfortunate, but friendly in their own way, zombies, although call them that and some will eat your brains and insist they aren't actually dead. Who knows, maybe they aren't. I've never really wanted to find out.
Oh, there are wizards too, and that's me, a goddamn wizard! No, I don't have a pointy hat, and there's no wand or cat or any of that nonsense. And there are no flowing beards—at least not for me anyway—and I sure as hell don't wear robes.
Suits from the nineteen sixties are my preference. Originals that are tight fitting and black. I wear winklepickers, those pointy shoes that look cool as hell, and I always, always, wear a nice clean pair of underwear. I favor white socks and a red shirt, sometimes white if I know I'm not going to get into any bother for a while. So, usually red it is.
Home is the United Kingdom and that's where this story takes place. More specifically, Cardiff.
Magic's no picnic, to be honest. It hurts like hell to use it, even worse if it's directed at you, and it encompasses so many different facets I hardly know where to begin.
It's the dark underbelly of reality that remains hidden. Why? Because there are codes, there are rules, the Law, and if you break it, reveal any of our secrets, and I mean any, to Regulars, then you are in serious trouble. Best-case scenario? There isn't one. Worst-case scenario? You wouldn't believe me if I told you. That's why I freaked out after what I did to the Grandmaster.
My running was too much, so I slowed to a walk with my guts churning, my head ready to split in two, and a sinking feeling in my belly I'd just done the one thing I wasn't supposed to.
I still knew little more than my name, and that I wasn't feeling quite myself. Beyond that it was mostly a blur. A total blur, actually.
I had no clue what the hell was going on, where to go, or what I was doing.
That, my friend, is not the position you want to be in when you've just blasted someone with the dark arts and know you shouldn't be drawing attention to yourself.
Somehow, I was in a park. One of those nice green spaces that everyone goes to on a summer's day and has picnics, or walks their dog, smooches with their girlfriend or boyfriend and drinks booze, soaking up the rays and feeling great about life.
But this is the UK and it may be summer, but it's a British summer, meaning it was gray, overcast, and drizzling. The kind of rain that soaks you through even though it hardly seems to be raining.
Not me. I was sort of fizzing. I didn't even notice at first, but I was getting weird looks and some little kid pointed at me, then tugged at his mum's skirt and said, "Man all fizzy," and I felt a little self-conscious so looked at my arms. He was right, I was fizzing. And I wasn't wet.
Things were far from right, as under normal circumstances Regulars would never point me out. My life slowly returned to me, but the night before, and that morning, were a blank.
I was supposed to be the everyman, there but invisible, a tiny taste of background magic always present. Enough to make me and those in my world be just about invisible to the nice folks that know nothing of us, our lives, our ways. Not enough to make me sick, just a taster. As much a part of me and my kind as breathing—or not, in some cases. But it wasn't working. People were taking notice, they could see me. I didn't know much, but I knew that was bad.
Running again felt like a good idea, so I ran, like I was afraid of the little dude. Maybe I was, but I was scared of just about everything at that moment, including myself. I'd just killed someone because he was a sore loser, and that wasn't who I was, I knew that much.
Worse, I knew I'd done something orders of magnitude more damaging than kill a man. I'd unleashed something, and wouldn't just get a wrap on the knuckles for it. A disguise, I needed a disguise, and somewhere to lie low and come to my senses.