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Authors: Chanel Austen

Mage of Shadows

BOOK: Mage of Shadows
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Praise for 
Mage of Shadows

"This is one of those rare novels that is enthusiastically passed from friend to friend."

—Lawanda M. Bennett

"The perfect book."

—Henry J. Baily

"The story was amazing, keeping you turning the pages, not wanting to stop reading and not wanting the story to end because it's so good!"

—Brian T. Gonzalez

"Another sure-fire blockbuster."

—Johnny K. Laux

"It's very well written with a great story and believable characters."

—Michael E. Simmons

"This story takes off and is fast paced through all the twists and turns right to the end."

—Judy L. Stokes

"You might end up loving a character you first hated and that's what so good about this book, you really don't know where it's going."

—Charles I. Jarvis

"The story is very well written and told through the perspectives of many different characters."

—Lucille J. Nunez

Mage of Shadows

by

Chanel Austen

To those who find themselves well and truly alone.

© Copyright 2014 by Chanel Austen - All rights reserved.

Acknowledgments

Writers spend a lot of time alone, at least physically. I wouldn't be able to do what I do without the support and encouragement from my husband. He gives me solitude when I need it, and yet reminds me that there is more to life than my computer and the characters I play with on virtual paper.

This book wouldn't be possible without the help and reassurance from my family, friends and fans.

Contents
Chapter 1: We Are Made Alone

No person's story really has an ending or a beginning. You can argue that someone's birth is where their own story begins and death is where it ends. I never agreed with that, because events are set into motion that dictate a person's life before they were even born. Something as small and innocuous as your parents deciding on a name for you. Based on what they chose, your life was shifted in such miniscule and subtle ways that you probably never realized exactly what would have changed.

Where did my story begin? Where should I start, exactly?

I could start the moment I discovered I was different. I mean really different, not that whole teenage years BS where we think we're so special and absolutely no one understands us… I went through that too, but that's not the point. I could start with when I discovered my magical ability, but I won't do that. That part of my life was innocent, almost wondrous, and ripe with discovery and even friendships.

In the last two years of high school when it started, it was like playing a game. Exploring our abilities, stupid pranks, swearing to always be loyal to each other forever, because what we shared was deeper than mere friendship… or at least it should have been.

Those promises meant more to some of us than others.

I won't start there. Not only was the end painful, but with the innocence of our adolescence came ignorance. We truly had no understanding of the world outside of our little bubble of happiness. No idea of the looming shadow that was inevitably cast by the shining brilliance of our abilities. That shadow, as deep, as beautiful, and as tempting. We hadn't recognized its existence but it was there.

In the shadows is where the real answers lie, and it is my descent into the hidden secrets of magi that I will detail here. Those secrets were held stubbornly by the covens that protected them for their own selfish desires and fears.

Where did I truly descend into that tempting darkness? When did I begin to perceive the depths of it?

College, that's where I'll begin.

111

It's hard to look at your past self from an outsider's perspective from where you are currently. When I began college, I guess I may have been a bit self-destructive. I can't really fathom any other reason I was skulking around Detroit past midnight, looking for a fight. To be fair, I was fairly stupid back in those days, and ten times as ignorant.

They had me cornered in a dark alleyway; shadows extended towards me, lengthened by the streetlights just outside, thinking that here they would be safe from prying eyes. The alley itself was dank and dirty. It was a testament to the rot that had infected the city that had once stood so proudly.

Sadly, it wasn't the politicians who staved off total collapse, but the criminals. Crime bosses were constantly locked in power struggles against each other, and had set up legitimate fronts in the city to gain revenue. They were used as fronts to launder money that was made through less than legal means. However, these legitimate practices gave people opportunities to work, especially if they were willing to look the other way at the right times.

I wondered how I looked to them, hooded and alone, shorter than either. I must have seemed like easy prey, even if they couldn't see my face.

"Stupid to be out so late at night, kid." The voice of my larger assailant in front of me growled.

A knife glinted in a visibly scarred hand, raised in a practiced gesture of intimidation. I looked him in the eye and found no sympathy there; this was a man who had turned to stealing and perhaps worse to get by. But he definitely got by, he was far from some of the emaciated bums I had seen in the city. He held his knife with the skill of someone who knew how to use it.

It wouldn't matter. I may have been a novice wizard at the time, but even at that skill level I was beyond being afraid by knives wielded by some two bit thug. Two-Bit, in fact, is what I affectionately called this character, who indirectly would cause me so much pain in the future. The things we know would be so useful if they weren't learned after the fact. Such was life.

My second victim, darker skinned, let out a cackle that was far too loud and made both me and his friend Two-Bit tense almost simultaneously. It rang out through the night, even louder than the steady passing of vehicles and distant cries of car horns. This one was thinner and had no visible weapon. His eyes were hungrier, but held a tinge of fear. I had to wonder if the ratty looking man with his oversized nose was new at this.

In my mind, I already jokingly deemed him One-Bit, and unimportant. The humor of it kept my nerves at bay. Even though I wouldn't admit it, as untrained in combat as I was back then, I had been a little edgy despite the lack of danger I was in.

"Shut up!" Two-Bit hissed, "Do you want every patrolling cop in the city to hear us?"

One-Bit began to stammer an apology but the more experienced man was already turning back into my face as he stepped closer, almost in range to strike. I tensed in response. Despite the reminder to myself that I could take these men apart easily, I felt a singular drop of sweat trickle down my back to remind me that I was nervous.

"Give us all you got on you and you'll be free to go. If you don't, I'm gonna get angry. Do you hear me?" Two-Bit threatened, gesturing with his knife.

No dumbass, I didn't hear you from four feet away, I though sarcastically to myself, though I said nothing. This idiot thought he could take what he wanted from me. He thought he was actually better than me. I found it sad, to be honest, he had no idea.

Little did he know that I had picked this fight. I had chosen the battle ground, whether for the practice, or just to vent frustrations over other events that I couldn't control. I had decided to walk into this dead-end alley and let him think he had the advantage over me. No such advantage existed; he was just too far out of his depth to realize it.

"Do you hear me?" I heard him repeat, this time louder and angrier. I ignored him and began to work my magic, gathering up a power that few knew existed and less truly understood.

At this point in time, I would have to include myself in the category of unfamiliarity, stupid kid that I was.

"He asked you a question!" One-Bit started forward past his friend and moved to grab me by the shoulder. No doubt he was trying to reassert his manhood in the situation, despite being even further out of his depth than his more experienced friend.

It was the last move he would make that night.

I glowed ever so slightly, barely noticeable even if you were looking.

As he entered my personal space I stepped to the side- only one step, and pivoted. My hand flashed forward to collide with the smaller thug's chest and with unnatural force I sent him into one of the alley walls. Something cracked when he collided with the unforgiving bricks, and I doubted it was any of the blocks. He let out a pained cry of surprise and then laid still.

Two-Bit stared at the body, knife arm limp in genuine surprise. I couldn't blame him; it wasn't every day that an eighteen year old kid laid out a certified gangster, even if he was obviously a newbie. I didn't give him a chance to recover from the shock. I lifted my offending hand outwards towards the big man and then pulled it to my body with a moment of focus, while my other hand unclenching around the lighter I had been clutching tightly in a sweaty palm.

This time, it was a visible glow, bright and real, that encompassed me.

By an unseen force that he couldn't see nor comprehend, one that I could feel to be as real as silently buzzing gnats prickling against my skin whenever I reached for it, he was sent stumbling forward towards me against his own will. It was as if I had stood behind him and pushed him myself. I heard his knife clatter to the ground as he dropped it in surprise. Even as he fell forwards towards me, I could see his head turning back to look for a second attacker. There of course was no other attacker, but I understood that logic.

Perhaps this is a moment to pause in my writing of my recollections to explain exactly what was happening here so no one is too confused reading onwards.

Magic is not fully explained by the laws of physics, at least as we know them, but it seems fit very much into the confines of the most fundamental basic truths of the universe. The most basic and frustrating of these laws is that a person cannot make something from nothing, even with the ability to use magic.

When I had pushed Two-Bit from behind with my mind, it wasn't for free. However, the amount paid was miniscule in terms of energy depletion. It was similar to as if I had stood behind him and pushed him myself, but it cost me even less than if I had. It depleted my energy reserves, maybe made my heart pump a little faster in response. Since accessing magic is about ninety percent mental, it also takes a noticeable toll on the brain. Trying to force too much influence on the world around oneself through magic can lead to some serious mental migraines. Do enough and it can kill you.

Even the term 'magic' is a misnomer. For however long the power to manipulate the world without physical contact existed, it was truly impossible to explain exactly how it worked… hence the working term 'magic.' Even now what is known can only be considered speculation and theory.

The best I can summarize it is this; imagine a three-hundred and sixty degree sphere around you. Within this sphere, you can touch and manipulate an invisible dynamic metaphysical field of particles that only exist in our dimension through contact with other particles, guided by an operating system that is also not very well understood even with modern science, our brains. But now I'm mixing metaphors, and again, this is all pure guesswork that has been cobbled together by people who are just as capable of being wrong as you or I.

So, in summary of the summary, no one knows for sure. Go figure, people are stupid.

Magic itself can't even really be seen unless the mage wills it into existence in a physical form. It's actually easier to gather magic this way, because a conscious mind can better understand and use it. However, it's not impossible to gather it while leaving it invisible to the mortal world, which is a lot safer when working it around Normals.

It is impossible though to work magic within the sphere of another mage and expect him not to feel it.

That being said, one thing that is definitely understood is that as a person becomes more and more adept at manipulating this magical field, their 'sphere' increases accordingly. When I had first discovered my ability, I could maybe work within a few feet in any direction of my brain, which is the center focus of the sphere.

BOOK: Mage of Shadows
8.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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