Authors: Marcus Abshire
The Alliance Series
You’d be surprised how quiet a centaur can be. Especially when they’re as big as this one was.
The six-foot broadsword that was being drawn from the scabbard on his back was not as scary as the curling ram horns coming from his head.
He was jet black with a long beard and massive muscles. The arrow launched from his crossbow was sticking out of the back of the Neon at precisely the spot my head was a second ago. Sensing something was wrong and seeing his reflection in the back window of the car I was loading allowed me to dive to the ground, dodging his first attack.
Centaurs are creatures of the Otherworld. They live in large herds, roaming the unending plains that occupy the areas of the Otherworld they inhabit. Their society is set up in a warrior caste structure. Centaurs are rewarded for being fierce fighters and have a strict system of laws that center on honor and physical prowess.
There were no words exchanged, no witty dialogue. This centaur was a professional; there was no need for him to tell me his intentions after looking into his eyes.
They were dead.
Not rotting dead, but dead of emotion, void of empathy or remorse, he meant to kill me. No recall today, just death.
In the time it took for the centaur to unclasp his enormous sword, I readied some of my own magic in the form of lightning.
I liked lightning, electricity always held a certain spot in my heart. It was the fires of creation so I have been told. Its effects are instant and seem to work well with creatures that have bodies. Most earth bound creatures have to have vessels to live in, these vessels have muscles and a nervous system, electricity seems to do a lot of damage to that system when you have 20,000 volts of it.
I raised my outstretched hand and unleashed the energy I had gathered. An amber bolt of lightning raced from the palm of my hand and went straight for the centaur’s chest.
The centaur just barely got the broadsword out and in front of him before the bolt hit. The broadsword must have been enchanted because most of my blast was absorbed by the sword and deflected harmlessly into the air. The amount of electricity that did get through staggered the beast and had him, I guessed it was a him, down on three legs.
The smell of burnt hair reached my nose while I began to get my feet under me. I was hurrying to get to the driver’s door when I heard the centaur bellow, shattering the rest of the Neon’s windows. It wasn't a whinny like I thought would be appropriate from a centaur, being half horse, but it sounded more like a mix between a lion and a mama grizzly, only much louder.
I managed to get the driver’s door opened and looked back to see the centaur had recovered and was barreling down on me with the full intent on skewering me with his blade.
I made a sound that was manlier than it came out and began to scramble past the steering wheel to the passenger side door when I heard a loud and deep bong. Like the sound you used to hear from the game show with the gong.
There was a flash of light and I realized that Nathan was standing outside at the front of the Neon with both hands pressed together in a palm to palm pushing motion. His forehead was already breaking out in sweat and a look of pure determination was on his face.
"I can’t hold him off much longer; it would be nice if we got the hell outta Dodge!" Nathan said between clenched teeth.
I looked back and saw the centaur attempting to push his way through an invisible wall. The centaur stood holding his sword with the tip pointed towards the invisible shield. Where it interacted with the containment field there was a blue glow at the point of contact.
I looked at Nathan and gave him the one, two, three with my fingers and he nodded, releasing the centaur. He scrambled towards the passenger side door. At the same time he let go of the charging centaur from his prison I used a bout of energy to rip up the pavement the centaur was on, angling it up and away from our car, making it about four feet wide. I created a ramp and the centaur used it along with his own momentum to launch himself about twenty-five feet in the air and over our car.
How he took the fall I can’t say since I used the distraction to get the trusty Neon up and moving. As I turned onto the main road that would take us to the interstate I heard a god-awful noise that sounded like a centaur crashing into a diner. It was music to my ears.
I got the car up to speed then quickly got on the highway leaving a raging centaur and a shocked morning breakfast crowd behind.
It wasn't even 8 am.
Have you ever wondered why the world is so screwed up? Why, no matter how much people complain or try to make a difference it seems to never get any better? Think about it. Why every politician always seems to be a letdown? Does there seem to be a conspiracy to make sure that the world stays in a constant state of chaos?
The answer is simple. Yes.
It may not be something people want to hear. Hell, given the proof right in front of their eyes the vast majority of people would deny that very evidence.
There is one word that best explains all the worlds’ woes.
I guess you could say it's not magic in and of itself that’s the problem. But if pressed for a simple one word answer to the reason the state of the world always seems to be beyond reason, the one word I would use is magic.
I would know. You see I have a better understanding of how magic and everything that answer entails affects the world and the powers that be. My name is John Adams. I’m a wizard. Not the kind that makes rabbits appear out of a hat, they are magicians. No, I’m a wizard, a card carrying wizard. In the world of wizardry and magic I’m in the most deadly classification. I have my certification from the U.S. Paranormal Special Forces division and everything.
I’m rated as a Merlin class wizard with a specialty in manipulating destructive energy. My particular niche allows me to harness the powers of the universe to make spectacularly devastating things happen. I am part of a two-man team that gets called on from time to time to take out particularly special beings. I don’t like to think of us as contract killers, or even mercenaries for hire. No, I like to think of us more as exterminators.
No one accuses exterminators of being heartless murderers. Exterminators are hired to kill or remove something that is causing problems. That’s pretty much what we do. There aren’t many wizards who can do what we can.
My partner, Nathan Blackcrow, is an engineer wizard able to manipulate energy for much more applicable uses like creating noise and light dampening fields, or hardening air to shield me from the club of an ogre.
Periodically, Nathan and I are brought into government run operations, who else has resources like the U.S., to add our particular expertise to a mission. I usually work well with others, but I’m not a company man, I generally don’t like to take orders, but I know when to do what I’m told. The powers that be don’t really like my specific style of operating, but they put up with me because I am only one of a few dozen merlin class wizards in the world.
Like I said before the world is in chaos for a reason. Beings with immense power thrive off of pain and anguish.
In Kosovo, a few years ago, an Ordog began using his power to start a war. Ordogs are demons who dwell under the earth. They specialize in corrupting men’s souls. They enter a region that is already suffering from political and cultural tensions. They tempt and push both sides of the conflict into committing atrocities. Ordogs love teasing them both with lies about each other, bringing the tensions greater and greater until it spills over into violence. The Ordog likes nothing more than the flesh of men who were killed in hate. It sweetens the meat.
Thankfully, they don't need to eat but once every few hundred years, but when they do they eat a lot. Nathan and I were sent in to kill the Ordog. I'm good at what I do.
Other powerful creatures like to immerse themselves in geopolitical matters. They operate under the radar and work within governments or among the peoples religious communities to ensure that real lasting peace never happens. They like to think big scale, long-term manipulation of regions and politics to keep their power intact.
They aren't really interested in freedom for all mankind.
They are very good at hiding what they truly are. They have lived amongst us for eons and are very well versed in how to keep themselves hidden. Usually, they use humans to carry out their plans, unknowing servitors willing to carry out the will of these powerful players. Most of them never know the leader they are following is a monster or magical being in disguise. Other times they rely on the help of supernatural creatures.
They call on them from the Otherworld, a dimension of spirit, a place that is all around us and yet is undetectable.
It is unfathomable, the size of the Otherworld. Everything we have ever imagined or been afraid of lives there. The laws of physics and reality don't apply in the Otherworld.
When beings come to our world they have to conform, in part, to the laws that govern us. Namely they have to take on a form, a vessel. When they die or are knocked unconscious they drift back into the Otherworld.
Keeping a form takes effort. The more powerful the entity, the less effort is needed to keep their form and the harder it is to send them back.
Usually weaker beings from the Otherworld can't voluntarily cross over. They can be summoned, or sent to our world by only the most powerful.
There are a few natural weak spots in the world where the Otherworld’s barrier is porous, that are synonymous with strange occurrences. The Bermuda Triangle and Roswell, New Mexico are areas that are known for having odd things happen. The Otherworld is a mystery to man. Very few have ever traveled there and returned alive, even less have managed to hold on to their sanity.
There are some wizards who have the ability to call forth creatures from the Otherworld. We have one working in the Recall or Remove division. They are usually used to call forth something that has information that is not readily available. The practice is tricky and the creatures are not very cooperative so the Intel is handled with a grain of salt. Other times they can call forth demons and point them at a target. This is rarely used since demons are not known to be team players and have a tendency to have to be sent back by force themselves after they do what they were summoned to do.
I used to think that the U.S. was one of the good guys, that we used our resources and power to keep the things that go bump in the night from harming innocents. I always believed that what I did was in the name of freedom and that I was on the right side.
I was mostly correct.
That could be the reason I now find myself along with my partner in an old beat up motel praying that the scratching noise I hear coming from the bathroom is a large rat gnawing at the molded sheetrock and not a demon summoned by some bureaucrat to clean up two rogue assets.
We had to leave San Francisco in a hurry. We spent a day in Sacramento waiting on my blacksmith. I had contracted him to find me the last crystal I needed for my bandolier. He’s a dwarf, so when he called me out of the blue and said he would be in the "shop" sometime that day, I really had no choice. This particular dwarf only comes to the surface one day out of the year to bring whatever he had made or found for his clients. After I got my crystal from him we holed up in a motel. I’ve spent the last ten years gathering the crystals I needed. They were hard to get and the dwarf I got them from lived under the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Dwarves weren't particularly hostile to men. They liked to keep to themselves and loved spending years underground mining the rocks. He required payment up front so last year I had two hundred boxes of Twinkies shipped to the address he had given, a small warehouse in Sacramento where the dwarf would meet his clients. He had a sweet tooth. I guess it's hard to get Twinkies under hundreds of tons of mountain.