Stanley – 33


Season 2

Part 33

Rated M for mature content.

Previous Chapter

“Uh oh…”, she said.

Michel looked up at her, his eyebrows frowned. he appeared not to have noticed anything.

“Trouble…”, she simply added, discreetly pointing to the three men.

As hard as she may have been thinking he would, the bearded man did not turn his head immediately, instead he stared at the window, looking at the reflection of the restaurant to see what she meant. Wow, he’s not as thick as I imagined, she thought. Well, not up there at least, she added with a smirk which, unfortunately, quickly disappeared as she remembered what was going on. The three strangers had entered the restaurant like cowboys entering a saloon, completely confident and proud of themselves, and they had reasons to be so! They were tall, buffed and all seemed extremely intimidating with their black suits, their black glasses and their neatly combed short hair. A normal person would have done everything they could to avoid even having eye contact with them, one could feel the strength of their gaze even through the tinted glass. They took a look around, slowly scanning the perimeter, as if they were looking for something. Or someone.

Stephanie had almost hoped that they weren’t there for Michel and her. Perhaps they are just coming here for a simple meal, she thought as she took a sip of her soda, still discreetly looking at them. Unfortunately she was wrong, they were there for the two of them, for as soon as they took a look at the whole room, making sure the way was clear, they approached their table without even a hint of hesitation. Damn it…, cursed the young woman. How did they know we were here so fast? How did they even know it was us? We made sure to cover our faces when we escaped and the cops following us weren’t able to see us clearly, I’m sure of it. Plus we were careful not to leave any DNA on the scene. So how?! She couldn’t explain this. Somehow the government -because these guys were clearly not cops or private goons, they belonged to the government, probably a well hidden branch too- had already heard of them and was tracking them.

“Do you think we should try to run?”, Michel asked quietly.

Stephanie shook her head.

“No,” she replied as discreetly, “we still aren’t sure they are here for us, plus I’m sure they’re armed. Let’s wait a bit more. But be ready to act when I give you the signal…”

“Le signal? Quel signal?”, Michel asked, confused.

The young woman did not reply, moving slightly to get in a more comfortable sitting position as the government agents closed in on them. She was racking her brain to try to find an explanation to their presence so soon and a plan to get out of there if things went awry. Was it possible they were from… No, she thought, impossible. Or is it? She couldn’t say. She had heard things, rumors, about a special branch of the government, a very very very VERY secret agency that took care of… special cases. Cases involving events that weren’t really explainable with normal logic, mysterious disappearances, etc. But these were all heresays, and bad hearsays at that, nothing more. She had no assurance that it was linked to them. They couldn’t… they couldn’t have known about her, could they? No, it had been so long… She had the urge to get up and run away immediately, she didn’t want to see if what she had heard was true, but she couldn’t. If she did they’d surely catch her. She had to wait and take them by surprise if she wanted to make it out… But how?, she thought as the three men stopped besides her and Michel’s table. She didn’t know yet, she’d have to improvise… In the meantime she turned her head towards them and smiled.

“Hello! Is something wrong?”, she asked as innocently as possible.

To be continued…


Stanley – 32


Season 2

Part 32

Rated M for mature content.

Previous Chapter

She had the impression they had been running for hours as they finally slowed down to a normal walking pace. They entered the fast food, trying to act as normal as possible despite their heavy breathing and the fact that both of them were drenched in sweat. They sat down at a table after ordering something to eat; Michel had insisted he “fill his belly with the sweet delight of fast cuisine” and she hadn’t had the heart to say no, her stomach rumbling at the smell of those delicious fries. Her partner started devouring his meal immediately and she followed in turn, both famished after having to run away from that horde of cops.

They had been halfway through the second rooftop when they had heard the shouts of police officers telling them to stop coming from the stairway behind them. How they had managed to get up there so fast was something Stephanie couldn’t explain but they had managed it. Of course neither of them had hesitated even a single second before starting to run faster, she couldn’t get caught, especially not after what she had done. She didn’t manage to stop herself from cringing at the thought, it had all been for naught… Plus she didn’t have a very fond memory of prison cells. Apparently Michel wasn’t too keen on letting himself get caught either because he lead the way without slowing down.

Where the shouts of the police officers had not even fazed her a bit, the first gunshots had almost made her freeze on the spot, almost. It had been surprising, she had never heard a gunshot from such little distance and the whizzing of the bullets as they rushed past both of them was quite surprising too but, since Michel didn’t skip a beat in his run, she didn’t stop and kept running. They had cut it close, very close even, she had to admit that. Even with all her good will and the energy she put into moving her legs one in front of the other at the highest speed possible she couldn’t help but being a little scare, or, more precisely, a bit apprehensive. Being on a rooftop wasn’t that dangerous in itself if one knew how to keep one’s balance and not to do anything stupid. The problem is that they were doing all the stupid possible at that moment: running at full speed, not caring where they stepped, running away from cops and being shot at. Not the most clever thing she had done in her life…

She had barely felt anything as the bullet had grazed her on the right side of her chest, making a hole in her jacket, it had been the feeling of wetness and the dizziness that had come after that had alerted her that something was wrong. She hadn’t said anything though, not before they had managed to get back down to the street. Then, and only then, as the cries of the police officers on the rooftops could still be heard, she had told Michel.

“Let’s get to the car first , we’ll see that then,” she had replied as he had advised to check her wound.

They had driven off as quickly as possible, somehow evading all the police cars on the way and had finally ended up in the commercial zone. Michel had parked the car near a mall and had bought a few supplies to treat her wound while she was evaluating the damage. In the end it hadn’t been to serious, a gash on her side and nothing more. Still hurting but with a clean wound and a reassured mind, they had walked in the nearest fast food to grab a quick bite. And here they were, unsure of what to do next, if they had been tracked by the police or if they were now fugitives. After all, the cops hadn’t been close enough to get a look at their faces so they most likely were safe, but one never knew. Stephanie was starting to relax, thinking back to the apartment and the clues they had found as she ate her chicken burger, when she saw the three men in black suits walk in the room.

To be continued…

EoP – Part 116

Echoes of Power

Part 116

“You are late,” was the first thing the teenager heard as he approached the man he had met just a few days before.

“Yeah, I know, I’m sorry I-“, he began his reply but was interrupted.

“I told you not to be late,” he heard Damian say, cutting him in the middle of his sentence and

Alexandre looked at the older man, frowning as his surprise slowly passed. He almost grunted. Almost. The only reason he managed to refrain himself from doing so was that he had a feeling that in doing so he would earn himself another snarky remark. He was realizing too late he had been right in his negative premonition a few minutes earlier, almost regretting his decision to have come. Damian’s face was an unreadable mask as he sat on the ground, his blue scarf around his neck and his legs crossed. His hands were on his thighs and he was visibly doing something akin to meditation. The man hadn’t even opened his eyes or moved to greet the teenager even though Alexandre was sure he had heard him approach and recognized him. The light-haired teen was beginning to regret his decision to accept someone like that as his teacher, whatever the odds of him being killed by dangerous creatures in the future…

“Do you regret your decision?”, suddenly asked Damian, still in the same position, as if he had read the teenager’s thoughts.

“Uh…”, Alexandre began, his surprise making him hesitate, “no, no! I don’t regret it, I just…”, he paused again, unsure of what to say.

Damian remained silent, as if he was waiting for his student, inviting him to explain himself. Alexandre’s hesitation didn’t last long though. He had been prepared to anything when he had accepted Damian as his teacher, well, not anything, as he didn’t even know what would happen next, but he knew it wasn’t going to be something ‘normal’… Plus, despite the thoughts that had crossed his mind, he wasn’t ready to die yet and if that weird dude, sitting on the grass in front of him, could help with that he wasn’t going to say no. Plus he wanted answers, he needed answers. Whatever I have to do, he thought as he opened his mouth again, no matter if this is a bad decision.

“I just have so many questions that I don’t know where to begin,” he replied as he walked the few paces that separated him from the strange man who had agreed to tell him about what was going on.

“Alright then!”, Damian exclaimed as he finally opened his eyes, looking at the teenager with his unsettling blue eyes.

“I will answer your questions, that I have promised, but before we begin anything I must ask you, are you willing to let me teach you about the art of Empirium?”, he then said, still looking straight at Alexandre, before adding, “You know why I am asking that, don’t you? This is not going to be easy in the least, learning to read and use the flow of mana will come with a price, do you accept that?”

“Yes.”, replied Alexandre with a nod, not even letting himself a moment to think about it.

He wanted to know and he saw no other way, at least none in which he could keep it all to himself… Damian looked at him silently for a moment, as if he was evaluating the teenager’s resolve, before nodding and standing up.

“Very well. From now on you are my student, I am your master and that is how we will refer to each other. You will do as I say, no question, no complaint, just follow my orders. I will answer your questions, if you have any, when the time comes, that is when I decide so. I will do it then and only then. In the meantime you will know only what you need to know. Is that understood?”

“Yes!”, replied Alexandre, looking straight back.

The teenager saw Damian frown slightly, the man took a few steps towards him, their gaze never breaking off.

“‘Yes master.’, that is how you will reply to me from now on, only in that manner. Once more, is that understood?”

Alexandre almost froze again, the intensity of the gaze was barely sustainable as it became clear he hadn’t been wrong about Damian. This was not going to be easy.

“Yes master.”, he repeated, straightening slightly at the words.

Damian nodded, seemingly satisfied, before sitting back down.

“Now sit, there are things you need to know before we begin…”

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EoP – Part 115

Echoes of Power

Part 115

Alexandre woke up to the sound of his alarm. 7’15. Still got time to sleep a little more… He groaned as he shifted around in his bed, letting his mind drift back to the wonderful feeling of sleepiness. When he opened his eyes and looked at the clock again he cursed.

“7’40! Damn it!”, he exclaimed as he realized he had dozed off for to long.

The teenager had originally planned to stay in bed for another 5 minutes, leaving twenty minutes to get up, get dressed, eat a quick breakfast and leave, but now if he didn’t leave immediately he would be late. And, despite his excitement at the idea of getting his questions answered, he had a feeling he would regret it if he was late. He threw on a T-shirt, a pair of jeans and a grey hoodie before rushing out of his room, barely managing to reach the lower floor without falling, phone in hand and a glass of orange juice in the other. He placed it in the sink once it was empty before jumping in his shoes and rushing out, starting to run as fast as he could towards the rendezvous point after making sure the front door was locked.

It was Sunday but his father wasn’t there, he had told him he would be gone until late in the evening, some kind of exceptional management meeting from the main branch of the company he had to attend… Alexandre had welcomed the news with enthusiasm because that meant he had the house to himself but now it seemed an even better thing because it wouldn’t interfere with him having to go meet a middle-aged man who claimed he could do magic on his own, not that he was scared but he knew he would have had to lie to his father, had he not been away. The air was fresh, almost cold, and he could see the thin clouds of steam that rose over the gardens as he passed by. The sun was up but it wasn’t high enough yet to sufficiently warm the air. Alexandre was glad to have taken a sweatshirt with him.

He looked at his phone as he reached the bottom of the hill, near the hiking path that lead to the top. 7’58. Damn! New record! He had made the journey in less than 12 minutes! But he still had to climb the whole damn thing before reaching his goal, Damian had arranged the meeting at the top. To make things easy of course, he groaned inwardly. He groaned before resuming his race against time, already sweating and short of breath but determined not to be late. Well, not too late at least… After all, it wasn’t a few minutes more that would kill him. Right? Suddenly he felt a cold shiver run along his spine and increased his pace. Perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea after all. He definitely didn’t have a good feeling about this…

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EoP – Part 111

Echoes of Power

Part 111

Why? The question echoed in his mind for a moment. He looked at her as she slowly sipped the content of her glass. Why? Alexandre had been asking the question to himself for a moment now. Why did he like her? She was cute, yes. He found her light medium-length hair very suiting. It was not completely blond, there were a few streaks of darker shades here and there, but it was her natural colour and he like it. The few freckles speckled here and there on her cheeks accentuated the cuteness and her eyes, despite their cold blue-grey colour, were bright. Her nose wasn’t very thin nor very small, it wasn’t too big either, somehow just the right size. He also found the way her eyebrows moved when she expressed herself or concentrated on something very likable. She was as tall as him, perhaps even a little taller, which didn’t bother him in the least. He quite liked it. Her frame was slender but not thin, almost on the chubby side, or the athletic one, he couldn’t really tell since he hadn’t seen her with less clothing than her daily attire.

Yes, she was beautiful. He found Chloe beautiful. But it wasn’t only her appearance that he liked, he loved the little quirks he had managed to spot during the time they had spent together : her fingers putting her hair behind her ear from time to tim, the captivating movement of her eyebrows,  the way she turned her whole body around from time to time when she wanted to look at something or to change direction. He liked her voice, how it could be calm and excited, suave and playful all at the same time, it resounded gently in his head. He also loved how she knew so much about things and yet played the curious girl to make him talk, it had taken him a while to notice that the first time, but after a few minutes of explaining things about the old architecture of the buildings in the city he had somehow caught a glimpse of something that assured him she already knew all that.

She was playful and fun to be around. She liked what he liked, he liked what she liked. Not everything of course but quite a bit more than what he had expected at first. She played video games, listened to all sorts of music but mostly jazz -which he had found quite fun to discover for some reason-, she liked sports and apparently played in a handball team at a high level, like writing, painting, singing but also watching action movies and going out with friends or alone. Her favourite colour was yellow because of butter. She was good at math but hated physics for some reason.

“Math is great because it’s so surreal but physics feels so down-to-earth and grounded, I hate that…” she had told him.

She was in her first year of a math oriented licence, somehow studying economics, statistics, applied and non-applied math but had also pursued learning Latin and Greek while also participating in a theatre club and continuing to play sports. He found that amazing considering he had trouble just keeping up with his studies, playing video games and the few outings he had with Bryan. He liked the way she dressed, casual but classy, just formal enough to always attract his gaze. No. Saying he didn’t like her would be the greatest lie of his life. He liked her. Maybe more, almost certainly more, -also, that was almost surely mutual, even if it had not been explicited yet-, no, what puzzled him was the reason to this. Why he liked her. Because she is who she is, I like her for who she is, for her. That was the best answer he could come up with: he like Chloe because of what she was and all that was to be liked about her. Am I over-thinking this? Yes obviously… He thought, before mentally scolding himself when he realized he hadn’t heard what she had just said.

Previous – Chapters – Next

EoP – Part 110

Echoes of Power

Part 110

Apparently the last-minute planning had borne fruit, and tasty ones at that. Alexandre thanked the seven, new and old for having a best friend as awesome as he had. Bryan hadn’t helped him this time but thanks to the tips he had given him the previous time Alexandre had managed to organize something quite interesting and enjoyable despite being planned far too late for his liking. He had decided to take Chloe to visit the local aquarium, which he had somehow heard she had never been to, much to the blond girl’s pleasure. The genuinely happy smile plastered on her face all along the visit was the confirmation that he had chosen right.

“Wow! That was really cool!”, Chloe exclaimed as they walked back to the entrance of the park, “Thanks for bringing me here!”

“Well it is one of the sights to see here in Echo Valley…”, replied Alexandre in a faux sophisticated accent.

“I can’t believe I never came here before…”, the blonde girl sighed, looking around one last time as they passed through the main gate.

“Yeah, that surprised me too… But it’s what makes my idea for this afternoon so good!”, Alexandre said with a smirk.

“Oh, yeah, your idea…”, she retorted with a wink.

It took Alexandre a few seconds to catch up on what she meant, moment during which she walked a few meters away from him. Oh… She’s good! He couldn’t help a small smirk.

“Are you lagging behind?”, he heard her exclaim with a mocking giggle.

“Coming!”, Alexandre exclaimed as he caught up.

Yup, he was liking this girl. Perhaps more than he should, considering their relationship, if they had one at all, was more akin to very close friendship than to something else right now. But who cared? She was quite cute and fun to be around, Alexandre didn’t care if he was friendzoned. Well, no, that wasn’t entirely accurate. He would in fact care, a lot. But he liked her enough to be ready to take the risk. Plus their still seemed to be hope. After all, wasn’t it her who had come to him first and didn’t she look like she was enjoying her time with him?

He had to stop over analyzing everything. This day was going great, the thought of his ability and Damian hadn’t crossed his mind since the previous day and they had still a few hours together to go. Yes, he had to enjoy this as much as he could. Damn! he couldn’t help but think as she turned to look at him once again, her grey orbs looking at him intently and her smooth lips curved into a smile he couldn’t help but think of as sexy.

“So, what have you got planned for us next mister gentleman?”, she asked as she took his arm, still smiling.

“What about a movie, my dear?” Alexandre replied with a question of his own, using his faux sophisticated accent.

“Hmm… why not.”, the blonde nodded.

Previous – Chapters – Next

EoP – Part 109

Echoes of Power

Part 109

The next few days seemed strange to Alexandre. It was like his world, or his view of it, had changed. Everything kept moving on as it normally, it all seemed to be the same, but something was different. He had felt the exact same thing when he had first discovered his ability, suddenly it was like a new facet of the world around had just made itself known to him, like he had been included into a bigger picture which was hidden until recently.

The whole week had passed before he had been contacted by Damian. Alexandre had found it surprisingly difficult to restrain himself from using his ability. Well, empirium actually, now that he knew what it was called. The temptation had been great. Somehow even greater because he hadn’t, and didn’t want to, tell anyone else about this. Especially not Bryan. His best friend had to remain ignorant of all this, he’d never understand why someone would want to pursue something so dangerous. Plus he didn’t trust Damian enough to put his friends in the loop, if that guy was as dangerous as he seemed it was better to keep them away from it.

Alexandre couldn’t help himself though, this was something he wouldn’t stop thinking about, he couldn’t get his mind off of what it meant. The images also kept replaying in his head each night. He could see the bright eyes of the monsters, their bloody teeth and the dark hand piercing his chest. It woke him up each morning with a start. Somehow he didn’t feel traumatized despite these common occurrences but he knew he had to be careful when thinking about this, a sane mind didn’t need much to be pushed over the edge. Each time he did wake up like this, shivers coursing through his body and cold sweat running down his temples, he only had to look at the three scars on his side to remember it was all real and that he wasn’t going nuts.

Strangely the wound to his chest had not left even a scratch after Damian’s treatment, which puzzled Alexandre but he chose to think it was because of what the older man had done. He didn’t know if he was thankful for it or not though. Yes it helped hiding whatever was going on from the others -he already had trouble keeping anyone from seeing the scars on his side, which was quite a feat especially during sport classes, so he didn’t need one more to be careful about- but, on the other hand, it made a proof of his sanity disappear… If anyone could consider wanting to remember surviving to three monsters trying to eat their heart out and almost killing them being sane.

His mind was so focused on his encounter with Damian and what had resulted from that he didn’t see the week go and only realized by the next Friday evening that his second date with Chloe was the next day. This event was the only one that took his mind off the rest and that made him focus on planning what they would do.

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EoP – Part 108

Echoes of Power

Part 108

He threw his bag in a corner and fell heavily on his bed. Alexandre felt like his body whole body had been beaten bloody, he had barely managed to get up to his room and now that he was lying down he couldn’t even muster the strength to get back up and undress. Well, in a sense he had been beaten to a pulp. He hd almost died too.

“Again…” he added out loud with a groan.

He had trouble understanding how he could remain so calm about all this. A group of weird creatures that looked like demon come straight from hell had tried to torture him before killing him and devouring his heart, luckily he had been saved by a strange man who could apparently do magic -or, as he had been told, empirium- and crazy powerful one at that. All this while he himself could apparently use said empirium, without even knowing why, and heard a voice in his head that said things he couldn’t even understand. And all that had happened in the span of just a few weeks; if it wasn’t him that was becoming crazy then the world was seriously fucked up…

He had been relieved when, a few minutes earlier, he had walked in the house half expecting his father to already be there, worrying about where he could be. Fortunately the house was still empty, David Parson was still at work and wouldn’t come back until much later that evening. Alexandre had no desire to explain what had happened to him nor any way of doing so convincingly. He had already much difficulty believing what he was living himself. His aching body and his shirt, which had been ripped apart and stained with blood, were the proof that at least, if not what he believed, something had happened to him.

After discussing with him about what had just happened, his savior had deemed that it was more reasonable for them to leave it at that for the moment. Damian had however decided to accompany the teenager to his house, “to be safe” he had said. The trip had been made in silence, the older man refusing to answer any other question the teenager had before he had time to rest.

“It’s useless for me to tell you now something that you might forget tomorrow. No, you either wait until you’re fully rested or I simply disappear and you won’t see me ever again.”

Alexandre had accepted this without protest, nodding vaguely at Damian, he was too exhausted to say anything anyway. He had barely noticed they had arrived until the older man dropped him without any gentleness on the front of the porch.

“The pain will fade away quickly but for that you have to rest,” he had said as the teenager groaned from the pain. “Don’t try using your empirium anymore. As you probably understand now, it’s extremely dangerous when you don’t know how to hide or control it.”

Alexandre had nodded but the man had grabbed his face, squashing his cheeks between his strong fingers and forcing the teen to look into the depth of his eyes.

“I want you to say it. I haven’t agreed to teach you anything yet but if you want me to consider it favorably you will listen to me. Is that clear?” Damian asked in a steel cold tone.

Alexandre nodded again reflexively before telling the man before him he understood. A shiver ran down his spine as he felt the same danger as earlier. That man was dangerous and he wasn’t about to mess with him.

“All good then!” Damian exclaimed as he broke into a light smile, the storm in his eyes had seemed to pass. “I’ll let you know soon enough when we begin. Until then, no empirium.”, he added, his tone friendly but his eyes still as cold as ever.

He had then left after getting the response he wanted from the teenager without another word. Alexandre had struggled to get back up before going inside and heading for his room almost immediately. Once he was lying down on the bed, still fully clothed, it took him less than a minute to fall asleep. Despite the pain and the feeling of danger he couldn’t shake away, the pull of the deep, dark and calm slumber was irresistible.

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EoP – Part 107

Echoes of Power

Part 107

“What?” asked the older man, unsure if he had heard well.

“Teach me the art of Empirium,” the teenager repeated, not paying attention to the frown on his interlocutor’s face.

That weakling was seriously asking if he would teach him the art of Empirium? Him! Damian Hardy, the golden bane, teaching a mere common? He scoffed inwardly but his face remained an emotionless mask. He couldn’t refute the fact that the boy had talent in him, he had seen how he had dealt with the three creatures despite having no experience whatsoever and being confronted to them for the second time only. But therefrom accepting to teach him the trade? Oh no… there was still a long way to go for a simple common like him to gain enough regard from him.

And yet, he had saved him. Why? It was a question he hadn’t thought of asking himself earlier but not that it occurred to him, he couldn’t help but wonder. He hadn’t come all this way to settle down for a while and take time to train a greenhorn how to survive in this harsh world. The boy has to learn for himself… Plus they would be looking for him soon, they probably had already their eye on Alexandre, he was so discreet that Damian couldn’t understand how he had not been found out yet. This was unbelievable, even for such incompetents fools as the agents of Central.

Either the boy is extremely lucky or there is something going on that’s keeping them from doing their job properly… He was skeptical, usually they always managed to make do with what they had. But this time feels different. He couldn’t say how, but it felt like somehow, something was not quite right in this city. Since he had arrived he had had the strange impression that everything was blurred in energy. The place was filled with mana, much more than it should have been. Why? To that question he still had no answer, he would undoubtedly find one soon though.

In any case he had felt a few different others that were not far away. The trails weren’t very clear, perhaps because of the interference but also because they weren’t half bad, and he had no intention of following them to know more. He was happy with the freedom he now possessed and he wasn’t about to throw it all away to quell his curiosity. He’d simply keep minding his own business if they kept minding theirs. The only reason that had pushed him to follow his curiosity was the fact that the boy’s aura was so strong it unnerved him. He knew he wouldn’t resist long not doing anything about it.

It wasn’t very clever, he knew it. He’d probably get into more trouble than this was worth for this, but he had wanted to know what the young man he now knew as Alexandre was indeed what he had first thought: an empirist without any actual knowledge about Empirium. And, to his surprise, he had actually been right. The boy had absolutely no knowledge about anything and, despite using his power in plain day, not once but twice, to fight off geigers he hadn’t been contacted or spotted.

To them he was an existence that they couldn’t allow to remain untouched, he was an anomaly and if they had known about him they would have acted. But they hadn’t and that made Damian curious. And if there was one thing he liked to do, it was answering his curiosity! He was in no position to do this, he had no real desire to take in an apprentice nor had he the time or the complete freedom to do it, and yet… yet he somehow wanted to know how it all would play off if he gave in to his desire.

“Do you really know what you’re asking boy?” he asked, his face was still ever so serious but a small smirk was dawning in his mind.

He had made his decision; this promised to be interesting. And fun.

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EoP – Part 106

Echoes of Power

Part 106

“How exactly did you find me?” Alexandre asked, curious to know if him being saved had just been a coincidence.

“Exactly like the geigers did…”, said Damian, “I’ve been following you for a few days now. It’s not hard, with your aura leaking like that you’d be easily spotted from a few miles away. You’re gonna have to learn to hide it.”

“Wait…”, Alexandre frowned. “A few days?”

“Yes,” replied the older man with a nod.

“So… it was you at the park that time! I recognize your scarf!”, exclaimed the teenager as it clicked in his mind.

“Yes, that was me. I’d been following your mana trail since the previous day and I wanted to see who it belonged to. One has to be completely stupid or ignorant to reveal their presence that much, or pretty confident. I believe you belong to the first category…”

“Hey! I’d almost died the day before!” Alexandre exclaimed defensively. “That’s when I was attacked by those creatures the first time, I barely survived…”

“Oh. That explains everything then…”, said his interlocutor in a mocking tone.

Alexandre felt anger rise in his chest. How could that guy mock him like this? He had almost died because of something he didn’t understand and had almost no control over. This was something he had not wanted at all and that had almost cost him his life. The teenager felt like punching him in the face, though he had a feeling the man wouldn’t even let him touch him.

“Yes, let your anger flow,” suddenly said Damian in a low voice, getting closer, “but don’t mistake its target boy.”

The older man’s eyes darkened and Alexandre felt a cold shiver run all along his spine. Even if he had saved him, it didn’t mean he was necessarily friendly. The realization made him freeze and he felt a drop of sweat roll along his temple, even though he had been completely calm a few instants before. That guy was bad news… He couldn’t explain why but Alexandre’s body was feeling the intense pressure and, to his surprise, even something that he thought he recognized as blood lust. Who is that guy? he caught himself thinking. The question died in his throat though as the moment passed and Damian’s eyes seemed to revert to their normal color.

“I am not you enemy.” Don’t make me become so.

The words hadn’t been spoken but Alexandre hear them as clear as day nonetheless.

“Direct your anger and your resentment at the geigers, these creatures are the ones that tried to kill you. You were lucky that I was there to save you this time. You might not be so the next one.” Damian added, keeping his gaze fixed on Alexandre’s and not looking away once.

“Yeah…”, was all the teenager managed to mutter as an answer.

He swallowed with difficulty. He had been saved and cured from that strange thing the creature had tried to do to him but now it felt like his life had passed from the hands of monsters to ones of a demon. Damian didn’t seem to have any ill intention –for the moment at least, he thought- but he had no assurance it wouldn’t change. He had to be careful. A thought, brief and raw, flashed through Alexandre’s mind at that moment. He almost let it slip away, instantly deeming it too crazy and stupid to be of any use, but something inside him made him grab onto it. His mind latched onto the small but nagging idea. It was stupid, that much was obvious, and dangerous –undeniably– but it might just work in his favour…

“So, how do you feel?”, the man in front of him asked as he readjusted his scarf.

Alexandre remained silent, pondering the odds. It’s crazy. Yeah, it’s crazy dangerous. But it might just work… It might also end up with you dead, you idiot! Yeah, but if it worked… Alexandre didn’t give any more weight to his internal voice and simply voiced the insane thought that had just passed through his mind, looking straight into the deep blue abyss that were Damian’s eyes. It felt like staring into a bottomless pool and, strangely, it made him want to do reckless things… Exactly the type of thing he did next.

“Then teach me.” Alexandre simply replied.

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