Black Phoenix | Teen Ink

Black Phoenix

May 10, 2012
By Anonymous

Author's note: So I was really bored. That's actually about it. I've got nothing.

The author's comments:
Well, here it is. It's not very appropriate. It's dark, it's violent, it's gross at times, but I feel proud of myself for doing it. Maybe that says something about me.

Who’d ever think that I would end up here? If anyone told me I’d be in this shithole, I would’ve laughed. I’ve abandoned all that I have known, life has become a puzzle to me. Before now, all I had known were orders, whether I received them or gave them. The military gave my life order. Now what? I’m stuck, doing the exact thing I tried to prevent. I’m a thief, a mercenary, a murderer. To think I would have sunk this far. A man in his late twenties sighed and closed his journal. Clad in a ragged black cloak, he kept his head hidden under his hood. Placing his journal in his weather beaten bag, he paused to survey his surroundings. The local tavern was the gathering place of everyone from every social class, though anyone higher than “common street thug” was rare. Everywhere around him, people lounged around with mugs of beer or ale. Some chose to gamble at dice or cards, while others preferred to lounge about with their friends, chatting about the day’s comings and goings. Others, the rowdier ones, started flirting with the few women inside. Aedan Walken sighed and drank deeply from his mug of ale. With a gulp, he downed the last of the amber liquid. Flicking his wrist lazily, he gestured toward the bartender to refill his mug. Nodding, the bartender grabbed a new mug, turned around toward the massive barrels of beer behind him and filled it up. Then, he sent one of the numerous barmaids over to him. Aedan scratched at his unshaved stubble as he waited. Aedan wasn’t anything exciting to look at. No defining characteristics at all. He was tall and lanky with an animal growing on his cheeks, but by the way everyone in the bar avoided him – besides those serving him the liquefied vomit the tavern called beer—it was as if he had twenty seven heads or something. Aedan sat where he usually sat, in the far corner of the tavern, facing the south wall, with the shorter side of the L-shaped bar counter to his immediate left. It gave him a nice place to brood over things, or to just get away from everyone. On occasion, he did accept visitors, an amusing distraction that took his mind off of things. Tonight, was not one of those nights. With a nod, Aedan took the beer from the maid and drank again. He wasn’t nearly drunk yet, and he wanted to drown his memories in alcohol. Or work, which thankfully for him, just walked through the door. “Aedan. How did I know you were going to be in here?” A woman walked up to him, an elf. Clad in dark leather armor, with two sharp blades attached to her back, she looked intimidating, even if she was smaller than almost everyone in the tavern. She was thin, and tall, for an elf at least, with a willowy frame and small features. With slick braided brown hair, she could have passed for a human, albeit a short one. Elves weren’t exactly on great terms with humans. Many elves lived in the wilderness, like their ancestors before them, but many decided to live in the city, and like anything a human finds “uncivilized”, they were put to work in the slums, or as servants and slaves. “Auria,” Aedan grunted. “What are you doing here?” “Oh, just passing through. I almost miss the slums. It’s been ages since I’ve had my pocket picked,” she retorted with a small grin. Aedan snorted and returned back to his beer. “Well, are you going to stand there all day?” he asked with a cocked eyebrow. “Oh, is Aedan Walken actually offering me a seat? Call the Church! This needs to get on the calendars,” she said, still grinning. She started to sit, but Aedan kicked the chair out from under her, and she fell, ass first. The clatter of wood against the floor was muffled by the cacophony inside the tavern, and not a single eye turned toward them, though, the reason wasn’t just because the people couldn’t hear it. “That wasn’t nice,” she said, the grin on her face now gone. Aedan just drank from his mug. Auria grabbed the now kicked over barstool and returned it back to its original position. Then, without getting kicked again, she sat. “So, are you just here to drown your misery in alcohol? Again?” Aedan grunted. “I’m just going to assume you’re listening to me.” Aedan grunted. Again. “Whatever. Anyway,” Auria leaned her head down, and spoke softly. “There’s a shipment of drugs and weapons arriving at the dock tonight. The Charlotte’s Raid should be dropping them off around Warehouse 41.” Aedan’s eyebrow went up again. “And you want me to take care of it? Forget it; ask another one of your lackeys.” Auria smirked, “I knew you would say that. But there’s a kicker.” “Included in the shipment are the finest whores this side of the world,” Aedan said sarcastically. Auria closed her eyes in an exasperated grimace and shook her head in disapproval. “No,” she finally managed, “With the drugs and weapons is a shipment of Lycia.” Aedan’s interest was immediately peaked. Magic, as far as Aedan knew, was the manipulation of physical energies into, well, something magical. Energy could be harnessed anywhere, from the sun, to the water, and to the trees, but these pools of energy were small, and not much power could be drawn from them. Lycia however, provided as much power as a mage could want. It was little wonder why Lycia was the foundation of magic. No one would want to use magic without Lycia, unless they substituted it with something else, most notably blood. Lycia provided the mage with the potential to do magic, a reservoir of energy that a mage could manipulate to his bidding. “Oh, so you’re interested now?” Auria said with a knowing smirk. “More than interested,” Aedan said with a nod. “I’ll go get Varril and we’ll be at the docks in an hour.” Auria nodded. “Go and work your magic.” With that, she stood up and walked out of the bar. Aedan stared blankly after her before he finally regained his wits. With a shake of his head, he finished his beer and dropped a few copper coins on the counter. He had work to do. Aedan walked briskly through the city. Night had fallen a few hours ago, and his only source of illumination was the silver light of the moon. It wasn’t recommended to walk the streets at night in the capital city of Messange, and the slums were the worst place to go at night. Prostitutes, thieves, mercenaries, slavers, and even assassins roamed the streets, preying on the weak and horny. The city streets were cramped, with buildings built haphazardly on each side. If Sodorian architecture was all screens and bamboo, then Kantan architecture lacked the lightness and simplicity. If Etrusian architecture was massive citadels of stone and steel, then Kantan architecture lacked the sturdy materials, and instead was a pile of wood toppled on itself. If Pentaran architecture was towering spires of pine, then Kantan architecture lacked the height, instead being three stories for nobility, at most. But if each country had its unique architecture, than Kantas could say that it had a unique blend of everything. Kantan architecture was a mix of everything. It had lightness and simplicity, with the deliberate durability of Kantas’s massive oaks and shiny marble. It was even a miracle that Kantan architecture even existed. Surrounded by three superpowers and the sea, Kantas was almost always under foreign control. Occasionally, Kantas would be under Pentaran rule for a few days, before an Etrusian army ousted them out. Etrusian rule would only last for a few days before a Sodorian army came and ousted them. The cycle would continue, with each nation claiming the smaller one for its own. It was extremely rare for Kantas to actually be under its own rule, such as now, but most people knew that crime was still the true law of the land. Aedan turned into a dark alley and then made another turn, this time into a more residential area. Small hovels lined the edges of the street, scarring the already destitute streets with additional wooden shacks. Aedan walked up to one of the shacks and knocked. There was no answer. He knocked again. Still no answer. Aedan sighed. Then, he slammed into the door with his shoulder. Silver streaks of light suddenly burst into the room as Aedan opened the door. The room was filled with dust and a couple rats and cockroaches scurried across the floor. A dirty bed lay in the middle of the room, with an armor stand holding a shitty brown colored leather armor set place on it. On the bed was a trouserless man who was lying face down into his pillow. When the door swung open and slammed into the wall, the man jumped up, suddenly awake. His hand swung toward his pillow, revealing a slender, but deadly, blade. Recognition filled his eyes as he stared at Aedan. “Aedan, wha—what are you doing here?” Varril groaned as he brought his free hand over his eyes. Looking relieved, he placed the blade back under its hiding spot. “Oh, I couldn’t resist the smell of stale piss and vomit,” Aedan said dryly. Then, he bent over to grab Varril’s pants and threw it at him. “Put your pants on, we’re going down to the docks.” Varril’s pants landed on his head and he inelegantly grabbed them and put them on. With a quick scratch of his testicles, he walked over toward his armor stand and strapped the leather armor on. Then, he grabbed the two blades next to the stand and strapped them on his back. “Ready to—you broke my f*ing door!” Aedan rolled his eyes as Varril bemoaned the loss of his precious door. Though, secretly, Aedan was rather pleased about it. “Cry while we walk. We need to get to the docks,” Aedan said. With that, he walked out of the room and back into the streets. Varril followed. “So, mind telling me what we’re doing tonight? I could be sleeping, but noo…” Varril asked. “There’s a shipment coming in. We’re going to take it.” “That’s it? G-dammit.” Varril fell silent. As they neared the docks, the familiar smell of fish, sex, alcohol, and vomit filled the air. Aedan wrinkled his nose. No matter how many times he went into the docks district, the scent would always overpower him. “Over here,” Aedan whispered. The two turned down an abandoned corridor and toward the pier. Approaching the pier without being spotted by at least one group of thieves or muggers was difficult, but it was possible. It required extreme awareness and dexterity, or it required cheating. “On the roofs then?” Varril whispered as he looked toward the dingy roof tops. Aedan nodded. The two of them had done this multiple times, but they were still nervous. The roofs of Kantan houses weren’t exactly known for their durability. “Up we go then,” Varril sighed. He pushed himself against the wall and made a footstep with his hands. Aedan looked around to make sure they were alone. Satisfied, he then took a running start, leapt onto Varril’s open palms, and heaved himself upwards. He grabbed the very edge of the roof with his finger tips and managed to pull himself upwards. Then, he bent down and offered a hand for Varril. Varril jumped up, grabbed his hand, and Aedan pulled him up. “I still hate doing that,” Varril quipped as he got onto the roof. “Nobody likes doing it,” Aedan grunted. “Come on, the shipment’s going to arrive soon.” Like cats on the prowl, the two stalked through the night. They were incredibly careful, even if nobody really ever used the roofs to travel. It was too much work to climb on the roofs, and there wasn’t anyone to steal from up there. It also wasn’t exactly the best place to be sneaky. The roofs creaked and moaned if you stepped on the wrong place. Aedan never liked the sound of almost snapping wood. Stupid shitty architecture. There was honestly only one benefit about going on the roofs. It was much faster. The streets in the docks district were notoriously complex, with dozens of tiny side streets jutting out of the main ones. And then, the side streets had side streets, and those side streets had smaller side streets. The entire city plan was horrendous. That being said, the tiny side streets meant that it was easy to jump from roof to roof, though it still didn’t take away the fear of falling into someone’s house unexpectedly. The pair jumped from building to building, quickly making their way toward the warehouses. Finally, they came to Warehouse 41. Warehouse 41, commonly referred to as “Smuggler’s Den”, was the home of dozens of illegal trades, among other illegal activity. Black market dealers would come to the warehouse to sell whatever they had, whether it was weapons, drugs, whatever. It was surprising how much business went through the place. There was always some new up and coming dealer here, or some assassin that needed work, or some poor, poor merchant that wanted to hire some useful mercenaries for once. Aedan and Varril crept closer toward the edge of the roof to get a better view on the situation. The Charlotte’s Raid was already docked, and sailors were coming to and from the ship, all carrying boxes. There was a small group of men to the side, dressed in leather armor, with swords at their sides. Another group of men stood in front of the warehouse, inspecting the goods. The men there took the lid off of every single box to check what was inside. If they were satisfied, yet another group of men took the supplies inside of the warehouse. Varril, being the ones with the better eyes, started listing off the things that were being brought in. “I’m not seeing anything that Auria would want. Moonweed, funny mushrooms, Sodorian swords… wait.” As soon as Varril said wait, the sailors brought out a small wooden box. Unlike other wooden boxes, this one had a faint blue glow to it. “Oh, you’re shitting me. Lycia?” Varril hissed. Incredulously, he twisted his head and stared at Aedan. “This is why we’re here isn’t it? Auria wants the Lycia.” Aedan nodded. “Okay, well at least we know what to get. Now the question is, how do we get it?” Varril sighed. “Easy, we hire an army of whores to distract them all while we run in, eat the Lycia and the assorted other drugs, and trip on them for a few afternoons.” Varril looked at Aedan as if he were a massive p****. “Kidding.” “How about we run in, grab the Lycia and run out? Just… no eating it.” Then without a word, Aedan grabbed the knife he kept on his belt. He held up and inspected it. Good, still as sharp as when he bought it. Then he brought it across his palm and cut himself. Blood flowed freely across his hand, and Aedan winced as the steel bit into him. Then, he started channeling energy. The blood suddenly turned purple, and shriveled up, slowly turning into ash. More blood leaked out of his hand, and it too, turned to ash. The life energy the blood had was slowly seeping out of it, turning into mana, magical energy. Finally, Aedan felt like he had enough. Muttering a small curse, he looked at his hand, and sealed the cut with magic. He flipped his hand over and let the blood ash fall. Then, patting his hand against his cloak, he cleaned his hand of the residue. “The Inquisition is going to hate you,” Varril commented as he looked at what Aedan was doing. “The Inquisition can kiss my ass for all I care.” The Church hated mages. According to them, magic was created to serve people, and not to enslave them all. Most of all though, they hated blood magic, taking the life energy of the living to fuel a mage’s power. It was a corrupting evil, and for that, the Church believed mages needed to be herded into towers or prisons, whichever locked them up so they couldn’t destroy all of humanity. If anyone of them got free, the Church would send its Inquisitors, witch-hunters who swore allegiance to the Church in order for them to use their own magic to hunt their own kind, after them. They labeled these rogue mages “Recusants”. But now, it was time for Messange’s crime ring to see a Recusant in action. Without another word, Aedan leapt off of the roof. Using his magic, he channeled all his strength into his legs, propelling him up into the air. As he fell, he created a barrier under his legs to absorb the shock. He fell into the mass of sailors, sending a massive shockwave to those around him, knocking them all down. Panic broke out. The sailors started running, dropping boxes of contraband all over the place. The checker people near the warehouse turned white and started to run. The guards, being the only ones with balls, quickly got up and unsheathed their weapons. There were eight of them, armed with swords, daggers and other assorted sharp objects. That, however, wasn’t enough to kill an experienced mage, especially not Aedan. Aedan scoffed. “You should really run you know. I would hate for burning flesh to pollute this place anymore. It really does smell like s*** here.” Completely disregarding what he said, the guards charged. The men spread out, knowing that a competent mage would incinerate them all if they moved as one. Not like that would help anyway. Aedan reacted quickly. He slammed his hand against the ground, sending out a wave of ice toward the direction of the two closest guards. The guards slowed their advance, long enough for Aedan to channel a wave of electricity through his finger tips. Jolts of cackling electricity flew through the air, boiling the guards from the inside out. Another two guards rushed at him, one from his right, and another from his left. Aedan was unfazed. With a casual flick of his wrist, he sent a bolt of ephemeral purple energy from his hand, and it hit the guard to his left, and knocked him to the floor. For the other guard, Aedan unleashed a devastating fireball, roasting the guard. Aedan turned, and launched a more concrete bolt of energy this time. The guard he knocked down early was struggling to get up. The bolt of energy shifted in mid air, from a blob of purple, to a rigid purple spear. As the spear flew, Aedan turned his attention toward the other guards. As he expected, they were terrified. After seeing two of their friends shocked to death, and another burnt by a massive fireball, they were shirking away, and looking for the best way to save their lives. That, however, didn’t happen. Aedan motioned his hand toward them, and a telekinetic force suddenly grabbed hold of them. Then, he flicked his hand toward the downed guard. The rest of the guards flew, and unceremoniously collapsed next to their ally. The guard Aedan knocked down earlier, however, wasn’t going to get any support from them. The purple spear rammed itself right into his head, killing him instantly. Then he exploded. Blood soared through the air in all directions, splattering the horrified faces of the remaining guards. The shockwave from the exploding body sent the guards flying away. Bits of bone and ichor fell down from the sky like rain. Then, another surprise happened. The blood and guts and bile sank into the skin of the remaining guards, and burnt into their body. Howls of agony filled the night before the guards finally succumbed to their slow and painful deaths. As Aedan single handedly fought off the guards, Varril snuck off the roof. One of the head checkers grabbed the Lycia as soon as the commotion started, and he was running down the alleys, desperately trying to get away. Varril wouldn’t let that happen. He crept after him, hiding in the shadows. He was keeping up with a man that was running. Varril didn’t know whether or not he was just awesome, or if the checker needed more exercise. The checker twisted and turned down the winding streets, taking lefts, rights, and shifty detours, anything to try to evade any possible pursuers and to make everyone lose track of him. Finally, after what felt like the millionth turn he took, he stopped. He clutched the box toward his chest and looked behind him. Nothing. “Oh thank you god,” the man said, breathing a sigh of relief. “Not quite god. Close, but not quite,” a voice behind him spoke. The man turned white, and he felt his grip loosen. Varril appeared behind him, a long dagger in hand. “How’s about we make a deal? You give me the Lycia, and maybe we can work out a deal?” Varril said, a sadistic grin on his face. He looped his arm around the man’s neck until he had a constricting headlock. His other hand held the dagger up to the side of his head. “So?” The man stuttered, or he stuttered as well as a man could with a knife at his head. “Is that a yes, or a no?” “I-I-I--” “I don’t remember that being an answer.” “Okay! Okay! I’ll do it! Take the Lycia! I don’t want it!” he yelled. His hands flew towards Varril’s arm in a desperate struggle. The box dropped to the floor with a thud. “Thank you,” Varril said sweetly. Then he drove the dagger into the man’s head. Varril looked at the box. Sometimes, it was hard for him to believe that so little could be worth so much. He bent down and cracked open the lid. Blue light exploded from the tiny crack, and Varril couldn’t help but open it. In front of him was one stalagmite of Lycia. Veins of moving magic traveled up and down the rock, giving it an almost mystical aura. Varril stood there for a few seconds admiring it, then, satisfied, he closed the lid and picked it up. Whistling a merry jig, he started walking. All of a sudden he stopped. “Where the f*** am I going?”

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