Though humans don't know it, a secret group of mages protect them from evil.
They walked in the dead of night, that time when the smallest sound seems so much louder than usual, and they walked without any sound at all. There was something strange about them, though it was terribly hard to determine just what. If one was to look at them, they had perfectly normal appearances. There were two of them, a male and a female.
The girl was attractive, not very tall, but nicely built. Slender, but not thin, shapely was the best way to describe her. She had large eyes, bluish green in color Black eyeliner graced them underneath, applied well enough that it looked fairly natural. Her skin was fair and clear, free of blemishes or acne. Her lips curved into a slight smile, pink even without anything but a slight coating of gloss. Her hair was a light brown with touches of honey. She had it pulled back into a loose ponytail to keep it out of her face. She was dressed simply enough in a flannel shirt, jeans, and a very beaten up pair of Chuck Taylor sneakers. A black belt graced her hips, and a sheathed dagger hung inconspicuously at her left side. It’s sheath was so dull that in the dark of night, it was barely even visible, and even then, as little more than a vague shadow. Her jewelry consisted of two necklaces. One was a black cord, the other a fine chain. Both carried pendants, but they were not visible, as they were tucked under her shirt. In her left hand, she clutched a simple jute bag.
He was much taller than she was. Muscularly built, his most noticeable feature was his blond hair, which he periodically brushed out of his eyes. During those rare moments that his eyes were uncovered, they were revealed to be a brilliant blue. He too wore a fine chain on his neck, and was dressed in a black jacket and jeans, with beat up sneakers. A longsword rode on his right hip, and a shortsword on his left, as well as an ornately jeweled dagger. These, like the girl’s, were rather well hidden by the shadows.
Neither figure wore a winter coat, though it was February, and cold. As a matter of fact, it was February 13. February, Friday the 13th. They walked together, not seeming at all cold, or bothered by the fact that they were out walking so late at night. Both wore secret little smiles on their faces, as though they knew something that all the people at home in their beds did not. They did.
The two figures reached the corner of 3rd avenue and Chestnut Street, and there they stopped. The girl produced four glass vials from the bag and lowered herself to her knees. She reached first to her left side, murmuring calculations. She determined a point, then poured a small amount of each vial into a little hill in that exact location. Moving counter-clockwise, she then did the same for the other three corners of the growing square, speaking incantations as she went. Reaching the last corner, she gasped a breath of air, then nodded to her partner, who had been standing protectively behind her. He nodded back, and she began the last part of her ritual. This last corner seemed the most difficult. She had been tiring steadily throughout the spell, and this bit, easy at the beginning, when she was fresh and full of magical energy, was now difficult. With difficulty, she poured her components into their pile and with great effort, finished her incantation. Letting her figure untense, she fell back into the waiting arms of her partner, who pulled her up, letting her lean against his chest for support. She relaxed there, eyes closed. She spoke only once.
“Are the protections strong?”
He looked down at the top of her head. “The protections are perfect. Rest now. Gwilym will be here soon enough.”
“Will! Caitrin and Will, are you there?”
The blond man stirred. After a 10 minute wait, Gwilym had appeared just as Will had said he would. Will watched him stride, becoming less and less shadowy as Will’s keen night eyes began to pick up details. He could faintly make out Gwilym’s Brown hair, moving as though a slight breeze had caught it. Less visible, though Will still knew they were there, were Gwilym’s Brown eyes, which always shone with a mischievous light, and his grin, which matched his eyes perfectly for its mischievousness. As he neared, Will was able to pick out his long black dress coat and black breeches tucked into polished black swashbuckler boots. The unmistakable curves of his twin rapiers were visible at his sides, and Will could see the glint of a dagger he had tucked into his boot.
“Yes, we’re here. Come on in. Cait’s resting. Strong magic tonight, apparently.”
“Well, makes sense. Friday the 13th, after all.”
The other man moved close enough that Will [or that was the blond man’s name] could see him clearly, and waited for Will’s nod of affirmation before stepping into the square. He put his hand out ahead of him and a wall of bluish light appeared, which he pushed his hand through, then stepped in all the way.
He reached into a rucksack slung across his shoulder and pulled out a small vial, then turned to Caitrin. “ ‘Lo dear, I’ve got just what you need to feel better. Help me out Will?”
Will nodded and turned Caitrin so she was facing Gwilym. Gwilym gently placed his right hand on her chin and asked her to open her mouth, which she did. He then poured the contents of the vial down her throat. She revived immediately and moved away from Will. “Thanks Gwil’. Tonight’s casting really took it out of me. I’m ready to start the patrol now, though. Caitrin knelt once more and began to trace a pattern on the sidewalk. Will and Gwilym knelt on either side of her to watch. A glowing map appeared in front of her, divided into squares. She pointed to a corner and it glowed green. “This is us. Now then, lets see what might be out lurking tonight. Ok, blue dots are our people, red dots are anything we’re aiming to destroy, and yellow dots are civilians. Good?”
The two men nodded. Gwilym stood again, saying “ Well, I’d better get patrolling. I’ll try to get rid of any nasties before they can make their way to your post, but since it’s the 13th, and Friday even, I can’t guarantee that you won’t be having some fun before the night is out. G’luck.” Gwilym nodded once more, mock saluted Caitrin and Will, and stepped out of the protected square, whistling a happy tune as he drew his rapiers.
Cait sighed and leaned back against one of the now invisible walls. It was going to be a long night.
The Guardians of the Night were a very unusual organization. Recruits with the necessary feature were gathered during adolescence, the necessary feature being the Old Blood. Nobody knew exactly what the Old Blood was, except that it meant that the person possessing it was descended from some type of magical being. These recruits were trained in the arts of magic and fighting using various types of weaponry, then they entered the actual Guardians’ Guild. The Guardians protected the ordinary townspeople from all the supernatural creatures or powers that would have destroyed them many times over, with the people helpless to stop them. The Guardians had their city divided up into squares of approximately equal size. Twelve people protected each square, two at each corner with a protective square set up, called Wardens, and four people wandering their blocks, looking for enemies to destroy, called Roamers. Anything that got out of hand would be taken care of by the Wardens. At the first light of dawn, the Guardians left their posts and returned to their headquarters. They were an anonymous sort.
Cait’s fingers rained fire. “Here Will, finish ‘im off,” she cried, her bell like voice piercing through the seemingly thick night air. Will nodded back, impaling a creature on his longsword. He looked down in disgust. “Orc. Gwil’ couldn’t finish off a bloody orc?”
Cait’s nimble fingers searched the creature’s tunic for some sort of identification as she replied. “I’m sure he’s tied up with the other 49 or so of them. I doubt it was traveling alone. Look, he’s wearing the pierced helm insignia.”
Will looked up in surprise. The pierced helm had been showing up quite a bit lately, and since nobody in the organization knew who or what it stood for, this was a troubling thing. He shook his head confusedly. Lately, things had been rather strange…well, stranger than usual. He wiped his blade on the creature’s tunic, then pulled his dagger and cut off the insignia. He slipped it into a pocket and resheathed his weapons.
Look, Cait’, it’s almost daybreak. Let’s head back for now. We’ll worry about the helm later, ok?”
Caitrin nodded wearily and waved a hand halfheartedly, causing a neat pile of orcish bodies to disappear. She motioned to Will, then spoke another incantation, causing the magical square to turn into a glowing doorway. She waited for Will to step through then followed, waving it closed behind her.
The two blinked as their eyes grew accustomed to their new surroundings. They were moving along a dark corridor. This corridor was a magical passageway that connected all of the Guardians to their posts, homes, and to the complex where the High Lord lived and where they had all learned to use their old blood. Usually after the night hours the Guardians would go back to the complex for healing and reporting, then sleep in the complex’s barracks if they were terribly weary, or go to their own homes if it had been a quiet night. This was a barracks night. Will and Cait arrived at an open room with a single black doorway. The other walls of the room were covered with runes. Caitrin tapped one with her index finger and said “Raven Corner please.” The black of the doorway faded away into a cobbled street. Old-fashioned buildings hewn of stone lined the road, each having a sign that showed the name of the building. A wooden sign depicting a raven flapped in the breeze in front of the closest building.
“Thanks,” Will mumbled, and they stepped through the doorway.
Raven Corner was the barracks that Caitrin and Will both stayed at. They entered the Raven Barracks together, clambering up the rickety stairs and stopping on the second floor briefly for healing and coffee. Then they continued to the third floor. They were about to enter their rooms, which were side by side, when they heard an odd fluttering sound. Cait gave Will an all suffering glance and said, “what could possibly be wanted now?” They sighed together as a pale looking owl floated through the wall. Neenan the owl was the messenger of choice for the high lord. Neenan had been a sorcerer in life, who had been turned into an owl during experimentation on a spell. This had been a typical sort of action for Neenan, so nobody bothered to sort it out. However, his reversal spell went haywire and ended up blowing up Neenan’s lab, as well as Neenan himself. The sorcerer hadn’t wished to leave the complex and find a more suitable haunt, like the drab old shacks that were kept just for that purpose, so he’d become a messenger. He loved this job, because he could be as tiresome as he wished and nobody could hurt him. He particularly relished when students tried to throw things at him and they went right through his body.
“Sir William, Milady Caitrin, his high majesty the great and powerful High Lord of this humble complex, as of a great portion of the Spirit World and of old Wales, the kind and compassionate killer of the evil sorcerers of old and new, and the slayer of orcs and annoyances, his highest of the high lord Lukas De’Erdu requests, er, orders your presence immediately. Oh, and check in with Natalie first.”
The pompous bird turned around and disappeared into a light fixture.
Cait groaned. “I guess we have to put on formals now. I’ll meet you here in two minutes.”
As promised, she emerged two minutes later. She wore a long flowing pink shirt and a white corset with a white silk peasant top, which she was wearing lazily off the shoulders. Her feet were clad in sandals that tied up to her knees with criss-crossing ribbons. Will wore a long black coat and loose tan breeches tucked into his polished black boots.
“Oh hello dahlings. Lukas wants t’ see y’all as soon as possible. I guess the bird told y’that.”
Cait and Will tried to pass incredulous looks to each other without being too noticeable. Natalie was Lukas’ personal secretary. She usually wore somewhat outlandish clothing, but today’s outfit was bad even by her standards. She wore a lime green pleather mini skirt with a maroon turtleneck and silver vest. Her nails were long and purple with little silver rhinestones, and her bright red hair was teased up a good 6 inches above her heavily made up face.
Natalie smiled widely at the two.
"Is it good or bad, dolls?"
Cait shook her head. "With us, you know it's bad."