Matt cut into the trees outside town, landing rough.
He stayed upright only by grabbing a tree, and it took a moment for him to regain balance.
The library was pretty close and he almost ran. He could sense it as he approached. Dark magic, pouring through the air. It was a low brick building, shaped like an ‘L’. Two double doors in the middle, and he burst through. The smell of lavender was pervasive in the overheated hall.
Bright lights to his right. The main desk was in his view, and he could see a few librarians scanning books. To his left, a short dark hallway. Bathrooms opposite each other, and a set of dark double doors.
They expected him to check for the book first, he was sure as he lived. The past was a lot closer to Matt than they realized though. It may have been five years for the rest of the world, but to him, he had hunted the Witch last week. Her trail was still strong, so he followed it.
The dark doors at the end of the hall. An empty room, on first glance. Chairs stacked on a few long tables pushed against a wall. A few cardboard boxes.
Matt stepped over the entrance, and soon as his foot broke through, the magic faltered. Morgan was bound to a chair in the center of the room. One eye was swollen, and a bloody lump stood out on her forehead.
“You’ve got a weird thing for clubbing pretty ladies,” Matt said to the air. “That’s where she got that bump isn’t it? Sarihanel?”
“Clever mage,” Irenail said, as he stepped from nothingness.
“Clever angel too,” Matt said. “Making me think Chark was back. Nice touch with the ‘lisk, by the way. How did you know about that?”
“Have to tell you why I want the books then.”
“I can guess? Those pretty eyes, and that Harrison Ford jawline? You’re Chark’s Dad.”
Morgan’s eyes went wide, and she jumped in her chair.
“Wow, really clever.”
“I smoke grass, I don’t grow it,” Matt said, tapping his head.
“Not the whole story, though,” he said. A few words of static came out of his mouth. “Well, it’s a lot to do with heaven, and politics, but I need some power. See what those books did to my boy?”
“You think you can get all of them?”
“Yep,” Irenail said. “Also I’ll let her go, you don’t go grab that book.”
“I think it’s the opposite,” Matt said. “‘I’ll let her go, if you give me the book’. No?”
“Oh, no Matty. You see, she has seen a lot.” The angel nodded his head, as he spoke. “We’ve got a lot of free time, in heaven. People watch a lot. Knew right where to look, to show her the perfect scene.”
An orange screen, appeared in mid-air. Displayed on it was him, holding the book, floating above the burning college. He wanted to take a moment to admire how cool he looked, but the situation was setting in.
“See you don’t give me the books, I let the witch go, she tells our other little friends about all this, and bam, you lose short tits at home,” he said. “If you get the books, I maybe let you read them, and you get the Witch. Or I can finish her. Either way is fine, but believe me I wouldn’t pass up this. Could be a nice evening.”
Matt called the magic, making a different type of construct than his rabbit. An eagle, created mostly to carry messages long distances. Sometimes items, as well. Sometimes really long distances. “Get the book.” Morgan knocked her chair over, muffled screams, and the angel set his foot on her head.
“Good mage,” Irenail said. “I assume you brought the other.”
“No, but it’s in a good place.” Morgan starting trying to form words, but her eyes changed. Disappointment, Matt thought, but it could have been fear too. If he was in her situation, he would not be expecting to walk away.
Loose end, whoever came out on top.
“Oh, it’s a very nice hiding place.” Matt’s heart dropped, but he held his face in check.
“How were you going to get the third?” the mage asked.
“Even dragons can be persuaded, if they think they’re acting in their interests. Or tricked.”
“He’ll never decode our thoughts, but he’ll trigger the security buzz. Read him, who he is. If he’d pray, I could’ve just stolen the info. Looked through his files, but he’s never even considered it. Complete non-believer.”
“So it’ll be in Sarihanel’s head?” Matt asked.
The angel smiled, glancing past Matt. Probably still thinking the eagle was coming back. He would realize soon enough. The mage planned to wait, striking in the moment of confusion, but the angel shifted back a little. Matt felt a little pull of gathering magic, and struck.
He used magic for the push forward, but the fist he crashed into the Irenail’s face was all human. The angel went down to one knee, as the mage summoned his battle aura. Words screamed into existence in the air around him, gold, and warm; his soul, made real to protect him, stronger than any armor.
“Good one,” Irenail said, His fist shot up, but Matt’s backhand was faster throwing the angel into the wall. The mage jumped, and the angel rolled to the side, barely avoiding a slam of energy that left a small crater, smoking in the wooden floor.
Matt dived again, magic propelling him forward. He kicked, but the angel caught his leg, spinning him into a table. The mage’s body crashed into the stacked chairs, knocking them down.
“You’re lucky it’s me here, old man. I’ll just kill you, and he will never let you die,” Matt told him, as he pushed himself to his feet, brushing the dust from his jeans.
“He’s my son, and he knows his place,” Irenail said. Matt launched a kick, spinning and using magic to propel his other leg forward. The angel crossed his arms in a block, but still slid back a few inches.
“Like I know my mine,” Matt said, he threw a ball of energy, and another to the right. The old angel dodged bad, avoiding the first, but catching the second in the chest.
He bounced into the wall next to the glass door, and Matt brought his foot upward into the angel’s face, knocking him out into the hallway.
Coughing cut through the silence, and Matt glanced at Morgan. Tape was still over her mouth, but the cloth was gone. Struggling so hard, she had swallowed it.
“Better see to her,” the angels voice cracked as he spoke.
Matt dived, but the fade was better than he had seen, and the angel was gone.
The mage knew he could follow, end this game now. End a lot of things, he realized, as he turned to the Witch.
With a sigh, he called the magic. The spell had proven useful before, and he thanked the Caline program that taught it, as he pulled the piece of cloth from her throat with magic.
Her brown eyes were still wide, terrified, as Matt examined the bindings. They were shoestrings someone had spelled to hold in magic. Probably Irenail, but it was so well done, Matt had his doubts. Something in the spell work, he had seen before.
A pocket knife tore right through them, and in a moment he picked her up.
“You okay, Morgan?” Her eyes were on the floor. He dusted her shoulder off, leaning down a little to look up at her. The quivering tears could have been from the choking alone, but he doubted it.
“Has not been a great day,” she croaked out, the tears lost their balance, but no more fell.