How much are you willing to sacrifice for blood?
The cold hits me as I disembark from the airplane. Stifling a shiver I try to convince myself that it’s just the cold. Who am I kidding… the nostalgia starts to consume me as I struggle to suppress thememories. Eight years… It’s been eight years since I’ve been here… home.
I’m back. Back to Céleste,back to my past, to the things I hate, to the goal I seek. I reach out to the back of my mind and lightly touch the almost nonexistent presence that lingers there. It feels refreshing to be back on track...
I took a deep breath to calm down and decided that it was high time to remove myself from the stairs, before I started attracting attention and curses. The weather outside was grey and dull. It wasn’t snowing even though it was the fifth of November. The portable staircase was slightly shaking from the mass of the people using it. Some of them weren’t feeling comfortable. They were gripping the railing as a drowner would hold onto a life-belt. The rest didn’t seem to care. They were too tired to care.
I reached the end of the staircase and with a few swift and careful steps I embarked on the bus waiting to transport the passengers to the airport. The euphoria of the moment was slowly dispersing, the flight took seven hours and now that was back on solid ground, I started to realize that it was in fact only half past six in the morning and I still had a lot of work to do. For some reason those thoughts didn’t help with the fatigue so I shoved them away.
It was starting to get suffocating in the bus. Apparently no one had yet reached the idea that these vehicles were way too small for all the people, attending the flight. Still, the trip was a five minute one so nobody deemed it necessary to complain for the lack of comfort.
Once I entered the airport I started feeling sleepy again. I was so exhausted that I didn’t even pay attention to the usual idiots trying to push you away in attempt to get out of the airport first.
The passport control passed in a blurry sideshow. I remember I hardly kept my eyes open. I recall the bored expression of the security officer, the spark of interest that lit in his sub-consciousness as I handed him my ID, when he felt that something was out of place. However, he didn’t find it, after all my passport was state of the art.
With a quiet “Thank you”, I took it back and went through customs as if it wasn’t there, entering the free-shopping zone. I was thinking of just dashing past it but then I saw the sign “Starbucks” and instead stopped, debating if I should go grab a drink. This was the moment I saw my first face from the past – Lievin Photios Barak, lieutenant of the DMSC. I knew I’d meet him soon but this soon…well I guess I had my rotten luck to blame. He was practically staring at me so I didn’t even consider walking away. Instead I walked to his table and sat in the chair in front of him.
“Why lieutenant Barak, what a nice surprise.” I beamed, looking into his light brown, almost yellow eyes.
“It’s captain now.” He smiled back. “Hello, Aloysius. It’s not every day that one runs into an exiled wizard but damn you sure have changed. As far as I remembered you used to have blond hair and light brown eyes.”
It was true. My new look consisted of raven black hair and my eyes cat-green.
“I almost didn’t recognize you there.” The captain continued. Then paused again as a waitress brought two steaming cups.
As if…he was here waiting for me and besides, while I might have changed my outer look, my scent remained almost the same. He must have sniffed me out the moment I left customs,damned werewolf.
“What are you doing here, Aloysius?” casually asked Lievin, sipping his coffee. “You were exiled. You have no right to be here and seeing as I am a DMSC official I should just have your ass board the next airplane out of here and be done with this.”
“Then why didn’t you?” I mused. “We both know that you are just someone’s dog. But then again you are a dog with a position and being that you could have sent your mutts to do that. So let’s cut the pleasantries, what do you want?”
“It is not often that one gets the chance to acquire supervision over a wizard.” Somehow he was able to sustain a shadow of a smile upon his lips. “Seeing as your people maintain a higher position over us… dogs.”
“So, let me get this straight. You want me to bow to you?”Yeah right. “Mmm… no. Besides I will be of no use to you. I’m pierced.”
“You are what?!”
“Pierced, meaning that I have no magic. My bad, I forgot you are not a wizard. Not many outside our species know about that punishment. You must’ve noticed that I don’t have the scent of magic on me. Didn’t you find it strange?”
The werewolf closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He held it for a second or two and then exhaled:
“Indeed. Then you are of no use to me. So you and I are going to go on a little walk to the check in office and you are going to buy a ticket…”
“Wait.” I interrupted.Now comes the tricky part.“I may not be able to provide magical support, however, I still have something you don’t and need.”
“And what would that be?” Lievin asked frowning.
“Knowledge.” I replied, putting a finger on my temple. “The higher ups keep you in the dark, don’t they? They just tell you what you must do and if you screw up because of the lack of information, you take all the heat.”
“Very well.” The man stiffened. “What do you want in return?”
“Well, I’m a bit tired and cranky at the moment so how about we talk prices tomorrow morning.”
Come on say it. You didn’t mislead me so far...
“No.”There we go. Perfect.“I can’t hire you as a consultant. And I am not going to pay you out of my pocket. Money can be traced and I have no desire to be connected in such a way to you.”
“True enough.” I sighed, faking disappointment. “Then how about an information trade? You give me the information I need and keep my presence in secret and I’ll supply whatever assistance I can.”
“Alright. I agree but…”
“Good then these are the five people I require info about.” I took out a piece of paper from an inner pocket of my suit and handed it to him.
“Wait. Wait.” The captain didn’t manage to stop his instinctive movement and took the paper. “Why would I give you whatever you need? I haven’t asked you for anything, yet.”
“True, true. However, as you pointed out, it’s been eight years. The connections I used to have in the underworld are now severed. I think these men would help me renew them but I have to know where they are. And you are going to help me because if you don’t I’ll be more or less useless.” I didn’t wait for the answer. “My email is on the bottom. I’ll send you the number of my cell phone the moment I buy it. And a good day to you, captain Barak.”
I stood up, nodded energetically at the shocked werewolf and left. Trying not to look back I quickly gathered my suitcase from the luggage claim and left the airport. I walked a kilometer or so before hailing a cab.The ones at the terminal are always way too expensive.