A mage meets someone in the afterlife, someone he made a deal with a long time ago.
The place smelled dank, like a cellar, overlaid with the smell of stale smoke and spilled beer. It wasn’t a place that Grim normally frequented, but he had heard a rumor in the spirit world, and wanted to see if it was true. Grim held his breath and went down the twisting stairs to face the cage where a man stood, smoking.
“Isn’t that against the law?” Grim asked, walking up to the man behind the bars.
“You a cop?” the man demanded.
“As if I would admit that to you,” Grim said, realizing that not all the lights were on in this guy’s house.
“Hm.” The man pressed a button and Grim heard a buzz, meaning a door unlocked somewhere, letting him into the bar proper. He looked to the side of him to see a huge metal door. He pushed on it, and it swung inward.
He walked down the hall, and the smell of smoke got worse. He coughed, walking up to the bar. A young woman came up to him. “Can I get you a drink?”
“Coke,” he said, “In a can.”
“We don’t have cans,” she said, sounding slightly apologetic.
“Nevermind, then.” Grim walked further into the bar, glancing around. Then, he saw him, and all Grim saw was red. The spell came unbidden, and he was already drawing the rune in the air when the man turned around to see him.
“You,” the man said – or probably said, being that Grim couldn’t hear, but saw the man’s mouth move. Then the man moved, faster than his eye could catch, and the next thing he knew he was on the floor, the spell of fire that he was drawing in the air fizzled.
Grim tried to draw again, but the man grabbed his hand and squeezed. Grim howled, hearing bones snap and crack, pain shooting up his arm and filling his brain.
“You come into my house, mage? You come here to destroy me?”
Grim was picked up by Bomber, as if he was a sack of grain, and hoisted over the man’s shoulder.
“Never again,” Bomber rumbled, carrying him and storming through the bar. Grim tried to draw with his left hand, but he kept getting jostled and bumped, the runes not being perfect, and he had that haze of pain that he was working through. He couldn’t move his right hand at all, and he saw it swell up like a balloon, bones and blood poking out of his skin. Grim couldn’t look at it, knowing he was going to pass out from the pain, but he refused to let it take control.
They were outside now, and Bomber moved fast again, one moment in front of the door to the bar, the next facing the back of a building. He was lifted, one hand in at his groin, the other at his shoulder, lifted high about Bomber’s head. He was going to be thrown.
“Flot–” Grim whispered, the spell to fly. He forced the concentration through the haze, and Bomber went to throw him. He flew through the air and stopped, hovering, struggling. He started to draw the rune of healing with his left hand, and Bomber snarled, launching into the air. He tackled Grim in mid air, and both went spiraling down, slamming into the concrete below.
Grim knew from experience that a man’s head hitting concrete at that speed meant it would be crushed, so he wasn’t surprised when he saw his own body, the pool of blood expanding around his head. Bomber was the one who got up, his leg twisted in the wrong direction. Grim couldn’t hear anything. Everything was in washed out colors, Bomber’s flesh white and rotting.
Grim felt a hand on his shoulder. He knew without looking who it was.
“Let me see Scott,” he said, his voice less than a whisper on the wind, “one last time, please, I beg of you.”