chapter xxixMature

Graeme drove, and the lack of something to do seemed to make Gabriel restless.  Her fingertips tapped on her knee in a rapid succession, her eyes hungry for every speck of detail that flew by beyond the windows.  The highway wasn’t as congested as it normally was for being barely after seven in the morning. It did not occur to him how odd this was, though it should have.  The warm auric light of early (morning) poured in through the glass, highlighting her sunshine hair.  Flecks of gold glowed softly in her hazel eyes.  Graeme had to forcibly return his attention to the stretch of road unrolling in front of them.   She was quiet – which, of itself was not necessarily (odd), but given the circumstances, he felt it was a little suspicious. 

“So what’s the plan when we get there?”

“There isn’t one.  We ‘wing it,’ as I’ve heard others say.  I can’t really prepare any kind of workable plan for something I’ve never done before,” though there was nothing particularly caustic about her tone, she was clearly impatient and tired of his stupid questions, so he dropped it and let her sit there in silence.

Clearly she was more content that way.

The Gypsy Tasaria had given them directions to find the nearest nest of Warlocks, but the drive was still over three hours long.  Buried deep in the uncharted woods that bordered on the coastline, they were well hidden from general society and had access to most of the herbs and random ingredients they would need for their earth magic.  Graeme had been mistakenly under the belief that Warlocks used dark magic, and had been aptly scolded by Tasaria.  The Warlocks used earth magic, and sorcerers used black magic.  He better learn to keep his lips buttoned if he was just going to spill his stupidity everywhere, she’d said, with only the smallest trace of joviality in her tone.  He took her seriously.

Once they reached the border of the woods, they ditched the TransAm and began the long hike to the nest.  The weather was accomidating, at least, but he didn’t dare say anything about it to Gabriel.  She didn’t seem in the mood to hear anything that would indicate he had hopes that went any higher than barely making it out alive.  He couldn’t help but wonder why people who used earth magic could be so frightening; it certainly didn’t make any sense to him, but he was starting to fall under the suspicion that he’d been mislead his entire life.  Granted, most of his life had been spent under the impression that magic – black, or otherwise – wasn’t real.  The separation between earthen magic and black magic seemed clear, even to his new eyes.  He would have thought sorcerers would have terrified Gabriel, and that Warlocks would seem like allies.

But what did he know about angelic psychology?

The hike was long, despite their quick pace.  Now that his injury had healed up, Gabriel had no patience for any semblance of lackadaisical movement.  She might have tried to force him to run the whole way if she thought he could, in his weak human body.  He was only starting to resent that a little, he told himself.  Really. 

Graeme could feel every mile building up in his thighs.  Lactic acid began to pressurize his limbs but he said nothing.  It would do no good to complain; it would probably only make things worse.  Every mile that made him feel worse seemed to only exacerbate her ill mood.

They’d each brought a pack with supplies, and a few weapons hidden on their bodies.  For the weapons, Gabriel had darted over to her condo.  She hadn’t invited him, and he grew curious about why.  She’d been in just about every corner of his condo, and who knows how much snooping she’d done while he was unconscious – twice.  Why wasn’t he even allowed to see the inside of hers?  He was reasonably certain she’d even used his toothbrush, though he couldn’t prove it.  It just seemed a strange sort of hypocrisy to have between them, that he was expected to be all right being fully exposed to her while she kept her secrets without apology.

On his person he had two daggers and a Glock.  Firearms were not unfamiliar to him, but it had been a few months since he’d used one.  Knives were a lot more comfortable to him; he’d grown up with them.  When he was barely in kindergarten, his father had begun taking him on hunting trips – despite his mother’s protests – and had taken the opportunity to train Graeme with most weapons.  He guessed it had attributed heavily to Graeme’s overall personality as he grew up, but he couldn’t blame his father for all the fist fights and bar brawls Graeme had gotten into over the years.  His father certainly hadn’t taught him how to beat a man to within an inch of his life and leave him, bleeding, in front of the doors of an Emergency Room.

Graeme had learned that all on his own.

The End

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