Mr. Lloyd was reassured, again, that everything was fine with the car. Mac and Joshua - one of his newer employees and therefore not certified to work on vehicles yet – fielded the customers for the rest of the afternoon. At eight, Mac was in the office, everyone else had gone home. He was finishing up getting the day’s receipts together when he heard the buzzer from the front door opening.
He looked out, realizing he hadn’t shut off the lights to the entranceway. “We’re closed,” he yelled, knowing whoever it was could not have missed the “Closed” sign on the door.
“Not for me,” said a man’s commanding voice.
Mac groaned and got up to see who was there. Standing at the entrance, with a huge staff, was a bald man in deep green robes. Three others in red robes surrounded him, with huge red daggers in the shapes of thorns.
“You must be an Orestes.”
“THE Orestes!” the man bellowed.
“Of course, of course. You got my message?”
“We want to know how you know about this. Who told you of this mage? What’s its name? Where does it live? What does it do – “
Mac sighed, “If I knew that, I wouldn’t be telling you about it, now would I?”
“You think that because you can have your own coven away from the Center that you have the right to –“
Mac made a dismissive motion and turned to go back into his office, letting the man drone on. There was an explosion of glass, which Mac half-expected. He turned around to see one of the side windows of a car inside the foyer had been blown inward.
“I challenge you!” The Orestes yelled.
Mac merely grinned. “Good.” He went behind the counter and grabbed a steel letter opener. Then he stood before the counter, elevated from Orestes by three feet, and about twenty feet away from him.
"I demand - "
"Oh, shut up!" Mac swung his hand out and a burst of green flame shot out from the tip of the letter opener. It split into four sections, all of them heading toward the four men split out among the garage. At the same time, the glass that had been shattered rose up from the leather seats and exploded outward, hitting the flesh of the nearest Thorn, and going beyond him like glass bullets.
The flames struck all the Thorns in the chest; the one who was shredded by glass fell screaming. A swarm of glass, gathered like hornets dripping blood, hovered looking for another victim. When another Thorn got up from first getting hit by the green fire, the glass headed his way.
The Orestes struggled to his feet, using the staff no longer as an offensive weapon, but as something to help him up. Mac waved his hand and the staff went flying across the room, into his hand. He shook his head - the Orestes hadn't charged the staff upon entering, so it was merely a stick, and could be used to his own advantage.
The man fell, looking now like a frail old man in green robes. Mac took from the staff the life force that powered the man, and the Orestes began to smoke. In minutes, a dried husk of a man lay on the floor, still in his green robes.
One Thorn was standing, the bloody glass hovering, ready to strike. Mac stepped down from the dias of the counter and headed toward him - the Thorn threw open the door to the shop and ran out into the night.
With no emotion on his face, Mac watched him go. The glass went back to the car it had been shattered out of, and reformed into the passenger-side window. If one looked at it in a certain way, there was a bit of pink in it. Mac took the staff and dropped it to the floor. The concrete opened up and swallowed it, crushing it in stony jaws.
He turned from the scene, as it cleaned itself up, disposing the bodies in the same way as the staff, and the blood soaked into the concrete like a sponge.
Mac couldn't focus on the work, so started packing it away. This wasn't the first time he had to assert his authority as an archmage, especially a supposedly "Rogue Archmage". He worked cursorily with the Circle, on an as-needed basis. He had broken from them more out of his own self preservation than anything else.
In 2006, one of the students had suddenly gained power and ability beyond any of the archmages, enough to rival the Envoy of Shadow. Some of the archmages thought he was a personification of the Envoy, "blessed" by him, or summoned into him somehow. These attempted to reason with this man, to no avail. Many were never seen again. The ones who remained were maimed so badly either in body or in mind that they begged for death.
Over the course of two years, there were sudden strikes, where mages were killed in a horrific manner. A few mages broke away, but even those were found out, solitary that they were.
Mac changed his magical name and signature, and then gathered acolytes. He took these people's energies and used them as his own, a cloak of sorts, both in the spirit world and in the mundane one as well. In the early days, he had to kill them to absorb their auras, changing his identity often. He eventually learned a spell to absorb their abilities as well.
It had gotten so, however, that he didn't need to kill them outright. Instead, he could draw from his many acolytes all their energies and abilities, switching identies nearly daily. In exchange for his protection and teaching, they would subject themselves for his use.
In fact, he knew that one of his acolytes had just been used for these works. Hopefully Anastatia wasn't doing anything important. The one who would give him his energy would look to the world like they were having a seizure; they would freeze and fall as he would draw their essence directly to him. He'd probably be receiving a call in the next couple of hours from an irate acolyte. It wouldn't be the first time.
MacDuff climbed into his Taurus and started it up with a touch to the ignition. It helped to not need keys anymore.