Prologue, Page 2Mature

“I was wondering if you’d find out about this place,” Bryce said addressing the other man that was just striking down the final acolyte with a deft stab of his small knife. The energy of a blue archon did more damage than the blade itself. “But you shouldn’t be here. Reanna needs you.”

“Good to see you, too, Terry,” he said with a fatigued smile. He picked himself up and pulled at his ripped shirt, inspecting himself for any serious wounds. “Still wearing a suit to a fight that costs more than your car, I see.”

“Man’s gotta look good when kickin’ ass, Donny.” Bryce hadn’t changed much since he last saw Don, though his short, black hair had thinned a little, receding from his scalp. He was still tall, dark-skinned even for a black man, and in the best shape of his life thanks to a little magical conditioning. And he always wore his finest suit.

“How’s your boy? Eric, right?” Don asked, taking advantage of the reprieve to catch his breath.

“In Egypt, with his granddad. He’ll learn more there, anyway, and he’s safer, too.” Bryce replied. “So, what’s the story here? Why aren’t you with your wife?”

“You would know if you’re here too. The bastard that attacked Reanna last week is here. I know it. I have to take him down, before he tries for her again,” Don said with firm conviction. “How did you find out?”

“I’ve been tracking him. Picked up his trail over at Harvard University of all places, but no idea what he was doing there. He’s a Romanian named Vincent Radughi, and man, has his family got a past. All the way back the days of Vlad the Impaler. They got a source, Donny, and I think it’s one of the Fallen. A dark archon.”

“Well then, let us go relieve him of his life, but not until I question him first, Terry,” Don warned his old friend.

“Yeah, yeah, no bashing his brains in until we have a word with him – a few words,” Bryce chuckled. “But we gotta be careful with him. He ain’t gonna be no pushover acolyte like these punks. He’s been around the block a few times, and no telling how close he is with the archon.”

They left the room, still on the alert for more guards, or acolytes. But they encountered none. When they came to a door at the end of the hall, Bryce smashed it open, and Don tossed a small steel sphere into the room that exploded in a brilliant flash of pale blue light. Then they cautiously entered the room, ready for an attack that never came.

Alone, sitting in a chair at a desk across the room was a hawkish-looking man with a full head of dark hair that appeared to be in his late sixties. He seemed perfectly comfortable in his seat, grinning at them and showing no signs of distress from Don’s archon grenade.

That him?” Don asked.


“You go low, and I’ll go high?” Don asked.



The two men dashed through the room at the Romanian man, who sprung to his feet with smooth ease that belied his apparent age and launched the desk at them in a single motion. Bryce hit it first, smashing it and barely slowing as Don sailed over the top. Don crashed into the seasoned acolyte first, leading with a large, dagger sized blade. Bryce was there a split second later sliding into the fray feet first.

But their worlds exploded in a bright orange flash of light, and they were sent tumbling away. Don crashed into the far wall and thudded to the ground heavily. Bryce rolled into the remnants of the destroyed desk, groaning in pain.

Bryce was able to lift his head up first. “That ain’t no acolyte, is it?” he stated, more than asked.

“It would appear not,” Don grunted, picking himself from the floor.

“I am known here as Vincent Radughi,” the man spoke calmly in a low tone, smiling, “but you may call me Visnau.”

“Well, Visnau,” Bryce said, hopping from foot to foot and shaking off the pain, “I’m about to call you dead.”

“Careful, friend,” Don warned. “You’ve never faced an archon. We have to be smart about this.” Then he looked at the imposing archon in the form a man before him. “I want to know why you attacked my wife,” he said evenly.

He just grinned evilly back at Don, and Bryce knew there would be no answers given freely from the dark archon. They would have to wrench their answers from him after they pounded him into the ground. A task he knew to be far more difficult than anything he had ever attempted before. But it promised to be fun, and that made all the difference for a man like Bryce, who was fueled by the green mana of pure happiness.

The End

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