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Riven by Jemar

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  • Riven by Jemar

    It was a cold, wet day in April. This, however, was perfectly normal for Liverpool, England. It was cold and wet most of the time. Nevertheless, the weather was not a deterrent to business, and people hurried down the streets, in and out of brightly lit shops. One man in particular did not seem to join in the bustle. He was dark-haired and wore a long black trench coat embroidered with gold trim, and beautiful black tricorne that marked him as a gentleman. He also carried a walking stick, on the top of which sat a glowing bauble. The man strode slowly, pausing every few seconds to gaze around him, as if to take in the sights, but also to establish a position.
    “'Ello, sir, you need 'elp?” The man paused in mid step and looked down. There was a ragged boy standing directly in front of him, looking up.
    “Hmm... I suppose I could use some. Where is the corner of Elm and Lockwood?”
    “Right there, mister. Heh, you got real close mister. Just a couple blocks away.” The boy turned and pointed down the street aways. He then turned back and held out his hand, palm up.
    “Well, thank you. I appreciate your assistance, boy.” The man started to move around the boy, but the boy managed to stay in front of the him, still holding out his hand.
    “Hey, hey. Tuppence for my troubles, eh what, mister?”
    “Oh. Hmm. Yes.” The man reached in his pocket and frowned. He tucked his cane under one arm and began reaching in other pockets, looking. Presently, he grinned sheepishly and help out two empty palms.
    “Well. I am dreadfully sorry, but I haven't got any money on me a present.”
    “Oh come now, mister, a gentleman like you must 'ave something.”
    “Just the clothes on my back, I'm afraid.”
    At that moment, a large, well-muscled man who had been leaning against a nearby wall and smoking a cigar straightened up.
    “Well, well, what 'ave we 'ere?” He strode over to the dark-haired man and the boy. “So, not gonna pay one of me boys 'is due, eh? Looks to me like you got plenty, mate. Tell you wot, you give me that cane you got there, and we'll call it even, wot? Can't refuse an offer like that, eh?” He reached towards the dark-haired man's cane. Very quickly, the dark-haired man's hand snaked out and grabbed the large man's wrist. There was a crackling of lightning, and the large man gasped and jerked his arm away. He held up his wrist. There were burn streaks running down it, and the air smelled of burning flesh. He glared.
    “You would have gotten far worse had you touched my cane, friend.” said the dark-haired man.
    “You... you are one of them.” The large man glared, then spit at him. “Don't you call me friend. Ever. Come on, lad. We're leaving. We ain't staying around with the likes of 'im.” He grabbed the boy's arm, and strode off angrily.
    The dark-haired man sighed, then walked quickly down the street towards the corner of Elm and Lockwood. It was definitely time. In his time no one would have dared to spit.
    Seated at the corner was a young shoe shiner. The dark-haired man placed his foot on the shiner, and said, “Peaches, lad. Looper twice, send 'round, ships in at dawn. Riven.”
    The lad didn't look up. But his voice quavered when he spoke.
    “Mister Venry?”
    “That's right.”
    “One block down, two over right-ways, the old warehouse.”
    “And the day, lad?”
    “April 3, sir, 1348.”
    “Chin up. It will be fine. I promise.”
    Venry continued down the street, thinking. So, only one hundred and eleven years. That wasn't so bad. It could have been less time. He sighed. It could have been more time, too. Well, he was here now. Things were going to plan. But the plan was just beginning.
    He arrived at the warehouse and looked up at the large wooden doors. The sign should have been on the mantel. To the right there was an alleyway. He turned and strode down it, carefully avoiding all the refuse. Alleyways were always the worst part of a city.
    The man paused. There was a side-door... and... yes, above it was the sign. His sign. It was a double helix, and in center oval there was an eye, the pupil of which was a perched raven. He reached up with his cane and touched the glowing bauble to the raven's head. The raven blinked twice, gazed at him, and then the door opened. Venry stepped into a very well-lit warehouse. The door shut silently behind him.
    It was really quite a large warehouse. It was also very full of people. People, however, does not just mean humans, and this was very apparent in the warehouse. Dwarves mixed with orcs, who mixed with trolls, who attempted and failed at making intelligent conversation with humans, who were trying to chat with elves, who in their turn tried to avoid everyone but themselves. The warehouse was a picture of bustle and interaction. There was, at one end, a sort of elevated platform that gave the impression of being a stage, and on one end of the stage there sat a chair and desk. The dark haired man had entered at that end of the stage, and upon seeing the desk, pulled out the chair and sat down in it. He picked up a quill pen from the desk, pulled out a short, thin, knife from one of his pockets, and began to sharpen the pen. The first stroke made a large scraping noise, and all conversation withing the warehouse came to an abrupt halt. Some other men who had been sitting in chairs on the other side of the stage, each with long, silvery beards, stood up. They wore robes of deep, rich blue, that sparkled when they moved. Each carried a staff made of black wood with golden veins lancing erratically down it's length.
    They walked slowly and solemnly to the center of the stage.
    Venry dipped his pen in the ink well.
    “Friends.” spoke the first, “We are gathered here to discuss a very important issue.”
    Venry began to write.
    Outside, rain fell.
    Far away, in Crimea, a steady stream of rats poured from a warehouse.

    * * * * *
    “As most of you know,” began the first man, “I am Malkin Thawn, arch-councilor of the Malkin, the highest order, and the governing body, of Magi. To my left” he gestured to his left, “is Malkin Dromvine, and to my right is Malkin Thorn.” he shifted his body to acknowledge the man on his right. “This meeting” he continued, “is not a council. It is not a discussion. There will be no debate, there will be not vote. All of you should have some inkling of the purpose behind this informative meeting. However, I shall begin at the beginning.
    “Magic is old. Very old. Quite likely it goes back to the creation of Time himself. As we all know, it is a powerful force in the world. It can be used for great harm, or great good. However, in recent years, the world has begun to diverge. New physical discoveries are being made all the time, and some feel that the world is leaving magic behind, that magic is becoming a thing of the past; dated, if you will. These new sciences are just beginning to clash with magic, and this conflict will only escalate. In approximately 500 years, at the rate things are progressing, and according to my crystal ball, technology will outdo magic. Magic will have made advances, of course, and the two will be neck and neck in about 400 years, but we will not be able to keep up. Also, up until that time, there will be wars of great magnitude between the newer students of the physical sciences, and those of more an arcane discipline. Then, 500 years from now, they, the students of the physical sciences, will obliterate us.”
    There were gasps around there warehouse, and one could whispers of: “Well, I thought it was a possibility, but I had never imagined...”, and “Who would have known...” and “So we are really going to go through with this, then...” Once most of the whispers had quieted down, a clear voice from the center of the room called out, “Why don't we kill them now? While we are still stronger?”
    Thawn smiled sadly.
    “We could kill them,” he said, “but more would arise. It is not a progression that we can stop, really.” He looked slowly around the room. “But we have a plan. For the past 250 years, we have been creating a special sort of rat. When released, they infect everyone who contains magical ability that they come in contact with, with a special charm. Once the correct spell is said, then the world... nay, the universe, will be riven in two. All those with magic will exist in both worlds, but only for a short time. The charm will kill their bodies in this world, and will take them completely to the new world, the riven world. There, magic can have free reign. This plan will solve all our problems.”
    There was a stunned silence.
    “Wait.” said one voice, after a minute. “What about our family and friends? What if we are magic but they are not? What if we do not wish to leave, or we wish to bring them with us?”
    “Well,” said Thawn slowly, “This is no problem for any race except human. As we all know, every race besides human was born from humanity through magic, so all other races have magic naturally in them. For the humans, though, there is no way to take along friends and family. And there is no way to stay if you do ave magic.”
    “You cannot go through with this plan.” said the voice.
    “As I said before, there will be no debate. The plan is going through.”
    “You are right.” said the voice. “There will be no debate.”
    Suddenly a man was standing behind the arch-councilor. He had pasty white skin and shoulder length black hair. He was dressed in soft black, black that fades into things and becomes a part of them. He had a dagger in each hand. He slashed quickly at Thawm with the dagger in his right hand. In the same movement, he pulled his left arm back, and aimed the dagger as if to throw it at the far wall.
    The dagger in the would-be assassin's right hand never hit Thawm. A shield of bright light sprang up and deflected it. Thawm smiled, and without turning, said, “You cannot defeat a Malkin that easily, my lad. Especially not the arch-councilor.”
    Thawm quickly made the teleportation hand signals.
    He disappeared just as the assassin threw the dagger in his left hand at the wall. Thawm reappeared standing against the same wall the dagger was flying towards, just in time to act as a beautiful target. The dagger buried itself to the hilt in the old wizard.
    “Yes.” said the assassin. “I can.”
    Blood dribbled down the magi's chin. He gave a skeletal grin. “That's not what I meant, fool.” he said. “The rats were released an hour ago. You lose, Darvold. Even your life.” Thawm gave a chuckle, and then he died.
    Darvold stood still as a stone. He was stunned. Through his shock, he barely noticed one hand from Dromvine on his right shoulder, and one from Thorn on his left. Very quickly, lightning coursed through through their hands into Darvold's body. After a moment, there was nothing but ashes.
    Thorn turn to the rest of the members in the warehouse. “That is all.” He said. “Go home. Tell your relatives, your friends and family, what is going to happen. Goodbye.”
    The crowd left quickly.
    When everyone was gone except Thorn and Dromvine, Venry stood up.
    “Well done.” He said.
    “Thank you, my lord.” Thorn and Dromvine bowed so low their beards touched the floor.
    “I will be the first Traveler.”
    “Yes my lord.”
    “We shall have to set up training facilities.”
    “Yes my lord.”
    “It has been a long time, has it not.”
    “Yes it has, my lord.”
    “What do you think they will call the charm, seeing the bodies of so many people in this world die?”
    “Probably something simplistic and cliché, my lord. I would guess, hmm, perhaps 'The Black Death.'”
    “That works just fine. Spread the word. Soon that name will be known over the world, and it will go down through history. Oh, and then clean up poor old Thawm. I remember when he was the student of my apprentice, Darvold.”
    Rats scattered throughout the city Gizlyar, and onto boats, spreading the charm and the curse of the Black Death.
    "Haters, gonna hate"