The power that a mortal holds on the world is very underappreciated by mortals themselves. It all comes down to the fact that mortals take the power they hold for granted. It isn’t their fault that they don’t notice or care much for it, it is, after all, something that is intrinsic to them, born in it and to be used casually several times throughout the day. The power a mortal holds is not power to them, it’s just something they do because that’s what they do. Free will isn’t regarded as power to them, free will is the ability to choose between doing or not doing something. How is the “power of choosing” power at all?
What most mortals don’t know is that the “power of choosing” isn’t something that everyone has -- that things that aren’t mortals have. The supernatural, the creatures of fairytales, and urban legends do exist. And just like them, magic exists as well.
“Mr. Avarez,” said the figure before me. “A pleasure to meet you.”
“Uderach,” I answered with my own greeting. “It’s a displeasure to meet you.”
The power, mostly known as magic, isn’t something like the power used by the gods. In our world, everything holds magic. Every living being, every emotion, and every inert object. Anything that has been named, everything that has yet to be named, and all that will never be named or known have power.
And we mortals hold the power to change it and weave it all to our liking. That’s the power of free will. The mortal power to do as we like. A power that we don’t appreciate much, but one that is held high by the preternatural world, those that don’t have free will.
Which why standing before me -- and might I add, very menacingly -- is one such creature. But not one known by earthly standards, this one is an alien creature -- literally an alien. Not a mortal alien, instead, a creature of the spirit realm that lives in the alien planet earthlings have recently settled, only a few centuries back.
“You are a man that does adhere to expectations,” Uderach said clearly mocking me. “Your infamous personality precedes you elegantly.”
“What does a leech like you want with me?” I said with as much disgust I could muster while keeping my face as straight as a laser beam.
Meet the torviela, a very weirdly related creature to the vampires of Earth, but that was born of the magical weavings of the planet Sovail. Unlike their earthly counterparts, they don’t turn humans into torvielas, but they do turn raderas, the intelligent species of the planet, into them. And, equally, vampires don’t turn raderas into vampires. But they do try to kill the parallel of their prey.
Uderach Kayeket, was a torviela noble of a small, almost insignificant, torviela house. Its hunchback posture, with long bulky arms, with deep orange color, showed some sort of dominance. It had a face that, for all human purposes, looked disfigured and grotesque, but for any other radera probably looked deliciously sensual. Three eyes, its dry skin displayed many dimple-like structures that were toucher that they looked, with their glossy but soft-looking finish over them. It wore clothes that resembled a simple, red, human t-shirt and long pants that looked like they have been roughed up due to the many years of wear, but that was most likely bought that way. The radera culture seemed to have assimilated human early twenty-first century culture.
He had come to offer me a choice. The supernatural can’t make choices but they can abuse the loophole in the free will law that impedes them from taking any action that does not coincide with their nature. The spiritual creatures are suckers for deals, it’s like they are having a taste of free will. Mortals that strike deals can share their free will temporarily, extending and allowing others to borrow the power if only for that specific task.
“I’ll destroy you right here,” it said moments ago while approaching me, “unless you want to strike a deal.” For a radera its English pronunciation was impressive for a radera, but then again, it was a torviela, probably had lived for twice or thrice as many decades as I’ve lived.
I’m no pushover, I’d probably threaten the creature to kill it if they tried anything funny, but Uderach had nothing to lose but its existence, and to them, it is just something else to wager for greater power. Even if I could weave the magic into a spell and incinerate it, it would not be easy to hit it with it, and the creature could strike me down if it really wanted to. Just like vampires, torviela are to be taken seriously.
“A deal?” I asked, faking my actions as if to think I could choose either way and be fine with it. “I’m not really in the mood for it. I’ll make a deal with you,” I said nonchalantly watching its face strike a chilling grin in satisfaction, but I continued to fake it and warn it, “if it’s reasonable.”
“A deal,” it said almost moaning in the ecstasy of the moment. “I’ll give you a deal, hadtherad.”
“Wizard,” I said proudly.
“Wizard, hadtherad,” the creature said in annoyance. “It’s the same kind of mortal just from different places.”
“Tell me what you want, vampire.”
The creature grunted in anger, it clearly didn’t like to be called that way.
“My point,” I said triumphantly.
“I have something you want,” it offered. “And I am willing to give it to you so long as you help me deal with a job.”
“Help you with a job?” I know that job wasn’t just going to be serving coffee or calculating taxes. A job probably had to do with the ongoing vampiric war between the two parallel leeches. There was no way I’d get myself involved in it. Not even if it had something to offer me in exchange. Nothing it could give was worth the trouble.
“Information on the whereabouts of your nephew.”
Nothing except for that. I tried to keep my face from showing surprise but Uderach must have seen something on me, maybe a shift in posture or a twitch of the mouth, eyebrow, or head, because the dimples on its face turned red -- a sign of excitement. How had it known about my nephew and my amateur investigation?
The first rule of negotiations is not to show your opponent that they hold a better hand than yours, and the second one is to have confidence, or fake it if you had to. Uderach had something I’d wanted for a couple of months when my sister had told me her son had disappeared. I’d used my magic to find it but nothing came up, and I’m not a private investigator to be able to gather information or figure out what could have happened to him. I have a simple job as a ship mechanic. I had to make it uncomfortable, make it think that choosing out of this position was as beneficial to it as striking a deal with me.
“Information on him? And how about I get that information myself?” I prepared magical energies inside me, I wasn’t thinking of using any spells, but I knew some vampires were sensitive to magical energies in some ways. Maybe it gives them chills, but they do sometimes react to a certain level of magical atmospheric distortion.
Its eyes moved to my thorax, between my chest and my belly, somewhere around where the stomach should be. Its gleaming face turned serious and then moved its sight to my face and said: “it won’t end well for either of us. You know this just as well as I do.”
“Would you like to bet on it?” I forced more energies inside me, the magical density was growing higher every second. I knew it was getting uncomfortable, the more time we talked the more power I’d gather and the stronger my magic will be. In only a few seconds I could pulverize it where it stood in a matter of a whisper.
I’m not a strong magic caster, my flexibility in the arts is not as high as I would like, but just enough for others to feel uncomfortable. If I had more flexibility I’d probably be a force to reckon with. At the very least my magic capabilities are more brawn than brain. If all I can do is throw fireballs, I won’t be throwing golf-sized one, not even bowling balls. I know very well I can dish out child-sized, blue-hot, living fire. And with the power I’ve gathered, my spell should generate some as big as myself.
“Hear me out, wizard,” it said forcing himself to speak the words. “I swear on my family name I’ll abide by the deal. I swear that I have information useful to you. But I won’t share anything unless you give me assistance.”
“Then spit it, torviela,” I answered back.
“Be my champion, Wizard Avarez.”
Surprise after surprise, this time I couldn’t hide it behind a poker face. My magical energies dissipated and the disgusting creature of the night smiled and gave out a heartfelt belly laugh.
“What?” I asked still confused.
Interrupting its laughter, it answered back. “And with this, I’ve won a bet.”