Cassius reached out with his right hand and touched the black liquid swirling on the hotel floor. It clung to his fingers and grasped around him like a fitted glove. He held his ground and let it do as it wanted.
As it made its way up his arm, he conjured enough of his magic to connect with the Third Eye. It was an overseeing being and he was able to see all its memories, everything it had seen in the last week in this very room.
A vision flashed through his mind. He saw the room reflected in front of him, but it was different. The bed was unmade and a bag of items was strewn across the floor. A dark-skinned man came out from the bathroom. Cassius couldn’t make out his face, but he could tell right away this was the Mekiah he was looking for.
Cassius was a Tracker, bred from select Mekiahs to become the ultimate “dog” for tracing escaped prisoners and slaves.
He was here on a mission. To find a Mekiah who’d escaped from the largest slave facility in Xtavia: Faymort. With a sample of the Mekiah’s magic, he was instructed to track the Mekiah’s location. That was all the information he was given.
The Third Eye acted as a filter. He was able to see the traces of the Mekiah’s magic and the residue of his body. His touch and scent were everywhere in the hotel. Outside of that, Cassius could sense him in the Veil.
The Veil was the magic realm beyond the earth. It’s what gave Cassius his power and all other magic-wielding beings such as the Mekiah and the Exterus. Though he was restricted to only a sliver of his magic abilities, it was far more than he needed to contact the Veil and use it to find traces of other magical beings.
The liquid on his hand felt more like tar now. His skin broke out in hives, turning red with irritation. He pushed his mind away from his body, forcing himself to stay inside the walls of the Veil. He grabbed ahold of the Mekiah’s magic.
He cursed when his connection snapped.
Scrambling to grab on, he sent out a wave of his magic. It wrapped around the Mekiah’s trail, lighting up the Veil with hues of purple. He could see the Mekiah’s path more easily. But he now faced a bigger obstacle.
Though he could see the Mekiah’s magic, it meant he only had a limited time before the magic evaporated. If he didn’t find the Mekiah now, he wouldn’t have another chance.
A shock of pain rippled up his arm. Cassius hissed as the pain traveled down his body. This wasn’t the black liquid. It was his warning sign from the Shadows—members of his SWARM—telling him to get the hell out of there.
The Veil was closing in on him. He only had five minutes before it shut down and trapped him inside of it forever.
Cassius ran through his options. Either he could connect himself directly to the Third Eye and potentially reveal an ability no one should have or he could die inside the Veil.
He sucked in a breath, rolled his eyes at himself, and said fuck it to make himself feel better about it.
The Third Eye clawed at his brain. The phantom hands twisted and squirmed around as they tried to find a way in. He slowly let down the magic barrier around his mind.
It slithered in and grasped onto his thoughts and emotions. It ate up every detail, every memory, and every thought it could reach. The feeling wasn’t even slightly pleasant. It felt as if someone had stuck a nail up his nose and was trying to touch the tip of it to his brain.
He endured the painful sensation until the Third Eye was finished. It latched onto him as he granted it access. After it was satisfied that he wasn’t going away, it pulled him inside into itself.
He jolted forward and he put his hands out to brace his fall into the darkness. Just as he thought he might land face first, he was stopped in mid-air by an invisible force. The Third Eye held onto him with an arm-like hold. It pulled him back and held him still.
It was still picking at his brain, sifting through mindlessly for every drop of memory. It flipped through random thoughts and bits of dialogue he once said. He pushed back against it, using his magic to force it out of his head. Once it wasn’t overbearing his mind, he asked for information in exchange for his memories.
The Third Eye continued to push against his magic, trying to get back to his mind, but he held it at a firm distance. He had to push repeatedly against it until the Third Eye finally got the message.
The Third Eye pulled back, its invisible hands sliding away from his mind. The tingling sensation in his head vanished and he was dizzy after. But he held his ground and waited for the Third Eye to open up to him.
A force jolted his thoughts back into his head and they snapped like rubber-band. He jerked back from the sting. Once he was right again, he searched out with his mind for the opening.
The Veil was nothing but a barrier between his world and the Third Eye. The Third Eye was something greater. It held information about everything and anyone in the world. But there was so much trapped inside o it that it made it almost impossible to find anything.
He imagined the Third Eye as a giant pile of books. It was easier to think of it like that instead of thousands of thoughts.
Another shock went through his arm. It pulsed three times.
The countdown had officially started.
He welded up enough energy inside of him to light up the strands of magic strings floating inside the Third Eye. If he wanted to make it out of here in time, he would have to break some rules. One of those being that he wasn’t allowed to use more than half of his magical strength.
He smirked to himself.
It was a good thing his magic dampener didn’t work into the Third Eye.
Strands of purple, red, and blue lit up. It was an endless column surrounding him. He already knew that there were too many to follow for him to find the particular Mekiah.
But if I could feed on them…
The idea was insane. But there was only that option left for him.
He pulled the closest of strings toward him. They came willingly, not knowing what fate was in store for them. The strands wrapped around his body and sunk into his skin. The absorption was awkward and made him sick to his stomach. He couldn’t waste any more time though. He had to push through it.
Once the magic strands were completely absorbed, he pulled back from the Third Eye.
Before he was even done transitioning from the Third Eye to the Veil, he sent a blast of magic that would have sent the meters ballistic if the implant in his arm was still working. He could only hope that it was still in shock from entering the Third Eye.
The wave caught onto the trail of the Mekiah.
Cassius was just about to yank the trail towards him which would pull the Mekiah from wherever they were and bring them into a magically altered prison when the connection snapped.
He looked down at his hands.
All of his magic disintegrated. He could feel nothing and the connection from outside the Veil was dead.
He stared wide-eyed down at his hands. He tried to send out a spark but there was nothing. The Veil was silent.
True fear, something he’d never felt since he’d been dragged from his mother’s arms, truck him.
The Third Eye let out a high pitched screech so loud that it caused blood to run from his nose and ears. He couldn’t move. The pain ripped through him and he opened his mouth to scream but he couldn’t breathe either.
Cassius looked up.
A strange purple light flashed before him. From the flash, a black hole formed. And from that hole, a demon emerged.
It had dark skin, fangs, and black glossy horns protruding from the top of its forehead. Magic pulsed from its body. Cassius could feel it pushing against him. He stepped back, recoiling from the foreign magic, but the demon snapped a coil of magic around his waist. With every ounce of power he had left, he tried to rip away from the enchanting magic. The magic was unlike anything he’d known before. It was a sweet lullaby he wanted to fall asleep to.
His eyes began to drift closed and his body stopped struggling. He couldn’t understand how he could be overcome so easily. He was the strongest Mekiah in Parlera. Even for a slave, he was stronger than most of the free soldiers.
This demon was also unlike any he’d seen before. Not even in case studies did he recognize the magic nor the characteristics of the demon’s body.
The truly terrifying thing he couldn’t wrap his head around was how close it resembled Mekiah. It’s dark skin and dark hair might be darker than Cassius’s, but it came darn close. Besides the horns and fangs, it was too close for comfort.
It opened its mouth. The words were a jumble of syllables he couldn’t make out.
He gritted his teeth and tried one more time to pull free of the magic holding him. There was just a spark of magic left inside of him. He conjured up as much as he could of it and flung it to the invisible ropes tying him. The attempt was futile.
The demon drew his pitiful ball of magic towards it. It turned the ball around and inspected it.
Cassius’s heart pounded in his chest. It traveled to his head and there it formed into a headache.
Like a miracle, a zap hit his arm.
A minute. A fucking minute!
Though he was glad that there was still a way for him to get out of there, he wasn’t so glad that he would turn up empty-handed. All because some demon decided it wanted a snack.
This demon had a hold on him that was stronger than anything he’d ever experienced. The Exteru were the only ones that ever came close to being this strong and they’d been created to kill Mekiah.
He’d met one this strong before, an Exteru that was here when the first Extermination occurred. That Exteru was the one to take him from his mother, rip him from the life he’d known, and throw him into the Xtavia military. The moment the Exteru had entered the room, it was like all life had been sucked out. He had felt the Exteru ripping his magic to shreds, sucking it in, and devouring it without even trying.
That’s what he felt now. His insides were being torn apart from the inside. He could feel them wriggle and squirm, pushing against the sides of his stomach. He groaned as he felt the skin of his belly stretch and then settle.
The demon opened its jaws. He no longer had control over his body. The air around him sucked in and he felt every last bit of strength bring ripped from his body. He let out a groan.
The demon hovered over him. It locked eyes with him.
Then, it sunk its fangs into his skin.
He cried out as the blood burst from his veins. Flesh tore from his throat and a shock of pain shot over his body. The fangs dug deep until they hit bone and then the demon ripped its teeth out. A thick chunk of flesh tore from Cassius’s neck.
He tried to scream but he choked on blood.
The demon stared down at him. It moved its lips, speaking words Cassius couldn’t hear nor understand. In a rapid session, the words came at him. He felt something click in his mind.
Before he could contemplate the meaning, the shocks in his arm intensified.
Thank fucking god.
And then, he was ripped away from the Veil.