Warlock in Hiding

Chapter One

I stood up from my table, still wiping my mouth with the napkin and began walking through the packed Indian restaurant having just devoured a delicious chicken tikka masala. My favourite of the curries.

‘Sir! Excuse me! Excuse me, sir!’ the very un-Indian waiter called from behind me. I walked on, hoping I could get out before he caught up to me, but I could hear him closing the gap between us. His hand landed on my shoulder and I stopped walking reluctantly.

‘No, no, no,’ I said, shaking my head as I turned to face him. ‘We don’t touch.’ I pushed his hand off my shoulder and fixed him with a reprimanding look.

‘You have not paid your bill,’ he said, looking flustered as he looked up at me. I’m not a tall guy, 5’9, or thereabout, but this guy was really short.

‘Yeah, this one’s on the house,’ I informed him. I took in the look of bewilderment on his thin, hairless face before I turned and once again made my way towards the door. The miniature waiter must’ve made some sort of signal because the security guard moved away from the door and headed for me. This guy was not so short. He dwarfed me in both height and width. As he approached it was like a shadow had fallen over me. Now I was the one craning my head up to look into his bulbous face, topped with thick curly hair.

‘Problem?’ he said, not to me, but to the waiter behind me.

‘He has not paid his bill,’ said the waiter, a hint of smugness now in his voice. I resented that. the urge to hurt him crept up within me and I had to force it back down.

‘As I explained to this little fellow,’ I said, in my most restrained voice, which probably wasn’t that restrained at all. ‘My meal was on the house. You can check with the owner.’ Usually, when I tried this they’d go and check with the owner allowing me time to get away. Sometimes they even took my word for it. Other times, more than I would care to admit, it did not work and I had to resort to other methods. This was one of those times.

‘I am the owner,’ said the minute waiter.

‘Ah,’ I said, smiling awkwardly at the bloke blocking my exit. ‘Well, that complicates things.’ Only a tad, though. I raised my hand to the bouncer’s face, snapped my fingers and released a burst of magic that sent him to sleep. The great mountain of a man fell like an avalanche. As his body crashed to the floor the plates on the nearby table jolted up in the air and clattered back down again. Curry spilled over the green tablecloth. 

‘Goodness gosh!’ shouted the waiter, leaping away from me. I turned to face him, still fighting the urge to hurt him for that slither of smugness in his tone before. I can be a petty guy sometimes. Ah hell, why resist it? I thought.

I flicked my wrist and sent him cartwheeling into the table behind him. The table flipped overtaking him with it. I saw him become tangled within the table cloth and then land in a heap, dishes falling him around him. Broken poppadoms fell down like a shower of confetti. I let out a contented sigh and then strode through the restaurant, very aware of all the stunned faces staring up at me from the tables around the room. All these lucky people had come out for a meal and got some free entertainment too.

As I approached the doors they burst inwards and a man dressed all in black charged in. Right behind him, two men gave chase. One of them lunged through the air, grabbed the man in black’s legs and tackled him to the ground. The other man leaped on top of him to ensure he didn’t get away. Diners and staff were screaming, and people were darting about to get clear of the brawl that was now going on in the middle of the restaurant. I was no longer the centre of everyone’s attention.

I watched with interest as they scuffled. There was something about all three of them that wasn’t quite right, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. They just looked odd. As I watched I realised it wasn’t all of them. The man in black looked perfectly fine but the two chasing him weren’t men at all. They both had pointy ears which angled up towards the top of their heads. Their skin was milky and every now and then when the light fell on them it seemed to shimmer.

As they scuffled a small velvet bag slipped from the man in black’s pocket and landed directly at my feet. I looked about but nobody else seemed to have noticed. I opened my hand and summoned the bag to me. It shot up from the floor and I closed my fingers around it. Whatever was inside was heavy. Was this what they were fighting over?

The man in black managed to fight his way up and shot off across the restaurant and through the kitchen doors before they could stop him. The other two bolted after him without a moment’s hesitation.

None of them had noticed that I now had the thing they were almost certainly fighting over. I contemplated going after them. Then I decided not to. If they were going to be so careless with whatever was in the bag then it was their own fault they’d lost it. Besides, it was obviously valuable if they were willing to fight in the middle of a restaurant over it.

I left through the front doors and as I walked down the chilly street I sent a little warming magic through my body. The January chill faded away quickly. I couldn’t wait until I got back to the place that currently served as home to see what was in the bag. I held out my palm and tipped the contents of the bag out. A heavy ruby fell into my palm. It was at least half the size of my palm and cut into an octagon. The ruby was rimmed with gold and although I didn’t know much about jewellery, I somehow knew that it was solid gold. Light from the streetlamp hit the ruby and mesmerising red strands of light cascaded off it in all directions. It was like have some sort of laser light display in the palm of my hand. Strands of liquid gold shot out of the ruby, one on each of its edges. They ran across my palms, through my fingers and down the base of my hand. They twisted around to the back where they all connected on the back of my hand. The gold solidified until it was as solid as the border of the ruby itself. Then the ruby began to glow. As the strange hand decoration shone I felt a small burst of energy pulse through me. It started up my arm and then spread through my whole body. It was like a burst of adrenaline. I felt lighter but stronger.

The thing still looked ridiculous wrapped around my hand like a cross between a glove and a bracelet. It was entirely impractical. I reached out to remove it, not that there was any clasp, but then I stopped, my fingers grazing the bands. It didn’t look that bad, and it made me feel so… there was no word for the feeling it imbued me with. Marvellous, fantastic, powerful, divine. None of them was sufficient.

I no longer wanted to go home. I wasn’t the least bit tired. No. I wanted to stay out. I walked down the road until I came to The Clairville pub. I didn’t usually frequent bars, not being much of a drinker, but I was feeling like it now. I pushed open the door and strode in like I’d been there a hundred times before. I’d actually never been there before. The building used to be a supermarket so it was a big pub. It was fairly busy for a Wednesday night, not that I knew how busy pubs usually were on any night of the week. Nobody batted an eyelid at my arrival. I liked it that way. I walked up to the bar and the serving girl came right over.

‘What can I get ya?’ she said in a heavy Scouse accent. That was the problem with living in Wallasey, it was right across the river from Liverpool so everyone was Scouse. The accent was a bit cute at first, on girls anyway, but after a month or two of not understanding what anybody was saying it quickly grew annoying. On this occasion, I understood her perfectly. It was a combination of a simple, obvious phrase and the fact that I was getting used to the grubby accent. I’m a Southerner, part of being from the South is getting to look down on those from the North.

Any sane person would wonder why I chose to live in a place I obviously did not like. Well, the reason is that nobody would ever expect me to live here. Therefore any unsavoury characters who might be looking for me would never bother looking in Wallasey. Most people have never even heard of the place, anyway. Not unless they’re from the area, and I can hand on my heart say that I did not know anybody from the area.

‘Just a coke please,’ I told her.

‘A coke?’ she repeated, looking at me with disdain. She obviously did not approve of my choice of beverage.

‘Is that a problem?’ I asked, adding a little attitude. I don’t like to be judged. Especially not for something so trivial.

‘No. Most lads that aren’t kids tend not to drink pop in a pub.’ Pop was one of those annoying Northern things. By pop, she meant a fizzy drink. In the local bakery, they called bread rolls batches. That annoyed me to no end. I could just about accept bap, but batch was going way too far. I ignored her comment and resisted the urge to throw one of the nearby dirty glasses at her. She poured me a pint of coke and then slammed the glass down on the bar hard enough to send a fair amount of the fizzy brown stuff spilling onto the side. I wondered what I’d done to deserve that. She was the one being rude.

‘Two quid,’ she said and held out her hand. now it was time for me to have some fun. I don’t have a job. I move around from town to town a lot, so finding work isn’t all that easy. Also, I don’t want to work. When you’ve got magic you don’t have to. My trick was to take what I wanted and if anybody protested I hit them with a sleeping spell as I did in the restaurant. Basically, I steal things. In this situation, I felt fully justified in not paying my bill.

‘I’ll be drinking for free,’ I told her with a small smile. I raised my hand ready to put her to sleep and the ruby in my palm glowed richly, casting my hand in warm red light. Her eyes, which had been annoyed, calmed down and glazed over.

‘Alright then, pal,’ she said and then she turned and walked away. The ruby stopped glowing and I stared at the palm of my hand in wonder. I understood why those three men had been fighting over this hideous piece of jewellery. I’d stumbled upon a stone that gave me mind control. Fucking fantastic.

 


Chapter Two

I took my drink to a circular booth on the far side of the pub. The glass was sticky where the horrendous barmaid had slammed it down and spilled the drink. If there’s one thing I do not like it’s sticky fingers.

There were few people nearby so I would have some privacy. I didn’t plan on doing anything that required privacy I just preferred to stay out of the way. I slid into the booth and sipped my free Coke only to discover it was a Pepsi. Anybody who says Pepsi is as good is a liar, and anybody who says it’s better ought to be shot.

I wasn’t sitting for long before a woman with a striking resemblance to an otter came over. ‘Booths are for groups not for loners,’ she said in a crass voice that was far too loud. The pub was not busy enough to warrant such shouting.

‘I’m not hard of hearing,’ I told her. I made sure my voice was incredibly low to emphasise the lack of a need to shout.

‘Whatever. Just move so me and my friends can sit down.’ There was nobody near her which made me wonder which friends she was referring to.

‘I find it hard to believe that you have even a single friend,’ I told her. I took a long slurp of my Pepsi to celebrate my witty retort. She slapped both her palms on the table and leaned in close.

‘If you’re on your own you have to leave!’ I stared up at her, trying to think of a suitable spell to punish her with. I could set her hair on fire. Could make her shit herself, but then I’d have to put up with the smell. Could turn her temporarily blind. I liked that one. The fear on her face would be compensation enough for her incredible rudeness. I never got to put my plan into motion because somebody else came to my aide.

‘He’s not alone,’ a voice as rich as chocolate said. The woman and I both looked over at the newcomer. Her eyes grew so wide I thought they’d fall right out of their sockets. She took a huge step back. To be fair I was pretty shocked too. The man who’d spoken was about seven feet tall. He had long, black, wavy hair that hung around his dark skin like a mane. A craggy black beard dangled beneath his chin, tied with a band halfway down. His blue eyes were so bright in contrast to everything else that they practically glowed. He was wearing a long black trench coat and a heavy pair of Doctor Martens that looked like they could crush a skull. The guy looked like he could take on the whole pub and win. In a word he was hench.

‘He’s with me,’ the guy finished in his deep booming voice.

‘Oh, alright then,’ the woman said meekly before scurrying away. Then the giant turned his shiny blue eyes on me.

‘Mind if I join you?’ he asked. He didn’t have a Scouse accent so he wasn’t from around here. I wasn’t really sure what it was. It was English for sure, but there was also a tinge of American somehow.

‘Dare I refuse?’ I said and he cracked a small smile.

‘You probably shouldn’t.’ He slid in opposite me and even sitting down he still loomed over me. I had no idea what the guy wanted but I didn’t get the sense I was in any danger from him. Something about him just felt calming which was a complete juxtaposition to his size. It wasn’t like I needed to be afraid. I had magic and a hand bracelet that could make him do whatever I wanted.

‘What can I do for you?’ I asked him.

‘Why don’t you start by telling me who you are?’ I usually preferred to keep my identity to myself. If you didn’t need to know who I was then you didn’t get to. I’m a secretive guy and there were people looking for me who I’d rather not be found by. But there was something about this big fellow’s calm demeanour that just made me want to tell him.

‘I’m Eddie Lancaster,’ I said. He made a small noise in his throat and nodded his head thoughtfully.

‘Okay, Eddie Lancaster, what is a Southern warlock doing this far north?’

‘How do you know I’m a warlock?’ I asked him. My suspicion broke through the calmness and it was right then that I realised it was a spell he’d been casting. He was talented to cast a spell without giving away even the slightest sign of it, but now the spell was disrupted it would not work any longer. It was a shame because I was enjoying that sense of serenity. Now I was just on edge.

‘I can tell that you’re a warlock because I can sense your magic and I can sense that it doesn’t belong to you,’ he said judgmentally.

There were many different types of sorcerer. Warlocks were the only ones born without magic. Nobody was actually born a warlock. People became warlocks when they murdered a sorcerer and stole his magic. That minor detail made other sorcerers look down on them.

‘Before you get all judgy, I’m not a typical warlock. I’m natural,’ I explained, enjoying the look of confusion that passed over his face.

‘Forgive me, Eddie Lancaster, but I’ve never heard of a natural warlock.’ I could feel him trying to calm me with his spell again. It was like an invisible, snug blanket was falling over me. I waved my hand and pushed my own magic at the spell to deflect it. As I did I saw his eyes lock on the hand bracelet I was wearing.

‘I was born with the ability to siphon magic out of people. So I don’t need to kill people to steal their magic,’ I told him.

‘But you still steal it.’ He raised one bushy eyebrow at me. I shrugged.

‘Only when I have to.’ I’d only ever stolen magic from people who tried to use their magic against me. Or when I was forced to do so. Stealing magic wasn’t easy. I had to be able to overpower the other sorcerer which takes a lot of strength — unless they’re unconscious.

‘Hmmm,’ he said. He stroked his beard slowly.

‘So what’s your name? Or shall I just call you black Gandalf?’ I asked.

He let out a small chuckle. ‘Black Gandalf?’ he repeated ruminatively.

‘Well you’re tall, black, you have a long beard and you are some kind of sorcerer.’

‘A wizard in fact,’ he said. Wizards were one of the strongest types of sorcerer there was. Contrary to their representation in the media, wizards could be male or female, just like witches. Witches were weaker sorcerers. But that’s enough info-dumping for now. The important takeaway was that if this guy wanted a fight he would win. ‘You didn’t tell me what you’re doing up here?’

‘I just fancied a change of scenery. This place seemed like a nice fit.’

‘Wallasey isn’t a nice fit for anybody. Not even the people born here.’ He was not wrong.

‘Well I like it,’ I lied. ‘You still didn’t tell me your name.’

‘My name is Zeke.’ He reached into one of his pockets and pulled out a can of Dr Pepper. He pulled open the ring pull and then tipped the can down his throat. I watched as he glugged the entire contents of the container down without even stopping to take a breath. He then crushed the item in his hand and dropped it on the table. If I were a school kid that would have been intimidating.

‘I don’t think you’re supposed to bring your own drinks in here,’ I told him, at a loss for anything else to say. I mean, who carried cans of drink around in their pockets? And who downed an entire can like that? His response was a tremendous belch that went on for an age. He didn’t even look away and his hot breath washed over my face like a putrid breeze. When he finished we both sat still, letting the silence hang over us. A couple of people had even looked over at the commotion that had come from Zeke’s mouth.

‘Grim,’ I said at last.

‘Listen, Eddie,’ he said, pulling another can from the same pocket. I peered over the table to try and see how deep his pocket was. It was like Mary Poppins’ bag. He placed the can on the table without opening it. ‘That fancy piece of bling you’re wearing on your hand does not belong to you.’

I turned my hand palm up so we could both see the ruby. ‘So this is what you’re here for.’ I hadn’t seen him at the restaurant but I guessed he must have been about somewhere.

‘Indeed I am. Witnesses saw you taking a velvet bag from the restaurant where all the commotion went down, and I tracked you here.’

‘That would be impressive if I’d walked further than three doors down the road,’ I said. I took a gulp of my drink and then let out a burp that was pitiful in comparison to what he’d just let out. He had the grace not to say anything.

‘Do you even know what that is?’ he asked me.

‘A mind control hand bracelet.’

He snorted. ‘Ignorance at its finest. That is The Kraticle.’

‘Sounds like a sea monster,’ I said, shaking my head. I’d never heard of it.

‘It is a legendary piece of jewellery and one of the Crown Jewels of the fay monarchy.’

‘Fay as in fairies?’ I couldn’t believe that I was wearing a crown jewel belonging to the fairy king. 

‘Yes. The fay is the highest of all the fairy races. The Kraticle was created and gifted to the fay king centuries ago by Kratos.’

‘The Greek God Kratos?’ This was getting interesting now.

‘Well, he wasn’t really a god. But yes, him. It gives the wearer increased powers. Physical, magical and mental. In short, it gives a monarch the power to rule. It was stolen recently and I have been tasked with finding it, which I have now done. I need you to give it back so I can return it to its rightful owner. Before things get out of hand.’ Zeke held out his hand as if that meagre speech had been enough to convince me.

‘I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t you go away and never come back?’ I said. The ruby in my palm glowed as I exerted my new, irresistible will.

Zeke shook his head slowly. ‘That won’t work on me.’

‘Why?’ I demanded, I stared down at the important jewel in frustration.

Zeke did not answer my question. ’The fay king isn’t the only one who wants it, Eddie. Others are looking for it. They aren’t as reasonable as me and they aren’t human. If they catch up to you they will skin you alive. If they’re feeling benevolent.’

‘I think we have different understandings of the word benevolent.’

‘Be that as it may—’ I was tired of him now and knew I needed to get away. Since the Kraticle wasn’t going to help me I had to rely on my own magic, which did feel considerably stronger, no doubt due to the royal garment wrapped around my hand. I concentrated on his can of Dr Pepper, sending my magic to the bubbly fluid within. The drink burst through the can, forcing the metal to explode. The liquid flew up into Zeke’s face. Whilst he was distracted I jumped to my feet and shot out of the pub like a dog that’s nicked a string of sausages. As I grabbed the door I saw Zeke getting to his feet, Dr Pepper dripping from his hair and beard. I charged outside and took off down the street as fast as my legs could carry me, which with the support of the Kraticle was pretty fucking fast.

 


Chapter Three

I ran fast and far. I took every turn I came to trying to put as much distance between myself and Zeke as possible. There was no way I was going to give up a weapon like The Kraticle. This thing could protect me from anything. I had to figure out how it worked so I could avoid more embarrassing incidents like that one with Zeke.

I remembered that he’d said he’d tracked me. I wasn’t sure if he meant he’d followed me or if he’d used magic somehow, but I needed to mask my location from him. That meant a spell. It would take a more complicated spell than the sleeping spells, or the one I used to fizz up his Dr Pepper. I looked around to get my bearings and then headed in the direction of Central Park. I needed dirt.

Annoyingly, there were still people in Central Park, even at this time of night. Teenagers were lurking around the playing area. Young boys seeing how far they could get with the girls before they were told to stop. I knew their game, I was their age once. Even if I didn’t have a conventional childhood, or anything even close to a normal one. Since the age of thirteen, I was either in captivity or in hiding. Not exactly conducive to scoring with girls.

I walked past the kids who didn’t even seem to notice me. They were too occupied with getting their ends away. I walked through the park until I found a quiet area, surrounded by trees. I knelt down with only the moonlight to help me see. I could have conjured a light but I didn’t want to draw attention from the teenagers, or anybody else. I didn’t know how close Black Gandalf was. I rolled up the sleeve of my jacket to expose my left forearm and then shoved the forefinger of my other hand into the dirt. Magic is a natural phenomenon and so nature is naturally imbued with the stuff. A good sorcerer knows how to tap into it. I was a good sorcerer. I had a good teacher. Even if she was batshit crazy and totally evil.

I drew out the runic symbol for Perth - not to be confused with the city in Australia. Symbols held power. Runic symbols could be used for many different purposes. As I drew this one I focused on the power of concealment, willing the spell into place. As I drew a circle around the symbol on my arm I felt a snapping in the air around me as the spell took hold. The dirt melded into my skin, losing it’s muddy quality and looking more like a faded tattoo. I brushed at it with my fingers but it didn’t budge. It didn’t even feel like there was anything there, just skin. Zeke wouldn’t be able to track me with magic now. Not unless he had the strength and skill to overpower my spell. Considering he was a wizard it was possible. If he did catch up with me again I’d have to find a more forceful way to tell him to sod off than exploding a fizzy drink over him.

I heard movement in the trees and stood up. No way had Zeke found me already. It was probably the teenagers. If they were looking for trouble they were about to get one hell of a headache.

‘Whoever is in there better come out before I turn those trees into an inferno!’ I shouted. It wasn’t an idle threat. Although I did use nature when I needed to I had no respect for it. There wasn’t much I did have respect for. I’m kind of a dick. You’ll get used to that.

It was not the teenagers. A tall thin man with odd skin came out. Odd skin was the best way to describe it. It was a pale white with a sort of silver tinge to it. When he stepped into the moonlight it caused his flesh to shimmer in an oddly hypnotic way. When he stood in the dark his skin looked normal. He had curly, fair hair that stopped just above his ears and bounced when he walked. His ears were what gave him away the most. The tips pointed up in true Elven fashion. He was dressed in a black suit that fit too well to be off the peg. His shirt was open without a tie. As he neared I saw that his eyes were gold. I don’t mean a light shade of brown that looked golden, they were actually golden. They shone like the metal that now clung to my right hand. He stopped a few feet in front of me. He was not tall and had to look up at me ever so slightly to meet my gaze. I wasn’t tall either, only 5”9, so this was new to me.

‘That belongs to me,’ he said, pointing at my hand. Now that he was close I saw that the suit was much finer than I’d realised. It was decorated with a swirling pattern of a glossier black than the base material. He had what looked like solid gold cuff links on his shirt too. This guy was fancy.

‘This?’ I held up my hand to show him the Kraticle. His pupils dilated and locked onto the jewel.

‘Yes,’ he said. His voice was high and melodic, yet infused with a vicious twang. ‘Hand it over, human.’

‘Rude,’ I said. You can’t just go around referring to people by their race. It’s not polite. I’m not exactly the politest of people, but I dislike it when I’m on the receiving end of the rudeness.

‘Give me The Kraticle.’ He held out his hand demandingly.

‘Are you the fairy king then?’ I asked him. Zeke had said the item belonged to the fairy king so if this guy was claiming it was his then he must be the fairy king. ‘I mean, you look fancy with your suit and all, but I wouldn’t say you look kingly.’ His nose wrinkled in annoyance and his shiny eyes narrowed.

‘I am Prince Morgil, brother to the Fay King. This attire was created for my foray among your kind. When I am at home I look far more regal. Hand over the Kraticle or face my wrath,’ he warned. His lips curled back to reveal razor sharp teeth.

‘I’m not into biting,’ I told him. ‘Go back to where you came from,’ I ordered him, holding up The Kraticle for emphasis. The Prince sneered at me.

‘Did you truly believe you could command me with my family’s heirloom?’ I really wasn’t getting the hang of this magic jewellery at all. The first time I’d used it must have been a fluke. ‘It only allows you to command those of your own species.’

‘You know, this thing doesn’t work so well. However, it does give my own magic a healthy boost so I think I’ll hang on to it. Why don’t you run along before I burn you alive and eat your roasted innards?’ For the record, I’d never burned anyone alive, nor eaten their innards, but I thought it was a nifty threat to make. I had no intention of eating any part of him. 

‘Eating fay innards is a privilege only given to upper classes. You would never be given such an honour. And you would never be able to burn me alive, even with the power of The Kraticle.’ He looked up at the moon and let out a heavy sigh. ‘I grow tired of this palaver. Hand over my property or I shall kill you where you stand.’

I looked at The Kraticle again, trying to decide how to proceed. Would the Kraticle even allow me to attack its rightful owner? Only one way to find out. I flicked my hand out, stretching my fingers his way and released a massive blast of magic. It was bigger than I’d intended, the hand bracelet was really amplifying my power. My arm shuddered as the magic was expelled. An invisible force shot through the air and whacked Prince Morgil right in the chest. He shrieked in pain as he was lifted up into the air and tossed backward towards the trees. There was an odd tearing sound and then two great wings protruded from his back and halted his momentum. He hung in the air majestically, gazing down on me. I stared up in wonder at the sight before me. Each wing spanned about three feet and was in a jagged spike design. They were translucent black with faint silver swirls that dazzled in the moonlight.

‘Wow, you really are a fairy,’ I said in amazement. I’d never seen a fairy before. My mentor had liked to catch magical creatures but true fairies were rare to come across. There were many different types of fairy, but Morgil was the highest order of fairy, the fay. The type you find in kids stories. Not all fairies were as pretty. My mentor had kept several unattractive species of fairy.

‘I’m a fay!’ Morgil screamed at me. Apparently not happy with the broader fairy term. He held out his hand and wiggled his fingers at me. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to cast a spell or if he was making some sort of crude fairy gesture at me. I was about to ask him when the answer become apparent. I felt a sharp drop beneath me and looked down to see that the grass had softened and was now devouring me. My ankles had already disappeared. I pulled against it but I could not free my legs.

‘My kind have a natural affinity with nature. Something your race could never comprehend,’ he boasted from above me.

‘No, maybe not,’ I said, still struggling against the earth. ‘But my kind do have a certain affinity for destruction.’ I opened my hand and conjured a ball of blazing fire. ‘Now, I’m just guessing here, but I’m pretty sure you fairy folk hate it when nature gets hurt. Release me or I’ll burn every tree in this park.’

‘Oh, please. You read too many stories, human,’ he said derisively. Maybe he didn’t care, or maybe he was bluffing. Maybe he thought I wouldn’t really burn the woods down. He didn’t know me. Eddie Lancaster did not bluff. Ever.

‘Stop!’ said an incredibly commanding voice. There was no magic in the shout but I stopped all the same. We both turned to see who had shouted and saw Zeke striding across the park towards us, his coat billowing behind him in the wind. He looked pretty awesome. I needed to get a long coat. And grow a few feet. I was going to ignore him but with a mere glance, he extinguished my fire spell as if he’d tossed water over my hand. At the same time, the mud stopped eating my legs, for which I was thankful. It did not release me, however.

‘Prince Morgil,’ he said to the fay. ‘Welcome to Wallasey.’

‘Thank you for the courtesy,’ he replied. His wings fluttered as he lowered to the ground. ‘I expected to see you sooner or later, Zeke.’

‘Can you let me out of the earth?’ I asked. It was like they’d both forgotten me.

‘I wouldn’t advise it,’ Zeke said to the fairy. ‘He’ll just pull some cheap trick and run away.’

‘I wasn’t going to release him. He’s impertinent and annoying. I intend to bury him beneath the earth as soon as I have what is mine.’ I did not like the sound of that.

‘Except it isn’t yours, and I can’t let you take it,’ said Zeke.

‘I’d like to know how you plan to stop me?’ Morgil was a midget compared to Zeke. He was almost half the wizard’s size, so seeing him talk with such confidence was more than a little amusing. The small snigger that escaped my mouth drew their attention.

‘Aren’t you two on the same side? You work for his family, right?’ I said. I shouldn’t really have been uniting them against me, but the smart-Alec inside couldn’t be controlled.

Zeke shook his head and Morgil made a serpentine hissing sound that must have been laughter. ‘Who do you think stole The Kraticle in the first place?’ Zeke asked, pointing a long finger at the fairy.

‘Oh!’ I said as I caught up. ‘Well, you must be wanted for treason then?’ I asked Morgil.

‘That he is,’ replied the wizard. He turned back to the fairy. ‘Speaking of which, your brother has dispatched a team to hunt you down and take you back to his court to stand trial. They’re probably closing in around you now.’

‘There is nobody in my brother’s kingdom with enough skill to subdue me and we both know they can’t kill me.’

‘He hasn’t dispatched a team of your own kind. If that doesn’t scare you then you should know that after your bungled attempt to sell The Kraticle, your buyer is now hunting for you too. She wants you dead. Unless you can provide the item before the assassins catch you.’

‘I am not scared of an elf,’ Morgil said, this time betrayed by his voice which was barely more than a whisper. I adjusted my leg and found that I was no longer trapped. Tentatively, I raised one leg and it slid easily out of the mud.

‘Enemies on every side. Do you think you’ll be able to fight both me and him?’ He gestured my way. ‘Even if you do kill us both, by the time you’ve managed it one of the others will have found you. Who would you rather get caught by, the elves or your brother's hunters?’

Morgil looked about shiftily, his brain working overtime to figure out a solution to his problem. I stood as still as possible, like a child trying to win at musical statues. I called on my magic, summoning the shadows to me, bending them to my will. I felt my spell taking effect. I saw the shadows of the night crawling in, encompassing me, and then with the subtlest of shifts, I was gone. Zeke’s eyes widened. Morgil stared at me with mild annoyance. I hadn’t actually moved, they just couldn’t see me. The shadows were cloaking me. Combined with the spell on my arm it should suffice for me to make my escape.

I backed away slowly, worried that any sudden movements might reveal my position. Zeke was still staring at the place I had been standing.

‘Humans can’t teleport, can they?’ Morgil demanded, turning to Zeke. The wizard shushed him angrily, still focussing on me. Then he tossed at a fireball right at me. I sidestepped the attack but my position was uncovered. Before Zeke or Morgil had a chance to react four people came running out of the forest and then there were spells flying in every direction. That was my cue to leave. So I ran.

Intrusion Sample

Jenny knew she had to move. If she sat there any longer then the man who had intruded in her home and attacked her family would get her. He might already know where she was. He could be waiting out in the hallway for her to step out. And when she did…

She didn’t want to think about that. She’d already seen the intruder’s handiwork on her dad. If he’d managed to get her mum and sister too… She closed her eyes as the shudder ran through her. Drops of water leaked through her tightly clenched eyelids and ran down her trembling face. Taking a deep breath, she told herself that it was going to be alright. She just had to leave the room, run across the hall, out of the house, and into her car outside. Once she was safely in her car she’d be able to drive into town and get help. 

But she was sure that she was the only one left. She hadn’t heard anything for so long. Not since the sound of her sister’s screams had filled the house. Her whole family was already dead which meant the intruder could focus solely on her. Escape was impossible. No! She told herself. That kind of thinking would definitely get her killed. 

‘Move or die,’ she whispered to herself. She got moving. On shaking limbs, she turned around and grabbed the door handle. She edged the wood out of its frame slowly. Only the tiniest of creaks sounded, surely not enough to give her away. She peered out through the gap into the hallway and nearly screamed. Her sister, Abigail, was lying against the far wall, one arm was strewn away from her lifeless body, the other hung over her stomach. One eye peeked out from behind her messy brown hair, the other was gone. That whole side of her face had been pulverized into a mash of blood and bone, covered with sticky clumps of matted hair. Discarded on the carpet next to her was their father’s tennis trophy. Once it had been glistening gold, now it was bent and bloody. Her sister’s screams hadn’t sounded that close. That meant the killer had left the body and the trophy there for her to see. He must be nearby. Waiting. 

Taking in several shaking breaths and holding back vomit, Jenny tore her eyes from her sister and looked towards the stairs. That end of the room was all clear. She looked the other way, also clear. The killer was nowhere in sight. Next to the front door stood the bowl of keys, exactly where they’d always been. Her key was in there. Unless it had been taken. There was only one way to find out. 

Jenny pulled herself to her feet, relieved to find that her legs had not abandoned her just yet. She pulled open the door fully and edged out into the hallway, being sure not to look again at her sister’s corpse. She clamped a hand over her mouth to hold in any involuntary sounds and crept on tip-toes across the carpeted floor. Tip-toes weren’t really needed on such a thick carpet, but she was going to take every precaution. She reached the unit on the far side of the room and thanked whatever deity was on her side that her car keys were still in the bowl. She plucked them up, the metal making a small clink on the china bowl. Then she froze. 

A single thud sounded behind her. the thud of a foot falling on the stairs behind her. She wrapped her fingers tightly around the keys. Her arm was shaking so violently she was sure she would drop them. 

‘Jennifer,’ he sang softly across the hall. ‘Where are you going, Jennifer? We’re not done yet are we?’ She could hear his steps as he descended the stairs. She turned her head to look over her shoulder and saw the 8-inch chef’s knife in his blood-stained hand. She didn’t need to see any more. She grabbed the handle on the front door, twisted and pulled. It didn’t budge. Her heart hammered away in her chest as she stared stupidly at the door, trying to figure out why it wouldn’t open. 

‘Oh dear,’ said the intruder, and she imagined him shaking his head at her. ‘Having a bit of trouble? Oh, the things I’m going to do to you, Jennifer.’ He reached the bottom of the stairs. 

The security lock! She reached up and turned the small security lock and heard the bolts slide out of their holes. She tried the handle again and this time the door swung inwards easily. She could see her car clearly in the moonlight just yards away. 

‘Jennifer, no!’ the intruder shouted.

‘Fuck you,’ she spat the words over her shoulder and ran out into the night. She didn’t feel the chilly winter cold on her bare arms. She didn’t feel the gravel cutting into the soles of her bare feet. All she felt was the exhilarating adrenaline coursing through her veins as she neared her car. She pressed the button in her hand and her car lights flashed twice as the doors unlocked. She could hear him pursuing her, his boots treading into the gravel. He wasn’t running. She reached the car and saw why, coming to a standstill to take in her discovery. He’d slashed all four tires. They sat sluggishly and deflated beneath the car. Like the air from the tires, her last dregs of hope escaped her and she stood flattened on the driveway. 

Fuck it, she thought. Even with flat tires she’d be able to use the car to get away from him. It was worth a try either way. She stepped forward and grabbed the door handle, pulling the car door open. His hand slammed into her back shoving her forward into the door, slamming it closed again. Before she could react his hand was in her hair, pulling her head back. 

‘No!’ she screamed as loud as she could. Praying that somebody would be nearby. But she knew it was hopeless. Her parents had chosen a house in the middle of nowhere because they liked solitude. Nobody was going to hear her. Nobody was going to help her. She wriggled in his grip, but he was too strong. He thrust her head forwards, smashing her face into the car window which shattered under the impact. She was momentarily silent. Her mind had gone blank, occupied by pain. Warm moisture oozed over her face as she struggled to regain control of her mind. Then she was flung down on to the floor, the tiny pieces of gravel scraping her skin like claws. 

He looked down at her. She couldn’t see much of him in the darkness. The moonlight shone behind him turning his short body into little more than a silhouette. The knife glinted in his hand. 

‘Let’s get you back inside,’ he said. He stepped forward and she flung her leg up. Her foot found his balls. They felt squidgy on top of her toes as she forced them up as far as she could, hoping she would crush them. He howled in pain, batting her foot away with one hand. She saw his face twisted in rage. That was the last thing she saw as he swung the knife down, burying it in her gut. A small cry escaped her lips and that was all she could muster. 

The pain in the intruder’s genitals faded at the same time as the life flickered out in Jennifer’s eyes. He let out an irritated sigh as he looked down on her lifeless form. He hadn’t been ready to end the game yet. His own temper had ruined his fun. Still, it hardly mattered. In a few nights, a new game would begin and he already had the location set. There was a beautiful large house in the secluded village of Hoo St Werburgh. He didn’t bother retrieving the knife from the dead girl as he walked away from the house, which contained a further three corpses. A new game meant new weapons. Those were the rules of his game and it was a game he was very good at. 

‘Fourteen to nothing,’ he said to himself as he stepped off the driveway and disappeared into the darkness. 

Dead Warlock Sample 2

We were half way down St Luke’s Road when the car suddenly died. The hum from the engine stopped abruptly bringing us to a stand still in the middle of the road. “Why’ve we stopped?” I asked Gabe. I was still staring grumpily out of the window, lamenting what I’d lost. 

“I don’t—” Gabe slumped forward over the steering wheel and remained still. I can recognise a sleeping spell when I see one, using them often enough myself. It looked like someone had drummed up the courage to attack me. Nobody had tried something like this since the night Ashley had died. Well good. I had some pent up frustration that I really wanted to toss in someone’s direction. 

I kicked open the car door and bounded out on to the road. I looked about but there was nobody in either direction. The street was still and quiet. “Come on then!” I shouted into the night. I didn’t care who heard me. I wanted a fight. 

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The street light above my head blinked out with a pop. I watched with growing amusement as each streetlight blinked out one after the other in both directions. The darkness spreading from where I was standing. Then the lights shining from inside the houses were consumed by darkness too until I was standing in total blackness, unable even to see my hand in front my face.  

“Nice touch,” I laughed. “Very dramatic.” I flicked my finger at the light above me willing it to reignite with its electric glow. Nothing happened. That was odd. It was rare that I came across someone strong enough to overpower me these days. I tried again. Still nothing. The smile very quickly dropped from my face. That was fine, though. Their spell on the streetlight was strong enough to defend against my magic but I could still produce my own light. I held out my palm and conjured a small globe of white light. I levitated the ball up into the air, willing it to grow and throw it’s glow across the street. Before it had risen even an inch I felt the other’s magic cover it like a fiery blanket and snuff it out. Now that was a cause for concern. Not only could I not undo their spells, but they could literally block my magic. This person was a lot more powerful than me. I needed to leave. 

“Who’s there?” I called out. My voice was no longer confident. No longer amused. It was small and timid. I was alone on this street. My only bodyguard was slumbering in the car and my magic was no use. I was standing in total darkness. This person had extinguished every light, I couldn’t even see the stars or the moon in the sky. I could see nothing. 

“You wanted me to come to you. Here I am.” The voice was luxuriously deep and rich like chocolate. It was also right behind me. I’d heard the voice before. Months ago this very voice had spoken to the vampire Sebastian. It was the voice of the leader of the warlocks. Here was standing behind me. 

“Nickolas?” I asked in a whisper. 

“I have been eager to meet you,” he said. He was now directly behind me, practically whispering in my ear. I could feel his warm breath on the back of my neck making my hairs stand on end. 

“Well here I am,” I tried to muster up some of my usual confidence and failed. The man standing behind me could kill me and I’d be dead before I even knew what was happening. 

“Indeed.” There was mirth in his tone. There was a noise a little further away, the sound of a foot scraping on the ground. There were a few more rustles in the darkness. They seemed to be all around us. “It would appear you have company. Let us adjourn for now.” There was no sound but there was a definite change in the atmosphere and I knew he was gone. A second later the lights all came back, not one by one but all at once. They were blinding and I had to shield my eyes against the assault. As my eyes adjusted I saw who had interrupted us. I now found myself completely encircled by about twenty vampires. Terrific. 

“Hello again, Eddie,” said a familiar female voice. Out of the circle came Veronica Monderson. She was the vampire who’d been conducting experiments using Aldric’s blood. She was responsible for the seven vampires I now had in my employ.  

“Veronica,” I said grimly. I looked around, trying to think up a good escape route. It was unlikely I’d be able to fight them all, as strong as my magic was. Vampires were fast. 

“As you can see I have quite the following now. Aldric grows more unpopular everyday. More vampires to flock to my cause,” She said. I could tell it was the beginning of a long and rambling speech which I really didn’t have the patience for. 

“Spare me the boring explanation and get to the part where you tell me what you want. Revenge for killing your brother I suppose?” I said trying to convey my boredom, although I was anything but. Adrenaline was already being pumped through my veins. 

“No. I am willing to forgive that, or at least forget it. If you provide me with a single stake capable of killing Aldric Ashworth. That’s all I need,” she said plainly. She held out her hand and the vampire to her right placed in it a long stake presumably made of ash-wood. Veronica tossed it into the road where it clattered noisily at my feet. “Fill it up,” she commanded. 

I stared down at the finely whittled stake and then laughed. “You can’t kill me because then you’ll never be able to kill Aldric, my magic being the only thing that can. So what leverage do you really have?” I said, putting on my most irritating smile. 

“Death isn’t on the cards for you. No, you’ll be subjected to torture until you give in and you will give in. Take him, she barked the command at her minions. Two darted forwards at once. I conjured a fireball and launched it as fast as I could. Mid-air I split the ball in two and watched as the flames engulfed the vampires, burning them to ashes. That was the only victory I was to have. The rest rushed at me as one. I tried to conjure a barrier around myself but there were too many of them and they were too fast. Before I could even think about another spell I was on my knees and a heavy iron chain was being fixed around my wrists, cutting off my magic. I struggled but against so many vampires it was futile to say the least. 

“Not so smug now, are you?” Veronica said as she walked towards me. “The great Eddie Lancaster, bound and beaten in his own town.”

She was cut off by the slow, insulting sound of someone clapping. All of us turned to see a dark-haired man leaning on the nearby lamppost, clapping in mock applause. 

“Well done. Well done indeed,” said the rich tones of the warlock who had been behind me just minutes ago. “You have overpowered a man with odds of twenty-to-one. Congratulations. Now,” he stood up straight and stepped into the open road. “Let us see how you fare against me.” 

He stretched out his hands and the nearest vampires to him screamed as their hearts soared out of their chests and landed neatly in his palms. He flipped his hands over, tipping the hearts to the ground like they were trash. Seconds passed in which nobody moved. Nobody dared. They all stared nervously at the grinning warlock. I wasn’t sure whether I should be thankful or afraid. 

“Don’t just stand there. Kill him!” screamed Veronica. The vampires charged at the warlock but Veronica did not join them. She grabbed the end of my chain like it was a lead and dragged me down the road in the opposite direction.    She didn’t give me a chance to stand and my knees scraped painfully on the tarmac as my trousers tore open. I could hear the vampires screaming as they died but I was moving too fast to see anything. Then suddenly I was no longer moving. I hit the ground hard and rolled about a foot as Veronica ground to a halt. I could feel where all the bruises would be soon enough. Luckily, I would be able to heal my injuries as soon as the chains were off. 

Veronica was standing still looking dead ahead. I followed her gaze and saw the warlock yet again. He’d somehow managed to get to the opposite end of the road, blocking her path and was approaching Veronica with hideous slowness. As he drew near I saw that he was splattered from head to toe with blood. Looking back in the direction we’d come from I saw the mangled remains of all the vampires. Some were charred and smoking husks, others were dismembered piles of limbs. I looked back at Veronica and saw that the warlock was right in front of her, in his hand was the stake she’d tossed at me. I rose shakily to my feet, not wanting to remain on my arse like a helpless infant. 

“Yours, I believe,” he said as he offered her the stake. He kept the point facing his way. She reached out to take it and as her fingers wrapped around the wood his free hand grabbed her wrist and held it in place. Magic can be used to increase a sorcerer’s strength, I’ve done it on occasion, but it takes a shit lot of power to make yourself so strong that you can outfight a vampire, but this guy was having no trouble. I could see by the way that Veronica’s face was strained that she was fighting him but it was hopeless. I heard her bones crack as he twisted her wrist one-hundred and eighty degrees so that the stake, still in her hand, was now pointing at her own heart. Then silently and looking her right in the eyes he pushed the stake towards her. Being unable to fight him she started backing up until her back hit the nearby Volvo and she could go nowhere else. 

She let out an unintelligible grunt. The warlock said nothing. He continued staring blankly into her eyes and he continued to push the stake her way. She let out a whimper as the point reached her and penetrated her flesh. The whimper turned to a full ear-shattering scream as the warlock drove the stake all the way in, still holding her own hand around it. Blood drooled out from wound and still she tried to fight. The stake dug deeper and deeper until only the end was left. Her grey and lifeless hand fell away limply and her body slid down the car to land with a thud on the tarmac. I looked at her wide, dead eyes and wondered if I was next. The warlock, obviously not content with murdering her, then kicked her corpse so it rolled over and faced the other way. I was a little thankful for that. I didn’t want it staring at me. 

Then he turned to me. He strode across the road to where I was standing. I geld my ground despite the terror that was seizing my heart. He glanced at the chains binding me and they turned to dust at once. Amazement did not begin to describe what I was feeling. Before I could react he was upon me. He seized my chin and lifted my face so I was staring into his dark blue eyes. For the first time I could see him completely. He was a little taller than me and a very slightly broader. He looked like he worked out perhaps. His hair was dark and a little messy. His square chin was coated in dark stubble and the his dark ocean-like eyes had the look of a person who had seen more than they should have done. They looked haunted and yet alive and amused and enthralled. Every emotion seemed to be mingled in them somehow. But what struck me the most was the feeling I got from the light touch of his fingers on my chin. I could feel his power radiating from him. I imagine it was like standing at the edge of a crater of a live volcano. The magic was red hot, burning into my skin, though it was not unpleasant. It was magnificent. Never in my life had I felt something so strong. 

“It is true,” the warlock said to himself rather cryptically. “We’ll talk soon.” And then he was gone. One moment he was standing in front of me and then he was not. Teleportation was one of the impossible abilities for humans, only the most powerful can do it. There was no doubt in my mind that I had just met the most infamous warlock in history. Despite what Clara claimed to be true, I had just encountered Nickolas Blackwood. 

Vampire Series Sample

This week I want to share the first chapter of a new series I'm working on. It's an urban fantasy vampire series with political themes. I haven't come across anything like it on the market (not that that means it isn't out there) so it's quite experimental. I'd love to know what you think so please leave your thoughts in the comments at the bottom. 


The scream cut through the silence. I stopped walking. It was male. He was frightened rather than in pain. He was close. I focused my ears. 

“Scream again and I’ll cut you the fuck open,” a low growling voice warned him. The only response the screamer gave was heavy panting breaths. 

I followed the sounds to a dark alleyway two streets away from where I’d been walking. As expected there were two men in the alley. Neither could be described as a gentleman. One was pushed up against the wall, a knife at his throat. His trembling legs were barely keeping him standing. His hands were held up, palms out submissively. His eyes were wide and afraid, tears pooled in the bottoms. The other, the man holding the knife, was a short grubby fellow. His dark hair was in dire need of a wash as was his skin. His lips were curled back exposing crooked rotten teeth and his eyes were squinted and narrow. Neither man noticed me at the end of the alley. 

“Wallet.” He said quietly. 

“I have been in Chatham no longer than half an hour and already I am witnessing my first piece of petty crime,” I said quietly. The sound of my voice startled both men and they turned to look at me. 

“Piss off,” the attacker said with a quick jerk of his head. 

“I think I’d rather stay,” I said and darted forwards. Now, it is worth mentioning that I am a vampire. Being a vampire confers a few advantages, one of which is enhanced speed. I was upon them before they had even noticed I’d moved. I took the attacker’s wrist which held the knife and twisted. Another benefit of vampirism is enhanced strength. His wrist cracked and broke and he screamed girlishly. It would be dishonest to say I did not experience some pleasure at the sound. The knife clanged to the floor. I thrust my elbow into his stomach, winding him and then kicked his legs from under him. He landed rather unceremoniously face first on the floor. 

“How…” the victim said. He was now even more frightened than he had been before. 

I stooped over and lifted the knife from the concrete floor. It was a small kitchen knife. Barely larger than a potato peeler. I looked at the attacker with disdain and then moved my gaze to the victim. I turned the knife in my hand so the blade was in my palm and the handle pointing at him. “Take it,” I said. He gulped loudly. His lips moved but no words came. He remained silent and I stared at him impatiently. I had other places to be tonight. Slowly, cautiously, he took the knife from me. He held it away from his body as though afraid it might somehow attack him of its own accord. 

The attacker looked up from his position on the floor. He now looked frightened as well. More so than his victim had before. He made no attempt to move. 

“The tables have been turned. Why don’t you teach this vagabond a lesson?” I suggested. The victim just looked at me stupidly. I raised an eyebrow and that spurred him into action. Not the action I wanted. He dropped the knife and bolted. I watched him go with disgust. There are two traits that I loathe in humans. Weakness and the refusal to help one's self. This victim had displayed both in the few minutes I had known him. He had made no attempt to fight off his attacker. He had instead screamed for help like a child. Then when I graciously answered his cry and gave him the opportunity for payback he ran like a rat. I shot to the end of the alley and blocked his exit. He froze like a deer in headlights. I reached out and took his head in my hand. So weak. So pathetic. In this world, you have to be strong if you want to survive. You can't live like a rat. Sometimes the weak can be useful. If they can be cajoled into doing your bidding. This man was not. He was useless. And what is the point in a weak and useless person? I smashed his head into the wall and let his lifeless body fall to the ground. Then I returned my attention to the attacker. He had moved into a sitting position but had made no attempt to escape. The only way out was past me. The alley was a dead end. As I approached him he shuffled backwards on the floor, dragging his arse like a dog. This man was not weak. He preyed on the weak. A deplorable trait to some but not to me. Like I said only the strong survive. Unfortunately, he was neither weak nor strong which made him equally useless. And besides, I was hungry. He screamed when I sunk my fangs into his jugular. That just made me enjoy my meal all the more. I drained him of every drop of blood and then shoved his desiccated remains aside. I took my pocket-handkerchief out and dabbed my lips to remove any blood. I returned the handkerchief to my breast pocket and straightened my tie before walking out of the alley. I took out my mobile phone and sent a text to the clean up crew. People whose job it is to clean up after myself and other high-ranking vampires. I told them where to find the bodies and then walked away ready to start my night. 

Introductions are necessary I believe. I am Aldric Ashworth. Many call me Ric for short. I prefer Aldric or Mr Ashworth. As you have no doubt gathered from my demonstration I am not the hero of this tale. Nor am I a villain. I simply am. The way I see it, there are no heroes and there are no villains, there are just people. People who do what they think is right. What is right for me is whatever keeps me alive, what ever keeps me happy and whatever brings me power. Never turn down power and never take it if you lack the necessary skills to use it. Either one of those choices will leave you dead in an alleyway waiting for a crew to clean you up. Oh, and welcome to Chatham; the arsehole of Kent. 

Warlock Wanted

Here is the cover and first chapter of the upcoming Warlock Wanted:

CHAPTER ONE

I followed the chap right the way down Week Street, through all the busy shoppers and then up Union Street. I wasn’t following him for anything seedy if that’s what you’re thinking; the reason I was following him was because I thought he was Shay Donahue. Who’s Shay Donahue? Let me explain.

So, about a month ago… Actually, if you don’t know who Shay is then I’m guessing you don’t know much about me either which means you haven’t read my first book. Yeah, this is actually the second book in my series. That’s fine, though, maybe you didn’t know that or maybe you did and you just can’t be bothered to go and read book one. I mean it’s a lot of effort, isn’t it? That’s fine, I’ll make it as easy as possible to understand what’s going on without having to go back. Basically, I’ll give you the Spark notes.

So, I’m Eddie Lancaster, a warlock. Not just any warlock, I have the unique ability to literally suck magic out of other sorcerers with or without their blessing and without killing them. I’m easy that way. I gathered a mahoosive amount of magic and stored it all safely away in my storage unit. Stupid idea, I know, but we don’t have time to dwell on that. Shay Donahue stole that magic from me — using sneaky tricks — and handed it over to my worst enemy: the woman who murdered my parents when I was thirteen. Why did she do that? Because she’s a mega bitch and also I wouldn’t go with her. She wanted me to be one of her pets and gather magic for her. She likes collecting supernatural beings you see, like some sort of mystical zookeeper. She collects as many as she can but only if she has a use for them. If they’re not useful she isn’t interested. As you can imagine I am incredibly useful being the only person with my particular skill, so she wanted me. When I refused she had my parents’ throats cut. I managed to get away and spent the rest of my life running. Finally, when I decided to settle down and build a life in Maidstone she found me. That was about a month ago. She now has all of the magic I had stashed away and is going to be coming for me when she’s ready. When will that be? I don’t know. If I can find a way to get her before she gets me then great. So when I saw a bloke who looked an awful lot like Shay walking about in town I decided to get him. So there you are, all caught up. Now where were we.

I continued to follow Shay right the way up Union Street, past all the Chinese and Indian takeaway shops. As I hoped he turned left about half way up and entered the small graveyard that was there. Sometimes a group of Polish men use the graveyard as their drinking ground. I don’t know why, it seems like a rather odd place to meet up for a can of lager but they do it nonetheless and I’ve never been curious enough to ask why. Luckily, today they had gone elsewhere and the graveyard was clear.

I continued following from a distance and sped up so I could catch him before he exited the graveyard onto Brewer Street. I didn’t need to worry about that, though, because he stopped at one of the bushes, pulled down his fly and began pissing up the leafy shrub. Disgusting. Did he think he was in Chatham or something? Chatham is a very nasty area by the way. I crept up behind him, quieter than a thing that’s even more quiet than a mouse, and planted one hand flat on his back. I sent a bit of magic through him, immobilising him. Stopping him from moving his limbs didn’t stop his bladder from releasing and he continued to spew a golden stream of piddle all over the bush. I waited for him to stop and then turned him around to face me, being extra careful not to catch a glance at his dick. Shay was not the cleanest of people as I recalled and I did not want to see what state that part of his anatomy was in. Keeping my eyes up I examined his face. It wasn’t Shay. Bugger. Not to worry, though, after all, I had another use for this poor member of the public. 

I snapped my fingers and he fell asleep before he could speak. His knees buckled and I watched him fall onto the grass. I could have caught him but I didn’t feel like it. I’m not that nice a guy. I know I’m supposed to be the hero and all that, but no… it’s not that sort of story. I do things for personal gain, not because they’re the right thing to do. Although, my own gains have correlated with doing the right thing in the past. It’s all a matter of fate I guess. Not that I believe in fate. I’m rambling again.

He didn’t land in his own piss so that’s a bonus for him. It came around to bite me in the arse when I realised that I still had to put his dick back in his trousers. I could hardly transport him across town with his dick out. It was going to be hard enough with it in. I kneeled beside him and grab the waistband of his jeans. I pulled the front of his jeans forwards until his little buddy slipped back inside. I zipped him up — didn’t want to risk it making another appearance and then stood back up. Even though I hadn’t touched it I still wanted to wash my hands. Sadly, I don’t carry a bottle of anti-bac with me.

My storage unit is on the other side of town which posed a problem. Even for a warlock getting a hostage across town without getting caught is tricky; especially when they’re unconscious. There isn’t a handy invisibility potion that you can just whip up. I mean there probably is one somewhere but I don’t know how to make it and believe me I’ve tried. And I’m no amateur. The closest I’ve ever got was when I turned myself green, great for camouflage in the woods, not so much in a more urban setting, like Maidstone. Anyway, I grabbed my fallen captive and slung him over my shoulder. He was heavier than I would have liked. Shame I didn’t have super-strength anymore. I had super-strength for about five minutes once. It was awesome. I’d just have to hope my arms didn’t give up on me before I got there. I conjured up a shadow illusion which made me almost invisible, as long as I stayed in the shadows and didn’t draw any attention to myself. If anybody actually concentrated on me then the illusion would be shattered. Luckily it was a sunny day, so there were plenty of shadows to hide in.

I made my way across town without incident but my arms caned by the time I got to my unit. I dropped my new friend by some bins outside and then headed for the entrance to the storage place. I walked into the lobby and looked around. There was a receptionist behind the front desk — not one that I knew — and a security guard sitting in the waiting area.  I didn’t know him either. The facility seemed to have undergone a change in staff of late; I used to know everyone and there never used to be any security. I clicked my fingers and they both fell asleep. The sleeping spell was one of the first spells I mastered and is up there on my list of favourites. Get used to seeing it because I reckon I’ll use at least three more times before the end of this tale. I stepped around the desk and found the security cameras. I couldn’t have any footage of me leading my kidnap victim in. I placed my palm over the monitors and sent a pulse of magic through the circuitry that caused the feed to malfunction and filled the screens with static. My arms were still tired so I retrieved a trolley and used it to bring my sleeping hostage inside. It did not look comfortable for him in the least. Once we reached my unit I took him in and shut us inside.

There wasn’t much room inside so I had to leave the trolley in the hall. I keep pretty much all my supernatural stuff here and believe me I have a lot. Potion ingredients, spell books, magical items. You get the point. The unit, which is fairly large, was full to the brim with all my stuff. If anybody came in here then they’d probably think I was right nut job. Unless they were a sorcerer in which case they’d recognise that they’d found an awesome stash of stuff.

Ever since Shay robbed me I started keeping my more important stuff in a magically sealed trunk. The unit itself was sealed with magic when I got robbed but clearly not enough because they broke right through it. I had unwittingly given the thief a way to break through my protections. Now, I hate to admit when things are my fault so I’m just not going to. Anyway, I used blood protection on the chest, which means that nobody can get in without my blood. I pulled my knife out from up my sleeve and sliced my palm open. I pressed my palm to the cracked wooden lid until I heard the lock click. A little healing magic closed the wound and I got on with my work. I pulled out the mind control serum and the inoculant that I’d whipped up.

A little more catchup is needed here. A month or so ago I’d been experimenting with a mind control serum. I whip up my own potions as a bit of a hobby. I designed the mind control serum and it worked a treat. Shay Donahue was actually my first test subject. I know what you’re thinking: if I hadn’t done that to Shay then maybe he wouldn’t be working with my enemy right now. I disagree. Shay’s a prick and I think we would have ended up on opposite sides of the court no matter what I did. But anyway, when Shay raided my unit he took the mind control serum and gave it to Rachel. She improved it. Mine only lasts ten minutes or so whereas her version lasts twenty-four hours. I know because Shay used it on me. It wasn’t pleasant and I don’t want to talk about it. So I’ve been working on a way to inoculate myself against the serum and now it was time to test my latest strain. Seventh time lucky.

I crouched next to the guy I’d kidnapped from the graveyard and injected him with the inoculant.  I gave it a few minutes to get into the bloodstream and then I woke him up. He regained consciousness with a jolt.

“What the fuck?” he said, wide-eyed and alarmed. His head jerked about as he took in his surroundings. “Am I in a storage lock up?” He was the first person not to try to run upon waking. I took that for a sign of stupidity.

“Yes, you are and I need you to calm down,” I told him. It was clear from his face that he was not going to calm down.

“Calm down?” he said incredulously. “How about you tell me what the fucking fuck is going on and then I’ll think about calming—” I slapped him. I know, not the smoothest move but it shut him up. For a second anyway. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” He tried to stand but I shoved him back down again. He wasn’t a big guy, I’m not stupid enough to kidnap someone who’s bigger than me. I’m not really a fighter so I try to avoid physical conflicts. Magic helps with that.

“Look, I don’t have time for this,” I told him. He opened his mouth to protest but a simple spell silenced him. I picked up the small phial of the mind control serum and held it out. This was the hardest part. “I need you to drink this,” I said. I’ve tried injecting it before but for some reason it just doesn’t work if it’s not ingested. I’m not a scientist so I can’t explain why and frankly I don’t care anyway. Also, magic doesn’t follow the laws of science.

He opened his mouth to protest but he was still unable speak thanks to my spell.

“Listen, mate, if you don’t drink it I’m going to force you to and believe me I can.” I pushed it towards him again and this time he took it. He fixed me with a hostile glare before he threw it across the unit. The phial smashed against the wall and the purple serum dripped down it slowly. It looked a little bit like Ooze. Ooze was a grungy stuff you could buy in the nineties. Something to do with the Power Rangers movie I think. I sighed.

“Did you really think that would achieve anything?” I walked back to my trunk and pulled out another phial. When I turned around I saw the guy trying desperately to open the door. It was shut fast with magic and he had no chance. He had no intention of playing ball and I didn’t feel like playing around anymore. I crossed the unit and rammed him up against the door. “I didn’t want it to come to this,” I said with feigned disappointment. I used magic to hold him in place against the door.

You might be thinking it’s a bit handy for me, using magic all the time and it is. It isn’t always this easy though. On your bog standard human, yeah, magic is an easy win. On other things not so much. Some humans can find ways to fight against magic, but this guy couldn’t. Because he was bog standard. You might think it’s insulting for me to refer to a person as bog standard, especially if you yourself are bog standard. You’re just going to have to get over it.

I put one hand around his jaw and squeezed his mouth open. With the other hand I tipped the serum down his throat and then forced his mouth shut. I held him that way until I was sure he’d swallowed it and then I released him. He remained standing where he was staring at me in shock. He seemed to be waiting for some adverse effect of the serum I’d force fed him. He probably thought he’d been poisoned.

This was it for me. The moment of truth. Inoculant strain 007. Nothing to do with James Bond, just the seventh strain of the inoculant.

“Stand on one leg,” I commanded in a clear voice. If they mishear you in these situations it can have disastrous effects. I told my third test subject to beat on his leg but he thought I told him to eat his leg. Luckily, I stopped him before things got too messy and he still has both legs. You’re probably wondering why I told him to beat his leg. Well, it’s because I’m a bit mean.

He raised an eyebrow sceptically but did not move. “What is wrong with you?” he asked, shaking his head. I laughed. I had finally found a way to inoculate myself again the serum. Of course, I couldn’t be sure it would work on Rachel’s improved serum but I was confident that—

My good mood evaporated as he slowly raised one shaking leg. He was staring at his limb as if it was somebody else’s. Clearly he was trying to fight it and had made more progress than any of predecessors. But it still wasn’t good enough. Strain 007 was another failure.

I gave the guy a potion to erase the last hour from his memory and then sent him home.  

I fixed the security cameras and woke up the staff before returning to my unit. I spent the next couple of hours analysing the inoculant for the ingredients that had worked, at least for a minute or so. Something I’d done was clearly a step in the right direction, the previous subjects had all obeyed my commands instantly. I just needed to figure out what caused the delay in his reaction.

Once I’d exhausted my mental capabilities I locked up and headed home. I got no farther than the gates when a police car pulled up and two uniformed officers came towards me.

“Something the matter?” I asked. I hadn’t done anything illegal lately. Other than the kidnap but they couldn’t possibly know about that, even the victim didn’t know about it.

“Edward Lancaster?” the first one asked, rudely ignoring my question.

“I asked a question first. You have to honour that and answer before you get to ask a question.” I replied. Rules exist for a reason.

The smaller one grabbed my shoulder and turned me around. I considered fighting but it wouldn’t do well to attack the police, especially not with magic. Best to see how this played out. That’s my approach to most things.

“Edward Lancaster, you’re under arrest,” the first one said before bundling me into the car.

Warlock Wanted will be released on the 21st September. Only on Amazon and available in Kindle Unlimited.