Old World Magic Ch. 18byrhev©
"Please Mike! Please!" Cheyenne was crying and holding my arm, as if that would somehow make me stay. "You can't leave, we need you here... I... I need you here."
I shook my head, I knew that Cheyenne was in love with me, and I felt horrible that I was leaving the brothel known as Ruby's Hideaway. But there was no choice in the matter, not after the events of the last week.
Last week I'd won a poker tournament worth several million dollars using my magical telepathy as well as a bit of chaos magic. My sponsor for the tournament, a luck mage by the name of Emily Whitefeld, had unknowingly showed me how to use the chaos magic to affect random chance. But the problem was that I shouldn't have been able to cast luck magic the way she did.
I'd learned that mages were fairly rare from my mentor, Adam Saks. He said there wasn't a clear count on the number of active mages alive today. But it was generally accepted that there was usually one every quarter of a million people who were awakened to their magical abilities and had any clue how to use them. But most mages were locked into one discipline, or style of magic. There were telepaths like Adam, luck mages like Emily, body shapers like Renia, or healers like Hector. But the very rare mage who could somehow cross disciplines was called an Archmage, and were feared in the mage community.
When I showed Emily that I could cast her luck magic in addition to my telepathy, I showed that I was one of these extremely rare mages who could cross disciplines. After Emily had gotten over her fear and shock of that fact, she'd explained more to me about why archmages were both respected and reviled in the mage community worldwide.
Maybe one in a thousand mages developed into an arch mage, but there was no way of knowing the exact numbers. In general mages tended to be very quiet and secretive, after the way humanity had responded to witches and wizards throughout the past, from the Spanish inquisition, to the salem witch trials, mages had learned to live in the shadows for the most part. So it was possible that the number of archmages on the planet might have been higher than a few dozen, but it wouldn't have been by much.
Emily had promised she'd keep secret my nature, but only on the condition that I leave her casino, and preferably leave Nevada all together. As far as she was concerned, the further away from an arch mage she was, the better she'd be. I agreed on the condition that she at least explained why she was so terrified of arch mages.
A long time ago, when the world was younger and magic was far more common. In a time when fantastic creatures ruled the land alongside man. An age where the horrors of the night actually stomped moonlit trails and haunted dark caves, not just lived in our stories and nightmares. In this day, our world was closer to the ancient world, the old world, the source of all magic and wonder. In that day most men knew the power of magic or prayer to gods. But among the most powerful of men were the arch mages, those who could reshape reality at their whim, and who could copy and control whatever magic they desired.
But they, those ancient arch mages, those godlike men and women, they could never be satisfied. They vied for power, for new spells, for any advantage over their peers. They pushed the boundaries of reality, trying to reshape existence and create a stable spell that no one else knew about, for any advantage they had, might be the tipping point in their unending struggles with each other.
Legend says, or so Emily told me, that it was a collective of archmages that tried to seal off the source of mana from all others. That they thought they would be the only ones to ever be able to cast magic ever again once they separated their world from the world of magic. But something went wrong. Countless mages died in the backlash, and from then on, most mages could only cast a certain type of spell, and they had to work together to achieve what they used to be able to do alone. As the world drifted further and further from magic, so too did the fantastic creatures and the nightmare beasts vanish from the world. Mages became more and more rare, relegated to history and myth.
The rare arch mage that did exist now a days either lived a quiet life, troubling as few as possible, went to work for the Silence and was constantly watched for abuse, or was hunted as an outlaw and a serious threat to the world of the mage.
Personally of those three choices, the first one seemed the only one palatable to me. So I planned on taking her advice and leaving Nevada all together. I had no desire to stay at the brothel owned by my mentor, Adam Saks, as he was very angry with me over my decision to stay in Vegas for a week without his approval.
So I was leaving. I had decided that I had money and I was simply going to go. I had no plan in mind other than the thought that I'd never been to the west coast, and thought that a long leisurely road trip up route 1 to see Big Sur might be something I should do. But I had two problems facing me.
The first was Adam thought that I did not have his permission to leave, and the second was the two women who were concerned about me just up and vanishing. Well, in fairness, one woman and one succubus. Ruby, a demoness of sex and lust, had made an agreement with me to teach me in exchange for my promise that I'd help free her from the servitude she was bound too here at this brothel. The other woman now moved to stand before me, pain, anger, and hurt on her face as she restated her comment.
"You just can't leave Mike!" Cheyenne said, placing her fists on her hips. Even in a set of sweatpants and an old T shirt that was far too big for her, she looked so sexy. Her mixed ethnicity, part Cheyenne indian and part 'white' gave her an exotic blended look that was so desirable. I felt a twitch of desire towards her, but my mentor, Adam, had requested my presence in his workshop, and it wouldn't do to keep him waiting.
"Look," I said putting my hand on her shoulder, "Cheyenne, I promise, we'll talk about this later, ok?" I didn't know what to think. I liked the young exotic prostitute, and I knew that she had honest and strong feelings about me. But I'd been married in my old life, before I became a mage, and I had no desire to settle down with one woman again. In fact, since my magical power my mana was restored by sex, I didn't even know if I could remain monogamous anymore. I seemed to be much more lusty and horny than I was before Renia reshaped my body to look like a young man. I certainly had the sex drive that I'd had as a teen and young man, not the thirty nine year old that I actually was.
She turned and stomped off down the hallway towards the bedroom in the large house behind the brothel that we shared. I shrugged and began moving towards the stairs. Adam's magical workshop and offices were in a large well appointed basement under the house, and I knew he was waiting for me down there. I was on my way when Cheyenne stopped me.
However I was stopped a second time as I got to the first floor. This time the woman blocking my path was a pale skinned, skinny, raven haired beauty whose red lips matched the moniker she'd chosen. "What do you want Ruby?" I asked her as she stood blocking my path.
"You have to be careful Mike," she warned, her eyes normally a blend of gray and brown changed color as she spoke to me. They stained crimson as I watched and began to glow red, a sure sign that she was feeling especially passionate, and her demonic nature was bleeding through her disguise. Ruby was a succubus, a demon from another plane created and made up of lust, magic, and demonic energy. She was trapped here on earth, and she used her magic to create a human guise.
"Careful of what?" I asked the succubus cautiously. I always felt like Ruby had her own motives, and wasn't ever sure that I could fully trust her. "Be careful of Adam? Yes, I know, he's upset with me."
She shook her raven locks as her eyes faded back to their disguised color, brown and hazel. "No, well, yes of Adam as well. But I was talking about Cheyenne." She leaned in conspiratorially and spoke quietly to me. Her breasts pressed against me through the simple black t shirt she was wearing and she said, "You're a powerful man now Mike. Much more powerful than you were when you first arrived here. I don't just mean the magical skill you've gained either, but the money too. Cheyenne is a whore..."
I glared at her. I didn't like the way she was speaking of Cheyenne, and I certainly didn't appreciate it since she'd been posing as a brothel madam for decades and whoring herself out as well. But Ruby rolled her eyes and spat, "Grow up Mike. Of course I have nothing against whoring, but Cheyenne is one. Whatever reason she had to come here to the brothel are her own. But don't doubt that she's a woman who choose to sell her body for money. The lure of a handsome young man with as much money as you have, it's tempting. Of course she wants you to stay. She'd leave with you if you asked her, but you need to decide if you want someone like her going with you."
I folded my arms across my chest. The polo shirt I was wearing pulled across my pectoral muscles, outlining my athletic frame. I'd been working hard everyday to make time to hit the gym. I'd been giving this young and athletic body and I was working to keep it in shape. Clenching my jaw I asked, "Why wouldn't I?" Even though I already had my own doubts about Cheyenne, I needed to hear it from another person.
"Mike, with your gift, and what I've taught you, you could walk into a nightclub and pick up almost any woman you wanted. Why saddle yourself with a single mortal?" Her image shifted and her skin rippled as if it was fluid. Before my very eyes in the blink of an eye her features shifted and changed and suddenly Ruby's form exactly matched Cheyenne's. She looked like the exotic native american beauty in every last detail. But it was still Ruby's voice when she spoke, "and don't forget. You promised to free me from this place. Free me from my servitude here and I'll show you how appreciative I can be."
She smiled and returned to the form I was more used to seeing her in, the pale skinned dark haired beauty. Leaving me slightly taken aback for a moment. I switched gears, knowing that every minute I delayed would only anger Adam more. But I needed to ask her about this, "About that, I spoke with an elder on another plane. I've talked with multiple mages other than myself. But Adam is the only one who seems to know anything about demon summoning and binding, and he wasn't the one who bound you here. Other than that I haven't learned a thing more. How am I supposed to free you when I don't know the first thing about summoning?"
Ruby shrugged and moved out of my way. "I'm sure Adam's private computer has information on other warlocks. Maybe you could ask them?" I opened my mouth to protest, but she put a finger on my lips as she slowly walked around me, "I know he wouldn't easily share his personal files with you. But you're an imaginative type, im sure you can figure something out."
She walked away then, her hips swaying as she did. Leaving me to ponder the carnal delights of being owed a favor by such a sexual creature. In truth though, I knew there was no way that Adam would allow me to look at his records on his computer, nor would he help me free Ruby. Ruby ran the brothel that he owned, and had for decades. She was a part of the reason that the brothel, aptly named Ruby's Hideaway, had been so successful and such a money maker for Adam over the last few decades. But did the demoness have a point? Could I figure out a way to get into Adam's computer, look at his files, without his permission?
I pondered and turned to the door that led down to the basement of the house, where Adam's office and magical workshop were. The week that I'd been back, it was obvious how strained our relationship had gotten. Adam looked at me the way a lion tamer might look at a caged beast. He acted smug and superior to me, but I saw apprehension behind his eyes, as if he wasn't sure what my next move was going to be, or how dangerous it could end up being for him. I wasn't certain if he knew that I was an Archmage, but he'd surprised me with the depth and breadth of his knowledge in the past, so I wasn't going to put it past him.
I knew that he was far more skilled at mental magic than I was. I'd been at this for weeks, he had for literally decades, so of course he was more powerful than I was. But, if push came to shove, I had one or two tricks up my sleeve that I hoped he didn't know about. Tricks like the glamour that Ruby had taught me. When she'd taught me, I thought that it was just another form of mind magic, the type of magic that eromancers like Adam and myself practiced. But after some use of it, I had come to realize that it was a different type of magic entirely. Ruby's glamour was less about mental telepathy and manipulation and more about a force of personality. A raw unfettered blast of pure charisma, a slap in the face of pure willpower driven by ego. It was much more brute force than any of the mind magic that Adam had taught me.
I'd also taught myself some new spells that Adam wasn't aware of. One of which I developed and let me win the poker tournament by quickly 'skimming' people's active thoughts for specific visual memories or images. I never would have been able to read the minds of so many people at once, but just 'skimming' to see their cards worked wonders. Another spell I'd been developing since I got back from Vegas, he also didn't know about. I'd been working on it in secret, and very carefully, as I didn't want to risk any backlash from a new and untested spell. But I'd been happy with the results so far, and was pretty sure the new spell was ready.
I hadn't come up with a name for the spell, but it let me 'compartmentalize' my mind. It started during the tournament when I noticed that I could sort of put my brain on autopilot while i was working my magic. I could fold hands without thinking, push in blinds, nothing too strenuous or anything that required much mental fortitude or concentration. But after the tournament, it occurred to me that being able to split my attention, split my focus in two ways would be quite useful. With some practice, I found that I could let my intellect continue to run my body while my willpower focused on mental tasks like casting spells or reading people's minds. I'd had good luck with it when I'd tested it against the prostitutes that lived and worked at the brothel with me, with the only downside being how quickly splitting my focus in that way tired me out. Splitting my focus drained my mana reserves quickly, and seemed to make any magic I weaved cost even more power. Further, anyone I spoke with said that I seemed 'distant' or 'cold' and I suppose that made sense. With my intellect only running my body, my emotions, the force of will that drove my magic and shaped mana into spells was detached. So there was no emotional responses and no 'humanity' as it were to my reactions. They were calculated and measured, but it worked, and that was what was important.
Most importantly however, I had tried it on Adam the other day and he hadn't noticed the difference. When he'd used his telepathy to read my mind, he'd been able to read the cold intellect, and found nothing of the emotional side of me that had been split off. Strangely enough he complimented me then on being able to 'school' my thoughts so meticulously, and took it as a sign of my advancement in the arts.
The only downside is that when I was split, i didn't always make the best decisions. I'd let slip to Cheyenne that I was planning on leaving Ruby's hideaway early in the morning while I was experimenting with the spell. I didn't consider the emotional aspect of how she would take the news, and she was upset. She'd fallen in love with me, a feeling that honestly wasn't reciprocated. I enjoyed her company, and she was nice, and outstanding to fuck. But love? No, I didn't love her. I would say that I was very fond of her, but that was about it. However her feelings were very strong and true, and she panicked when my split mind mentioned my plan to leave. She foolishly went to Adam, and begged him to make me stay somehow. Now he, my mentor, had summoned me.
I knew he would do whatever it took to get me to stay. He'd been adamant that I was not ready to go out in the world, and that my extended week vacation in Vegas was a mistake. He was begrudgingly letting me keep my winnings, but I had no doubt that with the power of his magical telepathy, he could have forced me to give the winnings over to him if he wanted. Which was just another reason for me to leave. He might not want my money today, but tomorrow he might change his mind.
So, with a deep sigh, and making sure no one was in sight, I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I went to my mental home inside my head and envisioned all of my defenses. Pulling up shielding and being ready for any sort of mental assault, I envisioned a mirror. So a full length mirror appeared in front of me. I reached out and touched my reflection, then let the hand slide into the glass, my hand grasping the hand of my reflection as the silvery substance of the mirror rippled like waves on a pond when a pebble is tossed in. Using a surge of mana, I pulled, pulling my reflection out towards me.
My reflection self nodded at me, it was the very image of my intellect brought to life inside my head. I gave myself one word of advice, "lets make this quick, we may need our mana and we know we can't hold this spell forever."
"I understand," my reflection answered me, then vanished into thin air.
I turned to the TV screens I had put up on the walls of my mental home and turned them on, seeing through my eyes as my intellect drove my body. Pushing the door open to the basement my body strode down the stairs to meet Adam without a hint of the fear or worry that I now felt as the emotional half of my being.
"You wanted to see me?" My voice sounded hollow in my own ears as I spoke to Adam inside his office.
He nodded and looked up at me from his hardwood desk. The underground office was perfectly climate controlled, but felt warm with all of the dark hard wood he had installed; shelves, chairs, walls, desk, and even the workstation built into the wall that housed his computer. Leather and fur decorated the furniture, and the slightest scent of sex wafted about the room. I was well aware that Adam often called his working girls down for a mana recharge, bending them over his desk, taking them on his couch, or fucking them right on the fur rugs on the floor. "Cheyenne told me you're thinking about leaving Mike. You're not ready, I'm afraid I can't let you do that."
I grimaced as I heard my intellect speak without considering the emotional implications, "I do what I want Adam. If I want to leave then I shall, I'm not your slave."
Adam pounded one fist on the desk and stood up yelling at me and pointing a finger, "You think not? You dare disobey me? You were nothing two months ago. You were an out of work high school teacher with a failing body and a failing marriage. I gave you everything, I gave you a new body, a new life, and I've taught you to begin to tap into your magical potential."
I could tell he was annoyed that I didn't react, my intellect that was driving my body and speaking couldn't react emotionally. So when it did respond, cooly and nonplussed, it further enraged Adam. "While that's true Adam, I never agreed to follow you blindly or unquestioningly. I learned as much making mistakes on my own or learning from others in one week as I did from any week with you. I see no reason to stay here under your thumb." My voice said cooly.