Classes are in full swing, and I still haven’t found the Sibyl yet. It’s not for a lack of trying, that’s for damn sure. It’s little wonder the guilds around here haven’t found her, despite her power screaming all over the state. It’s all over the state! One second, I’m sure she’s right next to me, and the next, I feel her magic flare from hundreds of miles away.
It makes no Gaia-damn sense!
At this point, I’m on a wild goose chase, no closer to discovering the whereabouts of the man I’m looking for, nor the Sibyl who may be able to help me find him. But that’s okay, I suppose, because classes at the University of Washington are going well. I’m top of my class in the theater department, and I even got selected to play a lead role in our upcoming performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Last time I did that play, I was Puck, so I’m excited to try my hand at a new character.
As winter slowly, slowly, so Gaia-damn slowly, gives way to spring, the chill in the air is turning to rain. More. Rain. How do these people live like this?
They’re batshit crazy, that’s how. I learned that the other day when someone tried to mug me on campus—in daylight! Well, what counts for it in this gray, gray state. To say he didn’t appreciate the broken nose and wrist I gave him—or his knife so kindly shoved into his shoulder—would be an understatement. Reflexes were a bitch and so hard to break.
Campus police didn’t even bat an eye while collecting the man, so I got the feeling they were desensitized to crazy people?
Seattle is wild—wild people, wild clubs, wild parties, and I find myself quite charmed by all of it.
But not the traffic. Never the traffic. I don’t even drive—not that I don’t know how to. I didn’t see a need to drive cross-country when I could catch a plane and use public transportation.
Like now, which is just as tedious as it seems. I caught the wrong bus heading north, deeper into Seattle, when I needed to head south back to campus. Correction—I caught the right number bus…just going the wrong way. I mean, really, who makes the difference between north- and south-bound buses which side of the street you’re on? The issue isn’t even the fact that the damn thing is crowded, some smelly dude asleep on my arm. Hell, I don’t even care if he’s catching a few Z’s—he looks like he needs them. It’s the fact that I can’t ever seem to tell where the buses are going before boarding them. At least the link rail makes some semblance of sense—ya know, with, like, signs saying where the thing is going before you board it.
Now that I realize I’m going the wrong way, however, I wake the man up with an apologetic smile. “It’s my stop.”
He nods, letting me up, and promptly falls back asleep. Before I pull the wire to let the driver know I’m getting off, I grab a fifty dollar bill out of my wallet and slip it into the man’s hand. I hope he can put it to use, whether for food or a new pair of shoes is up to him.
“Thanks, man,” he murmurs, and I startle, not realizing he’s still awake.
“Yeah,” I say softly. “Take care of yourself.”
Then I get off when the bus stops, looking up and down the street. I’m lost, and I don’t know when the next bus heading south will come by. Soon, I’m sure, considering it’s rush hour. This is what I get for trying to chase after phantom surges of magical energy.
The Sibyl is nowhere to be found.
Suddenly, a huge spike of power splits the aether not far from me. I turn toward it and run.
I get to an alley right as there’s a clatter of metal trash bins.
“Ra, that girl is going to be the death of me,” a man’s deep, accented voice mutters, followed by a snort. “Already was.”
I see a pair of dark sandaled feet sticking out the other side of a dumpster, and my brow furrows as I look at how primitive and worn they look. Like a homemade job done well, but not like anything you would expect to see in modern day society. As I get closer, I’m greeted to the sight of bare calves and knees, and I stop short, not entirely sure this man isn’t naked behind the dumpster he’s sitting next to. It wouldn’t be the first case of nudity I’d see on the streets here.
“Are—are you okay?” I call, certain he was the source of magic just a minute ago…but now, it’s gone. This man is a Norm…or…something. He doesn’t quite feel right to my own probing magic.
What I can see of his body stiffens, and very coolly, he grumbles, “I’m fine. Now, go away.”
My mouth opens and closes in shock. Are all people here rude? “I heard you fall—”
“And I said I’m fine.”
“If…if you’re sure?”
“I swear to Ra,” he mutters, “I hate this crap.”
My brows rise at his preferred curse, not the swear word, but the god. Only Casters typically swear on the gods, and very few at that. “Are you…are you a Caster?” I hedge. He’s either a Caster, crazy, or possibly drunk. If he’s a Norm, and he remembers that I asked at all, it’s not like he’ll know what I’m talking about.
There’s a long pause where he doesn’t move or respond, and the lack of movement of air tells me he’s not breathing, which is impossible. He would have to be breathing. Even if he’s holding his breath, that’s…quite a long time to go without breathing.
Then, he heaves a sigh. “You’re not going away are you?”
“Well, I honestly mean you no harm. I just want to help.”
“If you won’t go, I will.”
And before I can make it around the dumpster to try to stop him, he’s…gone. As in, poof! He vanished before my very eyes, and it wasn’t magic. At least, I don’t think it was.
No, I’m certain it wasn’t.
“What the actual mother of fucks?” I hiss, staring at the vacant spot where a man had just been sitting. Or had there been a man at all? “You’re losing your ever-loving mind, Owen. Crazy—you’re going crazy, just like the rest of the people in Seattle.”
Perhaps there’s something in the water.
Owen first appears in “Hunter’s Mark,” book 2 in the Light of Chaos series. Click “Buy on Amazon” below to read “King’s Chaos,” book 1 in the Light of Chaos series, free on KindleUnlimited. Follow this link to preorder “Hunter’s Mark,” available March 20, 2020.