Chapter 1: "The First Day" 5

Dion paces out of the Guardia headquarters, taking a path to the public portals and his new assignment in the Fourth Ring. Entering the portal station, he selects the portal which will land him in the Third Ring transfer station, which then connects to the Fourth Ring. As he enters the golden glowing oval, he feels the familiar transition shift, yet something feels unusual to him. Exiting the portal on the receiving side, he finds himself not in the transfer station, but rather in the center of a dimly lit, enclosed room, adorned somewhat like an exercise area. Wide walls are topped by a high ceiling with only  a few windows allowing a faint, heavily filtered light into the room.

The similarity with his academy training facility brings realization of his current location.  “A dojo,” Dion verbalizes its name.

The portal behind him flares briefly, and then winks out, indicating a one-time use. Where the portal once was is a door, the only exit from the dojo. But the door is blocked by a hooded figure bracketed by two large animals, both making low growling noises.

“We’ve been waiting for you, Dion. My friends here have been growing impatient waiting for my bypass spell to bring you into my little trap. Thank you for finally joining us.”

Dion does not recognize the figure in his rusty-black ragged cloak, but from his companions, he guesses quickly. “Demon dogs,” he assesses. “Illegally spawned creatures. Sorcerer Assassin?”

The sorcerer chuckles, his voice high-pitched but gravelly. “Very observant, young seducer. My employer will be happy to know that you were cognizant of your executioner… I’ll just let my pets here do their work while I retire to rest. I’ll be back later to collect the evidence I need of your demise for my employer. I’m sure he’ll suitably reward me for eliminating the defiler of his daughter.” Reaching down, he unclips the two animals and retreats through the door.

The two beasts close in on the young god, snarling and flashing their magic laced fangs and claws. The size of small bears, their canine features wrap the unholy demons possessing them within. Ignoring his pounding heart, Dion backs slowly from the two hunters, trying to develop a plan for defense as the closest one launches towards him, closely followed by the second. Dion erects a magical barrier, shielding himself, and hits the leading beast with a repelling spell that causes the creature to veer off course and crash into a side wall. The second beast strikes the barrier, rending it with his fangs and claws, propelling Dion backwards and making him trip over his feet. Unable to stop in mid-leap, the second beast ends up launching over the fallen Dion.

Meanwhile, the first beast, recovering from impacting the wall, again streaks towards the god. Dion, rolling and quickly getting back to his feet, reacts by casting the first spell that comes to mind, a love spell. The spell hits the demon fully, causing disorientation and confusion, and ultimately halting his approach. Amazed at his success, Dion spins to face the second beast, closing from behind. Having a moment more to think, the god erects a void barrier between himself and the animal. With its momentum unchecked, the beast hits the far side of the void and plunges through, entering an empty dimension. With the second beast gone, Dion cancels the spell and turns back to the first.

Shaking off the disorientation and seeing his mate vanish, the remaining beast is furious. Howling his anger, the creature assumes an attack stance, fiery eyes locked on the god, drool dripping from his jowls. Screaming in rage, the beast leaps at Dion, who reacts by establishing another void barrier. The beast strikes the barrier with magic-infused claws, destroying the spell while continuing on his launch towards his much hated prey. Dion, anticipating this, drops to the ground, rolling forward under the demon and kicking upwards causing the animal to overshoot his target and impact a second void barrier Dion had erected with the first. His momentum checked, though, the demon halts half-way, back legs scratching to drag him back.

“Oh no you don’t!” Dion shouts, running to the beast and kicking him in the rear to push him fully into the void.

Closing the spell as he collapses on the ground, Dion sits and checks himself over. His immaculate uniform is dust laden from the unkempt floor, with the jacket torn on the left side from the initial impact of the second beast. On top of that, he now is going to be late to his first meeting with his Lieutenant.

“Lovely…just lovely.” He mutters as he rises and quickly runs to the door, opening it slightly to see that it exits to a long hallway.

Running down the hallway, hoping to flee the building quickly without again facing the sorcerer, he approaches two opposing doors. Multiple distinct male voices emanating from one side cause him to quickly flee through the second one. Five steps in, he realizes that he has entered a women’s changing area for the dojo. On the far end of the changing area appears to be an exterior door. Dion shoots down a passageway between stalls towards the door, and as he turns to exit, he runs into the sole occupant of the area at the time, a tiny, old, martial arts student is dressing prior to exercises.

Seeing the intruder, the old woman finishes pulling on her uniform top and barks “It is forbidden for you to be here!” Moving like a blur, she strikes Dion aside his face with a spinning high kick. Dion bounces off the wall and races for the door, hitting it with force and throwing it open. Speeding out of the building, he quickly realizes that he is only a short distance from the public portal as the bypass spell was limited in strength to avoid detection. Rubbing his cheek, he thinks “That figures. I dispatch two demons without a scratch only to be whipped by an old woman.”

Knowing that the bypass spell was a onetime use, Dion again enters the public portals, chooses the same one as previous, and this time exits in the Third Ring transfer station. Prior to boarding the portal taking him to Fourth Ring, he sets about repairing and magically cleaning his uniform using a well practiced spell generally reserved for his post-nighttime activities.

Still rubbing his cheek as he is about to enter the portal to Fourth Ring, he thinks, I should have taken a vow of celibacy. Stopping and catching himself, he chuckles. Who am I kidding? – OK, Three Rats. Let’s see if you can top today.

Stepping into the portal, he vanishes.

1 comment:

  1. Combat. OK, a little abrupt, but I suppose it can't be any other way if you're a happy-go-lucky sort who's about to be assassinated... Can't help hoping to hear that the assassin is either just starting out at his job or soon to be dead at the hands of his employer, though, because he reads as a little inept. Unless you intended to indicate that Dion is just that good at what he does, and the demon dogs simply haven't been described in the extent of their ferocity and dangerous nature yet?

    Two conflicting nit-picks about this section:
    1. In some places, you stop short of the amount of description I would hope for. For instance, "he feels the familiar transition shift, yet something feels unusual to him." Well? What does the "familiar" feel like, and how does "unusual" vary? Even if Dion can't put his finger on precisely how it differs, it should still bother him enough to warrant comment, or else why mention that it feels different at all? You could easily wait until he sees he has arrived in the dojo to cue the reader that something has gone wrong.
    2. In other places, you go for a little too much description, causing a narrative disconnect for the reader as s/he goes back to figure out what you meant. For instance, "blocked by a hooded figure bracketed by two large animals, both making low growling noises." The repetition of "by" in such a limited area is the first thing that throws a reader, but it's small. Unfortunately, it sets things on edge for the "both making low growling noises" clause that refers to the two animals, but also squints at the hooded figure. The knee-jerk comprehension is that the hooded figure is growling along with the animals, and it takes a second read to correct that. In a place like this "bracketed by two large, growling animals" would actually fit better, even though it is not as lyrical.

    Very much enjoyed the punchline at the end. Nice miniature cliff-hanger to draw the reader forward again.