Reapers: The Apprenticeship of David Mancia – Part 3

Part 3: David’s First Hunt

“Get up, or give up.  You won’t beat Brogan with wishes imagined on the flat of your back,”  Rasool said.

I felt the weight of my falling chest with every exhale.  Laying on my back, I saw Rasool’s face peering down at me. Every muscle in my body ached.  I willed myself to imagine Rasool’s dark skin and jet black hair were Brogan’s fair skin and red beard.  It’s not over.  Not yet.  I rolled on my side and then staggered to my feet, my breathing still heavy.  I activated La Mano de los Segundos accessing the use of my affinity.  I had one fleeting second of control.  I dashed toward my frozen Master, my body slowed from exhaustion.  As the second passed, and my short-handled wooden scythe approached within inches of Rasool’s body, his form shifted into sand.  Damn.  My weapon passed through his formless shape.

“You’re ready,” Rasool said as the sand coalesced back into his body.

Having exerted the last ounce of my physical strength with the missed blow, I collapsed.

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I awoke on the ground.  My muscles, now heavy and dense from years under the Egyptian’s tutelage, coursed with pain; a reminder of the day’s training.  I’m ready.  Rasool’s words were both a relief and a scare.  Soon, I would be tested.  Soon, I would have my chance to earn my scythe, my book, and the title of Reaper.  I sat up.  Rasool was sitting on one of the benches that lined the walls of his private gym.

The Egyptian Reaper lived on the top floor of an old building that overlooked the Puget Sound.  Today, the same building would cost a fortune.  However, Rasool purchased it shortly after its construction in 1920.  You’d never know from its shabby exterior, but the interior housed all the accoutrements of a royal palace, including the private gym in which we trained.

“I could’ve taken her, you know,” I said.

“Of that, I have no doubt.  You’re my apprentice.”

“Then what was with all the warnings about not interacting with her.”

“I needed you to appear weak.  This is a game of chess, not checkers.  Deidra wasn’t the only one in that bar to have a lead on Brogan.  And now, they know what happens when they don’t give me information.  They know that their names don’t have to be in my book for me to act.  Besides, you’ll ask the questions next time,” Rasool said.

“Me?” I replied.

“Yes, you.”  Rasool turned and walked toward the gym’s entrance.  “Get cleaned up, we’re leaving.”

You’d think, with five centuries worth of wealth, Rasool would travel in some chauffeured luxury vehicle.  Or, perhaps he’d drive some exotic sports car, like an Aston Martin, Ferrari, or Lamborghini.  Not Rasool, he preferred Taxis.  Yes, taxis, and he always paid cash.

“Paine Field,” Rasool ordered the driver.

The man said nothing and started down the street.

I knew better than to discuss the details of our destination in the back seat of a taxi, but my curiosity was peaked.  We rarely traveled by air, and we hadn’t packed any bags.

We pulled past the gate onto the tarmac where a private jet awaited our arrival.

“Nice,” I shut the car door and stood next to Rasool.  The taxi made its way back to the gate and away from the field leaving the two of us side by side.  “Where are we going?”

“Up the stairs, into the cabin.”  Rasool started toward the entrance to the jet.

“Thanks,” I said and followed him into the plane.  How do you call a Reaper a smart ass?  You don’t.

I heard the crunch of leather as I sat in the seat across from Rasool. The crew silently prepared the cabin for departure and we braced ourselves as the plane took off and quickly rose to altitude.

“We’re headed on your first hunt.”  He motioned to one of the Stewards.  “Bring the case.”

The Steward opened a compartment and pulled out a wooden case and sat it before us.

“Open it,” Rasool said.

I unclasped the two latches securing the case and lifted the top.  There were a small hardcover book and an empty slot for a short handled scythe.  I looked up at Rasool.

“Activate your affinity.”

I pressed the button on La Mano de los Segundos and looked back into the case.  The slot, once empty, revealed a black metallic scythe with the Eye of Ra embossed in gold on the blade near the shaft.  There were a golden chain and a clasp attached to the end of the handle.  I attached the clasp to my forearm.  I held the scythe in my hand and released my affinity; the scythe, the chain, and the clasp vanished.

“It’s similar to the wooden one you trained with.  You attached the clasp, yes?”

I nodded.

“The scythe is attuned to you.  It appears at your will only while your affinity is activated.  For you, that is only a brief moment, so you’ll have to make the strike count.”

“I understand.”  Rasool’s affinity is active over a long duration allowing him to use his scythe in combat to block and strike repeatedly.  My affinity is only active for a second at a time.  In combat outside the use of my affinity, I would have to fend for myself.

“Open the book,” Rasool said.

I turned the hard leather cover of the black book and read a single name on its first page.  Gavin Whitley.