Reapers: The Apprenticeship of David Mancia – Part 1

Part 1: The Fire Druid

I loved walking into places like this with Rasool: seeing all the Preternatural squirm in his presence.  He could turn heads in a human bar well enough: the Egyptian was a handsome man, even if he was around five thousand years old.  He didn’t look a day over thirty.   But, in these Preternatural bars, you’d think he was a god.  I guess, in a sense, he was.  You see, Rasool Ahkenaten was a Reaper.  Or, as he would put it, one who is charged with ensuring the balance of the Preternatural population.  To them, he was the personification of Death.  To me, he was my Master.

“Stay no greater than two paces behind me at all times.”

“Got it.”

“Do not utter a single word.” Rasool turned to me, “Even if she speaks to you, say nothing.”

“I got it.”

“Even if she tries to attack, leave her to me.  Do not engage her in any way…”

“…Rasool, I got it.”

“Let us go then.”

To say that I was underdressed was an understatement.  The Pyre’s Club was more like a temple to high fashion: it’s priests and priestesses all adorned in bespoke suits and dresses tailored to hug their perfect bodies.  The air reeked of the scent of expensive cigars: the clouds of which hovered in the air like ghosts. Heads turned as we made our way past the long wooden bar to a lounge area with a fireplace, flames roaring.  We moved past the gauntlet of pretentious stares, through the lounge doors, to no stares at all.  The lounge was full of bowed heads and eyes focused on illuminated phone screens.  Only a few heads were raised and watching and only one belonged to Deidra Darcy.

It was the tattoo on her arm that gave her away.  Beautifully woven Celtic knots spanned the visible length of her delicate forearm to the back of her hand which bared the symbol of the Trinity Knot.  The glow of the fire accentuated her long red hair and her body was kindling its own hot fire within me.  The way she held that cup just inches away from her lips made me think of other things than killing a Druid.  Her eyes angled to meet ours as Rasool stood directly in front of her.

“Still as rude as ever, Egyptian.”  Deidra lowered her cup to her lap.  “Hopefully, that trait hasn’t rubbed off on your handsome minion.”

“Apprentice,” I said.

Deidra smiled, but she didn’t take her eyes off of the Reaper.  “My apologies, apprentice.”

Rasool’s face immediately tensed.  He tilted his head ever so slightly over his shoulder as a reminder that I was not to speak again and, if we made it out alive, he would be sure to beat that lesson into me.

“Druid, I’ve no time for games.  I’ve come for information and you will answer me.”

“Is my name in your book, Reaper?” Deidra asked.  She placed her cup on a small end-table and rose from the couch.

The patrons within the lounge, once lost in a hypnotic trance to their mobile devices, were now scrambling to depart the room.  The cigar smoke left contrails in their wake.

“If so, you will not find me so easy to kill.”  The Celtic knotwork on her arms glowed bright red and flames from the lounge’s fireplace danced around the Druid’s body.

“Your name is not in my book, but I won’t hesitate to kill you if I don’t get an answer,” Rasool said.

He raised his wrist and pressed a button activating his timepiece.  Reapers use timepieces to summon their power.  Through them, they express, what my Master calls, their affinity.  Rasool’s timepiece was an hourglass-shaped wristwatch. It displayed digital sand passing through a thin neck into a bulbous bottom.  He lowered his hand as if he was gripping the handle of something.  The air shimmered.  Sand materialized around the reaper’s right arm forming the shape of a long-handled scythe.  Once fully formed, the sand disappeared to reveal the Reaper’s weapon.

“What do you want?”  Deidra asked.  The flames flickered around her body, yet burned nothing.  As the name implied, flame control was the power of a Fire Druid.  Once the flames were under their command, they could burn nothing unless the Druid willed it.  But, if they willed it, well…they give new meaning to great balls of fire.

“Where is Brogan?” Rasool asked.

“Brogan?  I…He’ll kill me.”  Her voice, once firm and sure, was nervous and shaky.

“Is that your answer?” Rasool said.

For the first time since we appeared before her, Deidra turned her gaze to me.  My heart beat rapidly.  I wanted, desperately, to grab the timepiece from my pocket.  However, I knew that was a trump card we could not yet reveal.  That was for Brogan.  I had to trust Rasool’s instructions.  I would not move. 

“To hell with you Reaper, and your lap dog,” Deidra said.

In a speed that I could barely comprehend, a ball of flame was hurled toward me and the fire Druid darted for the lounge’s entrance.  Rasool’s scythe spun in front of me blocking the flames.  He burst into sand before my eyes moving quickly around my body materializing in front of the lounge door and Deidra.  The swing of the Reaper’s blade was rewarded by two thuds as the Druid’s upper torso and lower body hit the floor.

“Damn you, Deidra.”  Rasool shook his head over the Fire Druid’s severed smoldering corpse.  The scythe in his hands dematerialized into sand and vanished.  He pressed a button on his timepiece once again.

“Back to square one,” I said.  “Rasool, we should go.  Now.”

As we left the lounge, walking back through the main bar, you could hear the whispers of patrons: all preternatural beings, and all afraid of the Egyptian Reaper and his apprentice.

“How many years of life did her death gift to you?” I asked.

“Too many,” Rasool replied.

“How many?”  I asked once more.

As we passed through the Pyre’s Club doors into the night, he said, “Two thousand, four hundred, and thirty-seven.”

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