Story of Archon

In character journals

Foiling a Kidnapping

by Lea

Magic was so emotionally charged today. I was trying to cast the rope spell and instead of making rope I got intense fantasies about bondage. It had me both in the dominant and submissive role, and at the time I really was into the idea. Now, though… I don’t know. I’ve never done anything anywhere near to bondage–closest is… as close to bondage as eating fish is to vegetarianism. But I’m currently single and experimenting would definitely require history and trust with my partner, and so for now it doesn’t matter if I’m into it or not.

I was casting the spell to get myself up to the first threshold, and I still had to do that. Instead of casting the rope spell again, I knew I’d blush if I made rope right then, I tried a mana bolt, and Leo and Lia did too. Our resonances showed for the first time. Leo’s was a sphere of darkness with lightning streaking through it, Lia’s was a ball of winds, and mine was fire that smelled wonderful. It was just woodsmoke, but I got lost for a little bit in memories associated with that smell. I was sitting around a campfire after dinner with some people roasting marshmallows, and getting ready for singing and telling stories, with everyone content and prone to laughter. Then inside wrapping Christmas presents and drinking hot chocolate by the fireplace, humming carols to myself and anticipating reactions when the presents were opened.

 Then Lia disguised me and Leo–him with just a hood and dark eye makeup and me as a boy so I wouldn’t get kidnapped. I didn’t look that convincing, I was on the line between girly boy and lesbian but hopefully most people took me for the first one. This morning Lia had uncovered a Russian sex trafficking ring and a kidnapping plot that would take place tonight. So of course we decided to save the girls who were going to be kidnapped and collect evidence so the police would arrest the men.

The plan was that Leo would wait outside and be backup. Lia would get herself kidnapped, collect evidence, and then escape. My task was to intercept the girls and get them out of there. This was the first time I’ve ever approached girls with them thinking I’m a guy, and I have to admit that it was kind of… free feeling in comparison to usual. I could just come out and be a little flirtatious and not wonder if I’m hitting on a straight girl, which I definitely was, but not with the intention of doing anything other than dancing with them. The were willing to leave, but only if I left with them, so I took them to another club. They bought me a drink, we had a dance, and I was reminded why trying to meet girls at a club is a terrible idea. Like everyone there, there was just no way to get a sense of who they are beyond tipsy and confident and beautiful enough to show off their bodies. After as short a time paying attention to them as I could do without feeling like a total scumbag, I got them dancing with actual guys so I could leave and help with the kidnapping situation.

Back at the first club, I joined Leo and we got ready to go in and help Lia take out the kidnappers. Lia did a good job before we got there and all but two kidnappers were down, and she would have managed except that Heidi was kidnapped too and apparently caused all sorts of problems. She got shot in the head, but had an amulet around her neck that appeared to be healing her, so there was nothing I could really do to help. Lia was unhurt, and Leo and I incapacitated the two remaining kidnappers easily. Then Lia tied them up and we called the police and left Lia’s recording as evidence at the scene.

Seeing Myself

by Lea

I had nightmares again last night. I woke up anxious and drained. My usual solution of running and hoping to click into a runner’s high wasn’t an option. Even though it’s healing well, I had a bullet in my side yesterday. We were all so lucky the bullets were small and didn’t hit anything important. Even Leo’s knee will heal completely–turns out Heidi was looking for a different Leo, but was far more of an idiot than I took her for and shot Leo in the knee without confirming his identity. After convincing myself that running was not an option today, I instead decided to go grocery shopping. I asked Lia if she had any requests, and she did–to come with me.

On the way I asked her what her read on me was. It felt on topic and I’ve been so curious since she said she was good at reading people. She hardly even had to think about it, and then I was suddenly revealed to myself–and how she saw me was just beautiful. “You’re a very good person, and Leo and I are right to trust you so quickly. You would never betray a friend.” I felt so exposed. “You carry your own weight, make your own way, so that…” something about helping others who can’t as well and living a full and interesting life. And then she asked me about what I saw in her, and we talked about friendship and how we both tend to consider people friends too soon for the other person and how Leo doesn’t do that, but she says that he’ll stick around and try to protect us.

Back home, I spent time researching the ritual where you speak someone’s name to bring them back. Between that research and all of us being full on mana now, hopefully I’ll sleep well tonight.

Bringing Sticks to a Gunfight

by Lea

I am so worried about Leo. We’re immortal and I’m still worried about him. I think my subconscious hasn’t caught up with the immortal thing yet.

First, when we went to lunch we were attacked by this monster. He saw it first, and he used our secret code to tell us about it. He had killed it before I managed to hit it, but in the process its blood splattered on him and caused acid burns. I’ve bandaged them, but unless we use the magic healing spell on him he’s going to scar.

Then we were looking for mana and in addition to mana we found a girl being forced to absorb it. Lia and I put on our mantles, but Leo put on his armor and summoned his weapon and went after the men with guns. Let me repeat that for emphasis: Leo, armed just with a magical staff, charged eight men with guns! I couldn’t get my mantle to switch to armor, so I did the next most useful thing I could think of: I absorbed a spell seed–it turned out to be smoke–and cast the spell. I caught four of the men with guns and a magic-user in it. Leo got shot over and over, but the armor is great. He would have been dead without it, except I have to keep reminding myself that dead doesn’t mean dead dead it just means in need to regeneration. 

We got away, and took the girl with us. The cops were investigating, and we found a door into some underground labyrinthine tunnel area, and I looked over our wounds. I tripped over Lia in the fight and her leg’s going to bruise, and she was shot in the arm. Leo was hit in each leg, the left arm, but his torso was riddled with bullet wounds and a stab wound. The girl has been abused, but was the least in need of immediate medical care. 

Lia went out to get medical supplies because she’s good at being sneaky and was barely hurt compared to the rest of us. She came back with a blanket, a first aid kit, and Snickers bars. She’s utterly wonderful. Anyway, I patched everyone up. We got back home, and I had to use a spell to fix some of Leo’s wounds. It makes water that can wash away wounds. I was hit, too, in the torso and right arm, but I was ignoring that. Leo noticed and he made more of the magic water for me. I used it on my arm because it was my right arm and I could reach my side.

 Leo and I went back out to collect mana because he was down to two and I couldn’t stand the idea of him dying, even though as I have mentioned at least twice so far he’s immortal and can’t actually die. I absorbed mana, too. One from a wedding dress that was actually really beautiful on me. I’ve always imagined my wedding with me wearing a well-tailored white suit and my fiance wearing a gorgeous dress, but if I ever am actually shopping for a wedding dress I’m going to be terribly picky now that I’ve had this one on.

The second mana I absorbed was from a strip club. Leo left immediately, looking really embarrassed, but I wanted the passion mana that had pooled around a group of men ogling one of the girls. Of course when I absorbed the mana I looked like I was really into the dancer. The guys noticed and welcomed me as a kindred spirit, but I excused myself.

Back home Lia and I figured out about mantras. Apparently you come up with a resonant concept and then write a poem. We wrote them for our mana bolts. Lia’s is showy and exactly what I’d expect from a stage magician. Leo’s is all technical and sciencey-sounding. I laughed at his. It was so telling about who he is that I thought it was adorable, which I don’t think he’s allowed to know yet.

I’m off to write one for the smoke spell, and then we’re going to meet Leo’s cousin Jacob who just got out of prison.

Deaths and Plans

by Lea

Ella’s dead too, and so are Lyle, Jennie, Matt, and Kelly. Frank was out of the blast zone at the time and survived.  If our intel is accurate, reincarnation is a thing, and if death mana is any indication death is a peaceful silent end, but not a permanent end because of reincarnation. My primary emotion is relief–that I know, that some of my coworkers survived, and that Frank was one of the ones who survived.  I really didn’t want him to be dead, not that I wanted anyone to be dead, but Frank was the one I kept worrying about. When I finally got his texts he wanted me to call him so he could hear my voice, so I’m now worried that he’s not taking steps toward moving to friendship, but he hasn’t had that much time so maybe it’s okay?

 Maybe Lia can give me insight! She claims to be good at reading people and did a good job on the lady who came to see us, and seemed to know stuff about Leo and why he wants the death mana, which is because it’s comforting to him and he’s afraid of death. If those are really his reasons, which I’m just going to trust is true, then he can definitely have it.

 On the Lia front, the more I get to know her the more I think my first impulse was right. Yes, I can’t deny that she’s both incredibly gorgeous and physically my type, but more importantly I think we’re going to have so much fun developing our magic and learning how to deal with the magical world around us together. We’d been debating over who got which spell seeds and getting no where. Leo and I butt heads constantly and I haven’t figured out how to keep that from happening. She took two and put them in her pocket without looking. She gets it. When Leo asked if we’d looked she replied, “That would ruin everything!”

 We made a code so that we could communicate how suspicious or trustworthy people we meet are without them knowing. We decided that using names was a really good idea. We got Leo excited about this, too, and he named his regalia right then for us to use in our code until Lia and I name ours. I did name my familiar Ariel. I’ve never been so excited to meet someone sketchy.

Lia thinks mana is natural, not good or bad. I like that idea. I’ve now absorbed all the types that I thought might be bad: anger and fear, and also death. Enjoying death mana doesn’t morally bother me at all. Fear does a little. It’s better than a good horror movie, better than looking out a plane about to jump. That part’s a trip, and I want more of it. The part I feel a bit morally dirty about is that it’s also enjoying the power of causing fear in others.

Tomorrow I’m going to get started on studying magic.

A More Dangerous London Than We Knew

by Lea

Lia, Lea, and Leo (Le^3? The Lees? We have so much potential for a snappy group name) feels more permanent to me today. Does it feel that way for them? This is one of those things I can never figure out, and really hope I’m not wrong. Leo seems to be overly protective of us both. That’s a good sign, right? And we made plans for tomorrow, at least, with talk of next week, except we were pretending that I was an American tourist and they were showing me around, which isn’t really that much of a stretch, but the point is I don’t know if that was real planning or just our act.

We gathered mana today. You find it, and then absorb it, and absorbing it is the best thing I’ve ever felt. My god it could get addictive, but I’m not worrying about that because mana means we’ll just come back automatically if we die and no mana means something about your name being said at a fountain before you can come back, so as long as we can resist becoming a mana-junkies we’ll be fine. We’ll be great.

When you absorb the mana you feel the joy of the quality of it. The first one I absorbed was passion or devotion. Maybe it was because it was my first one, but I think it was my favorite. Leo was dead set against me and Lia absorbing death mana. He insisted that he should do it. I don’t understand what’s so bad simply about death. Killing, yes, but that’s not all that death is. Anger is worse. I absorbed an anger mana. It was the joy of being angry. I don’t want more of that. I don’t think any of us should absorb any more of that.

Now for the hard parts of today.

Still no word from Frank.

 London is more dangerous now. Apparently monster-creatures will now be drawn to us. Leo was absorbing a mana from the subway tracks, which was already dangerous and I was worried because you kind of get dazed and out of it for a while after absorbing mana because it feels so good. I was helping him off the tracks, when Lia grabbed my arm and pointed to… what we later learned was called a soulless. He looked like a businessman with glowing eyes. The train was early. The soulless leapt onto the tracks and was hit. It was horrifying. We’re going to be drawing these creatures to us? We’re going to have to learn how to fight.

 I don’t like thinking about the horror of the moment.

Mr. Paternoster is dead. He was killed by some… green something beast. It’s looking for us, but he said in his journal that we’re strong enough to beat it. Does this mean kill it? I’m going to have to be strong enough to do that. I won’t play the helpless damsel in this adventure.

 Leo and I talked about what to do with his body. Call the cops? Deal with being part of an investigation when we really look like the culprits? Call his gangster friends and do something illegal? Lia found the answer in his journal. We cremated him. We had learned the spell from him. It burns things.

Tomorrow it’ll be more clear. We have decisions to make that require clear heads. Decisions are always better made over breakfast than in the darkness.

Beginnings

by Lea

Today, while at a demonstration near the London Eye, the Pole Star fell. Myself, and two others–Leo, and Lia–saw the sky burn away and we saw the second sky. We see patches of it still. Then the star fell and exploded. Pieces of the star tore through the crowd, turning people to ash as they touches them. Not the three of us. This is our first life, so we wouldn’t die. The star burned into our hearts. My heart feels warmer now, not metaphorically, but actually warmer.

 We died, but the pieces of star had enough mana that we came back. From now on as long as we have mana we’ll always come back. We’re mages now, not wizards. Apparently there’s a difference, and there’s a glossary, except it’s written in German, which would be terribly inconvenient except that Lia speaks German and hopefully wouldn’t mind translating.

 I’m getting ahead of myself. We woke up in the astral. Surrounded by skeletons and we saw this scavenger-monster looking for pieces of life. I was a bit panicked, indecisive, lost in a fog trying to remember who was near me, who the skeletons were. Leo kept his head. We seem to be at least temporarily teaming up.

 I hope its more permanent. I would love to get to know Lia and get past my initial impression of incredibly beautiful. I would love to figure out how Leo was so calm. He ran for the boundary between the astral and the real world. Lia and I followed. Leo suggested we get out of there. There were police and EMTs and bodies. My gut instinct is that I’m going to be great friends with both of them.

I haven’t heard from Frank. He apologized to me this morning and brought me the most American breakfast he could find. Where was he? Was he one of the skeletons?

Leo suggested we leave. My apartment was closest, so I invited them over. Lia made tea. I examined the mark on Leo’s back where the star hit him. His clothes were burnt, but the skin was already healed.

 This has to be a dream, he suggested, so I pinched him. He pinched me back. Neither of us woke up. He told me to punch him, and I guess I was up on adrenaline and I hit him way harder than I expected to. I gave him ice and determined that there was no damage beyond an unavoidable bruise. 

Lia took us to Paternoster’s Emporium, where we’re sleeping tonight. Mr Paternoster is the one who told us about the stars in our hearts and everything. We’re all going to go looking for mana tomorrow.

“Looks Like We’re Off the Deep End Together”

by Jules

I wake up in the same spot where I collapsed. It seems like everyone who was there before has been reduced to ash and bone, except… I can see a man near me getting to his feet. He’s got dark skin and short black hair, and his sweater big hole in the back with singed edges.
“You’re alive,” he says, surprised. Does he recognize me or is he just surprised to see anyone alive at all?

“What’s just happened?”

“No clue,” he says, paying very little attention to me and glancing all around. His gaze finds another survivor, who I turn to look at as well. She has pink hair.

“We’ve got to get out of here,” the man says.

“Are you okay?” I ask.

“I think so,” she answers.

“Out of here where?” I ask, because I can see some sort of shimmer all around us that makes me wonder if we’re trapped inside something. It looks like we’re inside a bubble and there’s water all around.

“Anywhere but there,” the man says, pointing.  There’s something there, where he points, something from a nightmare. It’s a creature with knobbly horns and sooty, tightly stretched skin, and it’s holding a lantern.

I break into a panicked giggle fit. It’s all too ridiculous. I must be asleep! I can’t catch my breath.

“Would you stop laughing!” the man snaps at me.

“I can’t help it,” I say, but I pull myself together anyway.

We run. We go right through what I thought was a bubble… it must have been heat haze. I must be just hallucinating. I don’t feel so well. The man is still running.

“Wait,” I say.

“What.” he says. I don’t know what to say. I just don’t want to split up. If he and the girl with pink hair leave me, I’ll never be able to ask what happened. I’ll have to trust my own memory and right now I don’t think I can do that.

“Nevermind,” I say.

“Look,” he says. “I’m getting out of here. You can come with me or not.” He runs off.

“Do you know what just happened?” the girl with the pink hair asks.

“No,” I say. “But maybe he’s right and we should get out of here.”

Pink Hair leads us to a small apartment with curved ceilings. It’s really unusual, but it feels safe and close. Like a hobbit hole. I am grateful that they both think we should talk. They can tell me what they saw. We can compare notes.

“Does anyone have any medical knowledge?” the man asks before anything else. Pink hair asks him if he’s hurt.

“I don’t know. Adrenaline,” he says.

“I can check it out,” she says. I babble a bit about not being able to help or know what to do, which is obviously of no help to anyone, but, well, I don’t know what to do.

“You could make some tea,” Pink Hair offers. “I’m Lea by the way.”

“Me too!” I say.

“I’m Leo,” says the man, taking off his shirt and letting Lea examine his back.

“You’re fine,” she concludes. “You have some new skin there…”

“I’m dreaming,” he insists.

“That’s one of my hypotheses…” she says.

She pinches him. I make tea.

“Did you get hit too?” Lea asks me.
“I think so,” I say, handing a cup of tea first to Lea, then to Leo. It’s all a blur in my mind. Did the star hit me?

“I saw you get hit,” Leo verifies.

“The heart?” Lea asks.
“I think so,” I repeat, rubbing the tender raw skin over my heart. “It aches a bit.”

Lea shows her back. She has a hole in her shirt and new skin beneath it, the same as Leo. I don’t have a hole in my outfit, but my chest was bare. I think I was hit right in the heart.

“What now?” Lea asks.

“We might as well have a tea party. That’s what you do in dreams, isn’t it?” Leo says.

I take a moment to sip my tea and just watch them. When I meet new people I always like to get a feel for them, and I have a feeling these people are going to be very important to me, so I want to get my impressions out of the way as quickly as possible so we can get to more important things.

Leo: I can tell from the way he moved so quickly and easily in the face of calamity that he’s very strong and self sufficient. He has a super friendly face and his presence is stable and safe. I’m glad to be with someone like this in this kind of situation. He’s keeping his head really well. He may have snapped at me when I was having a giggle fit, but he obviously wants to make sure Lea and I are safe. I feel sure I can trust him.

Lea: I’ve already mentioned her pink hair, and it’s certainly the most immediately obvious thing when you see her, but now that she’s spoken there’s something else important: She’s American! She’s got that classic American tan and an engaging, warm American smile. Right now she’s definitely shaken up, for which I can hardly blame her, but she wants to get to the bottom of this as much as I do (already forming Hypotheses, right!?). I feel sure she’ll move past her fear and keep her head just as well as Leo. I sure haven’t seen any giggle fits out of her. She’s as impressed by Leo’s level head as I am and just seems to generally really like me. Personally, I think I couldn’t have woken up with two more competent, confident people and I’m doubly happy that they seem to want the best for me.

When we’re sure no one’s bleeding internally or externally, we discuss what we saw. We all agree on every point: The sky started burning away, a star came falling down and exploded like a firework, pieces flew everywhere and when they hit people the people turned to ash. Except that it hit us too and we survived.

I tell them about the little girl and what she said about the pole star falling. They all have the same flowers from her too. I can’t believe it’s a coincidence. Leo wonders if that’s why we all survived, and I secretly agree with him, but Lea says that’s dream logic. Leo asks her to punch him.

She punches him in the stomach. It looks like it hurts a lot. She seems ashamed.

“You pack a punch for a little girl,” he says.

“I’m stronger than I look,” she says sheepishly. She actually looks a little strong to me. She has thin, but tough muscles. She’s taller than I am, but then, so is everyone, so I’m sure she looks small to him.

“Yes,” he says gasping for breath. “You could say that.”

Suddenly I remember about Paternoster! Everyone keeps saying this was like a star fell, and he WAS talking about stars. And hiding something. I don’t know if he could have possibly meant this, but it’s worth a try, right? Right?

Lea and Leo think so too.

On the way to Paternosters, Leo suggests we think of a nickname for one of us so he doesn’t have to keep calling us both Lia. I tell him my real name is Julia.

“Jules, then,” he says. It makes me feel like we’re close that he jumps straight to my other favourite nickname.

“I’m sorry for stealing your name,” Lea says.

“That’s fine!” I say. “I have a lot of names!”

“I have just the one…” she says. I can tell she’s lying, but that must mean she really hates her other name, so I don’t push it.

Paternoster wants us to leave, but the moment someone mentions that we were at the site of the explosion he lets us in and invites us upstairs. He goes from ‘get out of here, I don’t have time’ to ‘really? could it be?’ in the blink of an eye. He definitely knows something. He checks our palms and then starts explaining, bit by bit.

Here are the things that he tells us: “So you can see the second sky, all of you? You’ve jumped off the deep end, I can tell you that much.”

and

“You didn’t die because you were new to life. Your spirits were newly incarnated. Your spirits are new.”
and

“The star burnt out your hearts and left itself in its place. Some say it is because you are free of karma and the star burns away all karma. You, having none are free from it. What is known is that it doesn’t happen very often and this would be the third star in a week.”

Lea mentions the monster thing that appeared.

“It was a scavenger,” Paternoster says once he’s pieced together a description from Lea and Leo’s juxtaposed explanations. “Scavenging for bits and pieces of life. But you shouldn’t have been able to see it. You said you were in a bubble? Like an ethereal veil? You were thrown into the astral. London must have done that.”

“We’ll need to get you some mana soon,” he goes on, as if we’re all following perfectly well. “You are probably the most valuable thing on the planet right now. You have a piece of the star. The various societies and cults will all vie for you, not to mention the other mages and exalts will all try and win your favor or your power. You won’t age and destroying you is difficult. You can die, but if you have mana, you’ll come back. Mana is a naturally coalescing energy in the world that is drawn to and colored by several things in this world. There are 12 or 13 known. When the star falls and bonds with you it kills you in the process but it has enough mana to regenerate you.”

Leo starts talking about being shot in the head and regenerating and I’m wondering why people would shoot us in the head! I wasn’t immortal yesterday, and I was perfectly fine. Do I need to worry about being shot in the head now?! But Leo tells me he will make sure we don’t get shot, even if someone tries to shoot us. I wonder if he has been shot at before.

I’m feeling massively overwhelmed by information. Paternoster almost sounds like he’s talking to himself and we just happen to be catching important bits here and there. I’m wondering if it would have been better just to muck about for a bit and get used to things instead of coming to paternoster. He knows so much but he’s dumping so much on us all at once that I wonder if it couldn’t have waited until tomorrow.

Like he read my mind, Paternoster says he’s got two camp beds and a sofa, that we’ll need fresh clothes, etc. I start to relax a little. We’ll have time to talk, and we can get clothes first.

Paternoster says he’ll cook dinner while Leo and I go out to get new clothes from our places.

The magic circle is locked. I knock and start looking around before I remember I have a key.

“I do live here, no worries,” I tell Leo, trying to make light, but he doesn’t seem too amused. The place is empty. I almost forget that that’s normal for the middle of the day because I am so freaked out.

I pack almost everything I own into my purse, including my handcuffs, disguise kit, and binoculars, and some extra clothes. Of course, I change into something normal too, but it looks like we’re staying over at Paternoster’s for at least one night…  Leo’s texting frantically. He brings me to his apartment and invites me in. I go with him. He lives in a big apartment complex. His texts look important. I want to read over his shoulder, but I’m too short. He tells me not to rummage through anything. The reason? There may be traps. He’s not even lying. He packs up some clothes too. And a sleeping bag. Paternoster said he had a couch and two cots, but a sleeping bag can’t hurt. Leo checks a huge wad of money trapped under the sink. He makes sure it’s there and then leaves, saying nothing about it. I don’t ask. I wonder if that’s why he’s been texting all day.

Dinner is ready when we get back, shepherd’s pie. It’s delicious, if only because I am starving and it is comforting and home-cooked. Much better than burnt toast.

“Well girls,” Leo says. “It seems we’re off the deep end together.”

Leo takes the first camp bed and Lea asks if I’d prefer the camp bed or the couch. I take the couch. Leo smiles. I think he wanted me to have a comfortable place to sleep. He’s so caring, even though he seems very tough and stoic. And even though his apartment is full of mouse traps.

No one wants to go to bed. Lea and Leo start small talking about where they’re from and what brought them to London. I curl up on the couch and listen. I’m very bad at small talk. Lea’s voice is very soothing to listen to. I bet she sings beautifully. I suddenly want to ask if she’ll sing me a lullaby, but that would be a very strange request with no lead-up.

Paternoster says it will be a long day tomorrow. I wonder how it could be longer than today.