Categories > Original > Fantasy > Inversion0 Reviews
Magic never comes for free. Thrust into a world of unfamiliar politics and supernatural violence, Damien will learn to survive - or risk falling victim to the powers he is forced to channel.
Fragment from the Grimoire of Shaihe.
Damien was bored. He didn't have work for another few hours, and had spent the last few randomly wandering around the parks that dotted Oxford. As much as he enjoyed the life he was living, he missed the old days when he lived in the country; everything was so much more fun then.
He was pulled from his introspective mood as an ice cold raindrop ran down the back of his neck, petering out somewhere around the middle of his spine and eliciting several malicious curses. As if in response to the young man's tirade, the skies opened and sheets of freezing rain erupted from the dark clouds. Damien ran for shelter and found himself under a small overhang of brickwork that protected a shop door. For a few seconds he stood there, watching how the rush of people reacted. Those carrying umbrellas put them up and continued as if nothing had happened, whilst others hunched themselves up and scurried away like insects looking for shelter.
Bored again, Damien brushed the rain from his long woollen coat, the bell above the door calling out for a brief second before falling silent as it swung shut, the fresh smell of rain mingling with the more subtle scents of books and age, tea and the slight hint of stale cigarettes. The smells connected with a memory and Damien instantly knew where he was. He took a second to glance around and confirmed his suspicions. The bookshop was run by a friend called Graham, and like many rare book shops it rarely made money. Graham was a 21 year old prodigy with a gift for languages and a love of history and literature. Unfortunately he was away searching for something at the moment.
He paused again, his attention caught. The smell of fresh cigarette smoke had filtered through the scents of rain and books, and now led Damien to a small, tucked away door. He nodded politely to the young girl at the till who looked thoroughly caught up in a novel and with no response from her, stepped through the door marked 'Private'. Taking a moment of slight enjoyment of the freedom from the rules that a friendship with the owner provided, Damien smiled before swinging the door quietly closed behind him and heading down the stairs. The room opened up, revealing a few small tables scattered around and a small camp bed made up in one corner, and a small door that hid what Damien knew to be a toilet and sink. It was the centre table that held his attention though; normally it was a mess, but it seemed to have reached new heights of chaos since he had last visited. The various haphazard stacks of books were balanced in precarious piles on the circular surface.
Damien spotted what he had hoped to see, a body hunched over one slightly more cleared area, smoke rising from one hand whilst steam rose from a cup near the cigarette. The sound of furious scribbling and muttering had drowned out the sound of Damien's approach and he smirked, stopping by the stairs to watch his friend for a minute before quietly fishing a Marlboro from his packet. Absently noting that he needed to get some more from work, he lit it, closing the Zippo lighter with an overly dramatic snap.
The reaction was as much as he had hoped for and he chuckled as Graham jumped, almost knocking his cup all over the books. The other man narrowly rescued several other tomes from sliding to the floor before turning and meeting his friend in what was fast becoming a traditional manner.
"Damien, you absolute bastard, when will you ever learn to knock?"
The aforementioned grinned, taking a drag of the cigarette to hide the happiness of hearing his friend's upper class, smoke stained voice again.
"As soon as you take the fun out of me coming in like this." He paused for a minute, tilting his head slightly as studied his friend properly now. "Looking well Graham, and back earlier than expected."
Graham still looked the dishevelled scholar, but healthier than he had. A tan had darkened his skin and lightened the already fair hair to near white, and the blue eyes gave the strong impression of a Celtic druid, minus the humorous beard of course. There was something different around the eyes as well, an expression of triumph perhaps?
The other man smiled again, the triumphant expression shifting into deserved pride. "Well I found what I was looking for so there was no point staying in that forsaken place." He beckoned his visitor over to where he was working. Damien took yet another drag before stubbing the cigarette out in a conveniently placed, nearly full ashtray at the workspace and looking down at a very old, heavily bound book. It had obviously once been beautiful and a lot of care had gone into its construction. A delicate silver inlay had once decorated the thick cover but was now tarnished with dust and time, leaving only hints of the former lustre behind.
"Pretty, what is it?"
The scholar grinned. Normally there would have been an exasperated sigh at this point, and then a complicated explanation involving at least four reigning monarchs and a small treatise on the political and social situation at about the time a book written in a now long dead language was made. The simple response surprised Damien; pleasantly, but still surprised him. "A Grimoire. We recovered two major artefacts from the dig as well as the usual pottery and other rubbish; this book, which appears to be in a remarkable condition, and a strange knife that seemed to be hollow. One second, I have that lying around too somewhere."
While Graham went rummaging through the piles of stuff decorating the room, Damien took up the chair vacated by his friend and lit up another cigarette as he examined the decorations on the front of the book. He traced idly over the patterns, following one in the centre, back and forth under his fingertips until it began to become clearer, the grime and tarnish receding under his repeated light touch. The design seemed to take the form of an elaborately lined circle.
A voice half pulled him from his reverie and, placing the cigarette in his mouth he absently reached behind him to take what his friend was offering. A sudden burst of pain drew him from his trance as the jagged blade tasted blood, the crimson liquid running freely over the knife and onto the book. The world slowly began to grow hazy as he turned to Graham, surprised at the lack of reaction from his friend. As the world began to grow darker, he saw the triumphant expression return to his friend's face.
Why isn't he concerned about the book? was the last, irrational question to cross Damien's mind before the darkness drew him away from the light, and into soft embrace.