Trigger WARNING. This may disturb some readers.
Chapter 1 Predators
Aastrea stepped into the cold morning air and pulled her turtleneck up, covering the runes etched into her flesh. Biting wind snapped at her clothes, tugging them away from her and allowing her body heat to escape.
The sun wouldn’t be up for several hours, and for the most part, the city still slumbered, but she had to open the shop.
With every step down the wet pavement, water droplets flew up and landed on her jeans and shoes. She couldn’t see the dark heavy clouds blanketing the city, but she knew they were there, and the weather forecast called for rain by six. The perfect day for what she planned.
Ahead the bus stop came into view. Aastrea paused in the shadows as her eyes fell on the unexpected shape of a young girl, huddled against the cold glass and steel. A gust of wind made the girl shiver in her thin coat. Her faded black jeans and knock-off tennis shoes seemed just as worn as the coat.
Recalling a time when she played the part of a homeless girl, Aastrea reached out with her mind, probing around the girl, checking for a magical residue that would indicate a trap or that she was a magic-user. Sensing nothing sinister in her intentions, Aastrea pushed deeper. Gently, so as not to make her intrusion known, Aastrea brushed against her mind, getting a clear sense of the girl. Nothing with hostile intent lurked slumbering beneath the surface.
With the way the Synod had been acting recently, Aastrea didn’t want to put anything past them. The last thing she needed today was a test she didn’t pass. They seemed to come from nowhere, and each one was more intense than the last. A surprise test on the day of her final trial would be right out of Derveen’s playbook.
As Aastrea moved a few steps closer, she was careful to stay in the darkness. The girl’s thoughts became clear, actually materializing around her so Aastrea could see them. She was focused on the cold, on staying warm, on when the sun would come up, on if it would rain. On what she was going to do for food today.
Vulgar imaginings and overpowering vibrations forced themselves into Aastrea, dragged her into them, before finally making her part of them.
Aastrea grabbed a fistful of the girl’s hair and ran her free hand down her thin perfect back. Then she rammed her penis into her tight wet vagina. Aastrea loved the sound of the girl screaming as she pulled out and shoved herself in again, deeper this time.
The daydream trembled and shifted as Aastrea tried to pull herself out.
Aastrea stood over the kneeling girl, digging her fingers into her jaw as she forced her erect penis into her mouth and down her throat. The sight of the girl’s eyes tearing up as she shoved herself in and out made her penis throb as the girl gagged.
Flipping the girl around Aastrea forced her to the ground spreading her cheeks, pausing to admire the way her ass met her back and legs. Aastrea sucked on her teeth. Working moisture into her mouth she spit on the girl’s hole, rubbed it in with her thumb before forcing her full penis deep inside. The cry of pain excited Aastrea, made her thrust harder.
The man’s fantasy wobbled when Aastrea ground herself down into the earth, attempting to snap the connection between them.
The girl stared up at Aastrea. The spark was gone. Her face and hair dirty, except for where her tears had washed the grime away. The doll used up. She didn’t scream anymore, didn’t fight to get away, didn’t even cry.
As the knife came up, Aastrea snapped the mental connection. It took her a few moments before she centered herself. Bitter air filled her nose and lungs, the darkness smelled of damp garbage, and the drop drop drop of soft rain hitting the pavement was too loud. Aastrea shivered, but not from the chill in the air.
Aastrea wrenched her mind away as her stomach churned as the unwanted images seared themselves into her memory.
Aastrea knew where he was. She could feel him. The gun on his hip, the handcuffs, the taser, his hard-on. Sitting in a parked car fifty feet past the girl. But he wasn’t aware of her yet.
Checking her watch, Aastrea noted the time. Just before 4. She didn’t have time to help, to interfere with what was about to happen. Everything she had worked for these last ten years had been building to today, and she couldn’t afford to miss this window. She wouldn’t get another chance. Thoughts weren’t actions. Many people thought about doing horrible things and never acted on them.
The man opened his door and stepped out but left his door open. His clean police uniform stood out against the dirty streets.
Aastrea took a single step back, not too quickly – his attention was fixated on the girl, but quick movement would draw his gaze.
The girl’s attention stayed on the ground, half-asleep. She didn’t notice him until he was standing in front of her. She blinked up at him several times, exhaustion in her slumped posture and clouding her eyes.
Aastrea remained still.
In almost one motion, the man had the girl handcuffed and was escorting her back to his car. The girl started fighting. The man was already thinking about what he was going to do to her, and for how long. The girl’s pain would last for weeks before he killed her and dumped her body with the others.
Aastrea lifted a hand and reached out, touching his mind like how she would put a hand on someone’s shoulder to stop them from walking away.
The man froze as Aastrea sank deeper, digging into him.
She forced the man to turn and look at her. From this distance, all he would be able to see was an outline, but she wanted him to be facing her. It was important that he know someone was doing this to him, that he feel helpless as he watched someone violate him.
The girl picked up on his fear and turned to follow his gaze.
Aastrea stepped under the streetlight so they could both see her clearly. Bending the man’s body to her will, she forced him to reach into his back pocket, pull out his wallet and hold it out to the girl.
With a wave of her hand, Aastrea released the lock on the cuffs. They fell to the ground with a clank.
The girl blinked. Her eyes shot between the man, his wallet, and Aastrea. Snatching the wallet, she turned and fled.
Fear paralyzed the man. Aastrea could have let him go, and he would remain where he was. She didn’t.
“I’m—I’m a cop.” The man stuttered out.
Dry purple lightning ripped the sky in waves. Aastrea couldn’t help but smile at the timing.
Whispering into his mind, she said, “And I’m a Necromancer.”
For a moment, Aastrea considered breaking his neck. It would be the most satisfying crunch. Like stepping on a leaf in the fall. But the local police would swarm over this area looking for witnesses, then the Battle Mages would show up, and they would be able to follow that residue right to her. The last thing she wanted was to alert them of her presence in this city. The city of their headquarters.
Weaving strands of physical magic together, Aastrea laced it around the man’s heart and squeezed as she retreated from his mind.
The man gasped and clutched at his chest. His knees hit the wet pavement and sent little water droplets splashing up around him.
“Please.” The man panted between breaths.
Hot energy broiled over Aastrea. Grabbing the man’s vocal box with her mind, she grabbed his lungs in the same moment. Holding them motionless. He hadn’t stopped when children begged him to stop. When their tears hit the ground. When they cried for so long and so hard that they passed out. He’d given them a saline solution to rehydrate them then he came back four hours later to start again.
The man clawed at his throat with one hand and his chest with the other, trying to free himself from her.
Reaching back into his mind, she found the pain center of his brain and set it alight. His head tilted back, and his mouth opened in a silent scream. She wanted to do more, to extend his suffering. Make it last for weeks as he’d done. She wished she could expose him for what he was. But she didn’t have the time.
The man toppled forward, his body shaking as it fought for life.
Pulling back her magic, Aastrea let the man pant for air on the cold pavement. Let his racing heart ease. Let him catch his breath before she started again.
Walking closer, she forced him from his belly to his knees. Pulled him up and tilted his head back so he was looking into her eyes.
Aastrea watched the life flicker from his eyes. Then she ripped her magic away. His lifeless body fell bonelessly to the ground. For a few heartbeats, she let herself stare down at him. Let herself enjoy the feeling of fixing one thing. Then she checked her watch. She was running behind schedule.
As she passed the man’s car, she kicked the door closed. He had chosen to drive a personal vehicle. Which meant she didn’t have to worry about any video footage.
The girl’s fear came into Aastrea’s field of awareness. From her hiding place between a garbage can and a building she was watching Aastrea. Her mind was sharp and alert, attention fixed on the threat. Ready to run or fight.
Without breaking stride Aastrea made eye contact and nodded. She had her brother to kill. She couldn’t be late.
Thank you for reading the first chapter of The Battle Mage Codex. If you enjoyed it please leave a comment, like, and subscribe. No seriously. Leave a comment. I don’t even know if this is good or bad. You have to tell me.