by CM Towns
Arturo paced around the camp site below the Château de Coucy. Arturo hated camping and this was worst. Sure nothing bad had happened but Arturo was anticipating for that to change. Magic. He hated it even if it gave Arturo his superhuman abilities. He still could not fathom exactly how he did what he did, mimicking the abilities of animals and insects. How could he fly by mimicking birds without growing wings? Arturo got a headache every time he thought too hard about it.
Sally watched her teammate pace back and forth and said, “Are you okay?”
Arturo shook his head no.
Sally responded with, “Tell me what bothers you.”
“Lots. The castle. That spell. How easy it was to get that book. Whatever you’re doing now,” he answered.
“In English,” Sally told him.
Arturo was annoyed. He understood Sally was trying to help him better communicate in English but he felt it was not necessary at that moment. Arturo made sure the look on his face was one of annoyance.
“I too was surprised by the lack of challenges. However a very strong magic warded against wicked trespassers. Mizer must have been thoroughly frustrated,” Sally said.
The rules involving the entrance to the hidden chamber which included gaining access at dusk, a sigil made of virgin blood, and the entrance of a believer in justice. The hardest to obtain was the virgin blood, not because no one on the team was a virgin but because virgin blood means blood that had not been used in magic rituals. A common mistake made by most. Sally had used blood from her teammates to strengthen magical protections at their base. A way to ward off potential enemies. Once the two gained access into the secret chamber of the Château there were no tricks or enemies to be had.
“I still don’t like that we are giving that bitch this book,” commented Arturo.
“Not an ideal situation but it if she is honest, and Mizer has a habit of telling the truth, we will have important information that could benefit us against the Teiwaz,” Sally said to him.
“We should have just ignored her request and take the risk we lose like you wanted. What did you say to Antoine? Better to lose the Teiwaz in France than to play into Mizer’s hands,” he replied.
“You’re English is coming in so perfectly. Maybe the powers you possess have helped,” Sally commented.
“Yeah, whatever, what about what I said?”
“We were outvoted. Plus Antoine made his point about being able to stop both.”
Arturo remembered that vote, other than himself and Sally there was Erica. He did not much care for her but she did have more sense than his teammates at certain times. Some would call it cowardice, Arturo called it being smart.
Arturo’s life had dramatically changed in the last month and a half. More precisely four months. His powers manifested after a vision in which he found himself chasing an odd colored snake from his home into a forest. There he met Quetzalcoatl and was granted his gifts. In the real world he awoke in a hospital after being bitten by a Mexican Jumping Viper and almost dying. Arturo made a quick recovery and started to show signs of his new abilities. His grandfather took him to the National Intelligence Center (CNI) who had been developing on their own superhero team.
Most superhumans in Mexico preferred to operate independently with individuals or small groups patrolling their own areas. Even before the rise of superhumans Mexico started to have a wave of vigilante justice all throughout. men and women tired of the cartels but also unhappy with the police and government response. When it came superhuman activity it still rarer in most countries than it was in the US and Canada. After US the numbers in China and South East Asia, Western Europe, and Scandinavian countries were the strongest. Eastern Europe and Central and parts of South America would come behind next.
The CNI had a small group they were developing, only three at the time, and his grandfather proposed an idea-call in a favor with Reina Titán and Red Sprite. Have young Arturo Vargas train with the worlds premier superhero team the Guard. Once it was agreed he was put through some sort of questioning process where Sally and Antoine talked to him while a cat sat on his lap looking for affection. From there Arturo was moved in and enjoyed the game and theater rooms. He was not too fond of having to learn English but that had been surprisingly easily. Arturo also did not enjoy all the work he was doing to develop his powers and fighting skill. Creating the link to an animal was easy, using that power was the hard part.
“What are you doing exactly?” questioned Arturo as Sally adjusted a few notebooks while studying her tablet.
“The book is locked. Since I do not have the key I was curious if I could copy the contents without needing one,” Sally answered.
“How would you do that?”
“An ancient spell of the Wise Masters. You copy text from one book into another.”
“These Wise Masters existed at the beginning of time, right? Why create a spell like this?” further inquired Arturo.
“You are versed on the basic history of the universe.”
“I’m a catholic boy, God created the universe. But I do know a little about these Wise Masters.”
“The Wise Masters appear on and off from what I can tell. In their appearances they had acquired a massive library of material that goes back to the earliest written word. They invented this technique to copy journals and books more easily,” Sally detailed.
“Did you learn the language of these so-called Masters here on Earth?”
“The language is very similar in all the Ancient Temples. Or the ones I know to exist. Some differing phrases and symbols but similar enough so as to work out the new parts easily,” answered Sally.
“So you copied some of their spells onto your tablet.”
“Yes, including the one I need. I’ve used it a couple times before.”
Arturo yawned and sat down by the cooler. He pulled out a water, took a sip and saw Sally shake her head displeased. He took a look over at the Château.
“Found it,” Sally said. She pulled a knife from her pack. She cut her thumb and made symbols on the notepads, three in all.
Arturo got nervous as he watched. Sally placed her hand on the ancient tome, spoke out a spell. Arturo took a step back when the book started to glow and shake. Sally finished the incantation and a force blew her back. Smoke formed from the book and took shape into the figure of a knight. The knight became more defined as the smoke subsided. The books protector wore white armor with an odd black design all over. The knight pulled a longsword-longer than any either Arturo or Sally had ever seen.
The knight slashed and Sally ducked under, followed by a handspring back flip away before creating a stream of fire between the two. Arturo went to his bag, grabbed the stun gun Kid Victory lent him, and fired. Shots hit the knight in the back but no effect. He pulled the trigger a few more times and cursed. Arturos powers were really only good for defense unless he could summon the strength of a larger animal.
Arturo saw the knight and Sally circling. It rose its sword and Sally fired a blue flame into the helmet which lit on fire and burnt to ash. The knight dropped to its knees and reached for its helmet before falling and turning back into smoke.
“What was that!?” Arturo asked.
“A protector. Put in there for anyone attempting to access the books secrets without a key. I imagine if I try again what will rise would be worst,” Sally said.
“I was worried but you took care of that-” Arturo did not finish before Sally punt kicked the book away. Sally cussed in a language Arturo could not place, he imagined it was her native dialect. Sally went over to her things, grabbed her phone and told him to give her a minute.
Sally stomped away and Arturo slowly walked toward the book. He picked it up off the ground and brushed it off. He looked toward Sally’s direction and took in the ability of a local fox. The fox gave him the ability to eavesdrop on Sally. Arturo knew he shouldn’t but curiosity, and worry, got the best of him. What he heard was:
“I just feel weak. … I know. This situation is not to my liking… I absolutely hate it and want her dead. Yeah… Sometimes I think back to when we… I understood why you asked that of me, and it helped both of us. I just wish Mizer would have stayed away. … I want to go home. … No. I mean-I would not mind. I do think that Antoine would feel- … Exactly. … I should go. A lot to do. … Thank you. I’ll call you again… Okay, I love you too.”
Arturo heard her hang up and he sat by the fire. He assumed she called Jessie, who was Sally’s sister here on Earth. It would be the most logical choice. Possibly it could be that Michie girl who designed a lot of their costumes, the two seemed to be good friends. Sally reappeared and sat down across from him.
“I apologize for losing my cool,” said Sally.
“Don’t worry about it. It’s okay to be angry when you have a reason. There’s a lot of reasons to be angry when you’re you-superhero, stranded warrior,” Arturo responded.
“Yes. Angry and sad. I called Jessie just. I needed my best friend to talk me down,” Sally divulged.
“You two make a cute couple. I imagine Elijah is jealous. Probably Pearl too,” Arturo smiled.
“You are joking.”
“Let us clean up here, and head back. We have a meeting and we have a battle to win,” Sally said.