@John Constantine | @Catharsis | @Erinyes | @8-Bit | @Legion
"By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes..."
Macbeth, Act IV, scene i
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“Mwys gwynddo garanir!”
Circles of power erupted beneath, beside, and behind where the child stood, his small form buffeted as though by some great storm, as ancient eldritch spirits were stirred from their ancestral slumber.
Before him, a high rise under construction was collapsing in on itself. Support pylons buckling, sending tonnes of wrought metal down upon the construction crew and surrounding streets. At present, the tow-headed once and future prince
was working to secure a construction crane that had been perched atop one corner of the would-be tower, intended to haul large steel beams up to the top, now dangling precariously over an ordinarily busy thoroughfare.
They’d gotten him out of school when news of the disaster had broke. To be quite honest, that part he really hadn’t minded. He was still dressed in the uniform of St. James primary school in Trowbridge. A white polo shirt with blue pinstriping worn beneath a blue cardigan with white striping, and the Church of England crest over the right breast.
One item that was strictly not part of the kit was the Roman gladius, slung so that the pommel of the relic of the ancient world jutted up and just behind his right shoulder. It was not the traditional way of girding a sword, but this outfit wasn’t really made for that sort of thing. And he’d rather been a hurry to get here, so rather than girding it on he’d simply tossed Clarent across his back.
The sword glowed with the same, eerie light as the circles of power radiating around his small frame. He was siphoning from Clarent’s wellspring of energy, as the demands of these spells well exceeded what his body was capable of fielding otherwise. In evidence of which, the strands of straw-colored hair were plastered against his scalp. His clothing damp with sweat as he used his own mortal form as a conduit to channel the arcane. “A elfyntodd dwyr sinddyn duw.”
As he spoke, the circles of power vanished from around him and appeared, instead, to buttress the crane that seemed ready to slip from the side of the building at any moment. On the ground, police and emergency responders were pulling the construction crew from out of the collapsing structure, ambulances hastily arriving and departing beneath the shadow of the looming crane.
“That’s it!” he heard someone should from behind him. “That’s the last one.”
With a sigh of relief, the boy slumped forward. As he did, the strange glow about his form vanished, as did the glowing circles surrounding the crane. There was an audible CRACK
, as the crane broke free of its fetters and began falling down the side of the warped structural skeleton.
The child’s hand shot out, a half-hearted wave accompanying the words, “Araf!”
The Welsh word for ‘slow’ materialized itself in the sudden deceleration in mid-air of the heavy crane, it’s decent to the street below now like that of a feather that was falling. It’s weight was still enough to destroy the scaffolding and fencing as it arrived at the ground below, but did so with far less of a crash than it otherwise might.
That had done it.
Feeling the strength leave his body, the child wobbled as his knees began to buckle. He fell backward, into the arms of a cadet policeman that had been observing the boy. To be quite honest, the cadet had thought the assignment to be a joke. A way of pawning him off while the regulars did the real police work of pulling people from out of the building. He’d seen talk of this so-called Mordred Pendragon on the BBC, but had thought it just so much YouTube hype. To witness the spectacle up-close, the cadet found himself slack jawed and in awe as he caught the exhausted boy.
And, for his part, Mordred felt as though he could have taken a nap right then and there. Magic had never been something he’d been great at – or even all that good
at for that matter. Magic had always been more of his mother’s doing. Mother and Merlin, neither of whom were people he aspired to be like.
He found himself being propped up, as the cadet set him upright once more. “On your feet,” the cadet muttered.
Blinking through sleepy eyes, the child looked up to find the now familiar sight of cameras and reporters. Taking one look at the approaching paparazzi mob, the tow-headed child stepped around and then behind the cadet policeman, hiding behind the teenager as he pushed the cadet out of the media to pounce upon.
The teenager, of course, wondered if perhaps him mum had the telly on to see him on the BBC.
Arms braced against the teen’s ribs, the child rested his head against the cadet’s back. It was difficult to make out more than his name, as questions were shouted over one another, until they blended into so much noise. It left the boy with the wish that he knew a spell that could simply make him disappear.
“Mordred, any comment about the theft of your father’s helmet?”
The boy’s eyes popped open. For a moment, he wondered if he’d heard that right. Could he have imagined it, instead? Curiosity overcame the better part of common sense, and the boy’s head suddenly emerged from around the teenage cadet. “Wait, what?”
He instantly regretted his decision, as an endless array of flash bulbs blinded him. Squinting against the harsh assault of light, a microphone was thrust into his face. Behind it, a man said, “British Museum officials confirmed yesterday that an artifact believed to be the helmet of King Arthur was stolen earlier this week from the British Museum in London.”
Mordred merely blinked.
They had Goswhit
? Or, at least, they thought they did. And nobody
bothered to tell him this. Until now. Because they thought that it had been stolen.
The helmet of Arthur, son of Uther.
“Any comment on that?”
On live television, the child’s mouth just hung open.+ - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - +
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The security guard fell back into the chair.
The identification badge dangling from the front of his shirt said his name was Daryl Johnson. Daryl was only thirty-one years old. A vocational school graduate holding down what had proven to be his first steady job, he was happily divorced and had surprised himself by remarrying. Now he had a little girl who was turning three, so he’d wanted this job to really stick.
He was dead now.
His lifeless corpse slumped forward, almost falling out of the chair. The desiccated appearance of the corpse seemingly that of a man who’d been dead for several centuries. It’s blackened boned dressed in the uniform of a security guard.
Standing over the body, a distinguished looking gentleman was staring down at his hand. Age marks were disappearing, the skin becoming hardier, as though he was aging in the reverse. When the effect had finished, and he flexed the fingers of his hand, it was as though ten years had been lifted from his body.
Murmuring approvingly at the results, the man raised his head and proceeded inside of the museum.
It was well past closing time as he moved through doors marked New York Metropolitan Museum of Art