• Glenn Whitlock

Chapter 1

Table of Contents

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash


Kataru tapped her foot impatiently, waiting for her turn to enter the portal. Her group had spent an eternity listening to Queen Alari drone on and on about how restoring the Covenant between the fae and humans will bring balance back to the realm. The speech captivated most of the assembled fae; however, it lacked a certain luster, considering what Alari usually said in private. Plus, she tired of the droning speeches from the queen and the elders. If she was going to be forced to do this, she wanted to get it out of the way.

The Covenant. That was something she remembered hearing the elders talk about ever since her emergence from the Wellspring of Life. The pact between the fae and humans, which provided humans the freedom to set their own destiny. In exchange, the elders would cut the humans off from the Wellspring, doomed to live mortal lives. For eons, the humans had kept their end of the bargain, using ingenuity, rather than magic, to make their way into the world. However, the humans broke the bonds of the Covenant over time. Now, they can fly, communicate across vast distances, make golems that do their bidding. And live unnaturally long lives.

The queen and the council said the humans must be stopped before their unholy abominations destroyed the barrier between their two realms. The fae must subdue the humans and enact the Nemesis. Kataru wasn’t entirely sure how much of that was true and how much they blew out of proportion. The queen and her council were wise, yet they sometimes exaggerated things. Either way, Kataru swore an oath of fealty, so she had to obey their commands.

“Morah Kataru,” Elder Kyrken said, with deference in his voice. “It is your turn to go through the gate. May the wisdom of the Wellspring guide your steps.”

“Thank you, Elder,” she said. Blue light emanated from the circle of stones in front of her. As the light shimmered, she could see flashes of the mortal realm. Massive buildings made of stone and glass. Strange mechanical beasts the humans rode. The hubris of the humans to build such monstrosities on a sacred site.


 

Katelyn stood on the stoop of the decrepit apartment building, fidgeting with a coin in her pocket. How long had she been standing here, freezing, waiting for that sack of shit to answer? She pulled her hand out of her pocket, about to press the call button again when she heard a buzz.

“Fuck you want?” The gruff voice on the other end said.

“It’s Kay,” she snapped, her patience long gone. There was a long pause on the other end, punctuated by the metallic click of the door unlocking. She opened the door and entered the old brownstone house that now served as Reggie’s Pleasure Emporium. The stench of the place invaded her nostrils. It was a pungent aroma of weed smoke, sex, shit, and decay. She walked down the long, narrow hallway which led to the stairs in the back, deftly navigating past the piles of trash and someone passed out in the hall. As she stepped over his legs, she wondered whether he had indulged a little too much in Reggie’s pleasures.

As she climbed the stairs to the third floor, her mind drifted, and she wondered what the original owners of this house were like. This neighborhood hadn’t always been a rat-infested shit hole. It was once home to the filthy rich of the city, who wanted to build a gigantic mansion but lacked the space to do so downtown. Was it some magnate who made a fortune off of the sweat of thousands of poor who could barely scratch out a living? Did he — it was always a he back then — have kids who attended the best prep schools that money could buy? She wondered what her life would have been like if she had lived back then. Would she have been able to go to college as she wanted?

Katelyn reached the third floor and strode down the hallway, which was about as disgusting as the one on the first floor. She opened the door to the last apartment on the right and entered. The tiny apartment was cluttered with furniture and garbage. A random assortment of drug paraphernalia littered the coffee table in front of the massive TV. But the person she came to see was nowhere in sight.

“Reggie!” she yelled. Then she heard a clanking sound coming from the bathroom. The sound old pipes make when you turned the water off. Like someone was taking a hammer to them. Reggie emerged from the bathroom, stark naked, toweling off his hair as he stepped into the hallway.

“Yo, Special K! Like what you see?” he said, thrusting his naked crotch towards her with a stupid grin on his face.

“No, and stop calling me that. Where’s my shit, Reggie? You said to be here at 10, and here I am waiting on your stupid ass after 20 minutes.”

“Damn, chill,” he said, grabbing a pair of basketball shorts hanging on the corner of the TV and slipping them on. “I know they say dealers shouldn’t smoke their own shit, but they should make an exception for you.” He pushed the TV stand from the wall, popped off a grate in the wall, and retrieved a large bag of weed.

“How’s your mom?” Reggie asked, attempting to make small talk.

“Still dying,” she said, with mock casualness. “That’s why I’m here.” Her mom was diagnosed with cancer Junior year. Katelyn had long since spent what meager savings her mom had stashed away to pay for treatments, along with selling anything of value that they owned. And that only paid for a tiny portion of their medical debt.

“Well, this should help a little,” he said, tossing the bag to Katelyn and replacing everything.

“Why do you bother hiding that shit when your apartment looks like this?” she said, gesturing to the collection of drugs strewn across the apartment.

“Don’t want those fuckers out there getting my supply. I don’t exactly live in a safe neighborhood,” he said, smiling. “If I leave this shit out, then maybe they’ll just get high off this and stop looking for the rest.”

Before Katelyn could respond, a barrage of gunfire rang out. It sounded like it was a good deal away, but it was still a lot. Even for this neighborhood.

“Fuck, sounds like someone’s getting smoked,” Reggie said, packing a bowl. “Wanna stay and hit this with me?”

“No, I gotta get going,” she said as she hid the bag of weed underneath the false bottom of her backpack. Hiding the drugs there wouldn’t really make a difference for someone who was really looking for something. But it was just enough if the cops stopped to search her. Usually, the fucking perverts would just feel her up a little and let her go. “I’ll swing by later with the cut. See you later.”

“See ya,” she heard Reggie coughed as she walked out of his apartment. Katelyn went back the way she came and exited the building. Now, all she had to do was go uptown, where the rich kids went to college, sell this shit, and bring Reggie his cut. Then, she’d have enough money to make a payment towards bills and have a little extra to get her through a few days. She had tried doing “honest work,” but those jobs paid so shitty, she would have had to work more hours than there were in a day to come close to what she made selling weed.

Katelyn pulled her hood over her head and walked down the street to the bus stop. She heard another round of gunfire, this time much closer, longer-lasting, and coming from the direction of the bus stop. She spun on her heels and walked the way she came. Then she heard it. A loud boom, accompanied by the sound of breaking glass and twisting metal. She looked behind her and saw a cloud of smoke rising into the air. She walked faster, away from the explosion. A couple of blocks ahead of her, another explosion rang out. She shot down an alley, heading away from both explosions. When she reached the street on the other side, she saw it.

There was a group of six slender figures, a mix of men and women, wearing what looked like ancient leather armor, complete with breastplate and the leather skirt thing that hung down from their waists. They all had pale-looking skin, which cast off an ethereal green glow. Large, pointed ears jutted out from under their long, emerald-colored hair.

A group of twenty cops had the street in front of them, barricaded with police cars. They were all crouching behind the cars, firing their weapons at the group. The bullets struck the green halo of light surrounding each of the six — beings? — and fell ineffectually to the street. One of them, a female, sprouted wispy wings made of green light from her back and soared above the street. Some of the cops shot at her, while the rest shot at the other five. She stopped above the cops and pointed something at them. Green electricity shot out of whatever she was holding and hit the cluster of cop cars. It caused a blast of energy to erupt in the area, throwing the cars and cops to either side of the street. She was about to leave the alley and try slipping behind the group of elves, or whatever the fuck they were, when she heard a splash behind her. Before she could turn around, her body went numb, and she fell to the ground.


 


This story was based on the writing prompt below, courtesy of ServiceScape’s Writing Prompt Generator:

Generations ago, humanity begged the Fae to leave this world in order to preserve reality. The Fae agreed to leave, but demanded that humanity never practice magic in return because, from their perspective, magic was theirs alone to possess. The leaders of men agreed, and the Fae disappeared from our existence. Humanity then banned the practice of magic, and tales of such power faded into stories of folklore and legend. However, as technology progressed over the centuries, the Fae came to believe that mankind has broken this sacred covenant, mistaking human technological advancement for magic. They have witnessed mankind flying in the skies, talking to one another over great distances, and even creating golem-like creatures called robots to do their bidding. The Fae have decided to come back to our world and put an end to this, reestablishing the covenant at all cost.

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