Blood, part 4 of 4

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Richard threw the book away in disgust.  The pages fluttered as the book spun across the room to slam into the far wall with a resounding thud.  He grabbed his hair with both hands and pulled his head between his knees to keep from screaming.  Even then, a guttural sound, somewhere between a moan and growl, escaped his clenched jaws. 


He’d spent months now researching, following every lead he could find, digging into the depths of the most obscure references and causal mentions, trying to find a single piece of hope that he could keep his new found power without it resulting in the crushing loss of health he had experienced as a result.  And all that time spent had resulted in nothing.  There was no hope.  There was no way to continue doing blood magic at the level he desired and stay healthy at the same time.

“So be it.”

He released his head and his eyes, red and wet from frustration and pain, scanned the room to where the book had fallen.  The book wasn’t the problem, it had just been the final fruitless hope and, as such, had borne the brunt of his exhaustion and exasperation. 

Standing and crossing the room, he retrieved the book, closed it nicely, and placed it on the stack of books that now needed to be returned to their owners.  That wasn’t going to be cheap.  Some of these books had come from halfway around the world.  Some had come from further.  But return them he would.  Just because he wouldn’t sacrifice his health for this craft didn’t mean he would keep the knowledge from others.  Perhaps they had more self-control than he did.  Perhaps they were willing to give up their health.

Richard locked up and headed for his car, waving to Bree across the street as he stood at the driver door.

“Glad to see you are feeling better,” she called across to him.

“That obvious?”

“Your color is back and you no longer look like a stiff wind could knock you over.”

Richard laughed and leaned against the now opened door.  “Yeah, I am feeling better, thank you.”

She smiled and nodded and then asked, “Where you headed.”

“Going to the beach.  Trying to get some more of that fresh air and sunshine a friend of mine recommended.”

“Have fun,” she replied, even as she returned her attention to the garden patch she was weeding.

He smirked as he started the car and drove off.

Fun?  That wasn’t really the idea at all.

Power?  Now that was what he was after, what he wanted, what he craved.

Blood, part 3 of 4

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The knife dipped into his flesh, a small pool of blood welling up along the surface of the smooth blade.  He flinched.  He couldn’t help that.  As much as he had been cutting himself the last couple weeks he had not yet gotten used to that initial pinch and burn when the knife did its work.  Richard was beginning to think he would never get used to it.  And, perhaps that was for the best.  Who would he have become if he no longer felt pain when he was cut?

He removed the blade and let two drops of blood fall from his finger to the paper below.  The red splotches mostly soaked into the parchment but some excess ran in tiny rivulets along the words he had penned on the page before cutting himself.  A tingle ran up his spine before he had even touched the age of the page to the waiting flame.  A jittery excitement set his fingers to twitching and he very nearly dropped the sheet.  Taking a calming breath, he carefully passed the page into the flame and then closed his eyes as the spell took hold. 

He was attempting to restore some health.  It was a simple enough spell that he had no doubts would work on someone else.  The test here was if it would work on him.  That was only part of it, though.  He was hoping the spell would restore him to better health than he had been before he’d cut himself. 

After months of tests and trials and success after success, Richard had discovered that he did not feel well.  The power was great.  The triumphs were great.  His exhaustion, his weakness, his growing depression when not working spells were not great.  He was hoping to use the same magic that was causing the problem to fix the problem.

It was foolish.  He knew that.  If the spell worked at all it was likely to only reverse the effects of the most recent injury, the one he had caused to cast the spell itself.  But he had to know.  He had to try.

The feeling of the magic swirled around him, making him feel giddy and light, as if he could jump and the air itself would hold him up.  The pain vanished.  The sadness in his mind was pushed aside.  Everything was right with his world again.

But that feeling did not last.  Sooner than he liked, Richard felt grounded again.  Darkness crashed across his mind.  The pain did not return to his finger.  But the slice on his arm from a spell he had cast earlier in the day began throbbing again. 

He tried to gauge the level of that pain.  Was it less than it had been before he’d cast the most recent spell, the healing spell? 

Richard sighed.  If it was, it wasn’t discernible.  The healing spell may have helped his finger pinprick but it hadn’t done enough to restore him to any sort of fuller, better, level of well-being.

Taking a seat, Richard put his head in his hands for a moment, trying to stave off the tiredness lurking in the darkness in his mind.  He had come to a crossroads of sorts and he knew there was only one decision he could make here but making it was going to be extremely tough.  He could not continue to live like this as much as it would pain him to give up the power he had found.

Sighing again, Richard looked up and took in the sputtering flame sitting on the table.  The ashes of the spellwork scattered across the surface of the table.  A drop of blood he hadn’t noticed was drying among the mess.  He’d either missed the page with a drop before he’d finished the spell or it had fallen from his fingers while giving the paper to the fire. 

When he felt strong enough, Richard stood up and headed outside.  The fresh air and sunshine would do him some good, and then he’d need some food, and some rest, and then…  Well, then he would have to decide what he was going to do next.

Blood, part 2 of 4

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“Haven’t seen you out much recently, you okay?”

Bree, his neighbor, had caught him standing on his porch, blinking away the startling sunrise as she passed by on her morning walk.  Richard held up a hand in apology and when his vision had cleared and his head had stopped swimming he replied, “Just been busy with projects inside.”

“You look paler than normal.  Are you coming down with something?”  She continued before he could respond, “You know it isn’t good to be locked inside all day.  Humans need fresh air and sunshine.”

Richard chuckled, “Yeah, I know.  That’s why I’m outside now.  Had a powerful urge to get some fresh air.”

Bree looked towards the sun kissed horizon.  “Sure seems like it is going to be a beautiful day.”

“I hope so.”

Without another word, Bree turned her focus back to the sidewalk in front of her and moved on.  She did wave a hand in parting, though, and Richard called after, “Talk to you later.”

Then he went back to focusing on his breathing.  He was paler than normal.  He’d lost too much blood with the last spell he’d cast.  It had been a whopper, and it had worked, but it had taken so much out of him that he he’d vomited and then barely gotten the wound to stop bleeding.  He’d gone too far and he was scared.  Not of the power.  He relished in that.  But, he hadn’t meant to spill so much of his blood.  He didn’t want to do that again.

Finding the balance between the power he craved and ensuring his own safety was proving difficult.  With candle magic, the cost of the spells had never varied as much as he was finding it could with blood magic.  That was problematic.  He liked consistency in general.  But when it came to magic, even minor deviations from the norm, from what he practiced, from what he expected, could have huge consequences.  He was tempted to give up blood magic and go back to candles. 

Richard shook his head.

He couldn’t do that.  Now that he had tasted this much power, he couldn’t give it up just like that.  He would just have to practice more, study more, and figure out the why behind all the little deviations so he was never caught off-guard, so he never spilled more blood than was safe.

He stayed on the porch for a few more minutes.  As Bree had said, he needed some more fresh air and sunshine.


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She checked her ingredients were all at hand one more time and then carefully began building the dish.  It was his favorite.  She hadn’t known that the first time she’d cooked it for him.  She hadn’t bothered with a recipe that time.  Cooking had always come naturally to her.  She liked tinkering and seeing how flavors came together.  The problem with that being she could never quite recreate the same meal.  Nothing ever turned out exactly the same twice. 

For the current meal, though, she needed the recipe.  Well, she needed part of it, anyway.  The food part she had down.  The spell part was what she needed help with and kept checking over and over to make sure she got it right.

She hummed a little tune while she stirred and blended in the ingredients, checking the temperature, checking the spell, stirring, stirring.  This meal had to be perfect.  It was time.  It was time for him to be fully hers.

Glancing at the clock she saw she still had plenty of time to bring it all together.  She kept stirring.  Kept double checking the lists and the steps.  Kept humming that little tune.

Then the final ingredient went in.  It disappeared instantly in the cheesy sauce, swirling among the noodles, carrots, potatoes.  The smell of it was divine.  It wasn’t the same as it’d been the first time she’d cooked for him.  It wasn’t supposed to be.  This was something more, something better, something magical.

She smiled a little mischievous smile.

“As they say, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”


The room smelled of leather and wax.  A desk took up most of one wall, a bed another, a small window would have invited in the sunshine if the thick drapes had not been shut against it.  Two candles on the desk provided the only, flickering, light.  A small bookcase, only two shelves and those only half full, was on the third wall within reach of the desk.  There was no door to the room.  It required magic to get in and magic to leave, as per its design and intent.  The creator favored privacy so he could study uninterrupted at his leisure.

He had come to his room that morning to tidy the place up a bit.  He would soon have an apprentice he would be bringing along to study and practice the craft.  However, he had soon gotten distracted in the particulars of a spell he had been toying with.  The few books he did keep were more a set of observations and ideas rather than written spells.  He was of the belief that magic was organic, natural, and couldn’t not be controlled simply with words.  It had to be felt, breathed, tasted, touched, lived.  Some of his peers laughed at him and called him a fool and yet sometimes their magic failed them.  His magic never failed.

Still, they flourished in their schools and their traditional methods, advancing through hierarchal ranks, accumulating spell books and scrolls, accolades and apprentices.  He became the recluse, happy to practice the craft in his own way, confident in his abilities and his assumptions of the art.  He was fine with that arrangement until a recent trip to the nearby town and had resulted in a deviant attempting to rob him of his meagre possessions.  He had called upon his magic to foil the heist.  A passerby had witnessed the exchange and had begged him to teach them.  After a prolonged conversation, it was learned that the passerby, still a child in many ways, had failed in the traditional schools but still wanted to learn.  He saw this as an opportunity to prove his theories were correct.  If he could teach another his methods successfully….

Light sprang from his hand as he finished the spell.  He had called upon the flame from one of the candles on his desk to share its illumination with his flesh, then he called upon the light itself to intensify until it was as though his hand had become a torch.  He pointed his palm at the dark corners of the room to reveal the cobwebs gathering dust in the shadows and that reminded him of the task he had meant to set upon.  Closing his hand the magic dispersed and the light went out.  The candles continued to flicker in the stirrings of his movement.  The room still smelled of leather and wax.  Nothing had changed.  Everything had changed.