Aiden Brande

And the Book of the Four Mages

Aiden Brande is dreading his Sophomore year of high school. On only the second day of school, his classmates seem to think that he's some sort of freak. After all, he did ignite the entire Boy's locker room, activate the sprinkler system, and burst his way into the gymnasium engulfed in flames only to walk away without a single burn mark . But as Aiden soon discovers, this is his gift....

Magic. It exists beyond the books and movies. It's as real as anything else. In fact, it's like living in a brand new world. He quickly discovers the pleasures of magic. Power, fun, friendship. However, it comes at a price. Secrecy, frustration, betrayal, and even death. Magic is nothing like he thought it was, and his new obligation to foil the plans of a powerful murderer will forever change his life.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Update! Posting to resume soon!

Hey all!

Finally got things in order with the copyright.  I should be able to resume posting in a few days (have to consider the holiday tomorrow) so I will be sure to do so!

I apologize for the time off, and I am very glad that some of you (or maybe new people) have been visiting my blog and keeping my page views high over the last two weeks!  Thank you so much!

Much love,
-tk

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Posting potentially halted

Hey all,

I was just informed that I should not post until my copyright is fully processed.  So I am thinking of listening to such advice.

But if I can't help it, perhaps I'll post :P

And hopefully it is processed soon!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Chapter 10


Chapter 10: CIMPLE

            Maybe telling Garret had gone a little better than Aiden had expected.
            There was this whole other side to Garret that Aiden had no idea even existed.  Especially the side that told Matt Kaufee to cut Aiden a break and stop giving him such a hard time.
            And he stayed true to his word, too.  After Modern Media, Aiden met up with Garret and took him to the room under the stage to see Kirk, Myriah, and Hazzlok.
            The conversation was lengthy, as Garret was very new to magic and had entirely too much to learn all at once.  A full hour later, he was caught up to speed and well-informed.  For someone who seemed so resilient at first, Garret believed everything that they told him and didn’t even think about questioning it.  Then again, after magic had potentially saved Hailey’s life the night before, how could he not trust the four of them?
            Much to Aiden’s excitement, Hazzlok held up his end of the bargain and arranged to take Aiden, Kirk, Myriah, and Garret to CIMPLE on the day before their Christmas break.
            “Here,” said Hazzlok.  “Take these home to your parents and have them sign them.  They are false permission slips, stating that we will be attending a Science seminar in New York since you are my top students.”
            “But I’m not even close to being a top Chemistry student,” said Kirk.  “My mom would never buy that.”
            “Your report card for this marking period says otherwise,” said Hazzlok, winking.
            Kirk nodded a “thank you.”
            “Hey, Hazzlok,” said Aiden.  “This doesn’t say anything about what time our bus leaves.  Don’t permission slips for class trips usually have that kind of thing on there?”
            “Ah, quite right, Aiden.  I suppose I shall have to print new ones, then.  Not to worry.”
            “Well, if we’re going to New York, then what time does our bus leave?  I’m going to need some time to get ready in the morning,” said Myriah.
            “Yeah, ‘cause it must take forever to put your hair in a ponytail,” teased Kirk.
            Myriah gave him a reproachful look and turned to Hazzlok.
            “Two thirty or so,” he said.
            Aiden gave a puzzled look.  That seemed a little late for a four hour round trip to New York.
            “Oh!  Sorry,” said Hazzlok.  “I forgot that you don’t know, yet.  We won’t be taking a bus… we’ll be taking my portal.”
            “Is that some kind of fancy, foreign car?” asked Garret.
            Hazzlok laughed.  “No, no.  By ‘portal’ I mean that we will be teleporting to headquarters.”
            Aiden looked nervous.  “You mean teleporting like… defying space and time and getting to New York instantly-kind-of-teleporting?”
            “Yes,” nodded Hazzlok.  “Not instantly, though.  Don’t worry; portal travel is actually quite enjoyable.  Two creative mages from some time ago invented it… it’s been around for a few decades now.  James Tell, a fire mage, created the concept.  His partner on the project, Alfred Portus, a wind mage, perfected it.  Hence the name ‘teleporter.’  We owe them many thanks.”
            “Whoa,” said Kirk, his eyes wide.  “That’s pretty freakin’ awesome.”
            “Quite.  Now, let me print some new slips for you four.  Try to get them signed tomorrow… just to seem legitimate.  We don’t want anyone to know what we’re really up to.”
            “We know, we know,” said Kirk.  “You’ve only told us a hundred times already.”
            “Good.  When we finally get to headquarters, perhaps you will understand exactly why I am so adamant about it.”

For the next two weeks, Aiden could hardly contain himself.  It was like he was going off to a really awesome vacation or something. 
            He was going to teleport, something he only ever fantasized about when he was feeling particularly lazy.  On top of that, he was going to the center of all things magical in the country, where he would be surrounded by enchanted objects and other mages.  He was also looking forward to picking up on some new magical lingo.  Hazzlok said that he would even get to meet the CEO of CIMPLE.  The head honcho.  The real deal.  It was nerve-wracking, but exciting all at the same time.
            To add to this, their regular meetings were now much more fun with Hazzlok and Garret there.  They spent most of the time trying to help Garret, who wasn't exactly a natural when it came to magic.  It took him two full sessions to cast the same spell that he had done on the football field.  It turns out that the spell was some sort of shielding mechanism that helped him topple his opponents.  Even finding out what his Intagrum was proved to be a challenge, which ended up being the black and brown wristband that he always wore.
            Aiden could not have been happier, though.  His parents were glad to see that all of his time after school “getting extra help with Hazzlok” had amounted to his becoming of a top student.  This put them in better spirits and they were much more pleasant to be around.  In fact, they were in such a good mood that they even started up a conversation outside the realm of academics.
            One Saturday morning, Bruce Brande set down his newspaper and cleared his throat.
            “So, Aiden… who’s Myriah?” he asked.
            Aiden nearly choked on his pancakes.  “Dad!” he sputtered.
            Bruce shrugged and raised his hands in the air.  “Sorry, bud.  You left your phone on the table the other day and she must have texted you five times in about forty seconds.  I thought it was an important phone call or something.”
            Aiden’s heart sank.  They had been texting about the CIMPLE trip.
            “Dad… please tell me you didn’t read them…”
            “’Course not.  I don’t snoop into your business without asking first.”
            “Why?  Embarrassed?  Sounds like Aiden’s got a girlyfriend!” his mother teased.
            “She’s not my girlfriend…”
            “Oh, please,” said Lauren.  “You’ve done nothing but text all day long for the last two weeks, Aiden.”
            “I’ve just been talking to some of my good friends,” he said, truthfully.
            Lauren winked at Bruce.  “Ooookay,” she said.
            Despite how irritating the nagging from his parents was, it made Aiden realize just how lucky he was.  He finally had a close group of friends, not just Kirk.  Even Hazzlok was beginning to feel more like a friend and less like a teacher.  Aiden felt like he could trust them all and he enjoyed the time that they spent together.
            On the morning of the trip, Aiden's excitement disappeared and was replaced by something close to fear.  Something about having his body de-materialize and then reappear somewhere else made him feel uneasy.  Kirk and Myriah were certainly pumped up all day, so Aiden did his best to hide it.  He just could not shake the unsettling feeling that something wasn't going to go right.
            The final bell of the day rang and Aiden and Garret left Modern Media together.
            "I wonder why he wants us to meet him in the lab instead of our usual spot?" said Garret.
            "Yeah, I have no idea.  Seems kind of flaky."
            After a few minutes of walking, they reached the Chemistry room to find Myriah and Kirk sitting on one of the tables, swinging their legs.
            "Where is he?" asked Aiden.
            "No idea," said Myriah.  "We were hoping he'd be with you."
            "Nope, haven't seen him," said Garret.
            "Guess we'll just keep waiting, then," said Aiden.  "I hope he doesn't think that we're meeting in our usual place."
            Garret hopped up on a table next to Kirk while Myriah jumped down and started pacing the room.  Aiden moved over to the storage closet and leaned against it, crossing his arms.  Nobody said anything and they waited for a minute in silence.
            Suddenly, Aiden was vaulted forward against his will.  It felt like he got plowed over by a bear.  The storage closet door had violently swung open with Hazzlok standing in the archway.
            "So sorry I'm late.  Had to make sure that everything was in order... Aiden, why are you on the floor?  Never mind, let's hurry.  We have much to do!" he said excitedly waving his arms.
            Kirk could only laugh as he helped Aiden to his feet. 
            "Wait... in there?" asked Myriah.
            "Yes, yes, come on!  Quickly, before somebody passes by," he said ushering them into the closet.
            The five of them hardly fit inside.  Aiden had never been in there before, but he had to give credit to Hazzlok; he was quite organized.  Every jar was labeled and alphabetized along the wall and all of the boxes were stacked neatly in the corner.  Hazzlok moved over to them and slid them aside, revealing a very strange looking pattern on the tile floor.  It was primarily a circle, with several purple, glowing lines weaving in and out of it, making it look like a very interesting snowflake.
            "Step over here," said Hazzlok.
            He moved aside three jars of acetone and pressed a small red button.
            "Hello, Claudia.  I am traveling as a party of five.  Are the pathways clear?" he asked, apparently talking to no one. 
            Seconds later, a high-pitched, nasally voice played out from behind the jars.  "Yes, Mr. Ether.  Authorization is complete, the halls are empty, and the meeting is underway... you may proceed."
            "Ready?" asked Hazzlok.
            "Wait a minute," said Aiden.  "Did that woman just call you 'Ether?’”
            "Er, well, yes, yes she did," Hazzlok said quickly.  "It's an alias.  I must ask that you refer to me as Ether inside headquarters.  I don't have time to explain it right now, but just please do as I ask.  Now are we ready?"
            "Uh, sure," said Kirk.
            "Okay.  Oh, and do try not to move… just relax.  Three, two, one!"
            It sounded as if someone just turned on a vacuum cleaner right next to Aiden's face and then sucked the light out of the room with it.  He felt his feet leave the ground, or rather that the ground left his feet.  His body felt weightless as it sailed, belly up, toward the sky.
            And then a pleasant tune played in Aiden's ears, a piano medley mixed with sounds of the ocean.  He felt a gentle breeze blow through his hair that smelled strongly of cinnamon buns.  Light entered his eyes again and he found himself floating over a beach on a massive, fluffy cloud.  The water below was transparent, revealing a shiny array of coral and sand beneath the surface.  The sun shone brightly and warmed Aiden as he floated along.  This was the most relaxed he had ever felt.
            And then he began to fall, slowly.  He drifted down toward the beach and landed in the soft, warm sand.  The vacuum noise sounded again and sucked the scenery from his eyelids.  He opened his eyes to see a very large, but very bland, grey room with several strange patterns on the tiled floor, much like the one in Hazzlok’s storage closet.  Myriah and Kirk were wearing wide grins upon their faces, but Garret looked a little green.
            “That was awesome!  Can we do it again?” asked Kirk.
            “Ha!  Speak for yourself,” said Garret, who now looked like he was going to vomit.
            “I tried to tell you to relax,” said Hazzlok.  “Teleporting is supposed to emulate the traveler’s idea of paradise.  However, if you aren’t fully relaxed or if you fidget too much during the initial few seconds, it can be rather… unpleasant.”
            “Interesting…” said Myriah, turning slightly red.
            “In any case, welcome to headquarters!  This is the Portal Room.  People from all over the country can teleport to this room as long as they have been granted access.  It is rare to have your own private portal, so let’s just say that I got lucky,” said Hazzlok. 
            Garret and Kirk nodded their heads, looking thoroughly impressed.
            “Follow me, please.  First, we have to check you in as guests at the desk near the main elevator,” said Hazzlok.  “Oh, I should probably check my mailbox while we’re here.  This way.”
            He led them out of the Portal Room and into a small hallway which opened up into a very large, central area with a high ceiling and several hallways branching off in all sorts of directions.  Hazzlok stopped at the first door on their left and let the four of them inside.
            It took a minute for Aiden’s eyes to settle, for the entire room was nothing but rows upon rows of small, metal mailboxes that had been carved into the walls.  The room seemed to be divided into sections as well.  Red mailboxes lined the left side, with grayish-purple ones to their immediate right, followed by blue, and then brown ones.  Aiden understood immediately – opposing elements were as far away from each other as possible.  Apparently Hazzlok wasn’t kidding…
            “Afternoon, Ether,” grunted a voice to their left.
            Hazzlok nearly left his skin in fright.  “Oh!  Hello, Jeff – er, you’re here later than usual, I see,” he said nervously.
            “Helluva day, pal.  Just one hell of a day.  Left everythin’ in here this mornin’, then came down in a rush to get started for the day.  And wouldn’t ya know it, left the damn thing open.  Just lockin’ her up now.  I swear, this Clarke nonsense’s got me goin’ loopy.  And who are these kids?” he asked, gesturing to Aiden and his crew.
            Hazzlok shifted uncomfortably.  “Oh, well – you see, students of mine, yes.  I was rather lucky this year – four fire mages in my senior class,” he lied.  “I am taking them to see Raine.”
            “Ah, well, good luck to ya’ll.  Raine’s havin’ a cow today.  I’ll be seein’ ya, Ether.”
            “Goodbye, Jeff.”
            When the doors shut behind him, Hazzlok gave a sigh of relief.
            “Luckily, Jeff doesn’t quite fit the bill of a fire mage… he’s rather dumb, you see.  Had we run into anyone else, they would have recognized your auras and the way in which you carry yourselves around one another and we would be answering questions for days.”  He held up his hand and walked over to the massive wall of red mailboxes.  “I’ll only be a moment,” he said.  He stuffed something inside his suit jacket, which Aiden couldn’t see, adjusted his hair and glasses, and led them out of the mailroom.
            Aiden could see the information desk a ways in front of him, now.  The rest of the gigantic room was empty, so Aiden figured it was a good time for some questions.
            “Who was that?” he asked.
            “Oh, Jeff?  Just someone who I see in the mailroom every day.  His mailbox is next to mine.  He is a Scout as well.”
            “And Raine is the CEO or whatever who we’re going to meet?”
            “Mr.  Raine, Aiden.  And yes, that is him.”
            “Okay.  What did Jeff mean about Clarke something-or-other?  I saw you looked uneasy when he said it.”
            “A true fire mage, Aiden.  Very observant, you are.  And quite intelligent to boot.”
            “Don’t change the subject on me, Hazzlok”
            “Shh!  Ether, Aiden.  Remember what I said?  Now, come.”
            They reached the huge, L-shaped desk in the center of the room and were greeted by a young woman with vibrant red hair, laid in perfect curls, and eccentric-looking black glasses.  She snapped her chewing gum obnoxiously as she waved to them, a pen in her hand.
            Her accent was a fierce shade of Brooklyn but Aiden recognized her nasally voice from the storage closet.  This must be Claudia.  “Hello, Mr. Ether.  I have ya guest passes here.  Aiden Brande?” she asked looking down at the four of them, waiting for a response.
            “That’s me,” said Aiden, holding out his hand to take the laminated slip chained to a red lanyard.
            “Okay, and you must be Myriah,” she said, handing her a blue lanyard.
            “Thank you, Miss”
            “Ah, don’t mention it, honey!  You must be Garret – you look like one.  My cousin’s name is Garret and he’s big and strong like you, doll.”
            “Uh – thanks,” said Garret, awkwardly.
            “So that leaves… Kirk?  Lovely name.  So handsome, you are!”
            Kirk turned pink and smiled shyly as he took his grey lanyard.
            “Thank you, Claudia.  Much appreciated,” said Hazzlok.
            “Anytime, dear.  When are ya takin’ me to dinna, Mr. Ether?”
            “Er – well, I’m – how about we talk about that tomorrow?  I’ve got to get them up to Raine’s office immediately.”
            “Alright, alright.  But just know you can’t play cat and mouse foreva’ with me,” she said, winking as they walked away from the desk.
            “Real smooth with the ladies, I see,” said Kirk, jabbing Hazzlok in the ribs with his elbow.
            Garret and Aiden gave a hearty laugh, but Myriah crossed her arms.  “Oh, you’re one to talk, Kirk,” she said.  “You didn’t even say thank you to her and your ears are still red!”
            This made Hazzlok smile.  “Rather intimidating woman, isn’t she Kirk?”
            “I hate you guys,” he pouted.
            “Hey, man, if you can’t take it, don’t dish it,” Garret chuckled as he slapped him on the back.
            The conversation came to a halt as they reached a glass elevator and quadrupled archways.  Four long hallways extended from underneath the archways in a brilliant rainbow of colors.  Each hall was guarded by a statue, which, like everything else in this building, was enormous.  As far as elements, it was easy to decipher which hallway was which, for the statues that guarded them were clad in their own respective colors.
            On the left, a burly, long-bearded man clutched a flaming hammer in his right hand about twenty feet off of the ground.  A black, metal anvil lay at his feet.  A plaque along the archway of the hall read Kenneth ‘Hephaestus’ Hadyn.  The next hall over, a thin, cloaked man with eagle’s wings protruding from his sides leaned heavily on a crooked cane.  The plaque above his head read Feng ‘Hermes’ Govad.  To the right, another statue stood erect.  A man with scraggly hair that was covered in seashells and a scarred face held a net in his left hand.  Water dripped from his mouth and moved along the webbing of the net into a small fountain pool at his feet.  His plaque depicted him as Irvine ‘Poseidon’ Wiley.  And finally, a very muscular young lady, wielding a bulwark and dagger, stood tall on a small mountain of rocks on the far right.  Her plaque called her Gina ‘Gaea’ Avani.
            “Brilliant, aren’t they?” said Hazzlok.
            “They have the names of Greek gods and goddesses,” said Aiden.
            “Yes.  It is CIMPLE’s way of paying homage to our ancestors of magic while also poking fun at the rest of the world.  You see, Greek gods and goddesses never actually existed.  The Greeks were sort of careless when they first discovered magic and didn’t try to conceal it.  When Normals could not figure out what caused great floods or earthquakes, they created the image of the gods to explain the forces of nature.  Little did they know that it was all just the work of mages.”
            “That’s incredible!” cried Myriah.
            “Indeed, as were the mages who we have put on display here.  Each of these four can easily be regarded as the best of their element.  The most powerful, hard-working, and cunning mages to ever roam the Earth.”
            Just then, two doors echoed noisily from far behind them and a throng of people began to flood the central area.
            “Meeting must be over,” said Hazzlok.  “Quickly, into the elevator!”
            He ushered the four of them into the glass elevator directly behind them and jammed the last button furiously.  As the elevator made its ascension, Aiden stole another look at the statues through the glass.  A man shot a fireball at the Hephaestus statue and it quickly moved to the side, allowing him to pass.  What a neat form of security, he thought.
            Ding.   
The elevator stopped at the top floor and the glass doors slid open with an awful grinding noise and the five of them stepped out.
Aiden was not surprised in the least at the hallway’s d├ęcor.  Olive green and burgundy carpeting cupped his feet as he walked and the thick, mahogany walls watched him as he walked.  Photographs of strange men lined the hallway and orchestral music played through the speakers overhead.
They paused outside of a set of double doors and Ether fumbled in his pocket for something.  He pulled out a small card and swiped it through a scanner on the door.  Aiden could hear a soft voicing playing from behind the doors.  Mr. Ether.  Department One. Identification number: nine one six zero zero one three nine nine.  Scout.
The same voice called out on Aiden’s side of the door, now.  Access granted.  Welcome.  Please step away from the doors.
The doors opened slowly and they stepped inside.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Raine,” said Hazzlok.
An older man with a funky, white comb-over sat at the desk in front of them.  His eyes lit up when he looked at Aiden.
“Excellent!  Well done, Ether!  I knew I could count on you!” he shouted.
The doors shut behind them with a Click.  “Please, Mr. Raine, as long as we are not being overheard, do call me by my real name.  You know how I hate that alias.”
“Certainly, Edwin,” said Mr. Raine.  “Now, you four must be Aiden, Kirk, Myriah, and Garret!”
“That’s us,” said Aiden.  “It’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Raine.”
“No, no, my friends!  The pleasure is all mine!  Please, have a seat – we have much to discuss.”
Aiden and his friends did as they were told and sat down in the four seats in front of the desk.  Hazzlok stood off to the side.
“So, what has our dear friend Edwin told you so far?” asked Raine.
Aiden was a little caught off guard.  He wasn’t expecting to have to answer a bunch of questions already.  Maybe this was secretly an interview to see how they would be as future CIMPLE employees.
 “Who, Hazzlok?” asked Aiden.  “Aside from the fact that we are the youngest mages in a gajillion years, we can cooperate with those outside of our element and it’s uncommon, and there is apparently some war going on… nothing, really.”
Hazzlok interjected.  “It’s not that I withheld information from them, Sanford, but rather that I thought that you could explain it a bit better than I.”
“Ah, well, that may be true,” said Raine.  “It is alright, I will do my best to give the short and sweet version of exactly what is going on.”  He took a deep breath and cracked his knuckles, then continued.
“Over the last few years, a certain man has been quite a thorn in the side of the magical world.  His name is Vincent Clarke, an ex-employee of CIMPLE over in Britain.  He is vastly powerful and highly persuasive – a combination that does not bode well with anyone.  For that, he is somewhat renowned, and has gained a bit of a following over time.
“About four months ago, he assassinated the CEO of Britain’s headquarters and dressed his office with the blood of the corpse.  He had certain demands of which we are not sure.  However, we do know that those demands were not met and, in a fit of rage, Clarke terrorized the building, killing an additional forty seven people, and then left the scene with over one hundred followers of his own.
“This left Britain’s headquarters in complete disarray for several weeks.  Thankfully, everything is in order over there again and added security measures have been taken.  On the other hand, Clarke has gone missing, and many famous mages are suddenly dropping dead.  We believe that this, too, is the work of Clarke.”
“Wow,” said Kirk.  “What a nutcase.”
“Indeed, my friend.  He is on a quest for power – blinded by it, actually.  He is ruthless and does not seem to have regard for anyone but himself,” said Raine.
“Hang on a second,” said Aiden.  “You mean to tell me that the guy who killed a CEO and forty seven people by himself is trying to become stronger?”
“That is correct, Aiden.  Indeed, it is scary.  It is pretty evident that he is building up an army and eliminating any potential threats.  To do what with this army… we are not sure.  Some of us have theories, but nothing has been proven, yet.”
Nobody said anything for a bit.
“So… where do we come into this picture?” asked Garret.
“Ah, yes,” said Raine.  “You see, Clarke is more than just powerful.  He is at a bit of an advantage.  He is a legendary Quadramage.”
“And… what exactly is a Quadramage?” asked Myriah.
“He means that Clarke can perform spells of all four elements – hence ‘Quadra,’” said Aiden.  “Am I right?”
“One hundred percent,” said Raine.  “You were right about this one, Edwin.  He is quick-witted.  We should make him the leader.”
Despite the compliment, Aiden was getting frustrated.
“That’s fine and all, but it doesn’t answer Garret’s question.  What does this guy being a Quadramage have to do with us?”
“My dear boy!  He is the first Quadramage in over two thousand years!  You are the youngest mages in two thousand years!  Connect the dots, don’t you see?  History is repeating itself… fate is at hand!”
“We still don’t know what you’re getting at, sir,” said Garret, coldly.
“You can’t possibly mean to tell me… haven’t you heard the tale of The Book of the Four Mages?”