The house stood on a slight rise just at the edge of the village. Behind the house there was a slightly rickety deck that boasted wooden lawn furniture pieced together from curb shopping in the fancier part of town and a view that boasted not much more than dirt.
A woman sat on one the chairs in a ratty bathrobe that jarred with the rest of her appearance. She clutched a tiny and grimy striped towel in her left hand like she was trying to wring its terry cloth neck. The battered Ford parked on the gravel to her right belonged to the Prefect of the local coven. It was not normally in their nature to have a Prefect and the title was made up and presumptuous, but it fed the man’s ego enough to keep him around to teach them what he knew, which was everything. He had promised them the ultimate answers, to life, the universe, everything.
As the woman raised the towel to dab at the corner of her mouth, the weak sunlight hit a swelling bruise on the side of her face and the towel added a drop of blood to the rest of its stains. She pulled her legs up underneath herself, smiled a smile that brought a twinge of pain, and hummed a tuneless little song as her mind roamed out and into the cosmos.
At a noise behind her she turned. A man stood in the back doorway to the house, leaning against the doorjamb with a sense of satiated self-congratulation. “I told you resistance was useless” he told the woman, who was called Tricia although she wasn’t very fond of it.
“Yes, Marvin, you are a veritable satyr of the glen. Being with you, one would almost think that you had a third arm and a second mouth and a brain the size of a planet to bring such creativity to the carnal pleasures of life.” She cut off with a giggle as he pounced on her, a mock roar as he nudged into the chair next to her.
“Your sarcastic hyperbole drives me crazy,” he muttered, nuzzling into her sweet smelling neck and breathing deep. “I am really sorry about your face though, beautiful. Not that I minded where you were headed but you surprised the shit out of me. So, ten out of ten for style, but minus several million for good thinking.”
“Yeah, well, next time don’t panic,” she muttered, still half giggling as his fingers danced the robe off of one bare shoulder. “What do you want to do today? I don’t have to work until four, so I’d like to enjoy some of the day first.” Her giggles hitched as his teeth grazed her skin and she shoved his head away. “No, you idiot, I want to enjoy outside today, it’s gorgeous and it’s perfect for you to show me that scrying spell you were talking about last week.”
Marvin stood with a good natured grumble, his own bathrobe in a slight sense of disarray that had nothing to do with his maneuvering on the chaise. “Blah blah blah! What’s the point of being a sexy bastard when all they want you for is your mind? Fine, go get dressed, five minutes or you’re gonna be undressed.”
“Sir, yes sir!” she snapped a smart salute and stood to follow him back inside. The house cats, Magra and Thea, came bounding up the deck stairs from wherever their nighttime ramblings had taken them and twined about her legs, almost sending her crashing down. “I swear to god, you idiots want to murder me don’t you?” She scratched each one of them between their ears and shoved them off. “Seriously, if you try to trip me on the stairs I’ll make kitschy little purses out of your hides.”
Marvin overheard the exchange as he came out of the bathroom and laughed. “You have yourself a heart of gold Tricia, truly. No wonder your spirit guide is an animal.” The cats ran over to him and meowed until he picked them both up and nuzzled their fur the same way he had just nuzzled Tricia’s neck moments ago. The smile on his face was genuine; cats might be assholes but when they loved you it was without reservation. At least until they get hungry and as their mewling turned plaintive he carried them off towards the kitchen.
The sun dappled river bank was calm and the water sluggish. Overhanging branches provided both shade and obstacles as they made their way further into the quiet valley. Marvin held his hand out to stop Tricia’s movement and stood still for a moment. He closed his eyes, tilted his head back to face the sky and took a deep breath, holding it in his belly. As he let it out slowly, his hand dropped to his side and he folded gracefully to the ground, kneeling. “Here, this is perfect,” he said happily, and tugged Tricia down to kneel beside him.
From the laughing and loving man of this morning Marvin segued into the teacher, the lecturer, the Elder. At only 42, he was the youngest of the initiates and quite possibly the one with the most promise in centuries. If he could bring an apprentice along with him on his rise, he greatly wished for it to be Tricia. First, of course, there was a test to determine whether or not she could even sense the ether, let alone attempt to understand or direct it.
Filled with a complicated mixture of elation and gravity, Tricia knelt calmly and watched as Marvin’s fingers began to describe a series of complicated motions in the air before him. She felt a frisson of almost erotic excitement as she saw a faint disturbance around his hands, almost as if the symbols he was drawing on nothing were being written in the very air. She smiled openly as the hair on her arms stood up. Already she knew, she could see the ether, she could feel it. She had already passed the first test and only had to wait for Marvin to finish and see.
Marvin turned to her, ready to begin his instruction, and fell backwards as he gaped. “Tricia!” He righted himself and stared at her, disbelieving. It had to be impossible, or at the very least highly improbable. He felt his power pulling itself like invisible threads from every molecule in his body. Finite threads twisting and stranding into coiled ropes that started to flow into his fingertips and collect, coagulate. The ether around Tricia thickened until he was seeing her through a wavering distorted mist, could barely see the uncertain but smiling visage through the streams of power.
“You’re a Kavula!” Marvin screamed, trying to penetrate through the mist that seemed to be circling him, looking for a way in. Tricia’s head cocked, she pointed to her ear and shrugged. “You’re a Kavula, you must get away from me, now! You will kill me!”
Tricia tried to stand up, had to place a palm flat on the ground for assistance, gravity felt like it was working overtime to keep her in place. She couldn’t hear a word that Marvin was saying but from the stricken look on his face he obviously needed her help. Why wouldn’t her damn legs work? A tingling sensation had started in her feet, and her fingertips and her scalp, not unpleasant but somehow invasive. “What are you saying?” she yelled in frustration. “What are you saying?”
With so much of his power now housed in his extremities making any sort of purposeful motion look like a bag of skin that had no bones blowing in the wind, Marvin spelled the word in the air. The shimmering aftermath left behind now looked to Tricia like words written in fire. K.A.V.U.L.A.
“Oh, no, no, nonononononono!” she shrieked, trying to back away. The power was having none of it though, bursting through Marvin’s pores like sprays of sweat and blood and diving for Tricia. There was no pain, just sensations, filling her to the brim and beyond with an aura that overtook any essence that had belonged to Tricia alone. She wept, silently, as all that Marvin had taught her about Kavula’s was remembered. She wept as she killed him.
The Kavula were an ancient race, possibly the ancient race. It was said that working spells used to be as common as working the fields, and just as natural. Born with the source of all essential magics inside them, they were a peaceful people, rulers who did not hold themselves above those without. As life moved forward, as times got hard or the earth grew fallow, the Kavula decided to share their magic with carefully selected people. The apprenticeship training was hard and had many levels; generally only one out of five survived the first few levels. The ones that survived were imbued with a diluted source of magic, a gift freely given to those who had earned it.
The more the well of power was spread out, the less Kavula there were. Eventually there was one born maybe every century or two. It was possible for a Kavula to be born to unsuspecting parents and live out a completely normal lifespan and die just like anyone else. However, if one happened to be around a skilled Elder, or Prefect or Sage, the magic would recognize this original source and flee its bindings to inhabit its vessel once again. This procedure did not bode well for its current resident, who without fail did not survive.
Amidst of maelstrom of crackling energy, Tricia was finally able to move forward and lean down to kiss Marvin’s brow. A tear dripped from the tip of her nose onto his handsome face. “So long,” she whispered, “and thanks for all the tricks.”
The Master Class prompt this week was chosen by David at the Scholarly Scribe. The fact that he chose the first line from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy made me like him even more than I already did. Douglas Adams is one of my all-time favorite authors that I can read and re-read countless times. The man was an intelligent hysterical comedic genius. I used as many references as I possibly could, and pulled some lines directly because they were my favorites, and this story is nothing but homage to his brilliance. Ha, one of the references I didn’t even realize I made at the time, and when I re-read it I admit my nerd sense tingled with my self-perceived cleverness (kind of like a spidey sense but with less sticky stuff).
Story powered by 1200 Micrograms, Live in Brazil. I’m pretty sure they’re aliens.