Alazio sat at the table, looking at the now vacant seat.  The Ancient One had indeed asked a good question, but should Alazio be encouraged or insulted?  The truth was he didn’t believe the United Coven andAlliance paid him any attention at all.  That could either mean they were ignoring him, or that they thought him unworthy of their attention.

He tossed back the rest of his drink and stood, slamming the glass back on the table.  Those fools wouldn’t know true magic if their lives depended on it.  He could make them notice and then it would be impossible for the Alliance to ignore him any longer.  He was a Bokor, serving the powers of light and dark magic.  How dare they ignore his talent?  Alazio was one of the few capable of commanding the Loa, the spirits that kindled magic in its purest form.

He stalked out into the night, reviewing his status in the magical community.  His eyes darted around and a scowl creased his face.  His footsteps thundered on the pavement and he shook his shaggy head, lost in his assessment.

A group of thugs stood on the corner, hands shoved deep into their pockets and trouble rising from them like heat waves from hot pavement.  Alazio sauntered down the street, oblivious to the younger men.

“Hey, Shaggy!”  One of them called.  “Why don’t you buy us a drink?”

Alazio tilted his head and glared at the boy, taking his measure.  Smaller than Alazio by six inches, with the wiry build of an adolescent who worked out but had yet to finish maturing enough to have the physique of a man.  The boy took a step closer, his hands invisible in the pockets of too-large jeans.

Alazio glared at him again.  “Don’t waste my time, kid.”  The whole group of them together were no match for a man of Alazio’s power.

“Kid?  Who you think you’re talking to, old man?  I said you should buy us a drink.  Show us some respect.”  The young man stepped forward and his friends crossed their arms, nodding their agreement.  The tension ratcheted up another notch.

“I don’t want to waste my time hurting you.”  Alazio replied, squaring his shoulders and stopping right in front of the leader.  The Bokor’s smile held no warmth and his eyes glinted in the dim light.  One of the other young men stepped back, recognizing the predator in the prey.  Alazio smiled grimly.  At least one of them was perceptive.

“Come on, Ricky.  Leave the man alone.”  The smart one said to the leader as he put his hand out to stop another of his friends from stepping closer.

Ricky didn’t listen, and Alazio smiled broader, he rolled his shoulders and set his feet apart slightly.  The tension crackled like static electricity in the air.  The group moved closer, posturing and moving their small muscles in what they thought was an intimidating way.

The smart one grabbed the back of another boy’s shirt.  When the boy looked at him, the smart one jerked his chin over his shoulder, indicating his refusal to join in whatever fray broke out.  His friend glanced warily from him to the others, clearly torn between jumping in and turning tail.  The smart one took another step back and Alazio nodded at him.

The rest of the group wasn’t quite as perceptive.  Ricky pulled his hands out of his pocket and flashed a pathetic knife at their victim.  Alazio laughed.  He started tapping his fingers, the pads making whispers of noise.  He placed his palm against his thigh, increasing the rhythmic beat.  Ricky’s eyes held a hint of wariness but he didn’t retreat.

Alazio’s eyes dropped to the knife and the glint of cold metal was reflected in his eyes.

“What are you going to do with that, boy?”  Alazio asked.

Ricky smiled unpleasant,  “Get that drink you owe us.  It’s your choice:  do you want to buy it alive or dead?”

“Really?”  Alazio raised his thick fingers and tapped the tattoo around his collarbone, feeling the instant connection to the energy in the symbols.  All tattoos are capable of tapping energy.  The symbols inscribed into the flesh give them substance and power.  Both the spirit of the symbol and wearer become one.

Alazio’s tattoos honored the spirits of the Caribbean and of Africa, they were tuned to the energy that carried the spirits, and bound them to add their powers to his own.  “Then I guess we’ll test your theory.”

The smart boy backed up a few more steps, looking suspiciously at the dark ink that circled Alazio’s throat.  The boy pulled his friend back another step and shook his head in warning.  Instead of stepping back, the friend grinned maniacally at the wise boy and pulled a knife from the pocket of his own jeans, watching the metal glint dully in the dim light.  Alazio saw his own desire reflected in the younger man’s eyes.  Both of their reputations were at stake.

Alazio shook his head unrepentantly.  He flexed his own shoulders and opened the channels.  The spirits rushed in, and the tattoos writhed and slithered over his skin, making the connections automatically and magnifying the electricity in his brain, feeding off the energy.  Alazio felt the faint pull as one spirit burst from the center of his tattoo and invisibly streak across the darkness, striking the smart boy’s companion, and burrowing in through his weak defenses.

The boy’s eyes turned completely white, and his hand ran over the blade of the knife, drawing droplets of blood from his palm.  The metal shone with the wetness and the boy gripped it tighter.  His head turned further than it should have and in the silence of the street, the bones snapped like firecrackers.  His wiser friend’s eyes widened and without a word of warning or even a single noise, the wise one turned and ran, his expensive shoes slapping on the wet pavement.

The other boys hadn’t recognized the significance of the snapping sounds, and they quickly dismissed the smart boy with murmurs of “wuss” and “chicken”.  As a group, the young men stepped forward, lulled into a false sense of superiority because of two tiny blades of stainless steel.

Fools.  Alazio smiled and held up a hand, beckoning the white eyed boy closer.  He obeyed, because that was what loa did when commanded by a Bokor.

“Boys…you have a horse in your gang.”  Alazio whispered, calling the weak boy closer.

They exchanged confused glances, ignoring the boy who stepped closer to their quarry.  The horse stopped one step in front of Ricky when Alazio raised his hand.  Ricky grabbed the back of the boy’s shirt, pulling him away from Alazio.   He stumbled back and Ricky stepped front and center.  He was their leader and none should step in front of him.

“Who you callin’ a horse, old man?”  Ricky asked, waving his knife.

“The Loa rides your friend like a horse.”  Alazio bit out the words like an insult and shrugged.

“What?  You’re crazy, old man.”  Ricky laughed, not grasping Alazio’s words.

“Do you fear me?  You should.”  Alazio whispered.  With a surge of energy, Alazio tapped his tattoos and spoke the incantation to command the Loa.  The boy who was the ridden like a horse by the Loa grabbed Ricky and spun him around.  He opened his eyes wider, revealing their white surface.  Ricky stepped back, a look of confusion quickly replaced by terror.  He lifted the knife and stabbed in a reflexive action born from fear.  The blade sliced the flannel and the tender skin of the horse.

The Loa laughed through the horse’s mouth, raised his own knife and brought it down on the Ricky’s shoulder, grazing the flesh.  The Loa dropped the knife and wrapped thin fingers around Ricky’s neck.  Alazio backed up as the other boys broke rank, some of them ran while others tried to pull their friends apart.  In the confusion, Alazio walked by them, unconcerned with the outcome.  When he was far enough away, he touched the tattoo again, breaking the bond with the Loa and scattering the energy the spirit used.  Sirens sounded in the distance and Alazio turned down another street, deep in his own thoughts.

No, Alazio decided, the Alliance didn’t fear him….but they would.



If you read this, Happy Memorial Day, and remember…Destructive Magic will be released soon…Alazio makes another appearance in that story.


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