[Author’s Note: I started writing this book…around ten years ago or so? Wow. Anyway, this is the third time I started over writing Mendacium and this is a better draft than the first two, in my opinion. As with the other books and stories here I am working on this wile I post it. Enjoy.]
After school Daren Medakus worked a part-time job at Shadow Trading Cards and Hobbies. The third trimester of his senior year was starting tomorrow, and he was only half paying attention at the register. The shop closed in five minutes and it was empty, so he let his mind wander to his weekend training. Up until recently he had trained with his father every Saturday morning. Now, though, his father was on a long assignment from the council and wouldn’t be back anytime soon.
“Oi, Daren! Pay attention!”
Looking up from his thoughts Daren saw a customer waiting silently in front of the counter. “Sorry, didn’t hear you.”
The customer put a few card packs and a board game onto the counter.
“Silent, eh?” He started ringing up the items, the customer still said nothing. “That’ll be thirty-five fifteen.”
The customer handed him a fifty. Daren held it up to the light to check for the watermark. There was none.
Daren looked over to where Cal was restocking. “Hey, Cal! Can you double check this for me?”
Cal Stver set down a box of board games and walked to the counter. “What’s up?”
“Please tell me I’m just blind.” He handed the bill to Cal.
The bill was held up to the light once again. “Yup, you’re just blind. You want me to ring him up?”
“Yeah, I’m gonna go home.” Daren swapped locations with Cal and went to the employee room to time out. He picked up his school bag and walked out the back of the store.
Daren went to get in his pickup and realized his vision was too blurry to drive. Something was wrong. Very wrong. He pulled out his phone to call his father the phone dialed but then came back with a busy tone. Cursing under his breath Daren started to call his mother but stopped and walked back into the store. Cal had his key in the lock when Daren opened the door.
“Yo, something wrong?” Cal asked.
“I don’t feel so…” Daren fell forward and Cal caught him, laying him down gently.
“Well, that’s not good.” Cal pulled out his cell and called Daren’s mother. She picked up immediately. “Hey, Neta it’s Cal. Daren just passed out on the floor. You may want to get down here. I’m calling a medic.”
“I’m coming. Don’t call a medic though, I know what’s wrong. Give him water and something to eat when he wakes up.” Neta hung up the phone and grabbed a few bottles from the cellar shelf before rushing to get in her car. “Now he’s gone and done it. Why didn’t he listen to me this morning?”
Daren woke up in a chair in the staff room of Shadow Trading Cards and Hobbies. Cal sat in front of him with a bottle of water and a snack bar.
“Good morning sleepy head. Your mom’s on the way.” He held out the water and snack bar. “Your mom said to get you something to eat and drink. Are you okay?”
“I think so, mom warned me this morning. She said to drink that brew before I left.” Daren looked for his backpack. “Something about the flow of energy in the area or something.” The words left his mouth before he realized who he was talking to.
Cal chuckled. “Yeah, you magical types always slip up around me. I must just have that kind of face or something.” He held up the snack bar again. “Eat. I’ll get your grimoire for you.”
Daren took the snack bar and water in stunned silence. How did Cal know he was looking for his grimoire? How did he even know what a grimoire was? He opened the snack bar and took a bite. “Tastes vaguely of aloe…a little weird.”
“Yeah, just had a sample case brought in. I don’t think we need them for anything, though.” Cal was rummaging through Daren’s messenger bag. “Ah, grimoire.” He set the book in the seat next to Daren. “So, you aren’t going to kiss a vampire later, are you? The aloe tends to burn.”
“If I was I’d be taking my life in my hands already.” Daren finished the bar and drank some of the water. “So, what are you, anyway?”
“Your boss. If you need something more specific than that we can talk about it later. I think your mom’s here now.” The sound of a car engine reached the staff room. “I’ll go let her in.” Cal stood up and started toward the door. “Oh,” he said without turning back to Daren, “if you want to know more just look up my family. The Stver line is an interesting one. I don’t know everything myself. I don’t have the resources you probably do.” He left the room.
As soon as Cal was out of sight Daren opened his grimoire to somewhere in the middle and pulled out a pressed flower. He then turned to a section near the front and started reading from it. He instantly felt better as the flower disintegrated and a protective layer of magic surrounded him.
Neta walked into the room and saw Daren’s grimoire open. “Close that now, young man. You’re in enough trouble as it is.” She got closer and whispered. “What if Cal found out?”
“He already knew.” Daren closed the grimoire and held his hand out. “Just give me the potion. My mana’s out of whack.”
Neta sighed and handed two vials of thin powders to him. One was blue and the other was orange. “Mix it in the water and drink it all. The blue one is Blue Ash.”
The powder was already mixing into the water. Daren put the cap on and shook it. “What’s the other?”
“Orange flavoring. Blue Ash tastes terrible.” Neta watched as Daren started to drink. “Good. I’ll go talk to Cal.”
“Before you do that, do you know anything about the Stver family?”
“They run a cult in Armenia. Cal has no ties to them, though. I checked”
“I don’t think that’s what he meant when he mentioned his line. Do they have any abilities?”
Neta shook her head. “If they do you have the thing that might tell you right there.” She pointed at his grimoire. “That was your grandfather’s and his grandfather’s and his. Maybe it has something on the Stver line.” She walked back into the main part of the store.
Daren drank the rest of the water and felt his mana balance back out. “Stupid mana flux. I thought the report said it was over. Whatever.” He started to flip through his grimoire. “Hmm…Stver line. Armenia.”
Cal was waiting for Neta behind the store counter busying himself with some inventory. “Ah, is he doing okay?”
“Who are you?” Neta looked him up and down with menacing eyes. “How did you know what Daren was?”
“I’m a seeker.”
Relief washed over Neta’s face. “Why didn’t you just tell him that?”
“Because I’m not with the council. I technically don’t have to tell you either.” Cal turned back to the inventory and continued counting.
“Do you have any connections in Armenia I should be worried about.”
Giving up trying to count while having a conversation Cal walked to the same side of the counter as Neta. “If I did then Daren wouldn’t be working here, would he?”
“No, he’d be dead.”
Daren walked into the main store room. He didn’t seem to have caught the last sentence. He was reading aloud from his grimoire. “The Stver line split into two distinct groups around the time that the Armenian Apostolic Church was founded. Half the family moved to Europe and eventually to America while the other half remained in Armenia. The group that moved to Europe, and eventually America, took a peaceful role in their new home while the group that remained in Armenia worked against peace. One thing remains the same, however. Every fifth generation of the Stver line one of the children is a seeker.”
Cal nodded. “That’s right. Who wrote that?”
“My great grandfather. He seems to have had an interest in seekers. There’s a lot of information in here.” Daren thumbed through a few pages and read again. “Only exceptionally strong seekers can sense a warlocke. Most of the seekers of the Stver line are such seekers. Well, that explains that.”