Mia gazed down at the silver flower ring in her palm. The ring was shaped into a blooming rose, each petal carefully crafted and shaped so that the rose could have been real. Each petal was so thin and the texture so perfectly replicated. Mia had no idea where the ring had come from or who had crafted it. All she knew was that it had been given to her for her sixteenth birthday. It had been in a plain wooden box left on her bed. Whether it was a gift from a family member or some unknown admirer, Mia never knew.
Shifting the petal slightly with the tip of thump, Mia looked at the sharp thin blade hidden among the petals. For a hundred years Mia had worn this ring on her right hand. She had never taken it off, not even when she bathed. Without the ring, she had felt naked. It had physically hurt her to taken the ring off twenty-five years ago when she ran away. The ring was too distinct, it would be recognized.
So what was she doing with it now? She didn’t know but for some reason she felt the need to hold it. She was tempted to slip it on, but she knew she couldn’t. It had hurt too much the first time to take it off. She didn’t think she could fight the need to keep it on this time.
Carefully, she set it down on the bedside table and turned back to the open duffel bag on her bed. All her clothes were neat folded and packed already. She had her stash of cash hidden between her shirts. It wasn’t much, a thousand dollars and some change, but it would at least be enough to get her out of here and maybe enough for rent for a week or so plus some food. She would need to find another job as soon as possible though.
A box of hair dye and a pair of disposable color contacts sat next to the duffel bag. She had chosen a nice chestnut color this time, much like Sarah and Liz’s. She had found a pair of green contacts she had purchased before she moved here. They would do until she was out of town and could afford to make some more permanent changes.
Mia was just reaching for the box of hair dye when there was a knock on her door. Looking at the packed bag and the hair dye to the living room, Mia frowned. She hesitated for a moment trying to decide what to do when the person at her door began knocking again.
“I know you’re in there, you might as well open up,” Sarah’s voice came through the wooden door, muffled yet clear enough for Mia to understand.
Mia looked once more at her packed bag before heading to answer the door. Mia had barely opened the door when Sarah pushed it open and entered the room. Her blind eyes scanning the room as if searching for something only she could see. Mia closed the door behind her as Sarah expertly navigated the room.
“I suddenly felt something evil appear in this area,” Sarah said as she kept moving around the small room, there was no hesitation to her movements.
“That would be my cousin Marco,” Mia said as she watched Sarah.
“Another blood magic user,” Sarah said with a nod, as if Mia had already confirmed a suspicion she had, “How dangerous is he?”
Mia thought that over for a moment before answering. When she had left her grandmother’s manor, Marco had been a B-Level magic user with slight talents over wind. He was an extraordinary swordsman but he had also been a pretty good with a pistol. Talent wise as a blood magic user, he had been pretty powerful but not very skilled. He wasn’t a blood letter like Mia, he couldn’t use blood and turn it into tools or weapons like Mia could. But he was pretty good with his spell work. She was sure he had gotten better over the past twenty-five years, but how much he had improved she wasn’t sure.
Finally she told Sarah, “I would have said twenty-five years ago he would be no problem. He was pretty hand with a sword and not bad with a gun, but I could have easily broken his spells. But I’m sure since then he has improved. If I could take him out now, I wouldn’t count on it. He still uses his blood magic which means his senses, strength, and speed are heightened. If it came to a physical fight, I don’t think I could get the better of him.”
“If you used your blood magic, would you be able to beat him?” Sarah asked.
“I can’t use my magic. Not only would it single to every blood magic user in the area where I am, but after last night, I wouldn’t dare use it. I can’t control myself when I use my magic. Who’s to say I wouldn’t do more damage than good,” Mia said firmly.
“I keep telling you, if you practiced small spells, nothing strong enough to send out a signal you wouldn’t have to worry about your magic taking control of you,” Sarah said with a sigh. It was an old argument between the two. Sarah said she would be less afraid of her magic if she were to use it more often. Mia absolutely refused. Blood magic is evil. Nothing good had ever come from in.
“I know you don’t want to listen to me, but like I keep telling you, magic is magic. It’s neither good nor evil on its own. It’s all dependent on the user and what they use their magic for. You’re just afraid because all you were taught was evil. But you don’t need to use your magic that way. There is another way.”
“I can’t control myself when I use my magic. I almost lost it last night when that man was cut. I wanted to kill them both. I wanted to drain them and use their blood. How is there good in that?” Mia demanded to know. Sarah shook her head and sighed.
“There are other ways. We just need to find them,” she argued.
“Well, if you can find a blood magic user who isn’t evil, I would be surprised. My grandmother has people searching the world for any blood magic users. Those she finds are given two choices, either join her or death. If there are any blood magic users out there who don’t belong to her, they’re already dead.”
“There has to be a way,” Sarah said more to herself than to Mia. She stood, resting her hip against the edge of the sofa while she nibbled on the edge of her thumb. Mia wanted to argue but knew there would be no point. Sarah was just as stubborn as she was. It would just be a waste of breath.
“If you can’t find him, what are our other options?” Sarah asked, as she turned to look in Mia’s direction.
“There’s only one I can think of and I’m working on it now,” Mia said. Sarah frowned at her answer as she looked at Mia for a long moment before turning her head towards the bedroom door. Mia knew Sarah couldn’t see her packed bag on the bed in plain view, but Sarah must have sensed something in the room that had drawn her attention because her mouth dropped open as she whirled around back to look at Sarah.
“There’s no other option. Marco came here because of me. If I stay, I’ll just end up putting others in trouble,” Mia explained.
“You don’t know that-“ Sarah began arguing when Mia cut her off.
“Marco came to the store today, but he wasn’t looking for me. He was looking for your father. He said he came on Guild business and he flashed his Guild ID badge. Sarah, don’t you understand. My cousin has infiltrated the Guild. There is a blood magic user with a Guild Badge! You can’t beat them.”
“Are you sure?” Sarah asked, a deep frown on her lips.
“That my cousin is a member of the Magic Users Guild? Yes. It’s something I always suspected and now I’ve seen the proof. I’m sure Marco isn’t the only one. I can fight one blood magic user, but I can’t fight in the entire Guild. Neither can you or your family. It’s just too dangerous to stay. If they find out that I was here, that your father was helping me, they will come after him.”
Sarah shook over her words, “My father can take care of himself. It’s you I’m worried about. If you’re right and you grandmother has infiltrated the Guild then running away isn’t the answer. The Guild is everywhere, you can’t escape them. At least here your have us. We can help you. But if you’re on your own, you will have no one to back you up.”
“Sarah, it’s dangerous to be around me. My grandmother will stop at nothing to get me back. Even if I don’t fall back into her ranks, she will still want me back. I have done the one thing nobody else has ever done, I have escape. Not only that but I took one of her greatest prizes with me. She will never forget that nor will anyone else. She needs to bring me back and punish me to show anyone else who even thinks about it was a pointless idea it would be.”
“Even more reason that you can’t leave,” Sarah argued, “Mia, you aren’t alone. We aren’t helpless. We can help you.”
“No one will want to help me, Sarah,” Mia said sadly, “I’m a blood magic user. I have committed more atrocities then you can imagine. I have drained people of every drop of blood and used their blood in spells that have only brought others pain and suffering. I’m not a good person. I will never be a good person. I’m not worth saving.”
“You are not that person,” Sarah told her.
“You don’t know that. You can’t know that because not even I know that. After last night, after what I almost did. I can never again believe that I have truly escaped my past. She is still a part of me. Pretending she doesn’t exist won’t make her go away. Last night, I was one step away from killing those men. What will happen the next time something like that happens? What if I’m not strong enough? What if I kill someone then? It’s just too dangerous for everyone if I stay,” Mia said firmly, her arms crossed over her chest as she gazed at probably the best friend she would ever have.
This place had begun to feel like home. She had never felt that way anywhere before. But here, it had been nice. It tore her apart to leave, but she couldn’t stay. She had no choice. She had to leave before anyone got hurt. She had to.
She was just about to tell Sarah that when another knock came at her door. Mia frowned as she stared at Sarah who looked just as perplexed as she did. Obviously she had not been expecting someone.
Another quick rap came on her door when she didn’t immediately open it, “Sarah, I know you’re in there. Open up.”
Mia didn’t even have time to move before Sarah was around her and opening the door to reveal the tall blond man she had met yesterday. Really, when had her apartment become such a popular place to be?
“Ronan? What’s wrong?” Sarah asked as she moved away so Ronan could enter the room. When had this stopped being her apartment, Mia wondered as he watched Ronan stalk in.
“Why didn’t you tell me she was an Omega?” Ronan said accusingly as he looked at Sarah then Mia.
“An Omega? What are you talking about?” Sarah said with a frown.
“Are you telling me with your sight, you couldn’t see that fact that your new friend is an Omega Level magic user?” Ronan scoffed.
“What’s an Omega?” Mia asked, confused by the conversation so far.
“Really? She’s an Omega?” Sarah said with a bright smile on her lips.
“Okay, timeout, Omega, what is that?” Mia said, waving her hands in front of Sarah’s face. She wouldn’t see it but she would feel the disturbance in the air.
“An Omega is the highest level magic user there is,” Ronan informed her.
“I thought A-Level was the highest you could get,” Mia replied with a frown.
“Technically, the Omega class doesn’t exist because it’s so rare. As far back as Guild history goes, there have only ever been five Omega Level magic users, the last one being a woman named Theodora Dragos. Does that name ring a bell?” Ronan explained, his tone cool as he gazed at Mia with barely concealed suspicion.
“So you’re trying to say I’m an Omega Level magic user?” Mia said in disbelief. Her grandmother sure, her grandmother was much more powerful than Mia was. But Mia an Omega, that was just impossible. She was nowhere near as powerful as her grandmother. “What gave you that idea? I can’t possibly be an Omega.”
“Have you seen yourself?” Ronan asked in disbelief. “Do you really not notice the glowing eyes and skin?”
“But that’s the way I’ve always been,” Mia said with a frown.
“And you thought that was normal?” Ronan scoffed.
“Well, for me it was. No one ever said anything about it being unusual. How was I supposed to know I wasn’t supposed to glow?” Mia snapped back.
“Maybe because no one else around you glowed when they used their magic,” Ronan told her.
“But they do…”Mia said, letting the words trail off as the realization suddenly hit her. Ronan seemed to realize the same thing as his eyes grew wide. Sarah stood there, blinking. She looked too surprised to do anything.
“Are you telling me there are more like you? More Omegas?” Ronan said, his voice gruff as he got the words out.
“There were five others. My mother, my sister, a couple of my cousin and my grandmother of course,” Mia admitted.
“You’re grandmother? Theodora Dragos? Your grandmother is Theodora Dragos?” Ronan said. He sat down on the couch, too stunned to stay on his feet.
“There are five other Omega Level Blood Magic users out there,” Sarah said, her voice shaky as she too took a seat.
“Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you tell me she was a blood magic user?” Ronan asked as he looked at Sarah.
“Because it didn’t matter. Being a blood magic user doesn’t make you evil,” Sarah replied.
“Being the granddaughter of one of the most fear blood magic users out there does,” Ronan argued.
“Mia isn’t evil,” Sarah snapped. Ronan just shook his head before resting it in his hands as he tried to absorb everything that he had learned in the past five minutes.
“Are any of the others Blood-letters?” Sarah asked fearfully. Ronan’s head shot up at that as he stared at Mia in horror.
“Are you telling me she’s a Blood-letter too?”
Mia shook her head, “No. My grandmother was very disappointed that I was the only one who had the talent.”
“Thank God for small favors,” Ronan commented before Sarah whacked him. “What? Do you want five Omega Level Blood-letters out there?”
“Are you completely sure I’m an Omega? I mean I was powerful, but I was nowhere near my grandmother’s strength. Maybe it’s just some sort of inherited trait we received from her?” Mia suggested.
“Being able to glow is not the same as inheriting hair color or eye color. It’s your power manifesting from within. It’s not something that just happens,” Ronan informed her quite rudely. Did he truly believe she was an Evil Omega Level Blood Magic User? Because if he did, shouldn’t he be treating her better? Wasn’t he afraid of what she would do to him for treating her this way?
From the glare he was giving her, obviously not. Maybe she should tell him he should fear him. Maybe then he would stop giving her the evil eye.
“Do you always glow when you use your powers?” Sarah asked, completely ignoring Ronan.
“No,” Mia admitted as she turned away from Ronan, “Only when I use my full powers.”
“And you were using your full powers last night?” Sarah asked.
Mia shook her head, “I haven’t used my magic is years, but that wasn’t full strength.”
“Shit,” Ronan swore at he got to his feet and began to pace back and forth across the small room.
“I’ve only ever used my full powers once,” Mia admitted, “I’ve never really needed to draw on my full strength for any spells I’ve ever done and using my blood-letter magic uses very little magic.”
Sarah looked confused so Mia tried to explain better, “Blood magic is different from other types of magic. It’s not really about strength. You use the sacrifice for that. Instead think of a blood magic user like a reservoir for magic. You don’t necessarily need to be born powerful. You can gain that power by using sacrifices. What determines your strength is how big your reservoir is. The more magic you can contain, the stronger you are.”
“So, you’re saying an Omega Level blood magic user is just someone who can contain a lot of magic,” Sarah said with a frown.
“Sort of, that’s part of it,” Mia said, “It’s hard to explain. Yes, it is important how much magic your body can contain, but it is also important what you can do with that magic. After all, what good would it be if all you could do was collect magic? You need an outlet for all that magic or you would burst. Usually, the more magic a person can contain, the more skilled they are at using that magic. Weaving spells is not an easy task. Too much power and the spell will shatter. Too little magic and the spell will collapse. Blood magic isn’t easy to use, much less master.”
“As interesting as Blood Magic 101 is, could you get to the point,” Ronan snapped.
“Blood magic isn’t like other magic. You’re a wind magic user, you control the wind. The stronger you are, the more control you have over it. Sarah’s an herb magic user, the higher the level, the more powerful and potent the potions. Your magics are easy to understand. The stronger the magic user, the stronger the powers, the stronger the spells. Blood magic isn’t like that. Blood magic isn’t used for just one thing. Depending on the spell, you could do just about anything with blood magic, that’s why it’s such a feared magic. In the wrong hands, blood magic is a very dangerous weapon.”
“So for me to use my full powers, I would have to use everything in my reservoir all at once, which is a very dangerous thing for not only the caster but anyone around them. If the magic user is not in complete control of their magic, depending on just how deep their reservoir is, if they were to lose control of their magic, the outcome could be catastrophic. It would be like a bomb exploding,” Mia explained.
“So using full powers at once is a no-no for blood magic users,” Sarah said, nodding.
“For most blood magic users, yes,” Mia agreed.
“Yet you said you used it once, what was the outcome?” Ronan asked, his voice held no criticism or anger, just curiosity.
“I killed fifty blood magic users in thirty seconds,” Mia said, her voice betrayed none of the emotions that were rioting in her. Grief, regret, fear and satisfaction, she would never forget that night. Nor would she ever repeat.
Ronan’s mouth dropped open as he stared at her before turning to Sarah, “How is that not evil?”
“There was a reason behind it,” Sarah said simply, but not giving any more explanation.
“What reason could there possibly be for killing fifty people?”
“There was no good reason for their death. All I can say, is at the time there was no other option. It was their lives or the life of an innocent child,” Mia said, “I did what I had to do.”
Ronan said nothing but just shook he head and walked away from Mia, moving to stand in front of the window that looked out to the back of the building.
“This is why I have to leave. It’s not safe to be around me,” Mia said as she looked at her friend.
“You can’t leave know,” Sarah argued as she came to her feet. “You’re not safe. You’re no longer just running from your grandmother’s people, you now have to run from the Guild. Have far do you think you’ll get with both of them on your trail. You need our help.”
“My father still has connections in the Guild. He can help you,” Sarah pleaded.
Mia shook her head, “I don’t know how deep my grandmother has infiltrated the Guild. I can’t take the chance.”
“What are you talking about?” Ronan said, finally joining the conversation again.
“Mia believes her grandmother had her people working in the Guild,” Sarah explained, “Her cousin Macro came in to the Books and Beans today looking for Father. He had a Guild badge on him.”
“Are you sure it was real?” Ronan asked, disbelief clear in his voice.
“I may not have seen a lot of Guild Badges but I do know what one looks like,” Mia replied. Ronan raised a brow to that but said nothing. “I didn’t have time to look at everything but I saw the name on it, Michael Stanton.”
“That’s impossible,” Ronan said. “Either your cousin had a fake badge or you read it wrong. Michael Stanton has been with the Guild for fifteen years, he was recruited right out of college. He was just promoted to head of the Special Ops division. I know Michael Stanton and there is no way he’s a blood magic user. We trained together at the Academy with Nick.”
The world around her began to fade as Ronan’s words hit her. Macro had been with them this whole time. He had trained with them. He had gone to the academy with them. He was the head of the Special Ops division. He had been so close, so very close to him this whole time. Her grandmother had never given up on Nick. Mia knew she wouldn’t. But to go this far, horror filled Mia. What was she planning?
Mia hardly even noticed when Sarah moved her to the couch to sit when her legs no longer held her. All she kept thinking was how deep her grandmother had dug herself in to the Guild. How many other people did she have in there? How many others held positions like Marco? How much control did she have over the Guild? Had there ever been a chance for Mia? Sarah was right. There was no escape, not from her grandmother, not from the Guild, there was nowhere to run where they couldn’t find her. There was no hope for any of them.
Next: Chapter Six