Fantasy Urban Fantasy Teens & Young Adult

City of Travellers: The Metropolitan Mystic 

Vox Deruste

It was a long journey to Algo, I was at least a continent away from my homeland. Crossing the ocean alone took weeks. Not to mention crossing the mountains. But after all the traveling, all the ride hitching, I was here.

 In front of me was a large city segmented into three parts, on the side of a massive lake. Massive Towers were visible in the distance as I stood outside the ring of a mechanical wall of pulsing, advanced, transparent Technology. A line for caravans and travelers near one of the few entrances. After a good hour of waiting, I was at the entrance. 

“ Name and documentation.” A robot being at the entrance asked of me.

“ Zahra Abbas.” I said with controlled excitement as I gave them some documents I had on me. A letter of introduction, my medical records in a folder, and a travel visa. 

“ Go on in. Enjoy the city.” The attendant said with a noticeable apathy. I ignored him and with an energetic step, I charged my way through a crowd of people with my rolling wheel clothing bag.

I was on the outer outskirts of the city.  Near were many, of what looks like, outsiders and fellow travelers.  Some are wearing simple clothing that resembles mine. Cotton shirts with a cloth draped over the shoulder’s and jean pants, occasionally with headscarves. Peppered with various strange beings. 

Large humanoids with singular eyes, Devil-like creatures with outer skeletons, small green men. Even a few beings seemed to be composed of disparate elements, like fire and stone. They all live and walked around a simple stretch of community. Wooden houses and dirt roads. 

I walked toward the next gate after walking past the outer community. After showing my documents again, I see a slightly more advanced community. The buildings were a mix of materials but had more stone incorporated into them, motorized vehicles going along the roads while the people had more complex clothing. But while the people of the outer community were more diverse this was more human-centric. 

There were a scattering of people with mechanical enhance like cybernetic eyes and prosthetic limbs. Some people even went as far as to have screen-like faces with wheels instead of feet.

I had to snap myself back to reality to remember why I was in the city. I hailed an autonomous Taxi to get to the last gate. The innermost sector of the city, behind the thickest walls, is opaque with large, hyper-advanced technology. And cannon’s pointed outward’s. 

I could see the skyscrapers poking out from the outline of the walls. Going past the clouds into the blue of the sky with pillars of white and gold. Floating platforms of technology floating above them with the odd magical stone tower revolving around the outer orbits. 

When the Taxi left me at the final gate, I saw that many of the beings here, mostly energy beings and robotic ones, Looking at me with curious stares as Humans seemed to come out of the gate with fancy suits and work uniforms. 

I did my best to ignore them.

I got to the gate with a skeptical robotic face with limb-like wire-tentacle’s, staring at me with L.E.D pupils of blue light. Looking me up and done with a scanning light.

“ Identify yourself.” 

“ I have my documents-”

“ Identify yourself.” The machine said sternly. I sighed.

“ Zahra Abbas, daughter of Priyanka Abbas. I’m here to deliver a final message.” I showed the machine the letter of introduction. It blinked twice, a shutter closing around its eyes as they moved like binoculars and scanned the letter.

“ Reason for the entrance...granted.” It said reluctantly. “ A minder will be administered shortly. Please be patient.” I rolled my eyes as I waited on the other side of the gate. 

Within was the vastest departure from the other communities. Moving platforms and streets that changed and shifted into new configurations. The only vehicles in use being fly ones of all designs, from rounded circle platforms for singular passengers to advanced buses that were propelled by rockets. Many more had propulsion incorporated into their bodies. 

Cybernetic humans with rocket feet and jetpacks. A rare sight of magicians with flying, even something I have never seen in person. It was amazing just seeing a traveling robot in my village and now I was surrounded by things magnitudes stranger and mystifying. Just to deliver a letter. And just when I thought I saw the pinnacle a large robot walked toward me.

“ Are you Abbas?” Asked the story’s tall machine, kneeling down to speak at my level. “ I’m Minder Chougokin.” Chougokin was a male presenting a humanoid robot. Green outer armor with blue inner parts with bits of weaponry incorporated into cannons to the sides of his arm, and his back.  Red glowing eyes and red lines across his body. Horns coming out of his forehead like a goat. 

“ Yes, my name is Zahra.” I pulled out the letter. “ I’m here to deliver a message to...Vox Deruste?” I try to pronounce. 

“ That would explain why I was called.” Chougokin sighed. “ I’ll get you there. He’s in the tower in the 90-degree axis.” I tiled my head, Chougokin was much too big for the transport that I have seen so far. 

My internal question was answered by his side door opened automatically for me and I only hesitated for a moment before I walked into his cockpit. 

I wasn’t driving, of course, I had never driven anything before. Chogokin was in full control as his propulsion got through the air traffic at a leisurely pace. It let me see how the city itself was tiered. Each platform for its own purpose, the bottom tier for office workers and small cafes while the higher you went the more expensive and specific they became. Another with a block of doctors offering everything from cosmetic mutations to cybernetic replacement limbs.

“ Now I know you're new around here, and that I’m trying to show my prejudice. But I must say that you seem familiar.” Chogokin waxed nostalgic. My face became downcasted. 

“ Does the surname Abbas mean anything to you?” I asked sheepishly. 

“ Not particularly. Though I am bad at names.” I had some confusion on how a mechanical being could have a bad memory but we arrived at the destination before more thought could be given to it. 

The Magnus tower was immaculately built but not in the same way as the technological marvels of the city it floated above. It was made with intricate, engraved stone works with various symbols and images on each brick. The main structure was a spire with a wide bottom on top of carefully constructed earthworks and gardens. 

Autonomous tools moving between spots on the grounds and maintaining it. Brooms, sweepers, even hammers and spikes to keep the engravings in shape. 

Chougokin opened the door for me and I saw a humanoid shape coming from another hole from his outer form. The form looked human, with light brown skin with almond eyes. A wiry build with a bald head. Wearing the colors of the vehicle in cloth form.

“ Don’t be alarmed, this is a synthetic body I use for small spaces.” The figure explained. Small Chougokin walked up to a small machine with a red button and microphone. Pressing the button and a sharp buzz came from it. 

“ Who’s this?” A distorted voice as a glowing eyeball came out of the ground. “ Oh, Chougokin.” The voice said with a bored tone. “ Here for another charm or do you want to try to beat me in a game again.” The voice has a superior tremor to it, quietly confident. The eye turned to me. “ Why is there a mid-eastern human girl right next to you?” The eye gave a disapproving glare at Chougokin. 

“ I’m actually here with a letter of introduction.” I took out the letter for the eye to inspect. It looked closely and then rolled its pupil at it. 

“ Alright. Come in, don’t bother the utensils, they get stabby when aggravated.” The voice said dryly. “ I don’t eat but they should provide you with basic sustenance, I sense a growing hunger in you.” The voice said as the eye faded from view and the main door, wide and expansive, opened completely. Showing a servant made of stone with a Star of David engraved on its face. 

The servant ushered me and Chougokin in. The interior of the tower was transfixing, bigger within than its outer shell. The inside looked like an arthouse mixed with a bazaar. Stylish rugs, curtains, and a bookshelf between every window.  Occasionally photos and portraits of various distinguished figures were hanging from the ceiling. Some were Energy Beings made of light or fire, some were anthropomorphic creatures, only a few humans. Including one that I knew very well. 

Dark skin like mine, black lustrous hair like mine, and bright brown eyes, unlike mine gold. She was wearing deep purple robes and a partial headscarf. Priyanka Abba’s, my mother. Accomplished mage and doctor. 

“ Oh hey, I remember her. Priya!” Chougokin said, pointing at the portrait. “ She used to to be the steward.” He pointed to her portrait.

“ Is this tower a general place of study?” I asked, wondering how many of the floating portraits were of the former owner and masters of the tower. 

“ A combination dormitory and research tower actually.” A dried voice said from the other end of a long hallway. Floating above the ground, heading towards me was a truly mystical being.

Made up of green fire and completely black eyes, Wearing Blue and red robes with a crystal staff on their side. Small clouds of black smoke from his furnace-like mouth. Arms disconnected from the main body, same for the fingers from the hand. As shown in one of the portraits, Vox Deurste. 

He floated toward me with an examining stare. 

“ Forgive me for the sudden visit but-”

“ Your mother, Priyanka has died.” Vox said simply.

“ Yes.” I said with some hesitation. It was not long ago and the casual dismissal of Vox was not helping me live that fact. 

“ Why else would you venture past the ocean and across a continent.” Vox said with a shrug. “ Priyanka was never that rich when she taught at the academy, at least that’s what I’ve been told.” He explained.

“ You never met her ?” I asked.

“ Never directly. I came into being around the same time she left teachers, four years ago. I blinked twice trying to absorb that information. But nothing said that energy beings age at the same rate humans does. 

Vox held out an outstretched. A hand for me, recognizing what he wanted I gave him the letter of introduction. It floated above the flames of his hand. Telekinetically, never directly touching it, the letter meticulously came undone without breakage. Vox read the letter carefully. The stern face gave way to a kind of sympathy but it was a small shift. A slight shift of the black eyes and red flaming eyebrows. He looked straight at me.

“ Did you read this?” He asked with sincerity. I shook my head. “ Then you have more self-control than I do.” Vox half-heartedly jokes. “ Do you have a guess as to why your mother wanted you to deliver a letter of introduction to a magus who never met her?” He seemed disappointed when I shook my head again. “You’re not showing a good comparison with Priyanka. answered as Chougokin transformed into an advanced vehicle in a single swift motion. 

“ Excuse me? Did you just-”

“ Insulted you. Sorry.” Vox said plainly as some of his fingers floated away from his hands. Two from each. The fingers floated around me, pecking at my bag and inspecting me at the same time. “Your mother was one of, if not the most secretive of the tower's masters. The fact that her daughter seems so earnest and wide-eyed is either a miracle of upbringing or a delightful long con.” I gave him a confused look. “ Word of the wise if you want to learn more about magic.” I felt two of the fingers graze my temples, a surge of energy went into me. Crackles of electricity mixed a burning sensation in my blood. “ Always look for connections.” As the surge of energy continued I felt a deluge of information flow into my mind. 

Images of my mother and several men and women who steward this tower flashed in my mind. A century's worth of faces, lording over the tower at small pieces of time. No more than a few years. I saw the reason why flow into me. An arena below the tower. Two magicians facing one another. Both with determination on their face and stubbornness in their souls. Throwing and slinging magic at one another. One still standing, the other falling on the ground, exhausted and defeated. 

More Images of my mother, beating opponent after opponent with ease. Until her last one, she was still the winner but she clenched at her heart in the images in my mind. Leaving straight afterward. 

The surge ended there. The fingers detached themselves from my temples and all of them returned to Vox. A collection of various items in front of me.

“ Your mother has apparently offered the challenge posthumously for your own tenure.” Vox explained, giving me the opened letter. 

Just as he said it was there. A challenge to keep the tower of Solaris in the family by stating I would take the Magnus challenge. I looked at it with sharp confusion. I knew my mother worked as a mage in the city when I was young but a steward of a tower above the city. A champion of mystical combat no less? That was too much to swallow at once.

“ We do not have to fight now but I do recommend picking a conduit for now. It can channel your power better and is recommended for beginners.” In front of Vox was a collection of various staff and wands of various sizes. Even more unique weapons sat alongside them. Like an old-fashioned pistol and or a whip-like sword. “ Choose well and ill give you dinner first.” Vox floated away. Leaving me and Chogokin alone.

“ Well, that was what I expected. You really didn’t know how this place worked?” He asked. 

I shook my head.

“ I swear by Mithras that I didn’t.” I groaned as I searched through the various conduits to find one that fit me. 

“ You know you can just leave. Go back home. You delivered the message.” I ignored Chogokin and continued searching over the items. Most were decorated with gems and runes. And others from what looked like ancient materials like glowing Damascus steel or druidic wood. “ You did hear me right?” 

“ I heard you, it just didn’t register.” I replied while inspecting a pistol. “ I came here to see what mom wanted me to see and now she led me to a great opportunity.” I explained. 

“ Opportunity?” 

“ Do you know what is housed in a mage’s tower?” I asked Chogokin.

“ Sadly as a Mechanical being, Magic doesn’t interest me much, but explain all the same.” He shrugged.

“ They contain the collected knowledge and personal notes of their master’s. Including their wealth and armories. It's a point of pride to own and operate them in the mystic community.” I divulged as I tried to swing one of the swords.

“ So it's a cash cow.” He summarized rudely.

“ More of a knowledge cow but yes.” I replied. Finding something that worked well with my wrist. A series of rings and bracelets with gems embedded in them. 

“ Have you picked your weapon.” Vox came back with a plate of rice and chicken. I showed him the rings. “ Decent choice.” Vox passed me my food and devoured it quickly. “ Good, We can begin quickly.” Vox let me eat my food at my pace and lead me deep below the tower. Toward around the basement, a simple arena with a chalk outline of runes around its circle. A line dividing it in half. 

Vox went to one side and I stood at the other side. Given a militaristic, spare robe with cloth boots and fingerless gloves for my rings. 

“ Begin.” With barely a warning, Vox charged forth with three blasts of green energy. I moved quickly and moved out of their range. A green explosion to my side, leaving a blazing fire.

I retaliated by pointing my rings at the fire and they absorbed the fire and shot it back at him. With a simple motion of a finger, he redirected to the ground. 

I then used another ring to lift up a chunk of rock and throw it at him.

“ Really.” Using two fingers Vox stopped the stone and destroyed it into a rumble. The fragments going back to me and clasping around me like a prison of earth. I was trapped, my face the only free body parts not encased in stone. “ You lose.” With a telekinetic force, I was moved in my prison out of the ring. “ You can come back tomorrow.” Vox said before I admonished myself. “ You may stay here as a place of residence.” Vox said with sympathy as he let the earth prison fall apart. Chougokin and I looked at him with confusion. “ Your mother was the last true master of this place.” Vox held out his hands. I took it. “ I also spend more time at the school I work at either way.” 

“ Your willing to share this, place?” I asked. “ No caveat’s?”

“ Well, some caveats.” He said frankly. He manifested a portrait of my mother. “ And also strive for her example. I’ll let you have control when you beat me. A fight every week, and the rest of the week you will be my assistant.” I shook his hand excitedly. He passed me the portrait. 

“ Deal.” 

“ Deal.” I shook his hand.

September 16, 2021 00:29

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