All characters in this story are copyrighted by me, so don't use them without asking. :)
Also an FYI, only part 1 is clean.
Archmage, pt. 1
She was a shark. I don't know how, I don't know why, but there she was. She was sitting in the row in front of me of my biology lecture class, and she was not a human. She had skin that seemed to be cool and wet no matter how hot the rest of the class got, the skin that was unbelievably smooth. She seemed to have a set of gills along her neck, but she was either capable of breathing air or had some other trick up her sleeve. She had a tail that seemed to be uncomfortably twisted around her front to sit in the stadium-style seats, with that little ridge on the side of it. She was wearing sandals, through which I could see that she had four toes on them, with a little claw at the end of each. She had a brilliant smile full of teeth that I'd be wary of touching, and hair, black with pink highlights. I don't know why a shark would have hair, nor would I know why she would have a set of picture perfect D-sized breasts. I kept sneaking glances at her, not knowing what to say. There she was, a shark, and her name was Shariykah.
At least, that's the name she answered to when her name was called during attendance. The most unsettling thing about the whole situation is that either everybody else was totally okay with a shark-person, jaw-droppingly hot as she was sitting in their lecture, or they were completely oblivious. There we were, learning the different parts of a bacteriophage and I was trying to keep my notes up while I was looking at this... person. I thought of reasons why other people couldn't see her and then I remembered.
Classes were starting today. I was okay with my time during summer, thinking my first year of college would be tolerable, better than sitting around with nothing better to do than play Left 4 Dead or World of Warcraft.
The spiritual side of me was nagging too. I'd thought all summer I'd set aside time for meditation, and practice magic. I'm a Wiccan, you see. No devil worshiping, no matter what other media tells you. No phenomenal cosmic power in turn for your soul. There was magic, and that could alter the world depending on how much force you put into it, and if it were within reach. I'd try to convince myself that my soul was already a step above others, basking in my premature enlightenment. At best, I was right. My consideration and care for moral ethics and the fact that I wouldn't kill a spider because it had the right to live meant that my soul was on the way to rejoining with the All, from which all, including the goddess and god, originate. More likely, I was just on the road to being there, and my outlook on a world where people were complacent and jaded from violence and mediocrity was purely pessimistic and I was indulging my own ego. At worst, I was just plain crazy and being a snotty step above other people.
I'd never gotten around to it though, being the awakened mystic with cosmic powers as I was. I never seemed to have the initiative to realize that upping my GearScore to raid the Icecrown Citadel or getting the 53,594 zombie kill count wasn't the most important thing I could fill an entire summer with. I would forgo meditation, reassuring myself that I was already a step above others, which I think I was at least, that I could let myself go a little bit more. Magic and philosophical bull aside, I didn't even manage to get myself to the gym. I had a free pool from my parent's old house that's not been sold that I could go to in a 5 minute drive, and a gym membership, and this truly nirvana-touched soul was too lazy to get around to it. I'd just sit and waste my time with a whole lot of nothing. The only remotely mystical thing I'd do was that I'd check my tarot cards every day, just the one card draw to summarize my situation.
Today I'd summon the power and focus it on the cars, then proceed to draw... the fool. I was a fool. I was living in the moment, not planning ahead. Granted, this can be good at times, but being a fool for a whole summer made me let out a deep sigh as I got my books together.
My first classes were calculus and a biology lab, where our professors went on about this or that requirement, but none of it was too bad. The next day's classes were calculus, biology lecture, and an English class. Again, nothing notable. Different rooms, different people, same feel of somebody going on about something. I'd met a couple of people, no hot woman of my dreams that I've been saving my heart for throw herself onto me when she first lays eyes on me. That was my excuse for not having a girlfriend through elementary or high school, was that I'd meet somebody in college.
When I got home I figured, I'm going to try something starting Thursday. I'll do what step one in the chaos magic book says and try to meditate and figure out how to drop my psychic censor. You know, that part of your brain that filters out stuff you don't want to see, like when you say "you can't believe your eyes" about something or other. If I were to practice magic, then anything would have to become possible in my eyes.
I tried to do it. It took time. I wasn't some mary-sue type character that somehow knew karate and 3 languages, I didn't have the discipline to put down addicting internet games, I didn't have a lot of things. I do, however, have my moral ethics and my principles, and I knew I'd have to keep at it to finish this. I would drop that censor today. I sat there. My mind drifted to my day at school... I tried not to focus.
I clear my mind and images of my character's new item on World of Warcraft did...
I clear my mind and images of that time in Left 4 Dead...
I clear my mind, and everything's a bit more dulled. I feel myself open up, becoming immaterial, until images of that hot chick walking by in school...
This continues for some time, and finally, after ages, it's quiet. When you're meditating, minutes turn into hours. Time slows down. Everything becomes a distraction. It's quiet now. I sit there for several hours, and I can feel it. I know that I can see anything now and accept it as it is, without having my brain filter it out for sake of sanity. I wonder what thing's I'll see tomorrow, if I keep it up.
It's Thursday, it's my biology lecture classroom, and she's a shark. That's why, she's got something going. That thing probably is powerful, but the question is, Is she a human under there? Can other humans see her? In my time playing Roleplaying Games, I'm well aware of the legends of supernatural creatures that can hide in plain sight through use of a mask, something that makes them seem normal to humans. I guess I've broken it. No, not broken, overlooked. It was a disguise, and she probably really was a shark. I resolved that I'd just wait for the class to end, and then I'd talk to her. Forty more minutes of trying to pay attention to a class with this going on. Again, I'm not a Mary-sue character, I just can't do that with no challenge. I probably should review this lecture online, I tell myself. I also find myself wondering why an anthropomorphic shark, something of great power to conceal such a secret, would need to be in a bio class. I decided not to think about it.
It's 2:30 and the biology professor says, "Well, we're out of time. We'll start next time with the taxonomy of domain Eukarya." I close up my laptop and put it in my backpack, and start heading out. I follow the shark who is nonchalantly saying her hellos and goodbyes to other students as they shuffle by. When she leaves the classroom, I follow. When she leaves the building, I follow. She's going around the science building to get to the Language building. There are no other students. As I'm about to tap her shoulder, everything slows to bullet time in my head.
What if she didn't acknowledge me? What if she will use some psychic power to do something horrible to me? What am I really risking here? What if she acted like another student, and didn't acknowledge what I'm referring to? I hesitate for a moment, and then decide to go on.
As I'm about to tap her shoulder, she starts talking without even turning around.
She says in a mildly interested tone, "I know you can see me. I mean the real me. I heard all your questions. First off, No, I'm not going to zap you into a puddle of ash or goo, and I'm not going to mind control you. Secondly, I'm sure you're aware that it's in your best interest to not spread this around to people who won't believe it. Not for my sake, I'm here for all to see. Some of the weaker minded people couldn't see me if they tried, and you'd go to an asylum. Is there something I can help you with?"
I'm stunned. I don't know what to say. She sees this and giggles, and takes my hand.
She says, "Sorry, I love doing that to people. I only get to do this once every century or so, and most of them walk away. It must be this new age of tolerance and acceptance that seems to be rolling around. You want to go get some lunch?"
I can't place her accent. It sounds middle-eastern.
I shake my head, forgetting my manners. This is a lady, shark or not. "Of course," I say, "Where would you like to go? I can ditch out English class for now."
She says, "How about sushi?"
We're sitting at a sushi place. She's explained to me absolutely nothing so far other than what you'd talk about with a human. When our food comes out, I look at her plate. Sashimi and iced tea. I've never tried Sashimi, but It looks good. I feel content with the salmon covered spicy tuna roll that I've ordered. We dig in, fairly hungry, having had only a power bar for breakfast. I'm guessing she just has a high metabolism.
I'm surprised she doesn't respond to me, seing as how she's displayed clear mind-reading capabilities.
She looks at me and says "Oh, I don't generally read minds unless there's some kind of fear or surprise going on. Otherwise it's kinda like reading somebody's texts or emails."
I ask her in a casual tone, "How did you learn to do that?"
She replies, "I used to be a human too, if you can believe that. I grew up in Persia, in about 1000 AD."
I'm completely shocked. Normally I'd laugh at somebody cracking a joke about being that old, but with her I don't know. At least at this point I understand the accent.
She giggles again. She looks no more than twenty-two. Come to think of it, I don't even know why a twenty-five year old would be hanging out with me, let alone one thousand. She looks at me and politely asks,
"May I delve in a little bit and find out about you? Name and interests only, I won't see any secrets or anything like that."
I think for a moment, but this wonderful woman seems to have an aura of calmness and reassurance around her.
"It'll be easier if you meditate. You must know how, if you can see the real me."
I tell her, "OK". I try to clear my mind, and immediately my thoughts come back to my own inadequacy and wishes that I'd spent more time learning. I feel a gentle presence in my mind, a soft probing going through my thoughts. I can feel its emotion, and I know it's her. She can feel my shame, my regret. She feels cheerful. It sounds weird to say, but there's no other way to describe it. I try to clear my mind again.
My thoughts go to watching her in bio lecture, looking at her wonderful breasts...
I realize it's too late and that I've just turned myself on, while she was mind reading me.
I blush hard, and it's immediately impossible to meditate. I know. She knows. She's laughing.
Her laughing slows as she says, "Well I guess I should thank you for the compliment. I made myself into a shark to scare people if they got too close to me and found out what I really was, but that doesn't seem to stop you, does it?"
I shake my head, and ask her how she'd made herself into something not human.
She gazes at me and says, "You know. I know you know how."
I ask, "Do you mean pagan magic?"
She leans back in her chair. "It doesn't have to be pagans. One of my other students was a Catholic. They're all just different styles, different roads to the top of the same mountain. Whatever floats your boat. You're in luck though, cause I've done this long enough to know how to teach all of the ways."
I slip into subtle disbelief; I ask, "You really aren't joking are you?"
My vision starts shaking as she fades back into a human form. The censor's kicking in.
No. I know she's not a human. This is real.
I close my eyes and shake my head. I clear my mind for a moment, then think, When I open my eyes, there's going to be a shark there. She's hot as all hell, and she seems interested in me.
I open them, and there she is, in her sharp-toothed glory. She chomps down a piece of sashimi, waiting for me to come back to earth.
She smiles at me, and then says "I can help you."
I reply, "I don't even really know your full name."
"It's Shariykah. Shariykah Taleb. Before you say anything about Shariykah having the letters S, H, A, R, and K, in it, it actually means companion or partner."
I stop for a second, then ask, "Wait a minute, there's one thing I don't get. If you're some kind of mage, why are you in a biology class?"
She lets out a bellowing laugh.
The people in the restaurant don't seem to notice us.
"I tell you I'm a thousand years old, and you ask why I take bio. It's easier to do magic if you know the physical side of things, and this is one of the things I like to keep up on."
"Oh," I reply with a grin, "I bet after a thousand years, you have some pretty good jokes to tell."
We finish our food having a pleasant conversation with a lot of laughs. I figure, a person is a person. If I were one thousand years old, I'd like to talk to people normally now and then too, especially people who share interests and pastimes.
She tells me all about after about five hundred years she's capped out her magical prowess, altering reality with a flick of the wrist to a limited degree. She tells me how she's stopped caring about people past friendship though. She almost makes my eyes water the way she describes how she can't fall in love, because everybody dies. She's the one that lives. She tells me about how 60 years in, she'd been married, had kids, watched her lineage pass on, and her family branch out and gradually go into the gene pool somewhere out in Persia. She'd always been a mystic, getting better and better, until she'd found the secret to immortality.
Immortality was simply keeping your metabolism from stopping. If you used magic to keep filling your ovaries, keep replacing the gland cells so they don't die out, keep your heart strong, and don't get killed over the years, you'd keep going. She couldn't get anybody else willing to go with her though. She'd stayed with her shark form about 300 years in, and become a legend in about three Mediterranean countries.
She'd tried to help the world. It seems that before the world needed saving, the only way you could help was by making the crops grow better. If you taught magic to a violent person, you'd have somebody go on a rampage, and it wasn't pretty when it happened. When you teach magic to a person who doesn't care, nothing happens except there's one more wealthy person. If you intervened with a battle, you didn't do much except change history books. People still died for silly reasons. The only way to help is if you had enough power to do the entire world. That was about twice her prowess, and yet she hadn't found anybody to be her companion.
Sure, there'd been contenders. There was still a couple of her immortal trainees who didn't get quite as far as her helping some countries where they wouldn't be caught. There was a catholic who walked across Africa, never tiring, setting the grounds to be fertile, curing disease. He couldn't fly, or do more than one village at a time though. He also couldn't figure out how to transform. Since he couldn't transform, he can't stay in one place too long for fear of being found out as an immortal, then the world governments come after you and dissect you to see what's going on. If you can't teleport, it's bad news for you.
I asked, "Is it common for people to be able to see you?"
She affirmed, "Yes, it's the ones that take me to dinner as a kind of great white that are the rare ones."
She smiles at me, and I start to blush.
I ask, "Do you happen to like video games at all?"
She laughs blithely again, and playfully asks "You're not too fazed by all of this, are you?"
I say, "Sadly no. I spent several hours of meditation last night making sure I wasn't."
She has her eyes locked on me in a smile. She says "I like you, you make me smile. If you'd want to take me back to your place, you'd be surprised I'm a Left 4 Dead master too."
I shook my head, grinning. I resignedly say, "Why the hell not. My parents will think you're a new girlfriend, rather my first one. Plus, we're both human in their eyes, If I remember right. That mask didn't look that bad either, so they're going to be OK with it." I think to myself how ridiculous the situation is. I'm asking an archmage, an anthropomorphic shark, to come back to my house in the posh end of town. There are advantages of having a rich family, I guess.
I don't realize that she's still staring at me, somewhat more aghast now. She chuckles and asks in a disbelieving tone, "19 years old and in college, and you've not had a girlfriend?"
I blush, and say No.
She asks, "What went wrong in your high school?"
I take a sip of my drink, and say in a somewhat defensive tone, "I just never got around to it, I thought I was waiting for the right Mrs. Wonderful to come around. Also, World of Warcraft had sapped some of my social life from the first two years."
She says, "You're gonna get a crash course in a lot of things pretty soon"
Her tone becomes a lot more stern, and the smile fades.
She says firmly, "If you're going to be with me, and I know you want to, you're going to have to do some things for me. I can't lose another apprentice, and in all likeliness you're going to let me down when you realize what's going to happen. If you're going to be with me you'll have to become an immortal, become a mage, otherwise this will be just another fling. Understand me when I say that I've been through this several times with men similar to you, and not many at all enjoy or, in some cases, survive the process..."
I stare at her, unsure how to respond. Suddenly all of these thoughts of how I never follow through come back, and here's a prime opportunity to have a wonderful, beautiful, immortal, woman, who happens to be a smoking hot shark anthro, asking me to become an immortal.
I ask her, "Do I still get to finish med school? Live some kind of normal life on top of it? At least if I want to?"
Her stern look melts; she chuckles and says, "Of course."
She takes my hand. She's gazing at me as we both stand up and walk beside the table we were eating at, and she draws me into a kiss. I don't know how long it lasts, and I can taste the sashimi on her tongue. Maybe it was her tongue's taste as well. As a shark, I'd have thought she'd have 3 rows of razor sharp teeth, but it was only one. I melted into her unnaturally strong arms. Her tongue tasted, besides the residual food and iced tea, nothing short of wonderful. I could've been there for an hour easily, contented to keep kissing this beautiful shark. Her tongue explores my mouth, as we taste each other. She seemed to be enjoying it too, as if she'd not had anybody to kiss for a long, long time.
As we break the kiss, she's smiling and looking down at me. I now notice how she's about 2 inches taller than me, and she's been leaning down a bit to kiss me. I keep telling myself that this is simply infatuation, that I may start seeing faults in a week or so. I told myself that, but I didn't believe it.
"Where's your place?" She asks.
I begin to give her directions, but she pulls an iPhone 4 out of her purse, and hands me a maps program to put in the address. I do so, and we say au revoir as we get in our separate cars to go to our place. I wonder if her car has any tricks up its sleeve, has no gas, or if it's some kind of illusion and she just disperses or something crazy like that. I try not to think about it.
Having left my backpack in my car, I pull my tarot cards out of it. I summon up some power from the earth, calling upon the forces of the earth, and putting it into the cards. As I concentrate on my question about my situation, I include Shariykah in my thoughts. After finishing the required rigmarole of prepping the cards I draw the top one.
The page of wands. These things were eerily accurate. This card signified an inexperienced youth attempting a new project, a new endeavor with little prior experience.
Her car follows mine as we drive back to my place. We pull through the gate into the gated community, with the verdant landscaping and the luxurious houses. We pull up to one of the more modest one-story houses (Nice, nonetheless) and get out.
I've stopped thinking I'm in a dream. This woman has no reason to lie. She has hard proof. I've just made out with a shark in the middle of a public restaurant, and nobody so much as glanced at us.
We go in the house, and I proceed to introduce my mother and father to Shariykah. They look at her approvingly, and independently look at me, as if to say "You've done well." They saw her as a middle eastern human, not a shark, so that helps. When conversing with them, she seemed to always have the right words. She didn't come off as pretentious, snotty, disrespectful, airheaded, or anything like that.
My parents had prior engagements with their own set of friends, so they left about an hour after we arrived. We decided to give all the philosophical talk a rest, and study for a time. About 8:00, we decide we're done discussing the specifics of calculus problems and writing critiques of postmodern works, we decide to play some video games.
Two more hours of Left 4 Dead (Damn, she's good!) we decide to call it a night.
I ask her if she even needs to sleep.
She says, "Of course, I'm still mostly human. I can just do things that other people can't. Soon, though, I'll teach you. We don't have classes Fridays through Sundays, and you're gone Saturdays you've said, so we have 2 days a week for intensive training"
This doesn't bode well in my mind, but I've made up my mind. I'm going to go through with it.
I'll accept her proposal, take her challenge. I'm going to become a real sorcerer.
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