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Tales of London #2

Chapter 2

By John H. KnightPublished 5 months ago 16 min read

Jenna had decided that she won't try to free Teodore from the police, had he been captured. The little jerk only got what he was asking for. And she knew that Don Sebastiano would bail him out anyway. Despite the fact that Teodore was only the don's nephew, he somehow managed to become the favourite child in the Carvelli family.

Jenna sighed. She made her shadow hound disappear then closed the zipper of her leather jacket to cover her almost bare chest. Her missing shirt was the other reason why she was so annoyed: when the fight started, she was enjoying the company of a beautiful, although virtually brainless young man. The whole activity was promised to be a very good stress relief after a long, long week, and things were just about to become more interesting when Teodore ripped the back door of the car open, even though it was locked.

'If you are done with your boy toy, we need your help. The Montgomery fuckers are here,' he said with a bland expression on his face.

'I'm not done yet!' Jenna hissed angrily, 'I am so fucking far from done!'

It didn't really matter anymore. The young, pretty boy had opened the other door, lept out and was running away barefoot, only in his underpants, trying to hide his very visible erection.

'Hey, Whatsyourname, come back!' Jenna tried, but the young man already reached a corner and went out of sight. Jenna was hissing again, like an angry cat.

'Do you have any idea how long I haven't been…'

'Don't know, don't care. Time to go.'

And indeed, spells were starting to rain from every direction, shaking the car, and breaking its windshields. Jenna grabbed her jacket from the floor, but she couldn't find her shirt in the dark, so left without it.

Now, a long half an hour later she crouched in the doorway of some jewellery shop, bending shadows and noises to hide herself. Her ears were still ringing and hurt, she had a bad headache and worst of all, a heavy, empty feeling in her lower stomach. She was angry at everyone from that annoying, pretentious redhead Robert Montgomery to Teodore and her father. But mostly at Teodore. She was sure that the little jerk had provoked the fight again.

Jenna knew that she couldn't stay there for much longer. It was a common belief that officers could see through illusions and cloaking spells. While that wasn’t exactly true, they were indeed capable of literally smelling someone and even following a scent like a bloodhound. Especially if the target was bleeding, that being their speciality, and Jenna had some scratches from the fight.

They had another strength, though, which the girl could use against them: their hearing. She touched the Rune of Voice on her silver bracelet and imagined the noise of fleeing steps, getting further through the alley on the other side of the food. The steps were court and going away. She even made them quieter and quieter as they went, and added some quick heartbeat and panting to make it more believable.

The policemen were fooled by the beat; they moved silently, in creepy sync. Jenna started to sneak in the opposite direction, still hiding in the shadows. She knew there was a side entrance off the court just a few steps away. Luckily, it wasn't guarded so she went out and turned to the narrow, cobblestoned footbridge across the canal bordering the Market.

Only then she noticed the officer standing right on top of the bridge, facing the other way. It was a woman, her all-black uniform tried and failed to hide her figure. She was tall and dark-haired. She had her whip out, a weapon that Jenna knew only too well. The officers of SRU didn’t carry guns or Runes to cast; they had the whip. It caused unbearable pain and paralysis even with a gentle, slight touch. In addition, every officer of the Special Response Unit had a tool called the "Signum". It was a stamp, sunk in permanent, uncleanable ink, with the Runes of Denial, Forbid, Body and Power, forming a strong spell which made it for the bearer impossible to use magic. The worst thing was, the victim powered it with their own magic every time they tried to use it, and it lasted too long: the sign needed days, sometimes even weeks to wear off. Jenna shivered from the bare thought of existing without magic for weeks.

Not that the SRU needed any accessories to stop anyone from breaching the peace of the Queen. Resistant to mind control, pain and a vast variety of spells, even a single officer was a formidable opponent.

For all of those reasons Jenna seriously considered going back and hiding a little longer, but that wasn't a real option: she knew that the other two officers she had managed to fool will be back soon. No, she needed to pass this one on the bridge somehow. There was a walking path along the canal, but it didn't do any good for the girl, because the policewoman on the bridge would spot her sooner or later, even if Jenna would cover the noise of her steps.

Fighting wasn't the right decision either. Even if Jenna could take this woman, which was doubtful after she already had a row with not one, but two of the Montgomerys, she might recognise her; this was not the first encounter between the Metropolitan Police and the Carvelli family. Jenna didn’t need another mark on her record.

No, her way out definitely wasn't through power, but deception.

Three silhouettes started to run at once, one back to the market, one was speeding down on the bank of the canal and one was already on the other side, going around a coffee shop. All of them looked the same, a slim blond girl in a tight black dress. The SRU officer hesitated for a second, then smiled like a hungry lion as she made after the only one which had a faint smell of perfume, smoke and sweat. She disappeared in seconds, chasing the girl she thought not to be an illusion.

Jenna stepped out of the shadows with a smug little smile. She put her hands into her pockets and walked over the now empty bridge, towards the Underground station. She wanted to be as far as possible from disappointing dates and relatives and Montgomerys.


After he had escaped from the police, Robert found Rose, Bailey, and a kid named Martin, waiting for him in his car.

'What the hell was all this, then?' he asked his brother, opening the car door. 'I thought we had an understanding about all this nonsense.'

'They started it,' said Bailey defensively. His shirt was scorched and black from soot, and he had a big bruise on his chin.

'But you were the one who set half of Camden Market on fire!' snapped Robert.

'It was self-defence, bro. I only wanted to light up that creepy Carvelli bitch anyway.'

'Yeah, it was her fault,' said Robert sarcastically. 'If only she would like to be burned alive…'

Bailey gave an offended look but Robert couldn't care less. He collapsed into the driver’s seat, aching, angry and tired.

'So… What happened?' asked Rose, after the engine coughed itself alive. She looked unharmed. 'Did you beat her?'

'No,' answered Robert honestly, taking a turn from the back street to the main road. 'She got me badly, but then the police showed up so we ran away.'

'You will get her next time, boss,' said Martin. 'She was lucky, that's all.'

'She is an extremely powerful sorceress,' Robert told him. 'You all should stay away from her.'

'But you jump on every opportunity to fight her,' pointed out Rose, with a shade of jealousy in her voice.

'I am extremely powerful as well,' shrugged Robert, which he regretted instantly. His arm stopped bleeding by now, but it was stiff and painful. He couldn’t even tell if it was from the bite or the mighty blow he had received from Teodore earlier. Long night. 'And someone has to save your arse every now and then.'

'Poser,' coughed Bailey. 'Hey, can we stop at that Tesco? I want ice cream.'

Robert sighed and drew the car aside, so he could get out.

‘Do you guys want something?’ he asked, leaning down so he could see them.

‘Maybe a beer,’ Martin said.

‘Are you even over eighteen?’ Robert asked, frowning.

‘Sure I 1m!’ answered Martin proudly. ‘I’m gonna turn twenty-two next week.’

‘Happy birthday,’ said Robert. ‘No beer for anyone,’ he added, turning towards Bailey.

‘Buzzkill,’ his brother said.

He walked into the shop, and Robert decided it was more than enough family time for a day, so off he went, back into the slowly awakening morning traffic. Martin laughed, and Rose shook her head.

The traffic was still light as Robert gave a lift home to Martin, and only began to get heavier when they reached the tall tower almost back at Camden Town, where Rose lived. The girl took off Robert's coat and smiled as she caught his glimpse at her chest in the rearview mirror.

'Do you wanna come up?' she asked. 'You know… For a coffee…?'

Robert shook his head. Rose looked sober enough to make her own decisions and it wouldn't have been the first time they helped out each other when in need, but somehow he wasn't in the mood. His arm was still hurting where the bloody dog bit him, and he was exhausted.

'I'm going to take a rain check on that, sorry,' he said. 'I have a very long day ahead and it starts way too soon.'

'Your loss, sweetie,' answered Rose, and leaned forward between the seats to give a kiss on his cheek. 'Thanks for the saving, by the way.'

'Yeah…' he muttered. 'My pleasure.'

Rose closed the door and hurried across the empty road to disappear into the doorway.

Robert sighed once again and drove home.

He took a long, hot shower because that's what every character would have done after a fight in the books and movies he liked. It didn't help though, as he realised he was not in one. He hoped that a big, strong coffee would do the trick, and it didn't make things worse, which was a small victory on a morning like this.

He gave a longing look to his warm and inviting bed, but he knew that if he closed his eyes even for just a minute, he won't be able to get out of bed for the next twelve hours. So he brewed another coffee instead and was happy that his couch was terribly uncomfortable. The pain that was pulsing in his arm helped a bit as well.

After he finished the second cup, he got up to take a proper look at his arm. The bite of the shadow hound wasn't deep and it stopped bleeding a long time ago, but Robert still wanted to do something about it. He was fairly sure that not-really-existing dogs cannot carry any diseases but poured some antiseptic over the tooth marks nevertheless. Then he wrapped his arm with bandages. They were magically enhanced and made the injuries heal faster, but Robert wasn't sure how exactly. It was some kind of potion they were dipped in, and that was out of his area of expertise. So was healing itself: if he would have known the first thing about medical sorcery, he could have healed the injury in minutes. Given how often he came home with something bleeding or cracked or pulled, that seemed to be a gross oversight in his knowledge now.

At least the giant, purple-ish bruise on his shoulder reacted positively to the gel he had for it and faded into pale blue in minutes. Be grateful for the small victories.

Not long after seven, he had to start to get ready for work. Putting on clothes was painful, so he went with a pair of jeans and a white shirt instead of one of his usual three-piece suits. He found a spare wand in a drawer, which he put into his jeans pocket, grabbed his phone (surprisingly not broken), and he was good to go. Well, good-ish, he thought.

The city was wide awake by the time Robert got in his car again, and the traffic was about to shape up to be a real Monday morning nightmare. There was a lot of waiting and honking and breaking at the very last second behind some idiot who thought taking a U-turn in the middle of the road is a good idea. In a word, it was a usual morning in London. Robert wondered, while waiting at the red signal, that he might be better off using public transport, but as always, talked himself out of it. He knew about all the unspeakable horrors lurking under the city, and he was sure there were monsters, too.

He couldn't understand how he wasn't late, because he tried to, really hard. Even stopped at a deli for a full breakfast and another coffee, but it wasn't enough: five minutes before nine, he was in the lecture hall, saying a lot of "good morning" to the arriving youth, who looked even more tired than him. That begged the question of why: he was dragged out of bed to fight one of the most powerful sorceresses of their generation. What was his students' excuse?

They slowly occupied more and more seats in the descending viewing area. Five minutes after nine Robert decided to start, so he sat up on his desk, which hurt badly, took a sip of coffee and looked at his students.

'First of all, if any of you actually wrote the paper on poltergeist that I asked last week, well, keep them for next time. I don't feel like grading them and you could do a better job anyway.'

There were a couple of smiles, a few pissed-off faces and at least two people whispering to the one next to them that 'What paper? There was a paper?'

'Right,' Robert continued. 'The second topic. The dean asked me to tell you all, again: do not use magic to fly the books to yourself in the library. There were accidents. Magic isn't a toy. Etcetera, etcetera. Apparently, we need to redo the class on aiming…'

Robert's original plan for the day was to get up early and write up some notes for the lessons he was about to give today, but Bailey ruined everything, as per usual. Still, he didn't arrive empty-handed.

'Today, due to the aforementioned laziness, I have a brain teaser for you. Whoever gives an answer I like, will have an "A" for this semester, therefore, can skip all the papers and exams until the next semester.'

The undergraduates got instantly excited, at least those who weren't sleeping behind their opened laptops.

'So my question is: how do you create an actual, physically existing dog with its own will, seemingly only out of shadows?'

Pensive faces, some snoring from the higher seats. Then a hand moved into the air.

'Yes, Bartek?' said Robert.

'The most obvious explanation is that the dog was a demon,' said the boy with a strong eastern-European accent. Robert took a few seconds to think about it, then shook his head. He knew demons very well and was sure he could tell when one of them was close. Besides, summoning magic was very old-fashioned and ethically questionable, something Jenna Carvelli probably wouldn't use.

'Let's say it wasn't a demon,' he answered. 'They are rarely taking definitive forms anyway. Any other idea?'

Bartek shrugged but an Indian girl two rows behind him put her hand up.

'Yes… Alisha…?'

'Adhira,' she corrected him. 'If it's not a demon, then it could be an actual dog. Some rare mixed thing maybe.'

'No,' said Robert. 'it looked like if it was actually made from shadows, there was no real resemblance with anything that could exist in nature.'

Adhira took a moment to think, then her face lit up.

'Maybe it was a real dog, but covered in some kind of illusion,' she said proudly. Robert pondered on the idea. It was a promising one, yet somehow didn't feel right.

'Not bad,' he said. 'But the dog was bigger than any other dog I've ever seen. Almost as big as a bear.'

'Small dog, big illusion?' offered someone. Robert shook his head again and finished off his coffee. Then he hopped down on the floor and walked behind his table to sit down.

'Your ideas are worth an instant "A" for all four of you,' he said. 'But they are not ideas I was looking for. Keep thinking, ladies and gentlemen.'

And they did. The next guess came from a boy called Jabir, who stuck to the "real dog"-theory and claimed size can be altered by magic.

'But not on a living thing,' pointed out an Asian girl from the first row.

'Theoretically speaking, it is possible,' objected Jabir. 'Although it would require more than one sorcerer. Or an extremely powerful energy source, like a nuclear power plant or a thunderbolt.'

'And even in that case,' Robert added. 'The procedure would most likely lead to the sorcerer or sorcerers' death. The human body can channel only so much magic, as you know, and not even the most talented of us could handle this amount.'

'Not even you, professor?' asked Adhira. ‘I mean, there was that thunderstorm, and they say…’

'I'm nowhere close to that,' Robert laughed. 'Okay, so let's assume the spell has been done by only one person, in the limitations of what is humanly possible.'

For the next couple of minutes, the only noise was the quiet clanking of the keyboards as the students used the Internet to find something useful.

'It could be a bad omen,' said a Romanian girl, named Andreea, with two "e" for some reason. 'Back at home, there were tales of a big, black dog, often seen in cemeteries. The elders said it means death.'

'Also, in folktales, I think vampires could take the shape of a dog or wolf, sir,' added someone else.

'Perhaps there is a link, as Romania is the home of the most famous, or perhaps, infamous vampire ever lived… Or undead...ed?' Robert frowned, trying to find the right word. 'Also there are several mythological dogs associated with death, such as Cerberus, the guard of the Underworld in Greek mythology. But as you can see, I'm not dead, and in real life, vampires cannot shapeshift.'

'So you have seen this thing, professor? For real? Where?'

He realised that he might have said too much, but being the teacher means you don't have to answer questions if you don't want to, and he chose not to. Instead, he gave the word to an Australian guy, who stated, with his lazy accent that 'He just jokin' round, mates, shit cannot be done. Can I have the "A" now?'

This, rather unsurprisingly, wasn't the right answer.


About the Creator

John H. Knight

Yet another aspiring writer trying his luck on the endless prairie of the Internet.

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  • Angelina F. Thomas5 months ago

    Keep up the excellent work. Good morning.

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