“Son, what happened to you?” I asked after a time, having wanted to think through what my son had been telling me. I knew he wasn’t always like this. If he had been superhuman as a youth, I would have noticed. Children don’t have that much restraint.
“Well, I learned that I was capable of doing magic shortly before I graduated. Regina and I were practicing together.” replied James.
“What!? Regina knew about this?” asked Rachel, sounding alarmed.
“I found out she was capable of using magic when we attended Prom, though I suspected as much a little sooner.” replied James as if that explained everything.
“But son… how did you find out that you were a… magic user?” I pursued, at a loss for the right words for this absurd situation.
James looked over to Lady Pendreigh, who nodded slightly. He then said, “Emma tested Jarod and me after demonstrating her own abilities.”
“Emma is on this as well?” questioned Rachel.
“Everyone who works for me knows about magic, though not all of them can use it.” stated James.
Everyone knew? No. “I refuse to believe there can be that many people throwing spells around. Everyone would know about it.”
“There has always been a fear in such people that they would be persecuted if they should show their power. I assure you the fear is quite valid.” insisted Lady Pendreigh.
First glancing at her, my son said, “Even if they would be accepted by most of the world, there’s a group that actively seeks out the more dangerous types of people you’d deem to be supernatural. Draw too much attention, and they will intervene.”
“Back up a minute. You said Jarod could do magic, right?” I inquired, wanting something more tangible to grasp. I knew Jarod, had watched him grow with my son.
“No. Emma tested him, but he can’t do a thing with residual energy, much to his chagrin.” replied James.
“Residual energy?” I questioned, wanting to understand.
James nodded and said, “There are different types of magic. The type I use takes leftover energy from different types of magic and forms it into spells.”
“So you can only do magic when someone else is casting spells around you?” I asked.
“Well, no. There’s a great deal of energy in the world. A great deal more is available throughout this house now that I’m not living here. I was born a bit unusual in that my body will actually absorb the energy and create a potent spell around me.” he replied, seeming a touch embarrassed.
I frowned, not liking his claim to have always done magic. “What sort of spell?”
“James emits a type of enchantment that causes those in his vicinity to be endeared to him.” explained Lady Pendreigh. “I took notice of him primarily because of it.”
I looked at my wife to see if she was finding this as hard to believe as I was. If what they were saying was true, we had been under a spell for James’ entire life. Squeezing back as Rachel took my hand, I knew she was thinking the same thoughts. James always had a way with people…
“Trust me, the news came as a bit of a shock to me as well. I inadvertently affect everyone and don’t have a reasonable way to stop it.” he reaffirmed.
“There is a way though?” questioned my wife.
He shrugged and nodded slowly. “Well, yes, to an extent. If I want to walk around completely defenseless, I could.”
“James would be in grave danger if that were to happen, so he doesn’t really have a choice.” insisted Lady Pendreigh.
“James, dear, how did Regina… how did she… die?” inquired Rachel, staring up at him.
I squeezed her hand more, wishing to comfort her. Rachel had taken Regina’s death very hard.
Looking serious, James stated “She was killed by a werelion. Regina died saving my life.”
“A werelion!?” I asked, wondering why he would say something so ludicrous.
“Yes. You’ve surely heard myths about werewolves. Think of a similar creature related to lions instead of wolves.” explained Lady Pendreigh matter-of-factly. “There are many types of therianthropes.”
Ignoring her, I said, “Son, you can’t possibly expect me to believe this.”
James smile looked sad as he said, “You’ve seen some of what I can do. Is there really no room for werewolves and werelions? What about vampires? I know a couple. I can introduce you if you like, assuming they don’t mind. Would you like to meet a fairy? My little friend spends a great deal of time around me.”
“James… what were you doing near such a creature?” questioned Rachel, sounding worried.
“Luke, my trackmate, was one of many werelions. He killed Nathan at school in a fit of rage, and I came across them. We hadn’t known there were so many… We wouldn’t have stumbled into their trap if we had.” insisted James, sounding sincere.
“I’m sorry, son, but why would you pursue such a creature? What were you planning on doing? Kill him?” I asked, knowing my son wasn’t a killer.
“If necessary. We couldn’t exactly tell the police.” he stated with a grim solemnity.
No… Hesitating slightly, I asked “Son, did you…”
“No. I’ve never killed anyone.” he replied, cutting me off.
“Then they’re still out there?” asked Rachel, her voice rising slightly in pitch as she spoke.
James shook his head and said, “No. They’re dead. The entire group is dead.”
“What?” I questioned, trying to wrap my head around this dangerous group’s death.
“This will probably be the hardest thing for you to accept, but Death is real, scythe and all. I had nightmares for that entire month after seeing her. When Regina fell, Death appeared. She lifted her scythe, and they were gone. There weren’t even bodies left.” There was a haunted look to my son’s eyes as he spoke.
What had he really seen?
Rachel nodded and told him “I remember you being out of touch… I just thought you were taking Regina’s death hard.”
“I really was, but the nightmares were beyond the death of a friend. You don’t ever want to know how terrifying Death is.” he assured her.
“Son, people often have terrible dreams after the death of a loved one. I know you don’t want to hear this, but you probably imagined it.” I told him, looking for a rational explanation.
“He didn’t imagine anything. Even I…” Lady Pendreigh stopped, seeming to be remembering something. She was shaking. “Even I am terrified of her. Meeting her was the single worst moment of my life. There are accounts of people literally dying of fright just from seeing her. Do not take this so lightly.”
I stared at her long and hard, shuddering involuntarily. Lady Pendreigh was an incredibly competent business woman with absolutely no mercy as I had found out. Seeing her so shaken from a memory was shocking, but I still had my doubts.
“I’m sorry, son, but this is hard to accept.” I admitted. I took a little while to sort my thoughts, trying to fit the pieces together without being too critical. Things weren’t fitting properly. “With you being so fast, how could the werelions best you? Are they equally fast?”
“Oh. I wasn’t actually this fast when I faced them. I doubt they could even scratch me now.” he explained with a casual tone that surprised me.
“They couldn’t. You took fifty caliber rounds with ease.” insisted Lady Pendreigh.
“What!? You were shot?” I asked, shocked that that hadn’t been mentioned.
Nodding, he said, “Yes, actually. I can’t say that was a pleasant experience, but the injury didn’t last.”
Lady Pendreigh rolled her eyes as she smiled at him. “The bullets didn’t even pierce his skin. I’d hardly say you were injured, James.”
“Well, I did feel a little bruised at first.” he argued.
“James, dear, why would someone shoot you?” asked Rachel, still sounding worried.
“Oh… umm…” he started, looking as if he was trying to find the words to explain.
“There are people who don’t want to see James and me be wed, so they’re protesting. The abduction attempt against you was also a result of this.” stated Lady Pendreigh as if quoting common knowledge.
I knew that she was extremely wealthy and influential, but I didn’t think she was someone whose presence put others at risk.
Continuing, she said, “As you are aware, I am Lady Alma Lucy Pendreigh V of the United Kingdom, but my estates and influence stretch well beyond my country’s borders. In marrying me, your son will gain lands, titles, and influence, making him the envy of any other potential suitors. They don’t take such things lightly.”
“You’re… engaged?” questioned Rachel.
“Well, no. Her family has some unique customs, but there is a strong possibility of that happening in the near future.” replied James.
“Be sure to tell us when you are, but isn’t this rushing things a bit?” I asked him, knowing the two had only known each other for half a year.
“The laws of her family are a bit rigid, father, and you and mother should know that I will most definitely tell you when the time comes.” he assured us. Then, seeming a touch annoyed, he said, “I feel that we’re avoiding the point here. If, by some twist of fate, you happen to come across something you feel to be supernatural, don’t investigate. Your lives depend on it.”
“Investigate? Why would we do such a thing?” asked my wife, brushing the thought away as she spoke.
“Mother, you attempted to touch the first magic you saw.” stated James.
“James, dear, it was just a light.” she replied.
Letting his annoyance into his voice, he told her “I feel I’ve demonstrated that things aren’t always what they seem. Since finding out about magic, I’ve seen minotaurs and zombies right here in the city. Though the minotaurs stood out, the zombies were disguised in illusions that made them pass as living people. I’d be incredibly impressed if you’d recognize a vampire. You can’t trust things to be safe based simply on what you see.”
“What would you have us do, son? Are we supposed to be scared of everything? I’ve lived here for my entire life without encountering anything like what you’ve described.” I argued, not wanting the shut-in life I imagined.
“Before even being trained in magic, Regina could alter luck to her favor. Did you ever find it strange that she won at so many board games?” questioned James.
“You won just as many, dear.” insisted Rachel.
“Regina did a great deal for me without me knowing.” he replied, now sounding a little sad.
Approaching us on the couch, Portentia smiled and said, “You don’t have to be scared. Just be careful. Though there aren’t any other superheroes to my knowledge, many of the creatures out there aren’t so bad. Your son’s always just a call away, and I try to look out for everyone. Feel free to call me as well if you need help.”
James reached out and rested his hand on her shoulder. “Thank you.”
I trusted my son as well as my own eyes. I knew he meant well and could tell he was legitimately concerned. We were almost abducted, but I was still struggling. I couldn’t deny his speed or Portentia’s… strangeness. Believing that I had missed so very much was still a struggle. If all this was true, I… I didn’t know what to think of my life.