Manipulator Of Elements - Fire: An Urban Fantasy, page 1
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Manipulator Of Elements
By: Jae Vogel
Table of Contents
Manipulator Of Elements
The security guards spent the entire morning and worked their way through the parking lot, checking over every car and truck that arrived early. They took up positions at all the entrances to make sure no one that pulled into the lot. There was only one person they needed to keep out. After the previous day’s confrontation with Dion and his elemental abilities, they had no desire to repeat the mistakes made the days before. They were under strict orders to keep him out, or else.
Officer Karanzen stood watch in the parking lot and checked every car coming in for the early shift. Although the mall didn’t officially open until ten in the morning, there were plenty of people who needed to get there by eight to start work. He knew it would be impossible to check every car once the shoppers arrived in force. Right now, he had the opportunity to catch Dion and whomever he brought along, if the kid came early. He’d been there early every other day, so Karanzen expected him to be there long before the mall doors opened for the day.
Today, Dion needed to find the last elemental grandmaster and obtain full authority for this final ability: fire. Karanzen knew that a failure to stop him this time would mean the end of his term of service at the mall. The owner and builder of the mall, Seth Bach, had employed him for the express purpose of keeping Dion out. He’d give him powers normal people knew nothing about. These powers could be taken away with ease and Karanzen would find himself back in the same wretched state he’d been in previously. He wasn’t about to end up where he’d been prior to the mall.
Something began to bother Karanzen about his security guards. He’d handpicked every one of them based on their references and applications. They all appeared to be good men who knew how to do the job and take direction. However, something seemed a little odd about all of them. They claimed to have a life outside their jobs, but seldom spoke about what they did. The mall housed them in one large group home in the nearby town of Scipio and they drove into work at the same time. He needed to go back and look at those applications on file. He’d do that the first opportunity he had.
So far, they’d found no sign of Dion or any of his friends. Last night Dion had driven off in the van the security guards tried to impound. Then the creek suddenly overflowed. It was impossible to deny Dion had caused the creek to run over its banks. Dion had received his third elemental full power authority from Salacia Delphi, the woman who owned the pool supply store.
Karanzen had his men impound the young man’s van and was ready to kick him out of the mall permanently when the water began to pour across the parking lot from the nearby creek. The drainage system was supposed to handle overflows of such a large nature, but it didn’t. It wasn’t until they unhooked his van from the tow truck the water began to recede.
Dion had waited for his friends to emerge from the mall and join him before he left. Karanzen had watched him leave the parking lot in the van. The security chief stood in place and seethed in his rage. There wasn’t anything he could do but vow the kid would never set foot in this mall again.
He went back to his office.
The phone rang, but Karanzen knew who it was before he even picked up the receiver.
“He has the full power on the third element,” the voice on the phone said to him. “How are you going to keep him from obtaining the fourth?” It was Seth Bach, Dion’s uncle. The man didn’t have to introduce himself. By now, Karanzen was familiar with the sound of his employer’s voice.
“First of all” Karanzen said. “I am going to keep him out of the mall parking lot. He won’t even be able to enter it. The first time any of my men see that van of his, they will be instructed to block it from the entrance. I’ll tell the local cops that there is a shoplifting suspect whom we expect to try to gain entrance to the mall. They can handle him from there on out.”
“Not a good idea,” the voice responded. “I don’t need the trouble with the local police it would cause. They only put up with this mall because of the tax revenue it brings into the community.”
“Fine. You told me to keep him out and I might’ve been able to do that yesterday. However, your plan to get him in here with those water babies didn’t work out so well. Now let me do it my way and we’ll keep him out of the mall. Permanently.”
“Your method to stop him yesterday didn’t work out so well either.”
“By then, he was already in the mall. He had the third elemental power. You want me to keep him from the fourth, let me handle it. Let me do what you pay me to do.”
“Just keep him out. He obtains full power for the fourth, we might as well forget about this place.” The phone call came to an end.
The easy way to do this, Karanzen knew, was to issue an APB to the police and have them pick the kid up. Eventually, he’d give up and quit trying to get inside the mall. Why Dion had to meet the elemental grandmasters here inside the mall was something Karanzen didn’t understand. Wouldn’t it have been just as easy to follow them home? Heck, Dion could have simply called them up and agreed to meet them somewhere else. If there was a rule about obtaining full powers only at the mall, Karanzen hadn’t been informed.
Karanzen planned to have a significant number of his men in the parking lot checking out tags until noon. By that time he figured Dion and company would be apprehended, unless he had not planned to show. No problem, he’d do the same thing every day until he had him or the kid stopped his attempts to enter the mall.
This time he wasn’t getting into the mall. Karanzen had let most part of his defense that allowed him to appear normal around mortals. This enabled him to sense any element workers in the parking lot or outside the mall. So far, nothing. So long as no one looked at him too close, he didn’t have to worry. Right now, the place was clear, so perhaps the kid wasn’t coming at all.
The Naiad sisters sat on the edge of the creek bank and watched as the security guards checked out all the cars in the lot for signs of Dion. It was still very early and they would have to cease their activity once the regular shoppers began to arrive at the Fromatius Mall. Right now, they could spend the time walking through the lot and examining the contents of each car to see if Dion or any of his friends was concealed inside them.
Karanzen knew the van hadn’t arrived and he didn’t expect Dion to try that line of attack again. However, he was still determined to keep his young foe away from the mall by any means he could. If he’d been allowed, Karanzen would’ve paid Dion a personal visit at his aunt and uncle’s home. However, he was limited by what Dion’s Uncle Seth, who owned the mall, would allow him.
“I doubt it,” she responded while braiding her hair, “Even if they do, it won’t be until the mall is open.”
The creek was partially blocked from the mall by a grove of trees, which allowed them to watch the activity in the parking lot. The Naiad sisters shed their clothes last night when they entered the water of the stream since there was no longer any reason to pretend to be mortal women. Cynae, the eldest, had a long talk with her younger sisters about what was appropriate in the presence of humans, regardless if they were bonded to them or not. Each had chosen one of the Dion’s chess club buddies for themselves. They were bound to the young men.
For his part, Dion had a long talk with his friends after the Naiads had stripped off their clothes and swam into the creek. Their long hair served as the only bit of clothing they had while in their natural form, save whatever shells and other objects they decided to use for decoration.
“Your girlfriends are not human,” Dion told them as they watched the girls play in the water. “You will always be able to see them, but most of the time; they will be invisible to normal people. Keep in mind that they have different standards of adornment and will not be easy to take around your parents. As for how you met your girlfriends, just tell your families you found her at the mall and I introduced you to them. You can come here every day to see your girl; just don’t spend too much time around here.”
“And don’t keep me waiting too long!” Dirce called to Dennis from the water as she blew him a kiss. Her long hair flowed about her and formed a halo in the moonlight.
Dion could see the pain in his friend’s face. This was going to cause many problems. It was his idea to introduce the water elementals to the chess club members. Dion needed to sabotage his uncle’s plans to keep him away from the Water Element Grandmaster. Now that he had full water element abilities, he could order the Naiads to lift the glamor they’d put on the chess club. However, to do that would create a problem worse than the love sickness, which plagued the young men.
After he allowed them to say their goodbyes, Dion made certain the guys were loaded into cars and sent home. He even stood in the parking lot to ensure the chess club didn’t try to come back.
“I need you all up early,” he told his three companions. As usual, Sean and Emily were curled up in the back seat of Dion’s van.
“You’ve created a whole new set of problems with the chess club,” Lilly said to him as she reached over and touched Dion. “Still, the Naiads are the perfect match for those boys. Neither group wants much to do with the outside world. I’m dying to see the look on everyone’s face when they show up at the prom with those girls.”
“I’ll see about disguising the girls as another chess club,” Dion said. “At least this will provoke fewer questions from people. It’s just believable they might be a foreign chess club, but not a local swim team. That one stretches what I can get everyone to believe.”
The next morning, Dion picked up everyone the same way he’d done the day before. This time he pulled up where the willow tree stood near Emily’s house, as he knew she’d be under it with Sean. The two became quite an item after their mutual encounter with the air elementals. They were involved with each other and barely heard him pull up in the van.
It was still cold when they slammed the door on his van and pulled out of the driveway. Sean’s mother still hadn’t figured out he was seeing Emily and that was just fine with Sean. Emily’s father knew about Sean but had yet to meet him. Right now, the quest was all Dion could think about. Once he’d obtained the fourth elemental power, he could do whatever he needed to accomplish. He could free his parents from the clock tower in the middle of the mall where his uncle held them prisoner. However, to do that he would need another ability: the fifth elemental power.
It was hundreds of years since an elemental worker had obtained this power. Hundreds of years since any one of them could manifest the power of the aether, the fifth element from which the source of the others was located. His uncle had obtained the power of the fifth element and used it to control those around him. He had the power, but not that of the four before it. If Dion gained this dominion, combined with the power of the first four elements, he would be stronger than his uncle.
Like the others, the fourth grandmaster ran a shop inside the mall. All had set up operations inside the mall, even though they knew who had built the place and that it was located over the abyss. Today, he planned to be a fully qualified Fire Master. All he needed to do was reach the Fire Element Grandmaster.
Early in the morning, before dawn had broken over the horizon, Dion parked his van on the other side the grove of trees. This was where the creek ran between concrete conduits to carry its water to the river. It was hard to see and Dion realized the county would eventually force this small stream into an underground pipe as well. Too many risks involved with people falling into it and drowning. He’d heard stories in school of parties involving campfires down below the hill, just at the banks of the stream. It was only a matter of time before someone fell in. The county would be blamed for allowing this situation to take place.
He pulled the van into the woods next to the stream where it would not be seen in the daytime. This was another spot known the high school students where you could go if you wanted some privacy. Dion opened the door and kicked away four brown bottles on the ground. This was recent. He’d have to be back before sunset today because it meant whoever left the bottles planned on returning this evening.
“You think it’s safe to leave it here?” Lilly asked him as they stepped out of the van. Seconds later, Sean and Emily joined them. They too looked on in disgust at the trash on the ground.
“It will be safe until this evening,” Dion told her. “I obtain my final fire elemental power; we won’t have to worry about coming back here again. And we won’t have to worry about much of anything after I have the fifth elemental full ability.”
Lilly squeezed his hand.
“Hello, Dion,” the Naiad sisters greeted him as the stepped down to the bank on the stream.
Dion consulted his map as soon as he left the van and discovered the best way to enter the mall without being seen was to travel down the stream and enter a concrete pipe.
“Hello, Ladies,” he responded to them as the water elementals surfaced on the bank in front of him. They appeared in their natural form as beautiful young women covered by their long hair. Not hard to believe the sailors of old risked disaster on encountering them. Even his friends tried not to stare at what was in front of them.
“Are you comfortable down here?” he asked. “I know it’s not as isolated as your rock in the ocean, but I didn’t think you would be disturbed too often.”
“We miss our boyfriends already,” Dirce told him. “And we scared people last night.” She was the first one to fall for a local boy yesterday and her sisters followed as a matter of course.
“Scared them off too,” Cynae, added. “They came down here to be alone and didn’t expect to find us sitting on the bank.”
“I didn’t think they could see you,” Emily said, holding Sean’s hand.
“Only if we don’t want them to see us,” another one of the Naiads told her. “By the time they were down here we didn’t notice them. Guess we gave them quite a scare because they took off quick.”
“Which reminds us,” Cynae asked. “When are our boys coming back? We are so very lonely in this place.”
“Give them another day,” Dion told the elementals. “And don’t go find them, although I know you could do it.
“Why not?” Cynae asked him.
First of all, you’ll scare people. Second, they need time to work up cover stories for all of you. Keep in mind you were the ones who put the glamor on them.”
“But they were so cute,” Ismene, the youngest one of them, said. “We cou
Dion had spent some time the evening before talking with his aunt and uncle about what might happen today. They were understanding and concerned about him. His uncle wanted to help, but Dion let them both know that he had to do it with his own abilities. His friends would be there for him, but they were only to assist and not find the elemental grandmaster for him.
“Fire,” his uncle Rich repeated to himself several times. “You’re going after the most dangerous of the four today. Be careful. My brother will have salamanders ready.”
“Salamanders?” his aunt asked, as she tossed her hair back. “How dangerous can salamanders be? I step on them all the time by the wood pile.”
“Different kind of salamander,” his uncle explained. “Fire elemental salamanders. They can burn down anything in their path. They’re almost little dragons. Be careful, Dion.”
“I intend to be careful,” Dion told him. “Besides, I have Cynae and her water elemental sisters to back me up if it gets out of control.”
“A lot of good she’ll do you if the salamanders unleash flames before they can arrive. I’ve seen those things do some serious damage to buildings. I still see them dance in the flames of burning wood. They’re everywhere.”
Dion assured his aunt and uncle he would proceed with caution, then showed them some of his new abilities by causing miniature tornadoes in the back yard and summoned a waterspout in the swimming pool.
“I know,” he told him. “Parlor tricks any stage performer can accomplish, but wait till I have the fifth elemental ability. Then I’ll have my parents back for sure.”
“One more ability to go,” Dion reminded Lilly that evening as she took her home. “Then the fifth elemental power and my uncle will not be able to stop me from freeing my parents.”
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