The most interesting things happen in the most unexpected places. The docks of Blueport were that of a fading dream. It wasn’t completely gone, hadn’t completely evaporated. However, it had seen its peak and was on the decline, which made it the perfect spot in town for people do conduct activities in the shadows. The three of us had left the restaurant a while ago and were now walking along the wooden sidewalk. Moonlight refracted off the dusty buildings, as the air picked the salt off the sea, carrying it around. The sea itself was rather calm, as meditative waves came in and out. It was a surprisingly clear night, and luckily, Blueport wasn’t the largest city, so we were graced with an impressive knitted blanket of stars. The wood creaked with every step, not completely dilapidated from much use, but certainly on its way. Considering the increasing number of people we passed, we assumed to almost be there.
Anytime there were droves of people out in a place like the docks, you knew something had to be up. We stopped several yards away from a small building at the end. There was a single door, with two rather large and brutish men guarding it. A group of people, that appeared to be our age, conversed with them for a bit, prior to going inside. The silence in the air was eerie, considering just how many people were out. What could they have been hiding?
“Ok,” Aleema broke the silence. “What’s the plan?”
“We have to get inside somehow. I think there’s like a password or code or something? What do you think, Alex?”
“I think you’re right and I have an idea,” I said, as I made my way to the entrance. The twins followed a few steps behind, as a I boldly made my way over. The two men grew in size as I approached them. They glared at me, with disapproving looks. More than likely, these men were used to the proverbial bullshit of people trying to pass off as insiders, so I opted to skip out on the acting.
“Hello, fellas. Me and my friends heard about your little club here, and we were rather interested in your activities. We’re students from Mozley just looking for something interesting to do. Hope you don’t mind if we come in?” My voice was clear and political.
“Passcode please,” the both rang in unison with deep, echoing voices.
“Come one guys, you already know I don’t know any passcode. Why bother to ask? You two also know that we’re going to get in without one,” I pressed on.
“No entry” they finished each other thoughts. The twins behind me were becoming frustrated with me and the looming, guard twins.
“Alex, this is stupid. Why don’t we just ask for it from someone else,” Aleema suggested.
“Yea, they’re not gonna budge,” Lyn responded. I smiled, looking back at them, and then returned my gaze up at the guards. They wore simple clothes, solid black t-shirts and blue jeans. Their faces were shielded under beanie caps. Arms folded, their muscles filled the gaps of their shirts, as blades of hair rolled off their skin. I didn’t even have to read their code to know what kind of magic they used. I could sense it.
“Interesting, is it not?” I continued my charade. “That the bodyguards employed by here are also scam artists. You hide behind these appearances, but you have other forms as well. Beastly forms, and most people can’t accept you whilst in these forms, because you’re deemed as scary, right?”
They remained silent.
“Well, I can certainly understand why you would take this line of work. Still, I’m sure all you two want is to be accepted, not that I’m saying these people don’t accept you, but you gotta find work somewhere right?”
“Alex, what the hell are you- I rose my hand to cut Lyn off.
“My name is Alex Cristoph. You probably haven’t heard of me, but soon you will. I have this gift where I can see the potential in people and I can sense how great you two could become. Are ya’ll apart of any Upgraded legions or anything like that?” There was no vocal reply, however, I noticed that the two of them had relaxed their shoulders just slightly, which meant I was in. “I’m assuming no. Well, that’s too bad. I know I’m just a student, but I have connections to a lot of teams, and they could use some guys like ya’ll. I could put in a good word, and you two could have an opportunity to make more than what you do now. Plus, you two will be doing more rewarding work. How does that sound?”
“Look kid,” the one on the left began. “We get smooth talking punks like you who think they can butter us up and get in here with ease all the time,”
“If you really think this ploy will work on us think again. We happen to enjoy this line of work. And this club is rather prestigious. We don’t need scum like you ruining it,” the other one replied.
“Hey! Who are you calling scum!” Aleema’s flustered voice rose. Lyn pulled her back, as I rose another hand to stop their commotion. I had never been called scum before. It was, strange.
“Forgive me if I offended you gentlemen. If you really feel that way, then I guess we’ll leave. It’s just a shame really. I can tell that you really liked my offer. I’m guessing you have been rejected by some teams in the past? I can tell. Don’t ask how I know,”
They both moved closer, with my nose just inches from their stomachs. I got a glimpse of their eyes, which burned a solid neon green. Luckily, despite their ghoulish glares, I had dealt with intimidation before.
“I have this crazy dream, that I tell everyone. I want to become the Face of the Sector. I know it’s a ridiculous goal to go after, but I always say, why not set your sights higher. I have no doubt I will achieve this goal, regardless of the ridicule I receive. This isn’t some sort of political move. I actually want to help you guys, because I am the same as you. My powers were viewed as useless before, believed to have no real application. It was this very ridicule that propelled me to excel in just about every subject. You guys are probably often seen as tools, but really, you want to be treated as regular people, who just happen to be special. My purpose in life is to give people like you and me a voice. So please, let me give you a voice,” There a long pause. All that could be heard were the cicadas chiming and the gentle etch and flow of the ocean.
“Clear our names,” the one of the right said.
“What?” I questioned.
“Our names, we’ll let you in, but you have to help us clear our names. We are innocent, that is all we will say,” the other one finished. I didn’t fancy the way this had turned out. I didn’t like dealing with criminals, as I had done so in the past, and several times had come to regret it. There’s always a learning curve I suppose.
“Very well then. When will you need me to do this?”
“We’ll find you whenever we are ready,” they replied in unison.
“Alex, this is crazy. You can’t actually accept these terms, can you?” Aleema protested. Lyn nodded in agreement.
“Sorry ladies, but this is the role I fulfill. I help those in need. I accept your terms,” I said. The two men backed up and moved away from the large metal door. There was a large symbol painted on it: A large golden-rimmed, black shield. Perching on either side of the top of the crest was what appeared to be a vulture. On the lower half were two snakes and a six pointed golden star in the middle.
“Memphis Night,” the two guards said, which triggered the door to open by moving straight back into the building. A thin blue light appeared around the edges, as the opening soon became large enough for us to walk through. I let the girls go in first. I looked back, about the say something, but the door closed shut before I could. Oh well.
The inside looked like something of an abandoned warehouse. There were no windows, just bunch of random machines. Cobwebs clung to the corners of the ceiling and dust collected on the ground. The only light in the room was a flickering, fluorescent light overhead. Faint drops, probably from a leaking pipe, could be heard, falling perfectly in sequence. If anything was happening here, it certainly didn’t seem like it.
“What the hell is this place? Where is everyone?” Lyn questioned, her voice reverberating off the metal and concrete walls.
“Ya’ll must be new here,” a foreign voice echoed. Aleema and Lyn quickly jumped into a defensive position, as their auras began to glow more vibrantly. Both of their bodies were gleaming red and blue respectively. “Whoa whoa whoa, calm down. You’ll get your chance to fight, if you want,” the voice came again.
“Who are you?” I demanded. Finally, someone rose from the shadows in the left corner. He appeared young, about our age, maybe a little bit older. His hair was a striking shade of lime green contrasted against his bronze skin. His eyes were a deep shade of red, as was the unusually long tongue he had sticking out of one side of his mouth. He was wearing a dark green vest over a white shirt with the same emblem from the outside door on it. A forest of chains hung from the pockets of his black jeans. The girls winced at his appearance, which he took note of.
“Hey, we don’t judge people here, Ok? We let their skills do the talking,” he said.
“Where are we? Who are you?” I demanded once more. He began to laugh as he moved closer. His movements were almost reptilian. He stopped a few feet from us.
“My name is Seth, and that’s all you need to know for now. I’m the inside doorkeeper here at the Rubian Monastery,”
“Monastery? So, are ya’ll like a church or something?” Aleema questioned. He snickered again, digging he hands in his pockets, the chains rattling as he did so. He began to walk around us, with his back hunched over, as if he was inspecting us.
“You can say that. We subscribe to the belief that everyone deserves a chance to show their power. We are one of several connected underground magical societies, where people can come to show their stuff, gain exposure, and just chill with other people like them. We function a little bit different than your normal magical training societies. Many people who are magic users try to take the conventional routes to gain awareness, but that takes far too much time and money. This place offers an arena for people to enhance their skills without all the legal windows and crap. Many people who come here actually end up getting recruited by Upgraded legions,” he explained.
“Really? That’s insane. So this is all illegal? How in the world do people still get recruited?” Lyn questioned.
“How do they get recruited?” Seth repeated her words. “Damn, ya’ll are a naive bunch. Don’t you know this is how the world works. The shadows operate so much more than you could imagine. People play both sides too. Sure, there are some risks involved if things get…out of hand. But, luckily, we here don’t have to worry about that, considering the founders of our monastery. Maybe, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll get to meet them someday,”
My expression remained flat, however it was shielding a mixture of emotions. I could appreciate what they were doing here, as it gave people a voice, even if it was frowned upon. Still, I believed there was a way to work with the system to change it.
“So people who want to fortify their magical skills come here if they can’t afford the legal ways to become an official Upgraded. Is that what I’m getting?” I said. His eyes widened, as he drew closer. His breath was cool, dancing on the skin of my face, as he peered deep into my eyes, almost seductively. I tried to remain calm.
“Ahhh, you’re right. You know, I have this sort of sixth sense for detecting deceit. I can smell it on you,” his voice turned serpent-like.
“You’re good,” I merely responded. He backed off swiftly.
“As are you, which I like. Not sure how you got passed Rift and Tiko without the password, but I have mad respect for you having done so,” his voice returned to a more normal state. “The door is behind that big machine over there,” he pointed to a large box that looked like one of the first computers invented. “From there, say the words “By any means necessary” and the door shall open up for you. Follow the passageway down into the main room. From their you’ll pretty much know what to do. Welcome to the monastery, my new friends!” he said before slipping back into the blackness. I looked back at the twins, who were beaming with excitement. It couldn’t be helped. We were already in, so there was no point in going back. I just hoped I wouldn’t see anybody I knew here.
As told, we used the code given to us by Seth to access the hidden passageway. The inside looked like that of old ruins; the walls were made of stone, as torches lit the way. There was a spiral staircase the descended far down. To think that this was in Blueport, let alone the docks was rather amazing. After several minutes, we finally made it to the bottom.
“Oh…my…God…” Aleema and Lyn’s voices quivered. My eyes were equally wide, my jaw dropped as low as theirs. It probably didn’t help to distinguish us as newcomers, though we couldn’t help it.
“Impressive, isn’t it?” A lady said sitting on bench at the foot of the stairs said. She appeared out of place, with her cheery appearance and sweet voice. She was wearing a white, sun dress and a large hat. In her lap was a golden and black striped cat. Its coat was immaculate, and it’s aqua blue eyes were enchanting. Her soft look was certainly deceiving.
“What…is this place exactly?” I asked. She smiled, as her cat purred a most elegant purr.
“The best place in the world if you ask me,” she replied.
It was a giant hall, with hundreds of people walking around and chatting. It looked like some sort of convention for magical users. There were young people, older people, people of all different backgrounds and ethnicities. Some people wore regular clothes, some wore costumes. Others neglected to use their human forms. The walls themselves were polished stones of obsidian and tan granite. The ceilings were tall, with large, black chandeliers and torches for light. Massive columns with tribal-looking carvings stood like trees, connecting the floor and ceiling. There were many tables and booths, where people were chatting and eating food. There was also a DJ playing some ancient-sounding,and yet cinematic-like tunes. A large group of people were dancing in front of him. Still, despite the seemingly chaotic chatter of the room, you could frequently hear excited screams and cheers from the distance. It was definitely a club, and a rather popular one at that. The place managed a polished and clean look, despite looking very ancient, and people were everywhere.
“Since ya’ll are new here, Jasmyn tells me, I will be your guide for tonight,” the lady replied, as she rose to her feet. “And my name is Lille. It is my pleasure to officially welcome you to the Rubian Monastery!”