Kyle dried the last of the water off his face with his sleeve and tried to think. Or, rather, he tried to think of something other than the fact that there was apparently this whole other side to magic that he’d never previously considered. A side that possible dodged scale factor, and… And he had no idea what else. He now knew two tekhnikos, he couldn’t begin to imagine what the others might be, or even how many of them there were. They were apparently dangerous and… And he was getting side tracked again. He had to focus.
When was their presence at the courthouse reported? Probably a full 30 minutes if someone had been watching the parking lot and reported in when Jessie’s car had pulled up. Maybe 20 if the call had only gone in after they’d passed through security, and the conversation with the Registrar had only lasted 10 minutes though it had felt like more.
Best case, if they ran now, they might make it out before anyone could arrive. Worst case someone would be there already, but maybe they hadn’t had a lot of time to set up. Running seemed like a good option. “Let’s go,” Kyle said.
The exit had an alarm. Kyle hesitated, but Jessie passed him and hit it without slowing down. An ear-splitting wail that was surely audible across the entire floor sounded. Kyle hurried into the stairwell after Jessie before anyone could come to investigate. The door fell shut behind him, and the alarm cut off. Apparently, it didn’t trigger the entire building’s system. The stairwell was made of the same stone as the rest of the building and it echoed loudly with Jessie’s feet hurrying away ahead of him.
Kyle ran down the stairs after her and only just managed to catch up before the ground floor. He grabbed her shoulder, “Wait! I should go first.”
She turned back to face him moving fast enough her hair flew out to the side, “Why?”
That was actually kind of a good question. Even if IP bounty hunters were waiting outside they probably weren’t attacking everyone who left the building. She should be safe. Still, it didn’t seem smart to take the risk, and this was his problem. “Because, I have magic to defend myself, and you have access to the car. Can you get it started from here?”
She nodded and reached into her purse. She probably had an app on her phone to summon the vehicle. It was an older model, so it might not be able to manage more complex tasks, but basically every autodrive system was smart enough to come to its owner.
“Alright, hang back and get it over to the door. I’ll poke my head out and see what we’re going to have to run through to get away.”
Kyle shut his eyes, tried to find magic, and utterly failed. His heart was pounding, his breath came in gasps, and the only thing he saw on the inside of his eyes was blankness speckled with the after image of the courthouse stairwell. He opened his eyes again and tried to relax.
“I’ve got the car coming, but it can’t get close. We’re in a restricted zone.” She held up her phone. The car’s app was up showing the location it would park and the building. It was about 30 yards from the door. That was a fairly normal traffic denial zone for a government building.
“It probably doesn’t matter. Give me a minute and I’ll get a spell going.”
Kyle closed his eyes again. This time he worked through the focus exercises he’d been taught in college during his Introduction to Magic class. First, he made a fist and focused on his pulse in it willing it to slow. With the thudding in his chest tamed his breathing automatically slowed. He sat and mentally ran his mind along his body relaxing every muscle that wasn’t required to keep him from sliding down the stairs. Finally, he closed his eyes and sat for a moment in the much softer darkness.
Then he reached for magic again. This time he found it. It was as vast as ever, a river of power that rushed across the entirety of the earth. But, no, that was wrong. The power was so much more than that. The Earth floated on it like a twig spinning through rapids. He drew in as much as he could. It was scarcely a drop yet it filled him with buzzing power. His mind spiraled out and if he focused he could feel the texture of the stone stairs or the molecules that made that texture up. He opened his eyes and the world had the faint amber tint that probably meant they were glowing.
Kyle started to offer his prayer to Raven, and then realized something. “Crap,” he muttered.
“I can’t see the sun.”
“This is important because?”
“I bought this defensive spell when I realized I might be having to face off against IP bounty hunters. It’s a stun thing, but the last part of casting the spell involves cupping your hand around the sun and I can’t see the sun.”
“Could you just cup your hand where the sun would be?”
Kyle shook his head. He didn’t strictly know that was true, of course, if the original inventor of the spell would have considered the meaning of cupping the location of the sun to be the same regardless of the visibility of the sun then it would work just fine. Still, he highly doubted the original shaman had been that tapped into solar positioning. It was getting close to noon and he thought the door had an eastern exposure, “I’ll start the spell then open the door to finish it. We don’t even know anyone is out there. It’ll work.”
Jessie didn’t look convinced, but they didn’t have a better plan. Kyle crossed to the door, worked his way through the prayer, and then jerked the door open and looked up. The sun was high in the sky and only a few degrees from being hidden behind the building. Kyle snatched it out of the sky and his hand filled with energy. This time it was crackling white flame the color of the mid-day sun. Kyle wondered if it would be any more potent. The spell’s description hadn’t said anything about that.
Then the heavy security door was jerked out of his hand, slammed loudly against the side of the building, and covered in a wash of green light. Kyle dove away from the door. Unfortunately, the movement carried him out into the parking lot and away from the slight safety of the building. There, crouched behind a car just outside of the exclusion zone was a man in a suit. The man might have been the same one who’d attacked him at the Old Mine. Kyle wasn’t sure. He only got a brief look before his attention was drawn to the monster at the man’s side.