A bit more of the Magi Modern AU. Poor Ja’far. The rukh did mean nasty things to him reincarnating…. Who Simon is should be pretty obvious. Hee.
“Well, well.” Simon tapped the quite real sword at his side, bestowing the look of a man upon whom the gods have smiled to the black-clad pair trying to drag themselves up out of scorched mulch. “Trespassers.”
“Be careful,” Ja’far murmured. “This could be a fair fight.” The bruised black-haired woman had the look of a ki-using martial artist. And from the way the rukh swirled about the other, silver-black as a haunted thundercloud… if the man with the overly dramatic coat and broken collarbone wasn’t a magician – a powerful one – he’d eat off his daggers. Their unwelcome guests had shattered the wards around Hancock High like they’d dropped through a glass spiderweb; he’d barely had time to grab Simon and run here, hoping the uproar in the rukh wouldn’t lead them to corpses.
No bodies. But anyone who’d broken his wards was definitely not a friend.
Two on two; much more even odds than he preferred, ever. But right now there weren’t any innocent bystanders, so he could pull out as many underhanded tricks as he liked.
There were innocent bystanders, though. Ja’far let his gaze just brush over the scorch marks on the mulch; fire magic, definitely. Or mostly innocent, he amended, catching sight of the dent in the shed wall. The only people that could have made that and walked away were a full-strength Fanalis, a highly-advanced magoi user… or someone with a Vessel. The situation is moving faster than I thought.
Maybe he’d had too much of a breather, these past few years running Hancock High with Simon. The man lived such a quiet life.
…Well. In comparison to several lives ago. Oh dear.
“Who are you?” the magician said coldly.
“Oh, I think that should be my line,” Simon said easily. “But since you asked. Simon Cavins, school principal, ex-stunt fencer, and general ladies’ man.” He winked at the martial artist. Who looked like she’d just spotted a scorpion in her shoes, after she’d put them on. “Which means I’m responsible for the safety of my students on school grounds. And if that means warning off people who shouldn’t be here….” Fingers tapped near his hilt. “I guess someone has to do it. And you?”
The magician looked past Simon. Never a good idea. “And you?”
Normally his wards would have warned Ja’far of approaching strangers while they were still far away enough for him to take precautions, even if they were idiots out from the naval base pushing their vehicle to its redline. This time there’d been no warning before the wards had been smashed. He and Simon had barely had time to get here; Ja’far hadn’t had time to raise the careful weave of subtle spells that hid his magic whenever there was reason to be wary.
And their opponent was an experienced magician. Meaning he’d seen enough to know the glimmer of gold in Ja’far’s own silver rukh wasn’t… normal. Not in this world.
“Oh, he never gives names on the first date,” Simon said easily.
Not that it would matter much if Simon did give them his legal name, Ja’far knew. Zvezdilin was effectively an alias; and given most of his students couldn’t even pronounce it, any curse that might try to ensnare it would be seriously weakened.
“This is school property,” Simon went on, “and you’re not members of my staff or parents of any of my students. I know all of them. Now. Do you want to tell me what you’re doing here, or do we call the police.” Simon’s smile edged a little wider. “Of course, you know what they say. When seconds count, the police are minutes away.”
“Is that meant to be a threat, Principal Cavins?” For a man who ought to be writhing in pain from shattered bones, the magician was remarkably self-possessed.
Well trained, then. Ja’far’s eyes narrowed. And probably much older than he looks.
Though it was the woman who might be the wild card. He knew enough about magic to be prepared for how an injured magician might strike out. But there was something he didn’t recognize in her stance. And that worried him.
“Threat? Why would I threaten anyone?” Simon’s own stance shifted; not a threat, but a promise. “I’m an educator. And no one strays onto school grounds without getting an education.”