Damian, Lani and The Manor
Since coming to the city several years ago, the Mage first established his true home. The city building and residence was merely a front for his activities, it kept him close to the others like him in the city, and practically next door to the Nephandus he’d been tracking down, and eventually eliminating. Here, out in the middle of nowhere, he paid off with contract monies, the land for a training sanctuary. Once the home to ascetics, who now serve the mage’s cause… Damian pulled up in the Humvee and parked it just outside in the home’s semi circle lot.
She had ridden in the passenger seat next to him in silence, watching the scenery for the most part, curious as to what he had in store for her. It was good not to have to dance for a living anymore, being his secretary for him for these last few months had opened more doors for her than dancing ever would have. But there was still something that kept nagging her in the back of her mind that she couldn’t quite get a handle on. The night he asked her to keep watch at the dead woman’s apartment kept haunting her. She knew she could talk to him about it, but wasn’t sure how to approach him. Lani looked at him for a moment, then back out the window, lost in thought.
“It isn’t very pleasant out here, but it is comfortable. It’s secluded and really only used by those faces you’ll see at the business.” Two hooded figures descended the staircase, a wide hemisphere about eighty feet at its base that was made of worked stone. The slight layer of dew gave the old stone structure a fresh look. They stood by quietly, as if on call, as Damian walked around to open her door. “You can forget about most of the outside world when you’re here. It’s certainly easy for it to forget us.” The smell of the grounds was fairly clean, fresh, but still worldly. None of the decay of the city, but of nature. The place was old.
Lani stepped out of the vehicle, looking at him for a moment, then around the grounds, almost as if she didn’t want to look into his eyes right now. “Seclusion can be good sometimes. I think it’s beautiful out here.” She followed him, her attention still more on the surroundings than on him. She glanced at the two coming down the stairs, then up to Damian, her eyes full of questions, though she remained silent, thoughtful.
His eyes were lensed still, as always, and the impeccable black attire, though military in cut, was grim and impossibly black. He would be a shadow, lost to the night, or to the low hanging fog if he chose to be. Yes, it can be. It’s why I was here in Magid to begin with. Your bags will be brought up, don’t worry about them. As I have said, a few of the staff come out here to enable us to work and study. I only ask that you keep the firearm I gave you on yourself as much as humanly possible.” He stepped aside enough to let her out, then led the way up the staircase. If she were vigilant enough, she would notice that the robed figures here carried some kind of armament beneath their humble garments.
The phrasing ‘as humanly possible’ bothered her for a moment, but that, too, she pushed to the back of her mind to ponder later, along with the shapes under the robes. The place seemed well protected, as she came to learn, any place that Damian owned always would be. That was just the way he was. A small smile formed on her lips for a moment, only to be dropped as she felt him looking at her, her expression going back to that thoughtful look as she followed him. Lani glanced back over her shoulder, watching the two retrieve things from the Humvee as she fought the urge to grab her bags herself. She adjusted the strap of her purse on her shoulder, unconsciously pulling it closer in front of her and hanging on to it as though someone would try to take it from her. After a few steps, she seemed to realize what she was doing and relaxed, remembering that Damian would never let anything happen to her. She still couldn’t figure out if her reactions were because he had saved her life that night, or if it was something more. Yet another thing she would tuck neatly into the back of her mind to ponder later.
He led her to a lengthy, dark stone hallway, smooth cut and simple grey, lit by torch sconces. He brought them through an antechamber, round and guarded, to the kitchen. The work he had started long ago had been finished, finally, and it had been one of the few rooms in the fortress that were ‘up to date’. “Is Little Johnny fine?” Damian turned in the kitchen, stopping short of one of the doors that led out of it, opposite the one they entered through.
She stopped for a moment and closed her eyes, concentrating on Johnny Jr., then nodded and opened her eyes to finally take a look around the kitchen. “He’s fine. He’s getting strong, like his father. He’s starting to talk and get into everything, like every child his age.” She didn’t like to cook often, but thought it sure as hell would be nice to have a kitchen like this to cook in instead of the tiny one she had in her apartment. Walking around the kitchen slowly, she began to commit to memory where everything was, from the dishes to the silverware to the cups, making note of anything that could be used for a weapon if need be for later. She paused, wondering why she would think of something like that. She knew she was safe here, there was no need to think of weapons, yet she did. Yet another thing to file away and think about later.
“Yes, as they tend to do. You know, you’re more than welcome to bring him here if need be. I can also arrange to bring your sitter. It’s really not a problem,” he told her as he watched her quietly pace the kitchen.
She thought about it for a few moments, then nodded as she looked up at him. “I think… I think I would be much more comfortable with that. I haven’t been away from him for more than a night since he was born. Never been able to afford to, actually. At least with him here, I would be able to check in on him. Thank you, Mr. Black.” Even here she wasn’t sure whether to call him by his first name.
“You’re fine. As I said, if need be we can have him brought here. The facilities here are accommodating enough for ten families.”
An arched eyebrow went up. “Ten? I didn’t realize that many men on the teams had families.”
“Those whom you will see here, do not. I merely said the space… at any rate, what you’ll be getting into, to start, is the field. Your dancing has you at a distinct advantage when it comes to breathing, but there’s a few other lessons you’ll have to learn in order to fully clear your mind.
She merely nodded at him. “And when are we going to start?”
“Your things should be in your room, so go get into something comfortable for a run.”
“Um…” She looks around, a little lost. “And my rooms would be where, exactly?”
“I have a task for you. Go ahead and take a look around. Feel your way to it. You’ll get started after you figure it out.”
A small smile forms on her lips as she tilts her head for a moment, considering. Still smiling, she passes Damian and walks through the door, adding a little extra sway to her hips as she lets her mind wander a little. It was almost like finding her keys when she had lost them. Remembering that, she remembered that her favorite ring was in one of her bags and her smile grew. She pictured her ring, remembered placing it in the bag, then felt for the warmth of the ring. It took her a few frustrating minutes before she sat on the floor with a huff and crossed her legs. Her grandfather’s voice came to her mind, “Nothing is impossible… Just breathe deep and feel your way. Feel the energy around you. Follow the energy.” Follow the energy. She cleared her mind, ignoring the uncomfortable feel of the people she did not know, and followed the energy of the ring. As she wandered, she’d open doors if she could, poking her head into rooms to see what was there, making a mental note of what was where. After the third or fourth room, she stopped ignoring the tingly feeling in the back of her mind and started to remember the feel of the room as well as what was in it. A voice inside her head kept asking, “Where would Damian put me?”