Hamish awoke early the next morning with a splitting hangover. He sat on the edge of his bed, and managed to mumble a spell that numbed the pain, but did nothing for the dry mouth and blurred vision. He’d just started his morning ablutions when a sharp rap at his front demanded attention. Despite the urgent knocking, he leisurely finished washing his face and brushing his teeth before answering. He opened the door, scowling, and the runner from Control blanched white. He’d heard of Montrose, and the reputation he’d been garnering as a dangerous man. He satanic features confirmed it to the terrified boy. He thought he’d come face to face with the devil himself.
Montrose smiled at the lad’s reaction. The reputation simultaneously stroked his ego, and made things easier. Being a feared wizard caused others to hesitate. It also gave him an edge in dealing with those in Control’s politics. Everyone thought twice about facing a man with a reputation. It didn’t hurt that the reputation was earned. He’d done his share of dirty work. Hunting dissidents, magical castings, executions, assassinations, research, he’d done what his superiors had ordered. The success he’d had helped build and broaden his noteriety.
It was for the right thing. This world needed those ruthless enough to save it. Magic had created this world, and placed it here for those strong enough to hold it and care for it. He would defend it, and protect it against anyone, or anything that tried to change it. He broke from his reverie to focus his gaze back on the boy. He had the tan stripe on his pants. He was a walking sacrificial lamb, and didn’t know it. He smiled wider, enjoying the pulse of fear coming from the boy. “Come in, explain why you’re pounding on my door.” The boy entered and stood rigidly at attention. “Yellowjakket surfaced last night in South London, Charing Cross. She attacked two press gangs, and when pursued, she fled south. The last report was a sighting near Beddington Park.”
“Lost her, did they?” He pondered the information. Yellowjakket had operated generally around London and the southern counties. The numerous reports should have been able to narrow the primary areas to two or three most likely places for her operations. Instead, it had confused things further. There was no pattern to her appearance and disappearance. Worse, she’d made fools of Control. People were starting to get ideas, and ideas were dangerous. Ideas meant someone remembered the past, and might try to change things.
His gaze hardened. Yellojakket was the cause of all this. Kill her and the resistance would topple. The problem with that idea came round again to the fact nothing could pinpoint a location as a possible base. He stepped aside and ordered the boy, “Stand over there.” He’d need energy if he was to face that meta. Her and her explosive teleportation. He mumbled a spell quietly. The ring sprang up around the boy, locking him in the hidden circle as Montrose intoned the last syllable. His eyes widened, and he screamed. He tried to rush out of the circle, and hit the shimmering wall, causing him to rebound back towards the center.
He begged Montrose, pled on his knees, crying for release. Hamish just watched with a satisfied smile as the spell began to take him. He didn’t have time to beg any more as the spell began to kill him by slow inches. He screamed his throat raw as thick strips of flesh were torn from him and dissolved away. Early on, the mages found that a sacrifice was more powerful when done while in the grip of a powerful emotion. Fear was the easiest to create in their experience. While it wasn’t the most powerful of emotions, it was strong, and that strength could be harvested.
There were a number of masterful casters who could prolong the fear to pull the greatest power from the sacrifice, but Montrose preferred to do his own casting, rather than accept a token of power that might have any number of compulsions or hidden tricks added in. Especially when someone wanted an advancement in position, but could not because another was already there. It was why his rise had been so swift in comparison. He didn’t trust his own kind at all. Anyone who wanted power was someone not to be trusted.
The boy’s cries faded as blood loss finally forced him to lose consciousness. His body rapidly dissolved and the essence of the lad floated in a greenish yellow ball centered in the circle. Montrose dropped the wall, and stepped into the circle. He moved so that his body pressed against the ball of magic, then he concentrated, opening himself and letting the essence fill him with energy. He felt invigorated. His magical aura was at peak strength. He was ready. It was time to find this chit, and deal with her permanently.