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Spirits on the Run

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1

Lucy was racing against time itself it seemed. When would she crack, when would she forget something, when would she give in and lose to the tyranny crashing down on her? 

Of course, she was literally running as well. The stalls of the vendors selling this and that flashed by in a blur as Lucy winded through the crowds of buyers on the narrow European streets. She couldn’t tell how far behind the people chasing her were. Spirits , times like this was when she wished she had some sensing power, like a scent or a proximity alerter.

Her breaths became more shallow, she tried to even them out, taking a sharp left turn, and accidently knocking a latte out of some teenagers hand. The teen yelled but Lucy paid no attention, focusing on losing the trail. 

It was her fault after all. Her spirits just had to send a powerburst that alerted the authorities where she was while she was in the middle of roaming the streets, gathering intel and charming pervy men into giving her good deals on pricey items. 

She heard a shout from behind her and whistles being blown, which was never a good sign. Taking a right turn into a narrower alley way that’s deserted except for the smell of piss and rotten trash cans, she pulled her bag off her shoulders and grabbed out two small knives. The good part about her spirits sending a burst of power meant that she could do things most humans may find tricky. 

With no time to lose she began digging the knives into the brick wall to her right, just enough so she could heave herself up and balance her feet on the ridges between the bricks. With inhumane pace she scaled the wall, making it onto the rooftop and shoving the knives back into her pack. She laid flat, her breaths coming out short and uneven. Begging them to quiet down she strained her ears, listening for the authorities. The noise of the whistle makes its way down the alleyway and gets further. 

After what felt like decades she lifted her head up and peered over the side, glancing about. No one in sight. She sighed, standing up onto the rooftop- and that’s when she saw him. 

Him? It? She wasn’t sure. He was a couple rooftops away, standing straight and staring straight at her. He-or it’s- hair is a bright salmon, and it’s body is built as if it knows the pains of battle firsthand. Even from afar she could see the black bitterness of his eyes. Lucy shivered, finding herself looking for only a few more seconds before taking a running jump across the rooftop to the one right next to it, away from the creature. 

While she hopped the narrow rooftops, she found herself constantly glancing back, the figure still in the same place, slowly growing smaller as she got further away. Why didn’t it move? Why didn’t it chase? She prayed to the Spirits that it didn’t work for the authorities. If it did, Spirits save her, she was doomed. Either way, when Lucy reached the rooftop on the outskirts of town that belonged to the  shabby motel she had been staying in, she decided it was time to leave this down.

- ♏ - 

Lucy was a captive. Captive of her own mind and soul, yes, but also in a more literal sense. 

It had been years since her childhood home became illegal. Since she, as a human being, became illegal. She got the magic from her mother, Layla. She was wicked crazy, Lucy had heard, though she couldn’t say for certain. She’d never met her, only heard stories from her spirits about her. 

  No, not ghost spirits, Celestial Spirits. They’re the 12 Zodiac signs along with some others. They were banished from Lucy’s world long ago, and she’s never seen any of them in physical form, but she sees them in her dreams, and they’re constantly in her ears. They love to tell her what she’s doing right and what she’s doing wrong; give her ‘advice’. 

The problem is, they just throw their power at her in random spurts, and she didn’t get to choose when she wanted to suppress the power. Since they got trapped in their world and banished from Lucy’s, when she requested for a boost in magic power verses when they hear her call is dependent on what time they were in, as the time in the celestial world was completely different. This resulted in random surges of magic power and a lack of said powers at some times. 

Lucy tried to keep as much as she needs pooled inside herself, like potential energy, stored to become kinetic. She saved it for when it’s needed. 

Of course, the past occurrence was not one of the times it was needed, which just made it that much worse for Lucy. 

She was in the motel she’d been in for the past two nights. Normally she’d switch every week and just go from one town to another close town. Not this time though. This time she needs to get the hell out of the area, maybe even the country. She knew full well just what the government would do to her when they find her. Not to mention the pink-haired magic user. 

Lucy knew he’s been tracking her, her magic can sense him. She figured he has her scent, since his magic seems to be versed in that area. Chance’s were he was a dragonslayer or a requipper or close to that high calibur magic based off of the aura and his eyes. She’d prefer to avoid that strong of magic, especially if he was one of the dogs of the government. They loved to recruit extremely-high powered magic users to hunt down the Celestial’s. But, even if he wasn’t working for the government, who’d want to deal with someone that powerful?

The television stations and news radios were broadcasting her outburst everywhere. Some kid got a picture of her burst, and the light is clear in the photo, and it was Lucy’s special light, though anyone not versed in magical knowledge couldn’t sense a difference. She figured leaving the country was the best option, before either the government or the pink haired boy find her. 

Of course though, at the time she couldn’t feel any magic power in her bones beside the amount she kept stored, which proves just great. She could attempt to get on a train and country hop, but that’d mean having to do so without being identified, equating to lots of hiding and celestial jumping. Sighing, she flipped off the telly and stood up off the creaking mattress of the motel room, reaching onto the desk and grabbing her small bag containing all her belongings: her mom’s keys, the remaining cash from the job she had at the market, two small daggers that come in handy in hand-to-hand combat and wall climbing, her now powerless whip, and the photo of her parents and her right after she was born.

Though the keys didn’t have access to the spirits like they would if the doors between the celestial world and Lucy’s world weren’t closed, if the doors were to finally be opened, she could use the keys to call to her spirits. Plus, it was the only thing of her mom’s she still possessed, and she liked to collect keys when she can. People gave them out, since they were useless, and they were easy to steal.

She pulled on a pair of boots, shoving the brown door open, and slipped the bag around her back. That morning she’d been lazy and had just thrown on jeans, a tee shirt that had ‘ salamander’ written on the front in blazing red letters and a grey zip-up hoodie, topped off with the tattered boots and jeans. She didn’t adore the look, but she didn’t feel like going and stealing any other clothes.

Sighing, she headed down the concrete stairs that led to the backside of the motel. When the stairs came to an end Lucy whipped the hood of the sweatshirt over her head, deciding should probably cut and dye her hair as well. Brunette was never really her style, anyways. She put her hands into the sweatshirt pockets, dropped her shoulders, attempting to make her body language clear: leave me alone. Lucy wished she had the senses of an elemental mage or any type of ‘regular’ mage, for that matter. She could sense things much better. But no, she just has voices in her head.

The problem was, because of the complex system set up by the authorities, once a magic user had seen Lucy’s celestial spirit burst, they had all the information they needed to know every detail about her, in that moment of the burst.
When the Celestials were outlawed, and the doors were finally closed, the authorities were having trouble tracking the celestials down for the exact reason they have trouble finding Lucy: they look, seem, and smell normal. The only thing that ever made them distinct before the split was the aura the spirits gave them. After the split, the aura disappeared, even if their powers didn’t fully disappear. So, to cope with this, a powerful wizard that could read and interpret all languages and use letter script magic in the air developed a formula to learn most traits of a celestial mage by what their released power during phase looked like. Using this certain letter script formula, the authorities probably already knew Lucy’s name, appearance, home, school, etc. 

Clever, and destructive. But, since it just told the user “brown hair, collarbone length”, they only had what an artist can put together based on the facts, not a real picture. So, if all of a sudden Lucy no longer had brown collarbone length hair, it would become easier to confuse them. In clearer terms the user of the formula reads a description of the Celestial, instead of seeing a picture. So, even if the artist’s drawing was spot on, changing up all one could about themself is a helpful tactic Lucy learned from watching celestial mages being caught over and over again. 

Deciding changing her hair was exactly what she was going to do, Lucy began towards the East side of the city. She knew it well, since she spent a few months in the city. She figured she’d change her look and then continue East. According to geography, she would hit Some Czech or Polish farmland. If she hid out in that area, she’d have a higher chance of re-grouping and going somewhere new or even finding a way to get the western hemisphere. 

The back alleys were pretty empty, although Lucy couldn’t recall what day of the week it was, so there was a high chance it wasn’t a weekend. Her mind wandered as she slips through the shadows, her soul so practiced in the art of staying hidden. 

Lucy didn’t understand why the pink haired boy hadn’t attacked yet. She was aware he’d been following her and could possibly find her before she has the chance to get away from the authorities. So why hadn’t he made a move? 

The authorities had a name, as they are a mixture of plenty of people. They had different magic users from all approved guilds. They were called the Magic Council, and each approved guild was allowed four spots on the council, regardless of gender or magical power levels and all the traits that make people different. They were extremely powerful. They have eyes everywhere and every type of mage represented. The ultimate tyrant, and half the world didn’t even know it. Sure, magic wasn’t something lost to the public, but most people didn’t have it, so their ability to sense power was almost none. To regular people, the council was just normal- the authorities, government, call them what you will. What ordinary people didn’t know was that almost every government in the world was run by the magic council. 

Lucy halted after treading a few blocks, seeing a small gas station with a drug store right next to it. Bingo. She pulled her hood tighter up over her hair, shoving it all behind her head and tightening the strings, hoping to look like a junkie not worth bothering. 

The crosswalk symbol lit up, her feet moving for her. A few cars littered the streets, and the sky was a dull grey, reflecting her mood in a well done manor, though it was her constant mood. She wasn’t really sad anymore. Her emotions were just dull, as if they weren’t even there anymore, or didn’t exist.

When she reached the station’s shop, she pushed the door open and nodded to the guy sitting at the counter giving her a once over she knew too well. She walked towards the back of the store, ignoring the creep’s gross glare, making her way through the aisles, until she reached where the hair dye was located. 

Skimming the boxes of dye, Lucy realised the only options were brown and blonde. Figured. She scowled at the boxes, as if they could see her slight frustration and magically switch colours. So be it. Sighing, she picked up the blonde option, since she’d been a brunette for a while now. Platinum blonde. Definitely good for stealth and hiding. 

She made her way to the register, grabbing a six-pack of top ramen on the way, and laid the food and dye on the counter in front of the creepy attendant. He swiped the items and Lucy handed him a 20 euro in return. Damn, she was almost out of money. Her eyes darted to the outside as he sorts out the cash, not wanting to watch him, and she finds her body going into alert mode, sensing something is off. 

The man handed her the change and she muttered a quick thank you before making her way to the back of the building where she could see a sign for the toilets. Bursting through the door, she was vaguely aware of the stench of urine and rotten cigarette buds as she ripped open the hair dye package, not bothering to put the gloves on that protect skin from getting dyed. 

The mirror wasn’t clean, and she could only see a sheen half-reflection of herself staring back at her. She noticed then that she looked like a nervous wreck, pupils much too big and eyes bright red. She really had to get herself in check, or people would definitely be wary of her if she looked too much like a threat or criminal.

She began at her hair, scooping up the hair dye in handfuls and, as carefully as her shaky hands could manage, running the dye through her hair strands, covering them completely. She found herself humming and old song the other Celestials used to sing and was so preoccupied in her hair dying that she didn’t notice a figure looming in the back of the bathroom until she turned to her bag to get out the daggers to cut the hair. 

“Celestial wizards know the old folk tunes as well, who’d have thought?” Lucy jumped, her heart in her throat, finding herself eye-to-eye with the pink haired creature.