But this.. .this was something entirely different.
She arrived home late that night and was now with a new pet--no, he felt like more than that. Agnitus referred to himself as a tutor or some sort of sage of guidance, but he had just of a bad attitude as her. He'd be more of a companion, maybe. It was the last thing she thought she would've been doing that day. The said new "companion" had taken to keep himself in his solid form, resting himself on her purse and didn't budge as she opened the door and went inside to her apartment. Vivian glanced at him, snorting at the fact he was sound asleep. 'The old bird must've tired himself out from all the excitement,' she mused to herself. 'But I wonder...' she added thoughtfully, gently placing the bag on the small kitchen table before going into the breakfast nook to make herself some coffee, 'How old is he anyway?'
This was one of the many questions she had for him, Vivian made a mental note to later get a notepad to write everything down that he answered, but it wasn't one of the more pressing questions. The real question that boggled her mind since their excursion at the gas station was what exactly it was that they ran into? Her eyes followed the rising water in the coffee pot, the dark-toned coffee’s brew nearly reminding her of the dark tar-like substance dripping from that creature. It didn’t look anything like a dog or any coyote she’d ever seen. Twisted and deformed, snarling and crawling on ...what was it, four? No, more there was more than that. At one point it did have four legs, then grew six, and finally eight. Whatever the case, it creeped her out and she shook her head, knowing the less she dwelled on that thing the better off she'd feel. Her thoughts were soon interrupted when her newest roommate had made himself known by perching on himself on top of her head.
"Look just because I let you into my home doesn't mean you can start picking out your landing spots," Vivian commented without bothering to glance up at the pigeon. Agnitus didn't reply, still adjusting himself on his new spot on the red head. "Still sleepy are we?"
"When you get to be of my age, Child, you'll be glad of the little bits of sleep you get." He didn't make much of a mess on her head but perked up when the aroma of brewed coffee rose to his position. "What is that?"
"Coffee." Without moving to reaffirm the bird from her head, Vivian added a few creamers to her cup, stirred it around and took a sip. "Why, you want some?" The old bird shook his head, flapping his wings and swooping into the living room with Vivian in tow. He sat down upon the coffee table, waiting for her to sit down and he began to clear his throat. Vivian however, wasn't very attentive for the moment, rummaging through the papers she left there that morning. A few of them were just the usual advertising junk mail, some asking for subscriptions and others being for the local restaurants in town. She usually threw them away but found them rather interesting today, even the tabloid magazines. Anything at all to take her mind off of what he wanted to say, but as the minutes ticked by, the fiery-toned spirit began to clear his throat more pointedly and louder until finally giving out a loud squawk. Dryly, Vivian's silver eyes rose away from the article of a baby being born with a lottery ticket.
"Yes?" She asked, taking a sip from her coffee as though his irritated demeanor was nothing.
"Getting back to the topic at hand, you still haven't given me your answer." His amber eyes gleaming as he kept his stare upon her. "Quite frankly, I think we'd make a good team."
"That was a minor setback," Agnitus quickly quipped. "There's training involved with this and our skills won't get any better over night." His wings stretched themselves out as though he were using them as hands to further emphasis his point. "Fortunate for you, that nice young man managed to run the dark spirit off." A very curt snort came from her, but he continued on. "Many wizards just as yourself have trained with their spirits, a few of my friends have shared this with me. The all started out just like you: A novice, wet behind the ears, inexperienced--"
"I'm only telling the truth, Vivian." Hopping away from one area of the coffee table to the other, first stepping onto the magazines she had rummaged through and then onto the regular postage mail, he strutted, mirroring an old man who was in his library calculating on the next move. Trying his best as to come to the best solution of how to explain this situation better. "But it's in your blood, just as with the other wizards long ago. The same goes along with your father as well, If he didn't think this was a dangerous world that would need years of practice, he wouldn't have tried to protect you from it. Remember that, the shadow we've seen today--while small in it's own right-- is just a warning of what other troubles lie ahead. And that is why we must work together." At this point, Vivian had set the magazine and her coffee cup down, taking his words in carefully. After a moment of silence, Agnitus stopped in his pacing, turning to her slightly confused.
"And you've gone quiet again because..?"
"I really don't know about going through with all of this." Vivian leaned backward into the couch, closing her eyes. "It's a lot to take in; Just yesterday everything was normal and within twenty-four hours, it's flipped to just the opposite." She breathed out a sigh before raising a hand to rub her forehead while also pushing some of the fringe away from her face. "While I do appreciate the gesture and understanding that you had to get me up to speed, I still need time with this, all right? I'm still not sure what that..That thing even was, a shadow? Sure, but still,you expect me to give you an answer within hours of having the summary of everything."
"You'll learn in time, child. Don't worry."
"...Then why me?" There was a long pause between them, Agnitus quirking his head to the other side as though he were in thought. Vivian kept her gaze at him, her frown deepening with the passing minute figuring that the spirit wasn't too sure himself.
"I didn't spend all those years watching you to make a decision," he finally spoke. "Call it what you will, be it: Fate, Destiny, or just a personal preference. I just happen to think you and I are quite alike." From that explanation, Vivian's features softened, remembering the past night as they did have a good conversation with each other. There was also that, surprisingly, he was one of the very few she could feel and be like herself around him. It may have been a bit cliche given they hadn't known each other for very long--at least from her standpoint, he was sure he knew her since she was small--but still, there were some mysterious things that couldn't have been explained. It just happened. He seemed very intent that they work together, and despite the recent shortcomings that had happened, Agnitus stood by her and he was willing to help her through it. Which was definitely a comfort.
"Okay then," she let out a sigh, lowering her folded arms and resting them on the table behind her. "So, if we make this pact. What exactly happens? I have to make sure there's some sort of contract agreement or if I'm obligated to get you a bird cage."
"A bird cage?! That's preposterous!" Agnitus' feathers began to ruffle and he flapped his wings indignantly. "If I needed a bird cage, I wouldn't be speaking to you here now, would I? I'd be in some-some sort of--"
"Yes." His feathered brow furrowed as he cleared his throat in order to calm himself down. It didn't help any since Vivian still laughed at his little outburst. "To answer that question, no. None of any of that sort of thing would be needed. For one thing I am not a real bird, remember? I'm a--"
"A spirit, I know."
"Right. This is just the form I take," Agnitus ruffled his feathers again, the frizzy plumage loosening and settling down upon his wings. " And our ways are different, we do use a contract but it's not of the kind you'd expect. Think of it more as a tattoo."
"You're not gonna use that beak of yours to draw it on me are you?"
"Now you're just trying to make me agitated for your amusement!"
Vivian shrugged, a sly smile curling on her lips. "Maybe a little." She chuckled a for a good minute as she turned away, legs curling up onto the couch and her arms instinctively following suit as she wrapped them around. If what he said was true and that they would have to train for awhile to beat the shadows or whatever else threatened their existence out there, Vivian smiled at the thought of it. Although confusing, it sounded pretty exciting to be a part of and technically speaking, that was what she was doing already at work. Protecting others, keeping the city in check. But this was something even bigger than that. This was more than just the casino down the street, or the daycare center a few blocks over. It was an entire family of magicians who, along with their spirits, had a hand in shaping the world and keeping it in peace however they could. Somewhat exactly like what detectives and policemen do. And that made her cringe inwardly, remembering one important detail that she would have to fix before continuing in this new adventure. She'd have to pack her things, figure out where the rest of her items would go--she could always ask her dad to keep an eye on it, maybe--and then there was her job.
"Urgh." She shuddered, burying her head into her knees. How she was going to explain to the chief about needing time off after not finishing the case the right way, Vivian didn't know. Nor did she want to know. She'd rather just save that for tomorrow or another day to figure out before moving on. Lifting her head, she noticed her companion had busied himself with looking at the covers of the magazines--some were tossed to the other end of the table, and was currently eying her coffee cup.
Amused, she quirked an eyebrow and called out to him. "Yes?"
"Is that chocolate?"
"You going to finish that?"
"....No," Vivian snickered and nudged the cup towards him. "Have at it."
A few days since that night had gone by, and since then Agnitus did as he promised with helping her in what he knew. Surprisingly more useful than she had first thought, Vivian was more or less picking up on the magical terms rather quickly. While she was still unsure about having to adjust to this other side of her lineage, the first thing Vivian found troublesome was the branding. It didn't take as long as she thought, Agnitus mentioning that as soon as she had said yes, the mark was already there. Another tidbit she retorted to him that seemed pretty creepy but at the time she was more concerned with finding out where it was. Finding her little conquest in searching for it amusing, Agnitus kept his beak shut whenever she asked him where it went, so she finally gave up, knowing it'll appear in the last place she'd look. Then there was the spell that followed, though Vivian found it a little odd that Agnitus wouldn't exactly be there to actually guide her while using it. Just to let her own instincts take over, as he described it. There was still a lot to learn, but with every new thing he brought to her attention, Vivian came back with yet another question before coming to an understanding. The same had happened when the letter from her father finally appeared.
As well as another letter.
Vivian had only been expecting one, but even then, seeing it lying there on the floor near the front door that morning was confusing. She was about to get ready for her morning jog when she noticed it and it's similarly sealed twin. Agnitus appeared on her shoulder within minutes, sensing her befuddled mind.
"That was fast."
"What? Normal postage takes longer?"
"At least by a few days," she frowned, picking up the two letters from tiled area. "And that's within the same city." Turning both letters to and fro between her hands, she continued to murmur. "He doesn't even live in the same state."
"Mortals are unusual," the bird mused, lifting a wing to inspect and then ruffle for a cleaning.
"And spirits aren't?"
"Heavens, no!" Agnitus chuckled, clipping his beak as he laughed. "We have ways of reaching each other that is far more skilled and faster than your ways."
"You mean you're a carrier pigeon, too?"
"Aren't you funny?"
Vivian knew the first one was from her father, the handwriting was still recognizable after all these years. She placed it down on the table, deciding she could read that one later. The other had a different sort of handwriting, which at first only consisted of her name and address, but the return address was written in another language. Wondering if she could figure it out by looking at it closer, the moment she ran her fingers over the strange lettering did it magically change and rearrange itself. Written in a glittering and glowing yellow font were the words: DulceDomum, and under it was a location. She barely had enough time to go find a notepad to write it down before the return address vanished into the paper. Confused, she turned the letter over, opening it and the page was blank. Then, just as how the return addressed appeared, so did the letters on the parchment. She began reading quickly as the words appeared after each other, cautious that they would disappear as soon as they revealed themselves. Everything that Agnitus had told her was true, and the writer of the note seemed to be as understanding as he was to her being a novice in this new situation. Which made her feel a little better about going along with her choice to go. But as she reached the end of the letter, there was one warning that seemed to throw her off.
"Because we must be sure the Knights do not track the house down through this letter, I'm afraid it is already hexed to self destruct by the time you are done readin--"
"Wait, self-destruct?" Vivian frowned, reading the last sentence once over again. "That's oddly specific--"
Within seconds the paper went up in a flurry of flames, it's directions proving no haste into burning it's contents to prevent anyone else besides her reading it. The fire engulfed the letter so quickly, Vivian barely had enough time to react and soon the enchanted flames grew and made their way to burning whatever they touched.
First, the paper.
And then her fingers.
"GODFUCKINGDAMMIT! JESUSCHRIST-OW!" A chorus of slurs followed as the enchanted letter went off like a firecracker and singed her fingers. "Shit, that hurts!"
"He did warn you." A chuckle came from her shoulder, the old bird stretching his neck forward to inspect the "damage" the letter had brought. "Oh stop that, it's not that bad." Whatever remained of the magic letter was nothing but ashes, softly falling to the ground while it's fueled fire ceased to exist.
"You're not the one with blisters on your fingers," Vivian muttered, shaking her hands to get some air to them as she went into the kitchen. Agnitus kept his posture on her shoulder as she ran the sink's faucet to run water over her stinging hands.
"You'll live," he replied, poking the side of her neck with his beak. "Regardless of that, it wouldn't have hurt me anyway." The fire spirit hopped from his perch and landed gracefully onto the water spout so he would be in her line of view. "However it's good for you to understand how important it is for you to harness this, since it will be your main element. Fire is in essence, a power that's usually used for destruction and not for any frivolity. Some can use it to their advantage in making it more a supportive trick than a cumbersome hindrance. It's dangerous but with time--and my assistance, you'll be controlling it like a charm."
"I'd like keep my fingers together and just take notes rather than getting them burned and having a lecture, thank you," the redheaded woman grumbled unamused. Reaching over to one of the drawers near the sink, she drew out some band-aids and ointment, turned off the water spout, and went to work on mending her hands. Even if it was for safety measures, this was not what she had expected to be the start of this journey. Getting burned was definitely not on her list of things to do today.
"At least this will help you learn to have a better reaction time. Remember--"
"There's going to be a lot of remembering with this, isn't there?" Vivian quickly interjected, becoming familiar to when the spirit was going to go off into another lecture. She looked up from her busy work, quietly giggling at him looking taken aback from her comment.
"Yes. Quite." As usual, he cleared his throat and shook his feathers. "Now that you've fixed yourself, are you ready?" There was a nod for his reply. "Did the letter say where you needed to go?" Another nod and Vivian turned away heading out of the kitchen, leaving into the hallway to go towards her room. Not wanting to be behind, Agnitus took to the air, flying behind her and resting himself onto what seemed to become his new favorite spot on her right shoulder.
"Well? Child, don't leave me in the dark!"Clearly not bothered by his impatience, Vivian kept quiet until there was a tilt at the ends of her mouth where a grin began to grow.
"Ever been to Death Valley?"