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New Players In The Pattern
Aria never came back to collect the journals. By now Asha had finished digitising them, and curiosity had spurred her to read them cover to cover, fascinated by the world she uncovered -- enough that she had already begun poring over them a second time. This afternoon she'd retreated to the solitary peace of her bed, curled with book and blanket and a pillow squashed under her chest. When El was out she often tried to avoid Damien, not through any particular dislike on her part (though she was keenly aware of Elias's feelings), but because of the way he made her both uncomfortable and fluttery. The smooth velvet of his voice had a way of twining its way through her head. It didn't even matter what he said; her cheeks felt a constant burn when he was around.

She'd drowsed off at some point during her reading, face mashed against the crook of her arm, but woke up to the buzz of her wallet. The room was awash with darkness but for the glow of the message. Asha groaned, slicking the tangle of hair from her face and blinking back grogginess. It was Elias. She could almost feel the growl of the words, like the frustration seeped through the ether.

Asha Wrote:We WILL find a way.

Though they hadn't. He was used to her eternal optimism by now though.
It took everything in Aiden’s power to remain on the ground; the deafening clap of thunder felt as if it’s origin point was right next to his ears. For a moment, Aiden could hear nothing but a sharp ringing in both ears. He took his free hand up to his temple and rubbed at it, Sage’s hand tightening on his own. Aiden worried that Sage was frightened, he would do everything in his power to protect Sage. Any self-respecting man would do the same for his date.

                The fairy fire above Aiden’s head split into ten smaller orbs; they began dancing overhead in large, frantic circles, reflecting Aiden’s anxiety. One or two started darting lower, catching his attention. His eyes bulged as he finally noticed.

                “Ah, shit!” He exclaimed at the sight of the fairy fire. “Not here!”

                The interaction between Sage and Elias finally registered in Aiden’s mind and his eyes widened further, “Oh, wow. Not that I doubted you, handsome, but… Wow!” That would be incredibly useful. What else could Sage do? Aiden pulled his hand from Sage’s grip and slipped his arm around Sage’s shoulder instead, pulling him tightly to his side in a protective gesture.

                Aiden shifted his attention from his date and over to Elias. The look on his face was a familiar one. Aiden himself had often worn that look after his big-budget blockbuster flopped; never before then. His life had been too blessed to ever deal with any serious angst; fate had fixed that fact for him, though.

                “Yeah, dude, no harm no foul. Didn’t mean anything by it. I dig the coat, by the way… Did you… uh… just… you know?” Aiden asked Elias, miming a thunderstrike with his hands, although it was a bad pantomime. Aiden would be lucky if Elias caught the meaning. “You don’t seem to be too surprised by the fairy fire around me… So I just thought…”

Russian Dolls and Broken Gods, a new Fantasy novel by best-selling author, Aiden Finnegan, out this December! Preorder online and instore today!
Elias was smugly satisfied by the skittery jumps the thunder elicted. To be honest, had hadn’t meant for it to be so loud. If only to avoid the next hour of ringing in his ears.

These two huddled together like pups in a thunderstorm, though. Oddly enough, only the dog seemed unphased. Another reason to prefer dogs to people, not that he needed more.

What kind of people ‘meant nothing’ when throwing jokes at his expense. He might have been more willing to hear them out, but the soft blanket of sympathy that draped their expressions crushed any such will. 

What kind of right did they have to feel sorry for him? Try to make him feel like an idiot for defending his own honor after they trod it into the dirt?

The black rims of his eyes flared to wide circles when the fire balls splintered. Was the guy trying to be threatening?

Elias’ shadowy gaze fixated upon them and spun cuffs of liquid water with the intention to snuff them all out. 

The ensuing compliment took him off-guard, though. These two acted like they’d bumped shoulders in a crowded street, not dangling bait to see how he could wriggle to clamp onto the hidden hook.

Were they really that naive to think their disrespectful behavior wasn’t offensive? Maybe this was typical city people behavior. Elias had been fooled before. Nobody so much as looked sideways at each other in Kenab, UT and not just because they were all too mormon to be rude. 

The power of Rage bristled beneath the surface, but Elias kept it under control. For now. He didn't answer the rhetorical question. Who else would have clapped the thunder? The guy buried in his shoulder? Or maybe it was the dog. “Who are you guys anyway? And why do you know so much about me?” He was a good person, he told himself. Asha would give them the benefit of the doubt. She’d probably find the whole encounter a welcome intrusion.
Aiden put his arm around his shoulders, which wasn't all that awkward. Sage leaned into the other man. He wasn't weak, but he wasn't strong either. He knew that. Sage preferred to stay behind the computer, people weren't his thing. Sage tucked his arm under Aiden's around his waist and watched as Elias doused Aiden's flames. Sage liked the way Aiden smelled and if they'd not been on the brink of a fight he'd have said something or nuzzled his neck, but for now it was just a comfort. Sage was okay with his perceived insecurities and weakness.

"We aren't anybody." Sage said. If Elias didn't recognize Aiden that was for the best. Aiden was hiding after all. Sage pulled out his wallet which was running the results of the facial recognition software he'd written on it. He wasn't running it there, it was just a display for someone to read. Sage offered up his lie, "I'm just playing with a facial recognition program on my wallet, these new contacts are pretty sweet." And they were. Nox hated them, preferred the land warriors, Sage chuckled to himself at the thought of Nox sticking his finger in his eye. But Sage liked the contacts, he just didn't have them in. He didn't need sensors to run the software, his own eyes worked just as well. You just can't zoom in on things. Which was fine with Sage.

Sage scrolled into some information "It's all public record." Sage showed Elias his own image with the corresponding information in the forefront. "See?"

convert binary | biography
With a loud exhale, Aiden said to Elias, “Thanks for that… I can’t control the fairy fire, unfortunately… pesky things, ya know? Don’t really need strangers seeing it and asking questions. I didn’t know people could do that with water. Impressive.” He offered the other man a genuine smile, trying to defuse the tension. Aiden would fight if things got physical, but he didn’t like the idea of being drowned in the middle of the street; especially on a first date.

                Sage slipped his arm around Aiden’s waist in response to his own shifting of positions. The smile he wore on his face grew a little wider at the gesture. Even though Sage was an inch or two taller than Aiden, he felt like their bodies fit nicely together and they hadn’t even gotten into bed yet. More fairy fire likely would’ve appeared if not for the tension. Aiden started regretting not taking that picture sooner.

                The lie came easily from Sage’s lips and Aiden only nodded along. Well, it wasn’t exactly a lie, Sage was ‘playing around’ with his hardware. Jumping in, Aiden tried to corroborate, “Yeah, I didn’t believe him about the program. Not much of a tech guy, myself. It’s just so shocking what these things can do! I see you've got a wallet of your own. I'm sure you've got some pretty sick programs on there too.”

                Lasher walked up to Elias and started sniffing at his leg. The golden-haired pup looked up at the man and wagged his tail, “Well, Lasher certainly seems to like you.”

Russian Dolls and Broken Gods, a new Fantasy novel by best-selling author, Aiden Finnegan, out this December! Preorder online and instore today!
Elias' deadpan response spoke volumes. Facial recognition. His uncle's wallet was impressive piece of scientific machinery, but facial recognition wasn't among the platforms embedded. Marine species recognition, maybe. He rubbed a throbbing temple.

"You guys wanted to test out a facial recognition program and thought the best way to go about it was to goad someone into responding."

Saying it aloud drained some of the tension, but the shift was slow as water seeping through sand. Dumb as it was, the explanation made some sense. People were idiots. Their constant rubbing one another up and down made him want to roll his eyes. People everywhere were the same. All the pretty people banging each other, trading places and doing it again. 

The dog lapped at black-painted nails, what peeked from the slits of openings in his gloves anyway. He scratched its head, and caught himself smirking when its baseball bat of a tail wabbled about like a flailing weapon.  The power of Rage subsided a little, but he couldn't help but comment. "You call that Raging storm fairy lights?" His sniff was one of disbelief, even if it was tinged by shades of sarcasm. Fairy lights hardly sounded dangerous. This guy must never have seen what his pretty lights could do. 

That's when it hit him. 

Fairy lights. Fire. At the Moshka River, he focused almost exclusively on the Rage of water. Turning the Rage of Fire upon the creature didn't even cross his mind. 

"That's how to kill it," his lips mouthed the barely audible epiphany. A wicked smile grew.
Aiden ignored the first question. He had already responded to that. No harm was meant, if this man wanted to be butt-hurt about the whole incident then that was on him. Instead, Aiden addressed the next comment, “Well, yeah. They just appear whenever I have big bouts of emotion… I can’t believe I’m telling this to another person today, but… yes. They act like the fairy lights in Irish folktales, with the exception of luring random people into forests, and they aren’t blue… But, yeah. What did you call them? The Raging Storm? Why?” Aiden looked at Elias with utter confusion, “Can you make them too?”

                Lasher was now circling Elias, sniffing at his boots and then going to the other hand and licking that one too. Friendliness wasn’t out of character for Lasher, but he usually didn’t like strangers so much. He must have really like Elias and Aiden always trusted his dog’s judgment.

                “Kill what, exactly?” Aiden asked him, eyebrow cocked. He looked back to Sage, offering him the same questioning expression. He wanted to ask Sage if this dude might know Nox since this man could make water appear from nowhere. He must be the same thing as Aiden, whatever Aiden was… Definitely not human. Maybe a mutant… He always liked the X-men comics growing up. If there was a way to control the Fairy Fire, then maybe he could just go all Batman on the city and start fighting crime.

                That was foolish of course. Aiden had a date and he had yet to cop a feel. He probably could’ve right then and there, but he doubted this Elias would appreciate watching Aiden grab Sage’s ass. Or would he? The way this day was going, Aiden wouldn’t put it past him. Aiden would wait until they were alone. Like a good boy.

                Beer must be kicking in… Aiden thought to himself as he realized where his mind was heading.

Russian Dolls and Broken Gods, a new Fantasy novel by best-selling author, Aiden Finnegan, out this December! Preorder online and instore today!
Sage didn't like that Aidien was telling the emo goth dude about his issues. The fact that he couldn't control it was dangerous. What if someone sent the Atharim. Aiden had no way of defending himself. Nox barely survived and he was good with the power. Fear coursed through Sage's body, not for himself.

Sage didn't like the sound of the conversation but he didn't say anything. He wasn't a people person. Sage started recording the conversation. He wanted proof if things went bad. Video, Audio, just as he heard it but without his own brains conversion. Sage started looking for a server to upload it into the cloud. He couldn't use his normal locations. He zoned out into his own head, his hand around Aiden's side grabbed his shirt and clenched it between his fingers. He wasn't listening he didn't need to he was recording it. He could review it later. Sage whispered "We should go."

convert binary | biography
Given that his roommates were a handful of other guys that also Raged with power, Elias assumed that all such people experienced it the same. Claire described something vastly different for the women she knew - namely Oriena from the club. The women apparently thought this power was the opposite of rage, but she had no name for it other than the divination of her spell-casting. Her magic was practiced almost exactly as he imagined a witch would wield, but it wasn't Rage. It was almost like she used a different power altogether.

Maybe this guy did too. 

"I call it rage because it feels like rage. Try to clamp down on the power and make it do what you want it to do. If you don't, it'lll consume you, like rage. But yes, I can make them." A moment later, two sputtering flames appeared between them. Tony sometimes used the flames as a way to meditate and teach the new guys in and out of the house how to control it. If this guy had a natural tendency to spin the Rage of Flame to life, it was likely the fire would resonate with him quickly. 

Using the Rage of Flame to kill the guardian in the river would work. Elias was certain of it. But how to make Flame touch the creature while it was submerged? The river ice was gone by now. The months melted the naturally protective shield capping the river. Silt muddied the view. He could push the dust and debris aside, pulling the sandy grains with the Rage of Earth like a magnet to one side. The view would be crystal clear, then. 

But how to get the fire to the creature? It had to be lured to the surface again. Tony and Elias did it once, there had to be a way to do it again. Maybe Asha could sense its feelings? Connect with it somehow? 

 Of course, he was never going to share these details with strangers. It was bad enough Tony and so many guys knew. He waved away the question about killing. "I have a rodent problem." He left it at that.

The quieter guy announced their intention to leave. Elias wouldn't stop them. Though he rather enjoyed the looks of awe on this guy's face.
Aiden’s eyebrows climbed as Elias conjured two feeble flames. They might not have been as bright as the Fairy Fire, but there was no denying the fact that this man controlled his own fire. How many more people were there out there that could do this? Two in one day, well three if you counted Sage, but Sage didn’t really consider himself a part of whatever Nox, Elias, and Aiden shared. A twisted magical brotherhood; at least that’s what it started to sound like.

                Looking at that flame, Aiden almost felt like he could do the same exact thing. Well, he could, but he didn’t know what was happening. A part of him actually tried to make the Fairy Fire appear again, but nothing happened. Nothing at all.

                Frustration welled up at the pit of Aiden’s stomach and one sickly looking orb popped up overhead. He mumbled angrily to himself, “Of course… When I wanted you to appear…”

                Sage wanted to go. He tugged at Aiden’s shirt, white-knuckling it. It was enough to give Aiden pause. He looked over to his date and nodded, then looking to Elias with sympathy, “Not that I wouldn’t enjoy talking about this, we are on a date and I promised my man over here that tonight was all about us. He’s quite jealous you know,” Aiden said the lie easily. Oh, he did want to pick this man’s brain, but there was still Nox to speak with. Besides, Aiden knew this man’s name now; and he had Sage. If Aiden really wanted to speak with Elias again, he’d just ask Sage to hack the man’s wallet.

                Aiden laughed at the idea.

                “I hope you don’t mind. It was great meeting you, though, Elias.”

Russian Dolls and Broken Gods, a new Fantasy novel by best-selling author, Aiden Finnegan, out this December! Preorder online and instore today!

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