Battlemage Nonetheless: Book 6 - Apprentice
(Forty years before current times)
Galvin hung upside down outside the third story bedroom window of the residence of the mark he was supposed to take care of. If anyone couldn't have seen his blacked out face in the night sky they would have seen he looked very pissed off.
The building he was hanging from was home to a very wealthy family. In a world where everyone seemed to have their fingers in some form of crime, this family looked to be living very well, compared to the other various homes in the dirty city.
There were far more thieves and criminals than there were those who claimed to enforce the law. Anyone who claimed to be enforcing the law was only doing it as a front because most of the public officials were on the take from someone.
Everyone was out for themselves in some way shape or form.
All you needed to do was find out who they were fronting for to know what interest they served. It was hard to find anyone with a moral compass in this world. It was a place where everyone did whatever it took to get ahead.
While for Galvin this was just another job, he had really expected more from the target he was supposed to kill given the nature of who it was and how wealthy the target was supposed to be. Galvin even took the liberty of warning the target several weeks ago that he was being targeted by him for this job, but still Galvin was disappointed at the end result.
One of the biggest problems with those who made their money was that they were pretty frugal with it. They had to work hard to get it so they valued it more and often skimped when they shouldn't have.
Those who inherited it often spent it like it didn't matter, but they were soon without it so it was a short lived rich life. But those who earned it often had to step on many toes to get it, and often they didn't look back to see who they hurt in the process.
That's why he was here tonight.
Someone Reinhold had screwed over in a business deal wanted payback, and Galvin was who he used to get it. Galvin realized that he had no idea what Timothy Reinhold had done, nor did he remotely care. He wasn't being paid to be anyone's therapist or their conscience.
But he "was" being paid quite well to kill him.
As he hung upside down outside the window he looked inside at the sleeping pair. They hadn't even bother to take the most basic of precautions. He knew that his reputation preceded him, and that after having told them he was coming he expected far more from them
The first few weeks they added more guards and lit up the four sides of the three story building with lights, but that only lasted a week. After that they kept the guards, but added dogs and took down the search lights. Galvin was sure this was done because the lights interfered with Tim's sleep cycle, since Tim liked to sleep with the curtains open to enjoy his view overlooking the city.
Galvin grew tired of waiting for them to beef up the security even more to give him a decent challenge and grew pissed off that they didn't seem to take his threat seriously. Maybe Tim's children would understand that having threats made on your life by the best known assassin in the world wasn't something to skimp with security on.
Watching the sleeping pair for a few moments, Galvin decided to look around the room magically to see what was there. Having activated the spell before he lowered himself down the side of the building, his deep green eyes lit up and almost appeared to have a deep green glow about them as he looked around.
Looking he could see the magic enchantment used to sound an alarm if the glass was broken or if the window was opened. Shifting his gaze into the room he could see other enchantment on the floor as well as one about shoulder height around the room. At least his target paid for a mage to come in, but still this was the bare minimum he would have expected.
Tiring of putting this off Galvin decided to get to work. He was the type to only use his magic if he "had" to. Most times he preferred doing everything without it. In a world of magic it made it harder to track him since he normally did almost all his jobs by a non-magical means.
Starting with the window first he started exploiting some of the issues behind the magic used. There were many problems with this type of enchantment used. The enchantment on the windows for example was the type that couldn't be too sensitive because if the wind blew and it rattled the windows it would set off the alarm.
Taking out his glass cutting tool he applied the suction point to the glass and cut a tiny small circular opening in it. He moved slow and made the opening no more than a quarter inch in the glass. Since he was moving so slowly, and given the size, it would be weeks before anyone discovered the hole, and even then they probably wouldn't believe that he used this hole as the way to kill anyone as small as it was.
The second and third magical alarm was also easily overcome as he would never set foot in the place.
Quickly assembling his blowgun Galvin setup the length just inside the glass.
Reaching behind him Galvin removed what looked to be a glass sliver, but was in reality a tiny ice shard that was coated on the tip with a very fast acting poison. It would be fatal in less than 30 seconds. It would first paralyze the victim, and then death would soon come.
The poison would be found when the body was examined, but the point of entry would never be noticed, because it was such a tiny pin prick that barely broke the skin. At best it would be seen as a "reddening" of the skin before it disappeared. The small amount of melting ice would be thought of as perspiration if anyone even noticed it before it dried.
Once he was done taking his time to fit the blow gun together, it then took less than ten seconds to fire his shot into his target, watch the man slightly twitch when hit, and then Galvin watched as the shard melted and the poison was absorbed by his target's skin.
While he was waiting and watching as the target absorbed the poison, Galvin was quickly disassembling his blow gun. He then made sure that all his custom designed gear was secured and packed. It took him years to prefect all of what he had and he carried it in small pouches or stored it around his body as part of his outfit.
Suddenly without warning, just as he finished doing packing his blow gun, a magical alarm went off.
Galvin, thinking he made a mistake somewhere, quickly reviewed everything he had done. He was so sure that he had prepared for all situations. As he reviewed what he had done he quickly climbed up to the roof and waited.
Hiding, and now laying on the rooftop, Galvin magically enhanced his hearing to see what was said. He could hear the servants scurrying around below him trying to all talk at once.
"Something is wrong with Master Reinhold! He's stopped breathing! His personal ward went off to alert everyone. Call for his personal physician! Quickly, someone get him out of bed!" said someone below Galvin.
There were various other voices as well all running and screaming different versions of the same things, but he was sure that nothing that they tried would matter soon.
It seemed that Reinhold didn't totally skimp on everything. It seemed he figured that if he was attacked, perhaps that if something stopped his heart, he could have someone on site to quickly restart it for him.
But since they didn't know what was used, how it was done, or even how little time they had to save him, their chances of saving his life were non-existent.
Knowing that his intended attack was taken a little more seriously than he initially thought, Galvin smiled as he quickly secured the wire he used to scale the wall. He then secured his hanging harness into his now assembled blacked out glider and took a running leap off the building.
All of his equipment was setup to do multiple duties to reduce the number of things he needed to carry.
Shortly he would be away from the commotion that was directed internally towards the house and well away from where he would be and no one would ever be the wiser that he was there.
(Thirty eight years before current times)
Sitting at the table in the back corner of the bar he was in, Galvin chose this spot because it allowed him to both watch those coming in and see his client before their eyes adjusted to him.
While he didn't take pains to hide his face currently, he normally covered it up to his eyes during any jobs. It helped to keep from accidently leaving anything behind like spit or sweat that could lead anyone to him.
Almost everyone in the underworld knew him, even though he worked through three sets of fixers. They were the middle men who took a small cut to introduce perspective clients to ones able to do those illegal jobs for them. As such it took someone who knew someone who knew someone to even get in touch with him.
Although even then he might refuse the job if it wasn't interesting enough.
But he was well known as the top assassin in this world. He was someone that no one in the underworld wanted to be on his bad side. A few of the constables and various law enforcement agencies who might have known who he was also looked either away if he approached them.
Those in law enforcement never looked directly at him or tried to stop him for any reason. In the past Galvin had taken some jobs to kill some of those in law enforcement as well, and they never had any proof to use to hold him with.
Even they tried hard not to get on his bad side.
In all everyone, no matter who or where they might be in the world, was too afraid to cross him for any reason. Mostly it was because of their not knowing who might have taken out a contract on them. Everyone tried to stay on his good side hoping their good will might make him willing to pass on ending their life. As a professional Galvin had never failed to complete a paid contract, no matter how difficult it was.
As he sat surveying the bar he noticed when a young brown haired woman entered the bar.
It was easy for him to see that she didn't belong here.
While most of the women in the room were dressed in either an older style of clothing or were scantily clad, even the wannabes who were faking looking like they belonged, this young woman was dressed a nice but in a long sleeved form fitting light brown dress.
She was attractive, but in a fresh faced, young, and "innocent to the world" kind of way. In this world that look was hard to pull off.
He instantly noticed that she was also wearing gloves on her hands and barely showed any skin between the sleeves and gloves. Just who wears gloves anywhere, not to mention long sleeves in this heat Galvin wondered.
Galvin immediately was sure she was his client because she was like a beacon of light in a sea of darkness.
Following his instructions to the letter once her eyes adjusted, she immediately went to the table closest to the door and sat and waited for someone to approach her.
Seeing her sit at that particular table, several of the men who started to approach her with leers on their faces suddenly thought differently. Their faces paled and they melted back into the crowd in the bar. The noise level that had dropped noticeably when she entered soon rose again as she seated herself and everyone went back to their lives.
It wasn't hard to see by her actions that everyone in the bar quickly realized that she was a client who was there to meet with Galvin, and if they wanted to get any older screwing with Galvin's clients was a sure way to insure it wouldn't happen.
No one messed with Galvin's jobs or his money. Not anyone who lived to talk about it.
After she had been seated about ten minutes Galvin nodded at the bartender who then left the bar and approached the young woman.
"Ma'am what can I get for you?" asked the man politely.
"Nothing right now but I was told that later a salty drink is best for those seeking resolve," said the young woman.
Nodding the man said "Back corner table just under the stairs." And then he turned without looking back and headed back towards the bar.
Getting up the young woman started for the table and soon noticed the man seated there. He was casually dressed and, if it wasn't for why she was there, she thought that he looked the most normal of anyone there.
Even in the wane light she could see that he was a very handsome man.
He had black hair that was swept across his head, deep set green eyes, even though there was a little scar that ran diagonally across his left eye. He seemed to be quite muscular from what she could see of his broad chest, shoulders, and forearms that rested on the table.
As she approached Galvin could see that while she looked him over she returned to concentrate on his face. Galvin tried not to smile and keep his face neutral. He started doing these types of jobs at thirteen and on one of his first jobs he got over confident and narrowly escaped.
The scar was his souvenir from the one who trained him and was a reminder to always be prepared for anything.
Finally reaching the table, and then taking a seat, the woman began to softly speak.
"I wanted to hire you for a job to kill the governor of this area because he forced himself on me. I want him to pay and I want it done in front of his children. Can you do that?" asked the young woman.
"Well that depends, is he the only mark or are you wanting the family to pay as well?" asked Galvin.
Galvin didn't want to show his excitement, but it had been awhile since he assassinated a ranking public official and this would only be his third governor. They usually had very good protection and it would prove a decent challenge.
"Why, does that make a difference?" asked the woman suddenly startled.
"I normally make it a choice to not kill women and children unless they are the intended mark or part of the mark. I don't do collateral damage. So if you want the family done, I can do that, but otherwise it will be only who you contract me for," said Galvin.
"Can you do it as cleanly as you did Timothy Reinhold?" asked the young woman with a blank expression.
As she asked the question and Galvin was preparing an answer, something about how she asked it nagged at him. He quickly understood what was going on as he watched the young woman closer, and who now seemed to slightly tense up as she finished asking her question.
"Yes can, there is no profit or reason to kill women and children. As far as I'm concerned it's the men run the world and if you want to be top dog in a dog eat dog world like this you need to make sure that it's the "men" who fear you. Not that I have that much of an issue anymore. I'm the best for a reason," said Galvin.
"How gallant, I've found a killer with a conscious," said the woman dryly with distain.
The way she said it put Galvin now on instant alert.
Now watching her better he saw what he was looking for. It wasn't much, but a slight tenseness in her jaw line, combined with her how lightly the muscles in her left arm twitched told him what he needed to know was coming next.
Waiting for her to make the next move, she did exactly as he expected her to do.
Swiftly raising her left hand she smacked the side of his face.
Turning his head slightly he softened the blow, but didn't totally look away, and he was able to see a dagger spring forth from a forearm sheath as it tore through her gloved hand and she then extended her right arm and tried to stab him in the throat with it.
Easily swatting her arm down with the blade strapped to it on the table, Galvin trapped it with his greater strength and held it there before he started to speak. Galvin didn't even notice that none of the bars other patrons even turned around at the noise that came from his table.
It was easier for them to pretend that they didn't hear anything and go on living a bit longer since the event happened around Galvin.
"You're too young to be his wife so you must be his daughter. Is this how you expected it to go down? You would just walk into my place of business and take me out as easy as taking your next breath? You had to know I wasn't going to get caught off guard like this. Your very lucky there's no profit to be had in your death or I would have killed you where you sat," said Galvin casually.
"You monster! Where is your humanity?! You killed a good man, one who didn't deserve to die like that. He didn't deserve what you did to him!" hissed the woman.
"I'm sure you thought so, and maybe he did and maybe he didn't deserve to die, I don't know because I personally never knew the man. But someone thought he did and they paid me quite well make it happen. But you've apparently led a sheltered life if you believe he did no wrong, at least to someone at some time.
"No one in this world is clean and your father led one of the premier crime families in this world from behind the scenes. It was common knowledge to everyone but you I guess, maybe it was because you had such a cushy lifestyle. But you'll never convince me that he's never used anyone like me to get ahead," said Galvin as he looked her in the eyes.
"How can you be so cruel? You don't even know that for sure. But still, you still chose to kill so indiscriminately! How can you live with yourself? Don't you know that someone will eventually get you for this?" asked the young woman as she managed to snatch her hand back once he released it and the motion caused the knife strapped to her arm to re-sheath itself.
She rubbed her arm where it was trapped against the table to get her circulation back.
"I really wish they would try, I need the practice. But no one is stupid enough to do it. Everyone knows it was only business and nothing personal. I didn't even know him and had no evil will against him. If you have a problem with what I've done then you need to contract me to go after the one who paid me to do it to him.
"I won't tell you the name, but if you ever find out whom it was on your own I'll do the job for what I charged them. I'm sure you can do it if you really want to, I mean you found me didn't you?" said Galvin neutrally.
The young woman sat looking at him quietly with hate filled eyes for a few moments before she spoke again.
"You're a bastard that will kill anyone for money. You have everyone scared of you. No one will cross you from the law to government officials. It took almost all the money I had just to find you one time! And now you tell me go do it again to find the man you paid you to kill my father. Screw you, you bastard," said the young woman.
"That's your problem not mine. I'm the best for a reason and everyone knows it. That's why they come to me to do what they or others can't. I can get to anyone anywhere and there is nothing anyone can do to stop me. If you can collect my fee and get the name I'll do the same for you. Now if we're done I have other things to do," said Galvin as he dismissed her
After a few moments she got up and stormed out of the bar and not one person seemed to notice or care about her leaving.
Breathing easier Galvin seemed to completely ignore her departure as he settled down to think. He thought the job by her sounded too good to be true, and now it seemed it was. It looked on the surface to be a real challenge.
There were some days that that he felt if he wasn't a professional he might have gone into killing for killings sake in the hopes that someone might growing enough balls to try and stop him. Sometimes it was rough being at the top, but he knew that there was no money to be made professionally in random killings, and in the end it really held no interest for him.
He needed a challenge of someone who was equally as good wanting to stop him because they wanted to test themselves against him. Although with everyone in the world scared of him he knew that would never happen.
As he sat thinking he realized the biggest problem with any job he took was the fact that he was bored. Nothing changed, there were no new challenges to test him and make him work for it. He needed a challenge, something that tested his skill, and something that made him feel alive as he did it.
Short of becoming a gladiator where someone new would be forced to fight him on a daily basis nothing was going prove interesting for him it seemed.
While lost in thought, he almost missed the man who sat at his table, but not completely. No one really ever snuck up on him no matter what they did.
Galvin didn't look up but was still able to totally take in everything about the man as he seated himself. Galvin could also tell that the man realized he knew he was being watched by him as he sat down.
"You my friend look like someone who needs a challenge above and beyond what he's used too," said the man.
Sighing Galvin asked "Who is it and what do you want done?"
"No my friend it's you who might possibly benefit from my help. Would you hold this for a second please?" asked the man.
Looking at the man Galvin saw him roll a crystal ball towards him from across the table. Seeing as it was just touched by him, and seeing as it didn't have any negative magic that he could detect, he retrieved the ball and held it in his hands.
The ball displayed a kaleidoscope of bright colors before the man leaned over and took it from his hand. Galvin acted surprised. He had never seen a clear crystal do that and he had no idea what just happened with it, but the man seemed very happy indeed with the results.
"You are Galvin Tulane, correct?" asked the man.
"Yes I am, and who might you be?" asked Galvin.
"I'm Christopher Jones, but you can call me Chris. My friend I have an opportunity for you to experience a "whole new world" that you have never seen before. The world may be a little backwater compared to where you are now, but the opportunities for challenges are far beyond anything you are doing now. Interested?" asked Chris
Sensing no deception, Galvin leaned forward to at least hear the man out.
(Thirty three years before current times)
Galvin sat strapped down to a very thick and heavy chair that was bolted to the floor in the center of the room.
That night five years ago Chris had brought Galvin into his world and immediately put him to work and Galvin soon found he enjoyed the work. When he wasn't working Galvin was rebuilding his network of associates, fixers, and contacts. He wasn't just sitting on his hands waiting for the Mage's council he was also doing jobs on the side for himself.
He wanted to rebuild what he had from his world, he wanted to challenge of making those people fear him and building his name as a real threat with from the shadows. People who wanted his skills would always be there and his demand would never go away because it was just a matter of making himself available to be found.
Galvin was able to use his skills in a way that was unknown to this world to complete contracts in ways that had never been considered before by them.
The entire world expected him to use magic because he had it to make his life and the job easier. They had no idea how easy he was able to disguise himself without it just using his makeup skills to look like almost anyone to get close to a target and they never had an idea it was him. All the magic detection devices in the world couldn't catch that.
Galvin was able to use his skills with poisons to brew up things this world had never seen before while yet learning about their poisons which were new to him. He learned the correct way to scale a castle wall in the middle of the night as well as how to break into a magically sealed room without the people inside being any the wiser how he got in because he didn't use magic to do it.
While he was learning and enjoying himself he was able to assassinate several key people the Mage's council wanted done in, and he was enjoying the new challenges of finding ways to get the job done in an entirely new world that was nothing like his.
But even still, through it all, Galvin was starting to grow weary of the demands made by the ones who brought him here.
Formally Chris was happy to let him do things his way and all he wanted was the end results, but Chris soon retired after his arriving here to a small town and he was replaced by a mage named Rupert who was one of the Archmages seated on the council. Rupert had a bad habit of trying to micromanage everything Galvin did.
He had yet to learn that was a bad idea.
Nothing Galvin did could please the man. He complained that he didn't kill his mark quickly enough, or didn't kill enough people, or he killed too many. No matter how he confirmed his instructions before he got started, Rupert never seemed happy.
Then it seemed that Chris never told the council how Galvin was able to use magic, because his magic was different from what they were used to.
Galvin's magic didn't require any words, but he did have to visualize the wording mentally and then draw the runes in the air.
Often when he used his magic like this it always left a faint afterglow behind as the words activated. It wasn't something someone who made their living in the shadows wanted to be using often if he could help it.
That only made them distrust them even more when they learned how different and foreign his magic was.
When he arrived back at the safe house after his latest mission he was told the council needed to talk with him. Rupert gave him a drink from their world he wasn't used to as he waited for the meeting. Like many of the drinks in this new world, it took time for Galvin to adjust to them.
As such Galvin didn't taste whatever was in it for that same reason, and it knocked him out for a bit.
But what they didn't factor in was that he was able to metabolize most poisons as part of his job and this one was no different.
As he was coming to, he realized that they had strapped him to a chair and were getting ready to do some kind of experiment on him. All Galvin knew was someone was going to do something to him he wouldn't like and he wasn't going to wait to see what it was.
Using flexibility that he shouldn't have, he was able to rotate his right arm in such a way that he could use one of his magically sharpened fingernails to cut deep into the leather strap. Once it was almost all the way through he stopped and decided to wait to see what was going on.
A few minutes after he stopped Rupert came in.
"Oh so the snake is now awake is he?" asked Rupert with a sneer.
"What are you doing and why have you done this. You have to know that I'm going to kill you for this right?" asked Galvin casually.
"No you won't. You've been a loosely fired arrow for far too long. The council feels that it's time we put a leash on you. You think we don't know you've gone independent on us? You think we don't know that you're setting yourself up with an escape route from us?
"No we're going to lock up that strange magic of yours and do something to make you more dependent on us. I finally made the council see it my way after your latest blunder," said Rupert.
"I did what you told me to and I also have it in writing. I didn't do anything I wasn't asked," said Galvin softly.
To those who knew Galvin, his speech getting softer was a sign someone would soon be dying.
"So what? We all know that with your skills you can forge anything you want, so that was worthless from the moment I gave it to you. When I'm done you'll be my pet assassin and you'll help me take over the council and they will never see it coming from the inside. I finally got them to approve the measures that will cause their very own downfall," said Rupert with a snickering laugh.
"What makes you think..." started Galvin before it felt like someone was surging lighting through his body.
Galvin gave Rupert a questioning look. He hadn't heard him start to use his magic at all.
"Fool, you think everyone has to stand there and cast out loud for you to hear it? I've been casting since I came in the door using various words while talking to you. I just finished and it's begun. I'm binding you to me and my life force so that you can never betray me without killing yourself," said Rupert with an evil smile.
Now snapping the binding to free his arm, Galvin moved faster than he had any right too. In between heart beats there was a knife that was removed from a hidden spot within Galvin's shirt that was now buried up to the hilt in Rupert's right eye.
Rupert didn't even have time to scream or register what had happened before he died.
With his death the spell stopped, but it was now an incomplete spell. While Galvin wasn't bound to Rupert, Rupert had succeeded in binding up Galvin's magic, but not as intended.
Fearing the worse as he watched the man slide to the floor, Galvin tried to call upon his magic to test it and to see if he could use it, but he found that he could no longer make it work. No spell he tried to draw in the air would appear or respond.
Screaming out in frustration and slamming his right fist down on his chair at this loss of magic, Galvin at the same time jerked his left arm up.
The "complete" arm of the heavy chair came off of the body of his chair with his left arm's movements, just as his right hand completely shattered the other wooden arm into splinters.
"What the hell just happened to me?" thought Galvin as he quickly started to move to free himself.
He wanted to be gone before anyone came to see what that noise was.
Galvin had one thought to get revenge on the whole mage's council for what happened to him, but he decided that there wasn't any profit for it and thus a waste of his time. While killing them all might make him a name it wouldn't be enough to build him a reputation as someone who got the job done at all cost.
Besides it was Rupert's fault this happened and they already replaced him with a new guy named Melkin anyway, so it was no longer his problem.
Over time he found that he was easily ten times stronger than he was before, his eyesight had changed so much that he could see further. Almost up to an eighth of a mile. He was even able to see in almost in pitch black darkness.
Galvin's reflexes were so responsive that he always reacted well before anyone had time to register he was in motion, no matter how well prepared the other person was.
Galvin realized that he hadn't lost his magic, but it was now trapped in his body enhancing it and making him far better than he was before. He was almost able to heal most wounds in minutes of receiving them. Long as they weren't too severe he would already be healing from shallow stab wounds mere moments after receiving them.
His favorite skill and the only magical ability that he learned that he now possessed, he learned about while being chased.
When the next door neighbors came home early and almost caught him as he was getting close to his target, he found if he got close to a shadow he could simply "jump" from one shadow to the next.
It didn't matter if the shadow that he wanted to jump into was inside a building or was outside he could enter and exit through it.
With much practice he found that the only quantifier was that he had to have been at least once to the place where the shadow was located. If he had been there then he could jump there.
The only reason he ran like he had done was that he didn't want to give away who he was or who the target was he was after so he could complete the contract later that night. He had warned the target before hand like he always did, but he never told them "when" he would attack to see if they could prepare for him.
Galvin also found that he could still see and manipulate magical spells if he tried, but now it was something that he just concentrated on being able to see instead of casting a spell to activate those abilities. That ability was really the only thing he didn't want to lose as it aided him to do his job.
Since he normally kept from using magic anyway since it might give him away, he actually liked the improvements. They made him physically better than ever.
Unless he returned to the mage's council to have them eventually return him home, and he was sure that they wouldn't because he already killed one of their members, he was stuck here. But with a whole new world to explore and build a name in he was now excited by the prospects and had no intentions of returning.
Galvin was once again happy for the new challenge.