Golden Bridge Chronicle

Chapter 9: Damaged Goods

Music accompaniment

To play during reading : Battlefield - Ka - Cirque du Soleil


I woke in a shock. I looked at my clock, seeing it was 4 in the morning. But also, I realized it was October 31st, Halloween. It didn't bring any fond memories associated with it, since for a long time, I have continually been wearing a costume in public, towards most. Even with Francis, with whom I would say I have the least. It would be a normal day today, but I wasn't ready to start the day and went back to sleep.

I was lightly sleeping when in my dream I started to hear rattling and strange noises. I didn't pay much attention to it, but it continued. Then all of a sudden, all hell broke loose. A crashing sound came from everywhere at once. My front door burst open, my roof latch was torn out and someone broke through my bay windows. I was startled awake, unsure what was going on. By the time I was sat in my bed, two persons were already upon me, body tackling me and wrapping me in my own bed sheets, preventing me from moving. I struggled but it was useless, having absolutely no room to move. They put a gag on me, and essentially, totally controlling me. I was handcuffed behind my back, I was helpless. I went relatively limp, hoping to stay alive if I cooperate. I was manhandled to my feet, essentially being dragged out of my apartment. I could see at least 4 persons, 2 on me, and 2 searching through my studio. I didn't see what they were searching for, but within a minute, I was already being dragged out of my apartment, down the stairs to an unmarked van out front. I didn't even feel the cold snow on my bare feet, since they transported me. At least, the covers they restrained me with kept some of my dignity and warmth. I was shoved in the back of the van, hitting my head quite hard on the solid car bed, and landing in an awkward position. Pain surged in my right shoulder, probably having dislocated it. Tears were flowing down from the pain and distress, my sob silenced by the gag. I felt thoroughly helpless. And my magic was no help in my condition, unable to concentrate to conjure. Where would all this lead me?

Looking through the tears to the back door as they were waiting for their associates to come down, I could not muster any thought. My only concern was my survival. Would someone be looking for me? Fight for me? Help me? And then, Francis came directly to the front of my mind. Was he in danger? All thought of my current state, were gone in an instant, all my energy and concern flew to Francis. But to find out, I needed to save myself first.

My attention went back to the back door and I could hear through the engine noise the two assailant argue with each other, concern in their voices. I couldn't make out what they were saying, but their attention was fully on each other. About something else than me. And then I saw it: Their members, joints and necks, warping and twisting and contorting in an unnatural way, like being spatially bent. They struggled for a bit but both quite fast dropped to the ground, unconscious or dead, I didn't know and honestly didn't care. The only question was what was next? Who saved me? Or am I in a dire situation to a greater threat?

I didn't have time to ponder because someone came in to my view, and not who I expected. I saw pearly white hair coming out of a fashionable slim black asymmetric coat with a hood. It was the mysterious woman I kept seeing around me, out of sight. She turned to me and lowered her hood. There was purpose and concern in her gaze, and I could sense the magical aura around her, her NimbusNimbus ("Nimbus is the mage magical signature, the imprint they leave behind, but also a physical manifestation of there mage status. It can be sense, by mage sight, it is shown when casting spell, for the briefest of moment, it can be actively shown, for shock and awe, and it is left behind after a spell, so someone can detect and follow it. It is a signature and is personal to a specific person.") flaring. It was like a tessellation of transparent glass forming a bubble around her. Her dark brown eyes scanned me and assessed my state. I was in really bad shape and a poor sight. She searched the two attackers and took the handcuff's key, liberating me. When the restraint dropped, the pressure on my elbow was released and the pain from it flared, my mind having nothing else to keep it occupied. She leaned forward and gently, but with a steady hand, removed the gag.

"Don't move, help is on its way. Do you know if there are more of them?" She asked under her breath.

"Two more upstairs." I answered coarsely, pain in my lungs, throat and mouth.

"Stay here, I will clear them." She said with a sharpness that was threatening. I wasn't used to using magic so blatantly, and to harm people furthermore. I knew I could do it, and how to do it, but it didn't mesh with my belief. It felt repugnant and wrong. I took the covers and covered myself in it, painfully, but it kept me warm. The drop in adrenaline that kept me going, the open door of the van and the nudity made me aware of the cold. Shivers were starting and I only had one available arm, but I managed to cover and keep a bit of dignity and warmth. I dozed off to sleep, being totally exhausted from the ordeal.

I woke when the lady came back down, shaking me.

"Sorry to wake you up, but I think we should move out of here. It isn't safe." She said with urgency but the slightest care. I was wary of what would happen if I followed her, where would she lead me?

With difficulty I spoke. "I don't want to leave my house, where will I be safe? Where are we going?"

"I have warned the police, they are on their way, but you don't want to go to your house. It is a complete mess, it has been trashed, I am sorry." She said, trying to convince me. But her last words about the state of my house, my haven, my sanctuary, being desecrated, horrified me and shook me into action, in a frenzy of concern. Forgetting my state, my shoulder, everything, I ran past her, pushing her out of the way, desperate to see my home. I climbed the stairs two by two, with a haste my body couldn't sustain. By the point I arrived at my door, unhinged, I could witness the destruction that happened. The relatively well maintained and order of my studio, was only now a figment of my past. Broken glass, cold air, torn doors, opened cupboard, total invasion was everywhere. As I move more in, despair gripping me, I saw the further destruction. To my left, my painting area was unrecognizable, blood was splattered on the thrashed unfinished canvas, paint sprayed everywhere, all ruined. Except one. Master Fox's painting. It was still on its easel, almost as if some unseen force shielded it from the carnage that took place. Absolutely uncanny.

My bedroom area was better than the rest. I was getting more and more deaf to my surroundings, the emotional pain climbing back and threatening to burst at any moment. My unfocused gaze made me walk on something round and sharp. My favourite painting brush, made of petrified wood, magically enhanced, directly connected to me, as my wand in the legend, and given to me by my mentor Marc, lay broken and torn on the floor. I couldn't stand looking, and raising my gaze, the last straw hit me, they annihilated my blueberry shrub. I felt violated, scared and vulnerable. I retreated into myself.

In my fugue state, I didn't realize that the lady followed me in and that the siren could be heard coming in fast. The next few moments are vague and distant. I was taken by the police, the lady seemingly protecting my interest as a lawyer would. I was taken down by the paramedics, and relatively hastily brought to the hospital. The blur increased and I lost contact with reality.


Music accompaniment

To play during reading : La nuit je m'accroche à toi - Paul Maco


I only came back to me after sometime, in a hospital room, alone. Only the hum of the outside and one machine connected to me broke the near stillness of my surrounding. That caught me as strange since I knew that the hospitals were overcrowded and space was at a premium. The blinds were down, but I could tell that the night had come. My right arm was in a sling, snugly restrained to my body. I could also feel bandages on my feet. I felt acutely alone in my pain and distress. I was nearly kidnapped and all my possessions were damaged, my sanctuary violated. At that moment, I heard a knock on the door and a health professional entered. A relatively young woman, maybe mid-thirties, dressed as a doctor or someone important in a hospital, but with tattoos showing at her wrist and neck. Small piercings also showed on her ears, nose and eyebrow. She gave off a feeling of caring and warmth with an edge. She came to my side with a smile, as if she only had me to care for.

"How are you Mr. Mercier? It seems you had a hard morning. I am Émilie Côté-Légaré." She said, her smile turning to concern and attention.

"It's a bit of a blur I should say. What did I miss while I was out?" Skirting the inevitable talk about the event itself.

"Well, you came in from an assault it seems, with a dislocated shoulder, bruises on your right side, around your wrist, and cuts from glass on the soles of your feet. And I am only talking about the physical stuff. How are you feeling right now?" She asked.

"Confused, scared, violated, insecure, in danger, lonely. I don't know what I will find? What I must do? What I am missing? Why it happened to me? Why me?" I started to sob, choked by the overflow of emotion.

Émilie took me in her arms, letting me pour my soul on her blouse. I couldn't stop sobbing and the tears flowing, inconsolable. She let me do it, just gently stroking my back. Maybe it was because she was a woman, a doctor, her aura or the gentle touch but she reminded me of my mother and the caring she gave me. Her calming effect brought me down from overflowing tears to uncontrollable sniffling. My mind was still overwhelmed by thoughts about the attack. Who attacked me? Why? My concerns for my house, my sanctuary, what remains of it? Is Francis safe? Is my work salvageable? What remains? Is Master Fox safe?

My constant tears tired me and the gentle touch of Émilie lulled me back to sleep, exactly like a mother would with a little child.

I woke up again sometime later, still confused about where I was, unrested. This time I was hearing chanting. Clearly someone was casting a spell during my sleep. Frightened, I woke to an unexpected sight. Émilie was over me, eyes closed and chanting, light emitting from her hands. The covers were down to my bare navel. Small pebbles with runes were positioned on me, and I could see a pattern drawn on my stomach. My waking spasm moved the rock and she opened her eyes, ending her spell. She could easily read the confusion on my face.

"Sorry to have woken you. I didn't want you to see and know but I am a friend. I am a member of the Free Councilmember of the Free Council ("The Free Council is another order of Mages, more will be told later."), but the Mysterium contracted my services since I am in the hospital as a psychologist. I was casting a healing spell. Would you let me finish?" She asked, remorse and concerned. I nod the head, indicating she could continue. She took the pebbles that had moved and placed them back on my stomach around the sigil. She closed her eyes and started again to chant. I couldn't make the detail but I knew the language of the chant, High Speech, the language of Magic and the few words I caught were about healing. I relaxed and felt the energy coursing through me, repairing wounds and calming my mind. I felt in a meditative state. It went for some time, and when she finished, she lightly shook my elbow, bringing me back.

"Hope it helps. I don't think you will stay much longer, your elbow is fully healed from what I can see, but keep the sling for appearance. But now to harder stuff. Mme. Duval, who informed me and who came with you here, wanted me to tell you that she took care of protecting your house, but it won't be habitable for the near future, considered a crime scene and the extensive damage done. She told me she would take care of protecting you from too many prying eyes during your stay here and can provide legal aid for the rest of the proceedings." She told me.

I would have to thank her if I could find her again, but she seemed to know where I am so, I would eventually meet her again. But the news of my house, spurred me into a need of control, of action.

"When can I leave? I would need to call someone to take me out. Could you help me with that?" I asked.

"Well, it would be probably tomorrow morning after the doctor exam of your elbow. And yes I can help you with the calls, but I think you need more rest." She put her hand on my forehead and I slowly drifted back to sleep.


The next morning, I woke to the doctor. He auscultated me, impressed by my recovery, even surprised, but he gave me my release papers anyway. During the release process, I called Francis, asking him to come take me out. He was shocked of the news when he heard I was in the hospital. He came immediately, not even listening to the whole story.

I only waited a moment before they arrived, M. Dubé and him. Francis essentially burst through the door to my room. He was disheveled, in working out clothes. His hair was plastered by sweat to his forehead. He came to me to give me a hug but at the moment he was about to close his arms, he noticed the sling and took a step back. I had the shortest of chance to smell his pungent smell, both sweet, intoxicating and repulsive all at the same time. He took a second chance to a hug, being careful and awkward at the same time. I forced with my free arm a real hug. I revelled in the smell and the contact, the comfort it provided. But the gym smell was too much and I pushed him out of the hug. He had brought a change of his clothes, not exactly my size but I had nothing. I was ushered to the car where I described more in detail what happened. Neither were aware of anything, pretty much having stayed in Francis' training bubble for the whole time. After relating the events, came what to do next.

"I want to go back now to assess in a more calm mental space what happened. I NEED to know what's left." I said forcefully. They both saw the need to go and didn't question it. They contacted the police to have a uniformed officer meet us so we could have the keys to enter.

The ride was silent. The sky was overcast with grey clouds, menacing and mournful, a perfect reflection of my mood. When we turned on my street, the damage was plain to see. The bay windows had been boarded up. We waited for a moment in the car for the police to arrive. We slowly climbed the stairs, everything seemingly normal in the common staircase. But arriving in front of the boarded, police-taped door, it became more real. The agent unlocked the door and warned me against it but complied since it was my house. The scene had not much changed from my memory, total carnage. I walked cautiously around the broken pieces. The kitchen had been ransacked to oblivion. But nothing there interested me anymore. The painting area, was a canvas of colors, some from the paint, but also from other things. And in that chaos, most of my painting were damaged, but not beyond repair, but would I put the effort in it? And finally, in the middle of it all, Master Fox's painting, empty of Master Fox. It was a surreal image. But considering the presence of the policemen and M. Dubé, I didn't try to call Master Fox. And observing the painting more in detail, it seemed paler. I turned my attention to the floor, searching for my broken brush. Once found, I put it in my pocket. I then went to the storage room, where the door seemed still closed. I was worried of what I would see. Once open, I breathed a sigh of relief, my storage was still intact, the painting of Francis and I was still safe.

I picked up a change of clothes, my phone, my sketchbook and put Master Fox in a transport box. I felt the anger of it all slowly rising in me and I needed to move out. Anyway, since the apartment had been tainted with so much negative energy, it no longer had any specific use for me for doing magic. Furthermore, it was compromised and known to whoever attacked me. I probably will keep it for the time being, but had no interest to come back and stay in the near future. We put what I took in the car and let know the policemen that I would take what is inside the storage room out soon. He noted what I took out for his records and tried to make me answer his questions. My emotions were about to boil over, but Francis had the presence of mind to cut it short and say I would answer when ready, shoving me in the car.


I was slowly fuming on the back seat, Francis next to me, hugging me and trying to calm me. Jonathan drove us to Francis house in the Old Québec. I was confused, knowing he had not moved yet.

"Why are we here?" I asked harshly.

"Well, for my training, when Jonathan learned of my planned move, he decided that the move would be good exercise so we two did all the moving, and learning body enhancement spells, healing spells and commanding the help of spirits in the process. So ya, I have essentially moved here now. There are still a few things at my apartment, but the furniture is here. Not that it was needed since there were plenty items already here. We were in the middle of some heavy cleaning when you called from the hospital." He answer defusing the situation.

We got my things settled in a pile, not sure where to store it yet. Jonathan left, suspending for the day the training, considering the situation. I asked him to find Mme. Duval so that I could thank her. When he was gone, I started heavily shaking from all the anger and vulnerability that had accumulated. Francis took me in his arms and I gave a hug back, forgoing the useless sling. And the flood gates opened. I cried and cried. Muttering nonsense phrases, disjointed about everything that had happened. I felt so fragile, so vulnerable. Francis stayed there, listening and consoling me. I was angry and afraid at the same time, confused about the two. I did that for hours, forgetting time. Eventually running out of steam and energy, he took me to his bedroom, undressed me and put me to sleep in his bed. He tucked me in. He was about to leave, since it was still daylight, but I softly asked.

"Could you stay with me, I am afraid to be alone."

He closed the bedroom door, closed the blinds, undressed and joined me in the bed, cuddling and comforting me the best he could, while the demons haunted me to sleep.


Author's Note

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Thank you to Mark Christensen for his editing, review and comments.

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