DescensionBy: B. C. Burgess
The Mystic Series: Book 1
For my mom.
Without you, neither my world nor Layla’s would exist. Thank you for all you do.
Power begets gold; gold spawns power. On both accounts, Agro was a rich man. For over sixty years, his supremacy had been matched by few and stymied by none. Not because there weren’t attempts. Defiance and disputes were around every corner—ignorant fools willing to die for pitiful beliefs, powerless bleeding hearts too stupid to let bygones be bygones. Both were laughable and completely welcome. Agro enjoyed crushing the insignificant lives that got in his way. It was one of life’s more rewarding pleasures, a fulfillment few received and even fewer accepted, a delight Agro embraced like a long lost child.
As for gold, he’d always be willing to add another priceless piece to his immense collection of artifacts, and in his opinion one could never have too much money to play with. But even in a world where desires could be fulfilled with the wave of a hand, not everyone had the wits to gather the treasures he’d obtained.
It hadn’t always been that way. As an adolescent, Agro was forced to earn his possessions by toiling away at degrading jobs, accumulating a scant collection that would shame a vagrant. By seventeen, he’d abandoned humble restraint. Armed with deadly determination, he set out on his own, building his life around a new set of rules—rules that hundreds would follow by his twenty-fifth birthday.
Now, wise and robust at eighty, he commanded a slew of subordinates willing to plunge daggers into their bellies to please him, a mere snap of his fingers could part all the wet thighs in his camp, and his fortune would make a Texas oil tycoon piss his boots and lower his Stetson in shame.
Yes, Agro had been reaping the rewards of his ways for decades. His desires were now handed to him. Not on silver platters, but diamond trays. He’d thrown the silver he’d plundered over the years to his soldiers, raising morale and solidifying loyalty.
And the most loyal of the peons was approaching.
As the familiar footfall grew louder, Agro lowered his goblet, turning his orange eyes to the entrance of his spacious tent. His second in command, an obedient brute with more brawn than brains, stepped through the canvas flaps, dropping his gaze to the antique Persian rug.
“Sir,” he greeted.
“Farriss,” Agro returned. “To what do I owe your sudden appearance?”
“Garran Bram is here to see you,” Farriss replied.
Agro shrugged. “Probably came to beg for more time.”
“He says he has some interesting information to divulge. Something you’d want to know.”
“Is that so?” Agro murmured, raising one eyebrow. He couldn’t imagine what useful information a lowlife such as Garran could possibly hold. Nevertheless, his interest spiked. “Very well. Bring the boy in.”
Farriss hurried from the tent, and Agro filled an alexandrite encrusted goblet with wine as he waited, thinking a bit of useful information might add intrigue to an otherwise dull day.
Farriss returned, roughly pushing a derelict wizard draped in a shabby brown cloak. Or perhaps it was a white cloak caked in dirt. The malnourished man dropped to his knees and stared at Agro’s feet with wide eyes, his forehead sprouting beads of sweat, his larynx quivering over a rapid pulse.
Agro enjoyed the ambiance of fear surrounding the cur, but there was no excuse for his pitiful hygiene. A magical sweep of the hand would improve his appearance tenfold.
“Farriss,” Agro said, watching his company’s greasy, black hair.
“Yes, sir?” Farris replied.
“You may go.”
The brute bowed then took his leave, and Garran trembled, offending Agro’s senses with his stench.
Agro scrunched his nostrils and retrieved a sprig of sandalwood from a side table, wafting it between him and the riffraff. “Do you have your penance, Garran? You’ve owed me for over a month now. Not many people get away with that.”
Garran’s shaking turned violent, intensifying his stink. “N-no, sir. I’ve n-never had that kind of m-money.”
“That’s because you piss it away gambling.”
“The fucking hexless rig their competitions,” Garran cursed.