Alex stood facing a wide picture window that covered the whole wall from floor to ceiling. He struggled to fathom what kind of magic was letting him so easily see Myers City at night as it shimmered in a light drizzle.
They were deep underground, but there it was—a magic window. With a view of the city. It wasn’t digital at all; it was pure magic.
Just an everyday, totally normal window.
A couple of miles below ground.
Showing a bird’s-eye view of the city.
“Please sit down, Mr. Dumsky.” Mayor Chon Sook, the very same Asian man who’d picked him up outside the prison, pointed at the chairs set up around a T-shaped table.
The mayor’s office looked rather…impressive. The bookcases didn’t just feature a variety of manuscripts and grimoires; there were also statuettes from different nations and ages. Hanging on the walls, there were masks from African, South American, Australian, and Oceanic tribes. A few weapons used by those same tribes kept them company.
The solid oak table occupied most of the space in the office, which wasn’t particularly large. The mayor’s armchair looked especially comfortable, as did the chairs there for visitors.
A smaller copy of the monitor back in the office above them hung behind Chon Sook, while the indispensable steel vault with magical protection was to his right.
His table only had a display, a keyboard, a mouse, and a couple of paper files on it.
The mayor was dressed that time in a very expensive three-piece suit that was a sort of…salad-green color. But however gaudy it might have been, the color somehow suited him.
“So.” The Mayor steepled his fingers and stared at Gribovsky with sharp, piercing eyes, forcing him to abandon his clownish persona immediately. “What do you think?”
“Just like the police said,” the red-haired man replied in a cold, emotionless voice. He even straightened up and somehow looked a bit older. “A double homicide intended to hide the traces of magic from the Demonology School. A summoning spell.”
“What level summoning?”
“According to Alexander Dumsky, my consultant, the spell summoned a soldier demon of a bottom legion. I beg your pardon, Mayor, for not yet memorizing all of Department 6’s classification.”
“You’ll take the test tomorrow. And you’ll get 10% docked from your salary if you get even one question wrong.”
“Sir. Yes, Sir.”
Alex wasn’t surprised that Gribovsky made no attempt to argue with the Asian man. Despite his rather diminutive height, his lean stature, and the fact that Alex’s fingertips weren’t tingling (which meant that Chon Sook wasn’t a particularly powerful wizard), the mayor emanated force.
It was a sort of unyielding force from deep within.
Then the mayor turned to Doom, bringing that force down on him like an avalanche. Alex immediately realized that Chon Sook didn’t actually need Duncan to make Alex toe any line he wanted him to.
“What do you think, Mr. Dumsky?”
Alex looked at Gribovsky, then back at Chon Sook.
“The summoning was done three days ago,” he answered. “It was a success. The bodies were hidden by a shroud of magic to keep them from being discovered earlier, and the man who did it—”
“Human? Are you sure?” the Mayor interrupted, lifting a hand.
“Yes,” Alex nodded. “The magic he used is exclusive to human demonology.”
“That’s good,” Chon Sook replied with a nod of relief. The most suspicious thing was that he actually looked very happy to hear it, almost as though he’d been relieved of a heavy burden. “What can you tell me about the summoner?”
“He’s experienced,” Doom replied instantly. “Very experienced. Not someone who’s just read a thing or two. Not self-taught, either. Well-trained. Really well-trained. His teacher might have even been as good as—”
“As good as yours,” the mayor finished. “But that’s hardly possible.”
“I think so too. Or rather, I thought so. Until tonight.”
“Your teacher is dead, Mr. Dumsky. As are all his students, you being the sole exception.”
All around Doom, shadows rose up. They crept over the oaken table like greedy, hungry jackals, leaving rot and decay in their wake. It was as if the table was aging thousands of years with each passing second, gradually vanishing into the dust of ages past.
The air grew heavy and acrid.
The light was dying away.
Suddenly, the sound of a gun cocking brought Alex back to his senses.
The glittering muzzle of the enchanted pistol did more to pull him back than any bucket of ice water would have.
Doom reigned in his powers.
The shadows vanished, the light brightened once again, and the air was fresh and even pleasant.
Slowly, Gribovsky holstered his gun.
“Have you heard of anyone else practicing demonology?” the mayor asked as if nothing had happened.
“No,” Alex snapped. “After that incident…which, I see, you are well aware of…all my fri—… I became the only demonologist in the city. All the rest are either frauds who’ve read too much pulp shit or talentless beginners who wouldn’t survive their first summoning rite. Given the number of demons you’ve caged, there must be a lot of them.”
“Knowledge is spreading faster than we’d like it to.” Chon Sook stood up, walked over to the window, and clasped his hands behind his back. He was just a small man against the backdrop of the endless city, but he still he conveyed a sense of indomitable willpower and force of character. “Anything else?”
Doom sighed and massaged the bridge of his nose.
He would’ve preferred to keep some aces up his sleeve, only…he didn’t want to share the fate of the creatures who had watched him with hungry eyes as he walked over to the mayor.
He’d been caged once. And he was prepared to do quite a bit to make sure that didn’t happen again.
“He’s an Adept.”
“Are you sure?”
“Because he knew I’d be using the Black Fire of Truth. And not only did he know that, he made sure to conceal himself from the spell. And he set a trap. If I hadn’t spotted it, what remained of Gribovsky and me would’ve been brought here inside a vacuum cleaner.”
“Hey, pumpkin, w Why am I hearing about this for the first time just n—”
“Agent Gribovsky,” the Mayor said calmly, and the lieutenant stopped talking at once and just squinted at Alex. The latter ignored him.
The two were on opposite sides of the barricades. Doom didn’t have to inform the officer of every little thing going on right under his nose.
“In just a few hours, Mr. Dumsky, you’ve given me more information than our analysts have been able to in three months.”
“Three months? Has that masked guy been roaming the city for three months?”
“Masked?” Chon Sook stopped contemplating the view and stared at Alex. “He was wearing a mask?”
“Yeah,” Doom replied with a shrug.
“Why didn’t you mention that right away?”
“Because, unlike everyone else here, I’m still not used to sitting in the headquarters of a non-existent organization, discussing a problem that, according to everything there is to read in Atlantis, also doesn’t exist.”
Chon Sook just nodded. Then we went over to the vault, opened it with an ordinary-looking steel key, retrieved two very thick paper files, and slid them across the table to Alex.
“What are they?” Doom asked.
“The first is our set of statutes. The second is all the information we have on the Mask’s case.”
“The Mask, sir?” Gribovsky looked depressed. “We already nicknamed him! He’s the Elusive Demonologist.”
“If I hear that name again, you’ll get a jeep as your new car.”
“Okay, okay, I’ll shut up.”
“You may go, Mr. Dumsky. Agent Gribovsky will drive you back to your apartment. Until you’re called on again…try to keep your job.”
“And what happens if I get fired?”
“Then you’ll be flying business class to one of two destinations: the island or—”
The mayor didn’t finish his sentence. He didn’t need to.
Taking both files, Alex stood and, without saying goodbye, left the office.
- Apprentice (0-250)
- Practitioner (250-1000)
- Mystic (1000-3000)
- Adept (3000-6000)
- Master (6000-13000)
- Grandmaster (???)
- Archmaster (???)
My name is Kirill Klevanski. I was born in Russia, in St. Petersburg, and English isn’t my native language.
I have always been fond of fantasy worlds and magic creatures, and so I found myself writing a fantasy novel one day.
My career as an author began when I was eighteen. I got my first contract with a publishing agency easily. I wrote 4 books for that series and then I got bored. The publisher didn’t like that.
At the age of twenty, I suddenly found myself among the most popular Russian fanfic authors. My fanfic of ‘Harry Potter’ got over 1.000.000 reads in under seven months.
At the age of 22 I was a “real author” with my own printed book series. Blah, blah, blah…
Had I achieved any real success?
Come on now! It would’ve been just one more boring and hardly believable story if I’d had!
All the top publishing houses in Russia had banned me from literary events and wouldn’t work with me.
...I was only twenty-three, however, my literary career had collapsed and been buried...
“Ha-ha! Go cry to your mommy”, someone said.
No, thanks. His Mom was my #1 fan.
The internet has given us freedom. And so, thanks to the internet, I continued writing and self-published my works on many book sites.
More and more, book by book, I used each free minute I had to create new fantasy worlds. Some of my books became rather popular, while others were… just a tad awful.
At one time, I stopped writing.
I wasn’t having as much success as I’d dreamed about. Instead, I got my diploma and went on to work as a History teacher.
“Ha-ha again! An even better ending for the story of such a cocky man!”
Yeah… I stopped writing, but I never stopped reading. One day, I came across two genres—LitRPG and Wuxia. The idea for an epic saga came to my mind in an instant!
The "Dragon Heart” saga has become one of the most read fantasy series in Russia. Over 10,000,000 reads in just one and a half years.
The series “Dragon Heart” has 12 books and over 1100 chapters out already, as well as its own fan club. The whole story is planned out (I won’t get bored of this one, promise) and will have over 2000 chapters and 20 books.
Nowadays, this story is popular all over the world.
That’s why I came here to tell you my story.