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New Shipment – by Natalie McKay

Alia walked pass the high-end store fronts, filled with clothing, jewellery, hats and other luxurious items. Nobody would guess that a shady, other worldly magic shop also shared their space, an alley really. Dovev Alley was small, narrow, surround by two large three-story brick and stone century buildings. Dumpsters filled the first third of the alley, giving it a distinct aroma while at the same time keeping most humans away.

The Magick Emporium was just past the dumpsters and other side entrances for the shops. The steel sign flapped over the emerald green door, with equal green display window next to it. Just a few more feet down the alley was a truck, with four young men, carrying some large wooden crate down the steps into the basement. Maalik not only owned the shop, he lived below a trait all trolls shared.

“What’s in the create?” A high pitch voice stole Alia’s attention. She looked behind her, then up where the voice came from. Up on the fire escape platformer sat a young girl, with bright, sparkly purple hair. Kleio.

“I have no idea.” Alia said with a sigh. The spirit child was quickly becoming an annoyance, showing up at random times, drawing way too much attention. “Do your Keepers know you’re out again?” She asked, waiting for the delivery men to leave before she entered Maalik’s lair.

“No.” The girl sounded abashed. “Don’t tell!”

“You shouldn’t be here. Maalik doesn’t like the Order, and by the size of that crate, I think he got himself into something big.” Alia said, crossing her arms. Kleio jumped down off the fire escape to land next to Alia.

“Don’t make me leave. Please? I promise to be good.”

“Fine. But the first whiff of a Warrior or Inquisitor and you’re off. Maalik doesn’t need you to bring him any more trouble.” Alia said. The four men returned to the delivery truck and backed out of the alley. Kleio began to jump up and down like any other eight year old who was given permission to do something out of their routine. She bounded down the cement stairs and into Maalik’s apartment with Alia right behind her.

“What is it? What is it?” Kleio asked, going straight for the crate which had been set down in the middle of the Troll’s living room. The underground apartment was dark and damp, there were only a couple of small windows that barely let in any light. All around the living room was shelves of dust covered books, vials and jars of a number of odd items related to potions for wizards or other spirits to use. There were other rooms in the apartment filled with just as creepy and illegal objects that kept Maalik in business.

Maalik was in his disguise, having a charm of his own that hid his large body, long ears and ugly face. Though, Alia thought that he should check the charm again, though he looked human, many of his troll like features still seemed to shine through.

“Alia? You’re late!” He spoke in a grizzled voice, then stopped dead in his tracks as his red eyes focused on the purple haired kid jumping around his shipment. “Tell me that is not the artificial spirit?” He asked.

“The shop doesn’t open for another two hours. I’m only here because you asked a favour.” Alia said, sounding exhausted. She then turned her attention back to Kleio. “That’s right. I don’t think you two have met yet.”

“We don’t need to meet. I’ve heard all about it…” Maalik said, rising anger in his voice. “Take it away. I will not have the Order poking their pointy noses in here! Not now!”

“I am real!” Kleio spoke, her voice sharp with irritation. “The Order won’t know I’m gone for another hour, and they can’t track me either.”

“You are trouble.” Maalik said shifting from foot to foot, his beady eyes moving to Alia. “Her. Out. Now.”

“Not until I see what’s inside!” Kleio insisted. She would not be kept out of the discussion. “I promise not to tell.” She crept towards Maalik, who almost took a step back, and gave him a pitiful sad face. “Pleeeease!” she begged.

Maalik seemed to gargle under his breath and moved into one of his dark corners, away from Kleio. Alia wasn’t surprise at this prejudice, the spirits never took well to those who were half breeds, a mixture of bloods from the two different worlds. With Kleio, it was an entirely different story. Nobody had ever heard of a spirit coming into creation like she did. Born through Artificial Intelligences on the Internet and World Wide Web, the little girl before them was a bi-product of Humankind’s technology and innovation. Which made her a prime test subject to the Order. Alia wouldn’t say she approved of the Order of Dynast’s methods, but she was not in a position to change things. The girl had become close to Alia ever since the day she saved her from the humans, so Alia felt some responsibility to try to help the girl when needed. Though the little internet spirit seemed to be able to take care of herself, at least when it came to sneaking out.

The girl knew how to get around, and annoy the Order at the same time.

“Fine.” Maalik’s voice rose out of the darkness, coming to his decision he moved towards the crate and with his hand, pried open the lid with one attempt. Kleio was on the other side of the crate and ducked as the lid was thrown above her head. Inside was layers of straw and packaging foam. Kleio took to it like a child unwrapping a christmas present. Maalik seemed to winch every time a Klieo reached into the crate. Eventually everything was cleared and the three stared down upon a golden sarcophagus.

“Maalik… what is that?” Alia asked, her body became tense as she faced the carved golden face staring up at them. A cold shiver ran down her body, her wolf sense told her danger was in that crate.

“A mummy.” Maalik answered.

“There’s a real mummy in there? Can I see it?” Kleio asked and reached to open the lid. Maalik’s large hand quickly grabbed the girl’s before she could touch the surface. There was a look that passed between the two. Alia had to give Kleio some credit, not many could stand up against an angry Troll. Maalik’s nostrils flared, his beady red eyes seemed to glow in the electric lights. Kleio’s pale white skin began to show off the odd binary code in a soft pale blue light, her dark blue eyes held the same intensity towards the troll.

“Kleio.” Alia said, stepping in and pulling the child back away from the create. “I wouldn’t open it.”

“Why?” She asked.

“It doesn’t feel right.” Alia said in a dark tone. The girl looked puzzled and confused up at Alia then over at Maalik.

“Who’s Mummy is it?” Kleio then asked, wanting some sort of information.

“Apep.” Maalik spoke. Alia froze, her sharp nails dug into Kleio’s shoulder which made the child scream.

“Are you insane Maalik?” Alia asked. “This isn’t some smuggling of spirit grass into the mortal world, this is the remains of an evil spirit.”

“It is for a client.” Maalik said. “Besides, you do not ask the questions. Now get the spirit child out and open the shop.” Alia didn’t hesitate, angry at the stupidity and greed of the Troll, she pulled the reluctant Kleio out of the underground hole.

“Don’t speak of this to anyone.” Alia warned the girl as she climbed the stairs and moved to unlock the green door of the shop.

“Is Apep really that dangerous?” Kleio asked, not understanding the significance. It appeared that the girl was without a sixth sense to detect unusual aura’s, or she would have picked up on the eerie feeling Alia called instinct. “It’s just a pile of bones wrapped up. I don’t understand why you are so scared of it.”

“I’m not scared. I’m cautions.” Alia said, her voice tighter and growing more annoyed the more Kleio persisted on the subject matter.

“Geez…” Kleio said under her breath.

“You should leave. Now.” Alia pressured. The girl looked up, hands on hips, wanting a fight, Alia just gave Kleio a stern look that wouldn’t waver. By the time she had the shop open, Kleio was gone. Alia wanted to leave with her, she didn’t know how she would be able to work knowing that thing was below her. Who would order the remains of Apep anyways?