2. A Life Without a Name

After a long day of upkeep in the dungeon he oversaw the man, called the wizard, removed his robe and replaced it with a suit. Driving on the surface with such medieval attire could be dangerous, especially if any of the adventures who lived there had caught a glimpse of him during one of their silly raids. He had a convenient lie prepared for anyone who asked what he did for a living, but most people didn’t care. He wasn’t particularly remarkable at all; his short graying hair marked his age, the beard he wore was fake and he also had a convincing wig to go with it. But once he had taken his robe and his fake hair off, he looked so plain in his everyday business suit that sometimes people would run into him by mistake.

That day had been a good one for the wizard. He had been offered a promotion by his boss. The man in charge of the whole project, Adrien Cypher. The wizard had told Adrien he would think about the offer. But he had every intention of taking the promotion. It was just how the game was played, the delicate dance between worker and employer, for some a true art, and for others a strange magic never to be mastered. But the wizard knew a lot about magic, it was his one true specialty, his passion, and the reason he bothered to hide his identity every day when he worked in the underground.

Traffic in the Layered City was sparse when he went home. But it always was, he left work at 8pm every night. He had heard many call the sparkling skyscrapers that reflected the moonlight, beautiful. But they were an eyesore for him, a testament to humanities abandonment of its birth right, and it’s embrace of science, and the arts of reason.  There was so much to be gained in the hidden arts of the past. But no one within the Layered City had listened, save Adrien Cypher, the one man why could see what power was. But a man like him would look to any avenue for power, he had no passion for magic, just a desire to see what it could bring about. The Wizard though, he wanted to feel the power flow though his veins, he would do whatever it took to see the will of magic done.

That lay-about son of mine probably still hasn’t found a job yet. He thought about the boy laying around at home watching TV making excuses for why he hadn’t done anything productive all day. 22 years old and he still can’t get his act together.

The wizard let his thoughts wander as he pulled into the driveway and stepped out of his car. Maybe he would celebrate his new promotion by going into work a little later then normal and actually eating breakfast for once.

“Excuse me sir,” the voice came from behind him and practically made him jump out of his skin. He whirled around ready to face his would be assailant, and then when he saw who had spoken, he almost jumped out of his skin a second time. 

Standing behind him was a young woman with blond hair and fire in her eyes. She had strange shoes, that looked like long plastic boots. The wizard knew they were meant to brace her legs so she didn’t hurt herself while falling or running at extreme speeds. He had to remind himself to keep calm.

Have I already been found out? He thought to himself. No, there’s no way, Super Hero’s don’t go into the underground there must be something else going on.

“How can I help you Miss. Speed Demon?” Super Hero’s always gave themselves strange names and hers didn’t sound right as the words left his mouth they got tangled up and caused him to stutter a bit. Also saying miss before her made up name just didn’t work at all and made it sound like he was trying too hard. What was worse was that he didn’t feel that he had the right to criticize to much since he called himself the wizard, and he even thought of as his true name, more so than the name he was given at birth.

“Sorry, sir I didn’t mean to scare you,” Speed Demon was being rather polite. There certainly wasn’t anything wrong with that except for the fact that it ran contrary to her public persona. He had seen her on the news, she was a fast-talking woman with an attitude, who didn’t have patients for things like subtly and tact. She flirted as she fought crime and still found time for silly hobbies like video games and those strange card games that his son was into. If he didn’t know what she looked like the wizard might suspect that he was talking to someone else entirely.

“Oh, don’t worry about it,” he responded. “I just didn’t expect to see anyone outside this time of night.”

It really was quiet, but he liked it that way. Living out in the Suburbs really added to the ordinary, nothing interesting about him, image that he worked so hard to cultivate to keep everyone from suspecting that he was leading a double life.

“Is Jake home?” she asked without giving him much time to question her.  

“My son?” He said confused. “What could you possible want with him—I hope he’s not in some kind of trouble.” It seemed unlikely but Super Heroes were sometimes given law enforcement authority when an arrest was too dangerous for a normal cop to make. But that didn’t make any sense, Jake knew some magic but it was hardly enough to make him dangerous. And the wizard didn’t even think Jake himself knew much about the magic he could use, he just picked it up in bits and pieces from growing up around the wizard. Jake wasn’t even aware of the double life that his father was leading.

The Speed Demon laughed, though with his magic senses he could tell that she wasn’t laughing because she found the situation funny. She was getting impatient but she was trying so hard to be polite that she didn’t know how else to react. Humans coping mechanisms where fascinating to the wizard and with his magic senses he could see deeper into them than most. But agitating a super hero wasn’t something he could afford to do with that promotion on his horizon so he decided to tell her what she wanted to know.

“I’m just getting home now so I don’t know if Jake’s home, but you can come in if you want and we can check.”

“Thank you,” she said with a smile. Then she hesitated for just a moment, seemingly not knowing if she should ask a question that had just come to her. The wizard’s powers let him understand the emotions of others, but he couldn’t read their minds. So, he had to wait and see if she was decided to ask the question or not. “He didn’t tell you, did he?”

“Tell me what?” the wizard said as he fiddled with his keys to try and find the right one to unlock the house.

“I’m his girlfriend,” the wizard dropped his keys and stood disbelievingly still for a moment. He turned to the super hero to use his powers to check her emotions. But to his surprise her emotions were genuine, he felt love, and stranger still pride. She was proud to be his girlfriend like it was some sort of accomplishment, like he was some sort of prize worth winning.

The wizard was shocked. Having a superhero girlfriend was a luxury usually reserved for sports stars, politicians, and fashion models. A superhero could go after almost any celebratory they wanted and they had fan boys and fan girls on every corner of the world. He couldn’t imagine any of them wanting anything to do with his useless son. And yet he couldn’t deny what was in front of him.

He scrambled to pick up his keys and unlock the door trying his best to hide his honest shock. It wasn’t working, he could tell that his guest was getting agitated with his attitude. He reminded himself to breath and keep his pulse in check. He was certain that she only had superspeed as a power but he didn’t want to risk anything if she had super sense as well. He didn’t know much about the heroes on the surface even though he could name most of the prominent adventures who went underground and all their skills and preferences. There was no point in taking risks he could avoided with a little caution.  

The door finally clicked open and he pushed the heavy door inward revealing his plain looking living room. He didn’t keep a lot of decorations and he had even less need for heavy and expensive cabinets that were hard to move. His son was waiting patiently on the couch. Normally he was watching TV when the wizard came home, but on that day the TV was off, he had probably known ahead of time that his girlfriend was coming over at some point.

“Welcome home—oh hi Megan,” his son tried to contain his excitement by walking over to the entryways as casually as possible. But the wizard could tell that he was excited to see her and could barely contain himself.

“Sorry I’m late I had to deal with a shootout in the inner circle on my way here.”

“It’s fine, I saw it on the news.”

“Did I look cool?” she asked flirtatiously.

“I—umm—yes,” Jake said as awkwardly as humanly possible.

Looks they really love each other, the wizard thought to himself. It makes me sick.

“Dad, there’s something I have to tell you,” his son said seriously.

Oh no, what now, tell me you didn’t get her pregnant I can’t deal with a superhero baby in my family right now. He thought.

“I’m moving out.”

“Oh…” the wizard said in shock. “You’ll be moving in with—uhh—Megan?” Jake nodded affirming the theory.

The Wizard had been deeply afraid at the thought of having a Super Hero stopping into his house so frequently. The last thing he could afford with his new promotion was getting caught by a super. But the news was rather happy for him. With his son gone he didn’t have to come home every night. He could spend more time working, since his son didn’t know about the true nature of his work, he had to make sure he came home every day so as to not arouse the boy’s suspicions. But he had to be sure he didn’t seem to happy, the boy probably knew since he inherited his father’s empathy. But keeping Speed Demon from knowing was important, no point in arousing any more suspicions then necessary.

“Well son,” he started making sure to weave bits of joy and sadness into the tones of his voice. “I’ll miss you, but I’m proud of you.” It wasn’t a wholly untrue statement. The Wizard was glad that his son was finally making something of himself. And it was impossible to not miss someone when they had been part of your life for so long. But the way Jake looked at him it was clear he knew what the wizard was really feeling.

“We’ll take care of the moving Mr. Matic,” Speed Demon said with a smile on her face. “Jake tells me that your rather busy most of the time so you don’t have to worry about anything.”

At first the wizard panicked, how does she know my last name, and then he thought about it for a moment. Right she’s in a romantic relationship with my son, if she knows his last name, she also knows mine. He had to be careful about who knew his name, any part of it. Knowledge of a name provided power over a person.  

“I appreciate the consideration Speed Demon…”

“Please, call me Meagan, Meagan Evens.”

Well, well, looks like my useless son has a use after all. Thanks to him I just learned the real name of one of the most prominent heroes in the City.

“I can at least hire a moving truck for you. My son has quite a lot of stuff to move.”

“That would help a lot,” she said with a smile. “Thank you.”

The speed demon seemed a lot nicer in person then she did when he saw her in TV gallivanting around like she owned the city. But then again, she was trying to impress a potential future Father in Law so she was probably on her best behavior.

“Well I won’t keep the two of you any longer,” the wizard said. “You probably have a date to be getting to…”

Almost as soon as the words had left his mouth Speed Demon was gone and his son along with her. Her incredible speed carrying them out the door. He hadn’t even seen the door open but it hadn’t broken or anything so she must have opened it and closed it again on her way out.

The wizard didn’t plan on worrying about the details of his son’s relationship with a super hero. Especially if that relationship brought him information he wouldn’t normally have. And it even had the added benefit of getting the boy out of his house and his hair.

So, the wizard headed to bed. He was a master of lucid dreaming and knew how to manipulate his own dreams to maximize his learning. With lucid dreaming he could think process information as he slept and he could come up with new ideas. When he awoke the next day, he had already come up with a few ideas for how he could learn more about Megan and her other super hero friends while not seeming to suspicious. He didn’t bother to check to see if Jake was home, it didn’t matter to him either way.  

The next day as he drove to work in the morning rush hour, he was rather elated at the thought of how fortunate he had been lately. He should have known that nothing good comes without a price. And some prices are stranger and costlier then he could ever foresee.

When he drove into the back ally that served as his work parking lot. And shimmed down the sewer hole that served as his works main entrance. He was in an extremely good mood. As he put on his fake beard, wig, and his wizard robe, he even hummed a little to himself, something that was rather out of character for him.

As he walked into his lab to start his morning work routine, an odd sight met him. One of his slimes was out of place and had made its way into his lab. Only it wasn’t shaped like a slime anymore, it was shaped like a person and, somehow, it was reading one of his books.

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