She stood in the doorway, staring back at all the men staring at her. Some with looks of horror, some with looks that made her skin itch unpleasantly. A man brushed past her roughly, patting her on the rear. “Get me a cup of coffee, would you, sweetheart?” He laughed as he entered the room, joining the others.
No. This guild meeting was definitely not where she belonged. One guy took a step forward, his apologetic expression asking her to stay. He seemed nice enough but she left anyway.
A quick dash across the street brought her to another meeting. This time the magicians were almost entirely women. “Grab a glass of wine and come chat,” said a smiling redhead near the door. Which set her at ease, along with the impression that these ladies seemed capable of getting their own damn coffee. And they’d probably keep their hands off her butt, too. For the most part it was a warm, welcoming atmosphere and she was able to relax. A few looks here and there were directed at her tattoos, her electric blue hair with hot pink streaks. A joking comment about the low rise of her tight pants that didn’t feel like a joke after a moment, but what the hell. It didn’t bother her.
After a while, she realized she was once again in the wrong guild. The light was too bright in the meeting room. She knew nothing of arts and crafts on Pinterest and the whole billionaire boyfriend thing was weird. She just didn’t quite belong, so she slipped away, back out into the night.
There were other guilds, of course. Some she’d already tried, some she knew instinctively were not for her. Like that group of dour types that like to call themselves mages with a capital M as if that made them special, noses in the air and full of self-importance. There was one guild she’d hung out in for a while but they were pretty dour too, in their own way. Plus they wanted her to wear a fedora and she did not do hats.
She walked through the night, following the energy of the city streets blindly. It led her deeper into canyons made of glass and steel that hummed with a rhythmic counterpoint to the vibrations of concrete and asphalt. Neon and LED lights sizzled and popped with a snap of her fingers. The whirr of a WI-FI signal buzzed across her awareness just in time for her to duck to avoid a spell.
Helluva hex message somebody just sent, she thought. Movement flickered in the corner of her eye. She followed it, her gaze meeting that of a man standing on a street corner. Tall. Battered leather jacket doing a poor job of hiding hard muscle and a big gun. Holes in the knees of his jeans and boots covered in god knows what. Beard scruff on a face that would get panties thrown at him at that last guild meeting. Full lips that made dirty thoughts whisper in the back of her head. But it was his eyes that really drew her in, dark green and full of secrets.
Then he was gone, crossing the street as if trouble followed close behind. She thought about following, too, but some instinct told her she’d see him again. Somewhere in the night, somewhere in the city. She continued on her way.
The hum of magic reached her, a thump-thump in the soles of her feet like cranked up bass just beyond the doors of a nightclub. She followed it through twisting dark alleys and narrow side streets. Music and the energy of a crowd grew stronger the closer she got until finally she reached a door. Floating neon sigils identified the place as a guild. A flare of hope blossomed. Could this be a guild she could call home?
Just as she was about to put her hand on the door, it swung open. She stepped inside and swept her gaze over the room. It was large and teeming with all different sorts of magicians, dancing spells into existence. Underneath those differences, though, lurked a common foundation. The flash of fang and threat of claw. Silken fur and gleaming feather. Most of all, magic. Fire, earth, air, and water. Neon, steel, cyberspace, and music. Endless night, endless mystery.
And look at that - that green-eyed tall drink of trouble was at the bar. She smiled as she joined the magicians on the dance floor.
Yes. This was where she belonged.
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