16th September 2015.
The next day Jackson awoke with a banging headache, as if somebody was banging a drum from inside his head. Slowly, he rose to his feet limply and dragged himself into his en suite. Jackson gazed into the mirror and saw a very unhappy face before him.
His eyes looked hollow, the area around them sunken and dark. Jackson’s skin was pale and he looked at his bare chest to see three large scratches, courtesy of the raven from the previous night. He seemed to have lost weight since the night before, Jackson had never been too fat nor too skinny, but always well-built whilst not having the body of a supermodel. Jackson turned on the cold water tap and plugged the drain in the washing basin, letting it fill up to its brim and then he dunked his head in. It sent a shock down his spine as if he was freezing all over. Faster than a panther, Jackson whipped his head back and shuddered, now fully awake and with a mop of dirty blonde hair dripping down his forehead .
Looking into the mirror once again, Jackson couldn’t help but cringe ever so slightly. He never had liked his body, not any of it – from his over-sized chin to his dull brown eyes. There were only two features Jackson found acceptable of his appearance, his nose and his eyelashes.
Quickly, he slipped on his jeans, a dark grey t-shirt and a red and black plaid shirt. Jackson finished this off with a pair of black Timberland’s, his silver watch and pendant. Today he would skip breakfast as he knew that surely Merlin would call the security council. Jackson lived alone within the walls of the Tower of London were some of the other staff were accommodated in a small bungalow, a little place but it was his with no restrictions – what more could a 16 year old Magician want?
He ran out onto the main courtyard just in front of the White Tower where in the grass lay a circle of daisies. The circle was enchanted by Merlin, the daisies never died and stepping into the circle made Jackson completely invisible – handy when all the tourists are around. Jackson stomped down twice with his left foot on the slightly damp and squelchy grass and the ground underneath him disappeared. His first journey down the Rabbit Hole (as Jackson named it) ended in a trip to the infirmary and a broken arm.
The hole goes down by at least 50 ft. in complete pitch black darkness. To end up with a minimal number of broken bones or none at all for that matter, one must focus and not be falling. They must become the fall. Jackson took a breath and it was as if time slowed down, and let his body float to the movement of the fall and pictured himself standing at the bottom of the hole. Surely enough, Jackson made a perfect landing on his feet as if he had been standing in the same spot all along.
The bottom of the hole was lit up by torches a long a wall revealing a corridor heading further downwards at a gentle gradient. Jackson jogged down the corridor to a pair of large oaken doors which opened as he stepped in front of them. The chamber consisted of a round table of twelve seats placed equidistantly along its circumference. Ten of them were currently occupied – at one end sat three half-decayed ghosts in suits of armour, three skeletons with sharp spears, two World War Two army officers, Merlin and the current head of security (Edward Cullingham – an intelligent muscle head in a tight suit and buzz cut). Jackson took the seat next to the empty chair directly opposite Merlin’s – a normal wooden chair just like the others, except with a different crest on it’s back. A dragon. The chair of Arthur Pendragon, the once and future king.
“Thank you all for coming,” croaked Merlin. His eyes looked worse than Jackson’s. “Now, Mr. Cullingham, would you care to explain to me as why we have our own private army of mortals and undead soldiers, yet none of them appear last night when we have a break in?”
“Lord Ambrosius, sir…” began Edward.
Merlin banged his fist on the table causing it to shake. Something’s wrong, Jackson thought, Merlin’s never this angry.
“I am not you Lord, Mr. Cullingham! I am simply protecting what I promised my King I would always protect until his return, and last night that promise was nearly broken.” Merlin took a deep breath. “She’s back. I had heard rumours of her return but had never believed them to be true, I thought she had died. Morgan LaFey has returned and seeks vengeance for the death of her son, Mordred LaFey – the usurper.” Jackson looked at Merlin’s hands. The old Warlock was digging his nails into his palms.
“There was an interference with your magic last night, sir. The necromancy spell could not function.” Edward was sweating slightly.
“How is that possible?” Jackson was perplexed, if Merlin is the world’s most powerful Warlock, then how could his magic be tampered with? “The signal on the pendant, Merlin.”
“Yes, it was weak. There may be one explanation. The ravens, Jackson.”
“The ravens?” Jackson didn’t understand what he meant.
Edward sighed. “It is said that if the ravens began to leave the Tower, then the country would be in grave danger, Jackson. How long have you lived here now? Never bothered to go on a tour?”
“Saw plenty last night, thanks, Edward. I was chased by one of those ravens.”
“Jackson Hardacre! Remember what I taught you! What did the raven do?” Merlin glared at Jackson like an angry teacher would to a naughty year seven boy.
“It chased after me for the pendant.” Jackson looked into Merlin’s eyes, it was as if he was being stabbed with a dagger. “It left with Morgan.” Still not enough. “Because…she’s a witch!”
“The raven was her Familiar. A spirit, her servant. Usually an animal which can take on human form.” Jackson smiled triumphantly. “But why did she want the pendent?”
“A distraction. You were the only on who noticed the disturbance. The Familiar kept you away from Morgan.” Merlin rose to his feet. “It shall be your job to track down the Familiar, Jackson.”
“Me? And do what with it?”
“Yes, you! Don’t you want to be a Warlock?” Merlin groaned. “Find it, use it locate Morgan’s lair, then dispose of it!”
Jackson had never been given such a big task. One he dreaded. From what he understood of Familiars, they were still human spirits – would what he really be killing…murdering be human?