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The Epic Battle Has Begun...
|Writer||The Ultimate Thinker|
|Artist||The Ultimate Thinker|
- There was just something in his eyes! Those green eyes! I know you won't understand, but...
- --Louisa, recounting the events that lead to her death to Misfortune.
- I understand, my lady. I think I have seen them. I've seen those same eyes.
- --Misfortune, commenting on his random earlier encounter with Alistair.
"The Magician" is the second issue of Volume 1 of the comic series "Misfortune", written by The Ultimate Thinker, for Paragon Comics. The story mainly focuses on the character of Alistair Baldrick and his backstory, along with an inside look on the murder and rebirth of Louisa Just.
Previous Issue: The Fool
London, 00:09, 22th November, 2016
The wind is blowing strongly, carrying multiple leaves as it swirls around. Out of the shadows of a corner, comes a man wearing an overcoat long enough to hide him completely. As a pair of cars cross the streets, the man approaches a small dark toned building with three floors, entirely dark on all of it´s windows except for a glass door on the ground floor. The man in the overcoat stands in front of it, looking up; then, he gently presses the handle and enters, basking in the light. Among the multiple flower plots, there is a receptionist table with a young lady focused on her computer.
"Oh! Good night, Sir!" - The young lady with brown eyes and curly hair greets the stranger with an odd twist of her eyebrow.
"Good night, madame. I´m here to see someone." - He smiles, raising his hand towards his silvery hat.
"At this hour, Sir? I wasn´t told..."
"Ms. Just, eh? She rarely gets a gentleman at night. She´s such... a quiet lady. May I ask how you know her?'" - She inquires, leaning towards the computer screen and quickly sending a text.
"I assure you, madame, I mean no harm."
"Ugh... Of course not, sir. I just wanted to make sure you knew her."
"Curiosity killed the cat, my dear." - He lays his hand upon the table. The young woman steps back, grabbing her skirt and composing her glasses. - "So what is her floor? I´m afraid I didn´t ask."
"The 2nd, Sir."
"I see. Thank you, my lady." - A thunder roars across the sky outside, flashing across both faces. - "Quite the marvelous night we are having, isn´t it?" - He gets on the stairs, climbling step by step.
"Why, it´s dreadful, Sir. All this wind and rain and... Oh! I´ll accompany you. That is my job after all." - She runs towards the stairs, almost falling in the process.
"No need, Julia."
"Oh but I insis... Sir, h-how do you know my name?" - She asks shocked, stepping back again.
"My dear, I shall be fine alone. I´m night walker after all. In fact, it´s very late, isn´t it?" - He asks, approaching with his purple glowing eyes. - "You should get some sleep."
The receptionist´s eyes begin to glow as bright. She stands still, motionless as if looking at a basilisk but remaining flesh and bone.
"Yes... It is late. Maybe I should get some sleep." - The glow vanishes as she closes her eyes and falls to the ground, her light feathered body catched efficiently by the man.
"That´s a good girl." - He lays her on the chair, stroking her neck and continues towards the second floor.
The man in the overcoat approaches the door and by merely touching the handle, opens it, coming in. As he crosss the white walled corridors, he takes out a cell phone from his pocket and rapidly calls out a number.
"Master, it´s me. I´ve found her. Well, what´s left of her." - The man remarks after his call is picked up. - "Yes. I am afraid she´s dead."
"Of course I´m dead! What would I gain by lying to you, detective?" - A voice screamed from the window, shaking the sparks brought about by the candles.
"No, Quentin, it´s this bloody ghost gone hysterical. I guess not even death changes women, does it?"
"Nothing can change a woman, Sir. Nothing." - Quentin responds through phone.
"Rigor mortis." - Misfortune demands as the ethereal form of Louisa opens the curtains ever so slightly, tipping an old bottle of wine that stood in a near shelf.
"You have quite the house, detective. No... I´m afraid I don´t like that name very much. How sould I call you...."
"Rigor mortis, Quentin!"
"Ah, yes, Sir! Her body´s hard. She´s been dead for a few hours. Poisoned for sure. There´s two cups of tea on the table. They require examination....Hmm, no traces of blood or fibers. Nothing that could lead to the genius killer of our dearest Louisa."
Loiusa approaches the table with the tarot cards and an incomplete game of chess. - "The White King has his work cut out for him. The Black Knight is right in the middle of his scheme.... And what´s this?" - She asks, grabbing the deck with her once human hands. If an ordinary man were to look at her now, he would only see a pack of floating cards. She draws one - The Magician. - "The Magician! I think I shall call you so, detective. Yes, you´re quite the sleight of hand after all."
"Ms. Just... don´t you ever shut up? - Misfortune looks her in the eyes. As usual, he carries a grin on his mouth and a fiery red coat with a victorian hat.
"Afraid not, dear. You see, there´s no penitence for speaking my mind when I´m already dead."
Misfortune laughs coldly.
"I can guarantee you there are worse fates than death. Quentin would know all about it." - Louisa shivers, returning the cards. - "Quentin. We shall alarm the police as soon as possible so they can conduct a more relevant examination but for now, good work. I´m already seeing the full puzzle but I need confirmation from our guest over here. At least we can say she was telling the truth about her murder. Return as soon as you..."
"Sir. If I may, I left a few slices of our best ham in the dining room should hunger strike. Would you be so kind as to consume them, please?"
Louisa sits on the counch, murmuring. - "Unbelivable. I was just murdered and this butler of yours is worried about pieces of meat." - Thunder strikes once more, echoing in the infinite.
"Mrs. Just." - Misfortune raises a glass of wine to her. Cheers to the dead.- "If I may be frank, your unfortunate death is at the bottom of my butler´s concerns."
"On the contratry, Sir." - Quentin remarks through the phone, exiting the apartment and buttoning his coat. - "It is not even a concern. Sorry to disappoint. My lord, I shall join you at once." - The call ends as a few steps are heard.
"So, Ms. Just, tell me what happened."
"As I said, I was murdered." - She rolls her eyes.
"I know, my lady. But I need more details. How did this boy, Alistair, murder you? And why? How is he like? Anything that you can tell me would be appreciated, really." - Louisa raises her chin and looks up. She doesn´t know what she´s doing, does she? She has kept her human looks: her short blonde hair, her middle age features. Everything. Is she truly certain she wants justice? If she gets it, she will proably leave this world for good. Is that truly what she wants? The pain of non-existence for the pleasure of fairness?
London, 00:13, 22th November, 2016
"Alistair, I think I´m going to bed. What about you?" - Paula Baldrick enters her son´s bedroom. It is entirely dark except for the computer´s screen light. Her son will soon loose his sight if he doesn´t reduce the number of hours he spends on it. - "Oh, Alistair, you´re still dressed!"
He slowly comes out of bed.
"Yes, indeed. I thought I could pay a visit to Mr. Brown´s."
"Well, not now. Do you know how late it is? And good lord, you´ve got your windows closed. There´s a gigantic storm out there. You´re not going out!"
"Oh common, mum. You know how much the kids there love me."
"I don´t care. I never enjoyed the idea of you working there anyway. Really, an orphanage? Such a dreadful place.... Look, Alistair." - She whispers, drawing his head closer to her chest. - "If you want to talk about Paul, you can talk with me. We never... I know how you must feel. You must feel... so alone. So unfairly treated. You´ve probably asked yourself why was he the one to die? He was almost like a father to you."
"He was my father."
"I know. But please of it think like this; God chose him to join him because he was such a good person and deserved to be on his side." - Paula starts crying. Alistair holds her tigher.
"Mum, you know I can´t bring myself to believe in any of those stupid ideas. But really, it´s not about Paul. He´s dead. It´s about me. We need to move on. For these two years I´ve been emerged in pain and guilt. I don´t want to continue like this. I do feel betrayed. I do feel alone. That´s why we need to go out.. we need to make new friends, new connections. We need to get a new life."
"You´re right! And all this time I thought you were the one who needed help."
"I do. We should both help each other. After all, as of now, who else do we really have?"
Paula wanted to mention Alistair´s grandparents, or his uncle. Or even his friends. But should she?
"Go to bed. It´s late. I´ll go in one foot and be back on the other."
"You always play me, don´t you?" - Paula asks as her son puts on his grey scarf, slides his hair backwards and guards the key in his pocket.
"Yes, I do." - He smiles happily and goes out the door.
A little dog runs over to the closed door, her tail swinging at the speed of light.
"We have Venus." - Paula whispered, knowing the little dog´s enormous affection for her son. And vice-versa.
"Alistair." - Louisa says, as she watches Misfortune drink the last of his wine. - "Alistair is really quite the peculiar boy. He wasn´t a brilliant student. In fact, at my subject, at Math, we was almost mediocre... But from what I´ve heard he was a genius at Philosophy, Biology, History and some others. I heard he was a nationally acclaimed piano and violin player. Let´s see.... He was also part of the school theatre.. He represented us in our fencing team. Quite a lot of talents if I dare say so."
"What about his personality?" - Misfortune asks.
"Well, he was rather quiet. A bit shy, perhaps. Very sarcastic. But I never thought of him as a murderer. I heard his biological father left him when he was young and his stepfather died of a tumour. That could have stained him forever but yet he still smiled. In fact, he actually seemed like a sweet boy to be honest."
"Abandoned twice... How unwanted he must feel. Sweet, you say? We both know how that turned out, don´t we?"
Louisa nods. - "When he came in, I should have suspected. There was something in his eyes. Those green eyes... I know you won´t understand but..."
Misfortune is drawn back to his encounter with the grey scarfed boy at the pub a few hours ago. The way their eyes crossed. The chilling feel he got. It must be the same person. Fate had united them before even he myself knew. - "Actually, I understand my lady. Ive seen them before. I´ve seen those same eyes... So our little murderer´s an actor, a philosopher and a musician. Would he play chess by any chance?"
"It´s possible. Why do you ask?"
"Well, I myself have a fetish for chess I´m afraid. Ever since that victory over Kasparov in Austria I haven´t found myself a worthy opponent though." - Misfortune tips the White King. - "Now, back to business. Why would our little murderer want to kill you, my dear?"
"I have no idea, to be honest. Perhaps he´s just a deranged psychopath."
"Ah! Alistair, so good to see you." - Said a middle aged man in dark brown suit next to a priest. He happily greeted a young teenager in grey with a green umbrella. - "Bad weather, uh?"
"Indeed but it could be worse, couldn´t it, Mr. Brown? For those of us with allergies like myself, I swear rain is like a gift from the heavens; clears the air and all."
"Can´t argue with that." - He shaked the young boy´s hand. - "Father, this is Alistair Baldrick. He teaches music to our kids."
The priest nodded respectfully.
"You should see him with the kids." - Brown raised his voice. - "They just love him. Leaves me a bit jealous, old chap." - He smiles openly. - "One day I´ll find out why they like you so much, Alistair.",
"If you dig too much, I´m afraid I´ll have to kill you." - Brown bursts into laughter, followed by the Priest. Alistair does the same after a few seconds, but he knows it wasn´t a joke.
"Father." - Alistair slides his hair back. - "If I may ask, why are you here?"
"Oh! Is it alright, Mr. Brown? For him to know?" - The priest asks Brown.
"Of course, Alexander. The kid works here anyway. He´ll find out."
"Well, then. We have a new kid here. Arrived this morning."
"Sad news." - Alistair comments briefly.
"Sad and disturbing. I´m afraid we are seeing a pattern and I was called in to check it in the name of our long time partnership with Mr. Brown´s Orphanage. You see, this is the 14th case of a child whom we´ve taken in, whose parents were murdered in... violent circumstances. Not violent. Hellish."
"So a 16-year old boy murders his math teacher and now that I have the soul of the teacher here before me, you do not seem to know the reason behind his actions?" - Misforune asks Louisa.
"My dear, you´re the detective. You have to figure some things for yourself, don´t you?"
"Alright." - He crosses his legs. - "Would you care to tell me how it all happened?"
"It was around 4 P.M. He came to my house and well, he was a student... So I let him in. I didn´t imagine myself in any sort of danger. We sat down... He said he had some doubt on a homework of his or regarding an exam and when I returned to the living room with some tea, he pulls out a gun and thretens to kill me!" - Louisa gets up, frustrated about the memories she carries in the dark corners of her mind.
"I see. And then he forced you to take the poison without your knowing under the threat of death."
"Yes." - Louisa bows her head. Shame, was it?
"How was the poison administered?"
"This will sound stupid.... But he poisoned me with... with toothpaste."
Misfortune puts a firm hand on his face and grins in a powerful tone.
"Fluoride poisoning.... Ingestion of a determined quantity of toothpaste can cause eventual death... And to the police officers, it will all seem like an accident. Or a suicide for that matter. Considering Quentin´s report, he didn´t fire a single bullet. We have nothing to get him on. Such a clever little murderer... Considering my eternal lack of luck, I presume he wore gloves?"
"Of course, he did." - Misfortune grins again. - "Murder with toothpaste." - He cries a small tear followed by some maniacal screams. - "This will prove to be even more interesting than I first thought."
"It´s not funny. We are talking about a murderer. We are talking about an innocent who lost her life. We are talking about me!"
"I know... That´s what makes it so enjoyable. All that witty and reserved disguise... A woman who is used to having power over children. How ironic that you should be murdered in such a way. That you should be murdered with toothpaste. Hahahaha!"
"I´ve had enough of you." - She screams while ascending to the roof, levitating. - "You were supposed to bring me justice and yet all you bring me is sorrow. I was murdered! I died. And then I saw a light, a white pure bright light that told me I had unfinished business to attend to... I do have unfinished business and it is your duty to help me finish it."
"My lady, I´m afraid you´re out of luck. Shouldn´t have called on a detective named Misfortune." - He grins again. But Louisa has had enough. She lunges forward, the force from her flight shocking everything in the room as the fury in her eyes plans to burn the man in red to nothing but ashes. Misfortune remains calm on the couch, filling another glass. As Louisa steps closer, she finds herself stuck in an invisible dome, which she can´t penetrate or bypass.
"Assistance, my lord?" - Says a newly arrived Quentin. - "I see it´s time to clean the trash. Let´s see if we can actually kill a ghost, shall we?"
"We have no clue as to who is behind these hideous crimes." - Mr. Brown looked at the kids, who layed silent in their sleep, like little angels who had experienced the hell that was life.
"The police will uncover the culprit. We can pray to that." - The priest declared firmly.
"Yes... they will... " - Said Alistair as he also glanced at the sleeping children. - "They will. Well, I just came to see if you and the kids were all right and... it seems you are. That´s enough to get me some sweet dreams. I should be going now. Got school tomorrow and my mom´s waiting for me."
"Give your mom my regards, will you? And take care, Alistair. This is a dangerous world we live in."
"All true. But remember, Alistair. God is watching over you. Never forget that." - Said the Priest as he shaked Alistair´s hand once more.
"Don´t worry, Mr. Brown. I shall." - He screams as he opens his umbrella and vanishes into the night from which he came. - "I know he´s watching."
Father Alexander and Mr. Brown go in, talking as they close the doors and turn off the lights: "They don´t make kids like these, anymore, do they Father?"; "Not at all." "A heart of gold that kid has, even after he lost his father..."
Alistair hurries along the path, reaching the front door of his building. - "God is watching over you..." - He laughs loudly. - "Who knows? Perhaps he is. Perhaps he is but is powerless to stop me. Powerless to stop the murder of that pathetic old woman... Powerless to stop the murder of the parents of all those orphaned parasites... Powerless to stop me!" - Alistair himself can´t stop. He is hysteric in his madness. Demonic in those green eyes of his. - "Powerless... Hahahahahahha." - Thunder strikes... The Epic Battle has truly begun. - "Powerless..."
As the confrontation between Alistair and Misfortune draws closer, who is truly powerless to stop the other? Who is the cat and who is the mouse in this newly found chase? Who will live? And who will die? Round and round life goes; And where it stops? Only Destiny knows.
Appearing in “The Magician”
- Alistair Baldrick
- Quentin Stride
- Louisa Just
- Paula Baldrick
- Julia Law
- Father Alexander (First Appearance)
- Spencer M. Brown (First Appearance)
- Westminster, London
- Misfortune´s Mansion
- Just´s Apartment
- Baldrick´s Apartment
- Spencer Brown´s Home for the Youth
- The Magician Card
- The Chess Board
- Present in the cover of the issue is the eponymous "Magician" card, who is the second of the Major Arcana, the most well known tarot cards that will feature in all of the future covers. The Magician is a reference to Misfortune while the Fool is a reference to Alistair, completing the duo that represent both characters.
- Father Alexander is named as such after a dear friend of the author.
- Exploration of the character that is Alistair Baldrick and his respective motivations was something the author was really excited to do and that is why Isue #2 stands as his favourite among those he alredy has fully envisioned.
- This issue features a bit of action, of which Misfortune will be lacking as the story moves forward.
- Several parts of this issue are semi-biographical in nature.