Uncivil War, Chapter 3: Mediation

July 21, 1861.

The Executive Mansion, Washington D.C.

“Solomon said, ‘O assembly, which of you will bring me her throne before they come to me in submission?’ A powerful one from among the jinn said, ‘I will bring it to you before you rise from your place, and indeed, I am for this strong and trustworthy.’ Said one who had knowledge from the Scripture, ‘I will bring it to you before your glance returns to you.” And when Solomon saw it placed before him, he said, ‘This is from the favor of my Lord to test me whether I will be grateful or ungrateful. And whoever is grateful – his gratitude is only for himself. And whoever is ungrateful – then indeed, my Lord is Free of need and Generous.’”


— Qur’an, An-Naml, ayat 38-40

Teleportation, as it is most commonly known, is a useful skill. In its most basic sense, it is the opening of a temporary gateway into the Astral Plane, and moving through said plane to another such gateway at a near-instantaneous speed. The Astral Tunnel created by these spells is usually smoky, as is common to the Astral Plane, and also full of flashing, psychedelic colors. The more experienced the caster of the teleport, the faster they travel through the Astral Plane. Estella Fawns, though experienced, still took several seconds to teleport. Bill Stewart, however, was unaware of this, and screamed. Sound in the Astral Plane, though controllable, is audible by those who know how to hear it. 

Abraham Lincoln, for example, noticed an increasingly louder noise coming towards him. Looking around the Yellow Oval Room, where he was at the time, he saw nothing for an amount of time almost as long, then a bright flash turned the Yellow Oval Room into the Psychedelic-Colored Oval Room. 

The President jumped back. And cursed. 

Into the room came Bill Stewart, as white as a sheet. A white sheet, obviously, and one that had just been bleached. In the snow. On a cloudy day. He collapsed, still screaming.

Following him was a levitating Estella Fawns. Estrella Fawns was a woman with a short temper. A short temper, one might add, that was not helped by her aptitude towards fire magic, or pyromancy. Like a particularly unlucky angel, a halo of smoke surrounded her. Her eyes filled with a flickering blaze. Fire also danced up and down her body. Needless to say, she was upset. 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN!” she shouted, in a voice like a roaring wildfire. “YOU SENT THIS MAN TO FIND ME, TO RECRUIT ME TO A WAR THAT COULD BE OVER ALREADY IF YOUR SOLDIERS WERE BETTER TRAINED, TO RECRUIT MY BROTHER, AND YOU DIDN’T BOTHER TO LEARN IF HE WAS EVEN ALIVE?!

Abraham Lincoln was somewhat frightened. He didn’t show it, though. He opened his mouth to respond, to get Estrella to calm down, but inhaled enough smoke from her fire that he was unable to speak. 

I knew you weren’t a nice person, but even this… this is cold, even for you.” Her voice was quieter, like a controlled blaze, but one that could still yet escape and destroy an entire forest. 

Lincoln coughed. “Oren is dead, then?”

One could almost hear an ellipsis escape from Estrella’s mouth. “Were you even LISTENING?” Tongues of flame lashed from her hands, stopping just short of the President’s face.

He gulped. “That’s a shame. How did he die?”

Estrella blinked, bringing tears to her eyes, tears which evaporated near-instantly. “I… you don’t deserve to know.” She still remembered what had happened that night, about a week ago.

**********

July 14, 1861

Cardhithryn, Washington D.C.

With the grace of a particularly graceful cat, the man landed on the roof of Cardhithryn in the north of Washington. He looked through the window, and saw a bedroom, with somebody sleeping in the bed. Perfect, he thought, it must be one of my targets. Silently, he opened the window, and slipped in.

Drawing a knife, which glowed with power that seemed… unearthly, the man prepared to end the sleeping man’s life. The man appeared to have other plans.

Stirring, Oren Fawns, cryomancer, opened his eyes. Said eyes widened. He stood, so fast that the blankets remained on his bed. A ray of frost shot from his outstretched index finger to the intruder’s top incisors.

Clutching his forehead, the man screamed. 

Screaming is loud. Loud enough to wake the dead, sometimes, or to warn an American President that somebody was teleporting into his office. And in this case, it was loud enough to wake up Oren’s twin sister.

Estrella ran into her brother’s room, to see what was wrong. In the time it took her to wake up and run down the hall, the intruder had somehow created a bubble, blocking Estrella from doing anything. 

Oren felt the presence of a shield, surrounding him and the intruder, and, moments later, his sister. The intruder held up a knife. Oren tried to freeze the man’s hand, but the knife blocked his attack.

Suddenly, Oren was unable to cast any spells. The man ran forward, charging towards Oren, and stabbed his right arm.

Estrella was shocked. She tried to blast the intruder, but the shield dissipated the spell. What she knew, and the intruder didn’t, was that Oren was skilled in hand-to-hand combat as well as magic.

Not skilled enough, though. Oren tried to knock over the intruder, but his wound stopped him. The dagger glowed, and the last thing Oren Fawns saw was a bloodred light, in a vague knife-like shape, before pain took his consciousness.

**********

July 21, 1861.

The Executive Mansion, Washington D.C.

“Well, whatever happened to him,” Lincoln tried, “you could get revenge for his death by helping us.”

You… but…” She sighed. “Fine. You’re still a terrible person.”

One could tell that the President was excited. “Good. Now, I’m going to go find Hislop, and, Bill, would you be willing to DO WHAT I- well, actually, I can’t blame you for this. Go find Beckham.”

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