The Young Man And His Problems
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Phnom Penh, North of the city.

Bonarith had known better days, it must be said. His face hidden under a motorcycle helmet, he was now crossing the city on a scooter stolen a few hours earlier.

Everything had gone pretty fast the last few days. The discovery of the package, the wonder, then the experimentation, the glory, the rise of the group…

He swallowed his saliva once. That was the good part.

A simple box, stolen from a carrier near the central market, while the transporter was making its daily delivery. Nothing more banal for the street child he was: easy money, nothing more, until the opening. Each one neatly stored in a well crafted packaging, made of simple plastic, his future glory was in fact just facing him. At first, he thought that the risk he had taken was not worth it. About ten of these strange wands, a paper full of instructions that was lying around, which he had not treated with attention at the beginning.

On his scooter, he swallowed his saliva a second time.

He had started by taking one out, just to see. He had shaken though the air, without really paying attention, more by disenchantment than anything else, until a stray cat, passing through his field of vision, faced the costs and informed him of his power. Come to think of it, it was completely crazy, unreal.

He swallowed his saliva a third time. But what a jerk he'd been… A chance like that only happened once in a thousand lives and what did he do with it?

A weapon.

A fucking weapon.

It must be said that it had been tempting and very practical. It was instantaneous, memorable, it had the advantage of leaving no ballistic traces for investigators and of not raising any suspicions during controls. When he decided to use it, he already had a few names in mind, long-time enemies, bastards of the last species.

He swallowed his saliva for the fourth time. Stress is a constant source of salivation.

The fact is that the beginnings had been dazzling. By the look of the bodies, the rumour had spread like wildfire. Strange murders, a mysterious killer… He had even managed to rally a few street children, old comrades he had armed with the rest of the box, and to make a small reputation for himself with them. This way, he had made a lot of friends in a very short time and soon, people had even been chasing his services. He was courted by the most powerful ones, safe behind his own community, his pseudonym and his weapon. "The black magicians, led by the great lord of death."

He swallowed his saliva a fifth time. It was easier to salivate than to relax.

Everything had been fine for a while and suddenly everything was freewheeling.

Guys in black, who walk into the hideout, kill half his guys and lock up the others. Professionals. He would have arrived on time for once, he would have died too. Who the hell were these guys?

When he arrived in front of his last hideout, he put his motorbike on his crutch and ran to get some belongings. He opened the door of the building and threw himself on a small carpet, revealing a small trapdoor on a hand-dug cavity. As quickly as he could, he stuffed his pockets with as many objects as possible: Tickets, watches, jewellery… payments and petty theft in recent days, to ensure a new start elsewhere. Once the pockets were full, the question of the box, the one that had led to all this came up. There were four wands left. Should he take them, or should he run away, hoping that the men in black would give up the hunt by finding them?

A noise came into the room and he unsheathe as quickly as possible, fired with the wand from panic. A cat fell dead, smoking. He shrugged his shoulders: at least it wouldn't be a problem for anyone.

Undecided, he finally took the four remaining ones and slipped them into his bag, closed the hatch and fled. He closed the door of the building, by reflex, before turning back to his scooter. A European was hanging around. Why?

Suspicious, he looked in more detail, before deciding to approach it or not. A little old man, thinning hair, a badly cut beard… With a knife in his hand. At second glance, the tires had been punctured. Fuck it.

He Saliva a sixth time, made a discreet half- turn, to go back into the building. There was, as he remembers, an exit on the other side. He would decide what to do next. He opened the door again.

An colossus, in a suit, was now standing in front of him, less than a metre away. Short beard, tattoo visible near his shirt cuffs….

His brain did not immediately understand the urgency and when the order was finally given to the arm muscles to draw the wand, his brain received new information about a sharp pain in his face caused by a nasty left hook.

Bonarith lay on the ground, letting go the wand, while the colossus applied with surgical precision a blood constriction. He felt himself leaving and soon gave up any hope of resistance.

He stopped salivating for a moment. Was that over? Eyes in the dark, he felt the giant take him over his shoulder and drag him inside. In the background, a silhouette seemed to follow him… The European, no doubt. He was thrown into a sofa, no one said a word.

Gradually, he came to his senses. The European was facing him, sitting in an armchair and looking him straight in the eye. Further on, the colossus fitted a silencer on a pistol, a black suitcase at his feet. After a few seconds, the European spoke:

"Are you the one who claims to be in charge of the "black magicians?""""

The saliva returns quick.


- Yes or no?"

To be fast. He hadn't succeeded by babbling. He smiled and laughed with a full throat. Impress them. Scare them. Anyway, he didn't have anything better.

"Indeed, I am the great black magician and if you know my name, you should also know my powers… You are playing a dangerous game!

- I haven't asked you your name yet and I don't claim to know it yet. About the game we're playing, I think I have a better hand than you. So, your name, and please clearly answer my first question.

- I am the lord of death, the great magician!

A silence passed.

"We asked you what name your mother gave you dumbass, not your gothic emo nickname for your Internet jack off nights," exasperated the colossus.

- You don't understand who you're dealing with! Release me or pay the price" he said, without really believing it.

Hope was the key to life…. A new silence set in. The European, with his depressed looking, was always staring at him.

"Well… we'll get back to the basics. What's your name?

- …..

- Good. We're going to break the myth a little bit, maybe it'll free your language," said the European. You call yourself a mage?

- Yes !

- Because you killed three or four guys, with your wand, there?

- … Among other things?

What do you think a mage is, just a guy who kills people?

- Uh… No…

- Indeed, that's a murderer.

- But you saw the bodies?

- Yes, and?

- Nothing has caught your eye? I don't just kill people, it doesn't matter. Look at how I killed them.

- With your wand there? Very well. And if I take it away from you, what do you do?

- I could throw you one of my many curses!

- Like?

- …

- So, not a mage, we confirm. An artifact user, shall we say. Then what is this thing?

- It looks like a magic fairy wand in children's stories, replied the colossus. There is a notice with: Tired of wetting your bed, started reading the colossus, didn't want to bother Mom and Dad again? Make all the evidence disappear with Dr. WONDERTAINMENT'smagic wand! One simple blow of the wand, and all the evidence evaporates! Do not point at living beings, WONDERTAINMENT declines any responsibility for any possible injuries…

- WONDERTAINMENT ? Seriously? Asked the European.

- Yes.

- So what? What's the problem? Bonarith asked.

- It's a toy manufacturer. It must evaporate the piss or even body fluids, you must have just blown up your victims' bladders, with an incontinent kid's toy. To summarize.

- …

- So you're just a kid with a dangerous toy.

- And a shitty alias, added the colossus.

- Bonarith opened her mouth, without any sound coming out. He expected a lot of things, like death, but not to get grounded like that.

- Besides, I note that the best thing you found doing with this is arming three kids to increase your profits and send them to their deaths… A wonderfull story, your "black magician association"!

- …

- That what's going on, you lost your tongue?

- You… Well… Did you really kill them?

- Who ? Your "mages"?

- Yes.

- No. We didn't kill them.

- But s…

- Not us. Consider them dead anyway, and you as responsible for that."

The room was now silent, every word had fallen like a leaden screed. After a few seconds that seemed hours long, the European sighed and spoke again.

"Your name, please.

- … Bonarith.

- Well, Bonarith. Have you ever wondered how this thing got into your hands?

- By… mistake, I assume?

- Right. Peopledo not come across this kind of thing just because they are looking for it, at least at first. And why?

- I… I don't know.

- Because they're hidden from us. You saw what a simple toy could do, so imagine the power of a weapon with these kinds of processes. It's dangerous, and rather than arming everyone and pray, the great authorities of this world have for once chosen a good solution: they have hidden all this from the average man and kept it for the initiated circles only, people who know a the risk, and who are not stupid enough to do anything with it. Now, what do you think these authorities would do if they saw a guy come out of nowhere and play with their secrets, in a public place?

- Silencing him.

- Exactly. Now you understand your situation.

- … I'm not getting out of here alive."

The European smiles.

"Life and death are very overrated, if you ask me… But the fact is that we are not from some of the great instances I'm talking about, unlike those who have caught the rest of your group."

he got up and began to walk around the room.

"Once upon a time there were a few people, lost in the mass, carrying a forbidden knowledge. I'm talking about the kind of guy who designs the object you were using, not the kind who used them like you. Each of these people used this knowledge to their own advantage, and the use of this knowledge was sometimes good, sometimes bad. Some of them made weapons and others toys. Great authorities of this world, in a strong manicheist enthusiasm, simplified the equation and decided that the simple use of this knowledge was wrong. The good morals of our society supported the decision and that knowledge was prohibited. Miracles were killed by fear of failure, the population was dulled by fear of the crowd. And in the face of this repression, at first, the knowledge carriers looked down."

He approached the cat's corpse and picked it up:

"But no man is made to look down forever. Some rose up, and affirmed themselves."

he shrugged his shoulders.

"Most of them died. Almost all of them had the weapons to fight back, but it is not so easy to do with a dagger between the two shoulders. So what did they do? They asked the survivors for revenge. And it was done. The principle was adopted and this revenge was also carried out in the name of the following ones. After a while, the survivors were able to live looking up, as long as they did not cross some lines. The fact is, you think twice before attacking someone, when it's probably deadly to you too. Now, the knowledge carriers had gathered together, united in a protective, avenging spirit. It had advantages, many advantages."

With his eyes on the cat's corpse, he stopped to take some small flask and improbable objects out of his pockets, and began some strange processes on it.

"In short, it was a turbulent network filled with crazy individuals, but with some common interests. People quickly understood that it was possible not only to defend themselves with this, but also to attack when necessary, to trade, to collaborate. The transfer of this kind of knowledge is difficult to achieve openly and it was easier to go through this network to obtain what you were looking for than simply search blindly. We no longer ask an individual, we ask the network. You don't expose yourself, but you always get what you're looking for, if you pay the price."

To Bonarith's amazement, the cat, although hit hard by his shot, got up again. His eyes had visibly melted, probably due to the wand and his body was abnormally inflated. But he walked again and now approached him next to the European, who now reached out to him.

"René Goppette, general medical practitioner and necromancer in his free time, and member of the association of black magic power users. This is Sarak, blackmailer half the time, demonist the other half. Member of the association also, with a current status of a major creditor.

- So you're going to save me? He asked, grabbing the old man's hand.

- Sorry, but we're not a charity. We're here to negotiate instead. Your situation is very precarious right now and I doubt that you will escape from your enemies for long without our help. But we have a need that you would be able to satisfy. We get you out of your bad situation, and you help us with one of our problems. This will require you to learn two or three little things in the time between, but this knowledge is included in the offer. After having provided us with this service, depending on the course of events, we will be able to recommend you to the association. It will cost you a lot, but the house usually does credit at first. Any questions?

- … Why me?

- The service we're going to ask you for will not be easy and some would even scream madness, but we believe in it. However, we have deduced from the refusals of our colleagues on the subject, that only someone really desperate and without much knowledge on that particular subject would be able to accept. You fit the description well. No offense.

- And if I refuse?

- We let you meet the greats instances of this world. By the way, Sarak, who is it this time, the GOC or the Foundation?

- GOC . Bad luck for you, kid. But if you think you can stand up to an international agency that is mainly dedicated to eradicating vermin like you, you're free to do so.

- So, your decision? Asked the colossus.

- … I accept.

- No turning back, you know that? Asked the European, rubbing his hands together.

- Yes.

- All right, let's seal the deal. Close your eyes.

A little confused, Bonarith did so, as Goppette began to sing a rhyme with strange sounds.

Ba moin en ti bo,
Deux ti bo, trois ti bo,
Ba moin en ti bo,
Deux ti bo, trois ti bo,

The colossus opened his suitcase and took out a heavy axe with a short handle. With a quiet step, he approached Bonarith.

Ba moin en ti bo,
Deux ti bo, trois ti bo,
Ba moin tout ça ou lé
Pou soulagé coeu moin…

The axe fell on the poor man's neck, beheading him immediately. Goppette interrupted his singing, picked up the head and held it out to the colossus.

"Well done, the singing move so he doesn't hear me coming," said the colossus. What was it exactly?

- You don't want to know.

- What's next now?

- We take a french leave, I do my little business, bury the head and pick it back a few days later.

Are you sure about this? We're putting almost six months of work on it.

- Look, I'm not a soul's return professional, but it's an old trick I got from an African colleague…

- Your Malian?

- No, not him. A Cameroonian. He did this for all the members of his family, and even his village. A very insane person. Once this step is over, it will be necessary to train him a little in his errant soul condition, but I am confident.

- And for the GOC?

- We leave the toys and the body. Even if they don't find the head, their guy is dead, the anomalies found. That should be enough to calm them down, they'll think of a mafioso's deus ex."

the colossus closed the suitcase, now containing the axe and the poor man's head, and they left very quickly. It was definitely a very prolific day.

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