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Salt Ch1 v2 : Feedback appreciated


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Disclaimer: Any cosmere swears are produced by the site swear-censor. Please ignore them.

I drove an old red Ford pickup truck, my brother Henry in the passenger seat. He was invisible, but I could feel the salt dissolved in his blood pulsing in a kind of warm current.

I was covered in a layer of dense, compact salt about an inch thick, myself. It padded everything except my face and forearms, and I held it there with an effort of willpower that had become practically automatic.

"So why do I have to join your crem dung secret magic society, exactly?" asked Henry.

"If you don't, Richard will probably send someone out to take you down when you inevitably start screwing with people."

"You're saying that I can't control myself?" Henry asked.

"I'm saying that when you do, we can pull you in for lessons rather than beat you up and drag you in for lessons if you join now."

"You don't think I can do a storming thing for myself, do you?"

"I think I'm doing my responsibility. Just give this a try, OK?"

"I'll give it a try. Nothing more."

"That's fair," I said.

We pulled up to the curb about a block away from the Potter and Pauper.The pub served as a chapterhouse for the Community, and Richard kept some good beer on tap. I was seventeen and didn't have a fake I.D, so it was about the only place that would serve me alcohol. In that, as in most things, the Community and other magic-affiliated groups operated in the very gray areas of the law.

Henry blinked out of the car without bothering with the door, and I stepped out, holding myself about a foot above the ground with the salt. My shell flowed down and covered my hands, and up to shield my face except for slits over my eyes.

My ability was odd, compared to many of the privileged. It wasn't as rigid as Henry's - I could even do a few basic spells. I would never be a wizard, though. Over a certain threshold, spells just didn't work for me.

My strength was in my instinctive ability, what you might call a power. I could manipulate and sense salt, as well as do a few little tricks with it that I kept up my sleeves.

I walked down the block towards the Potter and Pauper. We got some odd looks from passersby, but most people treated magic like they treated gangs and homelessness: it happened to other, less lucky people, and as such could be safely ignored.

"So," asked Henry, "what am I supposed to do?"

"Not much. You just have to swear into the Community, meet the leadership, and decide how much you'll be involved."


"You know how I come home at two thirty am sometimes, or disappear for a few days for 'work stuff'?"

"Carl, that is really, REALLY sketchy."

"It's part of the lifestyle."

"And the 'swearing in'?" Henry asked.

"You swear not to harm the Community, you swear to learn to use your privilege, and you swear to support the Community if you need to."

"Doesn't sound like something I want to be stuck with."

We were getting closer to the pub, a squat brick building that sprawled quite a bit further in the back than you'd expect. It had been foggy the past few nights, but somehow it seemed more so around the pub, hiding the way the walls just kept going back. From experience, I knew the building was actually about fifty metres long, with a basement the same size beneath. It had a spring, kitchens, living quarters, and a "war room" we used to monitor our territory.

"Trust me, Henry. Just try it. Remember, if anyone in there has a mask on, your name is " Ghost" and mine is "Saline"."

We pushed open the dark wooden doors with an effort - they were reinforced with steel - and entered the pub.

The main dining room was long and low, with a small stage on one side halfway down and a bar facing it on the other. A crowd milled inside the room, moving between booths as conversation demanded. At the bar, a group of six or so men wearing business suits and ornate, full-face masks in various colours talked to each other and to the barkeeper, Richard. Despite serving the drinks, the big black man had an undeniable presence. In actuality, he was the leader of our chapterhouse; the masked men were ambassadors from other Chapters. Except for Richard and a few of the less involved locals, everyone wore some kind of mask.

A waitress walked up, a set of protective runes drawn in magic marker on her hand and a submachine gun on her hip. It was Sara: A friend of mine who had been working here a couple years longer than me. She wore no mask.

"Hey, Saline," she said, "who's this with you?"

She could see him? I turned. Henry shimmered somewhere in the realm of translucency, with his face completely invisible. It was an impressive effect, especially considering how little time he'd had to practice.

"You can call me...Ghost," Henry said in a deep voice. Then he started giggling.

I shot him an annoyed look.

"My brother. Can we get a booth?"

We sat down in a booth right next to the bar, where I could keep an eye on the ambassadors.

"Ghost, is there anywhere I can take you where you won't make an idiot of yourself?"

He laughed. "Come on. I've got superpowers. Let me show them off!"

"That was Sara, so it's OK, but you could really ruin your reputation with some of the more traditional locals."

"You're a real spoilsport, Salty."

"For the last time, my name is Saline."

"I don't really see why I can't call you mmghphbleh!"

He spat out the salt that had leapt into his mouth.

"You call me Saline here," I growled. I didn't want to scare him, but Community business could get serious. "It's to protect relatives and friends. You can handle yourself here. If they want leverage on you, they will examine every word you or I say, and they will find our family and friends."

For a moment, Henry's invisibility flickered, and the look in his eyes for that split second was pure horror.

"This is some stormed up rust, Saline."

"If we swear you in, we can protect you."

"What about those guys," he said, pointing to a group of unmasked locals, "or the bartender, or Sara?"

"Some people are bit players, unimportant. Sara's Richard's adopted daughter, and Richard runs this whole thing."

"Your king is the bartender?!" Henry asked, dumbfounded.

"'King' is pushing it. 'Leader', maybe."

"And you think I might want to join this thing - this stormed up Magic Mafia?"

"It's an option. If you want, you can just say the oaths and stay hands-off."

"And is not getting involved in this crap an option? At all?" Henry asked. I couldn't see his face, but I felt the blood pounding through his veins. Salt beaded on his skin, invisibly.

"No. If you do, you'll have to stop using your power or other organizations will see the chance to snap you up. You'll be possibly tortured, made a soldier. Mom and Dad might get involved. You're privileged. It's not a fact you can avoid, short of swearing off your power forever."

He let his head flicker into visibility as he shook it. "So how will this help?"

"You'll get the protection of our Community chapterhouse. You'll be able to travel and use your power without worrying about abduction. If something does happen, we'll declare war and take you back."

He began blinking back and forth along his side of the booth absently. "I'll swear the oaths, but I want as little to do with this crap as possible."

I nodded. "That works. If you choose that, remember to tread carefully regardless. Agreeing to not provoke people means you have to not provoke them. If you do, you'll get dragged in whatever you do."

"Yeah..." he said. He sounded hesitant. "I guess I'll get it done, then. What's the ceremony like?"

"It's easy for you. All you have to do is agree. Richard and I do all the talking."

"OK," he said, sounding relieved. "So does this pub actually serve anything?"

"Just ask Sara for a menu, maybe go meet some people. Even if you don't want to get involved, you should get to know the Community. You can show off as much as you want, too," I said.

"I'll do that. What are you doing?"

"I have to take care of some business," I said. "Sorry."

"It's OK. I can order alcohol, right?"

"Welcome to the Community, Ghost. Things are different here."

I got up, then and took a seat at the bar, next to the blue-and-white masked Montreal ambassador - his name was Martin, though I guessed that was probably a pseudonym. Fair enough, when I was under one as well.

"Salut, Martin," I said.

"Salut, Saline," he answered. He had a reedy, thin-sounding voice, but he could shout to match a hurricane when he needed to.

"How's Montreal been? You've still got that weretiger contained?"

"Yes. It's been difficult keeping drill down guarded all the time, though. We don't know the mechanism or pattern behind his transformations yet," Martin answered. "It's frustrating."

"Have you considered rigging an election to take him out of power? I'm sure he'll be easier to guard once he's lost mayoral duties."

"It's crossed our minds," Martin said. "We're grateful for your help."

"Any time. What brings you to Brooksville?" I asked.

"Trade deals, defense treaties, the usual. I won't bore you."

"Well, I wish you luck with that, though I'll side with Richard," I said.

"Of course. The chapterhouse comes first."

"Enjoy your stay," I said as I left. I did the rounds about the room, greeting locals and visitors, before I got back to the bar. The ambassadors were talking among themselves, so I leaned over and gestured to Richard.

The bearlike bartender served as our house wizard and troop coordinator, and negotiated deals with the gangs and other chapterhouses. He lived in the Potter and Pauper, and maintained the spells on our borders.

"Any news?" he asked.

"Not a lot, it seems. Some people asked about bringing privileged relatives in to the chapterhouse."

"If we can get more foot soldiers, we'll have more people free to train them. I think it should be fine, so long as they understand the risks," he said.

"That brings me around to my brother," I said.


"Yes. He's getting sworn in tonight, but he doesn't want to get drawn into any wars."

"His power makes him a very valuable asset."

"I understand that, but...just, don't make him do anything he doesn't want to. He's only fifteen."

"You started here at fourteen."

"Please, Richard."

"I'll see what I can do," he relented. I was a little relieved - not enough, though.

The ceremony was held an hour later, around ten pm. I stood on the stage with my salt armour pulled into ornate spikes, and Henry stood next to me doing the translucent flickering thing.

I began the ritual.

"I, Saline, of the Brooksville Chapter of the Community, introduce Ghost to our Chapter. I say he is inducted in full, I say he is a member! Does anyone dispute?"

Richard began the next step. "I, Richard of the Brooksville Chapter, dispute! I say he has no privilege! He has no patron! He has no oaths nor bonds!"

I answered, glad I'd traced the words in salt on a table. They flared in my mind, like they were written in burning magnesium."His privilege is his power! I am his patron! His bonds are thus: Ghost, do you swear to secrecy what is discussed in our meeting places, unless permission otherwise is granted?"

"I do," he said in the same deep voice he'd used with Sara - less ridiculous, now.

"Ghost," I began, "do you swear to defend our Chapter and the Community against strife and oppression?"

"I do."

"Ghost, do you swear to respect the sanctity of our chapterhouses and meeting places as halls of asylum and discussion, and to attempt no harm within them or to them?"

"I do"

I turned to Richard, and shouted.

"Is this accepted?"

"This is accepted," he called.

"Then I, Saline of the Brooksville Chapter of the Community, introduce my ward Ghost to our Chapter and to the Community! I say he is inducted in truth and a member of the Community! Does anyone dispute?"

Silence rang for exactly ten seconds, then everybody spoke as one. "Welcome, Ghost!"

I took Henry around and introduced him to my Community friends. Sara, he already knew. I showed him to Louis, an expert in crafting complex enchantments; to Mirage (also known as Margaret) who, underneath the warped haze of light she used as a mask, was a middle-aged illusion specialist; to Joan, a precognitive who's range went from seconds to days with little way to tell the difference; and to more. I'd built connections here, and Ghost would need a leg up.

When people had begun to drift off, a few to the quarters behind the pub, more to their homes elsewhere, Richard came out from behind the bar and called me over. The six ambassadors had gone to their hotels, and the only ones left were locals drinking and telling stories. Henry trailed behind me, translucent. I let the salt flow off of my head, and Henry took the cue to go opaque.

Richard made a hand gesture, and I threw Henry the keys to the car.

"You can drive, right?" I asked.

"I'm 15, Carl."

I shrugged. "That's not an answer."

He smiled a little. "I guess I can always just blink out if I'm about to total your truck, can't I?"

"Try not to," I asked. "Please."

I threw him the keys, and he walked out, looking more satisfied than he had looked for the entire evening.

I turned back to Richard.

"You wanted to see me? I was just about to go on patrol," I said.

"It's about that, actually. We've had some reports of Spectre's gang approaching the west border, and I have a trainee I need to get some field experience. I want you to take her on patrol and show her the route."

"Now, sir? When it's more dangerous, if anything?"

"Every time we've clashed with Spectre in the past, they've been disorganized and poorly trained. I trust your ability to protect her - and she's not weak in any sense of the word herself," Richard answered.

"Where is she, then? I leave soon."

"Clara!" called Richard, beckoning. "Over here, please!"

A short woman, maybe 25 years old, stood up from where she'd been talking to Joan. She still wore her mask - a ski mask, from the look of it, with the Brooksville blue and bronze painted in a double stripe down the side.

Richard gestured again - how the hell did manage to say so much with a twitch of his hand? - and she pulled it off. She wasn't exactly pretty, with a hatchet nose and thick eyebrows. At the moment, she looked vaguely annoyed.

"Clara," he said,"meet Carl, also known as Saline. Carl, meet Clara. This is who you'll be taking on patrol."

Clara looked at me, thick eyebrows raised. "You're Saline? A bit young, aren't you?"

"Three years of experience. A little better than you?"

"Got me there." She shrugged. "I only found out last month."


"I guess Joan had a vision of me burning down my apartment, because broke into my apartment and made me stick my hands in cold water for three hours at gunpoint."


"Turns out my feet do it too." She held up a hand, thumb towards me, and focused. It burst into pale blue flame. She relaxed, then, and it froze and faded away, like an afterimage disappearing. "I did set the carpet on fire. We had a bucket of water on hand, though, so it turned out all right. How about you?"

"McDonalds. I made everything in there with a salt content higher than blood levitate by accident," I lied. Richard shot me a look but didn't say anything.



"So I'm supposed to train under you," she began. "I'm not totally sure what I'm training for."

"You're learning how to do a patrol, now. Normally, your patron would help you with this. Joan doesn't do field work, though, so it falls on me."

"I was talking to Joan about that. She said we're maintaining the runes that anchor the Chapter's spells?"

Richard nodded to her. "Yes. There are a lot of similarities between my brand of magic and yours, so you should be able to see if any thing's wrong."

"You do magic? Beyond setting your hands on fire?" I asked.

She shrugged. "Basic protection spells. Forcefields, wards. I did Sara's."

I nodded. "That's impressive. I dabble a little in summoning, but I can't work with much power."

"Is there much risk of trouble on patrol tonight?" Clara asked.

Richard answered. "More than usual. Spectre's men, a rogue summoner, and I've getting tips about an entropic drain someone built into a junkyard to speed up degradation. Nothing you can't handle."

"Should I bring a gun?" Clara asked.

"If you know how to use it." Richard answered.

"...and maybe something less illegal," I chimed in.

She glanced downwards at her hands and set them on fire. "Is legality still a problem for us, now that...you know?"

I didn't answer. That was a question I tried not to think about too much.

"If you want something non-lethal, get a taser-staff from the armory on the way out," Richard said.

"That'll work, I guess," Clara said.

We walked through the door at the back of the pub room and stepped into the armory, a locked room off the narrow, wood-panelled hallway. Oak-and-aluminum taser-staffs sat in an umbrella stand, and a murder of guns hung on the walls. A very dangerous antiques' shop worth of swords, daggers, and amulets dangled in odd places between the modern weapons, and shields were slotted into racks. Though the front of the room was clean and bright, the back faded into dust and darkness.

I grabbed a shield and a taser-staff, dropping the former onto my back for the salt to hold. Clara picked up a taser-staff and leaned on it nervously.

"Is that armor really entirely salt?" she asked. "How effective can that be?"

"Better than you think. Maybe Kevlar would be better, but then I wouldn't have as much material to work with. The salt works on slashes and bites, too, which is more than can be said for Kevlar."

She nodded, tried swinging the staff, a bit awkwardly.

Clara was not very good at it. Hopefully, she wouldn't need to fight anyone off.

To be honest, my hand-to-hand was flimsy as well. Fights in the past had mostly involved me swamping the enemy with salt and smacking them with a taser-staff.

"Ready?" I asked.

Clara cracked her knuckles. "Let's go."

The Back Door was pretty unassuming. It was an old metal door, paint flaking slightly, with a schedule stuck to the wall next to it with scotch tape. A pen dangled from a string beside it.

I stepped to the side and let Clara get closer to the door.

"Do you know how to use it?" I asked her.

She nodded. "I use it to get here whenever I can get Richard to add me. He showed me how to edit the schedule myself today." Clara leaned in closer to the sheet. "It looks like I'm not compensated for on this thing. Give me a minute to fix it. You think Richard forgot?"

I half-smiled. "That or he's testing you. It's hard to tell, sometimes."

She chuckled, took the magic marker out of her pocket, and scribbled a few additions on the end of the rune. They twisted as she wrote them, weaving themselves into the rune that governed the door.

Clara smiled. "I don't know how Richard manages this wide-area stuff. The terms on the spells make no sense unless they're explained to you."

"I don't get any of this runic stuff, Clara. Summoning circles are a lot simpler."

She frowned. "Seems kind of dangerous, to me."

"At least you can fight off your mistakes in summoning. You mess up a teleportation rune, and you might not get to your destination in one piece."

"Which is why I work with wards and shields."

I shook my head and decided not to push the point. In my opinion, a lot of problems could be solved by setting a minor demon on them. Or smothering them in salt.

It's always nice to have options.

Clara put away the magic marker, pulled on her mask, and turned the door handle. There was a faint "click" behind the door, a shift in the light coming through the jamb, and the Back Door swung silently open.

The scene on the other side wasn't anything like you'd find behind the Potter and Pauper. It was a view into a suburban night time neighborhood, wreathed in fog, across the parking lot of a strip mall. I pulled my salt into a full-face helmet and we stepped through.

"Alright," asked Clara, "where do we go?"

I pointed a salt-encrusted finger. "See those white signs? They're the markers for the boundary of Richard's domain spells. We go, check them out, and renew the runes if they've faded."

An idea struck me. I let a centimeter or so of salt slough off from my armour, and formed it into a scoop shape.

Clara looked at it, curious."What's that for?"

"It's a seat. This will go a lot faster if I can levitate you between runes."

She hesitated for a moment. "Are you sure? Seems like a lot of trouble for convenience."

"Don't worry about it. If I need the salt, you can jump out. We'll go much faster this way."

She shrugged again and hopped in. I focused, and I rose from the ground and ghosted across the foggy street with the sidecar following me.

The first rune seemed normal, if a bit faded. "Clara," I asked, "could you refresh this one?"

She jumped out of the seat and hurried forward, investigating the rune. She frowned.

"It seems normal enough."

"I just want you to get used to the shape. We may need to repair some later on."

"I can do that when we get to them, Saline. Don't make me -"

I cut in. "Clara, I know you're older than me. I'm the one training you, though, so listen. Just do what I say. You're the student here. "

She rolled her eyes. "Yes, sensei."

But she began tracing the rune, which was an improvement.

The trip to the next rune was a quiet, if a bit awkward. Mist and fog rolled around us as we glided along Richard's invisible boundary. I always found humid air annoying, because I had to focus to keep the salt from dissolving in the moisture, and with two objects to keep track of, it was even harder than usual.

Clara hopped off at the rune without comment and bent to inspect it. She took about two seconds to stare, horrified, before turning to face me.

"Saline, you had better take a look at this."

I dropped the chair into a pile of salt spread over the ground and glided forward, focusing on the sign.I noticed something strange immediately. A thin layer of dissolved salt clung to the surface in a smear. As I came close enough to see, my fear was confirmed: someone had painted over the border rune...with blood.

"rust," I said, just before noticing a half-dozen salt-suffused bodies about thirty feet away coming from the same direction we'd been moving in.

I dropped softly to the ground, and rolled into the ditch at the side of the road, gesturing for Clara to join me and laying my staff down. As she crawled into the slot, clutching her staff, I sculpted the salt on my chest to form letters.


She nodded and crouched down, drawing something on the back of her left hand with the magic marker.

Clara held it up: WANT SHIELD?

I nodded and wrote on my chest.


Clara thought for a moment, nodded, and started drawing a circular, symmetrical pattern on her palm.

As she worked, I shed a bit of salt and levitated it into something like a small cloud of salt crystals. I gathered it around my head as camoflauge and peered out of the ditch.

The six men were only about twenty feet away, walking along the road. They wore leather jackets, shaved heads, broadswords, and guns, with an ornate blue band wrapped around their upper arms.

Spectre's thugs.

It didn't make any sense. In the past, Spectre had been a two-bit wizard outfitting a small gang on the border of Community territory. He specialized in enchanted blades, fairly simple things that could cut most supernatural things. The gangsters were mostly unprivileged, though hedge sorcerers and superpowers occasionally joined his ranks.

These men, however, were organized, uniformed, and on patrol. They'd probably destroyed this rune on their last pass, and they'd be checking on the next one, freshly traced, if we let them go.

Worst though, the trespassed on Community territory. This land belonged to the Chapter, and they sent armed patrols through it.

Spectre was declaring war.

A bit of rage began to burn. This was my land.

I reached around behind me and pulled the shield off my back, letting all the salt slough off of me. It flowed like a tumbling mass of snakes in a circle around the thugs, and bit its tail before falling to the ground. I stood tall and spat out three Words.

Clara and Richard used runes for their spells. Summoning circles were a kind of large-scale rune themselves one that most summoners had to set up well in advance. I, however, had my salt and my power. I might have been limited in the demons I could call, but I could sculpt a circle in moments.

The final part of a summoning was the Word - naming the devil and calling it, opening its coming with a spark of power. I called three Words, and bound three demons into that circle. The first lurked quick and lithe in a cloud of ink-like darkness. The second looked like a rottweiler burning with pale green flame. The last was fat and bulbous, thick black wings heaving it into the air.

I collapsed on the ground, suddenly exhausted, but my work was done. As I crawled back into the ditch, the demons attacked.

The inky one streaked between the legs of the thugs, and they stumbled and yelled, unable to see. The burning Rottweiler barked, sharp and terrifying, and rushed them, slashing at the thugs with claws and jaws. The flying toad-thing rose into the sky and began spitting thick globs of mucus.

For a moment, it looked like the fight was going our way. The thugs dove this way and that in terror, and the smoke drove them stumbling and blind. That changed when on finally managed to draw his sword, though. It expelled the smoke in about a three-foot radius around the hilt of the swords, and I lost the thug's position through my sense of salt. He slashed down at the dark, smoky imp, and it exploded into dust, taking the unnatural smoke with it. The others began drawing their weapons, too, and rammed a sword through the hellhound, sending it to dust as well. The toad fell last, shot out of the sky. Its carcass exploded into sand when it touched the ground.

My sense of the men dimmed as they drew their weapons, until it faded completely. I was exhausted from the summoning in every way, but it looked like I'd have to keep going.

I pulled my salt back to me and reformed my armor, peering out of the ditch to watch the thugs. They seemed confused, backing into a ring with their swords drawn - it didn't look like they were going to retreat, but they hadn't seen where we were hiding yet. They were all wounded from my attack, with acid burns on the leather coats, singed dog bites everywhere, and shallow lacerations on their legs.

I looked back at Clara and wrote on my chest.


She rolled up a sleeve and scribbled on her arm.



I picked up the staves and handed her one, then grabbed my shield and held it in front of me.

I trusted her shield-rune, but it didn't hurt to have backup.

We approached the group of thugs, walking softly and very slowly. I shed some salt from non-essential areas and began squeezing it into a set of darts that hung in the air around me. Clara was breathing hard, and I could feel her heartbeat pumping the salt through her bloodstream at breakneck speed.

About twenty feet from the thugs, we were noticed.

"Show yourself, cremhole!" yelled one, sheathing his sword and leveling a gun.

I stepped forward, Clara, and the rune cupped in her hand, close behind me. "My name is Saline, of the Community," I said. "I'm giving you one opportunity to surrender."

"storm you!"

He aimed for a second and shot me.

There was a brief bark of sound and noise, a flash of light, and a much quieter "ping" a couple feet in front of me. I aimed and fired a single salt dart, hitting him in the hand he held the gun in.

To his credit, he held on, gripping the gun with a single bloody hand and grunting softly. A moment later, he screamed, bringing his hand to his mouth.

"You've poisoned me, you stormer! You've poisoned me! Auuugh!"

Clara breathed out sharply, low and soft. "What the hell?"

"Salt in the wound," I muttered, keeping my eyes on the ring of thugs.

She shuddered.

The rest of the gangsters looked at their friend. He was kneeling on the ground, tears on his cheeks. They clutched their swords like good luck charms.

Given the way the swords worked, they had probably told that they were immune to magic when the had them drawn.

In reality, it just meant I had to aim before I shot them.

If they decided to rush us, though, we were finished. My armour would fall off and Clara's shield would fail if they got close enough, and then it would be six men with swords against two privileged without any power and little combat training.

We were betting everything on a bluff.

Another thug decided to try his luck. I caught him before he fired, this time, and he dropped the sword and his gun, screaming and clutching his hand.

The sword lost power as soon as he let go. I could even feel some of the salt in his body, though he was partly eclipsed by the other Spectre swords' auras.

"I said you had one chance," I called, "and you've used two. Drop your swords, guns, and armbands and I'll let you leave Community territory alive. This is your final warning."

The thugs spoke to each other in low voices, keeping eyes on us. The two I'd taken down had managed to stand up, but they were shaking visibly.

One, who I suppose was the leader, called back to us, voice strangely calm. "We accept your terms. We're all going to drop our swords now."

There was a clatter of metal on the ground as the swords fell. Instantly, I could feel the salt flowing through their bodies. I pushed them around a bit, using it as leverage; I couldn't affect dissolved salt as well, but I could scare them.

"The guns!" I yelled.

The leader replied in the same smooth, calm voice. "Dropping the guns now. Boys, drop the guns in three, two-"

And every one of the thugs drew their weapon and started shooting.

The shield failed after about three seconds, but my then I'd already thickened the salt on the front of my body as much as I could, compressing it into a hard, white shell. I hauled Clara behind me and began retreating with the shield I'd taken from the armory held up. Bullets sunk into my shell, but for now just made me stumble.

Spectre's thugs had called my bluff - but we could still survive if I separated them from their swords. I sprayed bits of salt off my armor and sent them down to grab the swords on the ground. They picked them up and flung them down the street in the direction we'd come, one by one. None of the thugs went for them. I guess they were too busy shooting me.

We backed up to the ditch and Clara dove into it. I stayed still, bracing myself. Bullets whizzed around me, but my armor held. Exited shouts and gunshots blinded and deafened me, but I sprayed salt over the ground and used it to navigate.

Then, I started walking.

Slowly, bracing myself for each shot, I moved towards the group of trembling currents of salt that shot me. Each chunk of salt they blew off my armor, I shaped into a dart and sent back at them. I never missed. I controlled the salt crystals every inch of the way, from me to the targets.

I was blind, but I saw the salt.

The thugs dropped screaming. I hit them in the hands to stop them shooting, and then the legs to stop them running. The hail of bullets slowed, then stopped, and I walked forwards.

Something bestial sounded in my voice, and I snarled in the sounds of fear and pain I had caused. "Run, cowards," I yelled. "Tell Spectre what happens when you try the Community. Tell him that he will be CRUSHED!"

They limped away. Some of them, hardened gangsters, were crying. One had to be dragged by his teammates.

Minutes later, everything was still. I could feel the salt that splattered the road - blood from the thugs.

Clara walked up behind me and touched my salt-caked shoulder. There was something motherly in the gesture.

"Carl?" she asked. "Are you all right?"

I turned. My face felt stony, cold. I didn't want to think about what I'd done, but I knew I'd have to.

"Call Richard," I said. "Tell him that we're at war."

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Now my geography is pretty bad, (I don't know where in Canadia you have set this with respect to the rest of Canada), but have you considered picking a french word? - cant used privileged it's that same just with accents.  Could consider the Aubaine (aubaine is french for Boon). 

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Well, that would make sense if they were French. But they aren't and I want it to sound normal - not even a title, just like an I have this, you don't sort of thing. Privileged is the only word I could think of that wasn't clichéd and met all those standards. I kind of wanted it to sound like saying "oh, he's white" would have sounded in 1940. There's just assumptions built into the word that people don't think about.

Kind of like the word "super" or "cape" is used in superhero fiction, which would make sense if they thought of themselves as superheros. But they don't.

Edited by Swimmingly
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Ok, maybe of the blood (though that's a bit cumbersome and kinda vampire). Faesworn? Waaaaaaay too pretentious. Also not knowing how in depth your background (history) on the community have you considered a posh sounding word from say ye olde english / germanic / arabic?. Or relating to the origin of their power / gods? The inflection of the word can be established through dialogue.

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To be perfectly honest, I don't have much backstory worked out for the magical community, other than that the Community (capital C) is descended from witch covens -kinda. Most of their traditions are cobbled together and implied rather than stated. The oaths are really the only specific ritual shared by the entire Community, though individual Chapters have their tradition. Some Chapters are just branches of other Chapters that split off, some are gangs that negotiated their way into becoming an official Chapter, some are descended directly from covens, some from Arab, Inuit, Native American. There are some rules governing their interactions and politics, but the majority is unwritten.

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