"Young Bastards": Some time ago, John Constantine decided to go to New York City, having learnt all he thought he could in Europe, as far as magic went. Though New York was no mecca for magic, it was the home of one of New York's greatest mages: [[Nicolas N
- You may act tough, John, but I know that deep down you're different. I see something else in you. I know that if it came down to it, you'd sacrifice yourself for the people you care about. You actually remind me of my dad in that way.
- -- Zatanna
Appearing in "Young Bastards"
Synopsis for "Young Bastards"
Some time ago, John Constantine decided to go to New York City, having learnt all he thought he could in Europe, as far as magic went. Though New York was no mecca for magic, it was the home of one of New York's greatest mages: Nick Necro, who had studied under such greats as Zatara and Baron Winters.
Nick was a frequent visitor to the Oblivion Bar; a hangout for magicians and occultists. The bar had a system which kept the normal citizens out by having them read a name conjured onto a card without looking. John was no simple man, and he guessed it right away. Inside, it didn't take John long to spot Nick Necro. The mage had come from somewhat humble beginnings, and he had done anything he could to distance himself from that, including learning magic.
Nick wasn't very interested in speaking with John, particularly since his girlfriend was about to start her performance on the Oblivion's stage. When Zatanna stepped out from behind the curtain, John was mesmerized. He didn't blink once throughout her entire act - even though it was clear that she was Nick's girl.
After the show, Nick and Zatanna prepared to leave without hearing John's pleas that he wanted to learn from the best. However, as the pair were leaving, John spotted a man with a knife preparing to attack them, and threw his pint at the back of the attacker's head. He had heard the man mention the words "cold flame", and Zatanna explained that this was a cult who used apocalyptic black magic to do evil. Her father had been fighting them for years, and they had since turned their attention to she and Nick. Given John's curiosity and his spunk, Nick agreed to let him tag along for the night, but that night turned into days and weeks together, fighting the Cult of the Cold Flame.
John and Zatanna were young and inexperience, and relied on Nick to catch them when they failed. He showed them magic beyond even what they could have dreamed of, and the more he learned, the more John realized that the Cold Flame was connected to all dark magic. To some extent, Nick had needed John to watch his back. Eventually, Nick had given John and Zatanna tattoos, using his own rune, as a type of graduation ceremony. The three were now of one coven.
However, Nick became obsessed with the idea of ultimate knowledge, and that knowledge, he thought, could only be found in the Books of Magic. These artifacts were rumoured to contain all knowledge, and may even have been the source of all magic itself. The quest for the books began to consume Nick, and as he drifted away from his pupils, they grew closer together.
Zatanna had originally been happy to be involved with Nick, because she thought they were doing real good together. Even after he started changing from the man she had loved, she felt that was worth while. However, they had recently begun taking more risks, and crossing the line. John claimed not to be in it for the heroics, but Zatanna assured him that she could see the goodness within him. His altruistic tendencies set him apart from Nick. Both had become dissatisfied with their mentor's behaviour, but they had both found a reason to stay: each other.
As they kissed for the first time, they were caught by Nick. With a sort of resigned bitterness, he explained that he had seen John's potential to betray him for Zatanna when they had first met. John, as far as he was concerned, was a survivor, a player, and a bastard - just like him. In any case, he now wanted the Books more than the girl. John and Zatanna had learned all they could from him, with John's final lesson being to take what he wanted when he wanted it. He warned Zatanna, however, that John would one day betray her too.
Nick disappeared after that, and while John had won Zatanna, he couldn't help but wonder what he had lost in his mentor. If Nick had really been close to finding the Books of Magic, John had lost his chance to get at them. One night, though, he received a call from Nick who frantically warned that the Cult of the Cold Flame had found him.
John and Zatanna got dressed and went to Nick's secret apartment in Brooklyn, and inside, they found Nick surrounded by the cultists with a knife to his throat. He knelt in the middle of a sacrificial rune they had drawn on the floor, such that anyone who died within it would be bound to hell. He explained that the cultists wanted the daughter of their greatest enemy, while he wanted revenge on John. It was a trap. Nick had sided with the cult, giving them Zatanna in exchange for access to their knowledge and revenge on John.
Nick got up and put the knife to John's throat, as the cultists grabbed Zatanna. He pointed out that the pair of them had wanted magic from him, but when he had been getting closer to real magic, they had shied away. Gritting his teeth, John commented that Nick spent too much time talking, and not enough time searching his pockets. He whipped out his lighter, and blasted flames from it into Nick's face. Zatanna, meanwhile, managed to escape her captors in time to see one of the cultists preparing to throw a knife at John.
She cried out, and John had just enough time to grab Nick, and use him as a human shield. The wound was fatal, and because he had been standing within the rune, his soul began to be dragged through a portal into Hell. As he died, he begged John for help, but he reminded as he had once been reminded: magic always comes with a price.
They needed to leave, as the cult would be coming for them, but before he would, John had to take one last thing from Nick: his trenchcoat. There could only be one king of the mages, and it would be him, now.
- This book was first published on September 26, 2012.
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