Posts Tagged ‘wizard’

The Wizard and the Demon

Posted: February 14, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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wizard and demon

Dragon Magazine #115, cover by Denis Beauvais

Sorry for the left turn from Lost Angel, but the rewrite I’m doing is — gloriously, wonderfully — taking up all my time. I felt bad that I haven’t been posting more so I dug up an old bit that I wrote for fun, inspired by this cover of Dragonmagazine. Instead of a pegasus, our hero is riding a dragon of his own.

Logan aimed the bow directly at the demon lord’s heart. The thing hesitated, the twin beasts circling one another over the swirling fight beneath them. Any normal archer would have had difficulty keeping the bow level, let alone nocked. A wizard was another one entirely.

“Throw the bolt,” Logan cried, “and I promise you you’ll strike the ground before it does!”

Merah shook his head roughly. “Just skewer him.”

Then Korrok swung his dragon off their pitch and shot straight towards them.

“DIVE, MERAH!”

In the flurry of scales, wings, and magic that surrounded both of them Logan lost his sighting and let the arrow fly.

At the same instant Korrok threw the bolt not at the tower but at Merah’s left wing.
But when the dragon had dived, he’d rolled that way, leaving Logan in place of where the target had been. The arrow shot Korrok’s bolt and detonated it only a few feet away from him.

Col shun shimara,” Logan said as the arrow shot away. Another arrow appeared.

But no scales? No demon sword?

In the same instant Logan heard a crack like a lightning bolt had broken next to his ear. Blaze’s high-pitched scream drowned out the ringing in his ears and nearly shocked him into loosing the arrow into Merah’s back.

“What is it?” Merah cried. “What happened?” He was too busy concentrating on where he was going to look.

Logan saw a thin stream of black smoke twisting like a dried shoelace towards the ground. Logan squinted; he could see that a good slice of Blaze’s neck, upper back, and right wing were the source of teh smoke. The glitter he saw must have been fire, because it was too bright to be his scales. Logan wondered if even a fall of such height could kill Korrok, or Blaze. “Blaze caught fire! I don’t know how!” Logan yelled.

“Where’s Korrok?”

Logan’s eyes widened. Through the smoke and the fire, he saw only Korrok’s saddle.

He heard a hiss like a cottonmouthed snake and smelled sulfur. Logan swung around, then fell back against Merah’s spiny ridge as the copper-black blur dove towards him.
Logan’s shot passed Korrok’s left shoulder, then the bow broke under Korrok’s evil sword.
Barely enough. Logan screamed as Korrok’s black sword sliced through his armor as he passed. A fiery glow of red shone off the blade as the point barely nicked his skin.

“Are you all right? Logan!” Merah yelled.

“I’m here,” he gurgled, from deep inside his belly. Logan’s vision fogged, and he nearly passed out as Merah roared and climbed around to face the demon lord. *Magic in the blade. I’m barely cut, but it’s killing me.*

The demon lord sang an awful, dirgelike battle song but sang it gleefully.

“No human who’s faced me has ever had the privilege to know they were beaten,” he cried. “They died too quickly! Congratulate yourself, wizard!”

The poison was spreading. He didn’t have time. Logan shook his head. On reflex, his mind was focusing all the magic in his body to fight the accursed contagion that spread from the cut across his chest. He lost all sense of magic, but the disorientation cleared.

“Hang on.” Merah flapped once, twice, and tucked his wings. “I want to make a pass to keep him off balance.”

Logan did, wondering if, from here on, it would be better for both of them if he cut away his harness. Merah wouldn’t have to worry about bruising him, and at least by falling to death he could save his soul if not his life.

Logan hugged the dragon’s back and pressed his head against his shoulder. Merah understood and gyrated over as he barrelled toward the demon.

Logan coughed. “He nicked me, but the blade was enchanted. I can’t use my spells.” He drew the sword that the paladin had pointed to before she died.

The metal gleamed as he drew it, and then the sword vibrated in his hand! Gentle, not enough to weaken his grip. It tickled when he loosened his fingers. Korrok stopped singing. The vibration gave the blade a musical sound, like a flute.

“The singing sword! You have it!”

He did? A flute — singing!

*Can I use its power if I’m fighting the curse?*

The blade sang across the space between them. In a spray of black blood and carcass-smelling steam the demon lord’s hand became a chunk of aerial flotsam.

“It tickles, doesn’t it!” Logan cried.

The demon lord circled away, but barely kept distance from Merah. The dragon could smell the kill. Logan had first learned to recognize the smell from living among dragons. He couldn’t smell it yet.

Korrok held up the stump of his wrist for them to see. It burst in an explosion of blood and demon flesh that made even Merah shudder. A new hand seemed to be forcing its way out.

“Fuck me,” Logan breathed. He readied the sword and prayed that the thing couldn’t do that forever.

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broken lanternKit sat down and wept. Crying, two days in a row, for very different reasons. Kit had never been so sad and so afraid in such a short period of time. He hoped the rest of his life would be easier.

Lady came over and hugged him. Kit didn’t know how long they sat there like that, but a long while later, Morgrim came upstairs. He had never been allowed to go upstairs higher than Kit’s room, but his curiosity got the better of him. Awkwardly, he hugged the two of them, too.

Finally, Kit said, “Thank you. Morgrim, please clean the room. Lady, would you help me find the tool box?” Kit looked around the room. He didn’t see it. “I think it got knocked around from its spot.”

It took them a while. The room looked like a giant, angry child had turned it upside down and shaken it. Everyone stayed away from the jar except Kit. He was the only one who seemed confident that Vrajitor wouldn’t smash his way out. At one point, from across the room, Lady reached toward the jar, then pulled her hand back. She didn’t even want to imagine touching it. Inside, the fairy-sized Vrajitor raged at her.

“How long will that hold him?” Lady asked.

“Forever. I used his own magic to make the jar. As long as he’s alive, it’ll hold its shape. The more magic he throws at it, the stronger it’ll get.”

“Are you sure?”

Kit tapped his chest. “I’ve been checking. It’s already twice as strong as it was an hour ago.”

“If I may, young master, how will we feed him?” Morgrim asked.

“Magic honey. The same as we feed the fairies.” It was dropped into his mouth from the top of the jar. With the fairies, Kit had been bitten getting them into the lanterns in the first place.

“Here it is,” Lady said. She found the box laying on its side against the far wall, under a stack of books. They were a set of tools for delicate work, and a small hammer. Fine carvings decorated the sides. Kit took the hammer. “Come on. I know what I want to do first,” he said.

He started downstairs. Lady turned back toward the jar. “Is it safe to leave him here alone?”

“It is. Would you feel better to watch him, while I do this?” She nodded. “Okay. I’ll be back soon.”

Kit went into the staircase. He pulled open the curtains of the nearest window. It was a beautiful, sunlit day outside.

Kit walked up to the first lantern. Inside, a fairy stood with its hands on the lantern glass. It had watched him come down from the laboratory. Kit held up the hammer. The fairy looked at him. Its wings flicked intently. Even with eyes the size of pinheads, Kit could tell it was sizing him up. It wasn’t time for food, and the only time he’d walked up to the lanterns other than feeding time, Vrajitor or lady had been with him.

Kit held pointed at it, and made a gently waving gesture with his hand. He mimed hitting the lantern glass. He pointed at the fairy again, then pointed at the window. The fairy stared at him. Kit repeated his gestures. The fairy moved back.

With just the right touch, Kit rapped the glass and shattered it. Kit stood back. The fairy buzzed up to about Kit’s height, wings beating fast enough to buzz like a bee. Kit gave it plenty of room, and stayed ready. Fairies were like squirrels. He could kill it easily, but they could be nasty buggers if they wanted.

It flew out the window. Kit went to the next lantern, and repeated the process. By the time Kit broke the third lantern, the fairies were cheering. The fourth one sat on his shoulder to watch. The fifth sat on his head. “You’re welcome to stay,” Kit said for them all to hear. “There’s plenty of honey.” And plenty of room in the tower, for his new, adopted family.

Kit was dazed, too. He scratched at his face, rubbed his body and squeezed his skin, trying to get the feeling of awfulness out of his body. He knew he should be doing something about Vrajitor but he couldn’t help it. He’d never known such a horrible feeling in his young life.

“Kit!” Lady yelled.

He tried to get up. He fell.

Lady turned into a jet of black smoke. She threw herself at Vrajitor. The smoke struck him full in the chest like a sling stone. Vrajitor was knocked back. She turned back into herself, raking him with claws and snapping at him with razor-sharp fangs.

Vrajitor reached his left hand towards Kit. Kit felt weaker. The life drained out of him. He imagined the thread of gold light that was his power being pulled into Vrajitor. Vrajitor’s right hand formed a claw. Lady grabbed her throat. She looked like she was choking.

Kit could feel his life going inside Vrajitor. He felt the wizard’s greed and hate. Vrajitor disdained everything except for himself. Kit tried to pull his life back but Vrajitor’s will was too strong. Kit did see that pulling on the thread of gold light caused Vrajitor’s hold on Lady to buckle.

Kit wished as hard as he could for Lady to live. He wished for more life than he had ever known. He took the thread of gold light that was being pulled into Vrajitor and wrapped it around his hands like a cat’s cradle, with Vrajitor at the center.

Vrajitor lost his hold on Lady. She dropped to the ground, gasping for air. He tried to disentangle himself. The more he tried, the worse it got. It was the same spell Kit had used to trap fairies, only more inspired.

Once Vrajitor was hopelessly enmeshed, Kit severed the thread from his own body. It didn’t matter. Vrajitor’s magic fed the spell now.

Kit had an idea. As the Master had said, earlier Kit needed to pass judgment on the one who had wronged him.

Vrajitor shrank to the size of a fairy. The pieces of the glass jar that held the changeling came back together and closed around him. It wobbled slightly, then shivered and came to rest. Vrajitor looked at himself. They couldn’t hear him scream. Vrajitor waved his hands. A blinding flash of light made him disappear. He was still inside the jar. Another, and another. Finally, Vrajitor pounded on the glass with his fists.

cat's cradle

A giant cat’s cradle at Burning Man

angry wizard“I’ve had enough of this charade. You’re nothing but a wellspring to me, child. I’ll show you true—”

He was going to say “mastery” but Kit didn’t give him the chance. He reached out his hand, clenched his fist, and thrust his hand upward. Like a god had grabbed him, Vrajitor flew straight up into the ceiling. He hit it hard enough to crack the stone. Pebbles and chunks landed with him as he hit the ground.

Lady covered her mouth. She was so shocked all her glamour disappeared. Kit saw her as she really appeared. From the waist up, she was a young girl, dressed in delicate black cloth that faded to vapor on the edges. Her pure white skin was covered in tiny scales. Little horns peeked through her hair on her forehead. She faded into smoke from the waist down. She was some kind of demon.

“What have you done?” she asked.

Kit felt Vrajitor’s rage. He knew it wouldn’t be this easy. Kit crossed his arms in front of himself. Vrajitor roared. A shockwave that came out of his body blew everything that wasn’t nailed down across the room. Kit staggered. He’d been trying to protect himself and Lady, and hadn’t been able to keep either of them safe.

Vrajitor lifted his hand up. Streams of darkness flew out of his eyes and surrounded Kit. They wrapped around his eyes, arms and legs. Kit felt afraid, like being afraid of the dark. He felt like he was falling.

Lady slashed her hands backwards. She spun like a dancer. The streams pulled off Kit and wrapped around her, layering the cloth of her dress. Kit flung his arms out. Every window in the room opened. Some of the bricks flew out of the wall. Light poured into the room. The darkness melted away from Vrajitor’s eyes.

Kit clapped his hands. A boom of thunder went off with Vrajitor at its center. He covered his ears but laughed as he did so. “Is that all? You have much to learn, boy!” he cried. Kit tried to grab him again but Vrajitor swept it aside with a wave of his hand.

Pustules and growths sprouted all over Kit’s body. He screamed, then the sound choked under his swollen lips and tongue. He was turning into a bent creature of diseased flesh.

Instinct saved him. With the stubbornness of a child, a part of him shouted, “No!” and banished the enchantment. Pieces of rot splattered the room, then sizzled and disappeared into foul-smelling smoke. Vrajitor looked dazed.

Kit rested a while. He read some of the numbers and letters that Master and Lady taught him. He practiced some magic, too. It was the last thing he wanted to do, but what else did he have?

He thought of the changeling catching fireflies. Kit walked into the stairway outside his room. The fairies were asleep inside their lanterns. Their glow was barely visible. Kit put his hand on the wall of the tower and looked around, from the wall, as far up as he could see, down the side and down to his feet. This was his own cell. Was it that different? Outside, he remembered his mother screaming and the awful twist his father gave to his arm.

Kit went upstairs. Master and Lady casting a spell. Sparkles and red streams of light floated between them. It looked like a web for trapping fairies. Easy magic, something Kit had mastered last year.

Master noticed him first. The cloud of light vanished. “Hello, Kit. Are you feeling better?”

“Yes. I wanted to practice.” He hesitated. “Maybe… maybe not as hard as we sometimes do.”

Master and Lady looked at each other. Master nodded. Lady gestured for him to come in. In the far corner of the room, inside a glass jar, Master had imprisoned the changeling that he’d seen last night. Kit couldn’t forget its face, the ears and its huge eyes. It shrank back against the far side of the jar when it saw him.

Kit’s heart pounded. He felt enraged at the changeling, and afraid that he’d been caught. “I’m sorry,” he blurted out.

“No matter, young one. Wizards follow no rules but their own. I was, however, most displeased with this one.” Master said ‘this one’ as if he wanted to spit on the changeling. “It should have appeared to die the following morning, so that your family would have forgotten you. Last night never should have happened.”

The power inside Kit’s chest thrummed like a guitar string. Master lied. Kit looked at Lady. Her face might as well have been an expressionless, porcelain mask.

“Why did you take me? Why did you lie to me?”

“If I’d told you the truth, you would have gone, and never learned magic. It’s part of you. Your parents fear magic. They would fear you.”

The power twisted inside him. Some of it was true, but it felt strange. Kit didn’t know what to believe. He tried to find his way. The only pure thought that he had was pure anger, at the changeling.

Strange Kindness

Posted: December 31, 2013 by writingsprint in Fantasy, The Wizard's Family
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Kit ran until he couldn’t run any farther. He sat on the ground. He rubbed the heels of his hands into his eyes. The tears wouldn’t stop coming. This was supposed to be the happiest moment of his life. It felt like he died. He could never go home. His parents thought he was a monster. He wished he was; then he could kill the changeling, kill Master Vrajitor and Lady, and go far away.

He felt the power turn black inside him, like tar. He could do it. It would be simple, too. Master was afraid of him. So was Lady. If he felt afraid enough, or angry enough, he was sure he could wipe them away like the tears he tried to rub out of his eyes. He sat with his arms on his knees, his face on his arms. The tears kept coming for a long time, broken only by sobs.

When Lady arrived, Kit was too tired to resist. She carried him all the way home. He couldn’t help hugging her. He was just a boy and he needed to feel better. Lady’s skin felt cold. He buried his face on her shoulder so that he wouldn’t feel it so much. The closeness would have to do.

Home. The word made him feel sick.

The next morning, Kit didn’t get out bed. He rolled away from the door so that he didn’t have to look at Lady or Morgrim when they came for him. He heard the door open. Kit’s eyes opened wide when he heard Master’s voice. “Are you feeling well, Kit?”

Kit sat up. Master stood just inside the room. Lady stood next to him, hands at her sides. Master usually looked like a pool of darkness brewed inside him. This expression was patient, the way that Morgrim would sometimes just sit and listen to him, even when he didn’t understand.

“Yes. My stomach.” He didn’t want Master to change his mood. “Maybe if I rest, I can do lessons later?”

Master held up his hand. “Rest now. You’ve been working hard for the past few days. We’ll come back later. Do you want Lady or Morgrim to keep you company?”

“I….” Kit didn’t know what to say. “Just some food for now, I suppose.”

“Very well,” Master said.

“Thank you,” Kit said.

The Master cracked a smile. They were rare, but Kit had seen them before. The Master and Lady left the room.

Kit sat back against his bed. A pool of something brewed inside him, too. Happy or sad, healthy or sick, Kit had never known a day without lessons. Only his sickest days had kept them from him.

Morgrim brought him a bowl of porridge with apples. He brought the food up on a tray that he put on the end of Kit’s bed. “I hope you feel better, young master,” he said, and bowed. Kit ate hungrily. It made him feel better.

moon through a windowKit spent the next day in lessons, as he always did. This time Master and Lady took turns feeding him tales to spin additional stories from. Master would start, giving him the beginning of a story. Kit added the next part. Lady continued the story. Kit continued it further. The game continued until Kit’s power filled up with a world of strange possibilities, names and places and things that he had to keep straight. When he made a mistake, Lady would pinch him. When he did well, Master gave him a sweet. Kit was starting to hate sweets.

When lessons were finished, he shared a look with Lady as he left to have supper. He formed the words “you promised.” Lady smiled with her face but not her eyes, as she always did. Stiff fingers caressed his hair.

Morgrim was quiet tonight, too. For supper Kit ate more pork and potatoes. Maybe tomorrow night they would eat something else. Morgrim treated Kit with a bowl of berries that he gathered from the forest. He wasn’t allowed to go far, so Kit knew this was something special that Morgrim had done for him.

“Thank you, Morgrim,” Kit said. The goblin only bowed.

Lady didn’t come downstairs this time. On some nights, she and the Master would talk awhile, about today’s lessons, tomorrow’s lessons, or other things. It was all magic lingo and much of it still didn’t make sense to Kit. On some nights they would disappear into the Master’s chamber. Then Kit wouldn’t see either of them until morning.

Without Morgrim or Lady to talk to, Kit’s mind filled with thoughts about tonight. He wished he knew more about where Lady would take him. He thought of every lesson he’d ever been taught, and others he’d learned on his own. Could he run away? Could he stop her, if she tried to hurt him? Kit imagined running through the woods with Lady chasing after him. He knew how to hide and how to tell branches and things to grab people. They both had their own powers. Were his strong enough?

After Kit finished, he brought his plate to Morgrim, and Morgrim only bowed again. Kit smiled. As he turned to go to his room, Morgrim said, “Be careful tonight, young master.”

“I will.”

Kit went to bed fully clothed, including his shoes. He lay with his sheet drawn up, facing the window.

Where did he come from?

Kit counted stars and made new constellations. He hummed, and watched star shine moving between the points of light in the sky. He changed the tone, and felt the power vibrate to the music. He kept thinking about the door to his room. He wished Lady would get here.

Kit folded his arms on the table. He rested his head on his hands. He was tired. The candles burned low, and Kit had slaved his way through nothing but lessons, lessons, lessons all day. He gazed at the crystal ball that Master had cradled in a steel stand. Inside a black fluid swirled like wine in a noble lord’s glass, even though no one held it.

Kit shook his head. “I’m tired. I want to eat. Then I want to play.”

Lady caressed Kit’s hair. She put her hand on his shoulder. “Do what the Master says, little one. One last test. Then you can eat and play. I’ll give you some sugared apples with your food.”

“What if I don’t want to?”

“What if I pinch your cheeks again instead?”

Kit winced. Inside, his power turned dark. Kit didn’t like how it felt when she did that. It felt strong, but not nice. Like stepping on spiders.

He sighed. “All right,” he said. Smoked twisted from Kit’s fingertips. It ran across the table, faster once it started, and corkscrewed its way up the candle until it reached the wick. The smoke rushed in. Kit felt the spark inside his mind, then it really happened and the candle lit with an audible pop. Kit smiled. He almost laughed, but Master didn’t like laughing.

The flame hung inside his mind as well as sitting on the candle. Kit felt a connection between him and it, like a thread of gold spun by an angel. He breathed. The fire grew hotter than the wick ever should have absorbed. All the candle’s heat came out in matter of moments. As Kit breathed, the candle burned, until the liquid inside the crystal ball began to boil.

Lady clapped quietly. “Good! Very good. Run downstairs and tell Morgrim you’re ready for supper.”

Kit did as he was told. Lady turned to face the corner of the room, where Master Vrajitor had stood watching. She folded her arms and smiled at him. She dipped her head, and her long, silver-white hair played on the edges of her face. Her little black wings became visible. “You see? A kind touch goes further than the lash.”

“It worked once. I need to control him.”

“Give it to him, then take it away. He’ll need it. He’ll love you and beg for it back.”

Vrajitor stepped forward into the light. The corner of his mouth curled upward. He nodded.

Lady chuckled. As she did, saw the edge of Kit’s hair from where he stood watching them. Kit ducked back. She smiled again, and gave him a little wave from behind her back, where Vrajitor couldn’t see.

That Which You Seek

Posted: December 9, 2013 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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oracle

“Face Off,” sculpture by Kevin Francis Gray

From the shimmering pool of gold rose a figure. Waves of gold and bronze color flowed over it like slow syrup. The headless shape sprouted arms and legs, then the shape of a head covered in a cowl of gold metal. Its arms crossed in front of the form of a body. Finally, fingers took shape as its arms closed in a gesture of defiance. The figure towered over all of them, more than half again taller than the tallest man any of them had every met.

Seelia leaned on her staff. “I bow to you, Oracle of Geheim. My soul has been severed from my body, and I grow a year older with each passing of the sun. My magic cannot sustain me. Tell me who has done this, that I might face my enemy.”

“You are unworthy, wizard,” it replied. Its voice mixed arrogance and the hiss of softly played cymbals.

Seelia ignored the insult. To an oracle of limitless knowledge, even gods were unworthy. Seelia gestured to her apprentices. They came forward, no farther than where Seelia stood, Talan on her left, Filla on her right.

She continued, “I bring you clearest water, as a symbol of sustenance, and scissors of the finest steel, as a symbol of the severing of past and present.” Talan and Filla bowed to the golden colossus. Talan was shaking so hard she could almost hear his skinny knees knocking together. Filla seemed in her element. Seelia wondered at that. She bowed again, lower this time. “Accept these offerings, and provide knowledge in return.”

“Unworthy!” it shouted, the sound of a brass horn that shook the ground under their feet. The gold glowed. Seelia winced. It swept its hand across its body in a gesture of disgust. As it passed, they felt a wave of heat pass over their bodies. “Symbols are meaningless to you. Speak of meanings, wizard, or be gone.”

“At least she hasn’t said no,” Talan said.

“It isn’t a she,” Filla said.

Seelia drew a dagger. She nicked her own wrist. Talan and Filla gasped. “I offer blood. For as my this life slips away from me, so does my time slip away.”

Geheim nodded. The blazing gold light settled, and the cavern cooled. “Your enemy is your daughter in darkness. Beyond the eternal gate you will find your soul, and that which you seek.”

The figure disappeared into the golden pool once more. Seelia leaned heavily on her staff. She closed her eyes, and covered them with her hand.

“That which you seek?” Filla asked. “Besides your soul, what else is there?”