Posts Tagged ‘Magic’

Snake Skin

July 6, 2019

Mera Warren had seen her share of darkness. Her path had been darkness but she turned away from that path and had started to walk toward the light. Though she was widely known as a snake, Slytherin class of 2001, Mera had learned to harness that ambition for the forces of good. She had been young in 1998 when she and her fellow Slytherins had been locked in the dungeons with the rest of her house during the final battle with Voldemort. She had let her fear convince her to go along with the rest when she refused to fight in the battle. It was that and listening to the words of Draco Malfoy and his hangers-on. The older kids had convinced her that they were doing the right thing. When even Dracoy turned away from the dark, it was clear that they had all made the wrong choice.

After Hogwarts reopened, classes resumed but she and the rest were looked down upon by the other three houses. Some of the teachers found it hard to stick up for the students. Many Slytherins transferred to other schools. Mera had not been given that option. Her parents were not that well off and so she had to say goodbye to many of her friends. She had toughed it out. She kept her head down for a while and then little by little, she proved that she could be trusted. She helped Professor McGonogal clean up after class, she visited Hagrid, she tried and eventually succeeded in making friends. Inch by inch, rung by rung, she redeemed herself. Still, when it came time to graduate, she packed up her bags and left England.

She needed a fresh start. She needed to get out from under the cloud of Voldemort’s second reign of terror and the Battle of Hogwarts. There were too many memories even on the streets of London. Mera felt like she must have green scales after all because people seemed to instantly know who she was. In addition, she still harbored that Slytherin ambition. She wanted to be somebody but she did not know who that person was yet. All of her dreams had turned out to be nightmares and it was time to find new dreams. And so, she went to America. She arrived in Baltimore with very few bags and very little direction but a new lightness in her heart.

It was not long before she worked her way into the wizarding world of the East Coast of the United States of America. She got a lot of attention from her accent at first. She had not realized she had one but everybody had a comment. They were nice about it but it made Mera feel self-conscious. Finally, she got a steady job offer. Her skills with fast-casting and even faster thinking had qualified Mera to be a magical bounty hunter of sorts. It was a department inspired by the appearance of Newt Scamander in America in the early 20th century. The department, the US Department of Magical Creatures deputized certain officers to track and safely contain magical creatures in the most humane way possible.

“Hey partner,” Clark Coulson said gently. “You still with me?” He had been her partner for months now and they got along very well.

“Huh?” Mera said. “Sorry. I guess I was swimming in my past again.”

“Well,” Clark said. “We have our assignment. Do you want to get going?”

Mera stretched and shook the tension out of her shoulders. “Where are we going?”

“A warehouse in Canton,” Clark said. He was big and tall, and working class like a construction worker. He would have been a Hufflepuff back in Hogwarts for sure. “Just follow my lead, I know the way.”

Mera nodded and the two of them apparated across town and landed on an out of the way cobblestone street. Mera could see the harbor through a sliver of a gap in some buildings. She had never been too far from the water in her life.

“This is the place?” Mera asked, pointing toward a warehouse clearly in the process of being renovated and repaired. Much of the waterfront area was getting revamped and there was plenty of construction and reconstruction.

“That is the place,” Clark said. “The guy with the key should be here in a minute. Once we’re done, I’ll treat you to something from Fell’s Point. You want a crabcake?”

“That does sound delicious, Clark,” Mera said. “So why wait?” She pointed her wand at the locked door and called out ‘Alohamora!” and the door opened with a deep clicking sound.

“Always so gung ho,” Clark said. “I guess it’s technically not breaking and entering since we’re supposed to be here. Stay behind me.” He started toward the door.

“Excuse you?” Mera said. “Stay behind me.”

“Mera,” Clark said. “Let me be the meat shield. There’s nobody I trust more to watch my back and I’m better at shield charms. You’re better at combat spells. Facts are facts.”

“Well, if you were going to flatter me, you should have led with it,” Mera said with a smile. “Lead the way, meat shield.”

Clark smirked and pushed the door open wider. It was pitch black inside and deadly silent. They both looked at each other and almost said “Lumos!” in unison and the tips of their wands lit up. They stepped into the darkness, their steps echoing on concrete.

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Aftershocks: Playthings Pt. 1

October 6, 2018

Aftershocks Playthings

Charles stepped into the back of the toy store and admired the blood stains on the walls and floor with glee. The only thing he regretted was that the deaths that had occurred in the storeroom were not his handiwork. He had been out of the game for far too long and he was ready to spill plenty of blood himself. He placed one of his small hands against a blood spatter on a shelf of toys and found that it was still wet. He reveled in the feel of blood on his flesh once again. He wondered if enough of it was wet that he did not need the blood he had brought with him. He shrugged and figured he might as well use the bucket he had gotten out of the taxi driver.

He dipped his finger into the bucket of blood repeatedly as he drew the pentagram on the floor. He was really more of a voodoo guy but this was how these things were done. He focused his will on the symbol and a little boy appeared in the middle of the pentagram but partially transparent. He looked impatient and annoyed which turned to complete disdain when he saw who summoned him.

“Oh,” the boy said. “It’s you.”

“Yeah yeah,” Charles said. “It’s me.” He liked being recognized but usually, that recognition brought unreasoning fear. “We haven’t actually met yet but we’ve both worked with sort of a similar theme.”

“I’m far more creative than you are,” the boy said, folding his arms over his chest. “The other yous are slightly smarter but still not as smart as I am.”

“And yet you failed once and haven’t done squat since,” Charles said. “Look, I have a different plan from those other mes and I need a power source to do it.”

“Why do you think I will help you?” the boy asked, his eyes narrowing.

“Look, I know this is a crapshoot,” Charles said. “You are plan C after things with Toulon and Hartwicke didn’t work out.”

“I’m so flattered,” the boy said.

“If you help me,” Charles said. “I’ll make sure to give you credit and when He hears how much you helped, he might let you out.”

“Then playtime could really begin again,” the boy said with a grin. He thought of the last time he had gotten to come out and play and the lives he had been able to take. Of course, Charles had been right when he had reminded him of his failure. That door was shut forever but new doors could always be opened.

Charles laughed his wild laugh, his red hair flinging all over the place as he tilted his head back. “Exactly! But for now, it’s my turn.”

“I suppose I can learn to share,” the boy said. “On one condition. You have to say the thing.”

Charles hesitated and sighed and nodded slowly, mentally filing away that he was being forced to say the phrase once again. “Give me the power. I beg of you!”

* * *

Lydia was in the bunker, which was where she was spending much of her summer. She had always been pale and unathletic so going out into the sunshine hardly sounded like fun to her. She much preferred to dive into Rob’s collection of arcane tomes to research the world of magic. As she read, she realized that she had only just dipped her toes in the world of magic and there was so much more to learn that it made her head spin. It was all so fascinating and she ended up spending whole days absorbed in reading book after book.

Nancy, on the other hand, could not stand to be cooped up for too long and reading about demons made her nervous. Twice she had displayed her father’s demonic powers but in the real world instead of the dream world and it dredged up too many shadows and fears inside of her. She spent most of her days in the sunshine as a camp counselor run out of their school. Laughing and playing with kids in the light lifted her spirits and seemed to bring her back to herself. Sometimes she came to the bunker and brought Lydia dinner or a DVD so they could have a movie night. This was why Lydia was startled when Nancy walked in before lunch one day in early July.

“Lyds!” She called out as she burst through the door. “It’s so terrible.”

“Nancy?” Lydia said, looking up from yet another book. “What are you doing here? What happened to summer camp?”

“People are dying, Lydia,” Nancy said, pacing back and forth. “It keeps finding us no matter what we do.”

Lydia stood and hugged her best friend. “Slow down, Nance,” she said. “You said something terrible happened?”

Nancy took a couple deep breaths and then started speaking again. “Summer camp was canceled today since the parents of three kids died last night.”

Lydia took a moment and thought about that. The two of them had experienced death and violence before both before and after they met. Nancy was excitable and all but she was frantic. Children were involved and the deaths had happened at night. Lydia was able to put two and two together and realized that Nancy must have been reminded of her father. She made sure to hold onto her friend’s shoulders and looked her in the eyes. She tried to make her voice as comforting as possible.

“Nancy,” she began. “I know what this sounds like. I know how much you like kids. We’re going to get to the bottom of this. We’re going to stop whatever is happening.”

Nancy nodded and she started to shake a little less. She started to calm down but still clung to her best friend. “Alright,” she said.

Lydia nodded reassuringly. “We are going to need to call Rob to get him in on this. All hands on deck, right?”

“I already called him on the way here,” Nancy said. “I left a voicemail for him.”

“Wow. That was probably an interesting message,” Lydia said.

“Oops,” Nancy said. “Yeah, let’s actually fill him in.”

The Faith of the Raven Pt. 6

July 28, 2018

They moved further into the forest, the three of them. The undergrowth felt dense, far too dense for a small forest like Hernon. Everywhere they went, thorns and thistles grabbed at them and branches scratched against them. It was subtly unnatural but they all knew that there was something unnatural going on in those woods. The dead should not rise and it was as if the necromancer’s dark purpose was corrupting the forest around them. Like many forests and landmarks in Eloria (and beyond frankly), the Hernon forest was named after elves. All over the continent, places were still named after them even if the elves had left the place centuries before. Names had a way of sticking and people had a way of sticking to them. Carania hated that this necromancer was giving Hernon a bad name. It hurt her elf blood even though she knew she did not own that land.

Still, they moved on and made their way through the best they knew how. Carania was always at the lead at her insistence and the others did not argue. She felt responsible as an expert close-up fighter and as the person who accepted this mission in the first place. She hacked at errant and aberrant vegetation with her long sword when she had to. She thought to herself that she might have to get a short sword for that purpose to save her blade’s edge on future hunts. She was surprised at herself at that moment how quickly he had adapted to her new role in life. She was equally surprised that her companions seemed to be just as determined. This was not their fight and yet they had taken it on. It was inspiring and it made Carania further believe that she had done the right thing.

Of course, Carania was also surprised that she had such faith that she would survive to see future hunts. There was no room to believe otherwise she supposed. She had long heard that faith was a big part of serving a god. It seemed obvious to trust that Raven Queen had made the right choice. How else had a woman with very little actual combat experience slashed her way through a horde of zombies like they were nothing but smoke? Faith and courage and a little wind at her back from the Queen herself. Not to mention that fate had handed her two capable companions who she was very grateful for. She could feel the talons of the raven reaching out for the necromancer and it felt so good.

As they walked, Carania saw little bones and trinkets dangling from the trees with little lengths of twine. Carania viewed the little things warily, not knowing quite what to make of them. However, she knew that looking at them made her feel bad inside like looking at food left out for so long that things were growing in it. The three of them all caught each other looking at the trinkets and for a moment there was an amused smile between them. It was a moment of pure connection. It cut through the gloom for a moment and they all seemed to welcome it.

“The followers of the necromancer must have hung them,” Galath said. “I’ve seen similar things before.”

“What in the seventh hell are they?” Carania asked.

“Offerings in the worship of Nerull,” Galath said. “Makes your stomach turn, doesn’t it?”

“Nerull?” Carania asked. “I know I’m still a bit ignorant but everybody knows that my queen killed him.” She smiled at taking ownership of her new goddess.

“As the necromancers show us, much that dies can rise again,” Galath said. “It is true that it is known that the Raven Queen defeated the God of Death while she was simply the goddess of winter. After she took his place, he was raised back up behind the veil.”

“As an undead god?” Carania asked with a shudder. “What does that even mean? Who raised him?”

“Nobody knows,” Galath said. “Well, if anybody knows they are not making it public. I always suspected that whoever did it was somebody who could also not pass through the veil between us and the gods. It is someone I would rather not deal with. I wonder if these followers or the necromancer even know an iota of what happened. I wonder if they even care.”

“How does somebody even become a necromancer?” Carania asked. All of this was great information to have. She had been given no manual or guidebook to follow.

“I suppose it’s the same as becoming a gang member,” Galath said. “A combination of bad luck and dark intentions.”

“He whispers to them,” Arne said, speaking up for the first time in a while.

“What?” Galath asked.

“Care to explain that, Arne?” Carania asked, glancing over her shoulder at the wizard. His familiar was nowhere in sight, most likely flying somewhere overhead.

“The undead god Nerull whispers to those with magical potential,” Arne said. “Not everybody with magic hears the whispers but he does whisper and he offers people the power to get what they desire. Whatever the cost.”

“That’s quite a rumor,” Galath said. “Where did you hear it?”

“I didn’t hear a rumor,” Arne said calmly, evenly. “I heard the whispers myself. In my darkest moment, the whispers came to me too. He offered all kinds of things. I said no.”

“Of course you did,” Carania said. She thought Galath had been about to say something and she did not want to take any chances with what it may have been. “What did he promise?” she asked. She had not meant to. She knew somehow that it was not a question she should have asked but the words got away from her before she had a chance to stop them. Carania was an eternal student, always grabbing at new information to wield just as easily as she swung her sword. She wondered desperately what could have been Arne’s darkest moment.

Arne took a deep breath. “That is private,” he said. “But I understand your curiosity. The point is, the dark wisdom that comes from those whispers is nothing to laugh at.”

“That is definitely the truth,” Galath said.

“Who’s laughing?” Carania asked. “This ends tonight.”

Suspension of Disbelief

July 21, 2018

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Image credit: @ToniMacAttack on Twitter

So, I believe I have talked on here about the concept of “Suspension of Disbelief”. I know that if I have, it has been a while and either way, I felt like revisiting it because it is such an interesting concept. Now, I believe my greatest strengths as a consumer of fiction are my memory and my suspension of disbelief. Suspension of disbelief is a term for submerging yourself in the story and not surfacing until the story is over. That means that you are not picking at details, you are not wondering where you have seen that actor before, and you are completely buying the story. Some people are better at that than others. That is not a knock on people who cannot seem to accomplish it. Lately, I have begun to wonder about the people who are not as good at suspension of disbelief. I honestly do not know if it is a burden or not. I feel like I enjoy movies and television a lot more than some people but without being in their head, maybe I am missing something that they are getting.

Fake Baby

I am not completely immune. It was not my choice when I went and saw American Sniper. While I do try to challenge myself now and then, I almost never choose nationalist movies about the glory of our US military. As much as they try to paint them as heroes, the story is almost always our guys in another country, bullying and killing people. This is basically what American Sniper was to me. And yet, I was still in the story of this guy who kept going to Iraq to shoot people in the name of freedom. I might not have gotten the same jingoist pride out of the whole thing, but I was still invested. Right about until halfway through, Bradley Cooper and his wife had a baby. Except, they apparently ran out of casting money because they used a baby doll instead of a live child. Look at the gif. I do not know how you experience it but I see embarrassment in the eyes of Bradley Cooper. He realizes that we can all tell that this is a fake baby. Instead of using the power of movie magic and acting to make the baby live, they leave Cooper on his own in this shot. He tries to salvage it by using sleight of hand to make the baby move but it only tricks you for a split second. It took me out of the movie but after that, I shook my head and dove back in.

Recently, I went with my friends to watch Antman and the Wasp in theaters. As I already wrote, I was excited to see the sequel because I loved the first movie so much. I also have loved whatever Disney has done with the Marvel properties. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and, as with most of their franchise, I did not notice a single flaw. As we walked toward our cars, my friend said something that triggered the writing of this post. She said something along the lines of “That was a great movie even though it didn’t make any sense.” We all looked confused and asked for clarification. She explained that the science used in the movie did not make any sense to her. My brain made a record scratch noise and then I said goodnight and got into my car and drove home. I did not want to get into it right there because that statement revealed how fundamentally differently I experience fiction. The way she thinks is not wrong but it is very different. If you thought something similar after or during a movie, do not take this post as offensive. I honestly am trying to understand it.

Science in movies is generally not like science in the real world. Science in the real world is fascinating and something we absolutely need to know and trust because it makes our lives and our decisions easier. However, science in the real world is rarely very exciting to the average person. Science in the real world is more subtle and works much slower and experiments do not always work as expected. So, science in the movies is often flashier, more effective, and fast-working. The rule cool and the narrative often force writers to skip a few scientific principals. If I am watching a movie and they explain that gravity suddenly makes people fall into the sky, then I roll with it. I do not get bogged down in the details and I do not try and compare movie science to real-life science. In fact, if you look back at science in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is mostly treated as magic. In Captain America: The First Avenger, we only get a few buzzwords as Steve Rogers is transformed into the good Captain. In Thor, practically nothing is explained aside from a few buzzwords in Thor 2 when they are scanning Jane Foster. In the Antman franchise, they use a lot more science buzzwords because Hank Pym is much more of a pure scientist than Banner or Stark or any of the other scientists in the franchise. So a lot of what Pym says sounds like science but it probably does not have much that is consistent with real-life science. However, nothing in that world has ever been very accurate in the first place.

But what I am saying is that it does not matter to me. If I am told that if you were able to shrink yourself to a small enough size that you would basically enter another universe, I will accept it. If I am told that growing to a larger size makes you expend more physical energy and tires you out more then I will believe it. What grabs me is the action and the characters and the clever dialogue. However, I also realize that I am more of a poet than a scientist. A lot of my friends are scientists. They went to college for science and they work in scientific fields or science-adjacent fields. It may be similar to when I see legal things in shows and I make a mental note about how they are wrong. However, I have rarely let that take me out of the story. I guess I just have a difficult time understanding how it is difficult to suspend your disbelief.

Media Update 5/4/2017

May 4, 2017


Little Witch Academia
(and Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade)

This was a, pardon the pun, completely enchanting experience. I basically look at these two short films as two pilots (an intro and a two-parter) for the television show that has not been released in America yet. The series follows a young witch named Akko living and learning at a all-female boarding school for practitioners of the magical arts aka witches. Unlike many of her fellow students, she grew up in a more human world and is behind everybody in her skills. Luckily, she is aided by her friends Sucy and Lotte (and others later). Sucy might just be my favorite part of what I have seen so far as she is creepy and funny and loves to brew bizarre potions and poisons but is still a good guy. Lotte summons faeries to aid her. Akko is basically a witch version of a magical girl, so basically a double magical girl. The animation is so fluid and it is so fun to watch everybody move. The American voice cast is sweet and endearing and I could not help but fall in love with the three misfits. I cannot wait for Netflix to finally start bringing the show to the States because they have done such a good job so far producing quality dubs. I definitely recommend what is on there so far.


Kill la Kill

I remember hearing a little about this show when it first got popular but I never got around to watching it for some reason or another. I probably did not have cable while it was on Toonami. I have heard the dub is very high quality but I watched the subtitled version on Netflix which was fine. (Seriously, give me an advertising deal Netflix). Anyway, the show is about a young schoolgirl who travels to a famous academy to discover who killed her father sho she can avenge him. Along the way, she becomes a bizarre magical girl through some magic clothes. Most magical girls fight for love and justice selflessly but this one just wants to beat the crap out of almost everyone she sees. It is basically a heavy metal version of the magical girl story. She has few friends at the academy and usually has her back against the wall in almost every fight. The one big thing I wanted to address with this one is the fanservice. There is a lot of male and female nudity and suggestive sexual language so far (4 episodes in). Some of it is funny, most of it is bizarre. I thought it was really sexist at first but over time I think it is just a bizarre sidenote that is neither sexist nor feminist. The animation and fight scenes are pretty cool and creative and I look forward to what happens next. I will recommend it but do not come knocking on my door if it offends you (there’s also a lot of blood).


Fairy Tail

With a name like that, I should have checked it out ages ago. It is set in a world that is full of mages trying to ply their trade by helping people for money through the use of bounty boards and quests. The series mostly follows Lucy who is a young, idealistic mage whose magic is devoted to summoning creatures and making contracts with them. It is a concept I love especially since she is very excited but also very nice about it. She is out to join the number one mage guild which is called Fairy Tail. Along the way, she befriends a fire mage named Natsu and a cast of kooky but awesome characters. It has some dungeons and dragons elements to it but it also has some fun One Piece and Seven Deadly Sins elements. The mix of comedy and action is really good. The two heroes are not the most experienced or competent so we get to see them fail until they succeed a lot early on. The humor comes from genuinely funny characters but also some absurdist humor thrown in as well. I am only a few episodes in but I like what I see so far and I cannot wait for more characters to be introduced to the story. I definitely recommend it.

Music of the Week:
Eric B. & Rakim – I Ain’t No Joke

JI YEON – Never Ever

John Carpenter – Night

Windhand – Libusen

JoJo – FAB

Weekly Update:
– I watched more MST3K: The Return and it just gets better as it goes
– I watched more Don’t Trust the B in Apt 23
– I finished Iron Fist and I thought it was pretty good
– I started Legends of Tomorrow Season 2
– I watched more of The Crown
– I picked up The Get Down Part 2
– This week’s theme is “Magical Anime Series”

The Story Pt. 3

December 24, 2016

the-story

I turned back to face Alice who was waiting, probably expecting me to sign on the dotted line. “Well, thanks for all of that exposition but I don’t think I’m a good fit here. In fact, I should get back to my place. I need to finish with these plays and I still have plenty of homework that you all interrupted,” I said. I was about done with the lunatic asylum. The whole concept of magic was astonishing but I knew if I let that idea take hold, I would never escape.

“Your answer is ‘no’? May I ask why?” Alice asked. She was completely thrown off.

“What you have here is potentially more powerful than nuclear arms. Power like that needs to be hidden away so it is never abused. It is too tempting to use once you know about it. If what you’re telling me about this Oncoming Storm is right, it has already fallen into the wrong hands,” I said. It was the only logical answer in my mind and the fact that it was not obvious to Alice further proved that point.

“Could you at least stay a bit so things can blow over on your campus? I can’t be sure of your safety right now. In fact, we cannot guarantee your safety for the rest of your life,” Alice said with a frown. She suddenly looked more tired. Heavy is the head that wears the crown.

“Nobody could guarantee my safety before this happened either,” I responded.

“But the Editors and the Oncoming Storm will both be after you,” Alice said. “They won’t believe you said no. Nobody has ever said no before.”

“So I’ve heard. I’ll take my chances.”

“Don’t walk out of here out of stubbornness,” Alice said. She had her hands on her hips now, indignant at my behavior. I admit it was rude but these people were insane.

“I’m walking out of here because I don’t think I can handle magic. I don’t think the world can handle it either.”

“You don’t want to think about it?” Alice asked.

“No,” I said bluntly. “Show me the way out now.”

“Booker will show you the way out then,” Alice said.

Booker seemed to appear out of thin air. “Aww, really? Please stay, won’t you?”

I nearly jumped out of my shoes and I clutched my chest. “How did you do that?” I yelled at her. I felt a little bad about yelling despite the whole kidnapping and dangerous situation.

“Magic,” Booker said with that big grin. “Most of our spells come from our favorite pieces of literature. Alice and I like the Wonderland books a lot so we get a lot of our spells from there. Just now I harnessed the power of the legendary Cheshire Cat.”

“His power of plot convenience?” I asked. I smiled at my own bad joke. Nobody else did.

“Very funny. Everybody’s a critic.” Booker said.

“I kind of am a professional critic. So how does this harnessing work?” I asked. I could not help my curiosity.

“You just think of the right piece of fiction and you take on one of their aspects or powers. Sometimes focusing the power into an object or totem can help,” Alice said.

“Like this one,” Booker said. She was holding up the little rabbit she had been holding outside of the library. “Obviously, it is based on the White Rabbit and it stores the magic needed to make an instant entrance to Wonderland. Interesting, right?”

“And frightening. Now, could you stop harnessing the power of the Mad Hatter and get me out of here?” I asked.

“This is very serious to us. We have studied for quite a while to discover new aspects to magic,” Alice said. She was getting angry and it helped dispell the air of authority she had had when I first entered. She was a normal human being after all.

“Don’t go, we can teach you all of this and you can help us be good,” Booker said.

“Let him go. We do not force anyone to stay here and we are not going to start today. Try to send him back to a safe area,” Alice said.

“So, definitely not back to the library,” Booker said.

“That would be a no. Good luck, William. If you ever reconsider, we will be able to contact you again. If you are still alive, of course,” Alice said.

“That’s intimidating,” I said and walked away back down the hallway.

Pretty soon Booker had caught up, sighing several times dramatically. “I guess there’s not need for this anymore.” She waved her hand over her face and her hair turned dirty blonde and her eyes became a soft brown.

“Wait, that wasn’t real? Why?” I asked. This just got weirder and weirder.

“It’s a little cliche but I use it on recruitment runs. In a lot of bad fiction, the heroine had red hair and green eyes. Plus, I really like putting on my ‘game face’. It helps me find my confidence,” She said.

“You didn’t have to lie to me, Booker,” I said.

“Aww thanks, William.”

“Putting me in danger and kidnapping me worked just fine,” I said with a smile.

“You’re horrible,” she said but she was still smiling. “Just go through that door and William?”

“Yes?”

“Be careful.” She said.

I nodded and opened the door in front of us and walked through. I could instantly feel a difference in the atmosphere. I was behind a building on campus and, in the distance, I could see smoke drifting up from what was probably the line of cars in front of the library. Suddenly, I heard a loud click from right next to my head. It was a gun.

“Freeze. Don’t move a muscle.” A voice said.

It Is In the Closet

January 19, 2016

“I don’t know about this, Abel.” Kevin said. He was pacing the room, unable to sit back down on Abel’s bed. It was just after school and Abel had called them to his room to discuss a solution to their problem. Abel hadn’t been prepared for what that solution was.

“I think Abel’s right, Kevin. This is the only way to deal with this.” Priya said. She took the bow out of her hair that her parents had made her wear for picture day.

“I’ve gone over it and over it. I’ve read all the books in the library and I’ve searched the internet every night until mom and dad sent me to bed. I’ve gone through all the options, guys. We have to do this.” Abel said, opening the book in front of him. It was a very old and worn book and it had taken a lot of work to get hold of it.

“Why is the monster back anyway?” Kevin was glad they were discussing this away from any of their bedrooms. It was unclear if the thing could understand English but assuming it didn’t was playing with fire.

“Who knows? We’re lucky it’s been gone for eight years.” Priya said. She had that same dissatisfied look on her face and Kevin shrugged.

“Look. There is a monster in my closet. I hit it with a baseball bat and right now the locks are holding.” Abel said and looked around at the other two and they nodded. They all knew this much. “They won’t hold forever or my mom and dad will let it out without knowing the danger. It will kill me, it will take my family and so on. I have a solution. It’s up to us. Right?”

“I agree.” Priya said. She looked determined an Abel found himself smiling. He saw fear on Kevin’s face but Kevin smiled too.

“Yeah, we have to. I can’t lose you guys and I kind of don’t want it coming after me.” Kevin said.

“Then this is what we have to do.” Abel said as he made sure the book was laid out properly. “We each cut our palms and put the blood in the bowl. I’ll speak the words and then we get the power. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.”

“What if it doesn’t?” Kevin asked.

“There’s no more time for what ifs.” Abel said. He was about to say something else when here was a noise of anguish from Priya. She held a knife in her hand and blood poured from her other hand and into the bowl. She smiled weakly at the boys and clenched her fist to stop the bleeding. “Well, I guess that’s that.”

Abel cut his hand and then Kevin did after a moment or two of hesitation. Abel started to read from the book, a language he could barely pronounce and hoped he had translated correctly. There was a bright flash and the blood in the bowl glowed an eerie white. A deep sonorous noise filled the room and everything seemed to shake. Abel could barely keep his eyes open and then he could not. He felt things moving around the room. Whatever it was huge and powerful and very, very close and suddenly the blood loss Abel had suffered felt like nothing.

A voice from nowhere came in that darkness. “The bargain is struck.”

Abel opened his eyes but the room was as it was and he looked at his blinking friends. The bowl of blood was still glowing bright white. The blood moved and then it started to float out of the bowl and divide itself into thirds. Before the three teens could react, the blood was seeping itself back through the wounds in their hands. Kevin shook his hand to get it off but to no avail. Priya and Abel just sat there stunned. As the three of them watched, their wounds closed up.

“What was that?” Kevin cried out. His eyes were wide.

“That felt really powerful.” Priya said with wonder. They all looked down at their hands and Abel thought he could see something where the cut had been. He just wasn’t sure though.

“Good. We’ve got a monster in a close to exterminate.” Abel said.

The three of them arrived at Abel’s family home and tropped up to his bedroom. Abel was grateful that his mom, dad and little sister were out. They approached the bedroom closet and they could hear it scratching at the inside of the door. That sound had filled the last three nights for Abel. When they got within a few feet of the door the sound suddenly stopped.

“You can feel it. Can’t you? The power we hold?” Abel said as he glared at the door.

“You are fools. We are legion. There will be more where I came from.” Said a deep but scratchy voice from beyond the door.

“I think this time we’ll be better prepared.” Abel said and he could almost feel his friend’s smiles.

The thing burst from the closet suddenly, all claws and scales and surprisingly feathers. Time seemed to slow down and they all got a good look it. All three of them raised their hands toward the creature and lightning lanced out and struck the beast. It wriggled and burned and cried out and then it was gone. Just gone.

World on a String

December 27, 2015

Koriana woke up and groaned at the wooden floor below her. The last thing she remembered was trying to drag her boyfriend out of a bar in South Lucroy harbor. Had they gotten out of there and back to their little farm? She wasn’t exactly sure. Her head was spinning and it was hard to get her bearings. Maybe the horse had gotten them home safely and maybe not. Maybe she had given in and joined him for a pint or two. It wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary for that silver-tongued devil to reverse her efforts to sober him up. If he did, it would account for her light sensitivity and a funny feeling in her stomach.

It was at this point that she realized that although the ground below her was wooden and quite hard-looking, it didn’t actually hurt to lay on it. In fact, she felt pretty numb as she lay there and the realization was more than a little troubling. What had happened the night before? She had a huge blank spot in her head when she tried to recall the night before. She reached out to feel the floor with her fingers and that numbness persisted. She heard a scraping sound as her fingers moved over the wood and it was the only way she knew she was making contact at all. The whole thing was very strange.

Koriana started to climb to her feet but nothing seemed to be working. Her muscles wouldn’t gather under her so she could push herself to her feet. Her head would barely move and she felt so heavy and strange. She didn’t even feel tired or hurt, her body just wouldn’t cooperate with her. The room had been absolutely still and silent and the silence suddenly struck her as odd. If she was home there would be the sound of the dogs, the birds and all the other animals. If she was near the port there would the sound of the sea and the city. There was absolutely nothing and that was strange.

The silence was suddenly broken, the sound of a rough wooden door opening echoed throughout the room followed by creaking hinges. There were thunderous footsteps and fear went straight for Koriana’s heart like a dagger. Why were those footsteps so big? She had hear of giants but thought they were only a myth. However, magic had touched her life before and she had seen myth become reality in earlier days. The thought terrified her and she tried to move again but only managed to wiggle a little. She was frantic to run, to hide but again nothing was working.

“You need to relax, little one. I imagine it may take some time to get your strength back in your present condition.” The voice was surprisingly soft and heavily accented.

“In… In.. In m m my present condition?” Koriana managed to choke out though somehow her voice didn’t feel like it was coming from her body.

“Let us shed some light on your situation, shall we? I will warn you, this may come as a bit of a shock.” The voice said. Koriana barely had time for that statement to scare her. How bad was her situation? What was her situation? She felt herself get pulled to her feet and she could now see the room. The room was giant and the man in front of her was huge as well. She was sitting on what looked like a humongous desk. “Now, I found you in this condition and I was able to reverse the enchantment a little bit. I’m glad it allowed you to speak. Perhaps it will allow you to move soon.” The giant said.

“You keep saying condition. P P Please tell me what y you mean.” Koriana said.

The giant set a mirror before her and she was shocked at what she saw. She looked back at her own face but it was now wooden and her hair was made of thread. Her body was wooden under doll’s clothes. She hung there just above the desk by strings through her wrists and knees. She was the very model of a marionette and she felt her vision dimming with the revelation as if she would just black out. The giant watched her from just beyond the mirror and Koriana fought back to consciousness.

“I told you it would come as a shock.” The giant man said.

“I I Is this what giants do? Turn human beings into p p puppets?” Koriana asked. She looked up past the mirror and directly at the man with what she hoped was an accusatory glance.

“Giant? I assure you that I am as human as I believe you were. This was the work of a djinn. It made a deal with your husband and he was unprepared for the results. Whatever his wish was, it and your body were twisted. I only know as much because I coaxed the story out of him when he sold you to me.” The man said. His voice and eyes were steady and Koriana felt he just might be telling the truth which was devastating enough.

“So I’m a doll now?! What am I supposed to do now? How am I supposed to live?” She asked.

The man took the mirror away and brought his face level to her entire body. “The first step is to cut those strings. He can no longer control you. Although I paid for you, I do not own you either. You are your own woman. Your destiny is in your hands now.” He cut the string connected to her right wrist carefully and her arm fell limp. Slowly she flexed it and found she could move afterall. He held a small blade out to her and she grabbed it with her tiny wooden fingers. She reached and cut her own strings and fell to the desk. After a few moments she was able to push herself to her feet. She held the blade out to him.

“Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for setting me free.” Koriana said with what she hoped was a smile but was probably just the same painted wooden face.

He gestured for her to keep the blade. “Keep it. My gift to you. I sense a great strength within you but the small need every advantage they can get. What will you do now?”

She hefted the blade and it was just about sword-sized for someone of her stature. “Revenge on my husband maybe.”

“And after that?”

“I don’t know.” Koriana said. A future as a wooden doll was daunting.

“Meet me back here if you can’t figure that out. I may have a path for you yet.”

Shield of the Ishim Pt. 2

July 6, 2015

Ishim Shield

“Do you hear that skittering sound again?” Maya asked, tugging lightly on the goggles resting on her brown leather mask. She still kept close to China so she wasn’t crushed by the gravity spell surrounding them. It had been an hour since they had started searching for a nasty intruder at the old Belvedere Hotel but there was nothing but skittering noises so far. This was not the usual hunt an Ishim faced these days. Normally the supernatural creatures leapt out and attacked pretty quickly so it was strange to have to try and follow their prey through the hotel like they had so far.

“The ballroom this time.” China whispered from behind that perfect porcelain mask. “At least there’s open ground there. Less chance of it getting away this time. Let’s go.”

China turned with a flip of her long gray hair and walked confidently but carefully toward the ballroom which forced Maya to stick close once again. They were surrounded by a chorus of creaking floor boards which was completely unnerving. Maya looked to her right and watched a spindly dining room chair get crushed under the weight of the spell. She felt confident that the gravity spell China was conjuring would protect them from physical attack by slowing or smooshing their attacker. At least, that was the theory.

If the spell covered physical threats, Maya carried various totems and charms that protected her from magical attacks. She had no idea what the great China Gray was relying on but the woman seemed confident so it was hard to be too concerned for her. Maya was still having a hard time figuring out China’s age with all of the contradictory evidence. Gray possesed confidence and wisdom like an elder and she was taller. However, she also lacked patience and moved far too easily for an elder. After all, most elders were too heavily injured to move like they used to.

They rounded the corner and pulled open the big double doors under the plaque that said this was the ballroom. They pushed open a second set of double doors just a few feet inside. The ballroom must have been really spectacular in its day. There was plenty of intricately carved woodwork still on the walls and empty bronze rods where drapes must have hung. A lot of the tarnished brass light fixtures were still there but a lot of them were dangling off the walls by thick wires.

Maya swung her torch around and focused the beam of light with a force of will. There were a few ruined chairs that were quickly flattened around them along with some partially collapsed tables. She thought she saw something twinkle on the floor so she focused the light there next to investigate. She gasped and clutched her torch tighter and she could almost feel China tense up next to her even though the other woman was silent.

There on the floor, draped over a shattered chandelier, there was a dragon the size of a Clydesdale. It was dead and there could be no doubt. There was a cut the length of Maya’s forearm in its neck and two clean puncture wounds in its torso. It had definitely breathed its last breath ass it was statue still with one wine-colored eye open and unfocused. pointing vaguely torward the ceiling.

“Did somebody complete the job for us?” Maya asked, the thought of an elder not taking them seriously brought on a hot flush of anger that she knew turned her skin reddish pink. Thankfully, her face was covered by the mask.

“It looks that way, doesn’t it?” China responded bitterly. Her voice was filled with annoyance once again but this time Maya felt she wasn’t the cause. For once, she felt more kinship with this stiff, by-the-book woman. She also guessed that she was not an elder because this absolutely did not happen to elders.

Suddenly, a blood red symbol flared to life on the wall where somebody had carved it through the wallpaper and into the wood beyond. Maya didn’t recognize the symbol but while they were staring, blood red words ignited above it.

‘The Ishim Will Die’ They said.

Maya and China looked at each other. “What does that-” Maya started but did not finish her sentence. Dozens of brown, shiny beetles the size of small puppies exploded from every vent in the room. They surrounded by nasty little insects that let out horrible shrieking noises like crickets from Hell. Maya raised her torch and once again she was interrupted as China already had something in mind.

It was one of those series of moments that slows down so that you can see every detail. The beetles leapt at them as one, brandishing pincers as sharp as daggers. China yelled out what sounded like “Unleash!” and a bright flash of light spread from the epicenter of the gravity spell they were standing in. In an instant Maya felt forces push her and China up off the ground. Around them it was if a giant mallet slammed down into the floor, wooden floor planks and beetles and everything went flying. Then China went limp and Maya reached out for her as they started to tumble into the darkness of the basement.

Shield of the Ishim

May 30, 2015

Ishim Shield

Maya pulled up to the Belvedere Hotel and put her station wagon into park. The instructions had said to don masks before entering and Maya always followed the rules. Well, maybe it was only that she sometimes followed the rules. She sighed and pulled the rough leather hood over her head and shoved her inky black hair down the back of her jacket. She adjusted the mask until the eye holes were in their proper places and jammed her shoulder into the car door so that it opened with a scraping noise. She always meant to get that fixed but there was always something more important to do. Instead, she had grown to love the sound.

She started to prepare her bag of tricks. She kept all of her spell components in a leather messenger bag which made for easy access at the drop of a hat. Life was certainly interesting as an Ishim. Ishim was just a name, taken from Judaism to refer to an order of people dedicated to defending humanity with magic. The order itself was scattered and its members and initiates came from all sorts of different backgrounds. There were rumors that some members were not even human. Now that their order had been granted rights to practice by the federal government, there were also rumors of regulations and organization. The old guard would never accept that.

Maya strode confidently toward the entrance of the abandoned hotel. It had recently been revealed to the public that supernatural creatures are real and that the Ishim used magic to combat them. The public was slowly becoming aware of what that meant about the past, present and future. Paranormal rights activists were starting to crawl out of the woodwork but most of the public seemed to support the Ishim. However, most of them did not want to socialize with a witch so that was one of the reasons for the masks. The door was unlocked so her contact must have already arrived.

“Hello?” She called out, the sound muffled slightly by the leather covering her mouth.

“Enter and stay silent. We’re not sure what we’re dealing with yet.” It was a distinctly female whisper.

Maya closed the door behind her and walked toward the cloaked figure in the middle of the room. The woman wore what looked like a dark gray power suit from the nineties under an old gray cloak. Her face was completely covered by a porcelain mask. Even through the mask, Maya could feel the woman staring daggers at her but shrugged it off and walked forward as naturally as possible.

“Greetings, my name is — ” Maya started to say.

“Are you new or something?” The woman hissed. “We use code names only.”

“I know. I was just about to give mine.” Maya responded with a frown, trying her best to keep her voice soft. There was no set rules that the Ishim followed but there were suggested guidelines that kept them safe and made their job and lives easier. One of those guidelines was to keep their identity a secret when close to a supernatural threats. More powerful creatures who knew your true name or had seen your true face could magically use that against you. Most of the nastier bits of magic required such intimate knowledge.

“They call me China Gray.” The woman said, looking around the large entrance hall.

“They call me Rabbit.” Maya responded patiently. She gripped her bag tighter. These creepy abandoned building situations were never fun.

“What the hell are you wearing?” China asked. She was turning out to be kind of critical and Maya didn’t like it.

“My gear. I went with a steam punk kind of thing. Can we get started?”

“So disrespectful but I suppose you’re right.” How old was this woman? She sort of talked like an elder but definitely didn’t move like one so she couldn’t be that old. “We’re going into this situation blind, I’m afraid. We’ll have to be extra cautious and be prepared for anything.” She showed some bangles she wore on her wrists, one was silver and the other was copper. “I have lightning and ice covered. Yourself?”

“Wow, ok.” Maya said, stalling for a moment. The abrupt way China spoke to her threw her off her game a little bit. She pulled what looked like a small hand broom out of her bag. “I’ve got fire and light covered. I have a ton of holy water too.” She waved her hand over the blackened bristles of the sawed off broom and the end of it caught fire but the bristles did not burn up. She smiled a little at how well she had mastered that trick.

“I think that will work. Now, stay close to me.”

“I’ve done this before.” Maya responded with a frown. She was six months into being an official member of the order not an initiate at her mentor’s knee still.

“Noted. I meant that I’ll be casting an area of high gravity around us that I don’t want you to be caught in it. The spell cuts down on creatures who cling to ceilings. I don’t like it when I’m surrounded.”

“Wow, I’ve never seen that before. Go for it.” Maya said with a smile. She loved learning new spells even if this one sounded difficult and very capable of mass destruction. This is probably why Horse never taught that spell to her.

China nodded slowly, took a deep breath through her mask and then a wide area around them suddenly became a sea of creaking floorboards. Maya shuddered slightly and moved closer to China. She couldn’t even tell where the gravity began or ended. She was at the mercy of China Gray. The two of them started to walk into the hotel to see what they were up against.


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