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Whistle While You Work #6

August 26, 2015 Leave a comment

Maleena was rocking back and forth. Tomas didn’t know if it was from magical overload or from needing to go to the bathroom. In his case, it was magical overload.

They had been listening to the group sing its spells for over an hour. The air above the coliseum was turning grey as the bands of color from the spell mingled together.  The closer to the ground you looked, the more distinct each color was. It reminded him of smoke above a village, the chimneys working together to fill the sky with soot and ash.

A few of the other spectators were lying in their seats. He had watched them slump, one after another, until there were almost no regular people left.

Maleena froze for a second, twitched a little bit, and then started to pitch forward. Tomas grabbed her, and was surprised to feel another arm on top of his.

When he lifted his eyes, he saw the wide, shocked expression on Hennessy’s face. The old wizard stared at him for a moment before smiling. Hennessy helped push Tomas’ wife back so that she was slumped in her seat, and then turned his attention back to the performance.

Tomas wanted to look around, but he couldn’t pull his eyes away from the ribbons of magic making their way into the air. He had just enough of his senses to realize that the only reason he had caught Maleena was because she had been beside him. Had they not been sitting so that their shoulders were touching, he would not have known she had started to fall.

The performance continued, and Tomas rocked along with the rhythm of the song. He fought, not wanting to miss any of it, and in doing so, his own energy was added to the spell.

Younger wizards began to fall. Apprentices were caught by their masters, or by the otherworldly guests, and laid back into their seats.

The performers themselves fell. The voices dropped off one by one as the sun dipped below the horizon.

Tomas nodded but did not fall. Behind him, a creature covered in red and green hair extended its hands, preparing to catch him if needed. The creature in front of him opened the eyes on the back of its head, and quirked its scalp above one eye as it watched. Two glowing yellow spots inside the frozen water spout moved to the side to watch him.

Old men, with beards and bellies still listened as the last handful of performs let out one final, harmonious note. Two of those singers dropped to the ground as Tomas leaned his head backward, his eyes fluttering.

As exhaustion claimed him, Tomas became the first uninitiated ear to hear the final note of a staff’s enchanting in this generation. The wizards had not noticed, lost in their own struggles.

But the others noticed.

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Whistle While You Work #5

August 19, 2015 Leave a comment

Tomas and Maleena’s feet touched the ground before the world stopped spinning underneath them. Tomas dropped to a knee on the floor and placed his palms on the ground. His wife turned in a slow spiral before making a retching noise.

“Bucket! Bucket! Bucket!”

A wooden pail was slammed onto the floor beneath his head. Tomas managed to glance up and see two men holding Maleena’s shoulders while a third held another pail, before he squeezed his eyes shut and vomited.

“Sorry about that,” Hennessy said. “I forget how bad spell travel is the first time.”

“Why didn’t you warn them not to eat?” A high pitched voice half yelled, half whined the words. Tomas tried to open his eyes and look around, but couldn’t. Instead he vomited again.

#

“I am sorry about that,” Hennessy said.

“No harm done,” Malenna said. She rested her hand on her husband’s arm, squeezing it to remind him of his manners in dealing with the old man.

Hennessy continued to speak to Malenna, but Tomas tuned them out. They were sitting a large stadium. Bleachers surrounded a smooth round floor that he thought was polished stone. Their seats were the eleventh row, which put them just above the half way point. He tried not to stare at the other audience members, figuring that most were magic users like Hennessy, but Tomas found it difficult not to.

Many of the others were accompanied by fantastic creatures. Fairies and demons walked among the men of power wearing guises that resembled humans, but a few didn’t bother. One creature, made of water, was no more than a swirling column of blues and greens that stood on top of a platform at the top.

Tomas nudged his wife when people started to walk out onto the floor. Hennessy talked on for a moment or two before he noticed what his guests were staring at.

“Finally,” he said. “The ritual is about to begin.”

Rows of wizards, all wearing hooded green robes, formed into squares. They faced the inside of each square, and therefore their counterparts and folded their hands behind their backs.

The squares had three people on each side and once they were in place, none of them were touching each other. Tomas strained to hear the singers, but so many of the spectators were talking, that he couldn’t hear over them.

Hennessy smiled and held his hand up, fingers spread wide. The old man looked at the sun for a moment before dropping one finger. A few seconds later, he did it again.

The moment his thumb flexed to finish forming a fist, someone struck a chime. All other noise ceased and Tomas could hear the wind as it rustled through the bleachers.

The first note was deep. It was a rumbling base made the sharp edges of the stairs beside them waver. Tomas watched to stage as wisps of dark blue smoke began to curl out from the middle of each the squares.

Maleena gripped his arm, and when he glanced at her, Tomas saw that she was holding Hennessy’s hand as well. She squeezed him with such force that the wizard’s knuckles were turning purple.

Then the next note floated into the air.

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Whistle While You Work #4

August 12, 2015 Leave a comment

Tomas and Maleena turned to the door as Hennessy walked in. The wizard was smiling as he looked at their table. “Have you almost finished eating?”

Both nodded. Tomas felt his face flush. He wondered if his whistling last night had been heard by the old man. The punishment for using music without training depended on what your accidental spell song accomplished. His failure might be worth a few lashes.

Hennessy pointed to a sausage on the plate and Maleena nodded. The meat disappeared with a satisfied sound before the wizard waved his hands. “Well hurry up or we will be late.”

“Late for what?” Maleena asked.

“You didn’t tell her?”

Tomas shook his head. “I don’t know what you are talking about Master Hennessy.”

The old man looked at Tomas as if he were addled. “The assembly! The school will finish enchanting the next staff tonight.”

The carpenter and his wife stared at the flustered wizard with confusion. His face grew red and his eyes widened. “How could you forget? I have been talking about this for months.”

Maleena smiled at him. “Sir, we only joined you two weeks ago.”

Hennessy’s mouth dropped open for a second before he flattened like a sheet falling off the drying lines. “Oh.”

Tomas stood and offered the wizard his chair, but Hennessy waved him off. “No, there is no time. We must leave soon if we are to arrive in time.”

Flapping his hands at the woman as she started to gather the plates, Hennessy shooed the pair to their room. “You must put on your finest cloths as fast as you can. Even with my magic, it will take us most of the day to reach Paranna. Hurry, and you will get to experience the most amazing magical ritual of the century.”

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Whistle While You Work #3

August 5, 2015 Leave a comment

Tomas sat in front of his work bench, the rod resting in his hands. His eyes were closed as he slid his fingers back and forth along the wood. He changed direction, moving around the piece rather than along it as he searched for any imperfections.

He felt the tiny lump and smiled as he reached for the rough hide that he used for a smoothing cloth. Less than a minute later, Tomas was back to searching for blemishes.

“Are you going to stay up all night?”

Maleena stood in the doorway, the corner of her lips turning down in a small frown. Tomas smiled at her, letting his eyes travel up and down his wife’s body. “I think I am done.”

“I think you will be sleeping in here if I had not come to get you.”

The wood worker stood and stretched, the tips of his fingers brushing the beams above his head. “I am coming. I just need to clean up first.”

Maleena crossed the room and gave her husband a deep kiss. “Hurry.”

Tomas watched her walk out, noting the movement of her body under her night dress. The tools went into the drawers and the workbench was swept but then he stopped and held the piece again. He couldn’t feel anything else, but he was sure it wasn’t done.

He put the rod down and peeked out of his shop. Maleena wasn’t anywhere near the door.

Tomas walked back and picked up the rod again. This time, he held it close to his lips. He let out a soft whistle, doing his best to mimic Hennessy’s song. For a moment, he thought he felt the rod vibrate, and then nothing. He sighed, put his work down, and turned out the lantern.

#

Hennessy let out a loud snore. His eyes did not flutter and he did not move.

Beside him, the demon’s eyes popped open and began to glow. A smile spread across her lips as she considered the soft notes of music that were making her skin vibrate.

Categories: Fantasy, serial Tags: