Another excerpt from The Wizard’s Son

A traveling troupe of actors performs their own interpretation of a very old and highly symbolic play
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After dinner, Redmantyl brought Orlan downstairs. “You’re going to see a play tonight, Little One,” he said.

A stage had been set on the courtyard above the Plaza. Torches blazed on the walls and huge squares of black canvas hung across the southern side. There were few props—painted chairs, a baptismal font, an odd pile of lumber and canvas with a platform at the top, and a large, sheet-draped object at one corner—but Orlan looked around, wondering, as his father took him across. They sat on the Plaza just below the steps. All the servants, the off-duty guards, and the more prominent citizens of Lyges sat behind them, on benches and cushions. Orlan saw none of the thespians who had been rushing about all day.

“It’ll be starting soon?” He looked up at his father.

“At any moment,” Redmantyl answered softly. “Hush.” And as Orlan began to squirm with impatience, a young maid in plain dress—Anyse—walked out from the Bottom Hall and curtsied pertly.

“Our noble patron, Lord Redmantyl, his household, and welcome guests from Lyges,” her voice rang out clearly. “We the members of Redmantyl’s most kindly sustained thespian troupe thank you all for your favor and bid you attend the tale we perform tonight. `Tis a sad but worthy story of a man of pride and temper and of his grievous sins. With no more apology nor delay, we humbly present our tale of times long passed and people long dead, of Oedipus, the tragic King.” She bobbed again and exited.
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Excerpt from “Maiden In Light”

Laurel attempts to bring out her timid cousin Igren’s latent magical abilities.
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“Igren, will you have another lesson?”

“If you wish.” The girl rose from the coucherie by her dressing-room windows, where she’d been watching the rain, and came to Laurel. “What shall we do?”

“We must test the nature of your ability. You may command best within the mental medium.”

“The- What-?”

“Some magic has no influence in the material world,” Laurel explained, simplifying the lengthy and tortuous passages she’d gathered from a dozen sources on the subject in her quest to discover an answer for Igren’s talents. “A mental magician exerts her will only in the mental energies of other people and living creatures. She senses them—she reads the thoughts which pass through another mind and she can disrupt them and command their actions.”

“Another of your books,” said Igren, with a smile. “What does it mean?”

“Such magicians cannot cast spells and so are not counted as true wizards, but they are no less magical.”
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Another excerpt from “Maiden In Light”

Laurel has a dream about a fire:
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A shower of sparks burst from her. Fire caught wherever they fell, feeding on the stone,  the dead trees, the rags and flesh of the crowd, and grew rapidly, intertwined, rose together in one tower of flame that spurted heavenward. As this raging spire of red-gold surrounded her, the scene melted and changed—no longer a night valley, but the farms
and homes of a little village caught afire. She watched, horrified, as thatched roofs went up and walls crashed inward. Chimneys toppled. The tall grass about a well on the common green withered and crumbled to ashes. Yet the screams of the crowd continued unceasing
in her ears. And the living darkness spread and spread relentlessly, consuming devastated land and sobbing victims at a touch, smoothing ruin and terror into the peace of oblivion. It would swallow the flame eventually.

Laurel woke. She shrieked and swatted blindly at the bedclothes before she realized that they were not burning. There was no fire.  But her pulse pounded. Her heart blazed. Her nerves thrilled with released energies and magic glowed bright on her skin. A warning keen of immediate danger rang through her head, yet the night was undisturbed by any menace. No smoke. No sparks. The bed linen was not scorched…

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Excerpts from “The Wizard’s Son”

Orlan’s first night at his father’s castle:
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That night, Orlan was put to bed in a small chamber near his father’s apartment. He woke later in strange darkness. Nothing was as it ought to be. The bed was too large and when he reached out he found nothing but cold sheets around him. He was used to sleeping at someone’s side. Where was Ellan? Where was Mama? Tonight, for the first time, he was alone. “Mama?”

With a sudden throb of renewed grief, he realized that his mother was gone. She was not here; he had left her at Lammouthe, a hundred miles away, and he would never see her again. Vividly, he saw her face again, eyes shut, blonde curls limp on the pillow, lips faintly blue.

Dead. His mother was dead.
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Excerpts from “Maiden In Light” (continued)

One of the wizard’s apprentices shows Laurel how to cast a spell:
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“Olyr, will you show me a spell?”

“Very well.” Olyr felt at his pockets for a bit of charcoal, then knelt on the chalk-scarred wooden floor, which was regularly used by the apprentices for such exercises.

Laurel watched as he drew a great circle about himself. “Is that a pentacle or pentagram?” She had discovered both in her readings, but had not yet learned to distinguish between them.

“Pentacle,” he answered, proud to display his education. “A pentacle is a star within a circle. A pentagram is a pentagon. Either can be used to fix the elements of a spell. The five-pointed star represents the history of Mankind. God creates the earth.” He drew a
line down from the top of the circle to the bottom. “We rise from the dust to our mortal state.” An upward stroke, to a point midway on the circle’s rim. “We live our mortal lives.” A third line crossed the circle. “We die and descend to dust.” The next line went down. “But
we are redeemed and the immortal soul rises again into Heaven.” A final stroke joined the starting point at the top.

“I thought that the pentacle was diabolical.”

The apprentice laughed. “Laurel, I know no such crafts! My Lord says that necromancy is the corruption of a right magician and `tis a danger to study such evil. The black arts destroy and pervert. A sorcerer of such arts would draw his star upside-down, pointing
hellward. `Tis all the difference in the world! As we are God’s creation, we are protected within this sign. No evil may pass.” He pulled Laurel into the circle with him, wrote about the rim and placed a gyre—“to set motion”—at the top. In tones which rang loud in Laurel’s ears, he pronounced the words he had written.

Continue reading “Excerpts from “Maiden In Light” (continued)”

Excerpts from “The Wizard’s Son”

Since I’ve been posting excerpts from the upcoming sequel at http://www.minl.wapshottpress.com, it seemed like a good time to start posting a few excerpts here as well.

To begin at the very beginning…
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The little boy looked up in amazement as hooves clattered on the loose cobbles of the alley and a man in brilliant red rode into the yard. He had never seen such a colorful being before, wrapped from hood to polished heels in a crimson cloak and most wondrous scarlet mantle. A gold talisman glittered upon his brow in the early-morning sunlight. All about the little yard, common folk in home-dyed garb of brown and butternut were out to lift their storefronts and throw rubbish to the gutters, but the boy had forgotten them. He was transfixed by this stranger, who seemed larger to him than all of this small, dirty patch of Lammouthe.

Lammouthe was made up of narrow, tangled streets, mud-daubed buildings around little stone yards, a busy marketplace and a busier port. The boy had never been out of this maze, but at times he would venture to the docks to gape at the tall ships, the mariners who spoke in odd tongues, and the great, greenish-gray ocean, and wonder what was beyond: where did the ships and sea-folk sail to? He heard the names of faraway lands—Persia, Napoli, Arabia, Cathay—and he tried to imagine what they were like, but his imagination would not take him out of the only place he knew. He thought all the world must be like Lammouthe: an endless town by the endless sea.

But as he stared up at this stranger—so tall and handsome, radiant with light and strength—the boy began to believe that there might be other things than brown-garbed shopkeepers and the ever-present stink of fish, things more strange than foreign mariners, more beautiful than the ocean, more wonderful than the tallest ships. Surely this red-robed man must be from the most marvelous place in the world!
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Excerpts from “Maiden In Light” (continued)

Laurel meets her famous wizard-uncle, Lord Redmantyl:
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The wizard smiled gently…. “Are you glad to come with me now, Laurel?”

“Oh, yes!” she answered sincerely. “I- I felt you and I wanted so much to be with you. I wondered what you must be like. They tell such tales.”

Redmantyl listened with amusement. “What do they say?”

“They speak of your powers,” Laurel replied with unabashed enthusiasm. “They say you have marvelous magic as no other wizard before.” She hesitated, then boldly ventured: “Will you show me, Uncle?”

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Excerpts from “Maiden In Light” (Part 1)

From the beginning of the first chapter:
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Were there such creatures as the Faerye?

Ambris, called Just, was a gentle soul who would have paused to notice the first spring flowers at the roadside or a glorious sunset or the sparkles of dew on a spider’s web—but he did not believe. Occupied by his business in the bustling port of New York, he had no time to dwell upon such fanciful ideas. Yet, this day, he must hesitate and wonder.

A carriage accident draws attention, especially within town walls: the splintering crackle of a broken wheel, the crash, the spew of dust, the horse squeals and human cries. The coach had barely cleared the gates of the Dolphin Inn stable yard, closed from the market square by a tall wooden wall tacked with advertising banners and official proclamations, when one of the forewheels collapsed, its spokes snapped, and one side of the carriage suddenly sagged low. A crowd gathered swiftly about the small disaster, laughing, shouting hearty jests and advice to the coachman in his precarious seat above, offering useless encouragements to the woman shut within. A cheer rose as the axle snapped under the weight of the sagging coach and the entire front end landed with a thud. The woman within howled her outrage. The spectators hooted.

Ambris watched the riotous scene with distaste; it was not his idea of sport. New York was not his home, but he was a nobleman and therefore obliged by long-standing tradition to aid any maid or child or commoner, subject or no, whom he found in distress. Duty compelled him.
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