MAGIC AND MONSTERS
A Space Fantasy Novella: Prequel to Lore
MAGIC AND MONSTERS
A SPACE FANTASY NOVELLA
On most nights, the moths that eat street illusionist Obidi Seven’s tattered clothes have fuller stomachs than he. This will all change once he rescues Nora Leaf, wife of enigmatic billionaire Icarus Leaf, from her captivity by the monstrous Baron Stugart.
To do so, Obidi will have to put all his skills to the test and infiltrate the Baron’s castle, which is playing host to the Parliament of Magicians–a powerful inner circle responsible for the advancement of the mystic arts.
Obidi soon learns that nothing is what it seems as his rescue attempt turns into a blood-soaked conspiracy that will change the way he sees magic forever.
Magic and Monsters is a free science fiction and fantasy novella for a limited time only. If you enjoy Star Wars, Harry Potter, Saga, and breathing, give it a try!
MAGIC AND MONSTERS: AN EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW
MAGIC & MONSTERS
Despite having a thirteen-inch blade rammed down his throat, Obidi Seven still took the time to appreciate the stars floating high above his arched back. They spread across the sky like dust particles on a sea of endless dark glass. It was a breathtaking sight, one he wished he could see more often, but life these days didn’t allow much time for meditations on the night sky.
On most nights, the war fought in the Sybian cluster of space had reduced the color of the sky to dirty ash. Lately, however, all was quiet on the warfront. It was during these periods of peace that the stars were visible in full display.
“Wow, wu-ti-wul,” Obidi mumbled, the blade still delicately logged in his throat.
A look of disgust was painted on one of his audience members. “Huh?”
Obidi slowly extracted the sharp steel up and out of his mouth.
“Filthy Nordiscans, they’ll put anything down their throats for money,” one reptilian-like Dromedian ranted. He turned to his son. “You’ll never try that at home.”
Obidi rolled his eyes. It wasn’t easy being a street magician these days. The holes in his shoes and shirt were evidence of this. He swore the moths that ate his clothes were better fed than he.
He scanned the rest of tonight’s crowd. A few of his usual doe-eyed groupies were engaged by the show, but the majority of spectators didn’t seem impressed. After a full year of performing the same routine nightly, it was getting a little stale.
Obidi nervously ran his hands gently over his brown hair that was tied back into a man bun.
“Voila!” he announced to the crowd. “The power of magic has allowed me, the Spaceman, to successfully swallow the ancient sword of Vey. This sword is rumored to have once cut down a mighty dragon.”
“From slaying dragons to being shoved down your throat,” one Cymerian businessman jested. “Even relics can fall onto hard times.”
Laughter erupted from the crowd.
“And why are you calling yourself ‘Spaceman’ anyway? You don’t even have a helmet.”
Nor a ship, thought Obidi.
Obidi did his best to hide his frown. With the way the crowd was responding, it didn’t look like he was going to earn enough donations to pay for even a bug-infested room at Drake’s sorry excuse for a hotel, and a slice of mystery meat from the hotel’s kitchen.
He’d probably end up sleeping on a park bench again, beneath the moon and stars and sustain himself with edible weeds from the park. Obidi didn’t know how many more nights of this he could take.
The Spaceman has failed to launch again.
“I thought it was an amazing trick!” one girl shouted from the crowd. It was Conseca, a pretty Asrai with skin the color of milk and long, crème-colored hair that flowed down to her waist.
She turned up at every one of his shows, always cheering him on enthusiastically. Occasionally, she’d give Obidi a lust-filled glance, suggesting naughty intentions smoldering beneath her applause.
Thank you Conseca, Obidi thought. He definitely needed some crowd support tonight.
“And that’s all it was: a trick,” the crotchety Dromedian said. “Our lying Nordiscan here has been going around advertising his show as a spectacle of magic when in reality, he knows nothing of the sort. Magic, my dear friends, has long been dead.”
No, magic isn’t dead, Obidi thought. He’d seen and heard enough in this lifetime to believe otherwise. Memories danced through his head like a carousel of moving photos. The parade of images always ended with the outstretched hand holding the blood red apple, being swallowed up by the dark pool of water.
Magic was very much alive.
It’s just too bad Obidi didn’t know any of it. This didn’t mean, however, that one day he wouldn’t be able to learn. He clung to this hope. It was the only way to bring her back.
Aside from means for survival, Obidi also used these shows to try to convince the skeptics that not all things could be explained by astrophysics, molecular alchemy, and quantum science. Sometimes the only explanation needed was: ‘it’s magic.’
“Magic isn’t dead,” Obidi stated, warming up the crowd. It was time to move onto his grand finale. It was something he had been working on for a while. “I proved its existence through my first few acts. How else can you explain the candles that were extinguished after I summoned the wind?”
“A chance gust,” the Dromedian sneered.
“Fair enough. How do you explain the magic I used to transform the raven into a dove?”
The Dromedian yawned. “Secret compartments in those oversized sleeves of yours.”
He had Obidi there.
“Swallowing the sacred sword of Vey?”
“You have a ridiculously deep throat.”
“Then perhaps you’d like to see something else…taboo magic that even the gods consider too provocative for their visual consumption.” Obidi leaned in and spoke in a whisper. “I must warn you, however, that what you’re about to see will shock you. It will make you question reality and make you wonder just how dark the dark arts can become.”
“Black magic?” an Asrai trader asked, showing interest.
“Blacker than black,” Obidi hissed emphatically, “If that’s even possible.”
“It’s not,” the trader replied, “But go on.”
“First, I’d like to tell you a story, one that will allow you to understand the depths I went to perfect my craft of magic. Have you all heard of Litch, the planet of the dead?”
“Doesn’t exist,” the Dromedian stated.
“Oh, I assure you, it does,” Obidi said. “I’ve been there.”
Obidi was lying. He had never been to Litch. It was his grandfather who had claimed this feat. This was his story, told to Obidi as a boy. Obidi had simply substituted his grandfather’s name with his throughout the tale. But the audience needn’t know the truth.
This was street magic where the golden rule was to make the audience believe the unbelievable. It was for the greater good.
Obidi wove story like a weaver at the loom. “The story of how I wound up on Litch is not essential to this tale. What is, however, are my discoveries there and the knowledge I acquired in this harrowing journey.”
“Tell us the whole story,” the Dromedian’s son announced, taking great interest in Obidi’s words.
“Do you have all night?”
The boy looked up at his skeptical father. “Do I?”
“You certainly do not.”
Obidi smiled. “Then that’s a story for another day then. As for this one, it begins when I was resting under the skeletal canopy of a bone tree in the Gardens of Sulfur and Skulls. The miserable planet had left me physically exhausted and mentally broken. I was sustained by the marrow of the bones I had broken off from a bone tree, that and a flask of the finest whiskey this side of the Universe, crafted by blind Dromedian monks from the Temples of Charr.
“I would have died from dehydration if it weren’t for my encounter with a strange man dressed in his own shadows. I knew right away he was dangerous and that killing wasn’t beyond his will. With what little strength I had left, I attempted to flee. However, his dark magic was too powerful. He bound me with his shadow. Darkness twisted over me like a straightjacket. I was certain I would be killed.”
“But here you are,” the Cymerian in the business suit mused.
“Yes, here I am.” Obidi responded seriously. “As it turns out, the stranger was an old Asrai Witch King, condemned to Litch after the great Witch Rebellion, with whom I assume you are all familiar?”
One Cymerian child raised his hand. “I’m not.”
Obidi gasped. “What do they teach you in school, kid?”
“Apparently not the right stuff. I’ll keep this short: The Witch’s Rebellion was a period when the entire galaxy went to war in a battle of technology versus magic: ammunition versus spells, microprocessors versus incantations, artificial intelligence versus unbending faith. The end result: the complete eradication of magic from the Universe altogether. Most of the witches were either executed or banished from the Universe.
“I was the first life form the Witch King had encountered in a millennium. He was lonely, but more importantly he was thirsty; not for water but for fine alcohol. In exchange for my flask filled with amber whiskey and some companionship, the Witch King promised to teach me a fraction of his magic. It was the best deal I ever struck.” Obidi raised his hands. “Tonight, I will show you one of the spells the Witch King has taught me. I must warn you, however, the magic you’re about to see is both dark and forbidden.”
“I’m still confused,” the Asrai merchant said. “How did you get to Litch in the first place? And how did you escape from both the dead planet and the Witch King?”
“As I mentioned, that’s a story for another day,” Obidi pointed out impatiently. The importance of tonight was not in the lie he had just told, but in the illusion. It was the illusion that would bring both hope and faith back into magic.
“Now, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the—”
Before Obidi could finish his sentence, a Cymerian dressed in plated armor pushed through the crowd. “Nexus Authority,” he announced. I’m officer Styrs. You’re currently operating this show without a license.”
License? This was the first time Obidi heard anything about a license.
“You’re kidding me, right?” Obidi hated law enforcement. Nexus Authority were the worst. “I’m just about to get into my final act.”
“Sorry, but the laws are clear,” Styrs said plainly.
“No they’re not.”
“I’m making them clear to you now. No license, no performance. Wrap it up Spaceman.”
Obidi watched as the crowd around him dispersed. “Damn it,” he cursed. “Can you just let me finish my show? I had them in the palm of my hand.”
Styrs smirked. “I’ve seen your act before. I highly doubt these good people are missing out on anything.”
“Come with me,” Styrs said as he grabbed Obidi by the arm.
“Hey, easy there.”
“We’ll have to charge you for not having a license. You’ll be required to pay a fine.”
“Pay a fine? I don’t have any money to pay a fine.” Obidi looked helplessly at his audience, which was now reduced to his lone fan, Conseca. “I don’t even have money for food tonight.”
Styrs pursed his lips. “Now that’s quite a dilemma, isn’t it?”
“It is. Look, how about you let me go and I’ll find some other district on the Nexus to set up shop.”
“All districts are the same,” Styrs said. “You’ll still need a license. There’s also a matter of this infraction that needs to be taken care of.”
This officer was proving to be quite stubborn.
“I don’t have money,” Obidi reiterated.
“I have ten credits,” Conseca offered. “Will that cover his fine?”
She was sweet. Obidi had to remember to get her number later, despite not owning a phone to call her with.
Styrs laughed. “Take your amount and multiply it by one hundred. That is his fine.”
“One thousand credits?” Obidi was stunned. “Are you serious? One thousand credits because I was doing a street performance without a license?”
“Authority sucks, doesn’t it?” Styrs mocked.
“I can barely come up with that amount in a year.”
“Well, it looks like it’s off to the Cells with you then!”
Obidi cringed at the thought of the Cells. He had been there before, back when he had stolen a case of neuron-stimulator drugs from Axion Pharmaceuticals Corporations. At the time, Obidi figured it was a fair exchange under the laws of the karma police: Axion Corp was an evil conglomerate that deserved to be stolen from and Obidi was a hungry street rat who needed at least one hot meal for the week. The street price of neuro-stims were at an all-time high and just selling one pack would have him well off for a few days.
Unfortunately, Obidi sold the drugs to an undercover Nexus Authority agent. He was labeled a drug dealer (when in reality, Obidi was a petty thief), and tossed into the Nexus Authority Cells for a full year before he was released.
The Cells were hell. The food tasted like decomposing garbage, the guards enjoyed using their clubs instead of words, and the inmates traded in the currency of broken teeth.
Somehow, Obidi had managed to survive the entire ordeal—barely.
The Nexus Cells were something he never wanted to experience again.
“Come on then,” Styrs said. “I have a holding ship just around the corner.”
A single bead of sweat trickled down the side of Obidi’s head as he pondered what his next move should be.
He was inclined to do the irrational, but that had always gotten him into trouble.
“You’ll be surprised to find out that the Cells had undergone some budget cuts. There’s now one bar of soap for every five inmates,” Styrs said.
Irrational it was. It was time to run.
It pained Obidi to leave all his illusionist props behind. It had taken him two years to accumulate his bag of tricks. But in matters of fight or flight, they’d only weigh him down.
There was one item, however, with which he could not part with.
“Do you mind if I gather my things first then?” Obidi asked.
The Cymerian pondered on the request for a moment before agreeing. “Fine.”
Obidi reached into his large, black travel sack and felt around for what he needed: his hand crafted sword.
His fingers touched the smooth synthetic hilt and immediately drew it out of his bag.
The Cymerian looked at the sword, absolutely baffled.
“What on earth is that?”
The blade itself was nothing special, made out of finely cut steel that served its purpose of cutting and stabbing when required. The hilt on the other hand looked like an arm—Obidi’s arm to be exact. It was made out of a synthetic composition that looked and felt exactly like Nordiscan flesh. At the end of the hilt was a small grip, fabricated from simple wood, which Obidi held when he was sparring.
When held in a certain manner, it gave the illusion of Obidi having an exceedingly long arm.
“Nice, isn’t it?” Obidi asked.
The Cymerian didn’t seem as impressed. “Is there a particular reason why you’re holding onto the ugliest sword I’ve ever seen? You don’t intend on using that do you?”
Obidi’s eyes flickered, giving away his intent.
Styrs gnashed his teeth together. “Don’t even think about it.”
“Too late, it’s been thought about,” Obidi cried as he made a mad dash towards Central Park. As he ran past Conseca, he hollered out, “Let’s do lunch sometime.”
“Okay,” she agreed, with a smile on her face.
Styrs cursed as he chased after Obidi. “The last time I allow any last requests.” He pulled out a stun rifle from his holster. “I’ll light you up,” he threatened.
Obidi closed his eyes and allowed his Nordiscan senses to take over. Their race always had the gift of keen instincts, which has allowed Obidi to survive for this long.
He felt a slight tingle to the left side of his head, which triggered him to leap right, barely avoiding an energy blast from the stun rifle.
Styrs fired more shots off but Obidi managed to dodge them each time. He ducked under one, sidestepped another, and flipped backwards over the third volley.
“Damn Nordiscans,” Styrs muttered as quickened his pace. “They’re like monkeys.”
Obidi dashed through a collection of Nymerian blackwood trees and right towards the heart of the park: the moonstone hills.
Perhaps calling these hills was too conservative a description for these natural constructs. In actuality, they formed a network of white mountains, rivaling the height of the tallest skyscraper in Nexus.
He felt another tingling in his ear. Quickly, he tilted his head to the left and narrowly dodged a blast.
“Stop, you imbecile!” Obidi heard Styrs shouting. “This isn’t what you think!”
Obidi was being shot at. It was exactly as what he thought it was: The Nexus Authority acting like the supreme dicks of the Universe that they were, hunting a broke Nordiscan down like a mad dog. And all because he didn’t have a license to perform a few magic tricks on the street.
As he reached the base of the mountain, Obidi quickly considered his two apparent options: enter the vast network of caves and tunnels beneath the mountain and hide, or climb the mountains and pray that Styrs couldn’t keep up with him.
Obidi knew little about the underground tunnels. One wrong turn could lead to a dead end. This would ensure another stint in the Cells.
And so he chose to scale the craggily moonstone hills.
Years of climbing high rises in service to the Beggar King had made Obidi a quick and nimble climber. He strapped his deranged sword around his back and took a running leap at the mountain. He needed a good head start.
More blasts came his way. He managed to dodge those as well, propelling himself upwards using his feet and upper body strength.
The way in which he clung to the side of the mountain, seemingly without effort, could convince one unfamiliar with Obidi that he was part spider. His lean arms and legs suggested this further.
He continued his torrid pace of ascension, never looking down. He assumed that after a few more minutes of climbing at this rate, Styrs would be left well behind. He’d then be able to cross to the other side of the mountain and begin his descent in safety.
“Are you done being an idiot yet?” Styrs asked, startling Obidi.
Turning his head, Obidi was disheartened to see Styrs floating beside him, a jetpack glider slung onto his back.
“Damn it,” Obidi muttered.
“Technology is wonderful, isn’t it?”
“Why can’t you just let this go?”
Styrs sighed. “Look, I told you, it’s not what it looks—” but before he could finish his sentence, Obidi leapt onto the back of the Cymerian, fingers digging underneath the jetpack to solidify his grip.
“Are you crazy?” Styrs shouted.
“Slightly,” Obidi said as he lunged forward. One hand clung onto the blade of the wing while he wrapped his other arm around Styrs’ face.
“I can’t see you moron.”
The two spun around in the air like circus acrobats. Obidi held onto Styrs knowing his life depended on it. The Cymerian, meanwhile, struggled to release himself from Obidi’s grasp, while also attempting to regain control of the jet pack. He was failing miserably at both.
The two careened forwards, spinning awkwardly like a broken propeller.
“You’ll kill us both!” Styrs shouted. “Get your hand off my face and let me see where I’m going.”
“Stop spinning and maybe I will. The second I let go, I’m a dead man.”
“I can’t control the jetpack unless I can see. Its navigation is linked to my vision.”
Obidi took a moment to look up. They were headed straight for the side of one of the moonstone hills.
“Look out!” Obidi cried. His forearm, which was covering Styrs eye, slipped and fell around his neck. Now, instead of blocking his vision, Obidi was choking him.
Still, this gave Styrs the opportunity to correct his course at the last second. They both narrowly missed crashing into the mountain.
“Let go,” Styrs rasped. “I can’t breathe.”
Obidi sighed. With the jetpack now flying even-keel, he readjusted his grip so that both hands were clinging onto the top of wings.
“So what now?” Obidi asked.
Styrs took a moment to capture his breath.
“You’re an asshole,” he said, when he spoke.
Obidi looked around him. He was too far off the ground to land safely if he jumped, and there was nothing around for him to leap onto.
Styrs had him.
“I really don’t want to go back to the Cells,” Obidi pleaded.
“We’re not going to the Cells.”
“No, you jackass. If you had only listened to me while I was chasing you.”
“Well maybe if you weren’t firing at me, I would have.”
Styrs cleared his throat. “Just shut up and trust me.”
“You’re kidding right? You expect me to trust you, the guy who’s been making my life miserable over a stupid permit?”
“Well, you don’t have an option now, do you?” Styrs grinned. “It’s either trust me or let go.”
Obidi didn’t let go.