Dealing in Magic, The Leira Chronicles Book 5
By Martha Carr & Michael Anderle
Leira looked out over Lake Anna focusing on the day’s exercise. Another magic lesson. Turner Underwood was standing next to her, leaning on his cane, guiding her energy. His familiar bowler was tilted back on his head.
“You can learn to connect your energy with other magical beings who are willing to join you. Before, you did it under duress and with the help of your grandmother or your mother who knew how to connect.” Turner pulled in a stream of magic, lining it up with Leira’s energy, following the trail without crossing over or pushing.
He twitched his bushy eyebrows, surprised at what he saw and felt. “Hmmm… Your magic has a new flavor to it. Something in you has changed and from the looks of it, permanently.
Leira felt herself gliding along with the energy, letting it lead her. It was so much easier for her these days. The stream was pulling her along at a faster and faster pace, showing her different parts of the world. “Wow…” Her voice came out in a hushed whisper. She took in a deep breath and let it out slowly, cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway, looking down over the cliff.
Turner tapped his cane hard on the slate pathway. “What are you doing? Part of having such great power is learning the maturity to restrain yourself.” He leaned in and whispered in her ear. “Quit fucking around, my dear. This is not a game.”
Leira barely registered Turner was talking to her and concentrated on letting the magic pull her along, a feeling of joy lifting her up, soaring.
“It’s intoxicating.” She heard the echo of her voice, blending in with the light from the ribbon of energy, sparkling out in front of her.
“Well, that’s new.” Turner pursed his lips and closed his eyes, taking in a deep breath to get a better handle on what was happening. “You live almost a thousand years, you think you’ve seen it all. Then a little something happens and… ba da bing, ba da boom.” Leira’s magic grazed up against his accompanying stream and he felt the giddiness bubble up inside of his chest.
“That’s amazing.” His eyes popped open and he slapped his forehead with his hand. “Of course you exist. If dark magic exists, you must be out there. A thousand years. You’re a bitch to find.” He shook his head and leaned forward on his cane.
Leira heard the echo of Turner Underwood’s voice and craned her head to the right, her eyes still shut. His magic was a sparkling copper, moving swiftly alongside her own.
The smooth, silkiness of the ride pulled her back toward the energy and she turned her head back. Every worry or frustration left her mind and was replaced with a feeling of serenity. Everything was possible. Any thought of the lesson was gone. She never wanted it to stop.
Turner reached out and firmly placed his hand on Leira’s forearm, sending his energy more forcibly straight through her, blending it with the deep river of magic Leira was entranced with, following every curve and turn. She felt the magic pull her out over the Gulf, the warm waters shining below her. She gasped as the magic made a sudden lurch and pulled her over the dark green fields of Ireland dotted with sheep. A sudden whomp surged through her abdomen, pulling her energy higher into the sky.
Turner drew up more energy from the Earth and focused all of his abilities, introducing average, every day concerns back into Leira’s thoughts. Hagan and the next case. Correk is getting stronger all the time. The regulars are going bowling later that day. Leira glanced over at the thoughts and ignored them, a smile coming across her face.
“Thought for sure reminding you of Correk and Hagan would do it.” Turner scratched his head. “So be it. I can jostle you a little harder.” Memories of the dark mist flooded her brain and the battle against it. The death of Prince Rolim. The elder king trapped in the world in between sacrificing himself. Leira felt a heaviness coming back over her. Rhazdon and the necklace…
The breath was knocked out of her and she exhaled hard, falling back onto the ground. She lay back, letting her head rest on the ground as she struggled to get back the feeling of bliss. That’s what it was… Bliss!
Leira could feel the reach of joy and pain, both of them pulling at her from opposite directions. The rush was leaving her with an ache in the middle of her chest. She sucked in air, trying to fill her lungs and opened her eyes.
Turner was leaning over her, blocking the sunlight. “You’re a very stubborn cookie when you want to be. I had to lay it on thick to get your attention. Relax, no need to hit me with those stares.” He held out his hand to help her up. She ignored him and sat up on her own, easily jumping to her feet.
Turner Underwood stepped back, crossing his arms across his chest and hooking his thumbs under his armpits. He was smiling, rocking on his heels. “I’ll have you know that I’ve been in battles fighting alongside my king and risen up against the darkest of magic. More than once! In all that time, only once before have I had the pleasure of experiencing what humans like to call pure joy. It was amazing! What a trip!”
“Then why the hell did you pull me out of there?” Leira still felt the remnants of joy passing through her chest, mixed with anger from the abrupt exit. The reminders of everything she went through lately wasn’t helping either. She took in slow, deep breathes, determined to recapture the glow.
“My dear, it makes perfect sense that Dark Magic announces itself so loudly everywhere it goes. It wants to cause harm and pull in as many fools as it can. It’s full of thousands of years of ego and willfulness and fear. When it’s present you can feel it before you even look up to see who is playing with it. A feeling of dread sinks deep into your bones and you want to turn away. Only the entitled and greedy go further and beckon to the darkness.”
“Not the question I asked.” Leira felt the edge of the happiness, a tingle passing through her body as she looked up at the clouds and felt weightless again. Her eyes shined with tears… but the feeling didn’t last. It faded into mist as she shut her eyes, feeling the last bit of it slip away.
Turner straightened the daisy in his lapel. “But Light Magic, in its pure form eludes us all. Stays a few steps ahead of us, as it should.” Turner tapped a finger against the side of his nose.
Leira looked out over the lake. She wasn’t ready to look back at Turner and be pulled right back further into every worry, every desire.
“See! That look you just gave. Light Magic is intoxicating in its pure form. I felt it right along with you!” There was excitement in his voice that Leira had never heard before. “You can feel how perfectly everything aligns in the world… in both worlds! Every care drops away and your mind goes blank. All you can do, all you want to do is take in the wonder. There’s the danger.”
“How can light magic and that kind of joy be called dangerous?” The weight of her cares felt even heavier after feeling the absence.
“The one time I felt it before was on a battlefield hundreds of years ago. A sword passed through me, right about here.” Turner pointed to the right side of his belly. “Broad sword like that, didn’t take long for the blood to flow out of me. I lay back on the ground and let go. Every concern passed from me and a sense of peace took its place, filling every vacuum. Do you understand? You were tapping into death. I stopped you before you could go too far.” He held out his arms to the sides, as if he was explaining the obvious.
“You thought I was about to die?”
“I actually don’t know. That was the dilemma. You and I seem to end up in new territory far too often.” He ticked them off on his fingers. “You crossed over to Oriceran without a portal… or your body for that matter. You drained Rhazdon of her dark magic.”
“I had a lot of help with that one.”
“And you tapped into the stream of life. Exquisite.”
“I thought you said it was death.”
“Don’t be thick. They’re one and the same. That’s a human thing to think death is an ending, an absence of everything. It’s the holder of the life force. The other side of the world in between.”
Leira looked up abruptly, tilting her head to one side. “You know more about the world in between, don’t you?”
“I know a lot of things. I told you, I’m the Fixer. You don’t get that title with an empty head.” He shook his finger. “Or from blabbing everything you know, either. It’s a constant balancing act.” He put his hand out to Leira and waited patiently. She gave in and put her hand in his, feeling the connection of magic.
“Still,” he said, “I’ve never seen anyone travel smack into the middle of that energy who wasn’t about to die.”
“The feeling was so peaceful…I…I can’t even describe it.” Leira tapped the center of her chest. “Second I started to think about something…anything, the feeling went away.”
“It’s supposed to work like that. It’s so you’ll go local. Stay put on this side of the mystic plane and get shit done!” Turner tapped his cane on the ground. “However, you have had the pleasure of feeling the other side, a brush up against death, without the usual trauma. You’ve also felt the worse that Dark Magic can slam at you, hopefully…”
“Hopefully…fuck. Can you imagine worse?”
“No, but haven’t you ever wondered why thousand year old Elves don’t look bored? I mean, come on that’s a lot of time to be kicking around. No? You really haven’t?”
“I’ve been busy.”
“Something new is always popping up that I never imagined. Lately, it’s you!” He squeezed Leira’s hand. “You have been encircled by the Darkness and ridden a wave of Light. The yin and yang. It’s not just theory for you and that is a very powerful tool, my friend. Most hesitate for fear the edge of the envelope is too far out there. You know that it’s further than that, and that’s okay. Now, come on. We’ve wasted enough time. Your lesson isn’t over and right now you’re failing at it.”
Leira rolled her eyes.
“Joy was not the assignment.” Turner poked his finger in the air. “Getting someone you don’t know to merge with you magically is the assignment. Come on, try again. I have places to be. A fetching Elven woman to wine and dine.”
Leira let out a snort as she shut her eyes, inspiring Turner to tap her hard on the back of her legs with his cane. “Don’t sass your mentor, still a lot of magic left in this carcass, my dear. Now focus. Search for someone to merge with and learn to guide and be guided by their energy as well.”
Leira shut her eyes and focused, pulling up energy through her feet, lighting up the symbols on her arms again as it spread up to her neck.
“Not so fast.” Turner tapped her hard on the shoulder. “I can read the fucking signs, literally. No heading back toward the light or I shut this thing down and you can find a different mentor. We don’t play with Dark Magic here, or pure Light Magic. Have some respect for the elements. Look kid, I’m glad the great unknown had the good sense to balance things out for you, and let you know that the Light is actually stronger than the Dark Magic but that’s where we leave it.” Turner arched an eyebrow and looked at Leira.
“How do I know the Light is stronger?”
Turner gave her a look and shrugged his shoulders, scratching his chin. “All very interesting. Save exploring this mystery for another lesson. Now try again, and no funny business.”
“Seems a little intrusive for you to be reading my arms.”
“Does make it tricky to have any good secrets sometimes. Get used to it. At least your symbols move so fast tht it’ll be hard for most to catch up to what you’ve got planned next. Start over, no more dawdling. Lenora awaits me. This time no Superman impressions. We weren’t meant to leap tall buildings in one bound, go past a train. What? Even Elves need super heroes to look up to. We can’t do everything. It’s not the way it’s meant to be. Leaves very little to look forward to.”
“I’m a big Green Lantern fan. In brightest day, in darkest night…”
“That’s a good one too. I liked how they would pass the torch. All of them knew a thing or two about doing the right thing but they didn’t get out much with the ladies. Now, I could write a super hero!” Turner shook his cane in the air, a twinkle in his eyes. “Alright young lady, on with it!”
Leira smiled and shut her eyes, pulling in energy again and letting go of the feeling from the Light Magic.
“Set an intention,” said Turner, “then let go.”
Leira followed behind the magic as it set out in search of someone to merge with. “Not a relative,” she muttered.
“Not even a friend,” said Turner.
Leira felt the magic roll into a green valley and across a small town square, sliding into a coffee shop. A middle-aged Elf was sipping a warm cappucinno, reading the small town paper and momentarily looked up, startled by the intrustion. He gave a small chuckle and cleared his throat, letting himself relax. Leira felt his energy loosen up and leave spaces for her magic to thread in and out, merging the two into a gold and purple swirl of sparkling light.
“Communicate with him, listen.” There was the echo of Turner’s voice, his energy guiding alongside the twirl of energy.
A student? I can feel your guide’s energy there with you. My name is Joseph.
Leira. I’m out for a magic run. Kind of a 5k. Any small feat we can do together?
Joseph smiled and set a small intention. Leira let out a laugh as the foam grew inside of his cup, refilling it back to the brim.
Perfect. He sat back and let go of the twining just as Leira let it slip away. The image faded from her mind and she slowly opened her eyes, orienting herself back to Turner’s estate in Austin, Texas.
“Well done! You listened and didn’t insert your own will. You’re getting better at the finer points of magic.”
“Done for the day?”
“Done! I have places to be…”
“And Lenora awaits. Boom shakalaka.”
Turner Underwood let out a loud cackle. “Got to keep living, my dear. Get on home! I’ll see you again in a few days.”
Leira turned and narrowed her eyes. “You know, I’ve noticed that you seem to be getting me ready for something. I just can’t figure out what, yet. You would tell me if there was something dark on the horizon.”
“I’m the Fixer, young Elf. I only tell you what you need to know.” Turner Underwood headed up toward his house, waving at Leira without turning back. “You know the way out.” A scowl came across his face. “Going to have to tell her something, and soon,” he muttered. “Give her fair warning as soon as her skills controling her magic are a little stronger.” He shook his head. “If we have that much time…”