Quest for Magic
The Leira Chronicles Book 0
By Martha Carr and Michael Anderle
Two creatures stood just inside looking out at her. Leira would have called them men but something about them made her think twice. Points on their ears, long white hair, so white it seemed to glow.
“Elves,” she said, not sure what was happening. “Straight out of D and fucking D.”
And of course, there was the large rip in the world that kept appearing in front of her.
“Not human,” she shook her head. “Freakin’ elves.”
There was something familiar about all of it. Something tugging at her. In a flash of remembrance, she knew what was coming back to her and she shuddered.
Her mother’s goddammed crazy stories. Never about little green men or the government out to get her, oh no. They couldn’t be as acceptable as UFOs or anything.
Tall beings that could bend light. Isn’t that what she always said?
“Goddamn elves!” she shouted, finally remembering what her mother always insisted on calling her delusions. The shorter of the pair looked surprised and hesitated, putting his hand on the other one’s arm, pulling him backwards.
Leira noticed they were standing on what looked like something solid at the same level as her living room floor. Images flickered behind them, rapidly shape into what looked like an old, dense forest.
Trees are way too big to be an illusion, thought Leira.
Every muscle in her body was tense as she rocked back on her heels. Her gun was still in the lockbox in her bedroom behind her.
She reached for the metal bat she kept under her couch and in one fluid motion grabbed the bat, rolled within striking distance and swung at their ankles. Before she connected, and knocked them over like bowling pins, the shorter being sang something and made a sweeping motion.
They rose high enough to avoid being struck by the bat and hovered in midair. Now, it was Leira’s turn to look surprised.
“Crazy comes with a lot more details than I realized,” she mumbled, glancing around, maintaining her awareness. “Like I’m inside the fucking movie.”
The taller being stretched out his arm and opened his hand. The bat in Leira’s began to vibrate and she tightened her grip. Her arm shook violently.
“Stronger than I imagined,” said the taller being.
“She’s absorbing the energy,” the other observed. “But how?”
“No, it’s more than that. She has powerful inner strength. Fifteen millennia later and still…”
Leira bit her lip and pulled back as hard as she could on the bat. For an instant, it floated toward her.
The being waved his hand again, creating a circular symbol of light and the bat pulled itself from her grasp and flew to him. Leira fell backwards from the momentum, landing hard on her tailbone.
“Can you be beaten to death by a hallucination?” she asked, wondering if her brain would slip over the edge and supply an answer.
One of the beings rolled his eyes, looking annoyed.
“That seems about right. I go crazy I come up with,” she got back on her feet, “annoyed aliens.”
“I don’t think we qualify as aliens,” said the taller being as he stepped through the opening, coming down to the ground again. “Not only not of this world but also not from this dimension.”
The annoyed one followed, taking the bat from his companion, gave more of a huff than a sigh.
“You’re fully formed images,” said Leira, her mind swimming as she reached out to poke one of them. “You’re even beautiful,” she said, awe in her voice, “with pointed ears. I knew watching Star Trek late at night would come back to haunt me.” Her finger moved closer to the smaller being, who drew away from her.
“Let her,” said the taller one. Leira saw that he was wearing some kind of crown made of twisted metal shaped into vines and leaves with a ruby in the center. The annoyed one started to pull back and even raised his hand to do something.
“No fireballs in here,” said the one wearing the crown. It sounded to Leira like an order.
“Wonder what it means that I even wanted royalty in my delusions,” she said and touched his arm, then wrapped her hand around his wrist, squeezing it.
“I assure you, I’m real,” he said, the words coming out in a rush of music. Leira froze when she realized they weren’t speaking English. They weren’t actually speaking at all.
They were singing…
“What’s going on? What’s happened? Is any of this real? I’m not this creative on a good day. Shouldn’t my insanity be limited by my ability to dream you guys up?” Her questions came out in rapid fire as she eyed the bat again. The shorter being seemed to sense where her thoughts were wandering and moved the bat further out of her reach.
“Did you just read my mind?” she asked.
“No, you were staring at it,” he sang.
“You’re not crazy,” the taller elf added. It was the most beautiful string of sounds Leira had ever heard. “We’re really here. You can call me Oriceran.”
“King Oriceran,” the other being clarified. “And yes, elves. Light elves to be precise.”
“Trust your senses. You can see us, you can touch us. More importantly, we’re not here to harm you.”
“While I’m glad to hear I didn’t dream up something that would want to kill me, I’m going to need better proof to be sure I’m not nuts,” said Leira. “This isn’t the first time you’ve appeared and I’m the only one who reacts.” She looked back and forth at them. “That’s not a good sign,” she pointed to herself, “for me.”
“Fair enough. How can we help you with this, what, a test?” the king asked.
Leira hesitated. Every idea that came to her could be explained away by her recognizing she was losing her mind.
Leira held back a curse and flipped her hands up and down in frustration. “I’ve got nothing,” she admitted. “No idea how to prove it.”
“Then let’s get on with things,” said the shorter elf. “Time is passing in your world and a killer is getting further and further away.”
“Killer?” asked Leira. “Hell, I dreamed up a case, too? That actually makes more sense. I’m working even as I go insane. No rest for the wicked.”
“You’re really going to need to put that aside if you’re going to help us,” the king said gently. “The entire sane or insane argument.” He lifted his hand as if he was about to do something.
“Wait, I have an idea,” she said. The elves waited but Leira didn’t say another word, just leaned in toward them. She opened her eyes wider and raised her eyebrows. The king got the message.
“We really don’t read minds. It’s not a talent we’ve acquired, as yet. You’ll have to tell us.”
Another eyeroll from the smaller elf.
“Sorry,” said Leira. “I suppose it helps to know you can’t just do anything. I do better with rules.”
“Okay, on with it,” sang the king. “What’s the test?”
Leira took a deep breath and held it, making them wait. She almost couldn’t say it out loud.
“Find my mother’s ring,” Leira said, hoping they could do it, despite the fact that this had to all be a crazy illusion.
The ring had been lost for years and was the only piece of jewelry she had that belonged to her mother. She still felt the loss.
“Easy enough,” the king said.
“Party trick,” the other elf agreed.
“You don’t have a name?” asked Leira, glaring at him. She was getting annoyed, even if she had hallucinated him.
FROM MARTHA >>> Snippet #6! You ever wonder if magic is real? Do you question deep dish vs thin crust pizza? Do you ponder if Anderle really does own a tranq gun? All will be answered soon! FOUR DAYS TILL LAUNCH OF THE UNIVERSE! July 31st and the fun begins! Four more authors already hunched over keyboards typing away for more series in the Oriceran Universe. Till then, here’s a little more from Book Zero, Quest for Magic to keep you going!
Check out Martha Carr’s other books at http://www.marthacarr.com/
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