Rule of Magic, The Leira Chronicles Book 4
By Martha Carr & Michael Anderle
The prophets stood in the hidden meeting room at the far end of the post office, one exact mile from where all the mailboxes lined the walls. The Kilomea prophet chose to walk from the entrance. The rail cars were too small for his size and he never liked the circuitous route the metal car took to avoid the gargoyles flying overhead putting the mail in their proper slots.
A gargoyle swooped low enough over his tall head to rustle the fur on the back of his neck. He grunted and looked up, scowling but the gargoyle ignored him and flew higher, the leather satchel flapping against its gold scales.
A family of Light Elves moved out of his way, the mother putting her arms in front of her children as if she was shielding them.
“Really? You act like you’ve never seen a Kilomea before. Boo!” He raised his arms and bugged out his eyes. The mother shuddered but the little female Elf in front of her giggled. The Kilomea smiled at her. “You get it. Good for you.” He gave a tsk at the mother and lumbered on his way, making good time across the long lobby.
At the entrance to the room he stopped and pulled out his folded robe from inside his vest, shaking it out and draping it across his shoulders. He was too far away from anyone else to be noticed at that point. He opened the entrance and went in, the stars appearing across his robe, lining up with the virtual display on the ceiling.
The other prophets were already there, gathered in a circle around the Book of Prophesies sitting in its glass case in the well of the room. He pushed his way into the circle between the Crystal prophet and the Light Elf, grunting a brief hello. The Light Elf looked up at him, a strain on his face.
“You already started the meeting.”
“We haven’t officially started. The arguing started early.” The Light Elf scowled looking over at the Crystal prophet.
“It’s time. We can’t keep putting this off.” A cold mist blew out from the Crystal’s mouth and small snowflakes drifted down to the floor. “The gates will start to open soon and the human beings are already racing each other to find the artifacts and relics we left behind. Our world will be ending and we will need to make Earth our new home. We need to prepare our people.”
“The humans will never fully accept us.” The pixie fluttered at eye level with the rest of the prophets so she could be heard more easily. “We’ve already been over this.”
“We need to find a way to get them on our side.” The Gnome prophet spoke in an even tone. “You know I’m right. Humans respond to heroics. To victories.”
“How do you propose we pull of something like that?” asked the Kilomea.
“Wait! The last time we decided we’d manipulate the situation we got Prince Rolim killed.” The Light Elf was shaking with anger.
“We never intended for that to happen,” said the Wood Elf, his pupils moving around, watching everyone. “And just because we failed…”
“Just because we failed, doesn’t mean we give up. What do you propose, Gnome.” The Wood Elf prophet eyed him suspiciously.
“A ruse where no one can get hurt, at least not permanently. We open a portal to one of their bigger cities and create a situation.”
“The exact words used the last time we stood here and plotted.” The Light Elf’s eyes glowed causing the glass case to give off rolling waves of electric static, protecting itself from anyone practicing magic too close to the precious book.
“Calm yourself. We’ll have more control over this situation because we won’t bring in an outsider, much less a human. We’ll handle this one ourselves. We’ll open a portal to Earth and stage an accident to someone they all notice. Someone important.”
“No, we need large numbers to care about the person who gets hurt. A famous person for just being famous. What they call a celebrity.”
“We all know what a celebrity is over there,” said the pixie, annoyed. “No one likes to admit it but we all watch the humans. They’re constantly finding new ways to best each other. Singing, climbing obstacle courses, even eating contests. Like watching two Lutea players about to collide. You want to look away but…”
“You laugh when they knock heads.” The Gnome graciously smiled, folding his hands over his stomach.
“The Kardashians are all Arpaths. One of them might volunteer.” The Arpath prophet fluttered his wings.
“Not one of us. One of them. A human celebrity. Someone who wouldn’t know what hit them and they’d never suspect us. We’d get their undying gratitude across all their ways of communicating with each other. Post, tweets, snap chats. There’s an endless list. Someone like Penny Ryan. Famous for talking about others and setting trends. Millions of people follow her every move. An accident that leaves her briefly at death’s door until one of us magically brings her back to complete health. All in public in the middle of Rodeo Drive and dozens of smart phones recording everything.”
“We expose magic.” The Wood Elf’s eyes widened. “We can’t take it back once we do this.”
“We can’t take back the end of our planet either. We have no choice. The only question is do we start with a witch that looks just like them or a Crystal and jump in the deep end. No offense.” The Kilomea nodded at the Crystal prophet standing next to him. They stood shoulder to shoulder, the two largest beings in the room. The fur on the Kilomea’s shoulder was frozen together in clots but he didn’t feel it through the two layers of thick skin.
“Put it to a vote,” said the Gnome. “Let the majority decide our next step. Our fate is sealed but we can still control how we handle things. We owe this to all of Oriceran. All in favor?”
Everyone raised their hand, even the Light Elf prophet. The Gnome smiled. “Then it’s settled. I suggest we send a witch and the Wood Elf. A little of both. Are you up to the task?”
The Wood Elf grimaced but nodded his head. “It’s time we started building bridges even if we have to take matters into our own hands.”
“I’m not sure how I feel about harming anyone.” The pixie fluttered her wings, coming to land on the Kilomea’s shoulder.
“It’s a celebrity. Imagine the publicity this will get them. They’ll be set for life.” The Gnome let out a chortle. Always nice when a plan comes together. Not much longer and I can shed this skin.
Hagan and Leira sat at their new desks in the old warehouse. From the outside the building still looked like it was falling into disrepair. Inside, everything was rewired and the latest equipment brought in, enabling the Paranormal Defense Agents to monitor magical activity around the world. Couches were sent against one wall and a small area with a microwave and a wooden table and chairs in another corner made up what there was of a kitchen area.
A cackle went up from across the warehouse. Lois and Patsy were sitting on the new couches watching The Price is Right, laughing at the small yodeling plastic figure making its way up the Alps. “It’s going over the top!”
“Lois we need a couch like this back at the PDF!”
“We don’t have room in that closet of an office. This is a couch island. Get it for your rec room.”
“Hello, I spend more time with you at work than anywhere else. I want this for the office.”
“Then figure out a spell to grow our office or shrink the couch and us along with it.” Patsy let out a laugh. “I’m hungry again!”
“News at eleven!”
“They were brought in to show us how to use everything.” Hagan put another piece of sugarless gum in his mouth, adding to the bulge in his cheek.
Leira decided not to say anything. “They felt it was time for a break.”
A Twinkie went flying across the open space landing in Lois’ lap. She scrunched up her nose, stopping her glasses from sliding. “Seven-ninety-nine! Seven-ninety-nine!”
“I have to admit flying food is a neat trick. Efficient too.” Hagan chewed his gum, watching the ladies yell numbers at the screen. “I can’t tell. Is this relationship working, or not?”
“They came highly recommended and Lois gives off a stronger pulse of magic energy than she’s letting on to. I think those two are hiding in plain sight.”
“The question is from what?”
Another Twinkie flew across the room. “Told you! Four dollars is too high for a damn roll of paper towels! Even Bounty!”
“Isn’t that from Correk’s stash?” Hagan licked his lips and chomped down hard on the gum.
“Do you want one? I don’t see the appeal. Correk has plenty and we can get more at any time. Hell, I could probably get the Feds to supply us with them.” Leira held one up looking at the wrapper. “These beauties are some kind of weird invention by humans that will never go stale, never rot. You’d think it’d do a better job of preserving your insides if you eat enough of them.” She opened the plastic wrapper and took a whiff. “I don’t get it. Does nothing for me.” She held out her hand, ready to toss it into the trash.
“You’re just gonna throw that away?” Hagan leaned forward in his chair.
“Here, but I don’t feel good about this.” She tossed it to Hagan who took a long smell, shaking his head. He looked pained as he held it up in the air. “Ladies, help me out.” The Twinkie zipped out of his fingers and across the room.
“Hagan that’s one of the more courageous things I’ve ever seen you do.”
“Fuck you, Berens. And agreed.”
“Maybe we can get a mini fridge in here and fill it with hummus and carrots.”
“Fuck me. Don’t do that. I get enough of that at home.”
“Alright, if you don’t want…”
“A nice sugar free pudding cup wouldn’t hurt. The chocolate and vanilla swirls.”
Leira looked at Hagan. “Consider it done. I’ll even spring for them myself. Donation to the cause. Future you will be grateful you pulled this off.”
Hagan grunted. “I’m doing this so there is a future me. Let’s talk about something else.”
A loud and constant ringing pealed through the room, vibrating against the walls. Lois and Patsy sat up straight on the couches as Lois waved her wand at the screen. Hagan startled, swallowing his gum, jumping to his feet with his gun already drawn looking for an intruder. Leira pulled in energy from the ground, lighting up the symbols on her arm. “There’s no threat.”
The ringing was too loud for her to be heard.
Lois and Patsy were frantically waving their wands at the screen closest to them. Both of them looked worried. Leira tapped Hagan on the shoulder and pointed at the two witches. She ran over to get a look at and recognized the symbols flying across the screen. They were the same as the ones appearing on her arms.
“What does it all mean?” She shouted but the witches didn’t hear her over the alarm that was still ringing. They were too busy reading as fast as they could. “Hey! Hey!” Leira waved her arms.
Lois turned around and seemed to notice Leira for the first time. “Oh!” She waved her wand, silencing the alarm. “Sorry about that. We put that in first thing. It makes sure no one misses anything big and this is big. Big I tell you!”
“All those symbols mean something?”
“Well, sure as shit they do!” Lois was excited. She turned back to the symbols pointing her new upgraded wand, slowing down the ticker. See those swirls? Big trouble. See enough of those and it means someone is dead, kaput! Last time we saw something like that was Chicago and your name kept popping up.”
“Is someone dead?” Hagan came and stood beside Leira looking up at the virtual screen.
“Let’s see, three witches down from the Order. Oh dear. Fourteen rogue from another country.”
“All hell has broken loose!” Patsy was following another screen, looking back over her shoulder at them. “The Order is fighting with the rogue witches and wizards.”
“Let me guess. It’s the necklace.” Leira clenched her fists. “It’s the only thing I know of that would cause this kind of magical battle. Where are they?”
“Latvia. Gets worse. A third party has entered this fray. The local government has sent in their forces to grab it. Human forces! I’m afraid the humans have caught on at last to what’s up for grabs. All bets are off!” Lois wrinkled her nose, pushing her glasses back into place.
“This shit has gone global!” Patsy’s voice came out in a squeak.
Leira went to call the general but Lois stopped her. “No point honey. This was nasty and short. Nobody was messing around. The necklace has already moved on. See that string of symbols up there? It’s the Order reporting that they missed their chance but so did the humans. Not sure if that’s good or bad. Easier to take it from them most times.”
Lois glanced over at Patsy and lowered her voice. “Look, honey I’m a little surprised, I don’t mind telling you that you can’t read those symbols. Kind of basic stuff for anyone who’s magical. Especially someone like you.”
“What does that mean?” Leira’s eyes started to glow. She was already on the edge of anger and ready to go looking for the fight. She was tired of doing all the chasing. The symbols lit up on her arms, climbing up her neck.
“See what I mean? It’s written across your body! Didn’t you notice? The symbols are never the same. These aren’t here to let the world know you’re fixing to whomp somebody but good. They’re the energy talking to you, looking to guide you.” Lois waved her wand over Leira’s arm momentarily changing the symbols into words she could read.
‘May Sage was wounded but is reported to be in good condition.’
“I know that witch! General badassery! Would hate to lose her.” Patsy swallowed a Twinkie in three bites. “Stress eating! It’s how I cope sometimes.”
Hagan grimaced but waved at her. “Been there, trying not to do that.”
“You’re your own virtual screen.” Lois smiled at Leira.
“But you can’t change the channels, so there’s that.” Patsy shrugged and turned back to the screen.
“These will only appear when you summon them, giving you information about the magic you’re tuning into. Like a heads up.”
“No mention of the general public squawking about it. That’s a plus.” Patsy gave Hagan a long like and smiled.
“He’s married Patsy. Cool your jets.” She whipped her wand around and zinged Patsy with a small spark hitting her right in her plum colored velour pants.
“For your own good. You know how you get. Behavior modification.” Lois looked at Hagan. “You’re welcome, trust me on this one.”
Hagan’s eyebrows shot up and he held up his left hand, wiggling his fingers to show off his plain gold wedding band. “Twenty-six blissful years!”
Lois took Leira by the arm as the symbols faded. “You need a mentor who can teach you the basics. Not tall, blonde and Elven hottie. He’s too young in Elven years. He still has a lot to learn himself. But you definitely need someone.”
Leira’s phone buzzed. “It’s the general.”
“Seems he found out through the more standard channels. Think about what I said. All that wonderful power you have isn’t much use if you have to trip over how to use it bit by bit. Especially if the world is suddenly waking up to magic.”
Leira answered the phone before the last ring as Lois whispered, “Find a mentor.”
“Hello General Anderson. Yes, I know what happened. We’re monitoring the situation.” That damn necklace.
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