Rule of Magic, The Leira Chronicles Book 4
By Martha Carr & Michael Anderle
“Okay, don’t screw it up this time Mara. No more tears in a portal.” Mara flexed her fingers and shook them at her sides. She was more nervous than she was willing to admit. “Has to be done. I have to go back and finish what I started.” Mara stood in the middle of her new living room and conjured a glowing ball of light between her hands as her eyes began to glow. Eireka was out at the grocery store and wouldn’t be back for a couple of hours. “No time like the present.”
Mara said the spell she knew from four years ago and thought about ever since the world in between sucked her inside. “Ramanna.” The light expanded and let out a sharp electrical snap, opening up a portal big enough for Mara to cross through to Oriceran. She stepped into the royal gardens behind the Light Castle and breathed a sigh of relief. “I still have it.” She set out quickly for the main road to head into town and the cottages that lined the center of town.
“He has to still be there,” she muttered, picking up her pace. “I didn’t sacrifice all of this crap to fail now.”
The smell of the flowers brought tears to her eyes and memories flooded back to her. “Not now old girl.” Still, she reached out a hand as she passed a vine growing through a low fence and sang to it, watching it sway with each note, opening its flowers. “I’ve missed all of this.”
A horse drawn cart passed her and the driver slowed, looking down to see if Mara wanted a ride. “Sure! Why the hell not?” She handed the drive an old gold coin she fished out of her belongings from storage. Thank goodness my granddaughter didn’t go through everything.
It didn’t take long for her to get settled into a seat and the driver to get gently moving again. Finally, I will see you again.
The board room was on the top floor of one of the taller buildings in New York City down in the financial district. Chief executive officers from multi-national conglomerates were flown in under the cover of darkness and kept on a rented out floor of the Mark Hotel on the east side of Central Park near 5th Avenue till it was time for the meeting. They were whisked out the back in dark Lincoln Continentals, the upscale taxis of New York, and taken to the private entrance with its own elevator. It was essential that no one in the media catch wind of the gathering. The gossip on social media would have started immediately. That would have been fine but they couldn’t risk the wrong people making the right connections and speculating about the agenda.
Not a chance someone figures this one out. Charlie Monaghan couldn’t believe it himself. A portal opened up in his house in Virginia, unbidden and a tall frozen beast stepped out of nowhere followed by a woman wearing a flowing gown holding out a thin wooden stick. The woman explained she was a witch and the beast was a Crystal man. Both of them were part of a larger group and they wanted to make a deal. That much he understood.
He was instructed to gather his tribe and set a location at a certain date and time. The prophets would find the location on their own and come with the proposal. No, he wasn’t going to learn the details beforehand. A tough negotiation only got Charlie more interested in looking for the angles.
Charlie watched the door and glanced back at the open space in the room, not sure where the prophets would make their entrance. He looked at his watch. One minute to go.
The fifteen men and women sat around a large mahogany table, some nervously shifting in their seats or tapping on the table. They all knew what was supposed to happen next and weren’t sure if they believed it. This is my tribe. Charlie let out a ‘tsk’ but said nothing. Whatever it takes to get a good deal.
At the appointed time, sparks crackled in the air and lightning flashed in the open space. Charlie sat back in amazement, gasping as he smiled broadly. “Here we go!”
A portal opened and a delegation of four prophets stepped through into the boardroom, all wearing their dark blue robes. Earth’s constellations immediately appeared across their backs in perfect alignment with where they stood.
The people seated around the table gasped as they stared at the pixie, the Crystal, the Kilomea, the Light Elf and the Gnome prophets. At the last moment the witch stepped through, pulling out her wand as she landed on the thick carpet.
“You have expect one of them to say, we come in peace,” snickered one of the men. The Kilomea grunted and glared at the man as his face lost all expression and he turned ashen. Another man’s hand trembled as he picked up his coffee cup, sloshing the coffee as he maneuvered the cup to his lips.
The group stayed standing in the spot where they entered the room except for the witch who went and stood by the door. She murmured something under her breath, casting a spell that caused anyone approaching the door to lose interest and wander off aimlessly for a minute or two.
“Get it out of your system,” said the Gnome. “We understand this is a lot to take in. Nanoo, nanoo anyone?” There was a ripple of laughter as the Gnome smiled. “That’s better. We’re here to make a deal. An exercise you’re already very familiar with, and we want everyone to walk away feeling like they got something for their time. Let me start by saying, we already know you’re well aware of our existence. We’ve known about all of you for millennia.” The Gnome stood silently, his hands clasped behind his back, waiting for the murmur to die down in the room. Charlie hushed the few remaining whispers.
“We won’t be staying long so we ask that you listen and save your questions. We won’t be answering them at this time.” The Gnome glanced sideways at the table. “We’re here to offer you knowledge about magic and how it works. We know you’re hunting artifacts and relics. It’s a good idea. The gates will start to open and when they do the magic will increase. Practitioners will find it tempting to rely on it more and more, despite any rules. That’s right, there are rules. But I’m sure some of you have broken a few rules for the greater good. Whatever that is. Of course we want something in return…”
Here we go, thought Charlie. Our side of the bargain.
A woman closest to the Crystal prophet watched in amazement as snowflakes scattered to the ground with every breath the Crystal let out.
“We want assistance helping our people emigrate to this world. Let me be clear. It’s happening one way or another. Either you get something out of the deal and welcome us, making for a smoother transition. Or you get to know your new neighbors over time and watch us perform magic while you’re completely in the dark. Either way, we both go on with our lives but a little knowledge might go a long way for your side and a basket of muffins and a smile will ease concerns our people may have.”
“People? Those are people?” someone whispered. The witch by the door raised her wand in the general direction of the table but Charlie grimaced and patted the air.
“Seems reasonable,” he said, getting out of his chair. The Kilomea let out a low grumble. “I’ll stay right here.” Charlie’s smile was strained but still in place. “Make a list of the areas you’re most interested in and we’ll do everything we can to accommodate you. Do you have an idea of how many Oricerans plan to emigrate to Earth?”
“Not at this time,” said the Gnome, giving away nothing. He nodded to the witch who swirled her wand in the air producing an arch of papers cascading down to the boardroom table, neatly landing in one pile in front of Charlie. “Our list… and our first lesson about magic. It’s all there. Think of that as a taste of what’s to come and a goodwill gesture to all of you. A primer on how to successfully use an artifact without turning yourself to ash.”
Charlie’s eyebrows shot up as he realized what could have happened in his library with Langston. He placed a hand on top of the pile of papers and did his best to keep smiling.
“That will come in handy as you gather artifacts. Oh, and one more bonus. There’s the longitude and latitude for an artifact in there as well. A present from us to you. I thought that would lift your spirits.” The Gnome nodded to the witch and she moved back to the group as the Kilomea opened the portal. Moments later they were gone in a shower of sparks.
Charlie greedily rifled through the papers looking for the directions to the artifact. He glanced at the passing pages noting the steps they wanted to start getting humans to adjust to the new populations of magical people. It covered a wide variety of areas. To be expected. At last he found them toward the bottom of the stack. Wyoming. Unexpected but so much the better. Practically local. He looked up at the woman looking over his shoulder. “We should send a team with one of the experts. Where there’s one there will probably be others. The race is on but we now have some juice.”
“Do you think they’re going to tell us much?” It was the ashen CEO who flew in from England.
“Hell, no. They’re probably giving us the kindergarden edition. Not the good stuff.”
“Everyone wants to get their shovel in the sand. They’re just using a different kind of shovel.”
“Well said, it’s time we got to digging first and faster.”
“Did you get all that? That was some crazy ass shit!” The PDF agent ripped the headphones off, leaning back against the inside of the white van. It was parked just across the street listening to the meeting. The bug Lois managed to plant was paying off. They were starting to learn all the players.
“Who are the prophets? What the hell was that about?” asked the driver, turning in his seat. “They had a full on encounter of the fourth kind in downtown Manhattan. Who does that?”
Alan Cohen looked at the two men and sat back, pondering what to do next. Magical beings want to emigrate to this world. Alan rubbed the day-old growth on his chin. Time to tell Leira Berens before this grows much bigger.
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