Tuesday, September 20, 2005

City of Mages: Chapter IV

Although the Tower of Doom is definitely the most impressive building in Erilliance, it is actually not the oldest. Tesian hall, build some 12,000 years ago, holds that honor. Back then, Erilliance was nothing more than a battlefield for powerful sorcerors and wizards trying to exploit it's incredibly high magical field. It was a dangerous, chaotic place to live, and people often lived in fear of whoever the most powerful magic user happened to be at the time. So twenty young women decided to form a cooperative to protect themselves, and they build Tesian as a place for them to stay. After order was brought to the city, the hall remained, as a boarding house for powerful young women. A Beautiful, gothic-looking, semicircular building, it is protected by an impressive array of enchantments, making it the only building from the old city to have survived the meteor shower and the hurricane. No male has set foot in Tesian in more than ten thousand years - it is said that a powerful curse will befall any who do.
That last part was precisely the reason Xindor the Incredible had wanted his niece to stay there after she decided to go to Erilliance to study magic. And it was precisely what was causing him so much trouble now.
"Look, I'm sorry," said a pale, gaunt witch named Vivacia Brown, as she peered out her doorway at the most powerful sorceror in the world, "But the curse won't discriminate between her old uncle and some mischievous young suitor."
"Then will you please go in and get her!" insisted Xindor, "This is important!"
"I'm sure it is," said Vivacia, "And I'm sure she'll be happy to see you as soon as she's available. She is otherwise occupied at the moment, however,"
"I'm warning you," threatened Xindor, "Lady Cecilia is going to hear about this.."
"Here about what?" said a familiar old voice from behind him.
"Lady Cecilia," said Xindor, bowing, "What a pleasant surprise. Perhaps you can talk some sense into Ms. Brown for me. She is your charge,"
"Oh hello, Vivacia!" said Lady Cecilia. Then she turned back to Xindor, "Unfortunately, we witches don't have nearly as strict a chain of command as your Sorceror's Guild. Amora still refusing to see you?"
"Apparently." said Xindor. He sighed. "Why is it that the only sorceror or sorceress in the whole city who won't listen to me is my own niece?"
"Because you pampered her too much, Xindor," replied the old witch,"You've taught her too expect special treatment. But your failings as a guardian aren't what I wanted to discuss with you,"
"Well, what was?" asked Xindor.
"In my office please?" asked Lady Cecilia.
"Mine's a lot closer," said Xindor.
"Alright," answered the witch.
"Do you mind if I teleport us there?" asked Xindor.
"Not at all," said Lady Cecilia.
They vanished.
They reappeared in front of the large pyramid which housed the offices of the Sorceror's Guild.
"You must be mellowing out with age," remarked Lady Cecilia as they stepped through the door, "Last time you landed us right in front of your desk,"
"I've redecorated recently," said Xindor, "So rather than risk landing us inside my desk, I opted to go for in front of the building,"
"Reasonable," said Lady Cecilia, "Reasonable, I suppose,"
Xindor threw open the double doors to his office.
The office looked very clean. It was, in fact, a mess, but Illusion had been Xindors first school of magic and he was still rather adept at it. He stepped behind his desk and sat down in the large comfortable armchair that was sitting there. Lady Cecilia narrowly avoided slipping on an invisible sheet of paper and sat down at the similar chair across from the desk.
"Now," asked Xindor, reclining in his chair "What's all this about?"
"Clay Darkwood is coming to Erilliance," said Lady Cecilia calmly.
Most of the Sorcerors who worked in the adjacent offices had never heard Xindor swear before. This changed rather quickly.
After Xindor had calmed down a bit, Lady Cecilia continued, in just as calm and level a voice as she had used to begin with.
"Clayton is bringing his son here to study with you," said Lady Cecilia. "I expect you to consider him as you would any other student, without taking into account your relationship with his father,"
"Of course," said Xindor iciliy, "The boy's done nothing wrong,"
"And I'm sure you'll treat his father with the same courtesy and respect you always afford the parents of prospective students," said the witch, in the same calm, level voice as before.
"That's the first time I ever remember one of your predictions being wrong," said Xindor, with a hint of a smile, "Perhaps I will be alive in three years,"
"If you harm him-" began Lady Cecilia.
"My good Lady Cecilia," said Xindor, cutting her off, "Matters between Mr. Darkwood and myself aside, he has committed a number of crimes against the guild, and those he must be brought to task for. Thank you for alerting me to his arrival. Good day,"
"I'm afraid I can't allow that," said Lady Cecilia,"I promised Clayton sanctuary while he was in the city,"
"Did you now?" said Xindor, "Well, that was outside your authority to do. Technically, we should bring this before the council, but seeing as that would require a special session, I'll agree to abide by that promise,"
"You will?" asked Lady Cecilia, a bit surprised.
"Yes," said Xindor, "I'll have to take Mr. Darkwood to task before he reaches the city,"

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The non-humans of Mittelmarch line up before a battle. I'm the one with the quarterstaff (it's Rook's) but the sidearm in my belt is mine. (It's Norbert.) Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Chapter 38: Two Lessons

The next several days passed rather uneventfully. Everytime I saw Mora I would ask her if she'd made any progress, and she would say no, until we got to the point where she would say no before I'd even asked her. My Dad kept bugging me to take the driver's test, not realizing that I had.. other lessons on my mind. Christmas break was fast approaching, and everyone thought it was about time, seeing as it had started snowing in October. I was looking forward to finally being able to talk over everything with Catherine when she came home for the holidays. On Thursday, I had a good lesson with Teresa - she and Kevin both worked to teach me the basics of Wyr'kaka, a Draconic Martial Arts form that makes use of claws, jaws, and tails instead of fists and feet. Kevin wore a ridiculous looking pad on his stinger to keep him from accidentally killing us as we sparred, and he made one for me as well.
At the end of the lesson, as we were all getting dressed, Teresa invited me to the MLF Christmas party.
"Secret Organizations have Christmas parties?" I asked incredulously.
"No," she answered, "But the NPO's that front for them throw really nice ones. And the guest list tends to be rather selective - people we can trust. It'll be a good chance for you to meet some of the guys,"
"What about my parents?" I asked.
"Catherine comes home in a couple weeks, doesn't she?" asked Teresa.
"Yeah," I said, "Why?"
"Well, we invited her too," answered Teresa. "You two can just tell your parents you're going out for some brother-sister bonding event. It's the day before Christmas Eve. It's always a lot of fun,"
"It's downright stupid, that's what it is," said Kevin. In human form, he was a small, unassuming Jewish-looking man with a goatee. "If anyone from the government got ahold of the guest list for that party, it could compromise your whole organization. And if anyone was captured -"
"Don't start that again," said Teresa. "It's a risk, but I think it's a worthwhile one. We could all use an excuse to be cheerful for a couple of days, and Christmas is as good a time as any,"
"That sounds good," I said. I wasn't really sure it did, but somehow I didn't think Teresa would take know for an answer. Besides, it might be good to meet other Draconics.
Other Draconics, I thought. When did I start taking for granted that I was one? It seemed odd to me that so recently the idea had seemed impossible.
I decided that I should be able to drive before I learned how to fly, so I called the BMV and scheduled my driving test for the next day. I decided I should really go driving with my dad to make sure I was ready.
He was delighted when I asked. We weren't spending very much time together, and I guess he felt a cut off from me lately. My dad was a very good driving instructor -patient, unobtrusive, but he knew when to jump in (i.e. if I was driving in the wrong lane or making an illegal right turn on red). After I'd driven around for a bit, he suggested we stop for a warm drink. We found little cafe and went inside. I ordered a hot cider, he had a coffee.
"Son," he said, as we waited for our drinks to arrive, "Is there anything you'd like to talk to me about?"
"No..." I said, trying to look as bewildered as I could.
"I was your age once myself, you know,"continued my father, "Whatever it is you're going through, I've probably been through it myself,"
Oh no you haven't, I was thinking, Not this.
What I said was, "I'm sure you have, dad, but really, I'm fine,"
"Alright," he said, obviously unconvinced, "And are you doing any better in PreCal?"
For a moment this failed to register with me. I was good at PreCal, at least decenty enough. Then I remembered my lie.
"I think the tutoring is helping," I said, "I'd like to keep it going at least until mid-terms,"
"It's good that your not afraid to ask for help, son," he said, "I don't know if I couldv'e said the same when I was your age,"
The conversation dragged on uncomfortably for a while, but my father didn't manage to drag the truth out of me. I think he felt almost as bad about interrogating me as I did about lying to him. I hoped eventually I'd be allowed to tell him the truth. I wasn't sure how much longer I could conceal it.

Monday, September 12, 2005


This is my audition monologue for The Magical Lamp of Aladdin. It is from the novel Going Postal by Terry Pratchett. I have recut it rather liberally.

Ah, Mr. Lipwig. You are aweake, I see. And still alive, for the moment. Shall I tell you about angels? I know two interesting facts about them.
Oh, yes, you were hanged. A very precise science, hanging, and Mr. Trooper here is a master. The slippage and thickness of the rope, whether the knot is placed here rather than there, the relationship between weight and distance - oh, I'm sure the man could write a book. You were hanged to within half an inch of your life, I understand. Only an expert standing right next to you would have spotted that, and in this case, that expert was our Mr. Trooper. No, Alfred Spangler is dead, Mr. Lipwig. Three hundred people would swear they saw him die. And so, appropriatly, it is of angels which I wish to speak with you.
The first interesting thing about Angels, Mr. Lipwig, is that sometimes, very rarely, when a man has made such a foul and tangled mess of his life that death seems like the only sensible option, an angel appears to him, or should I say, unto him, and offers him the chance to do it all over again, only this time, to do it right. I should like you to think of me as... an angel.
I am offering you a job, Mr. Lipwig. Alfred Spangler may be dead, but Mr. Lipwig has a future. It may, of course be a very short one, if he is stupid. I am offering you a job, Mr. Lipwig. Work, for wages. I realize the concept may be unfamiliar to you.
Oh, and one more thing. Should you decide to take advantage of my generosity, I should like you to remember the second interesting thing about Angels. The second interesting thing about Angels, Mr. Lipwig, is that you only ever get just the one.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

City of Mages: Chapter III

On the deck of the pirate ship Abandon, Captain Clayton Darkwood, the notorious sorceror pirate, surveyed his new crew. He had taken them on a few months ago, on an island full of sentient apes and monkeys. At least he assumed they were sentient - they new how to sail a ship and seemed more than happy to take orders from him, which was all that really concerned Clayton. He did wish some of them were capable of speaking human, though. Occasionally the incomprehensible chatter and wild shrieking from the tiny, cat-like ones grated on his nerves. But they were efficient, and had he not found them he would likely still be stranded on the god-forsaken monkey island, so he counted himself lucky.
Still, the shrieking was giving him a bit of a headache. He decided to go down to his cabin and lie down for a bit. As soon as he got down there, however, he heard a familiar buzzing. He knelt, opened his seachest, rummaged for a bit, and pulled out his Crystal ball.
Clayton set the small glass globe on the table and stared at it, trying to clear his mind, until finally a hard, aged woman appeared in the fog.
"Lady Cecilia!" he said, turning on the roguish charm he'd been unable to use for months of having nothing but simian company, "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"We'll get to that in a moment," said the old woman, "Where have you been? I've been calling you all day!"
"I'm at sea, my lady," answered the pirate, "We're even farther from the stargem than the badlands. You can't always get reception out here,"
"How far are you from the mainland?" asked the witch, with a questioning stare.
"A few days at the most," replied Clayton, calmly.
"What port are you coming into?"
"The Port of Tial,"
The witch looked up, as if consulting a map in her head.
"Then it should only be a few days out of your way," she said finally.
"What should?" asked the now confused sorceror.
"The Port of Xarnip," answered Lady Cecilia.
"It's closer, actually," said Clayton, suddenly perking up "But if you think I'm gonna risk my neck going back there..."
"Don't worry," snapped the witch. "I'll make sure your wife knows you're coming at my bequest. I'll make her promise not to behead you,"
"Why exactly do you want me to go there?" asked the man, quickly returning to his casual tone.
"I need you to pick something up for me,"
"I'm not your errand boy!" protested the sea captain.
"No," said Lady Cecila, "But I think you'll be interested in this proposition,"
"I'm listening," said the sailor calmy.
"It's about your son," said the witch, "Your wife has finally agreed to let him come to Erilliance,"
"No way," said Clayton, laughing, "You know how I feel about the sorcerors guild. I'm not about to let my some be kept down by that magic monopoly,"
"Of course you're not," said Lady Cecilia. "However, I'm offering to help him become the leader of thaty magic monopoly,"
"What do you mean?" asked Clayton, his eyes suddenly wide with interest.
"I can't say anymore," said the old woman, "Suffice it to say that if you bring your son here, he could easily be leader of the Sorceror's Guild in as little as three years. And if you don't, then Xindor the Incredible might get wind of the fact that you're still alive and practicing magic without a license,"
"So your blackmailing me?" asked Clayton.
"I don't know what you're talking about," said the witch, "We'll be expecting you and Brandon in a few weeks. I do so look forward to seeing you again,"
And with that, her face faded back into the fog of the crystal, leaving Clayton staring, bewildered, into the glass sphere.