Darke's Knights part 1

             The classroom filled slowly.  I was sitting at the back of the small stage engrossed in a manuscript I had been attempting to translate for a couple of decades.  Vaguely I heard the hoot of a boy and glanced up to the sight of a young woman of about eighteen coming down the aisle dressed in a traditional old man’s wet dream outfit.

            A crisply starched white cotton blouse, unbuttoned down to a point between her perfect breasts, the promise of a lacy bra hiding under the collar.  The pleated plaid skirt revealed a few miles of lovely smooth legs and couldn’t have hidden a thing if she’d bent over.  And of course, little white socks with the lace at the top and black patent leather shoes. 

            Every year, the same thing . . . I sighed and raised my point of view to her face and instead of the over-confident smirk of a girl trying to trade her body for a grade, I found a beautiful and painfully innocent face.

            From my briefcase a small black head appeared and gazed around the growing crowd with a marked cat-like indifference.  With a small leap, the tiny cat emerged from her hiding place and sauntered across the stage.  The six foot gap between stage and table did not daunt her for a second and with infinite grace she cleared the distance and landed with a small grunt on the school girl’s open book.

            I stood, shot my cuffs, and stepped up to the lectern. Nearly four dozen heads followed my movements, weighting what they saw.

            To them I was just another old man, a lot older than their other professors, but every bit as boring and grey.  They had been told I was eighty-five, but I didn’t look it . . . maybe a spry sixty-five I thought to myself.  Both ages were wrong by at least thirty years.  I was one hundred and seventeen years old, and I was a wizard.

            Okay, first thing you are going to say is that there is no such thing as a wizard and I’ll argue that as I am a wizard, your assumption is in error.  Next you might say ‘one hundred-seventeen’?  I assure you I was born in 1890 right here in San Francisco.  You will believe neither.  It doesn’t matter to me.

            This was my first class of the new school term and I had been teaching at Stanford for over forty years.  My specialty?  Archaeology.  I bet you thought I would say something like ‘philosophy’ being a wizard and all.  I really preferred not to banter the possibilities of man with a bunch of twenty-year olds so I stick to what I know.

            The small black cat curled up on the girl’s book and tucked her nose under the tip of her tail and went to sleep.  I ran through the schedule list of students and their student photos in my mind, it’s great to have a photographic memory, and came up with her name, Ivy Nichols.

            “I flew into Burma in May of 1942, in a new PBY-5a.  I had eighteen Army nurses MacArthur wanted out of Mindanao before the Japs got there.”

            “’Japs’?” a voice came from out of the back of the room.  I ignored it.

            “It was a tight fit in the old boat, I’ll tell you.”

            “Professor, is this going to be on the test?” another voice came from the rear.

            “Of course it is . . .” I said.  “EVERYTHING I say can be on the test.”

            The beefy young man smirked at his buddies and I nailed him with a glare.  He dropped his eyes and they quieted.

            “IF you thought this was a cake class, Mr. Thomas, you are very wrong.” I warned.

            From the back of the chair I lifted an old leather bomber jacket, across the back the red flag with the blue field and single twelve pointed star, and slipped it on.  It felt like an old friend and the faint aroma of aviation gas brought back memories.  I touched the small crest over my heart and felt the outline of the winged tiger.

            I heard several people whispering, I have really good hearing for my age, as I turned around.

            “On August sixth of 1942, while on a fighter sweep, I was shot down over the heart of China.  I came down in a forested area and my P-40 was a total loss.”

The girl, Ivy Nichols, was stroking the sleeping cat as she took notes.

”It took me thirty days to make it back to the Chinese line through the Japs.  On the thirteenth day . . . I found the temple.  No white man had ever seen it, not in the four thousand years of its existence.  I plotted it on my flight map and returned to it after the war.  The Chi-com had taken over by then but they allowed me to work with their people to excavate the sight.

For the next hour I described the dig and the amazing things we’d found, enthralling the class with my words.  Okay, so not quite ‘enthralling’.  That’s against the Laws of Magic.  Let’s just say I wove a fascinating tale and leave it at that.

When the cat lifted her head, I concluded.

             "That will be all for today."

            The girl gently picked up the cat and placed her on her lap before closing her books and stuffing them into a backpack.  As I turned to exit through the rear door she spoke.

            “Professor.”  She said.  “Your kitten.”

            In one fluid movement, she slung her pack over one shoulder and cradled the cat in the crook of her arm.  The cat seems to be comfortable where she was.  Unusual.

            Putting on my best scowl I glared at her, the cat, not the girl.  “Noir, you are such a pest.”

            “Nah,” the girl said, approaching the stage.  “He’s not so bad.”

            She held the offending Noir out to me.  Putting out my hand to take her, I was rather insolently rebuffed.  The girl giggled, a remarkable sound in its pure joy.

            Oh, my dear,” I said to her.  “Never call her HIM!”

            “Sorry,” the girl sounded like she really meant it.  “I didn’t check the sex.”

            Noir chose that moment to acknowledge my presence and leapt to my shoulder with the air of feline huff.

            “My dear girl, with such a svelte body and sleek coat, what else could she possibly be but female?”

            Noir stood and rubbed her face against my ear, purring.  I was forgiven.

            “I guess you are right,” the girl admitted.  “She is very pretty.”

            “Every once in a while Noir takes a young student under her protection and you seem to be her choice for this year.”  I told her. She smiled and I felt a blush rising.  A blush?  I am too old to blush.  I forced it away. 

            “I guess I am just lucky that way.”

“You are Miss Ivy Nichols.”  I looked down at her over the top of my glasses.  The glasses are a prop, I don’t really need them but they look good on a professor.

“Yes, sir, I am.”

I put on my curmudgeon.  “Of course you are.  I know ALL my students.”

She blushed slightly.  Ah, payback.

“I expect great things from you, Miss Nichols,” I said.  “Noir is never wrong.”

“I will try not to disappoint you, or Noir.”  It was said with such . . . solemnity that I believed her.

I lifted my head and looked at her through the lenses.  “You won’t.”  I was just as sure as she.  “Come, Noir, time for your salmon.”

A man in his mid-forties came through the doors at the top of the class and looked around, smiling when he caught sight of Ivy.  I turned away as they met halfway down the aisle.  I recognized him even after nearly twenty years, Herb Nichols.

“Hi, dad!”  She stretched up to kiss him on the cheek then hugged him.

“So what do you feel like tonight?” he asked.

“How about Chinese,” Ivy tucked her hand into the crook of his arm and they walked back up the aisle.

“Something fiery?” he asked.


They disappeared out the door and I turned and darted out of the classroom to my office.  Pulling Noir off my shoulder I met her eyes.

They are right when they say animals can sense things humans cannot.  Noir was no exception.  I’d found her nearly eighty years ago in the bazaar in old Cairo.  Her mother and siblings had been torn apart by a feral dog and it was only by luck I managed to rescue her from the jaws of death.  Hey, the Laws of Magic say nothing about using it on a dog.

I tended her wounds, bought special herbs for her and brought her back from the brink of death and that was what made her something special to me.  She and I were one being, more or less.  You would call her a ‘familiar’ but I don’t think it quite describes reality.  Noir and I share a bit of each other now and she can use her own little magic powers to help me, if she’s in the mood.  I can also more or less read her mind.  Not in words, cats don’t understand words, but I see pictures and when I want, I can also see through her eyes.  It’s a handy little trick.

Right then, Noir’s senses were yelling at me to save that girl but without her usual clear vision.  I learned years ago to never question Noir, so I threw off my bomber jacket and snatched up a black cashmere coat that nearly brushed the ground.  Checking inside the inner pocket I felt the smooth cool ivory of my wand then settled Noir back on my shoulder, grabbed my fedora.  I hurried toward the parking lot, past a number of my students who never gave me a second look.

Being a wizard can be great but like everything, there are downsides.  In this case it was technology.  Magic and tech don’t like each other and I have a theory that the two are constantly at war, like Summer and Winter.  It might seem an odd concept to a non-wizard but I’d been studying magic for a long time.

You would think magic would be this universal thing that permeates the whole world.  It doesn’t.  Some places are more magic than others, like the U.S.  Why would the most technological nation on Earth have more magic than say, Liberia?  Because the U.S. is the front lines in the war between magic and tech.  Okay, maybe it is crazy.

Anyway, that ‘war’ was the reason I jumped into a 1936 Ford pickup instead of a nice new Lexus.  Magic tends to war with tech whenever I am around.  Like blowing up computers and medical equipment.  So I drive an old car, one without electronics, or a radio or any other common feature in a modern car.  I’ve discovered that as long as it’s World War II era or earlier, I am okay with tech and its okay with magic.  Hence the 1936 Ford.

In the twilight of evening I caught sight of the man ducking into a newer Honda and sped across the parking lot to catch them up.  They were three blocks ahead of me as I started to turn onto the street only to be nearly broadsided by one of those jacked up mud-tired monster trucks.  I refrained from jinxing his electronics even though the kid inside didn’t even look down at me as he roared off.  I slipped in behind him, actually able to catch glimpses of the Honda under the chassis of the beast in front of me.  I figured it would make great cover for a while anyway.

People on the East Coast have no idea how fast the sun seems sets on the West Coast and the hills behind the campus just made it all the faster.  Before we had traveled more than a few miles it was dark and the Honda was turning into a Quik-Mart.  The monster truck accelerated past then swung a hard right onto the next cross street.  I rolled down to the next block and followed suit, coming out one block behind and two blocks up from the Quik-Mart.  The monster truck pulled up behind the station and the young man leaped out of the cab and climbed into the back.

As I got out of my truck, I watched the guy kneel in the bed of the truck to do something.  Then I heard him and broke into a run.  Flipping my coat back I drew the wand and pointed it but before I could utter a word, the back of the truck erupted and a huge shadow appeared like . . . well, magic.

“Ignis!” I bellowed, sending a lance of flame toward the hulking thing in the bed of the truck. 

The flame disappeared into the night sky, missing, as the shadowy form leaped at the rear wall of the Quik-Mart and with a crash, was inside.  The guy looked at me, his eyes growing wide, then vaulted out of the truck and pulled the door open and climbed in.  I didn’t have time for him.  He pulled off as I dashed between the side of his truck and the wall, knocking over a half dozen trash cans.

The demon had smashed his way through the cinderblock wall of the store like it had been cardboard and come out in the back of the refrigerator.  I stepped into the hole as the florescent lights flickered and died, leaving a pair of beer signs bathing the scene in reds and blues.  Wading through hundreds of broken beer bottles, I raised my rod and took aim on the hulking form of the demon as it stood on all fours amid the bodies of the store’s customers.

Demons come in many sizes and shapes and they don’t always use the same shape if you happen to encounter one a second time.  This one was a cross between a Rottweiler and a grizzly bear with a heavy emphasis on ‘grizzly’.  The skin was warty and slimy, the color of moss with a ridge of stiff black hair running down its spine.  The shoulders were about twice as wide as me and the arms looked like then belong on a pissed off Hulk.  It had ridiculously narrow hips and its back sloped down at a steeper angle than even a hyena.  Its head was mounted straight to its shoulder and looked like it had enough teeth in its short muzzle for a pair of Great Whites.  The same dead black eyes of those hunters of the deep glanced at me just as I spoke the word to release the pent up power building within me and directing it down the short length of the ivory wand. 

A lance of fire the diameter of a golf ball stuck the demon fair in the chest and tossed it through the plate glass at the front of the store.  It rolled twice and came up on all fours.  The momentum caused it to slide into the side of the Honda despite its claws trying to grasp concrete.  I saw the girl’s head peek over the door just before the demon’s bulk rocked the car up on two wheels, the roof hitting the gas pumps beside it.

“Holy CRAP,” I heard her say then she actually rolled up the window and locked the door.  She stared out the car’s window, wide-eyed but with no sign of panic.

The demon ignored something as trivial as a car and focused its attention on me.  It snarled, a rumble so low the sound was like a kettle drum in my stomach.  I noted Ivy ducking down behind the door as I circled to the right.  I needed to get the Honda out of my line of fire.  The demon obliged, circling as well, until it cleared the Honda as well as the gas pumps on the island beside the vehicle.


My fiery blast missed the demon as it leaped backwards landing atop the building next door.  Before it could move again, I struck.  “Sirocco!”

A great gust of hot wind lifted the demon into the air where is struggled like a beetle on its back.  Higher and higher it rose, helpless until it was lost from sight in the night sky, then down it plunged propelled by physics.  With a great crash it struck the center of the parking lot of the building next to the Quik-Mart, a closed martial arts dojo.  The velocity of the fall was something over a hundred miles an hour and even the hardy demon wasn’t up to that impact.  Though I was a good hundred feet away, I was sprayed with the ectoplasm of its body.

When a demon is summoned to the mortal world, it does not come here in a physical sense and so must form a body from which it can operate.  That body is made up of a substance we called ectoplasm.  Pretty much the stuff they talked about in Ghost Busters.  It was amazing how many things the movies seemed to get right.  Anyway, the demon went splat just about the time the building’s burglar alarm decided it was okay to come on now that the bad magic had moved out of the building.  I heard distance police cars rev up their sirens and decided to get the heck out of Dodge.

            Ivy screamed. "OH MY GOD DAD!!!”

I turned as she managed to get her door unlocked and bolted for the Quik-Mart.


Oh, boy, not good.


I moved toward the store with one eye on the demon.  Sometimes they take more than you expect.

“Where are you?!”

I could hear her pushing things around and the occasional crash of something glass.  The sirens got nearer.

            “DAAAAAAAAAAD!”  I heard her wail and my heart caught in my throat.

            That’s when I felt it.  A huge surge of magic.  Without thinking I bounded through the shattered plate glass window and found the girl trying to do CPR on her father.  I could see it was hopeless but that wasn’t the trouble.  Around her flowed a powerful magic that might be strong enough to rival my own.  It was raw and unfocused but I could feel it working, feel it reaching into the Underworld in search of her father’s lost soul.

“Daddy don't leave me too.”  Her eye were closed as her heart reached out for him, I could feel her tracking him through the Eternal Dark.  It another second, she would have him and I would have to kill her.

I grabbed her by the shoulders, squeezing hard enough to bruise flesh, and lifted her to her feet.  Shaking her like a cat would a mouse I bellowed “STOP IT!”

She opened her eyes and through the tears I saw her blue eyes focus on me.

“Fuck off.” She said quietly.

I slapped her across the face, and for a second I feared I might have misjudged my strength.  Her eyes lost focus and she started to fold up.  She reached for her father, physically this time.

“Never, ever do that again,” I said quietly.

She became docile but uncooperative and I more or less dragged her out of the Quik-Mart through the gaping hole in the back wall.

“Let me go,” she said, the note of total helplessness broke my heart.  Sometimes being a wizard sucked.  How do you tell a little girl like this she can’t save her father and bring him back to life?

She looked up at me but I knew she couldn’t see my features under my hat.

“Let me go,” she said calmly.  “I need to be with my dad.”

I ignored her and steered her toward my truck a couple of blocks away.

            “He's gone,” I said with a harshness I didn’t feel.  I didn’t want to be so brutal with her but we needed to get out of here before the cops showed up.

“No, no,” she whispered.

I drew her close, letting her see my eyes in the darkness.  “Yes,” I hissed then dragged her unresisting to the truck. 

I pulled open the driver’s door and shoved her in, forcing her to slide across to the other side as I got in.  She buried her face in her hands and sobbed.  I was such a bastard.  She looked up suddenly and grasped the door handle, pushing it open.  Without a word from me the wind shoved against the door and slammed it in her face before she could start to climb out.  Noir leaped into her lap from the back of the seat and settled down, purring.

I turned the key and stepped on the starter, the old engine rumbled to life.  Half-heartedly Ivy tried again with the door but it didn’t budge.  She gave up and began to stroke the cat.

We hadn’t gone two blocks before the first police car appeared.  I pulled over to the side to let it pass then continued on.

“What did you see?”  I asked her quietly.

“What?”  She blinked at me, a frown creasing her forehead.

“What did you see!”  This time I put steel in the question.  Even to me it sounded hard and demanding and very cold.

She hugged the door, Noir calmly purring on her lap.

“Nothing,” she said then “I don’t know what I saw.”

“Ivy,” I said softly.  “It’s important.  What did you see?”

She appeared to notice the cat for the first time.

“Did it look you in the eye?”

”No,” her voice was a soft as mine.  “What was that thing?”

I relaxed, checked to make sure I wasn’t speeding then pulled off my hat and tossed it on the dashboard.  Noir stood and pushed her cheek against Ivy’s chin, demanding to be scratched.  The girl was shivering and tears flowed freely.

“I am sorry about your father, I really am,” I said.  “It happened too fast for me to stop it.”

“What was it?”

I pulled onto the Bayshore and headed north into the city.

“He wasn’t gone,” she said.

I glanced at her, allowing her the first real look at my face.  Okay, so you’re expecting an old man, glasses, tweedy sport coat and all that, right?  No.  Actually that is the disguise, a spell I cast on myself to hide the fact that I only look about twenty-five rather than one hundred seventeen, or even eighty-five.  Wizards age slower than other mortals.  Another benefit.  So I’m 25, reasonably good looking, pretty athletic, 6’2” with sandy blonde hair and a goatee.  Oh and I have grey eyes, not that most people notice.  Most people won’t meet a wizard’s eye.  They don’t realize it of course as it’s a subconscious thing.  It nicely avoids a Soul Gaze but more on that later.

“Yes,” I said with all the conviction I could muster, “he was.”

“Who are you?” there was a sharp note in her voice, suspicious.

“Ash,” I said, simply.

She visibly struggled to control herself and succeeded admirably.

            “What was that that killed my dad,” she asked firmly.

            “It was a demon,” I said just as firmly.

            “Yeah right,” she sneered  “And you're an angel.”

            I followed the freeway toward the Bay Bridge.

            “No, human, exactly like you.”

            I took an exit for Nob Hill coming out on Telegraph.

            “Where are you taking me?”  She was getting suspicious again.

            “Noir says you have great power.”

            She frowned, those lines creasing her forehead again.  It really wasn’t a forehead for lines.

            “What are you talking about?”

            I turned off the busier street and started up a hill.

            “Look, just pull over and let me out.”

            I slowed the truck and turned into a narrow driveway following a high wood fence back to a garage.  It was painted the same soft coral color as the rest of the ancient Victorian house on the other side of the fence.

            “Not just yet . . . there are a few things you need to know first.”

            I climbed out of the truck, leaving it running, and pulled open one side of the garage's doors.  I heard her try the door again, but my little hex kept it firmly locked.

            As I turned around, she slid over behind the wheel and started grinding my gears, looking for reverse.  The truck stalled.  I stepped up to the driver’s window and looked at her.

            “I am not going to hurt you, Ivy.”  I told her softly.

            “No, just kidnap me, slap me around and rape me.”

            I pulled the door open, careful to stand behind it to give her a free shot at the street.

            “Go ahead,” I said, nodding to the street.  “If you wait out on the curb, I’ll call you a cab to take you anywhere you’d like.”

            Her face crumbled into tears.

            “Why did you take me!?” She demanded.

            “Two reasons,” I replied.  “First, it is my job to stop you from what you were about to do . . . or kill you if you had succeeded.”

            “Do what?” she looked puzzled  “All I was doing was helping my father.”

            “You were using magic,” I said but she didn’t seem to register the word.  “That was why I had to stop you from bringing him back.


            “Because what you would have brought back would not have been your father.” I explained then added “and it is the Law.”

            “Law?” She frowned again and again it didn’t look like it belonged on her. “What law?”

            “It is one of the Seven Laws of Magic,” I replied.

“Never heard of them!”

“No, I am sure you haven’t, but from that moment on, you became subject to them.”

“And why would that be?  ‘Cause you say so?”

“I don’t make the Laws, I just enforce them.” I told her.  “There is only one penalty for breaking any of the Seven Laws.”

I looked at her innocent face and was glad I won’t have to make a decision if this Ivy Nichols should live or die.  I was sure I wouldn’t carry out my duty.

“Death.”  I said.

“So you are going to kill me?”  It seemed to me she sounded more indignant than afraid.

“That’s why I stopped you from breaking the Law, so I wouldn’t have to.

“I totally don't know what you are talking about,” she said in a rush.  “Me and my dad were just out to get something to eat and you and your whatever showed up.”

“It was looking for you or your father,” I told her.

She paled.

“Me?” this time there was a little fear in her blue eyes.  “What for, I’m nobody.”

I offered my hand “Come inside.”

Ivy stepped down from the truck, Noir in her arm and sagged against it.  I caught her around the waist to keep her from falling and felt the line of her body against mine.  I became very aware of her ‘costume’ for a moment. We stepped away from the truck and I closed the door.  Reaching in through the window I grabbed the keys.

“Sirocco,” I murmured softly.

The old truck rolled forward like a tired old horse heading for its stable and stopped inside the garage.  The door closed behind it.  Ivy didn’t seem to notice.  Her reaction, or rather lack of it, was normal to me. People tended to disregard things that didn’t fit into their vision of the world.  Magic was one of those things that didn’t fit.  Neither did demons.

“This is just a bad dream,” she muttered to herself.

I was forced to dissuade her.  “No . . . it isn’t.”  I don’t think she really heard me.

            Pulling the gate open we stepped into a backyard that, though a riot of color, looked as if it had never known a gardener or a lawn mower.  When we reached the bottom of the stair, a particularly long set of stairs, I considered the trip up side by side with the girl sagging against me and decided it would be more efficient to . . . I scooped her up in my arms quite suddenly and elicited a surprised squeak out of her.  In a few seconds I set her again on her feet at the top and pushed the door to the kitchen open.

            “Please enter my home, Ivy Nichols.”

            To most people this formal invitation would seem odd and vaguely old-fashion but trust me, it was necessary.  Every house, every home really, develops a threshold of protection over the years, some, family homes, more powerful than others, say a single person living a solitary existence.  This threshold acts as a barrier to things magical and powers of magic.  Ivy could easily enter my home, and feel nothing but then she hasn’t become attuned to her magic yet.  That magic would take a serious hit, like a reduction in power of about twenty-five percent.  Though she didn’t understand it, what I was doing to her was giving her a great deal of blind faith trust.  If she were something other than what she appeared to be, she had just been given free reign of my home.

            She frowned at my words but she stepped into the kitchen without my support.  As I moved in behind her, I whispered “Aduro candela” and a dozen candles burst into flame.  I pulled out a chair from the antique oak table and gently seated her in it.  Turning to the wood burning stove, I opened the firebox and poked the coals to life before adding a new log.  Electric stoves hate magic, so do gas stoves for that matter.

            “Coffee or tea?”

“Tea,” she gave a little sniffle and stroked Noir.  “My books are in the car.”

“We’ll get them from the cops.”

“Don’t you believe in electricity?”

            I glanced at her  "Do you own a computer?  Or a cell phone?  Or a modern TV or radio?”

            “Nah, they are nothing but junk.”

            I nodded as I filled the pot and placed it on the burner.

            “So not everyone has to be into that stuff.”

“Milk?  Lemon?” I offered.


            From a cabinet I grabbed the honey bear and set it on the table as I did, Ivy tried to put Noir down but the cat seemed glued to her.

            “So how did you get the professor’s kitten?”

            “Noir?”  I smiled as Ivy gave up trying to remove the cat from her lap.


            “She is her own cat,” I told her, poking through the boxes of tea in the cabinet.  “Earl Grey?”

“I guess,” her indifference was to be expected.

“Or are you Americanized?”  I opened the tea box and spooned the Earl Grey into the tea ball.  “I have some orange pekoe in bags.”

“Whatever you want to make.”  Her voice trailed off, her thoughts drifting to her father.

            For a few moments I remained silent, taking the time to assemble the tea service.  After filling the teapot from the kettle, I placed the tea ball in and closed the lid.  I covered the pot with a cozy then lifted the tray and placed it on the table before her.  She was staring a hole in the oak.

            I filled two cups from the pot and placed one in front of her then took a seat.  She blindly picked up the honey bear and squeezed a good portion into the hot liquid before taking up the silver teaspoon and stirring.


She continued to swirl the honey in the cup

“Do you believe in magic?”

She blinked and looked at me, “Not really but sometimes I wondered.”

“Not really . . . so there is a possibility that you think it is real?”

“Sometimes I wonder.”

I put out my hand and whispered “Ignis”.  A small flame came to life in my palm, hovering an inch above my skin. Turning my hand the flame walked over my skin, always staying on top.  It stopped in my palm once more.

Ivy barely glanced at it “Okay, so you are a real good illusionist.  “Touch it,” I commanded and she lifted her finger to poke the flame.  With a gasp she snatched her hand back, covering the tip of the digit with her other hand

            “How are you doing that?”  She eyed the tiny flame as I closed my hand, extinguishing it.


            For the first time that night she seemed to focus on me to the point of meeting my eyes.  I let my gaze slip away from her face.  It was not the time for Soul Gazing.  In that brief glimpse I had seen past the pain to the incredulity.  She returned to stirring her tea.

            “Ivy . . .”  My voice softened.  “Humans can do magic . . . a very few.  Me . . . you.”

            She lifted her eyes to my face, the blue surrounded by red.

            “We have true power,”  Again the near Soul Gaze but this time she looked away.

            “I have no power,” her voice was dry and weak.  Quickly she sipped the honey-laced tea then set the cup down and folder her hands in her lap. Stared at her thumbs.

            “You have maybe as much power as I do,” I said “. . . you just don't know how to use it.”

            “Nothing makes sense,” she whispered.

After a pause, I said “Do you know what makes your magic work?”

“No I don't,” There was a touch of a sneer in her tone but it changed back to something very lost.  “I never thought about magic.”

“It isn't your intelligence . . . “I told her.  “Your intelligence can be fooled.”

She glanced up at me, frowning.

“You have to will it to work . . . like you almost did tonight.”

”He’s all I have . . . had,” her voice broke.

”You were calling on the power of the Netherworld to release your father,”   I said softly.  “That is dark, evil magic . . . We can all do dark magic and the sorcerers can do light magic, it’s all a matter of choice.”

I reached across the table, my hand drawing her attention from her lap.

“What you were doing is called necromancy . . . “ I explained.  “Thou shalt not reach beyond the borders of life.  It is the sixth law.”


To be continued

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