Systems of Magic

Levi’s final keystroke echoed in his ears. 

He couldn’t believe he’d finished it. After five long years of effort, he’d written out the entire system of magic for his high fantasy novels. He’d figured out the three Orders of Magic, Words of Power, the Bloodlettings, the Wurgs and other magical beings, staffs and wands and rings, Runic Inscriptions, and all the rest. It was perfect.

There would be a series of twelve books, at least. He held the rough outline of the plot in his head, but there were a lot of details to work out still. He knew the Lost Prince would be born as prophesied, learn to fight with weapons of steel and magic from the White Wizards, and finally enter the Dark Keep by stealth for a final, heroic battle, but he still had to work out how to fit the Red Wizards and the Wurgs into the story. He figured it would take at least four more years to outline the entire plot, but now that he had a 147 page document detailing how magic worked in the world he had christened “Magitania” he could at least get started on the story itself. 

The last page of the system of magic shot out of the printer, and Levi smiled. He stayed in his chair until he’d confirmed that the document had been saved to both his local drive and the cloud. It didn’t pay to take chances with such an important work. Satisfied with his accomplishment, he swiveled away from his desk to enjoy what was left of an evening for the first time in years.

There came an explosive pop in the room as he stood up. It could have been mistaken for a balloon bursting, but Levi recognized the monosyllabic burst as the Word of Arrival, documented on page 92 of his just completed treatise on the magic of Magitania. It was the sound a wizard made to drop out of the Aether after an astral walk. 

Levi shook his head and mumbled to himself. Maybe, he thought, it would be best to take a short vacation before beginning his plot outline. He figured that he was just imagining things.

He screamed when he saw the Red Wizard.

The Wizard was robed and hooded thoroughly in blood-red fabric that shimmered even as the wearer stood stock-still. The obscured Wizard held a staff loosely in the left hand, and a wand in the right. Each finger of each hand bore a ring covered in tiny engraved runes. The skin on the fingers—the only flesh revealed by the copious robes—were nearly as crimson as the garment.

Oh, shit, Levi thought to himself, this is either really bad or really good. He hadn’t figured out the Red Wizards yet.

A voice rasped from beneath the hood.

“You now know much, Master Levi.”

Levi shrugged. “So?”

“You know too much for one who dwells in this world. You are a danger.”

The Wizard spoke another sharp Word of Power, and Levi slumped to the floor. Then the wand disappeared inside the red robe and the Wizard’s free hand snatched the pages from the printer. 

“This,” the Wizard held the loose pages triumphantly, “will make me the most powerful in all of Magitania!”

Then with another sharp Word, the Wizard disappeared, leaving Levi crumpled on the floor.

Outside, a Wurg howled.

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