Category Archives: magic

The Education of PoppenSparkle… Canto 7

Canto 7 – Dat Killah Nite

When Fairies die, at least, when the good ones die, they do not leave a corpse behind.  The magical energy they are made of, originating from the sun, disperses into the air, sometimes leaving tiny bones behind, but usually leaving nothing. 

When the corrupted minions of the Unseely Court, the evil Fairies, die, they turn back into the mud and clay they were originally animated from.

So, a battlefield of a great Fairy battle would look exactly like the Arcanum looked as the little band of Fairies led by Flute entered into its vastness.

“The bodies of Gobbuluns are everywhere,” said Flute as he pointed out several lumps of Wartole-shaped mud and clay.  There were a couple of Cyclopes-shaped mud piles as well.

“There was a huge battle here?” asked Tod.

“Obviously.  First the dead Trolls, and now this.”  Flute shook his head sadly.

“Did our side win?” asked Poppy.

“There’s no way to tell.  If the Fey Children won, there should be living soldiers and Fairy beasts on the field.  The dead have returned to the air.”

“But, Flute, perhaps the winners have already left for home.  You don’t know for sure that we lost.”  Tod looked extremely upset.

“We shall see.  We must search the battlefield,” said Flute as he picked up a fallen banner from the Castle Cornucopia.

Glumly they continued to search the battlefield.

Suddenly, little Schtinker in Poppy’s lap became highly agitated.

“Dat killah nite!” cried the squirming boy Sylph.

“What are you talking about?”

The Sylph pointed at a silhouette on the top of a nearby knoll.  It appeared to be an armored Sylph knight astride a ridinghawk.  Next to him was a younger Sylph astride a pigeon.

“Hail and well met!” called the knight.  “You are late to the battle, Prinz Flute.”

“Lord Lancelot!  How did the battle go?”

With a short swoop, the hawk brought the famous knight near to where the roosters had stopped.  To their credit, neither rooster flinched at the presence of a red-tailed hawk.

“We would’ve lost had not the yon squire known as the Rascal and I cleverly used my immortality as a Storybook to slay the remaining Gobbuluns from the air after the Legion of Cornucopia overwhelmed the Dark Lord Ebon Sneezer.”

“None other of the Cornucopians survived?” asked Tod in horror.

“The Castle Guard remains at Castle Cornucopia,” said Lord Lancelot.  “All the rest are dead.”

The Rascal on his pigeon fluttered up.  “Lord, we must return to the castle quickly!  The Storr and Lord Toxiss will be sending a siege army there.  They will be overwhelmed without us!”

The Rascal looked at Lancelot with an expression of urgency on his young, dark-eyed face.  The knight looked back at him exhausted and pale.

“We go, then.  Prinz Flute, we need your aid, both magical and swordical.  Or our ally, King Mouse, will be lost.”

 Almost immediately the hawk launched into the air.

The Rascal looked at Flute and his companions, smiled a weak, dispirited smile, and took off on the pigeon.

“We no go wid dat killah nite!” protested Schtinker.  “Heem will murdah all ob us!”

“What is the urchin saying?” asked Tod.

“I think he saw Lancelot kill the other trolls and is afraid he will kill us too,” said Poppy.

“Nonsense.  He’s a great knight and trusted friend.”  Flute shot a disgusted glare at the child.

“Heem let alla guyz in heem armies fit furst,  den heem killah alla Trollz wayne dey iz dead.”

“Is he saying that Lord Lancelot wastes the lives of his troops even though he’s immortal himself?” asked Glitter.

“Surely not.  The little stinker doesn’t really know how to speak the Slow Ones’ English,” said Tod.

Poppy tried to calm Schtinker.  But he was deeply agitated.  And as to whether Schtinker could talk or not, she wondered at the fact that Lancelot had used the word, “swordical.”

“The situation is dire, no matter how you look at it,” said Flute.  “So, we go to Castle Cornucopia immediately.”

They spurred the roosters to run to the northwest.  But Poppy did not feel good about it.

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The Education of Poppensparkle… Canto 4

Canto 4 – The Road to Cornucopia

The rooster riding was easier than Poppy had anticipated.  These chickens were not quite the same as the ones she had known back in the Necromancer’s city of Mortimer’s Mudwallow.   And Seltzerwater and Tannehauser were both apparently smarter than any chicken she had known in the Necromancer’s little river town.

Still, the first day’s progress was slow.  The cornfields that they navigated were often obstructed by foxes, pheasants, and an occasional farmer on a tractor.

They would end up making camp along the southern bank of the creek the Fairies called Pallas’s Slow Water.  They were somewhere to the West of Mortimer’s Mudwallow.  Poppy’s sister, Derfentwinkle, was now the ruler of the Mudwallow after helping the good Fairies to capture it and destroy the evil Necromancer.  It made her wonder why Flute hadn’t led them there for the first night’s rest.  They would surely be welcome.  But maybe he had some reason for not wanting her sister to know she was traveling with her new masters.

As camp was set up by Flute and Tod, Glittershine and Poppy settled the roosters.  Their reins were tied to long ropes of at least three English-measure feet so the roosters could scratch for weevils, aphids, ants, and worms.  Glitter was talking softly to Tannehauser, so Poppy tried talking to Seltzerwater. 

“You were a very good boy, Seltzer.  Tod let me guide you with the reins and I had no problems controlling you.  You are very unlike the chickens we had in Mortimer’s Mudwallow.”

“I understand you had a very hard life in your previous home,” Glitter broke into her conversation with Seltzer.  “Can you tell me a little about it?”

“Very little.  When Derfie, my sister, rescued me from there, the White Stag entered my mind and removed most of the memories of the times when the Necromancer abused me.  And since that was almost all of the times I was ever with the Necromancer, I can’t even remember his name.”

“That must have been terrible.”

“Yes.  Even with the memories removed, I still have nightmares.”

“You know that you and I are supposed to work on your spellbook this evening.  To do that, we must remove the garments that shield our minds and bodies…”

“Oh, good!  I will get to be naked once more.”

“I was afraid that your trauma might prevent you from doing that.  I understand that the Necromancer controlled your mind and body…”

“Yeah.  But I was always freeist whenever I could take wing with nothing on my body but sunlight.  These clothes are the things that make me panicky and uncomfortable.  I don’t remember it, but the Necromancer had strange fetishes that involved putting things on me.”

“Well, I am glad it won’t be a problem then.  There’s a space under those purple thistles that will work fine for our session of magical translations.”

Poppy was delighted to bounce over to the indicated thistle patch and shed what little clothing she wore.  Glittershine had a double-layer riding dress on, and that took her longer.  She was, however, quite graceful and beautiful once she was nude.  And she took care of laying out the spellbook and writing quills.

“Poppy, you must say or sing the spells in your magical imagination.  The spells will come to me by magic, and I will let them  flow through me, so that I might write them down on the paper.  That is how we translate the magic within you into words in your spellbook.”

“What is magic… exactly?  What is it made of?”

“That’s a very good question.  In fact, that is part of Prinz Flute’s magical quest.  We have talked endlessly with the White Stag about codifying magic in a way that makes it like the Slow Ones and how they developed  the thing called Science.  It allows them to have their talking wires and tellybizhions and caddylacks and things.”

“So, Science is Slow One Magic?”

“Or Fairy Magic is Fairy Science.”

 As they got into it, Poppy sang out the beautiful magics she held inside, the ones the Necromancer never found out about.  And none of the magic the Necromancer taught her was still there in her head, messing up her mind with muddy magic.

Page after page after page filled with Poppy’s own signature magic.  By the time she could remember nothing more, half the spellbook was already full.

“You have an amazing amount of spells here for an apprentice, Poppy.  But your strongest spells seem to all be about polymorphing.”

“Polymorphing?”

“Yes, changing the shape of other Fairies, animals, other Fairy creatures, and even probably yourself.  You can actually change Butterfly Children into birds and back again if you need to.  You can give wings to frogs and spider-legs to rabbits.  Though, I doubt we will ever have a need for that.”

“I suppose I can use my imagination.  But, my imagination might turn a little dark at times… thanks to my past.”

Glitter smiled at Poppy as Glitter slipped her clothing back on.  

“We have set up separate lean-tos for each of us.  We need to get in them and sleep.  Flute and I will share the watch during the night.  You two have to recover from the magic generation,” said Tod with obvious concern for how tired they both looked.

“In the morning, then,” said Glitter.

And the temporary camp settled down for the night.

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The Adventure of Reading Something New

I can travel through time. I can fly without an airplane. I can visit other worlds, other societies, on distant planets elsewhere in the galaxy.

I don’t do it literally. I do it by reading, and the movie version of it plays in my mind, an additional lifetime. Experience beyond the boundaries of my normal life.

I have rafted on the Mississippi in the 1830’s with an escaped slave and a couple of con men who pretend to be a duke and the rightful king of France. And the voice of Huckleberry Finn guides me as we overcome ignorance, racism, and an inability to get away from the things that pursue a boy who doesn’t quite understand how the world really works until he finally gets it right by listening to his heart.

I have fought giant squid with a whaling harpoon alongside Ned Land and Captain Nemo on the deck of the Nautilus, trying to comprehend the wonders under the sea without the villainous robber barons of industry turning scientific discoveries into the business of making war.

I have grown up on the Great Plains with Peta (Fire) of the Mahto band of the Dakota Sioux, learning to live with the spiritual power of the white buffalo in Ruth Beebe Hill’s book Hanta Yo! written from a story told by a Sioux painting on a ceremonial buffalo hide.

And all these many lives and wisdoms that I have added to my own I have achieved by the magic of deciphering… reading and understanding… books, many of which were written by men who died before I was born.

Anyone who would say that magic isn’t real… well, how do you explain the power of a good book?

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Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

It is, of course, one of the most powerful, masterful, and best-known pieces of music ever written.

Mozart completed the “little serenade” in Vienna in 1787, but it wasn’t published until 1827, long after Mozart’s untimely death.

The Serenade is incorrectly translated into English as “A Little Night Music”. But this is and always has been the way I prefer to think of it. A creation of Mozart written shortly before he hopped aboard the ferryman’s boat and rode off into the eternal night. It is the artifact that proves the art of the master who even has the word “art” as a part of his name. A little music to play on after the master is gone to prove his universal connection to the great silent symphony that is everything in the universe singing silently together.

It is basically what I myself am laboring now to do. I have been dancing along the edge of the abyss of poverty, suffering, and death since I left my teaching job in 2014. I will soon be taking my own trip into night aboard the ferryman’s dreaded boat. And I feel the need to put my own art out there in novel and cartoon form before that happens.

I am not saying that I am a master on the level of a Mozart. My name is not Mickart. But I do have a “key’ in the name Mickey. And it will hopefully unlock something worthwhile for my family and all those I loved and leave behind me. And hopefully, it will provide a little night music to help soothe the next in line behind me at the ferryman’s dock.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 14

When You Wish Upon a Broom

I woke up to find myself in the red-velvet interior of one of Master Eli’s coat pockets.  I was obviously considerably smaller than my normal two and a half inches of height.

“I’m sorry, Master.  I know I am not supposed to misuse the Magic Hat.  But I couldn’t help it.  It was there.  And I wanted a girlfriend so badly…”

“Mickey, I don’t even have to punish you.  You’ve already gotten the consequences you deserve.  You can’t have sex with one…”

“Master?  How do I stop these aggressive brooms?” the quiet boy said sounding on the edge of desperation.

“…let alone TWO brooms!  You should have used the animate object spell on one of those limestone statues Dizzyglitter is always carving.  At least they are supposed to look like Sylphs.  What are the brooms’ names, Mickey?”

“Merrydew and Cannabis,” Mickey squeaked.

“Give them new orders by name, Bob.”  The Master’s voice seemed to be suppressing a slight chuckle.

I climbed up to the edge of the pocket and looked out.

“Merrydew, sweep the floors.  Cannabis, alphabetize the potion bottles.”

I saw the two brooms stop chasing Bob and take up their new tasks.  Mickey was laid up on the exam table, his body naked except for fur and a huge bandage on his personal love parts.  I was pretty sure that was the consequences the Master spoke of, but I didn’t want to think about how it came to be.

Then I looked up and saw Master Eli looking down at me and picking me up in his gloved left hand.  He lifted me up in front of his scowling face.

“You, I believe have been a very naughty girl, Derfentwinkle.  What do you have to say for yourself?”

“I am very sorry, Master Eli.  I was always planning to return to your service.  But the crows contacted me by telepathy and told me where to find my friend Dollinglammer.  And she had news of my poor sister.”



“You left with some of the magic given you by the Magic Hat, but none of the training you were supposed to get from me.”

“Are you going to punish me?”

“Well, of course not.  What did a student ever learn from being punished beyond how much they should hate their teacher?  You saw the White Stag inside the hat.  That means you were chosen and must stay with me until your quest is completed.”

“My quest?  Is it to free the village of Mortimer’s

Mudwallow?”

“No, of course not.  I mean, the Stag doesn’t tell me much about the future.  Just that you have a quest and we are tasked with helping you.”

He put me gently down on the cold stone floor, took a vial of purple liquid from one of his other pockets, and sprinkled some on my head.  With dizzying suddenness, I was normal-sized again.

“We need to dress you in an apprentice’s robe like Mickey is supposed to be wearing if the sex-crazed brooms hadn’t torn it off him.”

“No.  I don’t wear clothes.  None of my family ever has.”

“It’s not an option.  You need to wear a protective enchantment, both from Bluebottom’s mind control and Master Pippen’s influence spells.”

“Does it have to be a robe?  Bob doesn’t wear a robe.”

“Do you want an enchanted leather jerkin like Bob wears?  Complete with magical advertising signs for our Sorcery business?”

“No, ah…  can it be a necklace, or a hat?”

“Not to hold the spell powers I will make it with.”

“You can wear your apprentice robe open in the front like I do.  I like to show off my manly abs,” said Mickey.

“I can probably make a cloak or a cape,” Master Eli suggested.

“Why do so many Sylphs prefer to be nude?” quiet Bob asked Master Eli.

“Sylphs are naturally immune to heat and cold, so they don’t need clothing to protect them from those things.  And they like the freedom of movement they have with nothing binding to wear.  They don’t need clothes the way Elves and Slow Ones and Brownies do.  There are even Elves that make magical necklaces, collars, and rings to keep them warm or cool so they can be nude also.”

“But some of us just like to be naked all the time,” I said, not really understanding why Bob didn’t know that already.

Bob was looking at me as I stood there naked in front of him.  He had a shy smile on his cute face.  It gave me an unexpected thrill to realize it.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 13

Angry Wizards Aren’t Good for Your Health

On the way back to the willow castle Bert and Homer were reciting some kind of comedy routine they had seen on some Slow One’s tele-bish-yawn set at what they called the Nurse-Sing Home.  It was something done by two Slow Ones named Cabbit and Klaustello.  It was talking about a bees-ball team.  And the dumb guy, Klaustello wanted to know the name of the guy on first base.  But the other guy didn’t understand the question because the team had stupid names.  And then they both got really mixed up, but the dumb guy got boiling mad about Who’s on First?  It really wasn’t all that funny.

“Why does Klaustello care if the first guy’s name is Who?” Derfentwinkle asked.

“What kind of game is bees-ball anyway?” I asked.

“It is the All-Mermerrican Sport,” said Homer.

“I think they take a bunch of angry bees and make them into a ball to throw at the players of the other team,” said Bert

“And the other team takes their bees-ball bat and try to defend themselves from the stings by swatting the angry ball of bees,” said Homer.

I began to think it was funny when I pictured in my head the expression on the face of the bat when the stupid Slow One grabbed it by the feet and swung it at a ball of bees.

But most of the time, only the two crows thought it was funny.

And then we all landed safely on the roof of Cair Tellos’s main keep.

“Arrest them all immediately!” shouted the Wizard Pippen.  The pentagram on his chest-plate was glowing with bright blue protection magic.

“Not Bob the apprentice.  He’s Master Tragedy’s loyal student,” argued Prinz Flute, the faun-child who was Pippen’s only son.

“If he was supposed to be guarding the prisoner and let her escape, then he deserves the punishment too.  Set up the chopping block right here, right now.”

The crows took off almost instantly.  Dollinglammer used her butterfly wings to follow them before the Sylphs with the halberds could grab her.  But Derfentwinkle and I were both caught.

The Executioner of Cair Tellos in his jet-black hood and black-banded armor set up the wooden chopping block right in front of us.  A guard pushed me down to it so that my neck was against the place on the chopping block carved to fit it.  I was about to really lose my head, and I was not happy about it.

“Father, please, they were returning to the castle.  How do you know that Bob didn’t recapture her, and was bringing her back to us?”

“You are right, son.  We shouldn’t cut his head off first.”

The Sylphs with the halberds picked me up again and forced Derfie down to take my place.

“Here, now!  Those children belong to me.  You overstep your authority in doing this!” shouted Master Eli as he showed up, red-faced and huffing with the effort of his climb up to where we were captured.

“If you punish them yourself, we’ll just end up with more pigeons around here.  What’s the lesson learned from that?  More fat pigeons?”

“A better lesson learned by far than if you cut off their heads.  Students learn nothing without their heads attached.  At least when they have their heads still on there’s a chance of beating sense into them.  Or do you have a head-reattaching spell I don’t know about?”

“Okay, but I won’t have young Sylphs who are supposed to be prisoners flying out of here to go tell my secrets to the evil elves in the swamp.  Or that Bluebottom friend of yours.”

“Oh, believe me.  They will tell me more secrets of his than they will ever tell him about you.”

Then Master Eli tilted a vial of potion over Derfentwinkle’s head, instantly shrinking her down almost to nothing before picking her up and putting her away in a side-pocket of his red overcoat.

“Be warned, Sorcerer.  You are not above suspicion yourself.” Growled the Wizard Pippen.

“Come with me, Bob.  We have lots of work ahead of us.”  Master Eli stormed away from the fuming wizard and I scurried after him with one hand on my recently-threatened neck.

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Seasons of the Heart

My novel Snow Babies is free to own from Amazon in ebook form this weekend. The link is at the end of this essay.

My mother passed away at the end of September this year. My father succumbed to Parkinson’s on my birthday in November of 2020. Because my wife is a Jehovah’s Witness, we haven’t celebrated Christmas as a family since 1995. I am not going with my wife and daughter on the Hawaii Trip they are taking with my wife’s sisters and their kids over the current holiday break. So, I guess you could argue a little bit of depression would not be abnormal if it set in.

But that’s not where my head is at.

I will be spending the holiday at home with the Sorcerer Eli Tragedy and his apprentices Bob and Mickey.the wererat. I have a new laptop that I am trying to learn how to use even though Chromebook doesn’t use Windows 10 and it is like trying to make the computer dance even though I apparently have to learn Mandarin Chinese to do it. I am attempting to use both the new and the old computers to try and write this essay.

If you didn’t understand that last paragraph at all, well. that’s probably because you didn’t remember I am a novelist, and Eli Tragedy’s home is in the novel I am writing, The Necromancer’s Apprentice.

Writing takes me away from the current holiday situation. In fact, it takes me away from reality.

A Butterfly-Child Fairy

The main characters in my novel are three inches tall or shorter. All of them. And they live in a castle built inside a willow tree.

Yes, a fairy tale full of magic and the battle between good and evil, love and hatred.

And Eli Tragedy is a practical old elf who teaches magic by being as pragmatic as a sorcerer with no magical power of his own can possibly be. Sorta the way my own father taught me his practical-farmer’s-son work ethic. He taught me to paint the house, re-shingle the roof after a tornado, change the oil in the car, repair a broken toilet, and anything else that might come up. He was good with his hands and excellent at problem-solving.

And my mother was always the master of Christmas magic. She was the one who organized the decoration of the Christmas tree. And even more important, she was in charge of all the holiday meal-planning and cooking. That is certainly the most important magical ability you can have at this time of year.

I have to admit, I had to stop and cry a little bit twice during the writing of this essay. But it is not a sad essay. I have Thanksgiving and Christmas memories that span from 1960 (the first ones I can remember) to 1995. And you carry more than just holiday spirit and Christmas cheer along with you in memories through the years. In those memories, not just my mother and father are still alive. Granpa and Grandma Beyer would still be alive along with Great Grandpa Raymond celebrating at their house in Mason City with the bubble lights on the tree and the carved wooden Santa that Uncle Skip had made in the 1940s with a pockte knife.

At Grandpa and Grandma Aldrich’s farm, not only are both of my grandparents putting food on the table, with turkey and ham balls, sweet potatoes baked with marshmellows, multiple bowls of mashed potatoes, and crates of apples and oranges for all the families, but Uncle Larry is still alive and cracking jokes in the kitchen. Aunt Ruth (Grandma Aldrich’s sister) and Uncle Dell (her husband) are holding court in the living room on the couch, Uncle Dell managing to complain about everything, especially the many kids (all of whom were me and my cousins) and how he didn’t like kids (although he loved to tell us stories about life in DesMoines after we grew up a bit and were closer to being adults.) And Karen (whom we just lost to Covid) is there listening, probably more to Uncle Larry’s jokes than Uncle Dell’s complaints.

They are all gone now. But not really gone. They live in me. Just as, one day, I will live in the memories of those who knew and loved me. And I will not be alone this Christmas. Not really alone. Not as long as I can remember.

This is the book that’s free this weekend. Click the link. Get a copy. There’s more actual Christmas story in this book than the one I will be writing this Christmas.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 9

The Mysterious Magic Hat

When Mickey and I heard that we were going to use the Magic Hat, Mickey got really excited.  It was his turn to put on the ceremonial robe and bring out the hat.

“So, you do have the Magic Hat?” the girl Derfentwinkle asked while frowning.

“You know about that?  What did Bluebottom tell you about it?”

“Nothing.  But I read it in a letter he was writing.  It’s a rare magic item that used to belong to Dezmodotto the Scroll and Sword Wizard.  He believed you got hold of it when Dezmodotto died.”

“When Bluebottom killed him, you mean.”

“I didn’t know that part, but yes.”

“Everything that Derfie just said is true.  Master Eli, however…” began Kack.

“Shut up, Kackenfurchtbar!” ordered Master Eli.

Meanwhile, Mickey had run to the vault-closet, used the key, and came back wearing the red apprentice robe and carrying the red, conical Magic Hat.

“I did it, Master!  I brought the hat, and it didn’t turn me into a pigeon, and it didn’t suck out all my brainpower and make me stupid.”

“You mean it didn’t make you more stupid,” said Master Eli with a chuckle.

“Yes… um, I guess so.”  Mickey put the hat on the floor between Master Eli and Derfentwinkle. 

The hat itself was impressive.  It was tall and stiff and red… covered with golden-yellow sigils and symbols.

Master Eli picked it up and immediately pulled another hat out of it.  Another exact copy of the original hat.

“Here, Derf.  Put this on your pointy head.”

“What is it going to do?  Sort me into the proper house in the castle?”

“Ha!  No!  It’s good that you know about Slow Ones’ children’s literature, especially all the way from England.  But this hat will judge whether you are evil or not.  It may empty all the magic out of your head.  Or it may turn you into a pigeon.  I am interested to see.”

He put one of the two copies of the hat on Derfentwinkle’s head.  Then he put the other on Mickey’s head.

“Why on my head?”  Mickey squeaked.

“Because there may be secrets and spells that can alter the brain, and I don’t want them transferred into my head.”

Mickey looked at Derfentwinkle with horrified eyes.

“I know it is your turn to be the apprentice for this,” I told Mickey.  “But if you are afraid, I will take the hat… if you need me to.”

“No, quiet boy.  There won’t be anything that the mouse-boy won’t like.  He’ll be okay.”  She looked at me with what I hoped was a trustworthy look.

The hat on Derfentwinkle’s head began to hum… sort of.  And at the same time Mickey’s eyes began to cross.

“MMMM!  There it is!  The sex magics!” crowed Mickey as his rat tail began to stiffen and twirl in small circles behind him.

Derfentwinkle appeared to be in pain.  She dropped the plastic bottle containing the bottle imp, and held her stomach with both arms as if that’s where it hurt the most.  I was concerned for her.  Especially when her eyes dilated and she seemed to be staring through all of us with black orbs for eyes.

Then, mercifully, it all came to a stop.

“Aw, no!  Where did the sex magics go?  They were right here in my head.  I knew how to do wonderful things.”

“Mickey, the hat absorbed all the evil spells.  And then it recorded all the good ones.  Just like it was meant to do,” said Master Eli.

“Oh, but I wanted to…”

“What?  What did you want to do?”

“Um… I don’t know.  The Magic Hat took it all out of my head again.”

“Just like it was meant to do.  You were too young for any of that nonsense anyway.”

“Um, I am not feeling well,” said Derfentwinkle.  “Can I lie down and sleep a little?”

She began to topple over, and I caught her up in both arms.  She was really rather light to carry for a girl who was actually slightly taller than me.

“Well, the poor girl has just been through a wringer,” Master Eli said. 

“Do I lay her down in the Harpy cage?” I asked, looking sadly at her unconscious face.”

“No, Bob.  Take her to your bed… um, on second thought, take her to my bed.  Let her sleep on the soft mattress there.  But stay next to her.  If she tries to escape or do something evil, you will need to kill her.  But don’t get blood on my nice blankets.”

“How will she do evil in this state?” I asked.

“Oh, she won’t.  Most likely you will just need to guard her and make her comfortable.  If she has the wizard-skill I think she does, then she is going to be a very valuable property.  So, be kind and take good care of her.

“Why does Bob get to do that good stuff, and not me?” complained Mickey.

“Because, although he’s not very bright.  He’s smarter than you are, Mickey.” The stinky little wererat grumbled darkly as I carried the limp girl up the stair to the upper tower and gently placed her on master’s nice, soft bed.

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A Walk in the Park

We have across the street from our house an extensive green-belt park. It meanders through the city along a controlled and, often, brick-walled creek. It is really a portion of the city’s drainage system that prevents more of the horrible flooding that occurred in Texas cities in the 1980’s and 1990’s, As you can see, if you need to exercise for your heart-and-joint health, it is a perfect spot for a nice, long walk and think. So, today I am thinking about what I walked and thought about.

Mini-Wizards

I started my walk thinking about my current work in progress. It is called The Necromancer’s Apprentice. And it is a story about a fairy society filled with tiny, three-inch-tall magical people. They live in a castle-city made from a living, hollow willow tree. The city is under attack by an evil Necromancer (a death-wizard) who wants something unknown from the wizards in the city. Eli Tragedy is a sorcerer representing the good guys. He has two apprentices already, quiet Bob and chaotic Mickey the were-rat. And he captures the necromancer’s apprentice, and instead of killing her like his superiors want, he makes her into his own third apprentice. He’s a good wizard because he helps students learn and values them as people. The bad guy is the opposite. He is evil because he’s focussed on his own power and wealth, and he’s wasteful of the lives and suffering of others. So, in many ways, he is like a Republican politician in the real world.

The Great Books You Have Read Make You Who You Are

So, I began thinking about what the necromancer’s favorite great work of literature is. Obviously, it would be former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s favorite book, Atlas Shrugged. In that book, the hero John Galt asserts the notion that only certain people, creative types like himself and Ayn Rand and, presumably, Paul Ryan have the right to design the proper life for everybody. And they are capable of doing anything and getting away with it for the reason that it is in the best interests of everybody, even if it kills the poor and other lesser people.

This recognized classic book of fiction supporting a selfish philosophy is the reason why we have things like Reaganomics, Trump tax cuts, and border walls. The perfect explanation to certain readers of, “All the reasons why I should turn to evil.” It obviously is a book read and loved by not only Paul Ryan, but other important weasels in charge of everything like Senator Ted “Cancun” Cruz, Senator Mitch “Turtle Man” McConnell, and former Presidential Advisor Steve “The Human Sweat-stain” Bannon.

A good wizard (or Sorcerer) would have read and been influenced more probably by some of the great books of Uncle Boz, um, I mean, Charles Dickens. His is a much gentler and more generous philosophy which finds value in forlorn and mislaid individuals like Sydney Carton, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, or Tiny Tim. I know these books of magic are the ones I choose to battle evil wizards in my own life.

So, if great books made me, perhaps I can write my great book with heroes influenced by Dickens and villains influenced by Ayn Rand.

The Final Turn of the Park’s Sidewalk

As I head homeward from my walk in the park, I have two things gained from the exercise. My legs and back are very tired. And my head is boiling over with things I need to write.down.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 6

The Cage

They put one of those magic-absorbing collars around my neck and tied a leash to it.  Then they gave the leash over to the quiet boy in the blue jerkin while the mouse-boy and the gnarled old sorcerer tied my hands behind my back.

“So, can we learn sex magic by using this captive?” said the rather loud and obnoxious mouse-boy.

“Shut up, Mickey,” said the sorcerer.  “There’s no such thing as sex magic.”

Of course, the sorcerer was wrong about that.  I had learned necromantic sex magic from the necromancer.  He had taught me the life-force-sucking kiss spell from the goblins he let me suck dry to practice.  He also taught me the full-body magic transfer.  If the sorcerer knew that, it must’ve been the reason he lied to the mouse-boy.

The quiet boy led me by the leash, but only very carefully, not trying to jerk me forward or make the leash hurt me.  He had golden hair and the prettiest blue eyes I had ever seen on a Sylph boy.  His blue jerkin had a sign sewn to the front that read, “Never kick the apprentice if the master is near.”  He wasn’t wearing pants under the jerkin, only a white loin cover that he apparently had tucked in carefully.  I admired his firm, round buttocks.  But, of course, I wasn’t about to tell him that.

They took me into the castle in the willow tree.  And my mouth surely dropped open at the sight.  It was beautiful. 

The iron gate was built into the roots of the tree with gatehouse towers carved directly out of the willow wood.  But, no… not carved… shaped by magic, as I sensed with my magic tingle.

The inner court was all carved wood, as the willow was practically hollow all the way up to where the limbs branched away into the darkness above.  The numerous stairs, landings, walkways, and castle-room facades were all lit by fairy candles which were both small, and exceedingly bright.

“This is our home, Derfentwinkle,” said the quiet boy.

He knew my name?  And that was how the sorcerer took my power over Kack, the Demon Head, away from me.  I resolved to learn their names next.  I knew the mouse-boy was Mickey.

“It’s nothing like the mudhole where I live,” I said.  “What is your name, quiet boy?”

“Don’t tell her, Bob.  She doesn’t need to know it.”

“Shut up, Mickey.  My name is Bob.  As the wererat just told you.”  He smiled at me, and a thrill went down my spine.

The sorcerer led us all up a winding stair that led to an audience chamber.  There was a big, burly Sylph sitting on the throne, but he was no mere warrior-king.  The pentagram on his chest glittered with magical energy.  I got a powerful tingle from it.  He was definitely a wizard… and definitely the boss here.  Why was he sitting on the throne of Wotan, the deceased Erlking?

The sorcerer then pulled me in front of him.

“This girl is Derfentwinkle, the necromancer’s apprentice.  It turns out that her master is old Bluebottom, my former classmate, better known to you as Kronomarke, waster of time and slayer of the Good Knight Pollinard.”

“She was driving the bone-walker?”

“Yes, with the help of a severed demon head to use as a repository of her master’s magic.”

“And why haven’t you killed her yet, Eli?”

The question chilled me to the bone.  The wizard’s guards stepped forward, lowering their halberds.

“Because I chose not to.  She’s my captive.  I choose to keep her for whatever usefulness she might have.  She knows little magic and is not a danger to us.”

“I hope you are right about that, Eli Tragedy.  Your very name means you can be disastrously wrong.”

“She’s really quite plain-looking, ugly even…” remarked a fat, bug-like Pixie courtier.

I glared at him until he turned his stupid bug eyes towards his fat ladybug wife.

“Very well, then.  But keep her safely in the cage you built to hold the harpy Sir Launcelot captured during the last siege.”

Up to that point, I had believed I could escape any time I really wanted to.  But a cage built to hold a harpy?  I would never escape that with lockpicking skills.  And what if the harpy was still inside? 

My mind was made up, however.  If they weren’t going to kill me immediately, then I didn’t intend to escape.

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