• The Art of Magic


    The Center for the Training of the Arts is located at 343 West Pine St, in Swansea, Massachusetts. It is a rather low, wide brick building, with fake shutters and many windows. If you enter the building, you see a long hallway with doors on both sides, and another hall turning to the left. Each door is labeled with a large, cheerful sign proclaiming exactly what Art that particular room specializes in. A large, open, mirrored room is dedicated to the Art of Dance. Three connected rooms are for the Arts of Painting, Drawing, and Sculpting. A series of large, soundproof rooms are used for the Art of Music. These Art rooms continue on down the hallway.

    Each room offers an array of courses and classes in their respective Art, ranging in skill level from Beginner to Master. The Center is quite popular, and people from miles around come to take lessons from the so-called Masters of the Arts. But there is another Art, not mentioned in the paragraph above.

    If you happened to take a wrong turn on the way to the bathroom (third door on the left), you might happen down the hallway earlier mentioned. At the end of this hallway is an unlabeled door. If you are a curious sort of person, or if you still think you are on the right track to the bathroom, you might open said door. You would see a long staircase extending in front of you. After climbing that staircase and several others besides, you might turn around, and decide that the bathroom isn’t this way after all. But if you are still curious, or still convinced this is the correct way to the bathroom, you might continue up the stairs. After assuring yourself several times this has to be the last stairway because the building simply isn’t this tall, you might come upon a door. This door is labeled, but the sign is much tarnished and hard to read. Curious still, or perhaps your firmly rooted belief you have at last found the bathroom compels you, you would rub at the sign with your sleeve. Finally, by dint of much elbow grease, the sign is legible. Four ornately carved words are written on the sign, and they are this: The Art of Magic.

    Chapter One

    Jondru Lorne was a Seeker. For what seemed like the millionth time that day, Jon clumped up the 23 staircases (25 steps each, though he swore the last staircase had only 24 every second Friday) that led to his office. Heaving a sigh, he reached the landing at the top of the stairs, and glared at the sign that hung on the door. ~Ugh, ~ he thought. ~Tarnished again. I must tell Nola to clean it. ~ He opened the door before him, and strode inside.

    The room inside was small, but tidy. A woman sat in the corner behind a plain looking desk, tapping away at an extremely odd contraption. It slightly resembled a computer, complete with mouse and keyboard. The difference was with the monitor. It was perfectly round, and was seated firmly in a large stand, colored in eye-smarting purple. Sharp spikes protruded from the monitor at random intervals, each topped with an equally eye-smarting purple tennis ball. Jon remembered distinctly having made Nola, the woman behind the desk, place the tennis balls, after having impaled several pieces of paper and himself on the spikes. However, the tennis balls had originally been green, as most tennis balls are.

    “Erm, Nola?” Jon began cautiously. “May I ask why the tennis balls are purple?” Nola was a very no-nonsense woman, but she was known to have a very weird streak. Nola didn’t even look up from her typing.

    “Didn’t match.” She said calmly, flicking a neon blue strand of hair out of her eyes. Once, on a “weird streak” whim, Nola had decided to dye her hair blue. She’d liked it so much that she kept it that way. Jon frowned.

    “Didn’t match… what?” He asked. He was examining a half green, half purple tennis ball sitting on Nola’s desk.

    “The stand.” She replied, gesturing to the stand in question. “The tennis balls were green. The stand is purple. They didn’t match. So I fixed them.” Jon raised his eyebrows. He’d discovered a bright purple Sharpie marker resting beside the unfinished ball. Finally, he decided he didn’t want to know.

    “Nola, is Somer in? The last target was a dud. Wasn’t even a person, just a powerful spell. I think ol’ Som’s losing his touch.” Jon was none too happy about the dud, either. Every time Som though he’d found a new sorcerer, Jon had to go trekking out, hunt down the potential, make sure he (or she) WAS a potential, and drag him (or her) back here if indeed they were. Recently, there had been more false alarms than true ones.

    “He’s in his office. Go on in.” Nola jerked her head towards a door to her right. Jon grumbled, and walked towards it.

    “I wasn’t asking permission,” he growled. “After all, it’s MY office too…” Nola looked up from her typing for the first time.

    “What was that?” She asked, eyes narrowing.

    “Nothing,” Jon said innocently, hurrying inside Somer’s office. Nola was a secretary only by choice. She was in fact a powerful sorceress, and could have easily gotten a job any where she liked. She chose instead to take a desk job, a choice that baffled Jon. His job could be a dull one, but at least it was field work.

    Avoiding Nola’s gaze, Jon slipped around the door and closed it. “Som, I’ve got a bone to pick with you.” Som didn’t answer. His high-backed swivel chair faced the wall, so only his hair was visible. Jon rapped on his desk. “Som. SOM!”

    Jon grabbed Som’s chair and spun it around. A middle-aged man came into view, his uncombed hair falling into his eyes. He appeared completely normal, except for the eyes. They were completely black, as though the pupil had engulfed them entirely. On any other person, Jon might have been frightened for them. For Som, he merely rolled his eyes and sat down at his own desk to wait out the vision his partner was having.

    Like Jon, Somer was a Seeker. His magic was based in finding other magic, mostly new recruits to the Art. Somer’s skill lay in detecting new magi from long distances, and Jon’s job was to track them down with his more finely tuned gift. Jon’s magic bordered on another specific gift, Tracking. A skilled Tracker, given a proverbial “scent” to follow, could track down almost anything. They were often used in cases of missing people, given a piece of clothing, or a favorite item. Jon stood on the line between Tracker and Seeker, using both skills to hunt down emerging magic.

    Magi are far more common in our world than you might expect. Magic often lays dormant for many years, then lashes out violently when it goes untapped. Untrained magi are a danger to themselves and those around them, so Seekers are used to find them and get them proper training. Once trained in control, some magi choose to ignore their magic completely, and go about their regular lives. Others, though, are fascinated by the world that had suddenly been opened to them, and use their individual gifts for the common good.

    There are other gifts than Tracking and Seeking. Those two, along with Life magic, are the most common. Life is split up into several categories, including Healing, Plants, and Animals. The three above mentioned gifts are found throughout the world, and vary depending on the person or place. There are, however, different, rarer gifts. In addition to Life magic, there also must be Death. Death is closely linked to Chaos magic, which is understandably hard to control. Very few people have tamed Chaos magic, and even fewer chose to remain on the side of good once they have achieved control. It is possible for those with Death magic to remain good, but the occurrences are rare. More often those gifted with Death side with the Chaos gifted and become Necromancers, the warrior magi of Death himself.

    Even Death and Chaos are more common than some gifts I may mention. There have been found, perhaps once a century, humans with gifts unlike any seen before. Once, there was a great scholar who was gifted with Mathematics. He used his incredible brain to create magic with equations and numbers. A few great artists were known to have clandestine Art magics. You may or may not be surprised by some of the names that come up on the list. Picasso was one such artist, Da Vinci as well. Seekers are always on the lookout for new and exciting magic, as finding a new gift constitutes a very large and colorful feather in the finder’s proverbial hat.

    Settling down at his desk, Jon glanced over at Som, still immersed in his Seeking. Som’s familiar, a particularly malicious tabby cat, was busy sharpening his claws on Som’s ancient oak desk, a pursuit Som understandably discouraged. As Som was larger and slightly more powerful than his familiar, the cat wisely chose to sharpen his claws mid-vision. Scout, the appropriately named familiar, ignored Jon’s glare.

    “Stupid cat.” A voice echoed in Jon’s mind, and he turned to see his own familiar curled up beneath is desk. Alec’arth, known more commonly as Alec, was a wolf. When tracking with Jon, he tried to pass as a husky, and usually succeeded, though more than one eagle-eye had called his bluff, to rather disastrous results.

    Alec’s gray coat with tipped with white, giving the impression he was covered in frost. His muzzle began gray, and lightened to white, adding to the overall image that the wolf had rolled in a pile of snow. Intelligent golden eyes glowered at the cat across the room.

    Jon smirked at his familiar’s dark tone, and ruffled the wolf’s fur.

    “Don’t worry.” He said, leaning back in his chair. “Som’ll catch him one of these days. He’ll get what’s coming to him eventually.” Scout gave him a cat’s version of a sneer, and sat back on his haunches to wash a paw. Jon smirked further.

    Abruptly, Som gave a great shudder and gasped. Jon leapt from his seat to his partner’s side. “Som!” He said, clasping his friend’s shoulder. “Are you all right? Everything fine?” Som’s visions were known to have unexpected side effects, which varied greatly. Sometimes it was only a headache, but he’d returned from a vision to discover he was completely deaf for a short period of time, and had purple hair for three days afterward.

    “I’m fine.” Som blinked once, and checked himself for side effects. “No problems, it seems.” He blinked again, then grinned broadly. “You’re never going to believe this one. I’ve found a new one, this time I’m sure. I even saw the name of where she’s staying. I didn’t actually see her use magic, but it’s there. It’s… alien. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.” He grinned even wider. “My friend, I think we have ourselves a new type of magic. We’ll go down in history for this!”


    Niri stared moodily out the window above her bed. The weather was miserable, gray and rainy. Ribbons of water obscured the view from the first story window, making everything outside appear vague and rather soggy. She watched with a bored sort of disinterest as people hurried by, hidden beneath umbrellas and raincoats. One woman appeared totally unfazed by the rain, but scurried for cover when a gust of wind wrapped her trench coat around her legs. Niri smiled slightly, watching a very dignified looking gentleman hop about in the street in a futile attempt to retrieve his hat from a particularly strong puff of wind.

    “Niri?” A concerned voice made her turn from the window. A motherly looking woman stood at the foot of Niri’s bed, looking upset. “Niri, you have to eat something! Imagine how sad Cook will be if you return that lovely porridge to her uneaten.”

    “Mrs. Monatrice, you know she won’t care. With this many mouths to feed, she won’t notice. Besides, I’m not hungry.” Niri replied, settling down on her cot. The many mouths Cook was required to feed were the numerous children of the Stony Creek Orphanage. Monatrice was the owner and fill-in mother for the children, Niri included. The children of Stony Creek loved Mrs. Monatrice, and she treated them all as if they were her own. She’d never had children, and made up for it by taking care of the many that came under her wing in the orphanage.

    “Nivira Hanoi, is something wrong? You’ve hardly eaten a thing all day, and you haven’t talked to any of your friends since Tuesday!” Monatrice sat down on the edge of Niri’s cot, determined to get an answer. Niri sighed. She knew the look the owner was giving her; she’d seen it a thousand times. It meant that Niri was going to talk, and Niri was going to tell the truth, and it was going to happen now.

    “I dunno, Mrs. M. I just… I feel weird. Like, someone’s watching me, you know?”

    Monatrice nodded sympathetically, but she looked more troubled by Niri’s statement than Niri thought she should. The older woman took a deep breath, and looked down at her hands, folded in her lap.

    “Child, I hate to frighten you, but you do have a right to know. There’s been a man hanging about outside. He seems a nice sort, but he won’t come in and he won’t leave. He’s been on his cell phone since twelve today, muttering about tracking, and seeking, and petting that atrocious looking dog of his. That animal looks as if it would take a bite out of your leg as soon as look at you. Cook glares at him every time she goes outside, but even Cook’s wrath won’t frighten him away. Perhaps… Perhaps he’s the one you’ve been bothered by. You know how you notice things other people don’t… maybe that’s what’s got you upset.”

    Niri shrugged. “Maybe he’s looking to adopt someone.” She said thoughtfully. “Perhaps he’s too scared to come in, though. Someone should invite him. May I go down and talk to him?”

    Having lived in the orphanage since birth, Niri had pretty much given up hope of ever being adopted. It was her greatest wish to help out Mrs. Monatrice when she got old enough, and take over the orphanage when the owner got too old to run it by herself. Because of this, she was a vigilant soldier in the war of recruiting parents to adopt the children in the orphanage. Niri was a good judge of character, and had found parents for many a child that had lived in Stony Creek.

    Mrs. Monatrice nodded, and Niri bounced off her cot and went to talk to the man outside. She skipped down a few flights of stairs, excited at the chance to find another perfect parent, and pulled open the door. Immediately, she saw the man Monatrice had described

    He seemed rather ordinary, with a friendly sort of face. He wasn’t particularly tall, but made up for it with sweeping black hair and ridiculously tall boots. A huge white-gray dog sat beside him, looking miserable in the pouring rain. The man chattered urgently on the phone until he noticed the open door, then froze.

    “Um… hello.” Niri said awkwardly. “Were you looking for some place in particular? You looked kind of lost.” The man blinked several times in quick succession, then nodded.

    “Yes. The Stony Creek Orphanage. Is this it?” He looked around uncomfortably. Niri glanced at the prominently displayed sign above the door and nodded.

    “Yeah, this is it. Would you like to come in?” She asked, concealing confusion. Something was off about this man.

    Relief radiated off the stranger. “Yes, yes I would like to come in. “The dog bounded to its feet, gave a rather useless shake to rid its fur of water, and trotted inside. The man snapped closed his phone, apparently without regard to whomever he’d been talking to, and strode after his pet.