Prompt Short Story: Goddamn Dog Smell (Interviews with a Sorceror #2)

Half the world knows about and believes in magic and supernatural stuff, half doesn’t. Some folk’ll deny what’s right in front of their face. I don’t have much time for that idiocy. I know some who love living with the commons – the ones who don’t know about our version of the world. They help them and the commons fawn all over them – “Oh, how do you do it, you’re so amazing, I swooooooon”. Blech. Never could stand that crap. If you hired me, pay me – and a bonus goes a long way towards showing proper appreciation. If you didn’t hire me and I’m doing whatever for my own reasons, stay out of my way unless I ask otherwise, and let me go easy once I’m done. I just can’t be doing with all that “my hero” rubbish. I am what I am, and I made a vow to use it to aid folk where I can. It was part of my entrance fee for being allowed into the training. Especially as a late bloomer, and a poor charity case at that, never mind the rest – black, queer, we covered that already. Anyway, because of that, and my trauma that kickstarted the magic, I had to agree to some rules. Not all sorcerers have to. Was always a fun game to guess who did and who didn’t, and I was usually right. Like anywhere in this fucking world, the closer you are to a rich, cishet, white, abled, neurotypical male – the fewer problems you have.

Good job you don’t mind listening to my tangents. Actually for all I know you don’t – you zipping through my recordings for the juicy bits? I’m gonna be curious what you think, by the time we’re done. You know having me do this whole thing wasn’t exactly my idea. But that’s neither here nor there now, is it? When you’re with folk who know who you are and what you do, it’s easier. No bother about hiding, watching your words, all that stuff. I prefer it. I suppose that’s part of the point of this. I’m betting you’re a curious type, saw something you couldn’t properly explain, and went digging things up best left undug. So they throw you a bone – me – to gnaw on, and tell you to ask whatever you like. Don’t ask me why, it’s beyond my pay grade.

Anyway, anyway. You want a story about how the extra special folk like me interact with the commons that don’t know we exist? I’ve got one of those for you. I’ve got lots of those for you, actually, but here’s one that’ll probably appeal to the fluffy type like yourself.

You know about sorcerers, obviously. Do you know about werewolves? Chances are whatever supernatural thing you can think of exists in some form or another. Werewolves are a thing too.

I mean, if you look at the myths and legends across the world, everyone has shapeshifters. Werewolf types are probably the most common. Something about the primal human instinct, I think, makes for great mythology. Except it’s real. Kind of. Not how you know it from the usual stories – there’s certain people who do a very careful job of ensuring some details get and remain fudged, to help us folk stay safe. Silver? Useless. They aren’t allergic to it or whatever it is you think they are. Also, getting through werewolf hide is a bit like trying to stab through stone with wet paper. Doesn’t work.

Werewolves are folk who chose to give half of themselves over to their goddess, Luna. How much of their religious claptrap is real, I couldn’t tell you, but something in there must be because it keeps working. Their rituals are super secret, so don’t ask. However it works, they do whatever they do, and then they become a werewolf. All they need then, to change, is the right stimulus – with practice, they can switch back and forth easily. Not painlessly, but they don’t feel pain like the rest of us, probably because they’d resist otherwise. So after a while they change at will, but their nature – wolf and human – they intertwine. So a werewolf, in their human shape, still has the speed, strength, senses and instincts of a wolf. And in werewolf form, they keep the intelligence and essential personhood of the human.

Oh, and the supernatural extras they get? One of them is the ability to live a very long time. Oldest I know of got to almost 500 before her heart gave out.

I was travelling through some town, middle of nowhere USA, can’t remember what state, one of those with boringly long roads between tiny towns, nothing but the odd truck stop between them.

Boring, USA was one of those. Big enough to have a community, and shops to get what they needed – albeit it at a more expensive price than the big stores they love so much, the nearest of those was about 100 miles away, at that time anyway. But still small enough they recognised a new person – or rather, I suppose, they didn’t recognise a new person and that’s how they knew you were new. Hah. Wordplay, you’re welcome.

So they had all the basics, and I rode into town in my car, don’t ask me what car, it was years back. Parked up in Main Street, asked the first person I saw about a place to stay, got directed to the B&B. The only place to stay, I was informed. This was apparently a point of pride? I don’t know why. But the place was decent. Someone had bought an old mansion and turned the rooms liveable again. I got curious about the original owner. Library helped me find out it was a guy who’d moved out here to live privately with his harem. So all those rooms were for the men and women he called his husbands and wives. But, they needed stuff like food and whatnot, so he was forced to start building things they needed, and houses for folk to live in, in order to get the stores and all working. 150 years on – they’ve got this town, and I have a decently sized room to stay in. Warm, big, nice view of the town if you like that sort of thing, and privacy – thick walls! They didn’t make this shit out of plasterboard back then. Solid wood and stone, it was! Saved me some energy casting privacy spells. So, there I was. I’d just finished a big job so I was in no hurry, just wandering. Booked me in for a couple of nights, and there I was.

Went down to the restaurant – once the ballroom – to eat, and listened in to what was being said around me. Little of any interest, mostly, but I did get curious about the relatively new (which in a place like this could be a month or ten years) veterinarian. The old one had shut down after the owner had retired off to someplace sunny to die, and people had to take their animals elsewhere – nearest one wasn’t close, either. So when a new family arrived to refurbish and reopen it, they were cautiously pleased.

Now? They talked about these people like flowers grew under their feet as they walked, gracing people with their blessings. Seriously. They were like gods come down to earth, listen to the folk talk!

Now, me? I take that in, and it reads supernatural. So, finished my food and ale – damned good, both – and took myself to bed. Next day, got up for breakfast – also damned good – and went out to find this family of godlike vets.

I mean, it’s not hard to find anyone or anything, I’d seen them in the row of shops down the main street, so I walked over and went in.

And. Yep. Smell hit me right away. Dog.

Not dog like the ones they took in to cure and groom and whatever.

Dog, like werewolf.

One of the things about being my type of sorcerer – not all of us go down this route – is your senses are dialled up. It lets you spot the supernatural wherever it is, and track where it’s been. Useful for my kind of living, but goddamn do I hate the smell those creatures give off. It’s all dog smell and soil and woods and trees and raw meat.

Werewolves also have a pretty good sense of who’s supernatural, and I was greeted real quick by one of the younger ones and invited behind the curtain, so to speak. She took me past various treatment and cage rooms, and to a back office. Asked me nicely to wait for her father.

I said sure, and promised her I wasn’t here for any trouble.

It took a few minutes, but the dad arrived. He looked much like his daughter. Tall, willowy, piercing blue eyes, mane of blonde hair – plus a beard. his daughter didn’t have one of those (if you sniggered at that comment, don’t, I’ve known my share of absolutely beautiful women with beards). We shook hands and sat; him behind a desk crowded with paperwork, me just to the side.

“It’s good to meet you. My, it’s been a long time since I’ve been in the company of a sorcerer. Thank you for coming back here quietly – and for assuring my daughter you come with no mission in mind.”

“It’s been a while since I was in the company of a werewolf, too. I’m just passing through, but I heard folk talking about you – and given what they were saying, I just wanted to confirm my suspicion on who you were. That’s really all there is to it.”

“Well, I hope they were saying nice things. They seem to like us, but of course we always need to be careful.”

“Well, they seem to love you, if that helps. Think you walk on water.”

He smiled at that, so I was glad I’d dropped in. It’s hard to be a supernatural amidst the commons, sometimes, so when you can get reassurance that you’re doing alright, it helps set the mind at ease. We chatted a little longer before I left. I said I’d never seen a shapeshifter work with animals before – I was curious as to how the animals didn’t scent the wolf in them and get scared. It seemed that this bloodline had developed the ability to alter their scent a little, enough to turn off that bolt reaction most animals have, and more recently it’d been altered further to give off a calming “I’m your friend” sort of feeling. I assume it was done initially in order to make prey hunting easier, but it would have been rude to ask so I let it lie. But it meant the animals trusted them instead, and because they’re part animal themselves, with a high empathy skill, they could get inside the heads of the ones that needed them. They could calm them, ease their stress, find out what was wrong, and so on.

It’s kind of the perfect job for that family. The last few generations have worked on the animal empathy thing and the scent, and it means animals just fall over them. They’re great vets.

After we talked, I invited the family to dine with me at a restaurant of their choice (no, that’s a joke – there was only one restaurant) – my treat – that evening, and took my leave. It’s never polite to keep someone away from their work for too long.

It was a pleasant meal. I got us a nice private room by tipping the restaurant manager, and we talked supernatural things. They were starved for it – one of the other problems of living with the commons. I gave them any news I could, paid for the meal, and left town the next day. No point me staying where I might slip and create trouble.

But I check in on them every now and then, take them out if I’m ever near their area. They have to move every so often, before people notice that they don’t really age at the same pace as commons do. Sometimes they split – make like the older ones are retiring and leaving the business to the younger ones, or whatever. Every so often they add a new member to their pack, keeping it at around the same number all the time. It’s complicated, but they’re alright. Still helping out animals. Always helping out animals.

I don’t get it, but then I rarely understand shapeshifters. Their brains work very different, being part creature and all.

Anyway, I hope that was close to what you wanted. Those folk are excellent people – way better than me, believe that!

I’ll be awaiting your next question, as scheduled.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed my latest story. If you’d like these right to your inbox, please subscribe to the mailing list on the top right. If you’d like to support me, please share my stories around! You can also select one of the links to the right, and offer a donation via Ko-Fi or subscription via Patreon, which will help me out immensely with daily living. Either way, thanks for your time, and come back soon!

Writing prompt used:

A new veterinarian clinic opens in town. It soon becomes a huge success, as all members of the small staff team are absolutely great with animals. They claim their secret is patience and love. …Since, of course, they couldn’t really tell how their actual secret is being a pack of werewolves. teascentedlibrary.wordpress.com

Prompt Short Story: Glamour (Interviews With a Sorcerer #1)

It was late, I was dog tired, and I had to get up in 3 hours for my daily round of chores and lessons.

I had been repeatedly told, reminded, and told some more that practicing magic when overtired was a bad idea. That even the Masters would stop and get a good, non-magic-induced rest, if they reached the threshold they had very carefully discovered for themselves – always testing as their powers grew. Even they wouldn’t try even so simple a spell as this, in my state of body and brain exhaustion.

Yeah.

But I was to be tested on this spell tomorrow, and everything else left me so little time to finalise the nuances.

So I went ahead anyway.

In the stories – at least those written by the non-magically inclined – there’s often all sorts of dramatic stuff. Runes and circles and pentagrams and candles and chanting. Then everything erupts as the spell takes very obvious shape.

Now I’m not saying that nobody does all of those things. I’m just saying it’s all for show. Window dressing. Something to feed their conceit or impress clients. Some of your story writers know that. You can find the magic users amongst your storytellers, if you pay attention. But I digress, it’s not for me to divulge other people’s status.

I’m not saying that spells don’t create some visible effects at times, of course, but only specific – and dangerous – ones. You have to be pretty violently wrenching reality to make firework displays.

My spell didn’t need anything but one candle, and that was only there so I could put myself into a focus trance.

Now I’m a full sorcerer, I don’t need that – at least not for most things. I’m be able to drop – or rise, depending who you talk to – into my spellstate at will.

But…I was still a trainee. And a late blooming one at that, my magic didn’t show til I was 11. For most people, it shows around 5 or 6, the years where they’re really getting a grasp on themselves as an entity, and the world around them as separate. But sometimes the magic lies dormant in someone (and comes out next gen, or a few gens down the line) and other times – like mine – a traumatic moment can just kickstart it.

You don’t wanna hear about my traumatic moment, anyway. You wanna hear about my spell.

I was planning to create a glamour, and I’d been practicing for weeks, every spare moment I had. Being the late bloomer isn’t great, you know? Your mind is less pliable for new stuff, and also people younger than you can run (or fly) magical circles around you. It sucks. You have to work twice as hard for less respect, which honestly makes zero sense to me. Late bloomers who are actually succeeding deserve lots of respect, as far as I’m concerned. But there it is.

Oh yes, also, being black when most Western sorcerers are white, and being queer when they really really love their cishetery and all that nonsense – that doesn’t help. So now I’m having to work 4 times as hard for about 12 times less respect, or something like that. I did the maths once, I can dig out my equations another time if you’d like.

So my glamour, like everything else, needed to be incredible. Subtle, nuanced, with minor touches, and a spellweave so tight it could catch a ten ton boulder falling into it at terminal velocity without so much as a wobble.

So I had to practice.

And because I had nobody who’d volunteer, and no familiar at this point, I could only practice on myself. Which, actually, adds a whole extra layer of difficulty – I can’t see what I’m doing as I’m doing it, so a successful glamour? Even more impressive. And I knew that at least the teaching sorcerers (some Masters, most not – they’re usually aspirants to Master status, there’s a whole bunch of rules, one set of which includes bringing along the next gens) were on my side. They wouldn’t stop the bullies unless they used magic at me, but they made sure I knew they saw my work and my skill, and tried to give me lighter chores so I had extra time for study.

Except for one. Processor Mythika. Not only did she have the worst sorcerer name I’ve ever heard (yes, we choose our own when we graduate from trainee), but she was right there in agreement with the “late bloomers suck and should be tormented” crowd. Fortunately she was not my teacher, and never would be as long as I kept certain admin folk on my side (protip – baking. A tray of cookies that make their magic hop and their minds expand is worth a whole lot of goodwill, so long as you are super clear on what’s going to happen, so it’s not a surprise).

Unfortunately, not being my teacher didn’t stop Mythika from setting chores. The Professors took turns to assign the weekly chores, and when it was her turn to schedule, she would give me all the ones that her faves didn’t want to do. They took forever, they were exhausting, and I would ache for days into the following week.

It was usually an unspoken rule that a trainee having a test got a few days of light chores only, so they had the extra study and rest time they needed. Usually even I got that, but it was her turn to assign chores for that week so I spent days doing the worst, longest, and most painful, high-energy jobs she could think of.

So there I sat. 3 hours until my next set of chores, which would exhaust me even further before my test in the afternoon, yet needing one last practice to try and get that one, tiny bit of spellweave that’s currently slightly out of place, tucked in properly.

So. Light candle. Stare at flame. Try not to nod off. And again. Aaaaaand again… Finally I made it into the trance and started weaving.

I’d gotten pretty efficient by that point, at most of it. Basically what I was doing was replacing my face with an entirely new and unrecognisable one.

So I made the basic net and placed that over my face.  Then I started tweaking and adding, and that’s the harder part, getting everything perfectly in place.

I was going along pretty well, but there is one really important thing you should never do whilst weaving.

You should never fall asleep.

Because magic is alive. The weaves we make are drawn from the strings that make up our entire universe. We pull them out – there’s so many, beyond any number we can imagine, that this goes unnoticed, even by the universe. And of course we always return them, once we’re done, provided they aren’t damaged. And if they are, the universe just makes a new one, so, again, even a huge, multi-sorcerer spell wouldn’t have any effect on the stability of the universe’s strings. Just so that’s all clear.

But, like I said, they’re alive. Not like you or me, but a single string possesses enough consciousness to take its place in the universe and be whatever it needs to be – a little like stem cells, only constantly able to keep changing.

So, if you lose focus, even for a moment, the strings start to do something else. What that is varies. How dangerous it is, depends on both the spell, and whatever randomness the inbuilt chaos theory in these strings decides to do.

Right, so you’ve guessed by now that I fell asleep. Whoops, right?

I woke up to my phone alarm, telling me to get out of bed and start my chores.

Only I wasn’t in bed. I was still buried in the giant comfy bean bag I still use to cast, though it’s been through a few repairs and refills along the way.

I had a second one at school so I always had my system in place – students got to create a setup, which they could tweak as needed, and which would show up – as if by magic, hah – wherever in the grounds they need it for lessons or tests, it was a great system

But back to me. Waking up in my bean bag. Groggy. Confused. I looked around, saw where I was, saw the candle burned an extra 3 hours down and still flickering at me merrily.

I blew it out and sent a desperate plea – or prayer, if you like – to my ancestors, then to the Founders of Magic, then just in general, that the strings had just shrugged and retreated.

Dragging myself up from the bean bag was quite the herculean task. Everything was stiff and aching, both from the week of chores and how I slept. I took a few moments to loosen up, and tried to mentally prepare myself for what the strings might have done.

It could be my own face. Or my own face but with slight changes. Or some sort of composite of my face and the glamoured face I was practicing. Or it could have fallen into place and made that face. There was no time for me to drop into a trance and try to unpick whatever’s left of my weave, I’ll be late for my chores, then late all day, and facing punishment for all of it.

So I went with blind hope, and stumbled to the mirror by the front door.

I stood in front of it for a long moment, head down, my heart warring with itself. From: it’s fine, I hadn’t gotten far, the strings probably just unravelled and folded themselves back into the universe, I’d just have to spend the last of my stipend this month on something to keep me awake and energised for the day. To: it’s the end, they’ll have done something utterly monstrous and I was gonna get kicked out and have to spend my life trying to get by as a pathetic hedge wizard, putting on shows in the street and begging for coins in exchange.

I breathed deeply a couple of times, and steeled myself for the worst.

But in all my imaginings, good and bad, I hadn’t thought of this outcome.

I looked into the mirror and I didn’t see me.

I was gone.

My hands flew to my face.

I was gone!

Woah, wait, no, my head was gone, but my hands were right there.

I tore open the poppers on my tunic, throwing it off. I saw my arms and chest. Pale, growing muscle where I used to be just sticks and a flat board, unable to heft and throw a bale of hay, or jog around the campus carrying a heavy load of deliveries on my back.

I stripped down naked and moved backwards, jumping up to see my feet. I was all there. From the middle of my neck downwards, everything looked the same as it had yesterday.

OK. So it was just my face. I mean. That was still awful, and I was about to be in so much trouble, but at least most of me was still there.

Alright, so, I needed to call my Professor. Explain, apologise, beg for help and an extenuating circumstances postponement of the test. I’d even explain about Mythika purposely messing with me.

So I brought up her number – Professor View – and waited, with my invisible eyes closed.

“Avay, good morning, you’re up early for a test day,” View herself sounded like she was barely awake.

“Hi, sorry Professor, I really need your help. Can you come to my apartment? I would come to you, but…uh…well I promise you’ll understand when you get here why that’d be a really bad idea. And I promise I can explain what happened and why, but I desperately need your help, and I hope when you hear everything you’ll allow me a few days postponement. I’m sorry, I’m babbling, I’m kinda in shock, but can you please come?”

“Of course. I’ll be there in half an hour. I’ll help with whatever you’ve done, then you can explain, and then I’ll decide whether I can set a new date for your test.”

“Oh thank you, so much. The door’ll be unlocked, just come right in.”

View said goodbye, and I went to unlock the door. I lived in a crappy two room apartment with a bunch of other poor folk – some students at the Uni, some just not able to afford better even with two or three jobs. I don’t think there was another sorcerer trainee in here though; or at leastI never crossed paths with anyone I recognised; which might have been coincidence as much as it could have been someone glamouring themselves so nobody could recognise them.

I was pacing the floor, purposely overthinking this subject to try and keep my mind off my other problem. I looked at this apartment through the eyes of View – or tried to. It was mostly clean, a bit messy but that was mostly my studies . I worked at an all-night off licence, and my clean uniform was hung up, ready to go. I always washed my uniform right away, the second I got in, because they took forever to dry and I was only meant to use magic for stuff that’d been ok’d by my Professors. So that was stuff I’d either already passed, or was currently studying. I could try the spell to create warm air, but I hadn’t had any practical study on that yet. I’d read the Theory in my own time but I was waiting for an opportunity to request it as a specific study. I’d hoped to fit it in after this test. The school was pretty free with extra studies, so long as you passed the core stuff they scheduled you for.

So nothing was bad enough to give View any issues, I hoped, as I paced round my apartment, counting the steps it took – something I did a lot to help me calm down and focus. If I was ever too wired for the candle; to sleep; or to sit still and read my study books; this was my routine. Still is, actually. I have a run of particularly soft carpet in my office, placed in perfect pacing directions. I go in, barefoot, and I pace. The softness is comforting, and the pacing and counting settles me.

Oh, an old person does get off track, eh? I paced until View arrived. She came right in, closing and locking the door behind her – she knew the neighbourhood, alright!

When she saw me she didn’t even flinch. She looked me up and down, quirked an eyebrow, and made a valiant effort at concealing her laugh.

I didn’t mind her being amused – it was better than her being angry!

She sat me down and told me to stay still. I did, and she did something to put me into a light trance state, explaining that it’d help my brain not interfere.

I sat there for what I later saw was about 2 hours. View dropped into her trance and slowly, carefully, picked out every mischievous strand, sending them back to their previous state. I watched the net unknit itself, and the second View undid my trance and sat back, I rushed to the mirror.

There it was. My own face. My own head. Staring back at me, pale and wide-eyed.

I turned around to see View, clearly exhausted, pull herself into my armchair. I raced around, finding drinks and food, to restore some energy for her. Casting is draining enough, but fixing someone else’s botched weave? That’s – sometimes literally – a killer. And afterwards, well you can restore bodily energy pretty easily, but the rest takes a while longer.

As she recovered, I explained what happened and why. I was surprised to see that, tired as she was, she reacted with anger. Not at me, but at Mythika. Normally you’d never have seen or heard a Professor give an opinion on another Professor, and even tired, View would normally have been able to conceal it. So her level of anger, just, it must have been huge.

I’m not entirely sure what happened after that. I got a new test date two weeks out, I even got an apology from the Head. And Mythika disappeared from the school. Oh, she was still out there, but she never came near the school – at least while I remained – or, to date, me, ever again. I tried to ask View a couple of times, but she waved me off, so I took the hint – she wasn’t talking. And neither was anybody else.

I passed my glamour test on the second chance, and I did get to study that warm air trick along with my next set of assigned studies. There are more stories from back then, if you’d like them, but you wanted to begin with an amusing tale of my trainee days, so I obliged. I promised total honesty, and that is what you shall have – though I fear you may regret it, when we come to some of the other stories you’re likely going to want. Still. You’ve been warned, and if you return at our next scheduled time, I’ll have another story prepared for you – just let me know what strikes your fancy, hm?

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed my latest story. If you’d like these right to your inbox, please subscribe to the mailing list on the top right. If you’d like to support me, please share my stories around! You can also select one of the links to the right, and offer a donation via Ko-Fi or subscription via Patreon, which will help me out immensely with daily living. Either way, thanks for your time, and come back soon!

Writing prompt used:

I looked into the mirror and I didn’t see me. Https://prophecysixgogam.com

Prompt Short Story: The Ancient Stranger (Lawkeepers 12)

1: I have gathered you all here today…

Jeremy waited for the elevator doors to close, having carefully checked and counted everyone getting on. The right number, so probably the right people.

He stood unobtrusively, but solidly stubborn, by the control panel. Those who tried to brush past, or nudge him farther in, quickly realised that he was not moveable.

When the lift was halfway up the building, he pushed the emergency stop button, quickly gaining the full attention of everyone present.

He gave them a short but perfectly crafted bow.

“Good afternoon. I do apologise for the disruption,” he began, the script unrolling in his head. “I believe that all here were invited by Kyra. I’m sure you’re all wondering why you’ve been summoned, and now you’re wondering why everyone else has been summoned, and what connects you all. Yes?”

There were some vague agreeable noises and Jeremy continued, following the script, trusting in Kyra’s promise that doing so would result in the desired outcome.

“And some of you are now, or will soon, be realising that the emergency stop button in a building like this will trigger an emergency response. Well in theory you’re correct,” Jeremy gave them a conspiratorial smile, “When I was 17, I was at a fancy party and I got to hooking up with this guy, Li Jei. So we’re going at it in the lift up to his room, and we’re feeling particularly drunk and horny and impatient. So I hit the emergency stop, and we went for it. By the time a team of security guards arrived we were…well let’s just say we were well past a PG rating. That was when I learned that those things are hooked up to something. And also that a lift in a fancy place has well-hidden CCTV.”

Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: The Ancient Stranger (Lawkeepers 12)”

Prompt Short Story: Found (Lawkeepers 11)

Justinia clenched her fists tightly behind her back, the only outward sign of her emotions. Her face calm, she continued to study the map on the wall, and the manuscript on the table, asking the occasional question of the gentleman who showed it to her so eagerly.

He wouldn’t be so eager if he knew what she was really about, but she didn’t care about that. Or him. Or most of what he was saying. What she cared about was his obsessive tracing of what he thought to be a line of powerful witches, descending down a line directly from Irving Napier.

She wondered what he’d say if she told him they were all the same person. Just Irving, under different names, pretending. Forging papers, moving around each time he needed to disappear and reappear as his younger self – constant glamours letting him age up and down at will.

But for the occasional slip-up, he had made his way smoothly through the decades. It was those slip-ups, however, that this eager young man had begun to pick up on in his studies of magical families; or rather, families supposedly magical. He hadn’t believed either, until he began to dig deeper into the Napier line.

Now, this man had an entire museum in his attic, filled with investigations and information about the Napiers.

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Prompt Short Story: Penance (Lawkeepers 10)

Content Warning: mild sexual assault, crude sexual language, drunkenness

Jeremy yawned and forced his eyes open, groggy with sleep. His head, full of cotton wool, hung heavily on his neck as he pushed the blanket back and planted his feet on the soft, warm carpet of the bedroom floor.

The bathroom was a few short, staggering, steps away and he hung for a moment on the doorframe, staring at the face in the mirror.

It was pale, aside from the redness around his eyes and the dried blood from where he had bitten his lip sometime last night. He hadn’t even noticed doing that. He had been far too busy drunkenly throwing things at his boyfriend.

Former boyfriend, he supposed, now.

His own fault. Everything that came next, he earned. Friends would turn away from him. Family, too. Even his job would be in danger, if Sammy decided to press charges.

He sat on the toilet lid and rested his head against the cool porcelain of the sink, helpless to stop the memories surfacing.

Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: Penance (Lawkeepers 10)”

Prompt Short Story: Magic (Lawkeepers 9)

18 year old Annie Jenings was bored. She’d done her chores  – swept and mopped the floor, filled up the horse feed, generally tidied the three roomed building she lived in with her one remaining parent, and now she was bored. Her da was supposed to be tending to the health of the horses – walking, brushing, whatever – for the folk who paid him, but she was pretty sure he was at the inn, drinking away the money she hadn’t stolen while he slept, and squirrelled away for food.

She supposed that meant he would be gone until the money ran out or the inn kicked him out to sober up. Annie brightened a little, that meant she didn’t need to be bored at home. She could go and visit Irving! 

Irving Napier was the 28 year old son of the oldest, and richest, family in the village, and Annie was in the process of trying to seduce him. She had played the game before, on boys her own age, but never seriously (and didn’t some of them get upset about that!), but Irving was different. Not for his money, though that would do nicely. No. He was a shy man, pale from a lifetime spent in study, but beneath the surface was an intelligent, funny, gentle person, and Annie was carefully peeling back his layers. She liked what she found, but she also liked his area of study.

Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: Magic (Lawkeepers 9)”

Prompt Short Story: Memories (Lawkeepers 8)

Shia and Patterson poured blood-spiked coffee from the carafe – hers black, with plenty of sugar, theirs with cream and even more sugar.

“How are we doing this, then, boss?” Shia asked, leaning against the counter.

Patterson tilted their head in thought, “This dude’s a telepath – and by all accounts, a strong one. I think we persuade him to show, rather than tell.”

Shia nodded, “OK. You or me? Or can he do both?”

“That’s one of the things we need to find out. But first, we need to make him talk to us.”

The pair had run down yet another lead on the witch. On arrival, they found yet another almost abandoned house, the only person there a short, weedy man, tied to a chair with multiple bruises.

His relief at being freed made him open his mouth to begin with. Before his reticence had returned on the way to the Lawkeeper station, he had revealed that the witch – or her cronies, at least – had captured him some weeks ago, and were trying to get him to use his powers as a tracker. According to his rap sheet, this was his regular job, so quite why he required kidnapping for it, neither were sure, and at this question he had remembered himself enough to shut up.

Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: Memories (Lawkeepers 8)”

Prompt Short Story: Diet (Lawkeepers 7)

Shia kicked the door closed with one boot, hands full of grocery bags, keys in her mouth. She mumbled at Frankie as she poked her head out of the home office.

Frankie grinned, interpreting the grunts as the request for help that they were, “I can help, one sec.” She disappeared back into the room and returned in a few seconds, bare feet padding across the hardwood floor to the breakfast bar.

She began passing items to Shia, who placed them in their correct spots – cupboard, fridge, freezer, counter, “Good day?”

Shia shrugged, “Quiet one. No sign of the witch, she’s gone to ground again and Patterson is getting antsy. Did manage to bust a couple of vamps trying to trick humans into being eaten, though, so that was good.”

Frankie steeled herself, “So when you find the witch. Like. What then? You go in with lots of backup and keep out of danger, right? You’ve told me how powerful she is, surely Patterson won’t let you in the way of her magic?”

Shia’s shoulders stiffened and she half-turned to Frankie, voice ever so slightly cold, “Patterson and I will decide together at that time, and if finally catching her means going into danger, then that’s what I’ll do.”

“And what about me? If you die, what do I do?” Frankie asked, handing over a packet of deli ham. “Your blood keeps me alive, it fights my leukaemia. Without it, I’m dead.”

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Prompt Short Story: Blood (Lawkeepers 6)

The first human to reach over 130 years old stared out of the car window as they passed through the neighbourhood he had grown up in.

“This was so different in my younger days,” he sighed, almost to himself.

The driver nodded politely and made an agreeing noise, unsure if the old man could even see or hear them through his reverie.

A medical marvel, he was. Not only the first human to reach 130 (and still that – 30 years later, nobody else had come close than 120), but also, apparently, regenerating. Aging downwards. Becoming younger by the year.

Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: Blood (Lawkeepers 6)”

Prompt Short Story: Messages (Lawkeepers 5)

Arriving home, Kyra locked the door to her flat, her shoulders visibly slumping as she let the weight of the day pass. She removed her coat and scarf, hanging them on an old-fashioned hat stand. She looked longingly for a moment at the soft sofa, then shook her head. Later. There was one more thing she had to do today.

Kyra entered the darkened room and closed the door behind her, activating the deadlock ward with one thumb. A light shimmer passed over the door, confirming that nobody else could enter.

She turned to the room itself. It was small, barely more than a cupboard.. A ball of light magic cast a soft glow over a desk and chair. On the desk, sat a black box.

Kyra pulled out the chair and sat down. She turned two sets of dials on the box to the right combination, and snapped open the double lock. The front and top opened, and she pushed the box towards the back of the desk as she reached inside.

Cradled carefully in her slender hands was an old, battered typewriter. The metal casing gave it weight, and the slight aura of magic gave it gravity, as she set it down within reach and laid her fingers on the keys.

Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: Messages (Lawkeepers 5)”