A Brief Treatise on Magic

Editor’s Note: The following is a work by the heretical former Grand Mage Avran Ebontide of the Keepers of the Sacred Flame. Grand Mage Ebontide was ousted from the order for his permissiveness of forbidden magics within the walls of Glaskerze. Nonetheless, Grand Mage Ebontide was a wise and studied wizard. To abandon his pre-eminent research in defining magic would be folly. Thus, his words are presented below, with some minor edits by Ebontide’s successors.

What is magic? Many an apprentice has raised this question in their first years of study at Glaskerze. No doubt those who raise their voices to question the nature of magic within a magical institute are setting themselves up to be rather wise or rather foolish. I asked the question myself when I arrived at Glaskerze some eight decades ago. Whether I am wise or a fool is yet to be determined. On the surface, this is a good question. What is this thing that we all study? However, some use the question as a shield. The foolish ask because they know their answer and wants the world to agree with their assessment.

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Hail Scorpius!

The interview began normally enough. A full-time job as a personal assistant. As it was explained to her, the person she would be assisting was a successful businessman who needed someone to organise his life so that he could focus on the content of his discussions. The job paid well and came with some great travel options. This businessman was often meeting with foreign governments and the like. Things began to get strange when he entered the interview room. His name was Armando Scorpius and he spoke with an accent that she couldn’t quite place. It was eastern European but beyond that, it was impossible to tell. He sat next to the man conducting the interview. Scorpius dressed in an immaculate white suit. He had a strong jawline and tightly groomed grey hair. His most notable feature, however, was a deep crimson birthmark that curled out from his shirt cuff and swirled like a tentacle onto his right cheek. The man conducting the interview began to talk about the great health care plan. Then Scorpius cleared his throat. The room was quiet except for his voice.

‘No fraternising on company time,’ he told her authoritatively.

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The Fair Folk

The old ways are dying. We must innovate.

Effie considered the words of her oldest friends as she sat at the neon bar sipping something weak and sugary. She examined the vibrant spaces of the nightclub. The club was some faux-80s dive. The bar was bedazzled in shades of pink and blue that reflected off everyone’s drink glasses. The drinks were all brightly coloured. There were dark corners as well, as you might expect from these kinds of establishments. Dark corners, dark drinks, men with even darker corners in their mind. One such gentleman made his way across the bar to her.

‘Anyone ever tell you that you look like Alyssa Milano?’ he asked with a voice tinged with whiskey.

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The Eyes of God

The shimmering eyes stared down at them from enormous backlit billboards. In days gone, they might have been confused for an advertisement. No longer. The eyes were cruel. Although to give them that much agency was to personify them. The eyes felt nothing. They weren’t really watching from their point above everyone, plastered to the side of ever-growing skyscrapers. The eyes were merely a warning. God is watching, though a god of their own making. A god that was above but was also hiding in their pocket and their watch. The machines had won, and they were God now.

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Returning

Stepping on the creaky boards, a million memories came flooding back. The space has barely changed in twenty years. She noticed the new paint in places. The stage was in a halfway state, vaguely resembling the set from the prior set. She had acted the words of a dozen notable playwrights on this stage from Shakespeare to Ibsen to Brecht. She had played everything from Lucy in Cosi to a gender-swapped Hamlet. That was many years ago though. The face of a younger woman adorned the posters that hung all around the foyer. Her hair had begun to grey, and wrinkles had formed at the corners of her eye. Whereas she had once played the role of ingenue Cecily in The Importance of Being Earnest, she now feared that the role of Lady Bracknell was not far off.

‘Hasn’t changed a bit, has it?’ a voice came from backstage.

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The Third Elf

Sitting at a crowded intersection where Glittergold Ave and Dathos St meet, there is a small building. The building is about five floors and on each floor, there are twelve small offices. If one were to wander down the right-hand side hallway of the second floor, they would eventually find themselves standing in front of a door. This door would have inscribed on its frosted glass window the following epitaph.

Althis Sarren: Private Investigator

Behind that door, one might discover a lean and sickly-looking elf in an oversized suit. He would probably be smoking his pipe of tobacco, scanning over some photograph or obscure legal document. The particular legal document that he was perusing at this moment was noteworthy. Its noteworthiness came from the red typeface at the top of the document that read simply: Eviction.

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New Years Eve

10 …

Stacy was alone, again, on New Year’s Eve.

9 …

Well, not alone, as such. She’d actually attended quite a sizeable house party.

8 …

She was alone romantically. There are two times that being single is brought into full view. One is Valentines Day. The other is midnight on New Year’s Eve.

7 …

Were there eligible men at this party? Well, that would depend on your definition of eligible. There were certainly single men. They just weren’t what she was looking for.

6 …

There was Dave the accountant, who could put anyone to sleep when they asked him what he did for a living. There was Stan, who was mildly creepy and had already tried it on with the host’s girlfriend, as well as other not so single individuals.

5 …

There were others but just like Dave and Stan, they weren’t exactly prime partner material. So, Stacy supposed that being single was preferable to being dismal in a relationship with the Daves or Stans of the world.

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