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Entries in free fantasy story (3)



Ryan flipped through the box of old report cards, a history book with a ripped cover and several spiral notebooks filled with notes and doodles. Feeling nostalgic Ryan picked up the red spiral notebook and began to flip through it thinking about all his high-school friends who he had rarely seen in the last decade.

There was to a series of remedial math problems, some notes about the hundred years war and various doodles. But what drew his attention were a series of notes passed between himself and his best friend Jim. He hadn't talked to Jim for almost three years and considered calling his friend, but it was late so he continued to flip through the conversation in the notebooks.

About halfway through the book Ryan came across one of their old games. The two would take turns predicting things about the others life. Ryan didn't remember exactly why they had stopped only that something was said that made him angry so they stopped.

Looking back over the page and a half of notes he was drawn back into the ten year old conversation. The first thing he saw was that he said he would marry Heather. Heather was a girl in their homeroom who had annoyed me more than anyone in the world. He had assumed it was a joke because he knew how much Ryan disliked her and forgotten about it in college when he met another girl named Heather. They had been married for almost five years and things were great. Still, it was a fairly common name.

The next thing Jim wrote was that Ryan was going to be a doctor. That was another obvious miss. The site of blood made Ryan sick. But in college he had discovered a love for history and was about to receive a doctorate in history. That was a bit harder to ignore since Jim had been right twice.

Still, it wasn't exactly perfect so Ryan tried to dismiss it as him simply seeing patterns in the data, but it was sill strange. So he began to look more carefully at the others things his friend had written. He had picked out the nickname Ryan's wife used, the city he now lived in and several other minor points.

What sent a chill up Ryan's spine wasn't any single prediction. It was that every one of them was right. Then he found the page that reminded him why they had stopped their game. Jim had insisted they predict the other person's death. Ryan had said that Jim would die at ninety from a heart attack. Jim had written that Ryan would die on November 16th 2015 in a car accident. That was only a few weeks away.

Ryan dropped the notebook and fumbled for his phone and dialed the phone before remembering it was almost midnight. Jim answered the phone on the first ring and said, "How's it going Ryan?" Before he had the chance to say anything. Ryan knew it was probably caller ID, but it still unnerved him.

"I was just looking at an old notebook. I found something a bit odd. You wrote I was going to die on the Thursday after next," Ryan said, already planning to lock himself in his room for the day.

"If you're taking the day off you should come over for pizza and movies," Jim said. That seemed like the worst possible idea. Was it possible Jim didn't know he had been correctly predicting things? Or perhaps he knew but there was nothing that could be done about it.

"I was going to lock myself in my room and read a good book that day," Ryan said. He didn't really want to admit how spooked he was and Jim wasn't making it any easier by treating this like it was nothing.

"You can't waste a whole day on a game we played in high school. If you're taking off a day why not have some fun?," Jim said.

Ryan really wanted to say no, but there was something about his friend's tone that suggested he should go. And he trusted Jim. He had always looked out for Ryan. So over the next week he tried to forget about the prediction of his death. He also updated his will, bought flowers for Heather and called his parents.

During the evenings he read some old history books with new interest, specifically those about Nostradamus and others who claimed to have prophetic powers. Was it possible there really were people who could see the future? It seemed more likely than it had. But, if Jim could tell the future why did he live in a studio apartment and work at a gas station?

By the time he was driving across town on the 16th he had convinced himself Jim was playing some bigger game. Perhaps he knew some reason that Ryan had to die today. But he trusted Jim enough that he didn't try to take a different route to his friend's house or even buckle his seat belt. If he was going to die he would die.

But nothing happened. There was no car accident, no screeching of breaks. There weren't even all that many cars on the road. And while he looked carefully as he crossed the street to go into his friend's apartment he felt a bit silly. A few coincidences and he had convinced himself Jim was magical. But after some time thinking about it logically none of his predictions were that amazing. Common names and jobs that were only true if you interpreted them in a specific way. It was only the last, the exact moment of his death that was truly impressive and it seemed that Jim had guessed wrong in that case.

Once inside Ryan couldn't help but being pleasantly surprised by his friend's sense of humor. Jim had picked out three movies to watch Crash, Speed and Mad Max because Ryan was clearly in the mood to watch a bunch of car accidents. But the danger seemed over so Ryan relaxed and had some pizza while they watched cars crash into each other.

Then at almost exactly two o'clock Jim turned off the DVD player while a bus was making a jump off of a freeway ramp and switched over to the local TV station without a word. That seemed odd to Ryan, but he watched he saw the police chasing a truck through his neighborhood. The large truck was almost completely out of control. It turned and careened down the street hit the curb then swerved into Ryan's house smashing through the wall of Ryan's bedroom.

While the police rushed up and handcuffed the clearly drunk man Ryan saw his demolished bed on live TV and looked at Jim.

"Well that's odd. Who would have expected a car accident in your bedroom?" Jim said, and he held out the box of pizza so Ryan could take the last slice.

"I don't understand. You should be rich," Ryan said.

"Would you have called me if I was rich?" Jim asked.

Ryan thought about it for a moment and he honestly couldn't answer, but Ryan suspected that Jim knew the answer. If he was running a company or had even won the lottery Ryan wouldn't have wasted his time with fantasies and certainly wouldn't have come over to his house for pizza and movies on a Thursday. So Ryan took the pizza and grabbing the remote and turned the movie back on.


The Science of Magic

Marrillo read the dusty, leather bound book slowly. He was still convinced he had made a mistake. These were the same spells and ideas wizards had been using for a thousand years and everyone said the rituals to perform magic were random. It simply wasn't possible that hundreds of wizards had spent their lives learning these spells and missed the connections. Every wizard learned from his first lesson that magic had no order or set rules. Spells were born from the chaos of the universe and the only way to discover more was through random trial and error that could take a lifetime to learn a single spell that might not even be useful. But Marrillo had found a pattern. It wasn't a clear pattern yet and he didn't understand it completely but the closer he looked the more of those small connections he saw. He already had theories on how to make a dozen different spells and he was even able to guess what they might do. It was a power that generations of wizards had dreamed of.

Click to read more ...


Free Fantasy Short Story: Ordered Magic by Elton Gahr

This story began as a sort of question of the differance between science and magic and whether magic that has rules you can learn and understand is really magic. it uses a few of those ideas, but I realized as I was working on it that wasn't really the story I was writing. Instead this is about power and the dangers of any one person having too much power.



Ordered Magic


Elton Gahr


Marrillo looked read the dusty, leather bound book more carefully while he looked over his notes. This had to be wrong. These were the same spells and ideas wizards had been using for a thousand years. It simply wasn’t possible they had missed the connections.

The only explanation he had was that every wizard was taught from his first lesson as a child that magic had no order or set rules. Spells random ordering of chaos and the only way to discover more were the random trials and errors which made up most of a wizard’s time when there was no war.

Now though he had found an order. The beginnings of a set of rules that would allow each discovery to effect a dozen spells. More importantly he could change spells and learn the types of spells he wanted to know and as he learned learning more might become easier. All the things any wizard had ever wanted.

He considered rushing to the elders, but knew he needed proof. He was only eighty so considered young and reckless making it easy to dismiss his ideas. That made the choice of what to do next easy. He would prove his ability by adjusting one of the more useful spells. Logins Longsight allowed a wizard to see much farther than a normal made could. It took almost four years of experiments using all of his spare time but he created two new spells. The first allowed him to look at something far too small to see and the other to look through things. Not as useful as the original, but they proved his point.

Then elder wizard Erdorn approached him. The third oldest of wizards in this part of the world he had survived six wars and nine centuries.

“We have been watching you,” the legendary wizard said, walking into Marrillo’s private home without warning or introduction. “I don’t understand,” Marrillo said. Lying to a wizard was always a bad idea, but they tended to assume ignorance so it was worth a try. “I’ve met far better liars than you,” Erdorn said, but he sounded amused not angry.

“It’s just research,” Marrillo said.

“Exceptionally dangerous research. Still, all I need is assurances that you’re not going to go public,” Erdorn said. Much of the humor was out of his voice.  They knew and they wanted to keep that knowledge to themselves.

“We could make the world better,” Marrillo said.

“Or far worse.  Wizards are already powerful think about how much more powerful they could become. What happens when men become powerful enough to bury cities under stone or kill men anywhere in the world with a ten minute spell?” Erdorn said.

It had never occurred to Marrillo. A wizard could already hold off an army if prepared, but if caught unaware a dozen angry men could kill even an elder wizard.

“We could remove the dangerous people. There have to be ways to remove the most dangerous,” Marrillo said. “Leaving more power in even fewer hands. It is too dangerous,” Erdorn said, and his voice made it clear the discussion was over.

“Can I continue my studies?” Marrillo asked.

“So long as no one knows we encourage it. Simply report your discoveries to the elders so we can determine which spells should be added to the books of magic,” Erdorn said. Time passed quickly for Marrillo who cut out everything in his life but preparation for when he betrayed the wizards. They could not be allowed to keep the rest of the world in a constant cycle of devastating wars simply because they wanted to keep power and he wouldn’t let them.


His only breaks were the letters he wrote. Vague letters that asked the same questions which had led him to ordered magic. If the elder’s checked his mail they may be upset but he didn’t think they would care.  The questions weren’t answers and they could always threaten the wizards he contacted as well. Worse, there was no sign that anyone had understood the questions meant anything.

Erdorn also appeared every few months. He walked into Marrillo’s home without invitation and left just as abruptly. More than once he had come into the house, watched Marrillo without a word then left while other times he asked strange questions and once simply made tea. Then, as he had gotten used to the strange visits Erdorn changed. He walked into the room and said, “There will be a war in three months. You should prepare defenses.”

That knowledge should be impossible, but who knew. Even the future might not be beyond their sight

He spent the next three months in defensive research. He had never studied more than the basics of defense, but his abilities had grown in the last decade and he created the shields quickly. The wizards had been right. In three months the war began, though it started with rumors and the real slaughters didn’t happen until months later. The spells used were of the classic disordered type, at least on the surface. That didn’t make them any less devastating though. Fires appeared out of nowhere burning down city blocks while across the town a creature appeared killed one hundred men with a strange blue sword and then disappeared.

As much as Marrillo hated the war it sped up his research. The restricted books were open and no research was limited though he continued to focus on defense.

The war lasted four years and killed three quarters of the inhabitants of the city. That was no surprise. The wizards didn’t care if people died unless so many were killed it interrupted the wizard’s research. In fact having twenty five percent of the citizens alive when the war was over was a victory. There were likely no survivors in the other city, beyond the elder wizards who could defend themselves.

During that time he created the perfect defensive spell. A bubble of altered reality. Small, but the size could be changed easily and inside the rules of the world could be anything he wanted including completely safe from magic. That magic couldn’t be used there didn’t mean he was helpless. This was a dreaming world and so long as he believed he could control it as a dream which was often far more powerful than magic, but limited to being inside that bubble.  

As the war drew to a close he began to write out letters to every wizard he had ever met. If this worked he could be starting another war weeks after the last had ended and that could destroy the world. There was also a reasonable chance that it would just get a lot of people killed and do nothing worthwhile, but he had to try.

Three days after the letters were mailed Erdorn walked into his house. Marrillo rushed toward his sanctuary but as he reached out for the ragged edge of reality a spell grabbed him and pulled him back.

“Do you know what you have done?” Erdorn asked, as he lifted the helpless Marrillo into the air. “I defied you,” Marrillo said, one last war, one last battle and whether they won or lost the elder’s power should be broken.

“Wizards, good wizards, all over the world are dying. Some are elder wizards, but far more are children unable to understand the power you tried to give them. I kill three innocent men last night because of you.

“You could trust them and see what happened,” Marrillo said.

“It’s not that easy. Ordered magic will give wizards too much power and create an eternal slave race because those without magic will be little more than animals.”

The truth of the wars, and even the reasons the wizard had known the war was coming struck Marrillo. “You kill them because wizard’s children usually have magic,” Marrillo said. It was disgusting, but it made sense. The wizard’s wars almost never killed wizards because it wasn’t really a war; it was an excuse for genocide.

“Far more would die otherwise. A wizard can live forever, we can eliminate old age, eliminate poverty and inequality. We can turn this world into a paradise,” Erdorn said.

“It’s still mass murder,” Marrillo said.

“What other option do we have?” Erdorn asked and it really sounded as if he might want one.

“We could leave,” Marrillo said.

 “We’ve considered it, but more wizards will be born and many won’t want to leave. It could make the problem worse.”

“What if we could go away without leaving?” Marrillo said, suddenly recognizing a solution.

“What do you mean?”

“I created a spell to defend myself. A bubble where reality is different. In it I am a dreamer, but for everyone else magic ceases to exist,” Marrillo said.

“And you have to have a dreamer?”

 “Without magic it is the only way to control the reality though once it exists no one would be needed,” Marrillo said. He understood though, he couldn’t be trusted any more than anyone else.

 “You could kill me, but you won’t have magic while mine will be practically instinctual,” Marrillo said. If he were free he could do it without telling anyone, he might even become a sort of god, but he would need Erdorn to release him.

“A strong poison could solve that problem. You take the poison then expand the bubble to cover everything,” Erdorn said.

The poison was not a problem. Many of the ingredients that he used were poisonous; it was only a matter of ensuring death while giving him enough time to complete the plan. Erdorn choose and after Marrillo had drunk the poison released him and walked into the bubble with him and moments later magic bother ordered and chaotic were gone.


The End