Clockwork Wizard

(Continues from Nelipot, the Barefoot Witch)

Two avian clockwork creations flapped metal wings as their claws gripped the pugilist’s urn. Wizardry lent them buoyancy, making the twin contraptions light as a gliding feather. Riding the thermals the raptor flew, and its avian eyes kept its mechanical charges in view.  Through its eyes, a sickly youth peered while his companion sat at his bedside fidgeting.

“They’ve got it, and they’re bringing it here,” he said.  Sweat bejeweled his fevered brow.

Etienne shifted his guilty gaze to the thick napped throw rug his long toes gripped.  No other sign of unease betrayed him.  But he rose and went to the window.

“Don’t tax yourself. You can drop it–the spying I mean.  My constructs will bring it to me,” he said to the window which reflected two young men, but only one lay abed dying by slow inches.  The other stood hale and hearty, a scion of a long line of wizards.

To avoid a lawsuit the magic school had accepted a small group of ordinary students. His sickly friend had been one of them.

“It’ll work. I know it will.”

Etienne remained silent as he invoked wizard’s sight. Reality slid sideways, changing the night from shades of indigo to gray. Details sharpened.  Distances shank as his consciousness floated out of his body. He sought the Etherosphere where the magic drifted in refulgent clouds, rotating around the biosphere in perfect synchronicity.


The panicked call pulled on him but he fought its summons. If Willet wanted to live, he’d have to wait. The Etherosphere called in his great-grandfather’s voice.  A bony hand gripped his shoulder and shook it, bringing the room back into focus.

“Grea–” he swallowed the surprised greeting. No one was supposed to know he was Alexandre’s great-grandson.

“Shh, the other one doesn’t see me.  I came to talk to you. I want to know why you were tried to touch the Etherosphere.” Swirling eyes met his and there was pride in the color changing swirls. “You can speak. I cloaked us in silence.”

Right he needed a reason his great-grandfather would accept. Instead of coming up with one, Etienne glanced at Willet who coughed up blood into a handkerchief.

“Ah my boy,  there’s no cure for the Fade once it takes root.” Great-grandfather wrapped an arm around his shoulders. Relief made the older man squeeze his descendant. Possession of magic immunized a person against the Fade.

Guilt made Etienne slide out of the one-armed embrace. “You’re sure nothing can affect it?”

“This is me you’re talking to. I’ve walked the world for a very long time, and I’ve never found a cure.”

Wonderful, Willet’s plan was doomed to fail. Should he permit the farce to take place or put a stop to it now?

“Is that the only reason you came?”

“No, I wanted an explanation about this.” Great-grandfather cupped his hand and drew a bit of the Etherosphere into his palm. Shaping it, he spun up a mirror which reflected an odd creature tearing through Cavandora.

to be continued in The Malformed Construct

More scenes: Nelipot, the Barefoot Witch

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