Rogue Spells

(Preceded by: Dragon Spells)

I defeated the dragon who invaded the “real” world (with help), but not before she triggered a cataclysmic event that could destroy reality itself. If I don’t find a way to stop it, my world and everyone on it will cease to exist. I can’t let that happen. Armed with my cryptic ghost bear, (until he abandons me for another mystery), I must track down the one person who can fix everything before it’s too late.

Journey with me (and my mage father because even sidekicks need shields) to fantastic places. Meet magical creatures and people as we jump through portals in search of clues to solve a life-or-death magical caper.

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I’ll Destroy You

The green glowing sphere protecting us from a wave of debris flickered. Uh-oh. That was bad. I squeezed Papa’s leg as that debris slid closer. It was taller than me and full of sharp things like broken cinder blocks and pieces of metal. If it fell on us, we’d get hurt real bad. “Papa, why’d your shield flicker?” Now would be a bad time for his magic to stop working. “Papa, is something wrong?”

Papa sank to one knee, forcing me to let go of his leg. He rubbed his forehead as his shield guttered. “Something’s interfering with my magic again.”

“How can that be? The bad orb is gone.” I glued myself to his side, and he hugged me as a laugh rang out, startling us both.

“You idiots, don’t you know what that dragon left behind?” Metalara pointed at something small and metallic crawling around the rubble.

“What’s that?” I stepped away from Papa to get a better look because the metallic lady stood on top of the debris that was trying to fall on us. But I’m short, so I needed someone to pick me up. I crashed into Papa’s flickering shield before I took three steps, and it bounced me back to his side, where I belonged.

The metal object the Newsletter-Dragon had dropped rose as it shook, and metal tubes extruded from its rounded edges as a clockwork insect unpacked itself and doubled in size.

“What is that?” I watched its transformation in awe, and I wasn’t the only one.

“It’s an Agent of Chaos. Get away from it.” Auntie Sovvan pushed Uncle Miren and I behind her. She spread her long arms wide to keep us there, but Papa didn’t move, earning him an annoyed look from his twin. “That means you too, bro. That little thing can do a lot of damage.”

“What the hell?” Auntie Sovann’s gray eyes widened as a metal hand wrapped around her arm as Papa’s shield fell.

But the debris didn’t fall on us. His magic shoved it backward, sending it cascading across the room and away from us before its green glow winked out.

Metalara threw my aunt aside. “This all makes sense now.” She stalked toward the clockwork insect like a woman on a mission.

Maybe it made sense to her but not to the rest of us. Though maybe Metalara was losing her mind. She was banged up but still dangerous, and there was an evil gleam in her pink-glowing eyes.

A black substance wept out of the fist-sized hole in her chest, but she didn’t notice that, just the clockwork roach burrowing into the debris. Metalara dove after it. “I’ll destroy you.”

“Are you okay?” I asked as Uncle Miren helped my aunt up. She’d landed near the hole the giant book had made. It had left the building after it had eaten the dragon, and good riddance. I didn’t want to eat anyone I loved, and it wouldn’t if that book stayed gone.

“Yeah, I’m fine, no thanks to Ms. Psychopath over there.” Auntie Sovvan shook her fist at the furiously digging Metalara. But she had to shield her eyes as a bright flash almost blinded us. “What was that?”

I shrugged because nothing looked any different when I could see again. A scream startled me, and I leaned into Papa’s leg and pulled his cloak around me. It was cold here and getting colder because of the giant hole in the wall. The boiler was buried under a lot of debris, and it was probably broken beyond repair, so there wouldn’t be any heat coming from it anytime soon.

“What was that sound?” If someone needed help, then I wanted Papa to help them.

“The new problem the dragon mentioned. I guess it was too much to hope those orbs had completely cancelled each other out. I suppose we’d better go see what they’ve become and do something about them.” Auntie Sovvan climbed onto the mountain of debris without tripping over the hem of her once-white angel robes, but she froze at the top of the pile. “Everyone back away right now.”

“Why? What’s wrong?” Uncle Miren tried to step up next to her, but Auntie Sovvan threw an arm out to stop him.

She hopped off the debris pile and pulled my uncle along in her wake. “Everyone, please back away right now.” Auntie Sovvan’s eyes were wide and scared.

I’d never seen her like this. Until now, I thought nothing could ruffle my aunt, but something had. I craned my neck to see around Papa. He liked to stand between me and potential sources of danger, like the heaps of debris covering the floor in unsteady piles. But some pieces were precariously placed. They could fall at any moment, so he’d put me behind him where it was safe. But his body blocked my view. No fair.

“What did you see?” I asked my aunt when she drew even with Papa and blocked my view even more. Drat.

“What is it?” Papa grabbed her arm, stopping her.

“We have to go now.” Auntie Sovvan pulled, but Papa held fast to his twin. “I should be draining you, but I’m not.”

“And I’m glad you’re not. This is the most time I’ve spent with you since you returned from the dead.” Papa stared at her.

“I’m still dead. I haven’t returned. I’m just visiting until an angel drags me back to the afterlife again. But we really need to—” Auntie Sovvan pointed.

Papa rolled his eyes as he cut her off mid-sentence. “You’re missing the point.”

“No, you haven’t made any points, but you just interrupted mine.” Auntie Sovvan met Papa glare for glare. She was a feisty one, and that inner fire was burning away her fear.

“Will you quit it? I’m trying to have a serious conversation with you.” Papa shook her.

“Quit what?” Auntie Sovvan raised a brow in challenge.

“Bickering with me.” Papa rolled his eyes. “I don’t remember you being this contrary when you were alive.”

“Oh, but I was. You were just a lot quieter then, so I had to verbally spar with other people while you watched and enjoyed the show. But that doesn’t change the fact that we need to go now.” Auntie Sovvan stamped her foot. She was wearing sandals, so it made a loud thud.

“Why? It’s not like you to run away from anything.” Papa held tightly to Auntie Sovvan.

“Trust me. We should run away from this now.” She twisted her arm out of Papa’s grip and grabbed my hand.

“Weakling.” Metalara crushed something in her hand, then blew the remains away as she rose. She stood between us and the hole in the wall. “No matter, there’s now two less Agents of Chaos to destroy. Prepare to die.”

“What is an Agent of Chaos?” Uncle Miren beat me to the question. No fair.

I tugged on his cloak. “Hey, that’s my question,” I said when Uncle Miren glanced at me.

My teenage uncle shrugged. “Does it matter who asked if we get an answer?” He directed that last part to the metallic lady approaching us at a deadly swagger.

“Well, no,” I said, but I wasn’t sure about that, so I bobbed up on my toes and stared at her too. Maybe our combined stares would pull some words out of her. It worked on Papa sometimes. Light glinted off something behind Metalara. There must be some metal in the hole in the wall.

“They’re bad, and we should run.” Auntie Sovvan backed away, taking me with her.

“Did you have to destroy this place?” Melinda poked Auntie Sovvan in the side when we drew even with her.

But I’d wondered the same thing. Auntie Sovvan didn’t usually cause property damage, so she looked a little embarrassed at that turn of events.

“I didn’t destroy anything. The book did. I was just along for the ride.” Auntie Sovvan shrugged helplessly.

Another scream rang out—the one I’d dreaded hearing. Uh-oh, the apartment building’s management association must have finally noticed what was happening, and they sounded angry. I didn’t want to meet them because then I’d have to explain how a bunch of fictional characters and a digital dragon destroyed the boiler room. My family had tried to save it, but some things just couldn’t be saved. At least no one got hurt, except the dragon, but she didn’t count.

Metalara seized up as a loud clicking sound echoed off the walls. “Changes come in threes.” She convulsed as the broken gears turned slowly in her chest, and her wings glowed a warm orangey-pink. They had little gears in them too, and they whirred when she moved.

Behind her, an army of clockwork insects scuttled over the debris scattered across the tiled floor, and everything got really wavy and smeary like the world outside the hole in the wall was melting. It couldn’t really do that, so I tried not to worry too much about it.

Auntie Sovvan backed up until a wall stopped us and squeezed my hand. “Sarn, come here, please.”

“What are those things?” He asked as he joined us. I grabbed his hand too.

“Agents of Chaos. There’s never just one. They always travel in armies.” Auntie Sovvan stared at them in equal parts fascination and horror as those creatures flowed over everything in their path, heading straight for Metalara. “Melinda?” Auntie Sovvan extended her other hand to our Scribe.

“Hmm?” Melinda looked up from her phone after hitting the save button.

“Is there another way out of this building? Because we can’t go that way anymore.” Auntie Sovvan nodded to the hole in the wall the Agents of Chaos had entered through.

“Yes, up those stairs, but that way might not be safe since one of those beams reduced part of it to a rubble pile.” Melinda pointed to the stairs in question. They were next to the entrance to the laundry/boiler room.

“There’s a sliding glass door in her apartment too. We could go out that way,” I suggested, so I could check on the portal. If things got too scary here, we couldn’t escape unless the portal to our world returned. That was the only way we could go home again. Had that portal reappeared?

I glanced at the closed door to Melinda’s apartment. Thankfully, it was outside the danger zone and hadn’t been destroyed. I couldn’t go to her apartment until Auntie Sovvan let go of my hand, but her grip was like iron, and Papa was now holding my other hand just as tightly as if he knew what I was thinking.

Sometimes, Papa was too observant, but he was so tall, all he could see right now was the top of my head unless I happened to look up at him. That was why he often picked me up. Right now though, I wanted to be in his arms for a whole different reason.

A black spot had appeared dead center in that hole in the wall. But it wasn’t filling that hole as it expanded. It just looked that way because I was small and looking up at it.

That black circular thing must be floating in whatever was turning the world outside this building into swirling colors. I hoped it wasn’t a giant finger. Papa and I had faced many dangers, but I drew the line at giants. They could eat me and not notice, and that would make Papa, Auntie Sovvan, and Uncle Miren sad. Maybe Melinda too if she looked up from her phone long enough to notice my demise.

“Changes come in threes,” Metalara sang as she spun drunkenly, scattering the Agents of Chaos. “First the orb, hide it, take in all the power—” She raised a second gleaming finger as she spun, arms akimbo.

“Then launch it into the sky. Watch it fly, way up high—” Metalara trailed off again and raised a third finger. “Then the enemy comes to turn the tide, make chaos win over order. Never again. Not on my watch.” She threw her head back and roared. “Not on my watch. I will destroy you all.”

Uh-oh. We were in trouble now.

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