Friday, 27 December 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013 -

Creatures of Light and Darkness

by John Benson
Published: Oct 19, 2013
Words: 23,705
Category: fantasy
Orientation: M/F
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Creatures of Light and Darkness

The ESA office was at a pretty good address, high in the Clinton Towers on the corner of Walmart and Barracuda. Overhead a Zeppelin blocked the sun and Karen resisted the temptation to look up. After all, this was Nuevo Jork. Only the tourists looked up. The natives were all strangely incurious, or pretended to have seen everything before. In the lobby the guards were armed and nervous, but when they saw her appointment pass they pointed to a gravlift without a word. Respect for the Sorcerers, perhaps, or maybe superstitious prejudice against them. It was hard sometimes to tell just which.

The gravlift decanted her all too quickly on the thirty third floor. There was a sign. Ethical Sorcerers' Association, Suite 3310. She spent a queasy moment wondering whether she hoped she was positive or negative. At least the uncertainty would be over, and that was something. She opened the door. The office had a nice view of Prosperity Park, but it wasn't all that large. There was just this guy behind a desk, looking slightly rumpled and very ordinary. They didn't go in for flash. They always seemed less than what they were, while most of society tried always to seem more. He rose as she entered and took her hand. She felt a little shock, almost of recognition.

"Karen Groth? Hi. Welcome. Please have a seat."

She sat, feeling disoriented. No point in trying to read him. He was a trained Sorcerer, after all. The first she'd probably ever seen. "Well," she said, "am I one or not?" The answer mattered. Small talk didn't matter. The answer mattered. She found herself holding her breath.

"Good news and bad news, Miss," he said. "The good news is you're a latent. I'm amazed we missed it in the screening. If we'd found you when you were ten, you'd be a rising star among our number by now. The bad news is we didn't find you when you were ten, and while teaching an adult isn't impossible, it's difficult and dangerous. I doubt you'll find anyone willing to attempt it."

But what about the headaches, the weird dreams. "Independent study?" she asked. "After all, someone must have been first. He wouldn't have had a mentor, so it must be possible."

"Not recommended, Miss Groth. Once you open to the Arcane, you'll be a magnet for the Forces of Darkness, and they'll try to tempt you, and failing that, they'll destroy you."

"And if they succeed in tempting me?" Her voice cracked. She was under more strain than she admitted. Sorcery. She'd dreamed of Sorcery when she was little, but everyone told her not to bother. A one in a million chance. Don't bother.

"We'd have to kill you," the Sorcerer said. He frowned.

She blinked back tears. "Oh," she said. "Are you sure there's no one who would risk it? I have some money. I'd give almost anything."

"Your soul, Miss Groth?"