|Posted by Matt Posner on September 1, 2012 at 12:00 AM|
Classes went smoothly for a while, but as we came into February, I was feeling that something was going to happen. As my ability as a high sorcerer developed, the body sensations grew stronger – physical reflections of a mystic knowledge, or if you prefer, a psychic connection to the energy of the universe. Human beings experience time in a line, one event after another, and for the most part can’t change that way of experiencing time. We magicians, however, can get flashes of something else. The school time-travel trips are a large example; the sorcerer’s experience is a small one. When the sensation comes, it’s like feeling your body expand, and pieces of the future enter it, and while you don’t know what they are exactly, you know what kind of pieces they are.
The feelings were transitory, and came unpredictably, and I didn’t have a sense that I understood what to do, or even could influence it.
I went to see Dr. Archer, trying not to react to his hunched carriage or to the redness and bags that defined his eyes.. "Something will happen tonight,” I told him. “On the roof.”
“Thank you for telling me that,” he said. “I was aware of a pending event, which is a reaction to one of my initiatives, but which apparently tends more to your interest than to mine. I must participate, however. I shall make arrangements.”
I ate dinner with Goldberry and Avery. Robbie was studying with Rocco and Balaram in the summoning lab. After we finished, I said, “Let’s go to the roof.”
“Good God, why?” Goldberry said. “It’s bloody cold up there. Sun’s going down.”
“No, he’s right,” Avery said. “Let’s go.”
“Wait a tick.” Goldberry did her mental tarot trick, wincing at the throbbing pain divination still caused her. The effort of Leah, Falling Water, and Tusitala in mediumship class had restored to her a small amount of her former ability. “Hmm, the hierophant. All right, that’s got me curious.”
“Only one card?” Avery asked.
“Yes,” my partner said bitterly. “One card is all I can manage.”
We heard howling as we climbed the stairs to the roof. “Big wind blowing up,” Avery said.
The door was propped open; someone was already up there. We stepped carefully onto the cracked tar, looking left and right. Who would be waiting with us? Immediately we saw three figures, side by side, but then I remembered they were the three stone gargoyles that always stood on the roof: Kalkas, the eyes covered with the hands; Humperdinck, ears similarly covered; and Ellen James, with a covered mouth.
“Let’s wait there,” I suggested. Leaving behind the hutch that covered the stairs down in the school, we stood by the gargoyles. No one else was visible to the eye on the roof at dusk, but while advanced concealment was a fourth-year lesson, we had recently learned how to see through it. Scanning each region of the roof, we visualized doors opening and big feet kicking people through them. Using this method, I was able to spot Mina hiding crouched by the southwest corner, recognizable by the violet scarf and Goth gear she had been wearing earlier in the day. Then I found three teachers. They were on the other side of the gargoyles from us, standing stiffly in the traditional hooded robes School of the Ages faculty used to greet new arrivals.
A strong wind came out of the trees below, shaking them with a rustle and a whoosh, and blew across the roof, fluttering the teachers’ hoods and chilling all of us. The sun was going down, and the clouds were gray-brown with bright highlights as the wind made its way across our faces and into the chinks in our coats. Avery left and, finding a nail already driven into the doorframe of the hutch, hung some tiny wind chimes, which tinkled like ghost voices. She rejoined us, and together we watched the sky. As we waited, a small speck seemed to emerge from the clouds right where a spot of orange remained from the descending sun. At first I thought it was a plane, but soon we could all see it was something smaller. The blurred speck became two small gray shapes. As they drew closer we saw that they were two upright men in trailing robes, moving toward us as if standing on a descending escalator.
“Hi, Mr. B.,” Avery said.
A heavy, cold gale was bearing up their weight as they grew nearer. I put my arm around Goldberry as best I could. She was shaky and weak, but I knew better than to tell her to go back inside. Avery now walked to the edge of the roof, right where the two men’s trajectory was going to bring them to a stop.
The two men halted hovering just short of the roof’s edge and shucked off their robes, which dropped out of sight. The bigger of the two was a strong-faced man with an unlined face, but a long, icy beard and white hair and brows. The other was pale, with a fierce aquiline nose, eyes too dark to understand, long black hair tied behind him. The two surveyed the entire roof. We were not hidden, so their eyes focused on us, and the loudness of the wind died down, making conversation possible.
I looked at our robed teachers. One nodded to me to begin.
“You’ve come to School of the Ages,” I shouted to them. “I am called Simon Magus. If you come as friends, give us names to call you, and we will greet you by them.”
“Can it be that I am not recognized?” said the icy-bearded man in a voice young and deep. “I have been here before.”
“I know you,” Avery said. “I told you hi before.”
“Then I offer you return greetings, Cecile Pierre, from Boreas, the North Wind.”
“Call me Avery,” she said.
“Mistress?” said the other man. His voice, with some European accent, was like broken bells. “Have we no compact, that you turn from me to her with but a word?”
“A compact was forged two thousand years ago with her forefathers,” answered Boreas. “Nubian princes they were, who knew the secret of the golden heart of the world. I am a fierce wind, but I do love this child. If there be battle, she must not be harmed, but I shall crush any other foe you command.”
I had a moment to take in the fact that the man was commanding the North Wind. I hadn’t realized that was possible. It was best to keep the situation calm. “Boreas,” I said, “you are as old as the world and known to all its peoples. You are welcome to stand on our roof, if you will promise not to bring snow today.”
“No more snow this season,” said Boreas.
I called Avery over and whispered in her ear. She nodded and crossed the roof, standing by the hutch and holding her wind chimes in both hands.
Boreas alighted on the roof.
“Keep me waiting, will you?” said the other man. His eyes were as hard as mountain peaks.
“I have given you a name for me,” I said, “but I don’t have yours. That comes first.”
“Very well,” he said. “I am called Jan Vorkin, Arch-Mage and defender of the city of Prague. Your teachers came into my territory uninvited and unannounced, and now I am returning the visit in similar fashion. I see them there, behind the statues. Do they know how to speak?”
Buy the first book in the series at amazon: http://www.amazon.com/School-Ages-Ghost-Crystal-ebook/dp/B0047GMH5E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346429129&sr=8-1&keywords=matt+posner
Buy tthe first book in the series book in paperback in India: http://www.infibeam.com/Books/ghost-crystal-matt-posner/9789380828831.html also at flipkart and in bookstores