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The Grimoire Effect

by Michael Martin 5 months ago in Fantasy
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The Last Morganian

Nobody expected the arcane to be real. Yet when archeologists in England found the preserved grimoire of the great Merlin inside hidden catacombs, the whole world believed. Militaries soon began to isolate the use of magic to anyone in the military. But the eager oppressed will ascend above the entitled powers when given a sword of their own.

What ensued over the next fifty years wasn't even classified as a war. It was a deadly, all consuming free-for-all that reduced the entire human race to two percent. When the billowing smoke from the flames that consumed the now scorched earth cleared away, a new cult rose from the ashes. The disciples of Morgana. They believed that with Merlin's grimoire, they could gather enough magic users to resurrect their mistress, and she could bring their loved ones back from the dead. They were murderous, and scheming. Anyone who resisted their maleficent conscription was... removed.

Present day, one might look out an ash covered window and see the scarred yet slowly rejuvenating landscape of saplings filling a once lush forest. Adriana was the exhausted single mother of her ten-year-old son, Mateo. She was a good mom. She always made sure Mateo had shelter over his head, kept him safe from harm, and ate his fill before she ate. It was easy because the food they managed to scrounge together was always a meager and unappetizing mix. Bitter berries, a few low-hanging fruits, and a dead rodent were the feast of the evening. It was cooked, of course. Adriana wasn't a fan of the arcane, but when the world is falling apart because of magic, one must adapt. Adriana believed a small fire for cooking food wasn't out of the question, especially if it meant Mateo could eat.

It was cold. The warm fire in front of them and the icy cold on their backs, Mateo and Adriana waited with bated breath for the inevitable dawn. When the sun climbed over the horizon and soared into the sky to announce the breaking day, it would be warm enough to continue moving without freezing.

"Mama, it's cold." Mateo said quietly.

Adriana knew there was nothing more she could do to appease him. The fire was already too bright. Searching eyes would likely see through the blanket of dark supplied by the new moon. She had just escaped notice from a band of disciples the day before. She was reluctant to start a fire at all, but her magic wasn't as practiced as a full-time mage's. She just had to do the best she could with what she had.

"I know, baby, but we can't make the fire any bigger. Just double up your blanket. You'll be ok. I promise." The words felt like ash in her mouth, empty remnants of a hope that barely clung to Adriana's still beating heart. She wanted to protect Mateo at all costs, but the days were getting shorter, and the nights were getting longer. Soon, the frigid winter of the Ozarks would be upon them, and Adriana had nowhere she could go.

After Mateo had finished eating his food, all that was left was a couple of the bitter berries and half the scorched rodent. She ate vehemently because even though she was repulsed at eating such a revolting meal, she was famished from the last few days.

Once they had eaten and all was quiet, Adriana doubled up both of their blankets, and they snuggled up underneath together, their small floating flame a flickering orb of light and warmth under the dark, starry night.

A clang of tin cans alerted Adriana to the intruders approaching the house. She had tied the tin cans on a tripwire surrounding the house. She could have, of course, used wards to protect the house, but magic leaves traces to any who know how to search. Most magicians wouldn't expect mundane solutions when magic exists now. With the agility of a lioness leaping to protect her cub, Adriana flew up, extinguished the flame and grabbed her makeshift staff. Adriana wasn't a master craftsman, so her staff was just a four-foot oaken branch with a shard of quartz tied to one end and the other end she sharpened. It wasn't pretty but did the job.

Slowly peering over the window sill, Adriana saw three figures wearing dark, hooded robes with animal skulls over their faces. Adriana's heart slipped out of her chest and into her stomach. Of all the disciples of Morgana, most wore hoodies, wore face paint, or even ran around with only the leather they were born with. Only the most devout followers wore garments such as these. Only the elite magic users, the mages, wore these clothes, and there were three of them.

Adriana cracked her window 6 inches, cupped her hand over the quartz in her staff, and whispered, "fumeri venta maxi." And blew on the quartz. As she blew, a thick wall of smoke billowed around the house, blanketing the forest in a black, smothering, death cloud.

The mages seemed unimpressed as they all raised their hands and shouted, "Transima fumeri homino!" The smoke began to stir as if alive. Tendrils rose out of the smoke and began to arc over the cloud before spiraling toward the mages and surrounding them. The cloud had now become a twister, spinning around the mages with loud and violent winds. Then suddenly, it stopped. The smoke dissipated, and the mages were gone.

Adriana panicked, but before she could do so much as stand up, a mage grabbed Adriana by the throat and slammed her into the wall of the cabin. She couldn't speak. She couldn't breathe. All she could do was watch. All three of the mages stood before her in the cabin.

The largest had her by the throat. Adriana couldn't see anything but bright blue eyes in the empty sockets of the bear skull worn by this man. And the robe made it impossible to see anything about his physique except his beer gut sticking out past his chest. The second man was very slender, and his deer skull betrayed light-brown eyes with a wild lust to satiate his sadistic nature. And the final figure, standing in the room, was a woman. She stood shorter than either man, but one could see that she was in charge. She stood with a dignity portraying a queen. Billowing yellow curls leaked from either side of a wolf's skull and in the sockets peered piercing, deep, emerald eyes sharp enough to cut through the purest steel. Her voice was unwavering when she said,

"Your attempts to resist our cause have fallen on deaf ears. We will give you one more chance. Join the Disciples of Morgana, or we will melt you from the inside out."

"MOMMA!" Mateo screeched, but the deer headed man quickly produced a knife and a chuckle and pressed the knife to the child's neck.

"NO! Please! Don't hurt him!" was all the still choking Adriana could think to speak, for a mother's child was her only priority.

"Then, join us." The she-wolf said with tangible finality. Adriana looked at her son and at the three mages. Her heart was beating fast, and she knew she had only two choices. To kill, or be killed, for that was the way of the Disciples. They killed anyone who didn't join them, and they were far from pleasant about it for, in their beliefs, anyone who didn't aid in the resurrection of their lady, didn't deserve to be brought back, so they made it impossible.

"No." Adriana coughed equally final.

The large man exclaimed "fiera carpo maxi" and his fingers ignited as he pressed them against Adriana's side. Adriana screamed in agony, for this was the most painful experience she had ever been through. The searing pain of thousands of white-hot needles piercing he from the inside of her skin outward engulfed her entire body. She couldn't move. She couldn't think. Even Mateo had faded from her mind. The only all consuming thought she had left was pain.

From what seemed like far away, Adriana heard Mateo scream, "NOOOOO!" And an echoing wave of sound exploded across the room passing through everyone present and suddenly, the pain stopped. The fingers of the bear faced man loosened from her neck and she fell to the floor. She looked up to see the man turning gray. He looked at his hand, and it started to disintegrate into ash, slowly creeping up his arm and into his chest. Soon his whole body was gone and nothing was left but a pile of ash. The wolf and the deer fell back and scrambled away from the completely shaken boy. He looked at his mother, and she looked back, neither knowing what to say nor do. The wolf broke the silence with, "You're... A Morganian..." They looked at each other and said, "Transima fumeri homino!" and the ashes of the bear faced man swirled around the room, engulfing the mages once more.

When the dust cleared, Mateo ran to his mother crying, "Mama, I thought I was going to lose you!" And the tears streaming down his face mixed with the ash and soot into a tiny black river on his cheeks.

"What was that?" Adriana asked Mateo softly. She knew using magic without using words was impossible. Nobody had ever done it. That's why the arcane was lost to humanity for thousands of years, but here was her son, a boy who used magic just by screaming, "No." Mateo just shook his head. Adriana knew that she had to do something about this. Now that the Disciples of Morgana knew Mateo existed, and that he was something called a Morganian, he'd never be safe. And thus, with her bag on her back, her staff in one hand, and Mateo's hand in the other, Adriana began her journey to find some desperately needed help.


About the author

Michael Martin

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