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Bringers Of Magic
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-137-4
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Science Fiction
eBook Length: 285 Pages
Published: November 2013

From inside the flap

Wonder workers have come to the town of Carey in Arucadi's heartland, and the town will never be the same.

Ed Robbins, known to the townsfolk as Simple Eddie, discovers that he is magically gifted, and his life is transformed. Abigail Dormer, respected headmistress of the Dormer Primary School for Young Ladies, does not believe in magic and is convinced that Kyla and Marta are charlatans until Abigail's own magic abilities reveal themselves, much to her consternation. Jerome Esterville, rebellious son of a pious mother, also discovers a gift, but it is wild magic, not from the Power-Giver, and if not restrained will turn him to terrible evil. Councilor Hardwick, head of the Carey City Council, hopes to receive power and, when that gift is denied him, sets the council and most of the town against the "wonder workers." Devastation looms for the town, and Kyla and Marta face death. Ed's magical gifts may provide a solution, but only if Kyla and Marta can train him before disaster overtakes them all.

Bringers Of Magic (Excerpt)


Sticks and Stones

Ed stopped sweeping the hall and leaned against his broom, caught up in the tale Miss Leah was telling her class of eight- and nine-year-olds. Miss Leah didn't mind, usually, if he eavesdropped on her lessons, and this was the kind of story he loved, with witches and dragons and a prince with a sword. A story about magic.

"Edwin, you won't get your work done like that." He jumped and pushed the broom past the doorway of Miss Leah's classroom before he turned and faced his accuser.

"I'm sorry, Miss Abigail," he mumbled, avoiding the woman's stern gaze.

"She shouldn't be filling the children's heads with that sort of nonsense, and you should not be listening to it. It's bad enough for children, but you aren't a child anymore. You're nineteen years old. You must behave like an adult."

"I'm sorry," he repeated, trying to move farther from the door so Miss Abigail's firm whisper could not be heard in the classroom. He didn't want Miss Leah to hear what Miss Abigail said about her stories. Miss Abigail and Miss Leah disagreed about many things, though they never got real angry with each other. It made him sad and confused when they argued, since he could never figure out who was right.

He liked Miss Leah. She never fussed at him, never chased him away when he paused at her door to listen to a lesson. She even helped him sometimes with his reading and sums. She didn't think he was too simple to learn, like a lot of people said.

Miss Abigail didn't think so either. If it had been an arithmetic lesson or a spelling drill he'd been listening to, she wouldn't have said anything. Miss Abigail was all hard edges, not soft and gentle like Miss Leah. She could be mean sometimes, and make him do a chore all over again if she didn't like the way he'd done it the first time. But she wasn't bad, not at all. She'd saved him from being sent to the workhouse when his pa died, giving him the janitor's job at her Dormer Primary School for Young Ladies, though people like Councilor Hardwick and Councilor Slamm declared he'd never learn the work. She'd shown him patiently what was expected of him, one step at a time until he got it, and although she scolded him when he made mistakes, she never beat him and told him how stupid he was the way his pa used to do.

"Come to my office when you finish sweeping this corridor, Edwin," Miss Abigail said. "I have another task for you."

He nodded, and she marched away, leaving him to worry about the "new task" and whether she meant it as punishment for listening to Miss Leah's storytelling. He hoped he hadn't got Miss Leah into trouble. Miss Abigail might not have noticed what Miss Leah was reading to the children if he hadn't drawn her attention to it by eavesdropping. Though maybe she would have heard anyway. Not much escaped Miss Abigail's notice.

Miss Abigail said that children should read "real life tales" with "didactic purpose," whatever that meant, while Miss Leah said that children needed stories that "stimulated their imaginations."

He'd asked Miss Leah what that meant, and she'd said, "It means that children need to learn to make pictures in their heads, pictures of things they've never seen, of things nobody has ever seen. If they learn that when they're little, when they grow up they can make new things because they can picture them first in their heads. That's called inventing, Ed. People have to have imagination to be able to invent new things."

"You mean someday somebody might 'invent' a dragon or a flying carpet?"

Miss Leah laughed. "Well, not those things exactly, but maybe something like them." He'd thought she was laughing at him, but she hurried to explain, "Somebody made up a picture of a train in his head and built it and now we have trains to make it easy to travel across our whole big country. A trip that took months by horse-drawn wagon can be made in days. All because an inventor used his imagination."

He thought about that while he pushed his broom. He was simple, but he could make pictures in his head. All his life he'd done that to escape the pain of his pa's beatings. He had a special place he always pictured, not anywhere he'd ever really been, but a pretty place with trees and flowers and birds and a cool stream he could bathe in and friendly animals he could talk to. With all the time he'd spent in that place, he could describe it as well as he could describe downtown Carey. Better, even. There were lots of places in Carey he'd never seen, places where he wasn't allowed. In his own special place he knew every stone, every leaf, every rill and hollow. He knew the best fishing spots, the best trees for climbing, and the best grassy slopes to roll down. He was too big to climb trees and roll down hills, Miss Abigail said. He was grown up and had to act like an adult. But in his private place he could do anything he wanted, and nobody could scold him or tell him he was behaving like a child.

Best of all, he could go there in his mind while his body was scrubbing floors or washing windows or sweeping halls.

He reached the end of the hall, swept the pile of dirt into his dustpan, and carried it outside to dump under a tree. Wiping his dirty hands on his trousers, he came back in and headed down the hall toward Miss Abigail's office.

He passed Old Miss Dorey's room and heard her giving a geography lesson. The children began reciting in unison Arucadi's provinces, their capitals, and their patron gods. "North Woods Province, capital Dabney, patron god Nisil," they chanted. "Port Province, capital Port-of-Lords, patron god Ondin. Wide Sands Province, capital Marquez, patron god Arene." He wanted to linger and chant along with them, to show that he'd learned all twelve provinces, their capitals, and their patron gods. But it wouldn't do to keep Miss Abigail waiting.

He knocked on her office door until he heard her call, "Come in," then entered and stood in front of her desk, hands hanging at his sides.

Miss Abigail was writing a letter, her loops and lines and curls marching neatly across the unlined paper like well-trained schoolgirls. She finished a line, put a precise period at its end, and looked up. "For goodness sakes, Edwin, straighten your shoulders and look up at me. Do you think I summoned you here to chastise you?"

Miss Abigail often used big words he didn't understand, but at least she never talked down to him. He wasn't sure what answer he was expected to give, so he shifted from foot to foot and said nothing.

She sighed. "You have no need to be frightened, Edwin. I'm not angry with you. You learn by listening to the lessons the teachers present. I'm pleased that you want to learn, and as long as you do not shirk your tasks, I shall not reprimand you. However, you waste your time when you listen to fantasy tales. You will learn nothing from them, and they may do you harm. Do you understand?"

He nodded, though he didn't see how Miss Leah's stories could harm him, and he did learn from them. But he didn't dare to say so to Miss Abigail. He would just have to be more careful about listening in at story time.

"Now, Edwin, I called you here because I want you to run an errand for me." She blew on the paper she had written to dry the ink, and then folded the letter in half. "I want you to take this note to Councilor Hardwick. He should be in his office in the town hall. Hand it directly to him." She held out the note.

He did not take it. Instead, he shuffled his feet, lowered his gaze again, and said, "Councilor Hardwick doesn't like me, Miss Abigail. He won't let me in."

"Nonsense. You are going to him as my representative. If he objects, you may tell him that. In a courteous manner, of course. This message is important, and the councilor must see it today. Some of the girls are spreading rumors that the charlatans who have caused so much trouble in North Woods Province are coming here. As council master, Councilor Hardwick must be informed. There may be no truth to the rumors, but we must be on the alert. If they do come, the council must send them away before they can perform their magic tricks and confuse our people as they have confused the people of North Woods."

Ed understood very little of what she said. He understood "magic tricks" and he'd heard stories travelers told about two women wonder workers in North Woods Province. His head snapped up and he couldn't hold in his excitement. "Coming here?" he asked. "The wonder workers are coming to Carey?"

"So Lucinda Mason heard from her aunt, who's just come back from a trip to Dabney in North Woods. But you needn't get excited about it. There are no true wonder workers, Edwin, only tricksters who prey upon the public." She took a cloth from her desk drawer and cleaned the point of the pen she'd used to write her letter.

"If they pray, how can they be bad?" Ed asked, scratching his head.

"Keep your fingers out of your hair, Edwin," Miss Abigail said, vigorously polishing her pen nub. "I mean that they cheat the public. People pay them money to see their feats of supposed magic, but what they see are only clever tricks, sleight of hand, well-designed illusions."

Ed clasped his hands behind his back to keep from raising them to his head and running them through his hair. Miss Abigail hated to see him do that. "Some women at the greengrocer's said the wonder workers can catch light in their hands. They can fly through the air on the wind."

"That's nonsense, Edwin. No one can do such things. Don't be so gullible."