The Impossible Wizard: Chapter 12
If you ended up here before reading the earlier chapters, you can return to Chapter 1 here
“Oh, shit!” After twenty minutes of listening to Terra chant in Infernal the human words jarred Shizuku.
It took only a second to figure out what prompted them. Dark energy swirled around the body in red waves, pressing into it instead of getting sucked up into her funnel. It didn’t look like an explosion was imminent, but something had clearly gone wrong.
“I used a conjecture where I should have used a constant. The spell’s broken and spiraling out of control.”
“Out of control how?” Shizuku asked.
“Best case it will exhaust itself, destroying the body in the process.”
“And the worst case?”
“It’ll continue to build, eventually exploding and taking the entire park with it.”
Shizuku ran a hand through her hair. “How do we stop it?”
“There’s no stopping it now. All we can do is contain it, or try to anyway.”
“Okay, I can do a light barrier if you handle earth. Then I’ll adjust my funnel to draw anything that escapes up and away from the city.”
They hadn’t even begun to cast when the body moved. It turned its head toward them, eyes burning with Infernal light. The glow from the circle vanished as all the power rushed into the corpse. The body fell to the ground where it began to rise. A dark aura surrounded it, similar, but different from the zombies. She didn’t think this aura would stop their spells, but that begged the question of what it did do.
The creature’s teeth and nails lengthened. Green ichor dripped from them, sizzling where it struck the floor. It snarled at them and took a step.
Shizuku chanted, “Divine chains hold all things in place, Heaven’s Binding!”
Chains of white light appeared around the reanimated body. It fought, struggling to break free. Dark energy sent cracks running all through the binding.
That answered one question. It was an aura of decay. If it got close to them the magic would rot flesh as easily as the magical bindings.
A chain shattered. At this rate it would escape in moments. She spoke a reinforcing spell, but that wouldn’t last long either. The aura of darkness broke down her magic as quickly as she strengthened it.
Pain throbbed at her temples as Shizuku struggled to maintain the binding and the funnel. They needed to end this before the monster escaped. Unlike the shadow hounds, this one wouldn’t simply hunt down Conryu, it would kill anyone it encountered. It had gone completely out of control and feral.
“Terra, burn it.”
“What about the dark energy?”
“My funnel’s still in place.” Shizuku grimaced against a fresh spasm of pain. “But I can’t hold this thing for long.”
Terra chanted in the language of fire, thrust her hands out, and sent a river of flame roaring into the undead monster. Another quick incantation contained the flame so it didn’t spread to any of the flammables in the maintenance room.
The magical flames ate away at the undead’s protective aura even as the aura rotted Shizuku’s binding. The combined magics were wearing it down, but too slowly.
Another chain broke and still the undead fought even as the flames consumed it little by little. Not much remained of Gerty’s body, just a charred skeleton, but it struggled with all its might to escape Shizuku’s spell.
A third chain shattered, leaving only two. The backlash sent a sharp pain stabbing into her eye.
The light magic binding wouldn’t hold. Though she wasn’t as strong in earth magic, Shizuku chanted, “Fists of stone, bind and hold, Stone Grasp!” Stone blocks thrust up from the ground and bound the undead’s feet in place.
Shizuku’s stomach churned and she nearly vomited.
Just a little longer.
Mustering every scrap of her rapidly diminishing strength Shizuku chanted an augmenting fire spell and Terra’s flames turned from orange to blue. Thirty seconds later the undead skeleton collapsed and the ashes swirled up the funnel and out of the artificial mountain.
Shizuku released all her spells and fell to her knees, utterly spent, head throbbing with the mother of all migraines. Terra rushed over beside her. “You hurt?”
“Tired. Maintaining four spells is about my limit. I think we underestimated our opponent. That spell wasn’t running out of control, it just appeared to be. Whoever set it up used the residual energy to create that undead creature, forcing us to destroy the body before we could examine it.”
“If you’re right, and I’m inclined to think you are, then we’re dealing with an extremely talented wizard.” Terra grasped Shizuku’s hand and pulled her to her feet.
“Worse,” Shizuku said. “A necromancer. Only someone specialized in creating undead could have managed a casting that powerful and subtle.”
Shizuku really didn’t want to cast another spell right then, but she had to know for sure. “Reveal.”
The simple detection spell showed all the dark energy had dissipated. She sighed and relaxed a fraction. They were safe for the moment.
* * *
Lin’s stomach finally settled when Conryu’s bike roared out of the parking lot. He knew it wasn’t the young man’s fault that horrible things kept happening in his vicinity, but that didn’t change the fact that everyone would be much safer with Conryu elsewhere. As a bonus, most of the reporters appeared to have lost interest now that the main attraction had gone home.
He walked back to the shack where he’d left the welcome clown. She sat on a folding chair, her white face paint smeared from crying. Since the woman hadn’t even seen whatever had caused the panic Lin assumed the loss of today’s gate had brought on the tears.
Lin flipped open his notebook. “So you were saying everything seemed normal today. You didn’t see anyone odd in the area, a strange woman maybe?”
She sniffed. “Why would you assume it was a woman?”
“Because whoever did this had to be a wizard. Think hard.”
The clown shook her head. “Sorry, I just don’t remember anything out of the ordinary.”
Lin nodded. He wasn’t going to get anything useful out of her. He dug a card with his number as well as the station’s on it. “If you should think of anything, please contact us right away.”
She accepted the card and Lin turned to leave. His eyes went wide. A black cloud rose from the center of the carnival. That couldn’t be natural.
He tucked his notepad away and ran towards the source. He couldn’t do much about magic, but he needed to make sure no civilians remained in the area.
The only person anywhere near the artificial mountain was a bald, middle-aged man sitting on a picnic table rubbing his hands together and staring at the tunnel’s opening. He didn’t seem aware of Lin’s approach.
“Sir.” The bald guy finally looked his way. “You should move away. It’s not safe.”
He laughed, but it sounded more bitter than amused. “You’re telling me. My bookkeeper’s body is in there floating over some glowing circle and now there’s literally a dark cloud hanging over my business. I’m not sure what else could go wrong.”
“Are you the owner of this carnival?”
He nodded. “Wilbur Cullen. And you are?”
Lin showed Wilbur his badge. “Do you mind if I ask you some questions, preferably a safe distance from here?”
“Ask away, sonny, but I’m not going anywhere until those wizards come out and tell me what in the world is going on with my carnival.”
Lin shook his head in despair. “Did you see anything unusual today?”
“No, everything was the same as every other day. Line formed early, figured we’d have a good take. Shows what thinking gets you. It’ll be a miracle if the city lets us come back next year.”
“If it’s any consolation, Mr. Cullen, since no one was hurt and the incident wasn’t your fault I’m confident the city council will let you return next year. That’s what I’ll say if anyone asks.”
Wilbur seemed to see him for the first time. “Thank you for that. I hope you find whoever did this, but there’s nothing I can tell you.”
“Who’s in charge of maintaining the ride? Perhaps they saw something out of the ordinary.”
“That’d be the Carrigton boys. Not much brains, but damn good mechanics.”
“Where can I find them?”
“Hell if I know. Those things showed up and everybody scattered all over creation. When the ladies finish up I’ll run you back to the boys’ trailer. If they aren’t there I don’t know what to tell you.”
Lin tried to think of another way to come at this, but nothing occurred to him. Maybe the wizards would have something useful to tell him.
A rumble and roar came from the ride followed by a dull red glow that filled the mouth of the cave. It looked like the mouth of Hell.
“That’s a damn good trick,” Wilbur muttered. “We could probably duplicate that effect with tinted lights, make the ride look even more ominous.”
Apparently Wilbur wasn’t so shook up he couldn’t still think about business. The glow vanished and the cloud overhead dissipated. Lin let out a breath. It looked like the threat had ended.
As if to prove it the wizards emerged from the ride. The shorter one, a woman of Imperial descent wearing a black suit, looked like every step pained her. Wilbur marched over and Lin joined him.
The taller one in gray, a Department wizard for sure, shook her head. “There was a secondary spell that destroyed the body so we couldn’t examine it. I’m sorry, but there’s nothing left but ash.”
Wilbur wandered away staring at the sky and shaking his head.
“And who might you be?” the tall wizard asked.
Lin flashed his badge. “I’m investigating the attempted murder of Conryu Koda. Since he was involved in this incident as well I got the call. Do you think they’re related, miss?”
“Just Terra, please. Since the Department assigned me to head the investigation of the magical aspect of the assault, I figure we’ll be seeing more of each other.”
“You read my mind. Perhaps we can share information and work the case together.”
Terra nodded. “Good idea.”
The other wizard groaned. “I’m heading home. I need a nap before I talk to Conryu’s parents.”
“Okay, Shizuku. Will you bring the chief up to date?”
Shizuku nodded and trudged off.
“Will she be okay?” Lin asked.
“Shizuku’s stronger than she looks. A few hours’ sleep and a good meal will set her back to form. She channeled a lot of power dealing with the undead inside.”
“Undead?” Lin tried to wrap his mind around that announcement and failed. He’d studied a variety of magical threats in the police academy, but the instructors always said to let the Department wizard handle them. This case was looking more and more beyond his capabilities.
“Yeah.” Terra headed over to a pair of picnic tables. “Let’s sit and talk. I think we have a good deal to discuss.”
I hope you enjoyed reading Chapter 12. Click here to read Chapter 13
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