The Impossible Wizard Chapter 3
If you ended up here before reading Chapters 1 & 2 you can return to Chapter 1 here
“What do you mean ‘retest’?” Maria asked.
“Yeah!” Kimmy added.
They stood beside a blue van with a picture of bronze scales of justice on the side. The plates on the front simply read, GOV. The wizard hadn’t joined them yet and the girls were getting antsy. Not that Conryu blamed them. He wasn’t exactly thrilled about things either.
It was an hour after noon on what Conryu had hoped would be a short day of school and a long afternoon of tweaking the carbs on his bike. He gazed longingly at the sleek black machine twenty spaces to their right. Maybe the wizard would let him follow along behind her. It wasn’t like he planned to run away. He wanted this sorted out as much as anyone.
“I don’t know what to tell you. The wizard asked me to find you and bring you here, so I did.”
“But why? There had to be some reason she wanted us to take the test over again.” Maria eyed him. “You’re hiding something.”
“What are you doing here at all?” Kimmy asked. “Testing us again makes a little sense, but why you?”
He wracked his brain, but saw no way around telling them. “The machine reacted to me. She didn’t know why, but just to be safe she wanted me to be tested again at the office. The wizard seemed to think there was something wrong with her equipment.”
The wizard emerged from the main entrance, her satchel slung over one shoulder. She raised her hand and the lights flashed on the van. “Everybody in.”
Conryu pulled open the sliding door so Maria and Kimmy could climb up. When the wizard reached them he asked, “Can I follow on my bike? I don’t want to leave it here.”
“No. My boss doesn’t want you out of my sight. She almost took my head off for sending you to find the girls. We’ve kicked a hornet’s nest with this and I’m afraid things will be tricky for a little while.”
Conryu shook his head, gave one last look at his bike, and climbed in. She’d be okay. He had the key and the parking lot was covered by video cameras. Besides, how long could a retest take?
“Did you speak to my dad?” Maria asked.
In all the excitement Conryu had forgotten Mr. Kane was the number three man in the Division of Magic and the city chief. They had always gotten along well. Maybe he’d be able to get Conryu out of this mess.
“Not directly.” The wizard started the van and pulled out of her space. “But I’m sure word will reach him soon enough.”
“I should call my mom.” Conryu fished his cellphone out of his pocket.
“No calls until after the retest.” The wizard pulled out onto the highway and turned toward the city center. “Just be patient. This shouldn’t take any time at all.”
Maria took his hand, whether to comfort him or herself he couldn’t say and didn’t care. He felt better at once.
“Don’t worry. Dad will let your mom know what’s happening. She’s only one building over after all.”
“Mom was working from home today, but I’m sure you’re right. He’ll let her know.” Conryu shook his head and laughed. “And I thought the only excitement we had to look forward to was the carnival this weekend.”
“Hey,” Kimmy said. “What about me? My parents don’t work for the government or have anyone to contact them.”
“Everybody relax,” the wizard said. “My boss will take care of everything and have you guys home in time for supper.”
They spent the rest of the trip to the city center sitting quietly, each lost in their own thoughts. The van finally stopped in front of a stone-and-steel building with a giant iron pentagram hanging three stories up. They all piled out and gathered in front of the van.
The Department of Magic was one of four buildings all connected by enclosed walkways. To the left was the Science Department, where Conryu’s mother worked. To the right was the sector seat that housed courts, the DMV, and a variety of other small bureaucracies, far more than Conryu cared to keep track of. The final building held the security force headquarters. The only difference between the four buildings from the outside was the symbol hanging from the facades.
“Come on, come on, everyone’s waiting.” The wizard hustled them toward a bank of doors.
Conryu did a quickstep and held the door for the ladies. When everyone had passed by he followed, letting the door close behind him. A tingle ran through him as he stepped past the wards. The magic wouldn’t allow anyone to enter if they carried weapons. The spell was much more efficient than metal detectors.
The lobby consisted of an open area with polished stone floors, bland artwork on the walls, and three secretaries behind a bank of windows. Four halls branched left and right leading deeper into the building. Their guide showed no hesitation, taking the second on the left.
“Where are we going?” Kimmy asked.
The wizard glanced back, but didn’t break stride. “To the primary testing machine. It’s enchanted with permanent runes and tied to the building’s defensive wards. There’s no way it’ll give a false reading.”
“What does it mean if we get the same results here?” Conryu asked.
She shook her head. “That problem’s above my pay grade. Soon as I deliver you, you’re someone else’s problem.”
Conryu appreciated her honesty if not her compassion. The wizard finally stopped in front of a door labeled Testing Department. She knocked once and pushed the door open.
Four people waited inside, three standing, one pacing. The only one Conryu recognized was Mr. Kane. He had a salt-and-pepper goatee and sharp brown eyes. They had all gathered around a steel-and-ceramic cylinder. Two handles protruded from the rune-covered device below a digital readout. It looked way more impressive than the flimsy wooden thing they’d given the wizard.
“Dad!” Maria ran over and hugged her father. She barely came to his shoulder. “What’s going on?”
“I’m not certain yet, sweetheart. Conryu.”
Conryu went over and shook his hand. “Mr. Kane. Did you call my mom? What’s going to happen?”
“Take it easy, son. Connie’s on her way and she said she’d fill your father in.” Mr. Kane turned his gaze on Kimmy. “I contacted your parents as well, Miss Morrow. They’ll be here as soon as they can.”
“Thank you, sir.” Kimmy’s whole body visibly relaxed.
“We may as well start the retest. Thank you for bringing the kids in, Mercia,” said one of the other occupants of the room, an older woman whose bright blue eyes were surrounded by fine wrinkles. Her graying blond hair seemed to meld with her matching gray government-issue robe.
The wizard began touching a series of runes on the device, causing them to light up. When she finished she grasped both handles and the digital readout said 1,376. She nodded once, seeming satisfied.
“Excellent idea, Terra, thank you,” Mr. Kane said. “Would you like to go first, Maria?”
“I’ll just get out of your hair,” Mercia said.
“No one’s going anywhere until this matter is settled.” A hard-eyed man in a red-and-gray security service uniform moved to block the door.
“It’ll be okay.” Mr. Kane patted Mercia on the shoulder and guided the wizard to an empty chair in the corner of the room. He turned back to Maria. “Go ahead, sweetheart.”
Maria walked over and grasped the handles. A few seconds later 1,943 appeared on the readout.
Terra consulted a notebook she’d removed from her robe. “Your original result was 1,950 so this is well within the margin of error for the portable device. Miss Morrow, if you please.”
Kimmy switched places with Maria and touched the machine. Her result was 953.
Terra nodded. “Good, also well within the margin of error. Mr. Koda, your turn.”
Conryu took a breath, said a silent prayer for zero, and grasped the handles. Three seconds later the readout read 12,756. Stunned silence filled the room. Conryu couldn’t take his eyes off the display. How could this be happening to him?
Finally Mr. Kane said, “I thought you only pulled 10,000 on the portable device?”
“The portable tester only goes to 10,000,” Terra said before Conryu could gather his thoughts. The blond wizard looked at him, her eyes shining. “I’m looking forward to determining how you can exist, Mr. Koda.”
Good thing someone was looking forward to it, because he sure as hell wasn’t.
The Department wizards and Mr. Kane huddled up in a little conference as far from Conryu and the girls as possible given the size of the room. For five minutes they talked in low voices, totally ignoring the subject of their deliberations, that is to say, him.
Finally the last member of the gathering said, “He can’t be human.”
She was an attractive woman in her late thirties with pixie-cut brown hair and eyes so dark they almost looked black. The wizard dressed in the familiar gray robe of a government wizard though unlike the others hers had a small badge with a scale on it.
Conryu moved away from the machine and stared at her. “Say what?”
The door to the little room burst open, nearly flattening the man in red as Conryu’s mother came running in. She rushed over, hugged him, then patted him all over looking for injuries. Just what did she think these people had done to him?
“Mom, relax, I’m fine. Where’s Dad?”
“At the dojo, where else? He says he’s sure you’ll be okay and he’ll see you at supper.” She turned to Mr. Kane. “What’s going on, Orin?”
“That’s exactly what we’re trying to figure out. It appears Conryu has wizard potential and we’re trying to determine how that can be.”
Conryu’s mother stared at him as if seeing him for the first time. “He’s a boy. Boys can’t be wizards.”
The wizard that had been speaking before his mother burst into the room cleared her throat. “As I was saying, Mr. Koda must have some non-human blood in him, probably demon, probably from long ago. Like a recessive gene, it’s come to the surface after many dormant generations.”
“Conryu doesn’t have any demon blood.” They all turned to find Mrs. Kane standing in the doorway. She’d traded her kimono for a sharp black pantsuit. “If he did he wouldn’t be able to live in a building protected by my wards. He’s as human as you or I.”
“Shizuku.” The government wizard’s lip curled in an ugly sneer when she spoke. Definitely some history there. “If it was thin enough I’m sure he could slip past your wards.”
“No, Clair, not even a drop of demon blood could get past.”
The two women stared at each other like angry cats. Conryu’s head spun and he couldn’t stop thinking that if anyone else showed up they’d need a bigger room.
“Clair, Shizuku, please.” Mr. Kane raised his hands in a placating gesture. “The test is simple enough, assuming Conryu is willing to let us take a little blood.”
Everyone stared at him. “Yeah, sure, help yourself.”
“You don’t have to do this, Conryu,” his mother said. With her pale and drawn face she looked as worried as he felt.
“Yeah, I do. At this point, I’m a little curious to see if I’m human or not. I’m not sure what’s worse, that I have demon blood or I’m a wizard. Either one makes me a freak.”
Maria ran over and hugged him. “You’re not a freak and we all love you no matter how the test turns out.”
“Thanks,” he whispered in her ear.
Terra raised a narrow strip of yellow paper and a needle. “Ready?”
Conryu gently moved Maria aside and held out his trembling right hand.
Terra poked his finger and caught a drop of blood on the paper. “If it turns black you have demon blood, white angel blood, and blue elf blood.”
They all stared as the seconds ticked by. Nothing happened. After a full minute Terra flipped the paper into a trash bin. “He’s human, Chief.”
“That’s a relief,” Conryu said.
“Actually it isn’t.” Mr. Kane scrubbed his face with one hand.
“It isn’t?” Conryu asked.
“No. If you were a human with demon blood and some powerful if limited magical powers, that would fall well within our range of experience. Unusual, but nothing to get worked up about. On the other hand an ordinary, fully human male, with the most powerful magical potential ever recorded…” Mr. Kane shook his head. “Not only is that something the entire world would say was impossible, it totally rewrites everything we thought we knew about wizardry. You, my young friend, are about to cause me a giant headache. When word of this gets out…”
“Aren’t we overlooking an obvious explanation?” Clair said. “Maybe our testing device is also malfunctioning.”
Mrs. Kane sighed and walked over to the machine. She grabbed the handles and 1,926 appeared on the screen. “If you check your records you’ll see the power level is the same as my last test. Clair?”
Clair glared at Mrs. Kane then took her place in front of the machine. 1,754. “Mine is the same as well.”
“As was mine,” Terra said. “The machine is functioning properly. We simply need to accept the reality that Conryu Koda has the potential to be a wizard and that we may never know why.”
The wizards and non-wizards began muttering amongst themselves. Conryu didn’t know what to think, but it seemed pretty clear his fate was being quietly decided for him.
He raised a tentative hand. “Excuse me. The thing is, I’m not interested in being a wizard. Can’t we just forget this ever happened?”
“I’m sorry, Conryu.” Mr. Kane laid a hand on his shoulder. “But the law is very clear. Anyone with the potential to be a wizard must be trained at the academy. The penalties for failing to do so are quite severe for you and anyone that helps you avoid going.”
Mr. Kane sighed. “Let’s take a walk, Conryu.”
“Orin!” his mother said.
“Sir, I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” the security man added.
“Adam, Connie, calm down. I think our young friend needs some fresh air. God knows I do.”
Mr. Kane guided him out of the stuffy lab and into the cool hall. Conryu gulped huge lungfuls of the fresh air. “Thanks. If I didn’t get out of there soon I was going to lose it.”
“I had a hunch. I’m sorry this has all fallen on you so suddenly. I know you had plans.”
“I still have plans.”
Mr. Kane shook his head. “Whatever they were, your plans are gone. In the fall you’ll be on the train to the academy with the other young wizards. The sooner you accept that the better off you’ll be.”
Conryu couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “I’ve known what I wanted to do since I was twelve and first entered Mr. McShane’s bike shop. Now you’re telling me I have to give up my dreams?”
“You don’t have to give them up, but you do need to delay them by four years. Once you’ve completed your training there’s nothing that says you have to work as a wizard.” Mr. Kane scratched his bald head. “I’ve never heard of a wizard that did some other type of work since wizards can make fantastic money, the strong ones anyway. My point is you need to accept that for the next four years your plans are on hold. You’ve got all summer to make peace with it.”
Conryu clenched his jaw and badly wanted to hit something. “What’s the big deal anyway? It’s not like I can even use magic as I am now. Why not just leave me like this?”
“How do you like your truth, ugly or gentle?”
“Ugly. Nothing about this day has been attractive since I touched that woman’s toy back at school.”
“Okay, here it is. The state regards wizards as indispensable assets. In a time of crisis the more wizards we have to call on the better our nation’s chance of survival. Even one wizard, especially one as powerful as you will become, might be the difference between winning and losing a war.”
“So I’m just a weapon in the government’s arsenal?”
Mr. Kane shrugged. “You said you wanted it ugly.”
I hope you enjoyed reading Chapter 3. To read Chapter 4 Click Here
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