The Impossible Wizard: Chapter 6

If you ended up here before reading the earlier chapters, you can return to Chapter 1 here

 

Conryu tugged at the itchy collar of the stiff shirt his mother had presented him with upon his return home. She must have gone shopping since he knew for a fact he didn’t have anything in his closet this uncomfortable. At least she’d let him wear jeans, a brand new, stiff pair, but he’d take what he could get at this point.

The two of them stood together in the entry hall of the Department of Magic. The secretaries were gone and the building silent. No one had even bothered to turn the lights on. All they had to see by was the diffused sunlight from the ceiling windows and what came in through the doors.

Across the road four panel trucks with satellite dishes on their roofs had gathered along with a collection of reporters and cameramen. A hasty platform had been erected just outside the main entrance. Since it was a Saturday the traffic was minimal, nonetheless eight men in security service uniforms had gathered at either end of the driveway to keep confused visitors from entering the area. It was quite a circus, and all for him. Who’d have thought?

“I wish Maria was here.”

“I know.” His mother patted him on the back. “Orin didn’t want to confuse things by having a second student on the platform. Don’t worry, in another hour we’ll be back home and this will be nothing but a memory.”

“Connie, Conryu, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.”

They turned to find Mr. Kane approaching along with an old man who looked like a mad scientist from a horror movie. He had a bright, not quite sane gleam in his eye. He stared at Conryu with an intensity that Conryu usually reserved for the latest model of motorcycle, the ones with bikini models lying across them. Sweat beaded up on Conryu’s back and he forced himself to relax. If Mr. Kane knew the man he couldn’t be dangerous.

Mr. Kane gestured to the stranger. “This is Professor Angus McDoogle. He’s a visiting scholar from Scotland. He has a hypothesis that you might not be the first male wizard.”

The professor rushed over and grasped Conryu’s hand in his clammy fingers. “An absolute pleasure to meet you, my boy. Your appearance will be a boon to my work. I hope the two of us can be friends.”

Conryu reclaimed his hand and wiped it on his pant leg. “Yeah. So if I’m not the first male wizard, who was?”

“Merlin.”

Conryu raised an eyebrow. “Like from the movies? King Arthur’s advisor?”

“Not exactly. The Merlin you’re familiar with is based on old legends which in turn are potentially based on a real person. I’m still searching for definitive evidence, but you at least prove that a male wizard is more than just a fantasy. I also believe the great wizard’s spirit has lingered after his death to influence our world. I will be forever in your debt for proving part of my theory.”

What a nut job.

“Um, you’re welcome?”

“Okay, Professor.” Mr. Kane grabbed the crazy man by the shoulders and turned back toward the interior of the building. “Why don’t you head back to your office? We need to begin the press conference.”

Angus shrugged off Mr. Kane’s grip. “Surely you’ll want to have the world’s leading expert on male wizards out there with you to answer any questions the reporters might throw your way.”

Leading expert? This guy thought a make-believe character was a real person. Conryu didn’t know which part of Scotland the professor came from, but they ought to send him back. Preferably in a straight jacket.

“Angus, we talked about this.” Mr. Kane spoke in the tone he used to use when Conryu and Maria got into something they shouldn’t have. “Now get back to your office while you still have one.”

The professor shuffled off, grumbling.

When he’d gone Conryu asked, “Where’d you dig him up?”

“Conryu!” His mother scowled at him.

“It’s okay, Connie. Angus takes a little getting used to. He’s been overexcited ever since he learned about Conryu. You essentially validate half his thesis. Try not to take it personally.”

“Whatever you say. Can we get this over with? This collar’s driving me nuts.”

Mr. Kane laughed and guided them towards the front doors. The little group climbed up on the makeshift platform. Ten reporters and cameramen milled around in front of them. One lonely photographer snapped pictures. The blond wizard from yesterday joined them from another direction. She carried a folder tucked under her arm.

“I trust you came up with something, Terra,” Mr. Kane said.

“Yes, though it’s mostly nonsense and jargon. Nothing that would convince an actual scholar.”

Mr. Kane smiled. “Never underestimate the power of nonsense and jargon. It’s the grease that keeps the wheels of government turning.”

“I thought money did that,” Conryu muttered.

His mother slapped him on the shoulder, but she had a faint smile.

Mr. Kane stepped up to the podium and raised his hands. The assembled reporters fell silent. “Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming out today. I’ll keep my remarks brief and please remember, no questions. The Department of Magic, in the course of our duties, has discovered the world’s first confirmed male wizard.”

Silent stares of disbelief greeted this announcement followed by a blizzard of questions. Everyone was shouting at once and Conryu couldn’t make out a single word other than “impossible.” Every question seemed to have that word as an essential component.

Mr. Kane raised his hands again, this time to considerably less effect. After several minutes of being completely ignored the reporters fell silent once more.

“Thank you,” Mr. Kane continued. “As I was saying, we’re not taking questions, but when I finish my remarks our leading researcher will have more information for you. Now, this remarkable young man beside me…”

He paused as all eyes and cameras turned to focus on Conryu who offered a feeble wave.

“This young man is Conryu Koda. Over the course of our standard annual testing the portable device indicated he possessed wizardly potential.”

Mr. Kane droned on, telling the press everything that happened yesterday. Conryu’s attention went to the photographer. The man had put his camera away and was staring at Conryu with an intensity that made him uncomfortable.

Conryu started to point him out to his mother, but the photographer broke eye contact and reached for his gear bag. Conryu blew out a breath. Just his imagination.

The photographer came up with a saw-backed bowie knife and charged the platform.

“For the True Face of God!” he screamed as he reached the edge of the platform.

Reporters shouted.

Cameramen rushed to adjust their target.

The lunatic with the knife leapt onto the platform.

Conryu stepped in front of his mother.

“Die, abomination!” The photographer charged, the knife raised above his head.

Conryu stepped in, grabbed his wrist as the knife descended, twisted and yanked him off balance. The man’s wrist locked and he doubled over. Conryu plucked the knife from his opponent’s disabled hand and tossed it over beside the podium.

Fists hardened by years of training lashed out, pummeling the attacker in the jaw and temple. Conryu hit him eight times in two seconds. When he finished, the unconscious man slumped to the stage, just as the security men arrived to claim him.

Fat lot of help they were.

Once again Conryu found himself the center of attention. Questions were shouted his way. He shot Mr. Kane a desperate look.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Mr. Kane shouted over the questions, “that concludes our press conference. We’ll email you copies of our researcher’s notes. Good afternoon.”

Everyone retreated to the Department building. As soon as they were inside Mom rounded on Mr. Kane. “I thought you said there’d be good security? Conryu might have been killed.”

“No way,” Conryu said. “That guy had no idea how to properly use a knife.”

“What if he’d had a gun?”

Conryu couldn’t argue with that.

“I know you’re upset, Connie, but please try to keep calm.”

“Calm! What if it had been Maria out there? Would you be able to keep calm?”

“I take your point. However, the assailant has been subdued and we’re all safe now.”

“This assailant. What about the next one? I never should have let you talk me into this. You’ve made my son a target.”

“Mom, relax. We read about these True Face of God guys in school. They want to kill all wizards. The girls are in just as much danger as I am. Besides, they aren’t very good at their job. As of six months ago they’d only managed to murder three wizards, and they’ve been around for like twenty years.”

“Am I just supposed to accept the fact that lunatics with knives are hunting you?”

Conryu cocked his head. “Is there some other option?”

 

I hope you enjoyed reading Chapter 6. To read Chapter 7 click here

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