Category Archives: Serial Starters

Gacgon the Sorcerer

The moon silvered the night as the cloaked figure shambled up the road to the castle nestled in the cliffs. Tired and annoyed, he gave the postern gate three thumps with his walking stick.

Minutes later the guard opened the view port and grumbled, “What?” with a sleep cracked voice.

“Go to Frederick, tell him Gacgon is back.”

The guard looked more closely at the man and rushed to open the gate. Not many would enter the castle by faking to be the owner. And he definitely didn’t want to be the one to keep the sorcerer out of his own home. The sorcerer wasn’t known for his compassion.

“Also tell him that you were sleeping on duty.” It was said with complete indifference. Gacgon firmly expected the guard to do exactly as told. The guard would lose his job and would be unable to put food on the table for his family. But his fate was out of Gacgon’s mind the moment that he crossed the flagstone courtyard.

He was ready. Years of research and the last year collecting the items needed for his triumph was at an end. The thought of the council’s regard after this act of magic convinced him that it was impossible to fail. That tiny lingering speck of self-doubt was all that stopped him from sending for witnesses to the magic. Once he was in possession of the fyredrake, the Council of Sorcerers had to acknowledge him the most accomplished sorcerer of all time.

No one had attempted this in more than a hundred years. Records relating to their creation were insubstantial, spotty at best. The fragment of parchment found while he studied the habits of the Hiato dragons gave him the clue to solve the riddle.

A controlled fyredrake excited his imagination to the extent that he was unable to concentrate on anything else. It took ten more years of study to ferret out all the legends regarding the fyredrakes. The snowspurt mandrake essence was the one ingredient that was the hardest to find.

He kicked awake a keep boy as he entered the main building.

“Tell Mrs Ratleigh I am home and have need of her in my laboratory.”

“No need sir, I was expecting you to get back tonight. I’ve prepared some mead for you as well as something small to eat,” Mrs Ratleigh said from the side entrance. The keep boy scooted into a corner out of Gacgon’s way.

“Good, Mrs Ratleigh, I’ll take the food and drink in my laboratory. We have much to do tonight,” Gacgon said and started up the winding stairs to his laboratory.

Mrs Ratleigh knew when her master was impatient. She grabbed the platter with the food and drink that she had prepared earlier and hurried to the laboratory.

Gacgon already had his largest cauldron next to the fire that he started with a simple spell. He was prepared for the exhausting hours that the fyredrake spell would take.

Fairy Blessings

Kali pulled the weathered bag strap back onto her shoulder as she ran over the old troll bridge. Through the tall trees she saw the sun touching the almost invisible horizon. Harvest festival starts just after sunset. Thinking of the hot pastries and sticky fruit she loved made her mouth water. She might even try a taste of the honeyed mead this year. Kali wore her best shirt with the elaborate stitching on the sleeves she had learned to do this year. But bare feet flying down the dirt path took her past the silent fairy ring to Greenside Village.

The fairy ring was tended by the village with the usual offerings of fruit, nuts and craft. The amount decreased each year that the fairies stayed away. Some villagers believed they would not return. Only the elders remembered how much the fairies made the festivals magical. Just their fickle blessings were unwanted. Blessings were a double-edged sword. Hew, the last child blessed by the fairies, ended up crippled from only a stubbed toe.

A flicker of movement caught her eye when she stopped to place her offering at the fairy ring. Kali turned slowly as she tried to find the source. It took her a few seconds to see the skittish Fawn that stared at her, his one hand clasped tightly around a small tree trunk. Kali fell over backwards and landed on her backside in surprise.

“Good day… a … Sir Fawn… may I be of service?” Her heart pounding, Kali stammered the almost forgotten greeting to the fairy kin, as she scrambled to get back on her feet.

A sudden giggle escaped the Fawn, his brown eyes sparkled with suppressed mirth. “Good day young one, I seem to require your help. My name is Hest of the Half End Fawn Circle,” the Fawn introduced himself with a small bow.

“I am Kali Weaverskin of Greenside Village, how may I help thee?” She curtsied. Formal greetings with the fairy kin were most important. If offended, a fairy would lay a dire curse on you.

“Miss Kali Weaverskin of Greenside Village, I seem to have inadvertently become entangled with a vicious thorn,” the Fawn said. A look of pain flashed across his face. Kali glanced down to see a large thorn sticking out the back of the hoof.

“I will do my utmost to remove the thorn that troubles you, Sir Hest, Fawn of the Half End Fawn Circle,” Kali said. Fear pounded in her heart and pulled her throat tight. She squatted next to Sir Hest and gently picked up his hoof. She took firm hold of the thorn. One sharp jerk was all she needed to pull the thorn free. With a whisper and a wink the Fawn disappeared.

Kali stumbled back in shock. Did she truly hear him say bless you child?

Dusk pressed firmly down around her as she picked up her bag. She ran like never before to tell Grandma Aimes what happened.

The Bond

Four year old Jason sat beside Shirley as she fed cloth into her sewing machine. As she sewed, his high pitched voice chattered away at her.

‘….and then me and Michael will eat sweeties…’

With heart pounding Shirley stopped her machine and turned to her son.

Michael continued, ‘mommy, you must take a new picture of us…’

His blue eyes twinkled with excitement as he bounced up and down.

‘Michael,’ he said, ‘let’s pull funny faces when mommy takes the picture!’

Shirley stared at the spot Jason was looking at.

A shadow etched a pattern within the silver dust floating in the beam of sunlight falling on the seat.

‘Michael?’ she whispered.

The shadow shifted. She pulled the camera from the sideboard and aimed it at Jason and the shadow. At the click of the shutter the camera flashed and Jason started screaming. ‘You chased him away!’

Shirley caught her bottom lip between her teeth, then, ‘Jason you have to get used to it.’ She tried to draw him into her arms.

‘No,’ he screamed, pulling away from her and shaking his head with a fury that made his hair fly across his face. The freckles on his cheeks seemed to dance with a dizzying speed.

Shirley put her arms firmly around Jason. She hugged him tight wincing as his bones stuck into her, reminding her of the concrete walls that must have scraped Michael’s body as he fell down the well shaft. Jason’s screams turned into sobs before he fell asleep in her arms.

 

Later, during dinner, Shirley watched Jason picking up peas one by one before eating them. He had woken up his normal self after the nap. Eventually she broke the heavy silence.

‘It happened again,’ she ventured.

Gary’s head jerked up from the paper he was reading. ‘What did?’

She took a deep breath, ‘You know….’

Gary stood abruptly and marched to the office muttering that he had work to do.

 

She was awake when he tip-toed into their room.

‘We have to talk about the twins,’ she said, sitting up straight and tense.

‘Not now…’ He shut the door to the bathroom and the buzz of the electric toothbrush filled the room like a tormenting bee.

Shirley threw the blankets off her and marched to the door.

‘We have to talk now!’ she shouted, turning the handle.

The door would not move and there was no reply.

‘Gary,’ she called. There was still no answer.

She rattled the door. The toothbrush was still buzzing. She banged harder with a flat hand.

‘Gary we have to talk!’

There was a thud as if he’d dropped the toothbrush on the floor. Alarmed, she banged on the door again and rattled the handle.

‘Gary!’

Everything went silent.

‘Mummy?’ Jason’s small voice came from behind her.

Shirley flicked him away with her hand, ‘Go back to bed….’

‘But mommy, Michael’s back….’

She gave a last terrified push against the door. It slid open…

Thabazimbi Heat

Melanie slowed to a near standstill behind the decrepit old truck. ‘Come on,’ she thought as it coughed and rattled along the uneven road.

She was rushing to get to the market with the morning’s vegetables.

With disbelief she watched the wheels on the left of the truck lift of the ground. The overloaded truck tipped over in the middle of the dirt road. Forced to stop, Melanie called the position of the accident in to the community radio network before jumping out of her own truck.

‘Anyone hurt in there?’ she called.

They replied in Nigerian, a language she didn’t speak. Even in the middle of Limpopo farm country it didn’t take long for sightseers to appear at the accident scene. As the last of the Nigerians clambered out the first sightseer pulled up.

Fuming with frustration Melanie wiped her brow as she strode up and down the road trying to see a way past the obstruction. Local farmers stood nearby shaking their heads. Dave stepped away from them and asked with a smirk, ‘You picking fights with your new neighbours, Melanie?’

Melanie let out a disgusted snort. ‘If you think their falling-to-pieces truck over-turned because of me, Dave Callahan, you can think again!  Does that thing look roadworthy to you?’ She jabbed a finger in the direction of the prone truck.  ‘You tell your brother-in-law I’m talking to a lawyer about that road he closed off.’

The smirk disappeared.

‘Why don’t you go talk to Billy? I’m sure there’s a compromise.’ He agreed that Billy Gessup was being unnecessarily stubborn about that access road.

‘We’ll see,’ Melanie stopped bristling with an expelled breath.

He smiled. Her blonde ponytail seemed to act like a barometer of her mood. As she calmed it stopped bobbing.

‘What’s so funny?’ she demanded and the ponytail gave another bob.

Swallowing his smile he turned to the truck.

‘They’ve called Will. He’s bringing a block-n-tackle to winch the truck.’ He looked at a nearby tree. ‘Just hope that Jacaranda can withstand the load.

‘Here’s your chance to meet Daniel Sutherland, your other new neighbour,’ Dave said as a new Navara drove up.

Melanie could not take her eyes off the tall dark haired man that climbed out. Jeans hugged his long legs and a khaki shirt emphasized his broad shoulders. The hair curling over his collar was longer than the other farmers. He brushed it away from his eyes with long fingers and his mouth curved into a languid smile.

‘I was at the co-op when I heard the report on the radio.’ His voice was as rich and smooth as dark chocolate.

‘Daniel, meet Melanie Gerald, your Southern neighbour.’

His blue eyes wandered over her with interest. ‘He’s got as many questions as you about the Nigerians,’ Dave said.

Daniel took her hand. An excited tingle passed down her spine at the touch.

‘So, you also can’t figure out what the Nigerians are doing here?’ she said, trying to play it cool.