Published by BooksForABuck.com
Copyright 2017 by Teel James Glenn
Edition, License Notes
ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may
not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to
share this book with another person, please purchase an additional
copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not
purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please
return to Smashwords.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your
own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and locations are
fictitious or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or
people is coincidental.
Denise and Charlotte
who helped me be a Gypsy…
Giulie who is magick in my life
and makes it possible to keep
knowledge once called magic is science when sufficiently understood.
Sci-magician must always quest for knowledge for the betterment of
the human race.
3: We will
never know all there is to know but pursuit of knowledge is enough.
4: Do harm to
none and serve the good of all
5: All actions
have a three-fold consequence for either good or ill, act
accordingly; as you do so shall be done to you.
power, it is a heady elixir!
the Horn of Herne!
The town of
Clifden, Connemara, Ireland could only be entered over two bridges,
between which was a magnificent waterfall and narrow gorge running to
the sea. The larger three-arched bridge led to Dooneen and the bogs
beyond. The King’s Shoe Pub was just north of the town and I was
there for what might be my last time, with my friends celebrating a
We were drinking to my
appointment to the Mabon School for the Magickal Arts in Bad
Godesberg, Germany. That meant I would not see my friends and
classmates from the Academy Dar’c for at least a year. I was both
excited by the appointment to the German school and sad that I was
leaving my three friends behind. We four had spent many a night in
that pub after long days of classes.
I was toasting the last
three years of my university life, holding a beer stein in my hand.
“My friends,” I proclaimed, “Louis Blériot has crossed the
English Channel by air, the largest ship in the world, RMS Olympic,
has been surpassed by even greater airships, Dr. Mabon has brought us
the Sci-magickal arts but I have brought you the greatest achievement
of good King Edward’s reign: Oktober Red!”
I held up the bronze
statue of a charging buck that was the trophy for a spell competition
I had won. “This graced the Mabon School for New Magick in the
rathskeller in Bad Godesberg for many years,” I said, “but
now I have brought this prize for all!”
“Just in time to
decamp to the ‘enemy’, Master Jeremy Cross,” Larry Baker said
with a glowering expression from behind his round glasses. “I’m
not sure it is a fair trade.”
“Fair enough,” Dan
Ferret said. “One ‘young buck’ for another!”
“I’ll drink to
that,” Penny Bright said. “In fact, I’ll drink to almost
We all knew that, the
flaxen haired and blue-eyed vixen had a reputation for imbibing that
was Herculean; many a student had tried to drink Penny under the
table to ‘have his way with her’ only to find himself flat on his
face and still a virgin while the button nosed and pale skinned girl
had moved on to drink with another lad.
“You, my lad,” Dan
Ferret said, “as the only British student at the Mabon School for
New Magicks, are charged to uphold the honor of the Academy Dar’c.”
The red haired alchemist held his own beer tankard up to click with
The trophy of the buck
would sit in a glass case in the King’s Shoe Pub until the next
competition two years hence; I only hoped I was not competing for the
German school by then, it would feel like a betrayal of my old chums.
Since the opening up of
the European conference of Magicks and Science had normalized such
studies—even over the objections of the Papacy—The Academy Dar’c
had won the award five out of ten times.
The Academy was a very
special school, funded privately, to recruit students from Ireland,
Scotland and England. We came from poor working families, orphanages
and workhouses around the Empire. I had won a partial scholarship to
the Academy and then, by virtue of my hard work in three years, a
full scholarship to the German school. My mother was a second
generation émigré from Germany so I spoke the language fluently and
that would make my time there easier.
I would be gone by the
next day and I felt I had a bit of drinking store up on, though truth
be told I was sure I’d never keep up with “pub Penny” Bright!
“Wait, wait, wait!”
Larry piped up. He was a broad fellow, built like a beer keg with a
short neck, rough features and long, club-like arms. His voice,
however was high pitched and he had a twinkle in his eye that was
Irish in the extreme.
“I propose that we
rename the Oktober Red the ‘Jeremy award’!” He was not serious,
of course, but the others cheered and cries of “Jeremy! Jeremy!”
sounded off the rafters.
I colored with pride as
they chanted and knew the moment would stay with me for many years
afterward. What I would not remember was much of the evening of
drinking and camaraderie that we celebrated afterward, right up to my
departure for the school in Bad Godesburg.
It seemed an innocent
time, both for us and for the world.
After the Germans had
won the Great War in little more than a year, they had proved to be
noble victors, signing a brother nation accord with England and
ushering in a new age of reason and Sci-magick.
Our good King Edward
VII was a broadminded, fun-loving man and he mixed, with some
freedom, with men and women of all classes. A privileged few gained
access to his personal circle of friends known as the ‘Marlborough
Set’. Wealth rather than birth was a passport to the society he
He followed his mother,
Victoria, however, in devotion to the Sci-magickal arts and was
friends with the academy’s headmaster, Dr. Arturoius. The two had
been friends since the King had been the Prince of Wales.
It was Arturoius who
had rushed to the King’s side in ’10 when the heathen lifestyle
of the Royal had almost killed Edward. No one knew for sure what of
the Sci-magickal arts the imperious, silver haired man had called
upon, but there was talk of a clockwork heart and spells of vitality.
In any case, the
corpulent and fun loving monarch was still strong and had led the
Sceptred Isle through the short Great War, negotiating a peace after
a horrible year of fighting the strange Mannkopf Mounts and other new
weaponry of the German Empire.
The King’s strong
leadership saved the dignity of the British Empire and helped restore
stability to the world, continuing the romantic golden age of long
summer afternoons and garden parties that was to have his name.
Edward the VII had done
his level best to continue the stability of his mother’s long reign
while leading the Empire into a new century of wonders. The strong
ties with the victorious German Empire had ensured that the sciences
and arts still flourished across the land.
Now, I was to embark
for the school in Germany and, as much as an outsider I had been when
I first came to Academy Dar’c, I would be more so in Bad Godesberg.
Yet, I had promised my family and, even more so at this point, Doctor
Arturoius, that I would try my best and so I would.
I was glad for the
dulling effect of the beer when I tottered up the ramp to the
dirigible that would take me east to my new school and a new phase of
my life! Little did I know that the Sci-magickal rule of three would
come into my life with a force and in ways I could never have
predicted, no matter how good a magician I ever hope to be!
Breaking into a Donjon is Just
I must say
that in all honestly that had alcohol not been involved in the
incident at the rathskeller perhaps things might have been
different: perhaps not better, but certainly, different.
The circumstance of it
all came about because we were sitting in the rathskeller in
Bad Godesberg after classes and I was taking the usual ribbing.
I was the only English
student at the Mabon School for New Magicks but that was not the
reason they hazed me. They would have tormented me were I full blood
Prussian or French or what have you because I was still the ‘new’
I had only been at the
school for eight months, after my transfer on scholarship from the
Academy Dar’c in Ireland. My parents and my instructors had decided
that the continent was where the best in alchemical arts could be
studied and it was now a respected profession.
I had been interested
in both Sci-magick and theatre since, as a child, I had seen a minor
conjurer at a fair back in Wycombe change a rabbit into a hawk. It
was back just before Germany won the World War using those principles
when it was still frowned upon. It had been hard at first at the new
school, but I threw myself into my studies and amateur theatricals to
combat the loneliness. The work, some theatricals and letters from
Larry in Ireland and my mother in Wycombe were my only ‘social
life’ for the first few months.
“Stop wool gathering,
Englander,” Gert Von Handler said. “You have to throw the dart.”
He stroked along the "smite" scar on his left cheek from
his mensur dueling. He was very proud of his schmiss.
I was standing in the
underground, smoke-filled pub and had already had several tankards of
good German beer. I had gained a reputation as the ‘dart man’ in
the underclass during the months I had been there and was straining
to up hold it against my archrival, Gert. He was popular in the
school and when he joined my circle of friends my stock quickly rose.
“I’m just waiting
for the spirit to move me,” I said with a smug smile. “One can
not rush perfection.”
This made Oswald, a
rotund fellow who had become my fast friend and Elke the beautiful
blonde classmate who seemed to always hang around with our group,
break into gales of laughter. Oswald had been the first to befriend
me at the school, then Elke then Gert seemed to gravitate toward me.
Soon we four were boon companions and I felt, at last, that I
“Oh shoot, Jeremy,”
Oswald sneered. “I am growing old while you wait for ghosts to move
you.” I shot him a dirty look and went back to sighting my dart.
“Take your time,”
Elke said with that pout that drove us all crazy. “He just doesn’t
want to pay for another round of drinks.”
Gert made a disgusted
sound and I knew her barb had struck home. I squinted at the board
and launched my own missile. It struck true to the center of the
“Have you ever paid
for a round of drinks?’ Elke asked me when the steam-bot bar ‘maid’
clanked over with our new drinks.
“Many,” I said.
“But not for some time.” My mind went back to dozens of such
evenings with Larry, Penny and Dan at the Academy and I had a
momentary stab at the thought that such nights with them would not
happen again. Larry’s last letter had said Penny and Dan had been
dismissed from the school for cheating on an exam. I was not
surprised, but still I was saddened. I shook my head to chase away
the grey thought. I smiled at Elke and said, “I acquired my skill
at the cost of a wasted youth in many pubs.”
Gert snorted at that.
He was the poster image of the New Germany: a blond tall,
well-muscled demi-god with piercing blue eyes and a dueling scar on
his left cheek that proclaimed him as a child of the Junkers. He was
the apple of his military family’s eye and had shocked many of the
traditionalists when he chose to study the magickal arts but as he
put it, “We won the war, in part because of the Sci-magickal
advances that great men like Mabon and Miller brought to bear so it
is only logical that I learn all there is to know about it.” I
remember he had smiled a predator’s smile when he added, “I will
not beat my sword into a ploughshare I will simply add a wand to my
I had no such lofty or
nationalistic goals. My parents were modest merchants who ran a
hostelry outside of High Wycombe and had hopes for me to simply make
it through university and find a profession. They were shocked when I
took the entrance exam for the Academy Dar’c and more so when the
inquisitor said I had true magickal talent.
Two years in Ireland
however left me feeling that I was not getting the instruction I
could be. And when representatives of the Mabon School had visited
and presented a seminar on transformational energy I knew that I had
to study there. I had been able to talk to the professor, one Herr
Magus Shikel to allow me into an exchange student program.
My parents, especially
my mother, were not happy with me being among the Irish and now the
thought of being in the midst of our former enemies was almost too
much for them. But it was a scholarship and they relented.
So now I was the new
boy on the block, ‘the Englander,’ to all in the school and often
the butt of jokes.
I took it all in stride
for it meant I was learning things in the way I wanted. The
instructors were the finest in the world and the students—even the
self possessed Gert—were some of the most talented in the arts.
They and, I hoped, I would be the true future of the world.
“I overheard Magus
Maurius shouting at old Adolph today,” Elke said. She was a lovely
girl, almost as tall as I, with a girlish figure blossoming to
womanhood in the most pleasing way. Her eyes sparkled all the time
and I think half the underclassmen had a crush on her. I know I did.
“What were they on
about?” Oswald asked as he stuffed yet another piece of strudel
into his maw.
We all leaned in to
hear the details; the two professors seemed to always be at odds over
issues magickal. Their arguments were almost legendary.
“Maurius was going on
about the Halbesel formulae that Adolph uses and saying it was
‘No!” Gert said,
“He actually said that?”
insisted, “he said ‘nonsense’! Then Adolph started that
sputtering speech of his about great past of Germany and Heimat
historians using the spell. He asked “how could someone like
Maurius who was not part of the Volk community?”
“No!” Oswald gasped
then he giggled. “I wish I could have seen Maurius’s face.”
“I didn’t dare peek
around the edge of the doorway to look,” Elke said as she cleaned
her third plate of the evening—she ate more than Oswald and I
together and never gained a pound. “But Maurius went on about how
it was ‘pure speculation’ that the pre-Christians used the
Halbesel spells that Shikel was so up on.”
“And Adolph let that
sit?” I said. My ‘sponsor’ was known for his powerful speeches
“Oh he shot back with
‘the Heimat inhabitants used many mountain peaks to call to
the god Wotan the god of war, death and the hunt, and with
such symbols as warrior girdles were able to effect changes like even
to the bear shirts or Berserkers.”
Oswald laughed. “He
gave that same speech last week when we asked him about the
Gotensberg references in the old spell book.”
Elke laughed as well. I
noticed that the tip of her nose moved like a bunny’s when she
laughed, a little thing, but a delightful one.
“Yes,” Gert said,
his angular features taking on a stern cast. “I remember he talked
about his theory about a secret vault from the late 14th century,
somewhere up in the old fortress from when it had become the
repository of the Elector's valuables and archives.”
“Do you think it
could be real?” Elke said, “I mean, if it was wouldn’t they
have found it by now?”
I said. “I remember when I first got here I read in the guide book
that the old castle was under the district’s historical agency and
we weren’t supposed to go near it because of jurisdictional
“I have heard
something of that,” Gert said, “The Bonn city council claims it
and Bad Godesberg claims it and the state historical council wants to
restore it, so it is to be is settled in court. And they have been
fighting over it for years.”
“That’s what I love
about your German courts,” I said, for once enjoying being the
outsider. “If a thing can be drawn out for a day it can be drawn
out for a decade!”
“Do you think there
really is a secret vault in the castle donjon like Adolph says?”
“I trust what he
says,” I said. “The fort itself was established on an ancient
cult site or so he said.”
“No matter how silly
his mustache is?” Elke said with a grin.
“Yes,” I said
sticking my tongue out at her. “I think if he says it’s there
it’s probably in there.”
“We ought to just
sneak in and see,” Oswald said casually as he slurped up another
There was sudden
silence at the table and the other three of us looked at each other
with the same startled expressions.
“What are you all
looking at,” Oswald said when he realized we had stopped our usual
“You are a genius,
Oswald, my round friend,” I said. I knew by their look that the
other two had indeed come to the same conclusion.
“What do you mean?”
“We can get into the
old castle and look for the vault of spells!” Gert said. “It
would be a great coup and the information we could find is rightfully
the fatherland’s!” He looked at me when he said it and I knew he
was already thinking of someway to exclude me from the expedition.
I was having none of
“Come on then,” I
said rising from the table a bit unsteadily from the tankards I had
consumed. “Let’s go!”
Fun Storming the Castle
Godesburg was constructed as a fortress early in the 8th century.
Legend had it that it was built on an old cult site and its name
derived from the old Germanic Wotansberg.
The fortress foundation
stones were laid by a vicar upon the order of Dietrich
I, the Archbishop of Cologne.
It was located on the
road between the southernmost portions of the Bad Godesberg and the
Bonn Rivers. The four of us staggered with purpose from the
rathskeller and up the midnight road toward the ruins as a
bloated moon lit our way.
The lone tower of the
old fort loomed ominously above the valley, 400 feet above the Rhine,
on the peak of a steep hill that had made effective artillery fire
against it difficult. Now the height exhausted us four
would-be-magicians as we trudged up the road that led to the ruins.
It had successfully
resisted a five-week siege by Count William of Cleves a long time ago
and successive archbishops had continued to improve the
fortifications with stronger walls and expanded moats, adding levels
to the central Bergfried, which was cylindrical, not square like many
other medieval donjons.
As we got closer the
dilapidated state of the fortification made it clear that it needed a
good deal of work before it could be restored.
“Isn’t there a
groundskeeper?” Elke asked as we approached the stone curtain wall.
Oswald, who was lagging
behind the group, put a finger to his lips and ‘shsshed’ her.
“Of course there is,”
he said. “If it wasn’t valuable everybody would not be fighting
“Like someone would
sneak in at night and repair this old relic?” I said. Elke elbowed
me. I couldn’t see her face it the darkness, but I’m sure that
she had raised her right eyebrow and twisted her perfect bow of a
mouth into a frown.
“We must take
precautions,” Gert said. His steely persona had not cracked though
every once in a while his upright walk wobbled into a little stagger
before he pulled himself together. His voice, however was its usual
sharp edged rasp. “I will scout ahead; you remain here and be
I was going to object—I
hated his high-handed attitude—but it was not the time to squabble,
so I said nothing.
Gert was a more than
competent sorcerer-to-be and after muttering the appropriate spell he
all but blinked out before our eyes. He did not disappear, for one of
the truths of magick as outlined by the greats like Crowley, Mabon
and Drosselmeyer were that true invisibility did not exist on the
mortal plane, but there were several ways to simulate it or achieve
the same effect.
Gert had mastered the
Spell of Aversion whereby any eye looking toward him was compelled to
look away so that he could only be seen of the corners of the eyes.
Many of you have had that disturbing sensation, no doubt, of almost
seeing someone but turning and the room was empty. Always suspect a
He moved toward the
dark bulk of the outer ruins making a point of letting us know he was
near the main gate by rolling a pebble down the path toward us.
“Has to show off,”
Oswald said with a hiss.
I tried to remember the
descriptions of the fortress interior from the literature I had read
before coming to the school; successive regimes had expanded the
cruder inner works of the first keep to include a small residence,
dungeons, and chapel, had increased the thickness of the fortified
walls, added a curtain wall, and improved the roads.
Though its cordons of
thick, rounded walls and massive iron-studded gates had made it a
formidable adversary it still fell in the dispute that was known as
The Cologne War.
The tower was still
mostly intact, its great bulk looming like some prehistoric beast in
the darkness, the moon lining one side with a ghostly blue light.
We three waited tensely
for some minutes not daring to speak. I was getting a little sleepy
from the beer, and, as my father used to say ‘feeling no pain.’
And to add to my enjoyment, I must say being so close to Elke and
listening to her even breaths and smelling her sweet perfume while we
waited was not so bad either. Oswald’s wheezing was considerably
After what seemed like
an eternity Gert stepped from a shadow before us so suddenly that our
rotund friend made a startled sound and fell over on his rump.
Elke had to slap her
hands over her mouth to keep from laughing loudly so that a sort of
strangled snort came from behind her hands.
Gert just made a
disgusted ‘tsk!’ sound.
“Come,” he said
curtly, “the old caretaker is dozing on the other side of the
tower. The way to the donjon is clear.”
We helped Oswald up and
the four of us moved as swiftly as silence would allow into the
ruins. It was eerie and my mind went to the ghost stories so popular
before the existence of the other side had been confirmed by
Sci-magickal means. Such places would have thought to have been
haunted though now we knew that much of the phenomena were
inter-dimensional portal points. We were all shielded from such
energy so it was just a dark maze to me, but still I felt the hairs
on the back of my neck prickle. We were, after all, trespassing and
breaking the law.
I was not so drunk I
did not realize we would all be in a great deal of trouble if we were
Gert led us down a long
corridor that soon became so dark we had to pause.
“We’re going to
break our necks in here,” Oswald said. As if to demonstrate his
point he tripped into a low obstruction, grunting in pain.
“Wait,” Elke said.
“I can make a Lumina spell.” She muttered an incantation in Old
High German and her hands glowed a soft green light.
“Won’t we be seen?”
“I’m using the
astral spectrum,” she said. “Only initiates can see it.” She
blew on her hands and the green glow seemed to flow off her as if it
were a fine mist and illuminate the pathway ahead of us. It showed,
as if in green twilight, the open portals of several doors that
looked so much like a skull’s empty sockets.
We were able to walk at
a normal pace now and looked down each side corridor or room with
Elke throwing a flare of light into it until we found the steps to
“Do you think the
steps are safe?” Oswald leaned in to look at the old stone of the
steps and patted his stomach. He looked like he had swallowed a sour
“Didn’t you learn a
levitation spell yet?” Gert asked facetiously. None of the
undergraduates had learned anything as complex as nullifying the laws
of gravity and inertia and he knew it.
Elke shot him an
annoyed look and sent a plume of light down to glow the entire
stairway and cellar below. It looked solid enough and she pushed past
Gert and me to head down it with a brave stride.
Gert followed and then
Oswald had little
choice but to join us.
Soon we all stood on
the floor of the lower vaulted space and saw the enclosures all
around the large main room that had at one time been cells but had
been converted to storage areas for the treasures of the Electors of
the Holy Roman Empire in the past.
Some of the low
ceilinged side spaces still had bars in place, though most had rusted
away long ago. Others had been bricked up so that only a small door
was set in the space and those metal doors had all been removed at
some point in antiquity as well. In fact, it looked like anything of
any value was very long gone.
Once more Oswald put
all our thoughts into succinct form. “This is a whole lot of risk
for nothing!” he said. “Let’s go home.”
said. “We are here and here is where there is great treasure. We
must just find it.”
“And how are we going
to do that?” Oswald asked. He was looking around now as if the Holy
Elector’s crown would be sitting on a rock nearby.
“I think we can find
it,” I said, “if we use a Spell of Emergence.”
The others turned to me
with startled expressions. “But—but that is a second form spell,”
Elke said, “None of us are qualified to perform it.”
“Not by ourselves,”
I said. “But we’ve all done it in class with Herr Shikel
or Professor Morgaine supervising.”
“Yes,” Gert said
his angular features lighting with understanding. “If we act as
ground and you or Elke actually do the spell—”
“Exactly,” I said.
“You are a very strong ground, Gert, and Oswald is almost as good;
it’s just up to Elke if she thinks we can link to do the spell; if
she adds Lumina to my reveal incantation…”
“Yes!” the bubbly
blonde girl said. “It is a brilliant idea!”
“It is a good one,
yes,” Gert reluctantly agreed.
The four of us took up
the four quarters of the room with me on the north and Elke on the
We all said the calming
chant and then I began to summon the spirits that would ripple the
stream of time and allow for the revelation of any hidden recesses in
the cellar. It was a complex spell. One that, according to Herr
Shikel, was like making all time translucent so that one could see
the space one was in at all times at once.
I began the inner
journey that would allow me to call on the powers that connected me
to the Akashic skein and thus to the forces of the universe.
The Old Norse believed that the threads of life were made by the
Norns, the three sister gods who wove, measured and cut that skein to
determine one’s lifespan.
The Aryans of old
believed that as well, if by a different name and now, we of
Sci-magickal training knew it to be an energy trail that went through
the multiverse and would allow me to draw power from a literal
Elke would add a
glimmer of light to any hidden recess so we could locate it more
The danger, to me, was
that I might be drawn up the skein by the energies that I was taping,
much as a whirlpool might suck a sailor under a mad sea or a tornado
raise one into a storm sky.
Gert and Oswald would
act as anchors to Elke and me.
As much as I thought
him an insufferable bore at times, Gert was an excellent student of
the arts and I knew he would save me if there were trouble.
And there was.
Almost at once the room
spun around me and, as if in a motion picture made with super
imposition or an X ray machine I was able to see the fortress in all
its stages, from a simple rock altar on the top of the mountain to
its current dilapidated state. I saw nothing of the people who had
moved through the space/time of the structure, but the materials of
the building registered clearly. I saw splendor and squalor in equal
proportion. And I saw treasure: the gold and jewels that had been
because Elke had attached a sort of magickal trace of red light to
any artifacts that were of an occult nature, I saw a large red glow
in the corner of one of the cells. That glow persisted when all the
other objects faded and the room itself swirled around me.
I saw shapes across the
glowing space now, things that were not inanimate objects but had the
aspect of things alive though I could not say what they were. They
had a shambling gait and might have been a distorted image of an
equine being with only two legs yet they seemed to come from where
the darkest of the red glow originated. And they seemed to be coming
I felt myself losing
control, felt my mind begin to wander as if to another place and I
called on all my discipline to pull myself back to the here-and-now
of the cellar.
The shapes held their
ground at a distance they were calling to me in some dim ancestral
part of my brain. Yet how could they see me? They were… things such
as I could never have imagined and hoped never to see again.
Inhabitants of another time and place. Whether they were long dead or
never living, I could not say.
But they had
consciousness and they were aware of me. This last fact chilled me to
my marrow and I felt myself slipping into hysteria and confusion. My
whole being felt as if it were being stretched like living taffy out
of all proportion to reality.
It was as if a powerful
riptide was drawing me into a maelstrom and I could not hold on to
any point of land. I was aware of Elke fighting the tide as well: a
feeling of helplessness came over me and I cursed myself for bringing
her into the spell for fear of what might happen to her.
I had heard of
magicians driven mad for what they had seen in such spells, or killed
outright for dealing with cosmic forces they had no ability or even
right to control.
I was still seeing that
red glow when an oblivion of blackness swept over me and I pitched
I woke to the
sting of Gert’s slapping hand on my right cheek and his angular
features sneering down at me. “He’s alive,” he said with a
disappointed tone in his voice. “But it may take a while to
determine if his brains are addled.”
“Oh let me see!”
Elke leaned into my line of sight next and her clear blue eyes were
darkened with concern. “Are you alright, Jeremy?” she asked.
I wasn’t sure, but I
wanted to see her smile again so I said, “Yes, just let me catch my
breath.” This had the desired effect and her eyes lit.
I made two attempts to
sit up before I was successful. My head was throbbing.
“We thought you were
gone,” Oswald said with gravity. “Pulled straight through to the
“It felt it,” I
said. I turned to look at Gert. “Thank you for pulling me back.”
He gave a curt nod and
did that little Junker thing of tapping his heels together. “Are
you ready to open the hidden vault?” he asked.
I had almost forgotten
the reason for our adventure. I looked around me and realized I was
exactly where I had been when we had affected the spell. The room
looked strange to me now in its uni-dimensionality; terribly
ordinary, even dull. It made me wonder what great mages saw and how
they could put up with the ‘normal’ of our human world after such
trips to the beyond.
“So where is the
vault?” Elke said eagerly. She had not been in the spell of
emergence’ center so could not have seen the red glow she had
channeled to me to cast.
I pointed. “In that
room, under the flooring.”
“I hope we don’t
need tools to get at it,” Oswald said, “I’d hate to make this
He was right. If it
were more than some hidden spring—and it might well be since none
had found it before us—then we could not retrieve it in a single
night. And the noise of any digging would surely bring the
We were fortunate.
The hidden vault proved
to be little more than a coffin sized space beneath the floor in the
back of one of the ancient cells. Gert was able to find its edge and
pry it up with a piece of discarded iron strapping from a long gone
“You should be the
first to see the contents,” the Aryan student graciously said to
me, “You determined how to find it.”
“Yes,” Elke said,
clapping her hands like a little girl. “You should.”
Oswald made it
unanimous with a nod of his head. I smiled and knelt to pull the trap
It was all a very
The contents of the
space were a dusty collection of papers, a pile of folders and an odd
looking old style wide belt that is referred to in the manuscripts as
a ‘war girdle.”
We all looked at them
in the dim green glow of Elke’s Lumina spell and were silent for a
long slice of time.
Finally Oswald spoke.
“We had better get
the stuff and go,” he pointed out. “Our luck can’t last all
He was right, though I
considered my near banishment to the great outer dark to not have
been the’ best of luck’. I reached into the cavity and grasped
the girdle intent to pull it out.
That was when the real
strangeness happened and our luck ran out simultaneously.
As I touched the girdle
to bring it out of the hole a surge of energy coursed through me,
right up my arms as if from an electrical shock. My breath went out
of my body. The ethereal power of the ancient artifact—and it most
certainly was of very old origin—was massive.
I was jolted backward
by the sensations I experienced and the visions that came to me of
creatures like the Satyrites that had become the servant class for so
many—hoofed things out of legend with limited intellect, almost a
sub division of mankind or an offshoot. Those goat legged creatures
made it seem as if the gods had tinkered with different designs
before settling on the fully human form. Creatures like them and
Mankopf Mounts—human faced horses—and other legendary beings had
been discovered by Doctor Mabon less than thirty years before on a
lost island in the North Atlantic and changed the whole world with
their re-introduction into our society.
The strange ‘almost
shapes’ I had seen in the spell trance came to mind and I wondered
if they or their residual energy were what I was seeing now. Were
they ‘haunting’ the girdle and, if so, what was it to them; a
talisman, a worship token or something else?
The sensations lasted
only a moment though they seemed longer but as I was coming back to
myself, a howling sound like a soul tormented in hell came from the
top of the stairs.
cursed. “The watchman has a dog I didn’t spot.”
It was true: the
grounds keeper’s brindle-backed deerhound crouched at the top of
the stairs alternately barking and howling into the darkness of the
cellar. Lower animals could not only smell, and hear better than man
but they could sense better. Often, ethereal energy that made no
impact on us humans was clear and present to such beasts. The dog
must have seen Elke’s Lumina glow and followed it, picking up our
scent as well.
“What are we going to
do?” Oswald hissed. “If we get caught we’ll be charged and—and
we could get expelled from the school!”
snapped. “I have to think.”
But quiet was not
forthcoming. The dog intensified his barks and howls. Distantly we
heard a shouted “Quiet, Shotzy!” in an old male voice.
“He’s coming to
investigate,” Elke said.
“Whatever we do,”
Gert said with finality, “we must not forget our prizes.” He took
off his jacket and laid it on the ground next to the vault space. He
proceeded to pick up all the papers therein and place them gently
onto the coat. When he touched the embossed leather girdle, nothing
unusual happened to him at all.
I handed him my own
belt, which he used to fashion the coat and its contents into a
bundle for easy carrying. “There,” he said with satisfaction. “We
can move swiftly now without damaging any of this.”
“But swiftly to
where?” Oswald said. “The aversion spell won’t work on the
True; the beast relied
least on its sense of sight: it would smell or hear us and be at us
in a moment’s action. In fact, it seemed it might race down the
stairs at any second.
“I’m not sure,”
Gert admitted, “but we have to do something.”
Suddenly it struck me
what to do.
“Quickly,” I called
to the others, “use that door to the vault, pick it up and hide
behind it in that cell.” I pointed to the last of the cell-vaults
that were in echelon along the wall.
I ran to the
second-to-last space that had a fairly small opening and checked
inside it. It was just a low vaulted room three or four meters square
with only the one doorway. There was a center column in the room that
would work to my purpose.
“We have the door,”
Elke came in the room to tell me. “What else can we do?”
Even in the dim glow of
the Lumina spell I saw the fear in her eyes, but also a personal
concern for me. I felt myself blush and hoped she didn’t notice.
“Hide in the last
room behind the door and then be ready with it.” I said. I told
them the rest of my plan, which made her and Oswald try to argue me
out of it. All the time the beast at the top of the stairs was
Gert cut in finally,
“It is a good plan and no greater risk than us all being caught.
Come!” He herded the others into the last cell and pulled the door
behind them. I saw a last look of concern on Elke’s face and it
gave me courage for what I must do.
As soon as they were
hidden I picked up a rock and hurled it at the dog with all my might.
I struck the animal on the snout so that he yelped and then growled.
“Come on you mangy
cur!” I yelled.
He did not really need
that encouragement as he raced down the stairs at me in a full
gallop. I waited until he was almost at the bottom and then ran for
the second-to-last cell. He followed with no equivocation.
I ran into the room and
to the back wall. He loped in after me and came straight at me with
slathering jaws. I rounded the column with him following and then ran
for the entrance yelling, “Now!”
As I darted out of the
portal Gert and Oswald slid the door over the opening and the animal
slammed against it with a howl of frustration.
I turned to help the
others pile debris against the door till it held it in place.
“Let’s go,” I
said. “It’ll work its way out in a bit but by then we’ll be
The others agreed and
we all stumbled up the stairs as fast as we could. The four of us
bolted down the corridor toward the exit from the ruins faster than
was wise. We almost didn’t make it for a figure suddenly stepped
into the opened doorway at the end of the corridor.
“What’s going on
here?” he said. It was the groundskeeper. He had a shotgun clutched
in one hand and a lantern in the other.
“Behind me,” Gert
cried and threw the bundle of booty to me. He stood in front of us
and quickly muttered the Spell of Aversion formulae again. This time
he cast a curtain of near-invisibility on all of us. I knew it
couldn’t last long and would only work in the narrow corridor as
long as we stayed close together—after all, there were few places
to avert ones eyes in the confined hallway.
The old man could
obviously not see us in the dark space and he shone the light in and
called out again, “Who’s there?”
If he didn’t move
there would be no way to get past him even if we were not visible to
I had a sudden
“Everyone cover your
eyes. Elke,” I whispered, “Glimmer his lantern by as much as you
She made a happy sound
and I knew she understood.
The lamp in the man’s
hand abruptly flared into almost incandescent brightness and the old
fellow dropped it with a scream as he was suddenly blinded by the
almost daytime bright of what he thought was an exploding lamp.
In fact, Elke had just
magnified the light from the lamp by changing the refractive
qualities of the dust motes in the air around it by many hundreds of
In any case, while the
groundskeeper cursed and groped around with his temporary blindness,
we four treasure raiders ran off into the night.
By the time we had made
it half a kilometer down the road we all—even the usually stiff and
formal Gert—were laughing and giggling like grade school children.
It would have been a
perfect triumph but for the nagging feeling, when I hugged the
package with the war girdle against my chest, that we had somehow
unleashed forces we might not be able to control.
I wish I had not been
are all in a great deal of trouble,” Herr Shikel said the
next morning. We clustered around the table in the spell practorium
lab before the first class of the day was to begin. Only we four
conspirators and my mentor and friend, Adolph Shikel, were present.
We had told him of the
events of the night before and, when he began to rage at us for being
insane, we had laid the contents of the hidden vault out on the table
before him. It had stunned him to silence for a time.
“When the district
hears of the theft of these items—” he began.
“—But there was no
theft,” Gert said smoothly. Sometimes I thought he was more lawyer
than sorcerer for his way with words. “The groundskeeper did not
see us; no one knows there were any items in that vault for sure and
we have witnesses that we never left the dormitories last night.”
He smiled as if at Sunday choir practice.
We did our best to
mirror his innocence and this made the little dark-haired and
mustachioed teacher grin with mischief.
“Well then,” he
said, “I suppose we shall have to investigate these strange items
that showed up here unannounced this morning, eh?”
It was indeed a
treasure trove of items. There were half a dozen scrolls, rolled and
bound with ribbon, two folders that held some loose papers, prints
and the war girdle.
The girdle was
contrastingly plainly designed and intricately worked: embossed
leather that might once have been dyed red but was now a dark brown.
Its surface was covered with intricate writing in both Brahmi and
ancient Runes. The writing was so extensive that it at first appeared
to be the texture of the leather like crocodile skin.
There were also images
on it of two legged creatures that looked very much like the red hued
beings I had seen in the visions the night before. I found myself
disturbed by them.
We only unbound two of
the scrolls, choosing them at random and studied the fine brushwork
on them with awe. They were not paper but lambskin that had been
preserved by both chemical and mystical means.
“That is how you were
able to locate this at all,” Herr Shikel muttered when
Oswald asked about the skins. “The enchantments are still with all
these objects: a residual like that Radium that the French girl
It was exciting and all
of us, even the reserved Gert, had a hard time containing our
enthusiasm. Elke was particularly cute and bubbly and I tried not to
stare at her more than I did at the artifacts.
It all made my skin
tingle: at least I thought it was the excitement.
I know my ears had been
itching me the whole of the night after our adventure and my legs
were sore. Unusually sore as if I had run a great distance. I chalked
the pain up to both the physical exertion and somewhat the mental
stress of my contact with the etheric energy from the night’s
During the night I had
been visited by several nightmares about the strange figures I had
seen in my casting but, as all youth, felt fairly invulnerable. I was
sure that they were just a result of my nerves and nothing more.
What concerned me more
was that I noticed that Gert was taking an interest in Elke’s joy.
I was more than a little bothered by that. Of late I had felt myself
looking forward to her company with a particular excitement.
I tried to concentrate
on the finds before us and not keep glancing up at him and her. I am
sure he noticed.
“Wunderbar!” with glee frequently as he looked through the
papers and then clapped his hands. “We must put these before the
rest of the instructors,” he said after a half hour of study.
“There is too much here and it is of such importance that this must
“But we found them,”
Gert said. “We should get the credit for it.” He cast a sidelong
glance at us to see if we supported him.
Oswald nodded, Elke
shrugged and I said, “As much as is safe to acknowledge.”
“Well said, Jeremy,”
the teacher said. “I will certainly make sure you are involved in
all translations and studies; perhaps we shall create a special study
section for this work.” He smiled and looked like a fifty-year old
imp. “I know I want to read every line in these—I am sure already
that it proves my theory of an Aryan root race with mystical powers.
Sci-magick is older than anyone but I and a very few others
The regular class bell
rang then and we four were forced to take our seats as the other
students flowed in and Herr Shikel’s class began.
His lesson for the day
was in manipulating perceptions and he, an already powerful speaker
we all knew, showed us some of the magickal techniques he
incorporated in those lectures.
“I began these
techniques unconsciously,” he said in the course of his lecture,
“before I was fully aware that aural magick was possible; now I
know that certain tones can be included within any sound that will
influence people and how they perceive any message.”
He demonstrated by
reciting doggerel poetry, first with no magick’s included and then
with a small spell included in it.
The effect was amazing;
with the second reading the otherwise dismissible material seemed to
touch my heart. I could see it had the same effect on the others,
with Elke and some of the other women actually crying from the
When he tried to show a
second example of the aural technique, explaining as he did it the
spells involved, strange things started to happen to me. My ears
began to burn and then to hurt.
I grabbed for them as
sharp stabs of agony made me cry out.
asked, “Are you alright?”
I tried to answer him
and say I was fine, not willing to be humiliated in front of Gert and
the class, but I could find no words.
teacher called. He stepped from the front of the room and came to my
side. I tried to take my hands away from my head but the pain was so
intense that I fell to my knees.
Morgaine,” Adolph called to one of the students, ‘Now!”
He grabbed for my hands
and when he pulled them aside to look at my ears he and everyone else
“Your ears,” Elke
said with horror, “What has happened to your ears!!”
I barely heard her
words of distress for my agony was becoming acute. My ears now only
tingled and when I put my hands to them they were distorted and felt
‘wrong’ but now it was my legs that were in pain.
From my thighs down it
felt as if the skin were ripping from inside out, like I was bursting
from growth and change.
“Hold him so he does
not hurt himself, thrashing,” the teacher said. Several students
grasped my shoulders and legs but their touch seemed to burn my lower
Soon my legs pressed
against my trousers as my body reshaped itself to some phantom
My feet cramped
horribly and my shoes fell off as my lower extremities changed shape.
“He’s changing into
a Satyrite!” one of the students exclaimed.
The Satyrites with
human like upper torsos had goat legs with cloven hooves. The Doctor
said in his announcement of their discovery that they were most
likely the source of many legends and myths of the ancient times.
The beasts were as
intelligent as a smart dog and had been trained to perform many
tasks, such as cleaning, bar tending and much of the manual labor of
farming, mining and other things freeing much of European mankind to
aspire to higher pursuits.
“No he’s not,”
Elke said with annoyance layered beneath the fear in her voice, “His…
his feet are not goat hooves, they are like horses hooves!”
I looked down and they
were! My toes had receded into the foot with the toenails
transforming into the horny surface of what looked like an equine
My thighs had burst
through the upper trousers legs and I saw that my lower leg looked
much like a fetlock now.
I was speechless save
for moans of humiliation and horror that I could not stop from
spilling from my quivering lips.
entered the room then and shooed the others away from me. “Adolph,”
she called. “Bring me the item that he touched to draw this curse.”
She had surmised on a glance what had occurred with me.
She was the image of a
cartoon witch of old with a long chin and sharp cheekbones, all
topped with a shock of wiry black hair. It was all thrown off kilter
by her wide and easy smile and normally jolly manner. Now, however
her face was a mask of concern.
“I can see the trace
of the energy,” she said seriously. “It is very old.”
brought her the war girdle and she passed her hands over it while
muttering incantations. He stepped to near my head and otherworldly
energy flowed from his hands.
I knew, in the still
rational part of my mind, that he was charging me with healing and
calming forces while the Professor did her best to stem the
enchantment that was stealing up my body.
through my mind as surely as the physical change was sweeping up my
body; the image of the creatures I had seen swirled in my head.
Elke’s blue eyes went wide with terror and perhaps a little disgust
and I wished then and there that death would come as a mercy to me.
The Halls of Infamy
“I have seen
some old texts on this sort of girdle,” Professor Morgaine said.
“Brecht Maurius postulated they existed to the far east, but never
did he or I realize they were this far west.”
“I was right, it is
Aryan Magick,” Adolph said under his breath.
“We have to put the
girdle on him,” Morgaine continued. “The belt was meant to be
worn before going into battle to call their deity upon them to give
“They assumed the
form of their… their gods?” Oswald asked. He stood to the side,
his eyes bugging out at the spectacle of my changing body.
“A warrior chief
would ‘take the god’ onto himself with the aid of an enchanted
object,” the female professor said. “A helmet or piece of armor
or, in this case a war belt. He would be a living symbol of the
powers supporting the clan.”
“But I thought they
were wolf gods or bears—like the bear shirts that gave us the word
Berserker.” Elke said. “Why would they take on… on a form of a
“They were warriors
but they were nomads as well,” Adolph said. “Their fortunes
rested on the backs of their mounts, much as the Mannkopf Mount
changed the fortunes of the Fatherland in the Great War.” His voice
tone changed as it always did when he ventured onto his favorite
subject, the glorious past of the Nordic race.
“So they would revere
a leader who embodied both?” Gert asked.
Morgaine hissed. “I must concentrate.” She studied the marks on
the belt mouthed the words in the ancient tongue.
“He must don this,”
she said. “It will stop the curse, at least arrest the progression
“I must disagree,”
Magus Maurius said entering the room. He was dramatic as usual, his
long scholar’s robes flowing like a swirl of blue clouds. “The
spell from such an artifact can not be mitigated by proximity; we
must perform a Spell of Abatement after careful study.”
“There is not time,”
Adolph said. “Let Morgaine continue.”
“As absurd as my
theory of Volk and the Aryan warriors with this kind of
magicks?” Adolph spoke with a note of triumph in his voice.
While this debate went
on above me, my body continued to change from my feet upward. My legs
had torn through my trousers completely and I was effectively naked
from the belt line down and feeling humiliated.
My feet were all hooves
now, and my legs to my waist were fully those of a donkey. Even my
skin had become a gray donkey-like texture as my body hair became
more like fine horse hair.
Tears streamed down my
cheeks. I wanted to die, but not as some animal.
“Stop arguing,” I
cried. “Help me!”
“Hold him up,”
Morgaine ordered some of the students.
They obeyed and she
slipped the wide belt around my middle.
“Do not fear,
Jeremy,” she said with reassurance written on her haggish face, “We
will not let this take you.”
Maurius made a move to
stop her but Adolph shot him a look.
mustachioed teacher said. “We will help you, Englander.”
She secured the belt
around my waist and almost immediately a tingle came from everywhere
it contacted my flesh. A warmth coursed through me and abruptly the
cramps and pain stopped.
“It seems to be,”
Morgaine said softly. “But let us wait and see; if it arrests the
spell we must do as Maurius suggests and study these papers and forms
in detail to reverse the spell.”
Placing the girdle on
me did seem to stem the transformation. The spasms in my legs stopped
immediately save for a few twitches. My ears, when Herr Shikel
removed his hands from them, I could feel were outrageously long.
“Can you sit up,
son?” Herr Shikel asked.