Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
The magic came back. It went unnoticed for a while. Then a couple of bane magic covens got nasty surprises. Apprehension turned to fear as authority figures came up with increasingly implausible explanations.
‘Magewinter’ is the term everyone uses: a word that conceals more horror than the survivors care to recall. Afterwards, the superpowers allied. Frantic experimentation and desperate conscription combined with some questionable black projects from all sides to form the Magister Army – a dedicated force with the best in modern technology and rediscovered sorcerous might.
Just in time. A starving shepherd named Fusman prayed over some ancient scrolls he’d found in a cave. Desperately pleading for salvation, he accidentally raised a jinn by the name of Emeyt. After making Fusman immortal, Emeyt set about turning the Middle East into his techno-magical empire.
The Magister Army went in to deliver Operation Ascent. Full-colour footage of the operation was to be captured by the drones accompanying the army.
Two days later, those drones recorded the army melting like wax. Emeyt and the few kin he’d summoned had been practicing magic for millennia. The Magister Army had only been at it for eight months.
Meanwhile, Fusman sought to undo his mistake. Eventually, his quest brought him to the man who recruited me. Tonight, a year later, is Samhain. My mission is to stop Emeyt by any means necessary. I have been told – off the record – that if human sacrifices are needed, Bournemouth can stand to lose a few.
I take a wand made from the antenna of a tank used in Desert Storm, wrap it in a braid of ivy, stripped CAT5 cable, and my hair. On the makeshift altar in front of me rests a ruby, a chalice full of rum, an old iPod, a piece of cloth from Fusman’s turban, and a small screen with a real time feed showing Emeyt flying across the Sahara.
“Don’t we need a protective circle or something?”
I turn my head and grin at the Corporal.
“Didn’t they tell you? If this goes bad, there’s nothing on Earth that’ll save us.”
“Best leave you to it, then.” She steps back.
Squaddies. You just can’t shake ‘em. Right. Time to do chaos mages – and my mother – proud.
“I’d say something powerful, but the words are just for show. And thus: Cernunnos, I ask your forbearance. Ogun! I need the loa of the deep woods, he who knows the tech and the lore.”
The forest about me goes still. The iPod plays Greensleeves, then bursts into flames. I can’t help but laugh.
A voice from behind: “What would you of me, wyld witch?”
“The means to defeat the one named Emeyt.”
A heavily muscled arm reaches over my shoulder and retrieves the chalice.
“He’s of the old power. To defeat him would be to end the magic.”
“Tolerable. What cost your intervention?”
“Let not one more tree be cut down. You may take old branches and what time provides, but no more.”
“You know that edict will be broken.”
“Only to start. Oathbreakers pay in blood, even with low magic. You know the law. Spread the word.”
“Will the magic be lost?”
“Back to being low magic, thence to wait once more. The spiral goes ever on. Our time will come again.”
“Then, by my will, I accept your terms, and bid thee farewell.”
“Formality, so polite. It is d-”
The empty chalice lands on my foot. The screen shows empty desert.
“Had anyone made plans for how we handle the transition back to being without magic?”
I grin at the Corporal: “Oops.”