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Chapter 4: A Snoozer of a Show

Tyson found himself stumbling through mist thicker than he had ever seen. Colored lights flashed in the fog, casting an eerie glow across everything. He walked along for what felt like an eternity, seeing nothing until a black form emerged from the mist, only a dozen feet away.

His body tingling with excitement, he rushed toward the form. “Hey! Are you lost here too?”

The form lifted its head and gave Tyson a smile to make a crocodile jealous. “No, little boy. For once, I know exactly what I am doing.”

Tyson halted suddenly and stared at the figure of the magician Markus Zauber. He looked much like he had on stage, but taller, somehow more commanding. Light congealed around his fingertips, randomly shooting off intense sparks into the mist. The entire air around him felt charged as if they were standing on the landing pad for a soon-arriving lightning bolt.

“Hey, you’re that Zauber guy. The one who wouldn’t do the rabbit trick.”

Mr. Zauber’s grin grew even wider, revealing a sparkling gold tooth near the back of his mouth. The top hat floated off his head of its own accord and flipped over, revealing the interior. A second later, an animal that resembled an oversized hamster with bright blue fur peeked its fanged head over the rim.

“You mean you don’t like Kreide here? I think he’s offended.”

Tyson backed off, knowing that he had no real place to run. “Uh, nice, hamster. I’m sorry I wanted a bunny. You’re actually much better than any bunny.”

Kreide leapt out of the hat, baring his enlarged front teeth at Tyson. The magician let out a shrill whistle and the creature froze in mid-air. A second later, it reversed direction and returned to the hat. “Sorry, boy. He’s a little sensitive. We both agree that bunnies are vile creatures.”

Tyson arched an eyebrow. “So how did you get to be a magician without liking rabbits? Isn’t that part of wizard school?”

The magician laughed, each time producing a burst of yellow light around him. “It sounds like you’ve been reading too many books. I’ve never been to a single class on being a magician. I admit the the greatest magician in the world was a misnomer. Until now.”

Tyson took another step back. He didn’t like the strange glint in the magician’s eyes. “What do you mean? This is a dream, isn’t it?”
The magician’s laugh intensified, and he shot a pointing finger at Tyson. “Oh yes, and so much more! Are you really ignorant to what is within you? The very power of the stars.”

The magician’s hands wove the intricate patterns as they did before, but this time crackling energy danced from fingertip to fingertip; ready to burst out at any second.

“Have a seat, boy. It’s time you saw a real magic show.”

A sharp gust of wind sent Tyson sprawling back, but before he hit the ground, a stuffed, red, armchair materialized from the mist and caught him.

Tyson tried to rise from the chair, but found that his arms and legs no longer obeyed.

What followed was the most incredible show he had ever seen.

Bahati made her way through the crowd, gathering no more than a few suspicious glances from the people around her, mostly teenage boys. All around were strange new smells, sweet and savory, that made her mouth water and her stomach clutch. Ignoring her protesting body, she fixed his eyes on the tent and continued.

Strange lights and unnatural noises emanated from within. She felt her fingers tighten around her staff, wondering what sort of beast lurked within. She hesitated only briefly before forging forward, pushing her way past the group of onlookers who hovered around the tent flap.

The moment she stepped into the tent, Bahati cringed as a wave of dark magic swept over her. Reflexively, she raised her staff, ready at a moment’s notice to deflect the scathing attack she was sure was imminent.

As the seconds passed, however, not so much as a spark flew in her direction. Eyes wide and heart racing, she scanned the crowd to root out her possible opponent. Unless the dark creature had disguised itself as an old lady or a young child, he couldn’t see anything threatening.

Bahati’s eyes flickered for an instant to a boy in the third row. In the darkness, he could not tell much about the boy, but she knew something else: he was the one she was looking for. Though she was sure that no one else around him could see it, the boy glowed with an inner light. Starlight.

Then she spotted the black-suited man sweeping around the stage. He danced in and out of the fog, producing strange colored cloths from his sleeves and various pockets. Why hadn’t she seen this before? This dark magician had mesmerized this hapless audience and who knew what he planned for them? She did not need to know the details—whatever it was needed to be stopped.

Concentrating on the mental image of her father to give her strength, Bahati gripped her staff and gathered energy. She felt it welling up inside her, filling and expanding her soul like a dry sponge taking on water.

Before she was ready to release her spell, however, she felt a great rush of energy from the stage. It smashed into her like a whirlwind and hurled her out of the tent. She blinked once, twice and after the third time, her eyelids did not rise again.

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