The Last Magus

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The search begins...

Steve packed his stuff and left on the next plane out of Heathrow. He was plain terrified, jumping and starting at the slightest noise! He sat in his seat on the plane looking out of the little porthole window fully expecting Draco to appear. Once in flight he continued looking furtively dragons could fly couldn’t they? Paul had tried to plead with him after the pub but Steve would have none of it, he just wanted out and hoped that New Zealand and his sister might just give him a new start. They’d always told him that he’d fallen in with a bad crowd so a new start would help him, new surroundings nobody knowing him or his past. Only after he landed in New Zealand, met his sister and made it to her small holding did he start to relax. For more than a month though he would open doors and deliberately wedge them in case they closed behind him while turning on all the lights as if the darkness terrified him. After a month of this he set himself up as a shepherd and worked tending some of the massive flocks that New Zealand was famous for.

“There’s five sheep for every person here!” His sister had told him. Steve just knew sheep don’t cause you trouble…not like people...not like wizards and dragons!

Paul after his fruitless pleading with Steve, all of which had apparently gone unheard by him, had finally sighed in resignation and gone back to Jolly’s house. There with a feet shuffling sense of embarrassment he had had to admit that his friend had been into Joe’s house but had come up empty on the coins.

“Then where in hell did Winstanton get them from?”

“Search me…I just know Steve told me he searched that place and found nothing. You should have seen him! He looked like he’d aged thirty years I saw him two days ago! Whatever the hell he saw in there scared him! He kept rambling insane stuff about rooms shuffling around, doors that started upstairs ending up down or going up the stairs and finding a room that felt like it was deep underground.”

“Is he the sort of man one might call a coward?”

“He’s the man that tried to rob your bank with a shotgun! But say that to his face, I dare you Franklin! I hope your life insurance is up-to-date. Steve’s an old style hard man, he can chew an iron bar and spit out nails. He’s got a record as long as my arm and he doesn’t take any shit from anyone…ever!”

“And yet he appears to be scared of a house?”

“Like I said whatever he found in there scared him absolutely shitless! He’s so terrified he’s even quit the country…New Zealand, says he has a sister there. Halfway around the world to get away from whatever it was.”

“Well if he’s gone then the question is what are we going to do about our friend across the road now?”

“Again search me, I’m no criminal Franklin and Steve was the only guy I could think of that would have been successful.”

Franklin Jolly leaned forwards in his chair, he whispered hoarsely, “I must get rid of Joseph Winstanton…do you understand that? I must!! The man is a thorn sticking in my side, an open festering wound that won’t heal! Ever since that day at the bank he has been the hero...while my life has turned to garbage!” Franklin’s eyes flared, “I hate Joseph Winstanton, I hate his little house, the ugly blot it creates on my view…I must get rid of him! If I can bring him down then maybe I can rebuild my life. Somehow, some way, I’ll do or pay for whatever it takes but I need that man gone!!” Franklin Jolly’s eyes had become feverish with a burning intensity. Paul momentarily drew back in alarm, he considered Franklin to be borderline insane and clearly advancing over that border with every step! Even if he hated Joe to his very core he doubted he could feel the level of vitriol that Franklin Jolly clearly felt…and for what? A house? A spoiled view from his window? From what Paul could remember that house was supposed to have been there since the seventeenth century, surely Jolly had moved in to his place with Joe’s house in his view? Paul shuffled his feet uneasily.

“I’ll see what I can do, it might not be cheap though! Someone like Steve could work out expensive to hire and at least Steve I felt I could trust.”

Franklin slammed his right fist into his left palm with a slap, “Whatever it takes Mr Paul! Do you understand...Whatever it takes!”

“Err yeah…well Steve did ask if trashing the house might be an idea.”

“Why not...better yet a bloody great big fire? Gut the place and leave it a burnt out wreck! Then it would have to be demolished! I’ll bring the marshmallows for toasting in the embers!”

“That’s called arson Mr Jolly and it’s a serious crime. Big fires tend to get investigated and deliberately started ones mean prison for whoever started them.”

“Do I care? As long as that house is removed, as long as that man is removed! I don’t care if you use a bomb and blow the blasted place up!” Paul paled, there was that intense feverish hate again in Franklin’s eyes. Could he hate Joe that much? What the hell had Joe ever done to Franklin Jolly to inspire this much resentment.

“I’ll see what I can do…let me work on it!”

Jolly nodded and then let Paul out through his front door. After Paul walked to the end of his drive Jolly stood at his door for several minutes, glaring at Joe’s house, as if willing it to catch fire right then and there! After five minutes of this he went back inside only to stand at his front window silently staring out.


Joe of course was oblivious to the interest being shown in him and his house by Jolly and Paul. He wrote the break-in off as just a chance thing, a revenge planned by a man he had thwarted…a revenge luckily cheated! But he still asked Draco about some warding spells just to be certain. The force wall spell captured his interest, it seemed to fit his requirements. That afternoon as Jolly glowered from his window, Joe inscribed the sigils for the spell on the inside of his front door, scratching them in with a bent nail. After he was finished he brought out Natalie and Draco to the porch.

“I think I’ve increased the security of this front door, just in case someone else thinks about trying to get in.”

“OK Joe.”

“I’ve used magic so I hope that no thief is going to know how to defeat this. Draco taught me a force wall spell, so I’ve put it in place here...see?” Joe pointed out the symbols, two either side of the door inscribed into the concrete of the floor, scratched in deep; and two more identical symbols either side on the porch ceiling.

“What will it do?” Nat and Draco peered at the symbols together.

Draco felt a sudden sense of pride, in a few short months Joe had grown to a significant wizard if he could use a spell such as this. “It will create a wall of magical energy Miss Natalie that will extend from the symbol on the right to the symbol on the left…an invisible obstruction that you would only be able to remove if you were a wizard more powerful than the magus.”

“Invisible?”

“Yes.” Joe nodded, “like a glass wall you can’t see. Any thief tries to break in now he’ll activate the wall, which will block his way completely and keep him out! Or if he’s quick enough he might get in but won’t be able to get out again...that is until I let him…which will be straight into the arms of the police.”

Natalie looked at the symbols then faced Joe with a trace of concern on her face, “Suppose one of us...me...activates it by accident Joe? Can we shut it down?”

“It shouldn’t activate by accident, I’ve set some very specific contingencies on it, but I’ll show you how to shut it off. The sigils I inscribed will need recharging each time it’s used also.”

“Oh OK.”

“I’m impressed magus in only four months you have become an impressive wizard. I would even dare to say equal to one of the wizards in the schools.”

“Thanks Draco, it is solely down to your teaching me. You were right about that thunder in my head too, I barely notice it now, except when I have to use a lot of mana in one place.”

“It is the way of things magus. The greater the spell the greater the mana required to use it. Have you had any repeat of that illness you suffered?”

Joe shuddered, he could still remember that black tar and sulphur taste that had been his spit. “No, I felt a twinge inscribing these sigils but nothing like I felt before. Maybe I was just overdoing it all.”

“Yes…maybe.” Draco looked lost in thought.

“Anyway that should stop any would be thief or home invader.”

Joe pulled Nat towards him and kissed her, “I think at the moment Nat no thief can take my greatest treasure...”

“Why is that Joseph?” She smiled as she wrapped her arms around his waist.

“Because you wouldn’t want to go with him would you?” Joe smiled back and gave her another kiss. “Thank you for coming into my life.” He whispered.

“Magus?” Draco looked up at Joe, “have you thought further about which school you wish to specialise in? Only if you delay then becoming more powerful may be harder to achieve.”

“Honestly Draco, I think I like the idea of being one of those generalised wizards. I like not being tied to any one type of spell. I know there are advantages but I’m not honestly that bothered by them you know.”

“A general wizard...like the Great Magus. Very well, however you should be aware of the six schools nonetheless.”

Natalie looked down at Draco questioningly, “You keep mentioning these six schools…what were they?”

“Six great towers miss Natalie, seven if you include the Great Magus’ tower, hundreds of feet high carved or grown out of living rock and stone. Built mostly with very powerful magic at nexus points, they housed everything for the teachers and students to be able to study their magic.”

“Hundreds of feet high? Wow! Any idea where they are now?”

“I knew the locations of all six, but in six thousand years the world has changed much, my memory for such things is not what it was either. I do not know how well they will have fared against the passage of so much time.”

“Hmm so they could be lost? That would be a shame?” Natalie’s eyes flared as she smiled, “Or maybe they are still standing?”

“They would not be destroyed easily miss Natalie, magic can provide a great level of protection but magic wears off with time. It maybe that now the towers might be mistaken for natural objects like rock spires.”

Natalie smiled, “That’s a thought you know, suppose the old man of Hoy was really a magic school. They’ve had mountaineers climbing all over it and they never even knew.”

“One school was on the edge of a volcano, I remember that well, I liked the heat of that place.”

Joe gulped, “Seriously? What the hell did they put it there for? Not exactly a safe place to conduct magic.”

“The volcano provided them with energy. A natural heat source. I think it was the school of Crafting magic so they used the volcano’s energy to heat metals to a molten state or run their forges…it saved on the mana that they would have needed otherwise”

“Ah you mean like Sauron used a volcano to create the one ring?”

“One ring magus?”

“A story, I’ll tell you some time…”

“That school created many rings and other items.”

“What about the Great Magus’ tower any idea where that was?”

“No, I never knew the location myself, the masters of the six schools would have known, they entombed the Great Magus in his tower after he died.”

“…And after six thousand years I think it will be a little hard to ask them about it.”

“They may have left some clues to point the way.”

“Joe why would you want to know where the Great Magus’ tower was anyway?” Nat hugged his waist with a squeeze.

“Something Draco said, the Great Magus possessed a special staff, something beyond anything the six schools could create. Kind of...” Joe released Natalie and stood with his hands fisted on his hips, he swelled up his chest with a deep breath trying to appear heroic, he deepened his voice to a bass level before speaking, “The staff of ultimate power!”

Natalie laughed as she kissed his cheek, “Yes and you’d be the one to handle it eh Joe? my hero!”

“Well is there anybody else? I think we’re a bit short on wizards these days.”

Natalie rested her head on Joe’s shoulder smiling as she gently stroked his cheek with her fingertip. She turned her face down to look at Draco again, “Do you think we could find the towers again? I mean if we could work out where they were all that time ago. Couldn’t we then work out where they might have moved to? Might be an interesting project to find them.”

“If that is possible miss Natalie?”

“Well Joe might be a real wizard with his magic and stuff but get me on a computer and the internet…I’ll show you a wizard-ess, or whatever they call a female wizard!”

“I think wizard fits either gender Nat.”

“Well I’m an info-wizard or maybe a techno witch.” Her eyes glittered with glee.

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