This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
A mirror is a strange thing.
It seems to show us exactly who, and what, we are. But a mirror can deceive. For one thing, everything in it is back-to-front. For another, no sound escapes from it; its silence is its great secret.
Sometimes, on dark nights, when looked at out of the corner of the eye, a mirror may show images of things that have nothing to do with the room in which it is hung. Flickering shapes. A hint of movement. A suggestion, even, that there is something else beyond the glass.
What if, just for a moment, there were something there – a glimpse, maybe, of another place… another world? What would it be like?
Imagination can conjure up many scenarios, but one thing is very certain: some things in the world beyond the mirror would be entirely the opposite of what we know and understand.
So, for example, electricity wouldn't work there… but magik would.
Yet other things would be not too different at all.
Because mirrors in that other place would also reflect.
And what would they show?
Compendium of the Laws of Magik and Reasoning
The Base Laws
Causality Causes and their effects
Proximity Nearness in time, space, and order
Paradox Contradictions of reality
Probability The likelihood of things
The Higher Laws
The Yggdrasil Codes Earth harmony
The Artifice Mechana Interaction of all devices and constructs
Equilibrium of Calculus Higher mathematics and harmonics
Zodiacal Harmonies Astronomy and astrology
The Roman Canticles Ecclesiastical and religious occultism
The Gnostic Laws Self, belief, and cant
The Osirian Laws Parameters of life and death
The Other Side of Magik
The First Tale of The Mirror Worlds
…long ago, in the frozen, far-off northern lands of Outer Thule
…a dragon told the most amazing secret to a magician. They were playing cards at the time, and the dragon was losing. Dragons and mages have little use for gold and the like; the coin… and purpose… of their game was information. And the mage was winning, not because he used glamours and conjurations of magikal mien to aid him, but because he was a good player of the cards and the dragon wasn't.
Besides, the skeins of magik unravel in the presence of dragon-folk. Spells and such can take on unusual aspects around them… usually with awful consequences. That’s why dragons inhabit the cold, northern wastes and men don’t… there are no conflicts of interests.
As forfeit for losing, the secret was divulged, thus…
…the world that men knew and were familiar with was the mirror-image of another. And in that other reality, some things were very different indeed.
For one thing, the science of magik did not work, and strange new ideas and forces shaped that world. Oh, the heavens were still the same, the stars occupied their usual places and the Moon still graced the skies, but this other world was opposite in all things, and mechanical and scientific contraptions ruled the day; there was no knowledge of the wonders and mysteries of the natural power of magik. On that world, man never knew what had been lost… or never gained.
…until someone found a way to cross over into it… to open up a doorway between them. A doorway that upset the order of things.
Such was the rarity of the disclosure, and so profound the tale, that the mage recorded everything in the runes of his craft and sent what he had learned to the great colleges of magelore for their examination. And for many years great thinkers and magicians wrestled with the tale, seeking to find the moment of access. For then, once knowing the time and place, a formula of power… spell, if you will… could be crafted to delve into this mirror world.
The lore and legend of the craft of magik was sifted for clues; history was searched and dissected for any evidence of something out of place; and slowly, very slowly, over many generations, the little pieces began to add up. There were stories of people who didn’t belong. Strangers who would appear in the midst of a battle, or at the height of a storm when the lightning was flashing. All of them found near ley-lines or barrows or henges; places of mystery and power. And these strange ones all shared the same disturbing ability… they were unaffected by magik. Not like dragon-folk were unaffected, but totally indifferent to it! They were impervious to the direct application of constructed magik. More! The structured symbolisms of mathematics, harmonics, philosophical paradigms and mental imperatives that are the building blocks of the entire range of thaumaturgical disciplines that make up the Arts Arcana… known as Magik in the common tongue… would fall apart in the presence of these strange ones! Such power! To be able to nullify magik! Nullify… null. Ahhh. The last clue fell into place. Null.
Legend said there had once been a book so dire and fell that it had been proscribed and damned for all time. A book so dangerous that none could be trusted with its secrets. The Book of Null. Written during the great Druid convocation at Long Meg, in the days when the power of Rome held the land.
The doorway, ancient texts reported, to another world.
From one end of the Angle Isles to the other, the search ran its course. From the Pictish highlands to the Cymric valleys, across the lowlands of Angland and down to the brooding cliffs of Tintagel, throughout the mist-encased realm of Erin’s Isle mages sought the book. Dark vaults, in remote colleges and abbeys and seminaries, were searched; the great Druidic establishments and centres of learning scoured their libraries and crypts, and ancient rune-stones were cleaned and examined.
And it was found. Encased in a sealed leaden box and buried with others of its kind at the holy centre of learning at Newgrange, in Erin’s Isle.
Now, with the book as a guide, spells could be created that would follow the threads of history back into the past; threads that could be wound back to the moment when the doorway was opened. And at the centre of that moment, where the streams of probabilities met, was… William of Normandy, claimant to the throne of Edward the Confessor.
And in 1066 he set sail to claim what was his…
The Year 1066
Harold, son of Godwin, Eorl of Wessex, true claimant to the throne of Edward, was a man of renown and courage. Young, brave, well-studied in the arts of life and war, he faced such as no man in Angland had ever faced before. To the north, his venal and vicious brother Tostig had invited the Viking king Hardrada to join with him to unseat Harold and share the spoils of the Isle.
Across the water in Normandy, William readied his long-boats and his barons to invade the southern shore, certain that Harold’s citizen militia would prevail not against his seasoned and professional army.
Harold’s seers and mages knew the reality of the situation. Dire magik would need be employed if their king was to triumph. And so it came to pass, that a grimoire of terrible power was used. The Book of Null. This was a secret and hidden book. It was a book of awful consequence; and that which it called forth brought doubt and confusion to the Norman mages.
The currents of probability began to swirl and roil; and in the mirror-Earth history began to change…
September 25, 1066
Harald Hardrada, son of Haakon, grandson of Halfdan the Black, was doomed. His shamans and seers had been blind to Harold’s movements, and now, in the cold mist of morning, his great skills and courage were as nothing with his enemy on the high ground and a river at his back. Swords and battleaxes were drawn; shields bought up. Hard eyes stared at death from beneath horned battle-helms.
But Harold, impervious now to the arts and guiles of magik, caused Harald, son of Haakon, to kneel before him in homage. It is known that Harold offered his hand in friendship.
…across the tenuous divide that separated realities, another Harold, ghostly and ephemeral, looked down in triumph on the fallen body of his enemy…
September 28, 1066
Word came that William had landed on the southern shore at Hastings and was deploying his army. With a speed of decision that was breathtaking, Harold led both Saxon and Viking forces south. Destiny loomed before them.
…the ghostly Harold, firming now in probability, disbanded his army and, gathering around him his loyal bodyguard, sped south to confront the usurper…
October 14, 1066
There was great doubt in the camp of William. A silence had fallen on the land; a silence so profound that his best mages could not penetrate it. Harold was elusive. No word of his whereabouts came to William’s ear.
Then, at seven-of-the-clock in the morning, William, Duke of Normandy gazed up from the beach of Hastings where his army was camped in mailed array, and saw his Saxon foes appeared as if by magik through the mist; and behind them…
…behind them came a vast hoard of Viking warriors, resplendent with shield and sword and axe, each one beating his weapon to his shield so that a great drumming resounded across the sands… like the heartbeat of an angry world.
The glint of light on double-axe and greatsword reflected in William’s eyes and hid the fear within. Without a word, Harold moved towards him, and by ten-of-the-clock, William knelt at Harold’s feet, his aspirations, like the blood of his followers, leaching away into the sands of Angland.
…Harold’s new levy of citizen militia was no match for the disciplined Norsemen… and soon the last of the Wessex lords lay dead… an arrow through the eye his final epitaph. The iron fist of William began its relentless grip on his new kingdom.
With pledge and promise the leaders of all the great clans of the Angle Isles assembled in Winchester and offered Harold kingship over the nation of Angland. From their secret places came those who had kept the ways and gods of old; Celt and Pict and Norse and Saxon all celebrated the new order. And the laws of nature and earth, of fire and stone, of water and sky, of life and death… of magik… were celebrated and honoured across the length and breadth of Angland.
In the mirror world… the Second Earth of the dragon’s tale… a newly-conquered England firmed in reality…
…and history there began a different path.
The Year 2001
The Book of Null had been hidden for centuries. Banned and proscribed, it had been forgotten in the mists of time. Then, someone found it again… and used it.
Far away, beneath the icy wastes of the North, a scribe of the dragon-folk gazed into a basalt mirror, saw the ripples there that spoke of the disruption of space-time itself and knew exactly what had happened.
Good grief, it said to itself, it’s happening again!
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