The Great Meld has a sequel! Here’s an excerpt:
WAR OF ONE THE THOUSANDS
Since Peter Zasky returned from Wizzio, he had found it difficult to sleep. Images of his bloodcurdling experience in Wizzio haunted his nights and kept him awake. The times he managed to sleep, his sleep lasted only an hour or two and took a sort of staccato pattern. When he managed to sleep, he had nightmares. Nightmares of him dying at the hands of dark wizards or evil beasty creatures.
One recurring nightmare is about when he was back in the classroom conjured by one of the dark wizards, trying to rescue his son, Simon. He would always navigate the tortuous path created by the metal desks arrangement on his knees, a ravaging battle between the wizards above him, only to get to his son’s seat and find out he had been ripped apart by a dark wizard. Peter’s eyes would rain and his heart would ache, from dream to reality.
Peter felt cursed. Cursed with the knowledge of Wizzio. Cursed with the knowledge of magic. He felt like his whole world was falling apart, like he was losing his mind, since he had returned from Wizzio three weeks ago.
Right now, it was seven in the morning and Peter had been awake since three. June was asleep beside him, her head and thick blonde hair resting on his chest. Sunlight poured into the medium sized bedroom from the large window to his right. It reflected against the life sized mirror on his left and made the blue paint of the room look white.
Peter lived with his wife and son in Maine. It was one good thing that had happened to him since Wizzio. He and June had reconciled. He had quit his job and had moved in with her. Although he still owned his sprawling mansion on Parkwood Street in Brooklyn, New York. Peter had gotten a new job that allowed him leave home late and return early.
One other good thing that had happened to him since Wizzio was that the block in his heart had disappeared and his cholesterol levels were normal. He was perfectly healthy. He discovered recently, during the mandatory physicals for his new job. It must have been the healing potion James had given him when he had broken his arm in Germany. The potion had not only healed his broken bones, but also healed his heart and cleansed his blood.
Thinking about James, Peter had not spoken to him in three weeks. In fact, Peter had not spoken to any wizard since he had returned to earth. The truth was Peter itched to get back to Wizzio regardless of his mild aversion for magic (the aversion was because of his nightmares). He itched to help them in the coming war even though he didn’t see how he could be of any assistance. The war of one thousands was an unwinnable war. Though Count Luziver, dark count and master of the dark wizards, had lost with the great meld, he could never lose with the war of one thousands even if he tried to. The days of good and justice in Wizzio as Peter had come to know it was at an end. The sacred order would never survive and Peter couldn’t do a thing about it. He couldn’t go to Wizzio and help out…Well not that he couldn’t. He could. He had his wand and his robe in the drawer in the corner of the room and he knew the spell.
Peter raised his left hand into the rays of light that flooded the bed and observed the magically etched inscription on his wrist. He could still not understand what it said, but he knew it showed that he was a wizard of the first order. So he could go anywhere in Wizzio. The problem was Maldrom had banned him from setting foot on Wizzio. Maldrom had specifically instructed him to remain in earth and protect his family, especially Simon. Maldrom had said that as long as Count Luziver was at large, Simon was in grave danger. The dark wizards were everywhere and still alleged to Count Luziver. Peter had to remain in earth and protect his family.
Peter had complained to Maldrom. He had told Maldrom that he was no match for several dark wizards coming against him at once. It was as good as leaving his family undefended. Maldrom had then forged a bond between him and Simon. Peter could access a measure of Merlin’s power and use Merlin’s wand without Simon’s blood. Any dark wizard that dared attack his family wouldn’t know what hit him.
But still, Peter longed to be in Wizzio.
The door bell rang thrice, but Peter didn’t go to see who it was. He heard the bell, but he was too deep in his thoughts to process what he was hearing. At the fourth ring, June grumbled.
“I’ll get it,” she mumbled and sluggard out of bed. She went out the room wearing only a white T-shirt that barely covered her upper thighs. June left the room sleepy-eyed, but after about one minute, she returned with every trace of sleepiness vanished from her eyes. From the concerned look on her face, Peter knew something was wrong.
“They’re here, Peter. James and the other wizards are here,” June said. “It doesn’t look good, baby. Something is wrong.”
Peter got out of the bed. He knew they would come, finally. He didn’t know it would take this long. “I’ll be with them in five minutes. Get Simon ready to leave.”
“We’re leaving now?”
“They are here babe,” Peter replied. “It has started. It’s no longer safe for you and Simon here.”
June didn’t reply. Peter could tell she didn’t like it. He hoped she could tell the he didn’t like it either.
She turned and left the room.
Peter took a hurried bath, wore a rumpled blue polo shirt, a black jeans and snickers, and went down to the dining room to meet his friends. James Walden, Bella Laquine, Jason Zeebel and two other kids that Peter didn’t know their names cluttered the dining room. They wore brown gowns that showed that they were wizards of the order (like law enforcement agents). When Peter saw the look on their faces, he knew something was really terribly wrong. They wore long tired faces and Peter could sense the depression and desperation.
He was about to say something when James raised his left hand to his lips in a shush gesture and pulled out his wand from his robe with his free hand. His eyes began to burn gold as he whirled his wand above his head. The tip of the wand began to glow white and he muttered. “Illumino…Silencio.” The white glow sparked and died. Following that, a thick blanket of darkness descended in the house.
Surprised, Peter looked at where the window should have been, but saw only darkness. Darkness had descended on the whole neighborhood. For how wide, Peter could not tell.
“All right guys,” James said in the darkness. “Light up the house.”
Together, Jason, Bella and the other two wizards spelled.
Four pairs of eyes glinted gold in the darkness. Four wand tips sparked brightly, twice, and then filled the room with light. The two other wizards threw their hands towards the door leading into the living room. The light at their wands’ tips shot out, shot into the living room and headed upstairs. Jason and Bella swung their wands as well. One light went into the living room and lit it up while the other shot to the ceiling of the dining room providing them with light.
Peter glanced at James for an explanation of what had just happened.
“Even light tells tales,” James said. James looked the same. Slender, tall, long fingers, eyes that burned with mental concentration. The only thing different was the beards. They were gone. And his long hair made him look imperial and beautiful.
Peter invited them to sit around the table. They did, except the two kids. James explained that they were wizards of the first order and could not sit amongst them. When Peter pointed out that he too was a wizard of the first order, James conceded. But he explained that since Peter had a measure of Merlin’s power surging through him, he was as high ranking as a senior wizard if not a seventh order wizard.
When they had all seated around the dinning, Peter spoke first. “It’s great to see you again.”
“Same here, Peter,” James said. “I wish we had come under better circumstances, but it’s really terrible. Wizzio is falling apart.” The tone in James voice told Peter all he needed to know about just how bad it was. And from the look on their faces, it was about to get a lot worse.
Peter asked James, “What did you mean by light tells tales?”
“What we are about to tell you is a secret,” James answered, “It could very well determine if Wizzio stands or if it falls. There are some people that might be listening in, so I have casted a covering spell. Whatever is revealed here stays here.”
“But that’s just the lights or sight,” Peter said. “What about the walls? What about sound? And the air?”
This time Bella replied. She was as beautiful as Peter remembered; a tall elegant brunette with a toothy grin and an oval face. “The lesser is included in the greater,” she said. “The highest form of eavesdropping is using the lights to see, hear and feel. Once the light is silenced, all other forms become null and void.”
Oh, Peter thought. For James to have gone through all that trouble to conjure such a powerful spell, Peter wondered what secrets they could possibly know. It these secrets could help them save Wizzio then he was definitely interested.
“Peter, Wizzio is falling apart. The situation is more terrible than we expected.” This came from Jason, the sandy haired nineteen year old son of count Zeebel; witch of the seventh order and member of the sacred order. He continued. “The sacred order is tasked beyond their capacity trying to maintain law and order in all five realms. The senate is in an upheaval. Wizards are choosing sides and dark wizards are springing up from everywhere. These dark wizards are casting spells that have not been cast for several thousand years. The very balance of magic is about to be tipped. There’s chaos across cities in Wizzio. It’s our end of days, Peter. Our end of days.”
Peter’s mood darkened with each word. Wizzio was as much his home now as earth was. His home was falling apart and he had to do something about it. But the way Jason gave the information, the tone in his voice, the water in his eyes, the pain bleeding through his voice suggested to Peter that there was nothing to be done for Wizzio. It made sense. Whatever Maldrom and the sacred order were doing, it was useless. The war of one thousands could not be won. They were doomed.
But Peter knew James and co had not broken protocol just to come to his house and whine. He suspected they had a plan–a way to save the order. Whatever it was, Peter concluded from their grim looks that it had only a slight chance of success. Maybe so slight that it was bordering on foolishness.
While Jason had been talking, June had walked into the room. She stood in the door and listened. Whatever decision would be made here depended on her. James and the others had come for him. If he refused to help, June could persuade him to help. If he agreed to help, June could dissuade him from going. James understood this which is why the next time he spoke, he spoke not to Peter alone, but to June as well.
“Peter, we need your help,” James started. “Seven days from now, on the day of the summer solstice, the war will begin. Maldrom has kept most of the dark wizards away from earth. But he weakens every moment. It won’t be long before earth is deluged with dark magic. If Wizzio falls, earth will fall first.”
“So what can we do?” Peter whined. He was mildly upset that James would try to coerce his cooperation with the threat of earth’s destruction, even though Peter suspected that the allusion was directed to June.
From then on, the secret spilled out in hushed tones.
Bella started. “The day the war of one thousands was declared, Maldrom had us second order wizards scour the library for more information about the war.”
Jason continued. “We read every script, every paper, every parchment, every book and searched for days until I found the Tozar–”
Bella cut in. “The book of ancient sorcery. He found it in the forbidden section of the library. The only reason why he wasn’t punished was because the library is in his mother’s realm.”
“Yeah, well as I was saying,” Jason continued with a rough glance at Bella. “I found the Tozar. Though I didn’t find any information regarding the war itself, I did find something interesting.”
“Every spell,” Bella continued, “as long as it was cast by a wizard wielding a wand can be ended by concluding the wizard.”
Peter understood the specific use of ‘concluding’ rather than ‘killing’ or ‘destroying.’ Peter had used the concludo spell to prevent the great meld. But he had used it on the Sappiregrum. He wondered what effect the spell would have on a wizard. It would certainly not be pleasant, that was if it didn’t kill the wizard.
“When we got this information,” James said, “We figured since Luziver used Merlin’s wand to cast the spell of the one thousands, we could prevent the war by concluding him.”
“But when we shared our findings with the sacred order,” Bella continued, “They informed us that Luziver could not be located. They had used all tracking spells known to wizards and had failed to find him. It’s as if he had fallen of the face of the universe.”
Peter sighed. Back to square one.
“They said they were able to locate Krastov, Luziver’s right hand man,” Bella said, “But he had taken refuge with the wizards of Eingrad and they had refused to hand him over to us.”
Peter had never heard of Eingrad so he asked James where Eingrad was. James explained that Eingrad was a small and separate realm in Wizzio. Eingrad was an autonomous state and was therefore under no obligation to the sacred order. Eingrad was home to the most immensely powerful wizards in Wizzio. Serperus, the wizard that had enacted the Serperus agreement, Mortalitas, the wizard that had created the kill spell, and Merlin, the most powerful wizard of all time, had all been born in Eingrad. Though the witches and wizards of Eingrad honored the Serperus agreement and desisted from invoking the Mortalitas curse, that was about as similar as they were to the other realms.
“The wizards of Eingrad have taken Krastov under their protection,” James concluded, “They will not give him up and we cannot challenge them. Maldrom may be the most powerful wizard, but he’s no match for four wizards of Eingrad. If we can apprehend Krastov and interrogate him, he may lead us to Luziver.”
“Yes, but the Eingradians won’t give him up.” Venom spouted out Peter’s mouth the same time ‘Eingradians’ did. He apologized to June and Bella for his use of profanities.
“Eingrad is within Rapner’s realm. Rapner has managed to pinpoint Krastov’s exact location in Eingrad.”
“So, we have to get into Eingrad undetected, locate Krastov and interrogate him. Then get out undetected. Of course should we get detected, that’s the only time Eingradians are allowed to use the Mortalitas curse.”
June winced at that.
Peter had told June about everything that had happened to him on Wizzio, including his close calls with the Mortalitas curse.
“How do we get in?” Peter asked.
“There are two ways into Eingrad,” James answered. “The first way is the zoop.”
Jason smirked. “But if you appeared in Eingrad without being invited or being approved for entry, you’ll be destroyed.”
“The other way?”
“The other way is through the forest,” James replied. “Eingrad is surrounded by a thick, huge forest. But this route is worse than the first. The forest is rife with the horrors of magic; evil magical creatures that possess dark magic and are impervious to magic. One scratch from any of these creatures not only tears the flesh, but also tears the soul.”
“Are these Eingrad wizards evil?” Peter asked. He had thought they were just pompous brasses. But from the sound of the forest, he began to think otherwise.
“They are neither evil nor good,” Bella answered. “They are both. They use evil and good to serve their purpose. They are wizards that take honor seriously and won’t hurt an innocent person minus those who blatantly break their rules. The horrors of magic are products of their experiments gone wrong. The Eingradians let these creatures run loose in the forest to dissuade entrance through the forest.”
At first when Peter was told about Krastov and how they could interrogate him and get a positive fix on Luziver’s location, he had thought there was maybe a chance for them to save Wizzio. But now, hearing about Eingrad’s shoot on sight policy and forests rife with magic proof, soul-tearing monsters, Peter thought it wasn’t a chance at all. It was a homicidal mission. They would never make it past the forest without their magic.
“We would never make it past the forest without magic,” Peter told them.
“Yes, we won’t,” James said. “But we could, with a sword of light.”
“Sword of light?”
Jason stood up and pulled out his wand. He stuck it out in his front. “Stoma…Lumous.” Immediately, the whole wand flashed into a long sword made of pure, white light. It looked like a light saber from one of those Star Wars movies except the hilt was made of light as well. The blade gave off a low hum and Peter could perceive the ozone in the air. It was that sharp.
“The sword of light,” Jason said, waving the sword in the air, “will rip any creature, magical or not, to pieces.”
“Retracto,” he then said. The sword vanished and was replaced by a wand. Jason sat.
Nobody spoke for a while before James broke the silence.
“That’s it, Peter,” James said. “That’s all we have. Are you coming?”
Peter wanted to go but Maldrom had instructed him to stay put. Peter told them about Maldrom’s instruction.
“That’s no problem,” James replied. “Since Maldrom’s concern was for your family’s safety, then Troniel and Ussif, the two first order wizards, will protect them.”
Well that was one problem solved, Peter thought. The other problem was his wife. He had lost her once, he would not lose her again. If she didn’t want him to leave, he wouldn’t. Peter turned to June and asked her consent without speaking. Though the others could never have known, Peter could tell that June was scared out of her mind. The signs were there; her lips were pressed hard against each other, her eyes were narrow, her head was slightly angled upwards.
June sighed and closed her eyes momentarily.
Peter knew what she was going through. The inner conflict she experienced. It was similar to what wives of service men experienced when their husbands were being drawn into a conflict in Iraq or Afghanistan or somewhere. Only in June’s case, it was multiplied a hundred fold.
“You have to go, Pete,” June said softly. “If Wizzio falls, earth will fall first.”
Peter stood to his feet. That was all he needed. They were going to Eingrad.
Peter and June left the wizards in the dining room. While June went to collect Simon for their journey to a safe place, Peter hurried to their room and changed into his robes. He collected Merlin’s wand and stepped out of the room.
He met Simon and June in the living room across the hallway from the dining room. He hugged and kissed them and said his final goodbyes.
“Be safe,” June said.
“Always,” Peter answered with a smile. His persona of bravado was a façade. Inside, he was petrified.
Peter ruffled his son’s hair. “I have to travel,” Peter said to his twelve year old son. “Take care of you mom for me will you?”
Peter went into the dining room. “Let’s go.”
“Aren’t you going to bring the lights back?” June asked from the living room.
“Once we leave, it will return,” James replied.
They walked into the hall and formed a circle in the same position he, James and Rapner had formed a circle when he had made his first journey to Wizzio. Though it was only four weeks ago, it felt like four years.
“We’ll zoop in five,” James said and started counting. “One…”
Before James reached five, Peter took one last glance at the two wizards that would be protecting his family. They were no more than eighteen years old, wide-eyed and had small statures. One was blonde while the other had black hair and angular eyes. That was probably Ussif, Peter thought. The two wizards looked anything but capable and inspired anything but trust. Peter hoped they would cause enough trouble in Wizzio to keep the dark wizards from setting their eyes on his family.
James got to five and they all spelled. “Zoopo!”
A whirl wind blew into existence, sucked them into its vortex and into the darkness of void.
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