The Sorceress and her Lovers – Excerpt

The Sorceress and her LoversSaba and Eamon looked at one another. Then the sound of an explosion outside rattled the ceiling. Saba ran to the door and shoved, but it didn’t budge. It wasn’t locked, but the latch wouldn’t work. Pressing his face to the glass he saw the two wizards striding out into the street. Winton was casting a spell, while Cameron pulled a crumpled paper from his pocket. He said something and the paper bloomed into flame and then disappeared. Though no magic expert, Saba knew it was some kind of stored spell. He had seen them before, produced by the Result Mechanism. Because of his limited viewpoint and an inconveniently placed tree, he couldn’t see at whom this magical firepower was aimed. And then he did.

Walking down the slope from the print shop was a teen-age boy that Saba didn’t recognize, in a sharp grey suit and bowler hat. Taking her place beside him was Zurfina the Magnificent. No, it wasn’t Zurfina. It was Senta, though she looked so much like her mother, dressed all in black leather. And she was carrying the baby.

Glancing quickly around, Saba picked up a metal display shelf and flung it at the large front window, which shattered. Climbing over stacks of displayed shop goods, he jumped outside, knocking down more glass in the process.

“Stay here and take care of the kids!” he called back to Eamon, before rushing away.

The police inspector didn’t run out into the street. He knew enough about magic to know that he stood no chance against anyone wielding that kind of power. Instead he hugged the edge of the shops, keeping parked steam carriages and shrubbery between him and the magic users as much as possible. As he did so, he kept his eye turned toward them.

Colorful bolts of energy shot back and forth between the two uniformed wizards and the boy, evidently a wizard himself. One of the energy bolts was deflected away and set fire to the front of the millinery shop. Another caused a steam carriage to explode. Saba saw Senta wave her hand, and he expected something amazing. But nothing seemed to happen. The look on her face told him that she was as surprised as he was.

The world turned bright blue monochrome as a bolt of lightning shot from Winton’s fingertips, hitting the Drache Girl in the upper body. She was sent flying and the baby fell unceremoniously onto the street, letting out a loud wail. Saba jumped to his feet and ran toward the little girl. He had gone no more than ten steps when his legs were kicked out from beneath him. He tumbled down over the grass, over the sidewalk, and into the gutter.

He looked up to see his assailant race past him. Saba didn’t so much recognize him as knew instinctively who he was. It was Baxter, the man who he had met in the men’s shop: the one who had been carrying this same baby in his arms. Diving across the pavement, he scooped up the little girl, rolled and came to his feet, cradling her in one arm while aiming a pistol at the two police wizards. He fired off six rounds, not stopping until he reached cover behind a car. Either he missed his target or the wizards had a shield up to protect them. Saba watched in fascination as the man cradled the child to him, kissing her on the head, all the while emptying his pistol of the spent cartridges.

The police inspector’s attention was jerked back to the present. Senta was back on her feet. Hissing epithets, she swept her hand around her head and then aimed it toward the two wizards. So many things happened at once that it was almost impossible to see and understand them. A gigantic tyrannosaurus appeared in a black cloud of smoke near Wizard Cameron. In a smaller cloud of smoke, a growling wolf appeared near the sorceress. A blast of energy hit the young wizard near her, knocking him down. A huge spectral hand appeared above Wizard Winton and mashed him flat to the ground.

His eyes drawn to the tyrannosaurus, Saba saw Cameron blast it with a bolt of lightning. The beast fell over onto its back, kicked the air several times, and then rolled back to its feet. Its tail overturned the car behind which Baxter was hiding. Not bothering with the kneeling man holding the baby, the predator stalked away toward the southwest. Looking to his right, Saba saw that the wolf that had threatened Senta was already dead—frozen into a block of ice. A massive fireball, twenty feet in diameter, rolled from Cameron towards the sorceress. She waved her hand and it was deflected away, hitting a large pine tree across the street and setting it afire. Saba glanced back at Cameron just in time to see that Baxter had moved up parallel with him. Baby still in his arms, he aimed his pistol toward the wizard’s head and fired. Cameron’s brains sprayed out across the street. He stood still for a few seconds, and then toppled over onto the pavement.

Jumping to his feet, Saba ran toward Senta. She looked pale and weak and before he could reach her, she dropped to her knees. He was almost next to her when she yelled, “Stop!” It took a second before he realized that she wasn’t yelling at him. He looked over his shoulder to see Baxter a few feet behind, aiming the pistol at him.

“Are you all right?” Saba asked, reaching out and holding her shoulder.

“See to Peter.” She pointed at the young man.

In two steps, Saba was by the boy’s side. He was unconscious but it was obvious he was breathing. The shoulder of his suit had a smoldering hole in it. The skin beneath was badly burnt. He quickly looked over the rest of his body, but found no other obvious injuries.

“He’ll be all right. How’s the baby?” He suddenly realized that the child hadn’t made a sound since she had been picked up.

“She’s fine,” said Baxter, still aiming the gun in Saba’s general direction.

“Put that away,” ordered the police inspector.

Looking around he saw Eamon and the children climbing out of the broken pfennig store window. Then from around the corner ran Wizard Bell and four constables, each of whom was carrying a rifle.

“Uuthanum bashtai,” growled Senta.

Saba turned to find her pointing her finger toward Bell. Looking back, he saw the wizard raise his hands as if he had a gun pointed at him.

“There’s a tyrannosaurus gone that way,” Saba shouted to the constables, pointing. “Get on after him.”

The four men took off in the direction he had indicated. They would have no problem following the trail. Saba looked at Bell. The wizard opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He shrugged.

“He won’t be able to say anything for a few hours,” said Senta, struggling with Baxter’s aid to her feet. “I’m not taking any more chances with your wizards.”

“Uuthanum eetarri,” she said, extinguishing the flames on the front of the millinery shop and in the pine tree across the street.

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