Authors: Christopher Nuttall
Tags: #FM Fantasy, #FIC009010 FICTION / Fantasy / Contemporary, #FIC009050 FICTION / Fantasy / Paranormal, #FIC002000 FICTION / Action & Adventure
There is magic in the world, hiding in plain sight. If you search for it, you will find it, or it will find you. Welcome to the magical world.
Having lived all her life in Edinburgh, the last thing 25-year old Dizzy expected was to see a man with a real (if tiny) dragon on his shoulder. Following him, she discovered that she had stumbled from her mundane world into a parallel magical world, an alternate reality where dragons flew through the sky and the Great Powers watched over the world. Convinced that she had nothing to lose, she became apprenticed to the man with the dragon. He turned out to be one of the most powerful magicians in all of reality.
But powerful dark forces had their eye on this young and inexperienced magician, intending to use her for the ultimate act of evil – the apocalyptic destruction of all reality. If Dizzy does not realise what is happening to her and the worlds around her, she won’t be able to stop their plan. A plan that will ravage both the magical and mundane worlds, consuming everything and everyone in fire.
ALSO BY CHRISTOPHER NUTTALL
The Royal Sorceress
A Life Less Ordinary
A Life Less Ordinary
First published in Great Britain by Elsewhen Press, 2013
An imprint of Alnpete Limited
Copyright © Christopher Nuttall, 2012-13. All rights reserved
The right of Christopher Nuttall to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, telepathic, magical, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. An earlier version of this work was previously published by the author in 2012 through Createspace as
Dizzy Spells: A life less ordinary
Elsewhen Press, PO Box 757, Dartford, Kent DA2 7TQ
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data.
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
ISBN 978-1-908168-23-8 Print edition
ISBN 978-1-908168-33-7 eBook edition
Condition of Sale
This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.
Elsewhen Press & Planet-Clock Design are trademarks of Alnpete Limited
Converted to eBook format by Elsewhen Press
This book is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places, events, magical establishments and species are either a product of the author’s fertile imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual species, organisations, events, places or people (living, dead, undead or supernatural) is purely coincidental
Magic didn’t go out of this world. It just went sideways. You don’t see it, but we are there, hidden in the corner of your eye. If you have the gift, or you believe in us, you will find us. You will enter a world of magic, of witches and wizards, sorcerers and necromancers, dragons and demons, elves and fairies. You will enter a world where the powerless of the dull mundane world take on new forms, where an ugly duckling can become a swan, where the great powers of Heaven and Hell – and all the many realms in-between – interact with frail humans and their world.
If you search for us, you will find us. Just don’t blame us if you don’t like what you find.
My name is my own, a secret shared only with my nearest and dearest. Names have power, even in the mundane world. In the magical world, to know a person’s name is to have power over them. Never ask a magician what his name is; ever. Always ask what a person would like to be called.
You can call me Dizzy.
This is my story.
Where to begin, I wonder?
Where to begin?
I still remember my first meeting with Master Revels, even now, so many years after the fact. Even as an old woman, that day – the day that my life changed forever – continues to haunt me. If I hadn’t followed him, my life would have been very different; happy and distant and small. Or perhaps I am just fooling myself.
I was eighteen when I left school in Edinburgh, many years ago. I hadn’t paid enough attention while I had the chance, so I left my formal education with only a handful of awards, hardly enough to get into a good university. My mother – my father, of whom I prefer not to speak, had left us while I was a baby – looked at me, saw the waste I had made of my life, and ordered me to get out of hers. I moved in with a boyfriend and thought that I would never look back.
It turned out that there were few positions for unqualified teens in Edinburgh. I signed on at the dole and was pushed towards a series of positions that were, in effect, menial work. I scrubbed dishes and changed beds at old folks homes, I cooked and cleaned at a simple cafe and spent far too much time living hand to mouth. My first boyfriend finally got tired of me and kicked me out of his flat, leaving me out on the streets. Three of my girlfriends, who had set up a communal flat, allowed me to stay with them in exchange for paying a share of the rent. My second boyfriend – a drug addict I should have known better than to allow anywhere near me – wanted me to go into prostitution to pay the bills. I got out of that one quick and, with some help from a friend, managed to find an entry-level position at a famous shopping centre. It was dull, with absolutely no hope of promotion, but I thought that it would be permanent. The economic crash came along and suddenly I found my position threatened. The manager, a tight-fisted bastard, cut salaries all round, apart from himself, of course. He was being paid enough in his salary to keep us all working, but the rest of us had to survive on minimum wage. I didn’t quit, because I had no choice. I had to keep working for the slave driver.
Edinburgh is a remarkable city, for those of you unlucky enough never to have visited. My first memory was seeing blue lights surrounding Edinburgh Castle, although my mother used to tell me that I was just imagining it. It was always hard to tell my memories from my imagination as I grew older, something that I never fully understood until I met Master Revels. The only relaxation I had – I couldn’t afford to do things like going to the pictures or anything else that cost money – was walking through the city. One day, my sole day off in the entire week, I was walking through the Royal Mile when I saw Master Revels for the first time. I didn’t know who he was, of course. Not then.
You may not have seen one of his posters, so I will describe him for you. He was a tall man, handsome in a bland sort of way, with a strong chin. He always wore a black suit, a white shirt and a top hat, something that he used to distract attention from his face. Even after I got to know him, I always found it hard to imagine him without his outfit; it was, in many ways, a case of clothes making the man. His face was pale, although never as inhumanly pale as his posters suggested, and his eyes were bright blue. His black hair – so black that people suspected that it came out of a bottle – seemed to glimmer in the sunlight.
It wasn’t his face or his outfit that attracted my attention, however; it was the creature resting on his shoulder. It was riding like a parrot would ride on a pirate’s shoulder, yet it was larger and stranger than any parrot, rather like a cross between a lizard and a peacock. I turned as he walked past, unaware of my scrutiny, and just stared at him. The creature should have been drawing attention from everyone, yet no one seemed to notice. No one apart from me.
For a moment, I thought that it was a puppet of some kind, just before it moved and turned to look at me. It wasn’t just convincing, it was so
that I found myself believing in it completely. Almost unaware of what I was doing, heedless of my surroundings or of any manners my mother might have drummed into me over the years, I turned to follow the strange man and his remarkable beast. He was walking upwards, towards the castle, when he turned into a side alley I couldn’t recall ever having seen before. I was still following him, almost in a daze, when I walked right into him. The shock of the collision brought me back to my senses.
“Good afternoon, my dear,” the man said. He had a voice that sounded almost aristocratic, although without the underlying assumption of servility on my part. He didn’t sound angry, much to my relief, just curious. “Do you have some reason to be following me?”
It honestly didn’t occur to me to try to lie to him. “Sir,” I said, “what is that creature on your shoulder?”
His eyes widened with genuine surprise. “You can see her?”
The creature, as if it was aware that we were speaking about her, seemed to turn to look at me again. Up close, it was easy to see how weird it truly was. She had the strangest golden eyes, so bright and understanding, as if she had looked upon all the sin of the world and forgiven one and all. Her scales, a strange shade of green, seemed to flicker as she stood up on his shoulder and – I found myself transfixed, unable to move – spread her wings. I hadn’t realised until then, but I was looking at a tiny green dragon.
“Yes,” I said. He hadn’t taken his eyes off my face. It was a scrutiny that seemed to look deep into my very soul. “What is she?”
He ignored my question. “How often do you see creatures that are not supposed to exist?”
I looked up at him, puzzled. “I thought I saw a unicorn once, when I was a child,” I said. The memory of the visit to the safari park, one of the few good memories from my childhood, still resounded within my head. “Why...?”
“I think that you had better come with me,” the man said. He turned and led the way down the alleyway. “Coming?”
Prudence suggested that I should run, that I should try to get away from the weirdo and his strange pet dragon, but I had never been one for listening to prudence. Besides, the look in the dragon’s eyes seemed to convince me that, whatever happened, I would be safe. I gathered myself and followed him through a maze of tiny alleys that I had never known existed, before we stopped outside a stone door. It looked so old that I wondered if we were going into the castle itself, before he pushed it open and waved me inside. The room we entered was large enough to be a ballroom, covered with endless heaps of trinkets and junk. I found myself staring as we passed a mountain of older books, many written in languages I didn’t recognise, and found a tiny kitchen at one end of the room. The man pushed the dragon impatiently and she flew into the air, flapping over towards me. Before I could react, she settled on my shoulder and winked at me.
Whatever doubts I had kept, I lost them when I felt the dragon’s skin. It was hot, yet not hot enough to be uncomfortable, moving with a strange beating motion. It felt almost like holding a scaly hamster, with the same rapidly beating heart and twitching eyes, although none of my pet hamsters had ever looked so wise. I stroked her gently and she crooned in pleasure, a deep sound that seemed to hum in my ear.
“I’m sorry about the mess,” the man said, sounding unconcerned. He passed me a cup of tea and I sipped gratefully, surprised to discover that he’d made it exactly how I liked it. The dragon emitted a sharp noise and he flushed, almost embarrassed. “I am called Revels, Master Revels to my adoring public.”
I smiled. “My name is...”
He held up a hand before I could complete the sentence. “If you’re going to be involved in my world, and it seems that you are, you need to keep one thing in mind,” he said. “Do
give anyone your real name, for names have power. Pick a name for yourself, something you can be called, and stick to it.”