Authors: Scott Meyer
Tags: #Action & Adventure, #Contemporary, #Fantasy, #Fiction, #Historical, #Humorous, #Science Fiction
By Scott Meyer
Magic 2.0 series
Off to Be the Wizard
Spell or High Water
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Text copyright © 2014 Scott Meyer
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or
in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or
se, without express written permission of the publisher.
Published by 47North, Seattle
Amazon, the Amazon logo, and 47North are trademarks of
or its a
Cover design by inkd
Illustrated by Eric Constantino
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014930081
The following is intended to be a fun, comedic sci-fi/fantasy novel. Any similarity between the events described and how reality actually works is purely coincidental.
It was a normal evening at the inn called The Rotted Stump.
, the sun was setting and the town was getting quiet. Inside, candles were burning and the patrons were getting loud.
Martin materialized across the street. He marveled at how quickly people get used to things. Here he was, a grown man in a shiny silver robe and pointed hat, coalescing out of thin air, brandishing a staff with a bust of a masked Mexican wrestler at its peak, and nobody, not the medieval peasants nor he himself, found it odd.
A passerby said a polite hello as he stepped around Martin. Martin returned the greeting, and started across the street. Three months ago Martin was a twenty-three-year-old data entry drone in Seattle who poked around in corporate computer systems in his spare time. Two months ago, through a series of events that barely made sense to him, even though he’d lived through them, he found himself at this very inn, in the year 1150, trying to pass himself off as a wizard. About a month ago, with quite a bit of help, he’d passed his training as a wizard, and now Martin was about to meet his very first trainee.
It wasn’t a huge surprise that the new trainee would turn up here at The Rotted Stump. When fleeing back in time, logic
that you use a geological landmark as a landing zone, and if you’re going to England, you can’t do much better than the Cliffs of Dover. The road nearest to the cliffs led to this town, Leadchurch, and the inn was the first public establishment you found if you followed the road. It was more surprising that
had been called to go meet the new arrival.
Martin was in his workshop when he got the call from
. Word had come that a stranger had arrived claiming to have
powers. Someone would have to look into it.
ch closer, but part of his new job as chairman of the wizards’ council was to delegate work to others, and in most cases
Besides, the new wizard was at the exact same inn where Phillip had found Martin, just two months ago. Phillip said he liked the symmetry of sending Martin as the welcoming committee.
Martin jumped at the chance. Almost since the day he started training, he had looked forward to training someone himself. Martin’s training had been a humiliating series of mind games, confusing revelations, and immature practical jokes. He had found much of it profoundly unpleasant, and he wanted a trainee of his own. It would be his chance to take all of those miserable experiences and inflict them on someone else, instead of absorbing them himself.
Martin paused before he entered the inn. He remembered the night two months ago when he’d arrived, hungry and more than a little scared. He had introduced himself to the patrons, and
to demonstrate his powers by transforming himself into a laughingstock. Eventually Phillip had challenged him to a duel and blasted him into the woods, where he’d hit his head on a tree and passed out. He smiled at the thought of having the upper hand for once as he entered the inn.
It was a warm, crowded room with exposed wooden beams. Candles and the sunset filtering through the windows were the only sources of light, which sounded more romantic than it looked. Indeed, not even romance itself would look romantic if it was being seen in The Rotted Stump.
Martin scanned the room. It was a busy night. Strong men were drinking strong drinks and using strong language. He was looking for a youngish man (like himself) who seemed out of place (like he did) and was most likely in deep trouble (which he had been). As he peered into the murk, he heard a deep,
voice shout, “Martin the Magnificent!”
Martin tried not to cringe. One of his first acts upon arriving in Medieval England was to give himself that nickname, and as with all self-bestowed nicknames, it had been an awful mistake that now haunted him. Pete, the owner of The Rotted Stump, and whose absent right forearm gave the inn its name, got up from a raucous table in the corner and came to meet Martin, smiling broadly.
“Martin, good to see you, lad. Phillip couldn’t make it?” Pete asked, patting Martin on the shoulder.
“Yeah, he’s busy, so he sent me instead. Is there a problem, Pete?”
“No problem at all,” Pete replied. “Just a new wizard in town, is all. He showed up dressed in strange clothes. I sent the boy to go fetch Phillip right away. I needn’t have hurried though, he seems to be all right. He’s already getting on much better than the last wizard that turned up.”
Martin scowled. “I was the last wizard that turned up.”
Pete’s smile didn’t even flicker. “Aye. He walked up to me, and asked if I was in charge. I said I was, and he asks what we have to drink. I point to the beer barrel. He looks at it and says, ‘That’ll do.’ He’s been back there drinking and talking ever since.”
“Has he offended anyone?” Martin asked.
“No, he fits right in. I think Gert’s sweet on him. Come ’ere, I’ll introduce you.”
As he crossed the room, Martin was able to pick the new
out of the group right away. It was his hair that set him apart. It was a fallacy that every man in medieval times had a flowing mane. There were a variety of hairstyles available to the stylish medieval male, but a perfectly trimmed, flat-top buzz cut was not one of them. Martin guessed that the new wizard was in his mid-fifties. Beneath his iron-gray military-grade haircut he had dark, severe eyebrows and a perfectly trimmed
. He was wearing a flimsy white dress shirt and a thin black
. Instead of a wizard’s robe, he wore a tan trench coat. Martin kicked himself for having not thought of that himself. It seemed as if a dim bar was the new wizard’s natural habitat, even if it was a dim bar in the Middle Ages.
Pete cleared his throat, and all conversation at the table stopped. The new wizard looked straight at Martin, making eye contact immediately. Gert sat next to the new wizard, towering over him like a slightly feminine oak tree. She had been smiling down at him, but when she looked at Martin, her smile turned effortlessly into a snarl. She liked Martin all right, but she already knew that she liked this new guy more, and she wanted Martin to know it as well.
Pete gestured toward the new wizard with his hand and said, “Martin, I’d like you to meet Roy. Roy, this is Martin.”
Roy looked at Martin for a moment, then said, “Oh, yes, the apprentice. Your teacher couldn’t make it?”
When Martin had arrived in this time, he had known next to nothing. He hadn’t known that there were other wizards with the same kinds of powers that he had, that the other wizards were time travelers from the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, like he was, or that there was a training and orientation program in place for newly arrived wizards. Not knowing these things, he had made many mistakes. Clearly, the locals had already told this guy Roy all about the wizards and the training. They probably had told him about Martin’s arrival, and from that Roy could have figured out that the other wizards were probably time
, like he was.
Phillip would have told Martin that there was a lesson in this about listening instead of talking, but Martin wouldn’t have listened.
Martin smiled at Roy, and said, “Welcome to Leadchurch, Roy. You and I should talk.”
Roy replied, “We will, as soon as I’ve finished my beer.” He lifted the earthenware mug to his lips. Judging by how he
it, the mug was over half full.
Martin leaned in slightly. “It’s imperative that we speak, in private.”
Roy said, “I figured you meant in private, or else you’d have just started talking. That’s why it has to wait until I’m done with my beer. I doubt that Pete wants me to take his mug, do you, Pete?”
“No, Roy. My mug stays in my inn.”
“See, Martin? So unless you want to put my beer in your hat, we have to stay until I’ve finished it.”
Martin slowly, without breaking eye contact with Roy, removed his silver sequined wizard hat, muttered a few words under his breath, and pulled from the hat a mug identical to the ones Pete used for serving beer. He knew it was identical because he had made Pete’s mugs in the same manner and given them to the innkeeper as a gift.
“There,” Martin said, smiling. “This mug is mine, not Pete’s, so we can take it wherever we like.”
Roy said, “Good. Pete, please fill my young friend’s mug with beer. It’ll help him kill the time while I finish mine. Martin, you can take a seat, or, because that is your mug, you’re free to take it and wait outside if you like.”
Martin sat at the table in silence, barely touching his warm beer. Roy didn’t talk much either. Instead, the patrons of The Rotted Stump seemed eager to tell Roy everything they knew about the wizards who lived in the area, and the events of the previous month. Martin’s arrival. The duel in which Martin was defeated by Phillip. The mysterious deaths at Rickard’s Bend. Martin’s mood started to lighten as they described the battle at Camelot, and the duel between Martin, Merlin, and Phillip. He had to admit, he came off pretty well the way they told it. Going in alone. Facing a more powerful adversary to buy his friends time. Remaining brave in the face of what looked like certain death. Martin felt rather heroic until Roy summed up what he had heard.
“So, Junior bit off more than he could chew, and his trainer had to come bail him out.”
There was a tense silence. Martin decided to play it cool. He was the more experienced wizard. He had the upper hand here.
“No, Roy,” Martin said, shaking his head, “there’s more to it than that.”
Roy snorted. “What did they leave out? Did you cry?”
So much for feeling heroic
, Martin thought.
Eventually, Roy finished his beer, and started to settle up with Pete, who refused to take any payment, calling the drink a
gift. He charged Martin full price for his beer,
out that Martin had been in town a while. The two wizards walked out into the chilly night air. Martin had decided not to have a public confrontation with the inexplicably popular newcomer, but now away from Roy’s fan club, and with a beer in him, Martin felt freer to talk.
“Look, Roy,” he said, “when I got word you were here, I dropped everything and came out from London to meet you.”
“Isn’t it called Camelot now?” Roy asked.
“For the time being. We’re gonna change that back. Anyway, I came all the way out here . . .”
“You teleported here. Don’t forget, son, I found the same computer database you did. I know that our world is a simulation, and I know how to use the database to alter that simulation, or else I wouldn’t be here in the first place. I know how to teleport. You probably do too, so don’t pretend that the distance was some kind of big imposition.”
Martin turned on Roy, poking him in the chest with his staff. “Look, Roy, I came here for your benefit. You can get into a ton of trouble around here if you don’t let somebody show you the ropes. That’s why I’m here, to show you the ropes. To help you stay out of trouble.”
Roy brushed Martin’s staff away from his chest with exaggerated care. “Okay, okay. Calm down, big guy. Don’t get upset. I appreciate you coming to welcome me, but I’m a grown man. I don’t need a kid to tell me what’s what.”
“See, that just shows how little you know. There’ve been guys like us here for over a decade, and others who went further back in time than we did. There’s a whole system built on top of that ‘database,’ to do things you haven’t even thought of, things like freezing the aging process. Just because a wizard looks a certain age, doesn’t mean they are that age. I could be a hundred years old, for all you know.”
Martin stormed off down the street. Roy followed, thinking.
Finally, Roy said, “That’s a good point, Martin. I hadn’t thought about that.”
“There’re a lot of things you haven’t thought about, Roy. That’s why I’m here.”
They walked in silence for a moment. They rounded a
and were in the town’s central square. The lead-
church that gave the town its name was across the square, but
, it didn’t stand out particularly well at night. A few citizens milled about. One or two had torches, but most
by starlight. Roy and Martin continued walking across the square.
Roy said, “As you say, you could be older than me.”
“Yes, I could.”
“But, back in the bar . . .”
. You should get used to using the time-appropriate words. The Rotted Stump is an inn.”
“Back at the inn, they said you only got here a couple of months ago.”
“So, you only had your aging stopped then.
years old, right?”
“Either way, you’re a kid. This has been fun, but is there an adult available to train me?”
Martin stopped walking. Roy stopped after a step and turned around to smirk at him.
Martin switched his staff from his right hand to his left,
thoughtfully at the small plaster bust of Santo, the King of the Luchadores, as he did so. He turned his attention back to Roy, and calmly said the words, “
Martin glowed with eerie silver light that seemed to form a grid pattern on his skin. He divided along the grid lines into hundreds of small silver boxes, not dissimilar in shape to tiny coffins. The boxes blew apart, swirling around Roy, who was too stunned to move. The boxes multiplied and reformed into a new form which looked just like Martin, only three
tall, and made of glowing silver boxes. As the giant form spun into shape, its empty right hand swept Roy up and lifted him to the giant’s eye-level. Roy was held around the waist in the immense hand’s uncomfortable grip. The other hand held a giant version of Martin’s staff. Roy saw that the bust of Santo was also enlarged. Its eyes were glowing with the same