Protection of Magic, The Leira Chronicles Book 3
By Martha Carr and Michael Anderle
They wandered out onto South Congress as passerby looked Correk up and down. Correk was in his clothes from Oriceran and the cowboy boots, holding the shopping bags.
An older man harrumphed as he passed him, muttering, “Weird, even for Austin.”
A couple of girls wearing UT hoodies smiled as they passed him, the shorter brunette turning around and saying, “I’d do him,” as she looked right at him. Correk raised his eyebrows and was about to say something when a man holding a banjo next to his open case barked at him, “Move along man, you’re taking away the focus. I’m working here!” The man rolled his eyes and did his best to shoo Correk away.
“Do I look that odd?”
“I can’t decide if you look like a tourist who had a little too much cash to spend or a local who works at Medieval Times and just got off work. Nah, it’s the tourist. Ooooh, hey, let’s go over there!” Eireka was pointing across the street at a small parking lot in front of a church.
“Spoken like a Berens woman,” said Correk, scowling. “What’s over there?”
“The cupcake place. I haven’t had one of those yet.”
“I’ve never tried the earthly version of them. We have something that’s a little cake on Oriceran made with honey. Delightful. Oh, okay we’re going…”
Eireka was already running across the street as soon as the light changed, practically jogging down to the parked blue metallic Airstream with Cupcake Queen printed in maroon along the side in big letters. She got in the back of the short line scanning the wooden menu propped up near the Airstream.
“I’ll take a Double Dose, no… wait, a Bachelor Button… or a Peachy Queen.” She was wringing her hands, looking back at the sign and looking up at the young man in the window.
“Lady, it’s just a cupcake. I work here and I don’t get that excited.”
Eireka fixed him with a determined glare. “Ever been without the freedom to make a choice about when to turn out the lights or when you can even use a bathroom or what you might want to have for lunch? Then kindly shut the fuck up till you do. I’ll take one of each… to go.”
“Double up on all the chocolate ones,” said Correk, as he caught up to her. The man rolled his eyes and disappeared from the window for a minute, gathering the cupcakes.
“Those look nothing like an Oriceran small cake. I have to admit, human Earthlings have perfected the art of pointless food. Bravo,” he said, doing a small bow.
Eireka laughed. “That bow kind of goes with your whole outfit. Hey, I have an idea. Can we try and find every kind of pointless food I haven’t been able to eat for the past fifteen fucking years? Oh my God, goddammit, it even feels good to swear! Swear too much in there and it rattled the staff!” She opened her arms wide and leaned her head back, yelling, “I’m back motherfuckers!”
A tall, thin older woman neatly dressed in jeans and an expensive suede jacket, her neck draped in jewelry raised her water bottle to Eireka. “Happy to have you back in the fold, motherfucker.” A large charm bracelet jangled on her wrist as she smiled and kept on walking. Eireka looked at Correk and smiled. “Something cool about human beings, right?”
The clerk was back at the window. “Yeah, yeah, kumbaya. Okay, come on, here’s your order. Could you pay and kindly move away from my establishment? I asked nicely,” he said, looking directly at Correk.
“She’s the scary one,” said Correk, opening the box and taking out one of the Double Dose, biting into the chocolate buttercream. “Oh my gawf,” he said enthusiastically, his mouth full of cake. “There is so much to discover about your planet.”
“Oh great, so crazy,” said the young man. “Okay, move along.”
Eireka took out the Peachy Queen, taking as big a bite as she could and breaking off a chunk for the troll, pushing it into Correk’s pocket. A tiny “Yumfuck, ooooh yumfuck,” could be heard, drawing smiles from the few people in line.
“You’re super clever,” said a thin young woman with straight brown hair that hung to her waist. She was smiling at Correk. “You like a street performer or something?”
“I’m an advisor to a king, actually.”
“Okay, that’s cool. Got to make your own reality sometimes,” she said, nodding her head.
Another tall, thin girl in the back of the line leaned out to get a better look at Correk and gave him a smile, and a small wave. As he walked by her she said quietly, “Hello Cousin,” a common Oriceran greeting among the Light Elves. “Tell everyone back home hello from Kaycee.” She looked up at him through her eyelashes and let her eyes glow for just a second. Correk smiled and nodded and kept walking, taking another bite of the cupcake.
The young man in the Airstream was already busy grumbling at the next patron. At the last moment, before they got to the corner, Correk mumbled a spell under his breath and sent an annoying gnat to buzz around the young man’s head for the rest of the day.
Eireka looked at him. “That’s kind of juvenile, you know.”
“Indeed. Best kind of magic some days.”
“You’re welcome, motherfucker.” He raised his cupcake in a toast.
“That was awesome, wasn’t it? Oooh, a crowd. Let’s go see what’s worth standing around for on the sidewalk.”
“You know, Eireka, I think you’re in the middle of your own personal do over,” said Correk, content to do his best to keep up, just a few feet behind her. “You remind me more of a teenager,” he said, catching up to her at the edge of the crowd.
“In Elven years I’m not even that old.” She stood back from the front of the building and looked up. “The Continental Club. I remember this place! We used to sneak in here when I was a teenager way back in the 1980’s. Geez, the last century. Look! It’s Redd Volkaert!” she said, pointing to the white board propped up against the open door. “I saw him play his guitar back in the day! Let’s go in!” Eireka didn’t wait for an answer as she barreled past the doorman.
The large man sitting on the stool by the door just gave a slow, lazy smile and waved Correk on in, saying, “Happens all the time when the good ones are here. She’s just feeling it. Redd still has that effect on the ladies. No cover charge, just remember to tip generously. Have a good time.”
They found a small table at the back and two chairs. Correk put the box of cupcakes on the table and slid the shopping bags underneath. The crowd was an even mix of baby boomers and millennials in Austin’s version of party clothes. Jeans, t-shirt and a jacket. A waitress came by and shouted over the music, “What’ll you have?” squinting, as she listened for their order.
“Something local and a little different,” shouted Eireka. “I’ll let you choose.”
“How about a Wild Bear? Ten months in oak barrels and just won a gold medal,” shouted the waitress.
Leira gave her a thumbs up and Correk raised two fingers, nodding.
Eireka leaned in closer so she could be heard. Correk leaned down to listen. “Thank you for being willing to wander the streets with me,” she said.
“I’m having quite the time. Thank you for being brave enough to head out into the street. And for the boots,” he said holding up a foot. The waitress was already back depositing two glasses on their table.
“Cheers,” said Eireka. “Here’s to whatever the future holds as long as its with my tribe, whatever that means.”
“Well put,” said Correk, taking a swallow. “Damn, that’s good. Wonder how it would go with a cupcake.”
“Let’s find out.” Eireka bit down into a Bachelor Buttons chocolate and cream cheese cupcake, washing it down with a swig of beer. She nodded, giving a shrug. “Not bad, not bad at all,” she shouted, chocolate still clinging to her lips.
Redd swung into another song, leaning back with his guitar propped against his lap. He leaned forward in time to sing the chorus into the mic.
“What do you call that?” Correk swayed to the music.
Eireka laughed and leaned across the table. “Country music. Like a story set to a tune. A lot like the way Light Elves on Oriceran talk to each other when you think about it.”
Redd was singing the chorus from a Waylon Jennings song. “Now you better do some thinkin’ then you’ll find, you got the only daddy that’ll walk the line.” He leaned back and played his six-string as Correk looked around, creating a tunnel between himself and Eireka and lighting up the other Oricerans in the room. The glowing figures dotted the room. Eireka touched his arm to connect her energy, helping him. She took a look around at the different spots of light.
“You know, there were a few magical people in the psych ward with me,” she said, speaking into the tunnel. “Some fared better than others.”
“Leira made it a condition of her new job that everyone is released. She’ll make sure they live up to their word. Your daughter is very tenacious.”
“She actually gets that from my mother.” Eireka wiped her mouth with the small white napkin. She licked her lips and watched Redd sing for a moment. The pain washed across her face for just a moment.
“I can’t promise you anything but I’ll at least give it everything I have,” said Correk.
“You have someone in there too, don’t you?”
“An old friend. He fought alongside my father against Rhazdon. Dark magic ripped open an unstable portal during that last great battle. My friend, Malik, pushed my father out of the way but fell into the void. My father died anyway.” Correk took a long swig from his beer. “I have never caught another glimpse of him. I don’t even know if he was truly alive when he fell in or died from the spell that was aimed at my father.” He shook his head. “Rhazdon caused so much harm. Grateful every day he was brought down in that fire.”
“I’m sorry. You know exactly what I’m going through but you didn’t say anything. You’re a good friend. We’ll find a way, together.”
A small furry head suddenly appeared out of Correk’s pocket. Eireka’s eyes opened wide and she smiled despite her alarm. Correk looked down just in time to see the troll bound out of his pocket and bounce off the table and onto the floor, scrambling for the stage.
“Two moons!” shouted Correk, standing up, trying to catch a glimpse of green hair scampering by everyone’s feet. “Damnable thing loves music. They all do. Almost as much as food.”
He spotted the troll climbing up onto the stage and positioning himself just behind Redd, shaking his booty and singing along, occasionally yelling out his name.
“Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me.” Correk worked his way through the packed house, trying to get up front. A man with a long handlebar moustache scowled at him but quickly went back to dancing.
Correk made his way closer to the stage. The drummer in the band spotted Yumfuck and started but noticed the troll was keeping time with him. “Look at that, even the rats around here like your music, Redd.”
The crowd cheered and clapped in time with the music as Yumfuck spun on his back, jumping up to his feet, yelling, “Yumfuck!”
“Yumfuck!” yelled the crowd, who were doing their best to imitate the tiny fellow.
“Lookie there. A talking rat!”
“A dancing talking rat!”
“This town has everything!”
“I think I can die happy,” said Redd, giving a weathered smile, “because now I’ve seen everything.”
Correk made his way to the stage, nodding at Redd as he kept right on singing. Yumfuck was doing a mean imitation of a two-step right on the beat. “Damnable YouTube videos,” muttered Correk, as he scooped up the troll mid box step.
The crowd let out a collective moan and there were even a few boos as Correk kept a firm grip around the troll’s waist, trying to put him back in his pocket. But Yumfuck leaned forward, one leg hanging out of the pocket, squirming in Correk’s hand and blew kisses with both paws as the crowd let out an even bigger cheer. Correk rolled his eyes and tried to smile, taking a bow, finally pushing the troll back in his pocket. The troll leaned over the top like he was in a box seat, waving at people, even giving a wink to an older woman who started, then let out a laugh.
“I know you can bring your dog into most places in Austin,” said Redd into the mic. “I suppose a trained rat works just as well. Thanks for loving the music, Mister. You too little fella.” He went right back to the lyrics and kept on singing as Correk made his way back to the table.
“Congratulations dude. You should be on America’s Got Talent! You’d win!”
“I’d vote for you! Better than that regurgitator. All he did was throw stuff back up!”
“That was amazing. Love your outfit too. Got a whole thing going!”
“Does the rat have a costume?”
“How did you ever teach him to say, yumfuck? Didn’t know a rat could talk!”
“Love the dye job! Look, my hair’s blue!”
“Is he for sale? Pay top dollar!”
He finally made it back to the table where Eireka was calmly sitting in her seat, sipping her beer, smiling.
“You look rather peaceful considering a troll from another planet just put on a show for a lot of humans.” Correk put his hand over the pocket. “Don’t even think about it,” he muttered into the pocket. The troll looked up at him and blew an extended raspberry, sticking out his tongue.
“I’m kind of surprised he doesn’t just give you the finger.”
“Your daughter does more of a verbal variety of swearing but I’m sure he’ll learn that eventually from someone in traffic.”
“You know, if this is what my first day is like, I can’t imagine what comes next. But look at everyone… they just went with it so easily. No one’s running for their life or trying to stomp out Yumfuck. Maybe the world has changed.”
“Or Austin is living up to its quirky motto.”
“Either way,” said Eireka, determination on her face, “I have more hope than I expected.”
“You are really a remarkable woman.”
“I spent fifteen years thinking about days like these. I’m going to do my best to celebrate as much as possible. Especially a crowd chanting Yumfuck to a dancing troll, while a Light Elf from the royal court wearing cowboy boots tries to grab him off a stage,” she said, with a snort. “Come on, we should go before the crowd starts yelling encore. Hang on, while I throw an extra twenty in the tip jar.” A friend of the band was wandering through the crowd with an oversized clear plastic container and a hand-lettered sign that read, Tips taped to the side. Eireka dropped in the money and danced her way back to the table.
“Okay, I’m ready. What’s next?”
FROM MARTHA >>> Snippet #9! PROTECTION OF MAGIC, Book 3 is just 1 DAY AWAY! Wednesday, August 30th! Last snippet till it’s all yours!