Release of Magic, The Leira Chronicles Book 2
By Martha Carr and Michael Anderle
The remodeled Chicago Avenue Pumping Station in the heart of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, the shopping mecca by Lake Michigan, was also the regular meeting place for the local Order of the Silver Griffins. It had been for well over a hundred years since the station was still functioning in its original capacity as a public utility. Back then, no one gave the building a second glance. There were so many other things to distract, like the World’s Fair and a new invention that debuted there called the Ferris Wheel.
The Ferris family were proud members of the Order going back thousands of years and clever engineers. A wizard cousin helped build the pumping station and started the ball rolling to make it a safe haven for witches and wizards passing through Chicago in need of a place to rest.
Fortunately, as it changed hands, eventually becoming a theater, it still came under the purview of a friendly witch or wizard family. The thousands of tourists who schlepped past the building every day on their way to the Water Tower and the dancing fountain that spit water up and down several flights in the middle of the escalator, never knew they were so close to so much hidden magic.
The humans were impressed with a clever fountain that shot water the same way, at different intervals all day long. Spit, spit, spit. Imagine if they could have seen into the depths of the Chicago Avenue Pumping Station, especially at the annual Christmas party.
More than one instance of snow thunder was too many witches and wizards dipping into the whiskey punch. There was a general rule that no wands were allowed but no one ever listened. The elders always stood in the back and kept watch, just in case things got too far out of hand. After all, the Order’s credo was to keep magic hidden. Not dress up like Santa just to fly over houses for a laugh.
In the back of the station, one flight down, sat the vault that was built before the station and was even the reason for planting the large stone edifice on top of it. To keep the contents safely hidden away.
Today was no different.
An older witch looked up from what she was doing to the noise over her head. She was wearing a navy blue suit and flat shoes and a badge hung around her neck from a lavalier that said, docent. A fancy word for guide.
“It’s Peter Pan again. The matinee is just getting started. Humans are obsessed with flying fairies. They’re okay, I suppose, but really, a dime a dozen on Oriceran.”
“It’s a nice fairytale,” the other witch replied. She was dressed in long charcoal gray yoga pants and an even longer powder blue puffy coat that went to her ankles. That’s what pegged her as a local. Perfect to blend in with the shopping crowd outside in the cold winter air. “Now, go be the lookout. Don’t let anyone wander down here.”
The wand made of fir tucked into her deep coat pocket was what pegged her as a witch from these parts.
The wizard kneeling next to the younger witch was casting a spell on the vault to get it to open. “Expandoria,” he said, waggling his fingers. The solid three-foot thick door creaked open an inch but not quite far enough. It was far too heavy for anyone to force open without magical ability. The charm on it would make machinery useless as well.
“What’s with the jazz hands?”
“Sorry, I’ve been playing with my kids lately. Showing them little spells. Have to train them early.”
“Well, a little focus would go a long way right now. If anyone found out we grabbed the necklace there will be trouble.”
“I know. I get it.”
“Are you sure no one saw you do it?” The witch was carefully holding a braided necklace with a diamond-shaped lavender colored pendant. The edges of it were covered in soot but otherwise there wasn’t a scratch on it.
“Positive,” said the wizard. “I got to it before the smoke cleared. Everyone was still trying to get their bearings after the blast. I told you that was going to happen.”
“I know, I know. The whole ending was no real surprise. Tragic but not a surprise. Good thing you thought to cast that spell over the broom closet in the back or we would have been toast along with those two humans.” The witch shook her head, frowning. “They should never mess with artifacts. It has never ended well for their kind.”
“Yeah, kaboom! The wizard puffed up his checks and rolled his eyes, blowing out the breath in one gasp.
“You should really get out with more adults,” the witch told him. “Now, try again.”
The wizard held out his wand and said the spell again, adding a twist. “Expandoria, infintinia!” The safe swung open with a whoosh, knocking the wizard back on his heels.
“Nicely done,” said the witch. “I’ll have to remember that one for the next time. Can you move back a little now?”
The witch stepped over the wizard and into the vault that stretched out underneath the pumping station. In front of her were different aisles stretching up two stories, full of different boxes. Each one had a different charm to keep an artifact in and an intruder out.
The witch grabbed one of the smaller velvet-lined boxes and set the necklace inside, snapping the case shut and twisting the lock.
“I’m putting this under the dead Prince’s name. It holds the last of his energy. Seems only fitting,” she said, marching left and toward the back, looking for the Rs. “Ah, there we go. Rolim. Right between Jack the Ripper’s razor artifact, now, that was a wicked piece of business,” she said, sliding the box into place. “And snuggled nicely next to the running shoes. Remember that one? Ran a few people to their death back in the seventies! Worse than steroids!”
“I remember. Both of those wizards got sent back to Oriceran and Trevilsom Prison. Unsolved mysteries over here.”
“Makes for a good TV show, doesn’t it? Even when you know the real ending. Fun to see what the humans come up with to explain these things.”
“Never the same thing twice, either,” the wizard agreed, looking around at the shelves. “There has to be thousands of artifacts and relics in here by now.”
“May no one outside of the Order ever find that out,” the witch replied with a shudder.
“Come on, let’s get out of here. I have a junior high basketball game to referee. Make sure you put the glamour charm back in place to hide the building. Something darker than usual is searching for this necklace.”
“I know, I know,” said the witch. They marched out to the front of the vault, standing clear of the enormous door. “Now who’s the worrier? Not that I don’t approve,” she said, pulling out her wand. “Compressoria, infintinia!”
The door groaned loudly, grinding against the concrete, and lumbered shut, the brass gears whirring and clicking as the mechanism locked into place. Built by the gnomes of Oriceran, known for their ability to not only keep secrets but create clever ways to guard them as well. Shipped over to Earth a piece at a time with a few gnomes to put it back together correctly.
“The vault has stood the test of time for well over a hundred years without a single break-in.” The witch brushed a strand of hair out of her face, admiring the structure.
“I’m not one to get all weird about feelings, but I have a bad one about this necklace. Whatever’s hunting it, I hope this can stand the test.”
“It’s seen the worst and been fine. Come on, you have a game to get to. We’ve been underground long enough.”
Correk helped Leira carry the boxes from the car to the guesthouse. “Most of this is yours, anyway,” she smirked.
“Not really. Most of this belongs to your family at the bar.” Correk pulled down the knit hat covering his distinctly pointed ears. The spell had worn off and he was too low on stored energy to glamour his ears.
“So much that’s wrong with that description. What about these?” Leira held up the large plastic jug of orange cheese puffs. “You planning to share these? Didn’t think so.”
“They’re back!” yelled Paul. “You have my whiskey?”
Estelle gave a long, hard look at Paul. The ash on the cigarette dangling out of her mouth fell, landing on the bar. She took a damp bar towel and wiped it off, not taking her eyes off Paul.
“Don’t take it that way, Estelle. I have to spend some time at home.”
“Which is why he needs the home stash,” said Craig.
Estelle squinted through the smoke and stepped off the stool she was standing on behind the bar. She turned and went to check on the early diners and the happy hour crowd inside.
“That tiny old lady is very scary,” Mike said.
“Has she actually ever done anything?” asked Paul. “That we know of?”
“There are legends, dude.” Craig shuddered.
Leira balanced a box on her knee while she unlocked the door of the guesthouse.
“You can play with your friends once you help me carry all of this in to the kitchen,” she said.
“Leave the troll at home, please.”
“I have probably a hundred years or more on you and have even seen my share of battle.”
“Your point? I’ve seen my share of shootings, stabbings and other nastiness people can do to each other, if we’re comparing notes.”
“I’m past the need for parenting. Besides, I still know more magic than you do and can leave a fireball to hover above you if you keep it up.”
“Point taken,” Leira conceded, opening the door and dropping her purse on the red velvet chair. The wooden blinds were all closed. She wasn’t going to mention his ebbing magic. “But the day is coming when I’ll have a few magic tricks up my sleeve.”
“We can only hope that a little wisdom will come with the new found power.” Correk followed her into the kitchen and put the box down on the kitchen table, and started sorting.
Leira pulled out a new small blue cat bowl and put it on the counter. She grabbed the bag of Purina Cat Chow and poured some in. “What? It’s what we feed our pets on this planet. It’ll be good for him. Too much junk food. I get it. I don’t know the biochemistry of a troll but seriously, old gum, Cheetos and pizza crust can’t be good for any species. Look, it says right on the bag that it’s a balanced diet.” Leira laughed giddily. “This is ridiculous. I’m trying to feed cat chow to a troll from another planet.”
Correk reached in and scooped out the troll who promptly bit his finger. “Moons of Oriceran!” Correk dropped the troll unceremoniously on the counter and watched the creature scramble over to the bowl, settling himself in the middle of the bowl, and shoveling the small triangles into his mouth.
“Well, that’s one way to eat it,” Leira said. “Does that pass as swearing on Oriceran? Moons of Oriceran! Don’t you have anything with a nice hard sound like fuck or something that makes you think of something that stanks like shit? Nothing?”
“Yum fuck!” The troll looked up with a smile, his mouth overflowing with nuggets.
“He gets it, don’t you Yumfuck.”
Correk’s eyes lit up as he focused on his finger, healing it. Leira watched with fascination and relief. He still had some energy left.
“Now, that’s a magic trick that will come in handy. Does it work on humans too?”
“Not as consistently and sometimes with unforeseen consequences.”
“Like what? Some weird polka-dotted rash? Pulsing lights coming out of them? They turn into a zombie?”
“Something like that.”
Leira was surprised. “Oh, wow, I thought for sure you’d basically tell me to zip it, nothing like that. Good to know. No trying to fix humans with magic.”
“A good idea, in general.”
“What about half elves? What can we do for them?”
Correk stopped digging through the boxes in search of the socks for Craig. He looked up at Leira solemnly. “I suppose we are now talking about your mother. Are we talking about using magic to break her out?”
“That and to fix whatever that place may have broken inside of her.”
Correk saw the pain in Leira’s eyes and said nothing, letting her talk. He had already learned that she took her time trusting anyone and avoided ever showing anyone there even was a vulnerable side to her. If she was choosing to trust him, even a little, he was going to be careful not to step on the moment.
“I want to go see her.” Leira let the words hang in the air for a minute. The only sound was the troll plowing through the food in his bowl. He looked up at Leira, sensing her mild distress but she smiled at him and he rolled happily over onto his back, dropping food into his mouth.
“I’ve been avoiding the place. It wasn’t my original intention. It just kind of happened. You let enough time go by and it gets harder to go at all. Besides, when I did go, at some point she always got around to talking about elves and a magical place…”
Correk interrupted her. “And you thought it was proof she was crazy.”
“Yes,” said Leira, softly. “I’m not proud of it but I’ve taught myself to avoid hopeless situations with people I care about.”
“What if I went with you?”
“You’re up for that?”
“My Costco adventure has gotten me just a little deeper in the bar family, the fan club otherwise known as the Leira Society. And yes, before you say anything we have fan clubs on Oriceran. They’re just for real accomplishments like winning at Gringleball or championing a battle. That will even earn you a spot in a child’s hero book.”
“A wonderful game but to your point. You are also half Light Elf, that is very clear and you will learn that we don’t divide ourselves up into smaller and smaller units of family. We are all part of one large family and we show up for each other, good or bad.”
“You have each other’s backs.”
“No, my dear Leira. We, we have each other’s backs. I will go with you to see your mother.”
Leira felt something settle into her chest. A feeling she hadn’t experienced in way too many years. Gratitude.
“Oh crap, I don’t do tears,” she said, brushing away a tear on her cheek.
“Not to spoil the moment, but you’re just intending a visit, right? Not breaking her out.”
Leira turned away from Correk, surprised at how quickly her sadness was replaced with anger. She wasn’t even sure exactly who she was angry with right in that moment. She realized her hands were balled into fists at her side and the troll had stood up in the dish, looking around for the danger.
“He’s like an emotional weathervane. Can’t be in denial about fucking anything with a pocket troll around.”
“I’m not suggesting that we don’t get your mother out of that institution. Not at all. I’m not even saying that we take our time.”
“Then what are you saying?”
“That if we don’t do this by the Earth rules, they’ll just come after her again. It will sit on her record and if she gets stopped by one of your kind in traffic…”
“My kind… a cop.”
“Yes, or ends up in an argument that normally would mean nothing…”
“Someone will see that she was in a hospital and broke out, and put her back in under even tighter security.”
“Yes, and best case your mother will live the rest of her life looking over her shoulder or worst case, die in a hospital under a diagnosis that isn’t true.”
“Not if we break her out and take her to Oriceran through a portal.”
“That means your mother, who’s had no say about her living conditions for fifteen years, will once again, even with better intentions, have to deal with what was decided for her.”
Leira clenched her teeth, struggling not to get angrier. This is why I don’t talk about any of this, she thought. Too much pain, too many dead ends.
“There is another way and you and I will find it. Soon. In the meantime, we’ll go and see her. You know, your mother is a magical creature, and if your father’s human, even more than you are.”
Correk ignored her question. “There’s a chance she may have some valuable ideas of her own about how to get her out of there that we haven’t thought of. You are her daughter, and I imagine, more alike than you may have been willing to admit in a lot of years.”
The grief in Leira’s chest surged forward, over the tipping point, and the sobs broke out before she could contain them. Correk didn’t hesitate and wrapped his arms around her pulling her in tight as she let out the pain and frustration she had been carrying with her for most of her life.
FROM MARTHA >>> Snippet #9 from RELEASE OF MAGIC – LAST SNIPPET!! Before it’s in your hot little hands tomorrow – MONDAY, AUGUST 14th! Meet you right back here tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
Next up will be SOUL STONE MAGE by Sarah Noffke on SEPT 6TH and FAIRHAVEN CHRONICLES by S.M. Boyce in OCT – so much magical fun headed your way! I hear the KACY CHRONICLES by A.L. Knorr may be headed your way starting SEPT 4TH and then there’s Flint MaxwelL and MIDWEST MAGIC CHRONICLES set in Ohio! PROTECTION OF MAGIC will be out 8/30 from The Leira Chronicles.