Hey y’all, here’s Chapter Six of our epic switchblade-and-sorcery e-novel, Those Who Create and Destroy. The novel’s almost finished and expected to come in at around 250,000 words. While we’re putting finishing touches on Parts 2 and 3, we’ll continue releasing Part 1 in weekly installments on Wednesdays, with audiobook and e-reader formats coming soon.
—Mabel & Cass
“Peacock Skeleton with Crooked Feathers”
story by Mabel Harper & Cassidy Webb
written by Cassidy Webb
“Mr. Nimri; Mr. Nimri.” The Gatekeeper on duty, Shimon, greeted father and son each in turn as they stepped into the Alfheim’s elevator.
Jules leaned on his cane as he moved with Thorsten into the teleportation circle engraved on the floor of the box. He adjusted his tie and smoothed the lapels of his trench coat while Shimon traced onto the panel the secret runes that activated the circle.
The phase shift was seamless as always. Seconds later, both Nimris stood at the center of the gilded Auctoritas Magicae seal that spanned the white marble of the Enclave’s entry hall.
Jules spared a glance at the familiar ruin of the council chamber, then gave a curt nod to acknowledge his father before starting on his way.
Jules paused, turned back. He and Dad had barely exchanged words since the writs had come down from the Office of the Archmagus. Not that it was unusual for the two of them to be on limited speaking terms, but normally Thorsten might have made at least one or two provocative political observations during their carpool, trying to lure Jules into one of their rambling debates.
When only silence followed, Jules raised one eyebrow questioningly.
Thorsten cleared his throat. “Good luck.”
A small sigh stirred Jules’s chest. “Thanks.”
The elder Nimri veered off at the cross-halls toward the Daemonology department, while Jules proceeded through the main hall into the atrium.
Golden sunlight filtered lazily down from the glass roof high above. Today, for the first time, the littlest signs of normalcy seemed to be finding their way back into the Enclave’s morning activities. The shadowy presence of Ordinators still cast a pall over the compound’s main thoroughfare, but most magi had now been permitted to return to work, and, while the crowd was uncharacteristically sober, their presence itself was a big shift from the funereal emptiness that had haunted the Enclave’s halls the past few days.
Jules stopped at the newspaper stand by the Fountain of the Sephiroth to buy a copy of the Delphi Moon Post. DEAD END! blared the front-page headline. Master-General Under Fire as Investigation Continues to Stall.Another from halfway down the page: Death Toll Rises to 52: Two More Bodies Recovered, While More Victims Succumb to Injuries. This story featured a bravely smiling photo of a five-year-old triple-amputee who had become a public face for the scores of wounded. According to the article, she had died of an infection early that morning. Jules mused over whether mundane medical technology could have saved her.
He thumbed somewhat mechanically through the rest of the rag. Poring over coverage of the attack always left Jules feeling sick, but he couldn’t help himself. He kept hoping for good news of some kind—that Enforcement might have turned up even the vaguest lead on the perpetrator, or that, by reviewing the details of the tragedy over and over, Jules himself might improbably manage to pick out some overlooked clue. Master-General Wade had already sworn him in as a Martial Magus, in a small, private ritual the day he’d been discharged from Medicinal Magic, but Elisha’d been right—she wouldn’t even consider putting Jules on the attack investigation till he’d recovered enough physically to undergo training.
And he was kind of starting to lose his marbles sitting on the sidelines.