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Copyright 2013-2017 by Teel James Glenn, all rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated, stored or copied in any form without express written permission from the publisher.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons or events is strictly coincidental.
To Denise and
who helped me be a Gypsy�
My Giulie who is magick in my life
and makes it possible to keep fighting
1: Ancient knowledge once called magic is science when sufficiently understood.
2: A Sci-magician must always quest for knowledge for the betterment of the human race.
3: We will never know all there is to know but pursuit of knowledge is enough.
4: Do harm to none and serve the good of all
5: All actions have a three-fold consequence for either good or ill, act accordingly; as you do so shall be done to you.
6: Beware power, it is a heady elixir!
The town of Clifden, Connemara, Ireland could only be entered over two bridges, between which was a magnificent waterfall and narrow gorge running to the sea. The larger three-arched bridge led to Dooneen and the bogs beyond. The King�s Shoe Pub was just north of the town and I was there for what might be my last time, with my friends celebrating a bittersweet occasion.
We were drinking to my appointment to the Mabon School for the Magickal Arts in Bad Godesberg, Germany. That meant I would not see my friends and classmates from the Academy Dar�c for at least a year. I was both excited by the appointment to the German school and sad that I was leaving my three friends behind. We four had spent many a night in that pub after long days of classes.
I was toasting the last three years of my university life, holding a beer stein in my hand. �My friends,� I proclaimed, �Louis Bl�riot has crossed the English Channel by air, the largest ship in the world, RMS Olympic, has been surpassed by even greater airships, Dr. Mabon has brought us the Sci-magickal arts but I have brought you the greatest achievement of good King Edward�s reign: Oktober Red!�
I held up the bronze statue of a charging buck that was the trophy for a spell competition I had won. �This graced the Mabon School for New Magick in the rathskeller in Bad Godesberg for many years,� I said, �but now I have brought this prize for all!�
�Just in time to decamp to the �enemy�, Master Jeremy Cross,� Larry Baker said with a glowering expression from behind his round glasses. �I�m not sure it is a fair trade.�
�Fair enough,� Dan Ferret said. �One �young buck� for another!�
�I�ll drink to that,� Penny Bright said. �In fact, I�ll drink to almost anything!�
We all knew that, the flaxen haired and blue-eyed vixen had a reputation for imbibing that was Herculean; many a student had tried to drink Penny under the table to �have his way with her� only to find himself flat on his face and still a virgin while the button nosed and pale skinned girl had moved on to drink with another lad.
�You, my lad,� Dan Ferret said, �as the only British student at the Mabon School for New Magicks, are charged to uphold the honor of the Academy Dar�c.� The red haired alchemist held his own beer tankard up to click with Penny�s.
The trophy of the buck would sit in a glass case in the King�s Shoe Pub until the next competition two years hence; I only hoped I was not competing for the German school by then, it would feel like a betrayal of my old chums.
Since the opening up of the European conference of Magicks and Science had normalized such studies�even over the objections of the Papacy�The Academy Dar�c had won the award five out of ten times.
The Academy was a very special school, funded privately, to recruit students from Ireland, Scotland and England. We came from poor working families, orphanages and workhouses around the Empire. I had won a partial scholarship to the Academy and then, by virtue of my hard work in three years, a full scholarship to the German school. My mother was a second generation �migr� from Germany so I spoke the language fluently and that would make my time there easier.
I would be gone by the next day and I felt I had a bit of drinking store up on, though truth be told I was sure I�d never keep up with �pub Penny� Bright!
�Wait, wait, wait!� Larry piped up. He was a broad fellow, built like a beer keg with a short neck, rough features and long, club-like arms. His voice, however was high pitched and he had a twinkle in his eye that was Irish in the extreme.
�I propose that we rename the Oktober Red the �Jeremy award�!� He was not serious, of course, but the others cheered and cries of �Jeremy! Jeremy!� sounded off the rafters.
I colored with pride as they chanted and knew the moment would stay with me for many years afterward. What I would not remember was much of the evening of drinking and camaraderie that we celebrated afterward, right up to my departure for the school in Bad Godesburg.
It seemed an innocent time, both for us and for the world.
After the Germans had won the Great War in little more than a year, they had proved to be noble victors, signing a brother nation accord with England and ushering in a new age of reason and Sci-magick.
Our good King Edward VII was a broadminded, fun-loving man and he mixed, with some freedom, with men and women of all classes. A privileged few gained access to his personal circle of friends known as the �Marlborough Set�. Wealth rather than birth was a passport to the society he dominated.
He followed his mother, Victoria, however, in devotion to the Sci-magickal arts and was friends with the academy�s headmaster, Dr. Arturoius. The two had been friends since the King had been the Prince of Wales.
It was Arturoius who had rushed to the King�s side in �10 when the heathen lifestyle of the Royal had almost killed Edward. No one knew for sure what of the Sci-magickal arts the imperious, silver haired man had called upon, but there was talk of a clockwork heart and spells of vitality.
In any case, the corpulent and fun loving monarch was still strong and had led the Sceptred Isle through the short Great War, negotiating a peace after a horrible year of fighting the strange Mannkopf Mounts and other new weaponry of the German Empire.
The King�s strong leadership saved the dignity of the British Empire and helped restore stability to the world, continuing the romantic golden age of long summer afternoons and garden parties that was to have his name.
Edward the VII had done his level best to continue the stability of his mother�s long reign while leading the Empire into a new century of wonders. The strong ties with the victorious German Empire had ensured that the sciences and arts still flourished across the land.
Now, I was to embark for the school in Germany and, as much as an outsider I had been when I first came to Academy Dar�c, I would be more so in Bad Godesberg. Yet, I had promised my family and, even more so at this point, Doctor Arturoius, that I would try my best and so I would.
I was glad for the dulling effect of the beer when I tottered up the ramp to the dirigible that would take me east to my new school and a new phase of my life! Little did I know that the Sci-magickal rule of three would come into my life with a force and in ways I could never have predicted, no matter how good a magician I ever hope to be!
I must say that in all honestly that had alcohol not been involved in the incident at the rathskeller perhaps things might have been different: perhaps not better, but certainly, different.
The circumstance of it all came about because we were sitting in the rathskeller in Bad Godesberg after classes and I was taking the usual ribbing.
I was the only English student at the Mabon School for New Magicks but that was not the reason they hazed me. They would have tormented me were I full blood Prussian or French or what have you because I was still the �new� student.
I had only been at the school for eight months, after my transfer on scholarship from the Academy Dar�c in Ireland. My parents and my instructors had decided that the continent was where the best in alchemical arts could be studied and it was now a respected profession.
I had been interested in both Sci-magick and theatre since, as a child, I had seen a minor conjurer at a fair back in Wycombe change a rabbit into a hawk. It was back just before Germany won the World War using those principles when it was still frowned upon. It had been hard at first at the new school, but I threw myself into my studies and amateur theatricals to combat the loneliness. The work, some theatricals and letters from Larry in Ireland and my mother in Wycombe were my only �social life� for the first few months.
�Stop wool gathering, Englander,� Gert Von Handler said. �You have to throw the dart.� He stroked along the "smite" scar on his left cheek from his mensur dueling. He was very proud of his schmiss.
I was standing in the underground, smoke-filled pub and had already had several tankards of good German beer. I had gained a reputation as the �dart man� in the underclass during the months I had been there and was straining to up hold it against my archrival, Gert. He was popular in the school and when he joined my circle of friends my stock quickly rose.
�I�m just waiting for the spirit to move me,� I said with a smug smile. �One can not rush perfection.�
This made Oswald, a rotund fellow who had become my fast friend and Elke the beautiful blonde classmate who seemed to always hang around with our group, break into gales of laughter. Oswald had been the first to befriend me at the school, then Elke then Gert seemed to gravitate toward me. Soon we four were boon companions and I felt, at last, that I belonged.
�Oh shoot, Jeremy,� Oswald sneered. �I am growing old while you wait for ghosts to move you.� I shot him a dirty look and went back to sighting my dart.
�Take your time,� Elke said with that pout that drove us all crazy. �He just doesn�t want to pay for another round of drinks.�
Gert made a disgusted sound and I knew her barb had struck home. I squinted at the board and launched my own missile. It struck true to the center of the board.
�Have you ever paid for a round of drinks?� Elke asked me when the steam-bot bar �maid� clanked over with our new drinks.
�Many,� I said. �But not for some time.� My mind went back to dozens of such evenings with Larry, Penny and Dan at the Academy and I had a momentary stab at the thought that such nights with them would not happen again. Larry�s last letter had said Penny and Dan had been dismissed from the school for cheating on an exam. I was not surprised, but still I was saddened. I shook my head to chase away the grey thought. I smiled at Elke and said, �I acquired my skill at the cost of a wasted youth in many pubs.�
Gert snorted at that. He was the poster image of the New Germany: a blond tall, well-muscled demi-god with piercing blue eyes and a dueling scar on his left cheek that proclaimed him as a child of the Junkers. He was the apple of his military family�s eye and had shocked many of the traditionalists when he chose to study the magickal arts but as he put it, �We won the war, in part because of the Sci-magickal advances that great men like Mabon and Miller brought to bear so it is only logical that I learn all there is to know about it.� I remember he had smiled a predator�s smile when he added, �I will not beat my sword into a ploughshare I will simply add a wand to my arsenal.�
I had no such lofty or nationalistic goals. My parents were modest merchants who ran a hostelry outside of High Wycombe and had hopes for me to simply make it through university and find a profession. They were shocked when I took the entrance exam for the Academy Dar�c and more so when the inquisitor said I had true magickal talent.
Two years in Ireland however left me feeling that I was not getting the instruction I could be. And when representatives of the Mabon School had visited and presented a seminar on transformational energy I knew that I had to study there. I had been able to talk to the professor, one Herr Magus Shikel to allow me into an exchange student program.
My parents, especially my mother, were not happy with me being among the Irish and now the thought of being in the midst of our former enemies was almost too much for them. But it was a scholarship and they relented.
So now I was the new boy on the block, �the Englander,� to all in the school and often the butt of jokes.
I took it all in stride for it meant I was learning things in the way I wanted. The instructors were the finest in the world and the students�even the self possessed Gert�were some of the most talented in the arts. They and, I hoped, I would be the true future of the world.
�I overheard Magus Maurius shouting at old Adolph today,� Elke said. She was a lovely girl, almost as tall as I, with a girlish figure blossoming to womanhood in the most pleasing way. Her eyes sparkled all the time and I think half the underclassmen had a crush on her. I know I did.
�What were they on about?� Oswald asked as he stuffed yet another piece of strudel into his maw.
We all leaned in to hear the details; the two professors seemed to always be at odds over issues magickal. Their arguments were almost legendary.
�Maurius was going on about the Halbesel formulae that Adolph uses and saying it was nonsense.�
�No!� Gert said, �He actually said that?�
�Yes,� Elke insisted, �he said �nonsense�! Then Adolph started that sputtering speech of his about great past of Germany and Heimat historians using the spell. He asked �how could someone like Maurius who was not part of the Volk community?�
�No!� Oswald gasped then he giggled. �I wish I could have seen Maurius�s face.�
�I didn�t dare peek around the edge of the doorway to look,� Elke said as she cleaned her third plate of the evening�she ate more than Oswald and I together and never gained a pound. �But Maurius went on about how it was �pure speculation� that the pre-Christians used the Halbesel spells that Shikel was so up on.�
�And Adolph let that sit?� I said. My �sponsor� was known for his powerful speeches and arguments.
�Oh he shot back with �the Heimat inhabitants used many mountain peaks to call to the god Wotan the god of war, death and the hunt, and with such symbols as warrior girdles were able to effect changes like even to the bear shirts or Berserkers.�
Oswald laughed. �He gave that same speech last week when we asked him about the Gotensberg references in the old spell book.�
Elke laughed as well. I noticed that the tip of her nose moved like a bunny�s when she laughed, a little thing, but a delightful one.
�Yes,� Gert said, his angular features taking on a stern cast. �I remember he talked about his theory about a secret vault from the late 14th century, somewhere up in the old fortress from when it had become the repository of the Elector's valuables and archives.�
�Do you think it could be real?� Elke said, �I mean, if it was wouldn�t they have found it by now?�
�Not necessarily,� I said. �I remember when I first got here I read in the guide book that the old castle was under the district�s historical agency and we weren�t supposed to go near it because of jurisdictional concerns.�
�I have heard something of that,� Gert said, �The Bonn city council claims it and Bad Godesberg claims it and the state historical council wants to restore it, so it is to be is settled in court. And they have been fighting over it for years.�
�That�s what I love about your German courts,� I said, for once enjoying being the outsider. �If a thing can be drawn out for a day it can be drawn out for a decade!�
�Do you think there really is a secret vault in the castle donjon like Adolph says?� Elke asked.
�I trust what he says,� I said. �The fort itself was established on an ancient cult site or so he said.�
�No matter how silly his mustache is?� Elke said with a grin.
�Yes,� I said sticking my tongue out at her. �I think if he says it�s there it�s probably in there.�
�We ought to just sneak in and see,� Oswald said casually as he slurped up another ale.
There was sudden silence at the table and the other three of us looked at each other with the same startled expressions.
�What are you all looking at,� Oswald said when he realized we had stopped our usual banter.
�You are a genius, Oswald, my round friend,� I said. I knew by their look that the other two had indeed come to the same conclusion.
�What do you mean?� he said.
�We can get into the old castle and look for the vault of spells!� Gert said. �It would be a great coup and the information we could find is rightfully the fatherland�s!� He looked at me when he said it and I knew he was already thinking of someway to exclude me from the expedition.
I was having none of that.
�Come on then,� I said rising from the table a bit unsteadily from the tankards I had consumed. �Let�s go!�
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