Tag Archives: magic

The Ivory Maiden

by Esther Davis

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I heard the bells on Christmas day

Their old familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet the words repeat

Of peace on earth, good will to men.


“You will not change my answer.”


Morgan turned toward the ceiling-high window, letting her red hair fall like a fiery wall between her and her sister. “I do what’s best for the city.”

“You can’t stop the townsfolk, you know,” Glenda said. “Barring her from the city means nothing. We’ll seek out the Ivory Maiden and present our wishes.”


“Yes, Colwyn and I, and anyone else who wishes to join.”

Morgan kept her back turned, her gaze on the snow-coated courtyard outside. Frost crystals obscured the view, as if the horse drawn sleighs and ice coated Ever-Bearing Tree belonged on some moth-eaten tapestry. “I’ll have you arrested.”

“And break your nephew’s heart?” Glenda demanded.

“Better to crush his dreams while he’s young, before they’ve had time to embed themselves. This selfish wish-asking needs to end.” The words came out numb, as if they’d sat in the chilly air all morning before marching through Morgan’s mouth.

“Selfish? He’s asking the Maiden to heal his sick kitten!”

Morgan didn’t reply. Her lips felt heavy, frozen shut. Silence drafted through the room, its stillness broken only by the ticking of the grandfather clock. When she spoke, her voice seemed too loud, echoing off the vaulted ceiling. “The royal ambassador comes tomorrow. If we are to gain the king’s favor, his representative is to hear nothing of the Maiden or this wish making.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“That you better keep your visit to the witch silent enough that I have no grounds to order your arrest.”

Morgan felt her sister’s gaze laying siege on the fiery wall of hair flowing down her back. She needn’t look to see the vast room separating her and Glenda nor the oaken desk barricading them from one another.

“Ever since you took father’s place…” Glenda’s voice drifted off. The doorknob turned—groaning. “I don’t recognize you anymore.”

Morgan watched the fluttering snowfall long after the study door thudded shut. Through the window she watched Glenda, wrapped in a thick overcoat, exit the manor into the snowy courtyard. Colwyn, Glenda’s seven-year-old son, clung to her arm, trotting to keep up with his mother’s stride. He looked upward, saying something to his mother. Glenda shook her head.

Glenda handed money to a sleigh driver, then she and Colwyn boarded and disappear into the clutter of huts and brick-built businesses beyond the manor’s outer hedge.

A militiaman entered the room. “You called for horse rider, ma’am?”

“Follow my sister’s sleigh from afar,” Morgan said. “Don’t let her spot you, and tell no one what you see. No arrests are to be made. Just keep her safe from the bandits, and send a messenger to me once they’ve returned safely home.” Continue reading


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Within Paper and Ink

by Esther Davis

Amid the raging battle, the book—not the carnage—captivated my mind.

For years, I’d trained in the ancient art of incantations. I’d conquered armies with a conjured tiger fighting at my side. Father entrusted the enchantment of the Imperial Guard’s armor to my care. Yet never had I created an item so powerful as this book.

It terrified me.

That morning, I’d slid the paper doors shut around me, boxing myself in with our family shrine. Heart pounding, mind racing, I fell to me knees on the bamboo matting. The weaved mat dug into my bare shins.

I spoke not, for fear Father would hear my words. If my ancestors truly cared, they’d read the pleas through my tears.

Help me, my heart begged. This sacrifice…I can’t. Show me another way.

I knelt in silence, already knowing my answer. I must finish what I’d started.

I must defeat the Shadows. Continue reading

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Servant of the Tiger

by Esther Davis

“Can I see your scar?”

Makoto’s slender fingers brushed his palm. Outwardly, Ichirou remained calm, gaze still fixed on the white and orange coy fish drifting in the shallow pond below. But Ichirou’s breath caught in his throat. Electricity built on the flesh of his excited heart. This energy could’ve cast a dangerous spell in battle.

Ichirou turned to face her while his free hand fell in his pocket. His fingers grasped the cold ring hidden inside. “I call it a scar, but it’s a bit more than that.” Continue reading


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Where the Dead Walk

by Esther Davis

Chunks of scoria cascaded from the rising form. The ground trembled. Mina’s szajo reared, and she flung her arms around one of its curled horns to keep from falling.

“Calm, boy. Calm!” Mina’s lips trembled as she whispered in the ram’s ear.

The szajo didn’t calm. It bayed, a guttural sound that reverberated through Mina’s frame… Continue reading

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by Esther Davis

“Go ahead. Flood the whole city over your petty grudge. You’re the Lady Monte, after all.” How Heather itched to spit that into Her Royal Plumpness’s face. Or maybe just glare. Glaring worked.

Heather handed the unconscious child to her nephew then splashed down the roadside to the next victim. She weaved through the scattered furniture and scanned the flooded street for any people they might have missed. Her knee-high boots should’ve kept the water out, but the moisture still managed to find crevices to seep though, sloshing between Heather’s toes and making them even prunier.

An Aqua Hound stood on the flood’s surface, sniffing at the hair plastered to a servant’s face. Heather squinted at the hound. All the other water Elementals had Melted. Was Lady Monte still around, or did her spell just need a few more minutes to wear off?

Heather fished a pebble from the flooded street and chucked it at the hound. The stone passed through its midsection. A few drops fell from the aqueous body, but most of the liquid kept its shape. The hound glanced up and barked—a bark that sounded more like a crashing waterfall. Continue reading


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Amethyst to Soothe

by Esther Davis


“Amethyst” by Esther Davis

Arye withdrew his fingers and hissed. Though the bottle sat undisturbed, angry violet streaks sizzled across the cauldron’s surface like claw marks from a rabid animal. Arye’s fingertips stung. He placed them on his lips, hoping to cool them. The flash still played across his eyes.

Amethyst shouldn’t burn. It healed. It soothed. But never burned… Continue reading

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When The Gardener Sings

by Esther Davis

I taste the world. Bitter chemicals my neighbors sweat. The sweet nutrients my buried tendrils grasp. Refreshing water drawn through my roots. I feel the breeze ruffling my petals, the rain as it runs down my stem. I sense the sunlight tickling my leaves. Sense, but not see. I only see when the gardener sings.

His shadow interrupts the sunlight’s tickling, and cool liquid embraces my roots. It comes first as a low hum that vibrates my fibers. Then the hum becomes more.

I hear through the gardener’s ears and see through his eyes. A bed of swaying tulips rained on by a can, and a song. A song full of memories. Old. Ancient. He doesn’t know where the song began, only that his great-grandmother learned it from hers… Continue reading

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Dear Papa

"Special Delivery" by Kim Sokol

“Special Delivery” by Kim Sokol

by Esther Davis

The silver dragon perched on the hilltop. Its rider tightened its saddle and adjusted the bundle on its back. Crystal’s sandals pattered on the cobblestone as she gaped at the mail dragon. She ran on, clutching the envelope to her chest.


Dear Papa,

Can I call you Papa? I’ve always wanted a real papa.


Crystal scribbled the words on a scrap of parchment as soon as she slipped away from Mama’s rant. “Made the biggest commotion when it flew in. Rotten magic folk should get the message already. The mayor tried shooing her off, but the rider insisted. Stubborn as rhino dung!”… Continue reading

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“Reaching The Wall” by Gary Laib

by Esther Davis

Nowell thrust Fyrsken into the snow and leaned on the sword’s hilt. The frost caking his gloves seeped through the cloth, stinging his fingers.

“We need to go back,” Nowell said.

Sleipnir stopped. The white wolf twisted his neck to peer back at his master. “They don’t deserve you.”… Continue reading


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Men of Blades

by Esther Davis

The Obelisks should have saved us.

Joshr perched on the boulder, waves crashing against the rocky shore at his back. The Obelisk rose from the volcanic rock like a charred tree from ash. Its protective enchantments still held. The runes running up its hundred-foot spine still glowed blue. Far to the west and east, other Obelisks shone, each holding their ancient vigil.

No enemy could breach the unseen wall spanning between the Obelisks. But the Builders never knew enemies could come from above… Continue reading

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