Breaking magic the legac.., p.1
Breaking Magic (The Legacy of Androva Book 5), page 1
Alex C Vick
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2016 by Alex C Vick
Cover design by Kerry Hynds
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
First eBook Printing, 2016
For Cookie, the brightest star in the sky
Chapter One – My First Gathering
Chapter Two – Losing Garrett
Chapter Three – Benedar
Chapter Four – Too Close For Comfort
Chapter Five – Our First Night
Chapter Six – Assigning Life Skills
Chapter Seven – The Map
Chapter Eight – Breaking
Chapter Nine – What Flyers Are Made Of
Chapter Ten – Blood And Nightmares
Chapter Eleven – The Definition Of Magic
Chapter Twelve – Random Reminders
Chapter Thirteen – The Night Shift
Chapter Fourteen – The More I Learn, The Less I Know
Chapter Fifteen – The Otherworlders
Chapter Sixteen – Shannon
Chapter Seventeen – The Initiation Word
Chapter Eighteen – The Fall Of The House Of Medaxus
Chapter Nineteen – Two Warnings
Chapter Twenty – Creating A New City
Chapter Twenty One – Memory Banks
Chapter Twenty Two – Tiredness Or Sickness?
Chapter Twenty Three – Imbera As It Was
Chapter Twenty Four – The Medaxus Enchantment
Chapter Twenty Five – Confronting The Breaker
Chapter Twenty Six – Near To The End
Chapter Twenty Seven – An Ending And A Beginning
“What happened to you? You look terrible. It’s not the sickness, is it?”
Varun shook his head. He was deathly pale. In the low light of the underground workshop, even his hair looked white. I glanced at Garrett, who frowned.
“You should have told us you were testing again,” Garrett said. “We could have helped.”
Garrett was exhausted. We all were. The sickness had killed so many of us. There were almost no elders left. Our parents were long gone.
The three of us had been the best magicians at the Academy. Friends and rivals. As close as brothers.
We’d been searching for a cure ever since it started. But all we’d managed to do so far was slow it down.
“I didn’t need your help. I figured it out on my own.”
“You figured out what?”
His eyes gleamed.
“I can stop it. I can stop the sickness.”
“What?” said Garrett incredulously.
“But… how?” I added. “I thought we didn’t have enough magic left. All the spells we’ve tried lately haven’t worked.”
“I found a new energy source.”
“How does it work? Show us!”
Garrett and I were speaking over each other in our excitement. The first hope I’d felt in months was sharp and almost painful.
“Oh, don’t worry, I’ll show you. We have plenty of time. We’re going to live forever.”
Silence. I thought I’d misheard, but his expression was ominously serious. The back of my neck prickled with a sense of foreboding.
“What did you say?” asked Garrett slowly.
“You heard me.”
“But… that’s more than a cure,” I said. “We can’t change the balance between life and death. I don’t want to live forever.”
“Don’t you? Pity. I could have guessed you’d say that. Cal the do-gooder. Always on the side of what’s right.”
I stepped backwards. This was getting very weird, very fast.
“Look, Varun-” Garrett said, but he was interrupted.
“No. You do what I say now. Now and forever. Both of you. All of you!”
Chapter One - My First Gathering
The beginning of it all was completely unremarkable. My life-giver was an ordinary Breeder. I don’t remember her, obviously. She was long gone before I was old enough for the first memory to stick in my head.
I’ll go forward six years. I knew my place by then. The rules of Imberan society were brutal, but we could depend on them. Opta rule, Exta serve. Until our skills reached their permitted level: developed enough to be worth donating, but not powerful enough to be a threat.
Nice word that, isn’t it, donating? Makes it sound like we offered our skills to a worthy cause. They were stolen, along with everything else keeping us alive.
When I was old enough, I was assigned to a unit. The Opta sorted us according to personality and skills so that each unit had a balance of each. They admire uniformity.
I suppose that’s why they all look the same. White-haired, white-skinned ghosts. Not that I’ve ever seen a ghost. But I imagine they’d be like faded copies of real people.
My unit looked after the city’s buildings. We were the lowest of the low. Repairing and cleaning. No job too degrading. And I was a Worker, not a Thinker. Which put me right at the bottom of the pile.
Before I was old enough to wonder why we allowed the Opta to treat us that way, I knew the answer. We outnumbered them ten to one, and yet they had all the power.
A word, that’s all it took to activate the process. The Initiation Word. We didn’t know what it was, and we all lived in fear of hearing it. Workers couldn’t read, and we couldn’t write, but we could still be afraid of that word.
It was worse for Thinkers. Reading and writing was their thing. Stumbling across the Initiation Word by accident was something that showed up in Thinker nightmares regularly.
There was a timetable according to age. We were supposed to be safe until our names appeared on the list.
But sometimes the Opta said that word as a punishment. It didn’t take much to annoy them. It never made sense to me when I was younger. They were our masters, with the best of everything Imbera had to offer, and yet they were so discontented.
I didn’t get it at the time, but I do now. They weren’t discontented. They just wanted us to be afraid of their anger. It amused them to invent reasons to punish us.
There I was, six years old and joining my unit. I remember being excited at leaving the childstation. I was so trusting. So stupid. I actually believed that things might not be as bad as they seemed. That I had plenty of time to change the world before anything happened to me.
My “brother” was called Garrett. He was twelve. He’d be my brother for the next six years, until he was eighteen. Then I’d be twelve, and I’d get my own brother to look after.
“I’ll call you Cal for now,” he told me. “You’ll have to grow into that name of yours.”
He was so angry at first. His grey eyes were like storm clouds. I didn’t realise he’d just lost his older brother to the Gathering. I thought it was my fault. Those first few days I carried rocks until my hands were bleeding, I was so desperate to win his approval.
“Cal,” he told me, sighing with frustration. “You have to pace yourself. There’s not going to be any less work tom
He wrapped my hands in faded strips of blue cloth torn from an old shirt. He tied the knots very tight, and I remember trying not to flinch. I didn’t know it then, but he’d intended to hate me. And he wanted me to hate him too.
But I followed him around like a miniature shadow. No matter how much he scowled at me, I was determined to be friends with him. I guess I wore him down.
The brother/sister pairing system in the units wasn’t just for teaching and learning. It made us care about each other. Caring made us vulnerable, and the Opta knew that. Garrett was trying to defy the system when he pushed me away.
Our unit, being buildings maintenance, was nearly all Workers. But we had an allocation of two Thinkers to help us plan our tasks more efficiently.
Life settled into a pattern of work and sleep. There were never quite enough Exta to go around, so the workload was heavy. It was deliberate. The breeding programme produced no more than the city’s resources could sustain, which also happened to be slightly less than the workload required.
The sky was dark for three days out of every four. On the fourth, the red sun rose slowly in the sky, and the Opta stayed inside. We were allowed to work a shorter day.
In those precious hours, we could talk to each other without being overheard, and the future seemed less bleak. When we were feeling brave, we met up with other units and talked about what we might do if we were ever free.
“I would eat all day long and sleep in a proper bed!” I said. My young age kept my dreams simple.
“I would speak to who I want,” said one of the older boys, throwing a stone away from him forcefully. Dervan had just been assigned to road repairing. Permanently. This was his punishment for striking up a forbidden conversation with a girl from another unit while they were both on cleaning duty.
I didn’t get what was so great about girls then. I thought Dervan was mad. But some of the other boys nodded in understanding.
“I’d build a boat and try to find out if that shape in the water is another city,” offered Talik, the oldest member of our unit. “Maybe the Opta don’t live there.” He was counting down the days until his eighteenth birthday, and his eyes flashed with a mixture of suppressed rage and sharp fear.
“What would you do?” I asked Garrett.
“Discover. Learn. Negotiate. Rebuild this world into something decent.” Rude laughter and shouted insults greeted this. Garrett ignored them.
He became my best friend. I hero-worshipped him. I grew taller than the other boys my age, and stronger, but he never called me Callax. As long as I was Cal, we could pretend that we weren’t both getting older.
In time, the boys in the unit looked up to him too. He was a natural leader. Smart enough to be a Thinker and a Worker, but that was against the rules. It was not permitted to have too many skills in one Exta. He was just a Worker, quietly doing what he could to protect the weaker boys in our unit.
We lived in the caves, when we weren’t working. It was miserable. Those hours in the sunlight prevented us from being as pale as our Opta rulers, but it was never quite enough.
I always felt like chasing the sun to the distant horizon when it disappeared from the sky, hoping that it might come back if I wished hard enough. Did I mention how stupid I was back then?
The city was built on a rocky island in the middle of a giant ocean. The buildings were piled into the available space, like stone boxes. The ocean kept us trapped as much as the Opta did. Talik never got to build his boat, of course.
The years passed, and boys came and went. As long as Garrett was there, I felt like I could handle anything. Then I turned ten years old, which meant that I was required to attend the Gatherings. Two or three times a week, for the rest of my life. The reality of being an Exta hit me like a rock to the chest.
We lined up in rows in the central square, outside the ruling house. It was taller and grander than the others, extending five stories high. And that’s not counting the statue.
All of the other buildings looked the same from the outside. It made our jobs a tiny bit easier. Every piece was the same size, and in the same place.
Not this one though. Rows of curling symbols surrounded the enormous doorway. What was the point of that? Decorating it didn’t change what happened there.
I was scared to look at the symbols for too long in case the Initiation Word was hidden in the pattern. The statue of the great Flyer rose up from the roof, a menacing reminder of Opta authority.
It was all wings, talons, scales, and feathers, with a long spiked tail thrown in for good measure.
Every Exta was plagued with visions of these fire-breathing Flyers whenever we worked outside. They swooped across the ocean towards our island one after the other, disappearing when they reached the centre. Purple and silver, gleaming even on the dark days.
It was an unnecessary reminder that we served the Opta. If we could see the Flyers, we could not escape the process. We were told that it was a sign of our stupidity, because our weak minds were so easily led.
Garrett stood next to me, with his hand on my shoulder as a warning not to run. We were quite far back, but I could still see the victims when they crawled into the square.
I panicked at first, and Garrett’s fingers dug into my shoulder. I’d known that Dervan would be there, and I’d also known that no one came back from the Gathering. But I still wasn’t prepared for what I saw.
He’d left us three days earlier, summoned to be bound by the Initiation Word on his eighteenth birthday. We’d sent him off with the usual bravado.
“Some people will do anything to get out of a day’s work, won’t they?”
“Give the Opta one of these for me!”
This was accompanied by a jab to the stomach.
“Enjoy sleeping above ground for once! Think of us in our cave while you enjoy your comforts…”
Garrett had clasped Dervan on his upper arm. They didn’t speak, but Dervan seemed to appreciate the silent support.
Years of repairing the roads, week in week out, had made him physically strong. These days he kept his brown hair very short, and it made his eyebrows look quite fierce.
Like most of us, he had easier days and bad days, but little remained of the boy who had exchanged a few hopeful words with that girl three years before.
His expression in recent weeks had acquired a terrible patience. That was the choice he’d made. It was the only choice left to us. How to face it. We either accepted it, like Dervan, or we raged about it. But there was no point in resisting it.
The Opta would not hesitate to seek out the entire unit and bind them too. Not even the brashest rebel, or the most desperate coward, could allow themselves to be responsible for that.
The Dervan I saw that day in the square was barely a person. His physical body, on its hands and knees, was familiar, with the same dimensions and the same hair colour. There were no visible injuries.
But the face that lifted towards the two Opta leaders was a hideous parody of the boy he had been. In his eyes was the glint of insanity, the broken pieces of a mind that had been smashed.
“Please, please, please, please, please, please, please…”
He repeated the same words over and over, until I thought I would go mad as well. He was reaching for something from her, the Binder, and she appeared poised to grant it, one arm extended.
She was waiting for her brother. He was the Breaker. He was in no hurry, walking in a circle around Dervan on light feet, his expression fascinated.
“I do love my work,” he breathed, the cold, quiet hiss of his voice reaching his silent audience easily. While some of us were disgusted or angry, most were afraid.
There was worse to come. Dervan’s younger brother, Alken, would be made to finally condemn him.
Alken had to be dragged forward. This babbling replica of the mentor who had looked after him for so long was the stuff of nightmares.
He told me later that he was too afraid
“Your words, Exta,” said the Breaker to Alken. His pale eyes glowed brighter as Alken’s face twisted with revulsion. “Say them, and I will put him out of his misery.”
Garrett’s hand got even tighter on my shoulder, but I welcomed it. The pain was evidence that we were still connected, still normal.
“I… I can’t…” Alken’s expression was terrified. He suddenly looked much younger than his twelve years. He rubbed at his hair, creating brown spikes that looked as if they were standing up in fright as well.
“Come now,” the Breaker mocked. “You know how this goes. Four words. Speak.”
There was a pause, and the senseless pleading coming from Dervan escalated. Alken whispered something. He was made to repeat it, louder and louder, until he was screaming the words, before the Breaker was satisfied.
“Please kill my brother!”
It happened quickly after that. The Binder traced a pattern on her arm, and Dervan collapsed. Her brother lifted Dervan’s life essence out of his body like a multi coloured ribbon of light.
I was torn between fascination and disgust. In the end, disgust won, and I had to swallow hard to keep from throwing up my breakfast.
The symbols on the ruling house drew the light towards them like a sinister magnet. In seconds, Dervan’s life essence had disappeared.
There were seven more Exta sacrificed at the Gathering that day. It lasted not quite one hour, but it was the longest hour of my life. I had seen my future. Garrett’s future. And there wasn’t a single thing I could do to change it.
Chapter Two - Losing Garrett
Time. My enemy. My entire existence was squashed inside a spiraling clock. The more closely I looked, the faster the numbers counted down, each one taking me inexorably towards my death.
After my first Gathering, I measured out Garrett’s life in hours and days, and there were never enough.
He was patient with my questions. Yes, I would have to say the same words for him that Alken said for Dervan. Yes, the Breaker insisted on the use of the word “please.”
by Alex C Vick / Children's / Fantasy / Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes