Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wednesday Work in Progress: A Magical Flashback

Here is a little peek at my YA Fantasy work in progress.  This scene shows us a moment in the childhood of Shiloh, my protagonist.  I make heavy use of flashback in this book.  It's almost as much fun as writing November's visions.  I hope you find it intriguing.

“Fetch me the box, child. The red one with the lock,” the priest ordered his only student.

Little Shiloh rose from the floor to obey and crossed to the tall bookshelf opposite the wood stove. She smiled when she picked up the box. They had never looked at this one before, and Shiloh was a terribly curious little girl. She carried the treasure back to her master, her accustomed solemn expression of firmly back in place. Brother Edmund liked serious girls, not silly ones.

“Tell me about the four magical elements,” he directed.

“The four elements are earth, air, fire, and water. Each mage has a primary affinity for one of the four elements, from which the mage draws her power and through which she focuses her craft,” she recited, lisping through her missing front teeth.

“Good,” Edmund proclaimed, the praise filling Shiloh with warmth. “Now, we are going to find out how the elements react to you. Listen to me carefully, child. What I am doing here is against the law. Only with a bishop’s permission can a young person be legally tested. You cannot tell anyone, do you understand? Not even your father. Someone might overhear. I don’t want them coming for you before we are ready.”

“Yes, master,” she replied. “But if it is against the law, then why are we doing it?” she asked, head cocked in puzzlement.

“Because the law is bullshit,” he replied. “And I want to know if you're a waste of my precious time.”

Shiloh opened her mouth to ask another question, but the look on Edmund’s face told her to mind her tongue.

The priest unlocked the box with his wand and carefully tilted back the lid. Nestled in blue velvet sat four small spheres of glass. One was clear and colorless, filled only with air. One contained a bright flame, flickering without ceasing. One sat half full of sloshing water that moved in waves like a miniature sea. The last contained a hunk of granite speckled with pink quartz.

“They're beautiful,” Shiloh whispered. Her hand clutched her hook behind her back; she struggled to resist the urge to reach out. Edmund had long since taught her not to touch magical objects without permission; it had been a painful lesson.

“Aye,” Edmund agreed. “Now, when I tell you to, you reach out and hold your hand above the box. Do not touch the spheres. Just take a deep breath and clear your mind. Hopefully, one of the balls will react to you, just a little bit. Don't expect dramatics. It will just be a little wiggle. Go ahead, now.”

Shiloh grinned and held out her hand. She took a deep breath, as instructed. She closed her eyes. At the sound of an exclamation from Brother Edmund, they snapped back open.

All four balls had risen from their cradle and floated an inch below her palm. She turned over her hand, and the balls followed. They now sat suspended above her palm, rotating slowly.

She looked to her teacher, whose mouth stood gaping. “Did I do it wrong?” she whispered. Her eyes brimmed with worry.

Edmund stared back at her, incredulous. “No, poppet. You didn't bloody do it wrong. Gods above!”

He laughed loudly enough to shake the herbs hanging from the rafters, which only worried the girl more, as it was a sound from him with which she was entirely unfamiliar. He finally calmed himself and continued, “Time to put them away. They've told us all they're going to tell.” He waved his wand, and the orbs returned to their resting places.

“What did they tell us?” Shiloh ventured.

“That we’re both going to need to work harder,” he grumped. “And that you should stop pestering me with questions.”

Shiloh relaxed. That sounded more like Brother Edmund.

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