The previous Sassy Saturday post can be read here:"Die by the hand of a 'gently bred lady'!"
This is the first post for the second book in the Journey to Chaos series: Looming Shadow. I chose this one because it introduces a new character. Emily Tompson was in A Mage's Power but her role was tiny. Here, she becomes more important.
The exiled mage jumped out of his seat. Emily, his girlfriend, stood in the doorway of his apartment. Eric cursed himself silently. A debate on the website about magically applied time travel was so interesting that his finely tuned sense of awareness had dropped. Basilard would swear if he knew...
“You didn't answer, so I let myself in. You do remember we have a date today, right?” Eric looked at his computer's clock; the day had passed without his noticing. He cursed himself anew. His girlfriend had walked in wearing a cocktail dress and he was still in his pajamas.
“Oh, sorry,” Eric said, blushing. “I was so busy, I lost track of time.”
“Really? What are you working on?” Emily crossed the room before Eric could close the window. “Practical magic?”
“Oh yeah, I'm really into magic,” Eric said. “I do sleight-of-hand. Remember?” Card tricks, rabbits, coin gags – he did that sort of thing all the time in high school but lost interest until recently. They were a big hit at office parties and he even embarrassed the resident schmoozer. Sleight-of-hand was fun, but it was nothing like the real deal. Thinking about his small shows made him think of a real show, where he performed real magic, and had real friends and—
“Eric!” Emily shouted. Eric shook his head and apologized. “You've been drifting off a lot lately. Like you're in another world.”
“I’m not!” Eric said harshly.
“That's another thing,” Emily said. “You've become confident to the point of aggressive.”
“I had a lot of time to think. I didn't like who I was,” Eric replied. “I wanted to be more confident, so I did.”
“I wish I could do that,” Emily said wistfully. “Change just like that.”
“It wasn't easy. The struggle of the butterfly to escape its cocoon makes it strong enough to survive. I simply hadn't fought out of my cocoon yet.”
The cocoon was my own mind, thanks to that ancient asshole…
You should be thanking me.
Eric shook his head vigorously.
“You've become philosophical too. I didn't know that about you.”
Eric grinned. “There's a lot you don't know about me. I bet there's a lot I don't know about you. I didn't know you wanted to change yourself.”
“Well...Do you promise not to laugh?”
“I've had this dream – of flying. I've wanted to fly over the world and see everything...but I could never push myself to do it.”
“I think that's a beautiful dream.”
“Really? I always thought it was some silly, childish fantasy.”
Suddenly, Eric wasn't in his apartment anymore. He wasn't in the city anymore, nor the planet, nor even the local universe contained within the world fruit of the Great Tree, Noitearc. It all rushed by his eyes in a blur of color and light. Once again, he was back in Roalt. Standing in the dirt streets of the busy capital – looking at turtle taxis, flying griffins, and real magic and hearing the mages cast spells, the merchants haggle, artisans shouting, and the aroma of the food, and the feeling of mana all around him! Giving him power and energy and –
Gone. Just like that; it was all gone. All the sights and smells and sounds of Tariatla vanished like a dream. Eric clutched his forehead as he mentally shouted at himself that it wasn't a dream and that Tariatla really did exist because he could still do magic and he was going to get back there! And –
Eric blinked and looked up. Emily stood over him with her hands on his shoulders, looking worried. Eric smiled sheepishly and his face heated up. He could only imagine how he looked to Emily just now, and how it must have worried her. A new feeling hit: guilt. All this time and effort to get somewhere when he already had something great here.
Then a second guilt appeared alongside the first. Emily was the only reason he hadn't gone completely mad during his exile. There was a reason for that. There were many great things waiting for him on Tariatla. If only I could get there!
“Eric, are you all right!? You're spacing out again.”
“I'm really sorry, Emily,” Eric said. “I'll change as quickly as I can and then we can go.”
The exiled mage was in such a hurry, he forgot to turn off his computer, so his homepage remained open. He dashed to his bedroom where his date clothes were...somewhere. Emily sat down in his seat, placed her purse on the desk, and looked over the page.
“You know...ever since Hanson promoted you, you've changed a lot. You're helpful and friendly and you stand up to Aaron, but what were you thinking last night?”
She scanned the recent article about illusions and another about the use of martial arts to increase mana supply and control.
“Yes, when you dropped that criminal at the convenience store. I read about it on someone's blog. Did you 'emerge from your cocoon' as a butterfly or a wasp?”
Eric emerged from his bedroom in dress pants and a nice collared shirt. “I had frozens,” he protested.
Emily laughed. “And here I thought you were trying to be a hero!”
Eric shook his head. “I'm no hero; just a mercenary.”
“I want my money's worth,” Eric said quickly. “I don't want to give a month's salary to a punk with a gun, you know?”
“Yeah,” Emily said slowly. “Where'd you learn to do that anyway?”
“I go to a training hall every week,” Eric answered. “At first, it was to stay in shape but –”
“Not that; the other thing,” Emily said. “The blogger said the criminal paused. You ranted about your day, but he didn't shoot you. Why not?”
Eric shrugged. “I guess he didn't have the guts. The gun might have been for intimidation.”
Emily stood up angrily. “Eric, do you think I was born yesterday? You did something!”
“Do you think I have magic powers? That's ridiculous!”
Emily pointed at his computer. For the third time that day, Eric silently cursed himself. He didn't want anyone to know that he had real magic. If that happened, he would be constantly bothered for demonstrations. Then he would run out of juice, be labeled a fraud, and never reach Tariatla. If he had met that punk any other day, then he might have been able to show more restraint. “You wouldn't believe me if I told you!” Eric snapped. “You'd think I was crazy and never speak to me again!”
“You don't know that!” Emily insisted. “I wish you would tell me the truth!”_____________________________________________________________________________
Looming Shadow, and the rest of the Journey to Chaos series, is available for purchase at: http://smile.amazon.com/A-Mages-Power-Journey-Chaos-ebook/dp/B00AVMAISG
A Mage's Power will be free on Amazon until May 3rd.
To learn more about the heroines of Journey to Chaos, visit Tvtropes at: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/AMagesPower.