Friday, June 15, 2012

The Magician's Veil: Part Two

The Magician's Veil: Part Two
by Jake Kilroy

The Magician's Veil: Part One can be read here. This is Part Two.

Squile stepped lightly in the darkness. The wooden planks creaked like broken songbirds. All he could see in the endless black was the sparkle of the magician's teeth when he would look back at the boy and grin a mouthful of ivory lanterns.

"So," he hissed gleefully, "you are to be a magician?"

"Yes, sir," Squile answered with full lungs and a prideful chest.

"Then it's all downhill from here," the magician told him.

Squile felt his bones creak like the floorboards.

But then they came to a spiraling stone stairwell with torches glowing angrily. Tapestries of rich historical scenes that Squile had not learned about in school adorned the descending rock hallway. Squile understood the downhill joke now, and it made him even more uneasy, as the magician giggled like a puppeteer.

"Watch your step," cooed the magician. "I'd hate for you to break your legs and be left down here with the beasts."

Squile's throat closed like a trap door, catching his breath off-guard.

Then the stairs lead into an underground hall of sparse light. It was one room, but it had high ceilings and a sense of grandness to it. At the entrance stood two statues of intriguing beasts that Squile didn't recognize. He got the second joke, and the magician again stifled his sneaky laugh.

With a sweeping motion, the magician undid his cape and threw it up onto a hook. It caught perfectly. Next, he tilted his head backward so that his top hat fell, and the magician kicked it with his heel. It too landed perfectly on a hook. Without breaking his stride, the magician finally whirled a single match out of his breast pocket, struck it against his shoe and threw it in front of him, where it ignited a torch. Once near it, he slapped the base of it, so a few of the flames leapt out and caught another torch, which then spun and threw flames to another torch, and so on. Within the catching of a breath, the room was aglow, and it stunned Squile to his very core. The room was beautiful, unlike anything the boy had seen in his short life. There was no dull quality to it. Stained glass separated working areas of science, old books piled upon older books of the many shelves, and a tucked away corner of the breathtaking hall looked like a medical station. Paintings covered the walls, and, beyond the many trinkets and prizes, a bedroom had been fashioned with little privacy.

Once his eyes unglued themselves from the magnificence of the hall, they came to settle on a throne decorated with beads and hats atop and the magician sitting with an his head resting on his knuckles.

"So," the magician bellowed with gleaming eyes, "you want to be a magician."

Squile was helpless with words for a moment, but then caught his tongue and shot it out.

"Yes, sir," the boy announced, "and I know you to be a man of magic."

"Me?" the magician jokingly gasped and then stood. "What if I were to tell you that I wasn't a magician and these wonderful decorations were all that I've lifted from the many magicians I've murdered?"

Squile had not considered this. Not even slightly. He locked eyes with the magician's yellow wolf eyes. He had thought them to be a different color. Even now, they looked like blood drops were dotting the gold.

"You have built yourself a reputation to be an honorable man. Whether by the grace of a god or by the possession of a demon, you have announced yourself before as a great magician," the boy explained heartily.

The magician paced the room and considered this. Squile had not realized how long of a man the magician was. He looked like a marionette, strung together desperately and plagued by splinters. His legs crept across the floor.

"And who, my new young fascinating accomplice, has told you off my honor?" the magician asked, almost philosophically.

"The great magician Travio. When drunk on wine, he would talk in his sleep. He would talk of you."

The magician's eyes fluttered like birds in mid-flight. His ears twitched.

"Travio," repeated the magician. "I have not caught his name in my empty nest of a head for quite some time. How do you know him?"

"He was my uncle."

"Was?" the magician purred sadly, leaning over his long legs.

Squile sighed grudgingly and breathed a few panic attacks.

"He was murdered last week," he finally answered.

The magician's eyes dropped, weighing the news. He looked at his coal black shoes, which he lifted up, as he rolled on his feet, taking in the death.


It was all the magician said, and it was the first word spoken by him that didn't contain a sugary coat.


"By whom?"

Squile labored a breath.

"That is why I'm here."

The magician's head rose like a balloon with eyes that looked almost blue now.

"Have you come here to find the great hands of a murderer?"


"Am I to be sought vengeance upon?"

"No," said the boy.

"Ah," nodded the magician. "So you have not icy blades in your heart or pockets intended for me?"

Squile saw the confusion now.

"Not even a dull branch with the threat of splinters. My uncle, in his drunken slumber, always spoke highly of you, even when it was nonsense."

The magician smiled a truly radiant grin.

"So you are here for answers?"

"I am here for help."

The magician lifted his chin suspiciously.

"And training," added the boy.

"Before you are taught anything, I want a question answered by your young lips," growled the magician. "Do you know what revenge tastes like?"

"I imagine it is a sweet taste."

That is what priests and politicians want you to think, but they are no cooks."

"Then what is the the taste of revenge?"

"It is a foul, sour taste," explained the magician. "But it is an acquired one. Maybe even a delicacy for those who have so little."

Squile gulped.

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