NOVUS ARCANUM

Below you can read the first chapter of Michael's book about an alternate modern day where magic and sorcerers have existed for centuries, but were only discovered by normal humans in the 1960s.  Today magic has been integrated into everyday life, but many people still fear sorcerers.  To make matters worse, a radical terrorist group has been using magic to launch attacks all over the world.

If you like the first chapter, there are links at the bottom of the page to buy a physical or digital copy of the full book.  

chapter 1: scorched earth

A few hundred spectators and news reporters are gathered on the south White House lawn in anticipation of the President’s press conference regarding the recent terrorist attacks around the world.  Over the past six months, a radical group calling itself the Eye of Ruin has launched three major magical attacks on two continents.  The first attack in Paris claimed the lives of 86 people.  A second attack on the Kremlin in Russia three months later killed over 200 people and injured dozens more.  The most recent act of genocide, just two days ago, took 439 lives in Nigeria.

The White House has been uncharacteristically quiet about all three events, offering little more than condolences for the lives lost.  Many believe that President Thompson’s pro-magic ideals have prevented her from speaking out against the sorcerer-run terrorist group, so when it was announced that she would be making a statement, everyone came out in droves.

It’s quite the perfect day for an outdoor press conference.  The cool breezes of an early October day in D.C. keep everyone comfortable as they await the President.  The changing leaves of fall occasionally flutter down onto the White House lawn from the trees that were full and green only a month before.  Some photographers and camera crews are seizing the opportunity of the picturesque moment until things get underway.

The Secret Service is on high alert for this event with not one, but two sorcerers on staff to help ensure safety.  In the early 2000s the military started recruiting certain types of sorcerers to use in military operations.  Sentinels, who specialize in ward magic and Evos, who wield evocation magic.  The Secret Service prefers to hire Sentinels who are fresh out of the military for guard duty.  It’s always recommended to have more than one Sentinel on staff for the President, as having multiple layers of ward magic up is best when preventing security breaches by other forms of magic.

Ward magic is rarely used for offense, but is very effective resisting other forms of magic.  Barriers mostly come in two types: stationary and active.  Stationary barriers are set on a fixed location and will remain there until they are destroyed or removed.  Active barriers are stronger and mobile, but they require a spellcaster to concentrate on them in order to maintain the protective ward.  A powerful Sentinel can use their wards and barriers to repel attack spells from Evos and block the teleporting abilities of Transporters, who wield apportation magic.  Ward magic is also typically undetectable except by other Sentinels who possess the same spells.  It can also be used to remove wards and barriers cast by less skillful sorcerers.

The agent charged with securing the south lawn on this day is thirty-two year old Sentinel, Eric Davis.  His dark hair is cut short just as it was during his time in the Army.  He looks a bit uncomfortable in the suit and tie uniform of the Secret Service, but he’s grown accustomed to wearing it.  He scans the crowds from the stage area with intensity, concealing his blue eyes behind black sunglasses to avoid any glare that would hinder his sight line.

Before radioing the Sentinel guarding the President inside the White House, Eric decides to do one more sweep of the exterior defensive barriers.  Eric slightly raises his right hand which begins to glow with a bluish hue.  More powerful spells will often require an incantation to produce the desired result; however, more simple effects, such as detecting magic you already have in place, can be accomplished with a bit of focus.  Eric senses the invisible, nearly indestructible magic wall he placed around and over the stage where the President will be giving her address.

Satisfied with the defenses, Eric signals the other Sentinel.  “Jones, we’re set here,” he says into a hidden microphone attached to an earpiece. “How’s it looking on your end?”

“Everything is five by five.” The voice of Jones is heard over the communication device.

“Alright,” Eric says. “Merlin is on approach.”

Eric gives a hand sign to the Secret Service agents at the doors to the interior of the White House.  The agents acknowledge the sign and open the doors.  Within a few moments, President Janet Thompson emerges from within the White House wearing a gray skirt suit.  She has shoulder length brown hair that is neatly tied back.  The weight of her command can be seen in her hazel eyes.  When she ran for office, she avoided the topic of magic use when at all possible.  In fact, she learned to be quite adept at dodging the issue.  It wasn’t until she was sworn into office that she revealed her pro-magic stance.  Since that time, she’s faced false claims that she herself is a sorcerer, political opposition from all parties including her own, and even threats on her life.  Despite it all, she continues fighting for the rights of all people, whether magically inclined or not.

The President approaches the microphone adorned podium with determination.  She takes a long, solemn look out over the crowd before speaking.  “My fellow Americans.  In recent months, the nations of the world have been plagued by attacks from a terrorist organization.  We will not let these attacks go unanswered.  Right now, the Departments of Defense and Sorcery are hard at work to shed light on those that would hide in darkness.  We are cooperating with other defense forces from around the world including the British, French, and Russian Ministries of…”

Her speech continues on, but as it does Eric begins to sense a magical force.  Before he can even react, a section of air on the inside of his magical barrier begins to waver and distort as though reality is bending around it.  “Transporter!” Eric cries out to alert nearby agents.

A circular, shimmering rift opens up a few feet off the ground with what appears to be a shadowy warehouse on the other side of its water-like surface.  Three figures clad in black tactical gear and facemasks emerge from the portal.  Another silhouette can be seen in the warehouse before the gate closes.  It’s most likely the Transporter who created the portal.  The three terrorists are greeted by a team of Secret Service agents standing between them and the President.  The agents draw firearms.  “Incaendo rivus!” The masked men speak a quick incantation in unison without breaking stride as they rush the President.

Streams of flame propel forth from the palms of the three terrorists, and, before any member of the Secret Service team can get a shot off, they are engulfed in fire.  These masked men are all Evos, sorcerers commanding evocation magic.  Also known as attack magic or battle magic, evocation is the most common form of magic and uses things like fire, ice, and lightning to deadly effect.  It is thought that many stories of the Greek pantheon of gods, including Zeus and his lightning, were just powerful Evos using their abilities to rule over normal men and women through fear.

Eric draws his service pistol while putting himself between the attackers and the President.  The terrorists turn their attention to him, still spewing fire from their hands.  Eric aims and takes a quick breath before shooting at one of the masked men.  The bullet flies true, striking the assailant in the head, ending his fiery onslaught.

A second team of Secret Service agents move out from within the White House, opening fire on the two remaining terrorists.  One of the men uses the other as a shield while simultaneously directing his flame stream towards Eric and the President.  Eric wraps himself around the President.  “Praesidium,” Eric speaks quickly, forming an energy shield around him and the President.

The terrorist’s jet of fire appears to have no effect on Eric’s shield upon striking it.  The terrorist has no chance to try again as a bullet rips into his leg, breaking his focus.  He looks to see his former shield and compatriot on the ground bleeding out.  “Letum displodo!” the terrorist exclaims as he drops to his knees.

The terrorist slumps over, but before anyone can breathe easily, a massive explosion emanates from within his body.  The force of the fiery detonation demolishes the southern face of the White House, shatters through the nearby magical protection barriers, and engulfs a large portion of the panicking crowd.  When the dust and debris start to settle, Eric’s energy shield can be seen in the massive crater where the stage once stood.

Once certain there is no more danger, Eric dismisses the shield around him and the President.  He helps her stand.  “Madam President, we have to move,” Eric says still scanning the area.

He receives no answer.  “Madam President,” he repeats while turning to look at her.

The President’s face is frozen in horror as she looks out over the devastation that was once a mass of reporters on the White House lawn.  Ash fills the air.  Countless scorched bodies litter the ground as far as the eye can see.  In the distance, screams and cries for help overwhelm even the approaching sirens of first responders.  She barely manages to get out the words: “My God…”

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