As children, we’re afraid of the monster in the closet or the boogeyman under the bed. Most of us grow out of that and we relegate the superstition of a dark, evil force out to get us to paranoid conspiracy theorists and the psychotic. Stew Kasey is one who grew out of it. The bad thing is, he should reconsider, because there’s definitely a dark and evil force out there who is out to get him. Fortunately, for Stew, there is also a force of good looking out for him—his brother. Now, if only Stew knew that he had a brother.
Stew Kasey is a normal 23-year old trying to make his way as a film critic for the local paper. His life gets flipped upside-down and inside-out when he gets attacked in an alley, wakes up from a coma three days later and begins to see things. Strange things.
Wiz is an… What? You’ve never met anyone named Wiz before? When a spiritual entity tells you through a Ouija board that his name is Wiz, you don’t question it. Now, Wiz is an immortal who has been searching for his brother who vanished into thin air over 1250 years ago after a botched execution. His quest has now brought him to Charlotte.
Zachary—who is also an immortal, just not as prone to wandering as Wiz—is plotting to finish the task he started 1250 years ago and
destroy the Circle of Light.
“I’ve never seen anything like this outside of a… I am an expert,“ the shop keeper insisted. “Trust me. This guy is no collector.“ Wiz was hungry, but not for anything edible. Food had not quelled his hunger in quite some time. Still, time passed so slowly on its own and eating the occasional meal helped it to pass just a little bit quicker. But he needed money for that. He stood in the darkness of an alley in Uptown Charlotte, Goose at his side, staring out into the street. Blurs of color went by but he did not notice. For a moment, his mind was distracted by something far less tangible than shiny machines. He took a deep breath as he blinked his eyes into focus on what he came here for. He looked down at his callused, empty hands and in a bright flash, they were no longer empty.
In the past, Wiz had been successful selling items at flea markets, antique stores, second hand stores and even an occasional small pawn shop. Lack of identification limits his ability to sell to bigger stores. Some of the items he had been able to sell for a decent amount of cash included a Native American flute, a bearskin rug, and his favorite, an ivory tobacco pipe carved into a Viking longboat. He had heard from a friend that Ace Pawn had a thing for swords. He wasn’t sure how big Ace Pawn was, but swords were pricey items and perhaps today would be his lucky day.
The wind was whistling, but he couldn’t feel its ferocity until he and Goose stepped from within the alley. A gust of wind swept underneath his wide-brimmed hat and blew it off his head, forcing him to chase it a hundred feet down the sidewalk. He tucked the sheathed sword underneath his arm and had to brush his scraggly, greasy hair out of his face before he could put his hat back on. He looked around and the street was empty, as was the sidewalk. He was relieved that he didn’t have to worry about anyone thinking he was a crazy man with a sword.
He walked into the shop, being careful not to let the sword hit the glass of the door. The shopkeeper’s bell jingled as he closed the door behind him. Inside, it smelled of dusty plastic and stale cigarette smoke.
“Hey! You can’t bring that dog in here,“ the pawnshop owner declared, pointing at the door from just beyond the entryway into the back room.
“He’s very well-behaved. I take him with me everywhere. He’s practically my guide dog.“ Goose was black with brown on his chest, legs, snout and around his eyes. He looked like a leaner and smaller version of a Rottweiler. But, in fact, he was a Smalandsstovare, which originated in Scandinavia. He was loyal, strong and very smart. “I can put a harness on him and wear dark sunglasses if it makes you feel better,“ Wiz said, smirking as he tried to catch the shop owner off guard.
“No. I don’t suppose that’ll be necessary. What’ya got?“ the pawnshop owner asked as he brushed aside a dark green curtain and stepped into the front of the shop from the back. His face was plump, but clean-shaven; his hair neatly trimmed.
“Well, I’ve got this sword,“ Wiz replied as he approached the register, pulling his sword from its sheath and placing it on the counter. It was a traditional Viking sword—Damascus folded steel blade with a woven leather hilt decorated with bronze rivets.
“You got ID?“ the owner queried.
“Hmm, ID. No, I don’t. Is that a problem?“ Wiz could conjure just about anything, but the item he wanted had to either be not owned by anyone or made from material not owned by anyone. He could occasionally conjure money. Usually a dollar bill in the pocket of
some discarded jeans or loose change, but never anything very substantial. Conjured items could come from anywhere in the world and so, Wiz sometimes even got foreign currency. ID cards are made mostly of plastic but he was not sure what else and, therefore, could not conjure himself any modern identification. Fifty years ago it wasn’t a problem. Twenty years ago, even. Times change, however, and technology with it. Conjuring precious metals gems, even though there are plenty to be found in the ground that aren’t owned by anyone, went against the Laws of Immortal Magic set at the Conclave Triskaideka of 1354 in Prague.
“Yes. Lack of identification poses somewhat of a problem. This is not a cheap sword,“ the owner said, hunching over to look at the details more closely. “Where did you get this? Did you steal it? It looks like a movie prop. Thirteenth Warrior… or Pathfinder, perhaps.“
“No. It’s a family heirloom. But I need cash.“
“Are you on drugs?“ the owner inquired with a bit of cynicism and suspicion, eyeing Wiz’s faded blue jeans, raggedy Army field jacket
and unkempt hair.
“No. Look… if you don’t want to buy it… or… can’t buy it because I don’t have ID, just give it back to me and I’ll find someone who can.
No big deal.“
“Do you mind if I go back and look this up? I just want to see what something like this is worth.“
“No, go ahead.“
The owner turned around and quickly took the sword to the back, nearly getting the tip of the sword caught in the fabric of the green curtain. Wiz could see a sliver of the somewhat heavyset man between the curtain and the doorframe, looking at a computer screen. He could see the man bring something up to his ear and look back at Wiz. It was a cell phone. By the look of the man’s shifty eyes, Wiz assumed he was calling the police. Wiz strained and could just barely make out what he was saying.
Kenn Phillips lives with his wife, Marie, and three sons in Salisbury, North Carolina, where he is a correctional sergeant at a medium custody prison. Lost/ is his first novel. His other writing credits include film and music reviews, as well as various other articles, while working as Assistant Arts and Entertainment editor for the University Time at UNC-Charlotte. He also wrote film reviews for Backwash.com.