Simon Finds a Ring

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This post was originally published through Patreon on October 10, 2018.

Simon leans close, fighting old arthritic joints, and lowers his head into a concrete trash bin. He rifles through its contents, pushing past sandwich wrappers, half-empty soda bottles, and crumpled sheets of paper. He digs deeper. Deeper. Finally, his arm emerges, dusted with crumbs and dirt.

Nothing.

He turns, sniffs the air, and heads for the next bin when he hears laughter and turns back. Nearby, at an outdoor table, two teenage boys avert their eyes, mouths turned up in identical sneers. Simon returns the gesture with a sneer of his own.

Stupid kids.

If they knew what he could do, they would cower like slaves. Anyway, they’re beneath him, hardly worth his time. He has more important concerns, like the object he senses in the trash.

Most of Simon’s discoveries are scraps, crumpled wrappers that once secured powerful relics and which still contain traces of residual magic. Those sorts of artifacts he doesn’t sense unless he’s lucky enough to brush against them, and even then, they’re few and far between. But this one… He felt it even before reaching the trash bin’s rusty outer ring, and he thrusts his hand into the moldering garbage with breathless anticipation.

His skin prickles, a feeling not unlike exposure to static electricity, and soon, his body is vibrating to the rhythm of a massive unseen energy. When his fingers close around the item he seeks, he seizes it like a starving child.

A ring, crudely fashioned out of iron. Anyone else would dismiss it out of hand as a worthless trinket, but Simon knows it must have been forged by a powerful magician.

A priceless treasure, and now it’s his.

He’s spent his entire life scrounging through other people’s refuse, gathering minuscule scraps of power and distilling them until their combined energy was enough to accomplish something useful. Not an efficient way to practice magic, but the only avenue available to him.

Now, he’s found a single source of power a thousand times as potent. A miracle, one that might release him from his punishment at last. How could such a relic fall into his possession? There has to be a catch.

He frowns, considering, and decides he doesn’t care.

And so, not seeing the man cloaked by the shadow of a nearby building, he palms the ring. He flashes the teenagers a triumphant smile and, with head held high, begins the long walk home.

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Dispersed

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This post was originally published through Patreon on September 26, 2018.

She closes her eyes, then opens them again, just to be sure they’re telling her the truth. She beholds the sun above her head, clear and bright, and finally weeps.

When they imprisoned her, they said it was for good. “A menace to the world,” they warned. “She can never be free again.” So they bound her—in water and stone, in wind and earth, in fire and sky. They scattered her essence to the four corners of the world, confident that once she was dispersed, she would never be whole again.

But millennia passed, her captors long since dead, and like a thick and unctuous vapor, she started to condense. The vapor became drops. The drops became pools. The pools became an ocean. With every passing century, she became a little more whole, a little more complete. Now, at last, she can open her eyes to a clear blue sky and know for sure that she’s beaten them.

She’ll walk the Earth once more, and this time, there will be no one who can stop her.

In the past, she allowed humans some degree of autonomy. But she underestimated them, and when they came for her, they almost destroyed her. She won’t make the same mistake again.

She sits, feeling the Old Magic rekindle in her ancient veins, and plots her return.

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