chapter 6: THE MAGUS
this card, 1st of the Major Arcana, here signifies Willpower,
The music played on, dancers dancing on. Benutio and Clown found
themselves returned to the beat and the street via one of
Luminata's secret passages. She herself casually returned to
the balcony, nodding to the Emperor that all was well, and spoke
in Wand's ear: "It is time."
Elro was holding Wand's hand. She slipped it away with a
promising squeeze and followed her mother into the palace,
through the great ballroom, up the stairs, into a secret passage,
and out across the light-bridge to their silver tower.
Inside, the two of them took the elevator to the top room.
The Tower was of another time, another world. It was built by
an ancient race with a technology of catalytic crystals.
Incomprehensible forces were generated by gigantic crystal banks
contained in the lower half of the tower. All of this was
controlled in the top room, if one knew how. And only the
Sorceresses of Tarro knew the techniques of controlling those
forces, handed up through their generations, now to Wand.
Luminata stayed back and let Wand organize the show. Her
daughter touched the proper crystals and spoke the proper code
matrixes to activate the program. Crystals glowed gently bright.
From that room the two women proceeded up to the open platform
atop the tower and looked down upon the City of Tarro.
A trumpet sounded at their appearance up there. The music fell
silent, as did the crowds of people. Everyone looked up at
And she looked down upon them, seeing all those faces turned to
her. She knew many of them. From the Royal Balcony Emperor and
Empress waved, Elro blew a kiss. Among the musicians of the
orchestra she recognized some friends, the captain of the guard,
a baker, two of the Gypsies sons and a dark-haired girl. And
there was that Clown, jumping up and down next to Benutio.
But Wand did not notice the Mysterious Figure in hood and cloak,
nor his circle, nor his cross, nor his pentagram, nor his face, nor
his sinister eyes. He was as if invisible now. But he noticed
her--intensely--for he was almost ready.
Luminata held up the Powerstaff for all to see. It sparkled and
glowed with the entire spectrum of light. She then handed that
ancient magic wand to her daughter and with it the control and
personal extension of those incomprehensible forces in the crystal
banks of the Tower of Tarro.
Proudly, humbly, Wand held the Powerstaff aloft. It sparkled
anew. Then she waved it at the clear, starry night sky.
Clouds formed, glowing in greens and golds. The sky sparkled as
the Powerstaff had. Then silent explosions of varicolored light
flashed everywhere above, turning night into day.
end of chapter 6
Below, the Mysterious Figure pulled another Powerstaff from his
cloak. He held it aloft and chanted ancient arcane words.
Up in the Tower, mother and daughter felt a chill wind begin to
blow from the North. The clouds thickened. Wand frowned, this
was not the weather she had made.
Almost instantly there was a storm upon them: high wind, pelting
flakes of ice, and then lightning. The hair of both women
bristled with static electricity.
"We are under attack from another Sorcerer!" Luminata cried to
Wand, "Give me the Powerstaff quickly!"
Even as Wand turned to hand it to her mother, who was more
experienced in such an emergency, a great blue arc of lightning
zigzagged from the Northern horizon to the Tower and struck her
Wand was enveloped in a blazing ball of blue light, which faded
away until it--and she--was gone.
The Powerstaff, however, she had managed to toss at the final
instant, aware that her mother must have it or all was lost. It
flew in a perfect arc toward Luminata's outstretched hand.
But a mighty downward blast of wind bent the arc, deflecting the
Powerstaff from its course, and it bounced upon the metal tower
floor with a bell-like clang.
Luminata was almost too horrified and stunned to react as a
Sorceress should: "Wand! Oh Daughter!" she cried, even as the
Powerstaff bounced again, as if alive, toward the edge of the
Tower's upper platform.
But her witch-way instincts replaced her motherly instincts as
she realized that the attack was not yet done with--and therefore
not yet lost. She leaped for the bouncing Powerstaff, to the very
brink of the Tower, grasping out over nothing at her absolute
limit of balance, but too late, as it passed just beyond her
fingertips and down from the high tower toward the River Lyfe
below. She almost followed it.
But it did not fall into the water, it bounced again against the
shining silver side of the Tower and arced out over the City
Luminata saw this, clinging to the edge of the Tower-top, and
the crowd down there, churning in place, confused and afraid,
awed by the sudden storm and the eldritch lightning bolt which
had consumed their poor Wand in plain view of everyone. And
within that sea of people one man stood alone within a pentagram
drawn within a circle, dressed in a black cloak, holding up a
Powerstaff of his own. A Sorcerer! And it was he who had done
and was doing this.
He had--perhaps--killed her daughter and was now stealing her
Powerstaff. He had chosen the moment when the staff was out of
her more experienced hands to attack, and he had done so with
precision and speed.
Luminata almost allowed herself to feel a blinding rage at his
effrontery and ruthlessness, but that was the mother in her.
The Sorceress remained calm and respected her enemy as she made
She hoped he would now assume her to be less of a threat without
her Powerstaff. Quite so, but not absolutely, as she would
The Powerstaff hit the edge of the pavement by the river
and bounced incredibly high, as if it were made of rubber,
toward the black-cloaked sorcerer who calmly awaited it with
Benutio saw all this. He also recognized the sorcerer, although
he had not yet seen his face, by the standing aspect of the tall
man. As yet no one else on the City Place had noticed him due
to the spells cast (which was not actual invisibility, more a
hypnotic attention gap).
And Benutio watched Luminata's power wand bounce over the crowd,
and bounce again, and saw that within two more of those bounces
it would end up directly in the palm of the attacking wizard.
Once that had happened all the power contained in the Tower of
Tarro would be at his disposal and the battle would be over.
He knew they could not let that happen, but it was hard to think
fast with Clown tugging frantically at his sleeve. "Where
Wandle go? Wandle gone!"
"Quick, Clown, catch that bouncing stick!"
"Wand needs that stick! Do it!"
Clown turned to see the Powerstaff arcing over the heads in the
crowd. People were scrambling to get out of its way, terrified
by the strange behavior of a device they knew to be charged with
dangerous forces. In one last bounce it would come to the hand
of the Mysterious Figure.
Clown scratched his head, looked back at Benutio, "But Wandle..."
"The stick, Clown! Now! Or Wand will die!!"
Clown may have been stupid, but was also very quick in some ways.
He dashed across the City Place, weaving through the crowd,
springing full over people's heads, heading instinctively toward
the very spot where the Powerstaff must hit for the final bounce.
But he could not arrive in time: the crowd was too thick; and the
wand bounced away again before he could intercept it.
However, the arc it would now describe would have to pass over
where he could be if he hurried, over where it so happened that
the gigantic red-bearded lumberjack we know as Crusho was
standing, watching the Powerstaff fly over his head with mouth
open, not really comprehending what was happening.
So Crusho was taken by surprise as once again the nimble Clown
was vaulting onto his burly shoulders, from where he leaped
further up with outstretched arm and hand and fingers to
intercept the flying Powerstaff.
Which he plucked perfectly out of the air.
Then Clown, Powerstaff, and Crusho collapsed into a tangle on
the stones of the City Place.
Crusho roared, "What was--oh no, YOU again! ARRRR!" He did not
understand what had happened and he reached for Clown to really
punish him this time, but Clown was already up and running, a good
firm grip on the Powerstaff.
That Mysterious Figure cried out--first in disbelief and anger,
but then again in disbelief and wicked joy, for that stupid
Clown was running right towards him, bringing him the Powerstaff
Clown fled, away from Crusho, dashing helter-skelter through the
confused crowd--until he suddenly skidded to a stop up against a
magic spell that surrounded a circle and a pentagram. And a tall
man in a black cloak.
The hood was cast back, revealing the old and ugly face of the
Sorcerer. He was wrinkled like a prune, with no hair, a huge
nose and glittering malevolent eyes of vast power. He held a
leathery hand toward Clown.
"Give me the Powerstaff!" His eyes shot Clown cold, who was
frozen to the spot and could not move.
The Sorcerer gestured for Clown to approach. Hypnotically.
Clown blinked, stupidly. Then smiled, shyly, and began to step
The Sorcerer also smiled, but smugly, not nicely.
"AHA! I have you now, pest!" Crusho came roaring up from
behind, having finally burst through the crowd.
Clown turned his head in alarm at this attack from behind, then
curtsied once to the Sorcerer and was gone with a roll.
"No! Come back!" the Sorcerer snarled, and cast a curse, but it
was Crusho who came between him and Clown and who crashed to
the ground, stunned. Clown disappeared into the confusion of
the crowd, in which no one had any idea of what was going on.
As the wicked old wizard lifted his own Powerstaff, ready to
unleash some terrible force into that crowd, Luminata hurled a
steaming globe of green energy from her tower. It blazed around
the Sorcerer with a sulfurous incandescence. Some bubble of
energy kept it from touching him, but he turned away from the
Clown to battle her.
The crowd surged away from him, he was no longer unnoticed.
"That man is the Sorcerer Otius, and our enemy!" The voice of
Luminata was amplified by the tower's sound system and the City
of Tarro shook to her words. "He has attacked us! He has worked
an evil magic upon my daughter and is attempting to steal my
Powerstaff! Stop him!"
Up from the crowd came a roar of anger. And fear: the Sorcerer
Otius! Everyone knew the name, it had been used to frighten
them as children. The crowd moved farther away.
Emperor Aleister gave orders, "Captain of the Guard! Seize that
man!" Soldiers moved briskly forward into the City Place.
Meanwhile, Clown gave the Powerstaff into Benutio's hands. "Crown
Benutio slapped him heartily on the back. "Yes, Good Clown--but
we're not done yet. We have to get this to Luminata! Now, let's
go before Otius catches us." The two of them slipped into an
Chapter 7: THE TOWER
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