Path of the Magi (Tales of Tiberius)

BOOK: Path of the Magi (Tales of Tiberius)
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Path of the Magi

 

From the Tales of Tiberius

 

By Richard J. Stuart

 

Illustrated by Theresa Flaherty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2013 Richard J. Stuart

Illustrations copyright © 2013 Theresa Flaherty, excepting the Map of the Borderlands and the Magi logo which are the copyright of Richard J. Stuart

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dedication

 

To my predecessors in magic:

Winchester Stuart,

J. Marberger Stuart, and

Marjorie Stuart

 

A Word of Warning

 

This is a book about magic.  As the saying goes, “I’m a professional.  Please do not try this at home.”  

That may seem a bit silly when we are talking about ‘magic’ in the 21
st
century.  I'm not worried that someone will read this book and then actually summon up a demon.  That doesn’t mean there are no real dangers in the ‘occult.’  The Society of American Magicians has a psychic investigation committee largely because we don’t like seeing people use the art of slight of hand to injure or swindle other people.  Sadly this occurs all too often, and it’s one of the many dangers you can encounter playing around in ‘occult’ circles.  I don’t say it’s the only one.  You don’t have to succeed in summoning up a demon to endanger your soul by trying.  No one said Satan was an honest merchant and would give good value for your soul. 

Be safe.  If you want to do more with “magic,” (and believe me, I understand that urge), I encourage you to begin your study of the supernatural the right way.  Read the Bible.  You may as well start with learning about who is really in charge of the spirit world.  Study the apologetic writers such as G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, George McDonald, Malcolm Muggeridge, Norman Vincent Peale, and so on. This is the safe path.  You’ll get better results this way too.  After all, the Bible promises us that if we have faith as small as a grain of mustard seed we can move mountains.  Develop your faith and you may just see it happen.
 

-Richard J. Stuart

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Thanks to the New York City Chesterton Society for providing moral support and a top-notch illustrator.

Thanks to the Old Sturbridge Village museum for providing invaluable technical information on life in a pre-industrial society.

Map of the Borderlands was made with the aid of  Campaign Cartographer 3 by ProFantasy Software Ltd.

Thanks to the gang at www.strategypage.com and the related FYEO group for invaluable technical assistance on military matters. 

And a special thanks to Anne Cullen for the thankless task of editing this book. 

Prologue

At first he thought the dragon had gone mad.  One second it was focused on gold and murder, not one care in the world.  The next instant it spun about as if stung.  It sent out a blast of fire and put its back against the wall of the bank.  The only thing that had changed was that a young man had tripped and his brother had called out his name: Tiberius.  The dragon heard.   

Tiberius Fuller felt the heat as the flames fired past him and knew he’d never felt anything hotter in his life.  The heat and smoke choked his lungs as he tried, desperately, to grind his body deeper into the unyielding ground to escape the path of those terrible flames.   His whole body quivered in fear.  Yet he was still alive.  Why?  If the dragon cared about him, it couldn’t possibly miss him from this range.  Then the dragon did something truly extraordinary.  It took a step backwards and called out his name. 

“Where are you, Tiberius?” it asked, looking carefully about.  “I sense that you are here, though you've cloaked yourself well!  Has our hour come already?  Come and fight if you dare!" 

  Tiberius was too frightened to answer, too frightened to breathe.  He could only gape and wonder.  Was the dragon mad?  He couldn’t be frightened, not of Tiberius, the teenage boy.  Not five minutes ago, Tiberius had taken his best shot at the dragon with his trusty longbow.  He hit the dragon square in the chest with his best arrow and the dragon hadn’t even noticed the attack.  Now it was standing there taking a defensive posture?  What on earth could frighten a dragon?  Nothing in the stories had prepared Tiberius for the reality of a dragon.  It was huge; the ground shook when it walked.  It moved with lightning speed.  Its hide was impervious to any normal weapon.  Worse, this wasn’t an animal.  This was an intelligent dragon steeped in the blackest arts of magic.  Tiberius had just seen it rip the steel doors off of the bank with a mystic gesture.  It spoke.  It reasoned.  It had planned this attack.  Yet at the mention of his name, the dragon had stopped in its tracks.  It forgot about the gold, and was casting what looked like defensive spells.  As Tiberius watched the dragon, he slowly came to the inescapable conclusion that the dragon wasn’t mad.  It was terrified.  It was terrified of him. 

As the knowledge set in, Tiberius had to stifle a laugh.  It wasn’t wise to laugh at a dragon.  Yet a part of him wanted to leap up, wave his arms and shout, “Over here you daft, worm!  I’m Tiberius! I’m the only Tiberius here!”  Fortunately he was too terrified to move, much less stand up in front of the dragon.  All he could do was sit and watch the dragon and think.

Why was the dragon afraid, he wondered?  The only things dragons feared were armies, wizards, or other dragons.  It obviously had no reason to be afraid of Tiberius Fuller, the teenage boy.  Yet it was afraid of his name.  Maybe it had the wrong Tiberius, but … somehow he didn’t think so.  The dragon was puzzled too.  It slowly started to walk forward, looking about carefully.  It shouted out that he could sense him.  He thought Tiberius was invisible.  Lord, how he wished that were true.  But it did sense him.  It was afraid of him, and dragons weren’t stupid. 

Then it hit him, and Tiberius realized the awful truth.  Magical dragons could see into the past and the future, and sometimes they got them a bit confused.  The dragon wasn’t afraid of a teenage boy, but he was afraid of Tiberius.  Not who he was, but what he would become.  He could sense the man was here but he was confused because he couldn’t sense the great wizard nearby.  The dragon thought the wizard was hiding, preparing an ambush.   The truth was that the wizard didn’t exist yet.  Only the boy was here, not the man.  The wizard was displaced in time.  This wasn’t the hour of their battle, but he was destined to become a wizard, one that a dragon would fear.

Destined?  No, that wasn’t right; elves said the future was shaped by our choices.  Until that moment, Tiberius had no intention of having anything to do with magic.  But up to that moment he’d never been the only thing standing between everyone and everything he loved and utter destruction.  Tiberius slowly looked around him.  Here was his hometown, Sherwood City, already partially in flames.  All the people and places he loved were in mortal danger, and they would be as long as this dragon lived.  The dragon had already nearly eaten his fiancée.  His family and friends were all nearby.  Thousands were in danger because of that dragon.  There was only one chance to save them in the end.  Tiberius had to become something a dragon would fear.  He would have to walk the path of the magi.

Tiberius had been offered the chance, but till now he had refused.  From the day he was born the dangers of magic had been drilled into him.  Witches and warlocks could do magic, yes, but the way they gained that power was to sell their soul to the Devil.  Tiberius had no intention of doing that.  Could there be another way?  Tiberius knew of the magi, students of ancient mysteries who had followed Christ for centuries.  They were good people who meant well; that he knew.  But like his father, Tiberius had always doubted the wisdom of that path.  Man was never meant to wield that kind of power.  Even if he could protect the people he loved from dragons and other dark forces, who was to say that he could be trusted with that kind of power?  Tiberius might destroy the dragon, but who would protect the people from him?  Yet, as much as it terrified him, now that he had seen the face of the enemy, he knew that he had to take the chance.  The dragon had made that perfectly clear.    

Tiberius looked into those eyes and saw no mercy, no compassion, and no love.  Approaching the bank, the dragon had taken delight in causing destruction.  It had sent a blast of fire towards the church for no reason but spite and hatred of all that was good.  A flick of its claw sent men flying like broken dolls.  No ordinary man could hope to stop it.  It was a supernatural force.  Only one who had walked the path of the magi and gained command of supernatural powers himself could hope to stop it.  Tiberius knew, in that instant, that he had to try and gain hold of that power and turn it against the dragon.  It didn’t matter what it cost him.  It was the only way to protect the people he loved.  Someday there would be a battle.  The dragon was afraid of him.

Maybe the dragon was right to be afraid.

BOOK: Path of the Magi (Tales of Tiberius)
3.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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