Read The Adventures of Benjamin Skyhammer Online

Authors: Nicole Sheldrake

Tags: #Fantasy, #Young Adult

The Adventures of Benjamin Skyhammer

BOOK: The Adventures of Benjamin Skyhammer
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The Adventures of Benjamin Skyhammer

 

 

By Nicole Sheldrake

 

 

 

Published by Nicole Sheldrake at

Kindle Direct Publishing

 

Copyright 2011 Nicole Sheldrake

 

 

Kindle Edition, License Notes

 

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Amazon and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

Chapter 1

 

 

"About time you got here, Skyhammer. Not thinking about leaving again, are you?" The peevish female voice blasted through the open office door. "Where's my Relic?"

The visitor could only be Kelhenia, the Relic collector. She'd arrived early. His stomach twisted. Kelhenia would take the Relic from him with ease; a sketch and a breath on her magic slate and it would be hers.

Skyhammer glanced down the corridor, toward the building's exit. Without magic powers, he could not defend himself from Kelhenia's spells. But when would Higgins arrive? He sighed as he opened the door. He raised his eyebrows at the sight that greeted him. Kelhenia had magicked one of his plain wooden chairs into a bright pink armchair, wide and soft enough for her enormous bottom. She'd left the rest of his office alone, empty except for a second chair and a simple wooden table. Office was a bit grand a word for this place, he admitted to himself, glancing at the bare brick walls and shuttered windows. With Kelhenia here and Higgins not, it felt more like a prison.

As he shut the door, Kelhenia closed the golden circle of her Retrograph Whorl. With a look of disdain on her face, she crossed her arms over her wide-sleeved lilac jacket. "Well?"

"Good morning to you too, Kelhenia." He strode to the table in the middle of the room, nose wrinkling at a waft of her heavy floral perfume. He kept his eyes trained on the jiggling jowls of the woman across from him.

"I said. Where's my Relic, magic-less scum?" Kelhenia slipped a red, rectangular glass slate from her pocket.

Skyhammer's eyes widened and he stumbled backwards. She planned to perform a spell on him! In one swift movement, his right hand gripped the hilt of his longsword. After a moment, he released it. Hauling out his sword and attempting to slice her in half was one option but, like most humans who lived in the Royal Circle, she would have a magic shield protecting her, a second, invisible skin. Remembering with a shiver that he'd seen a cat jump on a human inside the Royal Circle, he couldn't erase the memory of pieces too small to bother picking up. He swallowed, heart pounding. Would she transform him?

"How'd you like me to fix those big ears for you? Wouldn't take much. You could do it yourself - oh wait. No, you couldn't, you have no magic power!" She cackled.

With a desperate glance at the other chair, he realized that even if he was fast enough to hurl it at her, he was only delaying the inevitable. It felt like giving up.

Kelhenia's sausage fingers drew white lines in the impressionable blood-glass, creating a sketch that looked as if fingernails had pressed hard into sunburned skin. She blew across the drawing. Skyhammer tensed. Maybe the sword had been worth a try after all. Too late now.

As her breath erased the drawing, the table disappeared.

He clutched the straps of the backpack and exhaled, relieved. "It's in here," he muttered.

Kelhenia sniggered. "Well? Aren't you going to put the table back?"

Two years. Two years he'd been selling the woman Relics and every time they met, she had to taunt him about his lack of magic powers. His teeth clenched. It wasn't his fault he was born without magic. If Higgins had been here, Kelhenia would be oozing effusive gratitude. She did pay more than other Relic collectors but as of today, he decided, interaction with Kelhenia wasn't worth the money. He dropped his backpack on ground and followed that with a swift kick.

"How dare you abuse
my
Relic!" Kelhenia pushed herself up as quickly as her weight would allow, face red, fingers starting to trace another pattern on her magic slate.

"It's not yours yet." Skyhammer knelt and opened the clasp of his bag. A distraction was in order. Higgins wasn't due to arrive for another ten minutes.

Kelhenia gasped as he withdrew the Relic.

Thick cyan liquid filled a simple red clay bowl to the brim. Five inches above the deep bowl, a stream of the liquid erupted out of the air and poured down like wine from an invisible bottle. The liquid fell in perpetual motion from the source to the bowl but never had Skyhammer seen it overflow.

Kelhenia's greasy red lips made an O as she stared at the Relic.

Grinning, Skyhammer rose, holding it in one palm. His other palm cut into the stream of liquid.

The collector squeaked, one hand rising up as though to stop him.

Viscous blue liquid continued to pour over Skyhammer's hand and straight down into the bowl as though the stream was a rope that Skyhammer had displaced. He lifted his palm. The source stayed a constant five inches above his hand and the liquid continued to flow. Despite Kelhenia's presence, he had to smile. Every Relic he captured amazed him with its impressive design and surprising function. The Moksha, the now-vanished species that created the Relics, possessed a more powerful magic than any human, or other magic-wielding species, alive. Neither magic nor brute strength could alter or destroy the Relics.

"I must have it," Kelhenia whispered.

Skyhammer tilted the bowl until it reached the same height as the source. The stream adjusted, pouring horizontally.

Kelhenia reached for the bowl. He retreated out of reach.

"Really?" She snorted in contempt. "Higgins isn't here to protect you and I'm tired of paying your rates. You should be paying me for the privilege of taking this Relic off your hands." A cruel smile twisted her face. "Which animal would you like to be this time?"

"What are you talking about?" Skyhammer stammered. How did she know? Last time he visited Market Hill, a pack of kids only a couple of years younger than him, maybe 16 or 17 years old, thought it would be funny to transform him into a snake. His serpentine body had allowed him to escape from the kids but he'd waited for hours outside his office door for Higgins to arrive and change him back.

"Everyone knows, stupid boy. Most people born without magic power don't survive as long as you have. Freak. Oh, you're the useless Keeper of the Retrograph Vault, too. And besides, the joke was funny." She waved her slate in his face. "Now give me the Relic or I will transform you into a . . . let's see . . . a slug. Then I'll take the Relic anyway."

Skyhammer held out the bowl, accompanying it with a scathing glare. Where was Moksha-damned Higgins?

"That's the least you deserve for making me come down to this filthy place. Lucky for you I don't want to waste my energy on a transformation. This is the last time we'll meet, Skyhammer."

He felt relieved yet puzzled. From whom else would she ever find such a reliable source of Relics?

"The ceremony is in less than two months." She paused, noting his continued confusion. "You don't even know about the ceremony? You really are sub-human." She rolled her eyes. "After it, humans will be able to perform magic anywhere on Pingala instead of only within the Royal Circle." She popped the Relic into a basket she created from Skyhammer's other office chair. "I'll be able to find my own Relics and you'll be totally unnecessary." Kelhenia tossed him a scornful smile and left.

What ceremony? Visions filled his head, of humans spreading out across his planet, Pingala, transforming the world with their magic powers and taunting him everywhere on the planet he travelled. Nowadays most humans depended so heavily on magic that they refused to leave the Royal Circle, for which Skyhammer counted his blessings. After this ceremony though, they could fly to wherever they wanted; Relics located in the uncharted territories that took Skyhammer weeks to reach would only take them a few days. He caught his breath. They might even find the mesh glove - the one Relic he knew could bestow magic powers - before him. Then he'd never be able to find Spark, never be able to use it to give her magic, never be able to make her love him again. He glowered at his backpack. That blue liquid Relic was worth at least 200 gold coins. He should have waited for Higgins.

With a growl of frustration, Skyhammer threw himself into the pillowy pink chair and began to open his Retrograph Whorl. His Retrographs now remained the only way to see the image of the bowl and blue liquid Relic.

First raising his right arm to straight with his index finger pointed, he circled his arm in a widening spiral. A shower of gold sparks trailed his index finger until a glowing ring, four feet in diameter, hung in the air in front of him - his Retrograph viewing Whorl. Skyhammer dropped his arm. A static, three-dimensional image of the last Retrograph he had viewed popped into the center of the ring. An image of Spark looking down at him, her long black hair just reaching her pert nipples, laughing blue eyes in a thin white face. Her room, low ceiling, soft lighting. The Relic Academy. Four years ago. His first love, his first everything.

"Skyhammer!"

Higgins had arrived. His Relic hunting partner's footsteps pattered down the hallway. She thrust open the door and stepped into the room, magic slate in one hand. "Where's the table?" She glanced around. "And the other chair?"

Skyhammer flushed. He peeked around the edge of his Retrograph Whorl at Higgins, relieved that it was impossible for any human to see another's Retrographs. Although Retrographs were taken exactly one minute apart, they still recorded a lot of information about a human's daily activities. The Retrographs were taken automatically from the point of view of what humans joked was their third eye, a spot right between their eyebrows. A vault deep under a lake stored the Retrographs, some distance outside the Royal Circle of magic. The whole system was a Relic of the Moksha. Grateful though Skyhammer was to have access to his Retrographs, every time he opened his Whorl it puzzled him that he had no magic powers like other humans but did have Retrographs. Not that it seemed to trouble others. Most humans, and other species, agreed that the Relics were a different kind of magic.

Higgins' wide green eyes appraised his rosy face. She smirked, which made his face even redder.

"I met someone in the hall who has something of ours when I believe she should not." She spoke in a sing-songy voice as though admonishing a small child.

Skyhammer stood up, closing his Whorl with a jerk of his hand.

Fingers a blur, Higgins sketched and blew on her slate.

Through the doorway floated Kelhenia, squirming with indignation as she hovered a few feet off the floor on her back. Her mouth moved but no sound came out.

An enormous grin split Skyhammer's face.

"She didn't come quietly, as you can imagine," Higgins said. "That made me happy." Her fingers moved again and the collector dropped to the dirty floor in a heap. Her basket sailed toward Skyhammer. The blue liquid Relic floated into his hands and the basket returned to its chair shape.

"Please forgive me, Higgins." Kelhenia cowered, drawing her knees up to her chin in a foetal position. "I shouldn't have taken it. I will pay; here I have the money." She fumbled in her jacket.

Higgins' face turned purple. "You try to steal a Relic for which my friend and I risked our lives, and now you expect to just buy it and be on your way?" She inhaled a slow and loud breath.

In a surprisingly quick movement for a woman her size, the collector leapt up and drew out her slate. "You dare to -" she spluttered, fingers dancing across her slate.

Skyhammer stepped back.

Higgins shook her head, muttering, "Incredible," fingers already moving, lips pursed.

Kelhenia blew on her slate at the same moment as Higgins.

As though he had stepped into sunlight then back to shade, Skyhammer's skin went warm, then cold, the effect of Kelhenia's attempt at a spell. Higgins had shielded him already; thank the gods.

Kelhenia disappeared for a brief moment. Skyhammer's table reappeared, supporting a leather bag and a wooden cage. Inside the cage, a fat snake writhed. Attached to the cage was a FOR SALE sign. Kelhenia's shield had not slowed Higgins' spell.

Higgins marched up and put her face close to the snake. "You won't forget the difference between a Wizard and an Enchanter level human, will you? Somewhat similar to a magic-less one and an Enchanter, don't you think? Hope you like rodents." She straightened up then lifted the leather bag and presented it to Skyhammer. "With Kelhenia's compliments."

The snake hissed.

After shoving the bag into his backpack, he exhaled a huge sigh of relief. "Thank you." He sat down on the wooden chair.

BOOK: The Adventures of Benjamin Skyhammer
11.7Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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