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Authors: Edward Irving

The Last American Wizard

BOOK: The Last American Wizard
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Day of the
Dragonking

 

 

Fans of Robert Anton Wilson’s fast and loose approach to political conspiracy and Douglas Adams’s bumbling unwilling
heroes
will
eat
up
Irving’s first
batch of
giddy,
clumsy
world–saving adventures, which launches the Last American Wizard series. A “mystical terrorist group” sacrifices an airplane full of innocents to a dragon and uses the deaths to power an event that wreaks magical havoc on Washington, D.C. All the wizards in the U.S. government’s employ abruptly lose access to magic, and the world’s computers and gadgets become sentient.

Second–string
journalist
Steven Rowan embodies
the
tarot’s Fool and is forced to figure out the card’s magic on the fly. Bombshell soldier Ace Morningstar, who used her magic
to disguise herself as a man so she could become a SEAL, drafts Steve and his cell phone, which contains the ghost of a Chinese factory worker who now communicates through screen animations and bad autotranslations, to help fix the mess.

Gathering allies, including NSA supercomputer Barnaby and Ace’s BMW, Hans, the team fights off newly transformed demons, dog monsters, and ogres while trying to find out who is controlling the Illuminati before the villains
embark
on the next
step of
their
world-‐domination strategy.
Irving’s
smart
parody
of
Beltway
life
and
his
high–energy
storytelling carry through to the end and promise to maintain momentum well into the next installment.

 

— Starred Reviews – Publishers
Weekly

Mystically powered terrorists unleash volatile magic on the world, turning Washington, D.C., into a politically charged fantasyland ripe for human
sacrifice.

A trio of suicide attackers with magical abilities bring down a 747 by summoning a dragon to rip it from the sky, using the hundreds of lives lost as a sacrifice to initiate the Change. The country morphs into a new landscape of swords and sorcery. Now computers and other machines are coming to life, and regular people have started to turn into mythical creatures and forgotten deities, creating a chaotic world easily seized by whoever—or whatever—set this shift into motion.

Hope appears in the nation’s capital where, along with transforming Democrats into potbellied elves, Republicans into cantankerous dwarves, and Tea Party members into trolls, the Change has granted struggling freelance journalist Steve Rowan the abilities of the Tarot Arcana’s Fool card, making him a powerful, yet unreliable,
wizard.
Realizing
his
potential,
he
is
“hired”
by
the
trivia– obsessed sentient computer Barnaby and coupled with the attractive,
no–nonsense female Navy
SEAL
Ace Morningstar
to
uncover the puppet masters behind the plane crash.

Irving (Courier, 2014, etc.), a producer of Emmy
Award–winning
news
television and
a
journalist
well– acquainted with the Beltway, makes good use of clichéd Washington stereotypes by mashing them together with fantasy tropes, breathing new life into political satire….

Like many first books in a genre series, the novel foreshadows a greater enemy behind all this madness while barely hinting at its identity, offering a wonderfully bizarre consolation prize as its
denouement.

A clever, humorous
fantasy…. — Kirkus
Reviews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day of the
Dragonking

Book One
of

The Last American
Wizard

 

 

Edward
B
Irving

 

 

 

Ronin Robot
Press

A Division
of

Rock Creek Consulting, LLC

9715 Holmhurst
Road

Bethesda MD 20817

www.roninrobotpress.com

 

Copyright © Rock Creek Consulting LLC
2015

 

Cover art by Tom
Joyce/Creativewerks

 

Edward B. Irving asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

 

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent
purchaser.

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the
publishers.

 

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely
coincidental.

 

Third Edition –
2/4/2016

ISBN-10: 0-9966917-4-X

ISBN-13: 978-0-9966917-4-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEDICATION

 

 

To Emlyn
Rees,

 

An incredible editor who not only picked up

 

my first book but gave me the
encouragement

 

I needed to keep
writing.

 

And

 

As
always…

 

to Ann, for
everything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

Since my publisher managed to evaporate only six weeks after my first novel hit the market (and I still deny any responsibility,) there are even less people to thank than usual but they’ve made up in encouragement what they lack in numbers.

 

Tom Joyce was the only person who had a clue what I was writing about (and even Tom had to look up an abstruse point or two). However, he hit such a homerun with the cover art that I was forced to not only finish the book but also write it so that the text matched the quality of the insane vision of Ace Morningstar that appears on the cover. I thank all the members of the Editing Army for their comments and encouragement, Richard Shealy–copy editor to the stars–for his advice, and Don Critchfield for his endless, solid, and unquestioning
support.

 

Finally, my thanks to Nick Wale who, as far as I know, has never read this book but who came up with an idea for a publishing enterprise that might just enable me to write
another.

 

 

 

 

Definition of a
Dragonking

 

 

In the aftermath of 2008’s catastrophic meltdown of the world’s financial markets, statisticians scrambled to develop new models of enormously complex systems–those once referred to as “chaotic”–in the hope of controlling or at least predicting similar events in the
future.

 

First, they identified the “black swan” event. This was a cause so completely out of the norm that it could not have been predicted and could be identified only in the aftermath of a catastrophic event. This let Wall Street’s mathematical analysts, or “quants,” off the
hook.

 

Next, the analysts developed the theory of the “dragonking.”
A dragonking is an enormous disruption so powerful that it is outside all standard parameters (a king) and acts according to rules so mysterious that they resemble nothing else (a dragon). Unfortunately for the quants, unlike a black swan, they can be predicted.

 

Dragonking events have been identified in such enormously complex systems as financial markets, forest fires, earthquakes, epileptic seizures in the human brain, climate change, and the extinction of
species.

 

A dragonking comes without warning, causes immense destruction, and leaves unforeseeable changes in its
wake.

Prologue

 

 

The soft tone sounded and the Fasten Seatbelt signs winked
out over the 418 passengers on American International’s flight 1143, the airline’s morning flight from New York to Los
Angeles.

The two men and one woman in seats 17A, 17B, and 17C unhooked and pulled down their folding tables. They were all wearing the classic uniform of young information workers on the way up–blue or white button-down shirts with ties with the stripes of fictional British clubs for the men, and a white button-down
shirt with a floppy green bow tie for the
woman.

The older woman in 17D across the aisle glanced at them as she was settling in and instantly identified them as accountants or consultants or some equally tedious species of young professional. She lost herself in the romance novel in her electronic reader and forgot
them.

The man in 17A–short and a bit overweight with the pale chin and cheeks of someone who just shaved off a beard–bent down and unzipped the front pocket of the leather backpack he had placed under the seat in front of him. From this pocket, he slid out a metal box with an air of reverence. It was silver and about the right size and shape for carrying a bar of soap. At some point, there had been an engraving on the top, but careful handling had worn it so smooth that only faint curves, a curlicue, and a straight line along the bottom
remained.

The man handled the box with extreme care–holding it with both hands and making sure that the hinge faced away from him. Swiveling from the waist, he handed the box to the dark-haired woman in the middle seat. She took it from him with crossed hands so that the hinge continued to face away from
her.

She had to flip her brown bangs out of the way so that she could see as she swiveled and passed the box on in the same reverential manner to the taller man seated on the aisle. He had darker skin and a close-cropped beard. Once again, he took the box with crossed hands and placed it in his lap. Throughout the
process, they had all moved with the precision and grace that come from endless
repetition.

None of them said anything as a second metal box was removed from the backpack and handed with equal care to the woman, who placed it on her gray pinstriped skirt. She kept both hands on it–not hiding it from sight but making sure it was
safe.

The man in the window seat pulled out a third metal box and then, holding the box with his left hand, leaned down and unzipped a pocket on the side of his pack. From this, he removed a folded square of green fabric and proceeded to pass it to the woman. He was careful to use his right hand–his left remained on the box in his
lap.

Again, using her right hand, she passed the material along to the dark-skinned man in the aisle seat, who unfolded one fold of the cloth and covered the box in his lap. Then she received her own green cloth and covered the box in her
lap.

The stewardess in charge of the front economy section came down the aisle on her way back to prepare the drinks cart. As she had been taught, she glanced at each passenger in turn–not actually studying him or her but giving herself time so that anything off or odd would trigger a subconscious sense of danger. As she approached the 17th
row, the three young people began to talk together, smiles and mock grimaces appearing on their faces as they discussed plans for an imaginary convention they were to attend in Los Angeles. The woman and the man on the aisle began to use both of their hands–she dabbed at the corner of her lipsticked mouth with a napkin, and he emphasized a good-natured argument by energetically pointing at the man in the window seat. It might have looked suspicious if all three had kept both hands folded in their laps.

The stewardess passed by. Nothing had triggered an internal alarm; she went on to the mid-cabin galley to get the ice and sodas ready.

The three let the conversation die down over a couple of minutes. A conversation that stopped abruptly might be noticed.
For a while, they just sat, their eyes open but unfocused, each with a protective hand on the box and cloth in their
lap.

Without a signal, all three used their left hand to bring their green cloth up to the tiny table and unfold it once more to reveal a very fine green silk with symbols embroidered in multicolored embroidery in a swirling pattern radiating out from the center. In the center of each cloth was a rectangular space–empty of any decoration or
ornament.

The man on the aisle smoothed a slight crease out of his
cloth.

The others waited until he
finished.

In unison, all three opened their boxes. Inside each was a deck of cards. There were no creases or tears in the cards, even though they were so worn by age and constant use that they felt like a delicate tissue rather than stiff card stock. The woman slid the top card off her deck and placed it facedown in the empty space at the center of the cloth in front of her. It fit precisely–no card touched the embroidered edge of the square. Both men followed suit–first the man on the aisle and then the one next to the
window.

The big plane banked left to bring it into the Red-15-South corridor–which
would
take
it
to
the
westbound
intersection
with Blue-95-High and the straight shot to LAX. The turn brought the morning sun spilling into the windows all along the left
side.

The man in 17A pulled down the plastic shade on his window. Then he and his companions reached up, switched on the reading lights inset into the plastic overhead, and adjusted them to illuminate the cards in front of
them.

The woman in 17D broke away from the steamy scene
between the Baroness and her kidnapper long enough to brighten the reader’s screen to compensate for the change in light. Glancing to the left, she wondered if they were playing some sort of card game.

“One of those silly dungeon games like Angela’s kids play,” she thought. She snorted and shook her head in exasperation, thinking. “Californians. They’re all just big
children.”

Then she returned to the
Baroness.

Switching hands, the three young people reached for the cards in the center of the ritual cloths in front of them with their right hands and, again without any visible signal, turned them face
up.

Chaos
erupted.

BOOK: The Last American Wizard
2.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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