Authors: Katherine Sparrow
The Magician's Mistake
The Fay Morgan Chronicles: Book One
Copyright 2014, Katherine Sparrow
All rights reserved.
This novel is a work of fiction. All characters, places, and incidents described in this publication are used fictitiously or are entirely fictional.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, except by an authorized retailer, or with written permission of the publisher. Inquiries may be addressed to [email protected]
Cover design by Rachel Marks. www.rachelannemarks.com
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It was a rainy Monday morning when the magician card showed up. I pulled it from my ancient tarot deck, and he sat staring up at me with one raised hand, holding a spelled staff. An infinity sign hovered over his head. My first urge was to tear it up. My second? I looked around my shop, heart racing, almost expecting him to be there, though I had no idea who
might be. It was as if I expected there to be some companion. Such foolish thoughts. I was alone. Always alone. I sipped my coffee and stared at the magician card.
The door clanged open. Lila, my assistant, ran into the store.
“Sorry I’m late.” Her cheeks were flushed and her jet-black hair was pulled back in a messy ponytail. “Traffic. And I was out late last night on a date with this guy who seemed nice online, but then in person all he could talk about was his dog, like he was in love with his schnauzer and hey, are you okay, Morgan?”
I pulled my gaze away from the card. Every morning, I always drew a card from my deck. There were one hundred and sixty cards, and yet it had been
decades? Centuries, perhaps, since I’d last pulled the Magician. The last time I had was the last day I
I blinked and shook my head. The more ancient I got, the more my memories grew tattered. Perhaps the human mind was not meant to hold the length of a life such as mine. Best not to dwell on it.
“Woah, cool card,” Lila said, coming behind the display counter and leaning over the thick glass display case that held baskets of crystals and spelled herbs. She poured herself the last of my coffee and turned her kohl-outlined eyes to the card. Even with her striking Persian ancestry, Lila was much too adorable to pull off her goth-girl look, but she tried, anyway. “The Magician? Wow, check out those burning eyes. What’s it mean?”
“Power. Transformation. Trouble,” I murmured.
“Does it mean you? I mean, are you him? You are the best at magic, right?”
I shook my head as I looked at the card. “I’m a witch. A magician is high-born: trained to serve courts and kings. At least in my day. Or these days he might be some man who imagines he has some huge destiny.”
“Ugh. I’ve met the type. But are you sure it’s not you? You’re not just any witch. You’re Morgan le Fay, the Morgan le Fay, like, an immortal living in Seattle and running a witch shop. Taking under your wing the best and brightest young witch in the city to teach her the ways of—”
“I’m pretty sure I hired you off a Craigslist ad to be my shop girl,” I said. Which wasn’t the whole truth.
“Oh sure, that’s what you told me, that you needed help with Morgan’s Ephemera
but nobody buys that. The most powerful witch in the world doesn’t need to make money on a tiny store on the lower level of Pike’s Place.”
I glared at her. I loved this shop, and the daily ritual of work, even if it bore no resemblance to the fiery life I had once lived.
Lila talked on. “Come on, Morgan, we both know this place is a ruse to bring us together, because you see great potential in me and you plan to train me, teach me every magic secret you know, and—”
I pointed to a bookcase on the back wall of the shop. “The Crowleys won’t dust themselves, fair acolyte of mine. And how’s your reading of the hermetics coming along, by the way?”
“Ugh. I’m reading them because you told me to, but hello, they’re barely written in English.”
“Your modern, American English,” I corrected her.
The door flew open, and two men stumbled in, kicking the door closed behind them.
They dove behind the nearest row of traveler’s cloaks and thigh-high boots. One of them had shaggy, black hair and a musk coming off him that stank of werewolf. The other was my age, or at least the age I wore. Thirty, with dark hair and a mouth creased with smile lines. He looked around the room, and then stopped when his eyes locked onto mine. His mouth fell open and he seemed to lean toward me with his whole self.
He blinked slowly a couple of time, shook his head, and then said, “Wards! Throw them up, witch. Now!”
He kept staring, and his eyes… blue skies or a coming storm, I wasn’t sure which. Time hung like the eternal moon, round and whole, still and lonesome as we studied each other and—
Two trolls ran into my shop.
The Amulet of Avalon
Or half-trolls, in any case. They were big women: thick with muscles, ample bosoms, and teased-out hair. They wore matching polyester dresses, one in purple, the other pink. I knew them: sisters named Sonja and Rona. They’d grown up in Ballard, had thick Norwegian accents, and brewed some of the darkest and best beer I’d ever drank. I liked them both. Who doesn’t like trolls?
That is to say, I usually liked them, except when they came crashing into my store.
Sonja gnashed her teeth, punched through my glass case of rough-cut gemstones, and bellowed, “Hand over the man meat.”
“Now!” Rona roared and kicked over my display of love spells. I’d spent hours setting them up for Valentine’s Day.
This wasn’t at all like the troll sisters I knew. In fact, as I stared at them, they both looked dazed. I made myself smile. “Ladies. Sisters. Enough. This is a place of peace.” I held out both hands and moved them through the air, trying to get the sisters’ attention.
Rona dumped baskets of rosemary and belladonna on the ground and stomped on them.
“The men! Give them to us,” Sonja howled.
I smiled harder. “I’m sure I have no idea who—”
The troll sisters spotted the two crouching men. They moved with the precision of large predators as they stalked toward them, knocking over my display of d.i.y. health zines and Wiccan how-to pamphlets.
I held back my own troll-ish growl.
“Wards. Protective incantations. Any time now, fair-witch,” the blue-eyed man yelled at me.
I stepped forward and placed myself in the trolls’ path, still waving my hands through the air. “So nice to see you both, sisters. You appear to be in foul moods. I have many remedies I can offer for such issues.” I grabbed a gazing ball and held it out to them, moving it around to draw their attention.
The trolls fell for it. They stopped and stared.
“This is a store of healing and harmony.” I tilted the ball back and forth so that light sparkled within it.
The trolls stared at it dully. Confused. Sonja drooled. Not like her at all.
“The men,” Rona muttered. She shook her head and stomped her foot, shattering a tile and shaking the entire room. She smacked a meaty fist against her palm. “Give us the men.”
Sonja grunted in agreement, and they stomped forward.
“Gladly, gladly,” I said, stepping back from them nimbly. “You’ll be happy to hear the men are on sale today. Two for the price of one. Though they are a bit used, it’s a good deal nonetheless. They should clean up well with a thorough de-lousing.”
The trolls blinked and looked confused again. I danced the gazing ball in front of their faces. “And of course I will throw in some glitter to pretty them up. This way, this way. Come quick and follow.” I took a step backwards.
They followed. Sonja reached for the gazing ball as she kicked over a display of midnight candles.
Rona reached for the ball, too. I pulled it back, just out of their reach. The sisters took a step toward me. And another.
“Belial,” I whispered and made a quick summoning gesture with my right hand.
A circle of rope, hempen and unbroken, fell to the ground, surrounding the trolls.
They growled and would have pounded me to bits, if they didn’t hit the invisible ward wall circling them on all sides. They roared and threw their considerable weight against the ward. It held. For now.
They glared and huddled together inside the rope’s circle, looking less like women by the second as teeth jutted out of their widening mouths and their eyes bulged. Whatever glamor they usually used to pass as humans fell away.
“Now will one of you tell me what this nonsense is about?” I asked.
Sonja howled and pummeled her fists upon the ward.
I flinched. Immortal as I was, I could still easily be murdered by these creatures ten times as strong as any human.
“Well done, well done,” the blue-eyed man said, standing up and brushing himself off. “You show grace, lass.” He had a slight Welsh accent. I wouldn’t have noticed it if I wasn’t from Wales myself.
The two men smiled and walked toward me.
“Belial,” I whispered again and gestured toward the ceiling.
Rope fell and circled the men, trapping them where they stood.
The young werewolf growled. His eyes slitted.
“Come then, lass, I hardly think—”
“Coming into my store. Commanding me to use magic and do your bidding. Bringing riotous trolls behind you. They’re usually quite lovely,” I said, not quite looking at them. At him.
I knew him. I didn’t know him.
“As though you don’t enjoy a bit of chaos as much as the next witch, Morgan. And here I was doing you a favor: coming to your store with a pretty bit of witch magic
the Amulet of Avalon.” His gaze, not that I was looking, fell heavy on me.
“Avalon?” I said. My home, so many centuries and ages ago, long lost. I had nothing left from that summer island. “What makes you think I’d want some trinket? I have jewelry aplenty.” I gestured to the dozens of ankh necklaces, Celtic cross bracelets, and moon earrings that the trolls had managed to scatter across the floor.
“But are they from the Isle of Apples?” he asked. “The island where great power and beauty once arose?”
“Woah. What. The. Hell,” Lila said, popping her head up from behind the bookshelf at the back of the store. “I’m hiding and praying to whatever goddess will listen back here, and you’re like kicking ass and taking names, Morgan. This is so cool. You are so cool.” She walked forward and stood behind me.
The trolls snarled at her.
“Hello, monsters. Wow, real monsters,” Lila said. She waved at them.
They lunged against the ward again. It still held.
“Don’t,” I whispered. I turned to the men. “And you two, do not provoke the trolls. I’ll deal with you in a moment.” I focused my attention on the sisters. “Why are you here?”
One of them spat a glob of green mucus on my floor. It hissed and smoked.
“You did not just spit troll-phlegm on my floor.” I ran my hand through my hair and pulled out a magically-spelled bobby pin that held my long hair out of my face.