Magic is almost gone from the world of Mystica…
Few, in fact, even know magical beings exist.
Rufus Lanus counts among those who do because he is one. At a young age, he discovered he could manipulate metal with his mind when he accidentally caused a spike to penetrate his mother’s skull. Seen as a freak and abandoned by his father due to his gift, he joined a band of thieves and gained the wrong kind of attention by robbing a merchant whose locks were famously secure. Only through guile did he keep his freedom.
Anonymity has its disadvantages…
Now married in his early twenties, Rufus lives in the slums and works as a dung hauler. Dreary as honest life proves, things get worse when his wife Patricia shows signs that point to pregnancy. The one friend he and she have is Matilda, a midwife rumored to be a witch, who believes Patricia pregnant as well.
Unfortunate events lead to a dark mystery and a dangerous quest...
There is, however, no baby coming. Patricia's condition worsens and puts her at death’s door. Helpless, Rufus prays to the gods. Lo and behold a true medic appears at his door late one night, rather mysterious and eccentric. His examination reveals Patricia has an arcane disease. She has mere weeks unless treated with an endangered herb. In order to obtain it, Rufus must return to crime and go on a quest fraught with danger and too many unknowns.
What would you do to save the person you love most?
Rufus plunges into a labyrinth where nothing is what it seems. Along the way, he faces the past that haunts him and prepares to rob the most powerful men in the city. So be it, too, if he must confront the very demigods who failed to protect his race. He’ll shake the gods themselves from their thrones if need be.
A man driven by love will do whatever is necessary.
Magica (a Fantasy novella) is the first entry in the Mystica Books series. Each story is a stand-alone, very personal in nature, and full of mystery and intrigue. Collectively, the books reveal what happens to a world when magic becomes a fifth element. This combination of personal story and world impact makes every book a unique blend of Sword & Sorcery and Epic or High Fantasy.
Avitus cocked a bushy eyebrow. “Who knew being a shit-hauler compensated so generously.” His gaze panned the bedchamber. “Nevertheless, incongruity abounds, for marble and concrete are absent. Your walls and floors? Wooden. Thatch comprises your roof. I daresay this a shack by any decent standard.”
Rufus stepped back, wondering where the old man got such audacity. “I’ve done my best.”
“Yes-yes, I am aware your domus is a veritable estate compared to the shanties common within Regio Proletaria, infamous dregs of our ivory city. Collective pox, the lot of you downtrodden, rodents scurrying over each other. You personally”—the medicus employed a condescending tone—“for you to claim opulence, you must have squirreled every coin earned and secreted the savings well.”
Patricia gazed about the chamber, to the window in the corner. She blinked rapidly and repeatedly. “I know what the piece of merda wants.”
A tear streamed her cheek that Rufus rubbed with his thumb in advance of kissing her. He sat beside his wife, putting his arm around her and let the opposite dangle off the mattress. “It’s all right.”
“No,” she said, leaning against him. “We are dead, like…” Patricia buried her face in the crook of his neck and trembled. “Doesn’t matter if you succeed in stealing. You're doomed regardless. As leader of the constabulary, Henryk will not quit until he arrests you.”
“Finally, he speaks.” Matilda scooped beans and broth into the bowl. “Here I suspected him struck mute yester-night.” Her giggle was high-pitched, like that of a bashful child. “Accomplish what you wanted?” She tapped her bare foot—how many years since she trimmed those blackened, misshapen toenails?—and tilted her head, as if someone invisible whispered to her. “Ahhh, ‘tis pointless. He will press his lips together in stubborn silence or ignore my inquiry. Nevertheless, I shall ask. Where did you go, Rufus? What did you do?”
“Does she know?” He gestured at the hallway.
“You ask whether Triss finds her husband recreant. The suspicion has not crossed his love’s mind, for she trusts him blindly, sans a shred of doubt.” Matilda gave him the bowl and patted his arm. “Is there a greater reason to be honest? Remember. Dare not share vessel or utensil.”
Rufus stretched his limbs gone stiff, and patted the chair that had become more a trusty companion than unfeeling furniture. It had seen better times; so had he and his darling wife.
She lay close, supine. Blessed were the gods for allowing her to sleep peacefully and blessed be their neighbor for providing the herbs that induced her slumber. He would have found this reprieve truly comforting if not for the positioning of her hands under the blanket, wrists crossed and resting between her withered breasts. The pose evoked a lifeless body beneath a shroud as seven candles atop the headboard summoned the image of a sarcophagus. To gaze upon her made his eyes sting, so he looked off, to the corner. Through the blur of tears, he watched blackness waver and dance, fearing the mannish shape was Mors—that deity of death—materializing to cart off Patricia.
“So," Avitus said, drawing out the word. "Are you the thief Barnabus claims?”
“Godsdammit.” Rufus rose and stomped. “Yes, but I'm retired. I promised Triss—”
“Ah, women. I assume you put forth a marital vow to tread the virtuous path and believe the word you gave sacred. Simpleminded poppycock! Wives who demand their husbands change are sullen cunni.”
“Leave.” Rufus clapped once, mimicking Avitus when he had done the same the previous night. “On what do you wait? Go.”
“Refuse me, she succumbs. Fall short; her fate is the same. You realize this?”