First of all, this chapter was a bitch to coordinate. I wanted a scene where three characters were in the same location seeing the same action from three different perspectives. White wine told me this was “totally doable” and would work out fine. White wine was wrong, it required a level of mental gymnastics that I was not prepared for.
Also, I was raising money for the Philadelphia Bail Fund but they are encouraging donations to orgs that fight long term systemic racism so I’m donating here instead: Black Lives Matter Philly
Also of note in my little area of the world: Academia is staging a Strike for Black Lives on June 10. The goal is “to hit pause, to give Black academics a break and to give others an opportunity to reflect on their own complicity in anti-Black racism in academia and their local and global communities.” The physicists are bringing it.
Magic made its own way. It was unformed and wild, raw and restless, until it built itself, molecule by molecule, into some kind of structure. Morgyn was not old or young, had not been born early or late, Morgyn had just always been.
In this way, the Sage of Untamed Magic wasn’t anything like the gods. Gods directed magic’s natural state at a scale well beyond the average supernatural. But Morgyn…Morgyn did not wield magic…
…Morgyn was magic.
When a Sage cast a spell, a little bit of their fundamental structure was spun out and broken down. Mostly, this was not a problem. Magic couldn’t die, it just returned to magic. There would be a cooling off period, of course, which was why there were always Sages, just not always an L. Faba or a Morgyn.
Crypto Magic scored a spot as Sage in 875. Morgyn blamed L. Faba and her experimental season as a llama. Sure, she got an entire society to worship the damn things, but Crypto Magic was unbearable. Morgyn burned out their form creating a planet just to escape him.
After that, the Sages of Untamed and Mischief Magic agreed: they would try to keep the position for as long as possible. Thus, Simeon, the Sage in name only—witches were excellent power sources when you were conserving magic.1
Activity on the street was beginning to pick up. Morgyn’s notebook confirmed that this was the right location. The Sage kept fastidious notes. There was no other way to remember what had happened in a time loop that had run 999 times, except to write it down.2
As a result, the Sage of Untamed Magic was quite clear on what chaos should unfold—and in the event that certain actors made different choices—what improvisation would be required to get the same result.
It was almost disappointing to know that it was all coming to an end. Time loops had been one of the Sage’s more grand adventures.
It did have to, though. End. Not that Morgyn wasn’t grateful to Miko. Without time loops, Morgyn would have never had the chance to fall in love with Aurelius.3 Time loops had sealed the emotion in like muscle memory and now there was nothing, up to and including the mortal realm itself, that the Sage wasn’t willing to sacrifice.
“With a perfectly articulated wish, we can keep these forms permanently, Morgyn, what do you think?” Morgyn sneered, imitating L. Faba’s voice.
Morgyn thought it was complete nonsense, which was why they encouraged her to do it. What she didn’t know—what no one knew—was that millennia ago, Morgyn was part of the untamed magic that formed The Owl…and just like Morgyn, it had secrets.
Arguing broke out right next to where they were standing. Sims began wrestling and punching each other. A bespectacled man who smelled of bread wove through tables and chairs, desperate to avoid the fight.
“Showtime!” Morgyn whispered with a gleeful clap. And then shoved the young man into the fray.
That job finished, the Sage of Untamed Magic strolled into the cafe and ordered an Americano and a latte. The barista looked so charming in her little black apron. Morgyn smiled as she handed over the drinks.
“I’m trying to choose a place to sit. Would you say the sunlight hits me better on my left side or on my right?”
The In Between Inn
Miko was lying about Alice—to Penny, to Mikel, to herself. Some time over the last few days, Alice had disappeared and Miko could not wind back time to stop it. For one, she had no idea when exactly it happened, she didn’t know what variables were involved, and she was terrified that if she started this loop over without understanding why it happened, she wouldn’t be able to prevent it from taking place again.
So she lied. Made up stories about passing Alice in the hall, or how Alice told her she’d be out late. She lied to cover up the panic, to keep the panic from happening, to buy herself time. The cracks were beginning to show. Sixteen hours from now when she was at her funeral, she didn’t even notice she’d made it on time.4
Why was everything falling apart? At its core, Miko’s plan was simple…well…not simple simple but simple enough. Vlad and Alice always fell in love, in fact that got easier each time. He always protected her but some enemies always got the jump on them and they always died which meant Miko never had a chance to tri—convince Alice to hand over The Owl. All she needed was one chance to whisper her perfectly articulated wish and she could undo every circumstance that led to this happening in the first place.
But not if Alice couldn’t be found.
“You okay? Want to grab—” Penny started.
“Absolutely great! So busy. Can’t talk. Headed out to meet Alice for breakfast…so…I gotta go!” Miko answered, hoping her voice only sounded panicked and loud in her head.
She headed to the shopping district in Windenburg Village, making a beeline for her favorite coffee shop. Her mind was so focused on bacon and cheese croissants that she didn’t even notice Akira until he was standing directly behind her.
“You’re a real difficult pixie,” he smirked, the curve of his mouth nearly bringing her to her knees.
He held a rose, which only gave a delicious contrast to his scar and he was wearing her favorite armor. A sharp pang of desire ran through her.
Damn it! I will not be distracted by sex when I’m trying to save the world! She turned away, reminding herself of his every betrayal as she summoned up the lesson on graceful exits Grandma Ojo had taught her three days from now thirteen years ago.
Straightening her spine, head held high, she turned on her heel. “Akira, might I suggest you take that rose and stick it where the sun don’t shine.”