Finding Magic #4
Life as a seventeen-year-old jock at Gray Cliffs Academy is hard for Elijah Davies. Failing grades? Check. On the headmaster's hit list? Check. Dumped by girlfriend? Still working out the precise logistics on that one...Excerpt:
When Elijah called his girlfriend's obsession with the Live Action Role Play game Legends of Orynthica stupid, he never dreamed Zoe would break up with him. Before he has a chance to make it up to her, a violent storm sweeps him into an unfamiliar world full of Ice Trolls and vicious warriors—and worse, he's got the sneaking suspicion this new world is Orynthica.
Elijah doesn't believe in magic, but everyone thinks he's the Catalyst—a mage who will help the people of Thanasi win both the Ascension Games and its prize: the magic Yarlstone that can restore balance to the lands.
The only person who doesn't have faith in him? Zora Stormshadow—Zoe's Orynthican alter ago—and the leader of the Thanasi team. Nine teams of four enter the Ascension Games, only one survives. The fate of Orynthica rests on Elijah's shoulders. Can he learn to wield his magic? And will he ever get a chance to make it up to Zoe in his own world?
Elijah fell through the portal and slammed into something cold and hard.
Air exploded from his chest, leaving his lungs sucking in nothing. He was pretty sure the entire St. Margaret's defensive line just smashed into him—either that or a freight train.
Where was he?
He coughed and managed to lurch to his hands and knees. He'd landed in a snowdrift. Enormous mountains reared around him, trees wearing the mantle of winter.
One second he was standing on the roof of Gray Cliffs. The next he was...
Somewhere far away.
"Headmaster Auster?" he called. If you're out there, I solemnly swear I shall never call you the Grauster again. "Headmistress Lalane?"
Maybe he was concussed from the fall? Or maybe he was dreaming? His fingers were freezing, and he was starting to shiver, but he still pinched his forearm, just to make sure.
Ouch. Not dreaming.
"Rhys?" he yelled, turning around in circles. "Jasper?"
He'd seen the others go flying off the roof, sucked into the same sort of vortex that picked him up. Maybe they were here somewhere too?
He yanked his cell phone out of his pocket. The screen was shattered, but he breathed a sigh of relief when it lit up at the touch of his thumb.
Then his heart fell. No bars. No service.
Sliding the phone open, he flicked through it, holding it up as he walked to a higher vantage point. Still no bars.
The sky was grim and gray, heavy with mist. Elijah could see little more than the stark line of mountains around him, wearing their snowy cloaks. His breath steamed in the crisp air as he slowly lowered the phone and caught a flash of something moving out of the corner of his eye.
Elijah froze, his gaze darting over the landscape. Nothing moved. Just a slow veil of snowflakes drifting through the air, like some sort of winter wonderland.
But something had caught his attention, hadn't it?
What if he wasn't alone?
There was something out there watching him. He was sure of it.
If there was someone out there, then they might be able to help him, but what if it was some sort of animal? He took a few more steps, his gaze raking the tree line. Something moved on the other side of him, and his head jerked in that direction.
Two of them?
A little prickle of trepidation crept down his spine.He'd watched enough David Attenborough to know he didn't think he wanted to find out what they were. Right now he was the straggler of the herd, cut away from any sense of safety.
Turning to run, he staggered through the snow, his school shoes completely unsuited for the terrain.
"Halt!" barked a sharp voice behind him.
Yeah, right. He shot a glance over his shoulder and saw some kind of white, fur-covered beast racing down the slope toward him.
A snowdrift in front of him suddenly reared up, icy powder flinging everywhere. A spear pointed directly at him as a second fur-covered beast erupted through the snow.
"Whoa." Elijah scrambled back. He went down in a drift, staring at the enormous beast glaring down at him with beady eyes. No. Not a beast. A hairy man with a beard that looked like it belonged next to a tankard of beer.
The man stared back.
That was definitely a spear, though the point of it looked like it was carved crudely out of black glass...or maybe obsidian.
What was going on here? For a second he thought his girlfriend, Zoe, was playing a trick on him. She was obsessed with Live Action Role Playing, and spent the last weekend—presumably—on one of her LARP quests. Had she coerced some of her new friends into paying him back for the not-so-kind comments he made about her gaming? She dumped him over those stupid words, so it was a possibility.
Except for one small fact: Zoe had nothing to do with the scene on the roof and the storm plucking him up and sending him spinning into this snowy plane.
And Zoe wasn't mean.
"Who are you?" the stranger demanded.
Another man waded through the snow behind him, clad in what looked like polar bear fur.
"Elijah Davies," he said.
"Elijor of House Davies?"
"No. Eli-jah," he emphasized. "Of Vancouver."
No sign of recognition flared in the man's coal-black eyes.
He was starting to shake from the cold and the aftereffects of adrenaline, but he didn't know what to think. Because these guys looked like Lord of the Rings wannabes. And despite the spear, they wouldn't hurt him, would they? There still had to be police here, didn't there?
"Do you know where I am?" He lifted his phone. "You can call my mom or my school if you want, and speak to them as soon as I get service—"
The man with the spear whirled and brought it down upon Elijah's hand. The phone fell into the snow. "What are you doing?" he blurted, kneeling to dig for it. "That cost me a fortune!"
The point of the spear suddenly whirled and pressed right into his throat. Elijah froze.
Police or not, this suddenly felt serious.
"Don't move," said the stranger. "We will have none of your magic here, mage."
"Is this some trick of Zoe's? If you're after a mage, that's the sort of thing she's interested in. I don't do LARP or—"
The spear dug a little deeper, and he shut up.
Okay. Point taken.
"Yeorfac," the other man called. "You cannot kill him until we take him to the princess. She will wish to delve him."
"He's a mage," the man—presumably Yeorfac—bit out. "He's probably a Pasternakian spy."
Yeorfac made a point of spitting in the snow at Elijah's feet.
Gr-oss. "Not a spy," Elijah said. "Not a mage. I don't know what you're talking about."
"You appeared from nowhere," Yeorfac snarled.
"Careful," Elijah squeaked. "I shaved this morning. I'm good."
The newcomer grabbed the spear and eased it away from Elijah's throat. "I saw it too." He was shorter than Yeorfac and a little older, his red hair and beard starting to gray. "I am Zandui, of Clan Tarven. We are of the Ice Fang Nation."
Thank Christ. Someone sensible—or as sensible as one could be while talking about clans and nations.
He doesn't have a spear at your throat. Sensible enough for me.
"And you are our prisoner," Zandui stated, yanking a set of leather cords from his belt. "Hold your hands out in front of you."
Prisoner? "Hold up. I think we've got some wires crossed somewhere. I—"
The butt of the spear appeared out of nowhere and smashed between his eyebrows, snapping his head back. Elijah slammed flat on his back, blinking as the world slowly came in and out of focus.
"We'll have to blindfold him," Zandui said, rifling through a pack, "before we take him to the princess's palace."
"He's a mage," Yeorfac muttered. "He'll be able to sense where we are. I say we cut his throat here and now. With the Ascension coming, the fewer mages the Lowlanders have on their side, the better our hero's chances of taking the games."
"Is it?" Zandui asked. "What if he was on our side?"
"If I was a mage," Elijah ground out, pressing the heel of his palm to his forehead as he slowly wrenched himself onto his knees. "Do you think I'd have just let you hit me like that?"
The pair of them exchanged a glance.
"And why would I work for you guys?" He met Zandui's gaze and stabbed a finger toward Yeorfac. "Your friend wants to kill me."
"He claims he's from Vancoover. I don't know this Vancoover, but it sounds Pasternakian to me," Yeorfac said.
"I'm pretty sure you're the type of guy who sees Pasternakian's everywhere you look, huh?" he snapped.
Zandui's slow gaze told Elijah he hit the nail on the head.
"Look, I don't know where I am, or how I came to be here either. There was a storm. The next thing I know I'm dumped in a snowdrift in the freaking Arctic, or something. I just want to get home. To Gray Cliffs. Or to Vancouver. Or hell, I'll even settle on Earth."
Zandui's gaze snapped to his.
"Earth," Elijah repeated slowly. "You know that word."
There was a horrible spinning sensation somewhere deep inside him. What if he wasn't in the wilds of Canada? What if he wasn't even on his own world?
Zoe loved sci-fi and fantasy novels. He'd idly flicked through a few of them, though he preferred movies to reading. And there was that weird indie cult hit last summer about parallel worlds. What had it been called again? Worldstrider?
Oh no. Heck no.
He was the very last person who should ever be sent to a parallel world. He didn't even believe in magic. Zoe would be perfect for the job.
"We need to take him to the Keeper," Zandui said.
"What world is this?" Elijah breathed out slowly. They both stared at him. "What world is this?" he yelled.
A roar suddenly bellowed through the mountains, freezing the blood in his veins.
Yeorfac spun, tension lining his body. Elijah stared into the distance, his breath sounding loud. "Um, what the hell was that?"
Zandui wrenched at his arm. "Trull hyggen. Move!"
"Trull...troll?" he gasped.
Blair Drake believes in magic, especially the magic of stories with fantasy, adventures, romance, action, and surprises. She has loved writing and living in the stories of the Finding Magic series and is so excited to share the quests of the Gray Cliffs Academy students with her readers.
When she’s not writing about magic, she’s reading about it. Her influences are Cassandra Claire, Neil Gaiman, Rick Riordan, Garth Nix, and many more.
In the mortal plane, following the lure of magic has drawn Blair into strange and wonderful adventures from Australia to New York City, with many stops in between. She currently lives near Denver. Her very favorite spot is a red loveseat in her office, frequently shared with two cats, an outnumbered Dalmation, and occasionally her bewitched husband.
She might have gone to a school similar to Gray Cliffs Academy and would love to go through a magic portal. In the meantime, she’s creating her own in more books of magic.
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