The Spell 2 (part one)

School the next day seemed to drag on forever. Matt was anxious to get back to the game. His friends should be fine; without him there to run things, nothing could hurt them. But he knew time moved differently there, and he didn’t want them to get bored. Besides, it was fun. Much more fun than school.

When he got home, there was another delay, however. A police squad car was parked on the street, and his mother was waiting for him at the door.

“Matt, a policeman is here. He wants to ask you some questions.” There was a panic on her face and in her voice.

“A policeman?”

“Matt, your friends are missing.”


“Hello, Matt.” A man in a uniform was standing in the doorway to the kitchen. “I’m Officer Barkley. Nice to meet you.” He walked over to Matt and extended a hand. Matt reached out and shook it, trying to make his grip as firm as he could.


“Do you mind if we have a little chat?”

Matt looked up at his mother. She nodded. “Okay.”

They all walked into the kitchen and took seats around the table. There was a half cup of coffee in front of the officer. Matt sat across from him, and his mother sat in the middle.

“So, Matt, you were with your friends last night?”


“That was John Lommen, Kevin Hamill, Jason Davis, and Rob Kaufmann?” He was reading out of a small notebook.

“Rob wasn’t there.”

“But the others were?”

“Yes.” Matt tried not to sound nervous. He didn’t think he was doing a very good job of it.

“When did you see them last?”

“Last night. I left about 8:30 so I could get home before curfew.”

His mom nodded her head. “That’s right. He got home just before 9.”

“And your friends… John, Kevin, and Jason… were still together?”

“Yeah. Kevin and Jason were getting ready to leave, too, but they don’t live as far away.”

“Did anyone say anything about going somewhere?”

“No. Nobody said anything like that.”

“Are you sure, Matt?” His mom interjected.

“Ma’am. Please. The boy can speak for himself.”

“Yes, I’m sure. It was just a normal night. I’m always the first to leave. Unless I’m staying over.”

“So what were you all doing?”

“Playing D&D.”

“What’s that?”

Involuntarily, Matt rolled his eyes. “It’s Dungeons and Dragons. You play fantasy heroes and go on quests, explore dungeons. Stuff like that.”

“Like make-believe? Cops and robbers?”

“Not like that. That’s kid stuff. There are rules and dice. You have spells and swords, and all kinds of things. But it’s in your imagination. Not real.”

“Oh.” Officer Barkley looked at his mother; she just shrugged. “So after you left John’s house, you haven’t seen any of them?”

“No. They weren’t at school today. Did something happen to them?”

“I’m sure they’re fine, but Kevin and Jason never went home last night. And John’s mother said he had left the house, too. She hasn’t heard from him either. We just want to find them and make sure everyone’s okay. You don’t have any ideas where they might be?”

“No, sir.”

Officer Barkely looked at him for several seconds before concluding. “Okay. Well, if you hear from them, or if you think of anything that might help us find them, let me know. Will you do that?”


The officer stood, thanked them both for their time and left the house. When the door closed, his mother began worrying out loud. “What could have happened to those boys? Their poor mothers. Maybe I should drive you around instead of letting you take your bike. I’d never forgive myself if something happened to you.”

“You heard the police, mom. He said they were fine. They’ll find them, and it will be okay.”

She gave him a funny look. “You seem really calm about this. Do you know where they are?”

“No. Like I told him, I haven’t seen them since last night. They’re probably just playing a joke or something.”

“That’s horrible! Making their families worry like this. If that’s what’s going on, I don’t think I want you hanging out with them anymore.”

“Well, you’re right. They wouldn’t want to make their families worry. It’s probably something else then. I’m sure they’re okay, though. The policeman didn’t seem too worried.” He stood up from the table. “I need to do my homework.”

Concern still had a hold over her expression, but she nodded. “You tell me if you go anywhere.”

“I will mom.” He hurried down the hall and closed the door of his room behind him. Once he was sure his mom hadn’t followed him, he reached under his mattress to pull out the folding screen he had found. Usually he used these to hide dice rolls and notes from his players. This one was special, though.

On each of the three panels were displays, like television screens. He pressed the upper right corner and all three turned on. The one of the right showed the necromancer’s throne room. The one of the left stayed dark for now. The middle showed his three friends in the astral plane.

A flashing alert at the bottom caught his attention. “Crap.” Someone had used a healing potion and needed input from him to take effect. He entered in the maximum value using the small keypad on the right. The potion activated. He relaxed and began to listen to what his friends were saying.

Isa – Standstill

One casts runes in the same way one casts dice, with much the same implications. If you believe in Fate, the runes were fated to land where and how they did. Reading them is reading Fate itself, fully aware of all the pitfalls that go along with that.  However, if one does not believe in Fate, but in Luck, then the casting of the runes puts you entirely within Her domain. She may give knowledge and insight, or She may take away hope. The only way to know which is to play.

I lean to the latter view, though maybe talk of Luck takes it too far. Then again, maybe not. There is no reason to anger a divine-like being who might exist. Still, I have never seen any evidence of Fate. Or at least, I have seen no point in believing in It. If Fate exists, our beliefs do not matter. And if It does not exist, why believe at all?

In front of me was a single rune from my casting. A straight vertical line, a rune which cannot be reversed. And yet Isa was always reversed. It represents a freeze in activity, a standstill. It requires letting go of something that prevents progress. It is a lone person, in the cold, trying to drag something too heavy. In order to move forward, in order to get to safety, the burden needs to be released no matter how important it seems.

Unless one enjoys the cold. That is Fate’s problem, It cares not a whit for individuals. It assumes we all want the same things. The cold is my home, and I can move freely in it. Perhaps Luck, if She is real, intended to freeze my pursuers so that I could escape. That is how I chose to understand this casting, at least at that moment.

The Great Tree

It continued to rain all day as he walked, his cloak and hood insulating him from the majority of the downpour. Everything else in the woods had sought shelter hours ago; only he moved, and only the rain made any noise. It was still early in the season, and the chill in the air threatened to turn the rain to snow. So far, it had held off.

This journey was always arduous. It was meant to be; the Great Tree was not supposed to be consulted on a whim. The storm made it especially difficult, however. He pulled his cloak tighter with one hand while the other held his staff tightly.

The path now gave way to a clearing and the rain stopped abruptly. In the middle of the open area stood a large tree. It would take at least six men, arms stretched wide, in order to completely encircle the trunk. The branches stretched out from the trunk, starting about as high up as he was tall. They reached nearly to the edge of the clearing on all sides, and there was not enough room to see the top of the tree. It was called the Great Tree for good reason.

In spite of his usual stoicism, he asked, “Was the rain necessary?”

Though the air was still, branches rustled. They sounded like laughter.

“I see. Well, I am honored to be a source for your entertainment.”

A deep booming voice came from within the branches, “You have your sense of humor still. Things cannot be all that bad. What brings you here, child?”

He stopped himself from objecting to that. The Tree’s answer to any protestation about age was always met with the same response. He could live to see his two hundredth year, and the Tree would still find him young.

“A new sage has been born. I have come to ask you for her staff.”


“As you know, wood that is away from you…”

“Yes. Your staves do not out last you, so they must be replaced every time a new sage arrives.”


“So this means you… that your staff is near its end?”

“The staff is your wood. You already know the answer.”

“It is tiresome. I have lost track of how many have come and gone.”

“I doubt that is true. We are not intended for long lives such as yours.”

“Is this the last visit I should expect from you?”

“No. I will return once more with her, when her training is at its end. And here I will stay.”

The tree remained silent. Something fell to the ground from its canopy. He walked over and picked up a staff, taller than his own. The grain on it was distinct and ornate, swirling in many complex patterns.

“She will be tall, then?”

“Indeed,” the Tree replied. “And wise. If you must end, you will find her a worthy successor.”

“Thank you.”

“Do not hasten your return.”

“It will be a while yet from me. You will think it is a short time, however.”

“You are likely correct. Raise her well, my friend.”

That caught him off guard. The Tree never referred to him other than as ‘child.’ “I will,” he said eventually.

He turned and left. The Tree held back the rain it had been planning on sending after him.