Dojo Darelir, the School of Xenograg the Sorcerer

Tag: fiction

Service Promised Was Service Given

May 22, 2023

There was a person in front of her. He was neither as tall as the fair ones who crossed the land in their ridings nor as small as the fey and lesser folk who populated both this world and the other. He looked quite human actually, if one disregarded the sharply pointed tips of his ears and the sharply pointed teeth, or the eyes as green and slit-pupiled as a cat’s. His hair was as brown as oak-bark, and he was dressed in green and brown.

“Puca,” she acknowledged him by name and kind.

He grinned and bowed. “At your service, lady,” he said.

She was very careful not to twitch. No word spoken in this world was heedless, and service promised was service given. “Indeed?” she asked. “Have I earned it?”

“Your destiny has,” said the puca, “and your magic. You’re blossoming into it, lady.”

“Like a nettle,” she said.

He laughed. He was not mocking her, she did not think. But then he sobered. “We’re not at ease with all of magic, either. Some of what’s been breeding and growing in Britain is frightening. Even the great ones walk wary of it.”

“The black places?” Edith asked. Even out of the body, the thought made her cold. “The places where it’s all rotted and dead?”

The puca nodded. “It scares us. It’s all wrong—and what ever it touches, it twists. It’s caught the Hunt; they’re ever turning on their own, and feeding on magic.”

“Won’t the rites of Beltane and Midsummer help?” said Edith. “Aren’t they supposed to feed the magic?”

“They do,” said the puca.

“You want me to do something,” Edith said.

The puca grinned. “Everyone said you had clear sight. Yes, we want something. We’re not sure what, yet. Just… something. Because you have so much magic, and your blood is what it is.”

“You want my blood,” Edith said. She was very calm. “Do you think it will help?”

“Maybe not that kind of blood,” said the puca. “We don’t know. Fate swirls around you—time comes to a center in you. But we can’t see how. Not yet.”

Well, Edith thought. She was born to matter: king’s daughter and descendant of kings. That she mattered to England came as no surprise.

“Britain,” said the puca. “You matter to Britain.”

“But England is—”

England is a shadow. Britain was there before it and will be there long after it is gone.

“I was born to England,” Edith said a little stiffly.

“Your mother was born to England. You are half a Gael, and all the magic is in you.”

Edith set her lips together. She did not know that she was angry. He was saying things she had thought for herself. But part of her was still her mother’s child, however little she loved the life her mother had meant for her. She had to defend it somehow.

“I won’t destroy England,” she said. “I’ll never agree to that.”

“We won’t ask it,” said the puca. Still smiling at her, he shrank and dwindled and shifted, until a sleek striped cat stood where he had been. His eyes were still the same, and his teeth not so different. He was purring loudly; his whole body shook with it.

Edith blinked. She had not expected that, even knowing he was a puca and therefore a shapeshifter. He crouched; she was prepared, somewhat, when he sprang to her shoulder.

His claws dug in, but gently. His purr was raucous. She caught herself smiling and stroking his fur. He was seducing her; but she did not mind.

King’s Blood, Chapter 16

Emphasis mine.

The Sands of Nisanti

May 7, 2023
The Sands of Nisanti
Doctor Strange:
…Please, do you honestly want to have a wizard’s duel with me?
Nicodemus West:
Not in the least.
Vrak par hensargini!
Doctor Strange:
The…the Sands of Nisanti?
Nicodemus West:
…For the next three minutes, neither of us will be able to use magic in any form….

— “Doctor Strange: The Oath” #5 (2007)

Used without permission.

The Dream of Taliesin

January 30, 2023

“There is a land,” he said, “a land shining with goodness where each man protects his brother’s dignity as readily as his own, where war and want have ceased and all tribes live under the same law of love and honor. It is a land bright with truth, where a man’s word is his pledge and falsehood is banished, where children sleep safe in their mothers’ arms and never know fear or pain.”

“It is a land where kings extend their hands in justice rather than reach for the sword; where mercy, kindness, and compassion flow like deep water, and men revere virtue, revere truth, revere beauty above comfort, pleasure, or selfish gain. A land where peace reigns in the hearts of men, where faith blazes like a beacon from every hill and love like a fire from every hearth; where the True God is worshipped and his ways acclaimed by all.”

“This is the Dream of Taliesin, Chief Bard of Britain. If you would know this land, know this: it is the Kingdom of Summer, and its name is Avalon….”

Avalon: the Return of King Arthur, Chapter 22

A King Expects To Be Followed

January 29, 2023

…[Red William] did not look back to see if the rest of them followed. A king learned to expect it.

King’s Blood, Chapter 8

Once They Had Been Greater In Number

December 25, 2022

Each [spaceship], as it approached the landing site, was disguised in a different, beautiful illusion. A silver fish wound among the evening stars, singing a haunting aria. A golden dragon breathed bouquets of flowers. A sailing ship rode the air currents. A giant model of an atom made a stately descent. A pinwheel of fire spiraled through the night. They were dreamers and shapers, singers and makers.

Once they had been greater in number. Yet in the past, more had been drawn to them for power than for understanding. Now they were five hundred, dedicated to learning, sharing the beauty of magic, doing good. For once no mage was in serious violation of the Code, and no feuds between mages seemed likely to erupt into violence. They were far from perfect, to be sure—eccentric, opinionated, intense, quick to anger—but Elric had never been more proud of them.

When he had been elected to the Circle nine years earlier, his feelings toward the mages had subtly changed. Before that, they had been his colleagues, his order, his clan, his family. Now they were also his responsibility. Joining the Circle had been a great honor, yet it was also a great burden, in ways he could never have anticipated. The mages’ past, and their future, lay in his trust. It was his charge to keep them safe and whole and focused on the Code. He felt that responsibility keenly now.

The convocations were critical times of bonding and affirmation, and this one perhaps more than any other. The signs were uncertain, yet he felt a growing sense that things were changing, quietly but irrevocably, not only here on Soom but everywhere. A darkness was growing. The mages had to be unified in purpose and spirit, prepared for any danger that might threaten….

Casting Shadows, chapter 2

Japanese Versus Chinese Martial Arts Styles

November 23, 2022

“…The movement patterns here are typical of Japanese as opposed to Chinese styles of unarmed fighting—the Japanese think of the torso as a cylinder that should be kept upright when fighting. The Chinese are a bit more flexible….”

Tengu, Chapter 10

Motivation Is Emotional Investment

November 21, 2022

Motivation is the reason your characters do the things they do. Characters need to have a solid motivation for all the decisions they make throughout the story, but…the most important motivation you need to give them is the motivation to participate in the story in the first place. Motivation is the reason the stakes matter.

[Harry Potter’s] goal is to destroy Voldemort.

Voldemort will take over the wizarding world otherwise—this is what’s at stake.

But why does Harry want to stop Voldemort himself? Why not step back and let someone else do it? Because Voldemort killed Harry’s parents. That’s Harry’s motivation.

Motivation is the emotional investment in the story for both the character and the reader. It gives the characters depth, which makes them more engaging. The reader wouldn’t be very interested if, at any point, the protagonist could decide that the stakes aren’t such a big deal after all and go home. Motivation locks the character into the story.

5 Places to Look for your Character’s Motivation – Jackal Editing

Author’s emphases.

The Worst Ignorance

November 18, 2022
The worst ignorance
Doctor Strange:
The worst ignorance is always the ignorance you haven’t been aware of. My Cloak of Levitation has served me well more times than I care to think. But now, when it becomes time to repair its torn fabric after my disastrous battle with Khat—although I am Dr. Strange, whom no living being can contest in sorcerous power, lore, or skill, I find myself realizing that I know so very, very little.

— “Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts” #78 (1987)

Used without permission.

A Bad Age For a Man

October 16, 2022

Sharina watched the young man. He’d paused at the stern to let the woman precede him off the ship. “He’s only a boy,” she murmured.

“About twenty, I’d guess,” [Nonnus] said, this time with dispassionate appraisal. “Nobles don’t age as fast as common folk.”

As the youth strode across the ramp, his black cape fluttering in the sea breeze, Nonnus added, “It’s a bad age for a man, twenty. You have the strength to do almost anything you want, but you don’t have the judgment to know what the price of some of those things is going to be in later times.”

Lord of the Isles, Book I, Chapter 10

The Power To Crush Diamonds

October 5, 2022

“Mistress?” Cashel asked in a thick voice. “Is Benlo as powerful a wizard as you are?”

Tenoctris laughed and patted him on the arm. “Cashel,” she said, “I’m not powerful at all. I’ve read and I see, those are both important. But the skill I have is that of a diamond cutter who knows where to tap to split a stone on the line of cleavage. If you want raw power—Benlo could crush diamonds if he knew how to use the strength he has.”

Cashel opened his big, capable hands. “What good’s a crushed diamond, mistress?” he asked.

Tenoctris laughed again. “You’d be amazed at how few people understand that, Master Cashel,” she said….

Lord of the Isles, Book II, Chapter 12

Load and Fire

October 5, 2022
Sonny Crockett:
The Rojeros Gang. Is that right?
Jake Pierson (retired Texas Ranger):
Yeah, me and my partner wiped them out. They was bringing guns up from Juarez. We were just waiting for them. Me and my partner stood toe-to-toe with seven of those boys. All we had were our Peacemakers. Load and fire, load and fire. Rojeros had one of them Tommy guns; he and his boys were trying to pepper us with.
Suddenly, Roy yelled “Jake, look out!” and he stood up, and he took the bullet that would’ve killed me. I spent the rest of my life trying to make that up to him. Took care of his wife. Raised his son like he was my own.
But part of me died with Roy.

— “El Viejo” – Miami Vice, Season 3 (1986)

A Thousand Arrows In Its Defense

October 5, 2022
the True Light has a thousand arrows in its defense!
Doctor Strange:
[Rintrah’s] astral form’s gone—to help fight my battles. I’ve let rage consume me—and rage’s left hand, despair, grabbed me and hurled me down! But not anymore!
Although the Darkness may come from all sides, the Light can have many facets, too! And through the spell of the Crystal of Vyhagh Ar, we shall see that the True Light has a thousand arrows in its defense!

— “Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts” #81 (1987)

Authors’ emphases. Used without permission.

That Word Has No Meaning Here

October 5, 2022
That word has no meaning here.
Hannibal King:
[Where are we?]
Doctor Strange:
Another dimension, Mr. King…another reality. In this realm, there will be no innocents to be harmed by our battle! Plus, here our foes are out of their element…disoriented.
Hannibal King:
Yeah, well they’re not the only ones. Which way is up?
Doctor Strange:
That word has no meaning here.

— “Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts” #59 (1983)

Used without permission.

The Montessi Formula

October 5, 2022

Fragments of this incantation were discovered years ago by an aged monk named Montessi. Uttered within close proximity of a vampire, even by one unschooled in the mystic arts, it would cause the unliving creature’s total oblivion….

— “Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts” #62 (1983)

Forced Redemption

September 26, 2022
Lamont Cranston:
You know my real name?
The Tulku:
Yes. I also know that for as long as you can remember, you struggled against your own black heart and always lost. You watched your spirit, your very face, change as the beast claws its way out from within you. You are in great pain, aren’t you?
[Cranston leaps at the Tulku who magically avoids the attack.]
The Tulku:
You know what evil lurks in the hearts of men, for you have seen that evil in your own heart. Every man pays a price for redemption; this is yours.
Lamont Cranston:
I’m not looking for redemption.
The Tulku:
You have no choice. You will be redeemed, because I will teach you to use your black shadow to fight evil.
[Cranston continues to violently resist but only succeeds in exhausting himself.]
Lamont Cranston:
Am I in Hell?
The Tulku:
Not yet.

— “The Shadow” (1994)

An unique and fascinating concept: a holy man forcibly redeeming an evil man—a lost soul, really—through both great compassion and (implied) harsh discipline.

The Plunder Of The Ages

September 22, 2022
And the plunder of the ages is in my grasp! 1 of 2
And the plunder of the ages is in my grasp! 2 of 2
As yet [Doctor Strange] is too far away to strike at—but I need wait only a short while! I have wrung every drop of magic from his sanctum sanctorum and taken it for my own! His slaves and familiars are now my hostages, and the plunder of the ages is in my grasp!
The Books of the Vishanti and of Eibon; the Orb of Agamotto, himself; the Two Gems That Are One; the Veil of the Purple Dimensions; the Scrolls of Hoary Watoomb; down to the fabled Darkhold, itself! Talismans whispered across a hundred dimensions! All in all, a fitting treasury for the Sorcerer Supreme of this plane: a sorcerer named Urthona!
Let him come!

— “Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts” #81 (1987)

Authors’ emphases. Used without permission.

Fool! A Mage’s Hoard You Enter With A Stick?

September 22, 2022
Fool! A mage's hoard you enter with a stick?
Alien Warrior #1:
Take care! The Master said great defenses still lurk!
Alien Warrior #2:
Bah! Then I test them!
[Alien Warrior #2 is violently thrown back by the magical ward protecting the door.]
Alien Warrior #3:
Fool! A mage’s hoard you enter with a stick?

— “Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts” #80 (1987)

Used without permission.

I’m a Wizard, Mind You!

September 5, 2022
I’m a wizard, mind you! This place is kept by powerful gods and spirits of kings! Harm my flesh and you will have to deal with the dead!
Can you summon demons, wizard?
Yes! To strike at you, I would summon a demon more ferocious than all in Hell!

— “Conan the Barbarian” (1982)


September 1, 2022

William’s mother was the most beautiful woman in the world. She was also the most wonderful. She could bring down the moon and make the sun dance with her singing. Flocks of spirits followed her wherever she went; when she worked her magic, so many of them crowded about her that one would think she could barely move.

He loved to watch her work magic. He would sit in a corner, safely out of the way, and fold his arms on his knees and rest his chin on them, and watch while she made the world more beautiful. Sometimes she made medicines, filling them full of light and laughter as well as herbs and simples. Other times she sat at her loom and wove light and shadow into the threads of linen and wool, so that the cloth carried blessing and goodwill, and a little beauty, when it was made into a cloak or a shirt or a gown. And sometimes, though that was not often, she called on the great powers for some purpose that he was too young to understand, summoning the whirlwind and bringing down the lightning.

When he was very small, he had only watched, but as he grew older, she called him to her in the middle of the working, and showed him how to do what she was doing. Once in a while she would even let him do the working. She would tell him what she wanted, and he would do as she had taught him, and brew a medicine or summon a spirit or scry in the silver bowl that she kept, wrapped with great care in a scrap of silk, in her chest to which no one else had the key—because the key was made of magic.

Rite of Conquest, Chapter 6

Ultimate Sources of Power

August 11, 2022

“To a wizard,” Tenoctris said, “the sun is an ultimate source of power and Malkar is an ultimate source of power. But no one can reach an ultimate source directly. The forces that a wizard works with aren’t pure, any more than the water you drink is pure.”

“You’re saying that Malkar isn’t evil?” Garric said with a frown…. “That you serve Malkar?”

“No,” Tenoctris said, tapping her finger on the wall beside her with sharp emphasis…. “No one serves Malkar. And as for using the forces that stem largely from Malkar, I don’t drink seawater either. There are differences of degree.”

Ilna turned her head to watch the waves dancing in the sunlight. Near shore the water was dark, almost purple, but beyond that and as far as her eye could reach the Inner Sea had a pale green translucence like that of the finest jade. It was much more beautiful than the colorless fluid brought up from a well; but of course no human could drink seawater….

Lord of the Isles, Book I, Chapter 18