Chapter Fifty-Nine: An American Warlock in Avon Valley

Lieutenant Benjamin Veltro thought he’d gotten a plum job with his latest assignment: guarding a cleanup crew at some empty, podunk boarding school. The young soldier traded a narrow bunk in a crowded barrack for a queen sized bed with a view of pristine Wheatbelt countryside. Most of his days were spent reading dusty old children’s books, drinking forgotten bottles of red, and chatting with the cleaners on their lunch break.    

It was only a week later that Lieutenant Veltro began to wonder why a school cleanup needed military protection. Why the grounds had such deep, strange scars; as if bombarded by meteors and slashed by dragons’ talons. Why he kept finding gold along the riverbank. Why the grass was littered with spent bullets and stained with blood.

“What happened here, Royce?” Benjamin asked the head of the cleanup crew one afternoon while they relaxed in front of a small, limestone castle. The lieutenant was sitting on an overturned gold gargoyle.

Pete Royce swallowed his mouthful of cornbeef sandwich. In his white hazard-suit, the balding, middle-aged man looked like a cut-rate astronaut. “Why you asking me, soldier-boy? They don’t tell us nothing.”

“I mean—” The lieutenant gestured back at the castle. “This isn’t normal, is it?”

Royce nodded. “Sure ain’t.” The cleaner’s eyes danced conspiratorially. “I hear this place was a school for demis.” 

The lieutenant frowned. “You’re shitting me. That even allowed?”

Pete shrugged. “Dunno. Bloke who told me1 said they had some deal with the freak-finders. Then Canberra went all”—the cleaner mimed an explosion—“and I guess what was left of the government decided to crack down on the demis.” He smiled wryly. “I guess they ain’t all bulletproof.”

“Oh.”

Soon, the locals started turning up. Some of them brought food for children long gone. Some left guilty flowers to rot in the sun. Benjamin turned them all away, with only an “I’m not at liberty to discuss the matter” as an explanation

One dirty-blond young man left his spit at the lieutenant’s feet:

“Baby-killer!”

Lieutenant Veltro tried to muster some martial presence. Instead, he just stammered, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

The teenage hippie choked on his anger. “ ‘I don’t know’ my arse!” The boy strode towards the soldier, but his burly companion blocked him with his arm.

“He’s not worth it, Bazza,” he said slowly, eyeing the lieutenant’s sidearm like a wasp. 

Bazza took a deep breath. “You’re right, Ed.” He turned around and walked towards the gate. “Besides, these fuckers only go after little kids.”     

“I didn’t—”

The lieutenant was alone again, his words drowned in the still summer air.

After that, a glass slide was pulled out from between the world and Lieutenant Veltro. The heat hit him harder. His spare time went from liberating to oppressive, seconds and hours stretching to breaking point. More and more, he kept spotting toys abandoned in the grass. His mind tried drawing lines between them and their absent, unknowable owners like terrible constellations2. He spent a lot of time staring at the mural on the side of barn, wondering how much of someone’s life and time went into those mermaids. Benjamin felt like an intruder in an empty, lonely Heaven. Dante without a Virgil or Beatrice. 

Then the lieutenant started going mad. He had to be. He kept hearing laughter. Light, young laughter…

Lieutenant Veltro swung around in the tall yellow grass, trying to find the voice. “Who’s there?”

No answer. Just more laughter.  

Veltro reached for his gun, but went still. He remembered the look on that hippie’s face. The contempt

I’m better than that.

Instead, the lieutenant shouted, “Come out here, kid! This area is off-limits!” He only realized the contradiction once he said it out loud.

There was movement in the trees. A boy, with a face pale as a corpse. Or a ghost. He took off into the bush.

Lieutenant Veltro ran after the child. “Wait, come back!”

The boy leapt over roots and fallen branches without effort, swerving around gnarled, tightly packed trees with ease while the lieutenant struggled to keep up.

“I just want to ask—”

The boy disappeared behind a tree. Veltro managed to catch up before he emerged from the other side—

The boy was gone; like he’d never been there at all.

Lieutenant Veltro fell to his knees, rapping the side of his head with his knuckles and slamming his fist into the dirt. “Fuck! Fuck!”

When his commanding officer rolled up in his khaki jeep, Benjamin was relieved. Maybe he was getting a transfer. Anywhere or anything would be better than this bloody haunted school. Even Vietnam would’ve been an improvement in Veltro’s book. Not like you could get up to much with the Flying Man swooping in whenever things got interesting3.       

Instead, the captain handed the lieutenant a funny smelling stick of chalk and a sealed envelope. 

“The Americans are sending someone to give the place a look over. He’ll be here tomorrow night. You’ll be getting things set up for him, your instructions are in the envelope.” The captain looked like he was about to say something else, but instead simply sighed. “Just do what it says, and do what he says, got it?” 

Lieutenant Veltro saluted and shouted, “Yes, sir!” What else was he going to do?

He opened the envelope in bed that night. All that was in it was a sheet of A4 paper with an astrological symbol scrawled on it:

☿ 

Next to it were written the words, “Draw this on a flat surface, sunset tomorrow. No earlier, no later. Use the chalk.”

Benjamin didn’t know what to think. It was yet more easy work but… Americans were a strange, strange people.

So, the next day, when the evening shadows were eating the farmhouse walls, the lieutenant found one of its abundant blackboards, and got his art on.

When he was done, Veltro stuck his chalk in his ear and lit a cigarette, admiring his efforts. He’d forgotten how bloody hard drawing a halfway decent circle freehand could be, but he thought he’d done alright. Satisfied, he turned to leave, ready to greet the yank whenever he deigned to show up.

The lieutenant still wondered why the bloke wanted him to draw some New Age symbol. Why not a flag? Or an eagle? Something Americans liked.

Outside, the roof of the sun finally dipped below the horizon. The thin, bright fuse that separates land and sky burned out. Behind the lieutenant, all its light flowed through the window into the Mercury symbol.

A warm breeze broke through into the empty classroom, carrying with it the scent of rain soaked pollen. Strange birds called to each other from some vast, near distance. Veltro could feel the sun on his back.                 

Someone cleared his throat.

Lieutenant Benjamin Veltro turned to find a man standing in front of the chalkboard. He was tall, with brown skin and serious, beetle black eyes. Dressed in the olive green of the US Army, tight curls peeked out from under his dark green beret. In his left hand was a dark wood staff.

“Lieutenant Veltro?”

Shakily, the lieutenant saluted. “A—awaiting your orders, Colonel Penderghast.”  

Lieutenant Veltro had been hearing lurid tales of Howard Penderghast for years, ever since he walked into a New England recruitment office and conjured forth the spirit of Charles Young4. People said he could make dead soldiers get up and fight, pull Viet-Cong up from Hell into an interrogation room, and then make them wish they had been left to the flames. He was like the US military’s own personal Flying Man.

So naturally, the first thing the warlock did after teleporting halfway across the world via chalk drawing was find the kitchen and make a pot of tea.

At least—Lieutenant Veltro considered—he didn’t make him do it.

Penderghast poured out three cups. Two were delicate bone china, the third a thick, cheap enamel mug. 

“Permission to speak sir?”

“Granted,” the wizard replied absently. 

“Who’s the third cup for?” 

“In case we have guests.”

With no particular flare or ceremony, Penderghast waved his staff over the tea. The cups took to the air, bobbing in the air behind him.  “Take us to the library, lieutenant.”

Benjamin tried to keep his jaw from dropping. He’d never seen any kind of magic or powers or whatever that trick was in person. He felt like a complete rube. “Yes sir.”

The school’s library wasn’t big, exactly, but it was densely packed, with floor to ceiling bookshelves lining every wall. Just glancing at the spines revealed an admirable diversity. Thin hardcover children’s books and rough, wild pulp magazines were sandwiched between fine, leatherbound volumes that were probably older than any library on the continent—with only the very beginnings of dust, as the poor lieutenant couldn’t help but notice. 

The principal piece of furniture was a honey-oak table that seemed more suited to a kitchen or dining room than a library. The colonel pulled a too-long candle out from a pouch on his belt and set it on the middle of the tabletop. He laced his fingers together and performed some painful looking contortions:       

Ignis.”     

Veltro felt the air in the room shift, like he was caught in a whale’s slipstream. The candle lit of its own accord.

Licet has exaudiat herbas, ad manes ventura semel5.”

The flame burned black. The air whispered.

“Neat—” The lieutenant shook himself, readopting the standard, almost sing-song army man cadence. “I mean, that’s very impressive, sir!”

“Nobody likes a brown noser, lieutenant.” The cups of tea settled on the table, only for Penderghast to grab the odd mug out and throw it hard at one of the few exposed stretches of wallpaper. It shattered with a clatter, faint brown liquid dripping and steaming down the worn green and red damask and soaking into the carpet. 

Veltro jerked back. “Permission to speak, colonel.”

Penderghast sighed, “I think we can take that permission as being granted until I say otherwise, lieutenant.”

“…Why did you do that?”

“Again, in case we have guests. I might have to make more tea…” Penderghast climbed on top of the table and raised his staff. “Codices, proferte vestra arcana6.” 

The library shook. Books shoved and jostled each other like they were fighting in a queue. They burst free, flying through the air on wings of paper, lining up in front of the colonel like soldiers for inspection. “Until those guests choose to show themselves, we will be sorting sorting through Herbert Lawrence’s collection of esoteric literature.”

“Yes sir. Could I just ask, who was Herbert Lawrence? I’ve heard the name, but everyone acts like I should already know his bloody birthday.”

Penderghast looked at the solder with some concern. “You weren’t told?”

“Ah. Need to know, I got it.”

Penderghast seemed to consider something. Finally, he spoke. “Herbert Lawrence was a psychiatrist who ran this place as a care home for superhumans. Wrote a book on it.” He pointed to a maroon book floating at the end of the line. “There it is, actually. Your DDHA let the school stay open as a test-case.” He paused, as though deciding whether he ought to continue. “Then it turned out he was trying to breed the students. Make a better class of superhuman. There’s evidence that suggests he may have been involved in the parliamentary bombings.”

“Christ,” muttered Veltro. “I just thought he got it for having a bunch of demis around.”

“I don’t think they like that word, lieutenant.”

“Sorry, sir.”

“Don’t apologize to me, I’m neither blessed nor psychic7,” said the man making books dance. “There was a raid. It… didn’t go as planned. That’s why I’m here. Clear up some details.”

“And the books…” 

“Are my payment. Try and find me anything that seems ‘mystic’ will you?”

For the next couple of hours, Lieutenant Veltro sat on the library’s couch, a stack of books resting beside him, calling out titles to his acting CO while tomes filed past the warlock’s cool, appraising gaze.

“Omskirk’s Revelations of Thirty-Six Other Worlds8.”

“How did the old fool get his hands on that? Keep.”

The Lives of Trees.”

“I have a friend who’d appreciate that.”

The lieutenant picked up a heavyset book bound in porous peach leather. “This one doesn’t have a title.”

“Check the front-piece.”

Veltro obeyed, sounding out the book’s title. “The Necro-nomi-con.”

“Who did the translation?”

The lieutenant squinted. “Some guy called John Dee.”

A grunt. “Might as well trash it then.”

“Right.”

Lieutenant Benjamin had a sneaking suspicion that Penderghast had only put him on book sorting duty to give him something to do. Which he might’ve appreciated, if he had forgotten the concept of “smoko breaks.” He wasn’t entirely sure why he was taking orders from a demi, whatever else he claimed to be. It didn’t help that the colonel was coloured, either. 

Still, had to make the best of it.

“If you don’t mind me asking, sir,” Veltro said, “are you really a wizard?”

Without looking away from his books, Penderghast answered, “I prefer to go by ‘warlock’. The etymology is a bit unfortunate9, but I think it projects the right… connotations. ‘Witch’ is fine, too, but some people today have… opinions on the idea of a gentleman witch. I’m sure you understand.”

Veltro nodded. “I think I get the picture. Never heard a bloke call themselves a witch. Thinkin’ about it, I’ve only ever heard blokes call women that.”

“Indeed.”

“So, how did you get to be a warlock?”

The colonel raised his chin slightly. “The Penderghasts have been practising magic for over three hundred years, since before our ancestors came on the Mayflower and the slave ships.”

“So it’s something you’re born to.”

“Not entirely.”

“…Could I learn to do magic?”

Penderghast looked at the soldier, his finger on his chin. “How old are you, lieutenant?”

Fair question. “Twenty-seven, sir.”

Penderghast nodded slowly. “And how long do you expect to live?”

Veltro wasn’t sure what to make of that one. “Um… supposing I don’t get shot or catch something nasty? Seventy I guess? Eighty if I’m lucky. My granddad got to be ninety-one.”

“And are you particularly good at anything?”

“I guess I’m a decent enough soldier. I know my way around a radio.”

“Then I don’t think sorcery would be worth pursuing.”

“Oh.” Well, no reason to let the conversation die. “Are there schools for this sort of thing?”

Penderghast waved his hand. “A few, here and there. I’d avoid Scholomance10, but there’s also Esquith11 and Saint Cyprian12.”

“Which one did you go to?”

The warlock sniffed. “None of them. The schools are fine if you don’t have anyone better to teach you, but I was tutored at home.”

“Must’ve been lonely.”

For the first time that night, Penderghast smiled. “I have four sisters and six brothers13. All older. I wished I was lonely.”

Benjamin laughed. “I hear ya, mate.”

Next to the table, the candle-flame fluttered. The air turned wintery. 

The lieutenant threw his arms around himself, shivering. “This you—”

“I don’t look like this.” 

There was a young woman standing at the table. She looked like a black and white photograph of a teacher—attired in a monochrome pintuck blouse and skirt that went all the way down to her nurse’s shoes. Her face was built for cheer, but  now set in a grim, colourless mask. Her hair was strange to behold, as though someone had managed to produce the colour red from only grey pigments. She was studying her smooth, pale hands like they belonged to a stranger. “I mean, I haven’t for years. I’m sixty-five.” She looked up at the warlock, still sitting cross legged by the candle. “Is this the way of ghosts, Mr. Penderghast? Do our souls not age with us?”  

“It varies from spirit to spirit, ma’am,”  the colonel replied. “Some shades appear exactly as they died, down to the scars of their death. I think it’s rooted in a person’s self-image.”

The ghost laughed. It was the saddest sound in the world. “You know, I never put much stock in conscious survival after death. Whenever someone asked I told them I was a Jeffersonian Christian14. So not only was I wrong on that, I get to find out I’m vain, too.”        

“I don’t know about that.” Penderghast swirled his index finger in the air like a mixing spoon. A vaporous replica of the smashed mug of tea coalesced from nothing. “Would you like a drink, ma’am?” 

The spirit took the cup and drank like a woman who only knew thirst. “Thank you.”

“No problem.” Penderghast looked past the ghost. “Put that away, Veltro.”

The lieutenant lowered his gun sheepishly. “Sorry, miss.”

“Don’t be, young man. Guns have done all they’re ever going to do to me.”

“You’re Mary Gillespie, aren’t you,” Penderghast said. “You helped run the New Human Institute.”

Mary sighed. “You’ve got me there.” She shook her head. “It wasn’t supposed to be that way. Or maybe it was and I was too foolish to see it.” The spirit wafted towards the library doorway, her form rippling like smoke in the wind. “There’s something you boys need to see.”

The shade of Mary Gillespie led Penderghast and the lieutenant to the house’s front door, passing through the wood and glass soundlessly.

The warlock turned to Benjamin and removed a small jar of ointment from his belt. “You right-handed, lieutenant?” he asked as he unscrewed the lid.   

“Yes sir.”

Penderghast held the open jar out Veltro. “Rub this in your left eye and keep your right one covered. That’s your lying eye.”

“…Yes sir.” 

With some trepidation, Veltro dug out some of the yellow, foul-smelling stuff and started applying it to his eye, while Penderghast did the same with his left. When he was done, the colonel pulled out an eyepatch and placed it over his right-eye. He looked like where soldier met pirate.

“Why don’t I get an eye-patch?” Veltro asked with his hand over his right-eye. 

“Because you didn’t come prepared. Come on, lieutenant. You don’t keep a lady waiting.”

The men stepped outside. Night had arrived in full over the Institute, and with it, phantasms.  Dozens of human afterimages were burned into the grass by the Institute’s gate. Soldiers wandered aimlessly, aiming the faint memory of their rifles at nothing and everything, yelling out silent orders and screaming mutely.

“Can—can those guns hurt anyone?” Veltro asked Penderghast.

“No. I just find it amazing a weapon can become so rooted in a person’s sense of self.”

They ventured into the long-gone crowd. Veltro made great pains to step around the ghosts, but Penderghast barged through them as carelessly as fog.

“They can’t feel it,” he reassured the other soldier.

Not all the dead soldiers were completely intact. One walked around with only a mangled jaw left of his head. Another was riddled with bullet holes, still bleeding even now his blood was gone.    

There were children among the spectres, too. Veltro startled when a boy walked through and around him, clutching at a head wound that would never heal. 

Benjamin staggered forward, almost trampling a little girl rocking in the grass. He could tell she’d been blonde, even through her grey pallor. The front of her overalls were soaked black with blood.

“Why’s the wind not listening?”   

Veltro wished he could answer the girl.

Penderghast meanwhile was keeping careful count of the ghosts, lest the casualty list for Operation Prometheus need revising. So far, he had spotted none of the unaccounted students. Not that he had expected to.

There were more soldiers than he expected clinging to the Earth. Surely they of all people should be prepared for death. 

He shook his head regretfully. Conscripts

They found Mary Gillespie mournfully watching the shade of a teenage girl. She seemed to be ranting and raving at the schoolteacher, angry, long-shed tears retracting their paths down her face:

“You bastards! You murdering fucking bastard—”

Her sentence was cut short. In a blink, she was shaking her head in disbelief, trembling with uncontainable rage.

“You bastards! You murdering fucking bastard—”

Again and again, like footage on loop.

“Christ,” said Veltro as he drew close. “You’d think you were the one who killed her.” He squinted at Mary. “…You didn’t, did you?”

 “She’s not talking to me.”  Mary tore her eyes away from her student. “It’s not fair. Death gives her a voice, but it took everything else away from her.”

“Death is very fair,” Penderghast said. “Limbo isn’t.” 

“You’re that yank wizard, aren’t ya?”

Penderghast and Veltro turned to find a shade standing apart from the others. It was a teenage boy, with hair as yellow as the sun. Not the pale, half-remembered impression of the colour, but real, honest yellow. His skin looked like it still had blood flowing under it.

The boy almost looked alive.

Penderghast’s eyes widened. “Blood of Olympus…”

Lucius Owens half-smiled. “Kinda nice to have some outside confirmation on that. You know, Laurie always said you were just a barmy psychic.”

Penderghast folded his arms. “I think we can agree Dr. Lawrence was wrong about a lot of matters.”

“I hear ya.” Linus looked around at the addled spirits of his classmates and killers. “My uncle—Hermes, you know—came for me and Mary here, and that bloke that was bossing all the soldiers. He said he couldn’t take everyone down below.”

“You didn’t go with them?” asked the lieutenant. 

Linus shrugged. “We weren’t going to leave them behind, we we?” The vivid spirit asked Penderghast, “Why couldn’t Hermes take them? Why are they all so… out of it?”

“Violent death can do that. Suffering and fear have their own awful gravity. It might be what gravity’s made of.”

“Thought it would be something like that,” muttered Mary. “It’s always like that in the stories.” She looked the warlock straight in the eye. “Can you help them?”

“Yes.”

“…Will you help them?”

“Mrs Gillespie, what else is a warlock for?”

The ghost frowned. “I hope you know what that word means, young man.”

Penderghast allowed himself a smile. “It’s my word and I can do what I want with it.” His face became grave again as he shot Veltro a glance. “Stand back lieutenant.”

The lieutenant obeyed with gusto, almost stepping out of the crowd of spirits altogether.

Penderghast closed his eyes, and raised his staff.

When a magician speaks spells, they almost never use their mother-tongue. The European magi who gave Howard Penderghast his name used Latin, the language of priests and scholars long-dead. The Romans before them used Greek and Etruscan. To use another’s speech keeps the magic ready at your fingertips, safely away from your heart.

When a sorcerer really means business, though, they use their own words, plain and simple.

“Rock and moss and trees and stars, loosen your grip…”

Penderghast’s voice was loud. Veltro thought it could echo forever and never dim. It was as if the warlock spoke not with his tongue and throat, but with every atom of the land itself.

“The dust has tasted blood, but it craves souls too. The void of Erebus opens for these spirits, and not urns nor tombs nor sepulchres shall hold them back!”

Delicate silver strings spun between the lost ghosts and Penderghast’s staff. The ground and sky groaned in protest. Lighting flashed in a cloudless sky, heralding thunder like the earth splitting open. 

“By the gods who authored light from entropy, and by the cosmic ruins that mothered them, by the fire that burns in my bones, and the thread that measures my life, I break their fetters!”

Penderghast slammed the butt of his staff into the grass. The threads snapped like a dozen cracking whips. Penderghast collapsed to his knees, breathing heavily.

“Colonel!”

As Lieutenant Veltro ran to Penderghast’s side, something broke over the gathered spirits. Lights lit in their eyes. Spectrals wounds and missing body-parts filled back in.

The boy who had been Gwydion rubbed at his head, until he spotted a soldier who’d just been reunited with most of their torso.

“You bloody killed me!”

The soldier looked at his victim, stuttering, “Oh, shit, I did, didn’t I?” 

The two stared at each other for a while.

“…Sorry.”

“…Fair enough.”

For the first time in over a week, Mavis Nowak looked at Linus and actually saw him. She ran and embraced her old friend, the smoke of their ghostly bodies as firm as anything living in each other’s arms. 

“Oh, God, Linus…” The girl’s hand went to her mouth. “I can talk!”

Linus laughed. “You never had trouble making yourself heard before!”

Mavis slapped the boy. Somehow, miraculously, it stung.

That out of the way, Mavis asked, “So, are we… alive again?”

“I don’t think so,” said Mrs Gillespie, hugging the shade that had been Windshear. “I think you’re finally dead.”

Despite that news, Mavis grinned at her teacher. “You’re looking good, Mrs G.”

Mary adjusted her bun primly. “Thank you, dear.”

Linus looked at Penderghast, back on his feet but leaning on Lieutenant Veltro and his staff for support. “Thank, Mr. Wizard.”

Penderghast raised his hand. “It was no big deal, son.”

It probably cost the warlock a few years off the end of his life, but he had plenty to spare.

“So,” said Linus, “what do we do now?”

“Do we find somewhere better to haunt?” asked Mavis. “Could always start following the Beatles around.”

“No,” replied Penderghast. “Someone will be coming now.” He laughed hoarsely. “Can’t unring a bell.”

“That you can’t,” said a velvety Louisiana drawl.

A handsome black man was standing behind the gate, watching the ghosts with a small, bemused smile . He was dressed in a silver-buttoned tailcoat and a top hat that could’ve poked God’s eye. His own eyes were hidden by thick sunglasses, and the left half of his face was painted white with ash. In one hand he held a cigarette between two fingers, in the other, he grasped an ivory cane topped with a carved ebony skull. The bottom of his dress shoes were stained saffron with pollen, like he’d been walking through 

“Hello, Lucius. You ready to come on down now?”

“You’re not my uncle,” said Linus.

“I’m afraid Mr. Penderghast here is on closer terms with me than your Hermes, son. I’ll be your guide below for the evening.”

Linus tilted his head. “There’s more than one of you guys?”

“Oh, as many as there are deaths. Maybe more.”

“Let me guess,” Mary said, waving a finger ponderously at the spirit. “Baron Samedi.”

A frown tightened his lips. “Baron La Croix, actually. There’s rather more than one of us Loa than that one showboater.”

“Sorry. Us Englishwomen tend to be more up on our Greek than our Voodoo.”

“Fair enough.”

Penderghast cut in, “Great spirit, I apologize for delaying your duties, but I have a question, if it pleases you to answer.”

The psychopomp looked at the colonel consideringly. “You can ask. Can’t promise any answers, but you can ask.”

Penderghast straightened. “Alberto Moretti of Bovegno, son of Luca and Giuseppina Morretti. Do you know how he died? What has become of his body?”

Well, that was an easy one. “Howard Penderghast, your question has no answer, for Alberto Moretti’s heart still beats. He still walks among the living, somewhere.”

“At least there’s that,” Mary said.

“Indeed,” Pendergast said through gritted teeth.

Valour’s going to love this.   

Baron La Croix clapped. “Everyone line up, you’re not the only people who need ferrying tonight.”

Student and soldier alike came together before the Guédé. Things like grudges and anger lived mostly in the blood. At the front of the crowd was Mary Gillespie:

“We’re ready… your highness?”

The Baron chucked, taking the woman by the hand. “Just Lax Croix will do, Mary. I’ve been waiting for this date for a long time.”

Mary laughed. “Flatterer.”

And so, the dead of the New Human Institute went down past where the day sleeps, over the wall of silence, beyond the darkest rivers, and after that there is no language.  


1. Crackbone Pete, still riding high from his vindication regarding the Albany tiger baby.

2. Of course, many of these toys were commanded by the student known as Automata against soldiers during Operation Prometheus.

3. This is somewhat fallacious. Generally, Joe Allworth only intervened in the fighting in Vietnam when it directly threatened civilian population centers.

4. The first African-American to achieve the rank of colonel in the US Army, later forced into retirement in 1917.

5. “Grant that in hearing this spell the shade may once more thread the grass.” Or crushed velvet as the case may be.

6. “Books, reveal your secrets.”

7. Even under the then dominant mystic paradigme, the United States needed terms for obviously non-adept superhumans.

8. Including the Super-Sargasso Sea, Meinong’s Jungle, and the Riverlands.

9. “Warlock” being derived from the Old English word “wǣrloga” meaning scoundrel or oath-breaker.

10. A small, disreputable school located by a nameless mountaintop lake south of the Romanian city of Hermannstadt, rumoured to be headmastered by the Devil himself. General opinion among the international thaumaturgical community is that anyone who believes that deserves what’s coming to them. Irish author Bram Stoker would name Scholomance the alma mater of the vampire Dracula. No administrator nor student of Scholomance has yet ventured comment on this.

11. A younger academy founded by settler wizards in Tasmania. Became co-ed in 1956.

12. An ecunemical school founded by the sorcerer turned Catholic saint Cyprian of Antioch, located in orbit of Saturn in certain realities.

13. Prester Penderghast—the runt of his generation—was always looking for ways to raise up his branch of the family, including trying to exploit the old wife’s tale regarding seventh sons of seventh sons. Modern magical research has conclusively proven this to hold little basis in reality—the effect is actually gender-neutral.

14. In more modern terms, a deist: someone who believes in a removed, non-interventionist deity.

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