This is the piece that I submitted for my Genre Writing final. The italics at the beginning and end of the story are for context, because this story isn’t complete. But I hope that I can continue working on it!

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Chasing Magic

Charlotte (Charlie) is a wizard who is approached by a prince who wants magic to change his father’s mind about an arranged marriage. Charlie refuses him, explaining that wild magic will just force people into fairy tale roles. She collects magic in her locket.

 

Charlie could tell something was wrong before she opened her eyes. Her bed had become oddly hard, and her forehead felt rubbed raw. The back of her head was one huge ache as well. Am I sick? She moaned and forced open her eyes to see Theo’s side.

Finally. I thought you were going to sleep all day. Theo languidly stood and stretched, walking away from where Charlie was lying on the floor.

The floor. Charlie staggered to her feet clutching her aching head. “What happened? Why does my head hurt? Were you licking my forehead?”

I was trying to wake you up. And unless you hit yourself on the head with that frying pan behind you, I’d say that someone attacked you. Theo’s tail trashed in anger. Fortunately for them, I was still following that fool prince from yesterday.

Charlie snorted. The kingdom was in for a world of hurt when that boy inherited. Wanting to unleash wild magic just to get out of a marriage that he would have to go through with anyway. She shook her head again and reached for her locket. Her fingers brushed her skin instead. Her locket was gone. “Theo you have to go in to town now! The locket’s gone and it could be leaking magic by now!”

Charlie didn’t waste time watching Theo scamper down the tower steps. He could handle himself around enchantments. Instead she dug her magic mirror out of the closet, dusted it off, and propped it up on the table.

Charlie hadn’t used the mirror in so long she couldn’t remember the actual spell to call another person. She hoped the mirror was in an especially good mood today. “Good morning mirror, could you please ring my foster-father?”

After a small argument about why she didn’t use the proper wording and whether or not a magic mirror cared about emergencies (apparently they don’t), she found herself looking through the mirror into her foster-father’s study.

“Dad?” Charlie called hesitantly. She could hear him, but couldn’t see him. There he was, suddenly, his round face and receding hairline filling up the mirror. He looked as if he’d been under quite a bit of stress. His hair had more grey in it than it used to, and his ever-present smile was missing.

“Charlotte, dear, lovely to see you! But there’s been a bit of an emergency near the southern mountains, so I’ll have to ring you back later.” He shifted his weight and fidgeted, torn between wanting to talk to his daughter and needing to get back to his work.

“Dad, there’s a problem here too. Someone stole my locket. I don’t know how long it’s been gone, but it’s bound to be leaking wild magic all over the place now! I sent Theo to the town to see if anyone’s been affected, but I’ll probably need help cleaning this mess up.”

“Oh no.” Charlie’s father’s face looked haggard. “Charlotte there was a dragon attack on three cities near the southern mountains. Every wizard that could be spared has gone to help. I’m afraid you’ll have to deal with it on your own.”

Charlie sat at her kitchen table making a new magic container, when Theo padded back into the tower room. He jumped onto the table and spat a silver object at Charlie before moving to the armchair. The silver something was Charlie’s locket.

“I don’t understand,” she said, examining it. “It’s completely empty. Even if it had been away from me for a week, it shouldn’t have leaked magic that fast.”

Someone knew what they were doing. They managed to release all the magic in the centre of town. There are Fairy Tales popping up everywhere. Having delivered his news, curl up and pretended to sleep.

Charlie sat at the table thinking about the implications of Theo’s idea. With a start, she remembered what else he had said. Charlie grabbed her locket and rushed to the town as fast as she could.

Charlie sat on the edge of a fountain in the town, exhausted. It had been seven hours since she had left her tower this morning, and she had finally finished surveying the chaos the magic had caused. There was little she could do to fix it at the moment. When the locket was opened, the magic it contained exploded over the town. It wasn’t organized and it didn’t focus on anyone, so some of the fairy tales were incomplete. Charlie had no idea how to fix them. Her focus as a wizard was more on collecting magic and creating small enchantments to support herself. She just didn’t know enough. She needed a lot of help.

On the bright side, some of the stories were easy, even for Charlie to clean up. She had discovered eleven young boys and girls who were caught up in The Little Match Girl tale, and two sets of siblings suffering as Hansel and Gretel, but all Charlie had to do was siphon the enchantment back into her locket.

There was a Cinderella girl and her family, but no fairy godmother. Charlie thought she could deal with that on her own, with a little research. A newly married couple on the outskirts of town seemed to be suffering from the Bluebeard tale. At least Charlie hoped that’s what it was; she didn’t know of any other fairy tales that involved husbands forbidding their wives from parts of the home. She advised the young wife to go visit relatives until she came up with a solution.

But Charlie knew she couldn’t handle it all by herself. She would need help, especially with the Sleeping Beauty household and the Beast that had been roaming the town. Charlie levered herself to her feet and started trudging home. A little girl, one of the little match girls, ran into the street to give Charlie a flower. It was the thing that had entranced her to the point where she disregarded her life, during the enchantment. Charlie smiled at the little girl and took the flower.

Charlie examined the flower all the way home, as if it held the answers she needed. Her foster father had already told her that no wizards could be spared. But who said she needed a wizard? Wizards tended to be very powerful because they could both control and contain magic, but Charlie didn’t need any help with containing. Witches were far better than wizards at manipulating and controlling magic, and Charlie knew one nearby who might be willing to help. She finally reached her tower and began climbing the stairs, twirling the flower as she went. She laughed when she noticed that it looked like the letter O. Maybe the flower had been hiding the solution she was looking for.

­­­—

Charlie made it to her living room and wondered – for perhaps the hundredth time – why she thought living in a tower would be a good idea. She sat in her armchair to catch her breath. Theo emerged from wherever he had been hiding to curl up on her lap, a rare display of affection.

“I’ve got an idea Theo,” Charlie mumbled, still slightly out of breath. “But I can’t do it on my own. I think I have to ask Oliver for help.”

Theo hissed in response.

“Oh come on Theo. Don’t hate Oliver just because of Asphodel! She was just a puppy when that happened. I’m sure she won’t chase you up a tree this time.”

It’s not proper. Witches should have cats. We are much more respectable that puppies.

“Don’t be so traditional!” Charlie stood and put Theo back in the vacant armchair. She went to the table where she left the magic mirror that morning. During their argument that morning they had come to an arrangement: the mirror would let Charlie place calls without using the proper spell, and Charlie wouldn’t alter its basic functionality so that it couldn’t talk. Charlie felt ever so slightly bad that she had been so mean, but she couldn’t argue with results.

“Mirror? I would like to talk to the witch, Oliver, please.” She asked, trying to be polite. There was no point in aggravating the mirror more.

“Of course you would.” The mirror sneered in its odd, gravelly voice. It was obviously still miffed about that morning. But it didn’t argue, and Charlie soon found herself looking at a wall.

“Oliver?” No one answered, but Charlie heard something in the background.

“… better be very important. I was monitoring the effects of long term versus short term weather spells. If that was ruined for nothing I’ll be very vexed!” The voice grew louder as it went on, complaining about how difficult the experiment had been to set up, and how much work it would be to replicate, until the person it belonged to opened the door.

“Hello Oliver!” Charlie said brightly. A positive attitude was key when dealing with Oliver.

“What do you want Charlotte? You interrupted an important experiment on-“

“Yes, I already heard. I am sorry about that, but something rather more important has come up here.”

“What could be more important than my experiment?” Oliver asked.

Unfortunately, Charlie knew from experience that he was absolutely serious. She thought quickly; the only way to make sure Oliver helped in a timely fashion would be to interest him in an experiment. “Well… have you ever had the opportunity to study a partial fairy tale?”

Oliver scoffed. “There’s no such thing. It would go against the basic principles of magic.”

“I have more than one incomplete fairy tale here, waiting for you to come examine them.” Charlie explained the full situation to him, and she could tell that her plan had worked.

“Fine!” Oliver snapped. “I suppose I can come help you clean up your little mess. But your dratted cat had better leave Asphodel alone!”

Charlie smiled. “Don’t worry, Theo will be on his best behaviour.”

Oliver ended the conversation without a farewell; Charlie didn’t care. He would arrive in three days, and she was determined to have the situation in hand as much as possible before then. She made herself and Theo a cold dinner before retreating into her library. She had a lot of research to do.

The next morning Charlie woke to sunlight pouring in the library window. She had fallen asleep leaning against the table, with a book of classic fairy tales on her left and a book on magical behaviours in front of her. She blinked groggily and tried to remember where she had left off before falling asleep. It was something about the secondary characters, but she couldn’t remember exactly. Charlie got to her feet and instintivly headed toward the kitchen, hoping a cup of tea would help her memory.

As Charlie woke up, she remembered what she had read the night before. The collection of fairy tales was an old one that included Bluebeard. It had mentioned, as a side note, that most occasions saw magic affecting not only the husband, but the forbidden room as well. Charlie smiled; this fairy tale, she could handle on her own. She stuffed the fairy tale book into her satchel. It was joined by the spare magic container she had made the day before, some paper and graphite, and a bit of rope, just in case. After a moment’s thought, Charlie also added the magical behaviours book to the bag. She double checked that her locket was around her neck as she watched Theo pretend disinterest in her actions.

“Come on Theo,” Charlie called over her shoulder as she walked toward the door. “You know you want to.”

Charlie sat in the road in front of the Bluebeard manor explaining her plan to Theo, who was pretending not to care.

“Okay so, after I put him to sleep, you make sure he stays that way while I go take care of the forbidden room. If he starts to wake up, come and tell me quickly. When I’m done fixing the room, I’ll take care of him.” Charlie knew it probably wasn’t the best plan, but it would do. Hopefully it wouldn’t take her that long to find the room.

Why can’t you take care of him first? Theo asked with a yawn.

Because this dratted book seems to think that won’t work. I don’t want to waste time finding out if it’s right,”

What if that little potion of yours doesn’t work? Charlie had made a sleeping potion with herbs from her garden as they walked toward the manor.

“Well, if that doesn’t work, there’s always plan B,” Charlie showed Theo the rock in her other hand. Hopefully it wouldn’t come to that; Charlie had never tried to knock someone out, and wasn’t entirely sure if she could. “Alright, let’s go.”

Charlie marched up to the door of the manor and knocked sharply. The door was opened by a man she could tell was Bluebeard. It was like a mental itch, telling her there was loose magic around.

“Hello sir, my name is Charlotte, I’m the wizard that lives in the tower outside of town.” Charlie smiled, hoping to come across friendly.

“My name is Henry. You told my wife to go visit her mother, because some of your magic got loose. I don’t understand why she had to leave.” he said rather huffily. Charlie was interested in the fact that he didn’t know magic was affecting him. Most people could tell, even if they couldn’t do anything about it. But it was something she’d have to think about later.

“Henry, I have a strange request, but it involves cleaning up the magic that was released yesterday. I know it’s odd, but would you please drink this? I promise it won’t cause any harm.”

Hesitantly the man took the potion and drank it. He blinked a few times at Charlie, waiting to see what would happen, before collapsing in a heap on his front steps.

Theo sat down by the unconscious man’s head. Aren’t you going to tie him up?

“I don’t want to waste time.” Charlie kept a hold of the rock and ran in to the house. As an afterthought, she locked the front door, before concentrating on the magic around her. The bit behind her was Henry, she needed to ignore that for now. Everything else came from… Down.

Charlie ran around, looking for stairs to the basement. She wasn’t sure how long the sleeping potion would last since it was fighting other magic. She found stairs in the kitchen and followed them down. Charlie felt again for the magic. This time it was off to her right, close by. She created a light that would hover a few feet ahead of her so she wouldn’t trip. Looking around, Charlie saw a small door set into the wall. As she approached it, her mental itch grew steadily worse. This was what she was looking for. She opened the door and found herself in a completely ordinary broom closet.

Charlie had just pulled her locket over her head and flicked it open when she heard loud banging from above her head. She hesitated for just a moment – maybe I should have tied him up – before closing her eyes and willing the magic to leave the room and enter her locket. It was exhausting and took a good amount of focus; the enchantment didn’t want to let go. But as the banging from above her head became louder, Charlie became more insistent. Slowly, the magic gave in.

When about half of the magic was gone, Theo came bursting into the basement. He stumbled down the stairs in his haste and rolled to a stop in front of Charlie. Her concentration wavered as she focused on her cat. Theo was never that clumsy. But as the spell began to slip out of her control, Charlie refocused on her locket.

He’s coming. Luckily for you, he isn’t interested in finding a different way into the house. But I don’t know how long that door will hold him.

“What happened?”

Charlie redoubled her efforts on containing the spell as Theo explained that Henry woke up soon after she entered the house and began attacking the door. What are you planning to do now?

Charlie smiled as the last bit of magic slammed into her locket. She shut it and put it back around her neck. “Now we try plan B.” She closed the door to the broom closet and hid in the shadow behind the stairs. She put out her floating light as she listened to the sounds of the front door splintering. “How did you get in if he’s having such a hard time with it?”

The windows are open all around the ground floor. If he was really trying, he’d have been down here ages ago. Theo sniffed disdainfully.

The attack of the front door abruptly ceased. There were sounds of debris being kicked out of the way, followed by deliberate steps toward the stairs. Henry paused for a moment in the kitchen and the sound of metal on wood made its way to Charlie and Theo.

Charlie focused on the shadowy figure stomping down the stairs. She saw the sharp gleam of metal in his right hand as he stepped past her toward the broom closet. When he opened the door Charlie crept up behind him and slammed her rock into his head with all her might. He stumbled forward, but didn’t stop moving as he turned to slash at her torso with a kitchen knife.

Theo darted forward and clawed his way up Henry’s leg.

Charlie hit Henry with the rock three time while he was distracted by Theo. The third proved to be enough to knock him unconscious, and Charlie immediately set about collecting the magic off of him. It was much easier than it had been with the room, because there was so much less magic to deal with. Finished, Charlie moved to sit on the steps, her breath still coming in gasps.

Hopefully the rest of the fairy tales would be easier to deal with.

 

Together, Charlie and Oliver fix the remaining three fairy tales, and discover that the prince’s older sister was behind stealing the locket and releasing the magic. She was a witch and wanted enough magic around so she could cast a spell making herself inherit the throne instead of her brother. Charlie manages to stop her.

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