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  • Writer's pictureAlec Peche

A short story and more . . .

Finally after talking about it, I finished my first short story for the new series and I hope you’ll like it. The story is called THE AWAKENING AT LAKE TAHOE, and features my main protagonist, Dr. Stephanie Jones along with her new elven sidekick, Warrior Lord Gormon Mialynn. It’s set in the year 2025, I’ve included the short story in this email and it will also be available on my website until mid-August. After that, you’ll find it in the Amazon store.

Just when I’m gathering steam with my writing production, something throws a barrier in my way. This time, my eight-year-old desktop computer decided not to speak to its internal fan anymore and so it began having hot flashes and shutting down. Of course I have other devices I can write on including my laptop, phone, and tablet, but my 31.5” display seems to make my writing brain more creative, or maybe it’s just the bigger font.

I diagnosed the problem on the eve of Independence Day (July 4th for my non-US readers) and I got a new desktop computer thanks to Costco and UPS today. This is the first desktop I’ve set up in a while and I have to admit that it went much easier than in the 1980s when you had to individually load programs with floppy disks. I just backed-up my hot flashing hard drive to the cloud and then downloaded it to the new computer. Wow, that was easy.

Speaking of July 4th, I hope you had a safe holiday. I volunteer for my local community’s celebration, so in 90 degree heat on Monday, I participated in a fire-line and moved 70 large barrel garbage cans out of a dirt floor basement filled with spider webs in a 1907 building. While I was down there, I kept repeating “no earthquakes” in my mind. Then I moved probably 50 steel barricades into position. On the 4th, I was a ‘safety volunteer’ on our parade route. Our event has a kids 1k and a 5K race, followed by a car parade of historic and special vehicles, then a parade of floats, marching bands, and horse riders all led off by a display of our local police and fire vehicles. I stood on the concrete for five hours directing people, keeping kids away from horses, and listening to chatter over a walkie-talkie. We had one (found) child who lost their parents and one group of parents who lost their (missing) kid. We worry much more when we have a missing child. All were reunited in under ten minutes. We had four hooligan teenagers on bikes, and really that was our worst problem. Last night there was a city fireworks display (I was asleep by then lol). Today, I picked up trash on the soccer fields that the street sweeper missed. I think I put so much of my time into these events because they’re all free to everyone and it gives the community such a glow of satisfaction to put on all of these events safely and open to everyone.

I’m participating in a crime novel group promotion so: Attention all crime fiction enthusiasts! Prepare for an adrenaline rush like no other. These suspenseful reads will leave you captivated, craving for answers, and utterly spellbound. Get your dose of mystery now!

Here’s the short story in a Word document - I’ll put it and a Kindle version on my website.

In the beginning . . .

For hundreds of years, the world was quiet beneath the Sierra Nevada Mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe. Like the tallest peaks, life was frozen. Then there was a boom that changed the world. . . .

“Whoops! There’s something wrong with this cannon. I was aiming for that pile of snow,” Ski Patroller Evans said to his partner. They were high up on the ski slope, blowing up areas of snow that had the potential to avalanche. As ski patrollers, they were trained to look for evidence of snow that could slide and then blast it with an explosive to artificially start the slide. This kept the ski resort safe for their visitors. They hadn’t had a death inside the boundaries of any of the Tahoe area ski resorts in twenty years. The few avalanche deaths that had occurred were a result of skiers or boarders going out of bounds and beyond the avalanche-remediation area.

“That’s interesting; it looks like you blew the peak off that ridge over there,” Patroller Jenkins said, using binoculars to study the landscape. “I don’t think we can get close on our snowmobiles or by hiking, as it looks too dangerous. Maybe we could get a drone up here to look at the damage. We’ll have your cannon examined and we’ll have to reach that other area with hand explosives for the remainder of our work today.”

They followed their plan, and Evans asked the maintenance guys to see if they could figure out what made the cannon go so wildly off course. There was rust inside the nozzle and they speculated that a piece of ice had lasted just long enough to move the explosives off-target. Evans and Jenkins forgot about the incident as they spent the rest of the day moving hazard signs and injured visitors off the mountain. If they had remembered to get the drone in the sky above the shattered peak, they would have been alarmed at the sight below.

The misguided explosive tore a hole in the fabric separating Earth from the world deep within its core and reanimated a long-dormant prison. At first nothing happened, then as the light and oxygen entered the cavern beneath the now-open peak, fae creatures, some of which were human-like and some not, ended their suspension in time. All were befuddled as to where they were and what had happened. A few felt an immediate need to get out of the space to look for warmth, food, and protection from others. Clearly, some of the awakening beings would be food for others waking up from the long hibernation. None of them had originated on Earth.

Chapter One

Suddenly a portal formed in the middle of the cavern and a warrior elven mage arrived. He was tall, slim but muscled, with elven ears, and his long white-blond hair was in braids. His piercing blue eyes quickly assessed the cavern. He wore armor and carried weapons in his hands. He was sent by the Elven Republic when alarms went off on his home world about this event on Earth. Originally, this cave had served as an off-planet prison where bad actors from the fae realms were sent to serve their time, but they were mostly forgotten as the centuries went by.

Those prisoners with flying ability had sought to immediately leave the cavern and as soon as their flying ability returned, they exited through the open peak. Other faes tested their abilities to shape-shift or portal themselves out of the room. A giant found handholds to climb out. Perhaps upwards of fifty faes had departed the cavern by the time the warrior mage had arrived. He used a translator amulet to speak, and the prisoners who were still inside stopped in their tracks to listen.

“I am Lord Gormon Mialynn. It is the Earth year of 2025 and you have been in suspended animation for over two-hundred years because of being sentenced for crimes committed throughout the Elven realms. You are on a planet called Earth. Few if any inhabitants here have special abilities, but they do have weapons that can and will kill you. The Elven Republic is debating what to do with you, as we have never had one of our suspended-animation prisons be reanimated. You are a danger to this world and the Republic.”

The warrior was interrupted by one of the sentient beings who advised him, “Many of our fellow prisoners already left. What are you going to do about that?”

The mage looked surprised and then looked around closely at the numbers of beings. He’d been told there were one-hundred prisoners in this location. There were not one-hundred beings now. He looked toward the animation prison cells and found them empty.

“How did they leave? How many were there?”

“Anyone with wings already left this place. Perhaps that was about fifty of us,” was the guess, and others agreed.

Gorman nodded, having the number in his head confirmed. Then pivoted quickly to avoid a blow from one of the prisoners. This was a violent group and he was the only warrior. This was a far bigger problem than he had suspected. He thought he would arrive and use his mage abilities to quickly reanimate the prisoners to put them back to sleep for another hundred years. He imagined he would find most of the prisoners still in their cells. Now he knew he would help and he debated what to do first—try to reanimate the cells, chase down the prisoners on the loose, or move these prisoners home to be dealt with by someone else. He decided to seek help, as he sensed the animation cells would require repairs beyond his abilities. The Elven Republic would need to put these prisoners back in a cell, and the thought of some additional fifty creatures flying around and creating havoc on Earth was not good.

“I’ll be back,” he said, and he portaled back to the Elven Court to report his findings. There were other ways to contact the court, but given the danger that some of the prisoners presented to him, it was better to physically move back to the court. The court and clearly the room of counselors were surprised to see him back so quickly.

“You resuspended the facility already? Congratulations, Warrior Mialynn!”

“Sire, thank you, but no, I returned for help. About fifty of the prisoners—all the winged ones—escaped before my arrival and are loose on Earth. The other prisoners are walking around the cavern, and it would be easy to put them back in suspended animation, except that there are so many of them and we need to repair the prison. It seems to have been damaged by human means.”

“I’ve always worried that our prison might fail someday given the propensity of humans to fight with each other. Why don’t you return to the cavern, and I’ll send a team to assist with portaling the prisoners to our prisons here. Earth was a bad location for a prison. We’ll relocate them here and our people will take care of them.”

“Sire, it is not my place to judge prior sentences, but it does seem to be rather a waste to sentence these criminals to suspended animation for all eternity. Should I fail you in some way in the future, Sire, please just end my life at that time.”

“Warrior Mialynn, I’ll look into your evaluation of their sentences. While I was their king at the time, I admit I don’t remember why we did what we did. Go now and return to Earth and I will send you support.” One of the king’s attendants gave Gormon a location for the prisoners to be portaled to.

Gormon bowed to his liege and portaled back to Earth, weapons in hand and ready to battle. When he arrived in the cavern, he was pleased to see that no one was fighting or being eaten by someone else. Rather, they were working together to find a solution to leave the cavern. He didn’t want to break the news to them that they would be returning to a prison in another world, so he simply began portaling these beings to the location supplied by his king. He told them that he was getting them out of the cavern, not that they were ending up in another world. He’d been at work for perhaps half an hour when help arrived. He recognized his fellow warriors and soon the three of them had the cavern emptied.

“Are you here to assist me with finding those prisoners who escaped this cavern?”

“No. We’re needed back at the court as we must handle the newly arrived prisoners. There’s chaos at home.” Gormon was left staring at the quiet cavern with flakes of snow making their way inside like stirred-up dust.

He sheathed his weapons and stood for a few minutes thinking about this planet, Earth, and its people. He’d never met a human, though he knew what they looked like. He needed to round up the prisoners that had left yet stay invisible while doing so. He wondered what the world looked like outside of this cavern. He levitated to the opening of the peak and looked for an area to stand and assess the land. He discovered himself to be on a tall, snowy mountain. In the distance, he could see buildings and what he thought were humans sliding down the mountain. He moved closer and decided that the descents were planned, and the humans were happy. He knew that humans had no magic or special powers and would be devastated by the release of prisoners as their special abilities would cause them to try and understand the humans, then control them.

He moved back to his peak and ran through a list of the fae prisoners that had been placed in the cavern. For many of them, this weather was very cold, and he thought they would fly or portal around the planet looking for warmth. If he recalled from his studies, Earth was a planet of many climates, and every prisoner would be able to find the temperature zone suited to their needs. Other prisoners, like the giant, were already suited to this snowy climate and likely were on the hunt for food. He needed to make sure that the humans near this peak didn’t become that food.

Gormon stretched out his senses searching for magical beings and began tracking the wisps of magic. In Earth time, the creatures had been loose for about two to three hours, and he had at least fifty of them to find. His king had set Gormon on an impossible task. Still, he would try. He had sunk into deep snow at the start of his walk, but then spent his energy levitating down the mountainside following what he thought to be a giant. Giants were the size of many trees on his home planet. They couldn’t levitate and thus left huge footprints and crushed and broken branches in their wake. He wondered how the giant had exited the cavern—it must have climbed out as all giants that he knew of in the cosmic realms were slow and low in intellect. He needed to get close enough to open a portal in front of the creature so it would walk through. He smiled briefly at the thought of the chaos that would occur when it was portaled home. He didn’t know if he was chasing a male or female giant as the gender wasn’t listed on the prisoner list.

He made solid progress tracking the giant and was thrilled to see it up ahead. There seemed to be no humans in this area, which was excellent. He moved ahead of the creature and sighed when the giant fell into his plan by thinking that the elf in front of him might be food. He moved forward with hands out to grab his snack and walked through a portal to be someone else’s problem.

One down, forty-nine to go, or so Gormon thought. He needed an exact list of those who had escaped the prison. His king had described some of the types of prisoners, but he needed more exact information. Certainly, he could spread his senses out looking for magic wisps, but he would be better served to have a list and seek out the most dangerous creatures first. If that giant had ended up in a human area, it would have crushed their homes and their bodies.

He portaled back to the court to find it in chaos. Apparently, the other warriors were working hard to contain all the prisoners that had been portaled to them. Gormon had a brief smile in his head for the warriors contending with the charging giant. The king was looking into each prisoner’s crimes, trying to rule who needed to go back into suspended animation and who could be treated and released. Gormon explained his need to his liege for an accurate list of who had been returned to the Republic and who was loose on Earth. The king immediately understood the situation and sent an attendant to compile the information.

Thirty minutes later, Gormon was back on Earth with a concerning list of prisoners to recapture. Thankfully, there was only one giant, but there were lots of other dangerous creatures on the loose. Some ate humans, while others would find ways to harm or kill them (without eating them). He was grateful this prison was in the middle of some high mountains and had few human inhabitants. Still, given the speed at which some of the creatures could move, they might already be among humans. He gave himself a short slice of time to admire the forest he was in. His studies of Earth had revealed large cities of concrete and tall buildings. While humans had no magic, they made up for it with technology advances. Like blowing up the top of the mountain peak, the humans had many explosive devices.

Gormon studied the list again. There were a few vampires on the list, but as it was sunny outside, he suspected they had found a cave to crawl into until night. Given the bright sun, the vampires were likely already suffering from skin burns. Earth had something called horses which were akin to centaurs, pegasus, and unicorns which were all on the loose. Their first instinct would be to hide from humans, so again he considered them to be a lower priority. He had trolls, orcs, goblins, and sprites that might make mischief, but he decided to focus on what was likely to cause the biggest problems—like demons and dark faes. The list he received included the offense for which each soul was sentenced to suspended animation. It was a mixture of violent crimes from murder to theft. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason for the sentences the prisoners received. Granted two centuries ago, the king was just coming into his position and, thus, relied heavily on the recommendations of his advisors. He hoped they got a fair sentence this time around as in Gormon’s mind, someone who steals food from the royal household did not merit the same off-planet sentence of eternal suspended animation as a murderer would. He rearranged the list to reflect the urgency of which prisoners to recapture first.

He was on the hunt for orcs, dwarfs, and trolls that had been sentenced for committing murder. Except, how did they get out of the cavern? They couldn’t fly. He had a few wizards and mages on his prisoner list, and Gormon reasoned that they must have used their powers to help the others. He was a strategist and he supposed that if he was a wizard that didn’t want to be recaptured for his or her crimes, then it was best to release as many prisoners as possible. Some of the prisoners had to realize that there would be an effort to recapture them. He wondered what their condition was at the time they were sent to this prison. Did they know they were going to Earth? Did they know anything about Earth? Were they sent here already conscious of where they were serving their prison sentence? The more he thought about this situation, the more he wished for some additional time with his king. Some of the prisoners were very devious, given their magical skills and crimes. Others he wasn’t so worried about. Earth of two hundred years ago was vastly different from today. Their transportation and weapons were much more sophisticated today. Either the prisoners left to explore knowing nothing of this planet, or their information was sadly out of date. He could portal home again and question the giant, but giants were hard to understand. He decided to follow the magic trails and ask questions of whomever he came into contact with first.

Chapter Two

Dr. Stephanie Jones examined the man who had just arrived by ambulance. He appeared to be unconscious, and his pulse and respirations were dropping. Paramedics had received a call from a hiker who was snowshoeing in the low mountains. The caller relayed that his companion wasn’t feeling well, and while the man was on the phone with the 911 operator, the other sat down in the snow and was too weak to get up. By the time paramedics reached them, the hiker was unconscious. The companion was aware of no injury, and no pre-existing medical conditions. What could make a healthy thirty-something descend into unconsciousness after a hike in the mountains?

“Doctor, his blood pressure is dropping. Do you want us to implement the hypotension protocol? Should I call anesthesia to intubate?”

“Yes, to both of your questions. Do we have any of our stat blood work back yet?”

“The first few tests that have come back show nothing out of order. The blood gas results should arrive at any moment.”

“Let’s get those fluids going and put him on 100% oxygen. Is Respiratory Therapy in the area? Page them as I’m going to start bagging.”

Dr. Jones was close to the victim’s face so she could get a tight seal with the mask. She felt a slight stab in her fingers likely due to the five o’clock shadow on the man’s jaw. As she was looking at her patient, she noticed what appeared to be the tiniest arrow sticking just below his chin. Another member of the team took over for her so she could direct the effort to save the patient’s life.

“Nicole, would you get me the surgical magnifying glasses? Our victim has something weird on his skin below his chin.”

The nurse hurried out and came back in less than a minute with the pair of glasses. Meanwhile, Anesthesia arrived and were preparing to intubate the patient. Alarms were going off as the patient’s pulse declined. The team was in full resuscitation mode for the next ninety minutes but was unable to bring the hiker back to life. Everyone was sad and depressed as they couldn’t see any injury or condition that had caused the fit hiker to die.

Stephanie felt the glasses in her pocket and remembered the spot on the man’s chin that she wanted to study. She wondered if the spot was still there or if it was damaged by their resuscitation efforts. She put the glasses on and peered at what she thought she had seen earlier.

An orderly appeared ready to move the man down to the morgue. She put her hand up to stop him while she studied the spot. Her glasses magnified the area to five times its normal size. She stared at the spot, perplexed. She looked up and said to the orderly, “Just a moment, I want someone else to see this spot and I want to get a specimen jar.”

She returned with a colleague in tow, and a jar and a pair of tweezers. She gave the colleague her glasses and pointed to the spot.

“It looks like a tiny arrow, perfect in shape. I agree with trying to remove it and send it with the patient to our pathologists. It seems too tiny to be the cause of this man’s life ending, but I’ve never seen such a tiny perfect arrow.”

He passed the glasses back to Stephanie as he left the room. She put the glasses on and went to work removing the arrow. Then she had another thought and took a picture with her camera and used a sharpie to make a circle around the location. She removed the tiny arrow, placed it in the specimen jar, and then nodded to the orderly to move the man to the hospital morgue. She took the specimen out to the nurses’ station and filled out a pathology request asking for identification of the object in the jar. She sent it off to the lab after noting that the object had been recovered from the man now residing in the morgue. The results might be ready at the man’s autopsy the next day or so.

She was busy for the remainder of the shift, but in the down time between patients, she studied the blood test results and reviewed her efforts to save the hiker. She couldn’t find anything wrong or think of anything that she could have done differently to save the man. She sent a note to the pathologist asking to be present for the autopsy. She would probably have to get one of her colleagues to cover for her and requested that the pathology office schedule it at the beginning or end of her shift as it was easier to find coverage for her absence. She hadn’t attended an autopsy since her medical school training twenty years ago. She wondered what had changed.

This was the second strange patient she’d had in the past few hours. A skier had arrived at her hospital via helicopter with deep lacerations. She had passed through the emergency room quickly and into surgery to repair the damage and stem the blood loss. She paused for a moment trying to remember the patient’s name, but she couldn’t. There had been too many patients between the skier and now.

Stephanie left the hospital, replying to a text from her daughter who was away at college. She seemed on course with her studies to follow her mother’s footsteps to medicine. She was an undergraduate at the University of California at Berkeley, majoring in Chemistry. It was her second year, so she had a lot of time to change her mind on her future profession. In a short time, Stephanie was home. It was an evening in March. She poured a glass of wine and sat down thinking about her day.

Damn it, why did the hiker die?

She went into her office to pull out some of her textbooks from medical school. She doubted they would help as they were now over twenty years old, but maybe something might trigger an idea for an explanation. She pulled out the first textbook and decided that now would be a good time to send most of the books to the recycling bin. She emptied three boxes in her mission to find answers and was on the fourth and final box. She looked at the discard pile and knew she had several trips outside with the books as they were heavy. She got to the bottom of the box and paused. The final book didn’t look like a textbook, and she didn’t remember a leather-bound black book from college.

She pulled the book out and sat down on her chair with it. The book had a weird feel to it. It tickled her nose as only a musty item could; it also seemed to hum in her hands. She sat there feeling strangely awed and thought the book was emoting in her lap. It was waking up after a long winter nap spent in her boxes. She must have drunk too much wine. A scholar like herself needed to put her fanciful emotions aside and decide what to do with the book. As beautiful as the cover was despite its age, she could see herself taking it to the bin.

She opened it to the first page and froze. WTH?

The title and text were written in a language she couldn’t read. Stephanie had been fluent in Latin at one point in her life, but although it was decades since she’d used the language, she knew this wasn't Latin. Somehow, when she stared at the book, she knew the title.

“Grimoire from the Vastlands” . . .

Chapter Three

Gormon followed the trails of magic to what he assumed was a series of shelters. He found a pixie taking shelter inside what appeared to be an empty building. He could sense no humans. He moved inside and found himself in a blandly decorated human home. He located the pixie inside a blanket folded on a sofa. Ah, she didn’t like the cold air and was probably near death when she found this shelter. While there were pixies that inhabited cold places, this was not such a species.

“I am Lord Gormon Mialynn, Warrior to the Elven King. Do you know where you are?”

There was silence and Gormon wondered if the fairy was going to reply or had she died of the cold. He stretched his senses and determined that she was still alive.

“I do not. I was sentenced to suspended animation last week and that’s all I remember.”

“What was your sentence for?” Gormon had the information on his list, but he was checking the truthfulness of the fairy.

“I stole food from the king’s kitchen. I had to as my family was starving.”

Gormon sighed; this was the unfair sentence he’d told his king about.

“Yes, and I’ve asked the king to reconsider that sentence. Sadly, you were in prison for over two hundred years.”

“Oh.” Gormon could feel the sadness radiating off the fairy. While fairies were long-lived, if her family was facing starvation, they may not have survived.

“What’s your name?”


“You left the cavern. What was your plan?”

“To get warm. It’s too cold for me.”

“How did you get out?”

Gormon heard movement outside and the doorknob rattled. He made a quick decision to portal the fairy with him to his home. This fairy was no threat to anyone throughout the Elven Republic, and she would be warmer there. At the time she was sentenced, there were widespread problems of poverty and unrest. The current king’s father had been a terrible ruler and the Republic had suffered for it.

A moment later, the fairy blinked and asked, “Where am I?”

“You’re in my home. We were about to be interrupted by humans in our prior location and I need to ask you more questions. I thought you would be warmer here.”

“I am. Am I free to find my family?”

“I would like to ask you more questions about the cavern. I will help you find your family when we’re done. I will also ask for an immediate pardon from the king, so that you will be free.”

“Thank you, Lord Warrior,” the fairy said, bowing her tiny wings. He thought he saw tiny tears drip from her eyes.

“Just call me Gormon,” he said, feeling so bad over the unfairness of this fairy’s fate two hundred years prior.

He could see she was warming up. “I’ll get you a cup of nettle tea. Would that help?”

The fairy nodded and a short time later Gormon produced a miniature teacup filled with the requisite tea. He waited and refilled the cup when she had gulped the tea down. Now it was time to ask her further questions.

“Some bad criminals were released at the same time you were released from the prison. Can you walk me through what happened when you returned to consciousness?”

He could tell she was thinking as occasional shivers wracked her tiny frame. She should be warm now, so likely it was the experience of waking up after a couple centuries that was causing her problem.

“We seem to have woken up at different times. I could see a giant in suspended animation and I decided that I wanted to be gone before it woke up. There was another being using a translator amulet to try and organize people.”

“How so? What did he want the prisoners to do?”

“He talked about what Earth was about and how we as magical creatures could take it over.”

Gormon’s first thought was that the man was in for a surprise as the Earth of two hundred years ago was vastly different from today. His second thought was this prisoner was a danger to Earth if he thought he could use his magic to take it over.

“Can you describe the prisoner?” Gormon asked, knowing he needed a description of the fae.

“He sort of looked like you. He had Elven features and white hair, but his eyes were different. They were really red, sort of bloody looking. He could see through the redness in his eyes. Anyone that wanted to join him would be teleported out of the cavern. Most of us that can fly didn’t join him as we could sense he was evil. He probably would have killed anyone that didn’t follow his orders.”

“Weren’t you worried about him killing you in the cavern after you refused to go with him?”

“I was. Fortunately the giant came awake and that distracted him. Several of us took off out of the cavern while he dealt with the giant. We saw him move the giant out of the cavern and we made it through the top just before the giant was set down on the mountain. I was super cold, so I just started flying looking for somewhere warm.”

So it was the warlock on his list of prisoners who was noted to be very bad, which was why he was sentenced two hundred years ago. In Gormon’s vast experience with mages, the really bad ones were both powerful and unchangeable. There was no remedy to make the mage into a better elf. He communicated the mage information into a crystal to relay that information back to the court. He could portal back to the court and immediately get everyone’s attention, or he could send word by crystal and the message would be read within the hour.

He had one further question for the fairy.

“How many of your fellow prisoners accompanied the mage?”

“About twenty to twenty-five, I think.”

“Okay. I need to return to Earth and capture these prisoners. You are free to stay here until I return and I’ll help you find your family. However, I have to recapture those prisoners and that will take time.”

Gormon paused to look at his crystal, then added, “I asked our king to pardon you and he has, so you are free to go. I advise that you take some time to recover from your journey. I have warded my house so that you may come and go as you please. There is food here, so help yourself. If you do reconnect with your family before I return, would you leave me a message?”

He watched the fairy nod and shed a few more tears, and Gormon portaled back to Earth knowing of the difficult journey ahead. Still, as a warrior in the king’s court, this is what he’d trained for his entire long life.

Chapter Four

Gormon portaled to the area near the home in which he had located the fairy. It was as good a starting point as anywhere. His studies of Earth revealed it to be a large world, but fortunately his magic senses worked over great distances. He cloaked his appearance to humans, leaving him free to move around. There were many things that could kill him on this planet—from animals with horns or teeth to machines made of metal that traveled at fast speeds. Even a warrior like himself wouldn’t survive being hit by one of those if he didn’t have his shields up. And if his shields were up, he might cause chaos if cars bounced off an invisible barrier.

His senses lit up with several clusters of magic. However, he knew none of them were associated with the warlock. Still, he decided to find the prisoners on the loose and teleport them back to the Elven Republic. He came across a dwarf and portaled it back to the coordinates given him by the king’s assistant. Then he moved on to a quiet neighborhood in what appeared to be a big city. There was home after home, each with trees and grass and a lot of concrete sidewalks. It offended his senses. This was the Earth he read about—concrete jungles and no one lived in trees. The magic signal he sensed was weak and fluctuating; this could be the warlock who was doing a good job concealing his presence. It also might be another prisoner from his list.

He stepped inside a house, seeking the threads of magic. He found a woman reading a book in her lap. She was attractive to his eyes with waves of beautiful red hair covering the sides of her face. It was a color that wasn’t found in his land. Gormon moved closer to see what she was reading. He smiled, recognizing an ancient text he’d heard about when he’d been in school several hundred years ago. He pondered why this human had this book. It had no connection to Earth. Was it in the suspended animation with a prisoner? If so, how did she get it? He sensed that when she touched the words on the page and repeated them, she emitted magic. That must have been what he had sensed outside. He knew he should leave and resume chasing down his prisoners, but where did she get the book?

He was startled when she looked up and saw through his enchantment as she started and said, “Who are you and how did you get into my house?”

As she could see him, she would immediately know that he was not like anything she likely saw in her life. No humans looked like elves.

He briefly glanced at her hands and was pleased to see that they were still holding onto the book rather than one of the gruesome weapons from this world. As he was in a country called the United States, he used his translator amulet to speak English.

“How can you see me?” he asked, genuinely curious as he had expected to be invisible.

She took a few moments to place her hands on the book and then remove them several times.

“It appears that when my hands are on this book, I can see you. When I remove them, you disappear. This is turning into the strangest day of my life. Who are you and why are you invisible at times?” Stephanie Jones asked.

“I am Lord Gormon Mialynn, warrior, representing the King’s Court of the Elven Republic.”

“Lord, huh? We don’t recognize royal titles in this country, Mr. Mialynn.”

Gormon found he was rearranging his face to give this woman a haughty glare. It wasn’t up to her to declare his title was meaningless. He needed to return to his mission, so he relaxed his face and asked, “What do you mean this has been the strangest day of your life?”

“I’m a doctor. I guess in your world I’d be called a healer. I work in an emergency room and I lost two patients today that made no sense.”

“What do you mean you lost a patient? Did they wander away from your care?”

“No, they died and they shouldn’t have. One of them had a tiny arrow in his neck.”

“Did you touch it?” he asked urgently.

“No. I collected it in a specimen jar and sent it off to our laboratory for analysis. I’d ask you what you would know of this, but I’m not sure I’m not drunk or hallucinating. I have a tall man in my study who has a sword on his back and I don’t feel threatened. Maybe I’ve had a psychic breakdown and just don’t know it,” she reasoned.

He sighed. “May I sit down?” he asked, pointing to a chair near her. He would have to tell her the story of the Elven prison and then ask her to keep it from her fellow humans. He was itching to be on the hunt for his warlock, but he really needed a contact in this world to help him and she seemed a likely candidate as she had burgeoning magic powers.


“The Elven Republic had a prison located in your tall mountains.”

“Lake Tahoe?” Stephanie asked. She lived in Roseville, a suburb of Sacramento. She drove to her second home in Lake Tahoe to ski. There were other mountains, but she suspected that he was talking about Lake Tahoe.

“I do not know what you call it. There was a lot of cold white stuff on the ground and humans were sliding on it.”

Stephanie was charmed despite the fact that the warrior had a sword that could split her in two.

“Yes, that’s a region we call Lake Tahoe.”

“Yes, well, the Elven Republic built a prison there about two hundred Earth years ago, and someone knocked the top off of the prison and the suspended animation failed.”

Stephanie was fascinated: on the one hand she was talking to an elf who was spinning quite a story, and on the other hand she wondered if she’d had a mental breakdown and her mind was playing tricks on her. She briefly had played Dungeons and Dragons while in college and she had seen Lord of the Rings, but this warrior wasn’t Gandalf and it wasn’t Halloween. She decided she would excuse herself and wash her face with a cold washcloth, then return to her study to see if the elf was still there.

“Just a moment.” She took her hands off the grimoire and left the room to find that washcloth. When she returned a few minutes later, she couldn’t see the elf and she was relieved. Then she remembered that her hands needed to be on the book. She placed her hands there and looked and sure enough, he was still sitting in her chair and the sword was still on his back.

“Okay, perhaps you’re real.”

He raised an eyebrow at her as if to say, “Of course I’m real.”

“Okay, continue your story. Your republic placed a prison here in our mountains a long time ago and it was damaged recently, and then what happened?”

“We received notice about the failure in our realm. I was sent by our king to resuspend the prison, but it couldn’t be repaired and the prisoners were loose.”

“So everyone escaped?” Stephanie asked. She was a physician and a scientist, and elves weren’t real in modern-day California. She tried gently tapping her face to see if that would wake her up. She couldn’t quite believe she wasn’t in a dream. However, her routine dream was that she was late and couldn’t find where she was supposed to be—on a flight or taking a test was her usual nightmare.

“No. Only the prisoners that could fly or teleport left the cavern. My fellow warriors arrived and we portaled prisoners back to our home to be dealt with there. I’m on the hunt for the fifty or so prisoners that escaped. Well forty-seven as I’ve already relocated a giant, a dwarf, and a fairy.”

“A giant?” Stephanie knew about giants from the movies, but what was one doing in this vivid dream of hers?

“Yes, it was about the size of some of the trees in your tall mountain area. It was easy to find as it left deep tracks in the snow and crushed trees.”

Stephanie decided she was going to enjoy this dream, so she leaned slightly forward and asked, “How did you recapture Gulliver?”

“Gulliver?” Gormon asked. His amulet didn’t recognize that word.

“It’s from a story by Jonathon Swift. Gulliver is a sea captain who travels to a land called Lilliput where the subjects are about this tall,” Stephanie said, holding her hands out to approximate six inches. Her warrior likely wouldn’t understand the measurement system of inches, feet, yards, or miles. In fact, it was odd that he spoke English.

He seemed to make note of the story in his mind, then he continued with his own story. “I simply stood in front of the giant like I was food and once he got close, he stepped through a portal back to my world.” He offered a brief smile and said, “I’m sure he kept my fellow warriors busy upon arrival.”

“You mentioned a fairy; what happened to it?”

“I came upon her in another structure closer to the mountains. She was trying to warm up. Then the humans returned so I portaled us to my house to interview her about what happened in the cavern before I arrived.”

“Is she back in prison now?”

“No. She won a pardon from the king.”

“What was her crime two hundred years ago?” Stephanie asked.

The warrior’s level of haughtiness lowered and he said, “She stole food from the royal household.”

“Your king or justice system is horrible. What are you thinking? Sending a woman away for all eternity because she stole food from a rich household is ridiculous. I’m glad I don’t live under that system of governance. It is cruel.”

“Yeah, well, the king was young and lived under the influence of his advisors at the time. There will be other prisoners pardoned.”

“In this country, when someone is falsely sent to prison, there is financial remuneration to mitigate some of the pain of being imprisoned. Will you do that for the fairy?”

“I will see to it when I return. Now back to my problem. I have some forty-seven or so elven prisoners running loose in your world. The worst of them is a warlock who organized a group before they left the cavern.”

“A warlock? There is such a thing as a warlock? Why did you come to my house?”

“To answer your last question, I can sense special abilities and it was fluctuating inside this house. I feared it might be my warlock trying to cloak his presence. Instead I found you holding an ancient grimoire from my world. I need a partner in this world to help me find the missing prisoners. Finally, there is such a thing as a warlock and they always seem to be criminals in my world.”

Stephanie was trying to process all of the comments from Lord Gormon Mialynn. She was unsure where to start, so she fell back on her training.

“I had two patients die today that likely were harmed by your prisoners. I’ll help you as I don’t want to see more young healthy people die. Why do you think this grimoire ended up in my box of old medical school books? How did it get from your world to mine? Why today, or has it been sitting there all along? Do I have any magic of my own? I can’t believe I’m asking that question,” Stephanie said, shaking her head about all of these strange thoughts in the last hour.

Then she held up her hand just as he was about to launch into an explanation. “Would you like anything to eat or drink? I’m not sure what food or drink you like.”

Gormon had had a busy day and hadn’t had time to eat. “I eat what humans eat more or less and now that you ask, I find myself hungry.”

“How about I bring some wine, cheese, and bread and we can address what we’re going to do about your prisoners.”

After she left the room, Gormon took a minute to communicate through his crystal with the Elven Court about his plans as well as the mysterious appearance of the ancient grimoire on Earth. He had to admit this moment in time was shaping up to be the most exciting period in his long life.

Stephanie reappeared carrying a board containing bread, cheese, some objects she identified as olives, and a bottle of wine. He stood up to take the board from her as she went to fetch a few more things. He was still holding the board when she returned with glasses, napkins, and plates. She pointed to where she wanted the board placed once she had moved a table between them. After filling their plates with food, she asked, “So how do we go about recapturing your warlock and his comrades?”

Chapter Five

“Before you fetched this delicious food, I was about to answer your question as to whether you have any magic. In my world, we call it power or special abilities, not magic. From my studies of humans, I believe you call anything that you can’t explain scientifically, magic.”

“Okay then, do you sense I have any special abilities?”

“Clearly you do, if you can see me when your hand is on the grimoire.”

“So, do I have abilities or is the grimoire giving them to me?”

“The grimoire is enhancing abilities that you already have. You may have sensed my presence, but were not able to see me. You may have found that tiny arrow in your patient because you got some signal to look there.”

“Okay, that’s a fair explanation. What language is this grimoire written in? I thought it might be Latin, but it’s not. The book made me think that its title was ‘Grimoire from the Vastlands.’”

Gormon smiled and said, “The title is correct. I don’t know what Latin is, but the book is written in the Elven language. Your special ability seems to be this book. It allows you to read it and it allows you to see through my enchantment. So maybe you’re a powerful witch when you’re in possession of the grimoire.”

“I can see you now even though my hand isn’t on the book. However, I might have been lightly stabbed by a second arrow on my patient’s neck. Maybe that arrow activated my abilities.”

“I would have worried about that light stabbing that you felt, but it’s been awhile and you don’t appear sick. As for why you can see me, I removed my enchantment as it seemed the friendly thing to do. I use the enchantment because I understand that humans are terrified of us creatures with special abilities, so it is better if they can’t see me. However, you and I have been fully introduced, so it's not worth the bother of using a cloak when I’m around you.”

“I could talk with you about special abilities and your world endlessly, but let’s return to my main concern, which is preventing injuries to my fellow humans. The patients who died on me today—would a warlock shoot a human with a tiny arrow?”

“No, but he might have urged one of his followers to do so.”

“Do all elves have the ability to hide their appearance from humans?” Stephanie asked.

“Yes, though I’m not sure this warlock would do so. He likes to use his power just because he can. He would enjoy scaring humans.”

“His followers can kill humans with poison? I assume there's poison on those arrows.”

“Likely yes. It’s also likely that the warlock wasn’t the cause. It could have been one of his followers or one of the other prisoners on the loose.”

Stephanie sighed, thinking of the impossible task ahead. “Should we call the police? They are Earth’s version of warriors.”

“I’m using a translation amulet to speak to you as I don’t speak English. Many of your Earth words are translated with a picture into my mind. I have to say that your police are not warriors. They do not carry swords. They do not have fighting skills. In the Elven world, we’ve known about Earth for hundreds of years, but your police are unaware of elves with special abilities, and their first impulse would be to shoot us dead.”

“Do our guns work on you?”

“Mostly, no. If someone pointed a gun at me or if I was in an area where I knew your guns to be, I would have shields up to protect myself. And if I didn’t have shields up, I’m pretty fast with my swords. If a bullet did strike me, I have good healing abilities and I would try to get home to a healer.”

“Okay, good to know. If you come face to face with this warlock, can you defeat him?”

“Yes, though not likely without a battle. I can’t imagine that he’ll return to the court willingly.”

“Okay, so he’s your worst prisoner, but you have many others that will do my humans harm. How do we find them? Will they have moved much beyond this region to perhaps other countries in this world? Is there anything in this grimoire that will help us locate them?”

Gormon sighed. He wished this woman would ask her questions one at a time. His translator amulet could barely keep up. He decided to answer the questions in the order he remembered.

“I can sense special abilities when they’re being used, and most of us use our special abilities at all times. It’s a part of who we are.”

“What’s your range for sensing? I know you don’t have the same measurement system as we do here, but do you have to be somewhat close, or could they be on the other side of the world?”

“My range is likely that of the size of a big city. If two of my prisoners are together, then their signal to me is stronger. You also asked how fast prisoners could move away from this area. Since some of them are winged elves or elves that can portal, the answer is they could be anywhere on your planet.”

“Wow, this is quite a task,” Stephanie said, sitting back and feeling overwhelmed by all the what-if scenarios bouncing across her brain. “Can you get help from your world?”

“Yes, in a few sun revolutions or so. Remember, there is chaos at home from so many prisoners arriving at once. We had a total of a hundred prisoners here in suspended animation and fifty or so had not escaped the cavern by the time I arrived. Are you willing to be my partner here on Earth to help in this mission?”

“Of course I’m willing. I trained for many years to be a physician and your prisoners are just another acute disease harming or killing patients. I’d rather stop the disease by helping you recapture the prisoners than work in the hospital watching people die. I’m not a warrior and I have no skill at capturing your prisoners, so how can I help beyond being a book of knowledge about Earth?”

“We don’t know if you’re a warrior or not. Let’s spend a little time with this grimoire so we can determine what special skills you bring to the table.”

Stephanie nodded, looking at the clock and thinking about her day tomorrow. She had received notice that the pathology department would consider her schedule and were thus conducting the autopsy at seven the next morning before her next shift. She worked twelve-hour shifts and wouldn’t be able to help Gormon until after eight the next evening. It was approaching ten o’clock at night and usually she would be seeking sleep, but she could resort to her medical training days and stay up all night if she had to work through their next steps.

“I have to go to work in about eight hours. I’m doing an autopsy on the patient who had the arrow in him tomorrow, and then I have a full shift at the hospital. I won’t be able to help you while I’m at work.”

“Maybe I could help you. Like most elves, I have healing abilities. I can cloak my appearance and heal many of your patients for you, and I might be able to save some humans from injuries incurred from the prisoners.”

Stephanie had a flood of thoughts about his offer. It was illegal by state and federal laws for him to heal people, but she thought back to her Hippocratic oath of “do no harm.” It would be an enjoyable day at work to have him heal whatever illnesses presented in her emergency room. Of course, she was trusting him to do the right thing, but she had faith in him. He’d answered her questions and shared information from his world. If he wanted, he could have killed her and moved on. She could watch him with the first few patients and if he was helpful, she would keep him there the remainder of the day. First, though, she had a question.

“Okay, but I can’t carry my grimoire at work. It’s too heavy. You’ll need to shield yourself from humans, but I want to be able to see you. How does that work?”

“Let’s see if we can find the answer in the grimoire now. It would be helpful if you could see me as well as any of the prisoners. For all we know, they might follow the humans that they’ve harmed to your place of work.”

Stephanie hadn’t thought of that. What if the archer that had caused the death of the young man today had followed him in? They could have had a massive wave of deaths. She nodded. “That is an excellent idea. Let’s get to work.”

She put the book on her lap and opened it. She could see words in a form she didn’t understand, but as she studied the page, the words inserted themselves into her brain as though she was reading. It was the strangest feeling—it made her slightly dizzy to understand words that she couldn’t read. It was as though there was a translator app inside her eyeballs. She started flipping through the pages to understand the flow of this grimoire. It started with a book protection spell, then moved on to uses of various spells.

“So, if we follow the directions on this page, I should be able to see and sense elves. Did I read this correctly?” Stephanie asked, holding out the grimoire for Gormon.

He quickly scanned the book and agreed. “I’ll translate this page into English for you. Keep looking through the book for a protection spell. It would be good if you could find a spell in there so you can protect yourself if one of my prisoners approaches you.”

She nodded and scanned the book some more while he wrote down the process for seeing elves. “Okay, now what do I do?”

“Fellow the process I’ve written down.”

“I don’t need a wand or a cauldron or some special words to make these spells happen?”

He gave her the first smile she’d seen and shook his head.

They practiced the two spells and she was satisfied that she could see him and protect herself. It was now one in the morning and she wanted a few hours of sleep before she had to be at the pathologist’s office at seven.

“I don’t know if elves need sleep, but humans do. I’m going to go to bed and try to sleep despite all of the day’s revelations. You’re welcome to stay in another bedroom, or head back to your world. I’ll need you back here at sunrise if you want to join me first at the autopsy and then at work. I suppose if you don’t need sleep, you can track a few prisoners overnight.”

“We don’t need sleep. Rather, we meditate and that renews and refreshes us. I think I’ll take some time to do that in the quiet of your spare bedroom, then I’ll go do some prisoner hunting and see what I can find.”

“I’ll have many patients for you to see tomorrow, so you may want to meditate again just before sunrise.”

Gormon nodded his head at her suggestion. She was as capable a partner as he could hope to find on Earth. She showed him her spare bedroom and went to her own bedroom to sleep. Stephanie wondered if she would be able to sleep, given the many highs of the day, but she was exhausted and quickly slipped into slumber. Gormon used his crystal to update his liege with his plan for rescuing Earth from the Elven Realm’s prisoners and then began to meditate. He then went out to search and capture a few of the prisoners. He read the history of the warlock that was on the loose and knew it would take all of his strength and cunning to defeat the man and remove him from Earth.

. . . More to come . . .

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