“The strands don’t work by logic, Edwin.” His mother gave him that slightly exasperated smile that she had given him so many times it must be automatic, like saying “bless you” when someone sneezed or “you too” when they wished you a good day. “They work by feelings and by intuition, and if you attempt to apply too much logic to them, like any emotion, they’re going to slide away from you.”
“There have to be rules,” he protested, although he knew it was a waste of time. “There has to be some pattern, some way that explains how things work.”
“They work by connections. How does your connection to your aunt work, or to you best buddy? They just work, Edwin. I’m sorry, but it’s the way it is.”
The way it is. He made his escape when she was done lecturing him and hid in his room. There had to be a way. He’d found a book buried in the back of the family library, the sort of thing that nobody ever read, and inside a very boring cover had found descriptions of magic.
Real magic, not Strand-working, things that operated by set rules and followed predictable patterns. Real magic that would have the same results every time.
He locked his door, opened up the book to page seventy-nine, thought twice, closed the curtains, turned on some loud music, and then began chanting the words. He’d been practicing. He had them all perfect. None of the did anything, but this one — this one — at the right time, with the words all pronounced right — was supposed to take one someplace where magic worked.
A sudden gust of wind blew dust into Edwin’s eyes. He blinked away the dust, then blinked again as a shaft of sunlight caught him in the eyes.
“Yes!” He pumped his fist. He was in an attic, an attic so thick with magic it seemed to sparkle like the dust in the sunlight did. “Finally!” He looked down at the tome and flipped to another page before whispering the words for a basic light cantrip.
“I tell you, I heard someone up here, and we laid that ghost to rest last year. It’s got to be one of the younger – oh, hello. Are you a visiting cousin?”
The girls on the stairway were pretty in a down-home sort of way. They were looking at Edwin intently. He swallowed.
“Yes… yes. Visiting cousin.” They were coming towards him. They were looking at his tome! He toed it shut nervously.
“And sneaking into the spellbooks. Of course. Come on, the picnic’s almost started.” The older of the two girls grabbed his arm. “And you know boys aren’t supposed to do magic.”Want more?