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Perfect penmanship

The patterns on the parchment, laid out with delicate precision, calmed Micron’s nerves. Right angles especially pleased him. There was a kind of satisfaction in small things, manageable things, things that were powerful, yet no one assumed they were.

He’d been repairing a hat when they’d come for him. Since the war, repairing hats was all the tech he was allowed to handle. A kind of working jail sentence, really. Dove’s henchmen came, her obedient dogs as he thought of them, angels that abruptly transported him back to the hell hole called Hala.

No respect! He thought, as he made another precise line, connecting one component to the next. No proper laboratory, no tools, except those he was allowed to check out during the course of fixing the old hats. For someone of his brilliance and ability, it was solitary confinement.

He adjusted his glasses, bringing the candle closer, to make the tiny schematic clearer.

The real hero of the Burnt Sea

“Tane! The great Tane! Ha! I’m the real hero of the Burnt Sea!” Anger burned as he relived the memories. It was my hats that turned the tide, gave the ungrateful Halans the ability to push back Beauty’s armies – my inventions! Were it not for my creations, my genius, Tane’s little show of courage would have meant nothing.

“Ahhhh!” his quill broke, messing the fine line that connected the oscillator to the control circuit. Throwing the broken pen across the room, he crumpled up the paper, threw it toward the discarded pen and started again from scratch.

After several more hours, he put down the pen, wiped the sweat from his forehead, and gazed at his finished schematic. A one-inch square filled with intricacies, for which normal eyes would require a magnifying glass to see half of its detail, point zero four percent more efficient than the last one. He smiled, his crooked lips turning up on his scarred and disfigured face. Continual improvement, incremental, constant, was the key to perfection. Studying it for a moment longer, he held it at arms’ length, saying out loud to himself, “Completely unappreciated in my time.”

Moaning, he got up slowly, back slightly bent. He adjusted his turban, then turned to a table where a plate full of fruit sat. Taking a small knife, slicing a pear-shaped fruit into small pieces, he chewed slowly, avoiding the teeth that hurt the most. It had been long since he’d eaten anything harder.

Several days before, he had protested at Dove’s decree, saying, “Look at me, I’m an old man, how can you expect me to travel such a distance? Any Hadites that find me will kill me on sight! Besides, where will I lodge? You can’t expect me to lay on the ground in my condition? How will I bathe? You understand I must bathe twice a day, right? You are sending me to my death!”

None of that made the slightest impression on the Blue Seraph or the two angels at her side as finally, out of patience, they moved toward him, lifted and carried him, feet dragging, along the floor through the door. Oafs! Micron thought, brainless oafs! Hadn’t he’d done enough for their cause?

The Wizard is alive

If the Wizard is alive… The thought both intrigued and terrified him. His old master was not one to forgive or forget. But, he was half mad and falling apart when last he saw him. It was only a matter of time before he –

Knock, knock.

. . .died.

He didn’t move nor respond to the knocking.

Knock, knock.

He sat.

Keys jostled, then the latch moved and a big man entered. Micron looked up, seeing Tane’s face, in a half sneer, cool eyes staring at him.

Micron looked back down at the fruit in his hand, sitting calmly, saying nothing, yet sweating inside.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw Tane take a chair, sit down on it heavily, and say, “In the annals of all bad ideas, you being here is probably the worst. I have my orders to take you along, but understand that sometimes I see orders as. . .suggestions or…mere guidelines, open to interpretation.”

Still, Micron said nothing, refusing to meet Tane’s eyes.

Tane went on, “No one has forgotten what you did, least of all, me. If you give me the slightest reason to, I won’t hesitate to do what I should have done a long time ago.”

The big man stood up. “Don’t give me a reason, Micron.”

You liked my speech?

Micron put his hands together and clapped slowly.

Tane, sarcasm in his voice, said, “You liked my speech, eh?”

Micron said, “No, I’m clapping because it’s over.”

Tane, chuckling at Micron’s reply, sneered and said, “I am going to enjoy ending you.” Then he turned and walked away swiftly, closing the door hard behind him.

An interesting problem just walked out that door, Micron thought. There had been hard problems before, especially Beauty, but he’d solved them all thus far. I will enjoy solving you, too.

The Wizards Library – Magical Fantasy Music & Ambience