Exchange Magic

A novel written during NaNoWriMo 2020

Note: this probably doesn't fit. But hey, it's NaNoWriMo, so I'm moving forward, not back. Enjoy some background on parts of the world that will probably never make it into the real book. If that ever becomes a thing.

Kaelyn had been sitting here for hours. Outside the cave, leaning against a wall that she knew was fake, but felt real to her back. It was warming up ever so slightly like stone does when a human leans on it for a long time. if she picked at it with her fingers it crumbled a little bit. This next bit was going to take a two-pronged approach, Kaelyn here and Mason back in his workshop. They didn't have long. Three more days. the thinking and planning and waiting had been agonizing, but it was finally coming to a head. It shouldn't have taken this long, but what could you do? Things took as long as they took.


It had been three days since Kaelyn and Mason had been to see Ellis. He had cleaned his church, and though about their problem. He had prayed for their success as he promised he would. He read up on the cases of demonic obsession he could find in the church library. But he didn't feel settled.

He preached his weekly sermon to the good people of the town and considered their faces They were human, each of them, plain, good people. And there was Marion, the healer's wife, but no Kaelyn, no Mason, no Sonja. They were focused on figuring out how to save Daisy from a demon.

Why wasn't Ellis?


It turned out that finding Brant's cave was the easy part. Kaelyn and Mason spent day after agonizing day in the wizards' workshop, trying to find a ay to break through the illusive barrier. The workshop now resembled an actual workshop, with papers, notes, books, and miscellaneous substances scattered widely. They used one page of the notebook carefully cut and analyzed, to configure their data, to get a sense of the powers against them.


Kaelyn went into Daisy's bedroom, just for a moment, just to sit quietly on her way to bed. tomorrow they would be doing the plan, and if all went well Daisy would be back in this room, safe and peaceful.


Kaelyn awoke and dressed in the predawn light. It was two days tot he new moon but this was when they were ready and earlier felt safer than later.

Kaelyn put a few things in her satchel, fully aware of the fact that she was a healer, not a warrior or a cunning...person. Strand didn't have a police force per se, just the mayor and the city council and their families. Force was rarely required, and when it was you could generally rely on a few people from around town to help out. It was in everyone's best interest to keep Strand safe, after all.


“I'm trying to find a way around this boulder and, you know, stay out of the river.” Kaelyn said.

“ mean the stream? I haven't spent much time up in these canyons, I admit, but I didn't remember the stream coming down this way. But, I fail to see how it could be blocking your path, Sojourner.”


Daisy was going crazy. She was sure of it, and didn't mind. But it wasn't the worst kind of crazy, it wasn't really a problem. She was starting to see things that logic wouldn't have shown her. Her thinking was thus:

There are true things that are definitely true, but can't be proven normally. So they don't look true. Therefore, to understand them, you have to look at them in an abnormal way.

Daisy had her eyes closed to avoid looking at Brant. Brant was definitely not a sight to inspire. he was sweating and haggard as he tried to maintain his defenses, and the demon, when it was visible or even audible, berated him constantly, using words that Daisy blushed to even remember.


Brant was in a dangerous mood. Nothing had gone according to plan. He had planned carefully, his designs had been perfect. He had attracted the attention of a major demon, he had found an ideal sacrifice. He had waited patiently, learned how to leverage the power of his own blood and the blood of beasts. He had corrupted the runner his “master” had bought from the druids, he had done it all right. He had sized an opportunity when it had presented itself. At the time he had congratulated himself on seizing on a perfect opportunity, and leaving that suggestion behind in the wood of the dry goods store, the one that convinced most people that the two had run off together.


Mason was normally very good at waiting. he had a steady patience that made him a good wizard. He could spend hours distilling just a few drops of a tincture and not get impatient or wander off or ruin it by multi-tasking.

But this waiting felt pointless. He had dimmed the room so that the spark would be bright and visible when Kaelyn triggered it. he straightened the workbench, made sure he had all his materials at hand. he swept. He cleaned the glassware. He fretted, in a word. this was taking far too long, he was sure of it.


Knife at her throat, Brant pushed Kaelyn down the corridor into the room where he had held Daisy all this tiem. The all-too-familiar red mist swirled over the entrance to Daisy's cell, blood magic showing off.

“how much blood have you lost?” Kaelyn asked

“Shut up! What is wrong with you healers that you keep asking questions like that even when I have you captive?”

“professional curiosity, I guess?” Daisy said. Brant looked up. Daisy was sitting on the altar, hands on the surface next to her hips, ankles crossed and swinging her legs a little.


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