Magicae Terra Episode One, page 1
Originally published as: The Ring, The Man
By K. McKinley
Episode One in the Amelia Bennett Chronicles
Copyright 2012 K. McKinley
Republished as Magicae Terra: Episode One
Copyright 2015 K. McKinley
Table of Contents
The Ring, The Man
She stood by the open window in the modest loft above the blacksmith’s and held her breath as a slight breeze wrapped around her body, providing some small comfort against the crushing heat. She closed her eyes and the sound of the hammer pounding on the anvil faded into the background. She tried to forget all that had happened to her, all the events that had brought her there. She tried to remember her life before magic had changed everything.
As the breeze drifted away and the heat came crashing back down, she sighed and moved back to the small bed that was the only furniture in the room. She couldn’t bring herself to get under the covers and instead lay on top of them, staring up at the exposed beam above her head. Sweat trickled down her brow and she brushed it away before it fell into her eyes.
Closing her eyes, she tried to figure out what had brought her there. It would have been easy to blame him, or even herself, but when she really thought about it, the reason was the magic. Magic she hadn’t even known she’d had.
The Ring, The Man
I received an invitation to help plan a wedding for a girl I barely knew in high school and because I accepted, everything changed. When I say everything, I mean my whole life, my place in the universe, what I knew about the world—all because I wanted to save some money on a vacation to New York City. Given the opportunity to do it all again, even knowing what I know now, I’m not sure if I would.
I don’t know what I was doing there. The invitation was from a girl I had barely spoken twenty words to the entire time we’d been in school. Instead of a bridal shower, she was inviting all her best girlfriends to come help plan her wedding over a long weekend. I had never heard of this concept, but since it was in New York City and I would be sharing the cost of a hotel room, I thought Sure, why not. Worst-case scenario, I would be bored for a little while and then I could go out and do all kinds of touristy things for a fraction of the cost.
It took about half an hour before she remembered who I was and it turned out that she had thought I was someone else entirely. Now I was in a combination jewelry and bridal store, with a bunch of people I’d never met, helping them organize the wedding of an acquaintance I hadn’t talked to in almost a decade. Bored out of my mind, I left the group before I was again asked to help pick out the floral design that best represented Laura and Jeff’s love for each other. I wandered over to the jewelry side of the store, the side I felt we had been sorely underutilizing, and I started picking out the ring that best represented the love I felt for me.
I had been perusing for maybe fifteen minutes and had found the perfect corner where I could see the wedding party but they couldn’t see me when I spotted the ring. The ring that I would leave to my daughter and she would leave to hers. The ring that no matter who gave it to me I would have to say yes. It was the ring to end all rings.
I looked up at the salesperson who had walked over and that’s when I saw the man that I wanted to give me the ring. Yes, he was the salesperson and yes, he was getting the ring out to show me, but that wasn’t what I meant. He was the man in the way that the ring was the ring. He could give me any ring out there and I would have to say yes. He was tall, so I knew that when I stood beside him I’d feel dainty. He was muscular, so I knew he could protect me when I didn’t shut up but should. His face was serious, but a sparkle in his eyes told me he appreciated a good time. His dark hair and light blue eyes combined with that hard body made only one word suitable to describe him: gorgeous, and it just so happened he was giving me the ring. Unfortunately, he was just trying to sell it to me.
My eyes kept darting from him to the ring, my mind unable to decide which one to drool over first. It was the best and worst situation I had ever been in before in my entire life. I was saved from making an impossible choice when in floated a gang of ghosts. Yes, you read me right—a gang of ghosts, six to be exact. I knew they were ghosts, even though they looked like men, because they were transparent and they hovered above the ground. They floated right in like they owned the place and no one seemed to care; strike, that no one seemed to notice. I had just found the ring and the man and I couldn’t help but stare at them, but all these people milling about talking about flowers and cakes and bridal showers didn’t even twitch when the ghosts began taking jewelry out of cases and shoving it into bags they’d floated in with. Even the jewelry floating in the air didn’t cause a stir. Admittedly, the jewelry side of the store was almost completely bare except for the man and me, but surely ghosts and floating jewelry was enough to catch someone’s eye.
My first logical thought, once my mind wrapped around the fact that ghosts were evidently real, was Ghosts can pick things up? It looked like they could. They cleaned out the store and just floated out the door like they didn’t have a care in the world. As ghosts, though, did they? Have a care in the world, I mean. What ghosts robbed a jewelry store? Was haunting just too cliché for them? Were they hipster ghosts?
I was busy trying to figure out what kind of ghosts would rob a store when the man ran right out the door and after them. He had seen them too! That was good; it’s nice when the man you’ve decided to spend the rest of your life with can share in your delusions. As I was pondering everything we shared, which at the time all I knew about was the delusions bit, I heard the words my ears had been listening for, “Have you seen Amelia?” It was time for me to make my escape.
So I ran after him, because really when given the choice between staying with a group of people you’ve just met and planning the wedding of someone you barely remember, or running after an incredibly gorgeous man chasing after some kind of ghost robbers, you’re obviously going to choose the man.
I caught up to him stopped at a crosswalk, waiting for the light to change. Distracted, he glanced at me and asked, “What are you doing?”
“I’m following you.” Really, wasn’t that obvious? Maybe the man was just looks and no brain. A quick check of his body made that something I could live with.
He took off running again once the light changed and I followed behind him as best I could. My mother had told me I’d regret putting off exercise, and of course she was right. I nearly lost him, but thank goodness for long lights because I caught up at another crosswalk.
“Why are you following me?”
Winded, I was bent over, gasping in great big gulps of air. When I could finally breathe normally, I answered, “Ghosts… Jewelry heist… curious…” Okay, so maybe I wasn’t breathing normally yet.
Before I could elaborate, he was off again. Damn, the man could run. I really think he was letting me follow him, though, because he would be just about to leave me behind and then he’d wait at a corner until I saw him before running on. Anyway, waiting for me or not, I didn’t catch up with him again until he was standing in front of the most haunted house in America. No, really, there was a plaque outside on the wrought-iron fence that said it was the most haunted house in America.
It was one of those Gothic mansions that you never see in real life, only in movies, but there it was in the middle of the city giving off more killer vibes than a man in a mask holding a bloody knife. So of course that’s when the man opened the gate and made his way up. I’ve seen enough horror films to know
He gave me an annoyed look when I followed him and he tried to push me back out the door. “You don’t want to come in here.”
“Well duh, but if you go in there, then I’m going in there. I ran all this way for answers and if you go in there alone, I’ll probably never get them. So here I am going into the most haunted house in America after I’ve seen positive, undeniable proof that ghosts are real and can at the very least pick up jewelry. So they could probably pick up other things, like knives or equally sharp objects. And really, how much force do you need to stab someone? They seemed like they could probably muster up enough force to me.”
I was rambling, in case you haven’t noticed. I sometimes do that; I was born with almost no filter, and when I’ve been exercising or I haven’t eaten, the filter is pretty much nonexistent and I don’t know when to shut up. At least I didn’t say anything too embarrassing. Wait, was that out loud?
“Yes, it was.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t even think.”
I nodded my head in agreement. He turned away from me and began looking around. Something we probably should