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Soul Wizard: Awakening Chapter 1 preview

Soul Wizard: Awakening Chapter 1 preview

Jun 07, 2022

Chapter One

December 16, 2006

All around us the crackling shrieks of the Nimerigar filled the cavern. Their evil laughter and display of magic might not have scared the old man, but it was certainly working on me. The darkness of the horrific entity the Nimerigar had been worshiping closed in around the old cowboy. As they surrounded him there was a flash of blinding silver light, and the darkness fell back howling. The jeers of the little misshapen creatures were a mix of panic and outrage.

            “Reeve, get the girl out of here. Run damn it, boy!” The old man shouted at me.

            I picked up the girl, who was no more than six, and held her firmly to my chest and bounded back up the mine shaft we had come. I gathered up my strongest happiest memories of Mari to drive my legs harder, willing myself to run faster than any Olympian.

            In short order the little Nimerigar cultist recovered, and I could sense them chasing us up the tunnel. The air filled with their crackling laughter, delighting in the chase. It sent a chill up my spine as I knew the squat, little fiends were more experienced with magic than I was. I could hear the plucking of strings as their poison arrows bounced off my defenses, each impact shook my focus and my magic faltered. Hope faded in me.

This was madness; what was I doing here? Saving a girl from mythical creatures from Shoshone legend?

I opened my inner eye and could see them closing in around me despite the darkness. Up ahead I saw more in the mine shaft cutting me off from the entrance. The little girl whimpered in my arms, and I paused. My life, all twenty years of it, flashed before my eyes as the monsters closed in on us.

I saw the small town in the middle of America where I grew up in what most people would consider a flyover state. There’s not much there unless you are really into cows and wheat. The town only has a few thousand inhabitants, most of whom are older and sit in the local coffee shop or bar and talk about the weather, the crop, and if the local high school teams were going to do well this year. Not exactly the height of adventure and mystery, let me tell you. Heck the worst thing that happened when I was growing up besides a few drunk high school kids was a toddler who went missing from her family farm for a few hours. She was found in a barn loft asleep. Yeah it was pretty damn boring. Though thinking about it now maybe boring wasn’t so bad, boring can be like a breath of fresh air if every day is full of terror.

Growing up there wasn’t bad, I had friends who were into things like Star Wars, football, soccer, Lord of the Rings, video games, all of the stuff growing boys need. At eighteen I was ready to get out of there, I wanted to go to school someplace interesting with things and people and stuff to do. So I went to college out of state somewhere outside of Denver, and things were pretty good the first few months or so. I had a roommate who was an upperclassman that helped keep me on track, and I was enjoying my classes. Then that game of ultimate frisbee happened, and that’s when things had started to get weird, and as is usual, it started with a girl. 


God damn it, Mari. 

Mari was...how do I explain someone like that.

            Unlike anyone else I had ever met. Granted my pool of people I knew was pretty limited as you might have guessed. Sure I had been on dates before but it’s not like the dating pool in a small town gives you a lot of options. It’s kind of weird dating a girl you went to preschool with. But Mari was different even from that standpoint compared to other people I had met anywhere. 

She had sharp features, not exactly pointed, but it seemed nothing about her face was exactly round, her hair was blond, like really really blond, more like white actually, it was about shoulder length but she often had pink or purple, sometimes both, highlights and streaks running through her hair. Mari was pronounced mah-REE, it fit her well, though I’m not exactly sure what it means, to me it meant her. She was into punk rock, had lots of tattoos and, as is common for women my age, had a piercing in the side of her nose. 

Mari liked to go out and have fun. Anything from shopping or going for a bike ride in the mountains, she loved exploring the world outside the city and we spent several weekends in that first summer camping and exploring the wilderness. Most of all she liked going out to clubs and dancing, or well I think it was dancing. Growing up in the Midwestern town settled by Scandinavians during the 19th century, my dancing lessons included square dancing and traditional Scandinavian line dancing. What she did was more like throw herself wildly around. It seemed to involve a lot of people smashing into each other. I think they called it moshing. She used to say funny things too. Not like completely off the wall, just had a funny way of putting things, even down to how she got mad at people, calling them things like ogres or Dökkálfr. 

At the time I had no idea what a Dökkálfr was, I thought it was something she had just made up. Calling someone an ogre wouldn’t be that weird, but she never seemed to call people names that most of us use. Not even a jerk or asshole. It could be that even though she spoke perfect English it might not have been her first language.

  I first learned about this when she was on the phone with her mother a few months after we started dating. They were arguing about something but suddenly Mari switched from English into some other language. At first I thought it was Danish or Swedish based on what I remembered the older inhabitants of the town l occasionally speaking, but I had never learned. 

However as I listened I realized this wasn’t quite right. It seemed off, like she was singing rather than speaking, but her tone led you to believe she was angry. The conversation had escalated, and she was yelling, but it still was like a singing voice rather than actual talking.

“Hey babe, what was that you were speaking to your mother? I don’t recognize the language. Didn’t seem like Swedish”

            “Oh um...Norwegian. They used to joke that Norwegians sound like Danes singing.” she deflected.

            “But you aren’t from Norway.” I pressed a bit.

            “No but it’s um...how my parents spoke it so guess I picked up on it.” She sounded uncomfortable

            “I see, well what was going on, sounded kind of intense.” I tried change the topic.

            “Oh, nothing. Ah mom just doesn’t like my major, thinks I should be doing something else with my life.” Mari wasn't looking me in the eyes.

            “Aren’t you changing your major to go into education instead of art?”

            She had made this decision towards the end of freshman year, she had explained that she didn’t feel she was learning anything new in her art classes and that most of it was just going to keep practicing and wanted to explore something new. She had found she enjoyed teaching kids art, I think partly inspired by our first date, and had decided she wanted to teach high school art. I thought it was good she found a new passion that she could combine with an old one. 

            “Yeah well… she’s not exactly keen on teachers, guess she had a bad experience with her educators.

“I see. You should teach me Norwegian sometime.”

            “Yeah, maybe.” 

            She never spoke about her parents that much. I guess lots of people don’t like to talk about their parents, which makes them feel embarrassed or something. We all have weird families, but sometimes we don’t realize how strange they are until we get out of our houses and meet other people. My own family wouldn’t seem weird, unless you try decorating cookies with them at the holidays. Some families do themes or are festive. My family doesn’t do that, it’s more like pure unadulterated chaos, not something for mortal eyes to behold.

After that first year of college, things had been going great with us. Mari has a way of seeing the world differently from other people, as if she’s seeing things other people can’t, oftentime I’d catch her staring at people or things wistfully as if there was something else there beyond my sight. When asked about it, she brushed it off as daydreaming. If so, she daydreamed more than anyone I had ever met, even for an art student. We had moved in together our second year of college. It seemed easier, we basically lived together after the first few months of dating. Things were going along, we were doing well in our classes, had started talking about long term plans, but I constantly felt like I knew nothing about her. 

I knew about what she liked, what movies she loved, what food to make her after a bad day, what lame jokes to tell to make her giggle uncontrollably. But if you were to ask me what I knew about her before I met her I couldn’t tell you anything. She never mentioned her home town, rarely would speak about her family unless pressed, or any stories from her past even of her experiences doing the dumb things kids always do growing up. 

Whenever I tried to bring it up all she would say is, “That’s in the past now, you know me here and now and that’s all that matters.”

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