Young Adult Urban Fantasy: a blend of Harry Potter and Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
The warlock stopped beside a twelve-foot square Plexiglas cube and waited for the class of thirty or so students to gather round. Enormous pine trees surrounded the class, their branches pruned to about fifteen feet up, creating a spacious clearing.
When everyone was gathered and peering into the seemingly empty cage (with a few students even donning the Horus glasses), Duchaine said, “Okay, here we are. Now, can anyone tell me what a glimmerling looks like?”
“Sir,” a little blonde sporting a profusion of amulets poked her hand into the air; the dainty charms on her bracelet jangled. “Glimmerlings don’t look like anything. They are invisible until they animate something.”
“Not exactly,” Duchaine said. “We don’t know precisely what they look like in their home world. But here, while in their incorporeal form, glimmerlings appear as heat waves rippling through the air. As young Lisa pointed out, it is difficult to see them at the best of times, and almost impossible through this inch-thick Plexiglas.”
“Is that cage completely sealed, sir?” someone asked.
“Indeed,” Duchaine boasted, and rocked on his heels. “It is absolutely air tight. Even the slide-through drawer here has its own self-sealing system. Quite ingenious work. Make sure you compliment Shamgar on it when you see him.”
“But how’s it get air to breath?” Lisa asked, concern flavoring her soprano.
“Oh, glimmerlings don’t require oxygen,” Duchaine said. “At least, we don’t think they do. Best whip out Fantastic Beasts and How to Kill Them and check. Page twenty-seven, I believe.”
Lisa drew her book out while everyone else tittered at her naiveté.
“Now, that little bugger we caught yesterday—” Duchaine winked at Nick “—is floating around in there. How would you all like a demonstration on its animating abilities?”
Everyone cheered. The jocularity swiftly died, however, as if they were all afraid of upsetting some old caged god.
Duchaine gestured. “Raise your hand if you have something in your pack you won’t mind never getting back. A deck of cards, an old copy of Standard Necromancy and its Applications by Vesper Ussane; even a bag of marbles could be fun—aha. Thank you Charlie.” He caught a deck of tattered tarot cards from a boy.
“Stand back while I open the drawer,” Duchaine waved aside a few of the braver (or dumber) students as he approached the sliding Plexiglas drawer. With almost laughable care he unlocked the drawer, slid it out, placed the ratty tarot cards inside, and then quickly slid it home. After locking it, Duchaine stepped back.
“Here it comes,” he said. “See that ripple in the air? It’s taking the bait.”
Nick watched, captivated, as the bodiless mythic glimmered through the air, streaming toward the cards. What looked like heat waves dove into the drawer. The cards shifted. All was still for a few silent moments.
“Right now it’s communing with the material of the cards on a quantum level,” Duchaine whispered. “Any second now it’ll gain full possession of the cards and animate them. They’ll—”
The deck exploded, cards bursting into the air. A dozen students backed away from the cage, uttering lame excuses for their shocked reactions. Before the cards could even flutter to the floor of the cage, they began to gather together in midair, assembling into various shapes. At first what looked to be giraffe shivered into being, followed by the semblance of a buffalo pawing the ground, and then a tarot-card satyr posed in the cage.
“Now it’s searching for its desired shape,” Duchaine explained, looking away from the cage for the first time. “Glimmerlings vary greatly in their tastes and natures. Some prefer human shapes, while others reproduce likenesses of what we believe to be oddities from their home dimension. Ah, there it is. It’s decided to imitate a bear, if I’m not mistaken.”
“Actually, it kinda looks like you, Duchaine,” Lisa offered, oblivious to the insinuation.
The warlock tried tugging his vest together; his torso was too large for this, and the glimmerling was imitating his motions, so he gave up with a look of bemused acceptance.
“Sir?” a long haired Shaman girl said. “Before, you said the glimmerling would ‘possess’ the cards. Does that mean what it does is like a ghost or a demon possessing someone?”
Most of the eyes in the crowd turned to Duchaine, but a few pairs remained glued to the tarot card Duchaine-approximation prancing in the cage. “Well, no, not exactly,” the warlock explained. “What a glimmerling does is more akin to what we do when we borrow into the mind of an animal. We don’t take it over and control it with malevolent intent, like a demon would do with a human. It would simply repel our consciousness. But we’ll get into that next time . . .
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