And so, freezing numb and punctured by talons and bruised in the backside, I sprinted forward to grab at the hands of the nearest conjurer—one of the women. The crowd hardly noticed me, distracted as they were by the dancing fireballs, but the woman saw me well before I reached her. She recoiled and tucked in her elbow like a chicken and I felt what I thought was a spiderweb cross my wrist. I was still moving forward, but the string encircled my forearm, a flash of orange blinding me for an instant before I felt my whole arm yank upwards. The string coiled more and more, and the orange light became brighter and hotter until I could no longer run or determine where I was in relation to the conjurer.
“What should I do?” a woman shrieked nearby.
“You have to uncoil—“
Everything else was silenced by my scream.
My arm was no longer a limb, but a sensation—an all-encompassing pain, like a lightning bolt was grabbing hold and refusing to let go. My nostrils flared with the scent of searing meat and I tried to pull away but the string held purchase and sliced into my arm.
Blind from firelight and tears, I tried to wave my arm away, as though I could eject it and make the pain stop. Between breaths I heard Bub flapping madly above me, squalling just as loudly as the terrified crowd encircling the area and a man’s voice calling, “Let go! Let go!” before the hold on my arm went slack, knocking me once again backwards onto the snowy cobblestone road. The breath jumped out of my lungs and escaped, and before I could catch it I felt myself slapped by something and suddenly all of my body was cold again—much colder than before. My arm was the only exception–a slicing, burning pain, no matter how damp, no matter how the winter wind stiffened my burnt, bloody, wet flesh.
As much as my brain screamed not to, I focused on the pain. I felt the swirling sting all along my forearm to the pit of my elbow. I winced as I made absolute in my sensory mind the shrieking flesh that seemed to pool around my bicep. Rolling to the side a little, I could feel something hanging there, like a growth—if only my tears weren’t frozen and I could see it. But, judging by the pain alone, my suspicions were correct.
The Conjurers Three were not controlling fireballs—not through magic, anyhow. They were using some kind of near-invisible cable wire attached to an ignited ball, perhaps covered in sap or some other long-burning substance. Flying fire like a kite.
I was burnt, cut, and splashed by water such that I developed a bone-deep chill that made me sick for over a month, nearly killing me in the process. But I beat them. I defeated the liars and my condescending elders and discovered for myself the truth. There was no magic in these triplets, despite their mesmerism.
But that didn’t mean there was no magic out there to find.
Day 244’s three random writing prompt categories were, “Scholar of magic,” “Fat bird,” and, “Pajamas.”
A magic scholar’s gotta start somewhere.