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Staiduk
2008-Dec-01, 02:31 AM
'Lo!

OK; I tend to ask odd questions but this one has to top out the weird scale. :D

Every so often I try my hand at S-F but my attempts generally fail since a) I'm not a good writer and b) my knowledge of science is so limited my ideas tend to fall apart rather quickly. I tend to develop plotlines like I tend to make spaghetti sauce: thick, cheesy, spicy with lots of hot tomatos. ;)

This is a good one though; and I'm running with it. It's not S-F, though what you'd actually call it is beyond me. Modern-day fantasy? I started tapping out the idea, and before I knew it I was 50 pages into a rollicking thriller/adventure which - even to my overly-critical eye - is pretty damn good.

The idea started a long time ago, when I was musing with friends - fellow veterans - about our past tours in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Afghanistan. As conversations do, it drifted around to the 'wouldn't it have been nice if we had...' topic and without thinking, I added 'wouldn't it have been nice if I could see five minutes into the future before busting down that door? That way not as many people would have...well...' :(

So the concept is this: Magic. It's a real, tangible and useable phenomenon. What is is, no-one knows - some force or effect so far unstudied by science, etc. All that is known is that some people - perhaps no more than a dozen around the world at any one time - have the ability to use it. They use the term 'magic' simply because there's no better word for it at the moment.

My protagonist is a soldier in the Canadian Army - a 40-year-old infantry platoon Sergeant with 22 years in the Canadian Forces. He is also a Wielder - a mage; though naturally he keeps that secret. Much of the story deals with his slow development of his crafts - both military and mystic - how he uses one to support the other, and how he seeks to understand the nature of the magic he wields. At the time of the story, he has no knowledge of the magic save what little he's learned and believes that while there certainly may be other Wielders out there, to his direct knowledge he's the only one. Until things start going wrong, that is. CF peacekeeping missions are being foiled by unexplained events; things which seem to be 'strings of bad luck' are taking their toll - and Ken realizes that what's happening is not random. There's another mage out there - and he/she's actively hostile.

As a result, Ken has to work hard to develop his skills to fight the enemy on their own ground. As his battallion ramps up for Afghanistan, he has to counter the enemy's plans and ultimately track him/her down and face the enemy wielder directly. A rival who is - by all indications - far more powerful and subtle. And do it while keeping his own abilities secret from his fellow soldiers.

As he throws himself into his studies, he begins to learn that this thing he calls magic is far more complex than he imagined; and that history is replete with wielders whose successes he can study and emulate.

The question I have for the group is: Who are these historical Wielders? I've identified a couple - men who's seemingly miraculous successes could be considered magical. Alexander for one - though whether or not he was a wielder or one of his lieutenants was is a matter of conjecture. Erwin Rommel - almost certainly; though ultimately his basic morality and hatred of the Third Reich caused him to abandon using magic for the Nazis. Jasper Maskelyne - who hid his true power under the guise of stage magic.

Basically, what I'm looking for is historical people in any field who could have been explained as wielders of magic; earning remarkable success but keeping it hidden. I'm doing my own research, but my knowledge is more limited to military history and it seems to me with the vast breadth of knowledge here on BAUT, others might be able to chime in with possibilities of their own. :)

Any ideas?

Durakken
2008-Dec-01, 03:13 AM
Socrates, Aristotle, Alexander, Ptolemy, Dante, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Ramses, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Jesus, Rasputin, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Frank Sinatra and the rat pack, Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Mark Twain, Emperor Constantine, Temujin, Confucious, Any emperor of China that started off a Dynasty, The black prince, Kufre, Nero, Plato, Pythagorus, John Adams, James Madison, Andrew Jackson, John F. Kennedy, and a number of others...

I thought this was gonna be about what magic was historically, outside of stage magic... That is a supposed tapping into the magnetic fields of the earth by some method lost to us. That along with chemistry when it was called alchemy.

Jens
2008-Dec-01, 03:28 AM
The Count of St. Germain

PraedSt
2008-Dec-01, 06:33 AM
Horatio Nelson! :)

Staiduk
2008-Dec-01, 07:37 AM
Horatio Nelson! :)

Actually, Lord Nelson topped my list; but I've elected to use him as a false lead - i.e. one who might've been, but turned out to be exactly what he was: a brilliant, unmagical, leader.


The Count of St. Germain
Perfect! I'd heard the name, but didn't know any of the history. Quite a story, I must admit, and one that lends itself well to twisting around to fit the storyline.


Socrates, Aristotle, Alexander, Ptolemy, Dante, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Ramses, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Jesus, Rasputin, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Frank Sinatra and the rat pack, Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Mark Twain, Emperor Constantine, Temujin, Confucious, Any emperor of China that started off a Dynasty, The black prince, Kufre, Nero, Plato, Pythagorus, John Adams, James Madison, Andrew Jackson, John F. Kennedy, and a number of others...
Thanks, Durakken; while many of those are known to me, many others aren't - it gives me a lot more to go on researching the topic. Some I have to discount right from the outset - Jesus for one, for obvious reasons - but both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs raise some very interesting possibilities, don'tcha think? ;)

astromark
2008-Dec-01, 07:48 AM
I am sorry but in this forum this just needs to be said... I think I know that this subject is utter rubbish. That is to say I personally have never found evidence of 'magic'. What it is I have found is that some very adept people can perform acts of trickery that I can not explain. That is not magic. So what it is you are suggesting here is of some concern to me. I do not except magic as a viable explanation to any thing. There is always an explanation. We might not know it just now, but hay!... It's there. Now I just know that some people will want to chime in and tell me I am wrong... Thats OK. I might be, it's allowed. Hob goblins and elves and fairies in the garden are for me fictitious.
What I want from you is this... Please explain in more detail what it is that you are suggesting has happened ? ... From what you have thus far said I see only luck. To make a prediction of outcome prier to events is not magic or seeing... wielders... No that is unacceptable for my scientific mind to comprehend. With proper considerations some outcome of events are indeed predictable. That is not what you are talking of is it ? All I see here is a good idea for a work of fiction. That will, or could be a interesting yarn... go for it. Be encouraged.
But please do not come striding in here expecting a wise old ----. To except seeing what has not happened yet as fact. As always, glade to be wrong, mark.

Durakken
2008-Dec-01, 08:23 AM
mark...read what he said.. this is for a fictional work...

As far as what your talking about i don't think that many people would argue that you can't eventually figure it out and how it works in the physical laws...

Durakken
2008-Dec-01, 08:27 AM
Thanks, Durakken; while many of those are known to me, many others aren't - it gives me a lot more to go on researching the topic. Some I have to discount right from the outset - Jesus for one, for obvious reasons - but both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs raise some very interesting possibilities, don'tcha think? ;)

I have no problem messing with religions in using these types of things but don't know about other people so i say it just in case.

I think the more interesting ones would be Frank Sinatra, the rat pack, and the JFK as that would imply a few things about the world at that time...

PraedSt
2008-Dec-01, 08:56 AM
Actually, Lord Nelson topped my list; but I've elected to use him as a false lead - i.e. one who might've been, but turned out to be exactly what he was: a brilliant, unmagical, leader.
A false lead? The plot thickens... :)

astromark
2008-Dec-01, 09:20 AM
mark...read what he said.. this is for a fictional work...

You know I have a problem with this stuff. I am happy for 'Staiduk'., and his book. I thought I had said that.
Look around this web site. This is not where I would expect to see this subject. No part of it is science or astronomy is it ?

Durakken
2008-Dec-01, 09:44 AM
He's asking who might be a good person in the real world that is influential to look into as a candidate to use for a book about magic as an actual phenomenon... Considering that Ancient astronomers might have been considered magical since they seemed to talk to the gods I'd say that it probably is a good place...

Staiduk
2008-Dec-01, 09:48 AM
You know I have a problem with this stuff. I am happy for 'Staiduk'., and his book. I thought I had said that.
Look around this web site. This is not where I would expect to see this subject. No part of it is science or astronomy is it ?


Actually, no. It is a question. For which I've asked for an answer. Hence, the 'Questions and Answers' forum. Now while we're here; I have another question: Why do you have problems with 'magic' as a ficticious plot device?

Durakken
2008-Dec-01, 09:53 AM
Actually, no. It is a question. For which I've asked for an answer. Hence, the 'Questions and Answers' forum. Now while we're here; I have another question: Why do you have problems with 'magic' as a ficticious plot device?

I'm gonna bet it is related to the reason i hate a lot of stories where the real world physics don't apply... it's because even though they are magical and such they don't follow any sort of rules in their own rules, breaking anything they set when ever they feel like it... it's because of these types of things many people don't understand real physics or get real physics so screwy and then try to apply them to reality...

astromark
2008-Dec-01, 10:10 AM
I rest my case... It's all been said., and thank you.

geonuc
2008-Dec-01, 11:29 AM
Staiduk posts a perfectly reasonable, and I think, challenging, question. It should even be a little fun to think about. But, no. We have to get into a silly debate about whether it's appropriate for Q&A.

He isn't asking or proposing anything about magic. He's simply asking for people to suggest names of historical figures who have had an inordinate amount of success in whatever they did in life. What is the harm in that?

Staiduk
2008-Dec-01, 11:44 AM
A false lead? The plot thickens... :)

Well, not by too much. :) While Ken is researching, he looks into Nelson as a possibility, but discounts him due to circumstance. Sort of a "Here's a possibility...umm, no, guess not. Keep looking..." moment.

To be specific, Ken is looking into historical figures - both good and evil - that could have had successes ordinary skill, knowledge, ability etc. would be hard-pressed to explain. For instance, Roy Brown; credited with shooting down Baron Manfred von Richthofen in WWI. From the position of the aircraft during the attack; Brown's successful hit would have been near-miraculous or incredibly lucky - impossible to explain merely by shooting ability. This example could be looked at - but ultimately discounted since the kill was later credited (as a Canadian, I'm sad to say) to an Australian AA gunner. Thus the possibility is rendered null.

As Ken's research continues, he turns up a variety of interesting leads and dead ends. For instance; he is able to identify a 'latency' - that is, one who has the power but is unable through lack of training or emotional strength - by the name of Alois Shicklgruber. Shicklgruber - a rough, abusive Austrian customs official - inherited it from his mother, but did not pass the genes on to his son who nevertheless believed he did have the power. It was largely that belief of superiority that gave the son - Adolph - much of his later ideals and successes. It was also his downfall, as his belief in his own superiority degenerated into madness and ultimate suicide.

Hee hee - playing with history's fun, innit? :D

In any event; a large part of Ken's journey is learning to understand the rules of the magic present in this particular universe. The basics were easy - the three Principals and seven Forms were learned young, but why those rules exist is the key to his understanding - and ultimately his victory or defeat when he faces his enemy.

Van Rijn
2008-Dec-01, 11:50 AM
.

He isn't asking or proposing anything about magic. He's simply asking for people to suggest names of historical figures who have had an inordinate amount of success in whatever they did in life. What is the harm in that?

As stated, this section is for space and astronomy questions. It's stated a little less clearly, but it's supposed to cover mainstream science.

I don't see a problem with the question, but it should be in OTB or SMAL. As for what harm could it do here, well if we can discuss magic in this thread, what other ATM ideas should be discussed in Q and A?

Staiduk
2008-Dec-01, 12:19 PM
As stated, this section is for space and astronomy questions. It's stated a little less clearly, but it's supposed to cover mainstream science.

I don't see a problem with the question, but it should be in OTB or SMAL. As for what harm could it do here, well if we can discuss magic in this thread, what other ATM ideas should be discussed in Q and A?

I didn't notice the subtitle when I posted it - I assumed that being under the 'general' category made this the appropriate location. Sorry about that - I'd be happy if a moderator would move it to the 'Small media' section; or wherever is more appropriate. My only disagreement is the hostility with which someone responded. Had they simply pointed out what you did; I'd have been happy to admit my error. :)

Romanus
2008-Dec-01, 12:30 PM
If we're talking military history, here are a couple:
--Tamerlane (the curse supposedly linked to his tomb might be an interesting throw-in).
--Chingiz Khan.
--Sun Tzu (or whoever he really was).
--The Vandal Gaiseric / Genseric, who lived to great age and supposedly never lost a battle.
--Zoroaster / Zarathustra, whose religion indirectly influenced the Big Three later.

May drop a few more names later...

As a fellow fiction writer, I wish you the best of luck!

Jens
2008-Dec-01, 01:31 PM
I didn't notice the subtitle when I posted it - I assumed that being under the 'general' category made this the appropriate location. Sorry about that - I'd be happy if a moderator would move it to the 'Small media' section; or wherever is more appropriate. My only disagreement is the hostility with which someone responded. Had they simply pointed out what you did; I'd have been happy to admit my error. :)

Strictly speaking, as Astromark pointed out, this should have been in Off Topic Babbling. But I don't see the real harm. Technically speaking, Q&A is supposed to be about astronomy/cosmology.

And in case somebody is looking for another magician, John Dee is another possibility. And maybe Francis Bacon, who is said to have written Shakespeare's plays. :)

antoniseb
2008-Dec-01, 01:42 PM
There is a great set of books called The History of Magic and Experimental Science, by Lynn Thorndyke, which covers this topic pretty well (6000 pages in 8 volumes).

If you are looking for anecdotal information on the topic of magic as pertains to the history of astronomy, you can use this as a great starting point.

Staiduk
2008-Dec-01, 03:52 PM
Wow, now this is why I posted it on the BAUT forum - lots of great leads! I can't address them all but:


There is a great set of books called The History of Magic and Experimental Science, by Lynn Thorndyke, which covers this topic pretty well (6000 pages in 8 volumes).

If you are looking for anecdotal information on the topic of magic as pertains to the history of astronomy, you can use this as a great starting point.
Great indeed! Thanks so much for the info!


And in case somebody is looking for another magician, John Dee is another possibility. And maybe Francis Bacon, who is said to have written Shakespeare's plays.
Yup - Dee came to mind fast, but was discarded simply because he's too popular. Everyone uses Dee. :D Bacon=similar issue. :D

However; I'm considering using Dee as a potential plot device which leads to another question: Dee is known for a huge library of scientific and occult works. Does anyone know if Dee or Jacques Auguste de Thou (keeper of another vast library of the time) had any extensive collections of Chinese mysticism? That's what I'm looking into as we speak...er, type. :)


If we're talking military history, here are a couple:
--Tamerlane (the curse supposedly linked to his tomb might be an interesting throw-in).
--Chingiz Khan.
--Sun Tzu (or whoever he really was).
--The Vandal Gaiseric / Genseric, who lived to great age and supposedly never lost a battle.
--Zoroaster / Zarathustra, whose religion indirectly influenced the Big Three later.
All excellent, thank you! If nothing else, this exercise provides more fascinating history to study. :)

Thanks all!

PraedSt
2008-Dec-01, 04:07 PM
To be specific, Ken is looking into historical figures - both good and evil - that could have had successes ordinary skill, knowledge, ability etc. would be hard-pressed to explain.
The Patrician! :D

Cougar
2008-Dec-01, 04:48 PM
I just watched Wanted with Angelina Jolie. It had a lot of very implausible "magic" in it. "Curve the bullet," one's "fate" is "in the weave," which is decoded into binary, which is then recoded into... oh, whatever. Jolie is a very good actress, but this movie was just horrible. I don't mind fantasy or suspending disbelief, but there's something... about the setting, I guess, that allows one to go with the story rather than react against it. This movie had implausibility piled atop irrationality on top of more implausibility, and about the only reaction one could have is, "Oh, come on!" Make your magic interesting and at least vaguely possible or conceivable, and you could very well have something here. :)

mugaliens
2008-Dec-01, 05:31 PM
You know I have a problem with this stuff. I am happy for 'Staiduk'., and his book. I thought I had said that.
Look around this web site. This is not where I would expect to see this subject. No part of it is science or astronomy is it ?

Agreed. And you're not the only one. It's examples like this which gave reason for my proposal to move Q&A into a Space and Astronomy section.

hhEb09'1
2008-Dec-01, 05:37 PM
Agreed. And you're not the only one. It's examples like this which gave reason for my proposal to move Q&A into a Space and Astronomy section.I thought your proposal was to move General Science into the General Section? :)

But just out of curiosity, why "a Space and Astronomy section" instead of "the Space and Astronomy section"?

schlaugh
2008-Dec-01, 05:39 PM
Back to the O.P. -Leonardo da Vinci (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonardo_da_Vinci). You could say he saw more than five minutes into the future.

Nick Theodorakis
2008-Dec-01, 05:41 PM
Did I miss it, or is it possible nobody has mentioned Leonardo yet?

Nick

ETA: D'oh! Missed it by that much!

Staiduk
2008-Dec-01, 06:02 PM
The Patrician! :D

(Raises one eyebrow.)

How fascinating...

:D

Staiduk
2008-Dec-01, 07:35 PM
Make your magic interesting and at least vaguely possible or conceivable, and you could very well have something here. :)

Here's a short excerpt - it's the rough draft (nothing I've written is even close to polished yet...) of a section prologue. In the basic outline; there are three sections, each beginning with a prologue - basically a flashback - written in first-person (the rest is in typical third). It's set some 15 years before the story begins, during Ken's third tour in the former Yugoslavia. (Note: 'Ken' is basically me - albeit a rather idealized version of what I imagine myself to be like to others. He has similar traits, opinions and soldiering/leadership skills. The military events described in the book are related (in this case very loosely related) to real-life events from my three tours of duty.) Ken's magic is about at the same level of his soldiering skills - good, but far from masterful.

A word about the way magic works in my world: Like others have said here; the problem with magic is that it can be too easy. Have a problem? Solve it with magic - no worries about physical laws or realism. I didn't want that - I made it hard to use; and impossible if the Wielder is stressed or under direct physical attack. At the most basic level, magic is the remote manipulation of objects and events. Everything has a reason - so much of a mage's training is learning as much as possible about the thing to be manipulated. Healing for example: A Wielder can magically heal someone (not himself) but in order to do so would need a solid understanding of medicine; doing essentially the same job a surgeon would but with magical speed and tools.

Thus magic can be powerful, but limited. Ken has three skillsets at which he excells - magic, soldiering, and the martial art Aikido. One is useful for long-range non-combat functions, one for physical combat and one for close-up unarmed defence and meditation. Each complements the others, and serves an aspect of his needs. There's no magical do-all.
The important point Ken learns though is that there is a cost to power. As his power increases, so does the price. He could, perhaps, ultimately gain enormous power, but that would ultimately require enormous sacrifice. He's just an ordinary joe apart from the magic - how much, by the end of the book, is he willing to pay for power?

As to the way it works; the use of magic is grouped into three Principles: Chalice, Form and Directive. Chalice is the empty cup - the reservoir. Before magic can be used, Power - the raw material - must be collected and stored. This is the hard bit - it requires complete focus and calmness of mind to open onesself to Chalice. Form is the basic category under which that particular spell falls. Movement, awareness, illusion, etc. Form shapes the collected Power into one of seven possible functions through the use of specific hand/body movements and (sometimes) tools. The third Principle is Directive; which commands the completed Form to accomplish a specific task. Directive is literally telling the magic to do something using precise controlling syllables (mistakenly thought by witnesses to be 'magic words'). Whether or not it actually does it is dependant upon whether the Weilder has chosen the right shape (Form) or has collected the right amount of Power (Chalice). Note that since there's no Secret Societies, Wizarding schools or Thaumaturgy for Dummies books out there, all these names (Including the term 'Wielder') are Ken's own - he had to make 'em up as he went along. (When he first enlisted at 18; the term he used was 'Battlemage'. He was pretty much a comic-book nerd and it sounded cool. As he matured, his outlook - and terminology - changed somewhat.) Complex spells are combinations of Form and Directive. Almost anything can be accomplished - within certain restrictions - providing the Wielder can store enough power and figure out in detail exactly how it is going to work - and then execute the casting without making an error. A spell can take as little as a few seconds to cast, or take several hours to prepare (much of that time spent mentally flowcharting and rehearsing the process). At no point do bat guano, lizard gizzards or mandrake roots make an appearance. :D

Anyhoo; here's the excerpt - and I must stress that this is a stream-of-conciousness rough and is unedited. Yes, I know it's bad, but it'll give you an idea. :)

Edit: I had to add the excerpt as another post - it was too long for the word count. So my following post is the excerpt. Sorry 'bout that. :)

Gillianren
2008-Dec-01, 07:43 PM
You may be rejecting Dee (which I think is a mistake; don't focus on him but acknowledge him?), but have you considered Elizabeth herself? Or perhaps the poor Earl of Essex--as he went mad, the magic deserted him. Also the typhoid probably didn't help.

Staiduk
2008-Dec-01, 07:44 PM
My boots are filled with clammy mud and I’m soaked to the skin. In the chill darkness of pre-dawn I’m shivering with cold, but that won’t last long. There’s not an inch of me that isn’t covered with mosquito bites. Some nameless thing with more legs than the Rockettes has crawled inside my combat shirt and taken up residence in my armpit. I haven’t eaten in ten hours and haven’t slept in twice that. I really need to take a leak. A moment’s concentration and the urge passes, so to speak. This is no way to make a living. But there’s no better way of making a killing.

So to speak.

Ten meters to my left, another soldier waits on the bank of a dry creek bed. The only way I know he’s there is because I placed him there, hours ago. Even without the encompassing night, his camouflage is perfect. The same goes for the soldier on my right, and the one on his right, and the rest of my eight-man section. There are two more sections – the rest of the platoon – spread out to the north and east while we cover the west. There are also two sniper teams in position...somewhere. It’s not my job to know exactly where they are, and I’d never find them anyway – no-one knows more about camouflage than a sniper. I could find them, I have...talents. No-one can hide from me if I want to find them. But doing so would waste energy, for no reason other than simple curiosity.
I check the target through the scope of my rifle. The compound is dim, shadowy – no light save moonlight and one small electric bulb swaying on its wire over the door of the kitchen. There are three long, low concrete buildings with several windows at head height and a door halfway down each side, clearly barracks. A large pile of barrels and jerry-cans roped off with barbed wire make up the fuel dump. Another large squat building piled high with sandbags is probably the armory or possibly ammunition stores. Three small shacks and a couple of trucks complete the picture. In the moonlight, the whole place looks calm, serene - peaceful. That will soon change.
Ten days ago, the Croats had passed through a valley in the Krajina, ethnically cleansing as they went. We – the Canadian contingent of UNPROFOR – stopped their advance, but far too late for the Bosnian villages they destroyed. No-one in those villages survived – they killed everyone; man, woman and child and not just killed - they tortured, maimed, raped and burned their way along the valley; using the excuse of warfare to satisfy their brutal appetite for pain and violence.
Seven days ago, NATO intelligence identified this compound as an arming and staging base for the animals that committed the atrocities. Four days ago, the Canadian brass quietly authorized a punitive assault on the compound – ostensibly a legitimate raid on an illegal weapons cache, but really a guerilla strike in retaliation – something we Patricias excel at.
Two days ago, I was returning from patrol with my section when I was called into an O-group with the other commanders of the Assault Pioneer Platoon and given our mission. Seven hours ago, we led twenty-eight seasoned, motivated and seriously ****ed-off paratroopers with thoughts of revenge off the greasy ramp of an ageing CC-130 Hercules and into the black night air eighteen thousand feet above the Croatian hills.
Two hours ago, we were in position.
It’s five in the morning. Dawn is still little more than a suggestion, a faint idea of indigo behind the hills in front of us. We attack at first light. In the meantime we wait, fifty meters away, and watch. Distance and dark hides us, at this range even night vision equipment – which the Croats don’t have – wouldn’t detect us, though we have the compound well covered visually. Only blind bad luck would give us away before we attack.
Uh oh – and that looks like exactly what’s going to happen. From down in the compound and off to our left, there’s movement. None of the Canadian soldiers see it yet – neither do I, but I have a Prescience woven about me; I can sense their approach in the near future. Cursing silently, I cast my thought out in that direction and pick them up – three Croats, walking casually along the dry creek bed we’re hidden in. A quick skull-scan tells me they’re not soldiers; they’re cooks – unarmed, having a quiet walk and smoke before work. Even so, dealing with them would create noise, which would alert the enemy. Moving slowly, I place my rifle on the ground to free my hands.
Emptying my mind, I reach for Chalice, and let Power flow into me. Exulting for a moment to the feel of it pulsing through my veins, streaming around my body, I take it; alter it with barely audible muttered words, shape it with soft hand movements, working it like insubstantial clay into a useable form. I release the spell, casting the Power out like a net over my own men. It settles around them, invisible, utterly undetectable by anyone other than another Wielder. It bends vision slightly, rendering us effectively invisible. (Not actually invisible, that’s impossible. It’s just that wherever one looks, the eye misses us slightly. Same result.)
Good enough for Army work. Now - for the cooks themselves. They’re closer – just coming into the view of my closest man. Marshalling my thoughts, I pick up a grain of sand and place it on my palm. Bringing it to my lips, I blow the grain off my hand and release the spell at the same time. Magic takes the tiny missile and accelerates it. Guided by my mind, it zips across the fifty meters and buries itself in the neck of one of the cooks. The man cries out, slapping his hand over his neck. He thinks he’s been stung by a bee. He complains loudly while the other two cluster around to look at the supposed sting.
Now I build a glamour for them. Normally, Glamour is one of the hardest spells – involving careful preparation and finicky attention to detail. With the cooks distracted however, it doesn’t need to be complex. With a flick of my fingers, the three men hear what they believe to be their boss calling them. The words are indistinct and fuzzy – I can’t speak Slavic and don’t have the time or need for anything better anyway. Muttering and complaining, the men trudge back to camp, smoking the rest of their cigarettes. The vision cloak around my men wavers and fades, no longer needed. Breathing a silent sigh of relief, I release the Power, pick up my rifle and continue waiting.
Six o’clock, and it’s time to go. The sun is just below the hills; the entire valley is bathed in a soft grey glow. We can just see the compound with the naked eye. The earpiece of my radio crackles and I hear my platoon commander’s voice, murmuring softly into his mic. “Charlie Charlie Four five, this is four five. Move in figures five, over.”
The radio clicks off, and immediately another voice clicks in. “Four-five Alpha; move in five. Got it.”
I press the switch of my radio. “Four five Bravo. Understood.” I snap my fingers to get my men’s attention, and give a quick series of hand signs. Around me, soldiers begin to move cautiously, groaning softly as they stretch stiff muscles. Camouflage rustles, rifles are brought to the ready and while still lying prone, men gather themselves to jump to their feet.
Lieutenant again: “Four five, good. Move at the flare; fire on my fire. Open fire orders. Stand by – four five out.” ‘Open fire orders’ ...Army speak for ‘kill everything that moves’.
With a couple of minutes until we attack, I take the time to weave a couple of quick spells. Reaching for Chalice, I send an Influence over my men; minimizing their fears, heightening their courage and aggression. Not that they need it – these are some of the best soldiers on Earth, but every little bit helps. Around me, my men are shaking with anticipation – one or two actually growling. That’s good; very good – we’re about to do some awful things and I don’t want any basic human morality getting in the way. Next, the last spell I have time for; I weave the wizard’s old standby – Fireball. The Power crackles uncomfortably just under the skin of my left hand. It hurts – like the pins and needles you get after your arm’s gone to sleep but much sharper – but the added firepower is well worth the discomfort.
Suddenly, far off to my left there’s a sharp crack and whoosh as the Lieutenant’s Section fires flares. There’s silence for a few seconds, punctuated by a bewildered Slavic cry from the compound. Then two blinding, blue-white parachute flares burst high in the air over the compound, and all Hell breaks loose.
“Go!” I order, pumping my fist and surging to my feet. As one, my Section moves toward the target in a low, fast running crouch – ‘monkey running’ as we call it, rifles at the shoulder and taking aim on the run. Almost instantly the early dawn is shattered by blasts of gunfire – the high, light chatter of Canadian C8 assault carbines. The compound looks like a kicked anthill – confused, totally unprepared Croats running everywhere; yelling and scrambling for weapons or cover. Two or three seconds later, the sound of Alpha section’s gunfire adds to the chaos; assaulting the compound from the east. “Let ‘em have it!” I roar; straightening up into a full-blown sprint. Taking aim as I run, I fire several short bursts into the confusion; hearing my men doing the same.
Thirty meters from the target, and there’s finally some return fire – the short, distinctive popping sound of Kalashnikovs and poorly-aimed red tracers zip over our heads from a window in the closest barracks. “Down!” I shout, throwing myself to the ground. My order is hardly necessary; my troops are already diving for cover. “Stoyles!” I scream, pointing at the source of the fire. Stoyles nods and climbs to his knees; bringing an M-72 rocket launcher to his shoulder. The Section fires as one; seven rifles pour a withering barrage of lead at the barracks, supporting the vulnerable Newfoundlander as he aims the antitank weapon. There’s an earsplitting CRACK! as Stoyles fires the rocket and a section of the barracks wall explodes outward in a massive explosion. The return fire stops; Stoyles tosses the spent launcher aside, picks up his rifle and falls back in as we surge towards the compound.
From the far end of the ruined building, a man bursts out of the door and runs madly for the forest, blood streaming from his head. Three of my soldiers turn and fire at the same moment; the man drops, twitching. Around us, the sounds of battle increase in intensity – gunfire punctuated with the shouts of fighting men; screams of dying men. The dull ‘crump’ of grenades exploding and once; the sharp, spine-chilling shriek of a Croat rocket-propelled grenade. Shouts of “RPG!” from Alpha Section; out of sight behind the buildings, a sudden sharp barrage of multiple C8s – sounds like they got him. Off to our left; the powerful hammering of a C9 machine gun adds to the din as our heavy weapons detachment pumps a sheet of fire into the buildings.
Still sprinting madly, my section pounds into the clearing and takes cover against the shattered wall of the barracks, lining up on either side of the building’s doorway. I pull a grenade and nod at Charette; my number-two man who does the same. We pull pins, then toss the grenades in through the open window over our heads. “Grenaaaade!” I shout, and the section scrambles for cover. Two dull, powerful thuds as the grenades go off; sounds of screaming from inside. We grab two more grenades and pull pins. I gesture at the closed doorway to Tracy; our massive gunner, who straightens up, leans back and plants a mighty kick on the door’s knob. The wooden door bursts inwards, and as Derek dives for cover Dan and I toss the grenades in through the open door. The grenades explode, and Tracy leans into the breach; firing a long burst inside with his machine gun. If there was anyone standing behind that door; they won’t be standing now.
Crouching low, I order my men to cover me, then buttonhook into the doorway. It opens onto a short hallway running the width of the building. There are two open doors at the far end, one left and one right. The hallway is blasted into ruin – the grenades and Tracy’s machine gun fire shredded the thin walls, which are scorched black and burning in spots. There are no bodies – but blood is everywhere. My heart pounding, I creep down the hallway to the doors. Tossing a grenade through the right-hand door, I take cover and when it explodes, buttonhook through the left-hand door, firing several bursts into the gloom. The room looks empty; two dozen iron bedsteads blasted and burning from the grenades. I’m just turning to leave and inspect the right-hand door when I catch movement out of the corner of my eye. A Croat; hiding behind the radiator. Burned, bleeding and shaking, the man is leveling an AK-47 at me! I react instantly; throwing myself to the ground and extending my left hand towards him. The Fireball I’d been holding erupts from my fingertips; a softball-sized bolt of white-hot plasma blasts across the room and buries itself in the man’s chest. His eyes go wide in agonized horror as his guts burn to ash and his spine melts. He drops dead; sliding down behind the radiator.
Cursing silently, I get back to my feet, looking around to see if any of my men saw me. They didn’t – I can hear them clearing the rest of the building. I lucked out there – it was sheer stupid carelessness which made me miss seeing him the first time. I leave the room quickly; cross the hall to the other door and see Stoyles, Carter and Charette clearing the rest of the building. “Anything?” I ask.
“Just dead guys,” Dan shrugs. “You?”
“One in there. Looks like he got a grenade in the chest,” I lie.
The skinny Quebecois nods, “OK. So why the f*** you go alone in there, hey?” he barks at me, scowling and jabbing a bony finger at my chest.
I shrug. “Just me being stupid, Corporal. Police the section up, let’s get back into it!”
Charette nods curtly, then gives a wry thin smile. “Oui, Corporal-chef Idiot.” With a gesture, he leads his two men out of the ruined barracks. I follow them out, then gather the Section up and sweep around the outside of the building.
The battle is pretty much over – only a few sporadic shots as soldiers hunt down hiding survivors. Battle, hell – it was a bloody slaughter; as was intended. The compound is burning fiercely; smoke rising high into the sky as their stores of fuel blaze. Moving cautiously; the Platoon meets in the center of the clearing. We take quick stock – no Canadians killed; none seriously wounded – just two men hurt; Private Lee grazed by shrapnel, Sergeant Mathieu bleeding and dazed from a near-miss by an RPG. We give quick first-aid, redistribute ammunition, then the Lieutenant snaps out a few orders. We move out again; fading into the woods and heading for our extraction point some kilometers and a couple of hours away.

Cougar
2008-Dec-01, 08:19 PM
Wow!

PraedSt
2008-Dec-01, 08:49 PM
Good story! But I want more magic. :(

geonuc
2008-Dec-01, 10:51 PM
How about Hannibal (the Carthaginian, not the cannibal)? I just listened to an episode of Hardcore History on the Punic Wars and the guy seems incredible.

KaiYeves
2008-Dec-02, 02:09 AM
Roy Chapman Andrews, the paleontologist who was the inspiration for Indiana Jones, was pretty darn lucky. Maybe him.

Staiduk
2008-Dec-02, 10:15 AM
You may be rejecting Dee (which I think is a mistake; don't focus on him but acknowledge him?), but have you considered Elizabeth herself? Or perhaps the poor Earl of Essex--as he went mad, the magic deserted him. Also the typhoid probably didn't help.

Actually, I am thinking about using Dee; but not as a Wielder - I think history has proven fairly conclusively that he wouldn't have been one, and in his case; rewriting history to make the point that he wasn't a Wielder - but was in posession of a manuscript Ken decides to track down - would overall be more compelling. Frankly, Dee is interesting enough without adding the extra twist in. Kelley's status as a Wielder however, is more interesting to me. Good/evil? Skilled and an extremely subtle diversionist or a clumsy bungler in the use of the Power? Shrewd or just plain weird? He was Dee's companion for a long time - any of those possibilities could have far-reaching implications, I think. ;)

Jens
2008-Dec-02, 10:36 AM
One thing to think about, since you mentioned Aikido, is that the guy who started it was a follower of a religious group (Oomoto-kyo) that definitely had some magical beliefs.

Ivan Viehoff
2008-Dec-02, 12:35 PM
Have you read this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Strange_%26_Mr_Norrell
It's exceptionally good.

mugaliens
2008-Dec-02, 08:26 PM
Wow!


I'd say he's feeling the magic...

Don't walk; run to the nearest publisher. It should at least pay for college.

Moose
2008-Dec-03, 01:46 PM
Yeah, that's a fun sounding story. Good excerpt. I'd read it. :)

To add a historical figure: Not only John F. Kennedy, but Lee Harvey Oswald as well. May as well add fuel to that conspiracy-fire. :D

HenrikOlsen
2008-Dec-03, 03:35 PM
You may be rejecting Dee (which I think is a mistake; don't focus on him but acknowledge him?), but have you considered Elizabeth herself? Or perhaps the poor Earl of Essex--as he went mad, the magic deserted him. Also the typhoid probably didn't help.
I though of the same period, but of Tomas Phelippes or Francis Walsingham as very competent people who kept the throne secure without actually sitting on it.

HenrikOlsen
2008-Dec-03, 03:39 PM
I'd say he's feeling the magic...

Don't walk; run to the nearest publisher. It should at least pay for college.
Agent, not publisher.

Serious publishers don't accept submissions except through an agent, those that do you probably don't want to work for.

Gillianren
2008-Dec-03, 04:54 PM
I though of the same period, but of Tomas Phelippes or Francis Walsingham as very competent people who kept the throne secure without actually sitting on it.

That's a good thought, actually. I just don't like Walsingham as a person much--and neither, apparently, did Elizabeth, despite what Elizabeth: The Golden Age would have you believe.

mugaliens
2008-Dec-03, 06:12 PM
Agent, not publisher.

Serious publishers don't accept submissions except through an agent, those that do you probably don't want to work for.

(sigh)

We've been over this before. All I can say is I've never had an agent. I've been published. What more needs to be said?

jokergirl
2008-Dec-03, 10:25 PM
Has anybody mentioned Richelieu yet? I mean "success but keeping it hidden" must fit the original grey eminence...

;)