Creative Writing

Jeremy Cloud

Major Assignment 3


All Things Mispoken

There are days in every man's life that he wishes he could take back. Wishes he could change, do over again, and make right. Those days that keep one up at night, and make a man's dreams into nightmares.

I really hope this isn't going to end up being one of those days.

Arrayed before me in all their splendor sits the High Council of Magic. Made up of the wisest, most powerful, most dangerous individuals from dozens of races, the Council has the power to decide who is worthy to use magic. And who isn't.

Unluckily for me, I've accidentally pinged their metaphorical radar.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Thomas Mackleby, and I am a Cursebearer. I, and those few like me, have the power to absorb curses cast on others without harm to ourselves. The most powerful of us can carry literally thousands of curses simultaneously. And though we are in high demand for this gift, it's the other side of the coin that we are best known for. The ability to cast those curses back out, onto any person or thing we choose.

Needless to say, Cursebearers are heavily policed by the Council's watchdogs, and almost all who are discovered are stripped of their powers within a few years of coming into them. Consequently, we tend to avoid the Council like a bad set of in-laws, and for good reason. If a wizard or a magus has his power removed, the worst that happens is he becomes normal.

But if a Cursebearer loses his powers, the curses that he carries eat him. Usually instantly, and always painfully. I'd have to say that on my list of awful ways to die, losing my powers falls somewhere between being devoured alive by rabid sheep and being crushed by a burning mountain of elephant dung. Not pretty, and not my first choice by any means.

A booming, authoritative voice snaps me out of my dark thoughts, as it calls the Council to order. Thankfully, there's only a very small chance that I'm in danger of being stripped. I've been called before the Council today to determine the scope of my abilities, and whether or not I can of wield them responsibly. The fact that I know perfectly well what my powers can do, and have been wielding them for almost six years now, is not something the Council really needs to know, in my opinion.

The councilors settle down, the ridiculously long opening formalities are conducted, and finally we get down to brass tacks. The Chairman gives me a long, hard stare. Grown men have broken down and sobbed like children before that stare. Or so I've been told. Personally, I think he looks constipated. Realizing that the stare 'o doom isn't having any effect, the Chairman addresses me in roughly the same manner as one would speak to misbehaving attack dog. Loudly, firmly, and very slowly, with equal parts condecension and impatience.

"Do you know why you're here, young man?"

I nod, and try to look studious and respectful. I'm fairly certain I come off as mocking, but hopefully it's the thought that counts. "I'm here to have my gifts tested, and my fitness to carry and excercise those gifts evaluated."

He smiles like I've just done something cute. I can almost feel him patting me on the head in his mind. "Excellent. Now, please do exactly as we direct you, to the best of your ability."

For the next few hours, they put me through my paces. Absorbing a curse, casting a curse, controlling, deflecting, and absorbing malicious magics. Child's play, really, but I make it look like I'm struggling. They think I'm new to all of this, and if I suddenly demonstrate advanced skills, it's unlikely they'll assume I'm a prodigy.

Once they are, hopefully, convinced that I'm completely incapable of anything beyond what a Cursebearer can do innately, the real fun begins. This fun comes in the form of hot and cold runnning questions, on topics ranging from basic ethics to advanced metaphysical morality theory. And the questions come so quickly that at many points they cut me off to ask the next question, all but tripping over themselves to take a shot at me.

By the time they finally start to slow down, I feel like there's an angry squirrel beating against the back of my forehead with a jackhammer. I find myself fighting off the urge to slap them all with Montezuma's Revenge. A childish curse, yes, but vicious and popular. I'm sure I have enough to go around.

I'm pulled away from the satifying mental image of the Council collectively crapping themselves by the Chairman's voice calling an end to the questions. He then asks me to wait outside while they deliberate.

Standing outside, the doors to the Council Hall, I rapidly run through my mental list of curses. On the tiny, minute chance that they decide to summarily strip me, I need to take down as many of them as quickly as possible. Though the councillors are dangerously skilled at magic, the sheer amount of raw, naked power it takes to completely remove a being's ability to use magic requires them to pool their resources. Take out enough councillors, and they won't have enough magic at their disposal to perform the stripping.

The doors reopen, and with not a little trepidation, I step back inside. The Chairman fixes me with the stare o' doom again, which somehow strikes me as funny. I mean, it didn't work before, so does he really think it's going to scare me now? If anything, the constipated look on his face has my fingers itching to perform the slightly crude getures to cast a Montezuma. He seriously looks like his bowels need de-obstruction. Just to be on the safe side, I clench my hands into fists.

"It is the judgement of this Council that you are not dangerous at this time." He looks like the words are almost painful to speak. My knuckles are turning white with the effort needed to not send the good Chairman into a sudden rendition of the green apple quickstep. "However, we believe you are a possible threat. You will report to the local Council offices in your area, where you will be assigned a Watcher. You will..."

He drones on, and on, laying down the rules. It seems I've escaped for the moment, but I've picked up a permanent tail. I'm going to have to spend the next couple of years moving very carefully, and pretending to be almost powerless.

But at least I have a fighting chance to figure out a way to keep my powers, and keep myself alive.