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The Magic Thieves (Scrolls of Vengeance 1)

The Magic Thieves (Scrolls of Vengeance 1)
Release Date: 27 December 2010

***This edition is no longer available. A rerelease is planned for late 2016/early 2017.***

The magic thieves are taking what isn't theirs. Can Elryk, a wanted lightning wizard, and Kaythan, the Law Force Commander who captures him, become allies to defeat the criminals?

Elryk Muyd'omir is the most powerful lightning wizard born on Tah'Nut in two hundred years and a pacifist. To escape the wrath of the illegally ruling Xoh'kas family, he flees to Earth - a place without magic. Three years later the gateway that connects Tah'Nut to Earth reopens and Elryk knows that it's time to either face cruel punishment or fight.

Kaythan Vs'urr is a Law Force Commander who is sent to retrieve the criminal wizard Elryk. He's expected to return him to Tah'Nut for ‘reprogramming'. Secretly disgusted with the Xoh'kas' lack of determination to stop the magic thieves, he wants Elryk's help to find the fabled Magic Shield which will prevent further thievery.

Can Elryk trust the gorgeous Law Commander who wants his help? Will the two men be able to work together to defeat the Xoh'kas and eliminate the magic thieves?


Pages: 142
Words: 52,600
Heat Index:Heat Index
Cover Artist: Lyn Taylor
Book Type: EBook, Paperback, Audio

"It has been said that history is written by the victor. The Scrolls of Vengeance will record all of history - so that none of its lessons are forgotten."
From the opening paragraphs of the Tah'Nutian Scrolls of Vengeance, Tah'Nut, year 0.

"A thief thinks everyone steals."
Edward W. Howe, Late 19th to early 20th Earth centuries.
From the opening paragraphs of the Terran Scrolls of Vengeance, Earth, year 2015.


Chapter One


Everything changed on the day true magic came to Earth.

At first, most humans were shocked to discover that inter-dimensional gateways were real rather than the stuff of science fiction and fantasy. A few courageous scientists were sent to explore the phenomenon, accompanied by military protectors. When the first people emerged from the swirling colours of the gateway, everyone was relieved that the ‘aliens' looked so human. They identified themselves as diplomats from the planet of Tah‘Nut and conveyed a message of peace and an offer of help with humanity's problems.

After a week of adjusting to a new world order, the human consensus was gratitude. Magic may not have been what most had expected from a different dimension, but there was hope that it might help avert many of the global threats that were about to overwhelm humanity's ability to deal with them. Everyone thought the gateway's appearance and the Tah'Nutian offer of help was a serendipitous miracle.

Elryk Muyd‘omir knew better.

The Tah'Nutian government had no intention of selflessly helping the humans save their planet. The price of total subjugation to their will hadn't been mentioned yet, but it would become obvious soon enough. The cruelty of the current government was the only reason Elryk had left his home planet. He'd refused to work with the illegally ruling Xoh‘kas family. As a consequence, they'd declared him an enemy of the law, making him a wanted man.

His only choice had been to find a suitable planet outside the magical realm, one that was unknown to the Xoh'kas or anyone else on Tah'Nut. He wanted to make it as difficult as possible for them to find him, so he looked for a planet with no magic at all. When he'd found Earth, he'd used the gateway to briefly connect the two planets. Three years ago almost to the day he'd finally escaped, closing the gateway down from Earth's end as soon as he'd made it through.

Earth had become his home, and even though he'd had to do withouthis magic, he'd been mostly happy here. He'd never had many friends on Tah'Nut, so he didn't miss them. He'd made a few new friends on Earth, and wasn't looking forward to leaving them behind.

Unfortunately, he hadn't succeeded in hiding his whereabouts well enough, nor in closing down the gateway permanently. He knew that its appearance wasn‘t a lucky coincidence, miraculous or otherwise. It was the result of a concerted effort to track him down.

Now that the Tah‘Nutian Law Forces had located his refuge, he needed to make a decision-accept his punishment or fight.

Elryk stood on the white sands of his favourite beach and stared out over the stillness of the blue-green ocean waves. The sun was high in the sky, creating an almost oppressive heat. There wasn't even a breath of wind in the physical world. The magical realm was another matter.

Now that the gateway gave him access again, he could feel its energies expanding outward. As soon as they touched him, the Law Forces would be able to pinpoint his location. Hiding wasn't an option much longer.

"You‘re going to leave, aren‘t you?" Parker Stokes was his best friend, sharing his beach house with him and keeping Elryk company when not working as a physicist.

"I‘m sorry." Elryk saw no other way. Even though the gateway had opened on the other side of the planet, the energy would eventually envelop this entire planet, just like it surrounded Tah'Nut. "When the gateway energies reach me, there'll be no escape. The Law Forces will come for me, and if they find out that you helped me hide, your punishment will be as severe as mine. I can't risk that."

"You‘ve always said this might happen." Parker smiled, showing the dimples so at odds with his serious demeanour. "I wish there was something I could do to help. For the first time in my life, I wish I was a wizard, not a scientist."

"I'm glad you're a scientist." Elryk smiled. "We may not have science on Tah'Nut because we never needed it to help us. Magic was always a much easier solution. But having seen what science can do if used correctly, I can't help but think that it may come in handy at some point."

"You'll know where to find me when that happens." Parker patted Elryk's arm. "I may not be able to help you fight them in a magical battle, but I'd love to support you in some other way. My fingers are itching with the need to do something useful. To help you stop them."

"I can‘t fight them, not yet." He sighed. "I'd hoped that my magic would return more quickly now that the gateway is open. But it seems that I need more time to recharge than I thought. I can do a few spells, the simple ones they teach kids, but the ones requiring more power are still beyond me."

"So it's like a muscle that hasn't been used for a while?" Parker looked thoughtful.

"Something like that." Elryk nodded.

Leave it to Parker to find a way of translating what was happening into scientific terms he could understand.

"But when it does come back fully, you will fight them, right?" Parker‘s green eyes shone with the force of his conviction. "You can‘t let those Xoh‘kas ‘re-programme‘ you and make you a mindless zombie."

Elryk had told Parker the whole story of his useless resistance against the dictatorial rulers and its consequences when they'd caught him. The Xoh'kas had spent the last two hundred years since they'd come to power via a coup refining, not just their level of control over the population, but the punishments that were used when someone didn't do what they wanted.

His friend had sworn to never tell another soul. While Parker had been disgusted with the political situation, he'd been fascinated that magic existed in another dimension. The physicist in him had unsuccessfully tried to develop an explanation. With the gateway open, he was sure that Parker was going to be studying the phenomenon until he was satisfied he could explain it in terms any physicist could understand and relate to.

"Yes, I‘ll fight." Elryk snorted.

The Law Forces were sure to hand him over to the Xoh‘kas. He wouldn't really have a choice but to fight unless he was ready to accept losing his personality.

The Rah‘loyst procedure was a cruel mind invasion technique developed and refined by wizards working for the Xoh'kas. It was designed to wipe the victim's memory and personality, then neutralise his magic. Permanently.

The ruling Xoh‘kas family may have wanted more docile citizens, but Elryk shuddered at the thought of losing his personality. Anything was better than that.

"Good!" Parker slapped him on the back. The man's lean frame was deceptive, and his strength was tangible in his touch. "They don‘t deserve to control your Ruling Assembly."

"I never thought they did." Elryk sighed. "I just wasn‘t ready to step up and face them three years ago. I‘m not a fighter, you know?"

"I know." Parker nodded, his black hair bobbing around his patrician face. "But you can‘t let them take over Earth as well. We‘ve got so many problems of our own, we can't even agree on which is the most urgent. And I don't just mean the unprecedented levels of pollution."

"Right." Elryk grimaced. "You‘ve certainly managed to make life difficult for yourselves. You do realise that magic isn‘t going to solve everything, don‘t you?"

"Obviously." Parker grinned. "Science is going to play a role."

Elryk nodded.

"Goodbye, my friend." Parker smiled and stepped away.

"Thank you for everything." Elryk smiled and turned back towards the ocean for one last look.

It was time. He had to return to Tah‘Nut to try and fight the oppressors more effectively than he had done previously. The gateway was the only way back. It was heavily guarded, so he had no hope of sneaking through without getting caught. Giving himself up would be faster, less painful, and would hopefully mean they'd leave him conscious. Every scrap of control was important.

Once through the gateway, his magic would hopefully come back fully and more quickly than if he stayed on Earth. He‘d somehow have to find a way to escape the Law Forces before they erased his memory. Whether that was before they imprisoned him or after remained to be seen.

He took one last breath of the salty ocean air. Mentally reaching out to the currents emanating from the gateway to increase his power, he wove the spell that would transport him straight into the Tah‘Nutian Law Forces Commander‘s temporary office on Earth. There was no point in dealing with anyone but the very tip of the command structure.

Nothing happened for a few seconds. Then the pain stabbed into the very centre of his brain. It was harsh, blinding and incapacitating. He sank to his knees, uselessly gasping for breath. He squeezed his eyes shut against the suddenly hurtful intensity of the sunshine.

Shit. This wasn't supposed to hurt. was And why was he still on the beach?

"Are you okay?" Parker's voice sounded as if his friend were speaking through a layer of cotton.

"I have no idea." He opened his eyes slowly enough to allow them to get used to the light. "This isn't what's supposed to happen."

"I guess not." Parker came closer and reached out a hand to help him get up. "Do you have any idea what went wrong?"

"Not really." The pain slowly ebbed away as he stood on the sand, trying to get his balance back. "There was a blinding flash of pain instead of the usual slight discomfort when using a transportation spell, and I'm dizzy."

"It almost sounds like you strained the ‘magic centre' in your brain." Parker shook his head and grinned. "I can't believe I just said that. We don't even know if that's how it works."

"It's as good an explanation as any." He rubbed his temples to try and chase away the pain. It stubbornly remained almost as intense as it had been right after he'd attempted the spell. "The question is how to fix it?"

"Well, with a ‘normal' strain it depends on the severity. You'd let the muscle rest, ice it if it's swollen and then do stretching exercises to rebuild strength." Parker frowned. "These strains often happen when there's been no proper warm-up of the muscle. Maybe that's what happened here?"

"You mean that I went into it without proper preparation?" Elryk grinned. "That actually does make sense."

"It does?" Parker's eyes widened.

"Considering the fact that I haven't done any magic in three years, yeah. If you're right and there is a ‘magic centre' in my brain, it's probably atrophied by now." He couldn't believe he hadn't thought of that. "And all I've done for the last few days is some minor experimenting to see how much of my ability had returned. So it's no wonder a transportation spell, as simple as it would have been for me to do under ‘normal' circumstances, was too much."

"I can see how it happened." Parker's grin revealed perfectly straight white teeth. "You're not used to thinking like that. From what you told me your magic has always been with you, as long as you can remember."

"That's it." He nodded. "Now I know what to do. I need to run through the preparatory exercises we teach children when they first discover their magic. Like with any skill, doing magic requires practice. We don't let them jump into their first spell unprepared, so I shouldn't have tried that either."

Once he'd settled into the familiar rhythm of the familiar, increasingly difficult exercises, he quickly became more confident. After less than an hour he was ready, and nodded at Parker one last time.

When he tried the spell again, it worked as expected.

* * * *

Kaythan Vs‘urr looked up from the magic-based three-dimensional map of Earth that he'd been studying. His teams had already searched more than half the planet. He knew it would be much easier to find the criminal once the gateway's energies expanded far enough to touch him, but Kaythan wanted no help for this. He was a trained member of the Law Forces, and he preferred not to have to rely on magic to do his job anymore than absolutely necessary.

But time was fast running out. The gateway's energies expanded more each day and would soon envelop the entire planet.

He wasn't sure what had interrupted him. There'd been a jolt of power, a crackling sizzle in the air. Almost like an attempted transportation spell. He frowned, irritated by the unexpected disturbance. It was highly irregular for anyone to transport straight into an office, even if this one had been hastily built and was only temporary.

He'd probably imagined the whole thing. Who could possibly be attempting to transport into his office?

He went back to staring at the maps and quickly lost track of time as he developed new ideas and instructions for his search teams. A bright flash pulled him back into reality. This time he was sure it was a full transportation spell, the yellow flash accompanied by the distinct rumble undeniable signs.

He looked up and froze in place.

Smouldering black eyes stared at him. They belonged to a tall, muscular man with long black hair, a classically chiselled face with a high forehead and a strong, beardless chin and jaw. His skin was white, almost translucent. His lips were the deep red of winter roses just before spring. In short, Kaythan was looking at the wanted criminal he‘d been sent to Earth to capture. The man-no, wizard-stood in the middle of the room, hands relaxed at his sides, acting as if he‘d been invited over for some social occasion.

Kaythan‘s mouth dropped open.

Elryk was not at all what Kaythan had expected. His superiors had warned him about the potent wizard, who'd been branded an outlaw of the worst kind, headstrong and evil. He‘d mentally prepared himself for any and all tricks the ‘traitor‘ was going to throw at him.

The wizard in front of him fit the physical description he‘d been given down to the last gorgeous molecule of his perfect body. Kaythan swallowed. Crap. He was going to have to be careful about betraying the undeniable attraction he felt. The pictures had been one thing, but the wizard‘s physical presence was ten times more powerful. It was too early to risk telling the wizard what was actually going on. He couldn‘t reveal his plans before he got them both to safety. Nobody in power could know about his real reason for taking this assignment until it was too late for them to do anything about it.

What surprised him, beyond the fact that the wizard had come here of his own free will, was the lack of aggression in his body language. Elryk‘s whole attitude radiated a quiet peacefulness that touched Kaythan‘s warrior heart. It didn't fit the image of a cruel outlaw that was the currently accepted truth on Tah'Nut. Not that he could show it. Their actions were being chronicled, so he was being watched and evaluated just as much as Elryk.

He closed his mouth and hardened his gaze. He had a role to play if he wanted to get them out of here alive. He walked up to the wizard, his heavy steps making Elryk wince. But the wizard stood his ground. His chin stayed up and his dark eyes were undeterred.

"So, wizard, you‘ve come to turn yourself in?" Kaythan‘s voice sounded gruff even to his own ears.

"Why else would I be here?" Elryk shook his head and sneered. "I‘m curious, is this the level of intelligence I can expect during the upcoming interrogations?"

"Not good enough for you?" Good, there was at least some fight left in him. They would need that if his plan was going to work.

"Hardly a challenge." Elryk shrugged. "Not that I expected anyone of any intellectual ability to be part of this operation."

"Is that so?" Kaythan raised his eyebrows, presenting the right effect for the visual chronicling equipment. "You do realise that showing this sort of disrespect of the Law Forces will get you into trouble? Even a citizen of hitherto unblemished reputation can't get away with criticism like that."

"You don‘t say!" Elryk laughed. "I see that nothing has changed. Looks like the Xoh‘kas have still got everyone, including the Law Forces, under their thumbs."

"Now, now, there‘s no need to insult us." Kaythan had difficulty keeping a smile off his face. The wizard's reputation for impertinence towards authority was clearly not undeserved. "You‘re in enough trouble as it is."

"Would not insulting you reduce my predicament?" Elryk snorted. "Don‘t get me wrong, it‘s not that I care. I'd just like to know."

"Based on your file, I‘d wager that nothing short of a miracle could reduce your ‘predicament.‘" He grinned, making sure he seemed appropriately disdainful. "However, there‘s still plenty of potential for making it worse."

"Really?" Elryk crossed his muscular arms across his broad chest. "Do tell me what could possibly be worse than the painful Ray‘loyst procedure which wipes people‘s personality?"

"You don‘t want to know." He shuddered, careful to keep a neutral facial expression.

He‘d seen some of the torture inflicted before the deletion of a prisoner‘s mind. Since the prisoners never remembered any of it after receiving the new ‘programming,‘ some of the guards took that as licence to ‘experiment' on the prisoners before they destroyed their memories and personalities. Nobody was ever the wiser because there were never any witnesses left to talk about what had really happened.

"Probably not." Elryk nodded, agreeing with him for once.
"So, to get back to why I‘m here. Aren‘t you going to arrest me and put me into restraints or something?"

Oh, the wizard had no idea. Just thinking of him naked, all tied up, powerless to prevent anything that Kaythan was going to do to him, made him rock hard in his uniform pants. Double crap! He couldn‘t stand here sporting an erection. He was supposed to arrest the wizard and get him back to Tah‘Nut. Even if it was for the benefit of his own agenda, he had a plan to follow and a job to do here.

"Why, are you going to try and run away after turning yourself in?" He pulled the magic-suppressant handcuffs from his belt and opened them.

"Maybe not right now." Elryk shrugged and held out his hands. "But I might change my mind."

He ignored that last remark as he cuffed the wizard, making sure the device adjusted itself properly and didn‘t cut off the circulation. The words made him wonder whether the wizard was planning something other than giving up and turning himself in. It almost sounded as if he wasn't quite ready to truly surrender.

"Believe me, you can change your mind all you want, wizard." He made sure the sneer was captured by the chronicling device in the corner. "There will be no escaping justice this time."

At least not in the way Elryk was possibly imagining it. He'd given as good as he got verbally, but a few brave words weren't going to convince Kaythan that the wizard would actually stand up and fight for what he believed in. His biggest worry was that Elryk would cave in, just like three years ago when he‘d fled rather than confront his enemies.

"Well, stop your childish posturing, then, commander, and let's get moving." Elryk grinned back, clearly unrepentant. "I'm sure your superiors are getting impatient."

Kaythan gritted his teeth with the effort not to tell his ‘prisoner‘ the truth of what he thought about his superiors. He couldn't risk giving his plan away too soon. He left written instructions for his second in command before turning back to the ominously quiet wizard. Silently, he took the man's arm and started marching them towards the portal.

He'd have to get him out of here, take him to a location where they could talk without being overheard, and find out how prepared he was to stand up for what was right. Kaythan's plan for stopping the magic thieves and getting rid of the illegally ruling Xoh'kas would only work with the help of the most powerful lightning wizard currently alive. Now that he had that wizard under his control, he'd need to make sure the other man understood what was at stake.

The magic thieves needed to be stopped, that much was certain. By siphoning off the magic, they were able to spread magic abilities to more people. Many thought that was a good thing. But other than free magic, it also meant more and more unqualified people used it, including the elusive magic thieves who didn‘t care about the damage they did to the balance of the magical realm.

Kaythan couldn‘t stand the fact that those thieving vermin were only tracked down and punished when they stole from someone important to the Xoh‘kas. Most people accepted that their Ruling Assembly had only ‘limited resources‘ to pursue the thieves and that it was better to ‘focus on the big offenders,‘ who stole magic in a major way. You couldn‘t really control something as intangible as magic anyway, or so the majority believed.
That sure as hell didn‘t make it right to let them go on unhindered, though.

"You found him, sir?" The young guard was wide-eyed as his hand inched towards the sword at his belt.

The second guard was a little older but looked no less shocked. His hand had reached his sword a lot faster, though.

"Indeed." Kaythan glanced at both guards. "There is no need for weapons. As you can see, the criminal has been secured."

Elryk snorted and Kaythan had a hard time suppressing his amusement. The wizard obviously didn't know what was good for him. Anyone other than Kaythan would have punished him for the lack of respect. Kaythan let it slide.

The guards couldn't withdraw their hands from their weapons fast enough. Being slow to follow orders was not a trait for a survivor.

"I'll be escorting the prisoner through the gateway myself to avoid any further delays." Not to mention a chance for anyone to interfere and take over from him. "I expect you to notify officer Ten'lasam immediately. He is to take over command until I return. There are instructions in my office."

Kaythan waited long enough to see the two men nod before he stepped up to the portal, Elryk in tow.

"Ready?" He looked at the wizard.

Elryk looked even paler than usual but he nodded, his eyes huge as he stared at the gateway without so much as a blink.

"Are you okay?" He was risking exposure by showing this much concern, but something looked really off.

"Sure." Elryk nodded mechanically, still fixated on the colourful surface of the pulsating gateway energies.
He didn't have a choice. Even though he couldn't quite believe that Elryk even knew what he was talking about, he was going to have to take the wizard's word for it.

Taking a deep breath and clearing his mind of as many extraneous thoughts as possible, he took one last look at Elryk before grabbing the man's arm and stepping into the gateway with him. The trip was only going to take a few seconds. Surely nothing could go wrong in such a short time?

The scratchy tingling along his skin as the energies enveloped him was what he expected. So was the low rolling thunder in his ears and the scent of burnt hair.

What wasn't normal was the jolt that went through Elryk as he collapsed. The wizard went limp immediately, and Kaythan barely managed to catch him before he fell and hurt himself.

What the fuck was going on here?

©Serena Yates, 2010
All Rights Reserved



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