Enter a realm of magick mirroring Europe in the late 1930s, locked in a repressive government where a girl struggles to see beyond prejudice and a boy has lost faith in humanity.
The era jives with jazz and swing, war divides the land and its people, and the Monarch seeks any with the gifts of magick: the Mages. Fifteen-year-old Claire Royce hates magick, but not as much as her ruthless king's war. As fate would have it, she ends up stuck in the company of a powerful young Mage, Walter Tully. And when they learn the Monarch is searching for The Sire, the creator of all magick, they know someone must stop him. But are they really up to the task?
Imagine all our tales of history woven with the fantastic threads of magick. That was Claire's world. And at just fifteen years old, she already resented it.
The jive of jazz had just created swing, motion pictures had found color, and worldwide controversy had erupted over the Mages. They were the users of magick and many believed they wielded too much power. As more and more arguments roared from all sides, Claire was convinced the world was cursed. She could easily sympathize.
She had lost her mother at birth and her father when she was still just a little girl. She was then sent to live with her estranged grandfather in Becca City. It all took some getting used to. But in the past seven years, she had never made any real friends. She spent most of her spare time in her grandfather's auto shop, eager for him to teach her how to repair motorcars. He was, after all, the only family she had left.
Claire was stuck in the curses of her own life, and it made her feel helpless to have to watch the whole world fall apart. She had her own reasons for hating magick, but she knew what her king was doing to the Mages was wrong. The Monarch had declared all users of magick as outlaws and was leading a crusade against every last one, all while controlling his people with fear. The few he did allow to practice magick were his Royals: elite Mages under the direct command of the Monarch himself. They wore sleek, tailored suits, and an engraved golden bracelet as a badge of their high rank. Their appearance alone was daunting enough. They stalked the streets with uniformed soldiers, out on patrols that were growing more frequent as they enforced mandatory curfews that came earlier each night. But as Claire noticed the dim twilight outside the shop window that evening, she didn't much care.
Looking dainty and dapper in her stained boy's knickers and button shirt, Claire tucked her shoulder-length hair up into a tweed flat cap, and casually headed home. She quietly followed the alleyways. She hadn't spotted a patrolman yet and was hopeful not to. She just needed to get across the next open street, cut through the park, and she would only have her grandfather's lecture to deal with.
The street was empty aside from a few laborers allowed to pass after dark, and so she dashed to the opposite passage unseen. Then, dread stopped her in her tracks when whistles cut the air, reeling her sights around in panic. Sprinting from an intersection less than a block away, she spotted a boy rushing across the street, his adolescent arms filled with ripe red apples. As he ran into an alley, more whistles blared in follow with a squad of soldiers gaining on him. Right then, Claire felt a heat rise up inside her, causing her fists to clench hard at her sides. She was fed up with the way the soldiers treated everyone. Before she knew it, she was running to try and cut them off.
As the worn soles of her ankle boots skidded to a stop in a quiet brickyard, she feared she had lost them. That was when a stench caused her a gag, and she turned her soured eyes up at a tall wooden wagon mounded with fresh fertilizer. But at hearing a faint laughter and a stampede of soldiers, she ducked and hid behind it. The surprisingly giddy boy bustled on by without a clue. And just as the whistles blared behind him, Claire hauled the release cord of the wagon's dump gate to spill a flash flood of filth, trampling the patrolmen. She couldn't help but let out a few giggles of her own.
"Hey, you!" a man shouted.
Claire gasped. The reinforcements were on their way, letting out another sharp call of their whistles to alert any others nearby. She suddenly couldn't believe what she had done. This was exactly what she was trying to avoid.
"Don't move, kid!"
But Claire was already racing down the nearest alley. Frantic, she changed direction at random to confuse them, but another set of soldiers tried to block her. She rushed to get away, only for her heart to stop with her strides. A well of defeat washed over her as she took off her cap, letting her brittle hair fall around her face. Her gaze frowned as she looked straight up at the dead end towering four stories above her. When the charge of boots arrived, she slowly turned around. Seeing those two soldiers smirking back at her only stiffened her with dread.
Clutching her cap, a flurry of wind suddenly roared in from every angle, before the runaway boy appeared right in front of her. With a simple grin on his charming face, a delicate ring echoed as he flipped a silver coin to the air. And with his catch of it, he snatched his arms around Claire as a flare of purple shimmer fired from his feet, launching them both towards the sky. Amidst her shock, Claire spotted more trails of purple shoot up in follow. The Royals were after them. Just then, a strange dialect mumbled from the boy's lips. Claire felt chills as the ghostly tones echoed over each other. When she dared to look, she reveled as his eyes brightened with a striking light from within. A golden orb then swelled at his feet, and they both latched on tight just as it burst, rocketing them from Becca City in a brilliant flash.
They careened over fields and rivers, suburbs and farmlands, and soared at dizzying speeds towards a dense forest. With their descent just as fast, the boy quickly tucked and rolled only moments before they pummeled into a slide along the ground, finally stopping in a cloud of dust. He was a bit dazed as he sat up. Then, he beamed at the sight of the tiny cottage nestled under the growth of a giant oak, proud of their successful escape. Looking down, he found the oddly dressed girl was out cold, but still clasping her tweed cap tightly. He was confused. He couldn't even guess what had possessed her to help him. And though it caused him a laugh, he scooped her up into his arms and carried her into the cottage.