As I grew older, I spent the after-school hours at my father’s theater. This is where I practiced the magic that I had been initiated into on my eighth birthday. I followed in my father’s tradition, while my sister Poppy followed in our mother’s tradition, which she studied in the Gypsy Grove.
I would practice this magic with wands and other such props. This was not the Magic I used to create my little creatures, nor was it the illusionary sleight of hand my father used in his magic shows. This magic was real—and dangerous—which was why my father made everyone so nervous—including me.
I understood his magic. When I practiced, I not only created power I could use later to manipulate matter and forces to my will, but I was also creating an equal amount of “phantom magic.” This magic I could not control, it flowed where it would, creating strange phenomena in isolated amounts and places of haunting where it collected en mass.
My father kept a Ghost Light burning over the stage. Ghost lights are traditional in theaters, but his was magical in nature—an attempt to keep any specters or strange happenings from visiting the town at large. To hear some of the patrons talk, however, the ghost light wasn’t always successful in its mission—especially on Between the Worlds Night.
Knowing these things, I had puzzled over the purpose of learning such a powerful and seemingly unstable magic. Sure, it was a nice break from creating the little creatures that I otherwise obsessed over, but what was the end goal besides being able to get out of a boring date by vanishing in plain sight?
An epiphany came, late in my junior year, while I was levitating a vase of flowers I had just conjured into existence. At that moment of creative contemplation, it occurred to me how much my father’s magic felt like my own. It was as if they both sprang from the same source. Were they related somehow?
This thought didn’t come out of the blue. Ever since I was young, my father regaled me with stories of another realm ruled by magicians. Time after time, the realm would become corrupted by evil elites. Time after time, a bard would be born who would rescript the magic of the realm, releasing those enslaved by its misuse.
These stories were similar to ones that my sister Poppy had told me through the years, except, in the Travelers version of the tales, it was the Creators who ruled the realm, becoming corrupted by the power they wielded over their creations.
That day, as I stared at the now quivering vase, the two stories merged, creating a singular reality that I didn’t know if I was ready to face. The vase fell and shattered. My father, who had been working out a new trick nearby, stopped his rehearsal.
We stared at each other. He was reading me, wondering what had caused me to lose my focus. I, likewise, was reading him, wondering if I asked for specifics, if he would tell me the truth this time.
“Are Magicans and Creators the same thing?” I asked.
My father conjured a stool and sat down. He lit a cigarette and brushed his black hair out of his eyes. I would call his smoking a nervous habit, but my father didn’t get nervous.
I stayed on the dusty floor, broken glass surrounding me, waiting for an answer.
My father exhaled a stream of smoke. “No, Magicians and Creators are not the same. One rules. The other, creates. Neither has power alone.”
“Who’s the Bard?”
“The One who uses the Magic in its original, unified form.”
“How is the Realm ReScripted?” I inquired, though deep down I already had an inkling.
My father shrugged. “Does it matter? It’s only a story.”
He knew it wasn’t a story. He knew that I knew that it wasn’t a story. I got up and waved my hands, restoring the fragmented vase and rearranging the fallen flowers in an instant. I picked up the floral display and walked from the stage, frustrated at our dance, yet satisfied that I had won yet another piece to a seemingly endless puzzle.
—Jellybean Reds, Creator of Little Creatures