Cover photo

Worlds Collide

Introducing Minus

Chapter 1

The air crackled around Minus as he darted across the open field, nothing but a blur to the naked eye. His body hummed with energy, and his muscles coiled tight as he pushed his alacrity to its limits. He came to an abrupt stop, feet skidding in the dirt, and hurled a crackling orb of light at a target in the distance. It exploded in a flash, scorching the earth.

Minus frowned, unsatisfied. It wasn't enough. He had to be faster and stronger. There was a whole world out there he had yet to explore, with new magics to master. He yearned to test himself against the best, to find where he truly belonged.

Gehenna was suffocating him. He had long outgrown his uncle's tutelage. Minus craved adventure, to pit his rare gift against whatever challenges lay beyond the veil. To discover his destiny and his purpose. The answers he sought were out there somewhere; he could feel them. And no amount of warning would dissuade him from finding them.

Minus strode back towards the small cottage he shared with his uncle, mulling over his options. He could feel the familiar pull in his gut, the insatiable curiosity that drove him to push beyond the limits of this tiny realm. But his uncle's words of caution rang in his ears—the worlds beyond were fraught with danger, especially for one so inexperienced.

As he reached the front door, it swung open abruptly. Jasper Holloway stood framed in the entrance, his expression stern.

"Back so soon?" he asked. Though his tone was light, Minus could detect the note of disapproval underneath.

"I just needed to stretch my legs," Minus said evasively, moving to step past him into the cottage.

Jasper held up a hand, stopping him. "I could feel the tremors all the way from here. You're getting reckless, boy."

Minus bristled at being called “boy.” He was a grown man. Jasper didn’t realize it stung, as he  had been like a father to him since taking Minus in as a child. Minus bit back a retort (luckily, his natural gift for alacrity made him a tiny bit more insightful than the average teen).

"I'm ready for more," he said firmly. "I am stagnating here, uncle. I need to use my magic to travel and learn more.  Not that you haven’t been a delight.”

Jasper's face softened. He clasped Minus' shoulder. "I know you're restless. But the worlds beyond are not what they seem. Stay a while longer—until you have mastered control.  The path never ends where the map, or the trees, might imply."

Minus searched his uncle's eyes. There was real worry there, and love. With a sigh, the fight went out of him.

"All right," he conceded. "I'll try to be patient."

But even as he said the words, Minus knew his thirst for adventure could not be quenched so easily. He would bide his time here a little longer. But soon, he would have to follow his instincts, which he knew didn’t care much about the locations of maps, trees, or even pathways.

Minus waited until the dead of night, when he knew his uncle would be fast asleep. Silently, he crept outside into the moonlit forest, a familiar thrill quickening his pulse. Here, away from Jasper's worried gaze, he could test his abilities without restraint.

Closing his eyes, Minus slowed his breathing and sank into a meditative state. He focused his will, channeling and shaping the energetic force that danced all around him. Tendrils of light swirled around his hands as he carefully manipulated the mystical energy.

“Simple. There is only movement,” he thought to himself.

With an exhilarated grin, Minus launched himself into motion. He blurred through the trees, leaves swirling in his wake. His speed and agility were unrivaled, even among the gifted residents of Gehenna. He ricocheted off trunks, leaping and twisting gracefully.

As he experimented with spells, Minus lost himself in the joy of pushing his magic to new heights. But he misjudged the power of an unfamiliar incantation. The clearing erupted with a shockwave that tore open a shimmering portal.

Minus skidded to a halt, his heart pounding. The portal offered a glimpse into another realm- Jorth, which shared a similar geography with Gehenna, but little else. Humans were the dominant species on Jorth, and no one believed in magic.

This was his first look at Jorth, the mundane world upon which Gehenna rested. The brief glimpse promised satisfaction to his curiosity. Mesmerized, Minus reached out a hand toward the portal. It snapped shut before he could make contact, leaving only empty air.

Minus stood frozen for a long moment. That hand, and the confused girl it belonged to, seemed so familiar. Jorth called to him like a siren's song. The time had come for him to venture forth and seek his destiny.

Minus stepped through the portal, his senses went into shock. It was a different air that he breathed now. Not the thick, crackling with energy atmosphere of Gehenna, but something clean, something fresh.

He looked around, and realized he was not completely on Jorth, nor Gehenna. It was a midland, a barrier of sorts. In the distance, he could see the flashes of light that most definitely meant battle; war.

Minus had never seen power like this before. Awe and excitement coursed through him even as he ducked a wayward fireball. He ran at full speed towards the explosion’s source. AS he approached, the combatants didn’t seem to be aware of his presence.

As alluring as it was, the unchecked violence gave Minus pause. Skirting around the battlefield, he recalled his uncle Jasper's warnings about the corrupting influence of power. If Minus hoped to do well here, he would need discipline and purpose.

A piercing shriek drew his attention skyward. A young woman’s body barely evaded the snapping jaws of a winged serpent. As she spiraled past, Minus saw determination in her eyes. She had been thrown with great force, but she caught herself, boots sliding across the ground.

In that moment, Minus knew why he had come to Jorth. Not to prove himself, but to protect the innocent, both here and in Gehenna. To stand against those who would exploit magic for destruction and dominance.

With newfound resolve, Minus raced into the heart of the conflict. He would join this woman and others like her. They were a ragtag group of non-uniformed soldiers, that did not act like soldiers. Each, instead was a single warrior, and as a single warrior, pushed back against a magically superior enemy.

With this, we find our protagonist, Minus, rushing about, and stumbling into trouble with every step. To be Continued.

Jack Lhasa

All contents are copyright Jack Lhasa, 1996-2024, unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.

First published in digital format in 2024. First Edition.

Part of the Exoteric Project, copyright 2022-2024.

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