Tag Archive: Merlian

Affable drunks

Merlian grinned at his drinking companion two hours later. Tal was described variously as high-strung, wound too tight, angry, grumpy and just plain mean. Others said he was closed mouthed and secretive. None of these phrases could apply to him at this moment.

He leaned back against the bar, a glass in one hand, chatting up one of the girls from the communications department. So far he’d told her about several of the missions they’d been on and his own life growing up. He’d also listened while she spoke about her duties and the people she worked with. He was well at ease and down-right friendly. He was showing the side that he usually on displayed to his close friends, a welcome sight in Merlian’s eyes.

The girl spotted a friend and waved a hand as she bounded away. “Well, well, Tal, get a few drinks in you and you really loosen up,” Merlian said, as he nudged the man gently.

Tal chuckled and shrugged. “I’m relaxing. I don’t have to be stern and in control right now,” he explained. “M’master always said, ‘Talesin, there are times to be serious and times to be friendly and with magic it’s best not to confuse the two.’ So I don’t.” He shrugged and brought his cup to his lips. Then he frowned and looked at his glass. “It’s empty,” he said, with all seriousness.

“Maybe that’s a signal,” Merlian said, with a soft chuckle.

“Means I need another,” Talesin said with a grin. “You want?”

“Sure, thanks,” Merlian said. He turned toward the door as Vivien came in. With a welcoming smile on his face, he waved her over. “Hey, Vivien,” he greeted. “Tal’s buying if you want a drink.”

“Sure, sure,” Talesin agreed. “What’s your pleasure, m’dear?”

Vivien giggled and shook her head. “I’ll have an apple martini,” she said. As the other man turned to the bartender with their orders, she looked at Merlian. “Is he usually like this when he’s drunk?”

“I’ve never seen him drunk before, so I wouldn’t know.” Merlian smiled and looked over the crowd in the mess hall. “It’s good that we can get together like this between planet falls.”

“All part of the plan to teach the normals that mages are just like them?” Vivien said. When Merlian smirked she waved a finger and said, “You’re a sly one, Merlian Jones. I still can’t tell if I like this side agenda of yours or not. It has the potential to backfire horrendously, you know.”

“Yes, human nature being what it is. We fear the unknown,” he said. He took a sip of his wine and shrugged, before he added, “But maybe we can make it become the known and therefore not so frightful, eh?”

“Maybe,” Vivien agreed as Talesin returned to them juggling three glasses in his hands. “Thanks, Tal,” she said. When the communications officer returned with her friend, she grinned at Talesin’s warm greeting for the pair of ladies. Merlian’s plan might just work out after all.


Talesin shook his head then broke off before he could reply. “What the devil are you doing, Gwyon?” he asked. He approached the litle mage and shook his head. “Pretty,” he added as he got a good look at the window.

“I miss flowers, Tal,” Gwyon said softly. “All the worlds we’ve visited and they just don’t have them the same as back home. So I figured that I’d make some.”

“Please tell me that they’re illusions,” Merlian murmured.

“Of a sort,” Gwyon said. “They’re on the windows, like paint.” He reached out a fingertip to one of the swaying blossoms and as he touched it, it seemed to meld to the glass of the window. “It won’t hurt anything.”

“You couldn’t have done this in your own room?” Talesin said. “You know how the captain feels about magic, Gwyon. He won’t let you keep them there.”

“They brighten up the place so well though,” Gwyon protested. He glanced back along the corridor and the older men followed his gaze. All the way down the corridor, on every window, bright flowers bobbed on a breeze that only affected them.

“You know you can’t leave them, Gwyon,” Merlian said softly. “Not only are they magic – which not only the captain but half the crew will take amiss, but they’re distracting.” He looked over at the smaller man and sighed. “I’m not trying to upset you, Gwyon. You simply can’t leave them there. Put some flowers in your own quarters.”

“You can put them in our work space, too,” Talesin said. “They won’t freak us out and they will brighten up the place.”

“I know,” Gwyon said. He drew his wand and painted a glyph in the air. One by one the flowers that danced in the windows disappeared in a sparkle of light. “Everything here is so cold and clinical. I miss my tower and workshop back home. I had a garden, did you know?”

“I suspected,” Merlian said. “You know why I chose you for this mission, Gwyon? With all the plant and animal mages I had to chose from?”

Gwyon shook his head and slipped his wand back into his robe. “Because… I’m not very threatening for the normals, since I’m young and small?”

“That’s one reason,” Merlian agreed. “There’s also this: your magic, the way you use it and the way you view it, is the least threatening of all the research mages in the Brotherhood. Your magic is the stuff of fairy tales and that’s not going to be seen as threatening toward the normals.”

Gwyon looked up, smiling shyly. “Really?”

“Really,” Merlian agreed. He set a hand on each of the younger man’s shoulders and said, “Master Gwyon, we are out here, among the stars as research mages. Our purpose – officially – is to help discover new life and new civilizations and to help build friendly relations with them. Unofficially, however, our purpose in this crew is to help the people of our home world learn that magic is not to be feared simply by its being. They need to learn the good side of magic and we’re here to show it to them.”

“Right then,” Gwyon said. He tilted his head and said, “Maybe I can put flowers in the common room. No one is going about their duties there so if they’re distracted it doesn’t matter as much.”

“I think that’s a fine idea,” Merlian said with a nod. Gwyon was smiling brightly as he bounded down the corridor and Merlian chuckled as he turned to Talesin. “I suppose I should warn the captain about his little endeavor.”

Talesin shrugged, “I don’t see why. They painted the common room last week with all those bright colors and he didn’t have anything to say about it. He said he wants the common areas to be… relaxing and cheerful.”

“A place to get away from the stresses of space travel,” Merlian said, quoting the memo that everyone had received.

“What could be more relaxing than flowers?” Talesin said with a grin. “Let’s get going to the mess. I could use a drink.” He chuckled and took out his own wand. With a wave, he traced a small glyph in the air. As they walked a soft, warm breeze swept through the corridor. He grinned at Merlian’s smirk. “People are always saying that the corridors are chilly,” he said.

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Gossip overheard

Talesin hated gossip. Not only was it generally either simply an exaggeration or outright wrong, it was a tremendous waste of time. He’d heard people talk about him when they thought he was out of earshot. He was mean, they said. He was cold and sarcastic. He hated everyone and everything.

All of these were wrong. He wasn’t mean; though he admitted to a bit of a temper and being moody now and again. He wasn’t cold. He was shy. It took him a long time to open up to people. That didn’t make him cold. He wasn’t sarcastic. He had an ironic wit. He saw the absurd things people said or did and pointed them out. He certainly didn’t hate anything or anybody. Hate was far too strong a word for any feeling people truly felt for people they hardly knew. He was grumpy and that was that.

Now, as he worked on the elemental containment field, he listened with half an ear as other members of the crew gossiped about his fellow mages. The magineer should be doing this, not him. However the magineer was too busy chatting to do his work. Talesin sighed and shook his head, trying to tune out the drivel behind him.

Finally he could bear it no longer and spun to face the rest of the men in the room. “I’m working here,” he snapped. “I don’t care that you think Gwyon is a fluff-for-brains. I don’t care that you think Vivien is hot. I don’t care that you think Math had it coming. I don’t care that you think the captain is going to give Merlian his comeuppance some day. I have work to do and I’m sure you all do too. So do it!”

The men collided with one another a few times in their haste to follow his order and he moaned as he spun back around to continue sealing the containment field. Sometimes, he hated working with normals.

“I understand that you dislike gossip, Talesin,” Merlian said later that day as they headed toward the mess hall to share a drink. “I appreciate that you want to defend the rest of us.”

“But?” Talesin said, eyebrow raised. Merlian shot him a baffled look and he snorted. “Come off it, Ian. You’re going to say more. You appreciate me defending you and you understand that I dislike gossip but I shouldn’t go off on the normals like I did.”

Merlian grinned and waved a hand at the younger man, “You already know that, Tal. Why should I tell you?”

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Girl meets airship

Vivien hurried through the station. She’d found where the ship was to dock earlier but now that it was docked, she couldn’t find it again. “Stupid,” she said softly. “I should have just stayed there. Why did I have to find something to eat? Why couldn’t I just stay there?”

“Gwyon, hurry up,” she heard ahead of her. “She could be there any minute if she isn’t there already. I can’t believe you had to stop and get supplies. Couldn’t you have done that earlier?”

“Tal, I wanted to but the captain said that we weren’t allowed to leave the ship until all the normals had a turn for shore-leave,” came a reply. The voice was soft, almost child-like. The speaker sounded hesitant or shy, even as he used familiar terms with his companion.

“Norms, always getting special privileges. I can’t see how that’s right,” the first voice said. Vivien smiled. The term ‘normals’ could only mean one thing. These were mages. The first voice sounded courser and sharper than the latter one. She hoped that Tal wasn’t as mean as his voice made him sound.

“Hello,” she said, peering around the corner at the men. One held a pile of packages, the other held a single traveling bag. There could be no doubt that they were mages. “I’m Vivien Martin. Could you tell me where the Lady Mara is?”

“We’re headed there,” one of the men said. His eyes widened and he grinned brightly. “You’re the new mage that’s been assigned to us. I’m Gwyon Murphy and this is Tal Brightman.”

“Talesin Brightman,” he said. Now his voice sounded less course, more cultured. “Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mistress Vivien.” He smiled and waved a hand toward a corridor that she hadn’t noticed in her searching and said, “Right this way.”

“Talesin, Gwyon,” a man called from down the corridor. He continued to speak as he rounded the corner, interrupting himself as he saw her. “The captain wants – ah, Mistress Vivien, I presume? Merlian Jones, Head of Magical Research on the Lady Mara,” he said, placing a hand on his chest.

“Pleased to meet you, Master Merlian,” Vivien returned. “Is this our entire department?”

“Unless the captain sees fit to increase our funding, yes,” Merlian replied. “Did they tell you why you’re being transferred to a ship?” When Vivien bit her lip and shook her head, he sighed. “When I tell you not to try anything sketchy with the local fauna, don’t.”

“Math was killed by Teymarians,” Gwyon said softly. “Merlian told him that they were sentient, even though they were tiny but he didn’t believe Merlian and tried to take a sample of them.”

“They saw it as an attack and moved to defend themselves,” Talesin said. “You can’t blame them really. They’re the size of dust compared to us. We could kill them so easily.”

“A person’s a person, no matter how small,” Gwyon said sagely.

“Right,” Vivien said softly. This was going to be an interesting assignment.

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Reach for the Stars

Later that day, released from sick bay with orders to relax, Gwyon Murphy looked out his window. It still felt strange to see stars outside without a treeline or rooftops beneath them. It was also strange to see stars at lunchtime. Stars had always been for night time in his experience. Now, unless they were visiting a world, they were all he saw.

A chirp at the door made him turn. “Yes,” he called. The door slid open and he blinked as the light from the corridor flooded his apartment.

“Master Gwyon, the captain requests your presence,” an ensign at the door said softly.

He pulled a robe on over his casual clothes and headed out into the corridor to follow the young man. It was his first meeting with the captain since Stevens had been killed. He wasn’t sure what to expect but he was vaguely worried. The sense of unease grew as he approached the captain’s office. He couldn’t tell if it was his gifts warning him of danger or just his own anxiety.

He almost sighed in relief as he saw that Merlian was also in the office. Then he saw the grim look on the older man’s face. “Is something wrong?” he asked.

“What exactly happened to Stevens,” the captain said.

“He… the Teymarians killed him, sir. He was about to… well, he said he wanted a sample of them, sir. They didn’t seem to like that idea so they responded… strongly, sir,” Gwyon said. He darted a glance at his superior and saw that the man was smirking. Gwyon knew it wasn’t because of what happened to Math. It was something to do with the captain, he was certain.

“I see. You are dismissed, Mister Murphy.”

“With due respect, Captain. If you please, properly, I’m Master Gwyon,” he corrected, though his voice was hardly heard over the hum of machinery that was always present on the airship.

“You’re both dismissed. Thank you,” the captain said.

Gwyon echoed Merlian’s salute and followed him out of the room. “What was that about?” he asked as soon as they were alone.

“The good captain doubted my veracity,” Merlian said calmly. “Gwyon, Stevens wasn’t like us. He was chosen by the captain because the captain doesn’t entirely trust mages and he knew that Stevens would tell him if we were up to something.”

“What would we be up to?” Gwyon asked softly.

“Bewitching the crew,” Merlian said with a shrug.

Gwyon giggled and said, “You’re not – ” he broke off when Merlian shot him a serious look. “You are. You’re serious. The captain really thinks we’d… magic the crew? To what end?”

“We reach for the stars, Gwyon Murphy,” Merlian said as he glanced out one of the windows. “The captain is afraid that somehow something’s going to happen to send us crashing down to earth.”

“Even if we fall, we’re here to see that we land on a cloud,” Gwyon said quietly.

“Indeed,” Merlian agreed. He beckoned to Gwyon and said, “Let me tell you about who I think will replace him.”

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Like a Mote of Dust

To say Teymarians were small was an understatement to the gravest degree. They were tiny. That didn’t mean that they could be ignored. In fact when working in concert, they could be quite dangerous. They could hide the sun and make it dark as night. They could invade clouds and cause tremendous rains and snows. They could even occlude breathing if they so chose. In short, they were not to be trifled with.

Thus, when observing or studying them, it was important to do so with the utmost respect. One did not want to anger them. Merlian watched in horror as one of his colleagues, a mousey man by the name of Math Stevens, forgot this small but important fact. He wanted a sample – or so he said.

As Merlian watched they swarmed him. He’d get his sample, but he wouldn’t like it. Merlian watched as he struggled and gasped. He was lifted into the air as he smothered. He floated above the heads of the silent trio of mages for some time before he was dropped to earth in a heap.

Talesin looked on in silent horror as Gwyon knelt besie their colleague’s still form. “He’s dead,” Gwyon whispered. “Can we go… now… please?”

Merlian nodded. He considered collecting the body but the tiny beings swarmed around it seconds after Gwyon confirmed his death. Talesin dragged the smaller man to his feet and pulled him away from the swarm. Merlian spoke into the communicator on his wrist, “Home base, we’re returning. Stevens is dead and the locals need some time to calm down.”

Gwyon and Talesin were already at the shuttle as the reply came, “Affirmative. Report to the sick bay upon arrival.”

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Monica Ferris

an author with many hats

A Land of Curiosity

From the files of Shynian Intelligence

Heather's Fancies

tales from the enchanted gardens and shadow hollow


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