The Eternity Prison
The Prologue to The Keeper of the Code
Something unwelcome had infiltrated the mansion. Magus could sense it. Whatever or whoever it was, Magus knew it was here for him. And he intended to stop it in its tracks.
Magus strode to his office door and peered out into the hallway. The sun’s early rays cascaded down from the skylight above his head, warming the back of his neck. His men were all still sleeping. Magus could sense each one of them breathing—some snoring—in their beds two floors down. No, this was a stranger for sure, slinking down the hallway, invisible to the naked eye, but not undetectable to his keen senses.
Magus could hear the stranger breathing. He could feel the stranger’s soft footsteps making tiny vibrations through the floor. He could smell the musty odor of old parchment and ink, and the intruder’s robes filled with hundreds of Components that mingled in a confused concoction that stank to high heaven. He didn’t need to see the stranger to know that whoever it was had reached the third floor and was coming down the hallway toward him.
Magus backed up quickly and pulled a vial of water from a pocket on his black suit. He activated his spiritual essence and silently performed a simple Invisibility Conversion. Water droplets created a mirage around his body, concealing him from view. He stood still, barely allowing himself to breathe, as the invisible someone entered the room and took two halting steps toward the desk.
All night, Magus had worked to uncover the hidden location of the Keeper’s most prized secret. He was close to cracking the code in the documents he had filched from Blackthorn and Burtree just last night. There were a few problems with his work, however, namely that he needed another source to confirm some conjectures he had made to fill in the gaps of information.
The fact that he had an uninvited early morning guest meant that Magus was almost assuredly on to something with his work. He needed to apprehend this intruder and protect the information he had gained. Whatever the cost.
Magus pulled a small black stone from his pants pocket and held it up. Silently, he enlarged the stone to the size of a bowling ball. He listened for the clumsy footsteps of the intruder, aimed, and concentrated his energy. The stone shot out of his hand and collided with something invisible just in front of his desk.
There came a grunt and a thud. Magus smirked and hurried forward, groping with his feet until he came into contact with the invisible person. He knelt down and grabbed the person’s robes, yanked him up, and threw him against the wall in a magnificent flurry of ripples.
“Solidum!” Magus called out, and the invisibility orbs surrounding him and the stranger both froze with a sharp snap. “Terra Kinesis!” he shouted as he pointed at the large stone, now on the floor. It shot up toward the stranger and collided with the frozen orb. Ice crystals sprinkled all over his cashmere rug as the stranger tumbled to the floor in a heap.
Magus gaped at the stranger. It was a man in a pinstriped charcoal suit and a gray vest with several hundred pockets. The man had long silver hair tied with twine, deep blue eyes, and a clean shaven handsome face. It was the Keeper of the Code himself!
Magus couldn’t hold back the grin as he realized this was his chance to finally crack the code and claim what was rightfully his. He pointed at the Keeper and readied a Conversion, but something caught the corner of his eye.
Magus wheeled around in time to see a shower of silver coins flying at him. The coins hit his frozen invisibility orb, and the ice crystals shattered. Magus threw up his arms in a powerful gesture that wielded his spiritual essence to defend his body, and just in time. Another shower of coins shot at him from the corner of the room. For just a brief moment, he glimpsed the telltale ripple in the air that meant another invisible person was in the room, and then Magus realized he had made a grave mistake.
The man at his feet wasn’t moving, and he was changing. Slowly, his body, clothes and all, began to morph into an enlarged silver strand of hair.
The Keeper of the Code was not sprawled out on the floor in front of him. This sorry excuse for a pound of flesh was simply that. A pound of flesh. A golem. The real Keeper of the Code was across the room, launching an all-out attack, and it was all Magus could do to defend himself from the onslaught.
Magus had made a terrible mistake. He had attacked the decoy, given away his position, and allowed the real intruder to get between him and the information on his desk.
In the blink of an eye, the real Keeper of the Code dropped his invisibility as he grabbed the pile of scrolls on the desk. That was when Magus realized the Keeper was flying on a tiny frozen cloud. He pointed at the window behind the desk and shouted, “Translatio!” and the glass shattered with an earsplitting crash.
Without a moment’s hesitation, the Keeper flew through the window. Magus only took a few seconds to summon his own flying cloud with a string of Code Words, and then he shot out the window in pursuit.
The Keeper of the Code was a fast flyer, but Magus wasn’t about to let him go without a real fight. He pulled a strange metal gun-like contraption from his jacket pocket and aimed it at the Keeper. “Fulgur!” he shouted, and a spark of electricity appeared at the tip of the gun, where it came to an end with a miniature lightning rod. “Augendi!” Magus bellowed, and the lightning bolt grew and shot out at the Keeper.
Thunder boomed so loudly Magus couldn’t hear anything else.
The attack sent the Keeper spiraling to the ground. Magus followed right behind on his cloud, already aiming his gun to fire again.
But something went terribly wrong, and Magus felt himself falling too fast, as though gravity was warping around him and pulling him into a black hole.
He collapsed on the ground with a grunt, and his lightning gun clattered across the yard toward the Keeper.
“Magus!” the Keeper shouted, a warning.
“This is not how I meet my end!” Magus shouted, gritting his teeth against the crushing weight of the gravity pooling around him and pinning him to the ground. “I’ve seen my death, and this is not it!”
“No,” the Keeper said with a sad shake of his head. He stooped to pick up the lightning gun. “This is not your death sentence. It’s merely a temporary prison.”
The Keeper stepped forward and towered over Magus, who raged in vain against the magic that was holding him motionless against the earth.
“I don’t suppose you would mind if I borrow this?” the Keeper asked, holding up the lightning gun. “I know someone who could really do some fantastic things with it.”
“Borrow means you bring it back!” Magus spat through tight lips. Behind him, several men in black came sprinting out of the mansion to come to the aid of their leader.
“Oh, I intend to bring it back, trust me.” The Keeper held up his hands and said, “Caelus!” A black rip in space appeared directly above Magus. Immediately, Magus felt the gravity shift from pushing him down to pulling him up, and at the same time, his body lost its form. Magus slowly became a vapor of black mist, and with sickening speed, the tear in space sucked him up into a black void of nothingness.
His scream died on his lips as oblivion engulfed him in a timeless prison.