Thomas Flarety # 1
By- Erik Buchanan
Published By- Dragon Moon Press
In a world where no one really believes in magic, one man is stealing all that's left... Erik Buchanan's first novel introduces Thomas Flarety, whose first visit home from school in four years brings him face to face with a juggler who can create a ball of light from air, a Bishop who can control men with his voice, and a plot to steal what magic is left in the world. Before long, Thomas is thrust into a nightmare of betrayal and murder, where all that he has is threatened by a power he does not understand, and where learning to master a power he did not know he had may be the only way he can survive.
The front gate—freshly painted in green, Thomas noticed—was wide open, and the stone path to the door was swept clean. Thomas was about to step through when the front door opened. A thin, rather handsome woman with a basket on her arm stepped out. She caught sight of Thomas and stopped dead. A moment later, a man a few years Thomas’s senior stepped through the door and nearly knocked her down.
The woman stared at Thomas, and Thomas grinned back. A moment later, she let out a joyous, wordless cry, dropped the basket and started running towards him. Thomas started running himself, leaving Gavin to sniff in a self-satisfied way behind him. She met Thomas half-way and enveloped him in a huge hug.
Thomas, laughing, tried to hold her with one hand and keep the hilt of his sword out of the way with the other. “Aye, Mum, it’s me.”
Madeleine Flarety squeezed her son tighter, and kissed him hard on the cheek. “By the Four, Thomas!” she said, scolding and laughing at the same time. “You’re as thin as a twig! Did they not feed you at the Academy?”
“They did, Mum, they did!” he assured her, still laughing. “I just spent more time studying than I did eating.”
“And more time carousing than either, I’ll warrant,” chimed in his brother, Neal, stepping up and clapping him hard on the shoulder. “I’ll bet you have stories to tell!”
“A few,” Thomas admitted. He held up a hand to forestall his mother’s cry of disapproval. “But first I need to get myself settled and have a bath and a good meal.”
“You certainly do!” She stepped back and held him at arm’s length. “My word, look at you! Your hair’s a tangled mess, your clothes are in tatters and…” She stopped and raised her eyes slowly to her son’s. When she spoke again, her tone had changed, and not for the better. “Thomas, what are you wearing at your waist?”
Thomas prayed silently to the Four for mercy and said, “My rapier, Mother. And the dagger that goes with it.”
“I read that you won them, but what in the High Father’s name are you doing wearing them? Nobody wears swords, Thomas!”
“Nobody in the country wears swords, Mother,” corrected Thomas. “Lots of people in the city wear swords.”
Madeleine Flarety looked appalled. “Not merchants, surely!”
“I’m not a merchant. I’m a student.”
“Your family are merchants, and we don’t wear swords!”
“You’ll attract the worst sort of company wearing that!”
Thomas started to explain how wearing a sword could also keep the worst sort of company away, but the door opened again and Brian, the family’s oldest servant and master of the household, stepped out and bowed to Thomas. “Excuse me, but your father has requested that you meet him in his study at once.”
“Brian!” The man had always looked to be in his early forties, and the four years Thomas was away had not altered his appearance at all. “How are you?”
“I am well, thank you, Master Thomas,” said Brian. “If you will come?”
“Such a rush!” Madeleine put a hand on Thomas’s arm and drew him closer, laughing again. “Can a woman not greet her son?”
“Of course,” said Brian, “but his father is insisting.”
“Is he watching?” asked Thomas, stepping away from his mother and looking up at the house. He found the window to his father’s study, and saw the man standing, looking down at them. Thomas waved, but got no response.
“Of course he is,” said Madeleine. “And he’ll keep watching until you’re standing in front of him.”
“Aye, that he would.” Thomas went back to his mother and hugged her hard, then did the same to his brother. “I’ll see you both when you get back. Time to go tell father how I’m wasting all his money.”
“Now, don’t start anything,” warned Madeleine, shaking a finger at his face.
Thomas raised his hands in mock surrender. “I’ll behave, I promise.”
“You’d better,” said Neal. “He’s been in a foul mood for two days now.”
“I heard,” said Thomas. His good humour sank a bit. “George said Da had a fit over wheel-irons. What’s going on?”
Madeleine sighed, and for a moment looked very tired. “I wish I knew. He’s not been himself since the start of the May festival.” She shook her head, sending the tired away and bringing the smile back to her face with the motion.
“The sight of you should set him right,” she said. “Though he won’t like that sword at all.”
Thomas smiled. “Now, that , I knew.”
“Get on with you,” said Madeleine, giving him a light slap on the back of the head, then ruffling his hair with her hand. “And mind you don’t disturb the guests.”
Thomas caught her hand, bowed deeply and kissed it. She waved him off, laughing, and gave him another hug. “Now get going!” she said, picking up her basket. “And be ready to tell all when I get back!”
She headed down the path to the gate. Neal gave Thomas another slap on the back, then followed their mother. Thomas turned to go inside but was stopped by Brian’s hand on his shoulder. “Your father suggested that it would be better for you to use the side door in your present condition,” said Brian. “I believe he is worried your appearance might cause some disturbance among the guests.”
Thomas had a sudden image of a dozen or so merchants thinking they had been set on by bandits. He laughed. “He may be right.”
Thomas gave a wave to his mother and brother and another up to his father, then headed to the side of the house. Brian opened the servant’s door and led him up the narrow back stairs and into the hallway on the second floor. The changes in the place were remarkable. When he had left, the floor had still been plain, darkly-stained wood and the plaster on the walls was beginning to yellow with age. Now a thick carpet ran the length of the hall, the walls were smoothand gleaming white, and even the spots behind the candle sconces were clean of dirt or soot. The wood of the doors was newly-oiled and shone. The handles were brightly polished brass.
Thomas, used to the dust of libraries and the dirt of the city, found himself suddenly uncomfortable in his own home. He wished he’d had time to bathe and change into the clean clothes he had in his bag, but it was too late. They were already before his father’s study.
Brian knocked firmly on the door, and John Flarety’s deep voice called for Thomas to enter. Brian pushed the door open and stepped aside. Thomas started to go in, but found his feet had stuck themselves to the floor of their own accord.
Nervous, thought Thomas. Of all the silly things.
“Your father is waiting,” Brian reminded him, his voice gentle. Thomas guessed his nervousness was showing on his face and felt heartily embarrassed. Brian bowed once more. “Welcome home, Master Thomas. It is good to see you again.”
“Thank you, Brian,” said Thomas. He straightened himself up, hitched his bag to a more comfortable place on his shoulder, and stepped through the door.
His father was glaring out the window when Thomas came in. At least, Thomas assumed that he was glaring because the expression on his face was too annoyed to be used for much else. John Flarety was a tall, broad man who had passed his shape onto his eldest son rather than his youngest. Thomas waited a long moment, then said, “Hello, Father.”
John turned his glare from the window and onto his son, taking in the scuffed and worn boots, the tattered clothes, and the rapier. John’s eyes lingered on the sword for a good length of time before returning to his son’s face.
“So,” said someone from the corner, “this is your youngest son.”
Thomas jumped in surprise and spun. He had not even noticed the two men standing beside the door when he’d come in. The first was both taller and heavier than Thomas’s father, and wore his size with an air of authority that made him a very imposing figure. He was dressed in the green robes of a high-ranking priest of the High Father. The man behind him was pale and blond and dressed in black from head to foot. A rapier hung at his side, and Thomas’s eyes went to it of their own volition. It was much higher in quality than Thomas’s blade, and the man wore it as if it were an extension of his body.
Thomas switched his attention back to the clergyman, who was watching Thomas with a slight smile on his lips. “Well, young man,” he said. “Who am I?”
Thomas was pretty sure he knew, but looked down to the man’s hands anyway. The thick gold ring with the large ruby in the middle, symbol of the man’s office, confirmed what he’d thought. “Bishop Malloy,” Thomas said. “First of the servants of the High Father. Your Grace honours our household.”
“Thank you.” The bishop extended his hand and Thomas bowed to kiss his ring.
“I knew that there was company in the house,” Thomas said as he straightened, “but I had not expected my father to be in a meeting.”
“Indeed.” The bishop’s voice was light, surprising in a man of his size, but with a smooth tone that insinuated its way through the air. “I had thought as much. Or, at least I had assumed that you would not normally appear before your father’s guests in this condition.”
Thomas felt a sudden need to straighten his ragged clothes. He suppressed the urge, knowing it wouldn’t do any good. “I have been travelling, your Grace—”
“And sleeping in ditches, I should say.” The bishop turned his attention to Thomas’s father. “If this is where your money is going, I would say it is not well spent.”
“I am certain that my money went to the lad’s schooling, rather than his wardrobe,” said John Flarety, his voice flat. Thomas recognized the tone and guessed that whatever business his father had with the bishop, it was not going well.
The bishop raised an eyebrow. “A young man who dresses in tatters and carries a sword hardly seems the type to do much studying, though I suppose one shouldn’t judge a man by his weapons.”
He certainly is a pompous creature, Thomas thought. With a deliberate motion of his head he took his gaze from the bishop to the man standing behind him with the rapier at his side. “No, one shouldn’t.”
The bishop followed Thomas’s gaze and his eyes narrowed ever so slightly. “Randolf is my familiar; my personal servant. He has chosen to give himself and his blades to the church.”
Randolf bowed to the bishop, and when he straightened, his eyes were on Thomas. They were as grey as Thomas’s own, and as cold and dead as the sea under a winter sky. “It is my pleasure to serve,” he said, his voice as cold as his eyes, “in whatever capacity his Grace requires.”
Including running me through on the spot, Thomas thought. A shiver started to work its way up Thomas’s spine. He suppressed it and turned to the bishop. “Perhaps your Grace should permit me to withdraw, so I may change into something more presentable.”
“No, no,” said Bishop Malloy. “After all, if you consider this the proper clothing to see your father in, why should it not be fit enough for me as well?”
Thomas risked a glance to his father, who was looking less and less pleased. “Still, I should hate to interrupt your conversation—”
“Your father and I were merely discussing business.” The bishop turned to John Flarety. “He is attempting to convince me that the price he offers for his cloth is the best he can give.”
“It is, your Grace,” said John Flarety, his tone still flat. “In fact, it is the best price you will find in the county.”
“I am afraid your father is finding me harder to convince than most,” the bishop said, smiling. “What do you think, Thomas?”
“I’m no merchant,” hedged Thomas. “That is why I was sent to study.”
“You must have an opinion,” said the bishop, his eyes still on Thomas’s father. “All the Royal Academy’s scholars have opinions, no matter their knowledge of the subject.”
Thomas took a moment to swallow the first, very succinct reply that leapt to his mind and measured out a response. “My father is an honest merchant and a good man. If he says that the price he is offering is the best he can give, then that is the truth.”
“I think you can do better, John Flarety,” said the bishop. “I think the price can come down a little more, don’t you?”
Thomas started. The motion caught Bishop Malloy’s eye. He turned, and for a second Thomas thought he saw fear, then excitement in the bishop’s face. Both vanished, and the man’s voice sounded perfectly normal when he said, “Is there something the matter, young Thomas?”
“Your voice…” Thomas stopped, not sure how to explain it, or if he really wanted to do so.
The bishop schooled his features and waited. When Thomas didn’t say anything more, he repeated. “My voice? What about my voice?”
“It was…” Thomas couldn’t find words, and the bishop was staring at him. “I don’t know.”
Bishop Malloy moved closer to Thomas. “Do you not like my tone?”
“No, your Grace, I just…”
“You just what?” The bishop was too close now. “Did you hear something unusual?”
Thomas felt the sudden urge to back away, and forced himself to stay where he was. “I just… I’m very tired from the road.”
The bishop stopped moving for a moment, then took a step back. “Indeed.” The bishop’s expression was smooth again, his tone unreadable. He held out his ring. “Why don’t you wait outside the door until your father and I are done talking?”
Thomas looked to his father. The man nodded, shortly and abruptly. Thomas nodded back, then bent and kissed the ring. “Yes, your Grace.”
He backed out, keeping his eyes on the bishop until he had pulled the door shut behind him. The silence of the hallway was a relief. Thomas leaned against the wall, willing the tension out of his body.
What did I hear? Thomas wasn’t sure. It sounded as if the bishop’s voice had dropped an octave and doubled in volume, though Thomas was sure neither of those things had happened. But something had. The bishop knew how to use his voice, certainly, but training couldn’t account for the sudden surge of power Thomas had felt coming from the man.
Maybe I’m just tired, Thomas thought, automatically adjusting the bag on his shoulder to a more comfortable position. He thought better of it a moment later and let the bag fall to the floor. He was home, after all. He didn’t need to keep carrying it.
The conversation in the study went on for some time. Thomas tried to listen, but the heavy wood of the door muffled the words. His father spoke only occasionally, while the bishop went on at length. Thomas was half-tempted to put his ear to the door and listen, but the thought of getting caught was too mortifying. He stayed where he was, waiting.
At last the bell attached to the pull-cord in his father’s study rang twice, sharp and demanding. The study door opened a moment later and John Flarety stepped out. He glanced at his son briefly then turned to look down the hall.
Almost immediately, Brian was there, coming up the stairs at a trot. “The bishop wishes to speak with his men,” said John Flarety. “Escort him to them.”
The bishop stepped into the hallway, pausing to nod at Thomas. “We shall see you later, Thomas Flarety.”
“I look forward to it, your Grace,” lied Thomas, bowing low. Privately, he was wondering if there was any way to avoid the man entirely for the rest of his stay. Thomas doubted it. He sighed silently and straightened up.
The bishop was already walking away, and Randolf had taken his place. His eyes bored into Thomas, though he was smiling politely. Thomas returned the stare, feeling uncomfortably like a mouse before a large cat. Randolf inclined his head in a motion that felt far less respectful than it looked, then broke contact and turned away, following his master down the hall.
Thomas watched the two go, then picked up his bag and stepped into the office. His father was already sitting behind his desk, his face a shade of red that Thomas recognized at once. John Flarety was angry.
“I see what you meant about him,” said Thomas, putting his bag down. He smiled and started coming around the desk, his arms out. “It’s good to see you, Da.”
“I assumed that you knew I would have guests today.”
John Flarety’s chill tone made Thomas freeze in place. His father glared at him, waiting for an answer. Thomas pulled himself together enough to say, “I only learned when I arrived, Father.”
“Guests who expect that I maintain my house with decorum, that I clothe my children properly, and that I have raised them not to be hooligans.” John Flarety leaned forward in his chair. “Guests like the bishop.”
It took a moment for that to sink in. When it did, Thomas was stunned. “He’s our guest? I remember you said he would be in town—”
“Yes. Our houseguest, not the nunnery’s.” John slowly rose to his feet, his eyes never leaving Thomas’s. “Do you know how important that is to our family?”
Considering that the nunnery owned the land that Elmvale sat on, and that the abbess was in fact the true authority of the county, it was very important indeed. Thomas nodded. “Aye, it’s amazing—”
“And this ,” John Flarety’s hand cut the air, taking in Thomas’s ragged state in a single wave, “This is his first impression of my youngest son! A young bravo who comes to my house, carrying a sword of all things, and looking as if he has stumbled on foot down the road from the Academy!” He glared at his son.
“How did you get here, Thomas?”
Thomas braced himself, “I walked.”
His father’s face turned darker red. “There are a dozen boats going up and down the river every week, could you not have taken one?”
“I could have,” said Thomas. He reached into his bag, pulled out a small purse, and put it on the table. “I thought I’d save the money you sent instead.”
“Save the money?” John Flarety’s hand came down hard on the desk, making Thomas jump. “What about the money that I’ve been sending you every month? Where did you spend it all, that you come home looking like this? Fifteen silver pieces a month should have been more than sufficient to keep you in a manner fitting the son of one of the wealthiest trading houses in this part of the country!”
Thomas had no idea what his father wanted him to say. “The Academy is expensive, Father—”
“I dare say it is, if you spend your time brawling rather than studying. Tell me, how much of that money went to settle gambling debts? How much for wine? How much for keeping you out of jail?”
Thomas felt as though he’d been hit, hard, in the pit of the stomach. He stared at his father, unable to speak.
“Well?” John Flarety demanded.
“I do not brawl,” said Thomas, keeping his words slow and even. “I have drunk wine and I have gambled, but not enough to bring disgrace on myself or this house.”
“Then where is the money?” John Flarety’s hand hit the desk again. “What have you spent it on?”
“Books!” Thomas nearly shouted the word. With an effort he contained himself and started again. “There are so many books, Father. Most nights I can hardly sleep for reading. I feed off books the way my body feeds off food. Dr. Fauster—he teaches philosophy—talks about books written over a thousand years ago that have just now been rediscovered. And new books are being written all the time: commentaries on the old philosophies, writings about new philosophies.” Thomas could hear himself speeding up in his excitement. He picked up his bag and dug into it, coming up with two battered, leather-bound books, each only slightly bigger than his hand. “Look at these, Father. The first is a dictionary, translating the language of ancient Perthia. The second is a book of Perthian philosophy in the original language, with space in it for a student to write a translation.”
His father didn’t even look at the books. “This is what you waste your time on?”
“Waste?” Thomas was appalled. “It’s not a waste!”
“It is a waste,” John Flarety repeated. “It is a waste of your time and of my money.”
Thomas’s legs felt weak, like he’d been standing in the ocean, fighting the tide. Something was wrong. He tried again. “Father, you sent me to learn.”
“I sent you to be educated,” corrected his father. “I did not send you to waste your time studying philosophy—”
“I don’t just study—”
“And I certainly didn’t send you to spend your money on swords!”
Thomas looked down to the blade at his side. “Is that what this is about? This?” He grasped the scabbard and raised the sword up. “I wrote about this. I won it at a fencing tournament. It didn’t cost a thing.”
“And who gave you permission to study fencing?”
“Everyone at the Academy studies fencing.”
“We do not. We are merchants. Not soldiers, not ruffians, and not fops.”
Thomas’s father started pacing the width of the room. “I should never have sent you there. The city is a corrupt place, filled with corrupt people. You were sent to develop your mind and to learn a trade, not to study swordplay and become a ruffian.”
“I’m not becoming a ruffian—”
“I will deal with your behaviour later,” said John, ignoring Thomas’s words entirely. “Now, we must solve the problem of what you shall wear in this house.”
“I have clothes in—”
“Silence!” The word thundered through the room. “Return to the village. The tailor will be open for several hours yet, and will measure you for clothes appropriate to your station. Tell him you will need them for tomorrow night.”
John picked up the purse from where Thomas had placed it on the desk. He opened it and eyed the contents a moment, then tossed it back to Thomas. “This should more than cover the cost of the clothes. Use the rest to buy your supper. I expect that the tailor will keep you long enough that you will not join us for dinner.”
Thomas stood where he was, mouth open, staring at his father. John Flarety frowned. “Well, boy?”
Thomas, stunned, could only say, “I’ll do as you wish.”
“And use the side entrance. I’ll not have our guests seeing my son like this.”
“No.” Thomas shouldered his bag and stumbled to the door. “No, of course not.”
OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES
Thomas Flarety # 2
By- Erik Buchanan
Published By- Dragon Moon Press
Thomas Flarety has magic.He used it to destroy a corrupt bishop who tried to steal all the world's magic for himself. And so far, Thomas has managed to keep it a secret. Then raiders attack the northern Duchy of Frostmire with fire and magic. Henry, son of the duke and Thomas's friend, convinces Thomas to leave his studies and go help. But the church is also investigating the rumours of "witchcraft" in the north, and the Archbishop's Envoy is as interested in Thomas as he is in the raiders. Now Thomas must use all his wits, his skills and his magic to figure out who the raiders are and how to stop them. He must protect Eileen, the girl he loves, from the intrigues of the duke's court. He must find a way to keep the duke from turning him over to the Archbishop's Envoy. And he must do it before the raiders destroy them all.
Thomas Flarety # 3
By- Erik Buchanan
Published By- Dragon Moon Press
Rumours of Magic and War...
Thomas Flarety, Captain of the Student Expeditionary Company and hero of the battle for Frostmire, thought that convincing the Academy to take Eileen as their first female student in more than 200 years would bring him trouble enough. Then stories of Thomas’s magic reached Hawksmouth.
Now, Thomas’s friends have started disappearing. The king has ordered Thomas to keep his magic hidden and to find the other magicians in the city. The Cult of the Daughter wants Thomas for one of their own. The Archbishop wants Thomas to surrender to the Inquisitors and redeem his soul, and preachers are raging in the streets against witchcraft, the Academy and the king.
With Hawksmouth falling into chaos and the Academy divided against itself, Thomas must save his friends, find the other magicians, and decide what to do with his magic before the struggle between the king and the archbishop turns into an all-out war that will destroy everyone and everything he loves.
Erik Buchanan started reading at age two and has been hooked ever since. He met the Hardy Boys when he was six, Bilbo Baggins when he was eight, and cried for an hour when he was ten because that really shouldn't have happened to Frodo toward the end of The Two Towers. It was also at age 10 that Erik thought, "maybe I could write a story."
Before he was 12 Erik had attempted a book, an epic poem in rhyming couplets and various bits of stories and poetry. In high school he kept writing, and managed to create an impressive portfolio of maudlin teen-age angst-filled poetry that has thankfully not survived.
It was in his last year of high school, in the creative writing class of Mr. Robert Currie, a great English teacher, writer and poet, where Erik where he had the first vague notions of "being a writer." He kept writing through university, even as the theatre sunk its teeth and claws into him. He came out of university with a B.F.A., a pair of black belts, and a desire to be on the stage.
Erik moved to Toronto and spent thirteen years pursuing (but never quite catching) a career as an actor and a fight director. He wrote his first novel in a small attic room in a downtown rooming house, sitting on a cushion on the floor with his laptop perched on a box in front of him. Shortly after, he wrote "Small Magics," then "Cold Magics."
Erik is has just finished writing "City of Phantoms," a young adult novel set in Victorian England. He is now writing the third book in the Magics series while he edits "the King Below" (another fantasy novel he has written) and "City of Phantoms," and still works on that zombie movie.