Live and Die by Magic

When children begin vanishing in Paris, Supernatural Intelligence Alliance Deputy Commissioner Bliebtreu calls on Otto Schneider for help, as his forces are stretched too thinly at the moment. When Otto arrives and speaks with the parents of the most recently kidnapped child, Jean Dejardin, he realizes that a creature thought extinct for millennia — killed by the immortals, because even demons couldn’t tolerate their evil — has one existent member: the whyker.

Early on, he spots a supernatural with his second sight and prepares to attack — as does the creature — only to discover, to his great relief, that it’s his old friend Zachary, the smart-aleck werewolf. Using the latter’s new tool — the Shield of God, given to him by a priest in Croatia — the duo quickly locate the whyker, which is headed down the Seine toward Notre Dame, which was built on one of the strongest and most ancient of ley lines in Europe (this story takes place in 2014, so Our Lady is still intact), but emerges to attack its two foes on the streets, astounding Otto with its appearance:

It was nothing short of an abomination … five times my size, maybe three metres high and four metres long, and it resembled a scorpion … with a spider’s head. Its body looked like chitinous plates, a hard exoskeleton … Multiple eyes stared at me … Its voice came to me without the need [to] form words, the sounds arriving in my head unbidden and in my own language

As the whyker throws barbs and hellfire, Otto and Zachary are able to hold it back, but its shifting powers and seemingly impenetrable shell allow it to kill and wreak havoc on Parisian passersby, so Otto resorts to a tactic he hates: he purposely lets the whyker see him rescue four-year-old Jean in order to lure the beast into a trap. Will the wizard and the werewolf succeed in killing the creature and returning the little boy to his parents?

This free short story not only spotlights Otto and Zachary, the first two characters of the Realm of False Gods series, but the humor-tinged connection that binds the friends as they work diligently to defeat the supernatural evils preying on mankind. It’s an excellent series sampler and bridges the narrative shift to Anastasia Aaronson, a British soldier whose battle injuries grant her unbelievable powers.

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