Chapter 1

Part 1

Picture, if you will, a lazy Wednesday afternoon. The sun shines down on the state of Florida, specifically on the city of St. Augustine.

Daedalus, a young graduate student who also happens to be a mage, stepped out of a cafe, the take out box in his hands filling the nearby area with delicious, warm smells. He walked through the city, deciding to head near the cemetery and sit on a bench overlooking the sea.

Nearby, a shabby homeless man managed to convince some sap to buy him a sandwich. After sufficiently irritating his benefactor, Tatterdemalion wandered through the city, looking for any interesting spirits. One in particular caught his interest. It looked a bit like a buzzard with a blood-stained beak.
Tatterdemalion pulled a giant, 1980s-era mobile phone out of his pocket and pretended to speak in it as he addressed the spirit.
Unfortunately, the rude spirit had no desire to speak to the mage. “I don’t have any time to talk, I’m going to be late,” it snarled.
At this moment, shouting and several loud gunshots erupted from the direction of the city’s central plaza. Tatterdemalion quickly cast a spell to control the spirit and interrogated it.
“Explain. Late for what and where?” he asked.
“They’ve got so many guns, someone’s bound to die and I’ve got to get there before all the others do and eat everything up!” explained the spirit impatiently.
“Tell me what your name is!” Tatterdemalion commanded.
“My name’s Eater-of-the-Murdered,” the spirit said, breaking free of the spell. It flew in the direction of the approaching gunshots.
Tatterdemalion cursed and puts his phone away. He backed into the alley, attempting to appear as a harmless homeless man. He concentrated briefly, trying to feel nearby human life and notice any deaths. Surprisingly, nobody seemed to be dying. Confused, Tatterdemalion nonetheless decided to play it safe. He quickly cast a small spell that caused his clothes to subtly change to blend in a bit better with the wall.

Meanwhile, on nearby Anastasia Island, a visiting mage named Korbin yawned and stretched, checking his watch. He’d just spent a few lazy after-lunch hours reading The Mind Parasites by Colin Williams. He was not terribly disturbed at not having done anything important, but now it was time to go. He left the hotel, got in his car and drove to the mainland.
As he entered the city limits, Korbin noticed the ruckus. He parked his car and got out to investigate. Approaching the crowd, he noticed three main groups of people. Two of them were shooting old-looking muskets at each other, and a third was just standing by watching. One of the groups of shooters were dressed like stereotypical 16th century Spaniards (even waving a Spanish flag) and the other group was dressed like English pirates. It was either some sort of reenactment or the strangest gang war anyone’s ever seen.
Korbin asked a nearby observer what is going on.
“It’s the annual reenactment of the sacking of the city by English pirates,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Pretty lame, huh? I’m only here ‘cause I have to write a report on it.”
Korbin followed the parade and continued talking to the young lady, asking her about her job, about the article she’s writing and whether or not she’d like to have dinner tonight. She smiled and blushed at this handsome stranger’s attentions. “I’m just a student at the college. My name’s Sarah by the way. I’m a History major, that’s why I have to write a report on the reenactment. I guess it would be alright if we went to dinner, Mr…?”

Tatterdemalion had noticed the crowd as well. He also noticed that Eater-of-the-Murdered and several other spirits were hovering hesitantly above the crowd, agitated by the excitement. They jolted into action at each gunshot, slowing when they realized nobody had died.
Tatterdemalion shook his head. “Bloody murder spirits confusing me,” he muttered. His clothes faded back to normal as he bit into his sandwich and pulled out his phone.
“This is just a reconstruction, the guns shouldn’t even have real bullets. So even if someone is killed it’ll just be an accident and not a murder. You’re not going to get anything out of this.”
Although this wasn’t strictly true. Some of the spirits seemed to be something else besides murder spirits and did actually seem to be benefiting from the parade. A gun-shaped spirit, in particular, seemed to enjoy the simple firing of the guns.
Eater-of-the-Murdered was pretty angry about being tricked, though. “Pointless. Why would they make fake guns? Hopefully the other man’s gun is real.”
This caught Tatterdemalion’s attention. “I don’t suppose you’re going to tell me where this guy is, are you?”
“Why?” asked the spirit, “So you can go stop him? Yeah, I’d just love to cheat myself out of a meal.”
“Well,” Tatterdemalion said, “There ’’is’’ the chance that if yeh tell me then you’ll lose out, but that could happen anyways. Besides, everyone knows that when someones tries to be a friggin’ hero people die anyway. It’d probably increase your chance for a meal in fact. And tell you what, I often see rather unpleasant things in the back alley. If I come across a murder I’ll give you a call.”
Eater-of-the-Murdered considered this. “Well, to tell you the truth, I’m not even exactly sure where he is right now. I saw him earlier walking around by the city gates.” With that, the spirit flew off in search of better prey.
Tatterdemalion walked out to talk to the gun spirit he saw earlier. Several people in the crowd shot him dirty looks and moved away, but he didn’t seem to mind.
“Soaking up the atmosphere, then?” he asked into his phone. “Seems like a good one. Mind if I ask your name?”
“Why should I tell you my name?” asked the gun spirit, “You and your kind are always meddling. Just leave me be!”
Tatterdemalion frowned a little. “All you have to do is tell me and I leave you be, I have no reason to stop what yeh doin’.”
The spirit considered the offer, but ultimately decided against it. “Maybe you’ll leave me alone now, but with my name, what’s to stop you from summoning me up or something later? All these guns are fake. I’m not harming any of your kind so let me be.”
The crowd soon passed through the city gates. Nervous after Eater-of-the-Murdered’s words, Tatterdemalion glanced around but didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary except Daedalus.


Ruins of Streets of Stone Rickton