#20: Charmed

There’s something about walking down the streets of High Anglachel that highlights all of the city’s problems. The humans like me always feel like they’re so gods damned superior to everyone else. Most of the halflings and gnomes are shoved into service positions if you see them at all. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen an orc or goblin in these parts, they’re probably not even allowed in this “superior” part of town. I bet most of the humans here can’t even see it.

I can see it.

I haven’t always been the highly regarded entertainer known as Malerna the Black. No, that came much later. I was born Senia Giagnocchi in a modest apartment in Middle Anglachel. My father was a run-of-the-mill paper pusher, my mother a secretary. They had enough to provide for me and my sister, but little more than that. I always wanted to get out.

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with living in Middle Anglachel. My sister Natalia has made a pretty attractive life for herself. Married just out of school to a lovely husband, two kids, basically the Anglachelian ideal. But that life wasn’t for me. 

I knew that my way out would always be music. At least that’s what I thought. Then puberty rolled around and it turns out the gods had another plan. I turned out to be a Chosen One. Can you even believe that?

I turn the corner and I remember that High Anglachel isn’t all bad. The children are just let out of their private school and practically all of them are getting picked up in magically enchanted self-driving chariots. I know that’s not cheap. I commissioned one for my last world tour. If you’re going to hold onto all of that generational wealth, you may as well flaunt it. I hate the disparity, but I love the excess. I always have.

That’s what made the realization I was a Chosen One so addictive for me. Obviously, I had seen magic in Middle Anglachel, but nothing too extravagant. I had only really seen mundane things, like street lights, cold boxes, and stoves. Once my Chosen One powers started to materialize, the steepest learning curve was figuring out what kind of magic I could even use.

I recognized the illusion magic early. My music teacher, Ms. Cardona, could tap into it when she played her flute. She would use it in class to demonstrate each student’s part. My magic was so much more than that. I could create illusory clothes, create a light show on stage and even conjure up a full backing band. 

The other two were a bit trickier but just as useful. The spatial magic let me travel wherever I wanted, within reason. I never had to worry about catching a train to the pubs in the Market District to catch shows. The most challenging was the charm magic. As a young girl, I just presumed that my cute and precocious nature was getting me everything I asked for. It wasn’t exactly unheard of. But then one day I joked with a bouncer that he should let me into the club to watch the DJ Wizard show. I didn’t expect it to work, but he pulled the velvet rope open and ushered me in, without saying a word. I knew that had to be more than me being cute. I knew I wasn’t that cute.

Needless to say, I no longer had to worry about earning money. I could stay at whatever hotel I wanted by charming the bellman to let me stay in an open room. I charmed stage managers to let me open for whatever big act was coming through. They’d eventually catch on and someone would chase me off the stage, but it was already too late. The audience had already seen me perform my set with the impressive illusory pyrotechnics. Being a one-woman band made all of this very easy. It also felt very lonely.

I didn’t want anyone to make a big deal out of my powers, so I hid them. At that point, I didn’t even know what a Chosen One was, much less that it was possible for a normal girl like me to become one. But I knew that if I wanted out I was going to have to make the most of this gift the universe gave me.

This show-crasher routine proved an effective way to get noticed. It wasn’t long until a music mogul met me backstage and started producing wax cylinders of my songs. I remember that the music trades reported that my deal was completely unheard of at the time for a totally new artist. It probably still is. I’m a pretty convincing negotiator when I tap into my charm magic.

I didn’t forget about where I came from. I’ve started re-distributing the wealth I’ve scammed from some of the worst and richest people in Anglachel to the families in the slums. This brings me to why I’m in High Anglachel today.

It seems some people have caught onto my negotiating tactics and have begun making business dealings with me through intermediaries. This allows some of the worst venue owners in Anglachel can try to get away with not paying me. I can always tell too. Whenever the staff looks miserable and the facilities look great but uses the cheapest materials imaginable, I have come to expect it. Most recently, this happened at The Silvered Mandolin. But I’ve learned how to deal with this too.

I remember to push the anger down as I enter the High Anglachel Premier Bank. I approach the counter and a petite human woman greets me. 

“Welcome to the High Anglachel Premier Bank! How may I help you?” She says, with plenty of fake enthusiasm in her voice.

“Yes, I was hoping to make a transfer from the business account of The Silvered Mandolin,” I state.

“Oh, yes, of course. I just need to see some ID to make sure your name is on the account,” she requests. I almost feel bad, but I’ve done this enough now that I know I can cover my tracks well enough to protect her.

“Oh, the owner said I wouldn’t need it. He said he called ahead,” I say, channeling as much charm magic as I can manage. I’ve learned that it is much easier to do this if the transactions are fast. The longer the draw out the more likely someone else will catch on.

“That is unusual, but you sound sure. I’ll trust you,” she responded.

“Thank you,” I said, more to the gods than to her.

“So where will we be transferring these funds?” she asked.

“The owner asked for 10 gold to be placed in as many accounts with addresses in the Slums as you can. Start with the lowest balance and work your way up,” I request, again, with loads of charm magic.

“OK, that will take a while but it is totally doable,” she said.

“I don’t need to be here for this, right? In fact, please forget I was ever here. The actual owner of The Silvered Mandolin is the one that came in here and authorized this,” I finished.

“I’m sorry, ma’am. I’m not going to be able to help you at this window. I’m in the middle of a pretty complicated transaction. Would you mind going to another teller,” she said, the magic taking hold.

“Ya’ know what, I have forgotten why I came in here,” I said.

I walked out of the bank and began considering where I would like to play tonight. I can’t take a night off, I’m a star on the rise.


These stories serve as inspiration for the upcoming short story collection, Tyranny of the Fey. The collection will be released in Fall 2023. You can get a $1 preview now!


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