“What in the name of everything I hold sacred of was that?” Asked Adam, dragging himself to his knees and looking in the direction that the fire ball had taken. There was nothing there now but a column of white smoke, glowing red at its base, drifting on the night air. If the moon hadn’t been full they wouldn’t have been able to see anything other than the dull red glow.
A moment later an incredible bang reached their ears, accompanied by a blast of air, knocking Adam onto his back.
“I have no idea, but it scared the crap out of me.” His companion, Edam, answered, feeling smug because he had paused long enough for the blast wave to hit them, though he would be the last to admit he hadn’t meant to. He waited a few moments longer before he decided it was safe to sit upright once again.
“Do you think we should go and take a look?”
“Not flipping likely. Whatever it was, nothing good can come of it, you mark my words. Besides, if we go there’s no one to look after the sheep.”
“You’re right, of course.” Adam sat down again, glad of the excuse not have to appear brave. “The sheep have to come first, always.”
“That was different. She gave me The Look.”
“They all give you The Look. How come they never give me The Look?”
“Because I am tall and good looking and you look like something a woolly mammoth stamped on.”
“Oh, yes, that would be it. Well, tall and handsome one, you’ve got first watch.” Edam snuggled down into his fur cloak and was soon snoring.
Adam continued to watch the plume of smoke for a while, but it wasn’t doing much so he lost interest and lay back to continue his favourite game of playing join the dots with the stars to see what shapes he could come up with. He liked to give them names.
They were strangely dressed, some wearing long skirts, not dissimilar to their own, and others some sort of tubes wrapped around their legs and sack shapes on their upper bodies, with more tubes for their arms to poke through. And the attire was coloured.
“Lovely shade of green.” Adam commented. “I wonder how they got it.”
“Rubbed it on the grass I expect. I like the red myself. I wonder if they soaked it in blood to get that colour.”
The conversation continued as they picked out each colour in turn and speculated on how it had been obtained. At last the group came to a halt in front of them, six men and seven women, with four children hiding behind the adults. They ranged in colour from the deepest black, much like Adam and Edam themselves, through brown, to beige and a shade of white, topped with golden hair, that they could only marvel at.
“We come from the sky.” One of them said.
“What did he say?” Asked Adam.
“No idea.” responded Edam, “But he's pointing at the sky, so I guess he's saying they think it’s going to rain.
“No, chance of that, today.” replied Adam, staring upwards to the cloudless blue dome of the heavens.
“Do any of you speak Asgard?” The spokesman asked, speaking more slowly and raising his voice as though that would somehow facilitate better understanding.
“No, didn’t get that at all.” Commented Adam.
“Me neither.” Responded Edam. He pointed to himself. “Edam.” He said, repeating it a couple of times. The newcomers smiled, as though they understood. Deciding he was on a roll, Edam pointed to Adam and said “Adam” a couple of times. More smiles.
“Thor.” The newcomer pointed at himself.
“I think he said he’s sore.” Adam said, with a puzzled look.
The spokesperson pointed to each of his companions in turn. “Odin, Loki, Freya, Mimir, Tyr, Saxnot, Hoor, Nanna, Bragi, Meili, Friga, Dellinger and Nott.” He didn’t introduce the children.
“I’ll never remember all those.” muttered Adam.
“Nor me. We’ll just slur something, that usually works. Maybe they’re hungry. Offer them some of the dried mutton.”
“Give over, that’s all I’ve got. Let them have some of that white stuff your Mum made. Tastes disgusting. What did she call it?”
“Yes, give them some of the cheese.”
Edam offered them a solid white chunk, wrapped in a palm leaf. Telling them what it was called as he did so.
Thor broke off a chunk and nibbled at it. His face broke into a broad, beaming smile. “Cheese! Good.” He offered it around the others in his party where it was received with equal rapture. In return he offered them something.
Adam pointed to the symbol. “Apple” he pronounced.
“No actually,” Thor tried to explain, “it’s supposed to be a partial eclipse.” He saw the blank looks on the faces of the two shepherds. “OK, have it your way. ‘Apple’”. He was rewarded with more smiles.
As Adam turned the object over again it seemed to come to life and he was amazed to see little images appear on the shiny side. They didn’t remain for long. Some words came up; their meaning was unknown to Adam, but they said “Battery Low”, then the reflective pool went blank once again.
Pointedly Edam ripped a lump off of his dried mutton and started to chew. He raised the remainder so they could see what it was, then pointed at the sheep. “Sheep.” He intoned.
Thor used two of his fingers to mime walking.
“They want to leave, apparently. Shall we take them to the village?” Edam asked.
“Yes. Why not. They seem harmless enough.” He picked up his furs and his shepherd’s staff and went off to round up the sheep. An hour later they all gathered together and urged the animals on ahead of them, chatting away in their different languages, each thinking that because they now knew what cheese, apple and sheep were they had established some sort of communication.
The first two children to issue from this new arrangement were twin boys, born to the girl called Eve. She named them Cain and Abel. The entire population of the village, both the original inhabitants and the new arrivals were, by then, speaking in the language of Asgard and the apple was their symbol.
Over the next ten years the fiery balls fell from the sky forty one more times, though of course very few of the landings were visible in the land where the first had fallen, which was known as Eydon*.
* Not to be confused with the Northamptonshire village of the same name.
But if you want to know what the Magi are, you can find out start right now.
In a galaxy where law and order are breaking down it needs a feisty female bounty hunter like An Kohli to restore the balance. With the wise members of The Magi lost, she must battle all comers to find them before the Fell complete their takeover. An Kohli needs friends, a lot of luck and plenty of Grovian Whisky if she is to succeed.
The Magi is the first thrilling instalment in my new sci-fi series. If you like Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett; if you are Jedi or Sith, a Trekker or a Whovian you’ll love this series of books that combines the best in Space Opera to tell a fascinating tale.
Explore the amazing galaxy of The Magi here.