Since it is May, I have chosen my first lines from fantasy novels for Wyrd & Wonder.
Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians. They met upon the third Wednesday of every month and read each other long, dull papers upon the history of English magic.
They were gentleman-magicians, which is to say they had never harmed anyone by magic – nor ever done anyone the slightest good. In fact, to own the truth, not one of these magicians had ever cast the smallest spell, nor by magic caused one leaf to tremble upon a tree, made one mote of dust to alter its course or changed a single hair upon anyone’s head.
I was born in the city of Bombay… once upon a time. No, that won’t do, there’s no getting away from the date. I was born in Doctor Narlikar’s Nursing Home on August 15th 1947. And the time? The time matters too. Well then, at night. No, it’s important to be more… On the stroke of midnight, as a matter of fact.
There was once, in the country of Alifbay, a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name. It stood by a mournful sea full of glumfish, which were so miserable to eat that they made people belch with melancholy even though the skies were blue…
The magic in that country was so thick and tenacious that it settled over the land like chalk-dust and over floors and shelves like sticky plaster-dust. (House-cleaners in that country earned unusually good wages.) If you lived in that country, you had to de-scale your kettle of its encrustation of magic at least once a week, because if you didn’t, you might find yourself pouring hissing snakes or pond slime into your teapot instead of water.
This is where the dragons went. They lie… not dead, not asleep. Not waiting, because waiting implies expectation. Possibly the word we’re looking for here is… dormant.
And although the space they occupy isn’t quite like normal space, nevertheless they are packed in tightly. Not a cubic inch there but is filled by a claw, a talon, a scale, the tip of a tail, so the effect is like one of those trick drawings and your eyeballs eventually realize the space between each dragon is, in fact, another dragon.
Sam Vimes sighed when he heard the scream, but he finished shaving before he did anything about it.
Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we? Get it over with and move on to more interesting things.
Before the mountain at the world’s end was built on the river plain, before the high city there grew up, before most of the Ravens went away into the forests of the deep, before the People’s long rage to kill Crows, before Dar Oakley’s sea-journey into the West, before the Most Precious Thing was found and lost again, before the ways were opened to the lands of the dead, before there were names in Ka, before Ymr came to be and therefore before Ka knew itself, Dar Oakley first knew People.
Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.