The cast of the Sleeping Dragon is an ensemble one, featuring five misfits bought together by circumstances beyond their understanding, who swiftly realise that only by working together can they work out just what the hell’s going on and, more importantly, just how the hell they can get out of it.

In this post we look at the man who is arguably the most talented and skilled of the group.

* * * * *

Born the child of two high-flying wizarding professors, Presto Tannarton was destined for greatness. From an early age he demonstrated a potent mixture of magical aptitude and keen intelligence, and having graduated with honours from the famed Magical Studies department of Empire City’s Imperial University he embarked on what all predicted would be a glittering academic career. Then it all came crashing down.

“That’s where I’ve seen you!” exclaimed the Storm. “There was some kind of shit storm a few years back at the Imperial University. You said something dodgy that got a load of ink in the press, and the University, like, sacked you.”

Presto said nothing for several long seconds, then delivered a tight-lipped reply. “Yes.”

A long, but expectant silence greeted that reply, a silence that eventually compelled him to elaborate. “I was teaching an archaic but still useful branch of magical theory relating to the discernment of inner nature and morality.”

“Which means?” asked Dani.

“Spells that detect the presence of inherently evil people or things.”

“And that got you sacked?”

“Strictly speaking, no. Saying that men exhibit a significantly higher tendency to possess such markers of inherent evil compared with women was what got me sacked.”

“But isn’t that a bit, well, sexist?” asked Darick.

Presto shrugged. “Well in my defence the statistics I quoted were correct, and I thought it raised some interesting philosophical questions. But with hindsight I could perhaps have raised the question in a different way.”

“And that got your license taken away as well?” asked Dani.

“Let’s just say that I didn’t handle my sacking in as mature a fashion as I could have done.”

We meet Presto more than ten years later, with him scratching something that barely qualifies as an existence, let alone a life.

Presto took a look around his apartment, and wiped a finger along the arm of his chair. Dust. An opened bottle of beer sat beside him. It was already a quarter empty and it wasn’t yet ten. Was this what his life had come to? Destined for glory, now rotting in the slums? He grabbed a cigarette from the pack that stood beside the bottle, shoved it into his mouth, and brought his finger to its tip.

Flame, he thought.

A small jet of fire erupted from his fingertip. He sucked gently on the cigarette, until the tip glowed. The smooth smoke in his lungs merged with the ecstasy of magic cast and a universe tamed. But then the bitter sting of realities remembered came crashing back in. I once commanded the forces of creation, he thought. Now I light my cigarette.

Presto initially resists cooperating with those that fate has bought him together with; he was a natural loner to begin with, and a decade of poverty and social isolation has done nothing to help with that. But as the quest to uncover the mystery of the Sleeping Dragon progresses, and his skills and talents become ever more indispensable, he begins to not only accept the role that destiny has dealt him, but to enjoy it.

This was highly illegal, but Presto didn’t care. Sure, they’d shamed him, taken his license away, taken his life away, told everyone that he was no longer a wizard and that the magic was no longer his. But he still knew how to punch a hole in the universe and make it scream, and no one could ever take that away. For ten years he’d cast nothing save minor cantrips too small to register on the Kellen-Rettner scale, and too trivial to raise an alert on a spell-cop’s monitor. For ten years he’d denied himself the ecstasy that came from grabbing hold of reality and making it dance. For ten years he’d rotted like a fallen leaf.

No more.

Breaking through to the ethereal plane was a force five casting or more, but it was a cast he was damn well going to make. The words of magic erupted from him, power words, syllables that turned locks built into existence itself and threw open the doors of space and time. Power flowed through his body, his waving arms directing it like a conductor directs his orchestra. It built to a crescendo, paused, reality itself laid out before him, and then–

He was somewhere else.

* * * * *

Just for fun, I created some mocked up RPG-style character sheets for Sleeping Dragon’s five protagonists. Here’s Presto’s:

* * * * *

Click here to read the other posts in the “Countdown to Sleeping Dragon” series.

* * * * *

The Sleeping Dragon is now available for pre-order on Amazon Kindle at an introductory price of 99p in the UK and 99c in the US (it’s also available in all the various international Amazons at the equivalent price in local currency). If you like what you’ve read here, then please consider pre-ordering it.

UK Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sleeping-Dragon-Jonny-Nexus-ebook/dp/B07KWFNXVS/

US Link: https://www.amazon.com/Sleeping-Dragon-Jonny-Nexus-ebook/dp/B07KWFNXVS/

The Sleeping Dragon will be published in February next year, in both Kindle and paperback formats.

* * * * *