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Chronicles of Murphy: Book One
Book of the Accursed
Most people have, one time or another heard of Murphy's Law. More properly though, one would have to say Murphy's LAWS. Combined, they basically state that if something CAN go wrong, it WILL go wrong, at the worst possible time, in the worst way possible, in the manner which will involve the most people...you get the point. In short, the shit will always hit the fan, making the biggest mess. (Interestingly, the 2nd law of thermodynamics states something similar; the entropy (or disorder) of a system will always increase).
What is less well known is that it originated only recently, in 1949 at Edward's Air force Base. It was named after Captain Edward A. Murphy; it's generally agreed among the geeks who bother to argue this point that he didn't really coin the phrase so much as inadvertently give a name to an opinion that had been around for almost as long as taxes.
What is even LESS known is that one trans-dimensional version of Murphy (a different Murphy who was still responsible for coining the law in HIS universe) was posthumously deified. (He was hitchhiking to a gas station after his car ran out of gas, wearing white, and facing oncoming traffic when a British motorist driving on the wrong side of the rode ran him over). Specifically, the god Murphy; Deity 3rd class, License Pending; god of outrageous plot devices and random, inexplicable occurrences.
At the moment, he was in charge of a shop known simply as "Murphy's." You've probably seen similar shops before; places that sell natural goods, weird jewelry, mainstream witchcraft paraphernalia...that sort of thing. Stuff for people who think they're mystical and spiritual and in tune with the Earth Mother, but who really don't know what the hell they're babbling about.
Which is why I hasten to point out that the person inside wasn't one of them. Don't get me wrong, he believed in magic, spirits, a higher power that no major religion had gotten right, and the truth represented in science fiction. He just had the basic common sense to realize that what this place was selling had nothing to do with real magic.
He just liked the style of jewelry; mainly pendants and such.
There were quite a few problems though. Mostly ones that he didn't know about. Though more on those AFTER they hit the fan.
"Anyway, I was wondering if you have anything involving Native American art. Specifically, anything with coyote."
Murphy shrugged. His god markings were oddly enough, little wrenches; one on each cheek, one on the forehead. "We have a little bit of everything. What were you hoping for specifically? Something that actually came from a coyote or just a representation."
Alex blinked. "Um...do I want to know what kind of things you have from coyotes?" He happened to like coyotes; he respected their genius at surviving.
"Claws, teeth, carvings from bone, tufts of fur, eyeballs..."
"I'll take a representation, thanks."
"Metal, wood, gemstone, what?"
Alex shook his head. "You really have that much? What about a wolf, or..." he wracked his brains "...some kind of mongoose?"
"Mongoose or just some kind of relative; civet, genet, linsang?"
Much staring. "...how precisely do you keep that much stuff in this place?" The store couldn't have been more than a couple hundred square feet.
Suddenly a bit more alert, Murphy grinned. "We don't display much; most of it's stored in the basement warehouse. Anyway, you said you wanted something having to do with coyotes?"
He wasn't entirely sure why, but something about this was making him nervous. Still, he plunged ahead, confident he'd get through relatively unscathed. Poor fool. "Well ,like I said, I feel kind of nervous about going around with something that used to be an actual PART of a coyote, but I'd like something."
Nodding, Murphy turned to head for the alleged storage room. "I think I have just the thing for you. Would you mind waiting around?" Not bothering to wait for an answer, he disappeared into the dark doorway. Startled a bit by the rather abrupt departure, Alex continued looking around. Most of the walls were covered in various posters and wall-hangings; glass-lined cases stood in front of the walls providing counter and display cases both. Kusudama, wind-chimes, bells, and various other noise-makers hung from the rafters. The tops of the cases were covered in magical paraphernalia; ofuda scrolls and charms, incense racks, ornate knives that were barely sharp enough to be used as letter openers, and masks. The cases themselves held huge trays of rings; some jeweled, some ornate metal...some were gold, some silver, some looked like they were copper, a few even looked like they'd been carved from solid gemstones.
"As I said, I think this will be perfect for you."
Alex started as the proprietor showed up; he hadn't thought that he could have been out of his line-of-sight long enough to be back. Then his eyes fell on the pendant dangling from Murphy's fingers, and any worry was swept away in a wave of mixed awe and avarice.
It wasn't too terribly large; it could have fit in a box two inches square, possibly smaller. The first thing he noticed was the large, spherical gem at the top of the pendant. He wasn't sure what it was, but he guessed it was amber, or maybe a flawed topaz. Though topaz wouldn't have had a cat's eye in it.
What struck him though was the rest of the piece. Receiving a nod of permission from Murphy, he tentatively held it in his hand. His first thought that it was some kind of wood was banished; no wood would have been that cool to touch, that perfectly smooth. It had been carved from what looked like a mixture of hawks eye and tigers eye; black brown and gold in a mixed pattern almost like wood grain. The lowest portion took on the appearance of a canine in the sit position; he couldn't decide if it was supposed to be a wolf, fox, coyote, German shepherd...really, it was just kind of vaguely doglike. What was so startling however was that rising over its head was an intricately woven pattern of what looked like tails; nine of them, he noticed after counting. Rising over the dog's head, they swirled and wove evenly to encircle and clasp the gemstone, as well as providing the space needed for the cord holding it.
It took a minute for him to stop looking at it and actually remember where he was. Starting, he ruefully handed it back to the proprietor. "Thanks, but I asked for a coyote, not a fox."
"It IS a coyote."
He laughed slightly. No way something with that obvious degree of workmanship in it was within his price range; he needed some better excuse to turn it down. "I know enough mysticism to recognize that; it's a nogitsune, a Japanese nine-tailed fox."
Murphy grinned. "Actually, there are legends of coyotes having nine tails. (1) They're just less known. Besides, it's a fairly well-known comparison that the fox spirit of the east and the coyote of the west serve essentially the same purpose; trickster."
Alex's smile turned rueful. "If you say so. Sorry, but there's no way I can afford that; I don't have that much on me anyway - "
"Nope. This piece is six dollars and ninety-nine cents. Seven dollars and twenty eight cents with tax."
Alex stared at the piece. He wanted it; he REALLY wanted it, which surprised him. Still, he wasn't sure that he was willing to trust the shopkeeper; for all he knew, this guy fenced cultural treasures or something. "What's the stone made of?"
Murphy smiled. Gotcha! "Oddly enough, this is all one piece of quartz crystal. Well, one piece of various minerals, anyway. The carving is hawks eye, as you might have guessed, while the cabochon is citrine."
He frowned in thought. He'd heard of the stone; basically yellow quartz crystal. Rare, but not particularly valuable. Greed finally won out over his worries as he dug out the cash necessary.
Murphy smiled as the young man turned to leave. "Come again." He hadn't even bothered to wait to get out of the store before he'd put the piece on. Probably for the best really; he'd need all the help he could get.
Leaning against the counter, Murphy grinned. Part of his test for making it to God 2nd Class was this; supposedly something about learning balance. The kid had actually been planning to enter the Third Planet, some weird shop in a college town that sold stuff similar to what he'd seen. But that was part of the magic of the shop; you'd never even realize you'd made a wrong turn. Murphy just had to learn how to match each potential customer with something they'd buy. Not necessarily something that would benefit them, though the odds were 50/50.
And last of all, the magic of the door. Not only would it let anyone in from any place, it would lead them to wherever they wanted to go.
Whether they realized it or not.
To be continued...
Author's Notes: Not much to go on, I admit, but read on if you'd like. Some warnings; this is an SI. For those of you who aren't nerds yet, that stands for Self-Insert. In other words, the raging egomaniac behind the keyboard is going to be essentially writing a story with him as the main character, without hardly trying to disguise his arrogance.
Though I do hope to follow Gregg Sharp's example and try to avoid a lot of the clichés that you'd expect; you know, ultimate power, I'm somehow better than all the real characters, ending up with all the female leads...okay, maybe not all of them. But hey, I deserve to have a little fun, don't I?
(1) - Actually, there aren't. I'm just making this up, though it WILL have some significance later on.