The Guild of the Wizards of Waterfire, by Iain Reading, was published in April 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon.
This first book of the Wizards of Waterfire series tells the story of Memphis Grey, a teenage girl with an extraordinary secret. Born with a special gift to summon and control the elemental building blocks of nature – Earth, Air, Fire and Water – Memphis and the other members of her ancient guild of wizards have the power to shape these elements and use the resulting energy to weave a form of primordial magic. A seemingly ordinary group of friends on the outside, Memphis and her fellow wizards gather each week to practice their magical skills at the local shopping mall where a clandestine set of stairs leads to a secret room hidden at the top of a decorative lighthouse. Only those in the know can recognize the distinctive image of the lighthouse as a clue to a hidden reality lying just beneath the surface of our everyday world. Hiding in plain sight, each lighthouse marks the hidden meeting place of one of the guilds of the elusive Wizards of Waterfire. But despite their remarkable powers none of them are immortal and after tragedy strikes in a flash of screeching tires and twisted metal, Memphis and the others watch helplessly as their whole world starts to fall apart right in front of their eyes. Faced with the prospect of having to disband their guild unless they can find a new member to join them, Memphis and her friends set out to recruit Flynn, a handsome and mysterious new student at their local high school. He is the perfect choice to restore the elemental balance, but when things don’t turn out quite as planned they find themselves swept along on an amazing journey that takes them to the ancient and magical places of the Waterfire guilds, uncovering dark secrets and long-forgotten histories as they go, until finally hurtling them toward a dramatic confrontation with another of the five ancient guilds – the mysterious and powerful guild of the EarthAir wizards.
Excerpt from The Guild of the Wizards of Waterfire:
The guilds had existed for two and a half thousand years, and it certainly wasn’t the first time that tragedy had struck and claimed the life of an Elemental before their time. It had happened before, and it was sure to happen again, but for Memphis Grey, it was the first time that tragedy had struck so close to home in her own small world.
Since ancient times, the lighthouses had been the secret symbol of the elusive Guilds of the Waterfire Wizards. Standing strong as beacons of safety and stability where water meets fire, each one held the destructive power of the other at bay.
In the beginning, the lighthouses themselves had served the wizards as secret meeting places; each guild had constructed its own place of gathering and refuge. But as the guilds spread throughout the world and into places far from the sea, the image became more symbolic, and could be seen everywhere—on walls and signs, over doorways, or cleverly hidden in corporate logos. Just look around and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
But for those in the know, each lighthouse marks the location of a guild’s secret meeting place.
Memphis’s guild was no exception. Every Thursday at seven o’clock, she would ride through the quiet alleyways and streets of West Vancouver to the Park Royal Mall. Leaving her bike in front of the Old Navy store, she walked across the street to an inconspicuous little door at the back of the Village Taphouse pub and typed an access code into the door’s keypad. From there she climbed the stairs to the secret room under the building’s pretend lighthouse that the uninitiated simply dismissed as one of the shopping mall’s marketing gimmicks.
But on this particular Thursday, Memphis was somewhere else instead—the last place in the world that she wanted to be at that particular moment. She was standing in the rain in a cemetery wishing that she and the other mourners were in their secret room, safe and warm as they watched the rain streak down the windows outside. They would drink some hot tea and talk and laugh while playing games—Catan or Monopoly, maybe, or perhaps even the ancient guild game of Pharos—instead of mourning the loss of their dear friend Christian, one of their own.
Every guild must consist of five members, or the guild must disband.
That was the rule, and it had been the rule since long before Samantha was ever born. It was a rule that dated back nearly two and a half thousand years to the genesis of the very existence of the guilds themselves.
Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Ether. Love and Strife. Everything had to exist in balance. Memphis knew all this well, but at that moment the only thing
she could feel was strife plunging its painful needles of memory deep into her broken heart. She looked across at Samantha Soul, her best friend, who was standing next to her at the graveside. Samantha was a mess, alternately wiping tears and raindrops from her face as she stared at the lonely casket being lowered into the ground. Strands of her intense blonde hair fell over her shoulders from underneath the black hoodie that she had pulled up to cover her face. She didn’t want the others to see her cry. Memphis didn’t care about that and just let the tears flow like tiny rivers of sorrow and as she watched the dark clouds drizzle a steady downpour of rain she almost got the sense that they were crying along with her.
Flickers of lightning licked at the corners of the sky, splitting the air and bathing the mourners in a stark, harsh light for an instant before another wave of thunder rumbled across the landscape.
Memphis leaned forward and looked past Samantha to the taller figure at her side, his damp, tousled brown hair hanging in his eyes. Ithaca was Memphis’s little brother, and seeing him standing there in tears ripped her heart in two all over again. Ithaca was only two years younger than Memphis, and he was old enough to understand what death was, but just like the rest of them, it was the first time that something so tragic had struck so close and taken someone they loved so dearly. They struggled to accept the cold hard fact that Christian was gone from their lives forever.
Memphis turned away and buried her face in her hands, sobbing loudly and coming close to completely losing it. Her eyes darted around the cemetery in a panic, looking for a way to escape. If only she could just push her way through the crowd of black- dressed mourners and make for the cover of the nearby trees. Then she could be alone with her thoughts and just sit and listen to the sound of the rain, and remember.
She grew anxious and was about to bolt when a warm hand patted her gently on the shoulder, instantly calming her and helping her to get her breathing under control. Memphis looked up to see Samantha’s great-uncle, Winston. Winston Eric Waters was her mentor and the leader of their guild. With droplets of waters dripping from his gray speckled goatee, he smiled down at her, his brown eyes full of kindness but just as flecked with pain as hers were. He patted her on the shoulder again then left his hand there, its warmth and weight solid and reassuring against the rest of the world that seemed to be descending into chaos around them.
Christian had been a big brother to the three youngest members and a kind of adopted son to Winston. The five of them had been as close as family—closer even, because they had grown up together and learned from each other’s mistakes as they trained and explored the world around them and the fabric of the universe that held it together. They had laughed and fought and cried with each other, and together they had somehow shouldered the great responsibilities that came with being an Elemental.
But all that was finished now. Three nights ago, on a dark, tree-lined street, Christian’s life was snuffed out in a flash of tires and screeching metal. He was dead, and for nothing more than a stupid car accident, the kind of tragedy that strikes friends and families hundreds of times a day all across the world. Christian was dead, and if losing their dear friend wasn’t traumatic enough, the very existence of their guild was now in jeopardy. Everything they’d worked so hard to accomplish was in question.
Memphis had absolutely no idea what they were going to do.
She reached into her pocket and gently squeezed the petra stone that she always carried with her; she could feel its power, and took comfort in it as she closed her eyes to block out the tears and falling rain.
What are we going to do? Memphis asked herself.
Christian would have to be replaced; otherwise, their guild would fall. But how could anyone ever replace him? They could never love anyone the way they had loved him.
When the priest finished the ceremony, the mourners shuffled slowly down the hillside to their waiting cars. Some of them stopped to offer words of wisdom and comfort for the four of them—how sorry they were, how time heals all wounds, and how no one can know the sometimes terrible cost that all of us have to pay for being human. But none of the mourners had any idea what the five of them had been through together, or how Christian’s death threatened to unravel all of their lives.
Memphis’s father leaned down to whisper in her ear. He and her mother would wait in the car, and she should take all the time she needed to say good-bye. He smiled at her—a weak and helpless smile full of love and caring—before her mother gave her a hug, and the two of them walked off, melting into the crowd of other black clothes and umbrellas making their way through the forest of gray headstones.
“I know it seems impossible,” Winston said after everyone else was out of earshot, and just the four of them were left standing by the grave that was cut like a scar into the side of the hill. “But we’ll find another to take his place. The guild will live on, and so will Christian’s spirit.”
The three of them looked up at Winston as he gazed toward the horizon. A slash of lightning cut through the sky in the east followed by a peal of thunder that washed over the landscape like a thunderous, breaking wave.
Winston was right. There was no other choice, and they all knew it, but that didn’t make the lacerating pain of loss any easier to bear.
Every guild must consist of five members, or the guild must disband.
They all knew the rules. They’d been living by them all of their lives.