The Middling Affliction – The Conradverse Chronicles Book 1 – 04/12/22
What would you do if you lost everything that mattered to you, as well as all means to protect yourself and others, but still had to save the day? Conrad Brent is about to find out.
Conrad Brent protects the people of Brooklyn from monsters and magical threats. The snarky, wisecracking guardian also has a dangerous secret: he’s one in a million – literally.
Magical ability comes to about one in every 30,000 and can manifest at any age. Conrad is rarer than this, however. He’s a middling, one of the half-gifted and totally despised. Most of the gifted community feels that middlings should be instantly killed. The few who don’t flat out hate them still aren’t excited to be around middlings. Meaning Conrad can’t tell anyone, not even his best friends, what he really is.
Conrad hides in plain sight by being a part of the volunteer Watch, those magically gifted who protect their cities from dangerous, arcane threats. And, to pay the bills, Conrad moonlights as a private detective and monster hunter for the gifted community. Which helps him keep up his personal fiction – that he’s a magical version of Batman. Conrad does both jobs thanks to charms, artifacts, and his wits, along with copious amounts of coffee. But little does he know that events are about to change his life…forever.
When Conrad discovers the Traveling Fair auction house has another middling who’s just manifested her so-called powers on the auction block, he’s determined to save her, regardless of risk. But what he finds out while doing so is even worse – the winning bidder works for a company that’s just created the most dangerous chemical weapon to ever hit the magical community.
Before Conrad can convince anyone at the Watch of the danger, he’s exposed for what he really is. Now, stripped of rank, magical objects, friends and allies, Conrad has to try to save the world with only his wits. Thankfully though, no one’s taken away his coffee.
My job that morning was to banish a demon, but I was determined to finish my cup of coffee first.
I sipped my java in front of Demetrios’s warehouse in Sunset Park, enjoying the panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline and the New York harbor. I stared at the Statue of Liberty, which appeared the size and shade of a toy soldier at this distance. A warm breeze caressed my face. Next to me, Demetrios was shaking like a leaf.
“What in the world are you thinking, Conrad?” Demetrios spoke in his typical rapid-fire fashion. “You’re just going to go in there, alone, to face this infernal thing? Without any help or backup from others at the Watch? Without even a priest? This is all kinds of crazy.”
“I can handle it,” I said, projecting casual confidence. “You did ask for this to be resolved quickly, and it’s not like I haven’t dealt with an occasional demon before.”
In fact, I’d never even seen any demons. I was not in any way whatsoever equipped to deal with a supernatural being of that magnitude. That was the bad news. The good news was, in my two decades with the Watch, I’d never once heard of a demon showing up in Brooklyn. Even if one arrived, it wouldn’t be slumming in Demetrios’s warehouse. And if, by some miracle, a major baddie from Down Below decided to take up residence there, Demetrios wouldn’t have survived the encounter long enough to come crying for my help. Something else was going on, but if the guy with the thick checkbook expected the job to be extremely dangerous, who was I to dissuade him?
“Quickly, yes,” said Demetrios. “You wouldn’t believe how far this has made us fall behind with the deliveries. My customers are screaming bloody murder. On top of everything, there’s a shipment of Sumatran persimmons that is already beginning to rot. I hope you really know what you’re doing. I don’t relish the thought of having to scrape what’s left of you off the container walls.”
“That’s the Demetrios I know and love. Sentimental to the end. Here, hold this.” I handed him the empty foam cup and headed for the entrance.
Read the exciting new fantasy series filled with New York City hustle and Brooklyn snark.
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