I hope everyone enjoyed the Scary Moments posts. I’m shifting gears to one of my characters today.
Mandelfred “Manny” Mandeheim is the lead character of The Order of the Dark Rose. Here’s why he makes a great character for Halloween:
- He’s a spy master and is skilled with quick costume changes.
“In a silent corner, Manny dropped his threadbare bag of belongings, those on the top consistent with his disguise as a homeless man. In moments, he’d peeled the false knotted beard from his face, then wiped his skin clear of the painted distortions and dirt. He removed his long duster, turned inside out, and festooned with false tears for just such a disguise. Next, he pulled off the dirty shirt, which revealed one beneath it, bright and clean in contrast. Last, he pulled false pant legs from his real ones, then wiped his shoes clean. After stuffing the disguise into his old bag, he brushed his dark hair straight with his fingers.” ~ The Changeling Incident
- He’s cursed so his age changes often – he can look different from minute to minute.
“My glimpse of Manny left me agape anew. His face had changed to that of an old man. His wrinkled skin hung loose on his skull, and his gray hair was lank upon his head. But the eyes remained Manny’s undoubtedly. Had the fleer gun done this to him? Or some other magic?” ~ The Disgraced Sniffer
“Manny clicked on the maged torch, revealing the visage of a child of about eight or so. “I seemed to have changed age again. Could you do me the favor of…” A boy’s hand extended the Sizer toward me, the overlong sleeves of his coat pushed up in wrinkles. He stood with trousers grasped in his other hand, so they didn’t fall, the legs a crumpled puddle of cloth about his undoubtedly oversized shoes.” ~ The Night Fiend
“Blindly, I rummage in his coat pocket for the Sizer wand or an Alchemist Needle, the latter on the off chance he did bring one. The latter wasn’t present. I pointed the size caster at what I thought was the correct lump writhing in the mass of clothing at my feet. A cough erupted from my throat as I wiped tears from my eyes. A puff of green smoke billowed from my lips. What had happened to me? I flicked the caster switch with my thumb. silver light flared at my feet, and the clothing shrank around a child’s body—a toddler, if I guessed correctly. “By the black gates of Thuva!”
Manny’s cherubic child’s face turned toward me, and I glimpsed through my half-blinded eyes his all-too-intelligent pupils. His high voice coupled with his vocabulary set my skin crawling at the juxtaposition.” ~ The Rose of the Adversary
- He doesn’t mind dressing in costumes or disguising himself. Just read the first two cases in the book.
“He grinned as he hunched in his bum disguise…” ~ The Changeling Incident
“He had donned his big overcoat, several pockets of which bulged from various magical devices stowed in them. On his head, he wore a close-fitting head-cap to which he had affixed the antlers, a strap firmly fastened under his chin.” ~ The Night Fiend
- Did I mention he’s a master spy? It means he’s very opportunistic and plays along with sudden changes of events.
But another guardsman stopped us short of the street. His wide-set eyes shifted over our shoulders, then took us in, each in turn. His eyes narrowed. “Got him, did you? Nice trick, that.”
I opened my mouth to respond to the insinuation that we’d murdered our attacker, but Manny spoke ahead of me. “We’ll not speak of it now unless we must.”
The guardsman was stout, his cheeks puffy beneath his brow. He shifted his stubby feet on thick legs. “Just need to confirm it. They said something was to happen. Important to verify it. You know, remove the marked one.”
“You have the password?” Manny leaned on his cane, seeming stronger than earlier.
The guardsman glanced my way, suspicion dancing in his eyes under the steady light of the lamp. “Didn’t know there would be two of you on this one. You tell me the password first.”
Manny’s eyes narrowed in response, and his nostrils flared. He reached into his pocket, drew out the card he’d retrieved from the ground, and held it out to the guardsman. “I think this is enough for the moment, don’t you?”
The guardsman stared at the card as a slow gape formed on his face. “Sorry to bother you, sir. I was just checking, like I was asked.”
“Good enough. It’s done. Now let us pass.” Manny lifted his cane to the guardsman’s arm as if to brush him aside with it. The other man stepped out of the way with a duck of his head. We passed him without another word and gained the street, at which time we both exhaled.
“What was that—”
“Not now. No names. Just keep moving.” Manny set the pace, his aged appearance belying his obvious verve. ~ The Disgraced Sniffer
- He’s also an arch-mage so changing things into frogs and whatnot are a specialty.
As we approached the next street corner, a fellow in a rough, gray tweed suit and dark hat with a rounded top crossed the traffic and intersected us. His broad face bore several scars, mostly on his cheeks and forehead.
Manny halted and thrust a hand toward the man as he reached for his pocket. “Stop! Come no closer.” To me, he said without turning his head, “Behind us, Wish.”
With a whirl, I thrust my hand in my pocket for the fleer gun as another burly man in a dark suit strode toward us. His was a narrow-faced, clean-shaven fellow, with his jaw set and a gleam of malice in his dark gaze. He most noticeable feature being a flattened nose. “I pushed my coat pocket forward. “Stay back!”
He kept coming, his bushy eyebrows furrowed beneath his mop of dark hair. He smirked as I backed into Manny. A glance past Manny showed the first man walking slower. Other people on the sidewalk halted or crossed the street with sudden concern in their facial expressions.
Manny pulled a wand. “That’s close enough.”
The first thug paused. “Just delivering a message.”
“I’m familiar with the Kantar’s knuckle-messages. We know we’re late. No reason to harass us.”
“You won’t do nuthin’.” He pushed a step forward with hard stare. The other fellow came within ten strides.
Manny withdrew another wand and murmured a few words so that both glowed. “I’d hate for you to waste your hard-earned money getting rid of a hex. How do you think he’d look as a toad, Wish?”
I pulled the fleer gun discreetly from my pocket and glared at the second man. Qualms about fleering someone bothered me little. “Maybe a rabbit or a turtle?”
Now my foe halted.
Manny chuckled at my terse quip. “Wish does like pets!” He advanced toward the one in the tweed suit. “How about you just walk away before I decide on rat?” ~ The Disgraced Sniffer
- If you get into trouble, he’s always got a way out – mostly.
“Yes. Now pick me up and use the wand I gave you. Hurry!”
Groans sounded behind me. Grimsley snarled, “Get off me, you buffoon! Get these fires out before I lose everything!”
“Thief!” A woman’s shout echoed in the basement. Magic sliced around Grimsley and his men outside the doorway. Vyara leapt at them. She whirled her wand, and fire spewed from it like a pink burning rope.
I yanked the caster Manny had given me from my pocket, fumbled the fleer gun and scroll into another pocket, and snatched Manny from the floor. With my eyes still squinting from the magical flash, I whirled toward the door as Grimsley rose like an apparition through the flames. Through my blurry vision, I discerned that he lifted a wand.
“Use it on us,” Manny squealed.
I turned the caster on us and clenched my jaw at the threat of Grimsley and the sudden fear that I knew nothing of what this wand did.
The button flicked under my thumb.
A blur of many-colored lights and smoke swirled around us while a rumble, louder than a tram, shook everything in me.
Darkness welcomed me, and I staggered forward, then slammed into something hard. I groaned and dropped to my knees. Then I slumped to the ground as water dripped all around me. A putrid stench filled my nostrils, my vision still blurred from the trap in the drawer.
“Wish, wake up.” Manny’s childish voice shook me from my stupor as he nudged me.
“Where are we?” I rolled over on the ground.
“You did it!” Small hands tugged at my shirt. “You’ll have to get up on your own. I’m too small to get you off the ground. We’re in an alley.” ~Rose of the Adversary
- He’s not afraid of dark and creepy places.
Everything around us stood out in the light in a dusty gray. At my feet lay eight irregular objects that bore no significance to my initial gaze. After a few moments, I jumped in revulsion at the realization that I stood among decayed bones. More remains. My glance along the walls revealed additional bones shoved away in narrow, lateral cavities.
“What is this place?” Panic returned in quick breaths as I waved the maged torch around and aimed the fleer gun, wary more dead might rise intact. Anything might happen with magic as a factor nearby.
Manny leaned close to one of the cavities and squinted as he peered within, then straightened and gazed at me. “We appear to be in the catacombs beneath part of the city. An interesting destination, to say the least…” ~ The Feral Name
- He’s not afraid of the undead.
At that moment, something grasped my questing hand. I screamed.
A click in the darkness and the command of a spell sent light around us and blinded me for a moment. There lay the glowing maged torch, activated by Manny’s command from the wand.
A skull grinned at me, its jaw loose. But its bony appendages wrapped around my hand with cracking tightness.
I picked up the maged torch and held it aloft. Skeletons lined the walls of a tunnel. Darkness extended in either direction beyond our meager light. Decayed heads swiveled slowly in our direction.
I jumped to my feet and yanked my hand from death’s grasp. A ghostly moan echoed around us. I snapped my mouth shut. That had been me.
The skeletons stirred in glowing animation and stood with ponderous effort.
“Wish, the fleer gun!” From behind me, Manny loomed out of near darkness, his wand pointed. Flame erupted from the point. “It’s a trap!” ~ The Feral Name
- Monsters are more of a curiosity to him. (confronting the first feral)
We stepped farther away and halted our attack, then watched as the creature died before us in a smoldering mass. We waited, careful it didn’t regain its feet and attack us again. As the beast lay still before us, I realized that my hand trembled uncontrollably.
“What in the Nine Hells of Clo Clana is that?”
Manny tilted his head in curiosity and strode forward as the last of the magical flames died away. “Something created by magic.” He edged closer and poked the creature’s charred face with his wand. “Seems to be real enough, not some spirit.” ~The Feral Name
- He’s got skills if the unexpected happens – mostly. (“Run!” at the end of FN)
“Wish, I think we really should vacate the premises.” With those words, Manny drew out the single-use caster loaded with a transport spell tied to a specific location. Where that was mattered little to me in that moment. He clicked little switch with a command in his mage-talk.
Manny grunted. “Not surprising. Run faster, Wish! We have to get farther from her.” ~ The Feral Name
So there are some good reasons to have Manny around for Halloween. Share this post if you liked it and leave your thoughts in the comments where I’ll reply.
Looking for more about The Cursed Mage Case Files?
An arch-mage can handle almost anything. Unless he’s cursed, lost his job and facing an unknown enemy.
The Gallantean Empire relies increasingly upon magical technology which cleans sewers, runs trams and much more. Within the capital city of Cal Rindon, magic is pervasive, but not necessarily used without crime involved. The bustling metropolis boasts constant innovations mixed with growing pains. Amid the good lurks the bad with unrest and growing crime.
Arch-mage Manny Mandeheim fell under a curse, watched his fiancé die, and then lost his job as a spy. So what’s an arch-mage to do? Start his own magical investigation service while he works to clear his good name and maybe avenge his lost love. With his very un-magical partner, Wish Ackford, Manny discovers the menace of a much larger conspiracy than he expected looming behind his curse. Suddenly, the limitations from the hex leave him at a distinct disadvantage as he and Wish investigate.
Assassins lurk at every corner or in every tram car. The threat of an unknown mastermind with murky intentions lingers just out of sight. A questionable source offers the hint of a secret order hounding Manny’s footsteps. A murder leads to wrenching discoveries.
Nothing an arch-mage can’t handle…
Unless the curse limits how much magic he can use or kills him outright.
A mixture of Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter, The Order of the Dark Rose is set in an alternate fantasy world where magic is both commonplace and dangerous. Mysteries abound in this original, new fantasy from P. H. Solomon, author of the award-winning, best-selling epic fantasy series, The Bow of Hart Saga.
Can Manny survive long enough to break his curse? Or will the arch-mage’s hidden foe escape him? Click the Your Favorite Retailer button to enter this high concept world of magic and fantasy to discover more about Manny and Wish.
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Reviews for The Order of the Dark Rose:
“Magical world-building, brilliant characters, amazing, leaves you craving more, sleight of hand story” – Reviews from Readers Favorite