TMC’s setting is like a recipe: blend a heaping dose of the magical with a pinch of the normal.

I love blending the fantastical with the normal when crafting stories. It’s what I not-so-secretly wish would happen in my life. Days where a tree branch isn’t just a tree branch but a forgotten wizard’s wand; where the mailbox not only holds stacks of mail but also a secret hideaway far beneath the surface. You know. Days like that. But until my trash chute reveals itself to me as a vortex to another realm, I’ll stick to writing about the magical and the normal converging. And the first world like that that I dabbled in was with TMC. I basically took one of my favorite cities, Chicago, and smacked it with a magic stick. The result?

* * *

With hands tucked deep into their jacket pockets, the two headed out into the chilly afternoon. It was hard to believe that three of the main keeper cities, Alaster, Myrsten, and Cursten, were hidden somewhere magically across Lake Michigan. The human eye couldn’t see them and if someone ventured too close, all they would find would be a buoy, floating in the water with a sign reading, “Lobster cage below.” The other two cities, Illyndor and Glengary, co-inhabited actual areas of Chicago. Since Luke lived in Illyndor, Austin wanted him to see Alaster, home of Phoenix school and the above ground bank, Ringwood Grounds.

Austin didn’t disappoint. For hours they wandered every inch of the twiggy tree-lined city. It was like an antique metropolis: tall brick buildings, cobbled side-streets, and a large clock tower in the center of town. But the best thing he saw by far was Thunderbirds, a large café in the shape of a dragon. As they sat and sipped coco from steamy mugs, Austin explained that the building was once an actual dragon. Luke practically chocked on his coco.


“Yeah. In 1725 Wood Thunderbird slayed it,” said Austin as if he were discussing what to have for dinner. “Amazing keeper, amazing switchboarder. It’s who your friend’s named after, I’m guessing.”


“Oh, right. Ever seen a skateboard?”


“Well, it’s like that but without wheels. And it flies. They’re called switchboards. Really neat things that I’m sure you’ll see in the festival sometime or another.”

Luke’s eyes widened. “Flies?”

Austin laughed heartily, slurped down the remains of his coco, and went off to buy them each another. Outside it had begun to snow and Luke felt extremely cozy, even if he was inside a dragon.


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