A thin stream of orange red trinkled into a small cup of clear garnet colored steaming tea. The teapot, delicate porcelain inlayed with embellishments and gold leaf, tilted and the tea ceased to flow. Fragrant steam bellowed like gossamer as a hand lifted the teacup. He raised the cup to his lips, royal and magistrate as a prince, and took a sip.
The Red Wizard lowered the cup into the voluminous folds of his silken green morning robes. He had been just minutes out of bed, and from the thin frown on his face, wasn’t very happy about that fact.
He waved a hand, passively if not annoyed and said, “Explain yourself, and most importantly, why you thought it was so important that you had to barrel through my entire court of guards and wizards just to wake me yourself.”
Before him sat the Alchemist; in a chair much too small for him, several of his underlings; and a few guards from the court. The Alchemist’s underlings, or Wights as he had named them, were his “famed” creations, disfigured creatures of horrific sight. They were part human, but, according to the Alchemist explaining, enhanced with the strengths of almost every living thing on the face of the known world. The blending process, something the Wizard lacked the details of, left the victim horrendously malformed.
The Wizard didn’t mind them, they had their uses, but at the moment they were dripping gloopy saliva on his beige woolen carpet. This irritated him even more, but he could only sigh. Where the Alchemist had focused solely on strength and prowess, he failed miserably at adding intelligence, ergo, the panting slobbering humanoids. He found peace, however, in the fact that he would make their creator, and therefore owner, clean after them. The guards, on the other hand, weren’t so much at ease.
Just when the Alchemist opened his mouth to begin his tale, whatever it was, Aman appeared in the room as a dark storm of mist. When his form solidified, he announced, “The wizards of your Circle have been called and are arriving.”
“Why?” the wizard asked.
“Those were your orders, yesterday. When the Alchemist would make his visit, summon the those of you inner Circle.”
“Oh, yes. I remember now.” He gave a diminutive wave for dismissal. “You’ll have to wait on explaining yourself alchemist. We are having more attendants to this morning tea. The rest of you are dismissed.”
As if grateful to get out of the hungry sight of the Wights, the guards made their leave.
Once again the Wizard sighed, “I suppose I could make myself somewhat presentable before the others’ arrival. Aman, dress up my hair.”
“You heard me correct. There won’t be any time for the servants to do it, so you must. Get a clasp from my drawer.”
Aman moaned most pitifully and muttered, “Why couldn’t I have a sister? Couldn’t I wake Mother instead? She would surely do a better job than I ever could.”
The Wizard gave him a dangerous side glance, which made him sigh dolefully.
“Would you like a ribbon with that clasp?” he asked and with a grin.
“If you put a ribbon in my hair, I will dissect you piece by agonizing piece and let the Alchemist have at you.” At this the Alchemist perked. “Now out before I’m seen like this.”
Several minutes later, the wizards of the Inner Circle were arriving. The Red Wizard’s hair was pulled a little too tight, something he believed Aman did purposefully, and something felt out of place, but it would have to do.
“Is everyone present?” he asked. “Or mostly everyone.”
“I count four missing,” Aman said. “Will you wait for them?”
“No, we’ll continue. They will appear as we progress and I wouldn’t want to extent this out any longer than it should take.”
“So, as I was saying,” the Alchemist began.
“Not yet. I have an announcement to make.” The wizard literally saw a vein pop out along the Alchemist’s forehead.
“Last night, there was a Magical Ripple. An outward ripple. It was very extraordinary and very powerful. Now I don’t believe any of you created it, but before I start make conclusions I would like to be sure.”
Each of the present members made signs that they weren’t the causer of the anomaly.
“It was none of us,” a man by the name of Gemini said. “I would have known if it was.”
“I thought so. Alright alchemist, continue.”
The Alchemist grouchily grumbled and snapped, “My factory was invaded!”
“And?!? What do you mean and!?! My factory is impregnable! No one was to know how to get in and if they did they were never to get out! These vermin undermined me completely! They even, they even… even–” The Alchemist sunk into pitiful form of despair and whined, “found my secret workshop.”
The Red Wizard sent eyes heavenward and took another sip of his tea. The Alchemist was fanatic of privacy; it was one of his qualities. The wizard was about to take another sip but heard a crinkling that piqued his curiosity.
“What is that on your face?” he asked.
The Alchemist grimaced and turned his face some. “It’s nothing but a new, uh, a new… ah yes! A new decorative mask I designed. Unfortunately, I designed it poorly and it only fits one half of the face.”
“Do not lie to me, especially when you’re so terrible at it. It’s insulting. Tell the truth to me.”
Miserably, the Alchemist explained, “It was one of the vermin. She did it to me.”
“There were two of them. I had one in my clutches, right there! but then the other attacked me and seared the side of my face right off! I spent the entire night searching every crack, crevice, and pipe hole, looking for them…” He put massive hand on his meaty chin and tapped it. “Now did I check the basement too? Hmm… yes, yes I did…. What about the part under that… Oh yes, I spent an entire three hours down there….”
As the Wizard slipped into his thoughts, the Alchemist’s words became blotted out and muted. He was drawing his conclusion but didn’t have the right amount of facts to solidify it.
“What did she use to burn you?” the wizard asked.
“Magic! Sticky and black. Nearly ate me down to the bone If I hadn’t used–”
“White horn powder,” the Wizard completed. The members of the Inner Circle began to murmur amongst themselves. “A dark witch… what a strange occurrence.”
“Yes, a strange occurrence indeed,” someone said. The wizard Erik stepped the room from the wall left of the crowd. He bowed to the Wizard. “Please forgive my tardiness.”
“You are forgiven… if there is a good reason behind your tardiness.”
“Ha, ha! Erik having a good reason?” the Alchemist jeered. “That’ll be the on the day I die, which is… let’s see… never!”
“Careful alchemist,” Erik said with a sneer, “You may get there sooner than your never. Much sooner.”
“Is that a threat there Erik? Funny I don’t remember you having the spine to dish out such words of ‘terror’.” At that, he bubbled up in a chortling laughter.
Erik pulled down his cowl, showing his frowning face. He then grinned and said, “My, my what a terrible mark on your face. I’m surprise you let the girl do that much to you. Ah, I guess you misjudged her small meek nature. Such a shame you might learn from.”
The Alchemist’s laugh had ceased immediately, and his face of mirth was replaced with a mask of fervent hatred. “You dare–”
“Insult you? Only if you accept my words in such a manner.”
The Alchemist bolted up from his chair, kicking it from him in the process. The two men glared at each other tensely. The Red Wizard simply poured himself another cup of tea. He knew they wouldn’t dare start a brawl in his presence, and if they did, they would be making a grave mistake.
The Alchemist tenseness suddenly left him, and a smile spread across his face revealing his crooked yellowing teeth. “How petty am I to concern myself over your words. I have many more important matters to worry over other than you.” He turned, tossing his nose up. “Like my Wights.”
Erik flushed as red as he could and boomed, “You dare compare me to your pathetic failures!”
“Oh no, there is no comparison. And if they’re pathetic what make you then!?! Oh yes, I know! A spineless b**tard who isn’t worth a word to his name!”
“Enough!” the Wizard commanded. “Another cross word from you two and you will come to fear my wrath.” He sipped his teacup. “Erik you said something about the girl having a meek nature. How do you know of this?”
“If I may explain.”
The wizard waved his consent. Erik turned and puffed his chest with air. The wizard frowned. He forgot how pompous the man was and that he loved to make himself seem as thematic as possible whenever he could.
“It can be thought that this mysterious girl may be an infiltrator within these walls,” Erik began dramatically, “but I say not. Yesterday, I witnessed and extraordinary sight. A powerful manipulation of the element air.”
The wizard paused in taking another sip of tea and lowered the cup.
“It was very powerful, but effortlessly done. It was a rare sight and only I with my wisdom and foresight saw the perpetrator as she was.”
“Who?” the wizard asked gravely.
Erik turned to him, caught off guard by the sudden seriousness. “She goes by the name Rebekka.”
“Yes!” the Alchemist exclaimed. “That’s the name I heard. And the second… Mason! Yes, yes that was it. They were after my new pet. The girl has an empathy link it. Very rare thing I do say.”
Rubbing his temples, the wizard asked, “And why didn’t you say this earlier?”
The Alchemist shrunk somewhat and wringing his hands, stammered, “S-slipped my mind, I suppose. Heh, heh…”
“Leave me. All of you.”
“But what about the girl?” the Alchemist cried indignantly.
“She is no concern to you.”
“But she took half of my face da**it!”
“Oh, please,” the wizard casually took up his teacup again, “It’s not like your face was something to be prized anyway. Now be gone with you.” He flicked a hand and they all disappeared.
“I take it they were all growing rather taxing?” Aman asked.
“Yes, they were. I have a task for you. I believe I may have underestimated the power of our little nurse. Watch her but keep your distance. If you notice anything unusual, report it back to me.”
“Yes, Father.” He bowed and his figured misted away into nothingness.
(to be continued…)
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