The sorceress’s house could be called “eclectic,” if the person talking about the place was kind. Bits and pieces of old enchanted and cursed homes are all stuck together with precarious pieces of magic, looking more like an abstract illustration than something someone could live in. And that’s only on the outside — the sorceress’s collection of enchanted items is even more impressive, ranging from a spinning wheel that gives mundane blessings rather than curses, a large hoard of tangible colors, to candles that sing when you light them. If you wander out to the barn that houses a small sanctuary of abandoned enchanted and magical pets, you’ll find the very unwise own wearing its cummerbund as incorrectly as possible, the party ants, and a duckbilled platypus.
She is currently in the back yard, locked in a debate arguing about the impracticality of glass slippers with the owl when a great sneeze and a chorus of barking announces a visitor.
With a great sigh, she tells the owl that the discussion will have to wait until later, and walks out of the barn, around the house, and into the front yard.
There are a great many things she expects to see when she comes to the front yard. Maybe another young man with a dragon hatchling he can no longer care for, or a couple with cursed marriage, or maybe someone wanting to give a hex onto their rival’s bowels.. But the fair-haired man shielding his body behind two boys and his face with an enchanted mirror is not one of them.
“Call it off me!” The man cries, shaking behind the mirror. “I can’t have come this far only to die!”
The sorceress raises an eyebrow, and glances over to exchange a look with her familiar — a chubby, grey cat that almost seems to grin as it continues to bark at the scared man and the baffled boys.
“Maybe I will.” The sorceress crosses her arms. “It all depends: what are you here for?”
“Lord, Garytt, it’s a cat.” The mirror wheezes a bit as it talks.
“You’re not well, mirror?” The sorceress takes a step forward.
“No, of course I’m not.” The surface of the mirror seethes. “This moron of a man dragged me across the kingdom for a simple quest I expected he could do on his own and give me some peace, but no. He needed me because he simply can’t stop and ask directions!”
The sorceress resists laughing — dramatic customers don’t tend to appreciate that, even if they do deserve it. “And pray tell, what did you venture here to find?”
“Call off your blasted creature, and I’ll tell you!” the man screeches.
It takes everything in the sorceress lot to snort at the man, though everyone here knows that he deserves it. “Dog, no more barking.”
The cat rolls its eyes, but stops barking, sits down, and wraps its tail around itself.
“Dog?” The second boy grins, looking like he wants to run forward and start scratching the cat.
“Yeah.” The sorceress smiles. “A cat with a talking defect that can only bark. And purr. Though very friendly, if you’d like —”
Before she can finish, he’s already started forward and is petting the cat, the biggest grin on his face. The first boy follows a bit more slowly, but reaches out to pet her, too. Dog loves it, rolling over onto her back, purring so loud that the sorceress can hear it from a couple yards away.
“Don’t let its tongue touch you boys!” The man wails, waving the wheezing mirror in one hand and reaching after them with the other.
“Tongues steal souls!”
“What?” The sorceress can’t hold it in any more. She laughs. “They do not!”
“O-oh.” The man clears his throat. “Well, I would expect that the most powerful known magic worker would know more about this than I.”
She snorts. She would guess she knows more than him, but not for that reason. The most powerful known magic worker is something she is sure she is not, but running an animal rescue takes money, and she could use a job. “What do you want?”
The man stands up a little straighter. “I am Prince Garytt. I come here on behalf of my poor kingdom, terrorized by a dragon who caused great storms to make the mountains melt and flood my kingdom. I call upon you, great sorceress, to fix this calamity.”
A prince? Coming to her? She can’t believe it. The sorceress has had many betrayals in her life — when she was a child, she once mistook raisins for chocolate chips in a cookie and she’s never quite been able to get over it. She’s not likely to trust this man who claims to be a prince without first proving his is, in fact, a chocolate chip and not a raisin. Crossing her arms, she asks, “What will be your payment?”
“Oh, of course!” He reaches into his pocket, starts forward, remembers the barking cat exists, and then takes a pouch out and tosses it to the sorceress. “This was all I brought with me, but you can be sure you will get treasure immeasurable and the love of my kingdom for healing my broken land.”
She opens the purse and gapes. There is enough gold in that pouch to cover her expenses for the next year. And if she spends it wisely, enough for an addition to the barn, too.
Well, even if she’s not so sure someone so… emotionally unstable could be a prince, at least he can pay like one.
“You mentioned a dragon?” She pockets the pouch. “Do you know which one?”
“Yes!” The prince bounces forward before, again, realizing that the barking cat was there, shaking the ground with intense purring. “The dragon of the Marshmallow Caves.” He whispers, like it’s a great secret.
That one? The sorceress likes to keep tabs on the great creatures of the world, and she knows that one is kind, even if a bit strange. “Who told you?”
“I did.” The mirror sniffles. “And I know what I’m doing.”
Magical mirrors do have that reputation. “You could guide our group to the dragon, then?”
“What? Me? I have to go?” The so-called prince whines. “Can’t you just ‘bubble, bubble, toil, and trouble’ this away?”
Though she would rather not have the so-called prince, she justifies, “No. We need the mirror to give direction, and why would I not make off with it while you weren’t there?” Not to mention, dragons have a tendency to be keen to royalty. No one knows why, but it is a given fact that the sorceress has to take into consideration.
“Fine.” Garytt sighs. “Why don’t we rest first, then.”
“Rest?” The mirror screeches. “We travelled for two days, and half of that was spent at the finest hotel in the land, making ridiculous requests!”
As the mirror and the so-called prime argue and the boys pet Dog to the point her purring may take down the house, the sorceress laughs. She has a job that will help her keep her animals safe, maybe for the rest of her life. And they didn’t even notice her… issue. They didn’t notice how she spoke a little oddly — maybe they attributed it to an accent. Now only to find that dragon and figure out the cause to its strange behavior. If only it weren’t heading directly away from them, in search of a strange fruit…
Whoop! ANOTHER CHAPTER. I really love the prince chapters, he’s so freaking horrible I love him. No idea whose POV next chapter will be from — requests are definitely welcome. ;)
As always, thank you SO MUCH to contributors and readers! If you like the project, please consider prompting and/or sharing to keep the project alive!
- A cat companion who also has a speech defect – Filia
- Tangible colors! – everqueen12
- A spinning wheel that gives mundane blessings rather than curses. – eveningrelics
- The impracticality of glass slippers. – eveningrelics
- A very unwise owl – eveningrelics
- “Bubble, bubble, toil, and trouble.” – eveningrelics
- Someone wears a cummerbund (not necessarily correctly) – Rosiee
- Someone either can or believes they can steal other people’s souls by licking them. – Rosiee
- Someone is scarred by mistaking raisins for chocolate chips. – Amanda Rawson Hill
- Also, please include a duckbilled platypus. – Amanda Rawson Hill
- Resolve – starsandskyscrapers
- Storms – starsandskyscrapers
- Candles that sing when you light them!!! – Kayla The Rivera
- Party ants – Filia
- The wheezing sounds of a sick mirror – Filia