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A Bit of Magic

by on January 18, 2011

Princess Caitlin, sitting on a stuffed purple cushion in her castle bedroom, reached for a little golden bell and rang it vigorously. Within moments, her faithful bodyguard, Colin the Mime-Assassin, had appeared at her side. “Colin,” she said, “I’m in a bit of a dilemma this morning.”

Colin made a series of gestures which meant either that he was concerned about Caitlin’s dilemma and wanted to know how he could help, or that he was being slowly devoured by rabid scarab beetles. Caitlin rolled her eyes. “You can quit with the miming, Colin. You know you’re not getting back into Mime School.”

“Thunder-turtles,” growled the disappointed Master of Very Sharp Knives. “Right-oh. What’s y’r problem, y’r majesty?”

“I’ve been reading this book I received for Christmas: Being a Princess for Dummies, and look at what it says on page 17. ‘One of the joys of a  princess’s life is mingling with the common folk. To that end, a princess will often disguise herself and go incognito among the masses, so that she can find out what their life is like, and what they really think about her. A marketplace is especially ideal for this, as it affords the opportunity to meet with interesting merchants, such as the Fresh Fish Man, who appears in more marketplaces than you might suspect. If you should choose a marketplace for your anonymous mingling, do not forget to bring an adequate amount of pocket change; otherwise, you run the risk of being tempted to buy an apple for a hungry child and then nearly having your hand removed by a sword. This situation would turn out very poorly, unless you should happen to draw the attention of a good-hearted teenage boy with his pet monkey, who looks like a street rat but who has so much more to him, if only you’d look closer…”

Caitlin slammed the book shut. “I have no attention of meeting some boy with his monkey. My problem is, I’m supposed to go incognito among the masses.”

“I dunno where Cognito is, y’r majesty, but I could probably ask the librar-”

“It’s not a place, Colin, it’s…oh, never mind. I have to disguise myself and mingle. And you know, I don’t believe I’ve ever done that before.”

Colin pondered, then shook his head. “No, y’r majesty, I can’t say you have.”

“Well then, today’s a very good day to start. Don’t you think?”

“Ah…”

“Oh, Colin. My conversations with you are always so scintillating.”

True to her word, by that very afternoon Caitlin was out in the central marketplace of the capital city of her kingdom, dutifully mingling as instructed. Her only disguise was a pair of blocky glasses. Caitlin had been rather skeptical that the glasses would prevent anyone from recognizing her, but Colin was adamant. “Just a pair of glasses, that’s all it takes, y’r majesty. I’ve seen it done. You could be the princess of a city much bigger than this one and be seen by thousands of people every day and all you have to do is pop on the glasses and no one would recognize you from Adam’s off ox, if you’ll pardon the expression, y’r majesty.”

“Colin, the only way this would work is if my subjects had a collective IQ of 3.” Caitlin had said that to him before they’d left for the marketplace. They’d been going about for an hour now, and so far no one had recognized her as Princess Caitlin. All of a sudden she was beginning to think she’d overestimated the wisdom of her people.

The princess was also beginning to get bored. She didn’t want to buy fresh fish (she had an allergy to seafood, as it happened), she couldn’t find anyone to have an interesting conversation with, and she didn’t even see a hungry child who looked like he could use an apple. Maybe it was a school day. Caitlin resolved to check with the minister of education as soon as she returned to the castle. She was just about to leave when she saw a lone little stall near the edge of the marketplace’s main plaza. Not too many people were stopping by, although the sign was most interesting. “E. Bay McFlanghanger, Dealer in Magic Spells and Stuffed Penguins.” Caitlin wasn’t sure about the magic spells, but she had always wanted to own a stuffed penguin. She walked quickly over to the stall. Behind a small table piled with a line of stuffed penguins and one or two books stood a small man in clothes that were a riotous blend of red, blue, yellow, and green. “May I help you, miss?” he asked hopefully.

“Yes, you may,” the princess replied. “My name is Ca..ssandra. Cassandra. Exactly. You’re Mr., um, McFlanghanger, right?”

“That I am!” he exclaimed. “Edward Bayfield McFlanghanger, at your service. I only use E.Bay because it sounds more distinguished. I imagine, in a few years, my name will become renowned across the land as the most successful merchant in all history!” He coughed nervously. “Ahem. Or at least in this marketplace. Now then, would you like to buy a stuffed penguin or a magic spell?”

Caitlin was on the point of saying “Stuffed Penguin”, but then a sudden curiosity overcame her. “What sort of magic spells do you have, exactly?”

Mr. McFlanghanger pulled out one of the books and leafed hastily through. Evidently it had been some time since anyone had wanted to purchase one of his products, and he wanted to remind himself precisely what it was he sold. “Ah, well, here’s a nifty one. Mustela putorius loqueris. It gives you the ability to communicate with ferrets.”

“I’d honestly never dreamed there was a magic spell for that.”

“Most people don’t,” Mr. McFlanghanger said, sighing. “Truthfully, it’s not one of our popular ones. Now this one here, Suus sockium est absentis, is fairly popular, particularly if you don’t really care for our current beloved princess.”

Caitlin’s eyes narrowed. “Oh, really. And what, pray, does that do?”

Mr. McFlanghanger snickered. “It makes her socks disappear.”

“Ah.” All at once Caitlin realized why she could never find a matching pair of socks in the morning. “You wouldn’t happen to know who bought that particular one, would you?”

“Er, sorry, ma’am, I can’t share that sort of-”

“Oh, never mind.” Caitlin had other ways of finding out what she needed. For example, Colin. Back on point, “Do you have anything that I could use, say, to defend myself against an attacker?”

“Well…” Mr. McFlanghanger considered for a long moment. “There is this one. Montius Pythonicum. It turns your assailant into a newt.”

“A newt.”

“Precisely, Miss Cassandra.”

“Good enough. I’ll take it.”

That evening, spell in hand, Caitlin stood at the edge of the kingdom’s Forbidden Forest. It wasn’t really forbidden, or at least it hadn’t started out that way. It had been called the Happy Forest of Peace, full of running deer and cute bunny rabbits. However, in an effort to increase tourism, Caitlin’s father had renamed it to the Forbidden Forest. It did increase tourism, but it also brought in an assortment of giants, ogres, and other such terrible creatures who had been looking for a forbidden forest in which to settle down. This had put a bit of a damper on the tourist trade, so the king had remarketed it as a place where brave knights could rescue damsels, win glory in battle, and all that sort of thing. Even now, Caitlin could hear a knight in the distance shouting something about St. George as he fought with three bad-tempered ogres. She wasn’t looking for ogres, though. She just wanted a small, not terribly dangerous mythological beast on which she could practice.

All at once she heard a rustling in the bushes, and then with a ferocious roar a small giant popped out. Unlike other giants, he was barely eight feet tall, not much more than an average basketball player (a comparison that wouldn’t have actually occurred to our heroine, as basketball would not be invented for several more centuries). He was fat and red-faced; still, he managed to be at least a little intimidating as he bellowed at Princess Caitlin.

Fee fi fo fart,

I want the smell of a strawbr’y tart!

“Well, I’m sorry, I don’t have a strawbr’y tart,” she replied, “But I do have this for you. Montius Pythonicum!”

With a flash of red light and a bang, the giant transformed into a newt. Caitlin sniffed. “Too easy.” She turned around and started back towards the tree where she’d left her horse. Suddenly, she heard another roar from behind her, a much louder one. She spun around.

The giant had reappeared, only now he was at least thirty feet tall. Worse, he had a second head, and both of them wore expressions of violent fury. “RAWWWWWWR!” he thundered from both his heads.

“Oh dear. He got better.” Caitlin exclaimed. “Colin!”

Then she remembered that she’d forgotten to bring her mime-assassin with her. The giant lurched towards her. Caitlin had little choice. She drew her sword and assumed a classical fighting position. As the giant descended upon her, she leapt aside and slashed wildly at his knee. She scored a number of hits, and the giant howled in pain. Caitlin noted that for being so huge, he wasn’t very quick. Also, he seemed to have problems seeing out of four eyes, and deciding which Caitlin to swing a blow at. It took her a hard hour of dodging and slashing, and once one of the giant’s hands caught her on the back of her head and gave her a nasty knock, but finally she managed to bring him down. Caitlin finished him off without a word, then wiped her sword carefully on the forest grass. It wouldn’t do to carry a messy sword back to the kingdom where everyone could see and wonder what their beloved princess had been up to. Caitlin retrieved her horse and rode tiredly back to the castle. She was too weary and sore to give much thought to the day’s events, but one resolution did form in her mind: she would never again trust to faulty magic powers bought from a tradesman named E. Bay McFlanghanger. Also, she would need to buy new socks.

Author’s Note: This story was written as part of the Chrysalis Experiment. It’s a sequel of sorts to “A Princess Story“, although both stories could probably stand alone. I just liked Caitlin and Colin so much as characters that I wanted to reuse them. 😛

 

 

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3 Comments
  1. Luuuurv it
    I love the name of the newt spell. Just awesome and Mr. E.Bay.. genius!

  2. Jenn permalink

    Adorable. Very reminiscent of Monty Python.

  3. LOL. This was such a fun read – I like Caitlyn and Colin too. 😛

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