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Loose Ends

by on July 14, 2015

Rowena woke up from a disturbed sleep. Someone was banging on her door. She could tell by the gray light filtering in through her windows that it was just barely morning. She stumbled to the door, yawning. “I’m sorry,” she said as she pulled it open, “but I only offer assistance between the hours of eight and-”

The man was short, smudged, and smelled like he had been in a quarrel with a trash bin and lost. To Rowena’s senses, he smelled dirty in more ways than one; his magical power guttered about in him like a torch thrown into a sewer. She could sense echoes of something else too, acrid and smoky. She sighed. “You again. You’d better get inside quick, before anyone sees you.”ย  She wrinkled her nose distastefully. “Or smells you.”

The man gave a hiccup of protest. “I’m a great wizard, and y’r father; there’s no call to be talkin’ to me like that!”

“Fine,” Rowena said. “I’m sorry. Now will you come in, quickly?”

Mortimer, Order of the Polecat, scurried in, grumbling all the way. “I’ve summoned dragons, y’know, summoned ’em all the way to Turtledove, I ain’t to be trifled with, nossir I’m not…”

She magicked up some tea and shoved it at him. Ordinarily she liked to make it herself, non-magically, but these were desperate circumstances. “Right, then,” she said, as Mortimer glared suspiciously at the tea, “What is it this time?”

“Ah. Well…Rowena m’;dear…I need ‘elp.”

“Help,” she said flatly. “What for?”

Mortimer finally ventured a taste of the tea. It didn’t kill him instantly, or turn him into a spotted toad, so he persevered on with it as he talked. “Remember that bit about summoning dragons?”

“Yes?” Rowena remembered it, all right. She had not slept well for weeks.

“Seems the chap I summoned them for doesn’t like me hangin’ round. I’m a loose end, y’know. And loose ends…”

“Loose ends are tied up,” Rowena said. Cold fear shot through her. “Your employer is coming after you.”

“You’ve got it now. There I was, mindin’ my own business in the city, takin’ in the entertainment…”

Rowena decided she didn’t want to know what sort of entertainment he had been taking in. “And you were attacked.”

“By a lizard,” Mortimer said impressively.



“A fire-breathing lizard?”

“Well, no, not as such….”

“A giant lizard, magically enlarged to the size of a bear?”

“No, it was about the usual size…”

“A deadly poisonous lizard, perhaps?”

“It might’ve been!” Mortimer shouted.

“But it wasn’t, was it,” Rowena said. “Father, just exactly how much had you been drinking?”

Mortimer leaned in close. “Listen, Rowena, you don’t know us Polecats. ‘Eck knows I tried to teach you, but you, you wanted to join the bloomin’ Rabbit order. We don’t do things like you Rabbits. That lizard was walkin’, right out in the open, in a crowded establishment (I won’t say what kind), walkin’ right towards me. Lizards usually scuttle away, don’t they? Not this one. This lizard meant business. My employer’s gone and hired another Polecat to come after me. Typical.”

Rowena should’ve called the authorities. She would have, had he been anyone else. “Fine. I have a cloak of disguise. It’s in the closet there. Take it, and get to the harbor. There’s a ship heading south. You’ll be out of these waters in an hour.”

Mortimer pledged his thanks and undying gratitude. Rowena didn’t believe a word of it. She watched as he struggled into the cloak and vanished. Then she heard rapid footsteps, and her door slammed. She could only hope he would get away safely. Rowena wondered if she would ever sleep soundly again.

  1. Poor Rowena. Dad’s can be complicated… almost as complicated as daughters.. but, that’s a tale for a different time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. My favorite detail is Mortimer’s thoughts as he’s about to drink the tea she gave him. That kinda sums up their relationship, huh?

    • Yep, pretty much. There may be a backstory there, involving either Mortimer or Rowena’s pasts. Probably Mortimer; Rowena, until now, has generally tried to stay on the straight and narrow. …

  3. Natalie DeYoung permalink

    I don’t think I’ve ever encountered an intoxicated wizardโ€ฆ ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • As Gandalf might say, a wizard is never intoxicated, they are simply….exuberant.

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