Welcome to Monday=)
This story is our fourth adventure with Wizard Whittlestrom. You can read it as its own story if you like, however, there are a lot of references in this one back to Wizard’s Coffee, Wizard’s Baker, and Wizard’s Move.
You can read the previous stories by clicking on the links to the left or here’re the Cliff Notes version. If you’ve already read the others, skip to the title below and enjoy=)
Wizard’s Coffee: Wizard Whittlestrom shows up in Dorsa looking for a new drink for the Missis and only the six year old, Pete, is able to help him.
Wizard’s Baker: Whittlestrom arrives home to find himself out of fashion. He employs the help of the Baker, Master Gus, to help him figure out new fashion and poor Master Gus gets the backlash from Whittlestrom’s magic but figures Whittlestrom isn’t nearly as bad as the others who tend to burn things down or turn people into frogs.
Wizard’s Move: The Capital decides to move the wizards. Whittlestrom gets out of moving by saying he’s helping to remodel the bakery but utterly messes up when he ruins the bakery with magic. Master Gus sends him away only to realize the next morning that Zorban, the fire wizard, is now his new neighbor and wizard. Zorban attempts to help remodel and Master Gus begs Whittlestrom to come back before Zorban burns down the bakery.
He’d never been to the capital! Home was brown and stone buildings and muddy streets.
All very sensi…sensible, Papa always said.
Pete clutched his bag to his small chest and glanced at Papa.
Papa’s face looked funny, like he was sucking on a lemon. It was his thinking face.
It probably took a lot of thinking to not get lost in the Capital. It had flattened rocks instead of muddy streets and the buildings! Pete craned his neck to see where they stopped. They were so tall. Papa said they were several floors. Dorsa didn’t have any buildings with several floors. Pete tried to picture being on the second floor and a shiver ran his spine.
How’d the people keep from falling through?
Papa headed toward a building with a horseshoe hanging out front. That’s why Papa made the trip, cause he needed a new workhorse and there weren’t any good ones to buy in Dorsa. Everyone knew if you wanted a horse that would last, you bought him from Master Kemmerling in the Capital.
Pete begged for a week to come along. He hugged his bag tighter. He hadn’t come to see Master Kemmerling or some horse, he’d come to see a friend.
Papa laughed and told him he was crazy but he still let Pete come along.
Papa didn’t understand. Pete wanted to give the wizard a smile like Mr. McCowen said he had before. Mr. McCowen was so surprised that day but Pete just knew he loved the way the wizard’s dark eyes sparkled.
They promised secrets and fun like no other adult.
Papa spoke to the tall Master Kemmerling while Pete stared at the things hanging on the wall. Leather straps and metal buckles, saddles and bits. All sorts of horsie items but he couldn’t name them all. He was learning. Papa was teaching him but he wasn’t strong enough or tall enough yet to really help out.
He flexed his arm, checking the muscles. Nope, not yet.
The door swung open and a stocky man strode in.
Pete’s mouth gaped open. Another wizard! Bushy brows and long robe, the whole spiel!
“Morning, Wizard Zorban,” Master Kemmerling greeted the new comer.
“My horse?” demanded the wizard.
“Stall two, ready to go. Just watch…”
Zorban flicked his fingers and Master Kemmerling shut his mouth and swallowed. Wizard fingers could always throw sparks.
“I don’t need your advice, just bring my horse.”
Master Kemmerling bowed and excused himself.
Wizards always take first in line, so Pete and Papa waited.
Wizard Zorban eyed them. Pete grinned back. Maybe he could make a new friend.
“Have you ever…” he took several steps toward the stocky man as he spoke, which placed him between Zorban and the door.
The door opened, admitting Master Kemmerling. Pete yelped and jumped as the door clipped his heels and he landed at Wizard Zorban’s feet.
The wizard scowled at him.
“Outa my way, boy!” He shoved Pete back and his bag flew from his hands as he fell on his rump.
“My bag!” Pete scurried from under Zorban’s feet but not before something smacked his forehead.
Zorban had stepped over him and an object, like a black stick hanging from a string, swung under the wizard’s robe near his feet.
Pete rubbed his face. What would a wizard carry under his robe? He had no clue but whatever it was welted his forehead.
Wizards were weird. Papa always said so and Pete was starting to think he was right.
Papa gave him a hand up and handed his bag to him. Pete clutched it tight as tears pricked his eyes.
Sniffling, he tried to hold it in. I’m a big boy! And big boys don’t cry. Every one said so.
Several tears still escaped and Pete turned away as Papa finished his dealings with Master Kemmerling.
By the time Papa was done and they left the shop, he had himself under control and was excited again.
Who cared about Zorban! Pete was here to see Whittlestrom.
And tomorrow was the day! Pete gapped again as they walked the streets, barely able to believe his eyes at the arches and statues, vendors and buyers…so many people. Pete bounced, barely able to contain himself. He wanted to point at everything!
They asked directions from a vendor. The man looked at them like they were insane.
“Next to the bakery,” he said, “in a plum colored cottage. Can’t miss it.”
Pete bounced beside Papa imagining living in a plum colored house. Of course Wizard Whittlestrom lived in a plum colored house. It was awesome!
They rounded a corner and Pete jumped and pointed.
The vendor had been right. Sitting smack in the middle of shops and tall houses of wood and brick squatted a deep purple cottage with yellow flowers out front.
In the yard knelt a woman.
“That must be Wizard Whittlestrom’s Missis,” Pete exclaimed.
Papa gave an ‘oh, dear’ and his mouth turned down at the corners.
Pete’s stomach sank. That was Papa’s ‘I’m having second thoughts’ face.
Before Papa could change his mind, Pete ran forward, calling,
“Mrs. Whittlestrom? Mrs…”
She stood and turned just as Pete reached the gate.
Then there was a Kaboom! And Pete saw her feet leave the ground just before something hit him and he flew backwards.
He landed on his back with a whoosh and something smacked his stomach as debris fell around him.
It was a moment before air returned to him and then it whistled through his tight throat. He turned his head to see what hit his stomach.
A stick. A black stick with some sort of black sugar leaking out one side.
Pete sat up and couldn’t help the sob that came from his mouth. He hurt but there wasn’t blood.
“Pete! Pete!” Papa appeared and gathered him close. Then he pushed him back. “You hurt? You bleeding?” All the while his hands ran along Pete’s arms and legs.
Over Papa’s shoulder Pete saw the woman. Helping her to her feet was Whittlestrom and a thin man stood beside him staring at the remains of the bakery. It had exploded, leaving nothing but a black smudge in its place.
“At least you weren’t inside,” Whittlestrom was saying to the man.
“But nothing would have exploded like that. I swear, Master Wizard, nothing was on when I left this morning.”
Whittlestrom’s heavy brows drew into a bushy line.
Pete glanced at the stick that hit him and back to the poor baker.
“I’m fine, Papa,” he pushed Papa’s hands away and grabbed the stick. “Wizard Whittlestrom, Wizard Whittlestrom!”
All three adults swung around to see who was calling.
Whittlestrom’s brows shot up in surprise, wrinkling his forehead.
Pete stopped and looked up…and up. His mouth went dry and so he simply held out the black stick.
“It…it hit me,” Pete confessed.
The wizard took the stick in his fingers and dumped some of the black powder into his palm.
His lips pulled back into an angry snarl and Pete shrank back.
“Someone did this on purpose,” he announced.
“What?” The baker cried.
Whittlestrom dumped the powder onto the ground and sent a few sparks at it.
Pete jumped but he wasn’t the only one. Mrs. Whittlestrom’s hand flew to her chest and she placed her other hand on Whittlestrom’s arm to steady herself.
“Who would do this?” Whittlestrom shouted, “who?” he looked around with flashing dark eyes and anyone close enough to hear his booming question ducked away before he saw them.
Pete stepped back. This wasn’t the wizard he remembered. This Whittlestrom was angry, scary.
“Oh, dear,” Mrs. Whittlestrom placed a hand on Pete’s shoulder, “you know, don’t you?”
“Who, dear?” Her eyes were kind. Pete looked at her and only her.
“Another wizard,” he whispered, “he pushed me yesterday and I saw those under his robes when I fell. A wizard Zorban.”
The baker gasped. Mrs. Whittlestrom bowed her head. The Wizard laughed and they all looked at him in surprise.
“Good lad,” he patted Pete’s head and the sparkle returned to his eyes. Pete grinned back.
“Dear, take Pete and his Pa and Master Gus to the yard.”
“Garius, what are you going to do?”
“Serve up some Wizard Justice!”
“Oh, my,” Mrs. Whittlestrom ushered them into the cottage’s front yard. “Hopefully the yard’ll protect us.”
“What?” Master Gus, the baker, asked. He looked bewildered.
“Garius placed thickened air around the cottage. I asked him to because it holds out some of the backlash, you know.”
Master Gus nodded vigorously. Pete pictured Mr. McCowen’s purple spikey hair and thought he understood.
Whittlestrom snapped his fingers and one Wizard Zorban appeared in the road before him. He snapped again and more wizards appeared along the curbs. Tall wizards, short wizards, fat wizards, skinny wizards. All in flashing robes and heavy brows. All with long beards.
“What’s the meaning of this?” Zorban demanded, eyeing the audience of government wizards.
Wittlestrom straightened his back and extended a hand although he was nowhere near Zorban.
“I, Wizard Garius Whittlestrom, challenge you to a wizard’s duel!”
A black glove appeared in the air before Zorban’s face. Whittlestrom flicked his wrist and the glove smacked Zorban across the chin.
Pete grinned at Papa. A wizard’s duel! It was legendary! He leaned against the gate to see better and Papa pulled him back by his collar.
He scowled and waited for Papa to let go before leaning forward again.
The other wizards muttered and gestured as they lined the road. Pete barely glanced at them. What would Whittlestrom do?
“This ends when a wizard can no longer spark,” said one wizard, a big one with a booming voice and pudgy cheeks.
Zorban and Whittlestrom bowed and then turned their backs to each other.
“On one,” boomed the moderator, “three…two…one.”
Whittlestrom immediately hit his knees as Zorban sent a ball of flame over his head.
Pete gasped but Whittlestrom winked before spinning and flinging dozens of large marbles down the road. Zorban jumped but there were too many. He skittered and stuttered with his arms flailing. He shot random balls of flame as he flailed.
Several stopped just short of the witness wizards.
One blossomed on the air shield just above Pete’s head. He gawked as it splattered sparks.
Whittlestrom flung his hands into the air and his sparks hissed and sizzled as clouds formed above Zorban. The clouds let loose and drenched the stocky wizard.
Zorban sputtered but pitched several round shapes down the road.
One hit the cobbled road with a boom! And cratered the stone. The second boomed and the building to Whittlestrom’s right crumbled, exposing the insides of a dining room and several people hiding inside.
Whittlestrom’s shoulders hunched as he raised his hands again. Large sparks flew as his clouds thinned into ropes and a net with stones weighing the edges. With a flick of his hands, he dropped his arms. The net entrapped Zorban.
Zorban hit the ground but he snaked one arm free and flame shot toward Whittlestrom.
Pete frowned. It didn’t look right. There was fire but…
Whittlestrom ducked and the flame hit a tree in the intersection behind him. The branches whooshed and great snakes of fire climbed high into the air.
Whittlestrom stepped back from the heat.
Zorban shot more flame while he was distracted.
Pete yelped a yarning but it wasn’t loud enough. Even still, Whittlestrom stepped to the side of the shot and it hit the flaming tree instead with a loud crack.
The tree tilted.
Zorban’s fingers beaconed it, like he controlled the tree’s fall.
Pete frowned harder. Still no sparks.
“He’s not sparking!” He shouted.
The tree cracked and fell.
Zorban sent a new shot of flame, not at Whittlestrom but at Pete, just as Whittlestrom reached up and sparks flew as he held the tree off his head so he could escape its flaming branches.
Pete’s arms flew up. Air shield or no, a flaming ball warranted reaction!
“Ahh!” Pete screamed as the ball flashed against the screen. The air popped and then the fire rained down.
His arms tingled, his hair stood on end, and his teeth ached. But he wasn’t burning.
No, the fire danced along his skin in ticklish waves.
Pete held his hands up in amazement and then jumped as he saw Zorban standing down the street, free of the net.
Without thought, he balled his hands and pitched.
Sparks, great green globs of fire sprites that burned the grass at his feet, flew from him, sending him back on his behind.
Woosh! The air left his lungs for the second time that day.
But his aim was true. The fireball hit Zorban in the chest and the wizard’s robes caught.
Screeching, Zorban shucked the robe over his head, with it came black sticks, several odd tubes and what looked like a tiny lantern.
As soon as the robe and extras hit the ground, Zorban ran. The moderator stepped in his way just as Whittlestrom shouted “shield that!”
All wizards stepped forward and Pete couldn’t see the burning robe.
Flame gutted harmlessly into the sky as the wizards shielded the blast.
When they stepped back, a crater the size of an elephant sunk the road.
“Zorban,” Whittlestrom said. His voice bounced around, unusually loud. “I hereby denounce you as a true wizard.”
The moderator returned with Zorban, who’s arms were tied behind his back with some sort of red goo.
Now in his undergarments, Pete saw sticks tied to the man’s legs, arms and torso.
“I second that,” the moderator spoke up.
There were mutters of agreement and then in a poof, all the wizards vanished with Zorban in tow.
Pete liked the inside of Wizard Whittlestrom’s home. It smelled like berries and was full of light.
The baker, Master Gus, and Whittlestrom were discussing rebuilding the bakery and whether or not to use magic to clear away the burn scar. Papa kept looking at Pete out of the corner of his eye, still unsure what to do with a wizard for a son.
Pete fingered the strap of his pack and waited. He found the pack on the other side of the burned tree and except for burned edged on the left strap, it was unharmed.
“Now,” Whittlestrom said and Papa jerked in his chair. “Let’s discuss your apprenticeship.” He looked straight at Pete and Pete couldn’t help but grin.
“Wizards don’t’ take apprentices,” Papa muttered.
“Well, this one does. It’ll cut down on fakes slipping through the floorboards.”
After questioning Zorban, they’d found he never could do magic. He just had a great set up for shooting fire and making things explode, an apothecary’s apprentice gone wrong.
He attacked the bakery out of pride, hurt that Master Gus didn’t like his rearranging style.
“Would you like some coffee first?” Pete asked, no longer able to hold in his surprise. He set his bag on the table and pulled out a burlap sack. The rich aroma of coffee filled the room.
Mrs. Whit took a long sniff, “absolutely!”
“How strange,” Master Gus chuckled, “not only an observant wizard, but a generous one too.”
Pete grinned harder and shared a look with Whittlestrom, who had that sparkle in his eyes and a corner of his mouth quirked in amusement.
“Sounds like a good apprentice.”
(If you have any thoughts, comments, or suggestions to make the story or my writing better, please let me know. I love feedback whether you love the story, hate it, are confused by it or whatever. Please be constructive and professional. That’s all I ask.)