Wizard’s Move

Welcome!

So this is the third short story involving Wizard Whittlestrom. You can read this story without the first two but there are a few things that make more sense if you’re familiar with Whittlestrom, his wife and the baker first. So, if you’re not familiar and you’d like to be, check out Wizard’s Coffee, Wizard’s Coffee Part Two, Baker’s Wizard, and Baker’s Wizard Part Two.

Just like the previous two stories, Wizard’s Move will post in two sections just to make it a little less wonky in the reading.

Also, 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.

Thanks and enjoy!

Wizard’s Move Part One

Lined up in a row like bushy little ducklings, the wizards of the capital waited for the Government Announcer to declare why they’d been summoned.

The Announcer, a tall, bloodless man with black curly hair and long fingers, let them wait. Usually he was delegated the task of proclaiming new taxes or publicly reading recently passed laws. Inevitably the government coached the announcements in high legalese and he became the fool trying to read them.

Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots. Check out her blog here.

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots. Check out her blog here.

Not today.

Today before him stood the twenty government wizards of the capital and they were at his whim. He treasured the moment by leaning back in his wooden chair and sipping his lemon tea, all the while watching the wizards try not to fidget. They were not known for their ability to stand still.

A clicking sounded from the entry hall. A steady tap, tap, tapping and the Announcer bolted from his seat, spilling lemon tea down the front of his frilled shirt.

“Fiddlesticks!” He exclaimed just as a petite blond in tall boots strutted in. Her pants billowed from where they were tucked into the tops of her boots and her blue blouse fluttered with the swing of her arms. She moved with intention.

She also eyed the Announcer down her nose and sniffed. “Are the wizards informed?”

“As…well, ah,” the Announcer spun away from the woman’s blue gaze to face the line of duc…wizards.

“It has been decided,” he raised his voice, “that it is time to change locations. Each wizard is to move house counter clock wise in city as of this evening so that you can pair with a new trade master.”

The line of wizards bowed from the waist, all but one. A tall cloud haired, frazzled sort with cracked lips. The Announcer swallowed. Whittlestrom was an original and oblivious to his age. He sparked as any youngster but with a hell-of-a lot more punch. He even sported the heavy protruding brows that marked him as part of the founding faction of government wizards. Oh dear!

“Problem, Wizard Whittlestorm?” The Announcer’s voice cracked just a pinch at the end. He squared his shoulders and flared his nostrils as Whittlestrom met his eyes. He was the Government Announcer, by hash browns! He had no reason to look away.

“By order 1256a, we are directed to interact, help, and otherwise make good relations with the working class. I am in the midst of aiding Baker Gustafson remodel and to move now would be detrimental to the good will I am building.”

Nineteen wizard eyes swung upon Whittlestrom with avid surprise.

A wizard! Remodeling? Unheard of! But the old original was serious as his voice rang in the hall.

“This new order superseed…”

“One moment, Announcer,” the petite blond interrupted in a low voice. “Order 1256a is an ‘a’ order. It cannot be superseded by a none alphabetical order.” She turned to Whittlestrom. “Wizard, how long will these repairs take?”

“I cannot say, Secretary, we have just started.”

The woman’s nose came up but then she bowed. She actually bowed!

The Announcer choked.

“Take all the time needed, Wizard Whittlestrom. Skip the Baker in the rotation. Once the remodeling is done, switch with the trade in front of the baker and we will be back in line.”

Twenty wizards bowed.

“But Secretary,” the Announcer stuttered, “this isn’t done. An order must be…”

Those cool blue eyes settled on him as the wizards filed out.

“Decision’s made, Announcer. Now go change before your next assignment.” She sniffed, “lemon does not mix well with silk.”

***

Master Gustafson wrote furiously on the chalkboard while Mrs. Whittlestrom rattled off ideas. Master Gus called her Mrs. Whit for short and the plump woman appeared to love the familiarity. She blushed prettily and gave him a shy half smile every time he used the name.

Mid sentence stopped short as the tall Whittlestrom ducked through the door.

“Morning, dear,” he greeted his wife, “and Master Gus. How goes the remodeling?”

This was the fourth day of ideas for remodeling. This was also the first time Whittlestrom had ever stepped foot inside the bakery, much less shown an interest in the decorating of his wife.

A fine line formed between Mrs. Whit’s brows and her lips puckered.

“Can’t decide between violet or pumpkin for the counter color,” she admitted.

“Well, let’s see,” Whittlestrom’s fingers sparked and the counter turned orange.

“My pastries!” Master Gus exclaimed at the same time as Mrs. Whit shouted, “NO Mag—ic!”

The confections within the case turned orange and the whole shop smelled suspiciously of pumpkin.

“Unacceptable!” Mrs. Whit proclaimed. “Change it back and no more magic in the bakery.”

Whittlestrom gave his wife a courtly bow that made his beard brush the floor. “Yes, dear.”

His fingers sparked and the counter returned to normal with a few notable pastries missing from the case.

Whittlestrom munched one pumpkin colored fritter and hummed.

“Should make a few with pumpkin from now on, Master Gus. It adds a certain flare.”

He held the second fritter out and Master Gus couldn’t help the horrified look on his face.

“Sit,” Mrs. Whit pointed at a stool against the left wall.

Whittlestrom strode to it and sat, enjoying his second fritter.

“And reimburse our good baker for your snack.”

Finishing his treat and licking his fingers clean, he riffled through his robes and came up with several coins.

Mrs. Whit returned to making suggestions, all the while keeping an eye on her husband who muttered and hummed but never gave an actual opinion.

Master Gus kept his distance, just in case Whittlestrom forgot himself.

***

Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots.

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

As the day closed and the street lamps were lit, Mrs. Whit turned her attention to lighting.

“Oh,” she exclaimed, “we could place little lamps in the front window to highlight your most delectable treats. Oh, I like it!”

She clapped and Whittlestrom, who’d been dozing, snorted awake.

“What, what!” he stood with a whoosh, “lights!” sparks flew with a sharp bang.

Master Gus blinked…and blinked…and blinked until little dots of light came into focus above him.

Great snufflebugs! I’m on my back!

And the bakery ceiling swirled with stars to the tempo of a jaunty little jig.

“I’m going to be sick.” Master Gus rolled onto his hands and stood.

The wizard gawked at his handiwork with his fingers motionless at his sides.

Motionless? Master Gus checked again but Whittlestrom was indeed enrapt.

“Look, dear,” he muttered, “I’ve captured stars.”

Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots.

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

The wizard gawked at his handiwork with his fingers motionless at his sides.

Motionless? Master Gus checked again but Whittlestrom was indeed enrapt.

“Look, dear,” he muttered, “I’ve captured stars.”

“You’ve ruined my work!” Mrs. Whit hid her face in her hands. “After this, I can’t remodel the bakery. I’ll end up putting stars into everything!”

In a swish of skirts, Mrs. Whit fled and a few stars escaped as the door whooshed open and closed.

Whittlestrom shook himself.

“That won’t do, Master Gus,” he finally said, “I’ve hurt the Missis.”

Master Gus blinked. Was that remorse on Whittlestrom’s face? He couldn’t be sure, his stomach still rolled with the swirl of lights.

“I must fix this,” the wizard threw up his hands and Master Gus ducked but nothing happened.

“Yes,” Gus agreed, “fix it, please.”

For once there were no sparks. Whittlestrom huffed and O’d his mouth and started to drink the stars. Tornado like, they swirled and disappeared into the wizard but also tornado-esque, the storm collected anything not nailed down.

A table shrunk and passed the wizard’s teeth, then a few chairs and then Master Gus felt he pull.

“No, no, no, no…” Gus clamped onto the counter, a solid piece of construction nailed into the floor, and gasped as his feet left the ground.

Pastries spun by and a few loaves of bread, and then a pan or two.

With a ‘Thomp!’ of his lips closing, Wizard Whittlesrom stopped.

“Perfect,” he exclaimed, “I’ve cleared the stars.”

Master Gus groaned. The bakery was empty, not a lick of furniture, not a pot or pan, not even a knife to call his own.

“Wizard Whittlestrom,” Master Gus braced himself to face the Wizard’s tempter, “you are no longer welcome in my shop.” To add emphasis, he added, “OUT!” and pointed to the door. Well, what was left of the door as it canted on its hinges.

Whittlestrom didn’t spark or shout. He stared at Master Gus with sorrowful eyes like Gus had never seen on a wizard before. Then he just bowed, beard to the floor, and exited the door.

***

I will not feel sorry! Master Gus affirmed as he gazed at his empty shop in the light of day. I will not!

“Master Baker Gustafson?”

He turned just as a burly robed man squeezed himself through the door.

“Yes?” Master Gus swallowed.

“Name’s Wizard Zorban,” the man introduced, “your new wizard.”

“My what?”

Zorban grinned and Master Gus’ head swam. No fainting!

He rushed out the door, hoping beyond hope for the plum colored cottage of Mrs. Whit and Wizard Whittlestrom but in its place crouched a metal structure reeking of burned grease and smoke. Gus caught a hint of fungus underlying the acidic creosote but he refused to speculate about it.  The sides of the building glistened in the sun.

“What’s that?’ Master Gus pointed.

“My home,” Zorban puffed with pride. “My beauty! I’ll add some of her character to your shop, let’s see…”

Zorban disappeared into the bakery and not long after a plume of flame sputtered out the door. Zorban was the smithy’s wizard!

“The smithy burned down three times last year,” Gus muttered. His fingers were numb in shock. “I’ll take stars over this.”

“Wizard Zorban, Wizard…”

“Yes, “ the burly Wizard stuck his head out of the smoke filled shop. His whiskers trailed smoke and Gus could just see the singed walls behind him.

“Why was Whittlestrom moved?”

“You no longer needed his services. He was relocated according to new orders.” The wizard shrugged and returned to his smoke.

“Well great leaping frogs! How do I retain his services?”

Something about a secretary came sputtering out the door with another wave of smoke.

Gus couldn’t figure what Zorban was burning. There wasn’t anything left! Don’t ask, I don’t want to know!

And Gus headed to the government buildings while he still had a bakery.

***

The plum colored cottage nestled next to the tanner’s shop. After facing the blond secretary, this should be easy but Master Gus’ stomach rolled.

He might refuse.

Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots. Check out her blog!

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots. Check out her blog!

Mrs. Whit puttered in her garden with a wooden bucket. She whistled off tune as she filled her pail with raspberries but Master Gus still hesitated.

She’d always shared those raspberries with the bakery for jam.

Squaring his thin shoulders, Master Gus marched up to the gate and deflated with a puff as soon as Mrs. Whit looked up.

“Master Gus!” she exclaimed, “what brings you here?”

In mute supplication, he held out his plate full of pumpkin flavored pastries. He’d borrowed his neighbor’s kitchen to make them.

Mrs. Whit sniffed and a grin puckered her sun ripened cheeks.

“Oh Garius dear,” she hollered.

The Wizard came striding out the door and his eyes sparkled as he saw Master Gus with his plate of orange pastries, but then his bushy brows drew together in a stern expression.

“Master Gustafson,” he greeted, “what can we do for you?”

“Well,” Gus sputtered, “I noticed I still need a new floor, and maybe some tables and a new door, and well, the kitchen’s lacking pans and I need some advice about lighting. I like stars but I can’t sell bread if my ceiling’s moving. Sooo…I need some suggestions. No magic, mind, just suggestions…”

“No magic?” Whittlestrom interrupted.

“Well no, I’d prefer no magic. Something about an empty bakery, you see.”

“This could take awhile without magic.”

“Yes, that’s true,” Gus nodded, “months, maybe even years if you’re up to the task.”

“Beautiful,” Whittlestrom declared with a snap of his fingers. The plum cottage poofed, gone, and a metal monstrosity replaced it.

A confused Zorban came with the metal house. He puffed up his chest and pointed a finger at Master Gus.

“You-“ he started, but then he saw Whittlestrom. “Oh.”

He bowed to the elder wizard and disappeared inside.

“Shall we go home?” Whittlestom asked his wife.

“We shall,” she grinned.

Whittlestrom snapped and he, wife and plate of pastries disappeared.

What the…

But Master Gus shrugged. At least his bakery would be there when he got home. And he started the long walk down the cobbled road.

The End

Blessings,

Jennifer