“Why did he have to come back?” Jaina exclaimed from her chair in the corner when the room had emptied of all but her and Alister.
“Well,” said the old man, “he hasn’t done too bad of a job so far. And his most recent plan might work, although it's probably far too dangerous.” He came over and stood next to her as he talked.
“I suppose,” said Jaina. “I suppose. We should probably talk him into letting Tiffy go with Clover though. We need him here.”
“Perhaps, although, with a wizard lurking near the castle we may need our magician more.”
Father and daughter were soon deep in conversation. Alister may only be adviser to the king, but when the king was absent, he stepped in. And for years he had talked things over with Jaina, who, despite her uneven temper and often negative disposition, was very intelligent and the perfect person to bounce ideas off.
After some time had passed, they heard hurried footsteps in the hallway and Senny burst into the room, quite out of breath. “Where is lord Brandon?” he exclaimed through pants, “I must speak to him at once!”
“I think he’s in his quarters,” Alister replied. Jaina rose and followed Senny down the hallway. Senny waited for her to catch up with him and walked along side her, breathing heavily, until they came to the door. She was a little surprised that he had waited for her as he was clearly in a hurry and had never waited for anyone when there was a job to be done.
She knocked, and a muffled voice from inside said, “Oh, come in.”
She opened the door and entered with Senny close behind. Brandon was lying in bed with the blankets pulled up to his chin. He was staring at the ceiling and looking a little green.
“Are you alright?” she asked, going over to him and putting her hand on his forehead—testing to see if he had a fever. She was, after all, the court physician.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” he growled, not looking at her.
“Senny has something to say.”
“Yes, your highness, it is very important and requires your attention immediately,” said the fake Senny. “It is regarding the cloaked wizard.”
“What?” Brandon asked grumpily as he sat up.
Now, the wizard who was disguised as Senny did not do the things that most wizards would do—such as getting into dramatic battles, or waiting until his victims guessed who he was so that they would be afraid before they died. No, when he had an important mission to do, he wasted no time. If his victims were unsuspecting and helpless in a bed—all the better. And if innocent and pretty bystanders died in the process—no matter. The point was that he was paid to do a job and he did it.
So, with his victim properly identified, the wizard who still looked like Senny forwent any further ado, raised his hands, and shot a load full of magical orange flames at the bed. In an instant the big four-poster bed was a huge bonfire. And after another instant the magical fire burned out and nothing was left of the bed and its occupant but a pile of ashes. Satisfied, the fake Senny turned himself into a big white snowy owl and, with a loud shriek, exited through the window.
Now, I wish I could tell you that Brandon and Jaina were dead. It would be quite a feat to kill off the main character with such fierce brevity, don't you think? But of course, that is not the case.
Whether it was by his self-preserving instinct which kicked in when he saw the bright flames traveling towards him, or by some other magic, Brandon returned, in that instant, to earth, to his very own kitchen in fact. He found himself sitting on kitchen counter, uncomfortably straddling the crock pot his mother had given him. Jaina was standing next to him, looking stunned. It was mostly dark; the only light coming from the streetlight outside and filtering in through the venation blinds.
“Well!” said Brandon, feeling just as stunned as Jaina looked and looking even more stunned. “Well!”
“Well what?” snapped Jaina, recovering rather quicker than he did.
“Well, I guess we’re back!” He reached over and switched on the light above the sink.
“Back? I’ve never been here before.”
“Oh, right, of course not. Welcome to my home.” He tried to get off the counter and ended up sort of tumbling off, sending the crock pot flying. The lid smashed against the dishwasher and pieces of glass flew everywhere. He also knocked off a jar of cooking utensils which made almost as much noise as the crock pot.
“Oww. Oww ow oww!” Brandon could be heard moaning from the floor, once the clatter had finally stopped.
“This is where you are from?” Jaina surveyed the cramped, cluttered kitchen/dining room/living room area, noted the mound of clothes just inside the bedroom door and even observed the dust gathered thick on windowsills and out of the way places.
“Yeah,” Brandon stood up, groaning and gently rubbing his tender arm. “I have to go to the bathroom,” he said, and limped across his apartment, switching on the main lights as he went.
“I hope you’re not planning on staying for long!” she called through the bathroom door. “I want to get back to the palace right away. And they do need you, too.”
“I didn’t plan any of this!” he yelled louder than he needed to and flushed the toilet.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jaina asked, ignoring her confusion at the sound of so much running water.
Brandon emerged from the bathroom a moment later, his hands dripping wet. “Can’t find a towel,” he grumbled and disappeared into his bedroom. He came back out again a moment later and stared at Jaina for a moment. She looked so strange in her glimmering, optically confusing, long pink-gold dress, standing in the middle of his disastrously messy dining room with a tight frown on her lips, that he burst out laughing.
“What’s so funny?” she asked. But he just kept laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. And he was, of course, releasing his stress, too. “Stop laughing!” She glared at him so hard that he made an attempt to control himself. “Did we laugh at you when you came back and behaved like a fat bumbling idiot?”
“No, no you didn’t,” he stopped laughing and became very serious. “As much as I’d prefer to stay here, we really do need to get you back to the palace.”
“And you need to be back before dawn tomorrow.”
“Maybe,” he said, going over to his laptop and powering it up. “But as I have no idea how to get back, this could be difficult.”
“What’s that?” she asked, looking over his shoulder at the computer. She chose to ignore his ‘maybe’ for now.
“A computer. I think I’ll search the internet--see if it will give me any ideas on how to get back to a magical world.”