Reflexively Dwyn turned his attention to the front door of his house, startled. The door was round and ordinary, crafted from ordinary wood. The knock he heard was loud enough and sharp enough to pierce the moment, and it popped like a soap bubble.
When he looked back, Yshana was nowhere to be seen. In fact, not much of the room could be seen now, as all candlelight blinked out at once. Through darkness he was examining his empty hands that had been holding his lover.
They were filthy hands, probably hadn’t been scrubbed in a long while. Dirt crusted like crescents of coal under his fingernails.
He sneered. Disdain boiled the blood in his veins. Dwyn darted from the bench he was seated upon. It creaked from the sudden shift of encumbrance, and he stopped to sneer at it. There were no gold plates, or velvety silk cushions, or peaches-and-cream elfin lovers. It was just a bench now, old and rugged and useless.
Rat-tat-tat . . .
Dwyn whirled around with the fury of a tornado, stormed over and flung the front door wide open, privacy be damned! All be damned!
“Who would disturb a man at this hour?” Seething anger burst from him like a breath of hot flame.
“Begging your pardon, but I’m looking for a . . .” The voice was strong and old and oddly familiar.
Beyond the threshold a figure shorter than Dwyn was standing still, holding onto something. It was adjusted closer to their eyes; unseen eyes hidden by shadow of hooded cloak and moonless night. “For a ‘Dwyn Olean the Magnificent Magician Extraordinaire, Master of Wand and Wizardry, and the World’s Greatest Illusionist–”
Dwyn snatched the piece of paper out of the stranger’s hand. “Give me that!”
He glowered, perusing the paper soundlessly. Thought I had destroyed all of these. No matter, the flier was crumpled up into a wad and heedlessly tossed over a shoulder, I’ll burn it after this is over.
“Sorry you had to waste your time, old man. You found me, but I don’t practice anymore,” he said curtly.