Good morning everyone. It had been a little while since I wrote a short story of any variety and so I decided to have a pop at writing one. Lo and behold our intrepid adventurer Vernon came to the rescue.
He was almost there. Vernon had spent the last three days climbing to the top of the spire, truly it had been an arduous climb, full of perils and magical traps galore. He had met a man called Basil the Fantastic a couple of weeks ago, he had told him of a wizard’s tower nearby, the wizard he said, was known to grant magical artefacts to adventurers with great skill and cunning if they could prove their worth.
Now, after a considerable journey and no small amount of hazard he was almost at the top, all that stood in between him and his goal was a magical barrier and steely resolve of the Arch-Mage of Terkinott. Should Vernon’s considerable verbal skills prove up to the task, he would leave here with the Golden Glaive of Nemaltos and the Grand Hat of Tomalbus; worthy prizes indeed.
‘Now,’ he said as he withdrew the Key of Grumbold from his satchel, ‘it is time to claim my prize.’
Vernon inserted the key into the Keyhole of Fates and turned it as the Grand Book of Keys had said, first counter clockwise, then clockwise and then all the way around counter clockwise once more. With that he retrieved his journal from his pocket and proceeded to read the passphrase aloud.
‘The Arch-Mage of Terkinott has the grandest tower of them all!’ he shouted.
After a moment, the great double doors before him shook as the hidden workings of it shuddered to life and a moment later the doors began to slowly swing open. He took a tentative step forward through the great portal and prepared himself for anything that he might find inside. Once he entered the room he looked around at its contents and had to admit, he was very impressed with what he saw. There were all sorts of alchemy equipment, flames heating vials of mysterious fluids of all sorts of different colours, great bookcases lining the walls, teeming with books containing who knows what and great telescope pointing up into the night sky.
‘It’s magnificent,’ he said.
‘What do you want?’ he heard a high-pitched voice say from behind him.
Spinning around with his glaive at the ready he prepared himself to have to fight some great beast, conjured from nowhere by the mighty arch-mage or a spectral apparition formed by magical power. Instead the sight of a young man met him, at twenty years old if he was being generous, he was stood next to the telescope in baggy mage robes that clearly were not meant for him.
‘Who are you?’ Vernon asked.
‘I am the Arch-Mage of Terkinott, obviously,’ the boy replied tetchily.
Of course, this must have been a test to see if Vernon were worthy of the items he had come here for. Determined to prove his worth, Vernon smoothed his clothes and straightened his posture before delivering his carefully constructed request.
‘Of course,’ he started, pausing for a moment to order his thoughts before continuing, ‘oh wise Arch-Mage, I come before you today to request a might boon.’
‘A boon?’ the Arch-Mage said, as if confused by Vernon’s statement.
‘Yes, I request the Golden Glaive of Nemaltos and the Grand Hat of Tomalbus,’ he said humbly.
The Arch-Mage stood for a moment looking him up and down, he reached up and started to scratch his chin as if considering his request. A strained look spread across the mage’s seemingly young features, he seemed to be giving Vernon’s request serious consideration, though he was expecting to have to argue his case before the Arch-Mage gave up the items. After a minute the Arch-Mage nodded and turned, walking to the rear of the chamber. A moment later Vernon heard thumps and bangs, followed by the sound of something clattering to the floor, followed by no small amount of cursing from the mage.
After a couple of minutes of this there was suddenly silence and then the mage came walking back with a glaive and floppy brimmed leather hat. ‘There you go, I uhm…bestow? Yes, I bestow upon you the Blade of Tobasco and Hat of Numpties, now go forth and use them wisely.’
No sooner had he finished than he was ushering Vernon towards the door and out of the chamber, but realising something wasn’t quite right, he resisted and turned around to face the mage.
‘Now wait a moment,’ he said forcefully. As he did so the boy seemed to shrink backwards as if scared Vernon might try to attack him. ‘This is not a golden glaive, it is made from iron and the hat is a simple leather hat with no magical power whatsoever.’
‘Well who died and made you the magic expert?’ the mage said. ‘I’m the Arch-Mage here and if I say they’re magical item, thingies, then that’s what they are.’
Vernon held his ground as the mage tried to push him towards the door, nevertheless he continued to push against him, resulting in the boy walking on the spot as he struggled against him in vain. Eventually exhausted and panting heavily, the boy stopped and looked up at Vernon a look of fear on his face.
‘You’re not the Arch-Mage of Terkinott, are you?’
‘Uhm…no,’ the boy answered.
Vernon dropped the hat and the glaive that the boy had given him, raising his arms he gave an exasperated sigh at his misfortune before fixing the boy with an intense stare.
‘Well, where is he?’
‘He’s dead,’ the boy said, unable to meet Vernon’s gaze as he shuffled from one foot to the other.
‘He fell,’ the boy replied dejectedly pointing to a balcony on the northern face of the spire. ‘He liked to have a big stretch on the balcony every morning, one day he got dizzy and fell off.’
Damn and bother, Vernon thought. This adventuring lark just wasn’t paying off, first the golem, then the Chalice of Destiny and now this, it was as if the universe was playing some elaborate prank on him.
‘Well what about the glaive and the hat?’ he asked. At the very least he could claim his prizes before he left the tower, that way the whole escapade wouldn’t be a total loss.
‘They’re gone,’ the boy replied.
‘I gave them to a man called Basil last week.’
‘Basil?’ he said, the look of anger on his face inviting no answer from the boy.
He had been duped, Basil the Fantastic was a cad, a bounder of the highest order. He had spun a tale to Vernon that he knew he could not resist, despite knowing that there was nothing here to claim, because he had already claimed them. Unable to contain his temper he kicked a nearby candlestick holder, sending it toppling into a nearby mirror, which in turn fell into a picture and so on. This led to a cascade effect, whereby one object knocked another and another until the whole room’s contents were spilling to the floor. Finally, a large globe was knocked from its stand onto the alchemy workbench and rolling across it, proceeded to knock all the vials over before finally the flame beneath one of them was knocked over into the mix of fluid.
‘Is that flamma-’
The tower exploded before he could finish.