WISH FULFILMENT, PART SEVEN: Pink Link
“Am I dead?”
“No,” came the somewhat reassuring response to Chartreuse’s question. She even recognized that the person who had said it was Qifarihm, so her neurons couldn’t be too scrambled.
“Then why’s it so, like, dark?” Chartreuse continued.
“Simon’s used your torch to go investigate things at the top of the stairs.”
Chartreuse nodded, then realized Qifarihm wouldn’t be able to see that. “Ah,” she clarified. “Then I didn’t, you know, imagine him rescuing us.”
There was a pause. “Why are there, like, stairs in the dungeon?”
“We’ve moved out of the dungeon area and into some back passages known only to me and a few select other individuals. An emergency escape route. All wizards should have one.”
“Ah!” Another pause. “How did I get here?”
“Simon carried you. Or at least pulled you along. I helped as much as I was able, but it was awkward enough to bring along your gear.”
Chartreuse winced a little. She knew she could afford to lose a few pounds. “Sorry.”
“Don’t apologize.” She heard him change position in the dark. “Your vision plan seemed to work wonders, I’ve remembered an entire past which I’d previously forgotten.”
“Oh, good!” The mild headache she had now at least meant something then. “…So what exactly did I, like, say?”
“You don’t remember?”
“Jumbled pieces. I was kind of spiralling the future back into the past, not exactly my, you know, forte.”
A faint glow appeared from above, enough to allow Chartreuse to see there was an staircase there – and to see Qifarihm shrug. “I’ll let Simon explain. He has a theory.”
The pink haired teenager looked down at the former Wizard’s manacles. “We not find the key for those yet?”
“Releasing my magic would be something of a tip off,” he explained. “Your companion thought it best to pursue Pelinelneth without resorting to magic. I granted him that point. A wizard can only cast so much before needing to recharge anyway.” He then turned to look up as Simon came into view. “She’s awake,” he noted.
Simon smiled, turning his flashlight, taking care not to shine it right in her face. “Hey! That’s good news. Beats the bad news I have – if Pelinelneth did go back out to the courtyard, she’s caught. Or being pursued. For whatever reason, there’s hardly any guards that I can see out there. And I wouldn’t have figured them to give up the search.”
“But that means they’re not after us yet,” Chartreuse reasoned. “Or they’d be, you know, searching again.”
“Well, the only other direction your Pelinelneth could have gone through these passages would be to Wanda’s – to MY sanctuary,” Qifarihm corrected.
“No choice but to do that then,” Simon yielded.
“Um, wait, so what’s your, like, theory based on whatever I said?” Chartreuse asked, standing back up by supporting herself against the wall. She managed to do it without feeling too dizzy.
Simon blinked. “What? Oh, that… well, the impression I got is that this Wanda must have been corrupted by the artifact. She seized power – and then you said addiction. Implying she’s now hooked on wishes, or granting wishes.”
“Magic can corrupt a person,” Qifarihm added. “Which is why only certain people have magic abilities in the first place.”
“So I figure,” Simon continued, “If we can prevent her from wishing, or get the evil item away from her, she may sink into some sort of withdrawal, enough to allow us to restore… whatever’s normal here.”
Chartreuse bobbed her head, then regretted the action, lifting her hand to her temple. “Makes sense,” she agreed. “So what’s this artifact?”
“We still don’t know that,” Simon conceded.
“And how do we, you know, restore what’s normal?”
“What about preventing Wanda from wishing, like, bad stuff against US even as we try to reason with her?”
“We don’t have a plan there.”
“Ah.” Chartreuse pursed her lips. “Well, it will be impossible for her to foil our plan when we don’t have one!” she offered cheerily.
The truth was, Simon hoped that Pelinelneth would have the answers to some of Chartreuse’s questions. In retrospect, perhaps they should have done one of her vision things with the crystals and the cards back when the elf girl had first told them about her missing memories. But at the time, they hadn’t known she was anything more than a transformed villager.
“I don’t know that we want to try reasoning with Wanda anyway,” Qifarihm said, as he began to move off down the passageway. Simon noticed that the wizard didn’t seem inclined to tote their supplies, now that Chartreuse didn’t need help, so he picked it up off the ground himself. “From what I remember,” the older man remarked, “the girl didn’t react well to authority.”
Simon fell into step behind Qifarihm – though noticed that Chartreuse was still a bit unsteady on her feet as she started walking. He reached out a hand for support, but she waved him off.
“What do you remember about your sanctuary layout?” he asked Qifarihm, figuring that talking might slow the wizard down a shade. Plus the information could prove useful.
“Pretty standard stuff,” Qifarihm answered. “Big library area against one wall. Shelves on another with ingredients for potions. Raised area off to one side with my bed. No windows. A bit gloomy, but I liked it.”
“Alarm system?” Simon wondered.
“On a few key items, not on the room itself. Though it might be best not to touch anything without checking with me first.”
“Fridge?” Chartreuse asked.
“What?” Qifarihm said absently. Simon shone his light back at her. Chartreuse shrugged.
“Just, you know, we haven’t had anything since breakfast.”
There was a soft click, and a section of the bookshelf swung forwards for the second time that day. She’d been interested the first time, when the elf had edged in. This time, since the activity was a rerun, she was less intrigued – until she saw the man in the ragged clothes stride in, arms outstretched. Qifarihm. She hadn’t seen him in months! He was followed by a younger man, who had a key out, presumably to unlock the manacles on the wizard’s wrists. And then an even younger girl, with hair that matched the room’s decor, who seemed to be brandishing a frying pan.
The three of them looked around cautiously. She decided the best course of action would be to wait and see what they did.
“It’s very pink,” Chartreuse said at last, feeling like someone should speak. Even if it was to state the obvious. Seeing as the floor of the Wizard’s Sanctuary was dark pink, the walls a light pink – and there was a large pink-purple couch adjacent to the bookshelf area. The room wasn’t all pink, to be sure. The books were various colours, the few paintings on the walls also incorporated yellows and red, and although a shelving unit seemed to be behind pink curtains, the contents of the jars behind looked to be a variety of colours again. But pink was definitely the dominant theme.
“Yes,” Qifarihm said, disgust in his tone. “Typical female.”
“Excuse me?” Chartreuse countered, frowning as she turned to point her frying pan back at the wizard.
“She was always on me about my drab colour scheme, so obviously redecorated the first chance she got,” he said, unfazed by Chartreuse’s look. “This sort of atmosphere is NOT conducive to doing magic.”
“Not, like, YOUR magic maybe, but I’d have thought you’d appreciate some colour after that dark cell!”
“Well, at least Wanda doesn’t seem to be here,” Simon cut in, before Qifarihm could speak. “We should quickly scour for clues about Pelinelneth or the artifact.”
Qifarihm seemed to change his mind about what he’d been about to say. “Right. Keep an eye out for a magic mirror or a crystal ball, we could use those to get a sense of what’s happened the last hour or so.”
“Alternatively,” came a new voice, causing Chartreuse to jerk her gaze up. “You could ask me.” There was an elevated platform off to one side of the room, which Qifarihm had said was where he slept. Standing there in front of the bed, looking down at them, was a small pink unicorn.
Chartreuse blinked, and briefly rubbed her eyes, then looked again. The unicorn was still there, looking to be a bit larger than a house cat. It jumped down onto the ground, bypassing the few steps that would otherwise have been necessary. “Okay,” Simon remarked, sounding rather nonplussed. “Thought that was a statue.”
“Oh. My. God,” Chartreuse blurted, barely able to keep herself from running over and hugging the creature. “Friendship is magic!”
“What’s magic?” Simon said, glancing sidelong at her.
“Friendship! And don’t tell me you’re not totally thinking it too!” Chartreuse accused. Though it occurred to her then that perhaps they didn’t have that show on whatever world Simon had come from.
“When did Wanda acquire a miniature talking pink unicorn?” Qifarihm asked of no one in particular.
The unicorn made a face. “I’m Snowball.”
Qifarihm’s eyebrows shot up. “My white CAT?”
“Formerly a cat. Now a unicorn. You seem to have regained your memories. Does this mean you’re going to reset things to the way I remember them? Because from what I’ve seen, you don’t stand a chance.”
“Wait, you remember the way things are supposed to be?” Simon asked, startled.
“Of course. First, I’m not human, and second, Wanda has been keeping me here, isolated from changes. Appearance notwithstanding.” Snowball began to trot back and forth as she spoke, almost as if she was pacing. “You see, unlike her silly elf, I’m perfectly content to remain here.”
“Right, well, we need to find whatever artifact has corrupted our dear Wanda,” Qifarihm said dismissively. “Where is it, what does it look like?”
The small pony flicked her tail. “Don’t know. Wanda locked me up after she took over, only letting me out after her elf companion didn’t work out. I guess by that point she’d decided to be more cautious. Oh, and don’t go on with the ‘dear Wanda’ nonsense either, it’s partially your condescending attitude that got us into this mess.”
Qifarihm blinked. “Was it?”
Snowball altered her tone slightly, attempting to sound male. “Don’t touch that! Only male wizards are allowed to do the deep magic! Go find me some herbs!”
The male wizard attempted to cross his arms in response, but found the action difficult with the shackles on. Putting his hands on his hips met with similar results, so he simply shook his finger in the air. “Well, now that you mention it, she WAS very full of herself! After all, it’s not like a female could ever achieve Royal Wizard status.”
“Excepting how she IS the Royal Wizard,” the mini-unicorn pointed out.
“Illegally! Using a wish!”
“Excuse me,” Simon said, breaking back in. “Not to break up this discussion of the patriarchy, but we’re on a deadline. Do we know when Wanda’s coming back?”
“No,” Snowball said, turning to look at him. “She’s off dealing with the elf I mentioned, who showed up here an hour ago. Who are you, anyway?”
“Oh, er, I’m Simon Black. This is Chartreuse,” he said, indicating her. “We’re the ones who broke your mage out of the dungeon.”
“And let Wanda’s elf into the castle!” Chartreuse added. In the end, she’d managed to keep herself from ‘squeeing’ over Snowball by trying to cross reference some of the pony’s comments in her head. Best to info dump onto Simon now, to see if it made actual sense. “Because it’s got to be, you know, Pelinelneth! Wanda wanted her as a confidant, but Pelinelneth wanted out, so that’s, like, how our friend got her memory wiped and ended up living in a basement out in town! Also, it’s why she knew about the secret passage in here and didn’t want to let Qifarihm out of the dungeon and stuff!”
“Good thinking,” Simon said, off her expectant look. He frowned. “I wonder, do you think Pelinelneth could even BE the artifact? Did wishes start getting granted in town after she showed up?”
“Find me a crystal ball and maybe I can answer that,” Qifarihm reminded them.
“I think you should all leave,” Snowball snorted. “Come back when you have a chance of winning.”
VOTING WILL CLOSE THURSDAY JAN 29 EST
(some extra time to vote, due to grading exams)