WISH FULFILMENT, PART EIGHT: Evil Wins
“We can’t leave now, we just got here,” Qifarihm grumbled in response to the small unicorn’s comment. The wizard then went to peek at the shelves behind the pink curtains in his former sanctuary. A couple of days ago, Simon would have thought this to be a rather nonsensical sequence of events, but that was before he’d been brought to this fantasy world along with Chartreuse.
“So, Snowball, can you, like, direct us to a crystal ball?” Chartreuse asked, clasping her hands together pleadingly.
“No,” the pink unicorn retorted. “If you can’t find it yourself, you’re not worthy of me shifting my allegiances.”
Simon walked over to a large purple trunk. “Hey, Qifarihm, is this safe to open?” he asked.
The wizard glanced back over his shoulder. “Probably.”
Simon frowned. But rather than ask for clarification, as Qifarihm seemed to be busy with his own investigation, Simon simply took care to only manipulate the catch on the trunk with his foot. He was pleased when it proved to be unlocked, and the lid flipped up without setting off an alarm or releasing poisonous gas. He became less pleased once he noticed what was inside. “Okay, Wanda has… a lot of weapons,” he observed.
Some were bladed, others were more for blunt force, like mallets, and there was even a bow with a quiver of arrows sitting on the top. The pink motif continued for all of them. “Should we arm ourselves with some of these?” he wondered aloud. “For protection?”
“Risky,” Chartreuse countered. Simon noticed that she’d gone to the bookshelves, pulling down a book to leaf through. “I mean, there’s probably some moral code against fighting an unarmed person, right? Whereas if you, you know, hold an axe, you become fair game.”
“It’s strange though,” Qifarihm remarked, approaching to have a look himself. “As wizards, we use magic. Not military items such as these.”
“Wanda’s been trying to clean up the town,” Snowball observed, trotting back towards the nearby platform housing the bed. “She’s encouraging a more pacifist way of life.”
Qifarihm threw his hands up into the air, or did as best as he could given the magical shackles he still wore. “This is why women aren’t allowed to be Royal Wizards!”
Chartreuse extended the arm that was not holding her book – the one that still held her frying pan. She waggled it at Qifarihm. “Okay, that’s, like, the second time you’ve belittled my gender. Don’t make me regret rescuing you.”
“Indeed, you have to admit Chartreuse’s unconventional approach has worked out so far,” Simon noted. “And she’s a woman.”
The wizard let out a grunt. “Well then, does she have an unconventional way of figuring out the location of this artifact granting wishes?”
Chartreuse opened her mouth as if to reply, but the teenager didn’t speak. Instead, her jaw fully dropped and her eyes got wider. Simon almost asked what the problem was, when a feminine voice behind him said, “If THAT’S why you’re here, you’d have to ask me.”
Simon froze. The remark hadn’t come from Snowball. Chartreuse’s nod confirmed there was someone new in the room. As such, when Simon turned, he made a point of stepping forwards, to slightly block Qifarihm – and he took the key to the wizard’s shackles from his pocket. Palming it, he extended both his hands nonchalantly out behind him.
“What is the location of the… artifact… granting… wishes…” Simon asked, despite his breath getting slightly caught in his throat as he saw her. Wanda was actually quite pretty. Perhaps a few years younger than he was, the Royal Wizard (Wizardess?) had light brown hair extending down past her shoulders, piercing green eyes which were staring out from behind a pair of spectacles, and, well, a nice body by most people’s standards. Including his.
Weirdly enough, despite the decor of the room in which they found themselves, Simon had been expecting their adversary to be a witch cloaked all in black with a pointed hat, but her outfit was anything but that. For some reason, Simon found himself making a mental link to “pink power ranger”. Granted, the clothes were not as form fitting, and she wore no helmet. There was also the fact that, unlike a power ranger, she was evil, and the way her arms were crossed implied that all of them were in serious trouble.
On the bright side, it looked like Wanda had walked in through the room’s only door, so it wasn’t a case of her arriving by teleport due to something stupid that they’d done.
“The artifact,” Wanda retorted. “Is on my person. Always. Also, fun fact, since I’m one of the only people who even KNOW about it, I’m guessing you’ve come to take it back. I CANNOT allow that.” Then she smiled. “But if you tell me how to get more like it, I won’t hurt you. Okay?”
Simon felt Qifarihm take the key for the shackles out of his hand. “Wanda,” the wizard remarked, presumably hoping that speaking would divert her attention from him trying to free himself, “you’ve de-aged yourself a bit, haven’t you? Should vanity really be your primary concern these days? What about advising the monarchy?”
Wanda’s hands slid to her hips. “Oooh, Qifarihm. You sanctimonious ass. I can’t believe I was nicer to you after the reality rewrite than you EVER were to me! Even kept you on as my apprentice, much longer than I should have!”
“Yet part of me knew something was wrong. That’s why you had to throw me in the dungeon.”
“Hah!” she countered. “I threw you in the dungeon because even as an apprentice you couldn’t stop talking down to me! If I’d had a magical means of dealing with you then, I would have!” She adjusted her glasses, causing them to flash in the light of the room. “Which, by the way, I now DO have. So please. Turn that key.”
Simon heard the click behind him, Wanda threw a card into the air (where had that come from?) and abruptly the room went pitch black. In retrospect, it had to have been lit by magical origin, owing to the lack of any windows. Though rather than stand there pondering the original source of the light, Simon decided it was better to flatten himself down onto the ground. Which was fortunate.
Red electricity crackled through the air around him, which seemed to be coming from Wanda’s position. For a moment, the bolts hit a shield, sparks rebounding crazily about the room, and then the initial barrage became countered with a whiter lightning from where Qifarihm stood. Simon crawled desperately away from the two wizards, heading back towards Chartreuse and the secret escape passage, wondering if the best plan might be a quick exit.
“Give up, Wanda,” Qifarihm shouted. “You know no mere female can best my wizardly powers!”
“Keep talking, Qi,” Wanda shot back. “Your misogyny gives me strength!!” She seemed to be circling to the side, the red and white sparkler show rotating with her, each side of the battle briefly flaring up, then down in strength.
“You know,” Chartreuse muttered, her voice close enough in the dark to make Simon gasp in surprise, “kinda seeing why Pelinelneth wanted that guy kept locked up. You know?”
Chartreuse interpreted his befuddlement at her choice of topic to be an invitation to expand on her reasoning. “Qifarihm. He’s a real charmer at first, but I think that’s, like, to draw women in. In the end, putting him in a position of power. So while he doesn’t mean any personal harm, his personality could be why the, you know, palace guards liked throwing women into his cell.” She let out a sigh. “You know, you shouldn’t have, like, let us out after all. I don’t think I’m rooting for him any more.”
A fireball suddenly lit up the area, and Simon jerked his gaze over to see it balanced on the tip of another piece of card stock which Wanda held in her left hand. Her right still creating the electrical sparks. She flicked the card, tossing the fire towards the elder wizard, Qifarihm stumbling back. He was barely able to extinguish it with a gout of water before it could strike him. As he did so, the red lightning nearly won out, before the set of sparks between the two combatants re-stabilized.
“Are you rooting for Wanda then?” Simon sniped at Chartreuse.
She’d said it without hesitation. Simon gave her a look, but owing to the darkness, added the reminder, “Women’s rights or not, Wanda’s EVIL.”
“Nope. The artifact is. The one that’s, you know, always on her person.”
Simon almost countered that it was still Wanda’s fault then, for picking up the thing or getting duped by it in the first place, but he held his tongue. Because firstly, assigning blame was really pointless at this stage, and secondly – Chartreuse’s remark had pointed out a serious flaw in this battle.
Wanda wasn’t wishing.
“Meaning,” Simon said, dropping his voice even more, “she has it now. But she isn’t wishing for Qifarihm or us to be incapacitated or anything. Why not?”
A pause. “Huh,” Chartreuse remarked. “Maybe so she can play fair?”
“Or she can’t use wishes directly.”
“Or her artifact’s, like, out of magical batteries or something.”
“Either way, this means we have a chance of taking it away from her!” And if his addiction-withdrawal theory was correct, her magical powers wouldn’t be as potent against them afterwards.
“You know, maybe once we explain what’s been happening in town, she’ll, like, hand it over nicely?”
There was a flare of white from the continuing battle, causing Simon to look back towards it. The male wizard seemed to be gaining the upper hand, the red electricity on Wanda’s side was fading. “Or maybe Qifarihm will win, saving us the trouble.”
“Hmph. I wouldn’t put that to a vote,” Snowball nickered, having approached the two of them. “She’s toying with him. Positioning him.”
“Oh? Positioning him for what?” Chartreuse asked.
The unicorn didn’t answer. Simon squinted at the two wizards in the flickering electrical light… and he could see what Snowball meant. Despite the fact that Qifarihm was starting to overwhelm the female wizard with his sheer power, by having alternately pressed her attack on the left or the right, Wanda had been able to steer Qifarihm back towards the middle of the room. Keeping herself out on the periphery. But what was the point of herding him to the centre of the–
Qifarihm took a step forwards, to press his advantage, and a blood red circle blazed into view, magical symbols running around the circumference. He was standing dead centre. Red cards rained down from the ceiling. In an instant, it grew so bright that Simon was forced to blink and look away. When he looked back, there were spots on his vision, and all was darkness. Even the lightning had ceased. The ensuing silence was incredibly eerie.
A pair of fingers snapped. Light was restored. Meaning Simon could now see how Qifarihm had been turned into a statue – pink, naturally – in the middle of the room. A card fell from off his face, revealing a rather surprised look. Other pieces of red paper littered the ground. Simon shifted his gaze over towards Wanda. She was breathing heavily, face flushed, glasses slightly askew, droplets of sweat trickling down her face… yet her look was determined, and despite her obvious fatigue, she kept her arm raised, snapped fingers held high.
Simon’s gaze automatically tracked back to the trunk containing the weapons. “Oh, PLEASE,” Wanda rasped. “Be my guest!”
Simon didn’t move. He stayed on the ground as Wanda slowly approached them, the heels of her pink boots clicking rather deliberately on the floor.
“Okay, so, the wishes you’ve been granting, they–”
“Shut up,” Wanda snapped at Chartreuse, eyes blazing. “You have no idea, NO idea what I’ve been through to get here!”
Simon cleared his throat. “Be that as it may–” He didn’t get any further before Wanda’s look and hand motion told him not to say any more.
“Now, Pelinelneth said you were instrumental in getting her back here,” the brunette stated. “You’ve also helped me deal with Qifarihm. So I’m willing to give you some latitude. You can either stay, and become Pelinelneth’s personal servants. Or you can be wished away, never to return – unless you bring another wishing device.” She cracked her knuckles. “Or, you can continue to babble, meaning you WILL see what it is I went through!!”
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