Thursday, June 12, 2014

One Misstep Too Many

Finish That Thought #49 (Judge's Comments)  
Prompt: The wizard's apprentice scratched [his] head, staring at the beetle in consternation.  
Special Challenge: Include a magic spell gone horribly wrong

The wizard's apprentice scratched his head, staring at the beetle in consternation. 

“Ten seconds remain,” the wizard prodded gently from her side of the examination table. In one hand she held a silver pocket-watch. In the other, a purple lace fan that fluttered lightly in front of her face to drive away the roaring fire’s heat. Her pale robes swooshed around her ankles as she pivoted on a bare foot to glide to the other end of the table. One footstep for each second. Her violet eyes never left the unruly brown-haired head hunched over the insect. 

Ryad bent his head closer to the magnifying glass to study his beetle in greater detail, looking for any clue to tip him off on its identity. It looked so natural, so real. How was he supposed to tell which of his 10,000 classmates it was? What kind of final examination was this anyhow? 

“And...stop.” The pocket-watch snapped close and was deposited in a pocket. Ryad moved away from the table and stood straight with his hands folded behind his back. 

“Have thee an answer?” the wizard asked her pupil though she already knew he didn't. 

Ryad chewed his bottom lip. He could always guess. Lucky guesses had saved his sorry hide many times before. In fact, a lucky [or unlucky he was coming to find] guess was the reason he was here, now, apprenticing under one of the greatest wizards of his day and age. Unfortunately, Instructress Zulu knew that and his entire apprenticeship so far had been dodging one trap after another. 

“I’m waiting.” Her voice may be soft like silk, but it carried an air of command. Now it was laced with the smugness of success. The odds were not in his favour and with his inability to pass his final exam, he would be dismissed from the school and sentenced to four years of hard labour until blood, sweat, and tears erased all memories of this place. 

“It’s Porgy,” he answered with confidence. When her gleaming smile started slipping into a frown he added as an extra barb, “Instructor Barnelm’s apprentice.” 

“Thy luck hast stayed with thee, young one. Pray, tell me how thee knowest this?” 

“My next task is to restore this beetle, is it not? And if I fail, he is the least likely to be missed since he is scheduled to be dismissed anyway.” 

“Aye, thy wit has surmised correctly,” Instructress Zulu held her arm out and gestured to the beetle with a sweep of her fan. “Pray, continue.” 

Ryad cracked his knuckles behind his back, relieved to have the first part over with. He resumed his place at the examination table and picked up his wand. If his luck stayed true, whatever nonsense words he babbled next would hopefully be a restoring spell. His wand hovered over the beetle while he murmured something unintelligible. 

Thunder rumbled overhead. A sound not unlike a train spewed from the wand. 

“Fool!” Instructress Zulu shrieked above the howling winds.

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