July 3rd, 2011

June, otter

The Next Great Magician part 3

 Tabitha eyed them for a moment, fearing that they might develop a mouth and eat her, but then reseated herself in the chair and pulled them on. The boots fit her perfectly, the soles soft and flexible, so much so she thought she might be able to run in them. She had only bartered for two things, and since she had them now, she turned to get her back, so that she could find her way to the front of the shop.
When she did, Tabitha saw that the typewriter had moved from one end of the table to the other. Tiberius words came back to her, that she found the shop because she needed something from it. Tabitha did not know why she would need a typewriter, though this one was quite nice, and appeared to be made of brass. She ran her fingers along the edges and found that there were several buttons along the lower side of it. Curious, she pressed one.

The typewriter, which had been a full size a moment ago, shrunk down to the width of perhaps five inches wide at its paper slot. She pressed another button and it grew to a width of fourteen inches wide. A small dial, she found toward the back, adjusted the size of the type. She flicked the button closest to the front of the typewriter, and it shark, folding itself up into a brass box, about eight inches long, four inches wide and two inches thick. Tabitha picked it up and turned it over in her hand, and still held it when she grabbed her bag and the box, walking the same way Tiberius had moment ago.

She walked for a time, but quickly found a front desk with a register and Tiberius behind it. Tiberius was chewing rather slowly as she approached; with some hesitancy, he swallowed.

“Did you find what you need?” he asked.

“Yes, but I found three things,” she replied, “and I only bartered for two.”

“Well, you’ll need the coat—it’ll keep you warm or cool, no matter where you go, and the boots will travel far and you’ll never get blisters. As for the brick, I’m not sure what you’ll need that for.”

“It’s a typewriter,” she said. “Here, watch.” Tabitha pressed the button closest to the front but nothing happened, so she reached for the button between five and fourteen inches and a regular sized typewriter folded itself out of the brass brick.

“Say! It’s like that new movement, oh what’s it called—”

“Steampunk?” Tabitha guessed.

“Yes that’s…!” Tiberius trailed off and scowled darkly. “Take it then, it’s yours.”

“I don’t understand,” she replied, pressing the button to turn it into a brick again. As she slipped the surprisingly light brick into a pocket at her breast, Tabitha added, “Why are you just letting me have it?”

“I’m not. I asked for information and you gave it. I have to repay you with something.” Tabitha smiled at him.
“Well, here,” she said, reaching into her bag. “If you liked the salad, you’ll like this.” She held up and orange, sweet roll to him, but he just scowled again.
“And what do you want for that?” he asked.
“Nothing,” she replied. “It’s a gift, not a barter.” His face softened, and he muttered at her,
“Too good, Tabitha Walls, you are far too good.” He paused and stared at her for a minute and then said, “Wait here a moment.”
Tabitha obliged him, and when he returned, he was holding a jewelry case. He opened it and pulled out a silver pendant and held it out to her. “Here, a gift for you. I don’t know why, but you’ll need it one day.”
Tabitha accepted it, and pulled the long chain over her head, letting the pendant fall down on her chest. The designs were of silver filigree, but had a moon stone in the middle. On the side, there was a fine gear, with a small nob on the top that looked familiar. Tabitha pressed into the knob, and the pendant opened to reveal a watch face.
“That’s wonderful!” she exclaimed. In addition to the time, told in twenty-four hour intervals, there was also a small moon in the shape of a crescent, a thermometer and barometer.
“It was Elba’s,” Tiberius revealed. “She bartered it for some very precious information. Nearly killed her to let it go. I think you should have something of hers, to keep her close to your heart and remind you just what she did to get you that book you carry.” Tabitha almost asked what Elba had done, but then she remembered the woman’s letter. She closed the fob watch’s cover, and slid off the coat. Removing the book from its box, she slid the large volume into a pocket on the back of the coat. She felt better having it touch her back, so that she would know it was there. From her bag, she removed her wallet and slid it into another pocket, followed by various pens and pencils.
She slipped the coat back on, grabbing her bag, just in case she might need it, and turned back to Tiberius.
“Where is the way out?” He pointed at a door way, which had appeared by the front desk. “But that’s not the way I came in.”
“You came in through the back door, girly,” he told her. “That’s the proper way out.”
“Oh, okay,” she replied, going for the door.
“Oy, wait a moment, you’re just going to leave that box with me? You can do that!” he said.

“And my shoes,” she added. “I left them in the stacks. Let’s just say you’ll owe me three.”
“Finding my shop is a once in a life time opportunity,” he retorted. “Either take what you want now, or you will never get it!” Tabitha smiled.
“How many times did Elba find this shop?” Tiberius sputtered a little before he pointed toward the door,
“Out, missy, before you cause me any more headaches.” Tabitha smiled a little wider before she walked out the door.

Chapter Three: At a Wake in Rennes

The sun was much further west when she exited the shop, but that was not the only odd things she observed. When she turned to look back at Tiberius’ shop, it was gone. That did not surprise her much, but the location did. Tabitha knew every square inch of her town, because it was small enough that she had walked every inch by the time she was nine. She never before had seen a shop called Marianne’s Dresses.
Today had been odd, Tabitha admitted to herself, and she did not know much about magic, but she could not believe that she was in a completely different city. “I’m going to have to get used to this, aren’t I?” she asked herself. With a new resolve, Tabitha entered the dress shop.
“Yes, how may I help you?” asked a woman sorting through her racks.
“I’m sorry, I’m a bit lost, I was wondering if you could tell me where I am?”

“Tourist?” asked the woman. This time, when she spoke, Tabitha recognized an accent. French, maybe? She hoped she was not in New York, she would never find her way around.

“Yeah, I guess you could say that.”

“Your French is very good,” said the woman. “I’ll tell you what, you buy something from me, and I’ll give you directions to anywhere you want to go.”

“I’m not sure I have enough on my card to buy any this nice,” Tabitha said, fingering the price tag on a dress, still trying to work out the comment about her French.

“Well, I only take cash, so you can check at the cash machine down the street,” said the woman. “Make a left as you come out of the shop, and it’s squeezed between the bakery and chocolate shop.” Tabitha nodded and left the shop. She found the ATM easily enough and first checked the card her father had given her. It only had fifteen dollars on it, which meant that her step-brother or sister had taken it out and used it. Tabitha rolled her eyes, and pulled a card from a secret space in her wallet, that was tied to an account her family did not know she had. She withdrew three hundred dollars (which was actually euros), promising herself that she would make up the amount later when she was not in a strange city.

The lady smiled when she saw her return, and gestured to the clothes. “Pick out what you like. I might even be able to fit it for you, if you’re quick. I have to close up shop soon.”

Tabitha riffled through the racks, looking for something both cheap and in her size, and soon had to choose between a green and a black dress. “You have a black dress at home?” asked the woman.

“No,” Tabitha replied.

“Then take the black. Every woman needs one.” Tabitha tried on the dress to make sure it fit, and the woman found that she could do no adjustments.

“Is there any way to let the hem down?” Tabitha asked.

“I have some cheap leggings,” the woman replied. She fetched a pair for Tabitha, and then insisted she wear it out. “No man will be able to resist you tonight, and you will get a lot of free drinks.” Tabitha decided not to mention she was only fifteen. In the end, she decided to pay the woman the odd one-hundred fifty euros she owed her, and declared it the less satisfying bargaining experience of the day.

The woman did not have a cash register, so she had to draw everything up by hand and count out Tabitha’s change. While she was, Tabitha looked around the shop, and found her eyes landing on a newspaper. A name on the page caught her eye, and she asked,

“Can I look at this?”

“Mm, yes, I am finished with it,” the woman replied. “Oh, by the way, where will you want your directions to?”

“Could you tell me how to get here?” she asked pointing to the address in the paper under Elba Mullins’ name.

“Why on earth would you want to go to a wake? You’re not strange, are you?”

“No, I just know the woman who died,” she insisted. “But I didn’t know until now that they were holding the wake.”

“Well, then aren’t you glad you bought the black one?” the woman asked. “I’ll write it down for you.” Directions and change in hand, and her clothes resting in her bag, Tabitha marched out onto the streets determined. She walked and walked, until finally after the sun had gone down, she found the place where the wake was being held.

“Would you like to buy some flowers for your dear departed one?” asked a vendor near the shop. Tabitha figured it would only be polite, and picked out a small bouquet of white lilies. “Ah, yes, the death flowers, good choice.” She paid the man his euros and entered the small building.

There was a crowd of people who were scattered about a number of rooms. Tabitha drew into one though where she saw a table of flowers around a picture, which no doubt depicted Elba Mullins.

Tabitha laid down the flowers, and simply stared at the picture for some time. This was all that was left of the woman who had wished her well. Who probably would have been her mentor and taught her all about magic, had the circumstances been different. She was a pretty woman, taunt red curls with just a few streaks of silver running through them, brown eyes like oak and a nice face. It was the sort of face  Tabitha remembered her mother having.

“I wish I could have known you too,” she whispered.

Weisz was considered young for a wizard. He was only one hundred thirty-seven, so some though this made him immature. Weisz believed for the most part that he simply enjoyed life, and saw no reason not to act like it. But right now, Claus believed he was being at least a little childish, due to his sulking on top of a cabinet in the corner of the wake room.

“She wouldn’t want this you know,” Claus told him.

“No, she was so at peace with it, she walked right up to them and practically said, ‘Kill me,’” Weisz snarled. “She was my best friend. The only one who took me seriously at times. I was with her the day before she died, and I can’t believe she’s the first one in almost one hundred years the immortality seekers had to go and kill.”

“All of that is true, but she would also knock you off of the cabinet for sulking as you are,” Claus said.

“I know,” Weisz grumbled. “I just don’t want to admit it. Even though I came to Rennes as fast as I could, she was still gone when I got here. And now I have to be the one to teach the girl child she chose. I’m not sure if I can do it, Claus. I’m not much of a teacher.”

“You’ll learn,” Claus said. “And the Great Magician never just has one teacher. Should you not be with this girl child now? Teaching her and protecting her.”

“She’s all right,” Weisz said. “I put some spells on her before I left her school yesterday. An alarm will go off if she’s hurt at all. And besides, she’s in—” The words Weisz were about to speak died on his lips, as he raised a finger to point across the room. “There, she right there!” Though he spoke in exclamation, his voice dropped down to a whisper as he pointed out a dark haired girl wearing a black frock and grey coat.

“How did she get to Rennes?” Claus asked.

“I suppose we’ll just have to ask,” Weisz replied.