Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wizard's Flu


It had been nearly time for the spring holiday when Lucia had left on her visit to the academy. Denae was preparing to return home. With nowhere else to go and no reason to stay behind at the academy, Lucia was rolling up her few possessions to pack on to the pegasus.
Suddenly, she turned to her friend and whispered, “I don’t feel so well.”

Denae gasped, “You don’t look so well, either. In fact, you’re breaking out in stripes!”

“Stripes?”

In fact, Lucia was purple down the left side of her face and all of her left arm. From her left ear to the middle of her nose she had turned a neon pink. From the right side of her nose to her right ear she was a sickly shade of green, and the far right side of her body was royal blue.

“Maybe I should go with you up north,” Denae began. “I can handle any normal kind of trouble and you can take care of the magical kind- ” Just then, Lucia sneezed, and several small silver fish materialized in the air, hit the ground in a sickly thud, and then disappeared.
“Or not,” Denae finished nervously.
She turned toward the building and leaning her head back shouted upward,
 “Flagon! Flagon, are you going home for the holiday? ”

The young man stuck his head out of a window on the upper floor.
“You know I am not. I have to stay here on guard. Why do you ask?”

“Uh, could I borrow that bay horse of yours, the really fast one? I promise I’ll ride her right back tomorrow.”
Flagon shrugged his lack of concern, waved her off irritably and retreated back to his desk to continue studying.

 “Peggy could take you,” Lucia began, and then sneezed again, accompanied by another small school of fish bursting into existence around her head. They made a vain attempt at swimming in mid-air, before again hitting the ground and vanishing, just like the last ones.

“That’s what I was thinking,” said Denae, whistling for the warhorse. “The bay is for you.”

“Me? Why?” the young wizard coughed and a small dead sparrow fell from the air, hitting right in front of her feet. A few feathers fell from it before the whole thing crumbled into dust.

“Because I think you’ve been cursed, and if you fall off the bay, you’ll end up bruised. If you fall off Peggy, you may end up with a broken arm or a broken head.”

“I should go back to the professor. Cysotte can handle curses.”

“And so can Aunt Lott, and she is a whole lot of days closer. Besides, you can’t go by yourself. And, given the choice of taking you to someone who threatened to turn me into a mop the last time I saw him, and someone who didn’t, I think I’ll just pick the second one if you don’t mind too much.”

Lucia was not feeling well enough to argue. Her whole body hurt and she had never been so tired in her life. In fact, it was barely a few moments after she was on the horse that she fell forward on to its neck and was sound asleep. She was still sleeping hours later when a worried Denae leaped off of the pegasus and pounded on the door of Aunt Lott’s cottage. Since they were friends, the young women had not set off the warning sand. Lott had been sitting calmly in her chair by the fire, drinking tea, reading a story to Kole and not at all expecting visitors. Hearing the whole tale the soldier poured out, she nodded calmly. “You were right to bring her here, my dear. “

“So she was cursed by someone? Who do you think it was?”
Denae was itching to get at them.

The witch laughed, “Oh, my heavens, no! She just caught something from someone.”
Lucia had awakened and was walking slowly to the house, following the conversation with disinterest. Pulling an almost-clean handkerchief from her pocket, she blew her nose strongly. A large halibut slammed on the ground in front of them, so much as if someone had thrown it from a great height that Denae looked up to see who it was, even though she knew that there was absolutely nothing above them but a clear sky.
“She’s just sick. It’s the wizard’s flu.”

“Wizard’s flu? Is that something like the traveler’s flu?”

Aunt Lott nodded, “Something like. Except for the stripes instead of being flushed, and the sneezing little silver fish, and an occasional dead bird or halibut, it’s pretty much the same thing.”

Denae shook her head, feeling as she often did with the witch’s explanations, that they would all make perfect sense, except for the fact that phrases like ‘the same thing’ apparently meant something completely different in whatever language Lott was speaking.

“Oh, yeah, right. I better be getting home,” she edged toward the door and slipped out just as Lucia had a fit of sneezing. It began raining small fish inside the house.

“See you for the feast!” Denae called over her shoulder, as she hopped on to the bay and turned him toward town.

Inside the house, Lucia had just made her way, slowly and painfully, into the bed in her old room when she was taken by a fit of coughing.  Three little birds, one yellow, one green and one with a rainbow of red, green and blue feathers appeared with a pop and promptly dropped on to the bed. After about a moment, they evaporated into thin air, leaving just four feathers behind them.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” Lott, entering the room with a large steaming mug, shook her head in disapproval. “That flu is getting worse. Here, drink this.”

Sitting up weakly, Lucia took a sip and would have emphatically spat it across the room except for the hand that Aunt Lott had immediately clapped over her patient’s mouth.
“Swallow that,” she commanded.
Although glaring at her tormentor, Lucia had no choice but to obey. Theoretically, she did have the choice of turning the witch into a toad or even a toadstool, but even sick as she was, she realized that Aunt Lott was only trying to help. Her eyes watered and a wisp of smoke trailed from one nostril. She swallowed.

When the hand was removed, Lucia gasped, “That tastes like bird droppings. Bird droppings mixed with old grease and rotten peas.”

“Mm-hmm,” the witch was nodding, noting that the feathers had finally disappeared.
”Here, drink some more,” she said, proffering the cup again.

“WHAT!” Lucia shouted as loudly as she could. “Didn’t you hear me? I said that was the worst, nastiest, most awful, loathsome, disgusting slime I ever tasted.”

Her shouting was cut off as Aunt Lott abruptly tilted the apprentice’s head back and dumped half a cup of medicine into her still-protesting mouth. Lucia had no choice but to swallow or drown in it. She sneezed again, hard, and a medium-sized bright, red bird popped into the air next to her ear and slammed into a wall across the room as if thrown by a catapult. It began to fade even as it was falling to the floor, and within seconds, was completely gone.

Lott nodded in satisfaction. “You seem to be getting better already.”

Lucia groaned. She felt terrible, absolutely terrible. Whether it was Aunt Lott’s famous powder or her illness, she could not be sure, but in a few moments she was sound asleep. It was not a calm restful slumber. For the next few days, her sleep was haunted by visions of people she knew, people, and even races that she had never seen in her life, and still others who were only familiar because she remembered them from earlier nightmares. Many times, she sat upright in bed, hands moving in the beginning of a protective spell only to have Aunt Lott pull her hands down, whispering, “There’s nothing there. It’s all right, Lucy.”
****************************

This is just a random section out of my first book Wizard and Spy: Book 1 The Ex-apprentices 
available on Kindle from Amazon 

and on Smashwords

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