There’s a world being built. It’s filled with mages and witches, humans and vampires, elves, and necromancers. It’s what happens when there’s a tear in the fabric of the multiverse that allows a movement of magic back into the present day world.
While The Reluctant Mage is in its final stages of development, there are developmental character studies wandering around showing bits and pieces of a universe coming your way soon. Here’s where I’m going to start posting them.
In the pub, at a large round table, the women–the single ones–of the Salem Council of Witches were waiting. Like sharks. Weldon Wraith felt like chum in the water.
As his heart fell, he spied an out. Diminutive Amaris Rutter was sitting near the end of the bar. Weldon strode towards the only female on the Council who seemed indifferent to him. Taking a seat next to her he pointed from the bartender to a bottle of Scotch, holding up two fingers.
“I didn’t see you at the planning committee meeting, Miss. Rutter. Where were you last night?” he asked, trying for a neutral conversation starter.
She looked up at him with a neutral expression on her heart-shaped face. “It’s Ms. and I’m not on the committee.”
Well, that put him in his place, he mused. He forced a smile, determined to make this a pleasant exchange. “Happy to see you here this evening.”
She glanced from him to the table of witches staring at them, then asked. “Avoiding the shark tank, are we?”
To Weldon’s great dismay, his nerves and motor mouth took over. “Is that a Smurfette you’re drinking? Cute little umbrella in it.” He wanted to clap his hand over his mouth after the words were out, but it was too late.
Amaris bristled like an angry cat. “Don’t make fun of my size. It’s the Blue Hawaiian special.”
Weldon blinked. “I’m sorry. I’m simply terrible at small talk, Miss Rutter. I didn’t mean to offend. It’s just that I do love those old cartoons. You must know them. And that little blue Smurf girl, she’s so fetching, just like you are and…” He rambled again, headed for disaster.
“I am not blue.” Her icy words could have fallen to the bar and shattered.
Weldon gulped. He wanted to explain it was her Smurf-blue drink he was talking about. And she was fetching, but not blue. On second thought, perhaps he should shut his gob.
He lowered his head closer to hers and spoke at a volume only she could hear. “I regret being an oaf. I only meant… that is to say… may I start over again? Please?”
The tiny blonde glared at him for a long moment. He prepared to collect his drink and skulk off when her face relaxed and she reached over to pick something off his shoulder. “You’ve got dog hair on your suit.”
Forgiven. He relaxed. “My Westies needed to tell me goodbye. They’re loves, they are. Such sweet pups. You must know what it’s like leaving your wee little kitty at your bed-and-breakfast.” As it dawned on Weldon that her form-fitting black dress was neat as a pin, without one stray cat hair, he thought he might have put his foot in it again.
“Here y’go,” the barman placed the double shot of Scotch neat on a napkin in front of Weldon. “On the tab?”
“Oh, yes, please.” Weldon cast his eyes heavenwards, subvocalizing, “Thank all the gods and goddesses, sprites, and fairies for the interruption. You shall have milk, honey, and bread when I get home.”
Conversation was a trap for a clumsy-tongued man such as himself. Lifting the glass to eye level, he contemplated the exquisite amber color, lowered his nose to sniff the malted ambrosia, enjoying its nose. Then he took a sip, rolling it around in his mouth to get the full experience.
“What do you see in that stuff?” she asked with a delicate shudder.
“It isn’t the seeing, it’s the smelling and the tasting,” Weldon said, looking down at her with a smile. Finally. Something he could discuss without looking the fool.“The nose is sweet toffee and cinnamon, polished leather, and cardamom.”
“Spiced saddle?” she asked, her mouth giving a little upward twitch to go with the teasing note in her voice.
“It’s possible. I’ve never sniffed a saddle rubbed with spices. It tastes like fruit compote with sweet clotted cream, then settles into chestnuts and stewed raisins.”
“It’s sweet?” she asked, her tone suspicious. Picking up her Smurf-blue drink she sipped the fruity liquid through a thin straw.
“I’m afraid it’s a trick on the tongue. I fear you’d find it ghastly.” Weldon took a chance then, hoping against hope he didn’t cause more offense. “Ms. Rutter, may I buy you another Blue Hawaiian before the meeting starts?”
To his astonishment, she nodded. “Yes, thank you. I’d like that.”
“Is it a truce then?”
“Truce, Mr. Wraith. Truce,” Amaris said with the hint of a smile, “I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you’re a man with good intentions.”