Sarah "Neila" Elkins
The Wrong Wizards Chapter 10
Updated: Jun 6, 2022
( Sorry again for the delays! I had hoped to start updating again in December...then in January...but things got in the way. My new plan is to update maybe every other week!
I am working to rewrite a zombie novel I wrote in 2019 that I hope to submit to a literary agent plus the weather keeps getting cold here which really makes my arm tendons ache and slows me down. I also hope to open art commission slots again sometime later this month to help pay for the braces and other dental stuff I have going on. I will try to keep things rolling with The Wrong Wizards but I can't promise there wont be delays.
This blog thing seems to enjoy randomly deleting spaces sometimes. I think I fixed them all, but if not I apologize!
Thank you for your patience!
The mirror sites will update on MONDAY!
Tapas Mirror: https://tapas.io/series/The-Wrong-Wizards/info
Moonquill Mirror: https://www.moonquill.com/book/the-wrong-wizards
Here's Chapter 10!
-Sarah "Neila" Elkins )
The Wrong Wizards
(A web serial novel)
by: Sarah "Neila" Elkins
Chapter 10: We Should Leave
"Are you alright, Rhys?" Nikola asks after we reach Ultra's bread stand.
"Yup," I say quickly.
I am not at all concerned that we should leave the city and this country at this very moment. Nope. No worry there. Once we get Merlin I am taking her to get shoes, and clothing, and weapons, and supplies, and we are going to find a way out of here. We should definitely leave as soon as possible.
"You appeared to be distracted again," Nikola explains.
"Rhys is distracted?" Merlin asks after she sets down a small empty wooden crate on a short stack of similar crates.
"I suppose she's likely thinking on a great many things now that her bag is no longer weighing her down," Nikola muses. He looks down at his shoes, the cork soles are worse than before. "Perhaps I should have requested a similar enchantment on my new boots?"
"You got magic boots?" Merlin asks as she rushes over. "What do they do?"
I lean my cane against a wooden table then stick my hands under her armpits and lift her into the air like she wasn't a couple feet taller than me and built like the football player she is.
"Holy crap," Merlin beams with a giggle. "You're super strong!"
"Yeah, it doesn't last forever but should make carrying stuff easier." I set her down.
"Sorry I picked you up without asking."
"Oh, no, dude that's fine," Merlin laughs before picking me up the same way and spinning around once. "See, now we're even."
"I'm going to miss having you around, Merlin," Ultra says from her booth. "You've been such a help."
Merlin sets me down. "I'm sorry to have to leave like this," Merlin says. "Will you be able to get someone else to help out?"
Ultra shakes her head. "Possibly, if I could afford it. I have managed for years on my own, so I should be fine."
I'm already taking my bag off my back as they're speaking. I quickly rifle through it and pull out two gold coins. I hope it'll be enough to help her hire someone to help. Since the coins are a little bigger than a quarter they're still just small enough to hide in my hand. I put the coins in my pocket for a moment before I sling my bag back over my shoulder. It's weird how light it feels.
Merlin looks over at me as I fasten the front clip on my bag over my chest. "Captain, is there anything we can do?"
I nod and pull the coins from my pocket before holding my closed fist out toward Ultra. "Ultra, this is for you, from all of us. Thank you for everything you've done."
The older woman eyes my hand suspiciously before sticking her palm under mine. I release the gold coins and her eyes become saucers filled with tears.
"Please, Ultra," Merlin says. "If that's not enough let me know and I'll get you some more, okay? You really saved my bacon when I first got here."
Ultra wipes her tears with the back of her long sleeve. "No, no, this is more than enough to help me hire someone. But are you sure? You just arrived here. I can't take all your coin like this."
Merlin must have told her some things about us but not everything. Smart, I think to myself.
"We'll be fine," I say. "We wouldn't give this to you if we couldn't handle it."
"She means we're not wealthy," Nikola chimes in. "But we do have funds for supplies and lodging. It is a solid foundation."
"Thank you," Ultra says before giving Merlin a big hug. "Thank you so much."
Ultra gives us each a small round bread loaf before we part ways. Nikola, Merlin, and I walk through the market to the center fountain in the plaza before Merlin speaks up.
"So, what's the play, Captain? We don't have to wait for someone to be summoned. What now?" She asks.
"We get you some magic boots," I say. "And all of us clothing."
"All of us?" Nikola asks.
They've both stopped behind me so I turn around and put on as calm a front as I can. "The weather is likely going to change soon. We need gear and supplies so we can look for a way home."
"If winter is soon to be upon us, would it not be sensible to remain here?" Nikola asks.
I can't allow myself to think I'm just being paranoid, not when our lives depend on making the correct decisions.
"We should leave," I say. "Tomorrow if possible. Search as much as we can before the weather turns. There's some other cities around Regno that we could settle down in for the winter."
Nikola nods. "Yes, I remember seeing on the ma-"
"Also, we need weapons," I interrupt so Nikola doesn't blurt out that we just saw a very illegal map of the country.
"Weapons? Like swords and stuff?" Merlin asks excitedly.
"If you want a sword, yeah," I reply with a nod. "We should be able to protect ourselves and survive in the wild if necessary. We should aim to travel as light as possible, but if we can all get boots like mine, then it will help with transporting things. Granted, this magic thing only lasts so long, we can just travel that length of time before resting or something."
"You are implying we will be traveling on foot," Nikola points out. "Perhaps we can hire a stagecoach?"
"That's an excellent idea," I agree.
"I've never ridden in a stagecoach, have you?" Merlin asks Nikola.
He nods, "A few. Locomotives and cabs are more common...or they were...I suppose they aren't for you." I'd think he was resisting the urge to ask us about the future if it didn't look like he was about to cry.
"So," I cut in as part of an effort to distract Nikola from falling down whatever melancholy hole he's staring at. "Let's go get Merlin set up for some new boots and ask Cameron where we should look for clothing."
We grab some food from various vendors which we eat with our bread on the way back to the Cobbler's shop. I'm not sure what kind of meat it is next to the carrots and onions on the skewer I have but it's juicy and rich. It's by far the heaviest meal I've had since I split my lunch with Merlin after arriving to Regno. My stomach is a little overfull when we reach the shoe store. There's a sign in the window that says 'closed' but Cameron lets us in before locking it behind us.
"I'm so happy you've returned, this must be the companion you mentioned," Cameron says happily. They do a short bow. "Hello, I'm Cameron, the cobbler. They and them will work splendidly."
"Merlin, she and her," Merlin replies. "You're an elf? That's so freakin' cool. And you've got two different color eyes? Wild!"
"Thank you? and yes," Cameron says before turning toward me. "Rhys, my apologies but I forgot to mention a side effect your boots can have. I am terribly sorry about that."
I feel a pit in my stomach.
"Side effect?" I ask with a squeak.
"Yes," Cameron nods. "If one uses them for prolonged periods they can lose strength overall. You should make sure you exercise your body without the use of the boost spell so your muscles do not waste away. Over use can cause you to become weaker."
"That makes a lot of sense," I say. I brace myself before clicking my heals and deactivating the spell. The weight of my backpack hits my shoulders like the near forty pounds that it is. I grunt a bit but stay upright. "Thanks for letting me know."
Cameron turns to Nikola. "I have been working on your order, Nikola. I will have them ready before sunrise. I am excited to infuse the enchantments into them. No one has ever asked for that sort of resistance before."
Nikola smiles. "I'm happy that you are excited about them. I look forward to seeing them when they are complete."
Cameron turns to Merlin and claps once with a grin. "Now, my dear Merlin. What sort of footwear are you interested in?"
Merlin glances over at me before turning back around. "Got anything that would give me armor? Or, like, keep me warm? I'm not from a place that gets that chilled so I'm worried about winter."
Cameron smiles. "I think I can work something out."
I set my bag down and take a seat while Merlin and Cameron discuss which enchantments the boots will have. Nikola pulls one of the other stools up next to me and sits down rather comically with his long legs. A few moments pass and I zone out a bit running through a list in my head of items we need to survive in the wild until Nikola speaks softly.
"Thank you," he says in a voice that's soft yet not quite a whisper. "You distracted me when I was close to...breaking."
"No problem," I say.
"But there is a problem," he replies. "I'm not sure how much use I will be in this world. I can not help thinking about all the things I've lost. The people I may never see again."
"I'm sure we're all doing that," I lean forward and lace my fingers together with my elbows on my knees. "I know I am, but I've had some experience compartmentalizing and distracting myself from...stuff the last few years. For me it's been one personal crisis to the next until this last big one that's affected everyone in the world. It's easy to get overwhelmed so I try to focus on the things I can control."
"How do you do that?" His question is genuine.
"I think about something else," I explain. "Like right now, I'm thinking about where we'll find a stagecoach and that we should leave tomorrow. I'm thinking about getting swords from the blacksmith shop down the street, and that I'm going to ask Cameron where we can find clothing so we can fit in and stay warm. We need supplies so we can survive in this place."
"Clothing?" Cameron chimes in. "I will write a list of the best places here in Centrum." They look at Merlin. "You may be able to get a discount at one of them if you sold them your...uniform?"
"Sweet," Merlin beams.
The rest of the evening goes quickly. Once we finish at Cameron's shoe shop we head to the blacksmithy. Nothing at the shop is enchanted so I settle on a short sword that has a blade about the length of my forearm and open hand. I also get a smaller boot knife which I store in my right boot. A bow and quiver with arrows as well as a sling with a bag of stone shot round out my personal armaments. Thankfully I know how to use both the bow and sling thanks to having done some various research endeavors for books that never saw print. I am confident enough that I can hunt for whatever small game exists in the space between towns.
Here's hoping nothing living here is toxic.
Merlin selects a long cutlass style saber. She asks the people at the blacksmith's sales area if they have armor and learns we'd have to go across town to find the armorer. When I suggest she get a smaller backup knife she picks one out that's similar to my boot knife. Nikola, to my surprise, foregoes a smaller knife and chooses a simple lance with a wooden shaft. He immediately starts using it as a long walking stick when we continue to one of the clothing shops Cameron mentioned. I wonder if he knows how to use the lance or if he chose it just because it could double as a walking stick.
We reach one of the tailors Cameron recommended a few blocks away. Nothing premade in the shop is enchanted and when I ask her about whether we can get custom magical clothing she's initially reluctant to talk. The tailor is willing to give us information about the situation after Merlin mentions exchanging her football jersey as partial payment. We discover that Cameron's a bit of an outlier in the area, given that they can enchant their wares. Most shops in Centrum don't offer those services, in part because magic in Regno is nearly as chaotically regulated as map making. Cameron isn't from Centrum or even Regno, so they have an exemption and are able to enchant the footwear they make. Most mages from the area have been conscripted to work directly for King Harnold.
Few are ever seen again.
It doesn't take our party long to decide to no longer pursue that line of questioning and instead we all shop for clothing. Nikola purchases a warm looking long overcoat and nothing else. A dark gray fabric with purple trim and embellishments, the overcoat includes a hood and several pockets inside and out. It looks pretty practical and does a good job of making him look more like a local. Granted, Nikola's clothing made him stand out less to begin with, but that could just be my lack of understanding about local clothing styles.
Merlin and I buy whole new outfits. She gets a long cream colored tunic and slate gray pants, which clash with her football cleats, but that won't be a problem after tomorrow when we pick up her new boots. She gets a belt to attach her saber to. She also buys a coat that has a warm hood lined with fluffy white fur after we confirm that winter is indeed just around the corner here in Regno. Winters here are apparently pretty cold, with snow and ice storms being common for at least three weeks at a time.
Neither I nor Merlin are looking forward to that.
"You look," Nikola looks away for a moment and clears his throat. "You look quite handsome."
"He means you still look like a short dude," Merlin translates with a grin.
When it comes to my new clothing I've settled on deep tan breeches, that are thankfully not weirdly baggy at the sides, but they are rather form fitting. I've also got a tight deep gray and black vest made of leather and canvas that's got sky blue accents, and a simple gray long sleeve shirt. For the winter I opt buy a dark colored cloak that I can throw on over my clothing and bag to protect it from being messed with in crowds. I also pick up a second pair of simple cotton pants and a long sleeve shirt.
"You're giving her your old stuff too?" Merlin asks the moment the tailor heads to the back of the store out of earshot.
"Yeah," I reply. "I don't think we should stand out," I explain. "Nikola's outfit isn't that far off from something people here might wear, but your and my clothing screamed 'From Another World.'"
"And the second outfit?" Merlin asks.
"To sleep in," I say. "Or as a backup for when I wash this one."
"I hadn't thought of that," Nikola says from near a rack of vests.
"Me either," Merlin says. "We should do that too, Nikola. And get our own bags so Rhys doesn't have to carry everything."
The sun has set by the time we get back to the inn. We head up to our room before we all agree that we should bathe. Nikola and Merlin stay in the room while I go downstairs first. I take my towel with me and use the communal bathroom, which has four shower stalls built into the wall across from the side of the four toilet stalls. Both the showers and toilets remind me of home, though they are constructed more simply and made of a smooth gray clay instead of white porcelain. No one comes into the room while I'm bathing and the water is pleasantly warm. I get dressed in my new backup clothing and freeze in place when I hear a loud growling voice arguing with New Look, the innkeeper.
"You don't understand, I need a room at this inn."
"I'm sorry, I know you've stayed with us at the Summer Rose Inn before but at the moment we're full," she replies.
"Please," the deep gravelly voice says. "It's incredibly important I get a room here."
Since I only have one pair of boots and they grant me a magical strength boost I decide to risk it and click my heels together to activate the spell before walking out of the hallway into the otherwise empty dining area. New is behind the front desk, which doubles as a bar when the inn's tavern is open. Across from her is...the huge golden dragon person from the Cryptid Tavern. The same one who looked at me through the shoe store window this morning.
"Is there a problem, New?" I ask, doing my best not to show how terrified I am. "I can call someone down if you need."
As if anyone I know could do anything, I think to myself.
The dragon person's golden eyes grow wider as they stare at me. They hiss through sharp crocodile-like teeth and shake their head before waving a hand at New. "Ne-nevermind. Never mind," they say before heading back out through the front door.
Once the dragon is outside I instantly deflate and catch myself against the edge of the counter top. My boots may make me stronger but my legs still presently feel like they've turned to jello. The only weapon I have on me is my boot knife and I'm pretty sure that dragon person has teeth roughly the same length as my blade as well as two swords that seem to be about as long as I am tall.
"Thank you, Rhys, but that wasn't necessary," New tells me.
"I couldn't just stand by and do nothing," I say.
"And what would you have done if she had wanted to fight?" New asks. "Would you have faced a fafniric with nothing but a towel and pair of trousers?"
"I...uh...do have a knife on me."
I still probably would have been killed.
New smiles and laughs a little with her mouth covered by the back of her hand. I realize out of the two of us New would probably have lasted longer in a fight with the dragon person. She may be a retired adventurer or something. There certainly are a lot of fancy looking old swords and shield and armor pieces decorating the walls of the tavern area. Not to mention that while New is older than me she's got a fair amount of muscle that could be from more than just keeping an inn going.
"It's okay, I'm only teasing. She wouldn't have attacked you, nor fought," New explains. "I've met her before and she's normally quite calm and relaxed. I'm not sure what's gotten her so riled up."
"Do you think she'll be back?" I ask.
"I doubt it. It's getting late. I'm sure she'll find another inn for the night. How are you enjoying your stay? I see you've used the showers," New says with a smile before wiping down the counter top with a damp cloth.
"Yeah, it's been great. My friends are going to be taking showers too in a bit. Do you have any other towels? I don't think they'd want to use mine."
"Absolutely. I am running an inn, after all." New pauses a moment and adds. "An inn that requires some money coming in, if you understand.
"Let me take some towels up to our room and I'll bring back some cash. How much do we owe you? I mean, I know we bartered with the mop and all but, how much would staying here this long really have cost?"
I have no idea if that's expensive or not.
"I will see what I can do and will be right back down."
After getting two clean and dry towels from the innkeeper I head back to our room. While I'm digging through my bag for the gold coins I realize no one is asking me about the loud voices and I realize I haven't heard much from anyone in other rooms while staying in this inn. I wonder if it's some kind of normal soundproofing or some secret magic enchantment that I shouldn't ask New Look about so she doesn't get in trouble for having magic walls. I decide not to mention the dragon woman and instead quickly dash back downstairs with four gold coins in hand.
"I know you said two," I say as I set the money on the chipped and worn wooden counter before New. "But I feel like we owe you more than that."
New's eyes dart from the coins to me then back again before they settle on me and narrow. "Where did you get this?"
"You remember Dresden? Who left after they stayed one night?"
"The person in the green armor?"
"Yes, well, they sold that armor and gave us some of the money." I quickly add, "Please don't tell anyone."
New leans forward, her arms resting on the counter bent at the elbows, "I heard they were a bard and a mad one at that, performing here in Centrum and hiring every adventurer they could." She looks down at the gold. "If they had this kind of money to give you then I have no doubt anyone interested in it would rather set their eyes on Dresden than you. That said, worry not, I will tell no one of this and consider us square."
"Thanks, and please if there's anything we can do before we go let me know, okay?"
New lets out an amused huff as she takes the money and straightens back up. There's got to be some sort of raised platform behind the counter, she didn't seem much taller than me when we first met. "That is what I'm supposed to say, seeing as you are my guests."
"Thanks," I reply. "Speaking of guests, you told that dragon woman there weren't any open rooms but I haven't seen anyone else here but us..."
New smiles. "My other guests are typically out at this time of night, and resting during the day."
I raise an eyebrow. "Okay."
"It's not that unusual for vampires," New adds with a shrug.
"Vampires?" I repeat.
The other rooms are rented out to vampires? There's what, four rooms per floor, two floors, minus our room, there's seven other rooms full of vampires in this inn?
"When is it you're planning to depart?"
"Maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day," I shake my head. I can't let stereotypes from fiction in my world cloud my view. If she's telling the truth the vampires haven't been a problem at all. "Still not sure on that, to be honest. We need to figure out which direction to go and all."
"Whenever you do, please stay safe. The weather is about to become rainy and cold. It will make travel difficult once you're further out from Centrum and the roads are no longer paved. Once the snows arrive it will be it near impossible to go anywhere. I will give you a list of merchants in the morning should you need supplies."
"Thank you so much, New."
Our bill taken care of I head back up to our room, say nothing about vampires possibly staying in the building, then pull out my laptop to transfer copies of the map photos while Merlin is off taking her shower. I can tell Nikola and Merlin about the vampires and the dragon once we're on the road.
"We agreed you should have the bed tonight," Nikola says, getting my attention. "You need some rest, especially if we're to leave tomorrow."
"Tomorrow for sure," I say. "And I will not object to using the bed. Thanks. Oh shit."
I shake my head. "I just realized we should've gotten a tent, or tents, or something to use when we travel in case we need to camp. New said it's going to get rainy soon then snow. We also still haven't gotten cooking gear. At least I remembered to get a sling and a bow to hunt with."
"We can acquire more supplies tomorrow," Nikola says. "Please, try to get some rest, Rhys."
"Yeah, you're right. I will."
Once I finish copying the map photos I pack up all my belongings and settle into the bed. Nikola moves to sit on the floor in the corner where he can see the door. The little oil lamp on the table is still lit but it's nowhere near as bright as the lights back home. I am so tired that I fall asleep almost immediately. I don't hear Merlin return, nor Nikola leave to take his shower.
I don't dream either. I'm too tired to.
( The Wrong Wizards Chapter links:
Chapter 3: https://www.sarahneilaelkins.com/post/the-wrong-wizards-chapter-3
Chapter 4: https://www.sarahneilaelkins.com/post/the-wrong-wizards-chapter-4
Chapter 5: https://www.sarahneilaelkins.com/post/the-wrong-wizard-chapter-5
Chapter 6: https://www.sarahneilaelkins.com/post/the-wrong-wizards-chapter-6
Chapter 7: https://www.sarahneilaelkins.com/post/the-wrong-wizards-chapter-7
Chapter 8: https://www.sarahneilaelkins.com/post/the-wrong-wizards-chapter-8
Chapter 9: https://www.sarahneilaelkins.com/post/the-wrong-wizards-chapter-9
Chapter 10: You are here!
Chapter 11: https://www.sarahneilaelkins.com/post/the-wrong-wizards-chapter-11
These Links will be updated as I write and post new chapters! - N )