The Wrong Wizards Chapter 6
Updated: Oct 25, 2021
( Sorry it took me so long to get back to this! I had my hands full with working on a comic and also health stuff. I will be updating The Wrong Wizards on Mondays! Please enjoy this new art of Sigyn, the dragon lady mercenary. She will be back after this chapter where no one but you, dear reader, knows her name! )
The Wrong Wizards
(A web serial novel)
by: Sarah "Neila" Elkins
Chapter 6: Faux Pas
It takes Merlin and I over an hour to convince Nikola Tesla to follow us. We travel through the city of Centrum, past lots of colorful multistory buildings with visible wooden beams on the exteriors that continue to remind me of a medieval city. I catch Nikola looking around at them, puzzled. What I assume is the national flag of Regno flaps in the wind where it hangs on polls from several buildings. The standard consists of a single thick maroon stripe running horizontally next to two thinner white stripes, with a gold crown in the center. It's not a bad looking flag but it's not like one I've seen back home. Either way, the city is pretty at least, if you ignore the smells that waft out of some alleys as you pass them. It's still cleaner than I would have assumed a medieval European city to be and I figure that's because they have running water here.
I spot what looks like a tavern and manage to coax Nikola to follow Merlin and I inside. Aside from the usual national flag that hangs from buildings the tavern has an additional flag that's dark gray with a white crescent moon, flanked by a white five pointed star on either side. The tavern is not near the inn we've been staying in. I don't want to go back to our room until we've convinced Mr. Tesla he didn't die in some kind of electrical mishap. I also don't want to take him back to the inn and have to face Dresden after yesterday. They already stole money from Merlin, a kid! It still irritates me to no end. I wish I could tell them off a second time but don't want to do that enough to actually go looking for them.
"Excuse me, are you alright?" Mr. Tesla asks from across the old round wooden table. "You look rather agitated."
"I'm fine," I snap back. "Sorry," I apologize. "I'm just thinking about someone else. Anyway, you, Mr. Tesla, are not dead."
"Unconscious perhaps?" Tesla offers. "This city bears a resemblance to Colmar in France. It's possible my mind has been creating this world as a means of dealing with an injury. There was one time I was struck by a streamer in my laboratory and woke up several feet from where I had been standing. I was the only one harmed but still swore my assistants never to speak of it. I have trouble enough convincing people what I do is safe."
"You're not unconscious," Merlin says. "Like both of us you've been summoned to this weird fantasy world."
Tesla narrows his eyes and frowns. "I don't see what you mean."
I take a deep breath as I stand up then gesture toward a particularly stunning example of a dragon-person at another seat who's sitting alone. "Do they have people like this back where you come from? And have you ever dreamed about people like this?"
"Usually the people I've dreamed about have wings," Tesla admits. He points with an open hand at a rad looking harpie-person a few tables away the other direction. "Similar to that. Like a bird."
The dragon-person I had been directing Tesla's attention to tilts their head sideways and blinks a second set of lids over bright yellow eyes. Beautiful and powerful. Those are the only words I can think of to describe them. Like a crocodile and a dinosaur somehow mixed with a person. Their scales are pale white, silver, and gold. They have wild and spiky hair layered yellow in the lower portions and bright vermilion from the area on top of their head where four sharp horns poke out like bits of an ebony crown. Their armor is simple leather and steel, scarred by blade and claw. I smile weakly and wave a little before sitting back in my seat.
"Okay, so we can't convince you you've been transported to a magical fantasy world," I say. "If you think this is a dream or something are you okay with just, uh, following us?"
"Why should I follow you?" He asks.
A very good question.
Why should Nikola Tesla follow two strangers he just met?
"We have a room at an inn," I say. "It's safe. You can get some rest and then if you wake up back home tomorrow you'll know this was a dream. If not then you'll know it was real."
He raises a dark eyebrow. "You have a room?"
Merlin nods. "We do. It's pretty simple but nice. I mean, there's no light switches or anything but they gave us this really cool oil lamp for the corner." She looks at me. "Do you think Dresden will be there?"
I shake my head. "We need to deal with them eventually. Maybe they found somewhere else to stay after they sto-" I catch myself.
"After they did what?" Tesla asks.
"The other person who was summoned after us, Dresden, turned out to be an asshole. Stole the money I had," Merlin explains. "Rhys has been more worked up about it than me."
"You're a kid. They stole from a high schooler!" I hiss.
"Well, yeah," Merlin says with a nod. "And if I had wanted that money back I could have taken it." She smiles. "Not sure you've noticed but I am not small."
She has a point. Dresden is a twig by comparison. Maybe I'm the one who's been acting childish about it?
"You have a point," I concede. "We should head to the inn but...I don't like leaving without buying something here."
"Why?" Merlin asks.
"It's a Texas thing, I guess. It's just rude to go to a store or restaurant and not get anything," I reply. "I don't know why no one has come by our table this whole time," I say while looking around. "I mean, there's serving staff who've been going to all the other tables."
"It's because you're Humans," a rough and deep voice says from behind me. I turn to see the dragon-person I had previously pointed at, the one with the epic hair and stunning scales, sitting with one arm over the back of their chair. "You have noticed you're the only ones in here, right?"
"Oh," I say. "Sorry, we're from...way out of town." I grab my bag, dig around in it, and pull out three iron pieces and toss them on the table. "Let's head on to the inn now."
At that point Merlin and I don't have to work hard to coax Tesla from his seat and out of the tavern. All eyes are on us as we leave. I can't believe I was so distracted to miss that we were the only Humans in the tavern. I saw plenty of harpies and dragon people and elves and even some animal looking people, but no other Humans. Thankfully no one tried to hassle us but there's still a lot we need to learn about this world. Was our going there illegal or just a faux pas? Are Humans in this world abusive colonizers to non-Humans? I mean, Humans been pretty shitty to one another in my world so...
"You okay, Rhys?" Merlin asks.
"Yeah," I say. "Just lost in my head again, sorry."
"Okay." She pats my shoulder. "Let's head to the room."
Our room is empty when we arrive. There's no sign of Dresden, nor any of their belongings. Not even part of their costume. The note I left is also gone, however, so I assume they found it. I do have supposedly the only key but it stands to reason the inn keeper could still let them into the room if they had come back.
I leave my backpack with Merlin and Tesla before heading downstairs to ask the innkeeper, New Look, if she's seen The Lizard Wizard anywhere.
"Dresden?" New echoes. "I haven't seen them since they left after you lot this morning."
"So, they didn't come back?"
"Don't think so," she confirms. "I noticed you brought a young fellow back to your room. Take this to him."
New Look hands me a plate of bread, cheeses, and cured meat. I don't hesitate to take it with a smile. Free food is free food.
"Thank you so much Mrs. Look." I pause then add, "I noticed a tavern in town without humans in it. There was this dark gray flag outside with a moon and stars. Is it...like...illegal for humans to go in one like that?"
She chuckles a bit. "Oh, no, honey. It's not illegal. At least not in Regno. Our land is home to anyone. It's just not customary for Humans to frequent Cryptid businesses so they don't tend to serve Humans when they show up. It's more of a faux pas than anything else. Again, at least here in Regno."
Cryptids? Non-humans are called CRYPTIDS?
"Thank you so much," I reply visibly relieved while still processing that there's people in this world who are categorized like Mothman is back home.
I wonder if there's mothmen here? Moth-people? Are they fluffy?
"No problem at all. Take care, my dear. Have a pleasant night."
When I get back to the room with our food I find Merlin and Mr. Tesla hunched over a bright glow. My backpack is open on the floor next to the bed with my bright purple laptop still visible nestled in the back. Merlin has either gotten my phone or my eReader out.
"That's a great idea," I say as I set the food down on a small table near the door. I make sure the door is locked.
Merlin holds up my phone. "I figured you had a phone but didn't realize your lock screen would be...uh..." She trails off and looks over at Nikola Tesla sitting next to her.
"How did you get this image of me? And this device?" He asks.
I take the phone and unlock it then squat down so both Tesla and Merlin can see what I'm doing as I open one of the file folders to access the other two photos of Nikola Tesla I have on it.
"More? How? May I?" He asks to see the phone.
I hand it to him and he stares.
"The internet," I say. "It's this network of devices like this where I'm from. They can communicate with one another all around the world. People can share photographs, music, art, books, videos, basically anything. I mean you can't send actual edible food or physical objects through it but you can share recipes and instructions on how to build things," I explain.
Merlin nods emphatically. "We have that in my world too. It's also used for por-"
"Portraiture," I interrupt. "You can get lots of portraits of people."
Merlin looks at me funny then nods. "Yup, soooo many photos."
Nikola Tesla hasn't seemed to hear either of us. He remains quiet as he stares at my phone. His brows furrow a bit as he concentrates.
"Are you okay?" I ask. "I know it's a lot to process on top of this whole place bu-"
"I'm old," he interrupts. He looks up at me and holds the phone up. "I'm old in this photograph."
He's right, of course. From what I can tell the Tesla before me is in his mid to late thirties and the photos I have on my phone are from when he was in his forties and sixties. I have some pics of when he was younger on my laptop but haven't used them as phone wallpapers.
"You really are from the future," he says. "Or perhaps merely a future."
I nod. "That pretty much sums it up, really. Merlin is from some alternate version of my past where I'm actually a successful writer." I wince a little as I admit, "All the photos I have of you were research for a book series."
"You were writing about me?"
I wince again. "Kinda. The main character in one of my books accidentally found a notebook of yours and wound up on the run from the badguys who were trying to get a hold of it. The villains don't know the notebook is just a journal and doesn't have any research in it or anything."
"Accidentally found," Tesla echoes. "You are correct this is a substantial amount of information to understand. I think I should lie down if you don't mind."
"You can use the bed," I say as I grab my bag and retreat to the farthest corner from him as calmly as I can. "There's some food the innkeeper gave us, by the way and Merlin and I both have water."
"Also this place has a magic bathroom down the hall if you need it," Merlin added as Mr. Tesla tries to lay down.
"It's not a magic bathroom," I say. "The water's probably from an aqueduct or something."
"The toilet washes your butt," Merlin says.
"That's just a bidet," I reply as I open my laptop to update my notes. "They had bidets back in both of our worlds."
Nikola Tesla doesn't say anything and I get the feeling he is trying to ignore us or collect himself as he curls in a lanky ball on the bed. Merlin comes over to sit next to me and watches as I update my notes in silence.
( The Wrong Wizards Chapter links:
Chapter 1 & 2 First
Chapter 5 Previous
Chapter 6 You are here!
Chapter 7 Next
These Links will be updated as I write and post new chapters! - N )