The Wrong Wizards Chapter 7
Updated: Nov 1, 2021
( Today's art is a preview of the cover art I'm making for The Wrong Wizards! Once I get the cover art done I will start mirroring this story on Tapas and Moonquill so you'll be able to bookmark it more easily and what not. Those chapters will have a bit of a delay on them versus the ones on my blog but I do hope that having the story on multiple platforms as I release it will help get eyes on it. If you spot some glaring errors or something please feel free to email me at my public email address, or once I have the mirror copies of the story up message me on those apps. It is possible some questions you may have aren't mistakes and are meant to interest you in reading more but also I know I have a tendency to accidentally drop words when writing and I need to know when that happens so I can fix the story. Given that The Wrong Wizards is effectively a first draft that I am serializing there's always room for improvement! I hope you enjoy nonetheless! Here's chapter 7! - N )
The Wrong Wizards
(A web serial novel)
by: Sarah "Neila" Elkins
Chapter 7: The Leader
"I believe you," a voice says.
The words wake me with a start from where I've been slumped. I'm disoriented at first but quickly realize I went to sleep sitting in the corner of the room while updating my notes.
"I'm sorry for waking you," Nikola Tesla says quietly from the bed where he's sitting, his long legs hanging off it like a resting spider. "I thought you might wake soon given the sun rising. You spent a good deal of time...with that device before you fell asleep."
"You didn't sleep last night, did you?"
"I did not." He looks over toward Merlin who is still sleeping on the floor, her head resting on her shoulder pads like an uncomfortable looking plastic pillow. "I could not."
"I haven't been able to sleep much since I got here either," I say. "I keep trying to think of what we should do, or worrying Dresden would try to do something in the night. They didn't come back did they?"
"Unless this Dresden person can become invisible and incorporeal, no. They didn't come back," he confirms.
I let out a sigh of relief. "Good."
"What's going on?" Merlin asks, rubbing her eyes.
"Mr. Tesla says Dresden didn't come back last night," I explain as I wake up my laptop from sleep mode. The battery's down to fifty percent, so I save my files, update my backup copies on my two thumbdrives, then power it down. I stow it in my bag and make sure my solar panel is still folded up and put away next to my external power bank as well. I need to charge my laptop but I don't want to leave it in the room unattended. Not when I don't know where Dresden is. This is probably the only laptop on this entire planet and I have the tools to keep it running for awhile as well, not that Dresden knows that. Either way it's a prime target to steal.
"What's the plan, Rhys?" Merlin finally asks.
I look between her and Nikola Tesla then shut my eyes for a moment. I am sitting in a room with Nikola Tesla in a fantasy world full of magic. I'm scared my favorite musician will try to steal my laptop. There's no way home for any of us.
I grab the tray full of bread and cheese from the small table and set it on the floor where we can all reach it. The bread isn't much more dry than before, which is surprising, and the cheese seems to be in good shape too. The cured meat is, well cured meat, so it also seems to have held up well through the night. There's no signs of bugs or rodents eating on it but I'm sure if something like that had happened Mr. Tesla would have mentioned it. I grab myself a few bits of each and start eating before I reply.
"We need to find a way to survive. The inn keeper, New Look, is only going to let us stay for the week with that mop we gave her as payment so we only have a couple more days. We have some money from busking but that will only go so far. Plus," I pause and look over at Merlin. "You probably want some other clothing, right? Shoes without cleats and stuff. We need supplies. Tools, weapons, information, anything else you can think of."
"Then what?" Merlin asks as she takes some bread, cheese, and meat for herself.
"Then we find a real wizard."
Nikola Tesla raises an eyebrow. "A real wizard? That is assuming there are such people in this world. Why would the King of this region summon us by mistake if there were wizards readily available?"
"Why aren't the mages he has good enough for whatever he needs a wizard for?" I counter. "They were powerful enough to bring us here from our worlds so why not just use them? That guy doesn't make sense."
"I don't see any fault in your logic, and I have no answer," Nikola Tesla replies.
"What do you want us to call you?" I ask him. "We never really introduced ourselves properly. My name's Rhys, by the way. My pronouns are she and her, but I really don't care that much about them so if someone uses something else I don't correct them."
"Future thing," Merlin says. "It's a way people introduce themselves in the future. For instance, I'm Merlin and my pronouns are also she and her. I had heard about it a little before I wound up here but hadn't met anyone really doing it or using 'they and them' until I met Dresden."
"Oh." Nikola looks from one of us to the other, his gaze eventually settling on me. "I thought you were a young man," he says while blushing.
"That's fine. If someone else thinks I am just roll with it," I say. "So, don't worry about it. Now, should we call you 'Nikola' or 'Tesla' or 'Mr. Tesla' or something else?"
"Oh, yes, well, I suppose you can call me Nikola," he replies before pausing. "I've never thought of attempting to use any pronouns other than the masculine so that would suffice as well."
I nod. "Great! It's an honor to meet you Nikola."
"Likewise," Merlin adds. "We learned about you in physics class last year. Super wild stuff you did with charged particle beams. No wonder you got the Nobel Prize."
Nikola and I both stare at Merlin.
"I won the what?" He looks at me for confirmation.
I wince. "You're from, what 1893, right?"
Nikola nods silently.
"The Nobel prize wasn't a thing until 1901," I explain to both of them. "And this is another way my reality differs from Merlin's apparently. In mine you were kinda cheated out of it."
"A shame, I suppose," he says with a shrug. "You were saying you had a plan, that we needed supplies, and that you had some funds, correct?"
"Right," I reply with a nod then dig around in my bag for my sandwich bag coin sack. "I made some money the last couple days singing in the town square. People here are super starved for entertainment. We can split up the money I have then each get what we can using it."
"What about the other thing," Merlin said glancing at my lunch box. "You now, with the oilfay?"
"Oil...fay?" Nikola echoes with a raised eyebrow.
"Aluminum," I say. "It's worth a lot of money here. I have some in my lunch bag. I had food with me that was wrapped in foil. I've also got a couple empty soft drink cans made of it too."
"That makes sense," Nikola says. "Aluminum is difficult to refine from bauxite if you don't have the proper technology. Carl Joseph Bayer just developed a new process for refining it. I've been hopeful it would prove useful in lightening the weight of some of my...nevermind." He hangs his head.
"I'm sorry, Nikola," I say.
He takes a deep breath and lets out a heavy sigh. "It's not your fault. We have more pressing issues than my experiments."
"Still, if I can find a way for each of us to go home I will. But you do have a point, we do have other issues," I agree. I point to the food. "You should eat something, Nikola. I know it might be hard since they probably wont have the foods you're used to, but this might be the only meal we get for most of the day."
He looks at the bread and cheese on the tray and purses his lips for a moment before grabbing some. "I am famished."
It doesn't take me long to sort through my change. I have three roughly even piles of coins on the tray the food came on. They're just iron and copper pieces. I only take a few copper since I also plan to find someone to buy the tin cans and foil wrappers. Also, I managed to find a couple old aluminum diving tokens at the bottom of my bag. I had planned to use them as paper weights one day when I was writing outside but they weren't heavy enough, of course. I find one of the spare pairs of small socks in my bag and put Nikola and Merlin's coins in each before handing them over.
"Aww, it's got cute little stars on it," Merlin coos.
"Thanks, I think I got a pack of these socks super cheap. I have another back-up set in my bag that have little alien heads on them."
"Little what?" Nikola asks.
I pull the socks out. They're black like the socks I put the coins in, but have simple bright green alien heads on them instead of white stars and crescent moons. Nikola looks over the socks with a puzzled expression.
Merlin stifles a giggle by covering her mouth with her sock of coins.
"They're stylized extraterrestrial heads," I say. "Like, little green men from Mars or something."
"People have made contact with beings from other planets in the future?" Nikola asks while still marveling at the socks.
"They haven't...not exactly. But people think they have and the reports are of little gray humanoid beings with big heads and big eyes," I say while realizing just how difficult it is to explain so much that I see as normal.
"But these are green," Nikola says.
Merlin cracks up laughing.
"That's probably because of the phrase 'little green men' which predates a...you know what? I don't know the origin of that phrase but it's used for aliens of any type," I say.
"My apologies. It must be taxing to explain so many things," Nikola says before returning the socks. "I greatly appreciate it."
"You're welcome," I reply.
Merlin has settled down. She puts a hand on each of her knees as she sits on the floor cross legged, "We've all got money. What now? Time to head to the market? I still need to help Ultra with her bread stand."
"Oh, one more thing," I say before fumbling in my bag to pull out a sheet of paper I copied the futhark runes on. I was going to give it to whoever was summoned after me and Merlin, but didn't get a chance to give it to Dresden so instead I hand it to Nikola.
"The signs seem to be written with this alphabet, Runes. But the words are English. You can use this to translate things."
Nikola looks over the paper, reading it a few times with intense concentration. After a moment he nods. "I see."
"It's like something someone would do as a shorthand when drawing a fantasy comic," I explain. "In fact, the people here have names like 'New Look' and 'Image Notfound' which also seems like another shortcut. It's kinda weird but it's what we've got to deal with."
Nikola hands the paper back to me. "Thank you for letting me see this."
Merlin squints while making a face before her eyes go wide. "Oh right, shit. Professor Skinner mentioned that last year. You've got a photographic memory, right?"
I can't believe I forgot, I think as I mentally kick myself.
"Photographic?" Nikola echoes.
"Eidetic," I say taking the paper. "You can remember whatever you saw after looking at it just once."
Nikola smiles, "Oh yes. So it has a name?"
I nod and squint as I try to remember my research. "I think it was first named in the 1920s or something."
I shove the paper back in my bag and make sure everything is stowed away. Things could become too much for me if I think on them in detail, but it's hard not to. I'm talking to Nikola Tesla, albeit a version of him who was just barely starting to accomplish things in his life and was robbed of the chance to change his world.
"Yup, sorry. This is just weird so I'm, yeah." I shut my eyes and take a deep breath. "Sorry, I gotta, like, not think about stuff for a bit or I'll get overwhelmed. Okay, so, to the Market. Let's go do that. Merlin will work with Ultra the bread seller, I'll look for supplies and maybe sing for change, and you can get some things for yourself, like a water skin. You should have just enough for one. I know how you don't like germs so you probably don't want to borrow either of ours. Then we can meet up at noon and work together to figure out how much we need to save for whatever supplies we need."
I make sure my lunch bag is still secured to my backpack before hoisting the heavy bag to my shoulders and clip the straps together across my chest. I pick up my cane and stretch a bit before I notice Nikola and Merlin both looking at me with somewhat relieved expressions on their faces.
"I'm so damn glad I'm not the only one who thinks this is weird and overwhelming," Merlin says while shaking her head.
"Likewise," Nikola says.
As we exit the inn someone approaches us quickly. They're tall, though not as tall as Nikola, with a thin build and dark skin. It takes me a moment to recognize them since they're wearing new clothing, tight breaches, mid calf leather boots, a tight leather vest, and a cream colored shirt with loose long sleeves.
"Fucking finally," Dresden says as they reach us. "I've been waiting for you forever."
Merlin and I stiffen up, I do so more from anxiety but notice that when Merlin does it she takes a step forward between me and Dresden. She's blocking. If there's going to be a fight, Dresden will lose.
"I'm not here to fight," Dresden says with their hands in the air.
Merlin crosses her arms.
"Really, I'm not," Dresden repeats. "I'm here to talk to Richy."
"Who?" I ask.
"You, dumbass," Dresden says.
"My name is Rhys, not 'Richy.'"
"Whatever, I got one letter right."
I don't tell them that technically they got three correct, just in the wrong order. Few people I've met have been able to guess the spelling of my name.
"I take it this is Dresden?" Nikola asks from behind me, his voice intentionally loud.
Dresden looks at him suddenly, as if they hadn't noticed he was standing there before now. "This the new guy?"
"Yes," Nikola replies. "Very new."
And not at all from the 1800s, I think to myself.
"What do you want, Dresden?" I ask.
Merlin looks back at me. I nod to her and she steps aside so Dresden can approach. She keeps his eyes on them as they reach into a satchel slung across their shoulder and produces a sizeable leather pouch that looks like it must have taken up most of the bag.
"Here," Dresden says holding out the pouch.
I take it from them and discover it's very heavy with the unmistakable feeling of a bag of coins. I peek inside to see nothing but gold and try not to lose my breath or my cool.
"That should cover what I took," Dresden says without looking at Merlin before backing up with their hands in the air.
"Where'd you get this?" I ask.
"My costume. The lizard head and armor pieces, those were all aluminum. It's worth a shit ton here, apparently," Dresden explains. "I'm loaded."
Not exactly something I'd advertise so loudly, I think.
"Are you done yet, Dresden?" A voice asks from around the corner.
"Almost, babe!" They call back.
"Ugh, hurry up."
I glance in the direction of the voice and catch sight of a fuzzy pair of ears and tip of a gray muzzle around the corner of the building.
"You were right," Dresden says with a grin. "These people are starved for entertainment. I've already got a band together."
"You, what?" Merlin says aghast.
Dresden starts to walk away and dismisses us with one hand in the air. "I've got a band. We're going on tour all over Regno."
"What about finding a way to go home?" I ask.
Dresden stops at the corner of the building and scoffs, "I never said I wanted to go back." They hold out a hand to the person around the corner of the building. "Come on babe. Let's bounce."
A fuzzy clawed hand takes Dresden's before the figure emerges to follow them down the street. I think the person is a wolf-woman. She's got a cute dress, fuzzy gray tail, and very wolf-like head. The pair leaves down the dawn lit cobblestone street without looking back.
I look down at the large bag of gold coins Dresden handed me. It's heavy, of course, because it's solid gold coins.
"I thought they'd want to go home most of all," Merlin said. "They were a rich singer, right?"
"I guess they can be a rich singer here so they don't care." I glance at the bag again. "I can divide this up like the other coins."
Nikola holds up his hand. "That wont be necessary," he says. "I think we're all agreed that the leader should have the funds, correct?" He looks at Merlin who nods. "See?"
Oh wonderful. Now I'm the 'leader' of our group, I think and try not to let my thoughts show on my face. I don't have the luxury of breaking down or showing weakness, not when others are relying on me. I am the most knowledgeable about this situation, after all. I suppose bingeing isekai novels and anime series during quarantine can be put to good use now rather than as the 'writing research' I kept telling myself it was.
"Great," I say. "I guess I don't have to busk for money today."
"I still want to help Ultra with the bread stand," Merlin says. "I don't want to leave her hanging with no warning."
"Then we'll look for supplies," I say as I slip my backpack off.
I find a place inside it to stow the bag of gold. It's going to add weight to my bag but then again I'm used to it weighing well over 25 pounds, what's another ten?
Oh gods, why does this world have to use gold coins?
( The Wrong Wizards Chapter links:
Chapter 1 & 2 First
Chapter 6 Previous
Chapter 7 You are here!
Chapter 8 Next
These Links will be updated as I write and post new chapters! - N )