The Wrong Wizards Chapter 9
( Sorry for the delay due to Thanksgiving and stuff! There will be some more delays this month due to Christmas and some medical stuff I have going on that's not Covid. I've had my vaccinations. I'm including the cover art here again for anyone who missed it last week, and also including new art for this chapter specifically! I hope to do illustrations like this every few chapters.
Did you see that there's now more places you can read The Wrong Wizards? The mirrors on Tapas and Moonquill are now live! Tapas allows for art to be integrated into an update but also has a shorter character limit so some chapters have to be chopped up on it. Moonquill doesn't currently allow art in posts.
Tapas Mirror: https://tapas.io/series/The-Wrong-Wizards/info
Moonquill Mirror: https://www.moonquill.com/book/the-wrong-wizards
Thank you for reading! Here's chapter 9!
-Sarah "Neila" Elkins )
The Wrong Wizards
(A web serial novel)
by: Sarah "Neila" Elkins
Chapter 9: The Shape of Regno
Nikola and I leave Cameron's shoe shop after placing our order. All in all we didn't browse the market for long nor spend much time at the cobbler's store so we've still got a couple hours before we're to meet Merlin at noon.
"What next?" Nikola asks me as we browse the shops along what I now realize is the shopping district of the city.
"Clothing might be a good idea," I say. "Or weapons."
"Weapons?" Nikola asks with a raised eyebrow. "I suppose we should find a means to defend ourselves should the unthinkable happen."
"You're known for thinking of the unthinkable," I joke.
Nikola's footsteps stop behind me. I make it a couple more paces before I turn around to see him standing stock still.
"How can you stand it?" He asks. "Knowing who I am to your world? Who Dresden is? Knowing that we may never go home? May never see our loved ones again? and if we do we will be changed by our time here? I know you are feeling deep emotions about this as well, you've said as much, but still. How can you so easily think about what it is we need to do without breaking?"
I grip the straps of my backpack, which thanks to my magic boots no longer feels like it's slowly crushing me. "I think it's because I'm so used to things going badly. Everything going wrong. Stress that never ends," I explain. "It feels like I've just fallen from one frying pan to another my whole life. Barely scraping by. Yeah, I could break down and cry, but then I'd be letting you and Merlin down. I've done all sorts of research on all kinds of things so I can use that to think about what we need to do to survive."
Nikola takes a deep breath and lets it out with a sigh. "I do not envy you being the leader, Captain."
"It's the title Merlin used for you," he says.
"Yeah, okay. We can stick with that," I reply with a nod. "Pretty sure that's because she's a football player and is used to following the team Captain."
"I see." Nikola smiles. "Where shall we go, team Captain?"
I look around at the stores around us. There's what seems to be a blacksmith a couple blocks away, with billowing smoke rising from a chimney. The front of the shop is open with racks displaying gleaming steel weapons. Several Cryptid and Human adventure looking types mingle around in front of it or look at weapons. I catch sight of the very same big dragon person who had been outside the shoe store. I turn before they notice my staring.
"Weapons can wait," I say. "We need information more than supplies and I think I know where we can get it."
Image Notfound's wagon is still in the same spot it was when I last spoke to him. He's cheerfully selling a dozen small dragon eggs to a couple when we arrive. I note he still has many large eggs in the back of the wagon but fewer of the little ones. I'm glad to see he's made some sales. I had the impression he didn't think he'd sell much of anything here.
When the couple departs with their small basket Image notices me and Nikola. His eyes light up and he nearly loses his monocle.
"My friend, Rhys! Hullo again!" Image calls.
"Hello, Mr. Notfound!" I reply as we approach. "How are you doing today?"
"Fair, fair," he says. "And you? I see you have a companion with you today. Hullo, friend of Rhys. I am Image Notfound."
"Hello," Nikola says. "It's wonderful to meet you. My name is Nikola and my pronouns are he and him." He says with a smile.
"Ah, yes, you introduce yourself like the most noble of the elves or Cryptids," Image says. "My pronouns are he and him as well."
"Uh, I forgot to say mine before," I say. "My pronouns are she and her, but, like anything's fine really."
Image nods with a grin then twists the end of his mustache between his fingers. "What can I interest you in today, my friends Rhys and Nikola?"
I get right to the point. "Do you know where we can find a map of the area? Regno? I haven't seen any shops selling them."
"And it is no surprise you have not," Image says. "Cartographers are heavily regulated by the King here in Regno. Maps are not so easily found and accurate maps even less so. None dares carry them in their shops for fear of punishment. It does make trade a might bit difficult, but we must abide by the King."
"Shit," I breathe. "I was hoping we could find one and better understand where we are."
The short man leans forward and lowers his voice, covering his mouth with one hand so only I can see. "I did not say I did not know where one could find that of which you speak."
I look at him then back at Nikola who has covered his own mouth with one gloved hand, I suppose so he doesn't loudly exclaim something that could apparently get us arrested.
"Please, my friends," Image says more loudly after standing up. "I am terribly sorry I can not help you to find a map, but I can show you my illustrated inventory list if you were to follow me into my wagon. This, of course, is so you can better understand what I have to offer before you make your egg purchase."
"That'd be great," I reply. "Thank you so much."
I move to follow him as he leads us around to the other side of his wagon, which has a door built into the side.
Nikola stays close behind me and bends down to whisper, "But we do not need to buy any eggs. What are you doing?"
"I'm going to go look at a list of eggs," I say.
"I will stay out here," Nikola says as Image unlocks the door to his wagon. "I can stand guard."
I am almost certain Image has a map he's willing to show us. I can take a photo of it with my phone but it would be great to have Nikola look at it and have a back up with his photographic memory.
"Don't you want to see what kinds of dragons there are here?" I ask. "I think they have an electric one."
"Oh, yes," Image says while hanging out of the doorway. "I do carry southern fulgur eggs. The creatures can be a bit difficult to keep, however, considering they can easily kill if mishandled. There's a breeder just on the west side of Centrum near the After River who had developed a safer means of raising them. It is from them that I get my stock of eggs."
"I'm sorry," Nikola perks up. "Did you say there is a dragon in this world capable of generating enough amperage to kill a man?"
"I'm not sure what that means other than that an adult fulgur can easily kill a human or even most Cryptids if it were agitated. I supposed you would like to see my illustrated list now?" Image asks with a sly smirk.
"Certainly," Nikola says.
The inside of Image Notfound's wagon reminds me of a small travel trailer. There's a bed which double's as a seat across from a small desk, with storage under the bed. We all cram into the tight space and Image motions for me to shut the door. I do so just before I take my bag off my shoulders and set it on the floor between my feet. Image quickly reaches forward and pops a hidden drawer out of the front edge of the desk from which he produces a weathered map which he places on top of the desk. I pull my phone out of my bag and wake it up.
"Do you mind if I take a photo of it?" I ask.
"This device lets me make a copy of whatever it sees which I can then keep with me. It just doesn't require any paper or parchment," I explain. "I am also the only one who can access items on it."
"Oh, yes certainly," Image replies with a nod. "Much like the Holy Relics kept in the castle. Please, take a photo."
"Excuse me but that is not an illustrated list, that is clearly a ma-" Nikola only stops when I elbow him in the ribs. "What?!"
"Nikola," I say. "Shh, keep it down, please."
I lean around the two men and angle my phone so I can take a good photo of the map. I try to fit the whole image first, then I take a few tighter shots of what appears to be landmarks and cities. There's a few lakes, rivers, and forests labeled as well. Regno's topography is depicted on the map rather simplistically but there's no mistaking the shape of the country; rolling plains that stretch out in a nearly perfect circle ringed by sharp mountains with a small plateau in the center where Centrum is located.
We're in a massive meteorite crater.
"Thank you so much, Image. I'm so glad you showed us this list," I say as I slip my phone into my back pocket.
"Absolutely, it's no problem," Image says as he reaches for the map.
"Nikola, did you get a good look?" I ask quickly.
"Yes," Nikola says with a furrowed brow. "But I would still like to see what a southern fulgur looks like."
Image shrugs as he slips the map back into its hiding spot in the desk. He pulls out one of the regular drawers and unrolls an actual illustrated list of dragons. "They are long, with wings, fangs, and scales and hair."
"That could describe a swan," I quip as I quickly take photos of the list of dragons.
"Aside from the hair anyway."
"It does not look like a swan," Nikola replies.
"I do hope this helps you on your journey," Image says. "I know you are from another world, Rhys, and I assume you are as well, Nikola. Heimur can be, like most worlds, difficult. Regno especially so given the King's...health."
"His health?" Nikola asks.
I power my phone back down and slip it into my bag before hoisting my backpack to my shoulders.
Image quickly glances out the small window before looking back at us and speaking in a hushed tone. "Rumor has it King Harnold has become more and more erratic the last ten years. He outright banned bards from Regno six years ago. About that same time it's said he first tried to summon a wizard to 'save Regno.'From what he was attempting to save the country from no one is quite sure.However, I have heard that attempt failed miserably and cost many lives. You two are very lucky to have survived."
"This relates to his health in what way?" Nikola asks.
"Erratic behavior? Randomly banning bards? Banning map makers? Trying to summon a wizard to a world that already has magic and people powerful enough to summon folks from other worlds?" I nod silently. "He's got dementia, right? My grandfather got that way, albeit without the 'summoning people from other worlds' thing."
Image looks uncomfortable. "I can not say for certain, but at least now you will be more prepared. I only wish I could do more to help." He gestures toward the door.
I nod and open it before climbing out. "You've already helped a lot. Thank you for telling me about the monetary system here and showing us that list. It'll be handy to know what dragons look like."
We gather in front of his egg stand after we've all exited the wagon. Nikola seems a bit uncomfortable. I'm pretty sure he memorized the map, but if not at least I have photos of it. There were a couple rivers that ran through the country, and a few lakes on the map. I'd like to study it all more so I can figure out where we should go if we decide to leave Centrum. I think it's looking more and more like we should leave. The words the elf mage said to me before kicking me out of the castle walls are starting to have a new tint to them thanks to this new information.
"Do the wise thing, Writer, and leave this place as quickly as you can."
She may not have meant leaving the world of Heimur and instead meant to get out of Centrum, or possibly even Regno entirely. The map didn't show much beyond Regno's mountainous borders, so we will most certainly need a guide or something. Not to mention crossing mountains isn't a good idea if you're unprepared.
"I had hoped to leave tomorrow," Image says. "But I have been unable to find an adventuring party to serve as an escort. It seems someone hired every adventurer and mercenary in Centrum to serve as security."
"Who would do that? Some visiting noble?" I ask.
Image shakes his head and purses his lips, bunching up his mustache a bit. He lifts his bushy eyebrows and shrugs. "Would you believe it's a bard? A bard with the gall to come all the way to Centrum, right under the King's nose, despite the ban."
Oh. Yikes. Well, at least Dresden hired security?
( The Wrong Wizards Chapter links:
Chapter 1 & 2: First
Chapter 8: Previous!
Chapter 9: You are here!
Thank you for reading The Wrong Wizards! -N )