A Warning of Things to Come

Drawing of a wizard's hat and staff. Caption reads: "Merlin put his hat and staff on the empty seat beside him."

A Warning of Things to Come

Short story by Iris Carden

Only six months ago, I didn’t even know the magical world existed. Then my sister used magic against me, and a weird little bald man with big ears came to my rescue.

Now Orsinius Wishlet, a Wisp, works in my hairdressing salon, making appointments, sweeping up hair and making coffee. He’s my friend, as well as my rescuer. I’ve met numerous magical beings, many of them have become my customers. Apparently, it’s hard to find someone to cut your hair if you’re covering up things like wings that can get in the way.

Yesterday, something seemed to try to tear a whole in our world, and Orsinius fought it back with the help of Excalibur and coffee which he’d had me put into the Holy Grail.

I don’t understand what all that was about, and neither does Orsinius. He had Excallibur and the Grail because Merlin, the mythical magician from King Arthur’s court, had asked him to look after them.

Orsinius and I are meeting Merlin at a coffee shop near the salon. We both want answers, and hopefully he has them.

We’re here first. Merlin walks in. Most of the magical beings I have met try to fit in. They dress the same way as humans, and use a magical glamour to disguise any obvious differences such as wings or extra eyes or tails. Merlin just looks like what he is. He dresses as he probably did in King Arthur’s court, with the pointed hat, and robes and the wooden staff. He looks like Gandalf.

People turn to look, then go back to their own coffees and conversations.

Merlin puts his hat and staff on the empty chair beside him. A waitress takes our orders. Once she’s gone, he begins to talk. “It’s all right Miss Sutton. People rationalise what they don’t understand. Many of the people here think I’m on my way to or from a comic convention. The person behind you thinks I’m probably crazy but most likely harmless. The waitress thinks it’s great that I’m confident to dress the way I want to, because she secretly wants to wear goth clothes to work but is afraid of people’s reactions. Actually, her boss would be quite happy for her to wear whatever she wants because she’s a very good employee.”

I don’t know how he knows what I’m thinking, but it’s probably the same way he knows what everyone else is thinking.

“You wanted to know about the incident yesterday? You handled that very well, Mr Wishlet, with your very useful assistance, of course, Miss Sutton. Using a mild magical liquid like coffee to access the power of the cup was a brilliant plan. Mr Wishlet, you know what is beyond reality?”

“Yes,” Orsinius answers. “It’s unreality. I have seen it. My burrow is on the border. But whatever that was yesterday was not unreality.”

“No, it was definitely not unreality. Do you know what is beyond unreality?”

“I have never thought about it,” Orsinius answers.

“Well, I can tell you,” Merlin answers. “Beyond unreality are multiple other realities. Unreality is the buffer that stops different realities colliding. The event you stopped was a tear between our reality and another.”

“But,” I ask, “if realities can’t collide because of unreality, how did this happen?” Any time before six months ago, I would have never imagined myself saying the kinds of things I say now, especially not something like this.

We stop talking as the waitress arrives with our coffees and food. I notice the particular smile she gives Merlin. I hope she is brave enough to dress the way she wants for work tomorrow.

Once she leaves, Merlin answers my question. “It should not be possible, Miss Sutton,” he says. “But something very strange is happening at the moment. There have been shifts in reality. You, in fact, have been a part of it, although unknowingly. That spell your sister used against you should not have worked. Lady Justice found the actual spell. It was just nonsensical words, with no power behind them at all. Yet it worked, and you were trapped until Mr Wishlet found you. Things that cannot happen, that defy the laws of magic are happening.”

“How can that be?” Orsinius asks.

“We believe, that is Lady Justice and I believe, that there is a magical practitioner breaking the rules of magic. We don’t know what this person is trying to do, or whether or not they are achieving their goal, but they are using forms of magic which are banned. These forms of magic are so dangerous that they create an effect that send ripples out into the world, the way a rock thrown in a still pond sends out ripples. These ripples have had a number of effects on both the magical and non magical worlds. So a nonsense spell from a novelty book actually worked, realities that should never meet have broken in on each other, and I am afraid of what might happen next. But, for reasons I do not understand, the two of you seem to be at the centre of these events. In fact, Miss Sutton, you specifically are at the centre of the events as Mr Wishlet only happened to be there to discover you trapped. So perhaps the ripple only went in one direction, not across the whole pond.”

“I’m the centre of events?” I ask, incredulous. “Why me? Why would magical side effects target me?”

“My thought would be that you have some relationship to the practitioner involved. Strong magic requires a price to be paid. I don’t mean mild magic like coffee, or my casual mind reading earlier. Magic aimed at having a big effect, has a cost. Usually that price is taken close to home.”

“But I didn’t even know the magical world existed until that day my sister did that spell, and Orsinius found me! How would I have any links to any magical practitioner?”

“The nonsense spell your sister used came from an old book. Could that book have come from someone in your family?”

“Maybe my grandmother? I never met her, but my mother said she was crazy and thought she was a witch and could make things happen, but of course she actually couldn’t.”

“That information could be helpful. Lady Justice and I will continue our research, and we will definitely look into your ancestors. Perhaps your grandmother’s belief was based in something that was far more real than your mother knew. In the meantime, I want you to wear this amulet, for protection. Mr Wishlet, as the guardian of Excalibur you already have the best magical protection available.”

I put on the gold chain. It has a gold disc with what looks like a giant ruby in the middle. It feels warm against my skin.

I don’t really want to know what it’s going to protect me from.


Orsinius Wishlet Stories

Lost and Found was originally a one-off story, until the day I had the idea for A Wish Come True. After that, Orsinius and the world built around him just kept coming back to me.


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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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