Drawing of a sword. Caption reads: "I need Excalibur."

Trouble short story by Iris Carden

Orsinius Wishlet was at home in his burrow on the border between reality and unreality. It was cluttered with all of the many things he had stolen and hoarded in his long time as a thief.

Now that he spent so much time among humans Orsinius knew that many of the things, such as old shopping lists and odd socks were really not treasures at all, although they had seemed so attractive to him long ago. He kept the items anyway, so it was more difficult for thieves to enter his burrow and steal the things of real value he had been tasked with protecting.

While the border between reality and unreality where his burrow was placed was inaccessible to humans, it was only too accessible to other magical beings, such his cousin Augustus, who was a non-reformed thief.

With the help of his friend Ariana, Orsinius had developed a doorbell, or burglar alarm, of sorts. Anyone entering the mouth of the burrow now would have to pass through hanging strings of cans, pans, and any other hard objects they’d been able to find in his collection that would clang together noisily. If Orsinius was in the burrow, he would hear the noise.

Ariana had used the magic she’d recently learned to provide a second layer of protection. If Orsinius was away from the burrow he would hear in his mind the clanging of the “doorbell”. She had not been happy about using magic on his mind, but he had persuaded her that it was necessary, given the importance of the items hidden in the deepest part of the burrow.

While Orsinius and Ariana were enjoying coffee after finishing the day’s work in Ariana’s hair salon, the sudden clanging filled Orsinius’ mind.

Ariana saw the startled expression on her friend’s face, and knew what it meant. “I’m coming too,” she said.

Ordinarily, Orsinius would use the interim, that time between moments, to go quickly from the salon, firmly in reality, to the burrow, on the border with unreality. Ariana had another way. She grabbed Orsinius’ arm, and thought them there.

“Augustus!” Orsinius yelled. “You are here to steal again?”

Augustus threw himself at Orsinius’ feet. “I am not here to steal. I am here with my most prized possession, to ask you to protect me. You have Excalibur. You can keep me safe.”

They saw Augustus had with him, a black wooden box, and a cat carrier with a black cat in it.

Orsinius introduced Augustus to Ariana.

“A witch?” Augustus asked, and tried to shrink into the wall of the burrow.

Eventually Augustus was calm enough to tell them his story. He had been visited in his shop by a powerful witch, who had wanted to buy his most precious possession. He had tricked her into leaving, but knew she would be back and would kill him. Augustus carefully avoided mentioning that the witch had a silver snake on her walking stick which was actually alive. He would not tell them what the possession was which he had in the box.

They listened attentively to his story. Then he told them the name of the witch: Lady Arabella March.

“I’m getting Lady Justice, and Merlin,” Ariana said.

“No! Not Lady Justice. I did not do anything wrong!”

Ariana disappeared. Moments later she was back with Lady Justice and Merlin.

“I did nothing wrong!” Augustus wailed, grovelling in front of the newcomers.

“What exactly was this thing Lady Arabella wanted from you?” Merlin asked, gently. “It’s very important, for you to tell us, so we can protect you.”

Augustus sniffed, and opened the box. Inside was a human skull, battered and old.

“Is this anyone in particular? Anything about this person’s life or death which was special?” Merlin asked.

“He was a thief, a great thief.” Augustus said sadly, “and he was hanged.”

Merlin nodded, then asked, “Did she say what she needed it for? Or that she needed it by a set time?”

“She did not say what she needed it for. She did say she wanted it before the next full moon.”

Merlin thought a few moments, then said, “I believe she is making a spell designed to steal powers from another witch. Miss Sutton, I very much expect that witch would be you. The familial link would make it easier to steal power from you. Indeed, we have a serious issue here. In the few lessons we have had together so far, I have seen your power and potential. That power added to the power of someone like Lady Arabella, and used for evil purposes, could be extremely dangerous. She already opened up a rift between realities, which Mr Orsinius Wishlet, with your capable assistance, was able to stop. She could do so much worse with your incredible power added to hers.”

He stopped to think some more, then addressed Augustus. “I don’t suppose you would be willing to allow me to destroy Mr Kelly’s skull, would you Mr Wishlet?”

Augustus gulped. How had the information he’d given been enough for Merlin to know who the skull was? “It is my favourite possession, and … and my only friend.” Augustus said.

“I see you have another friend with you as well,” Merlin said, looking into the cat carrier. Yellow cat eyes glared back. “I must recommend you and both your friends stay here. This is as defensible position as we are going to get. Mr Wishlet, other Mr Wishlet, I am afraid you are having a number of houseguests. Lady Justice, Miss Sutton and I must stay here to help protect your cousin and his most prized possession from Lady Arabella. I believe we may need to have Excalibur ready, along with the grail.”

“If we are staying, I will need to bring Andy here. I can’t leave her alone at home with this danger about.”

Lady Justice went home to get her teenaged daughter.

Andy was not there. Instead there was a note which said: “You want your daughter. I want the skull. Meet me at Augustus Wishlet’s shop at midnight tonight.”

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.

Series 1 Stories:

Series 2 Stories:

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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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