Ransom

Drawing of a dark shop interior. It's unclear what's on the shelves. Caption reads: "Augustus Wishlet's shop is even worse at night."

Ransom short story by Iris Carden

Giving in to a criminal is not how I normally do things, but my daughter’s life is on the line, and Merlin has a plan.

I try not to look at the products on the shelves. Augustus Wishlet’s shop is disturbing enough during the day. At night it’s even worse.

I have the black box Augustus was carrying the skull in.

Tucked out of sight, under my left wing, is my sword. I can have it in my hand almost instantly if things do not go to plan, although Merlin tells me it would be useless. At her full strength, this witch would kill me before I could swing the sword.

The witch has appeared, with Andy. Andy’s wrist is tied to hers with what appears to be a silver ornamental snake with green, possibly emerald eyes.

They didn’t step out of the interim, the time between moments most magical beings use to move from place to place. They just appeared. Lady Arabella March uses the same thought magic as Ariana uses.

“The skull,” she says.

I hold up the box. “Andy first,” I answer.

The snake slowly uncoils from Andy’s wrist. I put the box on the shop counter and step back. She keeps a hand on Andy’s arm as she walks to the counter, and looks in the box. In the box she sees the battered old skull which means so much to Augustus.

She releases Andy. I grab Andy’s wrist and drag her into the interim.

Instead of moving through the interim, we are suddenly in Orsinius Wishlet’s burrow on the border between reality and unreality.

“I saw Lady Arabella was about to follow you through the interim,” Merlin says. “So I asked Miss Sutton to bring you here her way.”

Ariana looks strained. She used a lot of energy to bring us here, and is still concentrating on the glamour, a kind of glamour I have never seen before, strong enough to let a witch like Lady Arabella see a skull when she’s actually presented with a basketball. It’s only a matter of time, before Ariana has to break concentration, and the deception will be revealed.

In the meantime, Merlin is directing the rest of his plan, moving people and props.

Andy is sent to the very depths of the burrow with Augustus and his cat. Augustus is taking the skull with him.

I am near the mouth of the burrow. My sword is no longer hidden.

Orsinius is holding Excalibur. Merlin says only a magical sword like Excalibur could possibly kill the snake. The snake holds a part of Arabella March’s power. Destroying it is Orsinius’ job. Only months ago, Orsinius was a petty thief, and an annoyance. Now he’s helping fight for the safety of the world.

Merlin is having Ariana drink coffee, out of the Grail. In solving a problem caused by Lady Arabella, Orsinius and Ariana had discovered that the mild magical properties of coffee could act as a carrier for the power of the Grail. The Grail is not magical itself, as we know magic, but has its own, different kind of power. Merlin says it’s touched by divinity.

The coffee seems to restore Ariana’s strength. This is good, because we will be relying on Ariana. It is her power Lady Arabella is coming to steal, and her power that must stand against her. Merlin will add his magic to hers.

For now, Merlin is organising us, while watching Lady Arabella. He was able to find her, by knowing where she would be for the kidnapping ransom. Once he found her, he’s been able to follow.

My part in all of this, is the part I always play. Lady Justice will render ultimate justice.

“She is ready to begin her spell,” Merlin says. “Miss Sutton, you can let go now.”

Ariana exhales slowly. Then everything happens at once.

Lady Arabella is here, screeching. The snake is reared up, its tail around her walking stick, its head waving in the air. The emerald eyes are locked on to Ariana.

Ariana has stepped forward, ignoring the snake, and is staring fixedly at Lady Arabella.

Lady Arabella, is now staring straight back at Ariana, eyes locked, neither blinking.

With both the snake and Lady Arabella staring fixedly at Ariana, neither notice Orsinius, as he swings Excalibur. The snake’s head is removed from its body. It quivers a moment, and stops. It is simply a broken silver decoration.

Lady Arabella shudders. She is weakened by the loss of her familiar. She pulls herself up straight, seems more determined.

Merlin is standing behind Ariana, his hand on her right shoulder. Both Merlin and Ariana seem weakened. Lady Arabella seems to be gaining strength.

Out of nowhere, Augustus’ cat comes running, leaps up on to Ariana’s left shoulder, and glares at Lady Arabella. Its yellow eyes seem to glow.

The power seems to shift again, Ariana is stronger. Lady Arabella is on her knees.

“She is weak enough. Time for the sword of justice,” Merlin says.

I swing my ancestral sword as I have done so many times before. I one smooth movement, her head is removed from her body. Lady March will never misuse magic again.

Ariana collapses on the floor. The cat snuggles in beside her. Merlin is bent over, shaking. “Coffee,” he says. “We need coffee, Even for the cat.”


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:


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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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