Drawing of hairdressing scissors and a comb. Caption reads: "I'm going back to the salon."

Aftermath short story by Iris Carden

It is a strange group of beings who are gathered in the burrow on the border between reality and unreality.

There is Orsinius Wishlet, a wisp, short and bald with over-large pointed ears. He is a reformed kleptomaniac, and a hoarder, and this burrow, his home, is cluttered with the remnants of his past life. He is the current guardian of both Excalibur and the Holy Grail.

Augustus Wishlet is Orsinius’ cousin. He is an unreformed thief, who looks similar to his cousin, and works as a purveyor of arcane, disgusting, and hard-to-find objects. With him is his most prized possession, a battered bare skull of a long-ago hanged thief.

Lady Justice is a strong statuesque woman with a five metre wing span, who has with her a razor-sharp ancestral sword. By right of inheriting the position she is the final arbiter of all law in the magical world. Her judgment is swift, and offenders do not have the opportunity to appeal or to reoffend.

Andromeda Justice (Andy to her friends) is the teenaged daughter of Lady Justice. Her wings have just started to grow. She has spent her life thinking she was human, and has only recently learned the truth of who she is, and her destiny to inherit her mother’s role.

There is the ancient wizard Merlin. He is the only member of the group not wearing modern human clothes. He has flowing robes, a pointed wizard’s hat, and a long wooden staff with some kind of gemstone set into it. He has a long white beard, and flowing white hair. He looks like Gandalf.

A black cat with glowing yellow eyes, is alternately preening itself, and pawing at a broken silver snake with emerald eyes.

The final, living, person in the burrow is Ariana Sutton. Like Andy, she had until recently, believed she was human. To her, it seems as if it were only yesterday that other members of the group explained to her that she was, in fact, a powerful witch. Merlin has undertaken to be her teacher, although her magic is not like his. She uses thought magic, the rarest kind of magic. Her thoughts can create reality.

On the floor is the rapidly withering and disintegrating body of one of Ariana’s ancestors, the infamous witch Lady Arabella March. Lady Arabella had survived an unnatural length of time by use of the same thought magic her descendant now uses, supplemented with the use of spells. Her undoing had been a spell to steal Ariana’s magic, to make herself the most powerful witch in history. The spell has been thwarted by the living members of the group, who substituted one of her ingredients.

The living watch the dead witch disintegrate to a fine dust. Merlin points his staff at the dust and it flies out of the burrow entrance to be dispersed along the border of reality and unreality.

Then Merlin breaks the silence, his voice quiet, gentle, as to a child. “Miss Sutton, in that final battle, as you overpowered Lady Arabella, her spell reversed itself. You felt it did you not?”

Ariana nods. She did feel it. She still does feel it. She doesn’t think she will ever feel normal again.

“You have her power, added to your own considerable power,” Merlin goes on. “Added to that, I believe Lady Justice will discover that you are now Lady Arabella’s only living relative and will therefore inherit her not inconsiderable fortune in the human world.”

Ariana nods slowly again, not certain she has really processed anything which has happened, still not sure of the immense power she feels flowing through her.

“You have undergone great changes in power and wealth. You must decide what you will do now,” Merlin says.

There is a long pause.

“I’m going to go back to my hair salon, and cut my customer’s hair,” she finally answers. “I hope Orsinius will come with me and continue to be my assistant.”

Orsinius smiles. This is all he hopes for. “Yes, I will continue to work with my friend,” he says.

The cat wraps itself around her ankle, purring.

“If Augustus is willing, I would like to buy the cat,” Ariana says.

Augustus looks at the cat. Until today it has been his, and it has not displayed any magical ability. During the fight, while he and Andy hid, the cat came forward to fight alongside Ariana and Merlin. He is frightened of the cat now he knows it has this power. This is definitely not a cat he wants to live with any longer. He does something he has never done in his life. He decides to give something away.

“The cat is yours,” Augustus says. “It is choosing you.” He secretly hopes this magnanimous gesture might buy him the favour of this powerful witch. He does not like powerful beings angry at him, but they often are.

“What’s its name?” Ariana asks.

“I do not know,” Augustus answers. “It came to me in the shop one day and did not leave. It did not tell me a name. I have simply called it ‘the cat.'”

In Ariana’s mind, ‘the cat’ deserved capitalisation at least. It became “The Cat.”

On the south side of Brisbane, not far from the Brisbane River, there is a small hairdressing salon. There a young hairdresser runs her business with the help of her strange-looking friend. A black cat with glowing yellow eyes, sits on the counter and watches everything and everyone.

Some of her customers are ordinary human beings, who are unaware of any world except the one they live in. They come for fashionable hair styles and friendly service.

Some of her customers hide wings and things under a glamour. They know their hairdresser is the most powerful witch the world has ever known, and that the odd little assistant is guardian to both the mythic magic sword Excalibur, and the Holy Grail. Word travels quickly in the magical community and everyone knows the story.

These customers come to the salon confident of two things: they will receive a good haircut, and powerful people are protecting the world and the nature of reality itself.

Everyone who comes to the salon is offered a mildly magical liquid, known as coffee.

Part of me wants to leave Orsinius, Ariana and their friends here. Another part of me thinks there there could be something worse than Lady Arabella out there. What do you think readers? Do I let them retire from protecting reality?

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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