Undaril was the Head Wizard of Waylas and proud of it. It had taken him many years to work his way up through the ranks to his position; he came from the time when wizards actually gained some real work experience before being promoted. Not like that nowadays, of course.
He whipped his green velvet cloak around him as he walked to and fro in his turret office. He liked the impressive way it moved.
There came a knock at the door. He pointed at it and it flew open, revealing a dwarf in a shiny satin suit.
“There’s another wizard to see you, Sire. He says he definitely deserves to be your apprentice.”
“Oh, by all the gods…. What magic did he do before you?”
“Well, Sire, he…. ” the dwarf looked uneasy, “He blocked all the lavatories in the castle. He says he’ll unblock them again once you’ve agreed to see him.”
Undaril’s eyebrows rose.
“Very well. I suppose I’ll have to see him, then, won’t I? Bloody blackmail…”
He went and sat expansively behind his Jahrtwood desk, ensuring his hat was on straight, and drummed his fingers.
The young wizard entered.
He had bright green, frizzy hair piled into a heap on his head, making him at least three feet taller. And he was already tall, and thin. And not wealthy: his cloak was too short. He flourished a bow, twirling his too-short cloak as best he could, and remained bent double, addressing his knees.
“Good morrow, Master Wizard, and many thanks for agreeing to see me. My name,” he straightened up dramatically, “is Kallort.”
“Master Kallort. I won’t say I’m pleased to meet you – dubious is more the word. I hear you’ve blocked all the lavatories in my castle.”
Kallort tried his hand at an evil cackle, but it turned into a cough which grew worse until he was doubled up again, wheezing.
“Dear, dear” said the Master Wizard, frowning. He said a charm under his breath to prevent him catching anything.
“I apologise most sincerely, O Great One!” said Kallort, eventually recovering. “I live in a very damp hut, and – “
“Yes, of course, of course Sire!” he cleared his throat and clenched his fists. “I wish to apply to be your Apprentice for the next year, based on the fact that I am the biggest upcoming magical talent in the whole of Waylas!”
“Is that so.”
“Indeed, Sire. Look!”
He waved his hands in the direction of the huge, empty stone hearth and a fire sprang up in grate.
The Master Wizard snorted.
“Light a fire? You want to show me you’re worthy to be my apprentice and all you can do is light a fire? That’s Second or Third level magic. Oh dear me.” Undaril laughed and twirled his long silver moustache. He was aware that velvet and flowing facial hair was a cliche for one in his position, but he felt it leant him a certain gravitas. And the truth was, he had a weak chin.
“You’re wasting my time er… Kallum. Please leave.”
The Master Wizard’s eyes widened just a fraction.
“Indeed? Well, that would be of use, with the flooding we’ve been experiencing lately… My talent, I confess, has never lain with the elements…” Undaril muttered almost to himself. Then, louder, “I have heard of few who can do this.”
“It is my special gift, Sire.” Kallort bowed again.
“Hmm, really…? You’ll forgive my scepticism….” Undaril stood up, scraping back his heavy carved chair, and walked over to one of the mullioned windows.
“Very well.” Kallort cleared his throat. “This is a spoken spell, Sire. Very powerful and draining to cast, as I’m sure My Lord can imagine.”
“Get on with it.”
Kallort joined him at the window and began. “Zerrellian, bejem. Drraag, VOLOK!” He waved his arms dramatically and repeated the phrase twice more, louder each time, staring at the sky. By the third utterance, beads of sweat were on his brow and he was standing on tiptoe.
They both stood looking out of the window.
A bird landed on the sill and pecked at a speck of mud.
Then it flew off.
A few leaves blew past.
A man’s voice drifted up from the street below, “Hurry up with that cartwheel!”
The Master Wizard sighed.
“Go now. Oh, and if the castle lavatories are not unblocked within thirty seconds, I will have you skinned alive and will make a sofa of you. A Chesterfield.”
Kallort turned and trudged out, head down, closing the door quietly behind him. A few moments later, a gurgling sound echoed round the castle and a powerful stench rose from the drains. The Master Wizard had just enjoyed his second cup of finest roast and ground Danda beans and decided to test the situation by using his own private water closet. Upon entering, he noticed the water was an odd shade of purple, but the thing was functioning. He’d have to get word to the maintenance warlocks to sort out the colour in the morning.
It was when he emerged from his water closet, still knotting his leather belt, that he saw it. It was raining. Multi-coloured glass beads.
“Get Kallort back in here!”