The dwarf set off at a run down the stone spiral staircase of the Master Wizard’s Tower, panting hard. Undaril walked to one of the windows to watch the pandemonium. Some people were running for shelter while others tried to catch beads in hats and baskets; still others put their umbrellas up. The air was full of shouting.
“My eye! I’ve been blinded!”
“My head is bleeding! Someone call a Healer!”
“Kevin – fetch me out your mother’s laundry basket!”
Undaril sighed and looked at the sky. There were strange, broken rainbows everywhere under heavy purple clouds. He wished he could remember his Weather Sorcery better, but he had told the truth when he’d said it wasn’t his strength. He hadn’t even achieved Bronze in the subject and preferred not to speak of it. It was a fiendish tricky area and not many mastered it, so there was no shame in that. But surely to goodness he could remember one spell for stopping rain, if only over a small area..? He removed his tall hat and swept back his grey hair, frowning. A distant memory came to him. Ah!
Throwing both his arms wide and screwing his eyes up, he pronounced the words of a spell.
” Derk Bort, Krull, errr…. MAHOON!”
He opened his eyes. The glass beads were still falling fast, rolling off thatched roofs and gathering in drifts in the gutters. People were out with brooms now, sweeping them inside their houses to keep.
There was a knock at the door and Kallort was ushered in, breathless and bowing.
“My Lord!” he gasped.
“By all the gods, Kallort, what fool spell did you cast to achieve… THIS?” a gesture to the window.
“I apologise most humbly, O Master Wizard, I don’t know what could have gone wrong! I was just going home to double-check the words…”
“And did you?”
“I have the book here, Sire”.
He straightened up and removed from under his arm a heavy old book bound in animal skin and tooled with gold. He opened it.
“Let me see… Charms for love… Gold from lead… Lighting fires... Ah, here we are! ‘To Produce Rain’…”
He placed the tome on Undaril’s desk and traced the words with a spindly finger. “To produce a Storm, recite these words while thinking with all Thine Strength of Heavy Rain and Thunder. ‘Zerrellian, bejem. Drraag, VOLOK’, to be said with Increasing Fervency.”
“Well, that’s exactly what I said…” muttered Kallort to himself, “and I’m sure I rolled the Rs correctly.”
“Yes, but what were you thinking about?” asked Undaril.
Kallort looked up. He frowned.
“I… What was I thinking..?” He gazed around the room as though something in there would jog his memory. Then, his eyes widened and he slapped himself on the forehead.
“Beads! I was thinking of buying a necklace for… For a friend.”
“By Froak, man! Well, now at least we have the explanation for this farce. Remove the spell at once.”
“Yes, My Lord.” Kallort flicked pages.
“You… do know how to remove it? You surely didn’t cast a spell without knowing the Reverse?” Undaril placed both hands on his desk and leant forward, “Did you?”
Sweat appeared on Kallort’s brow. He flicked more frantically.
“Ah! ‘For Inducing Drought‘”
Undaril rolled his eyes. Hardly suitable, but for the short term it would have to do, before the city and – gods know, possibly the kingdom? – were knee-high in beads.
“Say it. And for the sake of all the gods, think of… the absence of glass beads!”
Kallort nodded and hastened to the window with the book in his hands. He read the words through under his breath, moving his lips, then screwed his eyes shut. He held out one hand.
“Medong, Jelegg, zabaar, Fahd DRISS!” he declared. He kept his eyes shut, obviously too afraid to look. Undaril stared out of the window in quiet desperation. Towards the east end of town he saw a disgruntled queue forming outside his office. Complaints about damaged roofs and windows, no doubt. He shook his head, then looked up. Had the fall of beads eased slightly? He squinted at the purple clouds, which didn’t seem quite as quite as dark as before. Glancing down, he noticed there were definitely fewer beads falling. At length, the sun appeared. He suppressed a gasp. The whole town, to the far horizon, sparkled.
“You can open your eyes, Kallort, it’s worked. But what else it’s done remains to be seen. You haven’t heard the last of this… And neither, I suspect, have I.”