“Prove to me a paranormal phenomenon.”

Ariciel looked up. She was standing in front of a large Human building. They had given her a piece of paper with a street name and a number. Number and name were the same. She was at the right place. Someone had explained the magic to her – there would be a small box next to the door, with a round shape on top, and if you pressed down on it, the occupants of the house would know she was there. Not to worry, they were friendly.

She followed the instructions, and before long, the door opened, and a short Human appeared. His head was bald, like Bannog’s. He had a long white beard, which, she supposed, Bannog would have soon enough. The little man looked up at her, with his mouth open. For a few moments, he didn’t say a word, simply stared. Not a problem. Ariciel had been told to expect that. The Humans here had hardly ever seen a Night-elf before. Tall, beautiful women with long snowy-white hair, clad in well-used leather armour, were presumably rather rare in this part of the world. The little man swallowed, and found his voice.

“You are Miss… Ariciel? Of the… Cenarion Circle?”

“Yes, Sir. Mr. James Randi?”

“Yes, yes. Um. Please come in.”

He took a step back, and Ariciel walked in the door. The place was a complete shambles. Stacks of paper everywhere. Books. Half-empty cups of tea, growing new forms of life that would probably, someday, end up claiming the world. Mr. Randi led Ariciel to what he called his “office”. He pointed a hand at a sofa, and she sat down. Mr Randi sat down next to her.

“Can I offer you anything? Tea, perhaps?”

“No, thank you,” said Ariciel, with a polite smile. A few of the feral cups of tea had been looking at her. “I’m quite alright.”

“Good, good.” The man took a breath, then suddenly grinned. “I do like the ears. They’re very good.”

Ariciel laughed. “Why, thank you!”

“Did you have them professionally done?”

“Eh?”

“Well, they look almost real. So does the skin tone. I must say that most of the quacks and charlatans I have to deal with don’t make that kind of effort.”

“Almost… real? They’re my ears!”

The little man chuckled.

“Of course they are. I apologise.”

“So, Mr. Randi. I’ve been told that you give people very large amounts of money for doing a few simple magic spells. Is that true?”

“Indeed I do, Miss Ariciel. Indeed I do. So what is it you do? Mind reading? Telekinesis? Bending spoons? Speaking with the Dead? Healing?”

Ariciel puffed out her cheeks.

“Well, I’m not really a great healer, but I can do a bit in a pinch. I find the dead never have anything interesting to say, so I try to avoid talking to them. My main job is to protect others in bear form. All the other things I’ve learnt… well, you know what it’s like if you get out of practice.”

Mr. Randi chuckled. “So you are a sorceress, then?”

“Oh gods, no.”

“Ah.”

“I’m a Druid. A feral Druid to be precise.”

“A Druid. I see. What does a Druid do?”

“What don’t we do? We can shoot fire, heal, take on the aspect of animals for hand-to-claw combat. Anything really.”

“And how does this work?”

“We draw mana from our surroundings into our mana pools, and channel that mana, magical energy if you will, into the spells we need. The Moon Goddess Elune grants us these powers to do her work.”

Mr. Randi laughed quietly to himself. Oh God, here we go again. The same magical babble he’d heard a thousand times before. To be fair, he’d used it himself, but at least he was honest about being a trickster. The sign on his door even said it: “Charlatan”. Psychic energy, electric fields, balance of the Universe. He knew it all too well, the explanations that explained nothing at all. Distracting, soothing noise to put the brain to sleep. Well, better conmen than this new-agey hippie chick had tried, if not in as good a costume and make-up.

“Ah. I see. Well, then. What can you show me?”

“What would you like?”

Mr. James Randi gave her a winning smile.

“Anything, Miss Ariciel. Anything.”

Ariciel got to her feet, looked round the room. Space was a bit tight, but it’d do.

“Give me a bit of room, please.”


“Are you alright, Mr. Randi?”

“B-b-b-b,” said Mr. Randi. He was lying on his back on the floor, staring at the ceiling.

“Here’s a glass of water. Take care, now.”

Ariciel helped Mr. Randi sit up. His fingers were trembling too much, so she held the glass to his lips, and tipped it up. He spluttered. His eyes were wide open.

“B-b-b… BEAR!”

“Yes. That was my bear form. Didn’t you like it? This is magic, after all. It’s what you asked for. More or less.”

Mr. Randi’s eyes suddenly burnt with fire. His hand shot out, grabbed one of Ariciel’s ears, and pulled.

“Oi!”

“It… it doesn’t come off!”

“Of course it doesn’t come off. Do I pull your bloody beard to see if it comes off?”

With trembling fingers, Mr. Randi touched Ariciel’s ear again.

“It’s warm!”

Ariciel rolled her eyes.

“Yes. Look, I understand. You Humans don’t have ears that long, and they look strange and fascinating to you. My boyfriend’s Human, and he likes to play with them as well, and I actually quite like that. But you are not my boyfriend, so hands off.”

Mr. Randi straightened his glasses, and got to his feet.

“I’m sorry, Miss Ariciel. I’ve never seen such a thing before in my life.”

“Well if you hadn’t told me, I’d never have guessed. Anything else, or is there more magic you want to see? I already healed you a bit. You’d knocked your head on the desk. Oh, and I knocked over your coffee table, sorry. Not very much room here.”

“I don’t suppose… you could show me again?”

“Hmm. Perhaps I’d better try something smaller.”


Bannog looked at the small piece of paper in his large hand, then at Ariciel.

This is what he gave you?”

“Yep.”

“So where’s the gold?”

“He said we could hand in that piece of paper, and they’d transfer the gold to our bank.”

Bannog gave the piece of paper back to Ariciel.

“This guy is a cheat. You’ve been had.”

“Oh come on. I didn’t fall out of the tree yesterday. He was telling the truth.”

“I’m sure he was very good at it, and very nice and friendly, but it’s a trick! They pick up on tiny little hints, gestures. I’ve seen them at it. And then they make you believe that they knew it all along.”

“He was lying on his back in a shock! Never seen a Druid before. How can he cheat me like that?”

“You’d be amazed. We had this guy back at the Caer, said he could bend spoons with his mind.”

“Well that’s bloody useless. Lenna can melt the things.”

“Yeah, well that was just to show what a fantastic mage he was. He could also detect metal ores with his mind.”

“My goodness, really? You can do that, can’t you?”

“Yeah, and look at pictures inside an envelope. Without opening them.”

“Just in case everyone forgot how to open a letter?” Ariciel raised an eyebrow.

“Just so. And the weird thing was, everybody thought he was the real thing! He was that good. So he’d go out into the desert, waving his hands about, and then suddenly go ‘Here! Dig here! That’ll be two hundred gold please!’ And then he’d get on his horse and gallop off, while his customers dug till they hit the Twisting Nether.”

“So they caught him and beat him to a bloody pulp?”

“No! No they didn’t, and that was the true genius. Nobody wanted anyone else to find out they’d bought onions for gold, so nobody told anyone else. He did the same stupid job for years.”

“Gosh.” Ariciel grinned. “So how much did he take you for, then?”

“Nothing.” Bannog grinned smugly. “The git came to visit the day after Selena’s birthday, and we had this conjuror for the party. He gave him one look and told him how he did it. Then Mr. Incredible, for a quick encore, made himself disappear.” Bannog looked seriously at his Night-elf love. “But he could cheat hundreds of people. And everybody was too embarrassed to show him up.”

Ariciel looked at the piece of paper again. A one, six zeroes. One million silver pieces. Enough to pay for everybody’s flying lessons. Her jaw set, and she crumpled up the paper and threw it away, fluttering on the breeze. She turned around, but Bannog’s hand was on her shoulder.

“He doesn’t have the gold. Why bother?”

“The satisfaction of pounding the little cheat into the ground?”

“Hang on to that blood-thirst. We’ve got a lot of questing to do.”

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  • By New short story. « The Redridge Chronicles on February 3, 2011 at 9:33 am

    […] A new short story is up. By bannog, on February 3, 2011 at 9:32 am, under Uncategorized. No Comments Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL. « Beer verdict LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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