Thursday, September 8, 2016

Friday Flash: A Wizard's Not a God

Last week, I revisited a character I'd created out of a Wendig Challenge a year or so back, involving a random D&D character generator. This week's challenge was a return to the character generator, and I drew "a snobby elf wizard from a conquered city who never returns anything he borrows." It only took to the start of the second paragraph to realize that he has run up against...Millicent, the Dragon Librarian.  In exactly 1000 words,

A Wizard’s Not a God


“I fail to see what that has to do with me.” Ganlon Elfborn looked down his nose—his very long nose—at the paltry human who dared to address him. Not only address him, but make demands. What right did she have to demand anything of him, an elf and a wizard?

He didn't say all that aloud. He didn’t have to. It was all visible on his aristocratic face for anyone who cared to look.

Millicent had plenty of experience dealing with snobbish elves, as well as devious dragons and irate fauns. She could read his face without even thinking, and Ganlon couldn’t intimidate her, elfborn wizard or no.

“As you are the one who borrowed the books, it has everything to do with you.”

“Your quaint library should be grateful for the opportunity to serve such as I,” Ganlon insisted. “Your talk of returning books and late fees is absurd. It is beneath me.”

Millicent sighed. It had been a long day. She'd broken up three fights--one between a party of dwarfs and a group of fauns, and two brawls between ogres. Now she had to deal with this pompous idiot. Ganlon thought he deserved everything, as though being elfborn and a wizard made him some kind of god. Well, in Millicent’s library, gods paid their late fees. Even the dragons paid their fines, and they owned the place.

Ganlon wasn’t much of a wizard, in Millicent’s opinion. He came from Ouray, a modest little city that had been overrun by orcs the previous winter. Apparently the wizard hadn’t been good enough to keep them at bay. That he’d escaped with his life told Millicent that he hadn’t stuck around to fight, either. Some wizard.

“It’s entirely your choice of course, sir.” Millicent had polite insubordination down to a fine art. “You may choose not to pay your fines. But I can’t let you borrow any more books until you do, and until you return the books you have.”

“And if I choose not to do so?” Ganlon didn’t actually say “you pathetic human,” but his tone said it for him.

Millicent was dragon-raised and had done time in the slums. An arrogant elf-wizard didn’t scare her in the least, and she had a temper, however well she controlled it. She took pleasure in answering.

“If you fail to return the books, we will have to send our collections department after you, I’m afraid.”

“Oh?” His tone said he was laughing at the idea of a library collecting a debt from a great and glorious wizard.

“That would be Boris.” She said it like she expected him to know who Boris was. Everyone with any sense knew about Boris, and no one with any sense annoyed Boris.

Ganlon pretended he didn’t know about Boris. “How interesting. Your collections department is one man named Boris?”

Millicent looked the elf-wizard over. Was he really that stupid, or that arrogant? So over-confident that he thought he could defeat the hound of the Dark Lord? According to the terms of her employment, she was required to make certain all library patrons understood what it meant to have the collections department pursing them, so she spoke slowly and clearly.

“Boris is a magical hound from the seventh realm. The dragons captured him when they defeated the Dark Lord, and later trained him to their uses. They did not,” she added with emphasis, “tame him. Once he is loosed in pursuit of a defaulter, there is really no calling him off.”

Ganlon continued to look down his nose at her, but Millicent noticed that the hand he rested on the back of a chair now clenched it tightly, as though to control trembling. He made an effort to show that it was rage, not fear, that moved him.

“You have no right to speak to me in this manner, minion.”

Millicent beckoned to the imp who was shelving books in the near aisle. “Pongo, please notify Collections that we will have a job for them shortly.”

“No! Wait!” Ganlon was sweating now. “If—if I might,” he faltered. Millicent could see that it was an act. Mostly. Ganlon went on, buying time and plotting just as fast as his narrow mind could manage. “If I might just have a moment. To consult—I can return the books this afternoon if you insist.” His tone strove to indicate that she was unreasonable, but that he would humor her.

Millicent didn’t care about the elf’s tone. She wanted her books back, and maybe the late fees, though that didn’t really matter. She studied him. An arrogant elf wizard asking for just a little more time to consult a book…she smiled. Millicent knew exactly what book he would select. Let him.

“Very well. Pongo, cancel that order. Carry on shelving, please.” She looked at Ganlon over the tops of his glasses. “You have precisely one-half hour to consult what you wish. You may take nothing out of the library, and there is no food or drink permitted in this room. At the end of your half hour, you will return all the books you have borrowed, and pay your late fees, within 24 hours.”

The wizard gave a triumphant smile, confident now that he’d won and not caring if she saw it.

Millicent didn’t smile until he disappeared into the aisle where the spelled books were chained to the shelves. Most wizards thought, sooner or later, that they could control those books, and thus control the world.

It was why there were so few wizards.

Millicent waited until she heard a gasp, then sounds she tried to ignore.

“Pongo?” she called in a hushed library voice. “Please notify the legal department that we will be proceeding against the estate of Ganlon Elfborn for the collection of a number of stolen library books and four copper pennies in late fees.”

Another wizard had learned, too late, that he was not a god.
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©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2016
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!

2 comments:

  1. Mmmm, keep going with Millicent, and I'm looking forward to the collected volume... if one can say that about a library of stories, sorry, a set of stories about a library.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She's rapidly becoming a favorite. Besides, with 40 or so 12-14 year olds passing through our library every day after school, I'm getting lots of ideas for interactions :D

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