This is a horrible idea. I thought to myself as I jerked the wheel angrily and nearly hit a green Chevrolet.
“Watch out!” my mom shouted.
“Sorry!” I replied, my hands trembling. I took a deep breath before putting the car into reverse. A few moments later the car was parked without further mishaps. Mom and I got out and surveyed my work. “I really need more practice…” I chuckled. The car was in the parking spot… horizontally.
“Why are we here again?” my mom asked, nodding to the newly re-built McDonalds, which was stationed around the corner and down the road-a-ways from our house.
“We’re meeting a wizard,” I replied. My mom gave me a look. “I know, I know,” I sighed, “that sounds strange. But it really isn’t! He’s the wizard from Defenders of the Realm! You know, the board game I’m making into a story? The wizard won’t tell me him name…. I have five possibilities – I asked my blog followers which they liked best, remember? Well, he has decided to come into our world, from the Realm. He said he’d meet me somewhere to disclose his name…. and the place he picked was McDonalds!” I explained in one hurried breath.
“Why did he pick McDonalds?” my mom questioned, holding the door open for me. I shrugged as I went inside.
“He said he’s never had fast food before and wanted to try it out…. I didn’t even know Wizards liked fast food! Especially this wizard… He is so grim and grumpy, he doesn’t like anything.”
I had only seen a McDonalds as crowded as this one once, and that was in Times Square, New York City.
It is lunch time, I suppose. I reasoned as I unconsciously began to hum the theme from New York, New York.
“Should we wait for this, er, wizard friend of yours or get in line?” Mom asked me.
“I don’t know…” I said absentmindedly. My gaze swept the McDonalds, searching for a tall, old man, with a face as stormy as his dark gray beard. He would have a long staff with him, sure to draw attention. And if the staff didn’t, the midnight blue cloak he always wrapped himself in would.
“Come on,” my mom called. I hurried to join her at the end of a long, long line.
“He’s not here yet!” I cried is dismay.
“I’m sure he’ll be here soon,” Mom reassured.
As she spoke a curious looking female made her way over to us. I recognized her at once and groaned. “Gwina.”
She held herself beautifully; erect and imposing. She wore a long dress with slits going up just past her knees on either side. The dress had puffy sleeves and fitted in a loose turtleneck under her chin. Her boots were black and looked heavy. Yet as she stepped towards my mom and I, her feet looked as if they didn’t even touch the ground.
Elven make. I realized.
In her hand was a staff, slim, and twirling at the end. She wasn’t wearing a travelling cloak, but a jacket-like garment which fell to the floor and had no sleeves.
Her face held much mirth and she was grinning a flashy smile. Her long black hair fell down to her waist, even though it was tied in a high ponytail.
“Hi.” She grinned at me. “I suppose I have the pleasure of meeting ‘The Author’?”
“Yes. What are you doing here?” I asked, glaring back at Gwina. “Did… The Wizard send you?” I still didn’t know his name.
“The Wizard-“ Gwina had to stop talking as she burst into a fit of laughter. Her laugh was booming, commanding the attention of everyone. Heads turned towards us and my face went red with embarrassment. “No, no,” Gwina said when she finally stopped laughing and grew very serious, a trait of hers I would have to remember. “’The Wizard’ did not send me. I’m afraid I brought you here under false pretenses. You see-“ she laughed again – “I wanted to try this thing called ‘fast food’ so much that I shifted into ‘The Wizard’ and asked you to meet him here!” Gwina looked quite pleased with herself and I groaned again as I remembered her special skill: shape-shifting.
By this time we had reached the front of the line.
“I’ll take a number 5 please,” I ordered, momentarily ignoring the wizard from another world who stood next to me.
“Angus snack wrap,” said my mom. “What do you want Gwina? We’ll pay,” she added generously.
Gwina was staring open-mouthed at the selection board. “I’ve never even heard of some of these foods!” she gasped.
“She’ll take a number 5 too,” I said.
In less than five minutes our food was ready. We took our things to the only empty table in the place and sat down.
“How do you like your food?” I asked Gwina.
She sat chewing slowly, as if pondering the food. “Very interesting,” she said at last. I tried asking Gwina some more questions, about the Realm and the other Heroes – I needed more background information - but she wouldn’t answer. We finished our meal in silence.
When Gwina swallowed her last bite and shoved her garbage into the middle of the table, she turned and looked me straight in the eyes. “I didn’t bring you here just to eat your peculiar food. I came to tell you nothing. I know ‘The Wizard’s’ name and I’m prepared to tell you. He’ll kill me if he finds out, though!” her eyes widened, but I could see mirth sparkling in their depths.
“I won’t tell,” I said.
Gwina leaned back in her chair. “His name is-“
At that moment a flash of light erupted near the cash register. People screamed. A booming voice called out: “GWINA!”
“Uh-oh…” Gwina said. “He’s found me!” Sure enough, he had.
The most powerful wizard since Amarak the Great was standing in McDonalds. My face hit my palm. How was I going to explain this one??
“Gwina!” The Wizard walked towards us, his cloak flapping out behind him, his staff tapping ominously on the floor.
Gwina stood up and faced The Wizard, her staff held high. She was nearly as tall as him and just as imposing. “What do you want?” she asked.
“You know you are not allowed to leave the Realm!” The Wizard boomed. Everyone was watching. Most had their phones out and were recording. Silly them. They would find, as soon as they replayed the scene that Gwina and The Wizard weren’t really there. Technology of our world wasn’t able to record figments of my imagination. I knew because I had tried before.
“I’m allowed to leave the Realm!” Gwina replied haughtily. “You can’t tell me what I can and cannot do. Besides, we’ve had to leave the Realm before...” Gwina didn’t finish her thought and instead nodded in my direction. “Author, we can’t disclose too much information.”
“Ah, yes.” For a moment The Wizard’s furrowed brow unfolded itself as he gazed on me. Then it wrinkled back into its ever present look of grim worry. “Gwina, you know what I mean. You cannot leave the Realm and come… to this place; the Author’s place.”
“I already did. And so did you, making you a hypocrite.”
“I am no hypocrite!” boomed The Wizard.
“No, you’re just a grim old wizard!” Gwina said. “All the Author wanted was to know your name! You would not tell her so I decided-“
“You decided to take matters into your own hands, like you always do,” finished The Wizard.
“Well, I’m here to undo this. You are coming back to the Realm with me!” The Wizard glared at Gwina.
“No! You can’t make me!”
“Yes I can!”
“Try and you’ll be sorry!”
“Fine!” The Wizard lifted his staff and said something in the Spell Language. Before he could finish Gwina lifted her own staff and countered his spell. They stood there, casting and countering for a few minutes, people watching, all agape, until I decided that, as author, I should intervene.
“Guys, stop it,” I said, getting between them. The two Wizards stared at me for a moment and then lowered their staffs. “Gwina, I want you to go home with… The Wizard,” I said. Gwina gasped at my betrayal. I lifted my hands, “Not yet, you don’t have to go yet.” She sighed in relief. “Gwina, will you go with The Wizard and promise to be nicer to him if he gives me his name?”
“Yes,” Gwina said with a decided nod.
“Wizard, do you agree to this bargain? Gwina will try not to bother you as much if you give me your name.”
The Wizard stared at me for a full minute and a half before nodded slightly, giving in.
“Good.” I smiled. “Name please?” I looked at the old, grim, weather-beaten face, so full of the misery of past battles and the foreshadowing of one’s yet to come.
“What?” He had said it so quietly, I nearly didn’t hear.
“You heard me; I am not going to say it again.” Isengrim, The Wizard, grunted.
He touched his staff to the ground, murmured something and disappeared in a flash, just as he had come. Gwina smiled broadly at me before doing the same. Then they were gone.
I smiled like the mad author I was. Isengrim. MWAHAHAHA.
Not my best work. But I figured out the wizard's name! Isengrim just seemed to fit... I think I knew that the moment I wrote that name in my list of possible names. It will just give Gwina reason to annoy him. Hee hee.
Live long and prosper!