Monday, April 8, 2013

Prompt: In Search of Ye Olde Magicks Shoppe

Thanks to Wanderings in the Fantastic World for another great prompt!

Rachel felt every bone-jarring thump of the cart’s handmade wheels. She was too tired to lift her head and admire the scenic view of the green forest and white cliffs that overlooked the winding river as they descended through the mountain pass. She was too tired to do anything but hold on to the slender ribbons of light that glowed behind her closed eyelids.

Each ribbon led to a magicks shoppe, the brightest leading to the nearest one. They were invariably small and tucked into hidden quarters, never a sign to indicate their presence. If you didn’t know what was inside, you had no business there. Rachel hardly dared hope this one in Les Andelys would be the end of her journey.

She opened her eyes briefly, squinting against the bright spring sunshine, to look down into the small village nestled in the curve of the slow-flowing Seine. The light blue shining ribbon overlaid their path in her Sight, wavering along the road in front of the cart’s horse and driver, who were almost as travel-weary as she.

They had picked her up in the foothills on the far side of the mountain. The driver was old enough to be her grandfather, and he had tsked in dismay at her dusty, worn boots and heavy pack. He had insisted on giving her a lift through the mountain pass and into town, where he has headed with his cart full of vegetables and herbs for sale in the marketplace. After twenty minutes in the fragrant, bumpy cart, Rachel had reconsidered. But then it started to rain. He turned around with a sly grin and waved over the horse and cart. The rain bounced above their heads and slid down an invisible shield to drip onto the road as they passed.

“You wouldn’t begrudge an old man a little dry comfort, now would ye?” he asked with a twinkle in his eye. Rachel solemnly shook her head and snuggled under the threadbare blanket from her pack. He took a risk, revealing his magicks to a stranger. Did he sense that she had her own? Rachel’s magicks didn’t reveal Others to her Sight, only Sources, such as the magick shoppe in the village below.

They drove out of the rain as they crested the mountain gap, and the day broke with cheerful sunshine and a few of the spring’s first butterflies. Rachel shared the last of her bread with the driver, and he pulled two of the last fall’s apples out of pouch. Then he surprised her with a handful of spring berries. She couldn’t hide her wide grin. She didn’t know it was accompanied by a brightening of red tinge in her aura, and she missed the driver’s speculative look, intent on savouring the berries.

When they reached the marketplace, Rachel helped the driver unload his baskets onto the stall tables. Despite her protest, he pressed a small pouch into her hands. “Tis naught but a few apples and root veg to tide you over, mam’selle.”

She curtsied her thanks and turned to leave. He grabbed her hand, and she looked back in surprise. He pulled her into a hug and whispered in her ear. “I’ve been debating whether to say anyt’ing further.” She pulled away to look in his eyes. The twinkle was still there, but also concern—for her, she realized with a start. He reached under the neck of his tunic and pulled out a pendant, which he pulled over his head and draped over her own. She studied the amulet in her hand. He continued quietly, “This will hide you from Others’ Sight, mam’selle. You’re a good girl, and I don’t think you yet know what you are.”

Rachel looked up in surprise. “What am I?” she asked him with wide eyes.

He shook his head. “That’s not for me to say, mam’selle. But I wouldn’t see you come to harm before you have a chance to protect yourself. Go find what ye seek, and if ye return this way, I’ll be glad of company back over the mountain.”

Rachel dropped the amulet under her cloak and hugged the old man goodbye. She walked out of the marketplace in a daze, ignoring the sights and sounds of the vendors and their wares. Puzzling over the old man’s words, she looked again for the ribbon in her Sight.

There. It wavered around the edge of the market, leading down a side street. She followed it along the twists and turns through streets and alleys with no names. Suddenly, it disappeared, and she stood in front of a nondescript two-story building with no sign out front to indicate there was a shop inside.

Rachel pushed open the door and a bell rang overhead. She heard steps on the roof above, and someone started down the stairs on the side of the building. A cat lay in the window and opened one eye, looking her over with interest then standing and stretching, reaching towards her with a friendly mew. She reached out to let him sniff her fingers, then she rubbed gently behind his ears and under his chin.

“He don’t like anyone, most days,” said the old lady who shuffled down the final few steps. She looked closely at Rachel and sniffed. “Hmm. Never seen an aura like yours. What’s your magicks?”

Rachel stared. She’d never heard anyone speak so openly of magicks. And she didn’t know what an aura was. She shook her head in confusion. “I don’t know, m’dame. I hope you can help me. I’m in search of—”

“Yes, of course, I have it. Come on in, dearie. Let’s have a look at you. Who sent you out without preparing you?” The old lady turned and headed toward the back of the shop, not looking to see if Rachel followed.

She hesitated, then took a couple of running steps to catch up with the old lady as she reached a curtain that hid the room beyond. “You have it? How do you know what I’m looking for? I don’t understand what you mean about preparing me. I live at Saint Anne’s in Cergy—”

“Ah,” the old woman said, patting her hand. “That explains it. The nuns won’t have told ye about your magicks then. Come, child, we have much to discuss.”

TBC (perhaps)

Dogs in house:

Rachel Portman, Chocolat

Time writing:
50 minutes

April word count:


  1. Prompt: In Search of Ye Olde Magicks Shoppe

    Faith pulled the folded printout from Google Maps from her pocket and squinted at the tiny text. It should be around here somewhere. Her memory of the location was vague; eight-year-old her a decade ago had simply followed her eccentric Aunt Clara around the small English town.

    But her memory of the inside, that was as clear as high definition video. Objects had been piled precariously on every surface, sometimes even arcing over between shelves to form tunnels down the aisles. Her aunt had spoken to the proprietor at length, leaving Faith free to wander. She was unsure whether to trust the veracity of the memory despite, or perhaps because of, its clarity.


    _Ye Olde Magick Shoppe_, read the faded sign above the front window. She remembered complaining that it was spelling wrong and how her aunt had laughed. She pushed open the door and stepped into the dim interior.

    It was nothing like her memory. Plastic doodads hung from arrays of hooks on rickety metal shelves. None of the wooden, dusty, mysterious wonders she remembered.

    But the proprietor was the same. He rushed out, a short man with a vest, bowtie, and goatee. She had not even realised her memory of him was so strong.

    "Clar--" He stopped short halfway around the counter. "Oh. Sorry. Can I help you?"

    "No, but I think I can help you," said Faith, unsure from where the words had come.

  2. Ugh! Really not flowing today, but at least I managed something -- last night I worked until I fell into bed, so no time for writing at all.