23 October 2007

Things are Popping Up in Dunvegas - part deux

Archibald Horatio Fritz recognized he wasn't particularly a man of patience. Maybe living for a mere seven-and-a-half-thousand years had done that to him. But dammit, couldn’t that clown Igor get this single task done in time. All he had to do was deliver Roger Ing as soon as the tradesman entered DunVegas, before another woman could soil the magic Fritz had planted on the mortal.

What on earth could be keeping them?

This was going to be one of those weeks, he could tell. It started when he'd arrived at his office this morning and noticed the Marfeld Granite had been stolen, again, from his fireplace. The pitch black hole in the hearth's stone surrounding stood out as a sullen marker to its absence.

Fritz wasn't too worried about it. The problem with owning a sentient magical stone was that, when it had the mind to, it vanished at regular intervals by persuading someone to steal it. It invariably found its way back eventually, probably a year or two down the road, having caused much havoc while it traveled. After the first time, when he'd spent six months chasing the damn thing on horseback across medieval Europe, he just let it do its own thing. It was a lot simpler.

Impatiently he glanced up at the door.

Where the Hell are they?

Irritated Fritz shuffled the papers on his desk, then settled back to reading the report he'd ordered on Roger. The fool was perfect for the job, unfortunately. Fritz just hoped Roger was man enough to do it.

Finally, there was a knock on the door. Quickly checking the local aura Fritz recognized Igor's cold blue chill, and the fuzzy puce of Robert's, along with the ghostly aura of Robert's parents.

Good! Now to get down to details.

##

The concierge carefully stepped back to usher me, first, into the room of gloom and doom. My initial observation, other than the tall, silver haired man who was sitting behind a huge redwood desk staring angrily at me, were the two aquariums embedded into the wall behind him. Or, to be more precise, the dozen or so toads that croaked miserably inside the aquariums, and the brass plaque engraved with a dozen names…

"Sit down, Mr. Ing. We need to talk."

Fritz, I assumed, pointed to a high backed leather lounge chair in front of the desk.

"You're late," he snapped at the concierge. To give him his due the concierge paled only a little at the reprimand.

"Well, talk about rude…" Mom huffed.

"My apologies, sir, but something happened—" the concierge began.

I blushed as the sour faced employee readied himself to expose the most embarrassing moment of my life.

"I haven't got time to listen to your flimsy apologies," Fritz cut the man short.

"Now there's a man who knows how to lead." Dad gave a knowing nod. I groaned inwardly. Why did they have to follow me here?

"Yes, sir." The concierge said.

"Good, you may go."

"Very well, sir, but I should ment—"

"Now!"

"Sir."

"Now, why couldn't you be more like Mr. Fritz, son?"

"Hush, Dad, Chuppypoo always tries his best."

Was I ever so glad no one could see my parents except me. Still, I sat there gritting my teeth as the concierge walked out of that room with more dignity than I felt. I tried sinking back far enough into the seat that Fritz couldn't see me. Sadly, it didn’t work.

"My apologies for Igor's behavior, Mr. Ing, I'm afraid his previous employer only had a bits and pieces job for him—and some very shocking habits, he almost took Igor apart."

Fritz took a twenty dollar cigar from the humidor on his desk, then offered me one.

"Don't you dare touch it!" Mom snapped

"A limited edition Hoyo de Monterrey, very nice," Dad said. "You should try one son, maybe three or four."

"I don't smoke," I said, gently tapping my chest. "Not good for the lungs."

Fritz shrugged and put the humidor back on his desk. I relaxed a little, the interview seemed to be going well, all things considered—if you didn't include mom and dad, that is.

"Well, Mr. Ing," Fritz continued. He cut the end off the cigar and lit it. "I'm afraid I have to kill you."

"What!" Mom screamed.

"What!" I assumed the thing squeaking was me. "Why? What have I done?"

"Let me at him, mother." Dad started taking swipes at Fritz. It was rather comical watching Dad’s wildly swinging fists pass through the wizard. "No son of a bitch is going to kill my son without my permission…"

I looked around the room, wondering if there was some way to escape. All I could see were the mahogany paneled walls and the heavy wooden door I'd come in by. Not even a window I could crash myself through. Somehow I didn’t think I'd have enough time to run for freedom anyway.

"Oh, do calm down. All of you." Fritz, flicked a hand towards me and a glittering ball of yellow webbing flashed out, separated into three and each tiny ball headed towards one of us. The tiny ball-thing smacked into my chest and burst around me, the strands and threads literally sticking me to the chair. Had I been thinking about escape?

Mom and dad, amazingly, hadn't fared any better. I was stunned.

"What? You think I haven't encountered ghosts before?" Fritz looked at mom and dad. "I was exorcising your kind when I was still in diapers."

"Changed your own diapers too, sweetling?" Mom added sarcastically.

"Of course." Fritz agreed. "And to clear things up, Robert, it's not about what you have or haven't done. It's about what you have to do."

"I'm gonna kill him, mother, when I get out of this."

"Oh, shut up." Fritz waved his hand again and suddenly we couldn't hear dad at all, in spite of the fact he was obviously shouting. Damn, I wish I knew that trick. Somehow, though, this didn't seem the right time to ask.

"We'll if I haven't done it," I hedged, "then all I have to do is not do it and you don't have to kill me, right?"

"That's so true, Chuppypoo."

Fritz sighed. Standing up he began to walk around the room, his cigar ash gently wafting over to the nearest ash tray as he moved.

"I have a problem, Mr. Ing," he explained, sounding more like a chastising mother than a huge casino owner and evil wizard. "I am getting old, and my only heir is my daughter, who is extremely young and, so far, unbirthed in her magic. Do you follow me?"

"A daughter?" Uh, oh, I could almost see my mom's mind working. She'd somehow gotten past the "I Must Kill You!" bit.

“How old is she?” Mom asked.

"Uhm, yes, daughter, birthed, magic. Very clear, yes." My mind went blank, I was about to die and my mom was trying to get me a date with my killer's daughter.

Fritz gave me a pained look before continuing. Mom hmmed to herself

"This situation in unacceptable as it would make her easy prey for anyone who wanted to take over my empire and, even dead, I cannot allow that to happen. So, I need her to come into her magic now so that I have time to train her before I die. Do you understand?"

"Unacceptable, prey, die." I nodded, my mind even blanker.

Fritz shook his head like a man in despair. Mom smiled.

"And in order to bring her magic out she has to undergo an ancient ritual in which one specific man, which turns out to be you, makes the ultimate sacrifice and gifts her his 'vital fluid'. Then, and only then will she be able to use the magic she was born to. Does that make sense?”

“Ritual, me, sacrifice. Yup, yup, all clear. May I go now? I have a plane to catch, somewhere in Antarctica I think, yep, my aunt lives there you know. Very sick, very, very sick. I’m her favorite nephew, you know.”

"Liar, you don't have an aunt." Mom said.

“Gee, thanks mom.” Which part of sacrifice, die and ritual didn't she hear—none of them sounded good on an empty stomach.

“Mr. Ing!” Fritz loomed over me like an archetypal Gandalf does to a hobbit. “You seem to misunderstand what I’m saying.”

“I got it alright,” I stammered. “You’re going to kill me in a slow and painful ritual and use my blood to bring out your daughter’s magic.”

Fritz’s laughter echoed dully in his huge office.

“Not at all,” he smiled. “The vital fluids are of a seminal nature, Mr. Ing, I need you to seduce my daughter.”

Mom's smile grew to a grin. “Perfect!”

“Seduce?” God, this guy must be working in cohorts with my mother. I looked at mom. Yep, definitely.

“Yes, Mr. Ing, my daughter needs to get laid to gain her magic, and your DNA, much to my shame, is the best match for awakening it thoroughly. Though, regardless of your name, I really have my doubts in your abilities to do the task.”

“But…how? I mean I’ve never seduced anyone in my life. How could I seduce your daughter? I don’t even know her.” Not to mention I must be the only thirty year old male virgin in existence.

"I've given you a little help there," Fritz admitted. "When you walked into DunVegas, you probably didn't notice, but you were hit with a very powerful glamour lust spell. It will make you virtually irresistible to women."

"Ooh."

"Moooom!" Geesh, no escaping it. And that lust spell? I did feel something in the back of my neck as I walked in. Maybe it was more than just the normal edginess I get around para's—it would certainly explain that 'incident' on the foyer floor. "What's to guarantee I'll be able to get to your daughter first? That your spell won't just pull in the first woman I meet?"

Fritz stopped walking long enough to tap some ash off his cigar onto the top of my head.

"You." He said. "If you so much as touch another woman it will taint the magic and I'll have to kill you."

"Oh, dear."

I glared at mother and decided to keep the encounter in the foyer secret. Well, as secret as I could.

"And don’t worry about meeting my daughter. She will be far too busy for the next three days dealing with Expo business to meet you, but I'll make sure she gets in touch with you on Tuesday, then all you need to do is let the spell, and nature, take its course."

"So I get to live for three more days, make love to your daughter then die?"

"Oh, my, oh, my. A grandchild! I really shouldn't be listening to this." Mom, again, pretending she'd come over with the pilgrims. I had a sneaky suspicion what she didn't know about sex could be written on the heads of two pins. (I said pins, okay? It doesn't have an e in it.)

"Precisely!" Fritz beamed.

"Why?" I asked. "Why do you have to kill me?"

"I would have thought it was pretty obvious," Fritz looked at me, seeming startled that I couldn't understand. "You really don't think I'd have you for a son-in-law do you?"


To be continued...

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