Find previous chapters here.

“It’s all your fault,” Louise Kangraff’s repellent tones grated on his ears.

“No, it’s yours.  If we’d followed my plans, we wouldn’t be in this mess,” Maxwell’s slimy voice whined back.

He sighed deeply and rubbed his bald temple.  This is why he never had had children.  Their incessant whining had been going on for two days, and they had made no progress.  If he was to bear much more, he certainly needed tea.

While the unloving couple carried on their yelling match, he took a pinch from one of his powder pots and flicked it into the cold fireplace.  Sparks exploded into a roaring flame that licked the dry logs on the grate.  Checking the water level, he swung the kettle over the fire and began preparing three teacups.

With any luck, these ones would fare differently than their brethren and remain intact, not hurled against a dingy stone wall in a fit of rage.

“She shouldn’t have survived in the first place,” Maxwell was saying.

The sorcerer moved to offer the couple their tea, which they accepted automatically and then carried on with their fight.

“Well, if your nameless sorcerer is so powerful, how did she get away from him?”

And there it was, the question for which he had been waiting—the question to which he would also like an answer.  In their first act of agreement that he had witnessed, Louise and Max turned on him.  “How did she get away?” the king repeated.

He put on his most superior, knowing smile.  “It was all part of the plan, of course,” he assured them, sipping his tea.  “How else would Bill completely forget about her?  I had to send her away.”

“But what if she finds him?”

“Ghosts aren’t real, your majesty.”  His belly shook as he chuckled.

Louise’s eyes narrowed.  “You mean she’s dead?”

“The blade I stuck her with was poisoned with the rarest poison in existence, whose antidote is even rarer,” he assured them.  His old teacher was the only other living soul to know of the antidote’s existence.  The odds that whatever powerful force had ripped the girl from their presence somehow decided to drop her in the cottage of a batty old hermit who talked to his dog were so small that he would take his chances.  “She is dead.”

“That doesn’t solve how we will find Bill,” Louise pointed out.

“Don’t you have an army?” he taunted.  “I’m not your personal retriever spaniel.”

“He’s looking for the girl,” Maxwell reasoned.  “That should make him easier to find.  We’ll set every soldier and bounty hunter for hire to looking for him.”

Louise took a sip of her tea, and he relaxed.  The brew would do its work, and he would not need to replace another teacup.  Her shoulders were already losing some of their tension as she smiled.  “They’ll find him this time,” she sounded sure.  “When they do, we’ll give him such a beating he’ll never dare run away from us again.”

Please let me know what you think–and that’s an actual request, not just a standard end-of-post tack-on.  Your feedback means the world to me and motivates me to keep writing this story :)  Look for Chapter 18 on Friday.


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