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Heroes of Mystara - Chapter 16

by Jesper Andersen

A meeting in the palace garden

It was a warm and sunny day in the palace garden. Butterflies were swarming everywhere and humming birds drinking the nectar of the flowers and beautifully sculpted sugar water feeders. The air was heavy with the smell of exotic flowers and little squirrels were darting around in several of the trees.

Ikaros walked past several cages with tigers and other of the king's pets and found a quiet spot in the middle of the garden and sat down on a white marble bench next to a beautiful fountain made from bright corals. He drank a sip of water and took out his journal to record some of his observations. Never had he seen such a place of tranquillity and beauty!

He had written half a page when he heard something in the bushes behind him. He looked back over his shoulder but only saw the leaves moving a little. A moment later he heard it again. This time he put away his book and stared into the bush intensely.

'Why don't you come out of there?' he asked. 'It's okay'. A small girl, perhaps eight years old, in a nice silk dress came crawling out on her hands and knees, stood up and looked curiously at the Glantrian wizard.

'Who are you hiding from?' Ikaros said in a playful voice.

'My nanny - she says I have to take a bath' the little girl replied shyly while she stared fascinated at the wizard's spell component bags and heavily waxed red moustache.

'Ah, I see', Ikaros replied with a smile. 'I don't blame you. I never liked being forced to take a bath either. What is your name?'

'Clarissa, what's yours?'

'I am Ikaros Ilfamion from Boldavia in the Magocracy of Glantri'.

'Are you a wizard?' Clarissa asked and Ikaros nodded proudly. 'Then show me some magic!' the little girl pleaded.

'Al right', Ikaros said. 'Let's see now, how that spell goes...'

He rose up from the bench and made a few gestures with his hands while he spoke the words of the spell that summoned up small magical creations. There was a sound in the air like the striking of a hundred small bells and a whirl of blue and white sparkles and then a miniature piano appeared out of thin air on the bench.

'Do you know how to play?' Ikaros asked with a smile.

'Not very well', Clarissa replied. 'My teacher says I have to practice'.

'Well, you must practice if you ever want to become good at anything in this life', Ikaros said with all the wisdom of an adult he could muster. 'Fortunately, this little piano can play all by itself'. And just then the miniature instrument began playing a merry tune.

Clarissa giggled and stared at the magic with a delighted look on her face. Then she reached around her neck and took a small golden chain with a beautiful broche on it. 'Here', she said. 'This is for you!'

'Oh no, I couldn't take that', Ikaros said and stared at the broche in his hand. It was made from silver in the shape two mermen framing a beautiful pearl. 'It's much too precious!'

'Take it!' Clarissa said. 'My father says always to pay people an honest wage for an honest job and I liked your magic!'

'Very well then' Ikaros said. 'I thank you for your gift. But speaking of you fa...'

Just then, a desperate cry across the garden interrupted them. 'Milaaaaaaaaady?? Where are you Milady?'

'Shoot! There's my nanny' Clarissa said with a sour face. 'She found me'.

A very large, round woman came darting around a corner. 'Milady! There you are. I have been looking all over for you! Don't you know that it is time for your bath?' she scolded. Ikaros stepped quickly aside as the woman grabbed Clarissa's arm.

'Sorry, nanny' she said in a quiet voice and waved back at Ikaros as she was dragged off to her bath.

'Come along, your highness' the woman said as they disappeared behind the bushes.

Your highness!?! Ikaros thought to himself and swallowed hard. He looked down at the broche in his hand and quickly put it in his pocket.

A few minutes later the steward returned and informed him that the Honor Plenipotentiary, Lady Gherynid, had time to see him now and would he please follow this way?

Ikaros cast a quick glance back at the way Clarissa had disappeared, collected his notes and followed the steward back into the palace.

Next time: A wizardly bargain