Hail, readers and fellow Word Wranglers! This week’s challenge from the Venerable Penmonkey Chuck Wendig was to use a Random Fantasy Character Generator to find a potential flash fiction scenario and present it to him with all, er, veneration. My random draw was “A nebbish sorcerer tries to get a date”. And so I present, all venerated-like:
“Love Potion No. 9”
Reginald the Wary stood alone in the leaky, night-slick alley at the door of the Doxy’s Moxy. His robes displayed stains even the color-blind couldn’t miss. His hair stood at wild angles, and the eyebrows above his potion-bottle glasses were singed. He trembled visibly, and not with cold.
Inside, there was Daisy, bright as a hot-pink sun. His glasses fogged over at the thought.
He raised his spotted chin, girded his overactive but shy loins, and opened the door.
Someone sailed through at chest-level and knocked him flat as a set of ten-pins.
So Orlav was in. Good.
He righted himself, weaving slightly, and plucked his twisted glasses from the cobblestones that had so conveniently broken his fall. He wiped them fastidiously on his sleeve with indifferent results, and tried again.
He made it all the way to the bar this time, managed to avoid being spotted by the radiantly spinning Daisy despite tripping over his own feet.
Orlav’s brow furrowed, eyebrows crashing together like colliding caterpillars. He perched his bulk on a stool meant for lesser mortals, too good to stand behind the bar like other innkeepers. “So? You got it?”
Orlav’s brow cleared as he took the small vial in his meaty palm. “It even looks like money,” he approved. The rich green liquid inside cast a golden faerie glitter. Orlav removed the cork with this teeth and took a whiff with his wide, hairy nostrils. He spit out the cork. “Smells like it, too.”
“A few drops per bottle should be sufficient. Do we have a deal?”
“Sure, sure.” Never removing his eyes from the vial, he extracted a slip of folded paper from about his person.
“Are you sure this will work?”
The caterpillars crashed again, with unprecedented violence. “You doubting me, you sputtering squirt?”
“No, of course not.” Reginald made good his escape, but not before a tinkling voice waylaid him. “Leaving already, Reggie?” An upside down face dropped from heaven. Raspberry hair was pinned jauntily with a bright, overlarge daisy.
“S-s-sorry,” he stammered. “B-b-b-business.” He fled.
Seeming moments later he slammed the door of his lab behind him, hyperventilating and without any clear idea of how he’d gotten there. The rented space was organized to the point of concern. Blast marks indicated those occasional accidents that involved more than setting his eyebrows on fire.
He hung his outer robes on a peg by the door and repaired to his workbench. Eight half-full bottles with peeling, mocked him from an overhead shelf. He carefully unfolded the paper with trembling hands.
The disappointment was palpable. The instructions scrawled in a barely coherent hand—one he suspected belonged to the tortuously literate Orlav—concluded in yet another version of Windegast’s All-Consuming Elixir, designed for the sole enjoyment of the writer rather than the potion-maker. Reginald’s one and only experience with the stuff still gave him nightmares.
Reginald’s forehead thunked on his workbench. Hot pink visions of Daisy danced in his head, adding to his predicament. He groaned.
After a humid moment he glared at the formulae on the paper before him. Old Windegast had been a joker, and no mistake. No wonder some determined revenge-taker had left behind nothing but a pair of smoking shoes.
If only Number 7 had some of Windegast’s staying power—and therein lay a joke he didn’t even want to consider.
His rebellious mind began to tick over, sluggish at first, but then at its familiar, frenetic rate.
He’d have to stabilize the over-enthusiastic, delusion-inducing charm effect that had proven such a problem, but Number 4’s mellow bliss should see to that. Of course there was the side-effect of wanting to eat everything in sight to consider…
One week and a new pair of eyebrows later, Reginald reentered Doxy’s Moxy with something resembling triumph. He even remembered to avoid the propelling patron this time.
Orlav looked well-pleased to see him, a good sign. “This it?” The potion was hot pink, just like Daisy. “Well, then, pull up a chair and buy me a drink.” He motioned his bartender into action, who immediately presented two foaming leather tankards. “Tol’ja it’d work, dinnit I?”
Orlav gave the vial a vigorous shake, causing an involuntary squeak to issue from Reginald. “Why not give it to ‘er yerself?”
“If she knew I’d potioned her the spell would break!”
“Fair enough.” He shook it again. “Hardly seems worth all the trouble, doxy like that.”
Reginald came over all hot pink himself—with rage. As Orlav turned away he snuck another vial from his sleeve. He uncorked it and dumped the contents into the other man’s tankard. Reginald lifted his in a toast. “To love!”
“To doxies!” Orlav drained his tankard.
Reginald stuck two fingers in his mouth and whistled. Every head in the place turned. Every woman in the place shrieked and tackled the surprised Moxy owner, their feet not touching the floor. “To Old Windegast,” Reg murmured as he plucked Love Potion Number 9 from Orlav’s outstretched, twitching hand.
Horror struck every nerve as he turned. “I thought it was your day off?”
Daisy shook her head, eyes wide as her boss was more or less torn apart in being loved to death. “Filling in for Mabel—I mean, ‘Velvet’. What happened to Orlav?”
He was too shocked to lie. “He called you a doxy not worth any trouble.”
Her eyes got wider. Then she grinned. “‘Bout time, the surly bastard.” Then she shocked him further by turning that smile on him. He nearly swallowed his Adam’s apple. “Fancy a drink?”
Reginald nodded, rendered speechless.
“Good. There’s a new seafood place just opened I’d love to try.”
“Let’s leave now, shall we?”