“I love a little magic and fantasy. Come with me into the world of witches and wizards.”
I wrote this story in answer to the following prompts:
Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #111 — The picture above.
Word of the day challenge — Flexibility
Ragtag Daily Word — Translucent
Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie – Wordle — Ignorance, Honeysuckle, Expose, Cohesive, Grace, T-shirt, Sterling-silver, Moan, Spring, Trellis, Sleepy, Frills
The Divine Owl
Derren had the appearance of a regular old man in a brown trenchcoat. With his longish grey hair and a phone clasped behind his back; he perused the shelves of the old bookstore. He wasn’t interested in the world’s locked within those covers. He wouldn’t pay a sterling silver coin to own a story from the bookstore.
Sighing at the ignorance of the shop assistant, he continued to peruse the crates of books. Darren’s moment would come. To expose himself in this sleepy bookstore too soon would come with dire consequences.
Changing aisles, Derren heard the door open; it’s ceiling bell tinkling a cheerful note. Stealing a glance, he watched a young lady enter with a flowery rucksack on her shoulder. Wearing a close-fitting black T-shirt and jeans; she came across as a lady of little frills and grace. The glowing purple ponytail in her otherwise black hair left Derren smiling. “At last!” he breathed.
“Good afternoon, Liesel,” greeted the shop assistant.
The old man moved the end of the aisle and watched from the shadows.
“Hello, Helga. How are you?” Liesel replied, passing the counter full of bookmarks, pens, and knickknacks.
From his hiding place, Derren felt tense. He could tell the girl was on alert by the way studied the store like an anxious squirrel.
“I’m good thank you. In for your usual research?”
Liesel nodded, “Yup, I have one or two more biological definitions to look up today to finish my project. I’ll be quick in case you want to go home early.”
“Oh, yes. You’ll be finished today alright!” Derren breathed.
“Don’t you worry about that. I’ll bring your herbal tea in a few minutes.” Helga smiled and stepped through the door behind the counter.
“Thank you, Helga.” Liesel smiled while entering the lines of bookshelves.
Derren followed at a safe distance. Watching, waiting for his opportunity.
Liesel approached an ancient, round oak table toward the back of the bookstore. It bore a black lantern and a pot of pens. She placed her rucksack on a chair and glanced about her.
The old man flinched away, praying she hadn’t seen him. Tension tightened his chest as she shook her head. He watched her point at the lantern and smile as the candlewick ignited. “Very clever. Seems you discovered the secrets of what you took. Now, show me where it is?”
Bathed in the glowing light of the lantern, Liesel turned her attention on the shelves of science books. Taking several books including a thick biology tome, she laid them on the table.
Derren could barely contain the trepidation boiling within him. His breathing grew heavy as a tremble shivered through his body. He watched a white glow emerge from the thick book as she opened it on the table. There it was, the milky, translucent form of an owl.
“Here’s your tea, Liesel,” Helga announced as she approached.
Cursing his luck, Derren watched Liesel close the book again. “Come on, man! You have to be patient.”
“You’re a star. Thanks, Helga.” Liesel accepted the mug and took a sip.
“My pleasure. Let me know if you need anything else.” Helga glanced at the books on the table then left her customer to work.
The girl removed a notebook from her rucksack sat down with her back to the shelves of books.
Derren grinned, her back was to him too. He crept forward as the table began to glow again. The owl of knowledge would be his again — he could feel it.
Liesel lifted the ancient artefacts from the book. Holding it reverently in her hand, she opened the second book. “Divine Owl, tell me the secrets of horehound?” she whispered.
A deep wise voice emanated from the owl, “Horehound is a mystical herb of the mint family. Identified by oval leaves with a cloak of soft, white hair and delicate white flowers. Its name is derived from the Egyptian god Horus. It’s energised from the planet Mercury and imbued by the star signs Gemini and Virgo. It enhances the power of the air.”
“Thank you, Divine Owl. Please will you tell me the uses of horehound?” Liesel questioned.
Derren had come within four-feet of her now, he was poised to strike.
“Horehound is a bitter healing herb. Used mainly in tinctures, potions and incense. This mystical herb has powerful healing properties against poisons and serpent venoms. It features heavily in pagan potions for respiratory maladies. When burned along with sage it banishes demons, Blesses homes or workplaces and shelters against curses.”
“Thank you, divine owl. I —”
Derren leapt forward snatching for the owl.
Liesel shrieked and held on for all she was worth.
The table toppled sending the books and lantern crashing to the floor.
“This does not belong to you!” Derren wrenched the owl from her grasp.
“No! It’s a great teacher. I’m using it only for good. I won’t let you take it!”
Derren swore as her eyes glowed opaline-blue. He felt a wave of cold energy coming. Crossing his arms, he tapped his wrists causing sparks to surround him.
Liesel’s magic erupted like a wall of cold fire; encasing him for a second. Then she slammed into him; grabbing the owls as the two crashed into the bookcase.
In a vivid green flash, the bookstore disappeared.
Derren felt a moan escape his lips. His limbs slammed and cracked through a trellis of stems as he plunged through honeysuckle. It’s strong, sweet fragrance overpowering as he collapsed onto a lawn. Blinded by the warm, spring sunlight, he sucked in lungfuls of air as he cradled the magical artefact.
“Damn you! Give me the owl,” Liesel cried.
“You don’t understand. Wielding the divine owl. Learning the secrets of the universe puts you in grave danger. You may not believe it but I come from the side of good. Dark warlocks will kill you for —”
Lisa lunged, “I’ve had it for a year. Nothing bad —”
The owl pulsed again.
Derren cried out as Liesel’s shoe cracked his jaw. He felt as if he was falling through the lawn.
The garden was gone.
Liesel shrieked as a burst out of the clouds in free fall 20,000 feet in the air. “What the hell is this!”
Derren was dripping wet. He swore at the rapidly approaching ground. “The owl’s trying to protect you by trying to teleport us apart.”
“Then it’s bloody crazy!” Liesel tried to flap her arms. Failing to slow her descent despite her flexibility, “In case you hadn’t noticed were falling to our deaths at about a thousand miles an hour.”
“A hundred and thirty-four miles per hour actually,” Derren yelled into the onrushing air.
“What?” Liesel looked aghast at him.
“Terminal velocity is —”
“Hey, sod the science. We’re falling!”
“Yes, I have noticed.” Derren held out the owl. “Put your hand on this and promise to help.”
“Okay,” Liesel placed a hand on one wing. “Now, what! We have 2000 feet left!”
“Divine owl, I Derren Pendergrist and Liesel Hannigan are a cohesive force for the good. Set us down so I may teach and help her channel her magic for the forces of healing and nature. Nunc Terram!”
“Great! Nothing hap —”
The two were hit by what felt like a tidal wave of water. Bludgeoned sideways the world flashed green once more.
The sky was gone.
Derren saw a fleeting glimpse of red-and-cream painted walls. His shoulders thundered into the back of the sofa. It crashed to the ground, pitching him into dining chairs as he came to rest beneath the table.
“Ugh, that hurt!” Liesel groaned.
“Welcome, to my home. I —” Derren sat up, created a hollow thunk and fell flat again. “Gah, bloody wars!” he moaned
“I cracked my head on the damned table!” Derren extracted himself from the furniture and stood up rubbing his head. He saw Liesel sitting within the mangled remains of his clothes horse and chuckled. “Could have been worse. This smart-arse owl could have teleported us into a volcano or something!”
“And yet I still want it back!” Liesel demanded looking furious again.
“I know. Listen, after everything you’ve learned and all the things you’ve been able to do since taking the owl from the antique shop; I understand your desire to keep it.”
“You have no idea. I went from the worst student to the best in school. For the first time, people respect me instead of laugh at me. And … And I can do magic.” Liesel gave the owl a reverent look.
“The owl only works for you because you’re already a very powerful young lady. All the artefact did was allow you to harness the magic you already possess as it imparted its knowledge. Now, as I said the dark warlocks seek to destroy you and possess this owl. Will you allow me to keep it to protect you —”
“But I —”
“Please … I will allow you to continue to learn from the owl as I train you in the mystical arts. You shall become a powerful witch on the side of good. Do you consent?”
Liesel thought for a moment then nodded. “I will. Thank you, Derren.”
“No, Thank you, dear lady.” Breathing a sigh of relief, Derren smiled while realising he just snatched victory from the jaws of doom. With Liesel and the divine owl under his protection, he knew all would be right with the world once more. At least as far as magic was concerned anyway.
Have a great day!