Agatha of Agador is missing!

A cartoon image of a purple cosmetic jar with a stopper in the top

Alys was admiring the flowers which Agatha of Agador had sent to thank her for sorting out the shoddy builders who’d made such a mess in her house. The flowers were still as fresh as when they’d arrived several weeks ago. The young witch was wondering why Agatha hadn’t come for her monthly cosmetic order when the Retired Cauldron burst into a fit of coughing.

Alys hurried over. The Retired Cauldron spluttered and coughed up a crumpled note. Sparky flew across the room and scooped up the note, handing it to Alys.

The diminutive dragon perched on her shoulder as she read: ‘Agatha of Agador has vanished. Please come quickly!

The note turned itself over revealing Agatha’s doormat address.

‘Why ask us?’ asked Alys.

An excited puff of steam issued from Sparky’s nostrils. ‘Only one way to find out.’

Giving the Retired Cauldron a farewell pat, Alys stepped onto the doormat and announced the address.

A cartoon image of a purple cosmetic jar with a stopper in the top

‘Hello? Anyone here?’ called Alys hopefully. But there was no reply.

The room was dominated by an expensive cauldron standing between a huge book case and a large wooden table. Assorted ingredients were strewn over the tabletop where a golden ladle had spilled its contents across a well-thumbed spell-book.

Alys peered into the still-warm cauldron while Sparky hovered over the mess on the table craning his neck to read what Agatha, presumably, had been working on.

‘Look at this, Alys.’

Alys read the title: ‘Vanishe Away: for Prettie Youthefull Hands’. Alys frowned. ‘Why didn’t Agatha come to me? I could have easily made something like this.’ She shook her head. ‘I wonder what happened.’

‘Maybe she overdid the vanishing bit,’ suggested Sparky.

‘But she’s such an experienced spell-mistress.’

At that moment the curtain over the doorway to the next room started to flap wildly.

‘Is that you, Agnes?’ Alys called out.

The curtain flapped again.

Alys and Sparky exchanged glances. ‘What happened, Agnes?’

The curtain stopped moving.

‘Agnes?’

The curtain dangled unresponsively.

‘I’m sure that was her, Sparky.’

Sparky blew out a little cloud of purple smoke in agreement.

‘But what can we do?’

‘Undo the spell?’

‘But Sparky, undoing another witch’s spell…’ Alys shook her head. ‘I wouldn’t know where to start.’

‘You could ask one of the Sisters…’

The curtain flapped violently.

Alys shook her head. ‘No, we have to find a way. Maybe that’s why Agnes asked us. She’d be mortified if other members of the Western Coven found out that she’d vanished herself.

The curtain nodded in agreement.

‘Okay. Let’s think.’

‘Could we go back in time and stop her?’ asked Sparky.

Alys frowned.

‘Hermione used a time-turner in one of the Harry Potter books.’

‘Sparky, that’s fiction. It’s not real.’

‘There are real things in the Harry Potter books… like dragons,’ replied the diminutive dragon through a shower of indignant sparks.

‘Okay, Sparky.’

He flew up to the bookshelf and began examining the titles, while Alys fingered the sticky spell-book.

Tucked away on the top shelf, Sparky found what he was looking for. He tugged at the leather-bound volume with his claws. It teetered on the edge of the shelf before Alys came to the rescue.

Tweeking Time, a beginners guide,’ read the title.

Together they pored over the contents page. Spotting a promising description, Sparky turned to page 288. They read in silence for a moment. Alys started to nod. ‘Sounds like a plan, Sparky.’

A cartoon image of a purple cosmetic jar with a stopper in the top

Alys looked up from the flowers she’d been admiring to see Agnes of Agador standing on her doormat smiling at her.

‘Alys, darling, thank you for the wonderful cream. It works like a dream!’ She admired her hands. ‘You know I almost cooked up a hand lotion from my old spell book. I know you’re busy and I didn’t want to trouble you, but then before I could start your little pot arrived…’

Alys looked over her shoulder at Sparky and winked.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #43

The challenge this week was plan. Photo credit: clipart-library.com

A small cute purple dragon
Click here for more Alys and Sparky stories

 

Cowboys, Beware!

jug of lemonade and two glasses

Alys waved her wand with a flourish. ‘Ceiling reparo!’

Sparky, her diminutive dragon, looked up as several stray flakes of plaster dislodged themselves.

Alys waved her wand again. ‘Plaster mendaro!’

The cracks in the ceiling made by the bogus dragon inspector stubbornly remained.

Alys lowered her wand. ‘I don’t know, Sparky. I’m no good at these DIY spells.’

‘Maybe we should call someone.’ He flew over to the bookshelf and pulled out a thin volume with a bright yellow cover. Sparky started leafing through the flimsy pages.

They were interrupted by a loud thud on the doormat heralding the arrival of two stocky little men wearing blue overalls. One held a large bucket and the other carried a ladder. ‘You called, Miss?’ they said in unison.

Alys turned to Sparky. ‘Did we?’

Sparky shook his head.

‘Aha,’ the two little men pointed at the ceiling. ‘We see your problem, Miss.’

‘Can you repair it?’ asked Alys hopefully.

‘Of course.’ Fred rubbed his hands together. ‘We’ll have this done in a jiffy.’

Alys returned to the kitchen where a hair preparation ‘for constantly flowing locks’ was gently simmering in her cauldron. Sparky followed carrying his new copy of Dragon Detectives’ Monthly which had arrived by doormat that morning. He’d only just settled down to read when a loud hiss of crimson steam issued from his nostrils.

BEWARE THESE COWBOY CONTRACTORS!’ the heading screamed. Sparky hastily silenced the article with a swift pat of his paw.

‘What is it, Sparky?’

Sparky put a purple claw to his mouth. He beckoned to Alys and pointed at the photograph. The faces of the two stocky workman stared out from the article. ‘Wanted in two counties for preying on the unwary, these practitioners of make and mend have been wreaking mischief and mayhem on unsuspecting clients’ homes. They extort money on the promise of rectification and then disappear without completing the work. Their most recent victim was Agatha of Agador…’

Alys looked up. Agatha was one of her best clients. ‘Poor Agatha!’ she exclaimed.

Alys ladled a couple of spoonsful of the preparation from her cauldron into a glass jug and muttered an incantation. The mixture fizzed and bubbled, then slowly cleared to a pleasant lemony colour.

She poured it into two glasses, winking at Sparky. ‘Refreshments, gentlemen,’ she called out cheerfully, carrying the glasses into the next room and putting them on the table.

The two men seized the glasses and drank. ‘That really hits the spot,’ said Bob.

‘Just as well,’ said Fred. ‘This job is trickier than we thought. We’ll need to come back tomorrow.’

Alys eyed the ceiling where there was now a gaping hole.

‘We need more materials,’ Fred rubbed his hands together, ‘and an advance on the payment.’

Sparky snatched up the Dragon Detective’s Weekly and flew across the room, dropping it on the table in front of the two men. A threatening shower of sparks spurted from his snout.

Fred put his hands on his hips. ‘So? D’you want the job finished or what?’

Bob nudged him. ‘Your hair, it’s… it’s green and it’s growing!’

Fred turned to him. His jaw dropped open. ‘So’s yours!’

Within seconds grisly green hair was pooling at their feet.

Alys glared at the two men. ‘Put my ceiling right and your hair will go back to normal.’ She twitched her wand and the hair began to curl and tighten around their bodies. ‘And finish all those other jobs,’ she pointed at the article.

‘That’s blackmail!’ Fred mumbled indistinctly through a forest of green beard.

‘Just do it,’ said Alys sweetly.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #42

The challenge this week was extort. Photo credit: dreamtime.com

A small cute purple dragon
Click here for more Alys and Sparky stories

The Dragon Inspector Calls

A small cute purple dragon

Alys was stirring a batch of Witches’ Wonder Beauty Cream when she heard a knock at the door.

‘We’re not expecting anyone are we, Sparky?’

The diminutive dragon looked up from the Weekly Witch where he was reading about their recent success in the WI Competition. He shook his head.

Alys turned off the cauldron with a wand-wave before opening the door. She was greeted by broad chest with a large belt buckle below it. Alys stepped back in surprise. ‘Oh, it’s a giant!’

The owner of the large belt buckle stooped down and a big black bearded face appeared. ‘Your doorway is somewhat small, but I’ll just…’ The giant squeezed himself inside. ‘Right.’ He looked down at Alys with a stern expression on his face.

Alys looked up at him. Fearing for her ceiling she asked him to sit down. The giant perched on the edge of her work table, whose legs groaned loudly.

‘What can I do for you?’ Alys asked.

The giant consulted the clipboard he was holding. ‘You’re Alice of the Western Witches’ Coven?’

‘That’s right.’

‘My name is Bruwod. I’m here about a Breach of Ye Olde Treaty of Magical Creatures’.

Alys frowned. Sparky flew up onto her shoulder. A wisp of agitated steam escaped from his left nostril.

Bruwod leapt to his feet. A sprinkling of plaster peppered his shoulders as his head hit the ceiling. He pointed at Sparky. ‘You have a dragon!’

‘And I have a hole in my ceiling,’ replied Alys testily. ‘What’s this about?’

Bruwod glanced at the upwards and seated himself again. The table sighed heavily. ‘Your dragon is Unregistered in Breach of Regulation 6.66. He will be impounded and released back into the wild.’ He jabbed his pencil in Sparky’s direction.

The diminutive dragon snorted in alarm, sending out tiny showers of purple sparks from his flaring nostrils.

‘Into the wild? I’ve had him since he was an egg!’ said Alys in alarm.

‘Do you have the Proper Documentation for his Provenance?’

Alys shook her head.

‘You’re keeping a Protected Species without the Proper Documentation.’ Bruwod stabbed his pencil on his clipboard for emphasis. The point promptly broke.

With a whoosh and a bang and a cloud of red smoke, a piece of parchment appeared on the doormat. They all turned to look. The parchment reared up revealing a picture of Bruwod framed by the words: ‘Wanted for Dragon Abduction; Reward Offered.’

Bruwod flung down his clipboard and lunged towards Sparky who flew up in alarm, golden flames shooting from his nostrils. Bruwod grabbed at him with a meaty hand catching him by the tail. ‘Gotcha!’

Alys snatched up her wand as Sparky shot a dagger of brilliant blue flame into Bruwod’s face. The giant let go, tripping over the doormat and landing in heap next to the retired cauldron.

Not familiar with the Craft of Combat and Containment, Alys struggled for a spell, but the retired cauldron was quicker, casting a huge net over the writhing giant.

A gruff voice shouted from the other side of the door. ‘Witchery Enforcement! Stand back, we’re coming in!’ The door burst open.

It only took a few moments for the four burly officers to bundle Bruwod into their van. ‘Well done, Miss, you’ve captured a dangerous criminal,’ said their leader touching the peak of his cap with his wand.

‘It wasn’t really me,’ Alys glanced at her retired cauldron which quivered gently.

‘Nevertheless, we’re grateful for the assistance.’ He handed Alys a voucher for Acme’s Ingredients and Equipment for Witches.

Alys and Sparky grinned. It was their favourite store.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #41

The challenge this week was treaty.
Photo credit: clipart-library.com

Read more Alys and Sparky adventures here!

100 Silly Words

The picture shows two brown bunnies hugging each other. There are a couple of brightly coloured eggs next to them.

I have a mirror which makes

me look thinner.

Not quite svelte

but at least I can loosen my belt,

to allow the occasional treat.

 

So bring me chocolate and sweets

and sugary treats

and promise not to tell

 

That the width of my waist

when sucked in with haste,

isn’t as large as I think

when approaching the sink

to wash up the debris of sin.

 

But here’s to the spring

when each living thing

starts to frolic and dance in the sun.

 

I’ll be hidden away

with the stash of today:

chocolate bunnies and eggs

and a book.


Written in response to SadjeWhat Do You See #25 photo prompt.
Image credit: Annca on Pixabay

The WI Competition

WI competition by Chris Hall lunasonlune

Alys eyed the glowing seed packet dubiously. It had just that minute materialised on her doormat with a note from Cheryl Charmworker, the Chairlady of the Inter-Coven Competition Committee.

‘Well, Sparky, this is going to be a challenge,’ Alys addressed her diminutive dragon who was still perusing Cheryl’s missive.

‘She’s asked you to represent the Western Sisterhood in the Witches’ Institute Flower and Produce competition!’

‘Only because everyone else is busy with the Mistress of Spells Symposium,’ said Alys moodily. ‘What do we know about growing stuff?’

‘We can only try, Alys. C’mon, let’s get planting. The competition’s this afternoon!’ Excited smoke danced from Sparky’s purple nostrils as he flew out of the back door.

Alys followed carrying the seed packet carefully. ‘Don’t wake until ready to sow’, the instructions had whispered.

With a bright burst of flames, Sparky cleared a patch of earth. Alys opened the packet and shook it. The tiny seeds sparkled and danced in the air before sowing themselves neatly in the fresh earth. Each seed produced a miniature spade and covered itself over. Moments later they heard the gentle sound of snoring coming from beneath the earth.

Alys and Sparky spent an anxious few hours anticipating the growth of their entry. Eventually they’d given up peeking out of the back door to find nothing happening. Alys returned to studying the ‘Biggest Book of Brilliant Spells’, while Sparky amused himself practicing his flame throwing skills in the hearth.

They were interrupted by a polite knock on the back door. Alys hurried to open it. The ugliest bunch of knobbly root vegetables she had ever seen lay neatly knotted together on the doorstep, pulsating with a peculiar pink colour. It was almost time to leave. Her heart sank. They were never going to win with these.

Alys and Sparky stood on the doormat. Alys had just read out their destination when a big bunch of tulips burst from the retired cauldron and placed itself on top of the basket holding the knobbly veggies. Alys smiled gratefully; maybe there was some hope after all.

The Witches Institute Hall hummed with excited conversation. No sooner had Alys and Sparky found their allotted spot than a judge arrived; a rotund black-bearded dwarf who introduced himself as Wilfred.

Wilfred eyed the tulips. ‘You grew these?’ he asked, raising a skeptical eyebrow.

Alys flushed. ‘Actually no, they were a present from my retired cauldron.’

Wilfred removed the offending flowers and peered into the basket. ‘What do we have here?’ he plucked the pulsating pink veggies from the basket.

Alys and Sparky exchanged a worried glance as Wilfred slowly turned them over in his calloused hands.  

‘These are magnificent!’ He leapt onto the table and held them aloft. ‘Pink Prestige Parsnips; notoriously difficult to grow.’ Wilfred beamed. ‘First Prize to the Western Witches’ Coven!’

A large red rosette appeared on the table next to Alys. Wilfred turned to her and whispered. ‘You would’t mind if I took a couple home, would you?’


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #39

The challenge this week was prestige. Photo credit: clipart.com

The Leaky Cauldron

the cauldron by chris hall lunasonline

‘Oh Sparky, what are we going to do?’ Alys wrung her hands as a sludgy yellow substance seeped from the bottom of her cauldron.

It had all been going so well. Business had been brisk following her success with the skin potion she’d made for Agatha of  Aladore*. Agatha had been the subject of a beauty feature in the Weekly Witch, and Alys had also had a spot in the same publication, although the journalist who came to interview her hadn’t been best pleased when she’d inadvertently turned her photographer into a frog.

Alys sighed again and stared mournfully at the leaky cauldron. ‘How much is a new cauldron going to cost Sparky?’

The diminutive dragon quickly consulted Acme’s Catalogue for Practitioners of Potions. ‘A Number Five Cauldron is six hundred and twenty four witch-gilders.’

‘I don’t even have the twenty four witch-gilders after paying compensation to that journalist.’ A plump tear ran down her cheek.

Sparky hopped up on her shoulder and nuzzled her neck. He began to weep in sympathy, their tears mingling as they dripped into the leaky cauldron.

Psst-psst-psst! The cauldron hissed. Whooosh! A cloud of blue smoke issued forth from its depths. Ping-ping-ping! A shower of shiny silver objects rained down on the floor.

Sparky hopped down to investigate. ‘Look at this Alys,’ he exclaimed, releasing a cloud of excited steam.

Alys crouched down to look. ‘Coins! Oh Sparky, are they real?’

The diminutive dragon examined the nearest coin. ‘Sure they are!’ He gathered them up. ‘Six hundred and twenty-four witch-gilders!’

‘Exactly the amount we need… but how?’

The cauldron sputtered again and a thick piece of parchment flew out, flapped about and presented itself to Alys. It read: ‘Your cauldron is due for retirement and has bestowed a parting spell. Please treat her kindly in her old age and do not use her as an umbrella stand.’

The parchment promptly vanished.

Alys and Sparky looked at each other. The cauldron gurgled happily and showered them with tiny pink roses.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #38

The challenge this week was catalogue. Photo credit: clipart-library.com
It’s a little longer than the suggested 250 words, but Sparky didn’t want me to leave any of the story out.

*Cooking Up a Storm

Beyond Hollywood

Hollywood and beyond by Chris Hall lunasonline

Microphone in hand, TV reporter Jason Joslyn strode towards the shiny pink limo as a svelte figure emerged to a flurry of flash photography. ‘Ms Kitty Katz, do you have a few words for our viewers?’

Kitty flashed her pearly whites for the cameras. Hollywood star turned politician, the eyes of the entire world were upon her.

Jason addressed the TV audience. ‘For those of you who’ve been off-planet these last few weeks, Ms Kitty Katz has won the nomination as leading opposition candidate in the race for the Presidency. These are exciting times, Kitty, how are you feeling?’

Kitty Katz’s reply was drowned out by a loud explosion. Smoke billowed from the grand arena in which her latest rally was about to commence. A host of stars staggered out in a shower of shredded sequins.

The feline film star’s campaign had been dogged by intimidation. It had started small with threats and minor outbreaks of violence against her supporters, but this latest incident was an outrage! What she couldn’t understand was why. Surely those behind such strong-arm tactics realised they were only reinforcing her resolve and perking up her popularity in the polls?

Undaunted, Kitty rushed towards the entrance, while Jason and his camera man followed at a discrete distance. Fortunately nobody had been seriously hurt, although the combined dry cleaning bill was going to cost a small fortune.

Kitty’s cellphone vibrated in her pocket. She flicked a delicate paw across the screen. The video call revealed her friend and aide, Freya, standing over a familiar orange-faced figure. Two thin curlicues of smoke rose from Freya’s pretty purple nostrils and behind her, Kitty could see the golden drapes which framed the White House lawn smoldering gently.

‘He’s confessed, Kitty. This idiot and his Russian friend are behind the intimidation. I’ve got it all here.’

Kitty held up her phone and beckoned to Jason. ‘Show this to the world; the new Hollywood dawn is here!’


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #37

The challenge this week was nomination.
Photo credit: David Everett Strickler, Unsplash

You’ve met our two heroines before: Freya and Kitty

Aging Ain’t Easy

the tribulations of an aging star by chris hall lunasonline

Dumbo Olivier III stared at his reflection in the dressing-room mirror. His trunk drooped as he examined the growing number of wrinkles on his once-youthful face.

‘C’mon, Dumbs, this could be your big break.’ His agent waved the new script at him. ‘It’s regular work, Dumbs.’

‘A middle-aged medical examiner in a two-bit cop show?’

‘A show which airs every Sunday afternoon, Dumbs. This is the real deal!’

Dumbo shook his crinkly ears. ‘I’m not ready to be a character actor.’

‘Chicks love older men. Think of George Clooney!’

Dumbo turned to regard his profile. ‘Move over, George,’ he murmured.’


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #36

The challenge this week was mirror.
Photo credit: litreactor.com

Dumbo Olivier III, The Early Years in Catch a Falling Star

Cooking up a storm

Stirring up a Potion by Chris Hall lunasonline

Alys stirred the copper cauldron. Three times widdershins and three times sunwise.

‘What’s next, Sparky?’ she glanced over at the diminutive dragon who was sitting on his purple haunches reading from the ‘Spell-book of Beauty for Witches’. Just out of her apprenticeship, Alys had been set to work on a particular potion for the Sisterhood.

‘Eye of newt and ear of bat…’

‘Stop messing, Sparky. Even I know that’s from Mr Shakespeare’s play.’ Alys laughed and flicked the long-handled spoon she was using to stir the pot at her tiny familiar. Small spatters landed on the pages of the spell-book where they sizzled ominously.

Sparky ran a tiny gleaming claw down the text. ‘Add five drops of crocodile tears and twelve drops of tincture of unicorn hair. Stir vigorously sunwise, then add tiny pinches of campfire dust until the mixture begins to glow.’

Alys added the ingredients and stirred.

‘I wonder if it’s supposed to look like that,’ said Alys, peering at the potion. ‘Oh well, it’ll have to do. Agatha of Aladore will be here any second.

Just then, Agatha materialized on the doormat. She grinned, holding out a small copper jug expectantly.

Alys filled the jug, wondering whether any potion could possibly work sufficient magic on Agatha’s gnarled and warty complexion. But Agatha cheerfully smeared the hot gloop over her face.

The potion began to fizz. ‘Oooh,’ exclaimed Agatha.

Her face puffed up like a poppadum. Then, with a loud hiss, the outer skin vapourised. Agatha’s hands flew to her cheeks.

There was a moment’s silence.

Agatha removed her hands. Her face was beautifully smooth. Her eyes shone wide and blue, clashing unfortunately with the colour of her skin which was… GREEN!

Agatha snapped her fingers; a small mirror hovered in front of her.

There was another moment’s silence.

Now I’m for it, Alys thought.

‘I LOVE IT!’ Agatha threw her arms around Alys. ‘Just the right tinge of witchery menace.’ She clapped her hands together. ‘I’ll tell all my friends!’ She tottered onto the doormat. ‘Vogue for Witches here I come!’ echoed her voice from the ether.

Alys held out her hand; Sparky sprang up and gave her a high five.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #35

The challenge this week was copper.
It’s a little longer than the suggested 250 words, but what’s a hundred-ish words between friends?

You might remember that we first met Alys and Sparky here.

 

 

 

 

The Chocolate Cake Club

chocolate cake club by chris hall lunasonline

I stare wide-eyed at my invitation. As if I wasn’t already the breaker of a thousand diets.

I do not need any more temptation in my life.
My fingers stomp on the keys like an over-weight middle-aged woman taking out the trash in which she’s concealed the evidence of her failure to stick to salad.

It’s virtual, a celebration for us girls, the ones who can only dream of those lithe bodies with which they once entwined.

Virtual chocolate cake? What’s the good of that?

Are you sure I can’t tempt you? Go on. See how many hits you get.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #34

The challenge this week was celebration.

Author’s note: I was so taken with Violet Lentz’s response to this same challenge that this is what I found myself compelled to write. It’s also a little experiment about the magical pull of lust and chocolate!