And now, the exciting conclusion of yesterday’s story.
“Sir… there’s a situation here…” Plum thought, trying to reach out to his master. As much as Plum resented Cyan, he knew that the Archmage could fix up any jam. But Cyan didn’t reply. Maybe the Archmage was busy, or maybe he had gone farther away. Or maybe he just didn’t feel like helping. Whatever the reason, Plum was on his own. In the corner of this dive of a diner were six gangsters, three in pinstripe suits, three in plain gray suits, all pointing guns at each other.
Heart pounding, Plum realized he had mere seconds to avert a bloodbath in the diner. He focused on pinstriped Mustachio, who’d started all this, and cast Silent Suggestion again. <I don’t want any violence. I’d better put my gun down.>
The man’s arm shook slightly, but it did not move. Why hadn’t it worked?
“All right,” said the bald, gray-suited man, shaking worse than anyone, “it was just a bit of water. There’s no problem.” He lowered his gun an inch, but no one followed suit. They were watching each other like wolves ready to strike. That’s when the apprentice remembered the other limitation of Silent Suggestion. “Acts that the target considers to be self-destructive will cause the spell to be rejected.” Apparently they were all too scared to be the first to disarm, even the bald man.
Plum gulped. Thinking fast, he tried Mustachio again. <I should apologize.>
“Sorry about this,” Mustachio said. It worked again! Then he shot the central gray-suited gangster in the face.
There were a chain of BANGs after that, and screams. The waitress was staring aghast, holding Plum’s tuna club, too shocked to move. <Get down!>
He and she both fell to the ground as bullets whizzed by. The gray suit who had Mustachio’s wrist swore and shot him in the neck, but the pinstriped boss with the soaked jacket hit him with several bullets to the chest, and he fell backwards. Bald man, the sole surviving gray suit, dived smartly under the table. When the pinstriped man who he had kicked leaned down to see him beneath the table, the bald man punched him so hard in the face that he fell off his chair sideways, knocking into his boss. Someone under the table fired a gunshot; Plum couldn’t see who, but he heard the sound of glass shattering, and someone thumping to the ground. Then both the bald man and the pinstripe boss stood up at once. But the bald man had left his gun on the table, and pinstripe had his right up against the temple of his opponent’s hairless head.
<I don’t need to kill him!> Plum was frantically casting, trying to maintain his focus on the bald man over the screaming and yelling of the other patrons and staff.
“I don’t need to kill you,” said the gangster leader, thoughtfully pressing his piece against that bald head. He hesitated, wondering where the thought had come from. But then he noticed the bald man’s hand inching towards his weapon on the table. The gangster grabbed it first and tossed it across the room. And then he said, “On second thought, I think I will anyway.”
There was a bang. The gangster sneered at his enemy. And then, still sneering, he fell over onto his back, a hole through his head.
The bald man looked around wildly for his savior, and found the overweight, overdressed Plum. The gangster had tossed it right at him.
The apprentice stood up, aiming the gun with shaking hands at the remaining gangster. “It’s all right,” said the bald man. He reached slowly into his pocket, and pulled out a badge. “FBI. You just saved my life.”
And then about a dozen policemen were swarming the diner, taking out the bodies of the five gangsters. Plum’s heart had been beating so fast, he didn’t even notice them come in. He stood up, and saw the waitress staring sadly down at Plum’s tuna club, which had fallen all over the floor when she dove. “I’ll get you a new one…” she mumbled, running worried hands through her frizzy hair.
“It’s all right.” Plum slapped a $20 on the counter. But he practically jumped again when he heard a voice in his head.
“Plum?” came Cyan’s mental call. The waitress looked at him bizarrely, not understanding why he was so startled. “Plum, I heard some bangs from next door.”
“There were some gunshots,” Plum thought to his master. “I’ll meet you outside.”
Plum answered some questions from one of the the officers, giving him a fake name (for wizards never used their real names). But the moment the officer’s back was turned, Plum slipped out of the diner. Archmage Cyan was waiting in the parking lot, his arms crossed. “Well?”
“Well, the spell worked,” Plum said, slowly. “I used it a bunch. I… may have accidentally triggered a gunfight, but the police are taking care of it now.”
Cyan huffed. “You got Silent Suggestion working? Good, then this was a success.”
“Five people dead?” asked the apprentice. “One of them by me, I might add? That doesn’t bother you?”
“All I’m worried about is whether you’re going to do me proud as a wizard,” said Cyan with a wave of his hand. “The demise of a few gangsters doesn’t bother me.” He extended a hand, but Plum did not take it. He stared at his master, giving him a hard, accusatory look. “What?” snapped Archmage Cyan.
“I didn’t say anything about gangsters,” said Plum. Cyan just stared at him. “You knew there was a sit down going on here, didn’t you,” accused Plum. “That’s why you wanted me to practice in this one specific diner.” He was furious, but Cyan still just stared. “There was a tinderbox in there, and you lit me like a fuse and threw me in. Five men–”
Cyan interrupted him. “Like I said. All I’m worried about is your education.” His hand was still outstretched, but to signal the end of the conversation, he looked away, turning his gaze instead to two officers removing Mustachio’s body from the diner.
Plum took his master’s hand with his own, but first he patted his pocket. The revolver he’d taken from the FBI man was still there. He might have reason to use it someday.
Then Archmage Cyan turned back to his apprentice. He gave the younger man the briefest of questioning looks. Then he squeezed Plum’s hand, and the two of them vanished from the spot.
The End of this tale, but there will be others along the same vein! Feedback is greatly appreciated!