Alys was studying the store guide at the entrance to the Magical Mall of All, where she and her diminutive dragon had just arrived by doormat. It was incredibly busy and Alys, as a first time visitor, was finding it hard to get her bearings.
‘Wow! This is massive!’ exclaimed Sparky through a shower of excited purple sparks, as he flew to the top of the lofty atrium and stared about. He returned to Alys’s shoulder. ‘Second floor, World of Wands.’
The wand-maker, who was leaning on the old-fashioned shop counter reading a hefty tome, smiled as they entered. Behind him were row upon row of little wooden drawers, each labelled in a neat cursive script. All the ingredients for wand-making! It was all Sparky could do to restrain himself from flying over and taking a look.
Alys placed her damaged wand on the counter. Under the stress of performing FBB Agent Mickey’s transformation, the poor thing had unraveled at the tip, revealing its shiny unicorn hair core. Alys was well aware of the dire consequences of using a damaged wand so they’d hastened to the biggest mall in the magical world to find his famous shop.
The wand-maker blew out his cheeks as he examined Alys’s wand. ‘What’s happened here then?’ He sucked in a breath. ‘Looks like you over-loaded it with a particularly high-grade spell.’
Sparky puffed a plume of concerned crimson smoke across the counter. Alys hesitated. Mickey had sworn them to secrecy.
‘Top secret, was it?’ the wand-maker, touching the side of his nose.
‘Something like that,’ agreed Alys.
‘You sure you don’t want a new wand? More powerful, with a double core, perhaps?
Alys shook her head. ‘She’s like an old friend,’ replied Alys running a gentle finger down the wand. ‘I’d rather have her mended if that’s possible.’
The wand-maker squinted at the damaged end. ‘She’ll need restringing and the point needs a meld-weld but I can have her as good as new within the hour.’ He rubbed his hands together. ‘Two hundred witch-gilders to you, my dear.’
Alys let out a sigh of relief. ‘Thank you.’
At that moment, shop door opened. Alys turned around to see Agatha of Agador’s big beaming, green-tinged face. ‘I thought it was you, Alys.’ Agatha grinned as she entered. ‘Come and help me choose a new set of dress robes.’
Alys grinned back but Sparky face fell. The wand-maker caught his expression. ‘If you’d rather leave the ladies to it, there’s a very interesting book store just around the corner.’
Sparky looked at Alys, a trickle of hopeful steam dribbling from his snout.
‘Of course, Sparky!’ Alys said eagerly. In truth, Alys would rather visit the book store too, but Agatha was her best customer.
The wand-maker waved them off, grinning to himself as the older witch took Alys’s arm and propelled her along the walkway with the tiny dragon rapidly flapping his little purple wings behind them.
Sparky hovered in front of the brightly-painted sign. ‘A Wizard of a Welcome to the Biggest Book Store’, it sang as he entered.
The diminutive dragon’s jaw dropped. He had never seen so many books. Everywhere he flew there were rooms, all packed with books. Potions and poultices, charms and curses, transport and transformation, fight and flight, and finally, a massive, towering room containing works on mystical and mythical creatures, with a whole wall devoted to dragons.
Sparky was in his element. He decided to start with the dragon wall.
Sparky looked around. The other customers were all busy browsing
‘Psst! Sparky! Up here.’
Sparky looked up. A pair of brown whiskers twitched between two large, leather-bound tomes. It was a small brown mouse with unusual, bright yellow eyes.
‘Mickey?’ Sparky let out a shower of surprised sparks. ‘Mickey from the FBB?’ One of the other customers muttered and glared over at him.
‘Not so loud,’ hissed Mickey through the side of his mouth. ‘Remember, I’m deep undercover.’
Sparky raised his eyebrows. ‘In here?’
‘Listen, kid,’ whispered Mickey confidentially. ‘We’ve had a tip off.’
Sparky’s eyes widened.
Mickey’s whiskers twitched for a moment. ‘Maybe you can help.’
Sparky nodded eagerly, his golden eyes shining.
Meanwhile Alys and Agatha had traipsed around a plethora of fancy robe shops and engaged a myriad of anxious assistants as Agatha tried on her umpteenth combination of gown, jacket and pointy hat. Alys smiled at each selection, wondering if Agatha would ever make up her mind, but finally she did. A voluminous set of royal-blue robes and a tall sage-green hat. She’d also insisted on buying Alys a pretty purple cashmere shawl. Alys was delighted.
The two witches bustled back towards the book store. As they approached they heard angry shouts and running footsteps. Something was clearly amiss.
A man, dressed in a tightly buckled raincoat with a felt hat pulled down over his ears, came running around the corner. Agatha stepped in front of Alys and whipped out her wand. The man wheeled around and headed back the way he’d come.
‘Come on, Alys, that’s Shylock the Spiv. Nasty piece of work!’ Agatha marched onwards with a determined expression on her face, Alys hurrying worriedly in her wake.
There was a small explosion and the shouting ahead intensified. As they rounded the corner, a huge plume of purple smoke filled the air.
As the smoke cleared Alys saw that Shylock the Spiv was face down on the floor clutching his hat. A burly security elf stood over him with Sparky perched on his shoulder. Sparky grinned and waved a proud purple paw in Alys’s direction.
Once all the excitement had died down and Shylock the Spiv had been taken away in wand-cuffs, Alys and Sparky returned to the wand-maker’s shop. Alys took out her purse, but the wand-maker shook his head. ‘On the house,’ he said, handing her the mended wand and looking at Sparky. ‘Your little dragon catching Shylock the Spiv like that? It’s the least I can do.’
‘What actually did happen,’ asked Alys, as she headed for the exit with Sparky on her shoulder.
Sparky giggled in her ear. ‘If I told you, I’d have to kill you.’
Image credits: clip-art.com