The Card Dealer: Part 2

Part 2: The Announcement

 

I got home just in time to see the automatic lights all around my house kick on.  The house wasn’t very big.  Just a little wooden shack.  But it was a nice little wooden shack, with flower boxes at the windows and rose vines climbing up the walls.  A stone walkway connected from the main path and led to the door where a sign hung.  It read: Rune & Philips Spells & Sorcery.  At all four corners of the house, poles were driven into the ground, and round bulbs on strings went from pole to pole, now lit up for the night.  Fairy lights dangled from the roof.  We used to close the shop at exactly eight o’clock at night, but ever since we become a popular place for spells, Adrian decided to keep it open until midnight.  Hence, the lights coming on.  After eight, Adrian set out special potions that could only be bought at night.  I usually never stayed up past nine, so I was never around to see if a whole bunch of people ever came.

I took my keys out of my little red purse and stuck one of them into the front door’s keyhole.  When I went inside, Adrian was not at the counter, but a bearded human man sat in one of the waiting chairs.  Mr. Caldwell.  I had seen him in the shop every now and then.  He always stopped to hold conversations with Adrian whenever he bought something.  He was a lonely widower who worked at the docks, and it was obvious that he spent a lot of time out in the sun because of his deep tan.

“Ah, I’ve been waitin’ for quite awhile, Miss Philips,” he said, scratching his head.  His tired brown eyes looked me up and down.

“Where did you go that required you to dress like that?” he said.

“I had a job to do for Adrian.  Now, if you’ll excuse me for a minute.”  I disappeared into the back of the shop before Mr. Caldwell could say anything else.  I went into my room and locked the door behind me, then waved my hand to make the lights come on.  The house only had two bedrooms; mine and Adrian’s.  Besides the actual shop part, there was only another room that was closed off to the public since Adrian called it the living room.  However, I think it was originally supposed to be an over-sized storage closet.  That room connected to a tiny kitchen with an even smaller dining table.  We had a basement, but you wouldn’t catch me dead going down there.  I always made Adrian do that.  Anyway, I dressed into my usual outfit; a black tank top and leggings.  I slipped on my robe covered with glow-in-the-dark geometric patterns before going back out.  My face was still covered in make-up, but I didn’t want to keep Mr. Caldwell waiting any longer.  I wondered where Adrian had gone as I got behind the counter crossed my arms on it.

“Okay, what would you like for tonight?”  I asked in my best shop keeper’s voice.  Mr. Caldwell smiled and stood.

“Fisherman’s Spell for me, lass,” he said.  I turned to the large row of shelves behind me and took a jar from one of them.  Next, I opened a drawer and pulled out a plastic bag.  I poured teal powder from the jar into the bag and then tied it up.  After putting the jar away, I turned back to Mr. Caldwell.

“One bag of Fisherman’s Spell.  You know how it works, just dump a little on each side of your boat.  That will be three pieces,” I said as I handed him the bag.  He flashed another smile and dug the money out of the pocket of his navy jacket.

“Thank you, Miss Philips,” he said as he turned to leave.  “Say hello to Adrian for me.”

“Sure thing,” I replied, waving.  When he was gone and the shop was empty again, I looked at the shelves.  The shelf saved for the night spells and potions was empty.  All of its contents would be down in the basement.  Like I said before, there was no way that I was going down there to get them, so I decided to leave that to Adrian whenever he got back.  Except…sometimes I knew Adrian had the tendency to stay out all night, so I figured I’d just close the shop in an hour or so if he didn’t come back.  With a sigh, I opened the door to the living room, and almost shrieked.

Adrian’s girlfriend, Lex Lockehart, and my best friend Leon Woods were both sitting at the coffee table playing chess.  They both looked up when I walked in.

“Gosh, you startled me,” I said.  “What are you doing here?”

Lex shrugged.  “Visiting,” she said.

“And I’m helping her visit,” said Leon, not taking his black, sunken eyes off of the chess board.  He moved one of his pieces around and smirked.

“Aha, checkmate,” he said.  Lex stared at the board for a minute and messed with her long brown hair, then huffed.

“Not again,” she said.  She left the coffee table to sit at the couch.  No one said anything as Leon put the chess pieces away, and I just stood there lost in thought again.  Lex and Leon were the only ones, besides myself and Adrian, who had the keys to the house.  They were welcome at any time, but sometimes I think that Adrian regretted saying so, since now they were always around.  He had met Lex around the same time he took me as his student, and I was surprised he hadn’t married her yet.  I mean, they weren’t getting any younger.  I didn’t know what I really thought about Lex, to be honest.  She was one of the few Time Travelers left in the country, so she was a little odd.  She often visited the future, and she brought back weird things.  She was sitting on the couch now messing with a small mechanical object with a screen.  I don’t know what she had on it, or what it even was, but it was bizarre.

As for Leon, I had known him for only a couple years.  Technically…he wasn’t really alive.  You see, when he was six his entire family died in a fire, and he was supposed to have died too.  Apparently, he was able to drain the life, or “essence” as he called it, right out of living things to keep living.  So he was an eight year old zombie who drained the life out of plants so he didn’t die.  Of course, he didn’t like it when I called him a zombie, because he’s actually still very human.  For a child, he was disturbingly morbid, and he cussed like a drunken troll.

I shook my head to get myself to return to the present and plopped down on the couch with a long, heavy sigh.

“How did the job go?”  Lex asked, still staring down at her weird object from the future.

“Good, nothing terrible happened, so good,” I said.  “Do you happen to know where Adrian went?”

Lex shook her head as Leon started whistling a tune to himself as he closed up the chess box and slid it under the coffee table.

“He’s gone and he’s never coming back,” he said as he sprawled out in the floor with a stretch.  I rolled my eyes at him.

“You say that every time you don’t know where he is,” I said.  He just laughed and rolled around in the floor.  He was adorable for someone who looked like death.  I stood when I heard the bell, which hung over the shop’s front door, ring.

“That’s probably him,” I said.  Adrian sure had a weird way of appearing whenever someone talked about him.  Neither Lex nor Leon said anything, as I walked away.  I left the living room to see Adrian putting on his robe, which was similar to mine, and getting behind the counter.

“Hey, Pink,” he said.  He had started calling me “Pink” ever since I dyed some of my raven black hair that color.  “How’d the job go?”

I went up to the counter and set the pouch of money Clark had given me on it.  He took it and promptly began counting the money.  I knew something was wrong when his brow furrowed.

“Four pieces?  Seriously?”  he said.  I shrugged.

“Clark said that was always the payment.”

Adrian shook his head.

“Well, he tricked you, it’s five pieces.  The old scoundrel.”

I inwardly scolded myself for letting Clark get away with the money as I rested my chin on my hand.

“Anyway, where have you been?”  I asked.  “Out luring customers in?”

Adrian laughed as he put the money back into the bag and put it in one of the pocket’s of his robe.

“Yep.  I think we’ll get a lot tomorrow,” he said, tying his hair into a short ponytail.  “Is Lex here?”

“And Leon.”  I turned.  “Lex, Leon, Adrian’s here!”  I called.  There was a bit of thumping around before the living room door swung open and the two stepped out.  Leon ran up and took a chair to drag up to the counter.  He climbed up in it and sat on his knees.  Lex  met Adrian behind the counter and received a passionate kiss on the mouth.

“Guys, please save that for later,” Leon whined.  “You’re making me sick.”

Adrian glanced at him and kissed Lex again just to annoy him, then came to lean on the counter in front of him.

“Do you need something?”  He asked.  “I’ve got a nice fern for you out back if you need it.”

Leon rolled his eyes.  “No, I just need your lemonade powder.”

Adrian smiled and opened a drawer.

“I knew you’d be coming by for it,” he said. “But what do you take this place as, a cafe?”

“You have the best lemonade in town, Chef Rune,” Leon said in a mocking voice.  Adrian handed him a plastic bag full of yellow powder.  I almost laughed at the memory of Adrian accidentally creating lemonade in an attempt to make a healing spell.  Leon had come to him for the stuff ever since.

“Don’t go spreading that name around town or else everyone will come in here asking for blueberry scones and whatnot,” said Adrian.  Lex looped her arm around Adrian’s and giggled.

“That’s not a bad idea,” she said.  “You’d look cute in an apron.”

“You know that now you’re here I’m going to have to walk you home?”  Said Adrian.  “It’s not safe out at night.”

“Oh, I have Leon to protect me,” said Lex.  Leon wasn’t paying attention, because he was too busy licking a lollipop that came from the big jar sitting on the counter.

“I saw the Card Dealer on my way home,” I said.  “Maybe it’s not safe out tonight even for Leon.”

Leon looked up from his lollipop and Lex raised her eyebrows.  Adrian chuckled.

“Yeah, you don’t want him catching you and stealing your soul for his magic tricks, do you?”  He said.  Lex swatted his chest.

“Come on, he wouldn’t do that,” she said.  Adrian shrugged.

“Well, you never know,” he said.  He pulled Lex closer to him and sighed.  “I do have an announcement to make.”

I pursed my lips.  I had a bad feeling about this.  “And that is?”

Adrian’s gaze flickered to the floor…was that regret in his eyes?  When he looked back up again, he was smiling.

“There’s a ship leaving for Port’s Town, and I’m going to be on it,” he said.  I’ll only be gone for a few days.  You can close the shop at eight until I get back.”

I stared at him with searching eyes.  I think he noticed that I was trying to find out if something was wrong.

“It’s nothing too important, just a little Wizard’s get together happening,” he said.  I wasn’t convinced.

“The summit doesn’t happen until October,” I said.  “It’s August.”

“I know, I know,” he said, waving his hand around.  “Like I said, it’s just a little get together.”  He let go of Lex and put both hands on the counter.

“Think you can keep up with the shop until I get back?”  He looked me in the eyes, and I knew right then that he was hiding something.  His hazel eyes had gone foggy, like they always did when he was ashamed.

“I-I…yes,” I stammered.  “I can.”

He nodded with satisfaction and then turned to Lex.

“You can crash in the living room if you want to,” he said.  He smirked.  “Or, you could crash in my room.”

Lex swatted him again, this time harder.

“No, I’m serious,” he said.  “I’ll take the couch, you take my bed,” he said.  “I probably won’t sleep tonight anyway.”

“What about me?”  Leon chimed in.  “Can I sleep in the basement?”

“No!”  Adrian shouted.  He paused now that everyone’s eyes were one him, and sighed.  “I mean, not tonight.  Take the couch for now, I’ll figure something out later.”

Leon watched him for a second longer, then yawned.

“I’ll go right now,” he said.  He took his bag of lemonade powder and his lollipop and went back into the living room.  Lex kissed Adrian’s cheek.

“I’ll go, too.  See you in the morning,” she said.  When she was gone, Adrian turned to me.

“There’s something wrong,” I said.  Adrian just stared at me with an emotionless face.  At least, he tried to make it emotionless.  I wondered if it annoyed him that what he taught me could be used against him.  I could see that he was tensed up.

“What makes you think that?”  he asked.  He shook his head.  “Nevermind.”  He reached out his hand to mess my hair up.

“Everything’s fine.  Go to bed, because it’ll be a long few days for you, and it’s already been a long night,” he said.  I smoothed my hair back down as he turned his back to me.  The conversation was over.  I sighed to myself and walked slowly into the back room, hoping he would stop me and explain everything.  He didn’t.  I locked myself in my room and laid on my bed with my feet still on the ground.  For some reason I wasn’t tired anymore.  I was just worried.  I tried to tell myself that this was just another one of Adrian’s weird phases, but something else was telling me that there was more to it.  I thought about the Shining Eyes woman who had been watching me at the club, and what that shimmering liquid was, and decided that something was definitely going on.

I just wished I knew what.

~ ♠ ♣ ♦ ♥ ~

 

Thank you for reading!  I’d love to hear your feedback, and remember that I will be answering any questions you may have in my upcoming Q&A post!  My sister gets the credit for the main image!

 

Part three will be released on August 17!

 

 

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