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Brambel sighed unhappily at the short wand in his hand. Its moonglow spell never wore off unless he needed it. He rummaged through the chaotic clutter of his shelves. No spare wands. And he had so wanted to gather dragonwort under tonight's full moon!
He tugged thoughtfully at his sparse gray beard, then scratched his bald pate. Much as he disliked it, he would have to obtain a few more of the moonglow wands. And that meant paying another visit to the demons' storeroom. He shivered at the thought. He was only a minor wizard. Not for him the dangerous and frightening adventures of dragonslaying and spell-gathering. He much rather preferred tending his small garden. But if he wanted dragonwort he would need another moonglow wand.
Sighing, he gathered the materials needed to travel to the demon world. Incense mixed with sulfur, his bottomless satchel, the blessed candles to protect his cottage against any returning evil, and lastly, the pentagram portal drawn on the floor with colored sand.
The glowing brazier filled the room with clouds of incense. Brambel stepped inside the portal with his satchel and lit the candles at the points of the pentagram with his last magic flint. He double-checked the pentagram lines to make sure that all were intact, then uttered the magic words of transference.
Instantly he stood within the demons' storeroom. The room was dark, but the lines of the pentagram glowed faintly on the floor about him, marking the portal.
He scurried hastily out of the pentagram. He had little time; no telling when a demon might enter, and he had no desire to meet one after his last near encounter withone of their watchguards.
Brambel hurried up and down the aisles, searching by touch and memory for the wands, not risking the light of his magic flint. The demons were sensitive to fire. Finally he found the wands three shelves down from where he last remembered them. He stuffed a generous supply of them into the satchel, adding several handfuls of the short spell containers.
He closed the satchel and listened for any approaching demon. He might have time to gather a few more needs. The demons kept a few plants in this storeroom, but they were prickly things, and he wanted no evil growth in his garden. Perhaps just a few more of the magic flints. Carefully he retraced his steps to the pentagram. The flints were kept near there, behind a long table.
Hurriedly he gathered the flints, surprised anew at their various sizes. He rummaged about the table, hunting for more. He sensed the light trap the second his foot broke it. Clever demons! Bells clanged outside the storeroom, and he heard a far off moaning. He scrambled around the table, bumping into things in his haste, and dove into the safety of the portal, quickly saying the words of return.
The cottage reappeared about him, and he swiftly erased the pentagram. Safe! Safe! Brambel mopped his forehead and patted his bulging satchel.
* * * *
Officer Finseth shook his head in disgust as he returned to his partner. "Same as last time," he said. "The manager says that all that's missing are a few flashlights, batteries, and a lot of lighters."
"Same sulfur smell, too," his partner commented.
"I don't get it. The guy breaks into the mall with no visible signs of entry, hits the same drug store every time, and only takes a few flashlights?"
"You know what I think–" his partner started.
"Yeah, yeah. But what would the Devil want with a lighter?"
Copyright © 2003 by Kathryn Sullivan