“Rayne, we got one for ya,” I heard from the front desk as I entered the office.
I didn’t respond immediately, instead taking the time to knock the dirt clods from my boots. Behind her desk, the receptionist grimaced as I soiled her pristine floors. Look, if they want the best, they’ll have to deal with any quirks I might have. Once my soles were satisfactory, I sauntered over to the counter.
“What have we got?” I asked.
The receptionist, a tight-haired little woman who spent most of the time perfecting her scowl, gave me one of her best. “Magic user downtown. At the mall. Our reporter says he’s a wizard.”
That didn’t sound too hard. Wizards were flesh and blood, after all, and a good crack upside the head, or a few rounds from my Glock, was as good as magic. “Anything beyond just ‘wizard’?” I said hopefully. “What’s he doing?”
I got a shrug in return, along with a second scowl, free of charge. “Listen, I’m just telling what the reporter said,” she told me. “He said, and I’m using his words here, ‘some crazy Harry Potter board game shit’. No idea what that means.”
Board game? Still, I couldn’t be too choosy. Jobs weren’t always plentiful, even for a . . . specialized . . . bounty hunter like myself. I grabbed the assignment sheet and headed for the door.
The instructions were fairly clear, and I soon found myself standing at the glass doors to an oversized shopping complex. Flashy neon signs blared at my peripheral vision, and huge banners screamed about sales on useless doodads. Aside from the billowing smoke and the screaming, fleeing shoppers, it seemed as normal as any other mall. Brushing dust from my jacket, I pushed open the glass door and slipped inside.
The mall was set up like a squashed spider, with wings of stores radiating from a central food court. As soon as I reached the large, open seating area, I knew that I had found my target. “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me,” I muttered to myself, actually covering my face with a palm.
Floating in the center of the mall, happily shouting and flinging bolts of energy left and right, hung a wizard. Even without the spellcasting, I would have guessed that he was the wizard. I don’t know if it was the sky-blue robe, adorned with gold foil stars, that he wore, or the matching pointy hat. Perhaps it was the foot-long wand gripped in one hand. I noted, however, that he seemed to be flinging the blasts of energy from his other hand, each one with a throwing motion. Unholstering my gun, I stepped forward.
The movement caught his attention. “Who dares approach!?” he shouted, and although I could tell that he was going for a menacing tone, he put me in mind of an irritated hamster. “Who dares to challenge the Word Wizard?”
Word Wizard? I didn’t waste time wondering about this. Bounty hunters who wondered were bounty hunters who weren’t paying attention, and they had a high likelihood of ending up dead. “You need to disappear, now!” I yelled back. “If not, I’m going to have to get rid of you!”
“Rid? Hah!” he cried back at me. “That’s only a one point word! You’ll have to do better than that!” With this declaration, he hurled something at me, something surrounded by the glow of energy.
I threw myself to one side, tucking into a roll, and the energy blast fizzled harmlessly behind me, instead melting several plastic chairs. I spun around, but was caught by a sudden recognition. I moved closer to the smoking scorch marks of the blast and, using a napkin for insulation, carefully picked up the small item at the center of the circle.
I held it up to my eyes. Plastic, cubic, with rounded edges and a rune inscribed on each face. It was disturbingly familiar. “Is . . . is this a Boggle die?” I asked aloud.
Will our hero, Rayne, survive the attack of the possibly dreaded Word Wizard? Find out next time! To be continued!