A man claiming to be a foreign baron comes from far away to do a heinous, magical prank.
|Prompt 1: word count: 3,139
The commoners of London, England bustled about on the eve of April 1st. Tents with stripes of various colors lined the streets and in the year 1600, the populace was eager to start the April Fool’s activities. High in a tower of the royal castle, a man was rubbing his hands eagerly. He sat on a wooden chair overlooking the happy, unsuspecting citizens ready to partake in the most hilarious, but dubious holiday. He veered his dark, coy eyes as his thin eyebrows frowned and his mouth formed a malevolent grin. The sound of steps walking up a staircase came from behind him.
“Baron Bronus, are you enjoying your stay?” said a servant in modest shirt and tunic.
The man on the chair stood and faced him. “Ah, young Brythan, thank you for inquiring. Tell his majesty I will need a coach. I will be taking a stroll through the woods.”
“Yes, Baron.” Brythan turned compliantly then spun around and looked at the Baron again. “May I ask you something?”
“You are obviously British but what is Fool’s Day like is your country?”
“My country is very hidden and few live there.” He stepped towards the servant and raised his finger for a moment. “I will say that the April Fool’s jokes are quite rash and mean.”
Brythan gasped. “What kind of things do they do?” he said grimly.
“Let us just say some people have almost perished.”
“Indeed, but I do not condone such acts,” said Baron Bronus who enjoyed the shock on the servant’s face. “I will depart as soon as the carriage is ready,” he said as he went past Brythan to the stairway.
Thirty minutes later, Baron Bronus was riding in a carriage to the woods on a cleared path. “Stop driver. I will be gone for a while.”
He left the man and walked into a shadowy grove. His eyes scanned the surroundings of numerous trees: thin smooth Ashes with yellow flowers, English Oaks with glossy bark and long catkins and acorns, white Birches with tiny diamond leafs with a shiny glean, Dwarf Boxes having green–yellow tinted leaves and small black berries, including others kinds of trees. He went to an old oak and knelt down by it. “Ah!-the first thing I need.” He plucked a green flower with glossy black berries and a purple tint inside. “Deadly Nightshade.” He got out a handkerchief and wrapped the flower in it. It was midday and Baron Bronus had to hurry. He quickly collected a sample of Wolfsbane with its pointed leaves, high stem bulbous lobes and outside coat of purple. Next, he found a tulip-like purple flower with petals that had, on the inside, small yellow circles with touches of pinpointed black. He wrapped it in the handkerchief with the other flowers. “Foxglove.” He smiled and giggled maniacally. The next plant he needed would be harder to find. Hemlock was very scarce and Bronus went to a riverbank in search of it. Finally, he saw a tall green plant with purple on its stem and white flowers. He took out the cloth and wrapped a sample inside. He sprinted to his coach. “I am ready,” he said to the coachman.
The secretive man returned an hour later to the castle and went immediately to his private quarters and locked his door. He approached a polished oak nightstand with Victorian patterns and pulled a gold mirror out of a cabinet. The Baron closed his eyes and waved his hand over the mirror. A smiling face like the kind worn in mid-evil comedies appeared in it. It glowed with a hypnotic blue hue.
“Have you gathered the ingredients?” said the face in the mirror.
“Yes, Master Loki.”
“Remember, you must do it at precisely twelve O’clock. Does anyone suspect you?”
“No. The letter with your crest and gold you gave me along with my royal attire has them all convinced.”
“Hoo hoo! This will be so much fun! I cannot wait!” said the face.
“Indeed my lord! The whole realm will be shocked!”
Then Bronus heard a shifting sound in his closet then walked towards it then saw a rat scuttle out of a slight opening. “Humph!-stupid rat. How could anyone get in here anyway?” The Baron returned to the mirror.
“Why did you leave?” the face said.
“I thought I heard somebody, but it was just a rat.”
“I’m so happy the distant god of time Chronos agreed to send one of my sorcerers into the future.”
“If I may ask my lord; what does he want in return?”
“I told him I would hand him the eye of my father in law Odin.”
“But I thought it was lost a long time ago.” Bronus put forth.
“You forget, I am the god of mischief. I have no idea where it is!”
“At what point will I return home to our time?”
“The portal will reappear from the mirror’s light reflection when you have beguiled the people with my ultimate trick.”
A knock came from behind him. “Baron Bronus, the king requests you,” said a young female voice coming through the door to his chambers.
He jerked around. “Oh, err, I’ll be there promptly. Thank you.”
“This trick will go down in history just as my name will. We will talk again right before the grand moment,” said the face in the mirror that then vanished.
Bronus was eager and jovial with a broad smile in anticipation. Before stepping out of his quarters, he quickly composed his expression. He walked past nobility and bowed astutely and then he reached the metal double-doors to the throne room. Two guards on each side grabbed handles of the doors and opened them slowly. Bronus entered and knelt before King Darvy.
“Ah, good Baron tomorrow is the big day. I’d like you to meet my royal advisor, Elim. He just returned from an errand in Scotland.”
The advisor was tall, dressed in a red robe with silver embroidery and a blue collar that surrounded his neck up to his chin. He had brown hair with streaks of grey and a short beard the same color. His face was solemn and peaceful with deep set hazel eyes that had a wise glow. “It is good to meet you Baron,” he said to Bronus.
For some reason, Bronus could not look directly into the advisor’s gaze for too long and turned away after several seconds. Elim extended his hand and Bronus shook it.
“Will you be partaking in any Fool’s day pranks?” Bronus said.
Elim made a brief smile and held his head up slightly. “I prefer to simply observe. Up to this point I have had no one in mind in which to prank. I’ve seen some people go too far.”
King Darvy faced Bronus. “I plan to play a few tricks on the royalty and I was hoping you would help to devise some cunning schemes to play on them.”
“Hmm…who is it you seek to play a trick on?”
The king stood from his throne. “We will discuss the matter alone. Come with me to my private garden.” Darvy turned to Elim. “I surmise you would not prefer to plan any schemes?”
“I’ll leave that in your hands my Lord,” Elim replied.
King Darvy approached a small door to his left and motioned for Bronus to follow him. They entered an open inner courtyard filled with flowers and trees.
“One person I want to fool is the head nobleman Juris. He takes himself much too seriously and is a little vain,” said the king.
“Perhaps we could embarrass him. What exactly does he take the most pride in?”
“He loves issuing royal decrees and speaks quite pompously of himself in conversation. He also despises those who may not remember to bow to him.”
Bronus needed to have time to prepare his grand prank before noon. He could have no distractions. He looked down in worry. “My Lord, I will gladly help you in teaching this individual a lesson. However, it must be done after noon. I need to write a letter to my own lord concerning a private matter. It will be quite extensive and I will be occupied from 10am to that hour.”
“Very well. Juris will be giving an oration to commence the festivities. Do you have any ideas on how to embarrass him?”
“I have some knowledge on confusion concoctions.”
“Do you?” said the king with a malicious grin. “What do you have in mind?”
“I can make a special solution that confoundsthe mind . Make him drink it ten minutes before he speaks and every word he says will be reversed. He will sound like a complete fool. When will he be speaking?”
Fortunately, Bronus did know a confusion potion that Loki taught him.
“Brilliant! You are a man of many skills Baron. Juris will be giving the commencement announcement for the festivities at half past twelve O’clock. We will do it then. It is fortunate that he will be giving the speech after you have done your letter.”
“I am glad you are pleased. If you will excuse me, I will take a short nap. I am quiet tired.”
“Very well, we will discuss this later today,” the king said cordially.
Bronus bowed and walked back inside the castle. He shuffled to his chamber and opened the cabinet for the mirror. It was gone! The wizard was wide eyed with fear and broke out into a sweat. “How can this be? Where is it!? The spell won’t work without it and it is my only way home. I would never put it anywhere else.” He stroked his chin. “Someone is on to me, but who? Only Loki and Chronos themselves know of my scheme.” Bronus paced around his room wondering about the situation in feverish thought. I will adjure the king to my missing possession and have him search the castle.
Bronus trudged hotly to the king’s throne room. “My Lord, something very valuable to me has been stolen from my chambers.”
The king gasped. “How could this have happened? Only you have access to your quarters.”
“It is gone nonetheless.”
“Tell me what it is and I will have the castle searched.”
“It is a small golden mirror with a green emerald at the top.”
King Darvy had Elim beside him who seemed not empathetic to Bronus’ problem. “It is a shame of your loss. I’m certain King Darvy would give you something in place of your mirror if it is not found, perhaps even something more valuable.”
Bronus looked down and was silent a few moments then spoke without meeting Elim’s eyes. “It has sentimental value. It was my mother’s,” he lied. Bronus spun around and burst out of the throne room breathing heavily in an intense nervousness. He did not like the advisor’s prying. There was something unsettling about him. Bronus now intended to stay out of his company as much as possible. Eventually night came with no sign of the mirror. Bronus was panicking and getting frustrated. Whoever stole my mirror will be sorry he thought. In his exasperation, he went to a small round pool and washed his face. Was he doomed to stay in this strange time and odd city until his death? Surely he would be found out if he remained. He ran his hands through his hair and rubbed his eyes.
“Baron Bronus, this situation has you most on edge. You should not panic.” The voice was Elim’s coming from behind.
“Forgive Advisor Elim. I am very attached to it.”
Elim walked closer and tilted his head. “May I speak with you alone?”
Bronus’ stomach seemed to tense up. He did not like the advisor’s tone. He hesitated. “Of course.”
They both went to a secluded narrow hall. Elim stopped abruptly and faced Bronus. “I first laid eyes on you when you were gathering flowers in the forest when I was on my horse returning from Scotland.”
Bronus was paralyzed with fear. His speechlessness was met with a scolding look from Elim like he was upbraiding him for stealing.
The advisor folded his arms and looked piercingly into the culprit’s eyes. “The things you gathered were poisonous–obviously not for cooking anything. Then I saw your crest and I suspected magic. I am very learned historical items, even ancient things. Your crest is none then other than those used by the servants of the god Loki. But, I had to be sure so I picked your lock and hid in the closet opened just enough to peer with one eye. When I accidently drove out the rat, I thought I was discovered. Afterwards, ever since I saw you face to face in the throne room, there was something sinister about you-the way that you spoke, your eyes and your desire to be alone sporadically.”
Bronus was terrified but also angered. “You took my mirror! Where is it?!”
To Bronus’ amazement, Elim pulled it from under his robe. “I will be merciful. If you leave my realm, I will allow you to go back to your time and place.”
Bronus grinned maniacally. “A generous offer, but I will have to decline.” He snapped his fingers and disappeared. “Ha, ha, you can’t see me!”
Elim tried to look where the voice was coming from but it seemed to originate from all around him. He felt a hard fist pummel his face. He stumbled and felt the mirror wrenched from his grip. It was in mid-air being held by an invisible hand.
“I hope you get a kick out of my ultimate prank on all of London.”
Bronus’ footsteps clicked as he ran invisibly about two-dozen yards away then suddenly appeared before entering into the larger hallway filled with people. Then he bowed to Elim from across the hall mockingly.
“Your own evil will be your undoing Bronus! You will be stopped somehow!” he yelled.
Bronus strutted defiantly to the throne room. “My Lord I have found my lost mirror.”
“Splendid!” King Darvy said clapping his hands together. “Who took it?”
Bronus was not sure that the king would believe his trusted advisor would have been the thief so he chose again to lie. “I don’t know how the person did it, but the culprit hid it in some bushes near the front of the castle. I found it by chance as I was walking the city streets”
“Well that is fortunate. Now that that is attended to, would you dine with me at Eight O’clock in the banquet hall?”
Bronus rubbed his eyes as if he were tired. “Actually, I was thinking of retiring early. Please forgive me.”
“Not a problem. Goodnight and I look forward to tricking…you know who tomorrow.”
The Baron bowed and turned to leave. He was met by the Advisor Elim who was strikingly calm and complacent and did not look at the trickster with any derision or anger.
“Sleep well, Baron.” Elim said.
Bronus was surprised at Elim’s manner as he walked by him. Why was he so coy? The Baron walked down the main hall as the twilight sun lighted through the narrow stain glass windows. He smiled as he shifted from side to side confidently to his room. He checked the closet so that none was there. Next the sorcerer took the mirror and laid it on the floor then stood up and rubbed his palms together before mumbling some words. Slowly a small bronze pot materialized in mid-air above the mirror. Taking it into his hands, Bronus set it on top of the nightstand. Next all the flowers were put into the pot. A small puddle spot at the bottom appeared and rose with water to the brim. “Now to wait until morning.”
The Baron awoke on his own at a quarter to ten O’clock. He sat up and looked with a grin at the bronze pot. He put it in a leather satchel along with the mirror. His eyes swept the hall to make sure he would not be detained by the king’s conversation. Sprinting to a wooden door to the highest tower, Bronus climbed spiraling steps and reached the cool open air lookout. The Baron snapped his fingers and the entire door froze in ice so none would interrupt him. Bronus took out the pot and then picked out the emerald from the mirror and put it inside. Within two hours the people would find themselves undergo a little change. The sorcerer twiddled his hands excitedly. He looked at the poor commoners with a devious smile. At last, the time was imminent. Bronus held the mirror over the city. As Big Ben was seconds away from twelve O’clock, a flash of yellow light overpowered all places even inside the castle. When the light faded, everyone had been turned into different abominable creatures. Some were seven foot clowns, others were walking mushrooms and still more were things like scarecrows, cats with human form, living coats of armor, birds, towering tree people, walking plates, metal springs with human heads and numerous other heinous beings. Horrid, living nightmares were shuffling out of the castle.
Loki appeared in the mirror. “Let me see!”
The sorcerer turned the glass to overlook the pandemonium. “What a riot! Well done Bronus!”
Suddenly the door behind him shattered into shards of ice revealing Advisor Elim in plain human form holding a large mace.
“How can this be!?” exclaimed Bronus.
Elim pointed to an amber jewel around his neck. “The Talisman of Thor. An ancient relic held in one of glass cases in the treasure vaults. I have been wearing it after I first saw you.”
Elim grabbed the mirror as Bronus resisted. They struggled, swerving to and fro.
“You won’t spoil my fun!”
“You’re a demented conniver; you’ll get your punishment!”
Then Bronus’ hip hit the stone border of the tower and he stumbled over the edge clutching the mirror. Bronus yelled as he plummeted to his death. “Let all remember the name of Lokiiiiii!” His body fell onto the stone ground and the mirror was shattered in a puddle of blood. In a flash of white light all the people turned into humans. Elim looked down and cringed. “All this in the name of fun; that poor, foolish soul.”
Elim’s words appalled King Darvy. He felt like a fool for not seeing Bronus’ duplicity. In light of the events, April Fool’s Day was not observed for many years. But the people finally forgot about the horrible occurrence and it was once again celebrated with many safe and heartfelt tricks and fun. The magic mirror broke, but Elim wondered though: Is it still possible for Loki to retry his scheme on others, perhaps in some different time?”