The Magic Quill #38: Chokechain’s Labyrinth, Part 1

by Robbie Fischer, concepts contributed by: Isaac J., Cindy Schwark and “Allie K”

“I think it’s time for one among our number to reveal his true face,” Harvey said over the second round of drinks, the next time his party gathered in their dingy parlor in the back of the Hog’s Head pub.

“Not if you mean me,” said Joe Albuquerque, appearing this evening in the disguise of a Jamaican beachcomber.

“No, I meant our guide, Mr. Merlin,” said the host. “Go on, Merlin, take off the invisibility cloak. We’re all friends here.”

“Yessir, you can trust us,” said Endora, who was only visible by the foaming cup of firewhisky hovering over her corner of the table.

After a moment’s hesitation, Merlin said, “All right,” and a shimmering cloak of invisibilty fell across the back of his chair. Everyone at the table gasped, for the person under the cloak was revealed to be wearing a frightfully unrealistic wig, a pair of mirrored glasses with a fake nose, eyebrows, and mustache attached, and a plaid suit and bowtie with a hothouse Remember-Me-Not blossom tucked into the lapel.

“Er,” said Harvey.

Steam burst out of Spanky’s nostrils. He appeared to be choking on a mouthful of firewhisky.

“That’s right,” said Sadie, pattying Spanky’s shoulder.

“Beginners,” Joe muttered. “They always try too hard.”

“I suppose it’s all right if we take this a step at a time,” said Harvey. “Now, we’ve all been dying to find out how you and your friend Rigel got out of that labyrinth in which the goblin Chokechain left you.”

“Oh, that was nothing,” said Merlin. “We managed that in minutes, with the help of the creature Rigel had bought from Jude the Insecure. Have you guessed what it was?”

“Wait, I know!” shouted Endora. “It’s so obvious.”

“Yes?” said Harvey, raising his eyebrows.

“It was a krup!”

“Well, no,” said Merlin, delicately. “Not exactly a krup.”

“It wasn’t?” said Endora in a crestfallen tone.

“Of course not,” Sadie said rudely, with a puff of breath that made her veil flutter. “Anyone should know that it was a kneazle.”

“Was it?” Harvey asked.

“No,” said Merlin.

“A skrewt,” Joe suggested.

“A bundimun,” Spanky guessed at the same time.

“Well,” said Merlin, “one of you is wrong, and the other…”

“Me!” Spanky declared.

“…is dead wrong.” Merlin sighed.

“Can you tell us which one was closer?” Joe begged.

“No,” said Merlin. “You’re both completely off the trail.”

“A diricawl,” barked Sadie.

“No.”

“A chizpurfle?” Endora chirped.

“Ha! That would have been a good one…but no.”

“An erumpent,” Harvey ventured.

“I should hope not!”

“A phoenix?” Sadie gasped.

“I wish it had been.”

“A niffler?” said Endora.

“That would have been a deal handier coming in than getting out, dear.”

“No, I’ve got it!” Joe exclaimed. “A minotaur!”

Merlin simply looked at Joe with a pitying expression.

“All right!” Spanky snapped, banging his empty goblet on the table. “Just tell us, then!”

Merlin looked around smugly. “If you’ve all run out of guesses…”

“Go on!” Sadie demanded.

“Right. Well, you might as well know, the creature what Rigel bought, and what got us out of a tight spot I can tell you, was actually a…what in the name of the seven sisters of Gryffindor is that?”

“Sounds like the security trolls from Gringotts have been paid and given their night off,” Harvey guessed.

“Just ignore the crashing sounds, screams, and explosions,” Joe cried. “Unless you see the house-elves running by in the passage, it’s nothing to be concerned about. What was the creature’s name?”

“Its name? If that’s all you want to know, its name was Vesper.”

“Aargh!”

“Oh, all right, then. It was a…well, a thestral.”

“Eewww!” squealed Endora.

“Could you both see it?” was what Sadie wanted to know.

“Of course I could. You can’t fly in the Iwixarod as many times as I have, without seeing somebody’s death. I seem to recall a certain Irish lad named Paddy O’Lear, who was sucked into the…”

“Never mind that,” said Joe impatiently. “Just tell us about the maze.”

“Fine,” Merlin sniffed. “To begin with, it was made of eleven-foot hedges of Devil’s Snare…”

What happens next? Send us your idea in 150 words or less, and tune in next week for another installment of the Magic Quill.

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