Which is about the great Wizard Glick, and a trip to the beach

There comes a moment in every creature’s life where something catches their eye, their mind, and their heart, and holds onto them with such a force that nothing else could ever sparkle so brilliantly with meaning. It may be a calling to a profession, or a tug towards a loved one, or the fascination felt for a new hobby. For Yona, it was turning on the TV set and witnessing the tail-end of a magic performance by the Wizard Glick.

Mind you, this is a world where magic may be used for anything from repairing a bridge, to taming a wild beast, to simply dazzling the senses with something lovely and enchanting. But even if Pamela had tentatively decided magic use was OK after a century of reservations, she absolutely ruled out the last of those things. She grabbed the remote and the television screen flickered off.

Nooo! I was watching that!” Yona protested, leaping from her seat.

“Honestly, I’m horrified that we permit such mockery to air on daytime television,” Pamela said, shaking her head in disdain for what she’d just seen: a white silk hat, adorned with crystal stars, and a disembodied pair of gloves, conducting what might be described as a miniature electrical parade led by a host of wind-up dolls, operating on what can only be assumed to be an irresponsible amount of magic. Bitter memories came flooding back into Pamela’s mind of all the hardships of the Drought, wondering when they would ever have access to clean drinking water or medical care again, picturing this now in sharp contrast to the whimsical display on the television. A shudder rippled violently through her body.

It was the weekend, and while the children of the orphanage still needed to be attended, Lonissa firmly believed it was a day for rest and relaxation, so she came downstairs and promptly turned the television back on now that Pamela had left the room, much to Yona’s delight.

“Ooh, Wizard Glick is still on,” she beamed, taking care not to speak too loudly lest they both get into trouble. “It’s almost over, though. Crimson and Clover usually go on after him.”

“You know him, Loni?” Yona inquired. (Loni was the children’s affectionate nickname for her.)

“Oh yeah, he’s the new guy.” Lonissa settled down onto the armchair beside Yona, while unbeknownst to them, the rest of the children of the orphanage began creeping up beside and behind them to catch a glimpse of the elusive magician for themselves. “He’s been really big lately, people love how he’s so mysterious, even his face is hidden.”

Yona’s mind clouded with thrills unknown, wondering just what this wonderful world that had been hidden from her was all about.

The host of the show encouraged a round of applause for Wizard Glick, his name flashing in purple lights above the stage, as he bowed out—or tipped his top hat, at least—and vanished from thin air. Images of the cute wind-up dolls and little wooden soldiers marching along the stage in colorful lights set to music would forever be ingrained in Yona’s mind, wishing terribly that she could have seen the whole performance. Her heart stirred.

What went on next was a very different kind of magic act, a comedy duo known as Crimson and Clover whose appearance might be described as a caped ragdoll, half his face lime and half white, holding a hand puppet of a small girl who looked not too dissimilar from him. Yona scooted toward the edge of her seat.

“Hey Clover! Say, you’re looking a little down,” said Crimson.

“I’m not the one who’s down, you silly oaf. Why, I’m about two feet in the air, and I’d be even higher if you would finally hit your growth spurt.”

The audience laughed, but Yona was undecided if this was funny or not.

“I’m awful sorry I haven’t. You know, I’m so short I can’t see my calendar, and I missed your birthday. I’ll make it up to you, Clover.”

“Okay, I forgive you.”


“Of course not!” she exclaimed, then out of thin air, produced a large rubber mallet and bopped Crimson on the head.

Finally, Yona could see the appeal, and she and the other children laughed while the audience cheered.

* * *

By the time the evening sun had stretched the last of its golden-purple rays in a big yawn before rolling over to greet the other side of the planet, Pamela, Lonissa, and the orphan children were seated at the long wooden table downstairs, eager to dig into a lovely feast of curry bread and trout soup for dinner; and for dessert, some specially imported Lollen—a creamy gelatin delicacy that was only to be eaten on special occasions—awaited them in the icebox. The special occasion in question was Piko and Kimmy, two of the eldest orphan children, finally being adopted. They were to be brought to their new home in the morning, and both were very glad to go together, as they had bonded like brother and sister during their time at Hearts and Diamonds. Lonissa was excited; Pamela had learned to subdue her feelings about the children going to new homes long ago, but still felt a pang of sadness at the thought of never hearing their cheerful voices ringing through the halls again. Nevertheless, tonight was a night for celebration, but Yona appeared to be absent for it.

They called out her name several times, but the children looked half starved, and what could be worse than anticipating a delicious, mouth-watering meal only for it to have gone cold by the time you can taste it? So Lonissa said a small prayer of guidance for Piko and Kimmy, and Pamela stormed upstairs to look for the elusive child as they ate.

But she was not in the children’s quarters, nor down the hallway, nor in the bathroom, nor in the headmasters’ study, and so Pamela gathered her intuitive powers and divined that Yona had somehow made it into the attic. There she found her, all dirty with charcoal smudges on her face and dress, scribbling away at a pad of paper amongst scattered sheets, all crude drawings of Wizard Glick—unmistakable to Pamela with his top hat and gloves.

“Yona, what are you doing up here? We did not give you permission to enter this room, young lady.”

“Sorry. I just really wanted to be on my own for a while.” Despite the loneliness in these words, Yona appeared deeply focused and content—If only she could extend such concentration to her studies, Pamela thought.

“Where did you obtain that charcoal, and that paper?” Pamela asked, distracted now from the original purpose of finding her. The drawings may have been unskilled, but the unbridled passion put into them was so palpable it nearly leapt off the page: besides just portraits of Glick, there were drawings of Yona herself interacting with him, drawings of herself using magic to impress him, and a few drawings of Crimson and Clover, as well as other performers. The handwriting was barely legible, which was undeniably to Yona’s benefit as she tucked the pile neatly together to prevent Pamela’s further interrogation.

“The charcoal’s from the fireplace, and the paper’s from your study room,” she said sheepishly.

“I see. Please ask me next time,” said Pamela. Though the subject of the drawings raised concern, she was not one to discourage a creative outlet, and seeing Yona engage in a quiet and nondestructive activity was a refreshing change of pace.

“It’s dinnertime, and your food is probably getting cold by now. Are you hungry?”

Yona stood up and stretched her arms, seemingly having not done so for a while, causing her stomach to growl. “Oh, I guess I am.” Pamela showed a small smile to the budding artist, taking her paw into hers, and just as she was about to instruct her to clean up her mess, Yona pointed a clawed finger at the pile of paper, causing it to levitate a foot off the ground. Pamela’s heart just about dropped out of her body in astonishment, reacting with a shriek that startled Yona far more than her apparent latent abilities did.

“So I can move things,” Yona said with giddy surprise, recollecting her earlier attempts to do just so. “I can move things! This means I have magic!”

Dizziness overtook Pamela for an instant. Most Manyas possessed at least some degree of magical ability, so it’s not that it came as any rude shock that Yona might display a rudimentary talent for it. But at such a young age—and in the hands of the most misbehaved child she’s ever had the business of rearing? Not to mention with such dishonorable figures as the great Wizard Glick or whatever silly monicker he had given himself being the child’s biggest heroes…curry bread and trout soup no longer sounded appetizing.

* * *

The next Saturday morning, Yona did not sleep in late as she often did, instead parking herself in front of the television set hours ahead of the others, staking out her spot on the armchair with the kind of eagerness one might seek their expensive stadium seats with. Only she didn’t know which channel he would appear on, but enough determined clicks of the remote eventually brought her to where she wanted.

And there he was in all his ethereal glory: Wizard Glick, glossy white top hat and all, commanding the entire stage with wit and grace and mystery; and this time, she hadn’t missed any of the performance. Today’s trick involved calling up an audience member to participate, the mere thought of which made Yona’s eyes just about double in size. Her color, strangely enough, began shifting back to the silver and purple it was from when Pamela first met her on the pier. Pamela had since informed Lonissa about this odd occurrence, but neither of them witnessed it happening again since she was first brought in to the orphanage a couple of months ago.

As such, Lonissa came down the steps with a little confusion at the strange child taking her spot on the armchair before realizing it was only Yona. The participant on the TV screen—oh how Yona longed to take his place!—had been instructed to reach inside Glick’s top hat. At first there was nothing inside at all, but as he reached in and pulled, the arch of a rainbow began to outstretch itself onto the stage from inside, bringing with it clouds and mist and sunbeams (so bright that half the audience reflexively shaded their eyes), and the stunned participant could only continue reaching in until out came trees, and houses, and brooks, all of which seemed to fit in the palms of his eager hands one moment, then take up all the remaining space of the stage the next. It was as breathtaking as it was strangely comical, as fish limply flopped around a sopping wet stage and nesting Qulos hatched their eggs. The once-plain stage had now lit up like a set from an old movie, complete with a brilliant artificial blue skyline. Surely the show host would be angry with him for ruining his prestigious theater, but instead he simply shared in the look of wonderment and joy that everyone else had, and clapped. Glick flipped back over then took his bow.

“Thank you, thank you,” he said, in a voice somehow both gentle and booming. “Thank you all. I wouldn’t be able to do this without the help of my lovely assistants, as you know.” He then produced from out of thin air six wind-up dolls—Oh yeah, the ones from the parade before, Yona realized—whom, in contrast to their maker being nothing more than a white hat and gloves, were colorful, full-bodied, fully-dressed approximations of real creatures. They each bowed in a row, standing back up in a row as well, like a rolling wave. The dolls waved their arms, and promptly, the village and surrounding scenery that had emerged from Glick’s hat cleanly absorbed itself back inside, like nothing had ever happened. The crowd cheered so loudly, Yona wasn’t even sure it was coming from the TV. It sounded as if it were there in the room with them.

“Wow, that was a really good one, wasn’t it, kiddo?” said Lonissa.

“Loni! I didn’t know you were watching,” Yona said, not normally one to be startled, but her heart was beating a million miles a minute throughout the performance and after. “That…was…amazing!” she cheered. There was unanimous agreement in the room that what they’d just seen was quite possibly the greatest magic act they’d ever watched, that is, until Pamela became one of the people in the room.

“Oh, for heaven’s sakes, this again,” she groaned, displeasure evident in every feature on her face. “You could be filling up your young, shapeable minds with anything, but you choose to fill it up with stuff and nonsense.”

“If I recall correctly, Pam, you used to fill yours up with stuff and nonsense when you were a kid too, every time a street performer came into town,” Lonissa grinned. The children laughed, but Yona was feeling a little too wounded by Pamela’s constant disapproval to find much humor in it.

“That’s…beside the point!” Pamela said, a betraying blush spreading across her face. “We didn’t know any better then about the consequences of such frivolous magic output.”

Lonissa shrugged, unaffected. “Let the kids enjoy it. It’s harmless fun—something to do besides chores and school. Everyone needs that once in a while.”

“It isn’t just escapism, Lonissa.” Yona felt both unseen and like she had a hot, blinding spotlight on her this entire conversation. “Why, Yona was using magic just the other day! Levitating things!” Pamela blanched, with a point of her reproachful clawed finger to the magic-using Manya in question.

Lonissa gave the girl a long hard stare—one she couldn’t glean the intention of—before smiling with warm encouragement, “Whoa! You can really use magic, squirt?”


“Only a little,” came Yona’s timid reply, unsure of whether or not she should receive Lonissa’s heartening words. “I can float some stuff, but only sometimes.”

“Remarkable,” breathed the younger headmaster. “Absolutely remarkable! One so young and already with a talent for magic. My powers didn’t develop til I was twice her age, you know.” Some of the orphan children had left to go play upstairs, while others wanted to stay and hear the outcome of the conversation.


“Oh, don’t Lonissa me, you old pill. Who is little Yona hurting? She’s got something that makes her happy. A little encouragement goes a long way. You would know that as much as anyone.” Pamela ruminated on this for a moment, recollecting all too clearly how displeased her own parents had been with her life choices—before her attention was redirected toward Yona’s change of colors that she had failed to notice earlier.

“She’s gone and changed back colors,” Pamela mused aloud to no one in particular. Then a resigned sigh: “Well, I’m left with no choice but to allow it, in moderation. I don’t like to be—what’s that word you always use—a killjoy, and I suppose some things are good for the heart, if not for the mind.” There was a look, Lonissa detected, of sincere remorse on Pamela’s face, but the elder headmaster never liked admitting to her shortcomings, as she was keenly aware of them whether they were voiced or not. “Go on; you can keep watching.”

Pamela departed for her study while Lonissa gingerly took a seat beside Yona on the armchair to continue watching the program. She had just poured a few glasses of juice for Yona and the other children, whose eyes were all aglow for more magic shows.

* * *

The rest of the weekend passed as lazily and pleasurably as warm summer days are meant to: the Womp ferns outside were growing steadily taller, curling in on themselves, Qulos were singing the quaint little tunes they often do while laboring to and fro and nesting atop the seafoam-stucco buildings, fishers from the harbor hauled back enormous baskets of their bounties to share with everyone in town. Lonissa had proposed a beach trip for the group and Pamela, feeling that she could use a break from her sometimes troubling studies, showed refreshing enthusiasm for the idea, and so they went.

Yona tried her best not to misbehave, seeing as how trips outside the orphanage were not exactly commonplace (and the two times that they did take place, were both the educational sort); but much to her merriment, the ocean felt warm and inviting, and setting a paw in it, she was overcome with a thrilling sense of liberation, of a world teeming with life beyond the corners of stuffy Hearts and Diamonds orphanage—which she did not hate, but had become overly familiar with during her stay. This was the real world.

While the headmasters rattled on to each other about Majonian politics and little Julie’s grades and how well Emerol could recite Zone 1 literature for an Odol his age, Yona was half a mile away and feeling incredible. Perhaps what she’d said to Pamela after her arrival about swimming a long distance once was true, because she was as natural in the water as a dragon is in the sky. Making her way past the graceless beach-goers who giggled and shouted at each other about what fun they were having, the pink sky and sea melted into one all around her, the sparse white clouds hanging overhead mingling into the perfect sunshade. She closed her eyes and felt truly at peace, truly alone. Until—

“Yona! Yona! My word, where has she gone off to?” she could hear ringing through her floppy ears—or was it a voice inside a dream? It seemed far away in more than just distance.

Along the shoreline, Pamela had worked herself into a frenzy, counting off all the orphan children for the third time and coming up one short. It was just like bedtimes before she and Lonissa got into the habit of weaving the spell: little lost Yona, always getting into something, never where she was supposed to be. A selfish part of her wondered if she should stay lost, and go back to the life she had before the Cresha birth that crossed her path with Pamela’s and filled her life with limits and school and order. But then she remembered long cold nights, growling stomachs and aching feet, and the way disrespectful strangers would trod on her tail. And truthfully, she never really liked parting ways, even when she couldn’t bear to be with others more often than not. She paddled back to land.

Eventually the faces of the other children she recognized started coming clear into view, some with a look of envy, others with exasperation, matching rather nicely with Pamela’s. She hated to see Pamela’s angry face, not because she found it loathsome, but because it was a reminder of her own misgivings that she felt were beyond her control; a furrowed brow and visible fang that managed to say, “Why are you acting like this?” without words. Lonissa, in typical Lonissa fashion, simply stood in place and waved to her with a slight smile.

Before the lecture could begin, Yona stated upfront, “I’m sorry.” This seemed to swiftly change Pamela’s demeanor from ready to erupt to accepting and placated. She gave a small yet serious nod. “You won’t swim so far out without myself or Lonissa, yes?”

“Yes, Miss Pamela.”

Pamela gave a centering sigh and then dropped to her knees to pull the child into an embrace, even with her fur still damp and smelling of seaweed. The embrace was odd and unfamiliar, but not unwelcome. For a fleeting moment, she could have sworn she saw a tear in Pamela’s eye, but that moment was gone as soon as it came. The rest of the group lined up in an orderly fashion, then Pamela sang, “We’ve got sandwiches for the lot of you, and we can eat them once we arrive home if you continue to behave nicely.”

Yona wasn’t entirely sure what had just happened, but she felt somehow a little lighter, and a little closer to understanding what her new life was about.

* * *

Yona could not remember the last time she had enjoyed a day so much. The bustling world outside really reminded her of just how claustrophobic the orphanage could make her; yet being back inside, she felt only comforted by its secure white walls, and by her springing bed she was instructed time and time again not to jump up and down in, which felt crisp and warm against her drying fur. She had eaten a truly good meal in company that was not scorning her, but instead earnestly interested in what she saw and felt while she was far away at the ocean’s mercy. Though Pamela might never encourage her escapades with the kind of easy tolerance that Lonissa does, that only made earning it all the better.

She had brushed her teeth and changed into bedclothes when suddenly a knock came at the door, high enough on the wood that she knew it was one of the headmasters. In came Lonissa, clutching something at her side, and putting a finger to her mouth as if to indicate she wasn’t supposed to be there.

“While I was buying us dinner from one of the nice vendors, they had this on the magazine rack. The last one,” she said in a soft rasp, handing the document into Yona’s ecstatic paws. “You might want to hide it under your bed, though. Just in case,” she winked. What could it have been besides Magic User’s Monthly—with a glorious picture of Wizard Glick right on the cover, promising an interview with the enigmatic magician!

Yona instinctively sprang in place with a torrent of Oh thank you thank you thank yous hurtled at Lonissa, swinging the magazine in her arms with all the pride only a child can have about owning something that truly belongs to them and them alone. She changed colors right before Lonissa’s eyes to teal and blue—colors that roughly matched the younger headmaster’s. They both laughed in surprise.

For a time, everything was good.

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