"William, you have to see this!" Azaril's voice rang across the drawing room as the little wizard stepped in.

"What is it, Azaril?" William asked while getting up from the chaise longue he had been occupying.

The Chosen One had just been trying to recollect last night's romantic escapades with Fri’Ishal. The only thing he was able to remember was a lot of feathers, leather, and a feeling of great gratification.

Azaril held up a small bottle containing some manner of pink liquid. "I finally made a potion!"

William raised an eyebrow at Azaril and his amazing bottle of pink goo. He had a thoroughly unpleasant feeling about this.

"I thought you've made lots of potions."

"Oh, I have, it's just that this is the first one that hasn't blown up. I wonder what it does." Azaril shook the bottle violently.

William looked around for a quick exit. "How... uh, nice... Maybe you should go outside to see what it does."

"Great idea! Let’s do it."

Before William could object, Azaril had teleported both of them to the royal courtyard. William felt as if his stomach was performing some pretty impressive somersaults in his abdomen. He groaned and fought the urge to pass out on the freshly trimmed lawn.

"What a rush!" Azaril cheered. ”And I actually got us in the right place, instead of that troll cave.”

The Nowherian wizard celebrated his improved astral navigation skills by jumping up and down until he tripped over his robes. This sudden loss of balance sent the potion bottle flying straight at the nearest sharp rock.


William looked on in utter horror as the bottle broke and its pink contents spilled on the rock.

Then everything went dark...

"Oh, so that's what the potion does," Azaril said with a measured tone of pensiveness. "It causes an eclipse."

Surprised and rather discontented voices began to sound out from within the Castle.

"Okay, where did all the light go?" Simiel shouted above all the other voices.

Soon the absolute monarch of Hypnosia appeared at the courtyard, holding a pair of magic-powered torches. "Great, where's the damn sun?"

"Um... My new potion sort of caused an eclipse."

Simiel sighed. "I hope this thing won't last long. I can't get a totally natural tan without the sun."

"Maybe we should be more concerned with everyone's safety," William commented, looking worriedly towards the Castle. "The damage in bruised knees and broken vases alone could be epic in scale.”

Simiel rolled her eyes, clearly disinterested with the commotion that could be heard coming from the Castle.

"Fine. Let’s go look for the royal light switch." She gave Azaril a warning glance, while handing the other torch to William. "This had better be temporary. I don't look good when I'm sickly pale. What would the press think?"

William, Simiel, and Azaril headed inside the Castle to find the royal light switch.

This task, however, proved to be harder than they first thought. Wandering around in the huge building with just the alarm lights on was anything but easy. The moment the sun had disappeared, the Castle had been plunged into chaos as people ran through the corridors and smacked their heads into everything they could conceivably come across. William had a strong suspicion that tomorrow there would not be one extra pill of painkillers left in the entire royal court.

”Where exactly is the light switch?” William asked after the trio had been walking for fifteen minutes while trying to avoid being stampeded by panicking courtiers.

Simiel stopped to consider the question. William knew that matters concerning the light switch were left to the Honourable Maintainer of Levers and Switches. But according to the latest rumours, the Maintainer had gone to search for the legendary Heavenly Lever of Gutade.

The legends said that the goddess of time had once irritated Haande by turning the lever on and off, until the Supreme One had flung the offending device somewhere amidst the Inconsequential Mountains. The existence of the fabled lever appeared to be a hotly debated issue among switch enthusiasts and historians alike. But right now, the speculation of its existence did not bear much relevance, since the only certain thing was that there was no professional person available to operate the royal light switch.

”I believe it’s somewhere close to the royal fuses,” Simiel finally replied.

”And where is that?”

Azaril dug a map of the Castle out of his sleeve and inspected it. After a while, comma he pulled out a compass from the same source and turned it around.

”If we head east, go down three floors and take the fifth corridor right, we should end up at the royal fuse box.”

Simiel shrugged. ”Well, that sounds reasonable.”

William gave his half sister a bewildered look. Perhaps it was his modest upbringing, but he found the sheer colossal scale of the Castle and resulting distances between rooms, anything but reasonable.

Putting aside his dislike of regal architecture, William followed Simiel and Azaril and their somewhat questionable skills of map reading through the numerous halls, corridors, rooms and hidden passageways of the Castle of Anonymous.

Just as the trio were reaching their goal, something tripped over Azaril. Hurrying to the little wizard’s aid, William pulled him out from beneath the unknown stumblebum and set him down on his feet. Azaril turned around and with Simiel and William, stared at the stranger.

The man, clad in tights and a feathered hat, jumped up nimbly and regarded the trio before him with some amount of surprise.

”Ho! Who be ye, who darest to step before me?”

William and Simiel raised their brows in shared confusion.

”He’s speaking in the ancient and cryptic language!” Azaril chirped in astonishment.

”What is he saying, then?” Simiel asked.

”He wants to know who we are,” Azaril, who had some knowledge about the ancient tongue, said.

”What? Doesn’t he know who I am? I haven’t been insulted like this for a week!” Simiel fumed.

Azaril cleared his throat and addressed the stranger, ”She be Simiel, the... lady o’er these fair lands. He be William, the lady’s brother and Ye One Whom Is Plucked From Among The Numerous Masses. And I be Azaril, the... kingly maker of enchantments.”

The odd man appeared to have understood Azaril. ”She canst not be the lady o’er these fair lands, for Gloata be the lord of the grand realms of Hypnosia.”

”Did he say something about Gloata the Unwilling?”

”Yep.” Azaril nodded. ”He says that Gloata is the ruler of Hypnosia.”

”Gloata was the ruler. But that was a good six hundred years ago,” Simiel said.

”This guy’s been here for the last six centuries?” William asked.

Simiel waved her hand. ”It’s totally possible. The Castle is a pretty big place, he wouldn’t be the first one to get lost here.”

”Many seasons have passed since Gloata ruled. Simiel be the ruler now.”

”Be that truly the state of affairs?”

”That it truly be.”

The man turned to Simiel and made an extravagant bow. ”Then I must bring forth my name. I be K. Vangadaz, finder of lands unknown and wanderer of territories new. I be thy humble servant, o thou fair and splendid maiden.”

”He says his name is K. Vangadaz. He’s an explorer.”

”Well, that explains it,” Simiel said. ”Vangadaz disappeared when he went to look for a toilet during a royal ball. That all happened before the guide signs were installed in the Castle.”

”Does he know where the light switch is?”

”Doest thou know, where layeth the... devise that brings light?”

Vangadaz looked at Azaril. ”Thou speaks of the device which is laid upon the wall and which doth bring light forth and take it away when it is touched?”

”It layeth at the end of this here corridor. But canst thou tell me where be the room for the needs of the nether regions? Long have I held back my urges and I would wish to at last release them.”

Azaril blushed inside his hood. ”Oh! It be the second door on the left.”

”I thank thee, oh small and peculiar being. Now I beg for permission to depart .”

”What’s going on, Azaril?”

”He wants to go to the toilet.”

”Let him go!” William’s eyes widened. ”In the name of the gods, the man’s been holding it in for six hundred years.”

”Thou may leave. And peace unto thy bladder .”

”Fare thee well!” After saying that Vangadaz ran towards the direction pointed out by Azaril.

”Did he tell you where the light switch is?”

”At the end of the corridor.”

Finally, our heroes reached the royal light switch. Truly, there was no other switch that could rival it in glory and majestic quality. Its awe-inspiring splendour could not be described in any known or unknown tongue.

”It's about time. I've lost an hour of precious sunbathing time looking for this thing.”

Just as Simiel was about to touch the switch, the sun came out and the Castle was drowned in light.

Simiel rolled her eyes. ”Nice.”

”What a weird coincidence,” William said. ”It seems that the potion's effect really was temporary.”

”An exact hour. This is great!” Azaril cheered.

”Yeah, really great. But the next time you decide to play around with chemicals, make sure I'm not in the country.” Simiel headed out to the main balcony of the Castle.

”Next time I'm going to make a potion that causes a triple lunar eclipse!” Azaril declared, once again completely oblivious to the trouble he had caused.

William shook a worried head at the little wizard's enthusiasm and came to the conclusion that he would have to develop a warning method for oncoming alchemy tests. It seemed to be the least he could do to protect the peace and sanity of the Hypnosian court.


Next Month: The Trappings of Gender and Ambiguity

Stories and artwork Copyright 2009-2010 by Mette Pesonen. Copying in whole or in part is prohibited. However, you may link to this page.

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