"Attention!" called out Professor Ravendish. The classroom bustled with activity as the aspiring magicians of Conjurers 101 prepared for the day's lesson. "Today's assignment calls for your utmost attention. Please take care to follow the instructions."
Greta looked at Abby, her lab partner, and rolled her eyes. "Of course we'll follow the instructions," she mumbled. "One mistake could be disastrous."
"Right -- disastrous," Abby agreed, hiding a small smile. Greta placed the thick book, "Conjuring Tricks for Beginners," on the table and turned its ancient pages. "Four lizard scales," she read aloud while Abby placed them in the bubbling caldron, "two drops of morning dew, three spoonfuls of --"
A thick puff of green smoke filled the laboratory. Greta, her classmates and Professor Ravendish scrambled for cover.
"What was that?" Greta said as she peeked from beneath her desk.
"Is everyone all right?" asked Professor Ravendish.
Greta crawled out and helped Abby to her feet. She coughed and flapped her arms to clear the air. She blinked and rubbed her stinging eyes as the green cloud swirled softly to the floor.
After the dust settled, there stood a caped stranger wearing tight, bright clothing.
He set his feet firmly on the floor and crossed his mighty arms. Light poured in through the window, framing the mysterious stranger in a magnificent glow. His cape billowed gently in the breeze.
Greta looked at the other magicians and wondered, "Who is this?" Then, her eyes grew wide.
The explosion made a mess of the stranger. His hair and mask were skewed, and his cape had a hole so large that a dragon could fly through it. He didn't seem to notice he was missing one shoe.
Greta covered her smile and looked on with amusement.
Muscles burst the seams of the stranger's tiny shirt. One legging was too short, and the other one snagged. But, what was most surprising was the stranger's fluffy, pink tutu. It made him look like an overgrown pixie.
"I thought we were mixing ogre repellent," whispered Greta to Abby.
The stranger appeared calm and confident and ready to spring into action. His broad chin jutted in the air as he gazed straight ahead, past the magicians, as if they weren't even there. He stood so still that Midnight, the lab owl, mistook him for a statue and perched herself right on top of his head.
"Let's find out who he is," Greta said.
"I know who he is," stated Abby.
"What?" Greta gasped.
The stranger placed his hands on his hips, turned his head and peered down at the girl, "I, young lady, am --"
"I conjured him up. He's my. . . ," she stated shyly.
"Hero," the stranger finished for her and smiled a dazzling smile.
Professor Ravendish shook his head and gave Abby a disapproving look. "Now that is what happens when you don't follow instructions."
Greta heartily agreed. "This is disastrous!"
The stranger turned and winked at Abby. "I'm anything but a disaster. You'll see!"
And then much to their wonderment, he snapped his fingers and vanished.
Special thanks to Veronica Walsh for illustrating her story. To see more of her artwork, visit veronicawalsh.net.
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