“Incredible! How did I do that!” Sylvia cradled the five stone fragments in her hands, wishing for the sixth she’d yet to obtain even more. The motion of someone stumbling around quickly reminded her of the person she’d somehow summoned. She looked over to give closer inspection now that the light surrounding them was gone. The stumbling sound itself was from the fellow backing his way into a bookshelf behind him and from the looks of it, she had not summoned someone from a part of the world she had any familiarity with.
He had an oddly shaped gray hat that she assumed to be a helmet until it fell to the floor with no more sound than a wet towel. Sylvia squinted, realizing the helmet was indeed made entirely of cloth; clearly this was not a warrior or anyone worried about getting hit in the head. His short blond hair seemed purposely disheveled, the majority of it contorted into stiff spikes that made the locks appear capable of doubling as weapons themselves. Far from being clothed in anything halfway recognizable, Sylvia barely made sense of his strange garments. He wore a black cloak that ended at his waist and appeared oddly bulky given the soft fabric that composed it. Rather than buttons, a string of metal ran down the entire length of the cloak’s open front on both sides with a hookless metal fastener of some sort hanging at the bottom of one end. The open cloak revealed a tunic underneath, dyed such a deep color of purple she couldn’t imagine the man affording it without being royalty. His pants appeared to be made of blue leather and his shoes – well, those were the most bizarre part of the whole ensemble. Colors and random geometric patterns never imagined possible (or needed) on shoes and made from some kind of foamy cloth. Sylvia marveled at the intricate work of what must be a cobbler equally skilled as they were mad.
“Sylvia, what have you done?”
She whirled her head to the left, finding Uncle Albert standing on the other side of the open doorway. Of course he would still be awake to witness her unintended spell – he never slept. Sylvia flopped her arms in the direction of the strange visitor. It was an action that just as easily conveyed ‘well, isn’t it obvious?’ as it did ‘I have no idea’. She opened her mouth but found she barely had words to explain what she didn’t understand herself. “I, um, I summoned him.”
Uncle Albert came into full view as he shuffled from the shadowed recesses of the hallway into the room. Aside from the obvious gray, decaying flesh and nearly colorless eyes, Sylvia saw grave concern on her uncle’s face. Their guest, however, only saw a zombie walking near them and let out an impressively loud scream.
“No, no, no shhhhh! It’s okay, it’s okay!” Sylvia frantically waved her hands at the man, trying to get him to at least quiet down enough so that he wouldn’t wake up everyone in the entire kingdom.
“Why,” yelled Uncle Albert while covering his ears, “did you summon him?”
“It’s was an accident!”
“An accident? How do you accidentally summon anything, let alone a person?”
Sylvia groaned inwardly while continuing to make calming motions with her hands. She felt more like she was doing an interpretive dance. As the man began grabbing books off the shelves behind him and hurling them at both her and her uncle, she raised the hands up in defense.
“Please tell me you at least know who this gentleman is.” Uncle Albert ducked to keep from getting decked by a particularly hefty encyclopedia.
Sylvia opened her mouth again, this time with absolutely no explanation coming out.
Uncle Albert’s frown grew longer. “You don’t know.”
“Yes, I do,” she argued. “He’s a”—she moved quickly to the side to narrowly miss being assaulted by a handful of chapbooks—“he’s a milkmaid’s son.”
“A what?” Uncle Albert stopped moving altogether, a decision which proved to be a bad one as the terrified man spied a letter opener from somewhere and added it to his arsenal. The pointed end managed to firmly lodge itself in Uncle Albert’s right shoulder. “I’m talking and hopping away from books here, does it look like I’m trying to eat you!” yelled the zombie, jerking the letter opener out and throwing it at his attacker’s feet. Uncle Albert waved at him while turning to his niece. “Sylvia, my dear, will you please calm your new friend down before I’m forced to eat him?”