Once Upon a Time – Chap. 50.4

Hello dear readers, though it was warm enough today for me to work on a few Christmas cards outside while wearing a tee shirt (it is December here in Georgia, am I right? Just checking), Christmas is just around the corner. And with next weekend already crazy busy even without that in mind, I am going to be in nooooo shape to even attempt a snippy snippet. So we’ll take a little break and plan to be back in two weeks – but before that, let’s take a peek at what’s going on with this hat…


“Eh, that’s a smashing top hat my friend but,” Deigen’s eyes darted from the hat to Raynerus and back again, “it doesn’t look like a magical object capable of counteracting any sort of evil notions for world domination.”

Raynerus tossed his hat in the air and caught by the brim. “Looks can be deceiving. See this band?” He circled a finger around the red satin. “The hat itself is quite ordinary but I placed all the magic here and it affects the whole thing, or rather, the person who wears it to be more accurate.”

“But affects them how?” V leaned over the table, peering at the hat. “What does it do to them?”

Raynerus placed the hat on Aaron’s table and turned to his former comrades. “Tell me, does Gwendolena still do that fancy parlor trick of sorts with the goblets that change contents depending on the true nature of the person who holds them?”

While both V and Deigen simply nodded, Seth’s rigid face took on more excitement then anyone had ever seen on the zombie. “Oh, I saw that firsthand! My goblet started off with brains in it and then changed to pea soup!”

“Which should come as no surprise being that your current predicament is merely a result of dying in a cursed land.” Raynerus raised a hand toward him. “Though I’m sure some additional magic was needed to make you able to remember the man you were enough to chat with, you’d no doubt still be a mindless monster if your true nature had been questionable while living.”

Aaron glanced at his laundry closet. “Um, is that why the other zombie has to stay in there? Cause his true nature or whatever was questionable?”

Raynerus shook his head in confusion. “What other zombie?”

As if on cue, the laundry closet doors rattled upon something bumping into them, followed by a muffled growl on the other side.

“Oh that’s just Wymer.” Seth nodded his head sideways toward the growling doors. “He was one of the Keepers henchmen but they turned him into a zombie when he showed signs of wanting to switch to our side. I tried helping him best I could but the change completely took him over. He’s nothing like me now, just your typical zombie that can’t think past its ravenous stomach.”

Raynerus eyed the laundry doors. “You say he didn’t die before becoming a zombie, the Keepers just placed a curse on him? And he no longer wanted to help them before becoming one?”

“I don’t think he ever truly wanted to help them at all.” Seth shrugged. “But he was also not someone I’d say had a whole lot of integrity or dependability. Your sister gave him a goblet at the same time she tested me. While mine changed from brains to soup, his goblet contents changed from mead to water. She didn’t seem to think that end result was promising of him keeping to either side.”

“No, it’s the type of thing you’d see for someone who’s likely to go with whichever party is winning at the time,” agreed Raynerus. “But the fact that he even showed inclination to go against them, hmmm.” He slowly turned from the doors to face them again. “Did he ever show any sign of being more than a wishy-washy man after his own interests? Anything at all that might be considered an act of selflessness?”

“Well,” Deigen shared a look with V and Seth, “he did run to the rescue of a young girl near the beginning of our battle. She was surrounded by a bunch of zombies and he pulled her away from them, carried her over to us.”

Raynerous snapped his fingers. “Absolutely splendid, then there’s hope for this Wymer fellow yet.” He picked up his hat again and twirled it around. “And he’s the perfect person to finally try this out on.”

“Try it out? You”—V blinked several times before finishing his sentence—“you mean you’ve never tested that magical hat of yours on anyone before?”

“Who ever would I have tested it on in good conscience?” asked Raynerous indignantly. “If I was even the least bit off when putting the whole spell together then, well, the results could be ghastly. It might turn a normally fine person into a monster rather than the other way around. And I certainly couldn’t have risked testing it on myself with that possible dire consequence.” He turned back to the closet doors. “But the person on the other side there is already in the most horrible state he could be in, the worst my hat could do is nothing. But if it works then the man who called himself Wymer may not be so out of reach as you think.” Raynerous stood, holding the top hat out in front of him like a fashionable shield. “Let him out if you please.” As a nearly a full minute passed with no one at the table moving an inch, he turned while still keeping his top hat stretched before him. “Eh, I did say please did I not?”

“I don’t think letting Wymer out is a good idea.” Seth pointed at Aaron. “The first thing he’ll do is try to eat him.”

“Well of course he will, but there’s four of us to one hungry zombie and I think the odds are in Aaron’s favor that we can protect him if need be.” Raynerus shook his head. “Besides, you lot are going to have to let him out of there eventually aren’t you? Or were you planning on just leaving him in Aaron’s closet when we go back home, which by the way, I’m assuming might be the plan?”

V, Deigen, and Seth exchanged glances again before Seth finally wobbled his way over to the closet doors. “Okay, you have a point but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

When one of the sliding doors became open, the growling and thrashing ceased. Wymer cautiously poked his head from over the still closed half, seeming to question his sudden freedom. Then, as his eyes fell upon the newly terrified Aaron, Wymer bounded for him (at least as fast as such a word could be attributed to a clumsy and slow-moving monster). While Aaron yelped and tried to hide under the table, Raynerus rushed up and planted his hat firmly on Wymer’s head.

The hat itself did nothing remarkable but the red satin band certainly put on a show. First glowing so brightly that everyone in the room needed to shield their eyes, the band then appeared to change both color and form. Shifting from the solid red to an iridescent blob, it looked as though a ring of water or perhaps a bubble now encircled the hat’s lower half. The zombie underneath had stopped moving entirely by this point, whether due to magic or just pure bewilderment one couldn’t be sure. But one thing was certain – the zombie was changing as well. Grayish and ghastly skin gave way to the ruddy and very alive skin tone Wymer’s associates had seen on him before. His vacant and colorless eyes found their way back as well and, within seconds, the pudgy henchman seemed his former self. The hat’s band made its own transition to normalcy, though not exactly back to its original state for the satin material now beheld a canary yellow color.


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