Chapter 7

"This isn't a wind up, is it?" Raze said, sorting his travel pack out in his room. "It really would be cruel and I don't think even you are such a snot. Why did his staff pick such a ... an ... ambiguous name? Can you communicate with it? Is that a staff thing?

"Gorgon's goolies! Are you going to blather on all night? I'm doing something here!" Spider exclaimed. "The only wind up is you winding me up. If Dick here has any spells stashed away then I want to know."

"For crying out loud Spider. It's hardly a serious threat, is it?" Raze heaved.

"And you call me a snot? I suppose we could just leave one of your sixteen year old, amateur, inexperienced Mages with a potential source of unknown and unpredictable magic. Doesn't matter a bugger to me if Theo and his Dick end up as a pile of ashes in his shoes."

"I never thought of that. Thanks, I suppose."

"Whoa! Don't go overboard there! Channelling your own magic through a staff is a different bucket of bugs to a staff's own magic. I can cast my own spells, when I remember them, but not without a power supply holding me.That's usually a Mage but I'll tolerate you. I could manage a flicker on my own but that's because I'm magnificent. If I do cast a spell it's because I want to and I don't go off accidentally. Dick the stick is but a twig, chronologically speaking and young Theo is less than two decades old. If I find anything potentially dangerous in here, I'll block it, temporarily. Aren't I nice? Now pig off and let me get on with it." Spider finished rudely.

"Spider, look I'm sorry. OK? You certainly know your stuff." Raze apologised.

"Ah not your fault I suppose. Like you said, you don't have sentient artifacts anymore and none as old as me. None as glorious either. As for Dick's name? Buggered if I know. It's not a conscious choice. It's more of a gravitation to a title or thought." Spider tried to explain.

"So are you, or Dick, unaware before you're called? Is the name and calling stuff some sort of awakening?" Raze was taking notes again.

"More of a connection formation. Our Dick here was a log to start with, then a stick. Just an ordinary stick. Once young Theodore decided to shape it into a staff and treat it as such, then it became a staff. With majestic specimens such as myself, this is where I was infused with a spell or two, or whatever mystical goodies the Mage had at his disposal. I'm presuming none of Dickie's previous owners were of a mystical persuasion and certainly not skilled enough to imbue magic. So Dick is between a stick and a magical staff. I imagine that would be a sort of semi-awareness. I'd say it was at the higher end seeing as it felt compelled to get a name and show it to its owner. How's that for style? I want an extra layer of fur in my bed as payment."

"That really is fascinating, Spider. I'm very impressed. So did you go through all these awareness levels?" Raze asked.

"I don't know. I suppose I must have done but I can't remember. All I can remember is being as legendary as I am now. I've always been like this as far as I know. There again I was never a log. I can't even remember who my first Mage was. It's really cruddy being old at times. Do staffs go senile?" Spider mused.

"I doubt it." Raze laughed. "So Dick will feel sort of a ... kinship ... to Theo now? I think Theo had a kinship as soon as he salvaged Dick from the firewood pile."

"Aww isn't that sweet?" Spider drawled and sounded more like itself. "So we don't want any nasty surprises such as latent solar flares or total inversion spells to break up such budding kinship, do we? No we do not. It's quite likeable in a dimwitted plant based way. Go and polish your scrolls or something. I'm babysitting."


Raze was all set for the field trip. He'd slept like the dead and was now fully refreshed. He was just tucking his shirt into his trousers when there was a knock on his door. It was Theo, eager to retrieve Dick.

"In the harness on the dresser, Theo. Just help yourself." Raze went into the bathroom to finish dressing properly. Within seconds there was a crack and a howl and a clatter. Raze ran through to find Theo on his backside tangled up in his wardrobe. "Theo! Are you OK?"

"It hurled me away!" Theo howled.

"Spider ..." Raze growled.

"No not Spider! It was Dick!" Theo staggered to his feet and threw an under-vest back into the cupboard. Dick was on the floor where Theo had dropped it so Raze picked it up without thinking. He immediately felt vibrating ripples along his arm. Magical ripples. If Dick was making ripples that could be felt by someone as strong as Raze, then that would equate to a strong static shock to Theo.

"Oo! Well that wasn't meant to happen." Spider said and Raze grabbed it.

"What wasn't? Dick has magical properties?" Raze said and Theo was just blinking in shock, literally.

"It has now. I'll fix it. Stay away from that plant pot."

"You did that? What did you do?" Raze shook Spider. "Trust me, the plant pot will be like a holiday abroad if you don't cough up." He snarled.

"It was a present! Stop shaking me. You're clattering my components!" Spider shrilled.

"Present? Explain and it better be good." Raze threatened.

"I felt sorry for it! OK? Staffs have feelings too, you know. Dick's as dumb as a box of rocks but it's still a fellow staff, the only one I've seen for sod knows how long. I was giving it a bit of oomf."

"Oomf? So you knobbled Dick. One more time, Spider. What did you do?" Raze shouted.

"Don't yell at Spider, Master Raze." Theo spoke up. "It was trying to be nice to Dick by giving it a gift. It's gone a bit pear-shaped but the thought was there."

"See? See? Theo gets it!" Spider retorted. "Thank you Theo. Some of us appreciate a kind gesture."

"It chucked him among my underwear!" Raze pointed out aggressively.

"You do seem to be developing a thing for all these taboos Raze." Spider said. "I gave Dick a spell, that's all. Just the one."

"One that knocks its wielder off his feet. Very useful." Raze flung himself into a chair.

"Isn't he a sow?" Spider tutted. "So it went awry! We know that! It was a tiny, tiny air spell, I swear it was. If I'd used it you'd have accused me of farting, that's how weak it was. I was being nice!"

"I think so too. Thanks Spider." Theo nodded.

"Yes thank Spider for the concussion." Raze sulked. "For an artifact who claims to be a towering intellect you really are a tit, Spider. Your spells are too strong for Dick! You ... dick! It may have been a mystical fart to you but it overwhelmed Dick!"

"Mt farts don't smell." Spider sniffed. "I'll nullify it. Sorry Dick, you are a fishing rod once again."

"No!" Theo went to grab Dick then thought better of it. "Do you have to? Poor Dick. It started out as firewood and all I could do was shave off its splinters. It deserves a chance."

"Spoken like a true staff-master." Spider complimented. "Some folk just don't get it Theo because they see us staffs as objects and property. Don't they Raze? Oaf."

"But he can't even pick it up!" Raze objected.

"So? How come you can?" Spider said condescendingly

"Because I've been a Mage a damn sight longer than Theo! My magical ability is stronger and my magical tolerance is higher!" Raze said patiently.

"Define tolerance. Actually I'll define it for you because I'm an outstanding towering intellect. Tolerance: The capacity to endure continued subjection to something such as environmental conditions without adverse reaction. Hear it and weep."

"So I'll get used to it?" Theo asked hopefully. "Dick can keep it?"

"This is on you, Spider." Raze rummaged a pair of heavy leather work gloves from his cupboard. "Hal Logger's gardening gloves. Wear them." Theo nodded eagerly. The gloves swamped Theo's hands and came up to his elbows. He gingerly prodded Dick, then took the plunge and grabbed it. Theo jolted upright, his eyes opened wide and he began vibrating.

"See? Good as new." Spider said.

"He's rigid and his hair is standing on end." Raze pointed out.

"Ah that's nothing. No one will notice." Spider said dismissively as Theo juddered across the floor and back into the wardrobe. "So! What were Hal Logger's leather gloves doing in your drawers?"

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