Neither Helena nor Benji had ever been outside of the Witchlands. They knew, of course, about what magicless people thought of witches and wizards. Since horrid witches and wizards often stirred up storms at the coast of the Witchlands, storms which more likely than not engulfed many a kindly vessel that belonged to magicless folk, it was a common misconception that most witches and wizards were that way. Helena and Benji knew they would face awful prejudice if they made it widely known that they were a witch and wizard, and so they said nothing about magic or heroes when they landed in the port of Junetown, Rougeland.
The morning they landed in Junetown, the sky was a brilliant, clear blue which had everyone on the ship in good spirits as they walked out onto the streets of Junetown.
"What a lovely place!" the overweight woman from the dining room was saying. "Do you think it's been snowing here? I hope not, dear Fanny won't be able...." Her chatter was lost as she and her husband wandered further into the crowd towards town.
When Helena and Benji stepped out and were able to survey the town after finding and leading Luna off of the ship, they were taken aback.
"Why, the buildings here look the same as—" she caught herself, "—back home!"
"I guess we shouldn't be so surprised," said Benji. "After all, there was once a time when we all got along."
"Was there?" said Jack, mildly. He and Will had just found them and were standing, hands on their hips, chests drawn up, heads held high; the sort of posture, thought Helena, bad kings might use to look more noble than they naturally did for their portraits.
"Well, Jack, I think we should be getting on," said Will. It appeared that the pair had become friends, which was curious because Benji had thought that in vying for Helena's heart, they might become rivals.
"I think so, too," Jack was saying. Then he suddenly swung his arm around and pointed to the wide streets by the docks, "Look, Will, a crowd!"
"Indeed, my observant friend, a crowd! Methinks good fortune will find us there, once we announce our superior intentions!" And before Helena could tell them otherwise, Jack and Will had gone, striding towards the large crowd with a considerable amount of speed. It seemed that they were not aware either of the fact that witches and wizards were not received well by non-magic folk or of the fact that there really weren't any non-magic heroes.
"Well, let's go," said Benji, "We won't want to be standing here, in case they try to point us out as their friends."
They weaved their way through the crowd on the harbor and found their way into the busy, bustling streets of Junetown. One of the first things they noticed was that the city was very clean, despite its large population and close buildings. And the profit it made from tourists was evident in the way Helena and Benji were able to quickly find a Tourist Center, a few blocks further in. While Benji waited outside with Luna, Helena found a map and asked a worker at the big, circular desk in the middle of the center where the best magicus apparatus shop was located.
The big, burly man pointed to a spot on the map, near the edge of Junetown. "That, there, is the best one you'll find anywhere. It's a big place with a big sign; you can't miss it."
Helena looked, "The Magicus Apparatus Shop?"
"Yes," said the man. "Up until very recently, you'd have found that it was a very businessy kind of shop, but the owner has become much more friendly and the shop is much more welcoming. It's just, the name's the same as it's always been. Anyway, you won't regret spending your money there."
"I hope not, as we have some rather important business to take care of, there. And could you tell me where I could keep a horse for the day?"
The man pointed to another spot on the map, significantly closer to their current location, "Closest and cheapest place you'll find in Junetown. They'll take great care of your horse."
Helena thanked the man, who said he hoped she would enjoy her stay, and left the center.
"That shop is far," said Helena. "I thought we should stop for lunch first, but we'll need to put Luna in a stable. The man pointed out a cheap place, not far from here; just a few blocks that way."
They found the stables easily enough and, though they were uneasy about leaving Luna in a foreign stable in a foreign country, they were comforted by the clean appearance of the place.
"Alright," said Helena. "Now for lunch." She looked around at the various shops surrounding them and found, up the street, a sign (Kindle's) for a restaurant. "There's a place," she said, pointing, and they began to make their way up the steady slope of the street.
Though they could see the sign from the stables, the restaurant was actually much further than it originally seemed it was. And in the time it took for Helena and Benji to reach it, they were able to absorb a lot of the conversation around them. For instance, there were two women behind them, carrying parasols.
"Honestly, Lottie, I can't believe the weather!"
"Neither can I," said Lottie, "and you know what? I'm positive it's those dreadful witches and wizards in the Witchlands. First, they destroy our ships with those damn storms—"
"Lottie!" exclaimed her friend.
"What? Damn storms? Well it's the truth, Jane! First, those damn storms, and now they're changing up the weather here! Somebody ought to do something about those- those...."
"Monsters," supplied Jane, helpfully.
"Yes, exactly! Somebody ought to do something about those monsters!" Lottie held her pink parasol in the air as if leading a charge.
Benji slowed down and was about to turn around, but Helena touched his elbow, "We're here, Benji."
Benji awoke from the sort of angry trance the two women had put him in to find that they were, indeed, standing in front of Kindle's. Benji and Helena entered the restaurant, a small, neat place with a large painting of a peacock near the doorway.
As soon as they were seated, quite fortunately in an empty corner, Benji said, "Monster! Those two idiots wouldn't know a monster if it danced in front of them, naked!"
"Benji, be quiet," said Helena in a hushed voice, "You already know how these people are. Don't let two silly women anger you, there are much more important things to worry about at the moment."
Benji lowered his voice, "More important? Helena, these people think we're awful! All of us! How could they have such strong opinions about things they don't even know about?"
"I know, I know, they're ignorant and stupid, but you've got to keep your voice down, Benji," Helena was whispering and trying to keep her face neutral, "That waiter over there keeps looking at you."
Benji sighed heavily and leaned back in his chair. "I just never thought people could be this awful," he said.
"I know," said Helena. "But they just don't understand."
Just then, the waiter, a young, skinny teenager, arrived at their table with a small notepad. "And what can I get you two crazy birds this afternoon?" He sounded too casual.
"Oh," said Benji. He glanced at the menu, "I'll have the Soup of the Day and a cup of tea."
"Uh huh," said the waiter, scribbling his order down, "and what about you, pretty lady?"
Helena hid her slight embarrassment by quickly pulling the menu up in front of her face; she also missed the rather unfriendly look Benji had given the waiter. "Uh, I'll have—I'll have the same thing."
"Lovely," said the boy, "and are you sure you wouldn't like a helping of frog?" He eyed them both dangerously.
"No," said Helena flatly, "No, thanks."
"Very well," he said, and neither of them missed the look of disgust that had washed over the waiter's face as he turned and walked away.
Helena, in her discomfort, began drawing random, invisible designs on the table with her finger. After a few minutes, she said, angrily, "That little toad."
"Hush," said Benji, "you're right. They're silly and insignificant. Let's just focus on what we have to do."
Helena looked up and rested her head in her hands, "Fine. And?"
"And, we have a slight problem." Benji glanced around before continuing. "After we stop at that shop, how will we hide the—how will we hide it." He meant the broomstick.
"Oh," said Helena, "We can put in my bag. It's fine."
"Oh," Benji sat back. "Oh, alright, then. Helena," he was suddenly whispering very quietly and sharply, "Helena, your wand."
Helena looked down to where her magicus apparatus bag was sitting at her feet and saw that her wand was in full view; so that was how the waiter knew. She hurriedly stuck it back in and made sure the bag was securely closed.
They waited for the next fifteen minutes in silence for their food to come. Helena suspected, and Benji knew, that the cooks were taking longer than they needed on purpose to prepare their soups and tea.
When their lunch finally did come (the soup too thin and the tea too cold), they ate quickly, eager to leave the restaurant and be in the crowded streets where nobody could easily guess who they were.
They retrieved Luna, having to pay just a small amount of twenty brass rooks ("That man at the Tourist Center was wonderful!" said Helena), and were on their way to The Magicus Apparatus Shop. They took special care to remain engaged in their own conversation, not wanting to hear any more of what these non-magic folk were saying about the Witchlands and magic. They had just finished discussing Kiki Woodhouse's latest novel, The Willows and House Crests, when Benji spotted a large, wooden sign with golden letters displaying, "The Magicus Apparatus Shop."
It was a big place, a grand place. Coming from a small, modest town, Benji felt almost shy about entering, but he knew he must and so he did, leaving Helena outside with Luna.
But as clean-cut as the outside of the shop was, the inside was quite the opposite. There were tables covered from end to end with various items such as quills whose ink never ran out; ink bottles that magically filled up after it was emptied and whose ink never stained surfaces such as carpets or clothing; and candles that burned longer and cleaner, as the wax did not drip as it melted, than normal candles did. The floors were filled, only enough so that there could still be a path by which to walk, with bigger items like self-rocking rocking chairs; big, grand paintings whose inhabitants moved; and a small variety of flying carpets (Benji was careful not to step on these).
The shop was so crowded that he knew he had little hope of finding what he needed by himself, and so he called out into the quiet shop, "Hello? Anyone here?"
He dared walk a little further in, hoping he wouldn't get lost, but he heard footsteps coming around the corner to his left. Then a fairly young, happy, peaceful-looking man appeared.
"Hello," he said, "I'm Luka J. Thomas, the owner of the shop. Anything I could do for you?"
"Er, yes, there are a few things," said Benji. "You see, I have a horse outside that I need to send back to—" he quickly considered whether he should tell this Luka J. Thomas that he was from the Witchlands, but then remembered that he owned a shop full of magic items "—to the Witchlands, and I wondered whether you might have a Transportation Mirror here."
Luka J. Thomas grinned, "My good man, there is little that you wouldn't find here. Come this way."
They travelled through the shop to what Benji thought was the back, though he couldn't tell because he had rather lost his sense of direction in the huge place. Luka led him to a corner, where there stood a large, ornate mirror with a silver frame.
"Here you are," said Luka. "Now, please correct me if I'm wrong in assuming that you are a wizard."
"No, you're correct," said Benji, fingering the wand in the inside pocket of his jacket.
"Then I don't suppose you know some sort of levitation spell? We'll need to move this mirror to the front of the shop for your horse."
"Oh, yes," said Benji. He took out his wand, secretly observing the way Mr. Thomas did not appear scared or nervous, and gave it a flick; the mirror instantly rose a few inches off the ground.
"Beautiful," said Mr. Thomas, "now if you'll follow me."
They walked much slower through the shop, as Benji was having a little difficulty navigating through some of the tight spaces with the mirror. Since he had no idea how long it might take to get back to the front, if they really were in the back of the shop, that is, he decided to stir up a bit of conversation.
"Mr. Thomas," he started.
"Oh, just Luka, please."
"Luka," said Benji, "You're very tolerant of magic, aren't you?"
Luka glanced back at him, stepping over the corner of another magic carpet, "Yes, I am. I have a very good friend who's a witch. She's the loveliest person I've ever met." Then he laughed, "Want to know how I stumbled across her?"
"My ship, on the way to Carpaland, was caught in a witch storm, which was the best thing that ever happened to me, I think. Diciturn was the first town I found and Penelope was kind enough to let me stay with her, even after I knocked down all those potions of hers—she sells potions. Anyway, that completely changed my view of the Witchlands and magic."
They came to the front door.
"I'd imagine you don't want everyone to watch your horse disappear into a mirror," said Luka. "Leave the mirror just there, and bring the horse in."
Benji hesitated, "Really? You're sure?"
Benji set the mirror down so that it was at least a horse's length away from the door, then stepped outside to where Helena and Luna were waiting. He took Luna's reigns and gestured for Helena to follow.
"You're bringing the horse inside the shop?"
"Yes, come on," Benji replied.
Benji led the horse carefully through the doors and stopped in front of the mirror. Helena and Luka smiled politely at each other while Benji made to tap the mirror with his wand.
He stopped and looked at Helena, "One of us should go through to make sure Luna gets to my stable."
"I'll go," Helena said at once, stepping forward. "No, wait. I'm not supposed to be here. You'd better go."
"Alright then, I'll be right back." Benji tapped the mirror three times and ripples appeared over the reflective surface, as if it were water. Holding Luna's reigns, he stepped through the mirror and, torso, head, and arm still in the shop, he led Luna through.
"How do they know where they're going?" asked Luka.
"It's part of the wand-tapping. You see, when you want to cast a spell, you imagine things in your mind and then wave the wand to make it happen. For Transportation Mirrors, you imagine the place you want to be in when you step out onto the other side of the Mirror. Of course, you'd have to know the place, first."
"Ah," said Luka, "Interesting." A few quiet, awkward moments went by and then Luka said, "Your friend told me you were from the Witchlands. Has the weather, lately, been as odd there as it has been here?"
Helena sighed, "Yes, it has."
"Has your town sent heroes? My friend in Diciturn says that her town sent heroes, but that they're idiots. She says most heroes are that way—handsome but rather unintelligent."
Helena's face reddened a bit, "Most are that way. But Benji isn't that way at all."
"Yes, that's my friend who just went through the mirror."
A sudden look of understanding and surprise washed over his face, "Oh! Well, he does seem very intelligent."
Helena gave him a sort of half-smile, "But you think he's plain. The rest of the town does, too, including Benji himself."
Luka smiled knowingly, "But you don't." Before she could reply, he asked, "And what was that you said? You're not supposed to be here?"
"Right," Helena said. She didn't like his implications, and this explanation would lead Luka even further. "Well, there are only heroes. There aren't supposed to be heroines."
"And so you went along with Benji because...?"
But Benji had just come through the mirror. "So sorry I took so long. I had to look around a bit before I found Fred—Helena, why do you have that look on your face?"
"What look?" Helena allowed her eyes to wander away from Benji and down to the floor.
"That look. You look embarrassed."
"We were just talking about how she's a heroine," interjected Luka. "I think it's quite commendable."
"Thanks," said Helena.
"You're welcome. Now, Benji, you said there were a few things I could help you with?"
"Yes," said Benji. "There's just one more thing. I need a broom."
"Ah," said Luka, "Right this way."
Benji and Helena followed Luka through the store again, to the left end; Benji paid close attention this time. The left wall was lined with different broom models, everything from the cheapest to the most expensive. Benji took a few minutes to examine them and chose a trustworthy model which was near the middle at a reasonable price.
"This will do," he said.
Luka brought them up to the cash register, which was situated at the back of the room. He was kind enough to not charge them for using the mirror and so their total cost was fifty rooks. Helena put Benji's room in her bag, which Luka watched her do with interest, before they left the shop.
By this time it was approaching the evening and Helena and Benji were dismayed to find that the clouds in the sky had turned gray and the air had become cold. They heaved great sighs, as they looked at each other, and then they brought out the map.
"I don't think we'll have enough time to travel far before it gets dark," said Helena. "Maybe we should stop at an inn for the night."
"I think you're right," said Benji, looking up at the sky. " And it looks like it's going to snow."
"Let's see," Helena scoured the map for any inns nearby. "There's one that way," she pointed down the way that they had come. "It's not far."
They found the inn, which was smaller than they would have expected, but now that they were closer to the edge of the city there were fewer attractions. Most of the bigger inns and shops were near the harbor on the other side of the city. Just after they had gotten their rooms, Benji and Helena heard familiar and unwelcome voices.
"I don't think they realize we are!"
"What a shame! They won't know who to thank when the weather has been—Ah! Look who it is!"
Helena and Benji had just come down the stairs into the lobby from the third floor, and were discreetly trying to inch out without Jack and Will's notice.
This chapter isn't even finished. This is the most unedited of the five chapters. I know it's probably very boring, because I'm talking about day-to-day activities that nobody cares about, but it's something I'm trying to fix.
Honestly, thanks for reading if you've bothered to follow along this far.