The knowledge portal was a one-way looking glass that would provide Levant the wizard with all the information he could ever dream of, or his money back within thirty days.
Unfortunately, it wouldn’t turn on, no matter how much Levant kicked it. The runic circle on the wall just refused to spark into life. It was showing the same magical ability as the bacon sandwich Levant had ingested for breakfast. Although the latter had proved more useful.
Muttering curses, Levant turned to the crystal ball on the corner table under assorted detritus. After pushing a pile of clothes to the floor, he gave it a couple of slaps until a light blue gas filled the ball. Then he concentrated on whom he wanted.
A voice from the ball said, “Hello, Emporium of Wonders.”
“Hello, this is Levant. Your Knowledge Portal won’t activate.”
“No problem, sir. Just to confirm, did you follow the instruction scroll that accompanied your purchase?”
“I’m a wizard of the ninth level,” said Levant in a cool, calculated tone that spoke more than anger ever could. “Of course, I read the bloody scroll. You don’t get this far without a perfect memory and attention to detail.”
“Are the conduit runic circles aligned?” asked the infuriatingly patient voice.
“Obviously. I have read this scroll all morning and I’m not even convinced you followed Wodeleys Sequence at all.”
“Emporium of Wonders is committed to following at standards, sir.”
“Yet I still don’t have a functioning portal.” Levant harrumphed. He’d worked for a casting shop, he knew the score. God only knew what kind of brainless minion had assembled the portal.
“We are very sorry to hear that, sir. Is the circle placed on a wall with a clear gap on all sides?”
“Obviously, I’m not an idiot. I know how it is, I worked in a casting shop as a student. This is some rush job to get it out the door fast.”
“I assure you, sir, it’s not. How about we send someone to your address?”
“Fantastic. When would that be?”
“Please answer the door.” The crystal ball faded, and Levant swore. He had been expecting to sit and wait, moaning as time dragged like a brick on a leash. Not this. After hurriedly sweeping clothes into the corner and throwing the oldest plates of food out of the window, he answered the door.
“Good day, sir.” A bright and obscenely cheerful witch smiled at him. “I’m Outre from Emporium Support.”
“Come in.” Levant waved a hand towards the portal. “Sorry about the mess.”
“Don’t worry. Many of our clients have simi…” Outre trailed off as she stepped in something. “What was that?”
“Plate of beans. Sorry. I’ll get that.” Levant awkwardly lifted Outre’s leg, and wiped a few beans off her shoe onto the plate before frisbeeing it through the window where it would become somebody else’s problem.
“Where is the portal?” asked Outre, only showing a minor crack in her optimism.
Levant pointed to the portal in the hope to shift the focus away from his living arrangements. “I cannot get this bloody thing to work. Can you have a look?”
Outre turned to peer at it, leaning in as she gazed at the circle of runes. “Is this the Knowledge Portal third edition with extra glyph paddle unit?”
“It is,” said Levant, proud of spending the extra two crowns a month.
“I think you did the last rune upside down.”
Levant reached out and inverted the offending rune. Immediately there was a poof, and a green shimmering portal appeared between the runes. “Gods damn it. It’s always some nonsense like this.”
After a deep breath, Levant added, “Thank you kindly.”
“You’re welcome.” Outre bobbed her head. “Would you like me to stay while you test it?”
“Too kind.” Levant nodded, then turned back to the portal. “Knowledge Portal?”
“Yes?” asked a macabre, screeching voice from the inside of the portal.
“Can you tell me anything?”
“Yes. From the deepest pits of despair to the heavens themselves.”
“Good.” Levant sighed. His day was finally coming together properly. “Now where the bloody hell is my coin purse?”
Rick Danforth is an author from Yorkshire, England, where he works as a Systems Architect to fund his writing habit. He has had several short stories published in Etherea, Hexagon and others.