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Sir Thomas, newly created Knight Templar and defender against vampires, werewolves, boggarts and miscellaneous dark creatures, peeled off a shocking pink unicorn sticker from his face as he followed Dave into the Paladin’s Citadel. “Is it always like that?” he asked.

Dave led the way past the study and dining room to the kitchen. “I stay away from drink, usually, but today is worth a beer.” He peeled off a bright orange star sticker from the back of his hand before opening the fridge and pulling out a beer to hand to Sir Thomas. “It could have been worse.” He took a beer for himself.

Sir Thomas popped the tab and took a long drink, absently pulling a rainbow stick from his hair. “It wasn’t really the stickers,” he said. “It’s more the way Miss Marianne threw a table at Kadogan.” He opened the fridge and pulled out a prepared casserole. “And it wasn’t even the table flying two inches about my head. It’s more the gleam in Kadogan’s eye when he chased Miss Marianne out of there.” He looked at Dave. “Is it safe to eat a casserole made by a boggart?”

“It’s not only safe, it’s a necessity,” Dave opened a cupboard and pulled out plates. “Mrs Tuesday is an amazing cook. Even better, she lives to feed us up. I hand over money on a Friday and I get home cooked goodies all week. Mind you, Mrs Anderson and Mrs Cadwallader are pretty good as well. I think they collude on it.”

Sir Thomas gave the casserole a doubtful look before piercing the cling film and sliding into the microwave. “I’m not sure about eating something that’s part collusion.” He took another long draught of his beer and set the timer. “What was going on between Lady Freydis and Umbran?”

Dave set the plates down onto the kitchen table. “I’m not exactly sure,” he said. “I think it goes something like this. Lady Freydis is in charge of the non-normals in York and she’s currently feuding with Lord Cerdig. Umbran has been the power behind Lord Cerdig for around 150 years now. Lord Cerdig would have sunk long ago without Umbran’s support. But now Umbran is here and saying that he wants a change and Lady Freydis is suspicious.”

Sir Thomas dug out the cutlery. “I’d be suspicious,” he said. “I certainly wouldn’t have him in the shop.”

“But if Umbran’s in the shop, Lady Freydis can keep an eye on him and try and pry out what he’s up to,” Dave said. He drained the last of his beer. “I normally never have two beers, but Luke has us covered tonight and I think it’s worth it.”

Sir Thomas watched the microwave as it counted down. “When I came to York, I expected to be confronting dark horrors and sinister beings. Today has been…”

“It’s a hell of a first day,” Dave said. “Noah got pulled into the argument about candles, Kadogan was flirting with Miss Marianne, Mrs Tuesday didn’t help when she was arguing about the new range of coffee flavoured muffins and Lady Freydis was being deliberately disruptive with the stickers. She knew that Kadogan wanted classic styling for the candle range.”

“What were Fiona and Steve arguing about?” Sir Thomas asked. “They’re co-owners with Kadogan. Surely they should be leading things.” He picked up a serving spoon. “Or does anything happen as a result of planning.”

Dave watched Sir Thomas dish up two large servings of lamb casserole. “Nothing happens here as a result of careful planning,” he said, grabbing the ketchup and two more beers from the fridge. “Remember, I’m the Tarot Reader and I don’t believe in Tarot cards.” He set the beers and ketchup on the table. “I’ve no idea what Fiona and Steve are up to. I’m more worried about Lady Freydis.”

Sir Thomas quickly washed his hands in the kitchen sink and several more stickers fell into the water. “You mean when she threw the small hurricane of stickers?”

“No, that’s not usual but it’s not worrying. She’s a powerful elfen and you can expect a few demonstrations of her capabilities now and again. My concern is that she’s collecting a certain set of books that seem unrelated to each other and I’ve heard her talking with Steve about picking up so magical supplies that we don’t usually carry. The White Hart caters to practically every magical tradition out there. We stock everything. She’s up to something and I don’t know what.” Dave followed Sir Thomas and washed up before sitting opposite the Knight Templar, shedding a few stickers from his t-shirt. “The pink hurricane was a response to Umbran’s compliments on the rockery.”

“I heard him say that there was a nice rockery,” Sir Thomas said. “I saw it on the way out and it’s pretty good. I like a bit of gardening and to get that sort of growth and have the rocks weathered like that takes skill and time. It looks like someone has devoted themselves to that feature for years and it’s worth it.”

“Lady Freydis is scarily powerful,” Dave said. “You don’t get to be the prince of a domain being good with stickers.” He added a liberal amount of ketchup. “You want to know about dark horrors and sinister beings? That rockery wasn’t there this morning.”

This story was written in response to Writing Prompt Number 18

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