“Well, there is a fellow at the front of the car who has already lit the drapes on fire three times,” said Bill. “It’s not really a matter for Valley Western or her shareholders per se, but I do imagine they would be mightily inconvenienced if they had to pay out insurance on burned-out cargo.”

“You’d know a good deal about that, wouldn’t you, John?” said Vyrim.

“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about,” John said.

“Of course not,” Vyrim sighed. He strode purposefully to the front of the carriage, to confront what he judged to be graver of the two threats.

Expecting to see the man in the floppy pink hat behind the curtain burning, Vyrim was surprised to see a shabbily dressed twentysomething man who was playing catch with sparks dancing forth from his fingers.

“Excuse me, sir, we don’t cast sparks, flames, or other types of conflagrations while the train is in motion,” Vyrim said.

“Well, lucky for you, these are embers,” the man said. “And therefore, not being sparks, flames, or any other type of fire you mentioned, I am well within my rights to cast them as I see fit.” To reinforce his point, the man lazily conjured a handful of red-hot embers and flung them at the already scorched window dressing. It burst into flame with a greedy snap, though before Vyrim could run for the bucket the nascent blaze was doused by a miniature tsunami of salty water.

This time, it actually was Mr. Pink Hat, seated two rows back. He was waving helpfully, and shouted “Happy to be of assistance my friend!” Everyone between him and the erstwhile pyromancer, Vyrim included, was wholly or partly drenched.

The elf gave him possibly the coldest smile in the storied history of smiles and turned back to the malefactor. “I will have you know, sir, that deliberately flouting the orders of the conductor and summoning a conflagration is cause for immediate ejection from this train.”

“I’m afraid I don’t know what that big fancy word means, conflagration,” the man grinned. “Maybe if you made it bite sized for me.”

“Start another fire, and I will hurl you off this train faster than you can say your own goddamned name,” Vyrim hissed.

“Well, sir, seeing as my name is Lucius Quintillius Cinncinnatus Muntz, Junior, I don’t see that happening,” the man said with a grin.

Vyrim cocked his head. “Son of General L.Q.C. Muntz?”

“The very same,” the man smiled. “Maybe you’ve heard of him.”

“Yeah,” Vyrim said. “I lost an arm to him. I see one more spark out of your fingers, and you’re gone.”

Seemingly disappointed that dropping the name of a famous rebel general didn’t help his cause, Muntz muttered something and put his hands in his pockets.

“Thank you,” Vyrim said. “The Eastern & Wilds Railroad appreciates you not turning its cars into flaming coffins for your own amusement.”

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!
Advertisements