• T. Mark Mangum

Cheap Tricks

Maoules the Wizard


There was one thing Maoules could not abide, that was being underappreciated. The miserable band of grumpy adventurers had been together for seven years now by their own accounts. However, they had just suffered the loss of their Magic-User. They had hired Maoules on a “trial basis.” Things were not going so well, for Maoules and Prem a particularly grumpy Dwarf were not getting along.


“Simple stupid tricks. Are you sure you know magic boy?”


Prem would say after Maoules had done something useful like light a raging fire in the middle of a thunderstorm.


“I’m warning you dwarf, tread lightly.” Maoules would say.


Within days Maoules regretted taking the job. The group was a miserable lot full of complaints and harsh words. Surely the old Wizard they had lost was the glue that had bound them.


Now, they were inside the broken keep of Mulowen. It was supposed to be abandoned and they had “information” that a treasure hoard had been left behind.


If not for his spell, “The vail of hiding” the Orc band would be tearing them apart.


“Be still and quiet, they will be able to hear loud noises and see sudden movements like a shadow,” Maoules whispered to the group.


“Hiding, why not a lightning bolt or fireball,” Prem said with a sneer.


“There are twenty of them fool.”


“Cheap tricks is all this one has,” Prem said.


“I’m beginning to agree with Prem,” The scrawny human who did the group’s thieving, and other odd jobs said.


Maoules had forgotten his name twice now.


“How about it, do you have a lightning bolt in that bag of tricks son,” Saul asked?


Saul was the leader of the group and until now had been the buffer between Maoules and the others.


“We don’t much like hiding,” Blaor said. He was tall and thick and seemed a capable fighter.

Maoules was hot. “You four can’t believe you would win against the twenty of them. Fools all of you.”


Just then, an Orc came up to the wall they were against. He was closest to Prem, the Orc pulled out his thing and began to urinate. The pee hit the wall next to Prem splattered and the drops hit Prem’s leg.


“That’s it,” he roared.


He pushed the Orc, the Orc stumbled back several steps, Then Prem lopped off its head with his Battle Axe.


The fight was on. Prem was swinging the large axe in wide arcs that split several orcs in two with each stroke.


Maoules was not a conjuror of cheap tricks so when hiding failed, he did as the others had asked. producing a wand in his left hand, flashes of lightning reached out fingers of death. He made a great circle with his right hand, palm facing the enemy, then extended his arm as if pushing something. Five Orcs in front of Blaor fell as if hit with a tree trunk. Saul in lightning-fast strokes and seasoned movements of a master scored kill after kill after kill. The scrawny thief let a flurry of arrows fly, an Orc fell with each.


A remnant of the Orc band six or seven fled down a passage. Maoules stepped forward and released a fireball that flooded the passage in burning glory and engulfed the fleeing Orcs. As the brightness of the fireball faded Maoules turned to find the four adventurers staring at him with wide grins.


“Now that’s some magic,” Prem said.


© 2021, T. Mark Mangum


T. Mark Mangum, a product of the unimaginable worlds of Star Wars, Star Trek, Conan, and the Lord of the Rings. Lover and writer of fiction tales. He is a Veteran, a father of six, and a game enthusiast.





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