Wayward Bard

Excerpt Two: The Wishstone Finds Pandora

Pandora's head popped up from behind the chest. She scrambled to her feet clutching what appeared to be a radiant crystal egg the size of an orange.

At least that's what Thea thought Pandora was holding. But Thea couldn't be certain. There was something wrong with the lights. Thea guessed someone had tripped over a wire in the stampede. Most of the overhead lights had dimmed-except for the lights in the front of Michael Ryan's booth, which sputtered intermittently over Reyah, Lydia and a couple of guys wearing headsets.

Some of the booth lights in the next aisle popped in flashes of red, and the air smelled faintly of burning rubber. The funky little lights nestled in the gauze canopy over Reyah's booth took on a blue cast.

From her post at the entrance to the booth, Brigid inquired, "What have you got in your hand, Pandora?"

"It's a Wishstone," Pandora said. "It found me under the table."

It found her? Liz rubbed her forehead harder.

"I guess something worse could've found her," Thea replied.

Name one.

"Lydia," Thea said.

You have a point.

Thea looked at Liz. Something odd had happened, but Thea couldn't quite put her finger on what it was.

"How can you make everything right with something that doesn't exist?" Free asked. "Besides, if I were going to make a wish, it wouldn't be to fix what's wrong now, it'd be to go to Domain. As Freya, Mistress of Leaf and Vine. I'd be beautiful, and Stefan would love me, and I'd be happy."

Kait frowned. "Don't you mean 'Theron'?"

Pandora shook a dusty finger at Kait. "Don't confuse her with details. I like Free's wish."

"As a matter of fact, so do I," Sarah said. "If I were my fan fiction character, I'd get so lucky I'd be bow-legged."

Why do I have a bad feeling about this? Thea massaged the back of her neck.

"You aren't the only one," Liz replied, chafing her arms as if she were cold.

"Only one what?" Brigid asked.

"Like Thea said, I've got a bad feeling about this wish stuff."

Brigid took a step back from Liz and Thea. "Oh. Like Thea said. Uh huh, okay, whatever, Liz." Brigid's expression clearly indicated something wasn't right.

"Don't be a party pooper, Liz," Anna chimed in. "I'd love to get my hands on the real Alfred."

"And I could have cool armor and a kick-ass sword." Kait put her hand to her forehead and pretended to swoon. "I'm in!"

"If we really could go, wouldn't that be something?" Marisol said.

"Yeah, it would, wouldn't it," Brigid agreed.

"Good! Everybody's got the same wish," Pandora said. "Now all we have to do is figure out how we want to say it."

"Not everybody," Kait pointed out. "Liz and Thea haven't said they want to go."

For a minute, Thea could've sworn she heard Liz arguing with herself. A mischievous grin spread across Liz's face. We're going to regret this, you know.

And your point is?

"We're in," Thea and Liz said at the same time.

"You guys are spooky," Kait complained. "Don't you think you're carrying the shared brain thing a little too far?"

"Shared brain, schmared brain. Are we ready to make the wish or what?" Keeping a tight hold on the crystal, Pandora shrugged off her backpack. She handed it to Kait. "Put this someplace safe."

Pandora set the crystal in the middle of the table. "Brig, would you move the chest? We need enough room so everybody can put a finger on the Wishstone."

"Any finger?" Liz asked as they gathered around the silk-draped table.

"Can we sing 'Kumbaya' while we're at it?" Thea said, trying to ignore the prickles of electricity emanating from the crystal. She didn't know why the crystal egg felt that way. It didn't feel evil, just...well, sparkly. Maybe there was a storm brewing, and the static electricity was what affected the lights. Thea didn't want to consider the other possible explanation her all too fertile imagination offered.

"Would you guys quit joking around? This is serious." Pandora took a deep breath and closed her eyes. "Let us begin," Pandora intoned. "Hear us, oh Wishstone. We, the Daughters of Reyah, wish to go to Domain-the real Domain..."

Brigid sang, "Not the fake Domain, but the real Domain."

"Hush," Anna snapped.

"The real Domain," Pandora repeated, "As the real Daughters of Reyah, with all the powers and abilities..."

"And beauty," Free interrupted. "Don't forget beauty."

"Damn straight," Anna said. Thea recalled Anna had won several beauty contests in college.

"And don't forget the youth." Sarah tapped her finger on the Wishstone for emphasis. "We want to be young too. Twenty-five, tops,"

"You got all that?" Anna asked.

Pandora opened her eyes and glared at Anna, Free and Sarah. "...as the real Daughters of Reyah, with all the powers and abilities and youth and beauty we wrote for our fan fiction characters and much, much more." Pandora cocked her head at the group. "Okay?"


"Wishstone, make it so."