Having warded the seventh floor to keep the loose ghoul contained, Garbol attended the Wizards of the World Conference at the arena, exploring the booths for solutions. He figured he had five hours before the wards would require reinforcement.
All the big vendors were there, including ArchMage Artifacts, Supernatural Methodologies Incorporated, and Walmart for Wizards. It was a little known fact that all Walmarts had a wizardry section only visible to one of the guild, but Garbol wasn’t looking for a bargain price on a giant jar of fairy dust, he was looking for a solution targeting his ghoul.
A horrible smell came from one corner of the arena, where a sign nailed to an upside-down trashcan with painted sloppy lettering said, ‘Kroobler’s Kankokshins.’ Garbol focused on the opposite side.
A cute, dimpled girl with black hair and a red ArchMage T-shirt called to him. “Come see our Integrated Magic Omnibus, and I’ll give you a magic wand for free.”
“What the hell would I want a magic wand for?” asked Garbol.
“Style, man.” She waved around a black stick with swirled lavender. “They’re cool.”
“They have no magic in them,” said Garbol.
“Right, but they’re colorful, and most of them make noises when you cast a spell.”
“Noise? To what end?” he asked.
“To let your enemy know when a spell has been cast upon him,” she said.
“I think they’ll know that when they catch their teeth in their hands.” Garbol waved away the wand. “Can your Omnibus thingy take care of ghouls?”
“Sure. It can take care of ghouls, cockatrices, pastinacas—”
“But it can take care of ghouls,” said Garbol.
“Just show me the demo, please.”
The girl took him to the center of a platform where a black box sat on a table. “All you have to do is tell it what to do and cast a simple execute spell. Try it.”
“There’s no ghoul to try it on,” said Garbol.
“We can’t bring ghouls to the conference, silly. It’s a sim-yew-lay-shun.” The girl’s patronizing demeanor was dangerously close to getting her turned into a hairy turnip.
Garbol scoffed and cast a spell of execution. “Neutralize the ghoul,” he said.
An image of a kelpie appeared next to the box, followed by a bubble that grew and surrounded it, then constricted until the kelpie contorted into a curled up ball.
“Okay,” said Garbol. “If your fake version can’t even select the right image of a monster, I can hardly have faith in one that uses real magic.” He turned and walked away, ignoring the girl’s calls to give it a chance.
“You want a T-shirt?” she yelled.
Garbol dismissed her with a wave as several wizards trampled onto the stage demanding the SWAG.
He looked at several other vendors, some with impressive products, some not, but none of them had something to take care of his ghoul until he stopped at Supernatural Methodologies. They had a superb system for identifying the danger, selecting the materials and supernatural forces needed to defeat it, and packaging it for delivery.
“Well done,” said Garbol. “Set me up for three ghouls in a hotel.”
The attendant, a man young enough to be an intern, gathered the information and wrote up an order. “Just sign here, sir, and we’ll have it delivered within six weeks.”
“Six weeks?” said Garbol. He tossed the pen on the counter. “Can I have a T-shirt?”
He took a break to attend one of the dematerialization sessions, then returned to explore the ones he’d missed. His luck was running out when he reached Kroobler’s, the repulsive smells stronger than ever.
A trollish man in brown coveralls sat on a stool next to the upside-down garbage can, stirring a bowl of goop. Small vials almost covered the bottom of the can, and a mini-refrigerator sat behind him.
“You got anything for ghouls?” Garbol asked.
Kroobler scrunched his face, put the bowl down and wiped his nose. “Bait, maybe?” he said.
“Human flesh with a neutralizing spell, maybe to convert to stone or maybe to melt them or maybe to put their muscles to sleep.”
“My friend, if you’re peddling human flesh back there, I’m going to dematerialize your head and lock you in eternal stasis.”
Kroobler raised his brow and smirked. “It’s hamburger with human flesh camouflage. My special kankokshin will fool them.” He grabbed an empty bowl off the floor, and opened a small refrigerator behind him.
“When can I get it?” asked Garbol.
Kroobler dumped about a pound of hamburger into the bowl, then grabbed a vial from the trashcan. He poured one drop into the bowl. “Ten minutes.” He poured another drop.
“Sold!” said Garbol.
Kroobler set the vial down and dug his hand into the ground beef, kneading it like dough. “Feel free to take a T-shirt.” He kicked forward a stack of white shirts from behind the sign.
Garbol picked one up and unfolded it to take a look. It was completely blank as if it had just come out of a package of Hanes. He smiled. “Perfect.”