Note: spoilers for the Forces of Nature Saga.
In many cities around the world, there are neighborhoods that were, up until about a year ago, closed to the general public. The general public didn’t even know that these neighbourhoods existed. Those who built them and populated them were very good at hiding them in plain sight. You wouldn’t have found them most maps. You wouldn’t even find them on Google Earth.
But then, a year ago, a certain invasion happened, and the existence of the group who built these neighbourhoods was revealed to the public. And this group was accepted by the public.
So, those neighborhoods were opened up. The normos were welcomed in, if they obeyed the rules. They were offered the chance to partake of the gifts this group offered, if they promised to use them wisely.
And if the normos didn’t use them wisely…
Well, the wizards and witches have more experience with magic than the normos do.
In the city that many people now, not entirely jokingly, refer to as Korkeaopolis, two individuals enter the Magical Quarter, one holding onto a fluffy’s leash.
Calvin doesn’t call the city that, and wishes that people would stop.
He’s not happy about the Church of the Brightest One that has popped up, either. He knows he’s not a god, unlike Demeter, who believed her own lies until the end.
At the time of this story, Calvin is currently having a talk with the Church’s congregation to set them straight.
Imagine if Jesus did that.
The two individuals walk through the streets of the Magical Quarter, and the fluffy with them looks at awe at all the shops selling things few fluffies have ever seen before. A lot of wizards are in robes, but many wizards prefer regular clothes, and are indistinguishable from the normos who now walk these streets.
Except the one moron who is walking around in full Harry Potter cosplay, with a big stupid grin on his face. Wizards and witches refuse to humor morons like him.
The streetlights, you’d probably expect to be old-fashioned gaslights, or possibly magical torches.
You’d be wrong. They’re just ordinary streetlights. Wizards usually don’t have a problem with mundane technology, and while witches tend to shy away from it, as we’ve seen, most of them can be persuaded to use it too. There’s even an entire section of the internet that was, until a year ago, only accessible by magic users. The Worldwide Wizarding Web.
One normo invention wizards and witches both adore, though, is the humble ballpoint pen.
It’s so much easier than mucking about with quills and bottles of ink.
And don’t even get them started on parchment.
They do still sell those things, but it’s mostly for those older wizards and witches who refuse to get with the times, and the normos who want to pretend they’re Harry Potter. They might be obnoxious morons, but their money’s still good.
Deston still hates those books. He curses the damage they’ve done to the cultural zeitgeist.
The duo clearly has a destination in mind, but because their fluffy has never been here before, they take their time, so she can take it all in. They happily answer all of her questions. She’s got a lot of them.
There’s an apothecary, selling various magical plants, and body parts of a wide variety of magical creatures whose existence was kept secret from the normos until last year. The normos are avoiding the apothecary, due to the… ah… odor of its wares. The wizards and witches are used to the smells coming from it.
You wouldn’t believe how much work goes into making sure no normos get eaten by dragons.
Yes. Those exist, too.
And no, none of them grant wishes, unless your wish is to be eaten by a dragon, in which case the dragon will happily oblige you.
Next to it, there’s a bookstore, selling magical tomes old and new. Old ones, written on parchment, and new ones, printed on paper.
Magic words can be dangerous, even when merely written down, but wizards use a special ink made from gold when writing down or printing magic words. Gold, as you should probably remember, is anti-magical. Otherwise, putting a bunch of different spells in one book would end in disaster.
Next to the bookstore is an an enchanter’s shop. Here, for a fee, they bestow permanent enchantments upon objects, by engraving or stichting magic runes on them. It’s very dangerous work, and requires a steady hand to make sure nothing goes wrong. One mistake is the difference between an enchanted kitchen knife that will never dull, and an enchanted kitchen knife that turns any food you cut with it into spiders. One mistake is the difference between a cloak that bestows resistance to cold, and a cloak that turns anyone who wears it inside out.
There’s a old wizard pub here, the Rabbit in the Hat, where older wizards and witches like to stop in for a beer and a chat, or to sing classic drinking songs like The Wizard’s Staff. Across the street, there’s a nightclub, Club Constantine, where younger wizards and witches like to spend the night drinking colorful cocktails with names like Prismatic Spray and Meteor Swarm, before grinding on each other in midair.
There’s also a dwarf bar, the Hole in the Ground. Yeah, they exist too. A lot of secrets have been kept from the normos. Dwarves usually live underground, and up until recently they kept away from the eyes of the normos, but in recent years, more of them have been moving to the surface, into the magical neighborhoods. They call it coming up. Right now, anyone walking past can hear the dwarves inside drunkenly singing that old classic, Gold, Gold, Gold, Gold. Outside, a vendor is selling a fried rat on a stick to a drunken young dwarf, who is probably a young man, but with dwarves, you can never be sure.
Then, there’s a wand store. Each wand can be preloaded with a number of spells, and each spell can be cast a number of times. If the wand is depleted, it can be recharged. The first wands could only hold one spell, and could only cast it once. They still sell these wands too, for those who are on a tight budget.
Finally, the duo reaches their destination. Judging by the window display, they sell robes. They head inside, and are greeted by a short woman with long dark hair, currently in a bun that could crack rocks.
“Ah, Robert. Haven’t seen you in a while. This must be your daughter. How are the lessons going?”
Robert Blaze, wizard and half-demon, greets his old friend, and introduces her to his daughter, apprentice wizard and pure human, along with her fluffy.
“Absolutely right, Ronnie. This is Judy, and this is her fluffy Snowball. The lessons are going excellently, which is why we’re here. It’s time for Judy to get measured for her robe.”
“Hello, Ronnie. I can’t believe I’m actually getting measured for a robe.”
“Hewwo! Am Snowbaww!”
Another fluffy, a pink and white earthie with blue eyes, sitting in a big chair, speaks up.
“Hewwo Snowbaww! Am Gwen! Come. Sit wif Gwen whiwe da hoomins tawk. Am bowin fow fwuffies aneeway.”
Judy picks up Snowball and puts her on the chair, and the two fluffies get acquainted. You can probably guess how.
Ronnie gestures for Judy to stand on a stool. Judy does so.
A tape measure starts measuring Judy by itself, as Ronnie circles around her, while muttering.
Snowball watches the display with awe, but Gwen has seen it all before.
“Tch. What I wouldn’t give for a body like that. You don’t need to hear this, Judy, but just in case, a word of advice: never try to make your bust bigger with magic, unless you know what you’re doing. Last week, a girl went to Saint Alice’s with boobs bigger than her. They’re only halfway back to normal size now. Honestly, she shoulda just begged her daddy for a boobjob.”
Robert ignores the comments Ronnie has made about his daughter’s body, and manages not to laugh about the unfortunate girl who is probably suffering from the worst back pain right now.
Meanwhile, Down There, while Chris and James Oldman are being escorted by several elite demons to the Rape Chamber so number 24 can take his turn with them, they pass the viewing pools the demons use to watch events on Earth.
When James, via one such pool, overhears Ronnie mentioning the girl with breasts bigger than her body, he tries to make a break for it to go back to Earth, but he’s quickly subdued by the elites.
"Just for that, BOTH of you cunts are spending twice as long with X’kl’rt."
The two Oldmans groan as they’re dragged into the Rape Chamber, and Chris smacks James.
Judy is ignoring the comments too, but she’s confused.
“The fuck is Saint Alice’s?”
Ronnie reaches up and pats Judy on the shoulder.
“It’s a magical hospital. Just a few blocks away. If you’re smart, Judy, you’ll only go there if you’re visiting a patient. Dysp.”
The tape measure drops out of the air, and Ronnie catches it with cat-like reflexes.
“Alright. Let’s talk aesthetics. Yes, we are already done. That’s how fast we can work with magic. You saw how quickly all those buildings were repaired after the demons messed everything up. And after that big ugly tree-ogre and its friends messed everything up. So. What did you have in mind, Judy? You’ll be wearing it, after all. And remember: we can do any pattern.”
Half an hour later, Robert, Judy, and Snowball head to the Rabbit in the Hat, sitting at a table outside, killing time until the new robe is ready, which will take another half an hour.
What did Ronnie just say? Wizards can work fast.
Robert and Judy sip from two mugs of Winkles Old Peculiar, the beer of choice for most wizards, while Snowball laps up a bowl of butterbeer.
Deston has begrudgingly admitted that J.K. Rowling had to get something right, if only by accident.
Robert finishes most of his beer, prepares to cast a spell on the mug, sees the sign saying “NO REFILLING SPELLS, CHEAPSKATES”, and quickly cancels the spell.
They tried serving drinks in solid gold mugs to counter that old trick, but most people don’t have superstrength, the mugs can’t be magicked to make them easier to lift, and some idiots kept nicking them. Most of those idiots have started new lives in a pond in the owner’s back garden.
Never steal from a wizard.
After heading inside and ordering another beer, Robert sits back down with his second drink, and finally comments on his daughter’s choice of magical attire.
“Rather unusual pattern, Jude. I haven’t seen a lot of robes like that.”
“Well, I’ve always liked that pattern. It’s not too late to change it, is it? I mean, if it’s that bad…”
Robert smiles mischievously.
“Do you really want to tell Ronnie to throw it out and start over? She’s a wizard. She can do a lot worse than throw a tape measure at you. But I didn’t say it’s a bad choice, Jude. Just an unusual one. I think you might actually start a trend.”
Snowball chimes in.
“Dat pat-uwn awways wook gud on mummah. Snowbaww fink daddeh wiww wike da nyu wobe, tuu. Daddeh aways say, Joo-dee, it wook su sek-see awn yu. Snowbaww nu knu wut sek-see meen, but it am gud wordsie, wite?”
Judy looks relieved. And amused at Snowball’s innocent repetition of Calvin’s comments on Judy’s taste in fashion.
“Yes, Snowball, it’s a good word, at least when Cal says it. He’s the only guy I’ve ever dated who didn’t immediately try to sneak a peek down my cleavage when we first met.”
“Wut am cwee-fage, mummah?”
“Never mind, Snowball. Point is, you’re both right. I’m gonna rock that shit. This time next year, every wizard in Milan will be wearing robes like mine. I’ll wear my robe with pride. Not just because I will look fucking amazing in it, but because of what it means: that, I, Judy Blaze, am a bonafide wizard.”
Robert and Judy down the rest of their beers, and Robert orders two more.
He lifts up his mug in a toast.
“Here’s to you, Jude. I think you’ll be a damn good wizard.”
They clang their mugs together, and both take a swig.
“You’re fucking right, Dad. If another ugly bastard like Floris shows up and tries to grab Quin, you won’t have to lift a finger, 'cause I’m gonna vaporise the bastard.”
“Just remember, Jude. The important part of magic isn’t knowing how to use it, it’s knowing when not to use it. If I went Oldman on the normos, Des would put me down. There’s always a bigger fish, Jude. And there’s a Wizard’s Code. There are rules. Just remember that. Our power should be used to protect the innocent.”
“I won’t forget that, Dad. I want to be like Cal. I want to be a hero. I want to be out there, fighting by his side, instead of sitting at home and wondering if today’s the day I become a single mother. If Cal falls, I. Will. Catch. Him. And if anyone comes after Quin, I. Will. Destroy. Them.”
“And that right there is why you’ll be a damn good wizard, Jude.”
A few hours later, at home, Judy shows off her new robe to the gang, which now includes Calvin’s Nanny June, who was happy to babysit while Calvin and Judy were out.
Calvin has met his new family across the pond by now, but we’ll cover that in a later story.
June, for the record, loves the new robe, and wishes that she had one like that in her younger days.
Judy twirls on the spot with the grace of a ballerina.
She used to take ballet lessons as a kid, but then certain, um, body parts got too big, and those things scuppered her childhood dream.
“Soooooo… what do you guys think?"
Calvin loves the new robe too.
“Leopard print is so sexy on you, hun.”