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The Science of a Better-meaning Wizard

The Tower of Fortune towered over the surrounding buildings by six or seven stories, and was sleek and gleaming and white. It was, Megan thought as she examined it for an entrance, more than a little dildonic in appearance, especially at the smooth, bulging top.

The door finally appeared, opened by an elderly Asian man dressed in a red silk Mao jacket embroidered with gold dragons, black silk trousers, and what a Chinese-American friend-of-a-friend referred to as "that fucking cap". The combined effect made it clear that this was a costume assumed precisely for answering the front door and otherwise working for the white man at the top of the tower. Megan, who hadn't been too certain of Professor Fortune in the first place, given Ladybird's comment, took on an instant and complete loathing for the man.

"May I help you?" the Asian man said in perfect British-butler accents.

"I, er, could I please speak with Professor Fortune?" Megan said, uncomfortably tugging at her hip-level jacket hem. "I understand from the website that this is his time for his consultations?"

"Of course, miss," the man said with a pleasant smile. "Won't you come in?"

He stepped back and Megan ducked under the doorway into the hushed burgundy magnificence of the front hall. The top of her head brushed the chandelier so that its dripping crystals chimed together melodically. The Persian carpets underfoot were thick and plushy and immaculate, and the paneling and doors were very dark wood.

"May I take your coat?" he said.

"No, thank you," Megan said, feeling itchy about being waited on like this.

He bowed slightly, then turned to the inner door and opened it. "Please follow me," he said, then glided through the door.

Megan followed, half-ducked to avoid hangings and decor as she was led through the first floor. The stairwell of the tower was made of white marble so polished it looked like plastic. She avoided touching it, though the texture was tempting. The poor guy who was leading her probably had to shine off any and all fingerprints personally.

Her guide rapped lightly on a brass panel on the massive carved wooden door at the top of the stairs, and she could hear a pleasant chime in the room beyond. Instead of that gauche and common knocking sound, she thought irritably.

The plate glowed briefly and the door unlatched. The Asian man stood to one side and gestured that she should pass through the portal. "Thank you," she said in hushed tones.

He smiled and nodded, and began his descent back to the merely common area of the house.

Megan climbed the last steps into the chamber. The smooth white walls ended at the door: the room beyond was round and yet unaccountably paneled in aged cherry wood that matched the curve of the walls. Tall, glass-fronted lawyer's bookcases -- full of books -- were used to create partitions throughout the space, walling off a sitting area clearly intended to be a library, a sprawling office space, an open space where the floor was inlaid with black, blue, and red materials to make a large magical circle, and a long, chairless space that ended in a dais that was obviously the reception hall. This last was not-unexpectedly where the professor was seated, in a heavily-carved wooden chair with cushions upholstered in red velvet.

Professor Fortune was a tallish, balding white man, thin except for his rounded pot belly. His remaining hair was white, and protruded in mad tufts behind his ears and in a single spot just above his forehead. He had small, round, gold glasses sitting low on his straight, narrow nose, and he wore an expensive tailored black silk suit beneath his gold-embroidered royal blue cloak of office. His tie -- also royal blue -- sported a gold filigree tie clasp with a single green stone in the center.

He sat up straight and smiled at her with practiced ease. "How can I help you, Miss Amazon?"

Megan bit down on the "Ms." correction and said, "I came to ask your advice about a supernatural problem a friend of mine is having."

He leaned forward slightly, steepling his fingers beside his nose. "Please go on."

She took a deep breath. "My friend has been possessed by the ghost of a superhero from World War 2. A superhero who, by her own account, didn't really get much of a chance to be a superhero before getting killed. So she's using my friend as a conduit to do her superheroing thing in the physical world now."

"Hmmm." Megan realized he wasn't looking at her, he was looking at something over her shoulder. "Well, does your friend object to this? It sounds like a laudable thing to do for the poor girl."

Megan felt her brows knitting into a perplexed frown. "Of course she objects to it. The ghost is trying to take over her life."

"Then why isn't she here with you right now?" the professor said, glancing at her briefly before looking away again.

"Because," Megan said, biting down on a sharper, more condescending tone, "the ghost is taking over her life. She can't object openly to the ghost's presence."

"Then how do you know she really wants to be rid of her passenger?" he said, leaning back in his throne and fiddling with his tie.

"She asked me for help," Megan said.

"In so many words?" he said.

Megan almost said, Yes, of course, but knew she couldn't pull off the lie. "No," she admitted, controlling her snarl. "She hinted broadly."

"Then I can't help you," he said, spreading his hands and smiling. "You must understand that true magic requires strict ethics and consent. My hands are tied unless she can state her wishes clearly."

"Even if that means she's trapped inside her own head by a crazy dead person?" Megan said, finally losing what little control she had.

"Now, now," he said. "This is a tragic situation. Hopefully, the ghost will move on once she's accomplished whatever it is she needs to accomplish, and your friend will be fine." He gestured and Megan heard the door swing open. "Do let me know how the situation resolves. Forgive me, I have a consult with an important client in five minutes."

She started to say something else, but decided to be dignified about her summary dismissal. She glared at him -- a look that was lost because he was, of course, looking somewhere else -- and stalked out, head held high, wondering whether anyone would notice or care if the grand high poobah wizard of the world or whatever he was got jointed and served as dinner to a tiger.

Downstairs, the elderly gentleman was showing her out when he asked, "Was the professor able to help with your trouble?"

"No," she said, a world of fury in that single word. "His 'ethics' wouldn't allow it."

"Ah," the butler said, opening the front door. Then he looked up at her. "You know, there are many less 'ethical' practitioners in the city." He reached into his sleeve and produced a folded sheet of paper.

Megan took it and unfolded it. There were half a dozen names and addresses on the sheet. The text was fuzzy and gray with several generations of xerox copying. "Thank you, sir."

He patted her on the arm (though he probably would have patted her on the shoulder, had he been able to reach it comfortably). "It's quite all right. Ethics are a common challenge in this household."

He and Megan shared a smile, which he embellished with an upward roll of the eyes and a shrug. Megan stepped back into the icy streets, tucking the sheet of paper into her pocket.

She paused in a coffee shop for a cup of coffee and texted Watson: Prof Fortune giant gaping asshole.

Watson texted back: Expected. Did you get a list from Mr. Minamoto?

Megan blinked and said: Yes. You knew?

Watson: Heard rumor. Where to first?

Megan consulted the sheet. Holy Moly.

Watson: See you there.


From the Author:
Another freaking storm incoming. And outrage from my orthopedist that I would *gasp* shovel snow. Puh-lease. Must be nice that he can afford for someone else to shovel for him all the time.

Tip o' the nib to Hanne Blank, who provided some terminology for this episode. :)

I'm posting twice weekly during January. If you like this twice-weekly thing, I'm doing it again in January: if January's posts draw 50 comments total, I'll post twice weekly through February too. As before, if you provide a comment bonanza, I'll extend appropriately.

Vote for us at Top Web Fiction! It's just a few clicks! We've fallen down the list!


Date: 2011-01-20 10:09 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Isn't that a *Japanese* name? As in not Chinese? Oy.

- Kriz

Re: Minamoto??

Date: 2012-05-10 02:26 am (UTC)
the_leaky_pen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_leaky_pen
Bwahahaha. Oh the annoying racism of rich white men.

Date: 2011-01-21 12:25 am (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri

...one of the great things about writing in a superhero milieu has _got_ to be playing with the old, old stereotypes. They're just so _right_ _there_.


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