Daniel M. Clark

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How Sal Bought a Better Mousetrap

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The Old Bell Tower tavern was overrun with mice. Sal, the owner, had tried everything short of burning the place down because those idiots on the town council kept going on about “preservation” this and “historic site” that when he’d brought it up to them. Poison, traps, cats—nothing worked. What had been a routine rodent issue had become an epidemic about two weeks ago. “What I wouldn’t give to be rid of the blasted beasties,” Sal said, watching a large mouse dart across the kitchen floor, mocking him.

As luck would have it, a traveling magician came into the tavern as Sal was chasing a pair of mice with a stiff broom. “Looks like you have a problem,” the magician said, taking a seat at the bar and stroking a stereotypical long, white beard. “I can help you, my friend.” The magician smiled a smile that Sal wasn’t sure was entirely friendly. 

“How?” 

“It just so happens that I was at the Leaping Stag in Helimore a fortnight ago, are you familiar with it? No? Well, they had a rodent problem much like yours. I merely laid a spell over the establishment that caused any mouse that entered the building to disappear.”

“And how much,” asked Sal, “will it cost me?”

With a grand gesture and a flourish of carmine robes, the magician exclaimed, “How much is your peace of mind worth? How much for your sanity? How much—”

“Coin.”

“Fifty goldmarks, and that’s a bargain.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Sal looked the man up and down, certain that there was some trickery at play. Magicians were not to be trusted. Still, to be rid of the mice? “Done.”

The magician gave the leather pouch a shake as he rode toward Masyarera and the next tavern. He did love the sound of gold. A wide grin split his face. They never asked where he sent the mice.

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