Here is a gardening excerpt from The Shifty Captive in honor of spring. Though black magician’s gardens are hazardous.
Damien recommended I read one grimoire to prepare for my new gardening duties. “You’ll find this book useful. One of my students was an avid gardener. He was absorbed in botanical studies. More so than I wanted him to be,”
“And that’s why you ‘disposed’ of him,” I finished for him.
This time Damien surprised me, “No, since he fulfilled the rest of his duties I allowed him to indulge in his hobby.
“Huh?” I asked. I’d made a natural assumption after what he did to Gareth.
“An interest in gardening is one thing, embezzlement is another,” Damien said.
This lead to the rather obvious question, “Then why isn’t he here with you instead of me or Gareth?”
“He was killed during his duties,” Damien shrugged.
He added, “Your work in the garden is more than menial labor. I am using it to teach you valuable principles.”
I shuddered, “Like the cooking lead to potion making?” and the table manners I didn’t add.
“I’m doing it to increase your trade value. It’s the most humane way to dispose of you. I can’t allow you to leave my service unless you’re a member of the Trade.”
“Oh,” I was lucky to get this much consideration after what happened to Gareth.
We got back to the lessons. I wasn’t all that excited about being Damien’s gardener. Back when I was free, I might enjoy an occasional walk in a park or think a flower was pretty. Though it didn’t mean I was a big fan of the outdoors. I was raised in a city, and most of the things I cared about took place indoors. I was not looking forward to getting myself dirty but then it occurred to me that gardens were outdoors. Once I was outdoors, freedom could not be far off.
That afternoon Tobias showed me a door to pick. “Want to see the garden, Nosy?” After a few tries I got the door open. There was a room with wide windows that overlooked a large, ornate garden in the backyard.
My heart dropped at the thought of tending all of that. Though it was good that the garden was outdoors and outside of the house. Getting away from this property would be easier if I wasn’t caged up. When I saw how pretty it was, I couldn’t help saying, “It doesn’t look like it’s neglected.”
Tobias snickered, “It’s not as nice and pretty as it looks from here or as well tended.” I looked at him in confusion. “Most of what you see is illusion. That’ll be your next lesson in class tomorrow.
Maybe the master will keep you on to tend the garden if you do a good job. It could also increase your trading value so you’ll get a good master,” Tobias said.
“I’m not interested in working for a master.”
“You won’t leave this house without being a magician’s minion or apprentice. The master’s tricks have forced him to show you too much.”
You can read the full story in The Shfity Captive.