Marlin, the distinguished second cousin of Merlin, was a most excellent wizard. His spells were in demand year round. Farmers wanted rain and spells that would drive off wildlife. Hunters wanted sunshine and spells that would attract wildlife. Marlin almost never mixed the spells up.
He sold spells to politicians that helped focus all attention on them. He sold spells to shifty looking watch salesmen to help them hide, because apparently watch salesmen were too popular. Who knew?
Humans wanted so many different types of spells. Magical beings had needs too. They wanted to hide or to grow ever-blooming flowers or find rainbow monkeys to keep as pets. Marlin did his best to help. Sometimes he even made house calls. Most of the time he got the spells right.
And so, Marlin should have been the happiest wizard this side of Stonehenge. Happier than Merlin even, who meddled too much in politics and weaponry. Unfortunately, one day, when it was both sunny and rainy because farmers and hunters both wanted to take advantage of the long summer days, Marlin lost his hat.
Non-wizards would of course think that this was not much of a tragedy. They’d probably say something ridiculous like, “Go buy another one. It’s just a hat.” or “It was old and dirty and smelly anyway. Losing it was probably a good thing.” or even “You had a hat? Huh.”
But wizards would understand. Hats are important to wizards. Everyone knows that heat rises and that people lose most of their body heat from their scalp. On a cold day, hats are more important than mittens. Magic takes a similar path. A good wizard hat helps keep the magic in, leaving the wizard more powerful and efficient.
Marlin’s hat was all broken in and saturated with his magic. By this point, it not only kept the magic in, it stored extra magic for him like a tall pointy battery. And it was lost somewhere in the world, leaking magic and undoubtedly causing mischief. This was unfortunate, because Marlin was left taking the blame without being able to choose the pranks or their target himself.
Marlin put a “closed” sign in the window and wrapped himself in an itchy invisibility raincoat, pulled up the hood, and walked out the door into the sunny, rainy day. Where to first? It was probably best to retrace his steps.
Yesterday, he visited a watch seller convention. They were in an encampment hidden in the woods on the outskirts of town, sharpening their tools and growling at each other. Watch sellers were rather surly.
Invisible, he wandered through their camp and looked at the piles of watches and wallets and purses and jewelry. They must be planning on branching out. No hats though. Marlin moved on.
The pixies wanted another rose garden added to town square. Marlin shoved his way through the crowded market to check the ring of rosebushes around the fountain. He had a pocket full of iris bulbs to offer the pixies in exchange for his hat if they had it.
Unfortunately, someone in the crowd knocked him over, and the bulbs spilled out of his pocket. The pixies stole them and ran off before he had a chance to say, “Pesky pixies!” three times fast. If he had wanted to say that. He asked about his hat, but they didn’t have it.
So, he moved on. Downriver, by the waterfall, Bigfoot and the rainbow monkeys were busy typing up the world’s next bestseller. He’d been here yesterday refilling their printer ink. They always asked for extra glitter in the ink, which was a pain, because glitter got everywhere in his laboratory. He always charged extra for glitter.
Bigfoot and the rainbow monkeys were brainstorming today, drawing diagrams on their whiteboard and screeching angrily at each other. Marlin couldn’t see his hat. He was tempted to stop and ask for a doughnut, but decided that interrupting would take too much time.
Sadly, this was his last stop yesterday. He headed home, hatless and miserable. He’d already checked everywhere around the house this morning. But, without any better ideas, he continued to retrace his steps. He checked the cupboards, the oven, the sink and the table in the kitchen. He checked the waiting room and the laboratory. He checked the bathroom and the laundry room. He checked inside his dresser drawers and under his pillow.
What was next? He laid on his bed and wiggled his feet. His socks had stars on them, so they were his favorite. He used to think they were lucky socks, until he’d lost his hat. He pulled them off, one at a time, and threw them at the wall next to the bed.
He regretted his tantrum at once. His socks slipped down between the bed and wall, and he had to climb under the bed to get them back. Maybe they were really unlucky socks.
Marlin scowled and sat up. No reason to put off getting his socks. It wasn’t like he was doing anything else. He wouldn’t be doing much magic any time soon without his hat. It just wasn’t the same.
He crouched down and looked into the gloom under his bed. He couldn’t see much. He crawled under the bed and reached around. He felt something and grabbed it and crawled backwards. It was the book he’d lost last week when he only had a chapter left to read. He must have dropped it after falling asleep reading or something.
He found a lost sweater, his slippers, his favorite cauldron, a small dragon, and then…his hat. It had been there all the time. He put it on and cast a spell to shine a light under his bed. All that was left under the bed was his lost socks, waiting patiently right next to where he was sitting. They really were lucky socks.
With his hat and his lucky socks, he was ready to open shop for the day. The world was waiting for his magnificent spells, but perhaps they could wait a little longer. After all, it was time for lunch. Not even Merlin skipped lunch if he could help it.