It was raining the night she arrived. He remembered because a nasty storm had rolled in, making it very difficult for him to enjoy his team. The rapping of rain upon his roof, plus the raucous boom of thunder, easily overpowered the soft crackling of fire in the fireplace. Smoggit sipped his tea with nerves on edge, jumping at every thunderclap, as Pamela knocked and his door.
At first, he thought it nothing more than a tree branch, scratching up his window. But it persisted, and so won his ear. After careful listening, he could hear Pamela’s faint cry coming from the other side.
With furrowed brow raised, he himself rose from his seat- a plush, sandalwood antique- and dropped to his feet. STOMP, STOMP, STOMP: he marched to the door. At the doorframe, he grabbed his trusty walking stick. It was horrendously gnarled and sturdy of build: more than enough to discourage any run-of-the-mill do-badder, looking for an easy victim.
Slowly, Smoggit wrapped his thick, stubby fingers upon the doorknob and turned. He opened the door ever so slightly, and there he saw her: a waifish silhouette looking back at him through bloodshot eyes.
“Yes, dear. May I help you?”
Then, she collapsed onto his dirt floor.
An hour later, the young woman awoke in Smoggit’s matching sandalwood chair. The storm had died down some, allowing for normal conversation.
“Good evening to you. That was quite a spill you took.”
She rubbed her head and looked about her. Smoggit had hung her fine, wet robes on the entryway coatrack and laid a mossy blanket upon her person. Her clothes were also rather damp, but Smoggit had left them on out of common decency. Luckily, the fire had worked its magic on them well enough to where they were now comfortably dry.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me,” said Pamela.
“From the looks of it you passed out… from malnutrition, perhaps? You look like you haven’t eaten for days.”
“I haven’t. The journey was longer than anticipated.”
“Well, here you are. I would happy to make something if you would like: pumpkin-almond soup perhaps? It’s one of my specialties?”
“Yes, that would be nice,” she said weakly, while rubbing her head.
Smoggit hopped down from his chair and made his way to the alcove serving as his kitchen.
“I’m sorry, but I never did catch your name?” he said, while digging through a pantry full of fastidiously-marked jars and hanging herbs.
“It’s Pamela, Pamela Gausón.”
Smoggit collected an armful of supplies, carried them over to the wood stove, and set them down at its feet.
“Pleasure to meet you, Ms. Gausón.”
“The-the pleasure is all mine, Master Smoggit. I have been searching for you forever.”
“Forever, you say?” he said, while casting a match upon the stove’s wood underbelly. “Quite a long time. Tell me, Ms. Gausón, why you have been looking for me.”
“To train, Master. Word has it that you are one of the finest wizards in the area.”
He slammed the stove closed.
“People say a lot of things; and, besides, even if I were the wizard that you say, what makes you think I would want to train you? After all, I might have an apprentice already, after all. Training is a rather intensive business, after all.”
Pamela bit her lower lip.
“I know. I guess, I-I hadn’t thought of that. I didn’t have a backup plan.”
“No back-up, no sensible alternative?”
She shook her head.
“No sir. If you are the best, I would settle for nothing less.”
An elfish grin wormed its way onto his face.
“Most excellent. We will begin on Monday.”
“Not tomorrow?” she said, and he chuckled.
“No, although I appreciate your enthusiasm, we will need to get your strength back before we do anything.”
“I see. That makes sense.”
He went to work, blending up ingredients and adding spices to the soup.
“Would you care you care for some tea?” he said.
“Perhaps something… stronger.”
“I will get that right up.”