"He comes from the land beyond the dead bog. A land so far removed from the rest of civilization that they don't even know if it still exists. He has destroyed undead skeletons with his fearsome magicks and has turned men to toads with a snap of his fingers. Prepare to be amazed and dazzled by his dark arts. Give a Crow's Nest welcome to the one, the only, Ciprian the magnificent!"
The stage burst with colored smoke. Through the cloud emerged a man, his flowing cape bellowed behind him. His dark hair draped down to his shoulders and a thick beard covered his jaw. Ciprian waved his female assistant forward and then gave a hard look to the announcer.
"Oh! And his assistant, Daciana!"
Ciprian smiled and threw his hand out. Doves appeared out of thin air and flew towards the ceiling. They popped into shreds of paper and fell towards the crowd like snow. The men cheered and slammed their mugs onto the tables until the tavern shook.
The magician grabbed a weathered, metal goblet and filled it with water. His assistant, Daciana, rose to her tip toes and peeked over his shoulder. Ciprian spun in the other direction and she followed him. He turned again, knocking her off her feet, and the audience roared with laughter. The magician set the goblet on a wooden bench and held his hands over the cup. Daciana bent over and gave the audience a heaping eyefull of her bosom. The men whistled and sprinkled the stage with their coin.
She pulled her curly black hair away from her bosom and playfully placed a finger on her lip. "Oops." Ciprian rolled his eyes and pressed his hands over the goblet. His arms began to tremble and slowly the water began to rise into the air. Shimmering liquid danced in sync with the gesticulations of his hands. A universal "Ooooh, aaaaah" passed over the audience.
Ciprian cut his hand through the air and splashed Daciana with water. Patches of her corset instantly turned a semi-translucent grey and her puffy hair shrank into slimy seaweed. She stomped her foot and clenched her fists while the men laughed and threw more money at the stage.
The magician shrugged his shoulders and disappeared behind the stage. He returned with a cage big enough for a full grown lion. He pushed Daciana into the cage, and locked it with a key, then Ciprian turned to the crowd. Daciana stuck her tongue out through the iron bars, and the audience laughed. He glanced over over his shoulder but only found his assistant innocently looking away, humming a merry tune.
The magician grimaced and threw a white canvas over the cage. White sails descended over the iron box, and the audience filled the room with a thunderous "Boo!" Ciprian tugged at the sheets until they were smooth as snow. The crowd jeered even louder. A loaf of bread hit the cage and sent waves rippling down the sheet.
Ignoring the crowd, Ciprian waved his hands and the cage started to twitch. There was a roar and the cage jumped forward. The patrons gawked at the stage with nary a word spoken. A few moments passed, then Ciprian clutched onto his cloak and stepped away from the cage. Another shift caused the metal frame to crack on the wooden floor. The canvas began to flutter like branches of a weeping willow dancing in the wind. Deep growling rumbles reverberated throughout the tavern and all were silent.
The cage rose to one side then violently dropped to the other, inching its way around the stage. The sheet started to rip and nightmarish sounds bellowed from the possessed prison. Ciprian grabbed onto the fabric and turned to the audience looking for a response. They shook their heads in a unanimous no. The magician smiled and yanked the fabric down. The canvas flapped in the air and revealed . . .
something dark . . .
. . . and big.
It grabbed onto the iron bars of the cage and tried to bend it outward. Its fingers were stretched out with black skin and had claws at the ends of its finger tips. Its arms had muscles the size of Ciprian's head and shoulders that spread as wide as the cage itself. Its fur was the color of darkness and on its gargantuan neck rested the slobbering head of a wolf. A werewolf.
It stared at the crowd with its yellow eyes and roared with a blood curdling howl. The roar was so monstrous that even the building trembled in fear. It thrashed around inside the cage and reached through the bars with its hairy arms, clawing at the audience with murderous swings. The men of the tavern jumped on top of the tables and screamed. The only person that didn't move was a lone woman sitting at the bar.
Ciprian brought out the key to the cage and smiled at the patrons. He plunged the key into the lock and started to twist.
"No. Noo. No! No! No! No!" they yelled.
The werewolf squeezed its arm and shoulder through the metal piping and bent it with its fearsome muscles. A quarter of its body was free from its prison. Ciprian picked up a coin from the floor and fanned it in his direction.
Then, the heavens parted and showered the stage with silver, copper, and some gold. It was enough coin to buy board and food for a few weeks. Ciprian removed the key from the lock and threw the canvas over the cage. The wolf's head pressed against the drapes while it bit at the fabric.
Ciprian took a step back from the bouncing cage and began to wave his hands. Within minutes, the cage stopped moving and the growls faded to silence. Ciprian removed the sheet and revealed beautiful Daciana. She stood in the center of the cage with a smile and her soaked bar maiden clothes.
The magician bowed to thunderous applause.