The Last Magus

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Enter the Wizard...

“Magus!” Joe was almost startled to hear the sound of Draco’s voice in his head, he’d quite forgotten about him in his gloating over the deflated ass that was Branch manager Jolly.

“Yes Draco?”

“Three men have just entered the…building, the bank, I sense there is something about them that is…wrong!”


“I sense they mean to do harm. In my day...well I don’t know what your modern name would be. I think they mean a great deal of trouble. Since I cannot enter this place I thought I should let you know.”

“Thanks, tell me what they are doing now?”

“Certainly magus, at this moment one is standing as you did in the line, he is not using the pen on one of those paper slips like you did though, he just stands with a hand clasped on something under his coat. The second is standing by the guard who would not allow me in and the third is standing immediately by the door.”

“Do they look as if they are carrying anything?”

“Under their long coats…yes. I do not know what it is but I smell something very odd. A hint of sulphur and some other scents I’m not familiar with.”

“Probably cordite, damn they’ve got guns!”

“The one at the door walks rather stiffly, as if he has something down the side of his leg or something wrong with his leg.”

“Sounds like at least he might be armed with a long gun. Anything about the third man?”

“A bulge at the back of his coat at the waistband to his trousers.”

“Great...probably a handgun! These three are bad news Draco let me think for a moment.”

“Very well magus call me if you need me.”

“OK.” Joe turned back to the still distraught Mr Jolly, “Mr Jolly? Mr Jolly?” Jolly stared at Joe, his mouth opening and closing silently. Jolly’s eyes looked glazed as if he were looking at Joe without seeing him. “Is this meeting done? Can I go? I do have errands to run and things to do today. I am a busy man you see, and pleasant as a visit with my bank manager might be…well time is money you know!”

“Yes…yes I suppose so.” Jolly replied weakly his mind could still not comprehend where his plans had gone so spectacularly wrong.

“Fine.” Joe got up from his seat and walked to the door. With a satisfied smile he looked back at Jolly still sitting there pole-axed. “I might see you again in a few days when the cheque clears. Then we can discuss settlements can’t we?” Joe stepped out of the office and back into the main foyer of the bank.

Almost immediately Joe saw the three men Draco had referred to, they were wrapped up and muffled; well that was sort of expected given the weather outside. But they were muffled in a way that looked out of place here. Joe momentarily glanced out the window and saw flecks of snow starting to float down, large flakes too, he prayed he could be home before it got too thick or heavy. The three men all wore long trench coats that reached down to their ankles, from the colour they looked vaguely military but old style military like world war two nothing modern. Solid looking boots and thick scarves wrapped around their faces keeping them warm but also hiding their features. The one by the guard had a hunting hat with the fur flaps that cover the ears, the man by the door just a woollen cap. Joe immediately got the same sense, these three were not the usual type for bank customers, something about them wasn’t right, something was about to happen here…something not good at all!

Joe called Draco in his mind, “Draco now I can see them I think you’re right these three look like bad news. Is there a spell I can use against these three men? All at the same time I mean.”

“A spell magus? You mean you wish to use your magic in public?”

“I don’t think I have much choice mate. I think these guys are going to try and rob the bank…if they are carrying what I think they are people will likely get hurt or killed in here.”

“Well then, with your level of expertise magus I would suggest something simple. Something that will sadly bring no physical harm to them but may…incapacitate them sufficiently? Hmm yes that would be appropriate I think…”

“What would?”

“Summon your mana and approach each one, touch them briefly and as you do say the word somnambus. Normally you require a pinch of sand for this spell but it is possible to do this spell without, the sand just improves the duration and lessens the chance the target can shake it off.”


“It will put them to sleep magus…for a short while anyway!”

“Ah yeah I see the sandman cometh, sprinkling sand and putting you to sleep. Excellent idea, the problem is going to be getting to all three. I have a really bad feeling that if I drop the first one the others will start causing trouble.”

“Then drop, as you put it, all three together. The spell effect will be weaker but it depends on the strength of their will. Touch each of them as you summon the mana then say the word once and it will affect all three. You may find if they are particularly strong willed they can shake it off though…so be prepared to act if it doesn’t work. The sand would improve your chances.”

“Well it’s worth a go anyway, I can’t stand back and let them rob everybody. That nice old lady is still in here, they’ll get the old dears pension and that’s not fair. I’ll have to remember to start carrying odd things like pinches of sand.” Joe stepped up and past the man in the queue, he barely brushed against him. “So sorry sir please excuse me.” The man shrugged as if Joe was just a minor annoyance. Joe smiled, one down! He then walked casually over to the main door and tapped the second man on the shoulder, “Excuse me do you have the time?” he asked.

“Bugger off!” The man replied gruffly, “get a bloody watch!”

“Thank you, but the time would have been better.” Two down, last one! Joe drew in a breath and walked somewhat more clumsily towards the third man who stood behind the guard. Joe half stumbled into him, the mana he was calling up was throbbing in his head now so he moved a little awkwardly.

“You bloody drunk! Get off me!” The third man shoved him away. Got all three!

“OK Draco all three touched and my head is almost killing me so what now?”

“Say the word somnambus when you feel ready magus...”

Joe drew in another deep breath, summoning himself, he could sense what was about to happen he just hoped he was ready to prevent it. As he drew himself up to his full height the man in the queue stepped up to the teller’s counter...Natalie’s counter! Joe drew in a sharp breath “Please don’t hurt her” He thought desperately. Things started to happen then with a surprising rapidity. The man at the counter hastily pulled aside his coat revealing what looked at first to be a large handgun from under it and pointed it straight at Natalie. Joe almost stepped forward to try and protect her but instead stood still. Natalie paled as her face turned horror stricken, she screamed and tried to duck out of the way behind her desk. Joe saw the weapon as it moved, it was a sawn off shotgun with a pistol type grip.

“Christ! If he fires that thing he’ll spray the wall with pellets and whoever is in front of him.” Joe thought, they could be devastating weapons at short range the foreshortening caused the pellets to spread wider. The man by the door now sidled a half pace over to stand in front of it, blocking the exit or entrance of any customers. He shoved the old lady back into the bank with a large slab like hand. “Sorry luv, nobody gets to leave just yet!” he sneered.

“Why the…” the old lady looked like she was going to smack him with her handbag, for all the good it would have done. The man by the door was huge, if he was seven feet tall Joe wouldn’t have been surprised and he was very solid looking with it! Joe saw the old lady push her account book into her bag, there were some bank notes inside it. He paled, she had drawn out her pension after all. Joe had to act he couldn’t let these thieves steal that money from her. The door man didn’t produce a weapon, he was big and heavy and as implacable as a brick wall. His mere presence was threatening enough. Joe thought he probably had a weapon all the same from the way he seemed not to bend his left leg. The thought what he might bring out and use on the old woman made Joe feel sick to the pit of his stomach. She may have been an old dear but to see her blown apart by whatever cannon that thug was carrying. It took a special sort of cowardice to pick on weaker members of society and these guys had that cowardice in spades!

The third man now quietly slipped an automatic pistol from the bulge behind his back, it looked big and ugly. He poked the muzzle into the guard’s ribcage as the guard tried to step forwards. Geoff squawked as he felt the muzzle press into his back, “If you don’t want to see your guts on that wall, don’t do anything stupid little man!” the pistol carrier whispered hoarsely. Joe swallowed, if he fired that pistol the guard would be dead with a hole the size of a dinner plate where his stomach should be…Joe’s blood tuned to ice, this was all happening too quickly, his head reeled. The first man turned around, he needed more time, maybe some diversion.

“Alright!” Yelled the first one, with the sawn off shotgun, turning a full circle letting everyone see the weapon, the muzzle was pointed at the ceiling, “Nobody tries nothing so nobody gets hurt here see! We just want the money…ALL the money! Not just the bank’s, they’re insured anything you’ve got on you of any value too comprendez? Jewellery, watches, gold chains you name it we want it! One of my companions will begin the collection…” The man half sneered, “please make sure you give generously too, we are a needy cause!” he laughed cruelly as he completed his spin and turned back to Natalie. She paled again as he levelled the shotgun at her. Joe thought suddenly about the five gold coins he had in his pocket, maybe it would have been better to let Lin have the coin after all? “Understand we don’t have to hurt nobody. If everyone does what we say. But we will hurt…and we will kill. So anyone who wants to try being a hero better plan on being a dead hero! No heroes? Good! Do as I say and nobody has to die! Take a seat on the floor, all of you, and nobody moves.”

Joe drew in a deep shuddering breath, instead of sitting he stepped forwards. His head was absolutely pounding, the mana energy flooding through him was almost deafening him with its roar if he didn’t release it soon he was sure his head would explode. He moved just like a drunkard, if this worked he’d be a live hero saving everyone, if it didn’t he’d be another dead fool redecorating the wall with his brains; like one of Jolly’s Jackson Pollock paintings! Joe let his breath out slowly and held up a hand with one finger raised, “Could I just say something do you think?”

The man with the shotgun turned away from the near hysterical Natalie. He’d been trying to impress on her the need for her to open her cash drawer, rather than reconstructive surgery on her pretty face! She had been so panicked she could only sit on the floor with eyes wide trying to curl into the smallest foetal ball she could manage. The first man levelled the gun straight at Joe. The sight of the two gaping maws of the barrels facing him made Joe almost void his bladder. He gulped heavily and grabbed hold of himself, he thought wrong weapon pal! I’m too far away, most of the pellets will go right past me if you shoot. “So are you bloody deaf? Or just drunk?” the armed man growled. The other two men broke into spontaneous laughter, “I said no heroes, I meant no heroes. Just sit down and shut the fuck up!” Joe gulped again but didn’t move, he could see the man’s finger inching towards the trigger, “What the fuck do you want any way? I meant what I said, I know how to use this, I’ll shoot!”

“Well I just wanted to say one thing…” Joe’s speech deliberately slurred, the mention of being drunk had given him a useful idea. The mana energy coursing through him gave him a sense of being drunk anyway.

“Yeah and that will be your final word…because the next person you’ll be speaking to will be St Peter. So go on what is it this one thing?” The man half leaned forward leering.

“Joe!” Natalie screamed, “he’ll do it don’t be a fool! Just sit down please...”

Somnambus!” Joe said the word loud and clear, he pronounced it without a hint of slurring. As Joe uttered the word he felt the mana energy rise up and roar in his head, it reached a crescendo and then flooded out and left him, he almost fell forwards as it left in such a rush. Joe could have sworn he saw the air between him and the crooks ripple like a stone thrown into a pond. The ripple spread out touching the man by the door and the man by the security guard immediately and simultaneously, with a sort of agonised squawk they folded at the knees and collapsed to the ground. Both fell deeply asleep dropping heavily to the floor with audible thuds. The one in the woollen cap with the long gun, half curled up into a foetal position his gun protruding from the ankle of his jeans.

“What the fu…” The third one with the sawn off shotgun shouted. He didn’t get to finish as the ripple effect hit him. He tried to shake his head several times as if trying desperately to shake off the effects, “what have you done? I’ll bloody kill…” but then before he could finish his eyes unfocused, glazed over. The shotgun drooped alarmingly and pointed at the floor as the crook held it limply. Joe held his breath if there was a twitch that gun might go off and unload into the floor. The crook’s legs felt like lead, he tried to step forwards, he stretched an arm to reach out for Joe’s collar only to buckle at the knees before canting over with a strangled half cry. He finished up lying spread eagled on the carpeted floor, snoring loudly. Joe breathed out a huge gasp, “Thank God it worked!”

Everybody in the bank sat or stood in complete silence, they were too stunned or amazed for words. Nobody moved, all eyes, every single one just looked at Joe questioningly.

Joe coughed lightly to break the silence and said smoothly, “I think maybe someone should call the police before they wake up again. Don’t you?” He walked over to the man with the shotgun and quietly moved the gun out of his reach with his foot. The guard finally stirred into action turned to his comatose assailant and disarmed him then pistol held by the trigger guard he bent and checked the man by the door removing from him a long barrelled shotgun.

“Look at the size of this cannon!” he said.

The male teller looked at the three men and then at Joe blankly. “How did you…I mean what just happened?”

Mr Jolly now chose to burst from his office in a bluster. “What is all the commotion going on out here?” he demanded. He saw the three men, lying face down on the floor, he saw the weapons and his mouth dropped open in surprise.

“Err Mr Jolly sir…” The male teller looked away from Joe to his boss, he was also trying to console Natalie who was sitting motionless just staring at Joe as if searching his face. “I think…sir these three gentlemen…well I think they just tried to rob the bank!” He motioned to the three men lying prone on the ground. “But this gentleman…” he motioned to Joe, “I think he just foiled the robbery, he said something I didn’t understand and they well…err…all appear to have fallen asleep!”

“Yes!” Joe said somewhat more triumphantly than he really thought appropriate, he blew out a breath between pursed lips in a soft whistle, “and Boy am I glad it worked out so well too! Got to admit I didn’t have much of plan B. But I’m afraid they won’t be out for long so could someone get the police please? I’m not sure I can put them out a second time! It doesn’t exactly work like that…”

“Fell asleep?” Blustered Jolly, “don’t be preposterous!”

“But it is true sir. They just well…collapsed! One minute they were threatening to rob the bank and everyone in it. I had just finished with Mrs Glazer’s withdrawal of her pension. When that one snoring, with the shotgun, threatened Natalie and demanded money from the cash drawer. He told everyone to collect their valuables together and then the next thing I know… Mr? I’m sorry sir I didn’t catch your name?”

“Joe Winstanton.”

“Err yes…Mr Winstanton stepped forward asked if he could say something and…well they all just dropped to the ground, I’m assuming they are all asleep, though I can’t think how or why.” The teller now having reassured himself that Natalie would be OK after a few nods from her, got unsteadily and cautiously to his feet. He walked out from behind the teller’s counter. “Whatever you did or said sir…” He approached Joe like a man approaches a king cobra that has just reared up in his path. “I’m sure you foiled the robbery and saved all our lives so I would like to thank you…even if the bank doesn’t!” He cast a wary eye over his shoulder at Mr Jolly who hadn’t moved from his spot. “You are as the leader said a hero…thank you. I think you saved my life and Natalie’s in fact all our lives today!” He took Joe’s hand in his like it would suddenly shock him, when it didn’t he smiled broadly and shook Joe’s hand firmly before slapping him on the shoulder.

Mr Jolly was totally dumbfounded, “Winstanton? A hero? Now you have got to be joking! Would someone please explain this to me again?”

“Not sure I can explain it!” Replied Joe smoothly, “because you don’t strike me as a man that readily believes in magic!”

Thankfully at that point four burly police officers, in full tactical gear, practically exploded through the front door. “Alright nobody move!” One shouted, then he took in the three comatose robbers. For a minute or more he stood uncertain looking from one partner to the next…OK what to do next? The four police had expected a confrontation with three armed suspects, maybe a hostage siege with TV news and demands for helicopters. Each officer was dressed in their tactical clothing with flak vests designed to defend them from bullet and knife attacks. Yet now they were inside the bank what they found were three suspects that appeared for all the world to be sleeping like babies on the carpet. The big man that had tried to block the door was even curled into a foetal position with his thumb in his mouth, while the gang’s leader was snoring like a chainsaw running on idle.

After securing the suspects the four officers took statements from everyone in the bank. All the witnesses in the bank agreed there had been an attempted armed robbery, the security guard even presented the three weapons the robbers had been carrying. But then the story just got strange…

It took most of the rest of the morning to get a clear story of what had actually happened. Joe repeated his story over and over, each time when he got to the magic spell part he was met with a strange look; lots of head scratching and at least one look of sympathy. When he further tried to explain that he couldn’t remember the word he had said because spells just worked that way and burned themselves from the caster’s mind, the officers had just made appropriate notes nodding in silence.

Natalie had recovered surprisingly quickly from her traumatic experience, she had been badly scared, even terrified of that sawn off shotgun. Joe’s reassurances that if the crook had tried to shoot most of the pellets would have gone by her to either side and all she would have needed to do was put her hands up over her face didn’t help all that much. She sat next to Joe, quietly nursing a black coffee, eyeing him watchfully. He repeated his story again and again and again. Occasionally Joe felt as if she was reassuring herself he was real. The male teller brought out coffee and tea for everyone concerned. Mrs Glazer though distraught promised a whole bag of dog biscuits for Draco as a thank you, she couldn’t thank Joe enough, her pension though meagre was all she had to live on. It was a thank you that Joe thanked her for as graciously as he could before gently telling her to keep her money as he was sure she could make better use of it. He was sorely tempted to give her one of the four gold coins he still had but he wasn’t sure that giving the old dear three hundred grand might not finish her off with a heart attack. The three foiled bank robbers, now groggily awake sat dejectedly by the door, their wrists firmly cuffed behind them. With their notes completed the officers looked at their notepads with some obvious incredulity.

“The sergeant back at the nick is never gonna believe this one…” One officer said as he flicked through his notes.

“Forgot the serge Mike, think about trying to explain this in the court.” The second one half coughed and stood as if in a witness box already. “The suspects were apprehended in an act of attempted armed robbery milord, when I and my fellow officers arrived on the scene it would appear they failed in their attempt due to a…a…”

“Yeah go on…say it!”

“A magic sleep spell being cast over them by one of the bank customers!” The officer shook his head slowly, “We’ll be laughed out of the bloody court and put up for psych evaluation!”

The youngest officer smiled thinly, “Well we’d only be reporting the verbatim truth Jimbo. All the witnesses concur you know. They all agree that this guy…”


“Yeah Joseph Winstanton, I heard that name before somewhere I’m sure! Well he put the buggers to sleep with this magic word. Wish I could learn it, might come in useful chasing down my next Twocer! Just say the word and the little sod drops to sleep…”

“Yeah well maybe we should just leave the details to the detectives to sort out eh? That’s what those smartass bastards get the big money for…We’ll just nick ’em!”

“Sounds good to me! Come on you three, up we’re all going for a little ride…to the local nick!”

The leader of the gang looked at Joe menacingly, “You ain’t seen the last of me mate. I’m gonna get out, I never forgets a face…” Joe swallowed a gulp, he felt sure if the guy had had his hands free he’d have been drawing one across his throat.

Natalie half turned to Joe as the three were escorted away, “He sounded serious Joe, you’d better be careful…”

Joe half smiled at her, “Careful? When I can do magic?” Natalie gave a little nervous giggle, “he doesn’t scare me! Besides you should meet my pal Draco too…” he leaned in close to Natalie, her perfume smelt wonderfully enticing this close. Everything about her felt enticing, Her dark hair, her hazel eyes, that crisp white bank blouse and the hip hugging black skirt. Joe felt a pang he hadn’t felt in some years. He whispered very quietly to her as she sipped at her coffee, “That golden retriever of mine isn’t really a golden retriever you know…”

“No?” Natalie looked quizzically at Draco sitting outside the front door, “I’ve got to admit I’ve never seen a dog quite like that but...” she leaned in to Joe giving him another nose full of her perfume, she whispered so only Joe could hear, “what is he then?”

“Not sure I can tell you…but if you’ll consider dinner with me tonight, Maybe I could get him to show you after…we’ll need some space for it anyway.”

Natalie drew back giving a little shocked gasp, “Why Mr Winstanton,” she whispered, “are you trying to ask me out on a date with you?” Natalie looked at him with a gaze of innocence so Joe hung his head a little ashamed and nodded. He knew it sounded ridiculous, Natalie couldn’t be more than twenty, twenty three at the oldest, he was old enough to be her father! “Good, I’ll be ready for seven. Casual or formal?”

Joe snapped his head up in surprise, “You mean you’re…saying yes???”

“Of course! How can I resist a hero who saves my life?” Her soft hazel eyes glittered with mirth.

“Casual then, I err really like Oriental food but we can go anywhere else you like if Oriental isn’t to your taste…”

“Not to my taste? I love Oriental, my mum says I’ll be buried in noodles! But how about the cinema and then food? There’s a really good film showing I’ve been wanting to see, but well…going on your own isn’t much fun…and since you’re so flush now you can afford it?” Natalie winked and kissed Joe on the cheek. “See you at the cinema at seven then?”

“Yeah OK seven it is…”

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