“For the last time,” Rory said, flopping down onto the couch as he realised his friend wasn’t truly in trouble. “I am not joining your Dragons and Dungeons campaign. I don’t have time to play pretend.”
Toby gestured dramatically to the bookshelf in the corner of the living room, the makeshift home for the figurines that he had painstakingly spent the better part of last year painting.
“Those are collectables,” he argued. He straightened up as Toby crashed down on the couch next to him. His expression was one of panic, the whites of his eyes eerily stern when contrasted with the blotchy red skin of his face.
“I’m talking about real wizards, Rory,” he said.
Rory chuckled wryly. “Are any of them friends with some air conditioning technicians near Canberra?”
He began to reach for the portable fan that he kept on the coffee table but Toby gripped his wrist, forcing him to meet his gaze. Rory jerked his hand back but sat back, suddenly afraid by the seriousness in his friend’s face. “Are you feeling alright?”
“Remember that internship ad you found online while you were researching companies for heater servicing around Canberra?” Toby asked. Rory slowly nodded, recalling the ad that they had laughed about. It had been some dud advertisement to join a ‘council of wizards’. “Well, I ended up applying for it as a joke. I thought I could see what their deal was and we could laugh about it together.”
Rory opened his mouth to say something, but quickly shut it. The tension in the room was heating up.
“The problem is, it wasn’t some joke. There really is a council of wizards,” Toby’s voice was growing faster.
“And you’re part of it?” Rory looked for any sign that his friend was joking, preparing to be a part of some grand punchline. His friend’s face stayed stern as he slowly nodded.
“Yes, but they don’t know I’m a human. I don’t think they do, at least, but I think they are about to find out.”