I am an Imp. No, not exactly. I am THE Imp. King of Mischief. My true name doesn’t matter right now. Call me Harold. That’s my human name. And my human form is my favored one.
I’m not strong. I’m not particularly fast. I’m not good with weapons or hand-to-hand combat. But in mind, I’m exceedingly cunning. In body, my only benefits are powers of deceit. Master illusionist, escape artist, magician with a sleight of hand.
As king, I am bound to my kingdom through the binding talisman of Monello, the name of my realm. Every magical realm has a binding talisman, which possesses the owner of the talisman the right to rule. The talisman for Monello is a tarnished glass ring, not much to look at. But then again, its value is more than its weight in gold. Partly because it’s not made of gold.
Gold or not, someone decided it was worth at least $14,000 on the antiques market at a New York City auction house. In an open-bid auction, a buyer thought it was worth $23,000.
It had been hidden for a few hundred years, and for all that time, I’d been in a deep Impsleep. When it had been purchased, the ring roused me from that slumber. I was summoned as the talisman changed possessions.
Walt’s Antique Shoppe was a small establishment, a boutique with specialty items. Not every day a sale, but every sale a fortune. That was the unofficial motto. The official motto was, “The best. Period.” Those three words are right below the name on the shabby-chic wooden sign hanging out front.
So when Walt purchased the old ring at the Seller’s Auction, everyone thought he would resell to an affluent private buyer for a stellar amount. “Shoot for the moon. Then when you get to the moon, shoot for the stars. When you get to the stars, that’s when you can retire.” That’s an adage Walt seems to like quite well. He however, is not retired.
The ring was certified to be roughly 1,500 years old and Germanic. I’m not exactly sure the age, but I know it’s far older than that. It’s also not Germanic; it’s Monellon. But, there’s no need to nitpick.
Dreams from an Impsleep that lasts centuries are very vivid, but they are somewhat different than real life. My dreams were part light and part dark, and time moved far too quickly. My dreams held the love of my long life, my wife Hyacinth. I would have kept dreaming until Walt put the ring on his own wretched finger. As king, the talisman summoned me to protect it.
Now, it’s not that easy to take over the kingdom by simply wearing the talisman. It requires sufficient magic to wield it. It also requires the previous owner to gift it to the next one, so technically, the ring still belongs to me. There is a loophole, in the sense that if one has enough magic, practically anything is possible. But magic is a rare commodity, or so I thought.
“You awoke me,” I informed the gray man with the white beard after appearing to him in a cloud of red smoke. “And you stole my talisman.”
Rather than jump back in fear, the grizzled man responded calmly. “I didn’t steal it. I’m borrowing it. My name is Walt. This is my shop. I need your help.”
“My help?” I’d just awakened, so I was a bit dazed. “How is it that you think I can help you?”
“I’ve been researching Imp history for the past thirty years. I’ve got documentation hundreds of years old from Mansfield, describing Monello and you, Eru…”
“Harold. It’s Harold.”
“Harold. I know more than any person alive knows about you or your kind. And I mean you no harm. But I’m in trouble, and I need help that only you can provide.”
“How is that, young Walt?” I asked the man in the purple sweater.
“Because you want your ring back, and I’ll give it to you. But I want something too. I want the Horsehead Scarab.”
“What do you want with that?”
“The scarab for your ring. No questions. Remember, so long as I have your ring, I have your access to Hyacinth. So. Will you take it or leave it?” He smiled.
“Where is the scarab?” I did not.