The man loomed over the two children menacingly, and unconsciously they both took a step back.

Logan leaned towards the boy next to him. "Chris? Is he... Can you trust this guy?"

Chris shrugged. "Probably not," he whispered back.

At the younger boy's horrified look, he tried to reassure him with a small grin. "But he's has, basically, everything. And all we have to do is get in, buy your cloak as quickly as possible, and get out. Simple."

That failed to convince him. "When I said shopping," he hissed, "I didn't mean go to some shady guy in a uninhabited building in the middle of nowhere-"

His sentence was cut off with the man's dramatic sweep of an arm. "Welcome!" he boomed. Standing up proudly, the man shouted with a smile (because the smile was what counted, not the spit flying all over his face), "What brings you to the great Bazzar?"

Logan wiped the spit off his face as Chris declared, "We have come to buy a cloak!" He spread both his arms out as dramatically as the man's.

In a smaller volume, he added, "Actually, Logan has. I'm just a bystander."

Head held up high, he marched through the doors and fled the building, leaving Logan to deal with a who-knows-how-crazy man wearing an apron by himself.

I need better friends, Logan thought, partially to himself and partially to Chris. Ones that, I don't know, don't ditch me with weird guys-

You're welcome! Chris interrupted jovially. Remember the plan!

You're welcome?!

But obviously, Chris had decided that the conversation was over, because he didn't get a reply back.

Logan was busy cursing his senior and wondering how long he'd be able to survive when the man boomed, "Hmm! Haven't seen you as of yet!" Kneeling down, he glared looked at him carefully, and the boy squirmed. Logan could already see the disappointment in his eyes at his unkept brown hair and freckles.

But then again, at least he had hair. And good looks. Logan made a mental note not to wear brown aprons, chains on his wrists, glasses, and flags on his back. How did this guy walk around anyways, with two giant poles sticking out from behind him?

Interrupting his thoughts, the man said, "What's your name, wizard?"

"Logan. Logan DuskPyre." He stuck his hand out to shake.

That was a mistake. Grabbing his hand, the man shook him fiercely, and it took him all his effort and willpower not to stumble to the ground. Or vibrate.

"Elik Silverfist, at your service!" he shouted enthusiastically - way too enthusiastically for a man selling secondhand items in the middle of nowhere. Logan was suspicious. For all he knew, he might be in some huge prank. And, if that was the case, then secretly Chris and Elik were either laughing their butts off at him, or recording this for all of Wizard City, Krokotopia, and a few dozen other worlds to see. As he was further embarrassed, of course. It definitely sounded like a Chris-like thing to do.

Or maybe, this guy was just not normal. He had met a lot of people who weren't normal here.

When he was finally done torturing him, Logan massaged the hand that had been stuck in his vice-like grip. He was pretty sure it was broken. "Yeah... Can I, uh, get my cloak now?"

When Elik-man made no attempt to move, he said, "I need to go somewhere soon," to his dorm, "to go do something important," which was sleep, "so..." hurry up!

Walking to the far back of the room, the man peered behind his desk, apparently looking for something. Over the sounds of various clothes and things being tossed around, he yelled, "Where you off to, in such a hurry? Somewhere with a lot of monsters, I suppose?

"Uh..." Logan decided that he had not thought this particular lie through. He had no clue what the names of the roads were in Krokotopia, and obviously he wasn't going to Unicorn Way or Firecat Alley either. "The... The Road?"

Erik paused, lifting his head to peer at him suspiciously. "Hmm. I've never heard of that road before," he said dryly. "What town does it lead to?"


Logan had learned a while ago that it was best not to answer in these situations.

Luckily any further comment the man was going to make was forgotten with an exclamation of "Aha!" and the sound of wheels and a door sliding open.

Next thing he knew, the floor stopped existing, and Logan was falling down from twenty feet in the air.

And next thing after that, he was hitting his head on various parts of the stairs, and then the railing and the walls, and then he was crumpled on the floor.

"Are you okay?" Elik shouted from the top of the secret passageway.

"No!" Logan's head was throbbing, and he was aching in several places that definitely shouldn't be aching. And his hand was probably still broken. He was not okay.

Apparently, Elik took that as an okay (of all people Chris had to ditch him with, it had to be this guy?) and strolled casually to the bottom.

"There were stairs, you know!" he remarked. "Instead of jumping down, I'd suggest you use them!"

"Jumping down?" Logan exclaimed, stiffly picking himself up. Wobbling standing on one foot to hold his throbbing ankle, he cast a minor blessing to fix it up before looking up at Elik. "You thought - jumped down - me?" he sputtered. "Do I look like the kind of person who enjoys jumping off flights of stairs?"

"Yes!" Elik immediately answered. He almost put his head in his hands. God, the nerve of this guy!

Ignoring him, Logan walked forward through the brick-lined hall, noting how the torches flickered and splayed shadows across the walls, and how his boots clacked against the stone floor. Striding up quickly to catch up to the wizard, Elik boomed, "Not many people have been through this way!"

His loud voice echoed to twice the volume it was before, and Logan winced, ears hurting. On the other hand, Elik didn't seem to mind. Obviously, he had heard it before.

Not bothering to quiet down, he continued, "I use this passage for storing all the items I get!" Suddenly, Elik emitted a belly-laugh as loud as his shouts, echoing off the walls around him. "Ha! Some people think I store them all with magic! No living wizard could do something as powerful as that! Haha! Can you believe..."

"..." That was exactly what Logan thought he did.

Elik examined him closely. "Did you think that-"

"No!" he said quickly, cutting him off before he could make some kind of insult. Which he obviously was. Then, just to make sure, he strode ahead (harder than it looked) of the heavyset man.

"I hope you know where we're going," he said as they passed through another intersection of hallways. Switching topics was the best course of action here.

"Of course I do!" This time, Logan didn't flinch at the volume. "Right now we should be in the cloaks section..." He stopped in front of an iron gate, pulling out a ring of keys from his apron pocket. Inserting a bronze key into a large padlock, he said, "And these are the cloaks for storm students."

Immediately the gate swung back like a battering ram and Logan almost yelped, jumping out of the way just in time. Elik casually walked into the room, not bothering to look behind him to see if Logan was okay.

Now he knew why this town was so empty.

"Thanks for warning me!" Logan snapped, following him. "That could've almost-"

"You're welcome!" Elik shouted joyfully.

Now it was Logan's turn to look at him closely. As far as he could tell, he sounded like he wasn't joking.

Seeing that Elik was busy pacing around the cloaks, and not wanting to follow him around everywhere, Logan leaned against the gray stone wall. He watched as the man occasionally paused, fingering a purple or yellow robe or two hanging from the metal racks along the edge of the room.

The wizard grew impatient. "Can I just-"

Without bothering to look, Elik held up a hand, and Logan halted mid-sentence. Inwardly, he huffed. Fine. Let the crazy guy do his thing. No big deal.

Finally, Elik glanced up, seeing Logan hanging uncertainly around the front of the room. "So you're still here," he mused. "Thought you would have left by now."

Logan narrowed his eyes. This guy was much more loony than he looked. "All this time, you weren't doing anything? Nothing at all? And now I have to-"

"Ah, just kidding. Here!" He tossed him a yellow and purple cloak stitched with storm symbols, and Logan caught it before holding up suspiciously to the torch light. The long material unfurled underneath it.

"How is it?" Elik questioned. Truthfully, it didn't look too bad. It seemed comfortable enough. And there was even a place to sheath his sword.

Then again, he was not about to make the same mistake twice. Last time he accepted a cloak (from Chris, of all people - no surprise there), he thought it looked pretty cool. Then he went in battle with it on.

Logan shuddered to think of the memory. That was one of the worst days of his life, he was pretty sure. And the unicorns just made it worse.

"It's... okay." There. A word that wasn't really good or bad.

Elik grinned. "Just don't go jumping down flights of stairs with that on!"


"How long is this passage anyway?"

"It goes on for miles and miles..."

"Miles? Maybe you have free time - a lot of free time, now that I think about it - but miles? How does anyone dig a tunnel for miles-"

Elik stopped walking, doubling over in laughter. "Ahahaha! So you did - haha - believe me earlier!"

Logan glared daggers at him. Somehow, he knew he wasn't buying from the bazaar anymore.