Eli Tragedy, the old Wizard of the Lower Caverns, returned from Dunsanytowne with his apprentice, Bob, carrying their weekly groceries in Bob’s bag of holding.
“Do you think Mickey finished washing the curtains while we were gone?” Bob innocently asked.
Poor Bob. He was not particularly smart. Sometimes he forgot to wear pants.
But the grumbling old wizard, half-elf, half-human, and half -fermented gingleyberry juice, had to admit, at least to himself, that Poor Bob was far more likeable than that smelly, uppity, idiotic were-rat that was his second apprentice. That lazy, stupid half-rodent was no end of trouble. Maybe Eli needed to give Mickey one of his three halves to try and complete the boy. But not the half-fermented half.
“So, when’s the next full moon, Bob? When does that rat-thing turn back into a real boy so I can smack his behind with the rod of discipline and have him actually feel it?”
“Master, Mickey’s curse specifies that he can only be a real boy for a week on the next blue moon… and that’s not for a long time in the future.”
“Real shame, that is.”
Of course, when they went inside the wizard’s sandstone tower. Mickey was trying to use Eli’s magic hat to clean the flying-monkey poop off of the curtains, and was casting the scrubbing spell backwards, thus increasing the foul dirt that wouldn’t even be there if he hadn’t had the flying-monkey party without getting permission from Eli first.
“Mickey! Stop that! You are supposed to say, ‘Removere simia faecibus exturbandis opitulatur’ not ‘Addere simia faecibus exturbandis opitulatur!”
“Oops!” said Mickey.
“Oh, no! Not you!” said the mysteriously grim stranger sitting at the kitchen table.
The stranger didn’t so much stand up with his ax from his chair at the table as UNCOIL with his ax from the chair at the table.
“Mickey, who is this stranger you didn’t have permission to invite into our tower?”
“He says he is the Booger-Man, Master.”
“That’s Boogeyman, rat-boy.”
Mickey shrugged. “I thought Booger-Man sounded more correct.”
“Ah, so you are here to rob a poor old man’s sandstone hovel?”
“No! Not now that I know it’s YOUR tower!” the Boogerman said vehemently. “You don’t recognize me?”
“No. Should I?”
“It’s me, Pollox the Highwayman. Although, you had probably better call me Paw-Lucks now.”
“Ah, yes! You tried to steal from me on the road to the Cillyburg Cathedral.”
“Yes, and all you had was this magic ax You told me it would make me into an entirely new man.”
“The Wildman’s Ax of Magical Tax Avoidance and Soldier Slaying. I remember it well. It seems to have worked quite like it was supposed to.”
“Every time I fought I soldier, he slew me. And when I returned to life I had a new patch of shaggy white fur, or a new fang, or a bad case of mange.”
“And nobody ever asked you to pay taxes again, did they?”
“I won’t rob you this time, wizard. Just take back the ax and make me human again.”
“Can’t do it. I believe in paying my taxes. But, you can have Mickey. The boy can carry the ax for you.”
The Booger-man took one look at the young were-rat, turned even more pale than the white he already was, and ran out of the tower roaring in fear.
“Stop it, Mickey! That’s the wrong one again!”