Start reading at the beginning, or reread Part Six.

The shopkeeper tucked the wand in his robes, a fate only slightly better than Fruben’s imagination had conjured up, and the old man gathered up the bundle of reagents to give to Fruben. Rather, he might have extended such a courtesy if he hadn’t simply dumped the bundle back in front of Fruben with the grace of an avalanche. No care to be spared, thought Fruben. It was an awkward transaction.

Fruben carefully picked up the bundle and had already started to imagine the worst things that might happen if he failed to return for the wand in a timely manner. The old man using it as a back-scratcher was one such delightful image that crossed his mind, and far from the worst. It also occurred to him that the man might sell the wand to the first person who happened in, but that thought was ridiculous when he reassured himself that he was the only notable, never mind regular, customer the old man had to begin with. There was nothing to worry about, he told himself again and again. He was still given to worry, however.

The odd angle at which Fruben now found the bundle aligned meant he had to brace them against his chest, and he found he could no longer see where he was putting his feet. He found his way to the door and resolved to realign his load when he had safely evacuated the area. He had no desire to remain a moment longer than was absolutely necessary.

“Remember,” the shopkeeper called after him as he struggled out the door, “if I haven’t been paid in the next few days–”

And then Fruben was mercifully out of earshot.