Start reading at the beginning, or reread Part Four.

Fruben cast his thoughts about the room, and reeled them in when he felt a nibble of an idea. His catch was a quibble, which he threw back immediately, and he tried his luck again. For all his fishing, the best thing he could come up with was a contingency: and a feeble one that wouldn’t have fed anyone.

He let the idea flop around in his head and gasp while he tried, in vain, to come up with other possibilities. With a disgruntled sigh, he retrieved an item from his tunic, the magic wand his master left to him, and presented it to the shopkeeper for inspection.

“This is all I have at the moment,” he heard himself say, and he tried to distance himself from the most grievous of errors he committed by allowing another to lay a hand on the item. It wasn’t that Fruben didn’t need the wand to complete the ritual he was buying, he needed the results of ritual to pay for itself and to help keep his practice in practice. Rather, it was the idea of making sacrifices just to make ends meet, and the justification of those sacrifices were an evil unto themselves.

The lesson he missed most, which his master had failed to impart, was how to achieve one’s intellectual pursuits while keeping a full stomach and a roof over one’s head. His master had always made it look so effortless.

“When I have payment, I’ll be back for that wand.” He added: “I should easily have it to you in the next few days. If you haven’t seen me by then,” he swallowed hesitantly. “You can keep it. Or, well, you can sell it.”