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Glowing Hair and Fireballs

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“And for your thievery, your crimes, I will take the thing most dear to you! Your firstborn!” The witch roared at Taako and Lup’s uncle, who had presumably gotten into yet another mess. Lup assumed it had something to do with the errand their uncle ran in the middle of the night. He ranked second to last on their list of relatives turned foster guardians though, so she was happy to say good riddance to him. The women, who had come crashing through the front door, turned to the twins. “Now, dears, which of you is the older one?”

“I am!” Lup shouted, a split second before Taako yelled the same. The two shared a look. The witch turned to their uncle, who just shrugged.

“Right then, I’ll just take both of you!” Before either of them had a chance to protest, the witch waved her hands, and the world turned black.

Ten Years Later

Lup and Taako sat at their aunt’s kitchen table. She wasn’t really their aunt, but she was the closest thing they had to a good one. It hadn’t taken her long to figure out that the twins were as happy to be out of their uncle’s house as their uncle was to have them gone. Gothel had wreaked more havoc on their uncle’s life for ransacking her garden, but she wasn’t going to punish the twins for their bad luck of being related to the piece of shit. The twins were just happy to have a decent place to live and someone who was happy to let them go about their lives. It didn’t hurt that she bribed them with promises of being taught magic and cooking, which they happily learned.

“I can’t believe they promoted that jackass over me!” Taako was sprawled on the bench, complaining to his sister about his no longer new job at the town’s bakery.

“It has only been a month, Ko. Sazed has been there for what, two years now?”

“Experience is nothing to talent! He can barely separate egg whites, fantasy jesus christ!” Taako slumped himself over the table, laying his head in his arms.

“Then quit.” Taako had been working for a month, and Lup had been hearing about the gross incompetence of apparently everyone else there for the same amount of time. He perked up, throwing her a side eye.

“Don’t tempt me like this, Lulu.”

“We’re wizards, and damn good ones. We can make money other ways.”

“Like what?” He had a point. Their magic wasn’t exactly accepted in the village. If Taako transmuted flour into sugar, or Lup lit a match too easily, no one needed to be the wiser. But to show it off? The twins didn’t care much about their reputation, but they did need money, and transmuted food could only be filling for so long. Taako and Lup stared at each other for a minute, before Lup’s eyes lit up.

“A scam. The scam to end all scams.” She added a flourish with her hands, and Taako’s eyes lit up as well. The two were no strangers to gambling and . . . technically not cheating but somehow always winning, and they were expert pickpockets when they were younger, but a scam? In their wheelhouse, sure, but definitely new and definitely exciting. “You know how everyone in town is like. Gossip spreads far. And we live in the middle of nowhere. Give them a damsel in distress and a reward, and everyone and their mother will be barking at our doorstep.”

“Lup, you’re just creating more problems. Living in the middle of nowhere means no one comes here. That’s how we all like it!”

“They don’t have to come here. They just have to come to the woods. What about the old tower?”

“I’m pretty sure that a stiff breeze would knock that thing down.” Lup rolled her eyes at the comment.

“Yeah, okay, it’s in shitty condition, but it’s abandoned! We’ll fix it up so that its structurally sound, but the decay will just add to the charm!”

“Okay, so we maybe have a location. What’s your grand plan for making money off of it?”

“Simple! We’ll spread some story about some far-away princess, played by yours truly, being ‘locked away’ in the tower by an evil wizard—that’s you. We can offer my hand in marriage or whatever, and the knights will start trickling in. No knight is going to want to admit that they’ve been defeated by a wizard, so no one’s going to complain about a few stolen goods. We get to kick some pretentious ass, show off our magic skills, and make some money. It’s a win-win!” Lup sat back, looking proud of herself at the plan she came up with. “Plus, no more bakery.” At that final comment, Taako was all but ready to start figuring out the finer details of the plan, but he wasn’t going to give Lup the satisfaction of him agreeing right away.

“Alright, say we go with your plan. How are we going to explain it to Auntie? You know she won’t like us using magic like this. She always goes on and on about how its unfairly demonized. She would hate us doing a scam that involves an evil wizard.”

Lup worried her lip with her teeth before saying, “Does Auntie really need to know? You know how she is, always going to the latest coven meeting. She rarely goes into town, and she’s only here from time to time. It wouldn't be that hard to keep it from her.” Taako quirked an eyebrow at her. “Just think of this as our way to pay her back! We’ll just say I got a job in town and store the rest of the money for a rainy day. Come on, Taako. We can pull this off.” Taako paused for a moment, dragging out the suspense even though he already knew he was going to agree.

“Fine. Lets find that tower and kick some ass.”

“Hell yeah! No more bakery!”

“No more bakery!”