The tall, thin and rather severe looking man leant over Phlebotomous who was strapped into a chair.

“Soon, my vampiric friend, this machine will suck all of the magic out of you and will give it to me, making me powerful beyond belief,” he said. The glint in his eye suggested a manic cackle was imminent.

“You can’t do this,” said Phlebotomous.

“Oh yes I can,” said the man.

“No, you can’t,” said Phlebotomous. “Your main capacitor is overloaded by too many inputs, there is a dampener in the wrong place on the output, and the whole device is chronically short of power.”

Phlebotomous nodded to the large machine that he was connected to.

“How stupid do you think I am?” said the tall man.

“From the state of the wiring, I would guess slightly above average intelligence?” said Phlebotomous earnestly.

“Silence!” roared the man. “I am a genius!”

“Not with wiring,” said Phlebotomous, which earned him a glare.

“It’s ironic, isn’t it?” started the tall man.

“What is?” said Phlebotomous.

“What I’m about to tell you,” said the man irritably.

“Oh, then I don’t know,” said Phlebotomous.

“Don’t know what?” said the man.

“If it’s ironic or not, since I don’t know what it is yet,” said Phlebotomous.

“I know you don’t know, that’s why I’m telling you,” said the man.

“Then why did you ask my opinion on whether it was ironic?” said Phlebotomous.

“It… it was a rhetorical question!” said the man.

“Oh!” said Phlebotomous. “One of those questions you’re not supposed to answer.”

“Exactly,” said the man. “Now, have you quite finished interrupting me?”

There was an awkward pause and Phlebotomous squirmed in his chair.

“Is that rhetorical?” he said.

“Yes! No! I don’t know,” said the man. “Anyway, my point is this: It is ironic that I spent so many months going to so many magic shows to find a magical creature on the stage, when one should be in the audience.”

“That doesn’t sound ironic,” said Phlebotomous. “I can see a distinct causal link.”

“Don’t try my patience,” snapped the man. “You see I recognised you straight away from the church. From the day your friends attacked it.”

“Oh!” said Phlebotomous, “You must be one of those Draco Viridis people.”

“We do not speak of that order,” said the man, lips pursed. “It failed in all its aims and was rightfully disbanded in disgrace.”

“Are you one of those people who wanted me to bite them?” asked Phlebotomous.

“No, I have no desire to be a shadow, working in the dark,” said the tall man. “Forever driven to madness by hunger.”

“Oh things aren’t that bad,” said Phlebotomous. “We have electric lights now and I have developed a delicious plant-based alternative to human blood.”

“Enough of you chatter,” said the man. “We will commence the power transference.”

He walked away with a manic grin on his face.

“It still won’t work,” said Phlebotomous. “And your story isn’t ironic. What is ironic is going to see a show thinking it’s automata pretending to be spirits, and finding it’s spirits pretending to be automata.”

The man paused in front of a giant lever marked ON.

“What did you just say?” he said.

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