I don’t understand at all, which I’m reckoning he should know. He clearly does, because he goes on, ‘The man you met today was once a member of the Sorcery Council. Your mother will have mentioned that we are the cosmos-wide umbrella organization of all immortal practitioners of Magic. You witches are strictly speaking not our responsibility, but I have come to suspect that… we may have… made some mistakes in our dealings with you in the past.’ Rolf grips his staff with both hands and looks straight ahead. ‘Which is why we are left with situations like the one today. Which is why I am here… talking to you.’ He promptly falls silent, and stays it.

When nothing’s forthcoming after what seems like an age, I decide to get the show back on the road. ‘So, this guy… isn’t dead?’

Rolf slowly turns his head to face me. ‘Oh, he is. But he has had it coming for a long time.’ Well, we all kinda have, I’m thinking, which sure surprises me. It’s a pretty novel thought for a thirteen-year-old. I frown at Rolf.

‘You see, we members of the Council are bound by a strict moral code,’ he continues, real deliberately, as if he’s gotta get his head around it himself while he’s talking. ‘Selflessness and impartiality are part of it. If we violate this code we lose our powers, and hence our immortality. Now I’m afraid to say that your kind and mine have not always been on the best of terms. This is because you witches and warlocks are not bound by any moral codes, and you do not lose your powers if you act immorally. Which has given rise to a certain… dislike of you among some of my Fellows. The chap you met this morning had a run-in with a witch many years ago. He was convinced he had the moral high ground, but, as it transpired, he hadn’t. He was excluded – from the Council, from Magic, and from immortality. This is not something we Fellows bring about, you understand. It happens… automatically, as it were. Anyway, since he originally hailed from this world where you live, he has been walking it since. You will have noticed a taut sort of emptiness emanating from him. You might have perceived that this is the utter absence of Magic in him. It signifies, as we say, that he is in the red. His proximity and intent on her caused your sister to hurt herself before he even touched her. And here comes the important part.’