fiction gallery

The Wizard

April 20th, 2013

by Robin Wyatt Dunn

Chock a block, I ride now but I know what has come for us.  Cough, man, ride it under here:  I smell a man in a wind.  The fell whirl was right in the way:  obnoxious.  Slippery and hungry.  It knows we are here but it cannot come closer.  I must dance.

Why a hat?  Only tradition?  It does keep the rain from my short beard.  What can you see, here?  Have you been to Eneffria?  Let me show you.  I live in a weir, under the Cliff of Saints, and my people are gone, gone away to the south.  If we are to live here again I must succeed.  I must succeed.  I am fortunate to have my boy with me.

“Make the fire, boy.  I must think.”  He is a good boy.  Only nine, but strong and intelligent.

It is growing dark faster, here in the month of Janus.  Guardian of gates and ways, beginnings and ends.  In Roman times his temple was closed only in times of peace.  Of course I may worship openly now.  And what does it mean for a war to end?  There is always another.

“Which way do we go now, wizard?” asks the boy.  He is not my son, but my servant, given me to educate.  I do not think he will be a wizard.  A messenger, perhaps.  Or a bailiff.

“Eat, boy.”

He eats. 

“We continue east,” I tell him.  “It will be cold.  Take my sweater from my pack.  You’ll need it.”

Chock a block, I hack and weave, I am only some small center but I am here still, I breathe, I breathe, I know what you intend, being, old being and young, I know you think to live here but you will not.

I have my limits, though I admit I do not know what they are.  Have you seen the beings come?  Or felt them, anyway?  Some dismiss it as madness but this is always the way of it:  that which is dismissed grows, grows wide and angry, like a dismissed servant, come back to reap his justice.

The being wants to live here, you see, just another interdimensional traveler.  I can smell it in the wind.  Feel it on my skin.  Taste it on my tongue.  Not evil, the term is meaningless, merely hungry and foreign, which is enough. 

I have heard of them of course.  But only in stories and in books and once, a man came from the far north, a man I knew was soon to die, and he told me that they move in ranks, three across, like columns of air, follow the chill in and you can wound it, maybe even kill it, with the right spell.  But he did not know what the right spell would be.  Fire seems wrong.  And I am not good with ice.

The boy holds tight to my waist as we ride.  I turn my head and say, “Do you feel the chill?”

The boy nods.  He is afraid.  But he is a brave boy.  It would be better to leave him, of course, and come back.  But I have run out of time.  He would not do well alone here with these approaching things.

And then I am choking.  The column of cold, running along this long and narrow valley, right through the middle of it, is trying to shift me out of its path, into an eddy where I can be its food.  I cannot breathe.

“Wizard!” shouts the boy.  He shouts into my ear but I can barely hear him. 

I open my mouth:

“Gold wind and sigh,” I say through gritted teeth.  “You come for my boy?”  And maybe the wind laughs, I do not know, but I get in a small breath. 

I turn and seize the boy and toss him, curling him as I toss, like a sack of flour, I know he will land well.  I grab the reins and turn, and leap from my horse;  the boy is screaming.  He knows I am using him as bait.

He lands in grass and rolls, and where he stops he starts to cough.  I stand with my left hand in front of me, my hand of power.

I move my left foot forward and there is a sound, like a woman, young or old, I do not know, the wind is speaking.  The she-wind says:

“I felt a breath on my back I thought it was him, are you come?  Are you come to me?  Please, lord, be come.  Bring your boy too.”

The sky is strange.  I am only a man, whatever others say.  Only one man.  Colors are moving over the mountains.

I whisper:  “Yes, she-wind, I am he, come to you.  Show yourself to me.”

And now she sounds like half a man:  “How do I know that you are he?”

And I see a twitch by the boy’s head and leap for it, clutching air in my left hand and I have it, somehow, it wants to enter my body but I will not let it, some key, some servant of this unwelcome visitor.

The wind moans.  I thrust the wind-key into my sabretache, it twisting in my hand.  And I lift up the boy and tie him to my waist on the horse.  He will be fine.

We ride, we ride deeper into the valley and it is night now, though it came too soon.  The boy is awake now but he says nothing.  And the she-wind whispers now to me constantly, telling me how she will serve me with her body, with her eyes, with her mouth, with her cunt.  I find I am grinning, a death grin, I breathe deep to smell where the coldest path is into the center of this thing.

The boy is crying, but quietly.

Chock-a-block, people of mine.  You told me I was unneeded;  I suppose I am sorry you were wrong.  We will always need magic again.  Though it changes us in ways we never wish.

I am screaming, and I drive my fist into the cold and it is outrageous, this thing is amused, and the boys eyes are on fire, blue fire, and I scream:

“Die, by wail and weal, old hunter in this night of ours.  I hunt here, not you!”

And I begin my chant, though blood oozes from my pores.

“Right and real, understeel:  by fast or feel we greet you undergoer overshaker, by hail wrack and deals old and forgotten, we have our hoar and we have our WET MAY, old May that never was!  Old May who dies!  Old May who wed Vulcan and killed him after April left!  You have none!”

More from my anger than my words it stills;  the sky changes.  Because I belong here. 

“Boy.  Do you see it leave?”

But the boy’s smile is not right and I slap him, then I shake him, hard.  Then I look in his eyes again, and his fear is back.  Fear is so healthy.

“Are you ready to leave?”

He can only nod.

At night we camp again.  It is better.

“What is a spirit, really, boy?  What is the difference between the darkness in me and the darkness that covers the sky?”

“I don’t know, Wizard.”

“What did you see, there when I killed the wind?”

“You didn’t kill it.”

“What did you see?”

“I saw you, your eyes, they were like . . . like the sky, you’re right.  Dark, and blue, and then I was asleep, but I could hear you.”

“I fear you may become a wizard like me, boy.”

“That’s what I want, Wizard.  To be a wizard, like you.”

“Why would you want that?”

“Because I love you.”

“That is not a good reason.  Eat the rest of the soup, I am not hungry.”

We return to our village and I make the signs that will bring our people back; a knock on the mountaintop, and a fire in our field.

I stand by the boy at the blaze and hold my hand on his shoulder, watching the flames.  With my other hand I toss my sabretache into the fire.

Be Sociable, Share!

One Response to “The Wizard”

  1. […] years, publishing over 40 short stories, poems, and flash fiction in a number of places, such as Phantasmacore, and The Blue Hour. He also has contributed stories in anthologies from West Pigeon Press, Echelon […]

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Theme by Sash Lewis.