Part 1: The Wizard
The Boy sat in a room, while his master attempted to put him to sleep through laborious speech.
The Boy was neither tall nor short, heavy nor thin, hair a mix between brown and black, the perfect attempt by nature to create the average specimen of humanity.
He had one redeeming trait, he was not stupid.
Each villager had residency requirements, you must have a job, you must adhere to the village council, and you must attempt a certain amount of civility.
His master spoke some more while the boy reflected, words passing through his mind as if a breeze.
Before his current career, he had attempted many others, with his last in the surgical field. The Boy had 3 months with each career choice, 3 months to find if that’s the job for him, as everyone knows that your job defines who you are.
Thus The Boy had trained to be a surgeon, but the sight of blood turned him away, and down, and normally onto his face in a most painful manner.
It’s the fact that it just flows right out of people, a lazy red river swimming away from their veins.
The first bleed he saw, The Boy had hardly noticed the red pooling, going about his work, when and how had he changed? His surgical teacher tried, again and again, to shock The Boy with other people’s innards and inner workings, fainting occurred again and again. The Boy was not meant to be a surgeon. Now he found his new teacher strained his throat in an attempt to find The Boy a new and lasting career.
He was to be a Wizard it turns out, his father the surgeon, his prior teacher, did not approve. He had expected the boy to follow in his steps as he did his father. His disappointment was heavy, a cloak of shame smothering The Boy’s heart and soul. Yet one night the village elder appeared at his father’s home, changing his world.
*The Day Before*
The Boy and his father heard a wooden tap at the door. Father and son were sitting at the fireplace, the boy on a stool, the father in a chair, berating him for another failure he had to endure from his absent-minded son.
They lived in a house, unlike the huts that wound through the village. His mother’s failed paintings covered the walls, but good and expensive wood made up the infrastructure throughout the home shared by two. His mother passed just the year prior, a strange flux that had stricken many of the 100 villages.
The two rose in synchrony, the father taking heavy steps toward the door, wondering who could be knocking at this time of the night, the boy shuffled behind, scraping the floor with his soft-toed shoes and his head down, thinking nothing at all.
The father opened the door and was shocked to see the village elder, the sack of twig and bones leaned on a thin walking stick that shouldn’t bear his weight.
“You’ve failed too often boy” the village elder said, pointing his stick at The Boy, they had only seen the elder a few times and then not close, as he did not leave his house except for closed-door meetings.
This is an exception just for me The Boy thought.
The elder was speaking again but the boy’s mind wandered through the crevices, crags and crenulations of his wrinkles. The elder was said to be one-hundred years old, at least that’s what others told him. He was in fact so old that no one knew his age excepting himself.
The Boy’s father asked, “Elder, what does this mean, he can’t help that he is not fit for those job’s, what are we to do”.
The Twig closed one rheumy eye at the boy and said “You’re to be a wizard boy, as that’s the only career left for you, it’s become a wizard or die. The village will not send a useless person out into the world, nor will we accept one here”.
The Boy fainted, a lazy red river flowed from his broken nose.
Every villager must have a job so the village council say’s, wizard or die the village council says.
The Boy breathed quietly through his nose, not wondering atall how or who fixed it. It wasn’t a particularly attractive nose but nonetheless, it was indeed whole again.
So now he sits on the ground of a hollowed out tree whilst an old man with a beard yellowed from age and what may be charred walnuts, attempt’s to garble wisdom at his bored potential-apprentice.
Wizards gain apprentices whilst surgeons have students, what a strange trade.
The Boy felt the Wizard’s eyes focus on him and his slouching posture.
“As I was saying Boy, if you don’t listen to me, you’ll never earn your Staff”
Does he mean that thing he hides in his robe? The Boy thought.
He responded “What’s the point of earning a staff? Is it not just a stick a wizard considers special, whereas everyone else just sees a piece of wood?”
The wizard sucks in his yellow beard with a sudden intake of air, veins appearing on his forehead as if by….magic.
“YOU KNOW NOTHING OF WIZARD’S AND MAGIC!” he explodes, beard flying out of his mouth slightly more yellow, now with a lovely hint of orange.
The Boy’s eyes widen, he had never been spoken to in this manner by the surgeon or his other teachers.
“I..I….I was just asking a questionnn” the boy stammered. “I’m not a wizard yet and haven’t learned anything about magic before”.
The wizard, his apprentice now put into his place, calms and the veins magically disappear, he continues vibrating his vocal cords.
“All magic begins from the inside, we are the catalyst for creating unique natural as well as unnatural events”
“Natural magic is easy to begin and mold, whereas unnatural magic is difficult to begin and incredibly difficult to mold.’
“What’s the difference between natural magic and unnatural magic” The Boy asked
The wizard smiled, finally seeing some reaction from his potential-apprentice, he was a lower wizard, unable to do more than alter nature by touch. He hadn’t had an apprentice even once in his magical career, they always failed.
“Natural magic is exactly what you’re sitting in boy, I created this house out of an oak in this part of the forest myself. It’s the connection between the wizard, and the natural environment around them”.
The Boy thought on this, and opened the door to another thought.
“If natural magic is doing something like hollowing out a tree, what is unnatural magic”.
The wizard had never performed unnatural magic and never would, but he understood the rudimentary idea of it, as his master had taught him.
“Unnatural magic is violating the world’s natural laws, thus the term unnatural. Essentially, you create the same catalyst as you would with natural magic, only to change something into what it is not and could not be. This tree was hollowed out simply because I asked for this part of the tree to move to another part of the tree. It’s a conversation I had with Benifer here.”
The Boy leaned forward “you named the tree Benifer!”
“Of course not stupid boy!” the wizard admonished “Her name was Benifer when I made her”
“So she’s a girl tree?” The Boy asked.
“Tree’s don’t have gender’s boy, but when you’re out here alone for most of your life, the idea of being near a lady, even at my age, is of great comfort”
“Moving forward” said the wizard, “why have you not asked about when you will earn your own staff”.
“Because I don’t understand, if we’re the catalyst why do we need a staff”.
The wizard thrust his staff towards the boy so he could see it, it had an odd white pearlescent tone in many areas, as if it were becoming brittle and worn, with many spread out scratches and roughened areas. The grain in the wood moved in perfectly straight yet thin lines stacked against each other and the tip was shaped like a pinecone.
“This is my staff, I won’t tell you anything about how I’ve earned this staff, how you’ll earn your staff nor how the staff truly works. That is for each potential apprentice to learn on their own.”
“How will I learn this, sir” The Boy asked, attaching himself to the idea of becoming an almighty wizard with a great and powerful staff. Sea’s of enemies parted before him and young ladies threw bridal arrangement’s at his feet against custom.
“You’ll begin your journey in the morning, first you’ll eat a big meal, then I’ll set you on your path to becoming a true wizard apprentice, or to death, as those are your only two options”.
The Boy had thought all along that when the Village Elder had said to the death, he had been joking.
“Sir, do you mean to say that if I do not become your apprentice, you’ll kill me?” The Boy asked with fear touching his voice.
“I’m saying, if you don’t become a Wizard, the forest will kill you” The wizard responded in a heavy tone.