Justine & Malick the Magician
Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Rylos, there was a young girl named Justine. Justine had the most beautiful hair in all the kingdom. It was strawberry blonde, very long and curly. Her hair reached all the way down to the back of her knees. Justine lived with her father in a small cottage at the edge of the woods.
“If we don’t pay our taxes of seven gold coins to King Rylos in one week we will lose our home! How will we ever come up with that kind of money?” cried the father.
“You always told me stories of a great magician. I could go to him for help,” said Justine.
“Oh Malick the magician was fired by King Rylos five years ago. He is too old and can’t do magic as he once could. He lives deep in the woods somewhere. The King replaced Malick with a cruel, young sorceress named Ricki. There’s no way that that witch Ricki will help us. All she cares about is herself and they say she has terrible temper tantrums when she doesn’t get her own way,” said the father.
The next morning Justine decided to hike into the woods in search of old Malick the magician. Everyone in the kingdom knew that in three days King Rylos would hold his annual magic competition. There was a prize of one hundred gold coins to the one with the strongest magic. Justine hoped she could talk the old wizard into entering the King’s magic contest. If Malick could win he would surely share seven of his gold coins to save her home.
Justine wandered deeper and deeper into the woods. It was starting to get dark and the girl with the long, curly hair had lost her way. Then she heard someone mumbling to himself. It sounded very strange to her, but if she listened carefully she could make out some of the magic words whispered in the wind. It sounded like “wicca, wicca tricka, tricka.” Was it a joke? Again she heard the strange voice call out “wicca, wicca, tricka, tricka.” She walked slowly towards the voice and saw a very old man kneeling over a fire.
“Excuse me sir, are you Malick the magician?”
“Who wants to know?” replied the old wizard grumpily.
“I do sir. My name is Justine O’Donnell. I live outside the woods in a small cottage with my father.”
“What do you want?” old Malick yelled.
“I have come for your help sir. My father has told me stories of a great magician named Malick. We need seven gold coins by next week to pay King Rylos our taxes or we will lose our home.”
“I have no gold my girl,” said Malick.
“But you do have magic,” cried Justine. “And that’s all we need. There is a magic contest the King is holding in six days. The one with the greatest magic wins one hundred gold coins.”
“I’m retired,” grumbled Malick. “I’m getting too old to perform magic the way I once could.”
“I believe you can still do great magic. I believe you can beat the sorceress Ricki. Please help me sir. You are our only hope,” pleaded Justine.
“I will think about it. Maybe I will show up for the competition. Maybe I won’t,” growled Malick.
Old Malick the magician walked the girl back to the edge of the woods until she could see her home.
“Go now,” Malick ordered.
“Will you come to the magic contest?” persisted Justine
Malick frowned deep in thought a faraway look in his eyes.
“I will try, but no promises.” said Malick.
It was the day of the King’s magic competition and everyone was at the center of town. Justine spotted the greedy and fat King Rylos with the young, pretty, dark-haired witch Ricki standing at his side. A wizard from the North was also there.
“Not much competition this year,” laughed the sorceress Ricki. But then from a group of old trees Malick appeared. And somehow he appeared younger and walked with a spring in his step. The townspeople went quiet. No one had expected old Malick. In fact, he hadn’t been seen for years. Some believed he had died.
“Oh please,” scoffed Ricki laughing trying to hide her fear. “You think you can beat me old man? You are a fool to come here today.”
“Oh Ricki you’re not so tricky,” mocked old Malick.
Someone in the crowd giggled. Ricki looked horrified anyone would dare laugh at her. She was deeply insulted.
“How dare you talk to me that way you old fool. You were good once Malick, but you are too old now and are pretty much good for nothing. Go home and leave the real magicians to do their tricks.”
“We’ll see,” warned Malick. “We’ll see if old has anything to do with it.”
Ricki cringed and made an ugly face like she was constipated. There was something in the old magician’s tone she didn’t care for.
Tristan the wizard of the North lands was the first to show what he could do.
“Wind of the north and wind of the east, give these townsfolk an excellent feast.”
Suddenly many long tables appeared with plenty of food and drink for all. The people all cheered for the wizard of the North.
Ricki smirked like it was a children’s show. “Oh wow,” mocked Ricki. “I wish my magic was so tricky. Enough of these baby tricks. Summer west winds and eye of rat, wizard of the North now you’re a bat.”
The townspeople watched in horror as Tristan the wizard was turned into a bat. Ricki smiled and glared over at Malick. Now it was his turn.
“Autumn winds, leaves blown all about, now the King’s nose is a big pig snout.” All the people laughed at King Rylos and he became very angry.
“It’s the girl Justine’s fault,” screamed the King. “She brought Malick the magician back here. He was supposed to be retired! This isn’t fair,” wailed the King.
But Ricki was not impressed. There was a bad attitude pout on her face. “I will take care of both of them,” vowed Ricki. “So you still think this old fool can beat me little girl?”
“I believe Malick will beat you,” cried Justine.
“How about a little bet then to test if you really believe?” challenged Ricki.
“What kind of bet?” asked Justine.
“Will you bet all your long, lovely red hair?” asked Ricki with an evil smile. “If I win you get all your hair cut off. I can use your hair for a spell I’ve been cooking up,” smiled Ricki. “If you really believe this old fool’s magic is greater than mine?” the sorceress laughed.
“And if Malick wins then what?” was the reply.
What insolence! Ricki thought. She frowned at the long-haired child. “If Malick wins then I will be banished from the kingdom of Rylos for all time, never to return.”
“She’s only jealous of your hair. Ricki knows you’re the only one in Rylos with hair longer and more beautiful than hers. She understands all too well a woman’s power is in her hair. “And young Ricki knows the power of belief,” said Malick.
“I believe Malick’s magic is stronger than yours Sorceress Ricki and I take your bet,” said Justine confidently.
The crowd of townspeople went quiet. Ricki gasped. What an insolent child. How dare she? No one could believe a young girl like Justine would ever stand up to a powerful sorceress like Ricki.
Ricki’s face went dark. “Now let’s do some real magic Malick,” she hissed. The townspeople took a step back as Ricki made water rise up out of a pail. “Water make a ring go higher. Witches’ swamp, mud and mire, ring of water burst into fire.” The crowd stood still in horror as they witnessed a ring of water burning in the air.
“That’s impossible!” cried Justine.
“Not for the great sorceress Ricki, child. Looks like a good day for a haircut,” cackled Ricki.
“Not yet witch,” bellowed Malick. Malick the magician knew a secret no one else did except for Justine’s father. Malick was Justine’s Grandfather. His granddaughter had shown great bravery and had believed in him when nobody else did. This act of faith made old Malick feel as strong and powerful as when he had been young. The love he felt for Justine made him feel even stronger.
“There will be no haircuts today!” Malick commanded.
The crowd stepped back in amazement as Malick raised his hands. Justine was lifted into the air so she was levitated four feet above the ground. Her long, beautiful strawberry blonde hair was almost as long as her body. It was then the townsfolk heard the old magician’s mumblings. “Wicca, wicca, tricka, tricka. Three fire rings; quicka, quicka.”
The people bore witness as three large rings of fire appeared around Justine. One wrapped around her feet, one around her waist and the last ring glowed blue around her head. “East winter winds and a King’s pig snout, now I put this fire out!”
By the time the smoke cleared Justine was nowhere to be seen. She had disappeared and the King had his big, ugly old nose back on his fat face. For the first time in the day’s festivities Ricki looked scared. Malick was back.
“You will leave this place forever witch or I will turn you into a fat pig. And you King Rylos will pay up my winnings of one hundred gold coins,” said Malick in a commanding voice. “I will pay the taxes and you will leave Justine and her father alone unless you want a pig snout again.”
King Rylos said nothing. He stared off into the forest at the edge of town thinking to himself. There was a long moment of silence. No one had ever ordered the King around before. But King Rylos paid Malick the magician his gold very quickly and never demanded taxes from Justine’s father again. As for the wicked witch Ricki, she was horrified at the thought of living the rest of her days as a pig and losing her youth and beauty. So Ricki performed a disappearing act of her own. She was never seen in the kingdom of Rylos again.
Ever since that great day, Malick the magician was never called an old fool again. The old magician used his gold to build a bigger home for Justine where Grandfather, father, and daughter lived happily together. Stories were whispered in the pubs and shops about great magicians and the olden days. And there were tales of a bat flying around town. No one needed to tell the townsfolk his name.