The Wandering Wizard
I tripped as Ginette continued to run away from the guards behind us, dragging me with her. Her hand let go of mine as we turned down another corner, she was faster than I. I tripped again, dress tearing, landing face first on the wet hard sewer surface, close to falling headfirst into the sewer canal. I barely had enough time to look up and see Ginette making yet another turn, the light of her torch disappearing before my very eyes.
I carefully got up onto my hands and knees, shaking. I looked into the blackness, hearing nothing but drips, the hurried scurry of another rat, but the guards were gone.
The guards were gone? How?
I shivered, waiting in fear for my only friend. She never came back. I wanted to scream for help in that inky blackness. I stayed silent, racking my racing mind for a plan.
I froze. Something splashed in a puddle, close to me. I didn’t do anything, and then snatched by the unseen person, a hand forced against my mouth. I was pulled backwards, and I fought to free myself. I got free, but my hand was grabbed and an orange glow suddenly lit up the area. I was hovering right over the sludge when I should have fallen in. I turned to look at what or who was holding my hand.
A young man in billowy purple robes and droopy pointed hat stood there, gnarled and knotted staff in his other hand, eyes aflame with energy. He was seriously focused, looking straight at me. I gasped at the stranger, a wizard.
“Come towards me, slowly. It will be alright, I promise, but you need to trust me.”
I took a timid step towards him. He gave me an encouraging look, determined not to let me fall into the canal.
“Come on, that’s it. I’m not going to let you fall in.”
“Who are you?”
“I am Verulus, a wandering wizard. Are you the Lady Alys? A knight named Sir Aindrias tasked me to meet you in here.”
I took another step towards him, then finally onto the stone floor, now safe. “Yes, I am Alys, though lady I am no longer.”
The wizard looked around, frowning. “Was there not supposed to be another with you? I believe a girl?”
Alys looked down. “Yes, my friend Ginette was supposed to be with me and she got ahead of me when we ran.”
“My apologies, Alys, but we must go on without her.”
“Go on without her?! I am not leaving my friend behind!”
“But she may have been captured, and my orders were to get you to safety, with or without your friend.”
“I’m not leaving her! I’m going to look for her, if you will not help me then fine!” I turned away from him, furious, and started stomping off in the direction I last saw my friend.
The wizard sighed, shaking his head. “Will you be willing to make a compromise with me?”
“What are your terms?”
“I can use a spell to show you what your friend is up to. If she is captured, we leave without her. If by chance she is safe, then I will get her after getting you to safety. You are my priority, Alys. Sir Aindrias threatened to have my head if I do not bring you to safety.”
“Alright, I accept your terms. If she is captured, there is nothing good I can do.”
He nodded and approached the closest wall of the sewer, passing his hand over the rough, damp stone. “Wis mi wyt uk neu kyn seun neu, wis mi Ginette!”
He smacked the stone with the top end of his staff and an image appeared on the stone. I watched, useless, as I watched Ginette arrested before my eyes. She was grabbed by the arms and hit several times over. I was almost thankful that I could not hear her cries. I had to cover my eyes from the horror before me and let out a gasping sob.
Verulus disrupted the image with a wave of his staff before he put a hand on my shoulder, a feeble attempt to console me. “I’m sorry, Alys. We need to go.”
I just nodded, unable to speak.
“Vurplyys ny deu Wandering Wizard tyvurnu.” He tapped the end of the staff on the stone beneath him.
I felt the floor beneath me drop, suddenly disappearing all together. I glanced down, seeing nothing but a vast void. No wind, no smell, just the eerie blue light from Verulus’ staff. I clung to Verulus, fearing I may drop into the endless void. He glanced at me with a grin.
“You are brave to be keeping your eyes open through this! We’re almost there! You’ll probably pass out once we’re there, just as a heads up.” His voice echoed around me.
“Why will I pass out?” I shouted my question at him.
“Most people that aren’t performing the spell itself just do in general. Wizards, witches, the Sorceresses of Herathana, anyone who can use magic won’t pass out. Look in front of you, there’s our stop!”
I look in front of us; a door was lit in the same eerie blue light as his staff. Without a wave or command, the door opened, revealing a lightless, void like room. I shut my eyes, afraid of the unknown. A floor reappeared beneath my feet, sounds of a busy bar and cheering patrons greeted my ears. A door squeaked opened in front of me.
I opened my eyes a bit, the room before me was lit by the rising moon’s glow through a window. I relaxed, this was the tavern, and I was standing in a closet.
Verulus left my side and looked at me, puzzled. “Do you practice magic, Alys?”
“No. Am I supposed to be unconscious as you said?”
“Yes. Perhaps it means you have the potential to be a caster? I am unsure; my Master never explained that to me.”
“As far as I know, my mother and I do not have any magic, despite the rumors of her being a black witch.”
Verulus scowled. “News of Black witches is not good news, even if it is just a rumor. I’ll have to bring this up to the Vale Council.”
“Vale? You mean the flying city of casters?”
“Right you are, Alys. I think that would be an excellent place to go to next. I can bring you there, and the Council can see whether or not you have magic blood. You’d even be safe there.”
I opened my mouth to speak, but the door to the room burst open. A pregnant woman of perhaps thirty years, brown haired and skin kissed by the sun and heavily freckled, was beyond pissed off.
“Verulus, how many times must I tell you to enter here like a normal person? I’m not your servant, for Corhilios’ sake! You always do this, appear in and then send a little weasel to me to let me know you’re here.”
Verulus smiled, feigning innocence. “Nice to see you too, Meryl. I would’ve entered like a normal person, but I have some special company joining us this evening.” He gestured to me.
She saw me and her seething anger washed away. “My Lady Alys, please forgive me for not bowing.”
“There is nothing to forgive, and I am no longer a Lady. Please just call me Alys.” I curtsied.
“As you wish, Alys, welcome to the Wandering Wizard tavern. Brother, why was I not told of this?” Meryl put a hand on her stomach.
“You would’ve brought attention to her if you had been told. I just helped her escape from the Manor Irinis. Is Sir Aindrias here?”
“No, but I know he has reserved a room for this night. I’m sure you both are hungry?”
My stomach growled loudly, pain rising up in my gut. I flinched. “I must admit I did not eat my dinner.”
She nodded. “Judging from that roar, I must agree. I’ll bring you to an empty room, and some nicer clothes than that oversized rag. I’ll also send you one of my serving girls to aid you in a bath and whatever else you need.”
I watched as Meryl started to leave the room, still babbling about what she’ll do for me. Verulus chuckled.
“I knew she’d make a fuss about you in some way. I’m glad she’s not shouting that a noble is here for the night, at least. Go ahead and follow her, I’ll see you soon. Oh, and please do not worry about the food being poisoned. I know exactly who cooks the meals here, and my sister owns the tavern, so I trust her.”
Meryl came back, having realized I was not following her. She
smiled and we left the room.