Gift of the Master

By Robert Fluegel All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Adventure

Conversation with a wizard

The haze surrounding my brain made it impossible to think. The room spun when I tried sitting up. Something the wizard said frightened me. What did he call me? Tommy, he called me Tommy. He knows. How did he discover my real name?

“In order to heal you I joined with your mind.” The wizard said, seemingly reading my mind again, “in essence I had to let your subconscious mind tell me what was wrong and how to fix it. The unfortunate part of that spell is you tell me everything, both past and present. Very few wizards are able or willing to do this type of magical healing. It is fraught with peril for both. Our friendship drove me to make the attempt but alas, I now understand why it is shunned.”

“Why would you regret saving me?” I asked, eyeing him with suspicion.

“It isn’t everyday a person finds out they don’t exist.”

I thought for a moment what that knowledge would do to the people I met in those stories. I imagined discovering the same thing about my own existence. What if someone was just reading my book and I wasn’t real?

“Don’t worry, my training, or should I say the way I have been written, allows me to accept reality and move on.” The wizard sat down on the end of my bed and puffed on his pipe. “I always worried that this was a bad habit. Now, I’ll smoke as much as I want!” He said, drawing deep on the long stem.

“Why did I almost die from a simple knife cut?” I asked.

“You were cut by a Qazeel knife forged hundreds of years ago by a being who had cast half of Mirador into shadow and darkness. It was said that when Qazeel forged these knifes he sealed his own blood on the blade giving it the power to kill a man within seconds of being pierced or even scratched. Of course now we know that is a load of foolishness. So I would imagine it was meant to add conflict to the plot.” He began laughing. I worried he had lost it. “This is going to be fun!” The wizard clapped his hands together.

“Then how am I still alive?”

“I believe several factors have worked in your favor. First and foremost is that it has been several hundred years since the forging of the knife (which I have since destroyed) and it lost much of its potency. I believe you also took a long pull of Korverin ale just before you were stabbed.

The ale worked to slow your heart which caused the poison to take longer to work its way through your body. So grabbing Unbar’s drink probably helped to save your life or perhaps the fact you are the main character and it is way too early in the story for you to die saved you. Who knows?”

Again he burst into laughter.

I laid back thinking about how lucky I was and how close my brush with death had been. Considering how close I was to dying, Mardel seemed to be having a good time of it.

“So as I see it, you have some decisions to make.” The wizard continued, turning serious, “After we figure out how to get you out of here I believe Ms. Amelia Sanbourne will be back to give you a second chance at your training. The question is; what will be your answer or perhaps what should be your answer?”

My head was spinning again. This time it had nothing to do with my weakened condition. I had never had a friend or felt comfortable confiding in anyone before but this man was different somehow. Despite his odd sense of what was funny, I knew I could trust him. The white haired wizard seemed like family to me. He had just saved my life. He had also been my favorite character in the story, maybe that helped.

“I said no to the first offer out of anger more than anything. I still don’t know if I should have said yes or not. I’m okay now but only an hour ago I almost died. If I had accepted I certainly wouldn’t be here. But she said something I didn’t like, I can’t remember it now.”

“Ah yes, if you accept you must agree to all without seeing all,” interjected the wizard.

“It would be a tricky proposition to accept all without knowing who is offering and what they offer. I’m not sure I would have accepted either. Of course I would surely accept considering I; how does it go? Walk the land in search of adventure, roaming from town to town in search of quests no matter how dangerous and take my journey simply for the enjoyment of the road and not the journey’s end?”

“I cannot imagine people of your world could be interested in such stories when they have such marvelous creations of their own. I know we have little time but really, you must tell me about airplanes. Do they really fly without magic? When I saw them in your mind and delved deeper I thought the spell must have gone awry. But then I saw your journey to the “Great Canyon” in the armored bird with such detail, I knew it was real.”

The wizard leaned forward, his green eyes lit with wonder.

“Please tell me, how does such a large piece of metal launch into the air and then stay there without magical aid? Your mind used the word jets but I could not comprehend what jets are. Please explain this to me and then we will work on your solution, I promise”

I didn’t see any harm in it so I told him all I knew about airplanes. It didn’t take long. I was no aviator, at least not yet, so I spent most of the next half hour saying I don’t know to his many questions.

“Thank you for indulging me.” The wizard’s eyes were still filled with wonder. “I have always been fascinated with flying and as of yet have not been to find a spell equal to the task. It is so much more educational to hear it from your lips than to read it from your mind. When a wizard extracts information from your mind there are holes. Although the information is all there, quite often, perspective is lost.”

“Now let us look at the situation as I believe it exists and if I may, I would like to offer you my assistance and advice.

First, we must get you out of this story and back to the safety of your room. In your previous attempt, your mother’s call is what I believe pulled you from the story. Nothing you did caused the event. Am I correct?”

“Yes” I said, “I was in the village and heard her voice calling my name. Then everything shifted and I found myself on my bedroom floor.”

“Okay then, her call pulled you out somehow. Does she check in on you nightly?” asked the wizard, starting to pace.

“Most of the time, yeah,” I tried to sit up but the room spun so I gave up the attempt.

“Then our job is to keep you unhurt until she calls on you. The only problem is that I believe there are rules associated with you being here. As I am sure you have noticed when you entered you have become the main character. The story shifts around you. The man with the knife was supposed to stab Unbar, our actual leader in the book. Instead, you were stabbed. It would be very dangerous to enter a book in which the main character dies, wouldn’t it?”

I was floored, he picked up all that just by reading my thoughts. All the clues I had missed.

“Although we must wait for your Mother’s call to pull you out, I would guess you could eventually learn to remove yourself. That is encouraging; especially if your mother does not call in time. We might have to figure out a way to get you of here on our own.

The wizard seemed to sense he had given me more than enough to consider so he stood by the window, growing silent for some time. I watched him standing there puffing on his pipe.

I had read dozens of mysteries and considered myself an expert at picking out the subtle clues hidden in the early chapters that gave away the ending of the story later. My image of myself as a sleuth was completely shattered.

“Would you accept her offer?” I asked, finally able to sit up a little in bed.

“I can’t make that decision for you. Wizards typically are apprenticed for years to train and protect them. Magic is dangerous if it is not controlled. It can destroy you. I do not know if it is magic that gives you this ability but it is power. If you do not learn to control your power, you will be in danger and perhaps be dangerous.”

“So you think I should accept the training?”

“No, I have given you every reason for accepting. Let me continue. The girl who visited you was obviously hiding something. She never told you how she knew about your gift. She never told you how she knew you had recently returned from your first book journey.

Her offer is troubling as well. Accept all without knowing all. I can’t imagine accepting such an offer. She seemed to expect acceptance without any further explanation.”

Stopping for a moment and putting down his pipe the wizard sat next to me again.

“There you have it, many reasons to accept and many reasons not to. I believe I have given you what Aoki would refer to as a ‘wizards’ answer,” he chuckled.

Seeing that I didn’t get his little joke he grew more serious.

“I would like to tell you which is correct but in all honesty I do not know myself. Perhaps some new event will help make your decision easier. Now, if you will excuse me, I think I can make your stay in this world easier.”

The wizard stood and left the room for a short time.

“There, that should help,” he said when he returned.

“What did you do?” I asked.

“I told Unbar and Aoki that the spell I used to heal you has wiped some of your memory away. You will need to be re-trained in the use of weapons and perhaps other simple skills we take for granted. That should cover you for now. Unbar already has you scheduled for staff and sword training and Aoki for tracking as soon as we have left the city.”

“That was a pretty smart idea.” I said in admiration.

The Wizard said nothing. He just smiled and continued puffing on his pipe. We both turned our heads as the door to the hallway opened and Unbar’s huge shape appeared in the doorframe with Aoki behind him.

“You have healed him?” Aoki said, a sob escaping her.

I felt a little guilt at having my long conversation with Mardel while my other friends were worrying about me.

“It appears I will not be dying just yet.” I said, trying to be funny.

“Ow” I yelped as Aoki punched me and not too softly.

“Well at least I took my gloves off,” she said, smiling through her tears.

“What did you do that for?” I said, rubbing his arm.

“That was for making me cry. A warrior doesn’t cry.”

“Bah, I cry all the time.” said Unbar with a smirk. “Just a few hours ago I shed several tears over my ale being shattered over an assassin’s head.”

That started all of us laughing. Aoki decided that Unbar’s comments merited a punch as well which she quickly regretted.

It was her who now said, “Ow! When will I learn not to hit you without my gloves? It is like punching stone.”

The warrior laughed all the more with Mardel and I joining him. Eventually Aoki joined in on the mirth although she was still shaking her bruised hand.

The laughter seemed to work better than Mardel’s magic at clearing out the last weakness of the spell. I felt much better and was about to jump out of bed to surprise them when I realized I had no pants on. I quickly pulled the covers back over myself hoping Aoki hadn’t noticed. She didn’t seem to other than a slight flush in her cheeks I prayed was from the laughter.

“Our meeting with the business man approaches. I believe our fine leader has the strength to attend if he is so inclined,” said the wizard.

“Yes I’ll go if I can have my pants back.” I said which sent more waves of laughter through the group.

Mardel tossed my clothes onto the bed and suggested they give me some privacy for a moment. He and Unbar left but Aoki lingered behind and sat on the bed next to me.

“Tomeri, I have suppressed this for so long. Then I see you lying in that bed dying and the healer tells us there is no hope. I kept thinking I had waited too long. All this time I thought I had in the future and now there was no future. I realized what a fool I had been. Waiting for some unforeseen time when we would stop doing this and settle down. I know now that we will never settle down. I do not lament it. I do not want to change what we are. I love who we are.”

She paused for a moment and leaned closer.

“I love who we are, but more than that Tomeri… I love you.”

She leaned towards me and her lips met mine in the longest, most wonderful kiss ever written in a story book (or at least I thought). Her scent intoxicated me, her lips were like delicate flower petals. She pulled away and stood, smiling.

“I don’t expect romance from a warrior or even a relationship. I just needed to tell you how I feel,” she paused, “just in case.”

She turned and without another word, left the room.

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