Story for the Day: The Marridon Wizard
Marridon is in general not a magical society. When they came to the west from the Olde Kyngdom of Adieth, Marridonians threw off their magical inheritance and their Gods in favour of a more scientific approach to life. While they do acknowledge that magic does still exist, Marridonians now are little disposed to care for it, but there are a select few who still like to keep to the old ways:
A champion for the ancient wonders of Adieth and a devout fondling of Myrellenos, Captain Danaco Divelima made himself a friend to the wizards of Marridon, and when there was an injusticeto be corrected or a crime against them to be answered for, he would listen and respond accordingly. He had a longstanding affection for the old and extraordinary, and Marridon’s magical practitioners, if not the former, were certainly the latter in many respects. Their wizened aspects rapt in eternal concentration, their noses planted firmly in their ancient tomes, their companions perching on their shoulders or lounging in laps, their apprentices running busily about spoke to that sincere part of the captain, that discerning and considerate part, eager to eliviate any vexation caused by missing artifacts, and just as eager to punish those who would treat an ancient relic as a selling piece. It was impudence run mad, to treat the remnants of a grand and ancient society as mere commonplace trumpery! “How could such a wretch even consider selling such an exquisite piece? The man must be a dizzard who can dare suggest it.”
Danaco marveled at the staff on the table, its bark stripped and wood prettily worked, its nacrous with characters written in Oldespeake carved along its body, crowned by a pommel of Adiethian gold.
“Is not she beautiful?” he exclaimed, and then, whispering to the staff, “Yes, you are. You are absolutely precious, and woe betide the man who cannot understand your splendour.” He admired his reflection in the pommel and browsed the curve of the shaft with is fingertips. “Such craftsmanship as we shall never see again. By My Lady, only look how she shimmers in the light! The wood is nearly opaleascent, and the gold—what a remarable colour!—I have never seen such an amber.”
The old wizard sitting across from the captain smiled, and all the furrows and wrines about his mouth and eyes smiled with him. “The beauties of the Olde Kyngdom do astonish even now,” said he, in a sanguine hue. “What an Age it must have been, Captain. Magic a part of everday life, as common to them as science is to us—but I am pining for what I never had at the first. I suppose we all do to a certain extent. You must allow for an old man’s musings, Captain. I am only repentant over not being able to witness the glories of Adieth.”
“As any man in your line must,” said Danaco with a slight bow. “It must have been an wonderous time, with magic practitioners running rampant, spells everywhere being cast, wizards being lauded and revered as the paramount citizens in the kingdom.”
Here was a small sigh. “Indeed, Captain. A place I should have liked to visit.”
“You must include me in your visit, if the place can produce artifacts such as this,” said Danaco, eyeing the staff. “Were she mine, I should never allow her out of my sight for a moment. I should keep her at my side at all times, hold her under my arm, and press myself against her at night. You would like that, would not you, my precious pet?” tracing the arch of the pommel with his forefinger. “Yes, I’m sure you should. How wonderfully your crown shines!”
“This staff is one of the great treasures of Pelenopia’s time,” said the wizard, taking it up. “There is no evidence to support the claim, but it is said that the great enchanter Midian once was its keeper.”
Danaco fleered and turned aside. “Oh, come now, master wizard. I do not mean to refute you, but I cannot believe that. I had always been used to think Master Midian a fable, something conjured up by romantic scholars desperate for the old ways. No man in the world half so accomplished as Midian could possibly have existed.”
“You have many of his qualities, Captain, and yet here you are.”
Danaco smiled and shook his head. “How you will flatter me, sir, but I am not so wholly vain as I might pretend. You speak of Master Midian as though you knew him, but the great Midian, if he did indeed live during Penelopia’s time, would be nearly two thousands years old now. It would be impossible that you should know him, of course.”
The glint in the wizard’s eye simmered. “Of course, Captain.”
A pause succeeded, and a sly smile wreathed the captain’s lips.
“How you will try to lure me into surmises,” said Danaco archly, “but I forestall you, sir. You know my partiality for the Empire Era, and here you are teasing me over it.”
“There is no help for it, Captain,” said the wizard, shrugging and looking demure. “I am old, and I take my amusements where I can. Wizards my age must do something to entertain ourselves when we have outlived all our companions.”
“You cannot be that old surely. It is all an act with your people. Wizards cultivate a sagely appearance without performing the usual methods of achieving it. Your beard is spun from the cobwebs you accumulate while looming over your many ancient volumes, your hair grows thin and grey at will, and your complexion is a mere extension of your brain, wrinkling in silent and trembling agony over all the spells you have learned and knowledge you have obtained over the years. The want of sun will take care of your pallid looks, but everything else might be reversed.”
“We cannot all age like Lucentians, Captain,” the wizard laughed. “Would that I had your abilities at looking a hale and hardy thirty.”
Here was a wry smile. “I shall not sympathize with you, sir. I know well that wizards can make themselves out to be as old as they like. You, all of you, appear old to deter visitors, and I think you might shave or wash if you really wanted company. You age out of convenience, just as Lucentians refuse to age out of the same. Growing older is such a tiresome business. I really cannot be harassed to worry about wrinkles and grey hair. I do have a line just here,” touching the side of his mouth, “but it is nothing I care for. It visits me when I smile, and like a tiresome relative, I can ignore it at every other time of the year.”
The wizard face flizzened, and he reveled in a quiet mirth, his vast network of gullies shifting as he laughed.
“It is not that we Lucentians do not age,” Danaco continued. “It is that we find the process incommodious. I am tired to death of watching others fuss over pockmarks and sunspots.”
“That is easy to say when you haven’t any, Captain.”
“I should not mind if I collect a few as I go, however. You know how fond I am of collections, and I should wear my marks as livery, an emblazon for a life of activity and spirit that would never be without the sea and the sun. Your dwizzened aspect, sir, bespeaks how little you like your neighbours and how many prunes you have aet for breakfast.”
The wizard anchored the staff and leaned on the pommel, supporting himself with it as he bent over to laugh. “I am sorry I do not have things stolen from me oftener, Captain,” said the wizard, rallying himself and wiping away a tear. “You should come to visit more if I had.”
“You have no tea here, sir, which will keep me tolerably away from any place, but your artifacts are all my envy, and I as a devoted curator should always visit to admire.” Danaco’s eye followed the line of the lintel to the adjascent shelves. “I have never seen a collection of Adiethian items equal to it,” said he, in a rage of reverent approbation.
The bookshelves and cases cramping the front room, though not properly filled or well fitted up, and with some relics strewn about unguarded, afforded an air of grandeval intrinsication: a small desk colonized with ink stands and taffled over with parchment paper clung to the back wall, a fusty divan in the style of a hundred years back, stationed by the inlet in the bow window, was piled over with old emboidered pillows; the wooden floor, though tolerably clean, lay dormant under an icing of permanent dust; a few wanton robes, hanging one corner of the room, wilted against an old mounted rack; a few cups and saucers, idle and forlorn, lay about in abject renunciation; an empty bird cage occupied a small space near the kitchen, where presumably a companion now long passed away once slept; the hearth, once roaring with a noble flame, was snuffed by a cascade of primordial ashes; the mantelpiece, decorated with a few bits and bobs, was caked over with a crisp coating of soot; and everything in the kitchen that was not the single skillet on the range was left to wallow in the misery of futility and disrepair. The only two items that achieved the rank of decoration-- the hideous and peeling wallpaper besides-- was a besom leaning in one corner, looking somber and abused, and small wooden stool hiding behind it, displaying the footprints on its seat with an air of pride and of being very lately used. It was a mausoleum, a sepulchering assembly where all material want went to die, and where the immortal pursuits of knowledge and understanding lived out their existence in standing lecterns and open books, the dust settling over their pages in a delicate sheen. The remainder of the wizard’s residence was nothing short of a museum, an exhibition for ancient treasures of a time long past: veterascent volumes lay with inviting gestures, beckoning all those who walked past to come and read their contents; grimoires and spellbooks littered the walls, their vellum pages and creaking spines crying out in wordless supplication to be lifted from confinement and fondly caressed; wands notched with precious gems lay in supine immortality, forever ignored as not to disgrace their previous owners, nestled in beds of glass beads in hopes of preserving their power; Adiethian lace from the old Upper Quarter lined the shelves, and small tapestries depicting scenes of the Golden Age hung in the gaps between the shelves; a guild of blown glass trinkets garlanded the shelves, headed by a large glass globe, the Adiethian palace, forever locked in suspended animation slumbering within; an assortment of music boxes that no longer played sat in soundless mortification on a nearby shelf, their ancient tunes silenced by stationary handles; a swatch of silk with a rose print garnished a forlorn dresser, believed to have once belonged to the last Adiethian Empress and lost during the Great War of the East; and many closed boxes fraught with ancient treasures lay in unsolved anticipation, their contents possible never to be seen by anyone again. It was a trove of wonders, a temple to the Olde Kyngdom and the Empire Era of Adieth, the once-magnificent civilization which dominated the Eastern Continents, and though such an array of artifacts might be considered as a mere curiosity to the scientifically inclined, such a formidable display was an absolute galaday an antiquarian like the captain.