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Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Tales from Virdura: Runt Wizard

Young Solon stared stoically ahead as two of his tormentors held him down, and a third ripped off his shirt from behind.

He gritted his teeth as the thin reed stung his naked back. And a second time. And a third.
Solon vowed that he would not cry out. He was the son of the Royal Wizard, and he would carry himself as such.

Three other children danced around him, snorting like pigs and calling him names.

“Foolborn runt!” they chanted. “Where is your all-powerful magic now?”

The mocking continued, and the lashings went on. Seven now, and Solon could feel blood trickling down his back. He focused on the smell of the boys’ sweat, mixed in with the dust of the dry, arid field they were in. Despite himself, a single tear ran down his left cheek.

“Oh, he’s a cry-baby now too, eh?” said one of the boys. “Pathetic bastard son of a useless mage.”

Something inside Solon snapped. His eyes shot open, and under his breath, he began reciting an old incantation.

Another thwack of the reed.

“What’s he doing now, do you think?”

“Speaking gibberish. I think we may have beaten him a little too hard, boys.”

While his tormentors laughed, nobody noticed the storm clouds gathering overhead. Nobody paid any attention to the flash of lightning, and clap of thunder indicating how close it was.

Above a boy’s head (the one who had insulted Solon’s father), the sky crackled, and a blue bolt began to take shape, high up in the clouds.

“Stop!”

The lightning bolt dissipated, and the clouds began to clear. Only then did the boys look up, noticing the sudden sunlight pouring down on them.

The boy who had been holding the switch turned.

“It’s the Royal Wizard. Run everyone!”

Within the space of a few heartbeats, everyone was gone. Everyone, that is, except Solon, who was lying face-down in the dust.

His father walked up to him, knelt down and gently grabbed his upper arm.

“Come, my son. It is all right now. They have gone.”

Solon allowed this father to help him to his feet, wincing at the pain in his back. The old man produced a handkerchief out of a pocket in his robe and gently dabbed his son’s cheek, drying up his tears.

“My son,” said the old man, as he looked down at his boy’s eyes and smiled sweetly. “I am sorry that you had to go through that. We wizards have always had a difficult time fitting in with our peers.”

“But father, why? I just want to be a normal child.”

“Because we are different, my son. And people are afraid of people who are different.”

“They didn’t look very afraid to me!” said Solon. His voice broke a little in anger as he said it, and his hands balled into fists.

“Solon, calm down.” Said his father, curtly.

Solon took a step back, shocked at the sudden change in his father’s tone.

The old man sighed, deliberately softened his tone, and continued: “You showed great resilience today, and for that I am proud of you. But you almost did something unthinkable. Something that you would’ve regretted for the rest of your life."

Solon snapped at his father, his voice now a high pitch. “And what would’ve been wrong with that? I just wanted to teach them all a lesson. I wasn’t going to kill anyone. What was the harm in a little lightning storm?”

“But you could have killed people, boy. Perhaps even yourself! I have told you how dangerous and unpredictable magic can be. You are still young, and don’t know how to use it properly. But even I, with all my years of training and practice, would balk at attempting what you were trying to do. It is simply too dangerous. Magic should…”

“Magic should only be performed in a calm, private environment, surrounded by the proper tomes and the proper focus,” finished Solon, reciting the mantra that had been drummed into his head since before he could talk.

Solon’s father smiled. He looked at his son, put both hands on his shoulders, and said, “My son, you are going to make a great wizard, one day. Greater perhaps than even I. But I fear you still have a lot to learn.”

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