Alkazar the Wise: Chapter Four

Alkazar and the two youngsters trekked through the remainder of the woods that stood between them and the town of Thimblebrook. As they walked – slowly, for Alkazar’s old legs were not quite as young as they used to be – a heavy air of silence hung over the trio.

While Alise and Sen ran ahead, barely slowing enough for Alkazar to hobble along behind them, the wizened wizard studied the unexpected young girl. She had a lean frame, mirrored by long strands of pale golden hair. More importantly, Alkazar had a suspicion that traces of magick ran through her blood, a suspicion he sought to test.

Smiling quietly to himself, Alkazar the Wise hobbled quietly behind the two youngsters along the moon-lit forest floor. The smile soured into a frown as an ache lanced through the muscles in his left leg. The old wizard grumbled to himself as the two young humans bounded ahead of him with the endless grace and energy of the youth that Alkazar had left behind centuries prior.

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Alkazar secured the duo and himself two separate rooms in Thimblebrook’s humble inn, the Dancing Faery, by means of a crown. The gold coin was, admittedly, overpaying substantially, but Alkazar never found it in himself to carry smaller coins. He was a wizard, after all; wealth was no import.

As the threesome walked (or, in the case of Alkazar, limped up the narrow staircase crawling up to the small second story of the inn, the old wizard handed Sen one of the dented bronze keys. Sen accepted it with a nod before stopping in confusion, leading Alise to crash into him. The two stumbled, but Sen managed to catch his balance and turn back to Alkazar.

“Wait, why do I get a key?” asked Sen. “Isn’t Alise taking the solo room?”

Alkazar laughed, a hearty sound from deep in his stomach.

“I’m an old man; I would never be able to fall asleep if there was a snoring youngster in the room.”

Sen exchanged a bemused glance with Alise. The blonde girl shrugged and grinned before continuing up the stairs. Alkazar followed the pair up the stairs. When they reached the first room, Sen fitted the battered key into the lock and opened the door. Alise followed him into the room.

When Alkazar ducked under the low arch of the doorway and stepped into the room, Sen and Alise turned to him in confusion. Alkazar gently closed the door behind him before turning to face the two. Straightening, the old wizard set the base of his staff on the planks of the dusty wooden floor.

“Alise, if you would be willing, I’m curious to see something,” admitted Alkazar the Wise, pausing to allow the burning curiosity to set into the young lass.

Alise tilted her head, unable to resist the temptation of asking the lurking question. Alkazar had learned long ago that getting people to say or do what he depended not on what he said but rather how he said it.

The easiest way to get someone to agree was to play their curiosity. Initial directness would lead to hesitation, but initial hesitation strangely would lead to agreement. Words, he discovered so many years ago, were only as heavy as the unspoken ones that lurked behind them.

“What is it?” wondered Alise, breaking Alkazar’s train of thought.

The old wizard coughed to clear his throat and thoughts, and he studied the young girl’s brilliant blue eyes.

“If you would be, perhaps, willing to sit through a test,” proposed the wise wizard slowly.

“What test?” asked Alise as the curiosity in her eyes burned stronger.

“Sen, if you would please take a step back,” ordered Alkazar gently, lifting his staff slightly off the ground. “Alise, hold out your hand.”

The blonde girl complied, hesitantly raising her hand to face Alkazar. The old wizard smiled encouragingly at her before planting the base of his staff into the ground and holding out his hand. In his hand appeared a glass orb (not by any means of magick but rather sleight of hand, for the old wizard had placed the sphere in his sleeve before beginning), and Alise studied the orb with apprehension.

“Fear not,” The wise wizard assured her. “It is both simple and painless. Place a finger upon the orb.”

Alise cautiously complied. At the moment the tip of her thin finger touched the glassy sphere, coiling red mist began to spin outwards from deep within the small orb until the crimson tendrils touched the inside of the glass. Alise and Sen stared in awe, but Alkazar the Wise merely nodded to himself.

“Just as I expected,” murmured the old wizard before raising his voice. “Alise, you have been blessed with a powerful affinity for magick.”

“Magick?” repeated the young girl in shock. “I can use magick?”

“Indeed,” affirmed Alkazar, “and not just any magicks. You, Alise, are a prodigy in the ancient technique of the Roseblood.

The two young companions stared at Alkazar wordlessly. Gesturing the misty red sphere, the old wizard continued.

“The red mist, you see, designates an affinity with a very old and very powerful branch of magicks used by the old Roseblood Monks. A powerful disciple could make as much as half of the mist appear that your touch brought forth. There is magick lying within you that is very, very powerful. That will be very helpful for the task the two of you are about to undertake.”

Alise watched the orb with wide eyes before recognition set in, pulling her attention back to Alkazar.

“What task?” asked the young mage in confusion.

“Both of you, should you accept this burden, will journey deep within the Dragon-Tooth Glaciers, a treacherous land to the far north,” began the old wizard in a deep and steady voice. “There, you shall search for something known as the Light of Elyir, which alone has the power to defeat the Tyrant of the Dark.

“You must be cautious and wary, but remember this: trust will be the key to surviving this deadly journey. Make allies along the way, but always be careful of those who secretly forsake the light and swear allegiance to the Tyrant of the Dark. You cannot win this alone.”

“Alone?” interjected Sen. “I thought you were coming with us?”

“I cannot,” replied Alkazar apologetically. “I have many things that must be attended to, for the Hall of Prophecies is not something to own lightly. I will, however, do what I can do slow the progress of the Darkness and blind the Tyrant’s sight.”

“But…” Alise frowned worriedly at the now-empty crystal orb. “How will I learn to use the magicks of the Roseblood?”

“I cannot teach you to use the power inside of you,” answered Alkazar softly, placing a comforting hand on the young lass’s shoulder. “It is as much a part of you as flesh or blood. The magick is something that you’ll have to learn for yourself. The last of the Roseblood monks died off centuries ago, but you may be able to find answers in the remains of the Crimson Monastery.”

The young girl nodded thoughtfully.  Sen, however, gazed questioningly at Alkazar. With betrayal in his eyes, the young Alf-boy frowned at the old wizard. Alkazar knew the question long before Sen gathered the courage to ask.

“You said that the Tyrant of the Dark is going to spread an endless darkness across the world,” accused the young lad. “What could possibly be more important than the end of the world? And what about being our guide? Are we really supposed to find our way alone?”

Allowing a compassionate smile, Alkazar turned to face Sen. The old wizard was a staunch supporter of the Light and all the virtues that came therein, of course. He was also, however, the Wise, so he was well aware of the importance of occasionally bending the truth.

“I do not disparage the threat of the Tyrant of the Dark,” affirmed the old wizard. “It was I who locked him away so many centuries ago. A new era is approaching, however, and it is you who now holds the power to seal away the Tyrant forever. My place is not here, although I will assist you in any way I can. It matters not though. The Tyrant of the Dark fears you, and for good reason; you, Sen, will bring about a final end to his reign of terror.”

After his solemn pronouncement, Alkazar fell silent for a moment to let the gravity of the moment sink into the two youngsters. He had not mentioned that there were other prophecies that needed attending, but there was no reason to bring that up.

The old wizard had learned that it was much easier to simply tell the budding hero that the fate of the world rested on their shoulders. There was no need to mention the other approaching world-ending threats. Heroes, Alkazar found, performed best with singular goals in mind. There were, after all, always precisely enough heroes at any given time.