Thursday, 27 October 2011

54) Magic and Chance

    He was a ghoul roaming the moors, taking what he wanted, feasting on unsuspecting tourists and the odd sheep. He really like the American tourists, they tended to be fatter while still being tender. He didn’t have a name, ghouls never do. He had always been alone so no one had never had to call him. When he thought of himself, which was rare, he used the sounds the humans did if they ever saw him, anything from “oh god” to wordless screams.
    She was a sorceress from over the horizon, from a land filled with deserts and pearlescent castles, of Ifrit and Djins. She had been born into a poor family and sold to a wandering wizard. Against all the odds he had been a good master and taught her the ways under the world in white and grey, her how to divine and how to scry. And in his time he had passed on and left her with the inheritance that had been passed down to him from countless generations before: an iron wood staff, a magical silk cloak, several rings of power and an ancient grimoire. Her name was Hasef The Wanderer.
    They met in a grove of birch trees, a thousand leagues from her birthplace and a hundred miles from his last haunt. She had been folded among the powerful tree’s long shadows for a fortnight, a technique she’d learned on her own to replenish her mana. He had been running away from angry villagers, over the last year he had worn out his welcome by being particularly gluttonous and they’d tracked him back to his cave.
    She’d come out from the in-between world bristling with power, smell, taste, body, and sight all crackled with the life around her. Instantly he caught her sight, the shape of his wound, his silent crying out in pain as he slept edged up against roots in a muddy stream bed. Her feet barely brushed the tops of the green grass as she floated over towards him. Where she passed mushrooms fruited and dandelions bloomed and burst.
    He was dreaming of being chased by the population of every village he had ever terrorized, his bloody limbs scrabbled in the mud and made deep furrows.
    When all of a sudden he woke. Something bright and powerful was watching him, he had nowhere to go, his black heart raced and he pushed himself into the wall of mud trying to get away. His sharp black claws found no purchase, his blood matted fur became covered in dirt and the poor pathetic beast pissed himself. He let out a fearful high keening sound, like the summer insects he loved to munch on.
    She spoke words of healing in her guttural language. At first the poor beast didn’t respond. She continued with the words, adding the slightest touch of her newest mana. The beast calmed and fell unconscious.
    She floated down and picked him up. Clots of dirt and blood rolled off her robe and left it clean. She took him out of the forest and to a nearby bluff she had seen on her way to the grove. She kept him unconscious for several days as she cleaned him and tended to his wounds.
    Her master had always commented on her predilection for careless animals. He told her many times that life and nature would be stronger off without the weak in it. But she continued to follow her heart and reach out to the helpless if they could ask for help or not, if they were predator or prey.

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