A Wizard at Large - #4

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

As this Wizard left The Valley of Flowers and as he meandered along the road that would take him up and over Hollow Mountain, he began to reflect on the Brightly Dressed Woman. What did he learn from the experience, and how would it fit into his knowledge of the natural, and the supernatural, worlds?
"Reflection is the key," he murmured. So reflection he did.

This is the fourth story told of the adventures of Tracer Dulgarus, Wizard at large.

After his seven year apprenticeship under the guidance of the Warlock Wizard, Derk, Graylord of Sandstroddin, Tracer Dulgarus was sent out into the world to find his place.

***

As Tracer left The Valley of Flowers and as he meandered along the road that would take him up and over Hollow Mountain, he began to reflect on the Brightly Dressed Woman. What did he learn from the experience, and how would it fit into his knowledge of the natural, and the supernatural, worlds?

"Reflection is the key," he murmured. So reflection he did.

***

Tracer had heard stories of Hollow Mountain, and of the deviously-dangerous Ruler that took control of the Highland's People many years ago.

From the stories Tracer had heard, "Scowl, the Dragon Heart, the Mountain Monarch, was a heavy handed ruler with a love of seclusion. And because of his love of seclusion from the outside world, the stories contained very little descriptive information about this ruler.

As Tracer made his way into the mountainous region he began to encounter villagers and farmers along the way. And to Tracer's way of thinking, what a sad state of affairs that was.

Not a smile or a grin was seen among any farmers, their wives, or their children for that matter.

 

Tracer spent the night in a hay loft that a farmer was kind enough to offer, for a fee that is, and for an additional fee there was breakfast included. And during breakfast the Wizard told one of his humorous tales to the farmer and his family; yet, no smile could be seen.

"Very Odd, very Odd, indeed," Tracer mumbled to himself.

Then a thought came to him, the thought was like someone had whispered to him as he looked at their faces, the whispering voice said, "Hope has left them alone."

"So sad," Tracer told himself about the bleak conditions on the mountain. Even the sky looked to be in mourning above Hollow Mountain, sort of gray with even grayer clouds with tinges of black in their centers.

After breakfast Tracer filled his water flask from the farmer's well, and then he bid all farewell with a smile as he continued along the mountain's road. But Tracer didn't get very far before he heard a voice. Yes, as Tracer approached a stand of sickly looking Apricot Trees, he heard tiny voices. And it sounded as if the tiny voices were saying, "Go back, go back, back, back. --- You are in danger, danger, danger." Yet, when Tracer called out to the voices, all grew silent around him.

"Very Odd, very Odd, indeed," Tracer said out loud. Then he continued on his way.

 

The higher into the mountains Tracer traveled, the darker things seemed to be, even the clouds had morphed into darker grays and charcoal blacks.

And as Tracer made his way along the road, the road narrowed and became nothing more than a trail; a very nonexistent trail at times.

Then as Tracer neared one lonesome tree that was growing on the mountain's side, he heard a tiny voice say, "Go back, go back. --- You are in danger."

And that is when the Wizard saw a Raven, it was all fluffed-up and resting on the branch of the tree.

Meant for his own amusement, Tracer jokingly said to the Raven, "I didn't know raven had a love for high places"

To which the Raven replied, "Accept for trees, we do not, but when the Monarch speaks we tend to listen. And when we are told to act as a Sentry, we do what we are told even if it is in the cold mountain passes and high places."

Then the Raven Cawed several times, as if to clear his throat, and he said, "And now that I have answered your question, as best I am able, answer a question for me."

Tracer looked surprised, and after a good laugh the Wizard said, "What a marvel, a bird that speaks and reasons!

And for the joy of the opportunity to converse with such a wonder, I will answer your question; ask on."

The Raven cleared his throat again with a Caw, then he asked the Wizard, "Why do you not listen when the wind-voices are aided by the branches of the trees? Were you not told to Go Back?"

Tracer though for a very short time, and then he replied, "I have places to go and things to learn, and because my future teachers are beyond this mountain range, I'm afraid that I must continue on by crossing this mountain."

The Raven cocked his head to one side, and then he asked, "How do you know your teachers are beyond the mountains?"

"I don't know how I know," Tracer stated, "I just know."

The Raven seemed to be thinking about what the Wizard had said, for a while at least. And when he was done with those thoughts he replied, "Darkness falls quickly on this edge of the mountain, and it is nearing that time. Might you camp here for the night so we may have meaningful conversations on many topics? You see, along with the ability to speak, I was cursed with a need for meaningful conversations, which is sadly lacking."

So, with that said, Tracer opened his bedroll and made ready for the night with a new teacher, that would be teaching him from a different point of view.

And while sharing his meager meal of salted fish and soda-bread, Tracer and the Raven discussed a river of thought provoking ideas.

As the night's darkness painted the mountain's sides, Tracer asked the Raven, "Will you tell me about your ruler, Scowl, the Dragon Heart? I have many questions."

The Raven lowered his head and said, "We do not speak of Scowl to outsiders, it is forbidden."

Tracer replied quickly with, "Oh, but surly, a few discreet words of enlightenment between friends would never be known. What harm could it do?"

As the Raven made ready to fly back into the tree, he said, "Scowl has eyes and ears everywhere, from the smallest bug to the greatest beast, Scowl is everywhere. She is the reason I speak and the reason they can know what we say, She has dark-magic and she uses it well."

After that, the Raven landed in the tree and fluffed himself for sleep.

Tracer was thinking about what the Raven had said, and as his eyes wandered towards the stars in the night sky, he saw a mouth fly from the tree's lower branch.

 

The next morning two horsemen approached the tree, they were dressed in warrior garb so the Raven knew that they were henchmen for Scowl.

As the Warriors looked around, and saw only a doused campfire, one looked at the Raven and asked, "Where be the stranger?"

"Not here," replied the Raven. Then he Cawed a loud and boisterous Caw.

The Warrior grew angry, and then he replied, "I can see that he is not here, you poor excuse for a Sentry! Now tell me where he has gone or I shall ring your neck like I would a chicken!"

The Raven pulled his head in near his body, so his neck didn't show, then he stated, "The man left camp late last night after seeing your Tattletale-Moth fly away. He is no fool, that man, he must have known where the Moth was going."

"So where did the Man go!" the Warrior questioned.

The Raven flew from the tree and as he circled overhead he replied, "The man said that he was going to a place beyond the mountains, to a place where Teachers could be found."

The Warrior grew even angrier as he asked, "What in Darkness does that mean?"

And as the Raven flew away, he replied, "I have no idea, but I mean to find out for myself. --- Farewell!

The two warriors were in disbelief as they watched the Raven fly towards an uncertain future, to a place beyond the mountains where protection could not be had from Scowl, the Dragon-heart.

***

The Wizard had decided to sleep elsewhere, he thought it best not to sleep near the tree with the Raven in it.

But Tracer was early to rise and he had made good time across easy terrain, so when he first saw a castle he knew that he had traveled a good distance.

And as he grew nearer, and nearer, he began to realize that this was no ordinary castle, no, it was built of oddly shaped stones of a volcanic type. There were huge stone walls with overly large entrances and openings. And the windows seemed to be taken from cathedrals; they didn't fit the architecture at all.

"That must be the castle of Scowl, the Mountain Monarch," Tracer mumbled to himself. Can't say I'm impressed with the architecture but the workmanship is wondrous."

Unfortunately, the mountain road passed by the entrance to the Monarch's Castle, and even more unfortunate was the fact that there was no way to go around the entrance. You see, there was a deep gorge on one side and the bridge to the castle on the other.

It was crowded on the road near the castle, very crowed. And as Tracer neared the bridge he saw a line of people with all sorts of cattle, goats, pigs, and sheep entering the castle.

There were other people who did not have animals with them, but they all had some sort of carrying bag.

There was a line of people coming out of the castle entrance too, but the line of people coming out of the castle had no animals or bags with them at all; "That is odd," Tracer mumbled to himself.

So, as the Wizard neared the bridge he saw a boy seated on the edge of the bridge entrance, so he said to the boy, "Why do the people take animals and bags into the castle, but no-one brings them out?"

The boy looked at Tracer as if he were stupid. Then, showing much displeasure, he replied, "It is Tribute day in the kingdom of Scowl."

Well, at that moment a guard called out to Tracer, "You, there, stay in line! And where is your Tribute to Scowl?"

Hoping to slip away when the guard wasn't looking, Tracer played along with the question by saying, "I have the Tribute in my bedroll."

"What is it?" the guard demanded to know.

The Wizard was trapped by his own deception, so he opened the bag and said some magic words while looking at an apricot he had squirreled away. And when Tracer pulled the Apricot out of the bag it looked every bit to be a shinning, crystal, Orb.

And as Tracer showed the Orb to the Guard, he stated, "This is an Orb that grew on the tree of Plenty. Anyone possessing this orb shall never go wanting."

Well, contrary to what Tracer hoped would happen, the Guard, with the aide of his spear, promptly escorted the Wizard to the head of the entrance line.

And as Tracer stood near the Great Hall of Meetings he got a good long look at Scowl, the Dragon Heart; she was busy flaming and then eating a farmer and his cow.

The poor farmer asked the Queen for more time to keep the cow, you know, so the cow might have a calf or two; that way the farmer and his family wouldn't be without milk.

Apparently Scowl doesn't like reasonable requests, because the Dragon Queen ate the farmer too.

Tracer had always imagined Scowl, the Dragon Heart, as being something like Richard the Lion Heart-ed, a Monarch with a descriptive name to match heroic and adventurous deeds. But it seems, that was not the case.

Scowl was a real live Dragon with a ferocious appetite for livestock and a liking for anything magical. And unfortunately, at this time of day Scowl was long on food and short on something to amuse her magical side of curiosity; so there the Wizard stood, about to be roasted.

As the guard pushed Tracer to the center of the room, and directly in front of the Dragon, the Guard shouted out, "He has Magic my Junta!"

Immediately the Dragon leaned forward, so close, in fact, that Tracer's whiskers were beginning to crinkle from the heat.

"Well, a Wizard I do believe," Scowl stated as she pulled her head back and belched a ball of flame into the air. Then she said, "Show me what you have brought me, Tracer Dulgarus, Wizard at large. If it pleases me I shall let you live."

Tracer was surprised that the Queen knew who he was, and what he did. So much so that he said to her, "Your Dark Magic is heavy with a Third Eye, Oh mighty Queen of Hollow Mountain.

But my Third Eye tells me that you have a weakness. And it tells me that you are a torturous queen with no good sense and no good within you. And it says that, should you be left to your own devices, like a parasite, you will devour that which sustains you. So, if that is the case, then what would be the point to your life?

Scowl was outraged, and yelled, "You dare to speak like that to me, Scowl, the Dragon Queen of Hollow Mountain?"

Then she raised her head up and back, and when she lunged forward a flame shot out of her mouth that was so powerful that it filled and consumed everything in the Meeting Room.

Luckily, only the Dragon, Tracer, and a couple of the Queen's Castle Guards were in the great room at the time of the blast.

And when the blast subsided, no-one in the room was left alive; well, except for the Wizard.

You see, all the while expecting to be killed by the Dragon, the Wizard conjured up an invisible fire shell; a little trick that he was taught by his Master, the Warlock Wizard, Derk. So Tracer was spared from the flames.

And as Tracer walked out of the Castle, he mumbled to himself, "A Dark Dragon's only weakness is their own fire, and the only way to defeat them is to make them so angry that they forget that they have a weakness."

 

 

D. Thurmond / JEF

09-06-2021


Submitted: September 06, 2021

© Copyright 2021 D. Thurmond aka JEF. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Rob73

A great fantasy story.
The writing is original, and dramatic.

Tue, September 7th, 2021 3:15am

Author
Reply

Thanks, Rob, we try.

Tue, September 7th, 2021 1:57pm

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