The Green Wizard

Reads: 478  | Likes: 2  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 1

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

How a bonded wizard’s apprentice of no particular note resolved to emancipate himself.

The Green Wizard


by J.D. Mitchell


Hatless and barefoot, Ladomas sprinted down the curving stone hallway in the Wizard Tower as if a dragon was snapping at his heels. He pounded up a steep, narrow staircase and stumbled into his master's study—and promptly tripped on a protruding flagstone. He sprawled face-first onto the hard floor.

"Every time . . ." he groaned, his cheek and big toe throbbing.

Ladomas scrambled to his feet and hopped around a large mahogany desk, its fine wood imported from the forests of Quetzelquazanga across the Middle Sea. He rifled through the desk's wide top drawer, drawing out a silver inkpot and a red, yellow, and blue-feathered pen—the plume plucked from a mythical quethuatl, part bird, part serpent. Standing on his tiptoes, he retrieved The Collected Journals of the Wizard Winklesmith of Sheffield—Master Neyhün's chief rival—and a fresh vellum scroll from the massive bookshelf behind him.

Ladomas opened the heavy book and gazed at the complex diagrams, formulas, and theories within, running his hand over the book's gilded pages and sniffing the fine ink. He understood the mantras and intricate gestures of The Weave: a scientific artistry to channel arcane energies from the ether, but he was a poor student. His frustration was exceeded only by Neyhün's disappointment.

The door creaked open and Master Neyhün strode across the study in a billow of fine, purple robes. He brushed past Ladomas and sat heavily at the desk. The old wizard looked expectantly at the gangly lad.

“Of course, Master!” Ladomas ran to the sideboard and poured a goblet of weak beer, Neyhün's morning digestive, which he laid gingerly on the desk. "Master, might I spend more time practicing my Weave today?"

Neyhün regarded his apprentice with a cocked eyebrow and sipped his beer. "You have important business this morning, or have you forgotten?"

Ladomas searched his fuzzy brain. Errand? He had to clean his master's chamber, scour new acquisitions for arcane script, then came transcription, lunch, component pre . . . that was it: "I will obtain the components this afternoon. I have not forgotten!" Ladomas flashed a toothy grin.

Neyhün didn’t look reassured. "This morning, Ladomas. I will not have valuable ingredients snatched up by lesser wizards, or that devious Winifred. Those specimens are for the learned, not lurchers."

"Of course, Master. You can count on me!" Ladomas dashed through the doorway.

"Comport yourself with dignity. You represent the Preeminent Wizard of Lanesford," Neyhün called.

"I will exhibit only respectability!" Ladomas shouted from down the hall.

Ladomas returned to his windowless cell, dressed in a grey tunic and green hose, and, with a knife and hempen bag on his belt, tore through the tower as if a fiend were at his back. He rattled down the steep back stairs and careened into a blank wall of grey stone. After several jabs at likely bits of stone—he could never find the damnable catch—one depressed with a click. A section of wall ground into the floor, and he passed through an adjoining basement filled with barrels, jugs, and jars stacked to the vaulted ceiling. He hopped up a steep flight of stairs, made his way through a steel-banded door, and stopped in the filthy alley outside.

What specimens did his master require?

He paced the alley, kicking errant garbage and beating his knuckles against his thick skull. Stupid, stupid, stupid. He remembered Neyhün listing the plants he needed last night, but Ladomas hadn't been listening—his mind on the new Weave he had been practicing every night. What did Neyhün want?


Judas leaf?


Ladomas wandered to the end of the alley and slouched against a wall at the edge of cobbled Main Street. "Troll-something."

The April sun had crested the town of Branthall's outer defensive wall, its warm light bathing the wattle-and-daub townhouses overhanging the thoroughfare. He watched a group of tall adventurers wander up the road: three warriors and a thief dressed in polished leather and shining steel; each bore long weapons and heavy packs. They were probably buying supplies before ranging into the wilderness to seek their fortune. Treasure hunters chasing fast coin and faster living.

Ladomas imagined striding alongside them in fine robes (green—he loved green), a wooden staff in one hand and a thick book of spells under his arm—Ladomas the Bold, the Mighty—the Boy Who Couldn't Contain His Excitement. He sprang into the street, striking a dynamic pose.

"I will smite humanity's enemies with my magicks!" he cried.

"Stay your hand, master wizard. I don't want to be a toad today!" a scarred warrior said, evading one of Ladomas's flailing limbs. Others on the street laughed, giving Ladomas a wide berth, as if he were a crazed dog chasing its tail.

He watched the questers troop up the street and heard them burst into a fresh bout of laughter. "I will master the arcane one day!" he announced to no one in particular.

Ladomas sprang up the street. He would rule nothing if he failed to procure Neyhün's spell components.


“What do you mean, you’re sold out?” Ladomas said.

The lanky shopkeeper leaned on her counter. “I am sorry, the last just sold.”

Ladomas wrung his hands. “That’s impossible—Master Neyhün said they would be here this morning!”

“They were, and sold right away. You should have arrived earlier—it is mid-morning.”

“Well, I . . . my duties,” Ladomas moaned.

“I wish there was something I could do,” the shopkeeper said. She scanned the flowers, roots, and herbs tucked in the floor-to-ceiling compartments behind her. “I have trollsbreath and barbican root”

“No, no. He requires trollstooth and barbican flower for his research.”

The herbalist stared out the small mullioned window of her tiny shop. “I suppose you might find some in the Lakewood, but—”

Ladomas brightened.

“—it is not a task reckoned safe for a well-armed knight, let alone a wizard’s apprentice.”

“Fear not, fair shopkeep. I shall obtain what my master desires, thank you!”

“Wait!” the woman cried, but Ladomas was already through the door.

He burst from the shop and ran into an old woman dressed in dark leather armour. She held off Ladomas, her fingers digging into his shoulders like the talons of a predatory bird; a platinum medallion around her neck dangled in his face, its surface bearing a sword and axe crossing a shield: symbol of the Questers Guild.

“Guild Mistress Winifred, a thousand apologies,” Ladomas said, smoothing back his wavy hair.

Winifred squinted at him and cackled, exposing toothless, purple gums as she shook a head of tight, white curls. “Young Ladomas, Neyhün the Disagreeable’s apprentice. How is the old buzzard’s digestion?”

Ladomas grinned, showing broad, straight teeth.

“What are you, thirteen now? How go your studies?” she asked.

Ladomas looked at his soft leather shoes. “Fifteen, Guild Mistress. Magic is tricky, and my duties take so much time.” He looked up and brightened. “But I persist.”

Winifred nodded sadly. “It is unfortunate when Neyhün loses interest in one of his charges.”

Ladomas’s heart skipped a beat. “What do you mean?”

“Oh, it would not be the first time. He usually sends the unfortunate to study under a lesser wizard. Though I suppose, as a bonded apprentice, he will likely keep you on as a copy clerk or servant. But what am I saying? You will probably be different.”

“Of course,” Ladomas grinned, though his eyes betrayed his worry.

Winifred leaned in conspiratorially. “Tell me, what business has you waylaying old women in the street?”

Ladomas flapped his hands against his thighs. “Alas, the shopkeeper lacks my master’s components. But I, brave Ladomas, shall obtain them from the Lakewood!”

“Will you now? Brave you must be to wander into the woods alone.”

Ladomas puffed himself up. “The bravest.”

“What, pray tell, does the valiant Ladomas seek therein?”

“Trollstooth and barbican flower, dear Guild Mistress.”

“Trollstooth?” Winifred’s eyes lit up, and Ladomas suspected he knew why: in tiny doses, trollstooth had medicinal properties, but a whole mushroom would liquify a man's innards in under an hour, though it would take longer for him to die. “How is your master reimbursing you for such a noble and dangerous quest?” she asked.

“Well, I—”

“Ah, he does not know.”

“Not as such.”

Winifred smiled encouragingly. “As a learned apprentice, you must know trollstooth is valued by thieves and assassins even more than by wizards. I am certain one in your position could put, let us say, ten gold sovereigns to good use?”

Ladomas thought about the adventurers he had seen earlier, living their own lives and free to conduct their own affairs. Ten gold would not pay off his indenture, but it was a start. If he were free, he could find another master if he failed to rise to Neyhün’s expectations. He certainly did not want to be an arcane scribe or mundane servant. He shivered. Better to not have learned magic at all.

“I shall return with trollstooth in abundance,” Ladomas said, but Winifred was gone.

“Very fine, come find me once you have it,” she said from inside the herbalist’s shop.

“It will be my pleasure!” Ladomas said through the closing door.

Luckily, the Lakewood stood beside Branthall, and was not quite as thickly stocked with monsters as the fearsome Darkwood to the south. With a bit more luck, he might even be back before dinner.


Ladomas charged through the underbrush, crunching over twigs and dry leaves and weaving around several burgundy barberry bushes. Pausing under a giant oak, he scanned the leafy ground, ignoring bits falling from above, where a squirrel loudly gnawed an acorn.

“The tall oak knows where the trollstooth grows, for trollstooth grows between oak’n toes,” Ladomas recited, circling the wide trunk for signs of the fungus. “Aha!” The cap of an off-white mushroom poked through the leaves. He crouched on a wide root bursting from the earth and gently brushed aside the cover.

Only a malformed cremini. It was the fifth large oak he had searched without success.

Ladomas looked at the light slanting through the bare branches above; the sun was well past its zenith. At this rate, he would return to his master empty-handed. That meant endless copy work until sunrise. He could already feel his back creak and eyes burn.

“Damn, damn, damn!” Ladomas stamped his foot and slipped off the root. He stumbled sideways over a second root, and a third sent him into a neighbouring tree. He landed in a heap on his side, groaning and blinking until his vision cleared. His eyes focussed on a distinctive dun-coloured mushroom with a depressed cap and long, spore-bearing teeth beneath: the feature for which it was named.

“Trollstooth, what luck!” He triumphantly raised his arms despite his decidedly horizontal posture.

Ladomas stood, brushed leaves and moist earth from his tights and tunic, and crouched over the fungus. Drawing his dagger, he carefully cut the delicate stalk. He wrapped the mushroom in a cloth and tucked it into his rough hempen bag.

Turning back, he spotted some mottled green and red goblin berries on a tall bush in the distance. They would be useful in brewing potions and might earn him a bit of regard from his master.

“Don’t mind if I do!”

Ladomas hopped over and harvested a handful of the poisonous berries, which he dumped in his sack. Rising, he came nose to nose with a massive creature. Unlike Ladomas’s nose, its was long and downturned towards a gigantic mouth full of square teeth that were grinding a leafy branch into paste. The monster regarded Ladomas with black, close-set eyes in a face like a cliffside.

“What ’ave we ’ere?” it said with a voice like boulders rubbing together; its breath was a reeking mix of sour berries, sticks, and rancid meat.

Ladomas stumbled backward. “O . . .  og . . . ogre!” he wheezed, then bolted.

“Oy! I’m just gon’na ’et ya!” the ogre shouted. It stood, its head rising into the treetops. With its bald grey pate and massive neck and shoulders, the ogre resembled a small mountain. The mountain gave chase, shoving aside trees and striding over shrubs; the earth shook as its colossal feet hammered the ground.

Ladomas flew through a pine thicket and scrambled up a steep, muddy rise. He grabbed a sapling at the top, which tore from the earth, sending him slipping down on his belly. Scrabbling with his feet and free hand, he slid to a stop after several feet.

The ogre paused below, leaning on its thighs and breathing heavily. “Gor, gotta cut down on smoke weeds,” it said before arching its back and lumbering on.

“Bah!” Ladomas cried, scurrying up the slope. He shot through the trees, stumbling on every root and tangle of underbrush in the forest. He ducked under a corkscrewing hazel and snatched some dangling flowers for his bag. The ogre crested the hill several yards back, huffing and puffing as it came.

They carried on in this manner until Ladomas had a bag full of flora and his clothes were soaked with sweat. Lungs burning, he could run no longer. He thumped to a halt and glanced around. He had lost his mountainous pursuer.

Ladomas punched the air. “I’m . . . invincible!” he cried between pants.

A grimy, bearded man dressed in sackcloth grabbed Ladomas by the arm and pulled him onto his tiptoes. “What’cha got in your bag, sonny?” he said, leering at the boy. The man smelled nearly as bad as the ogre.

A second wretch wandered up with a purple flower in his hand. “Wha’s this pretty thing?” The base of its flower fluted up like a tower then flopped over with three long, black stamens dangling from within.

“Barbican flower!” Ladomas said.

“Drop that, you dunce, and help me fillet this kid,” the first man growled.

His companion drew a rusty knife. “Ooh, ’e looks rich.”

Ladomas tasted metallic fear but took a deep breath. Was he not apprenticed to the Preeminent Wizard of Lanesford? He must show a certain level of decorum.

“I am on the business of Master Wizard Neyhün,” Ladomas squeaked, his voice cracking.

The vagabonds laughed.

The one holding Ladomas looked around the woods exaggeratedly. “I don’t see no wizard hereabouts, do you?” he asked his comrade.

“Nah, just a scrawny kid. But not for long.” His companion advanced, eyes wide and expectant.

Ladomas took a pinch of powder from a pocket under his belt with his free hand. There was no time to worry over his ineptitude, only hope all the late nights of practice had paid off. He wove a complex series of lines in the air behind his back and, for an instant, he no longer saw the vagrants: he saw through them—saw everything.

The spell was little more than street magic, but it still filled his belly with a raw power he otherwise lacked. He wove the final curve with his middle finger and cast the powder into the air, shutting his eyes tight.

There was a bright green flash and a loud bang.

The vagabonds cried out and covered their eyes. Ladomas, dropped by the man, snatched the bag from one and the barbican flower from the other. He ran. Right into the ogre’s shin.

“Thar ye be,” it boomed.

Ladomas darted between its legs.

“Where’s that brat?” the first vagabond said, rubbing his eyes.

“What a nice meal,” the ogre said, lifting the vagrant in its massive fist.

The second stumbled into the ogre’s titanic leg. “Gods, ’e done blinded m—where’d this rock come from?”

“Dessert!” the ogre laughed, snatching the other man.

“O . . .  og . . . ogre!” the first vagabond wheezed.

The monster bit off his head.

The second brigand stabbed the ogre’s arm, but his rusty knife snapped on its rocky hide.

“That tickles!” the ogre said, squeezing him into jelly. It sat down with an earth-shaking rumble. “I likes puddin’!”

Ladomas did not stay to watch the ogre enjoy its meal.


The sun was setting in an orange sky by the time Ladomas hurried down the dusty road to town. He passed small farms, the farmers putting away their implements and bringing in the animals for the evening, and drew near Northgate. Two square towers soared above him as he approached. He waved to the crossbowmen lazing between the crenellations overhead, and bade the grim-looking gate guard a cheerful hello, ignoring the man’s scowl.

Ladomas passed through the prodigious gate, along a low passage peppered with murder holes, and onto cobbled Main Street. He strode along with his precious harvest in hand, waving at shopkeepers like a conquering hero. He saw the herbalist and raised the leafy bag, tittering gleefully at her shocked surprise. He supposed he was an adventurer after all.

The baker was about to shut his door, and Ladomas’s stomach grumbled. The thought of day-old sweets, pies, and breads was too much to bear. “Ho there, Bakerman. Spare a roll for a starving apprentice?”

“Old Neyhün running you ragged, Ladomas?” the baker said.

Ladomas smiled. “He knows no other way!”

The baker tossed a bread roll out the door. “I’ll add it to his bill.”

Ladomas caught the roll. “A thousand, thousand thank-yous, kindest of bakers!” He stuffed the roll into his mouth, noisily chewing a massive hunk as he walked into Market Square. “Uh kinly feesht fur Lahdumash!” he said, spitting crumbs.

He passed the massive keep looming over town, went between two shops, and took a series of narrow, unpaved streets and alleys toward home. The workday done, the ways were filled with folk drinking away weariness and woe. Turning into the alley behind the Guild, he strode to the basement door.

Ladomas took a deep breath and focused on its magical lock. He drew the barest amount of energy to his core and reached into a space between worlds with his mind. He drew a shimmering rune over the lock with a finger. The mechanism responded by unlatching with a satisfying click, and Ladomas passed inside.

With a belly full of bread and the terror of the Lakewood behind him, all vigour suddenly drained from Ladomas’s body. He ascended the back staircase wearily, his shoulder dragging against the curving outer wall of the tower’s corkscrewing stair. Slouching down the hall to the door of his master’s chamber, he breathed a heavy sigh, knocked, and entered.

Neyhün was sitting comfortably in his favourite chair, sipping hypocras from a small silver chalice and resting his slippered feet on a colourful ottoman near a crackling fire. “Where have you been, and why are you so filthy?”

Ladomas held up, and gestured weakly to, the muddy, leaf-covered burlap bag. “Your components, Master. From the Lakewood.”

Neyhün sat forward. “The Lakewood? Are you telling me you traipsed into the forest to harvest trollsbreath and barbican root?”

“The shop was sold ou—” Ladomas stared blankly at his master. “Trollsbreath and—”

“Barbican root, yes. You could have been killed!”

“I got trollstooth and barbican flower,” Ladomas said.

“No, no, that will not do,” Neyhün grumbled.

“I will go buy . . . no, the shop’s closed.” Ladomas beat his temple with his filthy knuckles. Ladomas the Boob, the Incompetent: that was all he was. No, he had tried his best, braved the Lakewood and returned. That had to be worth something. He stumbled into the room, bag outstretched. “I found other things: goblin berry and hazel fl—” He fell face-first onto the hard floor.

His nemesis, in the form of a flagstone, had struck again.

Ladomas groaned but did not rise.

“Ladomas?” Neyhün said, rising with a wince and hobbling, drink in hand, to the prone apprentice. He nudged Ladomas with his toe. “Oh dear.”


Ladomas saw a flare of light through his eyelids and heard the soft crinkle of coals; he started upright in bed. The guild mistress was sitting on the trunk in his tiny cell, with a lit candlestick beside her and a short wooden pipe in her mouth. She cackled, filling the cell with a dense, spicy cloud and setting her white curls bouncing. He grimaced and held his aching head.

“The hero wakes,” Winifred said, examining the trollstooth he had harvested. Ladomas thought a dragon might regard a fat steer in much the same manner.

Ladomas cleared his throat. “It is the only specimen I could find.” That gave him an idea. “I hate to trouble you with trifling details, but there was an ogre I had to dodge, and some brigands, who the ogre ate. Perhaps you will double—no, triple—your previous offer for such a fine item obtained at great peril.”

Winifred exhaled smoke through her nostrils, glared at Ladomas with her piercing green eyes, and prodded him in the chest with her pipe stem. “I like you, boy,” she said, her compliment somehow sounding like a threat. “It is a fine specimen, but you will receive what we agreed upon.”

She tossed him a velvet purse that jangled with gold, and he excitedly tore it open. Never in his life had Ladomas held so much money; the coins in his hands would feed fifty poor families for a month, yet they were only a fraction of his bond.

“You are industrious, lad, even if that old goat does not see it. You could be very useful to me, if you are willing to lend an old lady a hand from time to time.”

Ladomas beamed. Praise from the guild mistress? He felt a curious fluttering in his belly, like excitement. Or warning. “I would be honoured.”

“Very good.” Winifred stood and went to the door. “Get some rest. You’ve had a busy day,” she said, passing into the dark hall.

Ladomas jangled his coins and slipped out of bed. He pulled a set of extravagant green robes out of his trunk. They had been in the basement, tossed away, overlooked, and forgotten. Like him. He propped up a small, broken mirror on the trunk and regarded himself in its dusty surface: a small youth in a plain tunic, his future dim so long as it was tied to a disinterested master.

He pulled on the robes and shoved a conical green hat onto his wavy locks. After tying the heavy, velvet bag to his belt, he regarded himself again. The clothes were disastrously out of fashion and far too large. The sleeves dangled past his fingers, the hem pooled at his feet, and the hat was down around his ears. But they were his.

“Classic,” he said with a toothy smile. He imagined himself fully grown and surrounded by strong companions. Throwing his arms in the air, he struck a dramatic pose with each successive shout.

“Ladomas the Green!”

“Ladomas the Bold!”

“Ladomas the Thaumaturge!”

He frowned at himself in the glass, then grinned.

Assuming a solid stance, he wove signs with his hands and pulled a pinch of saltpeter from his sleeve. Basic prestidigitation, but, just for a second, he comprehended the infinite complexity of reality, could almost see the strings connecting the universe. It was intoxicating. He drew his hands upwards.

“The Green Wizard!”

The air around him exploded with green smoke that filled the room. Fumbling for the door, he stumbled out of the astringent cloud and into the hall, choking and wheezing. He stuck his head out the nearest window, drinking in the cool air outside and catching his breath. He sank onto the sill and sighed; he had so much to learn.

Ladomas gazed at the bright stars over the dirty little town. No shooting star cut the dark sky, and so Ladomas made no wish—he made a vow.  No matter how long it took, or how much work, he would not be Ladomas the Boob. He would prove his master wrong. Failing that, would work a hundred jobs for Winifred—a thousand if need be—to buy his freedom.

But all of that would have to wait. His body was sore and heavy. Winifred was right: he needed rest. Tomorrow was a new day, and he was already behind on his duties. Who knew what else the morning would bring.

He had to be ready for anything.

Submitted: May 14, 2022

© Copyright 2023 J.D. Mitchell. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:



Great job Mitchell

Sat, May 14th, 2022 7:28pm

Facebook Comments

Other Content by J.D. Mitchell

Short Story / Fantasy