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Fiction. © Copyright 1996, Jim Loy
The old wizard was sitting in a chair, in his shabby, cluttered, dirty, dark laboratory. He wore an off-white robe. The robe had once been white. But he tended to wash it with colored items. He was known as the White Wizard. Maybe he should be called the Off-White Wizard.
He had a kindly, wrinkled face; a long, scraggly, white beard that reached down below his waist; and bushy, white eyebrows. He had dark eyes that seemed to see right through things, unless he was wearing his wire-rimmed glasses.
His laboratory had shelves of books covering three walls. There were many odd objects on tables and on the floor. One would assume that these were magical objects. The corners of the room were so dark that you could imagine large predators hiding there.
On one table there was alchemical equipment, where colored liquids bubbled. Few wizards dabbled in alchemy. It was far easier to use magical spells to change a thistle into a daisy (if you were good), or a daisy into a thistle (if you were evil), than with the right combination of chemicals. But, alchemy was his hobby.
The wizard was talking to a small, glowing, transparent, violet-colored face, which hovered in the air over a large, violet-colored crystal. The wizard was explaining something. And the violet-colored face was talking back. Inside the wall was a small, gray mouse. He was standing on two legs, waving his arms, and squeaking. His high-pitched squeaks came out of the violet-colored face as low-pitched words. This was how the wizard had chosen to communicate with the little mouse.
The mouse was the wizard's apprentice. He already could do some impressive magic spells. He was trying to become the first mouse ever to become a full wizard.
A bell jingled. The wizard looked at his hour-glass and wondered when he had last turned it over. "That must be the mail," he said. He limped to the door, because his foot had fallen asleep. He opened the door, and saw a neat pile of letters, on the ground just outside the door. There was no one in sight. He said "That's odd. Must be a new mail person."
He sighed. Most people were afraid of wizards, and would avoid them at all cost. When he had settled here, his house had been within a small town. Over the years, the town had slowly moved away from him, until now the town was about a mile down the road.
He bent over, picked up the mail, re-entered his house, and closed the door.
He thumbed through the mail, until he came to a light-blue envelope. He said, "Ah, a letter from little Felicity." Felicity was the young princess who lived in the nearby castle. She was a friend of the wizard.
He sat down. He couldn't find his letter-opener. So he opened the envelope with the back end of a spoon, which he pulled out of a bowl of foul-looking food that he had never finished. Or maybe it was a chemical that he had been stirring with the spoon.
He opened the letter. A dark frown spread across his face as he read the one word that was written, not in Princess Felicity's handwriting, on the sheet of paper. His entire body went rigid, as if time had come to a stop.
The violet-colored face showed a look of alarm, and shouted, "Wizard! What has happened?" Inside the wall, the mouse squeaked, and showed a look of alarm.
The mouse entered the room, through a hole behind the book shelf. He would have to examine the letter, in order to figure out how to counteract the spell. There were ways of reading spells without invoking them. The old wizard had been caught off-guard. He had been careless. He had invoked the spell because his lips moved when he read.
The mouse was about to leap down from the bookshelf to the table, when he heard a sound at the door. And he scurried back into the wall.
Outside the door were two sinister (left-handed) figures. One was an obviously evil old man, wearing a black robe. He was called the Black Wizard. He was stooped over, with his shoulders higher than his head. The other man was a rather stupid-looking, tall, skinny man. He was the apprentice of the Black Wizard. He wouldn't have actually looked sinister, except that he kept looking from left to right, as if he expected to get caught at what they were doing.
The wizard handed his companion a rusty key. He said, in a raspy whisper, "Try this."
The apprentice put the key in the lock. He was instantly seized with an intense pulsating pain, all through his body, but mainly in his heart. He sank to his knees. He could not let go of the key.
The wizard put on a pair of black gloves. He grasped his apprentice by his boots, and rotated him clockwise, thus turning the key in the lock, unlocking the door. He pushed the door open.
The wizard turned the door knob on the inside of the door, and the apprentice's hand then came loose from the key. The wizard took the key from the lock. He entered the house. He called out, "Close the door."
The apprentice got up off the ground, closed the door from the outside, and sat down on the ground, panting. The wizard opened the door. "Come inside, and close the door." The apprentice reluctantly obeyed.
"Be careful. There are probably traps."
"Tell me about it," the apprentice thought to himself. He examined his hand. He expected to see smoke.
The White Wizard was still sitting, immobile, in his chair. In front of him was the violet-colored face. The Black wizard studied the violet-colored face, and whispered, "And who are you?"
Through the violet-colored face, the mouse said, "I am a spirit trapped inside this crystal. This nice wizard was trying to help me get free." Being a good little mouse, he had to cross his fingers, as he told this lie. He added, "Perhaps you can help me escape?"
The Black Wizard said, "I'm sure I can." Actually, he had decided to take the crystal (and the supposedly trapped spirit) with him when he left. He had uses for a captive spirit. But, first things first. "Perhaps you can help me find what I seek, a small, red book."
The mouse knew where the book was. It was on the shelf above the Black Wizard. The mouse cast a spell, which changed the red book to green, just before the evil wizard looked at the book.
For some reason, the apprentice was not deceived by the color spell. He pulled down the book, and handed it to his master.
The Black Wizard took the book, and said, "The book that I seek is much like this book, only red." His apprentice scratched his head, and looked puzzled. The wizard put the book on the table.
The violet-colored face said, "Sorry, I don't recall seeing such a book." He was vigorously crossing his fingers now.
The apprentice was examining a rope hanging from a hook attached to the ceiling. The rope was hanging down straight. He dragged a stool over to where the rope hung. He climbed up on the stool, and examined the rope more closely. He was strangely fascinated by the rope. He tied it into a knot, so that it made a noose. He slipped the loop over his head. The stool tipped over. And he hung there, by his neck and fingers, making loud choking noises.
The Black Wizard looked up from his search, and said, "You idiot." He stepped over to his struggling apprentice. He positioned the stool under the rope, stepped up onto it, and touched the rope. The rope magically untied, and the apprentice dropped heavily to the floor, gasping for breath.
The wizard stood there on the stool. He examined the rope. "Interesting." He tied it into a loop. He slipped the loop over his head. The stool tipped over. And the Black Wizard swung back and forth, choking.
The apprentice climbed to his feet, put the stool under his master, climbed up, pulled a knife from his pocket, and cut the rope. The wizard dropped heavily to the floor, gasping for breath.
The apprentice examined the rope. It was now too short to make a noose, unless he stood on his toes. He started to make a loop in the rope. The wizard pulled him down to the floor, and threw the stool against the wall, creating a cloud of dust.
Both men stood, panting, for a moment. The Wizard said, "Magic rope, a very clever trap." Then he went back to his search.
While they had been struggling with the rope, the mouse had leaped down from the book shelf, to the chemical table. There, he entered a large, cloudy-green bottle.
The apprentice heard a noise, and went to investigate. He examined every bottle on the chemical table. He eventually looked into the correct bottle, and a tiny hand reached out of the bottle, and gripped his lower lip. The apprentice was slowly pulled toward the bottle, as he tried to resist. He tried to cry out. But, with his lip in the iron grip of a mouse of super-strength, he was inarticulate.
The wizard responded, "Not now, I'm busy." He was searching the bookshelves.
The apprentice was weakening. Although the bottle looked too small, his head was now entirely inside of it. His grip on the bottle slipped. And the entire apprentice disappeared into the bottle, with a sucking sound. The mouse leaped out, and hid back in the wall.
The wizard looked up, sensing that something was wrong. "Now, where is that idiot?" He saw no one in the room, except for the violet-colored face. He asked the face, "Where did he go?"
The mouse, through the violet-colored face, said, "He was examining the chemicals."
The wizard warily approached the table. When he got to the correct bottle, he heard a tiny voice, calling from inside. He looked inside, and saw his apprentice. The apprentice called out to him again. The wizard asked, "What?" And he put his ear against the opening of the bottle.
A tiny human hand reached out of the bottle, and gripped the lobe of the wizard's ear, pulling the ear into the bottle. The wizard cried out, "Let go of me, you idiot." The hand pulled him into the bottle with a sucking sound.
The apprentice climbed out of the bottle, and dusted himself off. He had a self-satisfied expression on his face, until he remembered where his master was. He had an urge to leave the house, and forget about ever becoming a wizard.
He could hear a tiny wizard's voice, coming from the bottle. He moved his ear to just outside the grasp of the tiny wizard's hand, which reached for him. The wizard shouted, "Closer!"
The apprentice considered throwing the bottle and breaking it. The wizard shouted, "Don't you dare!" The apprentice sighed, and let the wizard grab him and pull him into the bottle. The wizard climbed out of the bottle.
The wizard thought for a moment. Then he threw the bottle against the wall, breaking the bottle into a thousand cloudy-green pieces. The apprentice appeared among the broken glass, groaning in pain. The wizard said, "Magic bottle, a very clever trap."
The wizard went back to his search. He found a blue book. To him it looked red. He exclaimed, "Eureka! I've found it!" Perhaps "Eureka" was the name of his apprentice.
The wizard turned to see his apprentice. The apprentice was aiming a bow and arrow at the wizard. The wizard's mouth opened. And, the apprentice shot him. The wizard gasped and looked down at the arrow sticking from his chest.
The apprentice's vacant expression changed to horror, when he realized what he had done.
The wizard gasped, "I've found it," as he held up the blue book. He was in great pain. He gasped, "Help me out of here." The apprentice held him up, as they stumbled out the door. The wizard gasped, "Magic bow..."
"And arrow," the apprentice finished for him. "A very clever trap."
As soon as they had exited, the mouse used magic to close and lock the door. Later that night, he found the spell to counteract the spell that had immobilized the White Wizard.
The Black Wizard was disappointed that the book contained only mundane spells, of little use. His apprentice never told him that the book was blue.
The apprentice pulled out the arrow. But the tip remained stuck in the wizard's heart. It required most of his magic, just to keep himself alive. For the rest of his life, he wasn't much of a threat to the forces of good, in the kingdom.
The mouse soon became a full wizard. The White Wizard often invited him over for a beer or two. The White Wizard never tired of hearing the mouse retell this story. They took turns imitating the Black Wizard as he was being strangled. Sometimes, they would laugh all night, about it.
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