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Fiction, © Copyright 2000, Jim Loy
Bonny considered herself handicapped. For one thing, she had no magic talents, and she lived in a land of magic. And for another thing, she was a girl. She was an artist; she drew pictures; she was very good at that. But still, people did not take her seriously, because of her "handicaps." And so, she was dissatisfied and unhappy.
One day a sinister (word spread that he was evil) old man, wearing a black, hooded robe, and carrying a tall, twisted, wooden staff, arrived in the village. People avoided him, as he looked like he was on the verge of turning someone into a small amphibious animal. He made his way into the inn, and confronted the fat inn keeper. The inn keeper was a loud, jolly man until that very moment when fear flowed through his body. The old man said in a voice that was something like a whisper, "I have need of the services of an artist, someone who can draw."
"Bonny. That's who you want. I'll go get her." And the inn keeper ran out the door, like an athlete. Shortly, he returned, pushing Bonny before him.
The old man stared into her eyes for a moment, and then whispered, "You'll do."
"Do what?" Bonny asked defiantly.
The old man chuckled, or maybe coughed, "I will pay you ten copper pieces a day to draw maps for me. His Majesty, the King has given me the task of mapping the kingdom. And I am starting the project with your miserable valley."
Bonny said, "Very well, I accept." Inside she was jumping with joy. This important person, straight from the king, was taking her seriously. Soon everyone would take her seriously. And ten copper pieces a day would soon make her rich.
As everyone had guessed, the old man was a wizard. He and Bonny wandered all over the valley, and into neighboring valleys, making maps. The old wizard was very happy with Bonny's maps, although he never smiled. "You are an amazing young woman. I have never seen maps this accurate."
Bonny was delighted with her job. She was constantly humming happy tunes, and greeting every bird that flew by. She even found herself skipping.
One day, as they worked on top of a hill, the old wizard said, "I must go to the village, to send these maps to His Majesty the King." His donkey carried two large canvas bags full of maps. "You finish that map you are drawing, and then go to the base of that mountain over yonder. I will meet you there in three days."
Bonny looked where he was pointing and nodded, "Yes sir." She moved the straight edge on her map, and started drawing another line. When she looked up, the wizard was gone. She turned to look through her telescope at the river that she was drawing, and there she saw the wizard leading his donkey across the rock bridge that spanned the river. She was puzzled. The wizard was going in the wrong direction. He was going away from the village. As she puzzled over this, she noticed that she had made a mistake on her map. She was sure that she had drawn one of the curves of the river too large. She looked through the telescope, and the curve was large, just as she had drawn it. But she remembered it as being small. She erased the curve, and drew it smaller. Then she looked into the telescope, and the curve was small. Her heart was pounding rapidly now. On the edge of her map, she drew a non-existent mountain. And there, in her telescope, was her new mountain. She had created an entire mountain, just by drawing it. She had a magic talent, and a major magic talent at that.
She had to go tell the wizard. Where was he? She scanned the road with her telescope. There he was; he was entering the canyon to the North. What was he doing? He couldn't have gone North by mistake, he would have realized his mistake by now. She looked farther into the canyon with her telescope. And she saw a flash of light. She replaced the eyepiece with a more powerful one. And what she saw, up the canyon, seemed to make her heart stop. For there she saw a great army, an army of misshapen man-like creatures. They were dressed in black armor. And the sun sometimes reflected off the blades of spears. Some of these creatures were riding on the backs of huge lizards. A feeling of dread ran through her. They were an invading army. She must warn the wizard. She found him again with her telescope. He was very close to the invaders. Surely he should see them by now. And then it was obvious that he did see the invaders, as he waved to them as he approached them. After a time, the wizard met the leading edge of the invading army. And Bonny saw him give the evil creatures her maps. A wave of illness seemed to sweep over her.
Then she had an idea. Maybe she could use her new-found magic talent to keep the invaders out of the valley. On her map, she drew the aftermath of an avalanche to block the path of the army. In the distance, she heard rumbling, as the avalanche filled the canyon. She did not want to kill anyone. She just wanted to discourage them. So she had just blocked their path. And she felt a resistance of some kind in the air. As she watched through her telescope, she saw her avalanche slowly disappear; it was melting away into nothing. And then the path was unblocked again. She saw the wizard waving his staff. He had neutralized her magic. She saw the avalanche disappear from her map.
And then she felt the wizard searching for her. Then she became weak, too weak to move. And then the wizard was standing before her, but he was hazy like a ghost. This ghostlike image said, "So, no magic talent, eh? It would seem that you are a wizard almost as powerful as I." He saw the fear in her face. "No, I cannot kill you. There is a little secret which I must share with you. We wizards do not kill each other, no matter how much we would like to. If I were to kill you, I very likely would lose all of my magical powers. Remember that. You cannot kill me either." He chuckled. "You would almost certainly lose this new-found magical power. And you know that that would be worse than death." As he said this, Bonny involuntarily walked to a tree. And a rope from her backpack crawled toward her, and then wrapped itself tightly around her and the tree. And then it tied itself in a knot. The image said, "I must leave you now, as I have work to do. You have been very helpful. I am sure that, when this is all over, I can find a dungeon to keep you out of trouble, a dungeon with no paper and ink." And he disappeared.
Bonny struggled with the rope. And it did not budge. Then she started drawing a picture in the dirt with her toe, as she had no shoes. She drew a picture of the hilltop, and the tree, and a stick figure standing away from the tree. Then the rope untied itself, and she was free. She looked through her telescope, and there marched the evil army. She was not sure that she could kill them all, or even very many of them. She did not know how quickly or how well the old wizard could counteract the spell.
Then, she pulled a fresh piece of paper from her backpack. She drew a picture of the top of the hill that she stood upon. On it she drew a stone monument. On the monument, she wrote the date, and then, "On this day an evil wizard died near here, while leading an invading army from the North." And the wizard dropped dead. The invading army panicked and ran. The valley and the kingdom were saved. And Bonny mourned the loss of her magic talent, a talent that she had dreamed about all of her life.
Had she really lost her talent? She tried to draw maps and other pictures. They were always wrong. She couldn't do it. Her talent was indeed gone.
She told no one about the invasion, or about how she had stopped it. Who would believe her? But she had found an inner confidence and pride. She knew what she had done. And mysteriously, people came to respect her greatly. And some people wondered if she had had anything to do with the strange monument at the top of the hill.
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