Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2083096-2-The-Wizard-on-the-Porch
by Jonn
Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Fantasy · #2083096
Abandoned draft. Restored. Folded. Thrashed. Yet it keeps drawing me back.
For your consideration, a random fragment from a rusted, unfinished project. I've got lots and lots of words; a circus of unfortunate, unruly characters vying for the lead, and a temperamental plot. The last I looked, Grammar and Punctuation were dancing nude in the kitchen. Posted here for your amusement and thoughts. Help me...


          The adventure went awry almost immediately.

Once young-- yes... I am remembering now. I was in a hurry, for the day had arrived. A day of days, when destiny would surely twist my path to one of audacious adventure. Life consisted of naught but sixteen years of youthful wisdom; familiar woods, villages, and easy roads filled all my experience. Alas, I rushed to leave all that behind. The past should not be discarded so thoughtlessly, often we find our finest selves when we dwell in the past... and the present and the future simultaneously. But, I did not know that when I began.

         As in my visions, I witnessed a city beyond wonder materialize from the mists and shadows ere the dawn... it was "Inari-Anar". Silhouetted before the sun with golden banners flying atop white watch towers and my long blond hair blowing in blue eyes. On that glorious summer morning as the light crested glistened three walls, twelve gates, and one mighty keep guarding the vast city. I had never seen the like of it. I dismounted and slowly knelt on the ground surprised at the tears. Dreams do come true.

         Of course, within an hour of passing the first gate I was lost and the City had me quite surrounded. Father and the horses had gone missing and I was alone in the crowd. I realized that there was no finding the inn where Mother awaited my return-- had I wanted to find it, which I did not, not yet.

         Father's disappearance was not unexpected. He did things like this all the time. He was good at losing me, especially on long walks in the hills or just out on the roads between villages, so it wasn't really my fault that I was lost. Father was trying to test me, I knew... although, in those days, I never knew what for.

         Food was everywhere, there was all manner of shops and inns crowded around the main square. I spent some time walking about in aimless wanderings, buying expensive appetizers that Mother would not approve of. I will admit that I felt a bit panicked at first, what with so many people, horses, and carriages, all in one place, and all moving at the same time. I had never seen such a commotion. It was all very exciting.

         Earlier, an hour before first light, We had made our preparations to enter the city.

         "William. I will be looking for a wizard I know," said Father cryptically. My father, Father Jonn, was a devout priest who quietly worked the miracles of his faith. His intentions today were a mystery. Wizards and Priests do not usually get on well and I was surprised to learn Father had any wizard friends at all.

         Something unusual was going on and as usual, no one told me anything.

         Father watched my mother's every move as she went about the rooms at the inn unpacking things. Mother was a slender, fragile woman with long dark hair and fine features, very different from most of the other woman of the Valley who had large sturdy bones. Some folks back home whispered that my great grandmother was an Elf; but of course, no one back home really believed in Elves.

          Mother laid out our clothes that day; for father, a biretta hat and black cassock with a shoulder cape that had bronze buttons down the front. I wore my red doublet with silver buttons and a matching hunters cap. I never wore such clothes except when I accompanied Father on "business" and believe me everyone at home stared to see us in such outlandish dress. Father also insisted that we both bear our broad belts and swords. Father was quite serious about it and did not explain his motives, which meant I was to say nothing and do as I was told.

         Father was not like normal fathers or anyone else 'normal' for that matter. He said and did the most unusual things and sometimes they were most disturbing. He trained me in the art of swordsmanship since I was old enough to carry a stick and he taught some of the local boys also, this was unheard of in my village. Some of the neighbors went so far as to gossip that nothing good would come of it, this was especially true after Father brought home a black powder cannon. What fun my friends and I had upsetting the local populace as we practiced firing that gun, we became quite good at it under my father's expert guidance. Oddly, I never wondered how a priest knew about such things.

         But, despite the military training, Father and I did not normally go about armed and I didn't want the burden of the thing, besides, I found the notion that I might need to defend myself unnerving. "Perhaps, it just the fashion," I thought to myself. In any case, once mounted and on our way, all worries faded.

         So there I was in the big city, a sword at my side and all dressed up and completely lost. Presently, my bewildered brain finally formed a plan. Father always said, “When lost-- sit; have a drink and perhaps something to eat. You will think better then." Therefore, in need of a peaceful place away from the confounding crowd, I entered an open archway leading into a tower. I climbed the stairs to the top and there a guard stood in a colorful uniform bearing a sword and arquebus, he didn't seem to mind my company.

         The battlement was marvelous, a quiet place with a soft warm breeze. A quick look around restored my sense of direction. A battery of gleaming bronze cannon gazed down on the city's high-peaked slate roofs and then beyond the walls to surrounding villages and their green lands. In the far north, a river emerged from forested foothills, the water flowing over many falls as it ran past the East Gate; it continued southward, passing the city docks and flowing into a valley which went on away forever to a misty distance.

         "Good morning!" the guard said cheerfully. "What brings you here today? Come for the view, perhaps?"

         "No sir, I have come seeking a wizard but my father has lost me and I came up here to get away from the crowd."

         "What's this. Come looking for a Wizard. And your father lost as well...Ah, I see. It's easy to get lost here. The streets here are made to confuse our enemies, alas, they confuse our friends as well. Unfortunately, no wizards have been up here today, nor fathers looking for their sons. Do you have a name or address for this wizard you seek?”

         “No sir... no one tells me anything.”

         “I understand your problem exactly. No one tells a soldier anything either. By the way, my name is Grendale. I'm a corporal,” he touched a patch on his sleeve proudly. He appeared five or so years older than I.

         “My name is William. I am especially pleased to meet you.”

         “Well now, William, there is a well-known wizard out front of that big Inn over there, maybe he can help you. He possesses an excellent reputation. Should you remain lost come see me again, I will be here till the first bell past noon and after that you can find me at home." He handed me a crumpled card with an address on it.

         “Thank you very much, Grendale!”

         “Now, best be off with thee William, good luck!”

         I looked over the parapet and I saw the porch of an impressive, half-timber structure, some four stories high with walls of stone. It felt better knowing where I was going. I bid farewell to Grendale, thanking him again for his help, then flew down the stairs and out to the square.

         I stood at the curb of a wide boulevard lined with birch trees and stared at a sign across the way: “The Royal Inn at Drummond Hill.” Then I felt a firm hand suddenly placed on my shoulder and started in surprise. It was Father, who often appeared as suddenly as he vanished. I was speechless, so it was he who finally broke the silence after a long minute.

         "Thought I would find you here," said Father, he did not look at me but rather he stared at a cloaked man seated on a porch across the boulevard. "See there the wise man wearing his wizard cloak and grasping his wizard staff. That one there is an Old Wizard and there are not many of them left to be found."

         “Father, did you really expect me to find this man all by myself?”

         “No, William, I expected him to find you. All that was needed on your part was to have faith in your instincts and the wisdom to follow them.”

         On the large, stone porch of the Royal Drummond many astounding plants sat in large pots scattered all about the floor and in an extra-large rocking chair sat an extra-large man. He was not a giant, a giant would have crushed the chair but this man filled it completely; obviously, this was his chair built purposely for this purpose.

         His hat caught my attention immediately, it was not a pointy, broad-brimmed hat commonly associated with wizards but rather a black cavalier hat made of beaver felt with one side pinned up by a round cloak pin. A flamboyant feather was stuck in the hatband and long, red hair flowed from beneath the hat and fell about the man's shoulders in curls

         A group of children was gathered before the tall, powerful man and listened intently as the wizard told his tale. They chewed on pastries and chocolates from a low table. The story produced many smiles, much laughter, plus a few frightened minutes of silence.

          I recognized the voice immediately. It was the one I heard while atop the tower. I had to find out more about this wizard. He was dressed in magnificent style, turned out in a black cloak of fine intricately embroidered fabric so long it almost touched the ground. A cloak to be worn only in the best parts of the city since dirt streets would not agree with it. Shiny, tall black boots and tan riding breeches complimented a white silk shirt with ruffles running down the front. A bell tolled Eleven, it was still morning.

         We three, all had one thing in common, we were armed. "No one else is," I thought.

         The Wizard carried a rapier, a long, lean, deadly weapon and in his left hand he grasped a staff, not a walking stick, this was clearly a magic staff. All in all, he appeared a very formidable Wizard indeed and a rather friendly one too; and that seemed most uncommon. Most folks who wield magic are not reputed for their social skills or their love of children.

         "An 'Old' Wizard?" I asked Father, "but he does not seem that 'old' at all."

         Father spoke to me without taking his eyes off the Wizard on the porch.

         “It is the soul which is old.”

         "To understand such men you must know that they carry many secrets, both of murder and mercy. These wizards are wanderers, perpetually searching and never-resting long. Their quest drives them on with a terrible passion."

         I found 'murder' a most alarming practice, secret or otherwise, for old or young wizards and I looked at the children, with their sticky fingers, laughing as they listened to the story-teller.

         "Murder?!" I said dismayed, “ he does not look dangerous from here?"

         Father's tone turned grave, "and yet, he is a very dangerous man. These men seek always to do good. They know the right of things and the wrong and they invest their lives in the difference. An Old Wizard will always fight for his convictions. You must be careful around such men, lest you get caught up in one of their heroic tales. But this wizard here is special and you can trust him with your life.”

         An uncomfortable feeling developed in my gut as the conversion turned ominous.

         A passing carriage momentarily blocked my view and once it passed I was startled to see the wizard staring directly at me. Fierce blue eyes held me, I could not turn away. The broad face looked very familiar with its prominent features and great red beard, mustache, and bushy eyebrows.

I gathered my thoughts as I saw Father's attention go elsewhere, for he was attending to the faithful. Many people in the square noticed the tall, handsome priest in their midst and paused to say good morning and ask for a blessing as was the custom.

          Father chanted a very long blessing for a decrepit old woman dressed in a shabby black dress. She held a baby, the child was very still and breathing slowly.

I was impatient and oft self-centered at that time. Long experience and hardship would eventually teach me to be better than that. But now all I wanted was to learn more about the Wizard. When I could not remain silent any longer I blurted out, "What is this Wizard's quest and why must he wander?"

I had interrupted Father and he was not pleased, I could tell. Father gave me a stern look and returned to finish the prayer. He picked up the child and cradled it in his left arm, his right hand covered the babies face and he whispered into its ear. He gently rocked back and forth, he swayed as if music moved him.

Then the infant stirred and cooed grabbing for my father's buttons as it stretched its arms and legs. The old woman took the baby back and held it close. She wept and touched my father's arm. A small crowd had gathered and applauded. Father grabbed my arm sternly and moved me down the street .

"Now," he said, "to your very important question that could not wait. Think you that maybe that woman was too poor or the child too small to be worthy of your notice."

"I'm sorry, Father"

"William, you have no right to be sorry," Father said quietly. "You have the wisdom to know what is right and to be right the first time. I will expect more from you in the future."

"Yes Sir,"

         "Now then... These men, the 'Old Wizards', are nomads by choice and inclination, traveling here and there about the world, searching for those of good will who yearn to do good works. Those who choose to follow an Old Wizard will gain wisdom and strength beyond their greatest ambitions. These champions will gather warriors and philosophers to their cause; they intend to make the weak strong and change the world."

         "But Father how can you know so much about this man?"

         "I know him better than any other man. He is my brother."

         My mind was spinning and suddenly I felt light headed. "You never told me I had an uncle?"

         "He is your Uncle James and no one can teach you better than he all the things you will need to know and I have decided that you will travel with him so that you may learn what good you can do."

         "But father, that could take years and years!"

         "Yes it will, my son, it will. Ten years, at least... I think. It took me fifteen."

         Leaning on a tree for support, I contemplated that my life was changing faster than I ever anticipated. And now that it came to it, I was not so sure that this was the dream I had been dreaming.


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