by TINMAN 4000
Weatherdale has a mysterious visitor.
The Thorns in the Mage
There was once a small town called Weatherdale, a town known for the regular visits by an unusual, mysterious man who would always arrive to teach the townspeople about the adventures he's had and he'd teach them about his wisdom and philosophy. But if you paid the price and deemed worthy, he'd teach you a spell. And one thing he would always tell people that he was looking for an apprentice to whom he would teach everything, to become the new Mage, but the apprentice would not only have to be worthy, but also be able to bear great burden.
The townspeople never let me near him, they said I was not worthy to even see him, let alone learn anything, but they were kinda right, because I was an infamous and unforgivable child, I stole and I lied, my practical jokes were quite infamous, too. I was called the Bane of Weatherdale, so how could I ever be worthy of anything? One day, when the Mage was in the town square, surrounded by his usual crowd, I was determined to see him. I've tried simply squeezing through the crowd, but I would quickly be recognized and kicked out, so I had to get a little more crafty. I found an unattended cart of straw and began pushing it towards the crowd and it started gaining speed. As the crowd broke up to help stop the cart, I drew my hood down and ran around to the backside of the crowd and forced myself through the people, now distracted by the cart, and found myself in the inner part of the crowd, right in view with the Mage, who calmly watched the men frantically scramble around the cart with his vibrant green eyes as they tried to find the best way to stop it, but the Mage simply observed them while he sat cross-legged on his mat as if the world was a theater and he was the director.
As expected, the crowd regrouped when the cart was stopped and prompted the Mage to continue his story, which he did. "And so I fought the ferocious Stone Giants of the Earth day and night until I learned a spell that shattered them into many pieces, and each piece became an island, forming the archipelago we now call the Saxum Bridge Archipelago, which is now home to the peaceful rock people." His voice was deep, understanding and Earth shattering, I found myself deeply invested into the story.
"Wait, you had to learn a spell?" I said without realizing I said it. The townspeople stirred at the sound of my voice, but I had the attention of the Mage, I was unstoppable.
He gave me a warm grin. "Well of course, little one, no one ever stops having to learn."
"Really?" I asked excitedly.
"Would you mind going on a walk with me, young man?"
I was shell-shocked. "Uhh, o-of course I would! I would love to!"
The crowd grew ever quiet. "Good. Follow me." He stood and led me through the crowd who stared at me with agape mouths as we walked out of the town square and to the forest outside of Weatherdale. The forest was filled with autumn trees that rained red and gold leaves as sunlight poured through the branches. We crossed a small bridge over a beautiful brooke and he looked up into the sky and took a deep breath.
"I've always loved this forest, there is a certain magic about it. Just to feel all the life and beauty of this place" He said, then he looked down at me. "Are any questions troubling you, son?"
One of many popped out of my mouth. "Are you really two-hundred years old?"
"Yes, that is true." He said with a smile and a nod.
"Do you know all of the spells in the world?"
"There are always new things to learn."
"Are you actually the wisest man in the universe?"
He chuckled and shrugged. "Can't really answer that."
"Because wisdom cannot be measured, it's something you determine yourself." He said as we reached a clearing with a ring of large stones and an apple tree in the center. "Aah, my favorite spot to practice magic." He sat on the ground by the tree. I sat across from him. He closed his eyes.
"What do you think of magic?" He asked.
I answered as honestly as I could. "I think magic is a tool."
He smiled. "Good, very good. And you are right, it is a tool, a very useful tool. But a little known fact about magic is that it always comes with a price."
"Are you paying the price for your own magic?" I asked.
He nodded. "Constantly."
His face darkened. "Pain. Uncertainty. Fear for the future. These are the thorns in my feet, because magic is not something that is ment to give us power over others. It's a sacrifice in return for something else, and I am asking you if you're willing to make the same sacrifice."
"Are you asking me to become your apprentice?" I asked.
"It will not be easy, but you will go on many great adventures and inspire many people for many generations, for the greater good of the universe."
"But I'm not worthy!" I protested. "I am a thief and a cheat. I am not worthy of anything!"
"Of course you are." he said. "Just because you steal bread from the rich baker doesn't mean you won't give it to a starving child."
I thought for a while, what would I be leaving behind, and what would lie in the future for me? I wouldn't be leaving much behind, everyone else treats me like dirt. But what would it mean, for me to become the Mage? Would I be crushed by the burden, or will I do amazing things for the benefit of Mankind? After a long consideration I came up with a definitive answer: "Yes."