"Mr. Ollivander," Harry finally said, "Eirran taught Willen lots of things, but not how to fight. How was Willen able to discover his own magik?"
The wand maker smiled. "We were just getting to that part."
The chime from the clock on the mantel rang six times. As it finished, Mr. Ollivander took his pocket watch out and compared the two timepieces. He nodded and looked at Harry.
"But it looks like we will have to wait until tomorrow to see how Willen discovers magik. Mr. Potter, we seem to be on an acceptable schedule with our inventory. I am grateful to you for your assistance."
Harry smiled sheepishly. "I'm glad to help, sir. The story makes the work go faster. Thanks for telling it to me. This'd be boring otherwise." Harry remembered his manners. "Oh, but I didn't mean..."
"No apologies are needed, Mr. Potter. Taking inventory is a yearly necessity, but it is tedious. The story has helped the time pass for me as well. I have not told this tale since my son asked about our founding nigh on twenty years ago, I believe it was. But it is time to stop for the day. We can continue tomorrow."
At that very moment a bell sounded from the back room. It was not like the clock or the door chime at the front. Harry had been in the back room earlier in the day to help Mr. Ollivander stock a delivery of dragon heartstrings and ebony wand wood. He knew that the back door was bolted and had no ringer. From the back room an owl with a message shot through the curtain and landed on the counter right next to the shop owner. Mr. Ollivander recovered the piece of parchment from the Ministry pouch on the owl. He read the message and said something that disconcerted Harry, "Curious... curious.…"
Harry gulped. He remembered the first time he had heard Mr. Ollivander speak those words two summers ago. "Sorry, sir, but what's curious?"
The wand master looked from the parchment to the young wizard.
"Mr. Potter. I find myself in need of a dinner partner for the evening. Have you ever eaten at Greenbees Fine Cuisine? It is not far, between Gringotts Wizarding Bank and Madam Malkin's.
"On Wednesday evenings they always prepare a lamb specialty. I must confess I have a partiality for lamb, but they also have an excellent selection of other fine dishes. I would enjoy the company, you will be my guest of course, and we will be able to continue the story of Willen. I would not be mistaken if I assume that you do not want to leave him in the dungeon this evening, would I?"
Harry's eyes lit up. Indeed, he did want to know what was going to happen next in the story. Though there were many dissimilarities, Harry found that he identified with Willen in his desperate trip through life.
"Brilliant! I would like to hear more of the story."
"Then dinner at Greenbees it is. Just let me pen a return note."
Please inform CF the boy will dine with me this evening at Greenbees. - O
"Now, I will bank the fire..." A flick of Ollivander's wand and the ashes were pushed to the back of the fireplace. "...lower the curtains..." Flick. Flick. Flick. "...extinguish the torches..." Flick. "...and we will be off as soon as I lock the door. Colloportus."
It was only a minute's leisurely walk from the shop to the restaurant. However, Mr. Ollivander took his time, looked into almost all of the windows of his fellow shop owners, and tipped his hat to all those they passed.
Madam Malkin greeted them on the street and stopped to speak briefly, as did Mr. Eeylop. Harry noticed, as usual, that they both had recognized him and furtively glanced at his forehead in hopes of seeing the famous scar. However, after acknowledging him, they were both very eager to give their best regards to Mr. Ollivander.
The distinguished old gentleman was reserved as always, but not the least unfriendly. Harry believed he spoke to his fellow proprietors as equals - no condescension or haughtiness. He seemed genuinely interested in them. But they were very delighted to see and talk to Mr. Ollivander. When he asked about the latest fashions for returning students and about the new owls for the first years at Hogwarts, the two shopkeepers seemed a bit honored when they realized he was so aware of their business issues.
The young wizard and elder wandmaster passed by Gringotts Wizard Bank and stepped to the door of the building between the bank and Madam Malkin's. There was no sign out front. It seemed as if you wanted to eat there, you would know where it was located. Harry had always assumed it was the private home of some rich wizard family.
As they walked up, the door opened for them. "Ah, Mr. Ollivander. It is a true honor and pleasure to have you as our guest again this evening. And I am delighted to see you have brought Mr. Potter for the first of hopefully many visits with us."
The person who greeted them in a rich and melodious basso profoundo voice wore perfectly tailored formal robes with a bright red rose in his buttonhole. His shoes were polished to a sparkle, which was visible even in the dim light. In spite of this his appearance presented a surprising contrast with his voice and his clothing.
This Mr. Greenbee was the seventh generation owner of Greenbees Fine Cuisine and he was, despite the richness of his voice and the formality of his dress, only eighteen years old. (In fact, Harry thought that the baby-faced young man looked closer to twelve.) It was easy for Harry to remember someone who had the same first name that he did. He remembered Harry Greenbee from Hogwarts. Greenbee had been a seventh year Hufflepuff the previous year, but at first Harry had thought that he was younger. Even now, Greenbee was still shorter than he was, and Harry (Potter) was one of the shortest boys in his year.
Now Harry Greenbee was Harry's host, once removed from Mr. Ollivander. Greenbee almost made it through the greeting and seating of the two in a private room without looking at Harry Potter's forehead - almost. That slip helped Harry feel a little more comfortable with his surroundings.
"Mr. Ollivander, I believe you are here for the night's lamb specialty, as usual?"
"Yes, Mr. Greenbee, I am anxious to hear how you are preparing it tonight, and please tell Mr. Potter of your other specials this evening as well."
"Excellent. Excellent. Tonight we feature the Crushed Fennel Lamb Rack accompanied by bulgur wheat, artichoke stew, and a Brussels sprout emulsion. We also have a delightful Crisp Black Sea Bass served with truffle potatoes and Champagne sauce. From our regular menu I find it most difficult to choose one or two favorites. Everything on the Greenbees menu is of the highest quality and has my personal guarantee of satisfaction."
Here the proprietor leaned in conspiratorially. "But if I were deciding tonight, in addition to the Lamb and Sea Bass, I would also consider the Filet Mignon with Creamy Spinach, Silken Potato, and Spring Onions, and the Chicken Cocoban with slightly steamed broccoli and a wild greens salad with raspberry vinegarette dressing."
Young Potter had been in only two other wizarding eating establishments in his life, the Leaky Cauldron and Florean Fortescue's. The Dursleys had denied him the experience of eating in a restaurant, except for the rushed meal in the hotel restaurant they ate while running from Harry’s Hogwarts’ letter owls.
Because of this, Harry seemed stunned by the descriptions told to him.
Mr. Ollivander of course understood the dilemma and rescued him from indecision and possible embarrassment. "Well, Mr. Potter. You decision is simple. All of these choices will be a delight. You merely need to choose between lamb, fish, beef, and chicken."
It was a lifeline. From the long litany of food possibilities four clear choices appeared.
"Beef, please." The covert look of relief may have gone unnoticed by Greenbee, but the wandmaster missed nothing.
"And the Crushed Fennel Lamb Rack is much too much for me to resist," added Ollivander. "Thank you, Mr. Greenbee. As always the delights of your culinary offerings are only outweighed by the warmth of your hospitality."
Harry Greenbee actually blushed at the praise rendered. Harry Potter noticed once again the earnestness of wanting to please Mr. Ollivander in particular.
In the two years he had been in the wizarding world, our young hero had heard many discuss the legendary wand-making firm of Ollivanders. There was no other place in Great Britain to buy a wand. But in less than four hours Harry had noticed four different people from four different and diverse business establishments in Diagon Alley most delighted with the older gentleman's attention.
That the serving girl Marcie Polkind might be affected this way was not unusual. But Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions, Eeylops Owl Emporium, and Greenbees Fine Cuisine were all larger and more prosperous looking establishments than Ollivanders. Young Harry concluded that it must be the man, his host and temporary employer, who caused this reaction.
Within two minutes of ordering, the drinks were served. Harry was presented with iced pumpkin juice and he watched Mr. Ollivander taste and approve a red wine.
The two were left alone and Mr. Ollivander spoke. "I believe we left young Willen incarcerated in a dungeon with a life sentence, and with what had once appeared to be a madman. Willen now knows Latin, basic economics, and that he must discover magik with little help from Eirran the Seer.
"Mr. Potter. Do you think you will be able to understand my telling of this tale without the interruptions of calling out wand descriptions?"
Harry smiled and then smiled even more. Mr. Ollivander had told a joke!
"If I miss something, sir, I know you'll be nice enough to explain..." Harry was pleased that he could continue the humor.
"Well, Willen is in the dungeon. He has just been told that Eirran is a Druid, just like Porto."
And now our story continues.
The shock was evident on Willen's face. "But how could you be a Druid?"
"Willen, would you want an outsider to judge all of the people of Loundon's Towne by the way Caedric the Fisher treats you?"
The look of shock was replaced by a look of confusion, then contemplation.
"You have told me there are almost three hundred people living in Loundon's Towne. Of those hundreds there are perhaps a dozen people with the Touch that you know of, perhaps a few more. Even of that dozen there are those that have treated you better than others, correct?"
Willen could not see where the old man was going with this line of thought, but it had distracted him from his confusion. He nodded in agreement.
"Now, imagine people by the thousands, tens of thousands, tens and tens and tens of thousands. My people are the Celts, and those are our numbers. Over two hundred years ago we began spreading out all over the world. We were, and still are, a fierce and proud people who would have liked to move into new lands in peace, but quite often we had to fight to stake our claim to the farmland and water sources we needed.
"Within the large population of Celts there came into prominence a group of us who discovered that we had what you call the Touch. Of course we called it something else, which doesn't matter. We developed our talents and skills and trained in many different manners of helping our people. Those of us recognized with the gift or ability enter into rigorous training at a young age. It takes years of very hard, work and those of us who succeed are rightfully honored and proud. We are known by different names, but Druid will suffice. Any of us within the Celtic nations with the skill and training will answer to that name. I consider it a noble calling to be a Druid. We are teachers and diplomats and we try to help rulers govern wisely. We even help keep the peace when different tribes of Celts find themselves at odds with each other.
"We Celts, like all people, have had both good folk and bad among us. I was raised and trained to believe that a sacred part of our Druidic trust was to temper the excesses and ill-conceived intentions of troublemakers and rulers alike, and to stop it if absolutely necessary.
"It has been over two hundred years since my ancestors left our homelands and moved here to Gaul. I have never been to the lands of our origin, nor do I ever plan to. There have been several waves of Celts leaving our homelands since my forefathers created Gaul out of a few scattered villages. But to me and to others like me, this latest migration is somehow different, somehow not like the rest of us. Rather than going into sparsely populated areas and building townes and cities of size, culture, and economic strength as has been Celtic practice, this new generation of Celts wants the success without the effort. They seem to want to take over established communities and reap the benefits of others' hard work by force rather than merit.
"Fifteen springs ago, roughly one hundred Celts approached my city of Remers and asked about the strength of our force at arms and the prowess in battle of our leaders. There was no subtlety to them. Several of my fellow Druids and I arrived at the city gate to meet with them. They quickly changed their demeanor when they recognized us. As is the practice of hospitality among Celts, we invited the leaders to a banquet that very evening. We wanted to better assess their intentions and any possible threats to our city - we are not hospitable without good reason. We knew a full belly and some of our strongest mead would loosen their tongues. Of course it worked.
"They began to ask about other townes and villages in Gaul that did not have Celtic populations. We told them that all townes, and even most villages of size in Gaul, were of significant Celtic makeup if not completely Celtic in origin. This information caused them to be agitated. Finally, the quiet one of the five leaders we were entertaining spoke.
"'And in the cities and villages, there are Druids such as yourself?'"
"The questioner was a sallow pinch-faced man of middle age. He gave his name as Halno with no title accompanying it. His manner of speech caused me to pay very close attention to his wording. I was the only Druid at the table with the Lord of Remers and our guests. The question was mine to answer. 'There are Druids enough in Gaul to provide our traditional services to each region. We are not spread too thin as to allow our people to go unaided.'
"Before he asked his next question I realized what had initially bothered me about him. The leaders of these new Celts had ridden up to our gates without one of my fellow Druids with them. I would have never been left out of a parlay of such a nature, so I assumed that none of our brothers were with them. Three other of our guests had introduced themselves with their titles. They were leaders of their band of travelers and warriors. The other two would be the senior most of the minor functionaries. But when this one spoke, the others became most attentive and respectful. There was only one type of person a Celtic Lord would pay such deference to. Halno was a Druid, and did not want us to know it. I struggled to keep my face impassive with this realization, but Halno was too self-assured to notice.
"He next asked, 'And what of the island of Albion? Are any of our brother Celts there, building cities and townes? Have your fellow Druids begun aiding those of that land?'
"Willen, my Uncle Trandin had visited Albion out of curiosity three summers before that spring, so I knew of your land. But I did not know of this Halno's plan or why he was disguised. I told him of my uncle's travels and the fact that there were no cities at all and that there were only small, scattered villages and Keeps in the sparsely inhabited land.
"I finished by saying, 'There is plenty of room for your bands to spread out and begin to farm and populate. In a few generations you will have thriving villages as we had here in Gaul a hundred years ago. We will trade with you if you build a port.'
"He seemed to have either bitten into a bad piece of meat or he did not like what he had heard. Since he was not eating at the moment I assumed he did not like what I had told him. He said nothing more and after an uncomfortable silence he looked oddly at his nominal lord. The leader began to ask about hunting in the nearby forests.
"Willen, this attempt at subterfuge was so amateurish that I did not consider this new wave of Celts to be any threat to my city. In less than four days they had hunted a reasonable amount of game from the forests and were on their way back in the direction that they came. We at Remers were, and still are, one of the largest cities in Gaul. When these bunglers left us, we thought, "Good riddance."
"But beginning six cycles ago we began to hear of small bands of heavily armed Celts traveling along the coast to the point nearest Albion. There they had hired or stolen fishing boats and were sailing to Albion. We Celts have never been a seagoing people, though I have heard that our brothers in Iberia have become boat builders and seafarers of some skill. These small bands from our homeland had no such skill at that time, but they sailed on sunny days only when they could see the white cliffs of your country. Now they have some sailing skills and are sending larger groups to your island.
"I did not and do not blame them for leaving our homeland. It is always cold there, I have been told, and difficult to farm. They are only doing what my forefathers did. They are different though. It seemed to me that they did not want to create a land of their own to be proud of, as we are proud of Remers and Gaul. The ones we met wanted to take over established villages and townes and Keeps. This Porto and Bonderman are of the same ilk as Halno. Apparently they want to go in and demand homage and payment with no work of their own.
"There must be some with them that are hardworking and properly ambitious, but the only ones we have met are greedy and unscrupulous. Ones like Porto."
"Eirran, if these new invaders are smaller in number than you and your fellow Druids and Celts, then why do you stand for their greed and disruptive ways?"
"There are two reasons. First they have always been small groups until recently, and they have not come near us. They avoid our strongholds and only attack the smallest of our trading convoys, and that occurred rarely. They have not tried to take one of our villages, but in the last two cycles they have begun attacking individual farms. They ransack and kill everyone in these farms that do not give them what they want instantly. The farms are all Celtic homesteads and it is not in the nature of a Celt, man or woman, to allow freebooters to have their way. So the individual farmers fight and are killed by these roving bands. At first the deaths were the obvious work of sword or axe, but more and more, the deaths we discover have been mysterious to us. The unexplainable deaths show no cause of death on their bodies, they are just dead, usually with either a surprised or upset look on their faces.
"As for the second reason we have not yet forced them to cease their disreputable ways... with the increase of attacks we had heard of the olive wood sticks that concentrates the power of their Touch. We did not know where these sticks came from until you told me. They have turned the small river mouth they use as an embarkation point for Albion into a fortress. We do not know how many have these olive sticks and do not want to face them with the extent of their power unknown to us.
The south of Gaul is far from us. I made great haste traveling through that area on my visit to Etruria and Tusci to learn Latin. In southern Gaul there were plenty of trees of all kinds, most of which you will never see around here, but I do not remember any called olive trees. Of course I was not searching for different types of plants and there could be different names for the same tree.
"On my way south I noticed one tree with what looked like delicious and juicy berries. I popped one in my mouth and could not spit it out fast enough. It was bitterer than twice curdled and soured goat's milk on a hot day. A few days later I rescued a local from a wolf. I did not speak his language, nor he mine, but he and his wife offered me a place by their fire that evening and fed me supper. He pressed a number of those berries and she used the juice to fry food. It does not have the hardy taste of beef or pork fat, so I was not favorably impressed, but they seemed partial to it.
The first harvest faire after Willen left Loundon's Towne had been a success, but not as in previous years. For the first time there had been no increase in attendance. Actually a few less people had visited the faire that season.
Caedric the Fisher had been bemoaning the fact that all those he had spoken to were very hesitant to come. Many villages nearby had previously provided a significant number of the faire's attendees. Bonderman had made his demands of obeisance to each of them. The self-styled Keeper of land had "suggested" to all of his villages that attending the faire might not be wise, and many had decided to follow that advice. Those were the people Caedric had talked to on his fishing trips.
Caedric was a fearful man. He was a coward who always saw the worst in every situation, and he worked extra hard to prove he was right. Though Caedric boat was not a seagoing craft, he had ventured up and down the eastern coast of Albion on warmer, fair weather days. Now, he never venture even to the mouth of the Tameas. Because of his fears he did not even fish as far from Loundon's Towne as he used to. The sizes of his catches suffered from this. Most villages near them were also situated on the Tameas River to ensure a constant water supply. Many of their number did not want to travel far from home in uncertain times, so the number of those fishing near each other went up and the supply of fish went down.
Hard times produce harder times.
One day before the harvest faire began, Stellan the Fisher arrived at their shoreline and tied up his boat. Being a seagoing craft and not a riverboat, it dug a deeper groove in the wet sand than Caedric's riverboat had dug. For no justifiable reason this deeper groove bothered Caedric. Of course it was not the size of the craft or the depth of the groove. All of those who remembered Stellan from when they had helped him repair his boat greeted him warmly. Torban asked him if he had any fish with him. Stellan produced a three-foot long cod and sold it and the rest of his catch in about the time it took to empty his hold. Caedric had landed an hour before with his third dismal catch in as many days. This is what bothered Caedric.
"Hello, Constantia," said Stellan. "I would recognize you anywhere. You look exactly like you did the last time I saw your face, so beautiful."
The young girl, now fourteen summers old, blushed and was flustered at the same time.
Meala was as confused as her daughter. "Stellan. She was but a little girl when you were here. I kept her away from your boat and the reconstruction for fear of her being in the way and getting hurt. She has come into her growth and is two heads taller now."
"Meala, I saw her likeness three seasons ago. Willen has carved the most remarkable likeness of her in-"
"Willen!" Constantia screamed. "You have seen Willen. How is he? Where is he? Is he safe? Is he...." Constantia stopped and burst into tears.
"So you have met the dog boy, Willen, have you, Stellan?" The bitterness in Caedric's voice dripped like cold bile.
"Yes, I have met Willen. He took passage with me to the coast of Gaul. It was smooth for half the trip and he was seasick. Then a storm arose and he gained his sea legs and became quite the traveler. He should be well on his way to the south of Gaul by now."
"Ha! That useless orphan is probably long rotting in a grave, if those who killed him did the easiest thing and buried him. It's doubtful. That lazy-eyed wastrel could no more find his way than flap his arms and fly. He is useless and clumsy, and he has everyone's hopes up for no reason." He turned to the girl. "Do not waste your tears on the likes of that little snotty... Ouuff!"
Constantia had been crying. When Caedric started his tirade about Willen she increased her sobbing. When the irate Fisher turned his venting from Stellan towards her she seemed horror stricken. At first Stellan thought he had punched Caedric to stop him from further upsetting the girl. But that was not the main reason. At that moment Stellan realized that he considered Willen a friend. Stellan was honest enough with himself to admit, only to himself, that he did not have many friends.
Not only was Willen a friend, Stellan realized that he believed in Willen. He believed in his mission, his quest. Stellan truly hoped the young wood gatherer was going to succeed. Willen was sacrificing years of his life, and perhaps even his life, for this village. Stellan was not going to hear him degraded by this sniveling little excuse for a Fisher.
"Fisher," Stellan addressed the little man who was doubled over trying to catch his breath. He spoke loud enough for others to hear. "I doubt there are many young men named Willen traveling from this village with a lazy eye, so I will thank you to never insult my friend again.
"Come, Torban, come, Constantia. We have business to discuss. I see I have not missed the harvest faire. Good. Meala, do you still bake those small bits of dough sweetened with honey?"
Stellan quietly and unobtrusively enjoyed the faire. In the evenings he could be found at Torban's fire for supper. During the days he was seen talking with many of the founding members of the community. He ate breakfast twice with Egorn the Potter and his wife, Shulla. He lunched with Taleena and Vanch the Cooper one day and with Bengt the Miller another.
The harvest faire had originated and had grown each year based on the barter of excess crafted goods and crops. In the past few years there had been the addition of those who could provide certain services at the faire. There was a tanner from a village five days walk away that had attended for the last three years. Graller the Tanner brought with him not only finished leather and leather goods, he also brought the tools of his trade and would repair any item or make anything that was not too complex.
That first faire of Stellan's, two brothers traveled nine days with their ox cart carrying a contraption that no one could fathom. Part of it looked strangely like an oversized wooden-bladed axe with two extra long handles going one way, and a shorter, differently shaped handle going the opposite way. They arrived early enough to take a space more towards the center of the faire, but they asked to be allowed to set up on the edge of the faire, right next to the only farm field still near the main square area of Loundon's Towne.
They sought out Pandan the Tiller and had an extremely animated conversation with him. Pandan went through a range of emotions from scoffing to disbelief to agitated conversation to excitement. But then he was silent and refused to tell anyone, even Torban, of the brothers' inscrutable device.
Janks the Tiller and his brother Barlint the Cooper were twins, but they were not like Feldin and Daneel, the two murdered board cutters. They looked very similar but not identical, and they did not complete each other's sentences. The first day of the faire, which was the least attended, they left their invention covered by a dirty, patched together cloth.
On the second day, in the mid afternoon, the two brothers spoke to Pandan and the three walked towards the device. They did not call to anyone but some around followed them in curiosity. Barlint brought their ox up to the device and ropes were tied between the ox harness and the contraption. The two brothers struggled with the implement while Pandan led the ox to the farm field two lengths of a man away. All of this activity drew quite a crowd.
Barlint lead the ox and Janks grabbed what was assumed to be the two axe handles. The contraption began to dig a straight groove in the field almost two hand lengths deep. It was moving at the pace of the ox, and the groove in the earth was very straight.
Of course the crowd was still unsure of what they had just seen. But Pandan was about to light the fire in their mind's eyes. He walked to the edge of the turned over dirt and pulled a seed bag out from under his cloak. He reached in and brought out a handful of seeds. A few gasps of understanding were joined by many more as Pandan began placing seeds in the opened earth at a quick pace. In a few moments he had placed seed the length of two men along the row of upturned soil, smoothing the soil over the seed as he went. The Tillers in the crowd, and most in Albion were of that occupation, began to cheer. In the time it would take to break up kindling for a fire and get it burning, Pandan had placed more seed in the ground than a good Tiller could plant before mid-morning rest break.
The two brothers broke open a seam in the soil the length of five huts, turned the contraption around, and gouged out a nearly identical seam right beside the first on the way back. As they came back those gathered began applauding the two. When they shyly grinned at the growing acclamation, the two looked more like twins than ever.
Just before reaching their starting point, the wooden blade hit an unseen rock and splintered. There were moans from the crowd, but the brothers looked like they were not disappointed. The crowd burst out in applause once more. The Tillers in attendance immediately moved forward with their questions. In mere moments Janks was in animated conversation with those nearest him.
Barlint the Cooper ambled over to Torban who had watched the demonstration with a keen eye. "Torban, we have heard of you. Can you guess why we bothered to drag our row maker all this way?"
"We can begin working on a metal blade for your row maker as soon as the faire is over," said Torban. "You and your brother will be welcome additions to our community. We are in need of another Cooper and we always welcome more Tillers."
"Petrificus Totalus!" The guard stopped walking, froze in place, and fell sideways onto the floor.
Eirran and Willen ran the two steps to the fallen sentry and examined him closely.
"Well, he has been stopped completely, and none of his limbs are moving at all. He seems to be awake. Look, he is breathing normally."
"Yes, Eirran. For a moment there it crossed my mind that I had turned him to stone like a tree that has petrified. His eyes are open. I wonder...if he were not under your memory grip if he would be able to look around and remember what he sees and hears? One of us will have to try this magik on the other to answer that question. If you can cast it, I will gladly endure it. If not, I will try to make it easy on you. Look, he's coming around."
It had been a few long moments since the magik had been cast and the guard was regaining his mobility. They helped him up and he immediately stood up straight, ready for further orders.
It had been Eirran who had developed the idea of using the word "cast" for what they were doing when they sent out magik. The old Seer loved to fish in the small ponds around his beloved city of Remers. Of course the Fishers who went out with nets every day to provide a significant portion of the city's food stuffs thought him daft, but none of them would say such a thing within his hearing.
"Exactly what was the phrase, Willen?"
"Petrificus Totalus." Willen spoke the words slowly this time after placing the stick and unicorn hair combination down on the table. Releasing the stick and hair before teaching the word was a painful lesson he had learned - his lesson, Eirran's pain.
The first piece of magik they had tried to discover was how to start a fire. This would be a very useful ability each night and each morning while traveling. Willen would not have to carry kindling or other materials need to build each fire he would need to cook with or heat with or both.
When Willen first successfully started a fire with magik he repeated the word he used for Eirran. He spoke the word with the stick and unicorn hair in his hand and pointed at Eirran. The older gent's sleeve caught fire.
Accio, the summoning command in magik came from the Latin word that was pronounced and spelled the exact same way as the phrase in magik. Eirran had discovered that word easily enough by himself. So far, that was the only word he had discovered in the New Way of magik. It would turn out that was the first and only word of magik he would ever discover. Every magik word the Seer learned from then on, and for the rest of his life, Willen would teach him.
"Here, Eirran, let me sit on this chair so I won't fall, and you cast that piece of magik to freeze me in place."
"Petrifican Totalis!" The older gent spoke and nothing happened.
"Petrificans Totali!Petrificaticus Totalani."
"Eirran. Let me spell it out for you. If you see how I spell it and then listen to it spoken, you will be able to cast the magik, just like with the fire starting magik."
Willen picked up the quill and spelled out the changes to the words from Latin, speaking each letter as he wrote, "...p-e-t-r-i-f-i-c-u-s and t-o-t-a-l-u-s. Look at it, point your stick and hair at me, and say the words again."
Eirran took the piece of parchment and followed Willen's instructions. "Petrificus Totalus," pronouncing it "PET-rifi-cus TO-tal-us."
"My fault, my fault," the young man said quickly. He could see the mounting frustration in his friend's eyes. "I have to spell it so you can pronounce it also. Now that I can read and write, you are the only one I know that can do the same. So, after we part, if I want to keep in practice I am going to have to write to you. Since you say I will discover more of this magik as I go on with my life, I will have to figure out a way to send you the "sound" of the magik as well as the spelling ---
"Eirran." Willen stopped in place, staring off into the distance. The tables were now turned. Willen was the one lost in thought and Eirran had to wait. Now Willen was the teacher and Eirran was the student. Or more accurately, Willen was the inventor or creator and Eirran was his assistant. This had not occurred to Willen yet, and it never really would in so many words.
"Eirran, we use the word 'magik' for too many things. As we go through all of the different words in Latin to discover the ones that are magik, I have become aware that we have only the one word, 'magik,' and we are using it for everything. Since I am having to spell the exact modifications to the real Latin words, can we call the individual words of magik, 'spells'?"
The old Seer gazed at Willen with a look the young man did not realize was pride. "I have said that magik is yours to discover. You can call things anything that you want, but that is a pretty good idea. The sentence, 'You cast a spell in magik,' makes good sense to you and me, and it will to anyone else when they learn what you have created here. Now how are you going to write to me to tell me how the 'spells' sound?"
"I think this will do." Willen took up the quill and wrote 'pe-TRI-fi-cus to-TAH-lus' on the parchment besides the correct spelling.
Eirran raised the parchment to his eyes and looked at it for a moment before smiling. He pointed the stick and hair at Willen who had assumed a position on the chair to hopefully avoid falling when the spell worked, if it worked.
"Petrificus Totalus," Eirran said and Willen froze in place with a look of surprise.
Eirran rushed to him. "Are you well? Does it hurt? Can you see? Can you look around?"
Eirran stopped asking these questions as he saw the look in Willen's eyes go from surprise, to a smile, to a concentrated effort to look in all directions viewable with his head unable to move. In about half of the time that the guard had been frozen by Willen's spell, Willen was released.
"I was able to hear and understand everything you said. I could not move my head but everything in my line of sight and eye moment was clear to me. I was able to breathe easily and even swallow. Can we call that spell the Body Bind?"
Eirran had been convinced that the piece of magik - now a spell - that would stop a person completely would be some combination of the Latin words adligo which means "bind" and corpus which means "body." Calling the Petrify Totally Spell the Body Bind Spell was a kindness to the old Seer who was unsuccessfully hiding his frustration that he was unable to contribute to the discovery process.
The first time he had failed had been with the fire-starting spell. Eirran had thought for sure it would come from the Latin word flama, (fire) or from cremo, the verb "to consume with fire." Of course the verb incendo, Latin for "to set fire to," was perfectly logical after the fact. It had seemed natural to Willen, and unfathomable to Eirran that the spell should mispronounce incendo - but incendio worked perfectly.
Eirran had worked himself into an agitated state over the discovery process as it was proceeding. He was the experienced and trained Druid; he should be able to figure out the right words for a spell. That he was the Seer who had proclaimed that magik was Willen's to create seemed lost on him.
Willen had thought that nouns might make good magik as well as verbs. Eirran had been sure that verbs were the only words to produce magik. He felt his discovery of accio had proven that. Willen, thinking about the light from a fire, not the heat, had butchered the Latin noun lumen for "light" and said Lumos! He had not started a fire, but the end of his stick and unicorn hair had shone with a small light.
It was toward the end of the day and the small bit of light had helped them get ready to sleep. But the small light had also been enough to keep them both awake. Eirran had been furiously muttering at the top of his lungs every word he could think of to stop the light. He'd used every word for darkness and blackness he could think of, but to no avail. A few moments after Eirran had lain back down, Willen had said, "Nox," the Latin word for 'night' - no mispronunciation.
The small light went out and Eirran had howled like a wolf in frustration.
All through the castle, the minions of Baldet, and Baldet himself, had shivered at the ill omen of the sounds from the dungeon.
The old Seer rose slowly from the dinner table one evening, and when his back creaked, he groaned.
"Are you ill, Eirran?"
"No, I always feel the change in seasons. When my back makes this noise, I know that the harvest is upon us."
"The harvest? I have lost track of the seasons. Two harvests have come and gone and I have but one more cycle of the seasons to travel through Gaul and back to Albion." Willen was panicking. "I have to go all the way to the south of Gaul and find olive wood and carry back enough... I don't know how much is enough, a stick, a branch, a bundle of sticks? Where do I cross the sea back to Albion? I cannot come back here to Baldet's coastline. How do I get out of this dungeon? I don't..."
"Willen!" Eirran shouted. He had tried several times to calm Willen and had spoken louder each time.
"I can tell you how to travel where you need to go. I am sure the local inhabitants will know where to find an olive tree. They never mentioned it to me, but I never asked. I care nothing for trees. It will take three moons at most to travel to the south of Gaul and three to return. That leaves three to find the olive sticks and three more to cross the sea back to Albion. You have plenty of time."
"But how do we escape from here?"
Eirran walked to the door that the guard always unlocked and locked when entering or leaving. He reached out and pushed it open. "We will leave tomorrow after a good breakfast. We will need the rest of today to prepare everything for your trip, and I have a few last things to tell you, and to TELL you.
At the first harvest after Willen left Loundon's Towne, Stellan the Fisher was not the only visitor who had come for more than the faire. The same day that Stellan had arrived, Caedric, his fellow Fisher (the comparison was anathema to both of them) had been moaning that attendance was sure to be off that year. Bonderman and Porto had visited each community where Bonderman had declared himself Keeper and had made it clear that they looked unfavorably on anyone from "their" villages going to the harvest faire.
They made this threat to force the good people of Loundon's Towne to be beholden to Bonderman (and thus Porto) for the success of the faire.
Their logic was faulty on two counts. Many people from far outside Bonderman's sphere of domination had heard of harvest faire, the Diagon, and the brave people of Loundon's Towne. The confluence of these three streams of fascination caused many to travel to participate in the faire than might not have done so under other circumstances.
The second event that proved that trying to squelch the faire was a bad idea occurred when it was over. When Bonderman and his cohort received the tribute from the faire, the booty given to the ruffians was half again that of the year before. Porto never said a word, but there would be no more attempts to slow attendance in the next two years.
Loundon's Towne had benefited far greater by the visitors from far away than had been extracted in tribute by the extortionists.
Those hardy and hale enough to travel the extended distances while braving the bands of ruffians, (other than Bonderman and company), were just the type of people wanted as a part of the largest and quickest growing community in Albion.
Stellan had stayed to see the Bonderman and Porto that Willen had described. When they left with all the spoils they could carry, and the promised threat to return soon, Torban invited Stellan to a private supper.
Torban and Stellan left on his boat with first light the next day. Caedric overslept from his drunkenness so he did not go out to fish that day at all. He was drunk again by mid afternoon, rejoicing that Stellan had left. It wasn't until three days after the faire had ended that Caedric realized that Torban was gone also.
"Meala, oww, my head, where is Torban?"
"He's out visiting many of the villages where the new visitors to the faire came from."
"Woman, you do not have to shout. I am standing right here next to you."
She had not shouted, but a three day drunken binge right on the heels of more drunkenness every night during the faire had left Caedric with a head that felt like a hull breaking on a hidden rock.
"Torban is away, Caedric. I am not sure when he will return, but I am sure it will be much more than a fortnight from now."
"Well, if you need any help from a big strong man, you know who to call."
She smiled and said, "I certainly do." "Anyone but you," she thought.
He staggered off. She shuddered with outrage and washed her hands, which did not need washing.
It had been well past a moon before Torban returned, and he returned in Stellan's boat, much to the anger and rants of Caedric. In the hull of the fishing craft were all of the family possessions of the twin brothers, Balint the Cooper and Janks the Tiller. They had with them their two wives, seven children between them, all of their equipment for tilling, cooperage, and constructing their row makers, and all of the crops from their old farm that they could carry.
Before Stellan's boat had been securely tied, Torban had disembarked and run to the towne center. He kissed Meala passionately, hugged Constantia, and began issuing orders. Caedric finally gave up asking Torban why he had not sailed with him on the trip when Torban said for the third time, with no little impatience, "Not now, Caedric."
The two new families had homes built within ten days. Those building the homes for the twins and their families kept building more huts of standard configuration but varying in size according to a very specific plan in Torban's head.
As the next four huts were being finished the next new settlers of Loundon's Towne arrived. Among these had been one man, Baijan the House Builder. He entered Loundon's Towne with his wife and a nearly grown son. The two men were huge, and the woman was so small that she looked like a little girl until you were close enough to see the maturity in her face. Father and son pulled their cart containing all of their possessions and the mother and wife walked by the elder's side.
Torban greeted them. "I have a temporary hut for you and your family, Baijan. I am sure that first you will want to build a home of your exact desires, but this will provide shelter for you until it is ready. The days are growing colder."
"You are kind, Torban, to provide a home for us, but you are mistaken." It was the woman, Zanta, who spoke. "I will be lucky to have the home I desire within the next cycle. If the number and makeup of the families coming to Loundon's Towne are as you say, Baijan will be building for their families and their manufactories first. Since we have this hut, it will do until the others are provided for."
With that proclamation, Zanta smiled at her blushing husband and leapt up into his arms. "And I love him for his unselfishness."
"She knows me too well, Torban. Is this your wife coming?"
Throughout the fall and into the winter, more families arrived. Tillers came with their families and brought as many foodstuffs as they could transport. Torban traded with nearby communities for all of the extra grain and vegetables needed.
Stellan was now a part of the community. He had no wife or family so there was no one to go bring back, and he found that he did not miss those from the fishing village where he had grown up. He spent half of his time as a part of Loundon’s Towne fishing and half of his time sailing off and bringing back new families. Even with this secondary effort, Stellan still delivered more fish to the community than Caedric.
Torban tried to explain to Caedric that as the community had grown, they had already needed new board cutters and a new potter, and plenty of tillers. They were already feeling the affects of reduced fish in their diet precipitated by Caedric's diminishing efforts with his nets.
"We need Stellan's catch as well as yours."
"But he brings in more fish than I do; his boat is bigger. He benefits more in trade goods and golden bits. It is not fair."
"Caedric, he is gone longer than you are. If you worked harder and caught more fish you would reap the rightful compensation of your efforts."
"But the waters around here are fished out. The catch is poor. If I went out more I would reduce their numbers even more."
"Stellan goes to the sea for most of his catch. I know yours is not a seagoing craft, but you could go farther up the Tameas or to its mouth where the sea fish also dwell."
"But I do not want to be gone at night; I like it here."
"Caedric, you make your choices and you benefit from the fruit of your choices. Stellan spends half of his time away transporting families to our towne. He still brings back more and bigger fish. If he receives more reward for producing more than you do, then so be it."
"But Torban, I liked it the way it was. Why do we need all of these people? Before they all came I could provide all of the fish we needed."
Torban was angered at the Fisher's stupidity. "These people did not come first, although we had been adding to or numbers each year. Bonderman and Porto came first. They would have taken their share and we would have had much less than we have now. Because of all of these people and their ideas we are able to produce more and hide the fact that we do not pay all the tribute we ought to. Because we give Bonderman and Porto more and more each year, they are unaware of the fact that they receive only two parts in ten. Your cheating on the tribute gave us the idea. They are not aware of how many fish you actually catch and you give a smaller share.
"Now run on and at least drop a line in the water to catch something. This is the second day this week that you have not gone out."
"But it was raining this morning-"
"Caedric, take your excuses elsewhere. I tire of them."
Of course Caedric knew why this entire calamity had befallen him. It was all that dogboy, Willen's fault.
All of this had happened between the first and second harvest faires after Willen left. No one referred to that particular faire as the one when Bonderman came or the faire when Feldin died. Stellan surveyed the multitude at his second harvest faire. Loundon's Towne was now more than three times larger than it had been when the storm had first dragged him to this shore on the Tameas River. The growth since the last faire had been amazing. When he had taken Torban on his ship to visit the many communities of new attendees, the two had discovered that Bonderman and Porto were not the only band of foreign ruffians that were demanding to take Keepership of a village. The four that had visited Loundon's Towne were actually a small band in size compared to the usual cadre of brigands.
The fame of Loundon's Towne's attempts to resist, and their efforts to grow in spite of the threats of domination, was what drew so many from so far away. The ones that made the pilgrimage were the ones that wanted to resist but did not know how. These strong-willed people were actually encouraged by some communities to leave. Those who wanted to acquiesce with no fight were glad to see their braver members go.
When those desiring to resist, even in some small way, arrived, they found a growing towne - a towne that was in fact already a city. But the strangest thing is that no one could bring themselves to calling it a city. They referred to it as Loundon’s Towne long after it became bigger than any city anyone had ever heard of.
Loundon’s Towne had a sense of purpose, of industry. Excellence and experimentation could be tasted in the air. The harvest faire visitors saw the row making contrivance and the metal works of Torban. The pots with the glaze that Egorn the Potter had invented were the most beautiful ever seen, and they leaked less. Egorn coined the word "glaze" when he commented on how people could stand and gaze deeply into the finish derived from the fine river silt clay and chicken liver oil mixture. The "clay gaze" became "glaze." The name seemed appropriate somehow.
The phrase "no good deed goes unpunished" was mentioned when Bonderman and Porto had first visited Loundon's Towne two harvest faires before. Stellan looked out to see the band of land pirates riding in. The next instance of the "punishment of success" was about to occur.
Eirran remembered the day that Willen had gone from being convinced he could not discover magik to knowing that he could.
After the Seer had explained how he could be a Druid just like Porto and not like Porto at all, Willen tried Eirran's birch stick with the unicorn hair. He could not make the quill even quiver with the Accio Spell. This obviously depressed the boy more than he had been in two moons.
Eirran was perplexed also. How could Willen discover magik or even possibly be "the one" if he could not do even this simple spell? The old man remembered that once he had tried to use the stick and unicorn hair of his neighbor Druid, Clauzan. It had barely worked for him. His head had rung like a barrel that day regardless of his attempt to clear his nostrils, and he had attributed his weakened performance to that. However, when he'd arrived back home, he'd picked up his own stick and hair and had not been limited at all.
Sitting in the cell he pondered this. He remembered that Willen had such faith that olive wood would be the stick of power. An idea hit him. He called for the guard who opened the cell door in due course. Eirran spoke in a whisper and Willen probably thought that he was arranging for lunch.
After lunch, which was rather good, the guard walked in carrying another branch with twigs and leaves still attached.
Willen was back in his corner, facing away from the door, sulking, but he sniffed the air.
"Holly!" he exclaimed.
Eirran had never been able to smell the difference between plants other than flowers, but he had no doubt that Willen could smell the difference. It was indeed a holly branch. He lightly held the branch, offering it to the youth.
Later Willen had told Eirran the combination of thoughts that had flowed through his mind at that moment. While exerting himself to stand from his curled position the carved holly piece around his neck had shifted under his smock. This had instantly caused him to think fondly of Constantia. Willen had also realized that holly probably was his favorite wood.
The effort of standing combined with his deep longing for Constantia and his affinity for holly wood. All this came together and surged inside him.
The branch had popped out of Eirran's hand and jumped the forearm's length to Willen's outstretched hand.
Willen had grabbed it and dropped it in one motion. The look on both of their faces was one of shock, but in that very moment Eirran realized what the explanation must be.
"Willen, I am the one that told you your Touch was for wood, but I assumed it was merely for "seeing" into wood and carving what you see. But it is much more than that. I asked the guard to bring a branch for you. In the past, sticks and unicorn hairs have developed synchronization with its owner over time, so I thought that this stick might have aligned with me more quickly than usual. I thought that's why it didn't work well for you.
"As I suspected, holly seems to work well for you, but it more than that, it's as though holly likes you. I have always used birch branches because they are so plentiful. I have never considered that the type of wood might be a factor as well. So it seems that you have the Touch and a strong Touch at that. This should make magik easy for you. I suspect you will have a similar affinity with olive wood, so you will be most formidable."
Eirran was correct with all of his theories except for one.
Now Eirran lay in his corner of the dungeon. His back was sore and he heard the creaks his backbone made as he rolled over. There was a full moon out this night he imagined, or near enough to full. They had seen neither the sun nor the moon in all the time they had been together. But the angle of light sources allowed a little bit of vision in their cell on the nights that a full moon waxed or waned. The old man could barely see the young man's face. He slept peacefully. Willen was so excited when he found out he could leave and that there was still time enough to accomplish his quest.
The two of them had sewn straps to a large covered sack so Willen could carry a larger load more easily than carrying the sack in his hands. Over the seasons they had recorded on scrolls everything of importance that they had discussed. That afternoon they had cut those summary scrolls into sheets. Eirran was glad that he had insisted on compiling the most important points as they went along. Willen would have never waited the weeks needed to compile this information had they not done so earlier. The sheets could be easily stored in this "back sack" as Willen called it. They had tightly rolled a number of new scrolls for Willen to take with him. He wanted to take notes on his discovery and development of magik and other observations from his travels. Soon the young man would need help carrying his accumulated writings, but Eirran knew he would have a method to solve that problem soon enough.
The old Seer felt his age. He would welcome regaining the comfort of his hearth and his wife's arms. He had missed her, but this absence had been important, and she understood - she truly understood after all of these years. Thinking of his wife brought to mind his seven daughters. He had no son. But now he considered Willen as a son after the intense seasons they’d had together. He would like Willen as a husband for one of his daughters, but none of them would accept him because of his lazy eye - none except Plana who was too daft to be a good companion for this lad of destiny.
Was he the one to bring the New Way? Was magik going to be the corrector of the excesses becoming so rampant in the Old Way, or would the New Way have to, in some manner, replace the Old Way? He shuddered when he considered that the most despicable practices of the Old Way would probably never die, not as long as men of greed and no conscience had access to its powers. But he could hope.
He wonder about Willen's insistence, even after the young man had cast spells with a branch and hair, that it was the wood, olive wood specifically, that would combat Porto. He had always felt it would be the unicorn hairs. Until Willen, the type of wooden stick had seemed to make no difference.
The unicorn, never that common, were all but gone from their lands because of callous hunting before Eirran's time, before their mystical importance had been understood. He was so sure this hair was the secret to success that he had given Willen one of the last unused unicorn hairs in all of Remers. When he understood the rarity of it, Willen had been opposed to taking it from him. Even though Willen was the discoverer of magik, Eirran showed the young man that he still had a lot to learn about being stubborn. Ah, the wisdom that comes with age.
Eirran went over again in his mind the last conversation they’d had before Willen had fallen asleep. "Life is never easy. Yours so far has been harder than most. Willen, it will get even harder over the next few years."
Willen looked a bit afraid as Eirran continued to speak.
"You will accomplish much, perhaps change the world. You will know great joy and great heartache. Near here you can find a farm that will take you in and give you employment. They have a daughter that you could learn to love. It could be a good life.
"If you take that good life you will avoid all of the hardship your life is now heading towards. I would not blame you if you choose the easier way. But you will never know what happens to Constantia and the people of Loundon's Towne. They will survive, at least most of them. You will never know the greatness that might be yours if you succeed. But all success comes with a cost.
"I have told you before that we must fight fate to achieve our destinies. In the past we have only talked about horrible things that could be fate stopping you, events such as a guard killing you, or Porto killing you. But that is not the only type of fate that can keep you from your destiny."
"That farm girl and the farm she will inherit would be a fine destiny for a young man like you. Let me ask you, besides leaving Constantia and the good people of Loundon's Towne without your help, what is the difference between the life on this farm and your life back in Albion?"
Without thinking Willen opened his mouth to speak and then closed it. He looked into Eirran's eyes across the darkened cell and then looked away perplexed. He stood up and looked down at the old man, and then he lay back down.
"I suppose there is little difference besides the promise I made," he exclaimed as he lay back.
Eirran smiled a crooked smile. "Remember, it is the choices and the decisions and the commitments we make, and choose to fulfill, that define us. By choosing to begin your quest you started your destiny towards discovering magik. When you realized how difficult it would be you remained firm in your commitment. You trusted me when it looked like your quest was at an end. Instead you worked hard, hoping that this, which made little sense to you, might help eventually.
"Some believe we have few if any choices in our lives. They either live a meager life stuck in accomplishing nothing, or they choose a greedy self-serving path by taking what they want until they are sated or until someone stronger stops them. As they selfishly take, they justify it by saying something like, 'If it wasn't fated for me to have it, I wouldn't be able to take it.' What a wasted life. Some of my kind live this way. Many in this new migration coming from our homelands appear to believe in this selfish way. Any who are so disdainful of others shame themselves and their people.
"I, like some others of my kind, believe that we are placed here in this world to take all that we are and try to promote the most good for all, ourselves included. Helping others and helping yourself at the same time is fine, even noble. Taking what you want just because you can, is...well, it's a waste of a life."
"Wake up, get up, we have a long day ahead of us and you will need a good breakfast."
Willen noticed that the table displayed a morning feast - poached and boiled eggs, ham, and fresh baked bread with just churned creamery butter. There were apples and a fruit called "grapes," which Willen had never seen or tasted before. There was fresh, cool cow's milk. Willen thought that it had been a long time since he had eaten like this in the morning, but then he realized he had never eaten like this.
"First, Willen, you need to know how to get to the southern coast of Gaul. You told me how Stellan the Fisher taught you to keep your path straight. Walk due south, keeping the sun on your left in the morning and on your right in the afternoon. In five days or so you will pass through a series of hills. After a moon or so, you will miss all but the foothills of the mountains on your left. Many days later, when you see another mountain range coming into view right before you, turn left and walk east and a little south. Soon you will have mountains on your right and your left. You will walk another moon at most before you reach the Middle Sea. When you reach the sea begin to ask where one might find olive trees. Someone you meet will be able to show you what you seek.
"Now, as to surviving your trip, we cannot have you being picked up and put in dungeons every time you encounter a churlish knave like Baldet. You won't arrive back home in time to save Constantia's grandchildren at that pace. You saw me acting like a madman when you first arrived. When anyone approaches you, begin to look mildly mad; if they look threatening in any way act madder but not as mad as I was acting. You don't want to be locked up for being mad, just avoided and left alone. Ask those that give you space as a madman for food, even if you have food already. You can never have too much to eat as a traveler.
"If anyone you meet attempts to harm you or steal from you, go into hysterics as I first acted and call for the birds of the air to strike. The birds won't attack of course, but the ruffians you meet won't know that.
"When you find the olive wood, take two equal sized rods of the wood as thick as your thigh and half again longer than the tallest man you have ever met. Stellan taught you knots you said?" When he saw Willen nod he continued. "Tie crosspieces of the same wood to the main poles until you have a carryall." He stooped to the floor to a sandy spot and drew a simple stick man figure and a carryall. The parchment, quills, and ink had been packed already.
"Ask around for goods to sell that are needed in the northern and western lands. Load up your carryall with these goods. This way no one will know that the most precious cargo you have is the wood, not your trade goods."
"Eirran, what should I gather together to sell?"
"When you find something to sell you will know it. Offer the owner of the goods this coin in payment. He will know it is worth all you can carry and a fortnight's worth of food for the return trip.
"You will be a peddler on your return trip to Albion. Most others on the road let peddlers go unharmed. Hooligans may want to take your wares but do not let them. Try a little bit of the madman approach on them. It won't dissuade them but it will distract them long enough for you to pull your large blade. Wave your blade menacingly and most will leave you alone. Those that do not leave you alone you should try to incapacitate with the Body Bind Spell."
"Eirran. I do not know anything about using a blade in battle. You talk as though I will know how to fight at that time. Will you teach me? I don't even have Torban's blade; the chief of the guard took it before throwing me in here many seasons ago."
"You will know." That was all Eirran ever told him about learning swordplay.
Willen and Eirran walked out of the dungeon and out of the Keep of Baldet. Everyone on guard duty looked the other way when they approached. They reached a crossroads after walking well out of sight of the Keep. Eirran had his stick with the unicorn hair in one hand and a sack with half of what was left from breakfast. The other half of breakfast was in a sack tied to Willen's back sack.
Eirran pointed to the piece of holly stick with the unicorn hair in Willen's hand. "You have my secret to power concentration. You will have olive wood soon enough. One of those should work to help you. Perhaps if you wrap this unicorn hair around a piece of olive wood you will be able to battle Porto and defeat him without killing him with magik.
"Remember, in the heat of battle, even if he has killed someone dear to you, even if he has killed Constantia, do not use magik to kill him. Use the blade from Torban. You will be better able to recover from that. Killing with magik will turn you into Porto." With that Eirran reached into his cloak and pulled out Torban's blade and handed it to Willen. He also took from his cloak the water-skin, blanket, water resistant covering, and the cloak Torban had given Willen. The look on the boy's face was one of relief and gratitude. Everything taken from him was in the same condition as it had been before his incarceration. His face changed from gratitude to a bit of fear as he realized they were very soon parting.
"Four last things, Willen. First, you will not only discover and develop magik, you will eventually teach it to all of those with the Touch in Albion. This may seem exciting to you now, but no good deed goes unpunished. Those without the Touch will fear the magik ones in Albion. Not too many cycles after you save Loundon's Towne, some without the Touch will begin to think you are using magik to gain advantage over them. Somehow you must limit those who see the battle, but I do not know how that will be possible.
"As you continue to teach what you know, and as others take over from you the task of teaching, you must also teach discretion and how to hide your powers among normal men. As evil increases in Albion, those without magik will need the help of those they fear, so you must be ready to help without their knowledge. This is not the way of things yet, but after the battle with Porto you will begin to understand what I mean.
"Second, magik should be used to help people and protect them from the greedy and wanton. It should not be used to make men lazy or dependent. Magik ones will owe you a debt. You will also be the one who makes them powerful enough to be feared and powerful enough to be drawn to darkness, even if that is not in their nature at the start. Use the debt they owe you to demand that they rise above avarice and malicious harmfulness.
"Third, your abilities as a See-ER combined with your skills with the small blade will be a significant part of your future. You will be a new type of craftsman never seen before in the world. SEE into the wood before you begin with your small blade. The world of the Old Way must give way to magik.
"That brings me to the final, most wonderful and most horrible thing I must tell you. You will be the most powerful magik one in Albion, perhaps in the whole world, when you arrive back to defend your Constantia. The question is, 'Will you be a magik one for good, or will you become a magik one for evil, for darkness?' Regardless of circumstances and events out of your control, you will always be the one to decide that question. You will have to answer it every day. The only advice I can give you to help you in this is to combine every advance in magik with an increase in your love.
"From what you tell me, loving your Constantia is easy, but even that will become evil if you love her as an object to be acquired and not a person to be cherished. But loving her will not be enough. Even loving the good people of Loundon's Town will not keep you safe. You must try to love the less loveable. Perhaps compassion is a better word than love, but compassion is based in love. But I speak in circles.
"When you face Porto, if you truly care for the good that could have been in him, then you need not ever fear going into darkness. To have compassion for him as you face him, and perhaps kill him with Torban's blade, you must practice caring for everyone you meet on this quest of yours-especially the unlovable. But from what you tell me of what you call Willen's Luck, you should be lucky enough to find many unlovable people on your journey."
Eirran said, "Follow that path through the woods until you come out of these woods. When you can clearly see the sun, place it on your left and adjust your direction south. Remember what I said about finding your way to the olive trees."
Willen said a simple word of thanks and walked for twenty paces. He turned back to properly express his gratitude, but Eirran was gone.
Willen acted the madman to various degrees with everyone he met on the way to the olive trees. Those that allowed him to be just a little mad left him alone to observe them. He started every meeting with anyone on the trails with a genuine smile. He did not know that at first most were put off by his lazy eye. However, the good people he met soon changed their opinions when they saw the depth of his smile, and understood the sincerity behind it.
Willen usually had a fire at night by himself. He would go into the woods along the trail and find dry wood for a smokeless fire. There he would read his Latin and look for possible magik words.
Just over a moon later, as he was walking along, Willen heard a scream. He ran towards the sound and found several men, much bigger than he, chasing a young girl with the whitest blonde hair he had ever seen. Willen ran very fast and cut them off from the chase to allow the girl time to escape.
Now that he had the three huge oafs surrounded, he did not know what to do with them. He raised the holly stick with the unicorn hair on it, but before he was able to gather his wits and decide which spell to cast, one of the men jerked the stick out of his hand and broke it over his knee. Of course the unicorn hair was broken as well.
Two punches later and Willen had a swollen eye, the lazy eye, and was nearly but not quite unconscious in a heap on the ground. The three stood over him but did nothing but stare. They looked from him to each other after a moment, and then walked off.
Willen muttered, "There, that will show them," before he passed out.
Soon there was a cool wet comforting cloth on his swollen eye. The comfort and pain woke him. It was the white-haired girl. He tried to move but she stopped him and spoke. "Ah cood 'ave takeen care of mi-self," she said in a self-assured tone. "Mi Snoogins, she iz with fold. Ah woz using mi po-wers to lead zem away from 'er."
Willen moved to stand up and this time she helped him.
"Come 'zee mi Snoogins," she said, tugging at his arm.
Willen had no idea what a "Snoogins" was. He thought that "with fold" possibly meant a foal of some kind, so maybe Snoogins was the name of a horse or a pony. He did not resist as the girl led him to a nearby clearing. He saw the back of a white animal of some sort, as it lay on the ground. The creature was even more painfully white than the girl's hair.
The girl was speaking again. "Zhey are fee-nee-kee, oon-i-corns. Zhey do not like zhee males." Though he was much taller than she, she smiled in a condescending manner as if addressing a little boy. "Wot here, Ah weel zee eef Snoogins eez zeeing guests."
Willen was about to tell her that he could understand but one word in three when the animal raised its very distinctive head. Snoogins was a unicorn! And there was a baby unicorn as well. He guessed it must be a baby unicorn based on the girl's description of recent events, even though the foal had no horn and was as brightly golden as the mother was brilliantly white.
The girl walked up to the mare and foal, and speaking in very soothing tones, she settled the mother and child. The two participated in some sort of interspecies conversation and then the girl bid him get on his hands and knees and crawl up very slowly.
Lying on their sides by the unicorn and tiny baby, the two exchanged their stories. Her name was Phannel and she said that she was of the Veela. Willen thought that must be a local tribe of some sort. She asked about him and he relayed in quick order his quest for olive wood and his stay in Baldet's dungeon. He even mentioned magik before he realized he was probably giving away too much.
"Zee oon-i-corn eez a cra-ture that helps with mah-gheek, no?"
It was amazing to Willen that her words were much more understandable than at first. He nodded in agreement.
"Theen Ah ahm a mah-ghee-kahl cra-ture alzo. You ar' een lov weev mee, no?"
Willen looked confused. "Enn lov, I mean in love? Of course not. We just met. I love Constantia. I do not mean to hurt your feelings, you are very pretty, but my heart belongs to another."
Willen had been lying on his right side by the unicorn and its young. The girl was in a similar position He sat up a bit to express his indignity and his feelings for Constantia. When he went back to the prone position, the carved relief of Constantia's face fell out of his smock.
"Oo!" the girl exclaimed. "Now ah kno' 'ow you ra-sist mee!"
Remers - - In my mind, I needed Eirran to be from a town or city still in Gaul but far enough away for Willen to not consider making it a part of his trek. In that part of France I could not find a city sufficiently ancient enough that it definitely existed as a city in 385-4 B.C. The oldest town I could find in the area was Rheims, which may have been a village at that time. The most ancient spelling of Rheims I could find was Remers.
The White Cliffs - - The only place where you can see Albion from Gaul is at what is now Calais, France. From there, on a clear day, you can see the White Cliffs of Dover. This view is world famous. The Chunnel runs very near these two locations.
Disclaimer--- What belongs to J K Rowling is J K Rowling's. Everything left is mine, I guess, but remember the old adage: "There is nothing new under the sun."
Thanks go to my beta readers, Ninkenate and Ozma. They are terrific!