1: Mr. Ollivander Starts The Story - Willen's Luck
This story has been published elsewhere on the Web, but this version is being edited, revised, and updated with new information from Muggle and Magical Historical Research.
Mr. Ollivander Starts The Story - Willen's Luck
Harry was bored. It was the summer before his third year at Hogwarts, and Harry Potter was staying at the Leaky Cauldron. He had "blown up" Aunt Marge, and instead of being expelled, the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge himself, had informed Harry of his pardon. Harry had spent every day since then studying at a table at Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor. It would be several more days before he would meet his friends here at Diagon Alley, just before the start of school.
Harry's curiosity had been aroused one day, when, about 1:30, he noticed Mr. Ollivander eating a late lunch at the other end of the al fresco eating area. They'd nodded politely to each other but had not spoken.
Later that day, Harry had walked to the junk shop at the end of Diagon Alley to see if they had anything interesting. When he'd walked out of the junk shop, he looked straight over at Ollivanders. The sign read, "Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C." Curious. Harry had pondered before the fact that the Ollivanders founding date was much earlier than any other business in Diagon Alley. It was older than Gringotts Wizarding Bank by roughly 750 years. It had a founding date of 519 A.D.
There was a neatly hand lettered sign in the window that said, "Closed Afternoons This Week for Inventory." Harry had walked over and peered through the window. The shop and its proprietor had given him the shivers when he'd bought his wand there two summers earlier. But things that inspire fear also possess a morbid curiosity. The dusty place was even dustier than normal because boxes usually precariously stacked along walls were precariously scattered everywhere. After a minute *comma Mr. Ollivander had walked out from the back room and saw Harry peeking in. This had been Harry's cue to leave and go look at the new Firebolt at Quality Quidditch Supplies just one more time.
The following afternoon at precisely the same time as the day before, Mr. Ollivander finished his late lunch and instead of leaving straight away, he came over to Harry's table. "Mr. Potter, was there anything you required when I saw you looking in the window yesterday? Your wand is in fine shape I hope? Do you need a Wand Care Kit perhaps?"
Harry was a bit startled by this. He had only seen Mr. Ollivander approaching his table at the last second before he addressed him. "No, sir. Everything is fine. Er...I was merely curious. Um... How is the inventory going?"
"Slowly. My son usually helps me. However, as a part of his advanced training before I certify him as a journeyman wand maker, he is studying this summer with Hideyori Mashimoto, the Japanese wand master."
Ollivander's silvery eyes searched Harry's. He looked away for a moment as if making a decision. "Mr. Potter, would you perhaps have the next two or three afternoons free? I need an assistant. All you have to do is check off items on a parchment as I identify them. I will pay you of course, and you may choose partial payment in some of the wand support items in inventory. I mentioned the Wand Care Kit, and we have some useful wand holders or "holsters" as the Americans are fond of calling them." The last bit was said with slight disdain.
Harry was not expecting such an offer, but he was bored with being bored. There was only so much homework he could force himself to do by himself before school even started. He agreed to help. Then, after a moment of hesitation, he asked a favor. "Sir, while we do this, would you please tell me how Ollivanders was founded so long ago?"
The proper old gentleman considered this for a moment and finally agreed. "As long as you can listen to a story that is broken by me calling out wand descriptions every few seconds. It is tedious work and recounting the tales of my ancient forebears might speed the process. After all, it is time for you to hear it."
Once again Harry was startled by the cryptic manner and words of the respected wand maker. Harry took his books back to the Leaky Cauldron and made his way to the other end of the alley. The shop's door was open, and it took over fifteen minutes for Mr. Ollivander and Harry to get into a rhythm of taking inventory. Then Mr. Ollivander began to speak.
"Some say that the great philosopher Aristotle was born in 382 B.C. Nine and three quarter inch rosewood with a unicorn hair core, made in 1947. Some say he was born in 384 B.C. Some say the same about the birth date of the Greek Orator Demosthenes. Eleven inch ash with a dragon heartstring, made in 1971. In that same year, that is 382 B.C. not 1971, Philip II, King of Macedonia and the father of Alexander the Great, ascended to the throne. Ten and a half inches, olive wood, unicorn hair, made in 1592. These three events were of profound import in the formation of what is called Western Civilization."
The wand master stopped the counting and fixed Harry with his stare. "However, Mr. Potter, none of these historical facts have anything to do with the history of Ollivanders. This tale of my family, I must say in all modesty and candor, is of significant import to the world of magic, as we know it today. It starts 385 B.C., three years before our founding date."
Taking a deep breath, Mr. Ollivander began his story. (For the sake of the story and sanity, the inventory will hereafter be edited from of the narration.).
At a wide bend in the great river Tameas, known as the Thames today, there was a small but thriving community. The inhabitants were in the process of founding a world famous metropolis, but first they would have to survive the next three years.
It had been a wonderful year for the farming community, and even though there was thriving tradecraft everywhere, farming was the main occupation by far on this island. Today it is called England or Britain or even Old Albion, but at that time, those that lived there just called it Albion, if they called it anything at all. Crop bins were full to bursting, craftsmanship had produced more trade goods than ever before, and more of the folk in surrounding areas were planning to attend the harvest faire than in years past.
This was exciting to the leaders of the community known as Loundon's Town, but their joy from abundance would turn to despair before the faire was over this year.
At this time in our island's history, such farming communities formed for several reasons. First and foremost, these communities banded together to provide assistance in bringing in each other's crops. By mutual consent the planting of seed would be staggered over a few weeks so that the harvest times would not all be at the same moment.
Secondly, these communities were formed to foster early craftsmanship. Many years earlier Torban Loundon had learned metal-working and talked a number of his friends into migrating to this spot on the Tameas to form their own community. Others with the skills of grain milling, cooperage, clay firing for pots, and board sawing had joined him to start the community.
The third most common reason for such communities to form was for common defense. However, in the case of Loundon's Town, their success as a community made them in some ways an obvious target.
Torban Loundon was a natural leader but some would have followed him anyway. He had a last name. Torban's father was a Keeper of land. Through the iron fist and quick swordsmanship of Torban's Gran-da Loundon, Torban's family owned the land in an entire valley a moon's walk (about one month) north of the Loundon's Town community. Torban's eldest brother would inherit the valley and the next two sons would be captain of the guard and farming manager respectively. Torban's fourth oldest brother would be in charge of anything else that needed oversight; and besides, number four wasn't too bright and had no ambition.
Torban was the fifth son when few had five children survive to adulthood. Torban was by far the brightest and most ambitious, but he quickly learned not to express his ambitions to his brothers. They thought that they had knocked sense into him by his fifth birthday. All they had taught Torban was to keep his own counsel.
Torban went looking all over the valley and into neighboring valleys for men and women of intelligence and similar dissatisfaction with their lot in life. By the time he had reached his twentieth birthday, Torban had gathered a band of like-minded and intelligent people ready to follow him. They formed the nucleus of the village they would establish. Each had been beaten into unwilling silence by those bigger or more powerful than them, be they parent or sibling or whoever. Each had found through Torban the opportunity to make their own way instead of submitting to another's plans.
In those days a boy became a man at seventeen summers, and at sixteen, a girl was a woman. When the youngest of his friends reached their majority, they followed Torban south to warmer weather, lush fields, and a ready water supply. Torban helped each build the home of his dreams.
They had honored Torban by naming their small village Loundon's Town.
Torban had married Meala, a clever woman with a good heart and a sense of fair play. A childhood accident with a hot poker had left Meala with a scar on the right side of her otherwise pretty face, but Torban did not let the scar distract him from her true beauty, or the beauty inside her. Torban, a good judge of character and worth, knew that she would prove to be an excellent companion and a wise advisor.
Meala also had an eye for profitable opportunities. She quickly realized that every one of the craftsmen in Loundon's Town had the materials and abilities to produce more than was needed by those of the village. One summer, Meala convinced every craftsman to produce as many non-perishable goods as they could. At the time just before harvest they would send out word far and wide that a harvest faire would be held. Their own extra goods would be sold then, and one and all could bring to the faire anything they thought they might sell or trade.
The first harvest faire had been a success, and at following harvests each faire was larger than the one before. Everyone from miles around attended. More people with varying skills arrived each spring after the fall's previous harvest faire to join the community. Soon, Loundon's Town was the biggest village within nine days ride on pony cart.
It seems that no good deed goes unpunished. At the faire at the end of the eleventh harvest in which they held faires, three armed men and a fourth smaller man rode into Loundon's Town and announced that no one could leave without paying a protection share for a safe cycle of four seasons to the next harvest. One part in three of all profits, proceeds, or produce would be given to insure their protection. There were over five score strong men and not a few capable women in the crowd. They could have taken the four easily, except for one complication.
The apparent leader of the four was easily the biggest man anyone had ever seen, and the strongest. Torban was a large and strong man but this man nearly dwarfed him. He was the spokesman for the four, and it was his booming voice that delivered the proclamation. He declared, "I am Bonderman, and I am now Keeper of this village and the lands all around it."
The fourth unarmed man was a leathery looking little figure in a funny tall pointed hat and a black robe, and he held a relatively straight stick by his side. He used the stick to concentrate the power of his "Touch." The villagers did not know this and therefore were not aware of what was going to happen. They thought the stick might be a back scratcher or pot stirrer.
Only one other person besides Meala had noticed that Bonderman seemed to glance at the little man during his short speech as if seeking advice or approval. At first Meala thought that the little man might be a counselor to the leader of the group.
A small but noticeable number of people on the island of Albion had a form of the "Touch." The Touch was what we think of in the modern era as magic. At the time of our story, there were no training schools and no established methods of determining who might have the Touch or what they could do.
Torban Loundon could feel how a piece of metal should be used. Quite often the metal would help him shape itself into its best use. Bengt the Miller could breathe in certain ways and then push around great baskets of grain that it would normally take three men to move. Pandan the Tiller just knew what to plant, how, and when. If you followed his advice you would reap two and sometimes closer to three times the produce on the same field as in the previous year.
Egorn the Potter had figured out how to make clay pots that were especially durable, hard and long-lasting. He knew how to make his pots waterproof with a mixture of fine silt from the river and chicken liver oil, applied before the final firing. And Shulla, Egorn's wife, could fix broken pots and plates (for a small fee) by simply closing her eyes and concentrating.
Several of the men and women in the village could snap their fingers over a small pile of wood chips and see it light. Vanch the Cooper's wife, Taleena, could tell you which chickens were best for laying and which had slowed in laying and should be killed for eating.
When Bonderman made his proclamation to be Keeper of the village and extract his homage, the eleven nearest men of strength and determination looked at each other, nodded in agreement, and advanced on the four. They thought the big man was the threat and felt able to overpower him with their numbers. The real danger came from the least obvious source. The leathery looking little man in the funny tall pointed hat and black robe raised the stick from his side, waved it in their direction, and muttered a few words that none could recognize. A thin green light leaped from the stick and struck the nearest man in the face. The man fell dead in his tracks.
That ended all attempts at resistance.
Then Bonderman repeated his demands and added that they should build a storehouse for the goods that they would give him as tribute. He also said that he and his men would come for portions of it throughout the year and that it had better be there or else the oldest and the youngest members of the village would be killed.
Earlier, as the four men had reached the outskirts of the village, (and before they'd attracted the attention of the crowd), young Willen the orphan had run up to the little man in the funny apparel and asked, "What type of wood is that? There is none around here like it."
The little man in the tall pointed hat, Porto by name, looked at him and was ready to curse the person who wanted to know that fact. It was a secret worth guarding.
But Willen had always been a lucky boy after an odd fashion. He had a lazy eye. Many others agreed this meant he was going to amount to nothing but this lazy eye hid a sharp intelligence and a quick memory. The boy was also hard working. His strange luck continued this day because of a severe case of indigestion. At the moment he asked Porto that question, Willen was hit by another digestive pang. What Porto saw was a lazy-eyed youth with a stupid look on his face, wood chips in his hair, and branches under his arm.
Porto decided this half-witted wood gatherer was too doltish to understand the importance of the information he had asked for, so Porto said, "It is olive wood from the southern coast of Gaul." After Porto told "the village idiot" this, Willen straightened from his stomach spasms and the look of stupidity was gone. Porto regretted his words as the boy walked away. In fact, Willen was heading towards the narrowest of escapes from death and towards his destiny. Willen's Luck.
Porto looked around and saw that his three cohorts were well ahead and could not easily deal with the boy. No villagers were near to see or hear. If he was going to kill the boy, he must do it before he got out of range. Willen was about two man lengths away and was the only one to hear the words, "Avada Kedavra."
But Willen's luck held. At the exact moment that the green light flashed straight for his head, he was seized by yet another stomach cramp. The pain was so dreadful that it nearly caused him to faint. He was down and still for almost a minute before the cramp eased. Willen had seen the green light, and it had frightened him into stillness, despite the pain in his stomach. By the time the cramp was gone, the little man was gone as well and unable to see that Willen was still alive. As for Willen, he was left with the memory of the phrase he had just heard Porto speak. What odd words.
The sight of the village idiot lying dead in the mud slipped from Porto's mind not to return for some time. Willen would return to Porto's life in three years time, but he would be almost unrecognizable to Porto then. Their future encounter would change the destiny of magic in what we know as the British Isles and even the world.
After he heard the horse clomp away, Willen stood on wobbly legs. His curiosity outweighed his fear of the little leathery man with the olive branch. He made his way to a place where he could better watch the four strangers while safely out of their sight. Willen had plenty of practice in making himself invisible to others. Few liked him or wanted him around. Orphans were unlucky to have lost their parents and who knew if their bad luck might spread. Not everyone felt this way. The place he chose to watch the four strangers just happened to be very near Torban and Meala's daughter, Constantia Loundon. Amazing how Willen always seemed to find himself near her.
Constantia was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. It was an easy statement to make because everyone at the faire was thinking the same thing. She had hair as black as midnight and skin as bright as Egorn the Potter's best plate after firing and glazing. Her eyes were a pale blue that captivated anyone who looked into them. She had a slightly toothy but contagious grin, and a splash of freckles on her nose after the summer sun had its way with her face. She would be considered "pleasingly plump" by today's standards, but back then a healthy appetite and available food were things to be prized. Skinny people died more often. Constantia looked like a fully developed young lady who was merely shorter than others. In fact she was but thirteen years old and would grow much taller. Anyone who did not know that Constantia's parents were both taller than average would have assumed that she was already of age, or very soon to be so.
Porto turned his horse to go so Bonderman could make his grand exit when the worst and the best thing that could have happen occurred. Bonderman saw Constantia and lost his heart. He had decided just that morning that after he became recognized Keeper of this third and most prosperous village, he would need a wife.
Bonderman decided to make a pronouncement of his own creation even though Porto was not there to approve and had already started to leave. "And there is one other act of obedience you must perform. The maid there with the hair of coal (thinking he was flattering her) is to be my wife in a fortnight."
Porto turned to say something but Meala spoke first, “But, sire, she is merely a girl of thirteen summers. Though she looks older she will not be of age until three harvests from now."
"What, it cannot be," said Bonderman, wondering if he was being made a fool - a common occurrence it seemed since Porto had been pointing out his stupidity for weeks. "She looks fully grown to me."
"She is my daughter, and there is her father," Meala continued, pointing to Torban. "Knowing we are both taller than most, it becomes plain to see that she still has some growing left to do. She will not be of age until three more harvests." She said this last sentence to Porto who had turned back and come up beside Bonderman. She could see Porto fighting to control his anger and wanted to give him a reason to stop Bonderman.
Porto did see the woman's interference as a good sign. Killing one of eleven men had quelled this large crowd earlier. However, taking a girl might get enough of those gathered to act so that another death or two might not stop them before they laid hands on the four. Porto whispered in Bonderman's ear, and with a stupefied look Bonderman made this grandiloquent pronouncement, "I will wait until she is of age but she will be my wife. Be sure to raise her in an appropriate manner."
As the four riders left Loundon's Town and rounded the turn out of the villagers' sight, Bonderman wonder if it would happen. He did not have long to wait. "Crucio!" Bonderman was hurled by this affliction to the ground and began to writhe in agony. Porto dismounted from his small horse and walked over to him. "Cess Sate."
Bonderman still felt the pain but was aware enough to hear the chilling voice, "If I wanted you to have a bride, I would arrange one for you. You do not deserve one so lovely. In fact I was about to arrange a marriage for you in the next village. It is full of ruffians and wastrels and a woman suitably low for you will be ready at hand."
Porto continued in a scathing tone. "But you will stew in your own juices for now. You have twelve seasons to behave yourself and do as I bid. If your performance is just as I command, I may indeed let you marry that lovely. At any time that you do not, I will let you experience this agony until your pathetic mind is gone and you bay at the moon with the other dogs. Three harvest faires from now I may reward you or I might just kill you anytime between now and then if you displease me. In the mean time, this will serve as a reminder."
As Bonderman began to half groan-half scream from the re-applied curse, Porto looked at the other two who suddenly felt as though they should be staring at their saddle blankets. They were smaller than Bonderman and about as bright. They were evil enough to gladly do Porto's bidding, but neither could replace Bonderman.
Porto's muttered to himself so none could hear, "We’ll see. Perhaps I can conjure up a way to look as imposing as this great lump and install myself as Keeper. I will have to ponder this. The girl is a beauty, and I would not mind taking her for myself."
Back at Loundon's Town, the faire was over even though no one else but the four had left. No one spoke other than in hushed tones. Meala was barely able to say a little louder than the others, "What will we do, Torban? How can we protect our daughter from such a strong Touch as the little man's? Bonderman will ask him to kill all of us if we refuse Constantia as his bride."
Constantia was shivering as if the winter winds had come much earlier than usual. She had a look in her eyes like she could see into the future, a horrible future. Her friend Naelly was half holding her from falling, yet Naelly quivered as well. Willen could not stand the look on Constantia's face, nor could he bear the thought of Bonderman marrying her.
All thoughts of his stomach cramps were gone. A horrible and wonderful opportunity was before him. He had wandered into this village six moons before and was barely earning his bed in the stable hay and two meals a day. He could gather wood like a beaver but others could gather wood as well. He was not essential but a help to the community. But he was also rather clumsy and a bit accident-prone. Willen's Luck. Because Meala had a kind soul, Willen had not been run off and could keep from starving.
Though strong for his size, Willen was rail thin from lack of proper diet and had lank flaxen hair. Were it not for his lazy eye he would be a handsome lad, but no one could see beyond that one flaw. No one except Constantia. She was kindness itself. She did not see that she was a beauty. Constantia spent all her time looking for the good in others. She looked right past Willen's eye and treated him well. While Meala felt sorry for Willen, Constantia saw a man of talent. He had carved a number of small, beautiful figurines and had given them to her in secret. Constantia did not realize that this talent could not provide for him and a family, she simply respected him for his abilities. Alas, at seventeen summers he was a man by age but not a man by the definition of being able to provide for a family.
One more look into Constantia' eyes - the eyes that always saw good in him and could see nothing now but a terrifying future, and Willen gained the courage he thought impossible. He shouted out, surprising even himself, "I know we can fight him. That branch is of olive wood from the south coast of Gaul. It is the secret of his power. He has the Touch for destruction and focuses it with the stick. I will go to Gaul and bring back olive wood branches for all who have the Touch and we will fight them!"
There were murmurs of excitement until Caedric the Fisher spoke out. Willen had accidentally tripped Caedric one day when he had been playing with one of the guard dogs of the village. Caedric was returning from his nets and had dropped a portion of the day's catch because of Willen's antics. He had been furious that day, and his fury had subsided little since then. Caedric spoke with all of the derision he could muster, "Dog boy, do you even know where Gaul is?"
Willen blanched at this unknown monumental detail.
"Dog boy, it is over the sea to the land on the eastern shore. That is many days’ walk to the sea from here, and then two days hard rowing even if the seas run right. Then the south coast of Gaul is two to three seasons' walk through dangers you cannot imagine. There are giants and dragons and sirens and bands of marauders that will make those four look like plough boys. You will leave and never be seen by this village again. Good riddance as far as I am concerned, but do not give this girl and her family false hope for your return in this lifetime."
Willen shrank from this verbal onslaught. Caedric took too much delight in crushing him, but in truth, Willen had thought that Gaul might be a village on the southern Albion coast just a few fortnights away. This was a journey of at least a cycle of four seasons if everything went perfectly. With Willen's perverse version of luck, three years would barely be enough time.
Then Constantia spoke haltingly for the first time since Bonderman's speech. "Willen, I have con... con... confidence in you." She shuddered and continued, "You bring in more firewood than any other man in the village. You create the loveliest of figures in wood, and I will always cherish the horse you carved for me in one afternoon. If you say you will return with olive wood and rescue me, I believe you."
There had been hollow and shrill laughter at Ceadric's harsh words to Willen. Those few who agreed with Constantia, if there were any, said little. But Willen heard none of their scorn. She believed in him! He must not let her down. He must not let down the village. Only a few had taken him in but he now thought of Loundon's Town as his home, because Constantia lived there.
He smiled an odd smile with his lazy eye twitching and that smile somehow seemed to correspond to the one on Constantia's face. And with no other thought, he turned to leave for the southern coast of Gaul.
"Willen," he heard Torban say. "You need provisions for your trip. Please come with me." Torban continued as much to the others present as to Willen, "We will discuss our other options as soon as you are ready for your trip, but we must do whatever we can to ensure your successful journey."
At the storeroom behind Torban and Meala's cottage, Willen received a new blanket and a water resistant covering. He was given a week's supply of bread and two weeks of dried beef and one of dried pork. Torban gave Willen a cloak that swallowed the youth. Willen was fairly tall now that he had reached his maturity but he still had filling out to do. Torban was over a head taller, so Willen's new cloak almost touched the ground. He handed Willen a miniscule bag of gold pebbles to use in trading and wished he had more to give.
Lastly Torban went to his metals shop and took out the largest knife Willen had ever seen, what would be considered a blade for battle. "This blade is the most perfect one I have ever produced. The metal told me how to shape itself for use. It may have the Touch all by itself. You can hunt and chop down a small tree with it. If you must, you should be able to kill with the edge or the point. I do not know if you can bring back a stick like that little man had or if it will help if you do. But the look on your face when my daughter spoke to you tells me that it will take a great effort to kill you to keep you from coming back to us.
"My wife and my daughter have been kind to you but I have not. From now on, no one in this village will ever speak ill of you in my hearing. If you return..., no. When you return, you will be a man of standing in this village and you will be my friend."
With that Torban turned and did not look back. Willen set out with something he had never had before. He had a purpose, a goal, and a dream. He would save Constantia and the village. He would reach the south coast of Gaul and return with olive wood. And he would dream of marrying Constantia every day and every night of his terrifying and magnificent travels.
After Harry and Mr. Ollivander had been working for over two hours, the door chime interrupted the story. The tinkling sound caused the two to look up from their inventory to see Marcie Polkind, a waitress from Florean Fortescue's.
"'ere's the refreshments you was a ordering, Mr. Ollivander, sur. Two ice cold pumpkin juices and a tin of nut chocolate biscuits, hot out of the oven. Baked 'em meself, I did. Will ye be wantin' anythin' else, sur?"
"Nothing else, Miss Polkind." Ollivander had quickly risen to his feet and was taking the tray from Marcie before Harry had realized it. "Here is the remuneration and a gratuity."
The girl looked a bit flustered by his words.
Ollivander smiled and said, "This should cover the cost of this snack and your tip. Thank you for bringing it, and please thank your employer for me also."
Marcie Polkind's vocabulary may not have been on the same par as Mr. Ollivander's, but she instantly calculated her share of the money she had received. The delight in her eyes expressed just how generous the older gentleman had been.
"Thankee, sur; thankee most kindly. If you will be needin anythin' else please send word, and we will gladly be at your service."
Ollivander and Harry spoke little as they stood and ate, other than to comment on the refreshing taste of the iced pumpkin juice and their mutual appreciation of still warm baked goods.
"Now where were we, Mr. Potter?"
"This row of wands here, sir. We still have a few left in this stack before we go to the next counter. Oh, and thanks for the refreshments..., my throat was pretty dry."
"You are most welcome, Mr. Potter. I thought the chilled pumpkin rather than tea. It is warmer than usual, and the dust we have stirred with our rearranging of the wands has parched my throat as well. And yes, we mustn't forget these last few, all from 1901, I believe... no, one from 1943. But I meant where were we in the story?"
Harry smiled. In the last hour he had wondered why he'd ever thought Mr. Ollivander frightening. He was most polite and considerate. Harry had not realized just how thirsty he was until Marcie appeared. Harry let his smile fade as he remembered why he had been uncomfortable the first time he'd met the wand maker. It was the first time anyone had told him anything about Voldemort himself. The idea that his parents had been murdered had been less than a day old when Ollivander had said that Voldemort had done "terrible, yes, but great" things. After two years in the wizarding world, Harry now knew too well that the Dark Wizard had great power and was beyond terrible.
With a slight shudder, that the older gentleman saw but ignored, Harry said, "Willen had just walked out of Loundon's Towne towards the sea, trying to reach the southern coast of Gaul. That is France, isn't it, sir?"
Harry continued, "And I guess Torban is going back to those still at the harvest faire to discuss other ways to defend themselves against Porto and Bonderman."
"Quite right on both counts, Mr. Potter. Let's finish this last stack of wands and move on. We are making good progress, much better than I had managed to do by myself. I am grateful for your help."
Harry smiled a bit shyly. He was glad to help the gray-haired wand master. Once again he was glad he was beyond his initial fears. There was a gentle nature to this man who was a captivating storyteller.
"Well, let's proceed. Seven and three quarter inch birch with a unicorn hair core half way, made in 1943. We were in the middle of the war with Grindelwald. He and his minions were causing troubles everywhere. Disrupting supplies was one of their specialties and we tried to conserve materials wherever possible. None of these ever picked a witch or wizard, or worked very well for that matter. Where was I again...Oh, yes."
On with our tale.
Willen's Luck held. He knew the coast was roughly in the direction that the sun comes up. He knew that in the summer the sun comes up in a different direction than in the winter. He never did remember which way was which so he headed basically in a northeasterly direction. Had Willen followed the Tameas River instead, in four days he would have reached a place where sea-going fishing boats were available. This was perhaps one of the most fortuitous examples of Willen's Luck.
Willen's Luck. Though Willen did not call it by this name yet, he had noticed that quite often, a series of bad, maybe even painful events, usually ended up somehow to his benefit. He was not sure he wanted luck like this but it was better than regular bad luck.
While Willen began his circuitous march to the sea, Torban walked purposely back to the harvest faire.
In the few minutes he had spent outfitting Willen for his journey, many of the crowd had gathered their goods and wares to begin the trip back to their farms and homes. Over fifty people had moved to Loundon's Towne since the last faire. Fewer than twenty would move there this next year. Even that would change, however.
As Torban walked back he heard Egorn the Potter talking. "I say we must prepare to fight them. If we use cunning and stick together, we can succeed with only a few losses. It’s for the good of the community. I don’t want to die any more than anyone else does, but if we stick together and have a plan, we can limit our..." Egan paused as he caught sight of Torban. "And maybe," he continued, "Willen will return with..."
"You fool!" shouted Caedric the Fisher. "You are a fool to hope we would only lose a few. Do you volunteer to be one of those losses? You sit by your wheel and your kiln and walk two hundred paces for your supplies. Few of you know about the state of affairs throughout Albion. You Potters are always too brave for your own good."
That remark made Harry feel both pleased and a bit insulted.
Caedric was just beginning his tirade. "I travel far in my boat, as you know, and I talk to other Fishers who travel all up and down the east coast of Albion and up its rivers. People coming in to take over towns and villages, like Bonderman, are often talked about in whispers. Accounts of such stealers of land are causing fear-filled rumors wherever they are told. They are not like Torban's Gran-da Loundon, carving out a Keep to be developed, or like us, peacefully founding a village worth living in. They show up at established communities and take over by threats, death, and destruction.
"I am sorry I never mentioned the deaths from olive sticks. No one ever mentioned what type of wood it was before. I heard a few outlandish claims and dismissed them as the rants of weak women."
Several women in the crowd bristled at this expression, including Meala.
Caedric continued his spiel, unconcerned with whomever he might offend. "And you’re a double fool if you expect anything good to come from Willen the Dog Boy. I wasn’t overstating the dangers or distances. A traveler, wise in the ways of the world, would do well to get back two harvests from now. We have to survive until then. But that stupid, useless dog boy..."
"Caedric, that is enough about Willen." Torban did not shout, but the authority in his voice spoke louder than mere volume. Caedric was not a part of Torban's original band of settlers. His services as a Fisher were valuable, and he made a good addition to the economy of the community as well as the benefit of their diets. But Caedric had never quite thought that Torban was a better leader than anyone else, say, -- himself.
"Torban, you know he’s unlucky, useless, and always in the way. He’s a dreamer if he thinks he can survive such a journey. Why he’s nothing but..."
"Caedric!" Torban called sternly. He was now close enough to lean over the Fisher, uncomfortably reminding Caedric that Torban was over a head and a half taller than he was. "Willen has dedicated his life to saving this community and my daughter. You will not speak badly of him, either in my presence or out of it." Torban won the short staring match that followed. It was no contest. "Tell me what you suggest to help solve this crisis?"
"Well, I...er. That is.... I guess we should construct the storehouse Bonderman demanded. How can we overpower such a killing force?"
"That's how you would have us respond? Acquiescence? I like Willen's plan better." The derision dripped from Torban's words. "At least his response was brave. Even if he never comes back, you will respect his sacrifice for all of us."
Torban turned to address the crowd. "Everyone, we need ideas, we need a plan, or plans. Obviously we must prepare to fight them if we can. Perhaps, if we’re fortunate, not too many of us will die before we overpower them. Besides Caedric, who else will volunteer to attack first?" The sarcasm was clear.
Meala spoke. "We do need to build the storehouse, but we should also plan to build a fortress of some kind. Porto waited until those of you that advanced on him were very close to kill Feldin, God rest his soul. If he cannot kill at a greater distance, then fortress walls may protect us. Does anyone have any other ideas?"
Someone suggested digging a moat, but with the flooding of the Tameas River on occasions, they did not want to give it a reason to permanently flow into their village. Several others thought that hiring their own ruffians might be a good idea. That was forgotten when Bengt the Miller pointed out that there was nothing to stop the ruffians they hired from taking over as Keepers themselves.
Pandan the Tiller had the only other idea that was considered worth pursuing. "Why don't we fashion bows and make arrows? We could all try the bow to see if we have skill. Such weapons are easily hidden if need be. We could fire them from a distance if Porto has to be close to kill with the Touch. Who would be best at fabricating such things, Vanch the Cooper?"
Vanch spoke out, "The barrels I produce are of soft wood that swell when wet to stop leaks. My jigs and most of my forming tools are not created for such work. Does anyone have experience with hard woods?"
"Willen," said Constantia absentmindedly. She blushed and explained herself. "He was gifted with all types of wood. I never saw him start to make something without making it quickly and beautifully."
Looking directly into Caedric's eyes, Torban said, "Well, I am glad we were so good at discovering how useful he was."
Finally, it was agreed that the idea of making this type of weaponry was worth pursuing. Several would take on chores for Vanch the Cooper to give him extra time to try to discover the proper ways of making bows and arrows. Most would like to help Vanch in any way they could, but knew little about how to do so.
Meala, Torban, and a few others made an effort to personally thank those who had come from far away, and who still lingered, for attending the faire. All were invited back the next year but no one readily agreed.
Willen continued north and east instead of the easier route mostly east along the Tameas River. The extra travel added nearly two fortnights to his trip.
At this point Willen's Luck reared its mischievous head again. When he entered a small village, a dog bit him. The dog's owner took pity on Willen because he'd refused to kick at the dog. Willen was given a warm meal and allowed to sleep in the dog owner's barn with the cows during the rain that night. The dog bite became infected and he had a fever in the morning. Pitying him, the farmer's wife fed him and attended his wound. She had a bit of the Touch when it came to healing herbs and was able to stop the infection. Otherwise, Willen might have lost the leg, or even died. The dog's owner told him to ask for Stellan the Fisher if he wanted to go to Gaul. Willen's Luck would really come into play when he met Stellan.
In the summer, it grew so hot in the windowless huts of Loundon's Towne that several community fires were kept burning outside all night. Everyone could sleep comfortably and have a flame and hot coals to use for cooking first thing in the morning. And so, in the sultry weather only a couple of moons before the harvest faire, Willen had been at work gathering firewood in the forest near Loundon's Towne when he'd had an unusual encounter with a holly tree.
This holly tree had been guarded by bowtruckles, little stick men who were quite shy unless they thought something was threatening a tree under their protection. (Willen had encountered bowtruckles once before, three seasons earlier, also guarding a holly tree. He still had a scar on his thumb from that encounter.)
Willen liked trees, just as much as he liked working with wood. He could often hear the trees speaking to him. The trees seemed fond of Willen as well. He never cut down an unwilling tree. Most trees seemed glad when Willen trimmed their dead or unruly branches, or gathered up the dead wood that had fallen around them. Willen knew that most trees liked to be kept tidy. Trees knew their purposes. There were trees that were willing to be firewood, or boards for building, and many other uses as well. Willen knew that all he had to do was listen.
Willen knew that his ability to converse with trees was not ordinary. He had learned through painful experience not to mention his particular gift to anyone. Willen had noticed that people, unlike trees - who were usually sensible - often reacted strangely to things they didn't understand. Willen knew that most other people thought he was odd. He'd learned not to mind this too much, although he didn't want to be thought of as mad or dangerous. Willen was even more unsettled by the possibility that his strong affinity for trees might get him revered as some sort of visionary. Willen had heard that there were people coming to Albion from the seas who venerated trees, oaks in particular. He had first heard of them from a peddler of water skins in the community where he'd lived before he'd come to Loundon's Towne. More recently, he'd heard Caedric mention the tree-worshippers.
The idea of worshipping oak trees honestly baffled Willen. The oaks he'd known weren't terribly bright, although they were certainly sturdy and hard working. Like animals and humans, trees had faults and weaknesses. Willen thought of trees, people, and animals as creations. To Willen, it made sense to worship the higher being, the Creator, rather than a part of creation. He thought creation was made for appreciation rather than adoration.
Lost in thought, Willen almost did not see the bowtruckle-guarded holly tree. He came to a halt a man’s length away from it – too close. He could see that the tree had plenty of fallen branches, which would be useful for making fires. But he did not want to be attacked by the vicious little guardians.
This particular holly tree was calling to him. It knew his name, something that had never happened before. Willen remembered that the first bowtruckle-guarded holly tree had also called to him in a strong voice, telling him that its branches would be very useful. But Willen had not been able to understand exactly how. The first holly tree had tried to explain further, but the explanation had sounded like gibberish to Willen. He had been able to gather branches from other trees nearby without angering the bowtruckles, but when he'd got too close to that particular holly tree, the little creatures had swarmed at him.
Other than knowing his name, this holly tree did not try to say anything specific such as "My branches will start a fire quickly," or "This limb will make a good beam for a fence," or even "Chop me down, I am destined to be hut poles." It simply called to everything in Willen's being that it was destined to be very useful.
Willen was relieved that the bowtruckles were not attacking him. He noticed that they were massing to eat a mound of wood lice. Curious, he moved closer. Willen's curiosity often got him in nearly as much trouble as Willen's Luck, but this time he was fortunate. He was able to gather several branches and one small log without any interference from the little stick-figure sentries.
As soon as he was out of the forest, Willen began to break up the holly branches for kindling. These branches had been unusually quiet when he'd gathered them, but now they screamed that they were not meant for firewood. Willen did not understand when they tried to tell him what their true purpose should be. Finally, he left the branches at the edge of the forest. He would have put the small log down beside them, but the log insisted that it was its destiny to come with him.
Tired and hot from his walk through the forest, Willen returned to Loundon's Towne and set the small log down near a woodpile off to one side, well away from the firewood stack for the nearest communal fire. Then he stumbled off in search of some supper.
That night Willen heard something call his name in a blood-curdling scream. Hurrying out of the stable, he ran towards the fire. He saw the sufferer, and realized to his dismay that it was the small holly log. In spite of his precautions, it had been tossed into the fire. Now the little log was in agony. Willen burnt his fingers as he pulled it out of the fire. As he rescued the log, he felt grateful that no one else was near to see either his actions or his sorrow. Caedric wouldn't have been the only one to think him mad.
Willen brought the log back to the stable and put it in a bucket of water. He could hear the log moaning quietly. It asked him to cut off the burnt end. Willen complied. Holly is a hard wood but this piece cleaved easily at the burn, even though Willen was chopping against the grain. It was as if the log had helped him use the ax to cut away the severely damaged part.
Willen tended to the burnt log the same way he tended to his own burns, by soaking it in goat's milk and honey. He was grateful that he still had some goat's milk left from his supper and that he had not eaten the small bit of honeycomb which Meala had given him that evening. He knew that the wood would be all right with a few hours soaking.
Although he could sense no life in the burnt part of the log that he'd cut off, Willen decided against tossing it back into the fire. Out of respect for the log's courage and its suffering, he later buried the burnt piece at the edge of the forest.
The part of the log, which survived was a cross-section of the wood, oval shaped, about longer than his fingers but shorter than his hand in diameter. The end that Willen had cut with his ax was flat. The other end was rounded as if someone had sanded it with a rough stone to create a smooth surface. From the rounded edge to the cut edge, the log measured not quite the length of his finger next to his thumb. All the bark had been burnt away. It was very lightweight, lighter than holly usually was. Willen knew that it was a very special piece of wood.
The piece of holly had an unusual sense of its purpose, even in Willen's understanding. Usually, when a piece of wood that knew it was meant for the fire had been used as a board to build with instead, it would just snigger as it rotted away too quickly. And, when a piece of wood that knew it had been meant to be a fence beam had been used for firewood, it could be heard chuckling to itself about the foolishness of wasteful humans. The oval of holly wood was different. Willen, who listened to it as its pain began to lessen, did not understand much of what it was trying to tell him. But he distinctly heard it say that it had been "fighting fate to achieve its destiny." That phrase stuck with Willen.
Willen thought that there must be others who understood wood as he did. He'd seen others carve fine wooden figures and fashion other devices. But when he'd asked them about "seeing" the purpose of the wood, he'd been treated as though he'd bayed at the moon. Most people would have found the events of that night very strange indeed. The "conversation" that Willen had had with the small piece of wood was odd, even in the strange world of Albion, and in all of what would eventually come to be known as Europe.
In fact, Willen's talent made him unique in the entire known world.
Willen was thinking about these two experiences with bowtruckles and holly trees as he lay in the hay. The last vestiges of the fever from the dog bite still caused him to shiver from time to time. He had dreamed about the small log burning and calling to him. He brought the cutting of holly wood out of his carrying sack and stared at it. He had seen the "eyes" in the wood the moment he'd first taken it out of the milk and honey. The piece of holly had not spoken to him again since that night, but Willen knew that the eyes would lead him to the wood's purpose in due time. Usually he saw exactly what needed to be whittled away in seconds. But this special piece of wood had had such a traumatic time, and had fought so hard for its destiny, that it must be special. So to Willen, it only seemed proper to let the wood take its time to reveal its purpose.
As he sat in the hay, the eyes in the wood winked at him and he paid more attention. He felt like he was closer to finding the wood's elusive purpose. Finally the wood smiled at him and showed its rosy cheeks. He missed Constantia. He dozed.
The next day he awoke and looked at the piece of holly wood in his hands. No wonder it was such a special piece of wood. Two hours later, the carving of her face was almost as perfect as her face was in reality. It was Constantia. Willen was even able to fashion a drilled out hole to allow for a strip of leather to be pushed through. Constantia's likeness now rested around Willen's neck. He now felt he knew the purpose and destiny of the piece of wood. As it happened, he only knew half of it.
Willen finally arrived at the coast and asked for Stellan the Fisher as the dog's owner had suggested.
Stellan the Fisher had turned out to be a thief as well. He took too many of Willen's gold pebbles for passage and decided he wanted all the gold and all of Willen's goods to boot. He gave Willen a nice billet on the lee side of the boat so when he slit his throat, Willen's blood would drain away from the bedding.
Moving slowly and quietly, Stellan had the knife almost to Willen's throat when he noticed the design on Willen's blade. Torban had a mark he put on his metal wares and the mark, a "vee" shape, was the same mark on the metal bar that Stellan used to raise the sail on his boat.
During a storm four springs earlier, Stellan had been driven up the Tameas River until he'd reached Loundon's Towne. That feat was amazing in itself because boats in storms usually go aground quickly in rivers. Stellan did not have Willen's Luck. Everything and every talent needed to fix his boat existed at the village.
Vanch the Cooper had just found a new, much larger than usual selection of wood to cut into barrel staves. However, this wood had been perfect for the repairs the boat needed. Several of the women of the settlement had helped with sail repair. Stellan had little metal on his boat but when Torban had seen the methods used to raise the sail, he had designed a capstan and metal bar to help with all the lines and rigging. The metal capstan bar had Torban's "vee" on it and so did Willen's blade.
Stellan had told the villagers that he had no money to pay them, but he'd promised to return with payment within two moons. Everyone in the village had agreed with Torban to accept Stellan's terms, everyone except his fellow Fisher, Caedric. Caedric grumbled that you couldn't trust people who fish for a living, and it took him several moments to realize what was so funny. He quickly added that you couldn't trust those who fish until you got to know them. The people of Loundon's Towne knew Caedric, but they trusted Stellan anyway.
Even though Stellan was a thief, he could not bring himself to cheat the people of the village. There had been something about Torban's trust that he could not bring himself to damage. That debt was the only one he had paid willingly, and the only one he had paid on time.
Now this young fool with more gold than good sense and a number of worthwhile possessions was right here under his blade, but he couldn't bring himself to kill him.
"Willen, WILLEN! You were snoring."
Willen roused a bit fearfully. He had been lulled to a deeper sleep than usual by the rocking of the boat and had not remembered where he was. "What, what...what is it? Is everything well?"
"You were dreaming and snoring and shouting, come to think of it. You had drawn this blade halfway out and I did not want you to cut yourself in your sleep. That is a nice blade. Where’d you get it? Steal it off someone?" Stellan hoped he could still make his theft and get away with it.
"This blade was made by Torban Loundon of Loundon's Towne. He outfitted me for this trip." Willen went on to relate everything starting with the harvest faire. Stellan had heard of the harvest faire and had wanted to attend this year. Now, hearing about Porto, he was glad he hadn't. Stellan had heard about these new invaders that took over villages by force and killed with a stick and it frightened him. But as Willen's tale went on, Stellan felt hope.
Perhaps this young lad could do what he said. He seemed forthright enough. Stellan wasn’t put off by Willen's lazy eye. His father had had a lazy eye, and he had lived to a ripe old age. That was saying something for a Fisher who had sailed on the seas and not the rivers. Stellan had referred to Willen as a fool because he had seemed so gullible at first. But the conviction and passion in his voice about his quest for olive wood was stirring. Perhaps there was hope.
Of course with Willen's Luck, he was extremely seasick most of the voyage - and it was the smoothest sea Stellan could remember in all of his years afloat. Stellan took it upon himself to try to educate Willen as to the tricks of dishonest folk. Stellan, being one of them, knew whereas he spoke.
"Willen, you must always take care to sleep where you can hear if someone comes to attack you."
Willen retched over the side for the umpteenth time this morning and muttered incoherently in agreement.
"Put dried leaves or pieces of broken pottery, or something down that will make noise when someone gets near. Better yet, put a trip line out with a slip knot that will release and pull on your leg in warning."
Willen retched again and somehow made Stellan understand that he did not have any rope or line and knew no knots, slip or otherwise.
"I'll teach you."
They were completely becalmed and Willen was even sicker as the boat stilled. He had stopped his dry heaves because there had long been nothing in his gullet. He was nauseous and dizzy and was only able to pay attention to the knot tying lessons by lying down and keeping his head against the deck of the boat. He had stared up at Stellan's hands and had learned the knots from the bottom up. He had paid attention to everything Stellan was telling him. He knew there were many things he did not understand about the world and this journey did have him fearful. Willen was going to persevere and save Constantia and the village, but he admitted to himself his concerns for what he faced. All of his life, Willen had learned things that helped him later. And with Willen's Luck, he needed all of the help he could get.
Stellan chided him for taking the wrong direction from Loundon's Towne to go to Gaul. "Had you followed the Tameas River east, you would have been at a port for a number of seagoing fishing ships. I am glad you have three harvests to get back to Loundon's Towne. Your side trip and illness has lost you nearly three moons."
While becalmed, Willen slept during the afternoon and late night. Stellan taught him knots and the ways of disreputable people. He had assured Willen that these calms were rare but common enough for each seagoing ship to carry rations for an extra week at sea beyond what was needed normally.
Three nights in a row, Willen stared at the stars. He could do little else with his head on the deck to keep from falling over. Stellan got tired of talking down at him so he had assumed the same position as Willen. This naturally led Stellan to talking about the stars and telling the tales of the different constellations. Three nights in a row, Willen had noticed that all the stars moved across the sky, except one.
Stellan had pointed out the large pot shaped formation with the long handle. Willen had noticed near it was a smaller constellation with a similar shape. Willen pointed this out.
"Stellan, I have been here staring at that these stars for three nights. I have observed that all of the stars and constellations move across the sky except for the bright star at the tip of the little ladle. It never moves."
"Ah, you have noticed, Willen. They are called ladles on shore but we sailors call them dippers. The constellations are very interesting and the stories made up to go with them can be as fascinating as a good storyteller can make them. But the most useful thing in the night sky is that one star that never moves. It always points north. And if you always know where north is, then you can always tell where you are going. Keep the direction of the sun in mind with the time of the day, and keep your eye on that one bright star at night, and you can keep from sailing in circles on the sea, and pretty much follow a straight path on land, mountains and rivers permitting."
The winds finally came and a storm arose. Willen's stomach settled with the wild actions of the boat in rough waters. (Willen's Luck would give him an upset stomach on a calm sea and the choppier, more violent the seas, the happier his insides.) Stellan informed Willen that he would sail to the west coast of Gaul to poach the fish from Baldet's coast. The coast along this particular stretch was brimming with fish, so of course the local tyrant did not want anyone fishing it. Stellan loved a challenge and poaching was the next best thing to stealing. Though talking to Willen and thinking about Torban and the good people of Loundon's Towne was causing him to re-evaluate his life, poaching from Baldet, who claimed what was not his, caused Stellan no remorse.
Stellan had told Willen how to avoid Baldet's guards and how to get to the south coast of Gaul. Of course Willen's Luck held up.
Stellan unintentionally dropped him off right in the lap of Baldet's guard detail patrolling the coastal road. As Willen walked up from the shoreline and reached the edge of a wood, he tripped over the spear of a guard who had walked off the path to drop his breeches. (As of yet, no one had figured out that eating a half-cooked pig would make you sick.)
As soon as Willen was brought before Baldet, he began asking about olive trees and telling his story. Baldet was not a bright man. He solved most confusing issues by killing those involved. Thinking too much made Baldet’s head hurt, and there was nothing like a good killing to cure a headache. Baldet took a mighty swing at Willen when Willen wasn't looking. Willen, who had noticed Baldet's dog, had been bending down to pat it at just the right moment. Therefore, Baldet's blow did not kill Willen, it only knocked him unconscious. Baldet felt bad about nearly killing a fellow dog lover. He decided to show Willen some mercy and ordered him sent to the dungeon for the rest of his life instead.
"The boy talked a bit balmy, put him in with the madman. They may get along well enough."
The guards all agreed that Willen had been given a fate worse than death. The madman never shut his mouth without the help of a good clouting. Willen's Luck
Baldet's chief guard immediately took Willen's large blade for himself - he recognized the quality of it. Therefore, they never looked for his small carving knife. No one had two blades. They took his water skin and what little was left of his foodstuffs. They confiscated his blanket and water resistant covering and the chief guard wore Torban's cloak with pride. Perfect fit. Because Willen was drooling down his front and talking incoherently by this time, the guards did not check down the front of his shirt. The carving of Constantia was safe around his neck, as was the small pouch of gold bits.
The madman in the cell of Baldet's dungeon was one of the raving kinds of madmen who talked constant nonsense unless he was asleep or had been brained into silence by one of the guards. Willen learned to sleep whenever the raving idiot slept. When he was ranting Willen sat in a dark corner. Of course it was easier to brood in a dark corner. He was sad beyond belief. Here he was, four moons into his quest to save his fair love and his friends, and he had been sentenced to live out his meager life in this dank hole.
Five days past a fortnight into his life-sentence down in the dungeon, Willen took out his smaller blade and carved a quick picture of Constantia's face that he could see in the wood of a crossbeam right in front of the madman. When the guard had brought in their daily gruel - extra chunky gruel today - the old lunatic had pitched a fit and was bludgeoned into unconscious silence. The old man had been chained at his ankles only, and Willen was afraid to get within his grasp. When he slept he might be faking and lunge at Willen. Seeing him clouted into submission gave the young snoop his chance to enter that last unexplored part of their cell.
Willen saw Constantia's face in simple relief and it took only a few minutes to release it from the beam. It had never occurred to him that as soon as the crazy old man awakened he would be face to face with his love. Willen dozed off after he was finished with the likeness.
Not quite an hour after falling asleep he heard a voice calling through his dream of Constantia. "Are you a see-er, boy?"
At first, Willen thought that a third prisoner had been brought in during his nap, and was addressing him. No, it was the madman talking coherently.
"No, sir. I have never seen the future. If anything, I probably see what will not happen in the future."
"No, boy, not seer," the madman said in exasperation. "A See-ER! Can you see things as they can be in wood or other materials, and then know how to use a blade to bring them out of the wood with little effort?"
"I guess," said Willen. "I have never thought about it. I just do it."
"Have you ever gotten mad at someone and had them fall down or burn themselves in a fire a little later?"
Willen nodded in shame.
"Can you find what no one else can find? Can you occasionally go right to the place and find what you seek even though you have never been there before?" The old man was getting more agitated and louder as he talked. "Can you automatically identify a possible way to do something that others think daft? Do you know instantly what people should be doing if they do not? DO YOU, BOY?"
Willen shrank into himself as he meekly nodded agreement to each of these questions. He had been driven out of numerous villages for seeing and speaking out loud these very types of things. He just thought that no one liked a busybody. That is what the people called him when he stated what was obvious to him but invisible to the others. Little did he know they were embarrassed that this lad who was so young and new to the various communities could see the solution to problems they had cursed for days or even season after season.
"What's your name, boy?" the madman nearly screamed. After Willen told him, the madman straightened, lost the wild look, and spoke in a most rational yet irascible voice. "Well, I am glad you finally made it. I have been expecting you, but I did not know who would come. My name is Eirran. I am a seer. No, not a see-ER of the things like you see. I foresee things. I saw someone coming to this cell. You are lucky to be a prisoner here."
Willen was in shock. He had a life sentence to this dungeon where the guard told him few lived past a year. He would never be able to save Constantia from Bonderman, and he was stuck here with a madman regardless of how rational he now sounded.
Albion - There is no record of what the native population of England called their island in 382 B.C. If one of the epithets for England is Old Albion, then at one time it had to be just “Albion.’
The Founding of Gringotts Wizarding Bank in 519 A.D. - - The beginning of the invisible existence of the magic ones among the non-magical is a part of Willen's tale and will not be recorded here. Though a separate community "hidden" among the Muggle world for roughly seven hundred years, the Wizarding world, until the early sixth century A.D., shared the same currency with the Muggle community. Their economies were therefore closely linked.
For almost a decade before Gringotts’ founding date, the existing Muggle king fought a series of battles with invading Saxons for control of London and the lands around it. Rule of this area went back and forth, and the Muggle economy was devastated by those circumstances.
Because of the various protections and precautions, the magical community of Albion, by then called Britoun, was not too directly affected. However, the Wizarding economy suffered to an inordinate degree through wild currency fluctuations because of its linkage with Muggles.
In 519 A.D., King Cerdic of the Saxons finally conquered and subdued London and the lands around it. Kelden, ancestor of our Mr. Ollivander, led a group of wizarding governmental officials and business owners who negotiated with the goblins to start Gringotts. This allowed for the formation of a separate financial system based on golden Galleons, silver Sickles, and copper Knuts. The magical economy has been relatively stable and impervious to Muggle vagaries ever since.
Historical Note on This Last Historical Note - King Cerdic of the Saxons did, in actual fact, finally subdue London in 519 A.D. Britoun was Middle English for England. I don’t make up all of this.
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. - A St V -