Edward Owen – Author

Ray Bradbury Challenge #34 “The Wizard”

“The Wizard”

Wizard

The flames leapt into the night sky, changing hue from deep crimson to viridian to brilliant gold and back again. The crowd oh’d and ah’d in response to the show.

“Brothers and sisters, I have studied the mysteries of the known world. I have beheld wonders beyond belief.  I have tamed the powers of the Sister Gods.”

The man’s muscles rippled beneath the soft silk of his robe. Jet black hair flowed down his back and his dark eyes sparkled as he spoke. He raised his arms and lightning erupted from his finger tips. Several onlookers shrieked in terror and covered their eyes. The hint of a smile danced at the corners of his mouth.

“And now I bid you a Grand Moon’s Eve.”

With a bow and a flourish he stepped into the flames and disappeared. The collective gasp from the crowd carried across the  compound. The flames died leaving a cloud of smoke in the shape of a great bird that floated away on the evening breeze. The audience shuffled away from the fire ring, their voices wafting through the air in excited tones.

Rolath slipped through the night to his wagon. The clans of the southern plains were generous and good natured, especially during the Moon Festival. He had made nearly a third of his income for the season in a handful of days.

The wheeled vehicle he called home loomed ahead in the bright moonlight. Its exterior did not reflect the wealth of its owner.

Rolath placed his hand against a smooth plate alongside the door. It glowed with a soft blue light and the latch clicked open. As he stepped in to the coach, a light breeze ruffled his hair. The interior lights emitted a warm glow in response to his presence.

The wizard paused as he pushed the door shut. He withdrew a small purse from his cloak and placed it on a shelf. A subtle movement in the air caught his attention and he spun around.

“Reveal yourself, shifter,” he said.

The bag disappeared from the shelf. Rolath raised his hands and a green haze revealed the outline of a body on the far side of the room. They attempted to pass him but he caught the intruder by the wrist and forced their arm up behind their back.

“Ow! You’re hurting me.”

The haze cleared and the intruder took the shape of a young woman.

“By Clan Law I am free to do with you as I please. You are either very brave or very stupid to try to steal from a wizard.”

“You are either a coward or you have a very small member to use force against a young girl,” she said.

Rolath laughed. “If you had any idea who I was, you would know that neither of those statements is true.”

“Oh, I know who you are.  I will give you exactly five seconds to let me go before I hurt you.”

Rolath reached for his short knife but before his fingers touched the hilt his feet left the floor. The girl’s arm slipped from his grasp like smoke and his body was slammed against the wall. He slumped to the floor, his head ringing from the impact.

“I did warn you,” said the disembodied voice as the girl disappeared.

The money bag slammed into the door and dropped to the floor followed by a loud thud.

“Sisters be damned!”

Rolath picked himself up from the floor, straightened his cloak and settled in to a large chair. He crossed his arms over his chest and stared at the door.

“It’s locked and opens to my touch only. There is a containment charm on the entire coach. You will be here until I decide to let you go.”

The bag rose from the floor and hurtled at the wizard’s head. He caught it in his left hand never taking his eyes off the door.

“You have a considerable temper, but your aim is good.”

A small statue flew across the room. Rolath extended his arm and the statue hovered inches above the floor before floating back to its place on the shelf.

“I can play this game all night. Hunger and thirst will be a concern for you soon and you will find no sustenance in here. Why not show yourself and give me your name?”

The woman materialized near the door. She was dressed in a skin tight body suit that shimmered in the dim light. Her auburn hair was twisted into an ornate braid down her back. Bright green eyes bore into Rolath with a palpable intensity.

“I am Leena of Clan Osiris. Should I assume I am your prisoner?”

The wizard remained silent as his gaze wandered over her. The suit left little to the imagination where her figure was concerned but she neither looked away nor blushed under his scrutiny. After a few moments, a smile crossed his lips and he spoke.

“Prisoner implies that I captured you when in fact you entered my home of your own free will, albeit with larcenous intentions. ‘Unwilling guest’ is a better term I think.”

Leena’s brow furrowed.

“For how long am I to be your ‘guest’?”

Rolath rose from his chair and gestured to Leena.

“I have not decided. That will depend on you. The road is long and I could do with some company so you will be with me to Gharita’an at the very least. I hope you didn’t have a previous engagement.”

Leena crossed her arms over her chest but refused to sit.

“Very well, but if you have any ideas that I will share your bed, you will find me a great deal more than unwilling.”

Rolath’s laugh filled the room.

“It will be a sad day indeed when I must resort to forcing myself on a child of less than twenty seasons.”

The wizard turned and headed to the front of the coach leaving the young shifter alone, her fists balled in anger.

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