Here is my story for Day 10 of the 14 Day writing challenge I’m participating in for Mythic Scribes.
It was supposed to be a story about lost beauty rediscovered. You would expect this to be about a woman, so I decided to try and be original and to give it a different slant. You can judge for yourself whether I managed to succeed!
I must say that writing every day has really helped me develop the plot. The prompts are a little difficult to accommodate into the story, but they certainly keep it moving along!
Day 10-Beauty Prompt-Write a story about lost beauty rediscovered.
The Transformation of The Wizard by Jacqueline Miller
Zol, the wizard, tried to move his aching limbs. The company had been on the road for a whole day and were camped by the side of the pathway that led into the forest of Dirkwood. This was the first stage of their journey towards the Kingdom of Verucka where the evil Goblin King ruled, on the far side of the Foggy Mountains.
The wizard groaned loudly as he managed to drag himself into an upright position, and again as he banged his head on the ceiling of the tent. He hobbled towards the entrance and stuck his head out into the chilly morning air.
In the grey light, he saw silhouettes of trees, tents and horses. The air was silent except for the crowing of a distant cockerel. He remembered that there were farms in the vicinity. This was the last post of civilisation in the outer region of Zanderlands before travellers entered the forest and approached the Wilderness that lay between the adjacent Kingdoms of Wilkielands and Verucka.
Zol, who had visited these parts before, remembered that there was a little brook not far from here. He girded up his ancient loins and walked slowly in that direction. His toes and soles were painful in their coarse rope sandals.
“I wish I’d remembered to pack my slippers,” he said, aloud.
The water, when he reached it, seemed to be much nearer to the road than he recalled.
He was, furthermore, surprised to find merely a narrow trickle of a stream.
“It used to be much wider. Perhaps there has been a drought in the fifteen years since I last passed this way,”he thought.
The water was also a curious purplish lime colour.
“Oh, how I miss the suppleness of youth,” the wizard muttered as he bent down stiffly by the stream.
He filled his cup with water and recited his morning mantra. These were magic words that aimed to give the wizard energy and to prolong his life. He made a habit of reciting them every morning when he rose.
Now he tilted the cup and poured the cool liquid over his face, hands and feet. The water was ice cold and seemed to fizz on his skin like lemonade.
Feeling invigorated, he made his way back to the camp. He could see the grey shapes of tents and King Norbit’s Royal Crest on a flag.
As he entered the camp, he was surprised to find his footsteps felt more sprightly than of late. He even danced a little jig on the grass.
Suddenly, he espied Sir Hugh Pendleton, dressed in daytime livery and boots, emerging from a nearby tent.
The knight stared at Zol and raised his hand.
Thinking it a friendly gesture, Zol waved back.
“Halt! Who goes there!” Sir Hugh cried.
Zol turned his head to look behind him, but there was no one else in sight.
“Who? Me? Who are you talking to?” Zol noticed that his voice sounded unusually high and immature.
“Guards!” called the knight.
Two tall figures ran towards him from opposite directions.
“Remove this boy!”
Zol’s arms were grabbed by the two burly knights he knew as Thomas and Arthur.
“What the… Have you gone crazy, you stupid imbeciles?” he cried in his new falsetto voice.
“Don’t be insolent to the servants of the King!”cried Arthur.
“You deserve a thrashing!” shouted Thomas.
“But, I’m Zol! The wizard! You know me-”
“Be off with you!” shouted Sir Hugh, affecting not to hear him. “You are trespassing on the King’s Royal Expedition!” He spoke to the knights, “Take this trouble maker outside the Royal Enclosure!”he ordered.
Zol found himself being carried across the field to a large hedge. Ignoring his protests, the knights lifted him up and roughly threw him over. He landed on his back in a clump of thistles.
“Go home, boy!”
“Yes, go back to your mother!”
“And don’t bother us again!” they jeered.
Their laughter faded into the morning gloom.
Zol sat up and crawled away from the thistles. Something sharp was digging into his hip. He put his hand in his pocket and found the shiny metal object which Doran Rustin had magicked for him two evenings ago, when curing his backache. He managed to use one side of it like a mirror. He peered at his reflection and was amazed to see the countenance of a youth staring back at him. He had blonde curly hair, a smooth unwrinkled skin and clear baby-blue eyes. The nose was long but straight.
“Why it’s me! This is how I looked many moons ago! By gum, I was rather a handsome lad.”
He viewed the face in the reflection from different angles, ignoring the slight distortion caused by the shape of the silver barrel.
He looked at his hands: the skin was soft and white; the fingers slim and flexible.
“But how has this happened? And, more to the point, what can I do now?”
He wandered back to the brook. He’d heard of such things happening before. Some said the land by Dirkwood was enchanted.
“Maybe I uttered an unusual spell,” he said. “I need to undo it, much as I would enjoy being a young boy again.”
He bent down, splashed water over his face, hands and feet, and recited a reverse transference spell.
Within seconds, the customary arthritic pains had returned. His fingers became gnarled and swollen, with brown spots on the back. Zol looked at his reflection in the silver object.
A familiar, grey haired, long nosed, wrinkled face with bushy eyebrows stared back at him.
“Oh, well, it was nice while it lasted,” he sighed, grabbing onto a tree trunk and pulling himself up onto his aching feet.
He was horrified to hear the Royal Horn being blown in the distance. The company was evidently departing without him.
“Hey! What about my cauldron? My books of spells? My clothes?”
He was unable to lift his legs high enough to climb back over the hedge so he stumbled around the perimeter of the field until he found an opening in the foliage. It took him several more minutes to cross the field. He arrived back at the deserted camp site just in time to see the procession disappearing up the road.
“Come back!” Zol shouted, but his voice faded into the breeze.
He stood and pondered for a moment. Was there much point in rejoining the company? He hadn’t really wanted to come with. He thought longingly of his comfortable den back at the castle. He could return if he walked for a couple of days. After all, he hadn’t asked to go on this ridiculous quest.
Besides, he was pretty sure that Sir Hugh had heard his words explaining who he was; but the knight was a narrow minded brute who didn’t believe in magic. Why stay where he wasn’t wanted or appreciated?
In fact, Sir Hugh had been less than welcoming when Zol had turned up yesterday morning, to report that the King had contracted his services for the quest.
“We don’t require wizards!” Sir Hugh had yelled, rudely. “This is a military operation. We have no need for magic mumbo jumbo. And how do you expect to carry THAT?” he’d bellowed, pointing with derision at Zol’s cauldron.
“It’s the smallest one I have,” Zol insisted.
“We already have a cooking pot!”
The wizard had ignored him and smuggled it onto the cook’s wagon. He’d noticed last night that it had been used to serve the evening meal of carrot and barley soup.
The wizard had consoled himself with the knowledge that he would have a friend and ally in young squire, Rustin; but after they’d travelled several miles he learned that Horatio Higgins, had taken Doran’s place.
Another knight of their party had told him the full story. Apparently, Sir Hugh had picked a quarrel with young Doran, grown violent and dismissed him with a bloody lip.
“Sir Hugh Pendleton preferred his own squire, I guess,” said the knight, a red haired man named Sir Rupert Brownstone, who came from a solid old noble military family.
Zol had remarked that it would still have been useful to have the squire on the quest. After all, Doran knew exactly where the knights were being kept prisoner in Verucka and the goblins had sent him to deliver the ransom note to the King.
“Yorick the Yellow has been sent ahead with the reply, so maybe he didn’t,” Rupert replied. “But, you know, Sir Hugh is a law unto himself. If he doesn’t like you, your career is good as over!”
Rupert repeated a rumour, which Zol had heard once before, that Sir Hugh wanted his son, David, to marry the Princess Charmane. Zol had laughed heartily at that. Apart from her obvious lack of beauty, the girl was a bit of a bad tempered shrew and had never shown the least interest in David, or indeed, any of the knights. She liked needlepoint and her cats. David, like most young knights, seemed fond of male company and of getting drunk.
Thinking about things now, Zol realised that he hadn’t seen anything of the princess who’d been kept locked in her carriage or under guard inside the royal tent.
He walked back to the space where the camp had been set up. It was deserted with bits of debris scattered around. Strangely, his tent was still standing. He looked inside. His robes and his books were still there. How odd? Why had no one looked for him? He walked back towards the road.
Looking into the distance he could just about see the expedition climbing a hill on the horizon.
The wizard frowned: there was something peculiar about this. He was sure the company should be travelling East through the forest, but they were definitely travelling North along the country road.
“Hey! Come back, you fools! You’re going in the wrong direction!”he shouted, weakly.
Suddenly, he noticed a large, flat, rectangular package lying in the road. It was wrapped in a cloth. Lifting it up with difficulty, he propped it next to a hedge. What could it be? He dragged the cloth back. A ghastly, green faced, black haired creature with lopsided red rimmed eyes, stared back at him.
The wizard was not a nervous man, but even he jumped in fright.
On the bottom of the portrait he read: ‘The Princess Charmane ‘. It was accompanied by a squiggly, almost illegible, signature:
Written by: Jacqueline Miller
© Jacqueline Miller 2014: Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.