Authors: William D. Latoria
Tags: #Fantasy, #Fiction
Tartum deflated. Victory had seemed so sure! He had felt like he had already won! He was already imagining himself standing over his defeated master, seeing the pride in Isidor’s face that his pupil had met his challenge, yet again. The praise, the possible celebration, all for nothing because his staff couldn’t be enchanted a second time. It was in the middle of this defeat that another thought occurred to him. What part of the staff held the fortification enchantment? Was it the Jade? Or was it the gold? If it was the jade, then Tartum’s plan to enchant the gold was still viable! If not...well Tartum didn’t want to think about that. He needed to know if the gold was enchanted or not, and the only man that could tell him was buried in a pile of nubile drunk women, the last he saw.
“Time for some answers.” Tartum thought, as he left the room and returned to the bar.
Finding Isidor wasn’t difficult. He had recovered quite quickly, it seemed, because he was back up on the bar dancing around again, juggling ten mugs this time. Although, he had given up on the singing this time around. Tartum found an empty seat by the bar and sat, watching his master, allowing time to sober him, so that he could think clearly. He had to make sure this plan worked, otherwise, there was no telling when, or if, he would ever beat Isidor and get him to start teaching him magic again. After three years of working on his own it would be nice to have someone help him unravel the secrets of his spell book again. Not to mention, he was sick of being Isidor’s punching bag, and it would be nice to get the upper hand for once.
The working girls started approaching Tartum again, distracting him from his thoughts. His body wanted them around, wanted to reward their advances, with advances of his own. His soul, however, wanted the magic and power that his current plan could bring him. In a battle of desire, his soul won out. After refusing the girls’ taudry suggestions about what they would like to do to him for the right price, Tartum called Mama over. Handing her ten gold coins, he told her to keep the whores away from him, and bring him some water and bread so he could sober up. Mama looked confused at his request, but for ten gold coins there were not many things Mama wouldn’t have agreed to. She complied with Tartum’s request and brought him the bread and water. She told her girls to leave him alone, and when one exceptionally brave, or exceptionally stupid, girl decided to defy her orders, Mama broke a pitcher over her head. The fight that ensued, provided the enitre bar with entertainment for a full fifteen minutes. The result of said fight was, Mama nursing a bruised cheek and the working girl out on her ass, unemployed.
So wrapped up in his own thoughts, Tartum barely noticed any of this. He spent the rest of the night, watching Isidor get more and more inhebriated. He watched as his master stumbled, slurred and eventually collapsed on the floor, giggling and moving lamely around, in an attempt to stand up. Seeing that this was as good of a time as any to get some answers out of him, Tartum went to his aid.
Picking his master’s drunk form up off the ground was far from an easy task, but after a few fumbles that resulted in Isidor hitting the ground a bit hard, Tartum finally stood him up and carried him out of the brothel. The majority of the patrons in the bar walked with Tartum, to see off the life of the party. Isidor yelled his farewells, and his loyal, drunken fans screamed theirs back. Finally, Tartum was alone on the road back home, half carrying, half dragging his master along.
“Master I have to ask you something” Tartum Said.
“Yesh my Tartum...*EErp!*...Oh! Almost losht my stomacsh there. Hahaha! What...what...question?” Isidor said, barely able to keep up with the conversation.
Good, Tartum thought. At least like this, he wont be suspicious, and he shouldn’t be able to keep the truth from me.
“Master, when you cast the fortification spell on my staff, was it the jade, or the gold, that you enchanted?” Tartum said, barely keeping the urgency from his voice.
“Whaaa? Your shtaff? I enshanted it...with my magic.” Isidor looked at Tartum then and waved one of his hands in his face. Apparently, he was trying to make fun of him. “Oooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhh! HAHAHAHAhahaha!” Isidor talked to Tartum like he was an infant, and was very proud of his joke, judging by how hard he was laughing. Unfortunately for him, the movement and the laughing sent a signal to his stomach, that it was time to purge. He leapt off Tartum and fell to his knees.
“Eeeerp! Uh-oh.” was all he got out, before the contents of a night of drinking, was emptied out all over the road.
Tartum waited for his master to finish being sick. When he was sure the danger of getting bile on him had passed, he grabbed Isidor by his shirt and shook him.
“Damnit, Isidor, did you cast the enchantment on the jade or on the gold!?
!” Tartum shook him hard. The result was the moment of clarity, Tartum needed.
“I casshted it on sha stone part. Not the gold...The gold wouldn’t have held the magishic.” As Isidor finished this sentence, his eyes rolled back into his head, and he passed out.
Still holding his master by the shirt, Tartum began trembling. His plan would work! He had said it! The jade! The
of the staff was enchanted! Not the gold! It would work! It
to work! Finally! After years of nothing, he would finally resume his training! After a moment, Tartum regained control of himself and calmed down. Looking up, he saw all around him the lightning bugs he would need, for his spell and knew that he must do it tonight. Isidor would be awake tomorrow, and if he caught him enchanting his staff, he would start asking questions that would lead to Tartum revealing his plans, or Isidor stopping him completely. Isidor couldn’t find out about this, until the moment it was too late! Picking his master up and slinging him over his shoulder, Tartum brought him back home and put him to bed.
Not wasting another second, Tartum gathered up every last bit of suphur and pinecone in the wagon’s storage area, then, he grabbed up his skin of chicken blood. There was a decent amount left inside. It would have to be enough. There was no waiting for the butcher to open his stall. Tartum prayed it was enough!
Gathering his staff, Tartum ran outside to the site behind the wagon, where his first enchantment had been successful. Thrusting his staff’s blunted point, deep into the ground, where the coin had been last night, he carefully drew the glyphs with the chicken blood, just had he’d done before. Next, he placed the pinecones and sulphur in there respective places and encircled them as well. Then, dropping everything else, Tartum ran out into the woods and began the task of gathering up the bugs. After about twenty minutes, Tartum had gathered around eighty of the bugs and assumed that would be enough. The jar he had to contain them was full to bursting.
Placing the bugs north of the staff and drawing the glyphs around them, Tartum inspected his work; everything looked exactly like it did the night prior. The components were ready, and as Tartum was finishing drawing the glyphs that connected the three circles to the one in the middle, a strange calm overtook him. He knew this would work, after all his planning, his years of study and failure. All of it was for moments like this, the feeling of triumph just before the moment of success. Tartum thought of all the people of his town, of all of them running around like idiots trying to mate with each other, trying to make children and crops and obtain some simple life goal, as pitifully empty as their parents’ lives before them. He thought of how few of them would ever feel the exhilaration and the thrill he was feeling now, and he pitied them.
“The poor fools.”, he thought, “How could anyone live a full life, without the joys of magic?” Sighing at the plight of his fellow man, Tartum shut the thought from his mind and refocused on his work. He was done within an hour, and he positioned himself to the south of his staff, standing outside the circle just as he did the night before.
Taking one last calming breath, Tartum opened himself to the magic. It flowed into him in the same exciting way, it had always done. With a word Tartum set the pile of pinecones on fire. The blaze was a bright green hue, just as he knew it would be. Now, Tartum opened himself completely to the source. The magic went from a flow, to a surge; pain and ecstasy filled his senses, in equal measure, and the fight for keeping his focus was on. It was still incredibly hard for Tartum to remain intent on his task, when such raw emotions were being forced on him by the powerful magic, coursing through him. After taking as much of the magic as he could bear, Tartum focused his will, and the magic flowed out of him saturating all four circles in front of him. The words, written in blood, glowed brightly with a sickening red light. Tartum assumed this was supposed to happen and paid it little heed. He spoke the words to the spell, and the blood circles collapsed and caused the components inside them to turn into smoke and light, just like the first time. It was when Tartum made the gestures to move the infused light of the lightning bugs over to his staff, that he felt something strange happen, something...wrong. He wasn’t sure if he had mispoken a word or had fumbled over a gesture. Surely he had sobered up from his drinking earlier in the night...hadn’t he? He didn’t know for sure, and trying to figure it out was causing him to lose his focus. All Tartum knew for sure was, the magic was trying to leave him, and the spell was falling apart. Frantically, Tartum pushed down his panic and concentrated all his will on salvaging his spell! Looking at his staff, he saw it shuddering as if at any moment it would explode, and the panic came back with a vengance!
“My staff is going to shatter!” Tartum thought. The thought was fleeting, barely taking a second to cross his mind, but the impact was profound. The panic was overwhelming him now, and his mind told him to stop. He couldn’t lose his staff, it was his most prized possession! Nothing in the world meant more to him, except for his spell book. Why was this happening? What had gone wrong? It wasn’t fair! No one had told him! Why did Isidor have to keep all the information from him and allow him to fail like this!?! Tartum’s mind reeled. His focus was almost completely broken, and the magic was leaving him, threatening to take his staff with it in the process.
“I’m so close! So close! I can’t fail now!” He thought. The magic wasn’t working, the enchantment failing, his staff breaking. Something sharp and painful lanced through Tartum’s mind. “NO! NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO,
!” he told himself, angrily, ”I WILL NOT ALLOW IT! I’VE COME TOO FAR! DONE TOO MUCH! THE MAGIC
WILL NOT FAIL ME
!” he told himself. Tartum’s panic and fear were driven from him, as a white hot rage began to take over.
!” Tartum told the magic. “NOT THIS TIME! YOU WILL WORK, AND I WILL HAVE MY REWARD! YOU OWE ME THAT AND MORE!” he screamed, his fury making him sound like a hysterical nut rather than a powerful caster. His vision went red, and he focused the full strength of his will. All caution was thrown to the wind, and Tartum opened himself completely to the magic. The power poured back into him. For a moment, Tartum felt as though he was hovering over the ground, and it felt wonderful. He forced the magic to funnel into the glyphs of blood in his enchantment, and restabilized the failing spell, with an overabundance of power and anger.
Feeling the magic flowing through him and into the enchantment, Tartum remade the gesture for the wisp of light from the lightning bugs and screamed at it, “
!” As he screamed the word, a surge of magic flowed into the infused light, as it was absorbed into the gold, wrapped around his staff. The success did nothing to calm Tartum’s temper. “How dare the magic try to fail me!” Tartum thought. The idea that the magic had almost abandonded him, just because of a small mispronunciation or a slight miscalculation of a gesture, redoubled his fury.
He channeled more and more raw magic through himself and into both infused wisps of smoke, from the green flame and sulfur. Now, more through will and instinct than gestures, he forced the smoke to move over his staff. “
!” he screamed, in a frenzy of rage, as the smoke absorbed into the gold of his staff.
With the spell completed, Tartum shut himself off from the magic, and his whole world felt mundane. Without the magic inside him, his anger was gone, and he found himself feeling weak and dumb. Unsteadily, Tartum made his way, the five paces, to his staff. He felt like he was walking through thick, sticky mud, and his legs burned with every step. Still stuck in the ground, the staff looked no worse for wear, and Tartum was immensely grateful for that. Pulling it out of the ground, he held the staff gently and spoke the word of command.
“Light.” But nothing happened.
Anguish hit Tartum hard, with his failure. Why didn’t his staff respond to his command? Everything worked like it was supposed to...didn’t it? Sure, he had to force it a little, but the light and smoke absorbed into the staff, just like with the coin! So why isn’t it working now? Thinking about what happened, Tartum remembered when the coin was enchanted with the infused light, it had shone brightly for a moment. So overcome with anger, Tartum didn’t notice if the gold on the staff had glowed or not. Thinking hard, he did, in fact remember seeing the staff glow, but it wasn’t all the gold. Just one part, only one of the six strands of gold that ran down the length of his staff, had shone with the brilliance he should have been looking for.