Friday, March 23, 2007

Wizard's bane

“The king wants what?” The old man’s voice was filled with a terrible thunder, the very air in the room quivering.
      “A resume,” the apprentice muttered. “They have mad quite a few applicants for chief wizard, master, and we are but one of them.”
      “I am Mardos the magnificent! Mardos the waker of Eldrun, who broke the back of the dragon of Bishalman. My name is known across the seventeen kingdoms!”
      “But, my master, we aren’t IN the seventeen kingdoms anymore.” The apprentice hesitated, then plunged forward like a lemming leaping into a sea, or a princess towards a shoe sale. “You remember? The taxes issue.”
      “A wizard of my stature does not need to pay taxes. Paying taxes is for the little people.” There was a pause fraught with menace, though how this is achieved is best left to the imagination of the reader. The best comparison is the pause between the twisting of a face and the actual breaking of wind, not that a wizard would stoop to such things. “Are you snickering, Harley?”
      “No, master.”
      “Good. Then why does a mere king require a resume? I could provide ample evidence of my -- you ARE snickering, aren’t you?”
      “Forgive me master!”
      “OUT WITH IT!” There was a pause. “I did not mean, apprentice, for you to collapse on the ground laughing. Explain yourself!”
      “Master, your stature has increased since we had to flee, due to the time in the cloud kingdoms and the pastries and --”
      “I am aware of this,” the wizard said, his voice low and deep.
      “Yes, master, well -- the king’s treasurer, master, wonders at the cost of you.”
      “The cost?”
      “To - feed, master. So they want a resume, for proof you are worth that, ah, cost.” Harley the apprentice shivered. “There was a famine recently, and the kingdom has not recovered.”
      “I am merely plump,” the wizard said.
      “I know master, but you need the resume and --”
      “Do they banish plump grandmothers from their kingdom?” Madros bellowed. “I think not! A fat bearded wizard is a tradition! Even though I am not fat.”
      “A resume is useful, though. You made me submit one to you, master.”
      “You put down that you were not sure if your frog was your familiar or was the other way around,” the wizard noted.
      “It’s still under debate,” Harley said. “But, master, you could just list such things, as I did. When did you take the vision quest for a familiar?”
      “When I was six.”
      “Did your familiar die?”
      “No.” The wizard paced the room, not looking over.
      “Then --”
      “I failed.”
      “I ended up with a rock. I cast the spell at the end of the course and came back with a rock.”
      “So, you - er - you skipped the basics?” Harley said desperately.
      Mardos looked over, then sighed. “Put that down, if you wish. Why do you think you do the chores with magic?”
      “Because you have more important --”
      “Because you ate fat and lazy.”
      “You fail as a wizard, then.”
      Harley licked his lips. “How?” he managed.
      “A wizard has to train himself to see the obvious. The obvious is: I do not do those spells because I cannot. Float a castle? Simple. Light up the sky? Easy. Mend a shirt? I’d need thread.”
      “You’ve had many apprentices, then?”
      The wizard chuckled. “Of course. They graduated when they guessed -- this is not an option this time. The king needs a resume,” he said, his countenance darkening from more than just constipation.
      “We could lie?”
      “A wizard does not lie: words are the heart of magic, language the --”
      “I know.” Harley held up a hand, trying to get it to stop trembling. “I know: but I am not a wizard. I am only an apprentice.”
      Mardos the magnificent was silent for several moments. “I see. Why did you want to become a wizard, boy?”
      “You interrupted me.”
      “I - yes, master. This is your price?”
      “Without such, things would not have value. Every action has an equal one: this is the nature of magic and of eating beans as well. Answer.”
      “The ladies like a man in robes, master. Magic has allure to it. I am not handsome master. I am not brilliant. I have a way with words, for lying, but all men have that. So I needed something to attract a woman for more than an evenings coin.”
      The wizard was silent for a few moments. “You decided to learn the great Art so that you could have sex with women?” he said finally.
      “Yes, master.”
      “I think we will exclude this from the cover letter.”
      “We both have things to hide now.” The wizard sat down in a chair. “We give given him our resume, with your cover letter. I want larger chairs than this, however. And we will give a demonstration of our magic - if they want it or not.”
      Harley grinned. “To scare the king out of charging taxes, master?”
      “A wizard must maintain dignity. And robes to accommodate that,” Mardos said mildly. “There is also the likelihood of sex, apprentice, since people are attracted to power. You do not need to write that down.
      “Objective: I, Mardos the magnificent, and my apprentice Harley, seek your employ as wizards of the court,” the wizard began as the apprentice wrote quickly, separating fact from fancy and adding in fiction where needed.
      After the resume was done, he added a basic charm so that no one would contact their references.

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