Tuesday, September 23, 2014


She calls herself Mary-Lee, because it amuses her to. Because the sounds faintly echo other names she has used down the long, winding centuries. She is old: one has only to look into her eyes and know it, and it has been long since she was able to hide that. She was walked with gods, the woman called Mary-Lee, and made them bow before her. She has raised up kings and pharaohs and brought them down as well. Every story about a witch is a story about her, at the back of things, though she would never admit to it.

None of the stories are true, of course. She has lived long enough to see almost every truth she knew become a lie, and everything she knew fade even from legend. This much remains: she is the oldest magician in all the world waking or dreaming and there is no power that can bind her to its will. The latter she has always taken as true, but of late – of late she finds herself wandering old roads she hasn’t walked in thousands of years, hunting down old memories with a feeling of letting go. She is old, but she knows that is not forever.

“I have been having bad dreams,” she says in a language that was lost long beyond the pyramids were built. “I do not sleep. I do not dream, and yet I know I have been having bad dreams.”

The creature that walks beside her is beautiful and aweful and was never of this world at all. It looks human, because it wants to, and Mary-Lee is amused to find a small fraction of desire for it inside her. She has, after all, worn human clothing for a long time. “You think I am the cause?” it says, and the Walker of the Far Reaches sounds almost amused.

“Perhaps. Your kind are the magicians of the places Outside the universe. Or at least, that is how we think of you. I imagine you are more than that, but so are magicians if the choose to be.”

“The wandering magician has surprised me. As have you,” the Walker says, turning eyes on her that seem gently and kind. “My kind have not done this thing. We know a thing has been done, and something of the shape of it, but the making of it eludes us.”

“And this worries you.”

“It terrifies us. We are not a Power that anything is easily hid from, not even the workers of the Lords of the Far Reaches. We serve them, but we are mot mastered by them.”

“Perhaps not. I suspect I am being used,” she says softly. “I do not know how. Or to what end. If you learn more, you will tell me.”

The Walker laughs at that with no hint of kindness. “Even you cannot bind me to that.”

“I know one who can. Do not push me in this.”

It pauses, then nods and offers up a thin smile. “So I gather.” offers up a longer pause, then says: “Pleasant dreams,” and is simply no longer on the road.

Mary-Lee continues to walk down the road. It has been so long since anyone tried to use her that she is almost amused by it. A few villagers walk by carrying water to their town; none think to warn her about the dangers of being along after dark, and this is how it is and how it should be. She is determined to keep it that way, and pulls out her cell phone, putting it away before making a call. She has time. Not as much as she usually does, but she has time.

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