The important thing about magic to a new magician is that it’s a poem rather than prose. Art more than science. It’s about will and desire and need combined together so that the world can’t stand against it. To fix and repair, to mend and bend. That’s what magic is, though not necessarily all it’s for. What magicians do – protecting the world, the binding and banishing of Outsiders – that is simply what we are. It’s easy to forget that the magic is the smallest part of being a magician. And only older magicians realize that the important thing about magic is that it isn’t a tool. It’s alive. Aware. Part of you and also part of something far bigger.
There aren’t many older magicians. Most don’t last as long as I have. Sometimes it’s easier to die when you have power than when you don’t. You take chances. You get reckless. You think that because you exist to stop Outsiders, than none of them can defeat you.
“When you’re the hope of a world, it’s easy to forget that hope is too nebulous to be anything at all.”
“It is the things that don’t exist that are sometimes the most important,” the magic says softly to me.
We talk, sometimes. It can step outside of me, and generally looks just like me. Sometimes kinder. I don’t know if other magicians do this; it seems wrong to ask. We walk through the woods side by side like old friends and former lovers do. I buried a magician today. Closed the hole they failed to, gently did bindings on the memories of the family. Had Charlie contact the fae to ask them about a more general glamour on the rest of the city.
Jay helped me close the would in the universe. I found the next person who was going to be a magician, and sent Jay to make friends with them. At the least, it should be educational. I think jaysome can be that sometimes. I look over at the magic. “Like magic?”
“I don’t know. Hope endures longer than magic.” The magic licks his lips, looks away to stare out through the trees, or at places only magic can see. “Magic is a gift that is paid back. Hope is paid forward.”
“At times, but it has costs. There are always those who hope the future wil be better, and waste time on the hoping they could spent on realizing it. And sometimes it is a luxury one cannot afford.”
“But even when we cannot afford it – even when, like kindness, we must set it aside – it does not go away. We put it away in a box, but we open the box later. We do not lose it. You do not lose it, or the magic isn’t what it was.” The magic laughs then, soft and almost jaysome. “Magicians are lasting longer, Nathen. Some day there will even be multiple wandering magicians at once. The dead die, but the living learn from them. There are more steps ahead than go backwards, though sometimes even magic has a hard time seeing that.”
“The next magician here will be more careful and last longer. The one after will learn not to be too careful. Two of three more, and there will be an ugly death again,” I say.
“Sometimes lessons must be repeated. Sometimes one only learns from the past by repeating it’s mistakes again.”
“I’ve made many. But Charlie and Jay aren’t those.” I take a deep breath, pull the magic back into me, and head back into the city. I can grieve for the past, but I can still hope for the future. Once I can’t do that, I don’t think I’ll be a magician anymore. And all I can do is hope, in my own way, that I die long before that time might come to pass. To die before hope dies, when I can still be jaysome, will be enough for me.