“Someone told me I’d find you here!”
“Are you surprised that you found me? People seldom lie about that.”
. . . The Wizard
“I-ah, well,” the younger man stuttered. “A man of your–kind, I wasn’t sure if you’d still be here by the time I arrived.” He managed a weak laugh.
“My kind,” the wizard repeated slowly, as if offended. He kept his back to the man though. And he kept his eyes on the river; a thick, rolling fog always covered its water, hiding the opposite bank. What he saw, only he knew. What lay on the other side, only he could say. No one strayed too near to the water’s edge. No one knew the reason. Only the wizard, as he was called.
No one really knew what he was.
Every twenty years or so the wizard took on an apprentice. That was the young man behind him, or would be . . . Could be. It all depended. “Why are you here?” the wizard asked, still facing the fog.
The younger man behind him gulped. He looked at the wizard in front of him, confused; he had been hand-picked from a sparse number of candidates. By the wizard no less! So why was he asking him? He hesitated before taking the first step, but after that he found it easier to move–he walked towards the wizard, careful to keep a safe distance, then stopped beside him, careful to not so much as look at the creature. “My name is Jeremy, sir. I am here because you allowed me; I came because I want to know who you are, and I want to know the secrets of the cosmos.”
He said it all in one breath.
Silence from the wizard greeted his answer. The creature shifted a few steps closer to the young man, but that was all. Jeremy could hear its deep, rhythmic breathing. It reminded him of the wind.
“That’s a peculiar answer. And stupid. Why do you lie to yourself?”
His mouth moved, but no sound came out. The wizard did not lie, however. Jeremy wanted none of those things. “I’m here out of obligation to my mother. This was not my choice, sir. I’m not even from the town–my family’s just outside of its limits. The people came for me three days ago. They said–things.” He lowered his head, ashamed at himself for getting so angry. They had said things against his mother. Vile, filthy lies against her. “I don’t understand. But I don’t have to, do I?” Remembering disturbed him. All of it was wrong.
Every, bloody bit of it!
Jeremy had been so caught up within his emotions that he did not notice the wizard leaning towards him. When he did he shrank back. He had been smelling him.
“Curious,” the wizard remarked, straightening. “You’re doing this for your mother? It’s been long since I’ve known a woman. Who is she?”
Jeremy stumbled away from the creature, horrified at what he had just heard.
“Minna Drur?” the creature continued. It sounded . . . Wistful.
Now the young man was crushed. Jeremy sank to his knees with a sob. “I don’t want this,” he said in a hoarse whisper.
The wizard bent over him; intense heat emanated from its body. He placed his hands on the young man’s shoulders. “You have no choice.” That was the truth. “I will be known only as Ashkenaz to you–Jeremy. I will teach you in my arts, but you must never speak of this. As far as they know, no one has been chosen; no one carries my blood within them; no one is tainted.”