In a Tower (3 of 3)

‘Archimedes,’ said Ralph as reality settled in his mind. ‘Archimedes!’ He screamed and before he knew what he was doing, he cast a lightning spell on the falcon. It was not a strong lightning spell, Ralph was not a strong wizard, but it was enough to give the falcon a shock. As the miniature lightning bolt hit home, the falcon dropped its prey and zoomed towards the nearest gnarled bush on the mountainside.

Then Archimedes was falling.

Falling much too fast.

Ralph stumbled through the words of the telekinesis spell and Archimedes’ fall slowed. Slowed but did not stop. Archimedes was not heavy, but he was heavier than the pebble, and it was proving a problem. Sweat sprang from Ralphs brow, as he said the words again concentrating with all his might. Archimedes stopped falling. Then he began to rise. He rose all the way to the windowsill where Ralph put him down gently.

‘Archimedes?’ said Ralph slightly out of breath. There was blood on Archimedes’ feathers and his neck lay at a strange angle. ‘Archimedes.’ Tears welled into Ralph’s eyes. Archimedes was supposed to be alive. Why was Archimedes not alive?

Then Ralph thought of the life book. It did not have to end here. But to heal wounds and bring a creature like Archimedes back to life that was a much harder spell that the basic life spell, which he had failed so miserably so many times. Ralph bit his lip. Then he straightened out his back. He would do it anyway. If it worked he would have Archimedes back and if it did not, well… It just had to work.

He grabbed the book and flicked to the right page. Then placed his hands on Archimedes’ small body and took a deep breath. As he said the words, he pictured how Archimedes looked when he was alive and healthy. He pictured how Archimedes neck would straighten out, how his wounds would close, how his feathers would grow back, and his hands began to tremble, but he did not stop. He kept saying the words, kept picturing how the spell would work, and somewhere deep inside of him a small voice said:

‘Live, Archimedes, you have to live.’

He could not keep it up for long.

Exhausted, he slumped onto the floor breathing hard. Then he looked up at the windowsill and a small beaked head looked back. It cooed at him.

‘Archimedes,’ Ralph smiled wider than he had ever done since he came to the wizard’s tower.

The door flew open, Archimedes fluttered down and hid behind Ralph and Ralph’s master marched into the room.

‘What in all the bloody hells was that?’ Spit flew from his master’s mouth. His face was a rich shade of dark red.

‘Master?’ Said Ralph his smile gone, too shocked to even try to stand up.

‘Are you trying to kill me?’ Screamed his master.

‘No, master I’m sorry,’ said Ralph, then he registered the kill part. ‘What?’

‘Throwing lightning after me.’ His master kept shouting. ‘Not only was it a pathetic, weakling spell, it also made me drop my lunch! And don’t you say “what”, it’s called “excuse me”!’

‘Sorry, master,’ said Ralph. ‘So that falcon was-’

‘Yes, it was bloody well me!’ The volume dropped a bit, but that might just be because his master was running out of breath. ‘How do you think I travel? By foot?’

‘No, I know you fly. I just thought-’

‘Thought? Ha! That’s a good one.’ His master marched to the chair and dropped into it. ‘Now tell me,’ he said. ‘Have you even learnt that life spell, or have I just wasted a whole year on you?’

‘I,’ Ralph began, but then he did not know how he wanted to continue his sentence. He saw in his mind’s eye hours and hours trapped in this tower with his nose in a book and no company. His master would never let him keep Archimedes, and he would have no influence whatsoever on anything he had to learn. He pictured his master yelling at him.

‘I’m sorry, master,’ said Ralph, a small smile creeping onto his lips. ‘I just didn’t get it.’

In a Tower (2 of 3)

Had he really scared it off already? Maybe it just stopped for a short rest on its way somewhere. He felt disappointment creeping in. But he was a wizard, was he not? Or at least a wizard’s apprentice. A lure spell should not be too difficult, especially not when it was just on a pigeon. He scanned the bookcases, found the appropriate book and said the spell.

A flutter of wings announced the return of the pigeon and Ralph smiled a victorious smile. However, after a few pecks at the breadcrumbs the pigeon saw him and flew away again.

‘Ah, yes, I still look dangerous of course,’ said Ralph although he had promised not to talk to himself. ‘Let’s see what a little charm spell can do.’

After another small search, he found the spell and did the lure spell again. When the pigeon landed on the windowsill, he locked his eyes on it and did the charm spell. The effect was immediate. The pigeon lifted its head and went straight for him.

‘Ow,’ said Ralph as the pigeon scratched him in its attempt at finding a foothold on his face, ‘counter spell, counter spell,’ Ralph flicked through the pages of the book while attempting to dodge the smitten pigeon.

‘Ah, counter spell.’ Ralph did it and at once the pigeon fled onto the top of the bookcase leaving several droppings on its way.

‘Oh dear,’ said Ralph when he noticed one of them had hit the still-open life-spell book. ‘He won’t just throw me out now, he’ll kill me.’ Ralph saw his masters face in his mind’s eye red and contorted in anger, and suddenly he did not care that he had begun talking to himself.

A somewhat weaker charm spell and an attempt at cleaning later, Ralph sat by the window feeding the pigeon breadcrumbs from his hand. What would he do now? He had cleaned the worst off the book, but it still had a very visible smudge. His master would never forgive him.

Or would he? If Ralph made something bigger than a pebble alive or created something living out of nothing, his master might be so impressed that he would let Ralph stay. But he had not even mastered the most basic life spell, how would he even begin on the bigger ones? His eyes fell on his new pigeon friend. Perhaps he could ‘magic’ the pigeon into existence for his master, just until he learnt it properly. He smiled, it was better than nothing.

The next couple of days he read a bit and played a lot with his new pet. First, he taught it not to poop inside the tower. Then he taught it tricks like flying through a hoop that he made. He even taught himself a bit of telekinesis which allowed him to make his pebbles float out of the window, so that the pigeon could bring them back.

One day however, his conscience clobbered his brain over his lack of studying.

‘I’m sorry Archimedes.’ Ralph had named the pigeon Archimedes as soon as it stopped pooping inside the tower. ‘I can’t play with you today. I have to learn this life spell.’ It really was a good thing that Archimedes turned up; Ralph had stopped talking to himself completely. ‘Actually, yes, maybe you can help me.’ Ralph fetched a pebble. ‘Try to imagine that this is a seed of some kind.’

Archimedes pecked at the pebble.

‘No,’ said Ralph. ‘Don’t try to eat it. Just imagine.’

Archimedes pecked again.

‘Oh, you’re hopeless,’ said Ralph. ‘Just get out and let me study.’

Archimedes tipped his head to one side.

‘Go on. Get out!’ Ralph shooed at Archimedes. ‘I said get out!’ He pushed the pigeon out of the window and turned his back on it.

He stared at the pebble for a while. Was it really alright to push Archimedes out of the window? Had he been too hard on him? He turned back to say he was sorry, but what he saw made the words stick in his throat.

It happened so quickly that Ralph found it difficult to make sense of it at first. A peregrine falcon swooped down at Archimedes while Archimedes flapped his wings at a panicky speed. The falcon stretched out its talons and plucked Archimedes right out of the air. Ralph stared with open mouth as the falcon flew on with a limp Archimedes in its claws.

In a Tower (1 of 3)

I first wrote this story in English. Then I changed it a bit and translated it into Danish. Then I changed it a bit more and changed it back to English. Ralph, the protagonist, when from in his twenties to seventeen and then to twelve. This is how it ended up 🙂


Reschensee (copyright: Jaromír Kavan on Unsplash)

‘I expect you to be diligent,’ said Ralph in his deepest voice while he wriggled the vial about on the windowsill. It wore a pointy hat made from his clothes.
‘Of course, master,’ Ralph answered with another hat-less vial.
‘And you will have to concentrate twenty-four seven,’ said the deep voice and hat.
‘Yes, master, I will,’ said no-hat vial Ralph.
‘I will be back eventually.’ The hat-vial turned to look out the window. ‘And when I return I expect you to be able to do a basic life spell or your days as my apprentice are over.’
‘Don’t you worry master,’ said Ralph. ‘I’ll be making growing things before you can say Jack Frost.’
‘Yes, of course,’ said the vial version of his master. ‘I was only kidding. I have complete faith in you. And you will get your own hat as soon as I find one. Oh dear, now I ruined the surprise. I’m only leaving to find you a hat.’
‘That’s alright master,’ said vial-Ralph. ‘I’ll act really surprised when you return and give it to me.’

Ralph put the vials aside with a sigh. If only that had been how it happened, but his master had not been kidding, and the amount of faith he had in Ralph could fit in a thimble.

Ralph knew he should continue his studies. Although he could make pebbles out of nothing, the life spell kept eluding him. He had tried so many times over the last two weeks, but every time he tried the spell, nothing happened, and there was no help to be found. There was no one to talk to, and the book described it in a really strange way.

In fact, he really wished that he had someone to talk to, even if it was not about the spell. Just anyone who was not his master. Sometimes, he felt so trapped. If he could just go outside for a while, the fresh air might help his brain. But if his master came home and found him outside, there would be hell to pay. His master might even throw him out, and then he would have to go home to his parents and tell them that they had been right. That he would never be a wizard, and that there was never any future in wizarding anyway. He rubbed his face.

Also, his parents would probably still be angry with him for running away, even though it had been almost a year. He traced his finger around the windowsill in a curly pattern leaving a glowing trail. Party tricks, his father had called them. He would show them.

His face set, he stood up and marched to his desk. The desk only had four things on it. One was an enormous book simply called ‘Life’. The other things were three small pebbles in a pile beside the book. Ralph sat down and began for the umpteenth time on the part called: ‘Simple Life – an Introductory Chapter’.

‘The need for life must be present in the wizard’s heart,’ mumbled Ralph. ‘The need for life? What does that mean, the need for life? And you promised to stop talking to yourself, what happened to that promise?’ He messed up his hair. Perhaps it meant that he had to let the universe know that he really needed to do this life spell.

‘Alright.’ He picked up a pebble from the desk. ‘Please universe, I need this pebble to become a seed, a living, growing seed.’ Ralph did the signs and said the words of the spell.

And nothing happened.

‘Stupid book,’ he mumbled. And that was alright because he said it to the book, not himself.

Then something landed on the windowsill and Ralph jumped to his feet. Was that his master back already? But the pigeon who had landed took off when he moved, so it was probably not his master. He sighed and slumped back in his chair. It was strange to think that that pigeon had been the first living thing he had seen since his master left. But then he supposed that that was the point with building a tall tower in a barren mountain range.

‘No contact, no distractions,’ as his master used to say. Still it would be nice with a bit of company. Ralph took some dry bread from the day before and broke it into crumbs over the windowsill. Then he stepped back and waited.

And waited.

Notes from the Realm of Fairie (3 and 4 of 4)

3 Concerning a Meeting with a Lady


(Credit: Biostm on Deviantart)

After a struggle through bushes, which had suddenly surrounded me and reached for me with their thorns, I found myself in a large garden. There were numerous fruit trees (I did not recognize the fruit), and around them floated bluish, slightly glowing creatures. The creatures were about a yard long and looked like snakes with the heads of dragons. They seemed to swim through the air.  I saw no wings on them.

At the far end of the garden, I could see a palace and in the middle was a fountain consisting of three fauns on a pedestal pouring water. When I came closer, I noticed the water was flowing up from the basin into their pitchers.

I sat down on the edge of the fountain to record my observations. I had not been there long when a voice spoke to me.

‘What are you doing?’

I looked up and saw a dark haired lady in a flowing dress made of a piece of night sky. I know she was probably a fairie, but her whole manner told me she was a lady, so I shall record her as such. I stood up and bowed.

‘I am writing down my observations,’ I said, ‘I am describing this realm to the best of my ability, my lady.’

‘So you are a writer?’ she inclined her head.

‘I suppose I am, my lady.’

‘I see,’ she said with a smile, which made my heart beat faster, ‘you want to pour your soul into these pages.’

This conclusion took me aback and I did not manage to formulate a response even in my mind before she continued.

‘Here, I’ll help you,’ she seemed to reach into me and closed her hand on something that made my entire being tingle. I heard the jingling of silver bells as she pulled me into the pages.

Titania by Madly Mel on Tumblr

(Credit: Madly Mel on Tumblr)

4 A Request

If a human being should ever read this, please, if you cannot change me back, I implore you; do your best to let me become a part of the library at Hurtfew Abbey. It is about fourteen miles north-west of York. There might be someone there able to help me. And if the change is permanent, then at least in that library I know I will be in good company.

The Bard And The Magician


(Credit: Wizards of the Coast, this from The Sha’tar EU)

The notes branched out from the bard, some ending in fantastic flourishes, some spiralling down until they were just on the verge of hearing, then, surging back up, they soared above our heads and vanished in the clouds. We half expected phoenixes to appear, to dance around him and nest in his music.

But then the Magician arrived.

She always warned us about beauty. It always comes from pain one way or another, so she told us, and there is no one in this world who can produce beauty and who has not at some point used it to manipulate another and caused pain by doing so. We knew then and still know now that she only wants to protect us, but we were sorry to see her so soon that day.

We stepped back to let her pass, and she strode up to the bard, her robes billowing behind her, leaving a scent of lilac. She looked him in the eye with a serious expression in her face, and the bard smiled and nodded at her and kept playing.

Then she opened the electric blue eye in her forehead, the eye that sees only truth, the eye that sees straight into the heart, mind and soul of a being, and the bard trembled, but kept playing.

She closed her electric blue eye with a sigh.

‘I know,’ she said to the bard in a low voice, ‘I know about,’ and she whispered something we could not hear, and the music withered and died.

An Explanation


”There is a rational explanation for everything,” says the sock puppet. The brown yarn above its button eyes is supposed to resemble my hair, but all in all it is a less than flattering portrait. “You’re just a big fat cheat,” it sneers.

“There is an explanation,” I say, “it’s probably…” I rack my brains as Tiffany closes the puppet’s mouth and opens her own.

“There is nothing above us but clear sky,” she says, “there’s nothing below us but air and then rocky mountain path, there’s no wind, and we can turn about 360 degrees in any direction, but we can’t get down.”

“It could still be some sort of virtual reality,” I say, “or a dream.”

“Really?” says Tiffany.

“Ok, so what if it is magic,” I say, “that’s still just science, we don’t know how to explain yet.”

“That’s still just science,” the puppet says with a high squeaky voice.

“Could you put that thing away?” I say, “we need to think of a way down from here.”

“You should probably just apologize to that old witch lady.”

“Not a chance.”

“I knew you’d say that. And I know you mean it.” Tiffany sighs and lowers the puppet and we both gently float to the ground. “I don’t mind your points of view, but you’re always a dick about them. I’ll go for a hike on my own, somewhere else.” She jumps into the sky and flies off into the sunset before I can ask her how she did it.

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