chapter 10: THE MOON

this card, 18th of the Major Arcana, here signifies Deception, Twilight, Mystery

Although her mind was screaming at the very horror of that old
nightmare vision become stark reality, externally Wand allowed
herself neither tremble nor gasp.  I am Luminata, she insisted, 
and Luminata is a secret book.

"I see you do not have the Powerstaff of Tarro in your 
possession," she said.

He smiled.  It was very ugly, but not mean.  "No.  I had bad 
luck."  He seemed quite reasonable of temper.

"A true Sorcerer does not depend on luck."

"Have you come to teach me to be a wise man?  Very well, I
should perhaps say that destiny was against me, in the form of 
a stupid clown..."

"The Clown?" Wand asked, "But he's an idiot..."  Oops, she had
been surprised into saying too much.

"As I said.  It was the work of destiny, the Wheel of Fortune. 
An idiot stumbles well and the plans of a genius are laid to
waste.  But no matter, there are other plans."

"Well then, what is this 'major work of magic' you need me 
for?" Wand asked.

"I shall not tell you that yet.  Not until I know if I can 
trust you."

"Is it Evil?"

"Evil?  What is that?  An opinion?  No, I don't think so.  
Why do you ask?"

"You have a bad reputation, Otius."

"Oh that.  Children are put to bed fearing my name.  All fable--
well, perhaps not all.  I have done some bad things when I was 
younger, but I am not the Devil Incarnate, as some say.  I can 
actually be quite charming."

"Prove that by allowing me more hospitality than this," Wand
said, indicating the bars which still surrounded her.

"By all means.  Fear, Dismay: Crank up the cage!"

When she stood free of the iron bars Otius said, “I see you have 
three rings of small magic, perhaps I should take those from you.”

“Yess, yess, Masster, take them from her!” the demons begged, “she 
hurts us with them!”

“My rings are of small magic indeed,” Wand argued, “insignificant 
against your Powerstaff, but they do protect me from these irritating 
little beasts.  A host who was charming would allow me the courtesy 
of keeping them.”

Otius considered, then said, “Yes, they can be irksome.  Very 
well, you may retain your rings for now. These little beasts will 
now show you to your room, I pray you will be comfortable.  Please 
do not try to escape, the moat surrounding this castle is filled 
with an atomic acid."  He turned from her and left the room.

Wand was led upstairs to a room.  It was dark but not cold, a
fireplace glowed with half-spent wood.  The room was stark; a
bed, a washbasin and a window without glass.  Fear and Dismay 
did not enter and she closed the door on them.

She ran to the open window.  It was night but she could see by 
the nebulous light of the half moon.  The moat was far below, 
boiling and stinking, beyond that was only flat blackness that 
glistened wetly in the moonlight.  A sea?

She took off her white dress, now become dirty from sitting in
the cage.  She made it clean again with her healing ring and
laid it on the bed.  Then she washed herself as well as she 
could at the basin, finally lying down upon the bed herself.  It 
was hard and uncomfortable, but she was used to such a bed, as 
are most sorceresses.

She considered allowing herself to cry, now that she was hidden
away in bed, but found that she had no need to do so.  She was 
in control.

Later, as she was drifting into sleep, she dimly heard the
demons squeak-whisper and go away from outside the door where
they had been listening for her sobs and wails.  They were

Wand dreamed about escape and rescue. Elro came, riding a giant horse, sword shining and swinging to serve and save her from this gloomy place. But she knew Elro would fall, and he did. Armies followed Elro to their doom. Only Luminata could save her, but she did not come. Yet her voice could be heard saying one word: "Control!"
The next morning she looked out her window to discover that the sea she had seen by moonlight was, in the grey light of an overcast day, actually a sea of black mud. There was no color anywhere out there, no life, no hope of escape. Wand had much time to think and dream for the next few days. Otius left her alone. Her only company was that of those two unpleasant demons, Fear and Dismay, and she became accustomed to their terrible aspects, even as they grew used to obeying her commands. She set about organizing her own magical abilities, even though she knew that here in Castle Darkstone she was very far from her own power sources. She found a supply of small paper squares and pens and colored inks, and decided to draw note cards for crystallizing various Powertext scripts in her mind. First she drew a picture of the Tower in Tarro. It was supposed to be bright and shiny, a symbol of power to elevate her spirits, but it turned out dark and threatening, ready to topple, a symbol of disaster and destruction. She almost despaired, thinking about the City of Tarro, how beautiful it was compared to this place. Her few friends. Elro. She remembered the Clown. A flash of illumination, gone before she understood it: the Clown, the Vision, of him between her and the Old and Evil One. She found herself drawing the Clown--the Mythic Fool--and she ended up with a card of bright colors showing that ridiculous figure merrily dancing along, totally unaware of evil or danger, an idiotic smile forever painted on that silly face. And somehow that card, when she looked at it, actually made her laugh and feel the briefest instant of...meaningless happiness. This card also reminded her of the Jester of popular playing cards, which inspired her to begin drawing the 28 cards of a standard deck: 1-10 & king & queen, prince & princess; a set each in red and black. These were hardly magical, but it was amusing to draw them, and was a simple way to momentarily forget her dire situation. Wand had always enjoyed playing with cards; she saw them as small mandalas with potential symbolic meanings. She also liked to play cards with others, such as Luminata or Elro, but couldn't bring herself to ask the two demons to play with her, nor the awful Otius, so she settled for playing her own version of solitaire.
Days passed. Sometimes Otius would visit Wand. Always she played the part of Luminata, and he seemed to accept her act as natural. He treated her with respect and pleasant manners, as if perhaps he was not so horrible as she had believed. Eventually they even had conversations. "So Otius, just how evil are you?" "I am misunderstood." "I have heard that no one leaves Castle Darkstone alive. Is this true?" "No, girl. I leave Castle Darkstone alive quite frequently." "But will I leave it alive?" she asked. "Yes, that you will, eventually. After you have helped me." "I have heard that you kill people for their vital energy so that you can live forever in health and power. Is that true?" "I do not kill for that. I take some energy, yes, but I always leave my opponent alive." "Out of compassion?" "I have no compassion for my enemies. If you take all the vital energy you get the dregs along with the good stuff. It tastes bad." "What is this Great Work of Magic you need me for?" "A transformation." "What is to be transformed?" Otius paused before speaking, as if not sure to tell her yet. Then said, "Myself." "Into what?" "A younger person." "I see. And what is my part in this?" "I need a virgin sorceress of great beauty. There are very few of them like you, girl. If you would take part in the operation I shall be forever in your debt." "And then I could go home?" "Anywhere you wish." "But shall you also leech my vitality to do this Magic?" "No. No, I dare not! Your vital energy is safe. Nor may you be harmed physically." "But my mind?" "There is always some risk," the ugly old wizard said with a semi-sympathetic shrug.
But their conversations were not always so civilized. Wand was often reminded that Otius was the Master and she was the prisoner. "You are in very good physical form, girl," Otius said, staring at her body. "I assume that you practice ritual training techniques?" Otius asked. "Of course. Body and mind must be attuned." "I am required to observe your routine." "Absolutely not, sir. It is a secret discipline among sorceresses, performed naked, and several positions would be misconstrued as erotic." "No matter that, I am very old, remember." Otius' expression was very innocent, very amused, very classic dirty old man. "Yes, with the stolen vitality of young men." "Believe me, girl, I dare not molest you--or I would have already done so--for a virgin is required for my Great Work." "You would molest me with your eyes, sir." Expression now angry. "Enough! You are my prisoner and you shall obey my...request." Now mild. "I'm sorry if you consider it an indignity, but I do need to see how you train. Now!" "And if I refuse?" she asked, pressing it a little. "Then I must punish you." He took up his Powerstaff, "Do you know the trick of causing pain without damaging the victim?" He waved it once. Wand felt a cold bad chill race through her body, a surge of nausea, a smattering of toothaches, stomach ache, weariness, menstrual pain, all at once. She tried to maintain control, reveal nothing to Otius, but it was too much and she staggered back, reeling, dizzy. And then it was over. "I am not uninitiated to sorcerer's training methods, nor can you show me anything I've never seen before." "Good, then you need not see me naked at least." "Oh but I do, and I shall. Show me your exact routine, girl." Wand assumed control, and simply did what she must, but with a vengeance. She ignored Otius and undressed, folding her clothes carefully, then took the starting position for calling up the c'hi within her. It was an ancient routine which toned muscles, aroused the circulation of blood and air, and induced a meditative state of consciousness. She drew vital energy up from the earth, cleansing energy down from the sky, let her own c'hi flow. She stood, danced, kicked, turned, twisted, and ended with slapping her body until her firm flesh tingled. When finished, she picked up her gown, turned to Otius and said, "Old man, will you kindly point that erection somewhere else!" Otius looked down, as if surprised, then rapidly rearranged his robes. He had been biting his lower lip, a light film of sweat greased his brow and he was breathing just a little heavier than normal. He turned and left without a word.
end of chapter 10

Chapter 11: THE WORLD <BR> <BR> <BR> <a href="chaps.htm">List of Chapters</a>