chapter 9: THE SUN

this card, 19th of the Major Arcana, here signifies Enlightenment, Joy, Realization

"We will go to war against this wicked wizard!" Emperor Aleister
was saying.  He was very angry but still in control of his
emotions.  His eyes were red-rimmed with grief for his son and
his city.

"Agreed, but we must have a plan," General Stance replied.  "You
can't just charge into battle against a sorcerer with those
powers.  He'd cut our armies to tatters."

"Then we must ask our Royal Sorceress for opinion and advice,"
Aleister said.

Everyone looked to Luminata, seated at the end of the council
table among the royal and military leaders of Tarro and Theland.

"My own sorcery has proved to be futile," she admitted.  "I have
attempted to work several visions of Otius and his castle, but 
he has surrounded Castle Darkstone with psychic shields and
spell-breakers.  He is older and more experienced than I, thus his
magic is more powerful.  If I could meet him on neutral ground
perhaps I could do battle with him, but not in his own territory."

"But he did pretty well when he came into your territory!"  A 
heckler among the royalty.

"He had surprise as an advantage, which we would not," the General 
said, indicating his faith in Luminata.  "What are our chances of 
a military victory against Otius, in your opinion, Sorceress?"

"If you mean to attack Castle Darkstone," she said, "absolutely
none: your armies would never arrive.  I hear from a gypsy
traveler, who has met Otius before, that his castle lies in the
center of a vast Sea of Mud, through which nothing can pass and
through which there is only one straight, flat, narrow
thirty-mile-long road to Castle Darkstone.  Which is itself
surrounded by a mile-wide moat of boiling magic acid that swiftly
dissolves all physical matter.  And that the one road is booby-
trapped with potent spells and ancient curses."

"Condamnfound it!  We've got to do something!  We can't just
allow that DEVIL to..."  Aleister checked  his ranting.

"I too am outraged and angry, on the brink of risking self-
destruction by heedlessly throwing myself at Otius," Luminata
said, although it sounded odd to hear her say it in such a calm
voice, "and I too intend to punish this man for what he has done
to my daughter and Prince Elro and the City of Tarro.  But it
must be done wisely, not hysterically, or Otius wins."

"How is the Prince?" the General asked.

"Dying," Aleister groaned.

"Not dying," Luminata corrected.  "He has had almost all of his
vital energies drained into Otius.  That is how Otius lives to be
so old and yet so strong; he steals youth from others--but must
not take it all or he could die himself--leaving his victims to
perish of natural causes: fever, pneumonia, sicknesses that come
upon them while their resistance is so low.  I have been able to
heal Elro of any such diseases so far."

"But he will die," the Emperor gloomed.

"There is a chance for him," Luminata said.

Aleister looked up, hopefully.  "Yes?"

"Indeed.  Should we take Otius the process can be reversed."

The Emperor crashed his fist to the table.  "Then Damn!  We'll
take the bugger if we have to storm the bloody castle!"

"No we won't.  You would throw away the lives of your entire
army and do your son no service.  We will do it another way.  
But I can say no more about that yet."

"Condammnfound it, woman!  This is no time for mystery!"

Luminata gave the Emperor her wiser-than-thou look.  "Yes,
Aleister, my friend, it is: we are at war with a sorcerer."

Benutio came to Luminata as arranged, with Clown in tow. She appeared serene but he could read her eyes. He waited for her to speak. "You said you have a plan?" "A gypsy scheme, My Lady." Benutio gave her his best sneaky guy smile. "You remember our first conversation?" He guided Clown forward as if the young man was a gift to Luminata. "Tell Wand's mommy what you want to do, Clown." Clown grinned like the idiot he was. "Crown find Wandle. Ruv Wandle, Crown help." Luminata looked from Clown to Benutio. Who spread his arms wide in great drama. "Remove Otius' Curse of Seven Generations!" She understood immediately. An eyebrow almost flickered, a skeptical frown almost formed. "But one clown against the Sorcerer Otius?" "Not just one clown, My Lady. This Clown. And, of course, a small but select band of Gypsies." Luminata pondered. "It may be futile. And there is great risk for all." "But it may succeed." Benutio shrugged. "And as for the risk, the Emperor will be willing, you will gladly take it for Wand, and I will take it for--my own reasons." "And the Clown? Does he know what he risks?" Clown didn't seem to be paying attention to their conversation, but he suddenly interrupted them, "Crown not matter much. Wandle matter more." Luminata studied his simple mask and then nodded. "Yes, all right. I am personally willing to take the chance. "The curse upon Clown's ancestors is one of Otius' earlier works," she explained, "done when he had not so much power as he has now. Also, he has worked magic against me and mine, and has now incurred a deficit of magic to me." Benutio smiled, teeth flashing white. "He has placed himself within your power, My Lady!" She almost smiled. "Wise Gypsy, I believe you are right. Come, let us try to do this thing."
Luminata prepared mixtures, looked up formulae, readied her tools. They would perform the treatment at sunrise. She spent the entire night in preparation. Just before dawn Clown laid himself, as instructed, upon the cold steel platform of the tower top, inside the perimeter of a triangle inside a circle inside a square. Candles glowed at every junction, seven of them. Luminata stood inside a pentagon, Powerstaff glowing green in her hands. "Hecate, Queen Mother, Spirit of Our Power, we beseech your blessing and a sharing of your magic force. The elements have been applied, the diagrams are drawn, the subject is willing and ready to be worked upon. "Let us remove the curse of Old and Evil Otius, who has worked evil upon this Clown, as well as me, and my child Wand, who are your servants, Queen Mother, Goddess of Power. Allow us to teach that Sorcerer not to trespass against you and yours. "Let us heal this innocent fool of a clown and transform him into a weapon to be used against our common enemy. "For seven generations have he and his fore fathers been afflicted with unintelligence by the curse of Otius, born fools and simpletons, perennial children, robbed of awareness or comprehension, seven wasted lifetimes are owed. "Queen Mother! Our plea is this: Reimburse him his own intelligence--and, yea, furthermore, also the stolen intelligences of his father, and his father's father, and his great-grandfather, yea, unto the seven accursed generations, a debt of magic to be collected against Otius, seven intelligences once wasted, now to be gathered together into this one Clown and applied to the defeat and destruction of Otius' evil works. "Let it be, yea, let it be, yea, let it be." The shining silver Tower of Tarro rang as a bell struck. The seven candles suddenly burned so intensely that they melted, evaporated, and were gone, even as the first ray of sunlight flashed golden between two distant mountains on the eastern horizon. Luminata and Benutio looked down upon Clown, who lay without moving. He seemed as dead, eyes and mouth open. Then a long, ragged gasp sounded and he began to breathe rapidly, as if in panic. He trembled and twitched, his eyes rolled. Then he lay still, looking up at the sky above him, the last stars fading away with the night, the rosy rays of the dawn illuminating the world but obscuring the universe. Clown slowly turned his attention to the sunrise, as if seeing one for the first time, studied it and then frowned in confusion. He tremblingly pointed at the sun, grunting, as if unable to speak. But finally, his first words were: "...sun not really rising, land is turning instead..." spoken in the awe of a vast new comprehension. Again he trembled. Benutio kneeled beside him and lifted him to a sitting position, holding him until the worst trembling stopped. "How do you feel, Clown?" Clown looked up at Benutio and studied the Gypsy's face, as if seeing it for the first time. Tears streaked his own painted face. "Crown feel... different," he touched his own forehead, "here," gestured at his surroundings, "there." Then he looked one way and another. "Everything different! There MORE now. Like new world or something." He stood up, carefully, shaky at first, as if drunk, then closed his eyes, took several deep breaths and assumed control of his body. They watched him walk to the edge of the tower and look out at the sunrise over the City of Tarro. He studied the scene without speaking. "What are you thinking?" Luminata finally asked him. "Crown be like that Sun. Lighting up now. We somehow same." Then perplexed: "But what IS Sun?" "A star," she said, "like those you see at night, only our world is very close to it," she informed him. Clown looked at her in amazement. "Stars are suns? Then... then..." His eyes widened. "Then Everything is really Big! So Big that..." His mouth fell open and he stood dumbfounded. "Perhaps we should save the metaphysics for later," Benutio suggested. "Not at all," Luminata insisted, "we have got to educate this boy."
end of chapter 9

Chapter 10: THE MOON <BR> <BR> <BR> <a href="chaps.htm">List of Chapters</a>