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The Staff of the Magi (standard:fantasy, 2172 words)
Author: AlexmAdded: May 11 2003Views/Reads: 1849/1154Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A prehistoric tale in which an elderley shaman tells his young protege of an encounter with a fire spirit and how the spirit becomes a reluctant ally

The Staff of the Magi 

Over stones and hard-packed earth  Amudan carefully arranged the
firewood and struck sparks from his flints to set it smouldering. 
Though the fuel was dry, the air was moist and the pieces of bark and 
dead grass that he had collected for kindling were damp. With 
increasing impatience, Amudan brought the jagged stones together, but 
the little splinters of fire would not ignite the pile. Just then, the 
Druid appeared in the cave-mouth, dishevelled and yawning. With watery 
eyes he surveyed the morning, scratched vigorously beneath his furs and 
then, leaning heavily on his staff, he hobbled over to join the youth. 
The ancient spied the ground squirrel upon the grass and with a voice 
still thick with sleep he croaked: “What's this? Food but no fire to 
cook it – and me as hungry as bear at winter's end. This will teach me 
to waste half the day sleeping!” 

Amudan  looked ruefully upward at his guardian and slumped back in the
grass. Deliberately, the Druid placed the butt of his staff at the base 
of the pile and spoke sharply the words: “Aie Gorias!”  Immediately the 
twigs were enveloped as the fire sprang to life. The Druid lowered 
himself to a sitting position and favoured the boy with an expectant 
smile. Amudan shook his head in affable resignation. He knew better 
than to be surprised by such displays from the old magic-man. In haste, 
the youth set about skinning and preparing their meal. 

A short while later, his hunger satisfied, Amudan tossed the remains of
the carcass into the flames and turned to the Druid – his expression 
thoughtful. The old man had reserved a small, slender bone from his 
meal and was busily picking at his few remaining teeth. 

“Old one, the words you spoke when you lit the fire with your staff –
what do they mean?” Wonderingly, the boy reached out and stroked his 
hand over the smooth-worn wood. It had obviously been cut from a single 
branch and rudely finished. Slightly warped, it was thick enough that 
he could not quite close his fingers around its girth and of a length 
that, stood beside him, fell just short of his shoulder. 

“The words are a summons,” replied the Druid, “they call to the Gorians
for aid – and the Gorians, as you know, are spirits of fire.” Amudan 
was still curious. “Why,” he asked, “would the fire spirits care if we 
eat a cooked meal?” The Druid chuckled. “Why indeed, lad, why indeed. 
It is important to understand that we are talking now of one particular 
sprite. How this one came to place himself at my beckoning is a tale 
not too long in the telling – if the listener be of a mind to heed.” 
Amudan needed no further prompting and eagerly he settled a little 
closer to his teacher. 

“Many years ago,” the Druid began, “long before you were born, I
journeyed to the lands of the distant west. Far beyond Ith's edges I 
travelled and beyond the Broken Lands with their deep valleys of dust 
and stone. I sought a green and fertile place where a fair and gentle 
people dwelt in peace by a wide river. In a vision I knew them and I 
learned also of a spring of pure water in the midst of their land. This 
spring was a most hallowed and sacred spot. From its depths a Goddess 
would come forth to speak in love and wisdom to the people”. The Druid 
sighed and inclined his head. “Ah, how I longed to rest my eyes upon 
that spring. However, my journey was fraught with difficulty and 
misfortune. West of the Great Plain, I was beset by all the perils of 
the wilderness. Man and beast, storm and hunger – all conspired to 
prevent me from reaching my goal until at last, disheartened and 
beaten, I turned back. Exceedingly miserable was I to have come so far 
but not to have reached the fair, green vale, nor received wisdom from 
the Goddess of the spring. 

In forsaking my search, my troubles were by no means at an end. Weary
and despairing I became lost, wandering far to the north of my intended 
path. Through rank, poisonous swamp and night-haunted forest I strayed. 
Denied the sight of sun, moon and stars I knew not the passing of time 
until, at length, the ground climbed beneath me and I emerged into the 
light – only to find my way east barred by the Mountains of Fire.” 

The old man paused. Amudan sucked in his breath, knowing well - through
other sagas – the perils of this region. Despite the fire's warmth and 
the pale rays from the sun, now directly overhead, the youth felt a 
chill of danger and apprehension in his bones. Satisfied of his captive 

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