Here are my versions of four of the many tales of unknown origin which
echo in our minds from childhood to elderly. I hope the reader appreciates
The Five Wizards
Seeing the problem of the sewers of Loures grew worse day after day, and no one could do much to solve it, the Councilor called five Wizards to make the place safe, so the workers would be able to reach the point where filthy was accumulating, and clear it. The first four Wizards each focused on one of the four elements, and were close to mastering it; the fifth Wizard had decided to master all four elements, therefore was far from his goal. The mission itself was bad enough for the first four Wizards, the presence of the fifth Wizard just made it worse. But orders are orders, and the group headed to the Crypts of Piet so they could reach the sewers.
The Srad Wizard had his fun with the first frogs, which perished quickly under the flames. When he could no longer cast his spells, he drew a sword and cut a few crabs in half, as if their strong shells were butter. The anemones followed, sliced into many smaller pieces. A daring crab which knocked the sword out of his hand saw the worst of deaths as the Wizard's hands smashed its legs one by one, a punch opened a hole in its shell, and a boot found its way to the ground through its head. The other Wizards were disgusted, but impressed.
The second floor was made safe by the Creag Wizard. He stood in the middle of the room and attracted all the anemones to himself, being hit time and again by a few quicker crabs while the slow vegetable like things crawled to him. Once completely surrounded, he cast a spell which moved all the sand around him, breaking the crabs' legs and shells and burying the anemones. Bleeding, but standing tall, he asked the amazed companions to see if any animal was still alive, certain of a negative answer.
It was the Athar Wizard's turn to show his abilities. He entered the room and at the same instant was standing by the opposite wall. Merciless turtles cast spells, but he quickly avoided them all. Anemones approached, and he was no longer there. Methodically, lightning took down one after another animal, as they ran around pointlessly trying to reach the Wizard, or at least hit him with a spell. When he was the only living being standing in the room, the other Wizards came by, still dizzy from observing him run like that.
In the fourth floor the Sal Wizard received applause from the group. With some difficulty, he was able to jump on top of a turtle and from that advantageous position slowly take away the life of all other animals, while the few of them which noticed him tried, in vain and with despair, to hit him, but only hit the turtle instead. Once his moving altar was the only thing left, he climbed down and finished it.
Finally it was time for the fifth Wizard to show how well he had mastered the four elements. At first all seemed fine, as four different spells hit the creatures. But it was not long before the other Wizards noticed those four spells were not dealing much damage, and shortly after the fifth Wizard was on the verge of death, begging for help. The group invaded the room and, each Wizard in his way, took the life of the menacing creatures. A deum restored the fifth Wizard's health, but his pride, already hurt, was shred apart by harsh comments from the group, bashing his foolishness in pursuing the mastery of all elements.
As four members of the group laughed and the fifth walked with eyes blurred by the tears of shame, no one noticed the ground slowly rising to their boots. Only when they could no longer walk they took notice of the quicksand pool they stood right in the middle of. With minds tired due to the battle from before, using spells to save themselves was next to impossible. They had to find other solutions.
A nearby root would serve as rope to the Srad Wizard, had he not pulled it with too much strength and parted it in half.
The heavy Creag Wizard was going down faster than his companions, and his wounds were still open. He could do nothing but wait for his fate, as the sand increased his pain. He tried lifting the ground, to no avail.
Making use of his high dexterity, the Athar Wizard tried to move - walk, swim, whatever was possible - to his safety, but all the movement only made him sink deeper. As the rest of the group, he was unable to cast a spell to take them out of there.
The Sal Wizard, wiser than his companions, noticed the quicksand was caused by the water gathered in the sand. Using the last bit of his spellcasting power, he tried to remove the water from the sand and throw it somewhere else, making it dry enough for them to be safe. But being close to insanity as he was, all went wrong. The water moved all around, stopping only when the group was much deeper in the quicksand.
Lacking hope, the fifth Wizard saw not much to do, but he had to try none the less. He took his necklace and tied it to the end of his staff, then used it to catch the piece of the root the Srad Wizard had broken, and bring it closer. Carefully pulling the root, he found it to be somewhat resistant, but thorny. Left without options, though, the Wizard held it strongly, enduring the pain, and pulled himself up. As the provisory rope was about to break, a quick movement and the Wizard threw himself closer to the edge of the quicksand pool, where he could easily reach safe land. Before leaving the pool, however, he asked for the Srad Wizard's sword, and with it cut two long roots which were nearby, tressing them. He then used his new, strong rope to pull his companions out: the Srad Wizard first, of course, as only he would be able to pull the Creag Wizard from the pool...
Back in the safety of Loures Castle, the Councilor listened to the tale with interest, already expecting something like that.
"The four of you do wonders in the area you focus on, while he does
poorly in these same areas. When more is asked of you, however, your deep,
but narrow knowledge brings more trouble than solutions. It takes a little
of everything to survive unexpected situations."
The Warrior and the Priest
Dedicated to Damiel
Once in Mileth lived a Warrior stronger than any other. His two handed double bladed sword had inflicted wounds on more goblins and dubhaimid than any other, but the number of wounded doubled if challengers were counted. Warriors from all over Temuair came to face him, and lost. The best Monks from Undine had attempted it, and failed. Dexterous Rogues had tried, and were defeated. Even powerful Wizards from Rucesion were unable to achieve victory against him. The Warrior always stood tall at the end of the battle, his golden armor stained in red from the blood of his adversaries, a proud smile set upon his lips.
A Priest healed the deep wounds of the latest challenger while the Warrior boasted about himself. "There's no warrior better than me! My strength is unsurpassed, my blade undefeated, my armor unscratched. I'm the best Warrior of Temuair!" As soon as the challenger's life was out of danger, the Priest spoke to the Warrior. "That is not true, there is one who is better than you are."
The Warrior was enraged, but curious. "That's impossible! Bring me this man, and I shall prove you wrong!" he demanded. "Meet me tomorrow, then, at this same time, right here, and I shall make him known to you," replied the Priest. And the next day the Warrior came back to that place.
The Priest sat calmly under a tree, polishing the crystal sphere of his Holy Hermes while following a line of ants in the grass. "I'm here," yelled the Warrior, "now bring me that man who's better than me!" The healer stood up slowly, and asked the Warrior to follow him to the Kasmanium Mountains. Once there, the Priest pointed to a cave. "There." "What? You said I'd find a Warrior better than myself, not a dragon!" said the annoyed fighter. "And you shall," replied the Priest in his tranquil tone. "That is not a mine, it is just a cave. No dragons inhabit it. In there you shall find a man who is better than yourself."
"Fine, then," finished the Warrior, taking his sword. "I'll prove no one is better than me!" And so he went into the cave. The Priest remained outside, waiting.
First there was silence. Suddenly, a great flapping noise filled the air, and slowly diminished. There was silence again. The Warrior, covered in his blood, came out of the cave, severely wounded and breathing heavily. "You lied! That cave was packed with Great Bats!"
"Indeed it was," answered the healer. "They were causing much trouble in Mileth. In a night not long past, they killed a young child. Fortunately, they shall cause no more harm now."
"But you said I'd find one better than myself in that cave, and I only found those pesky bats!", yelled the Warrior.
"By killing those bats, you have used your sword for a good purpose," explained the Priest. "Therefore the man who walked out of the cave was a better man than the one who walked into the cave."
Swords destroy, wit builds.
The fool and the birds
A man sat by a tree in Suomi, wondering why the nightingale he observed would not sing, until he noticed it was trying to feed a cuckoo which was inside a hollow in the tree. The man then became even more interested in the bird.
The nightingale came down to the ground to look for worms, found one with ease, and gave it to the cuckoo. It then came back to the ground, to look for another worm.
A baker passed by with a bowl of cookies, and one fell down from it. The nightingale took it and delivered it to the cuckoo, coming back down again.
An uncaring housewife threw a few leftovers from a window, filling the street with scraps of meat and small pieces of bread. Before the ants could notice them, the nightingale took most of it to the hollow in the tree, and landed again.
A rat came running from a tavern, carrying some cherries, and dropped one. The nightingale was quick to grant the cuckoo its dessert.
Impressed, the man thought to himself. "The luck of this cuckoo is amazing. It just stays in its hollow, and the nightingale stops singing, stop living his own life, to feed him. This must be work of Fiosachd, all this luck. Perhaps I have this luck as well?"
The man, then, decided to put his fate in the hands of Fiosachd, and locked himself at home, waiting for someone to come and feed him. One day passed, and another. No one came. Another day, and the man could no longer stand the hunger. Weak from the lack of food, he addressed Fiosachd some questions. "Why, God of Luck, have you not granted me the luck of the cuckoo, which with no effort was fed by the nightingale? Why, God of Luck, have you abandoned one who followed the example of your subject?"
Fiosachd, then, appeared before the man, and spoke.
"Had you been a better observer - and not so lazy - you would
have noticed I granted luck to the nightingale, not the cuckoo. That cuckoo
could not fly, that is why the nightingale was feeding it, and that is
why I granted it luck. Had you been a better observer, you would have seen
that, despite being fed, the cuckoo is now dead in that hollow. My subject,
the example to be followed, was the nightingale. If you have the intention
of relying solely on luck, do so for a decent purpose."
The Monk and the Rogue
Dedicated to Faeryn
One morning, a Monk and a Rogue met in the entrance to Mileth. "Where are you headed?" asked the Monk. "To the Crypts," answered the Rogue, and concluded, "I want to unlock some chests before the sun is high in the sky. And you, which path you take?" asked the Rogue in return. "I will just take a look at the Wastelands, see if I am lucky enough to find some wax," replied the Monk. They wished each other good luck and followed their ways.
That afternoon, they met again. The Rogue had two fragments of gems in his hands, a new necklace above his shoulders, and many coins in his pocket. The Monk had collected two pieces of wax and one of honey. "Where are you headed now?" asked the Monk again. "To Piet, to polish these fragments, then Abel, to buy some potions, then back to the Crypts, since there are many more chests for me there. And you?" was the question with which the Rogue ended his speech. "Maybe I'll give this wax to the Fae," answered the Monk. "Not using them for potions?" asked the Rogue. "I need no potions right now, that can wait." And once again, the two followed their ways.
The next morning, there were the two again. "To the Crypts again?" asked the Monk. "Yes," answered the Rogue, "I still have many chests to open in there. And you, to the Wastelands?" "Not today," the Monk denied, "I will buy some wine in Abel." That afternoon they did not meet. The Rogue lost track of time while opening those chests, and the Monk only noticed he should drop the conversation when the moon was high in the sky.
When the sun appeared again, the Rogue had more gems than his pocket could contain, and enough necklaces around his neck to make a living from. His armor was completely composed of items found in chests, as was all his wealth. "Doing great, heh? Going for more today?" inquired the Monk. "I'm done," answered the Rogue, "now I'll sell some of this and start working on blades." The Monk nodded, "And I'll finally make a potion or two with the wine I bought." They bid each other farewell and headed their ways.
After Mileth had its lunch, the two met again. "Made your potions?" asked the Rogue. "Yes," confirmed the Monk, "now I'll see if someone needs any. What about your blades?" "I seem to be doing alright, but I'll practice a bit more now." And they went on their ways.
The nightingales were singing again. "Ever seen a finer sword?" the Rogue boasted. "Oh, quite an impressive work indeed," agreed the Monk. "What will you do now?" "I shall work on Soori now," added the Rogue, "And you?" The Monk replied, "I shall visit the Wastelands for wax and honey again this morning, and the tavern for a chat in the afternoon." Each took his path.
Mileth awoke for a new day. "Which is finer, this sword or this soori?" again the Rogue boasted. "What a terrific piece of work!" noticed the Monk. "I congratulate you." "Now I shall work on rings," completed the Rogue, "and you?" "I'm just going to make a few more potions... and then take it easy in the afternoon." And ahead they went.
The sun reflected on all of the Rogue's adorned fingers, but his expression
brought shadows on it. "I've opened all the chests, made the best blades,
the best sooris, the best rings... What now?" the Rogue asked himself.
"Now, I'm going to make some of the potions I never made, and maybe some
speckled wax as well," the Monk replied, despite the question not being
for him. "And what about me.." the Rogue then addressed the Monk. "Well...
Maybe now you'll have time to come to the tavern and have a good chat with
the rest of us!"
Etienne Suarven Lorneau