When a wizard walks by, an exercise in the return of the gods and magic.
I'm Tony. I was a dumb self-absorbed son-of-a-bitch when I graduated high school. I was about six feet tall, 180 pounds and flabby. I spent my time reading books. I was the guy that broke the grading curve, so the bullies did their best to fuck me up. I carried a fillet knife and several cable ties, the kind that the police carry in place of handcuffs. I'm afraid that I left more than one back alley a mess. That ended back in 1976. That might seem like pre-history to a lot of you young snots but that's when it happened. Magic entered, or possibly re-entered if the legends are to be believed, our reality.
You have to realize where we were coming from. Internal combustion engines roamed the land with impunity. Everyone had a vehicle powered by one. It was a goddamned right of passage to get your drivers license on your sixteenth birthday. Electricity flowed like the currents of the sea--nothing held it back and your day-to-day citizen depended on it like air.
When the change occurred it was as if a mid-air collision happened that nobody could see but everyone felt. The underpinnings of the world shifted. I was one of the lucky ones--I gained some degree of natural feeling for the paradigm shift. I instinctively knew that our lives would never again be the same.
I dreamed a ritual. The dream occurred every night over five nights so I decided to go with it.
There I was, bare-assed naked in a forest clearing, holding a silver-alloy knife that I'd sharpened to a fare-thee-well. I cut a small wound in my right hand, enough to bleed a few drops at a time. I faced north, shook off the blood and loudly proclaimed, "Watchtower of the North, I call upon thee." I felt a wrenching of the earth. Next I turned ninety degrees and shook out another few drops. "Watchtower of the East, I call upon thee." I almost lost my footing I heard a groaning from deep underground. Again I turned and shook out my blood... "Watchtower of the South I call upon thee." The ground beneath me rippled and quivered like a drum head. Once more I turned and shook out blood to finish consecrating the ritual space. "Watchtower of the West I call upon thee." Everything immediately settled into a solid surface. It felt as if I were standing on a plane of glass and iron. I was being watched by higher powers. Shit just got real.
I took a deep breath and continued. If it hadn't been dangerous before it was about to be. "Powers above and below I ask that you judge this one and either lay your will upon me to elevate me as a wizard or send my spirit back once more for rebirth."
The hairs on the backs of my arms and my neck stirred, then stood straight up. I gritted my teeth and squinched my eyes shut, ready to take the final lightning strike that would drop me in my tracks like an electrocuted squirrel. Instead I was struck with a bolt of something that spoke of possibilities. I suddenly knew languages that hadn't been heard on this plane before. I knew the true names of many things, races and species. I could see and communicate with the sylphs and elementals of the air. I felt comforted by the grasp in which the elementals of the earth held me. I knew that the elementals of fire and water would heed my call and consider if not cooperate with my requests. The elementals of the void were out there, whispering with promises of knowledge and contracts yet to come. The power was too much for me to cope with. I collapsed to the ground unconscious.
When I awoke I was changed. I was tall, rangy, muscular and bearded. My face had changed. It was craggy and I appeared to be in my early forties. I knew that that's how I'd stay for a long, long time. Concepts and patterns of reaction had been pushed into my head that I had no way of understanding without deep contemplation. The next task that had been assigned to me was to retreat and learn. I had to sequester myself lest I be a danger to myself and others. I was filled to bursting with realized potential and had almost no control. The term 'loose cannon' came to mind.
I understood that I had yet to deconstruct the ritual space. I turned to each compass point where I thanked the spirits and released them in the reverse order of their invocation. Once again the wind blew where it wished rather than being constrained by the others. A big fat raccoon approached and laid a paw on my shoe. He looked up at me then curled up around my ankle and shivered. I picked him up and cuddled him. He had just had the shit scared out of him. I wasn't much better. The spirits noticed the congruence and a "CHUNG" sounded somewhere in the ether. We became bonded. Rodney was given the ability to go wherever he wished and was now smarter than most humans. I gained the magnificent gift of dexterity above and beyond what any mortal man could exhibit. I had an awareness of all about me to nearly forty paces, and the ability to see in the dark. Before, just after my elevation to wizard status, I could detect any animal life around me out to quite a distance. Now, I could speak to them as well. Humans are animals. I suppose that I had just been graced with a gift of tongues.
I arranged for a big used touring motorcycle and packed my backpack. Everything else I abandoned as immaterial and unimportant. I headed for Yellowstone where I knew that I could blend into the back-country and learn what I needed to learn to survive and flourish. Rodney and I spent the winter sharing a large limestone cave with a huge sow grizzly bear. We repaid her by providing food for her spring awakening.
It was there that I learned to create wards about Rodney, myself and my possessions. The wards were light and hard to detect, yet like a fog they worked best in depth. They could obscure, defend, strengthen, preserve, notify or punish. I cast a complex set of wards on my clothing and again on my motorcycle and helmet. When traveling I had to reduce their effect or it looked like a ghost rider was on the road. People in cars and trucks don't pay attention to ghosts. I didn't want to perform a masterful imitation of a bug on a windshield.
Something told me that I had to move. I needed a retreat; a safe place to live, work, learn and play. I 'dowsed' for a place that fit me the best. I had to ask the earth elementals to smooth my path as I traveled deep into the mountains of northern Mexico. I was pulled to an old adobe monastery high up in the mountain crags near Ensenada. I took my time walking through it, picturing in my mind how I wanted it to look, how thick the walls should be, how the walls should taper and lean in to further their strength, how the great timbers holding up the roof should look, the massive feeling of the walls and floors, the coolness within the walls during the height of summer, the sense of quiet, serenity and security within its protection. I lay down on the floor of the old nave and felt for the local earth elementals. I convinced them to come out and play as they had not done in long, long ages. When I awoke from my rest and rose from the smooth slate floor I looked around, smiling at the freely given gifts. I thanked them and praised them. In return I felt their joy and sense of fulfillment.
They had played many games while sculpting the place. Its heritage appeared no longer that of a Catholic monastery. There were Foo dogs on either side of the main entrance. Buddhist temple carvings graced the walls in odd places. Little faces peered down from the corners of each room, some whimsical, some thoughtful, some threatening. They tended to change on their own. One hallway appeared short but if you tried to walk it you just kept walking and walking and walking ... There were secret passageways and hidden rooms here and there. I found a quiet place that had a skylight above it. The light shone down on a small dias. It cried out to be used as a shrine. I resolved to find an image of the Buddha to place there as a focus for the retreat. Behind an innocuous door there was a circular stairway leading down within the mountain to a cave. This led to a wide, motionless underground pool or river. The air shimmered and thrummed with power. It was a place of potential and dangerous power. I would investigate it later.
I was a practical sort of fellow. I wondered about the bog. Where was it, and how did it dispose of the waste? I found a sit-down in a closet near the largest bedroom. It had a straight chute down into the dark. I was quietly thankful that the airflow went down, into the hole rather than up and out!
I found a deep well in a room just off the kitchen. I could feel the cool humidity rising from the hole, delighting my senses in the dry environment. There was enough room provided for a large soaking tub and a sink. There was a cistern the size of a small swimming pool on the second floor, tied to a pipe leading down to a big flint sink in that same kitchen. I guessed that it was up to me to keep that cistern filled and to warm the water within it.
I 'dowsed' for the center of the building and drew a ritual circle deep into the slate floor. From there I cast wards surrounding and permeating the retreat; strengthening it, defending it, and gently steering people away from it. It was virtually invisible once I was done. I called to Rodney. He'd been out hunting and exploring the neighborhood. He appeared as if from nowhere. I could tell that he was thirsty. I drew water from the well and formed a dish in the slate floor for him to either drink from or bathe in. He chose to do both. His little sigh of satisfaction tickled me as he lazed back in the cool water. He sounded like I did! I left him to his grooming while I explored further.
.... There is more of this story ...