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.
Every wizard needs a tower. Mine was but three stories tall. It had an observation and meditation room at the top, where I could sit protected and out of the weather during a storm. Since I was already high in the mountains it would be more than adequate for my purposes.
I queried Rodney if he wanted to accompany me. I needed to stock the kitchen, find other furnishings and secure a big blank diary. All right, I'm a wizard so I'm supposed to call it a grimoire. Big deal. Rather than bring a semi tractor-trailer of furnishings to my retreat I got an idea for a pocket--a wizard's pocket. I made it big enough to take a stove or a bed within its opening (once I'd teased it fully open), and capacious enough for a couple containerized freight modules on the inside. I fixed it at five pounds weight whenever I carried it. Then I realized that the thing would be a menace to use if everything was just crammed in there without rhyme or reason. I'd never find anything! Instead of an asset it would quickly turn into a liability where I'd be paying attention to the bag trying to find something and not to my environment. I modified it to bring forth whatever I wanted when I reached inside to grasp something. After I un-crossed my eyes I realized that I was hungry. Rodney and I took the bike to town where we feasted on street-vendor tacos and horchata. Rodney then went off to terrorize the cats while I went shopping.
I needed tables, chairs, a cold food locker, a pantry, a stove, a butcher block, pots and pans, plates, bowls, glasses, cutlery, a tortilla press and everything else that makes a kitchen a kitchen. Then I found a bed, a small table with a drawer in it, a mirror, a chamber pot and a chest for blankets and sheets. I also found a clothes press in which to hang my clothes and a dresser for folding clothes as well. I didn't get much else--a couch, a big, heavy table with a comfortable chair, some kerosene lamps and several five-gallon cans of kerosene. I bought the best that I could find. Oh, I threw in some white goods as well--sheets, blankets, pillows, quilts, towels and such.
I spent some time with the food locker to make it much bigger on the inside than the outside. Then I took it to the carniceria to fill it with meats, butter, cheese, sour cream, cream and milk. Afterwards I cast a deep, multi-layer preservation ward over it. Nothing inside that box would ever go bad, warm up or cool down. Next I set the same spells over the pantry and took it to a grocery. It got filled up with all sorts of baskets of fruits and vegetables, canned goods, wheat flour, corn flour, corn meal, salt, sugar, coffee, tea, yeast, cooking oil, rice and spices.
I bought some clothes, rugs and toiletries, including bog paper. I bought a big paper bag of that street-cart vendor's tacos on the way back out of town. He had some damned fine tamales too so I added a shopping bag of those to my order.
Once I got back to my retreat I started pulling 'rabbits out of my hat' as it were. Once everything got put away I felt quite satisfied. I had a place to stay that was comfortable, isolated and perched in an inhospitable area protected by spells which would turn away all but the most intent visitors. It was pretty well defended and had water. The place had all I needed to live for quite a while, perhaps half a year or so.
How did I pay for all that? I've got this trick. I managed to scrape together enough cash to buy a real silver dollar. Then with two fingers on the coin and a certain mind-set I drew them apart. Instant mitosis! Just like cell division, but the resulting items weren't smaller. They were identical to the original. It took a while to fill up a bag, but in an hour or so I could make enough cash to last quite a while. From there I boot-strapped into buying a gold coin. It was nothing flashy, nothing terribly rare. The Mexican mint churns out some every year. I did the mitosis bit again, and again and again ... Nobody turns down gold.
I thought about passing all that gold in the local markets. Somebody was bound to get interested, sooner or later. I started 'whanging' each coin with a hammer to insure that they weren't identical. That REALLY would have thrown up a red flag that something unusual was happening.
I had to sit down and start writing this stuff down! I sat with my journal and a cup of tea. I'd felt my way through the laws of similarity, contagion and congruence as well as the spells which used those principles. I'd developed various forms of wards that were damned effective--quite powerful. I'd learned that my powers of visualization were my best tool as the magic seemed to follow exactly what I'd envisioned. I'd adopted various principles of biology into spells, such as mitosis.
With that I knew how to get my cistern working. I sat back in my chair and called for the attention of the earth elementals. Then I launched an open-ended visualization of the structure of my retreat. It all filled in for me. My, there were some surprises in there! Anyway, I used an imaginary pen to slightly modify the plans. I drew a waterline between the pool at the bottom of the well leading to the cistern, then an overflow line back to the well. It would slowly fill, and when the overflow line started to run the supply line would quiesce. Next, I ran a second line from the cistern to the sink, where I fiddled about and using a Kohler faucet as a model, got a working mixing manifold with two valves installed. I slowly formed a congruence between the second pipe and one of the hot springs I'd found in Yellowstone. There. Hot and cold running water. I brought in a pile of rocks and shaped them into a soaking pool, fusing and drawing them into form like a sculptor working with clay. Then I duplicated the kitchen sink's water supply to feed the tub.
I figured out where the bog dumped out. It was in a bat cave far down the mountainside. A little more shit wouldn't hurt anything. I did kind of wonder what the bats would think about the toilet paper, though. The wastewater went to the same place. Somewhere deep in the mountain was going to be a really big stinky pool filled with a lot of nitrates. Hmm. Good fertilizer.
Going back to the plans of the retreat I noticed hidden, sealed pipes thruout the floors. They all led to a hypocaust, or boiler. Why, you ingenious little devils! The earth elementals had picked up on a concept going back to Roman times--heated floors. They even built a sauna next to the hypocaust, but I'd have to line it with wood. Hot stone and my ass don't mix.
A few days later I was down to one tamale left. I looked at it, then thought about the mitosis or clone spell. I put two fingers on it, put myself in the right mind-set and pulled them apart. I now had two tamales. I sat up straight, my eyes opened up like saucers. This had far-reaching implications. I walked into the kitchen and stood before the meat locker. two fingers, pull apart and I had two meat lockers. Wow. I did the same to the pantry. I checked to make sure that the spells replicated properly as well. Rodney wandered in from wherever he spent his time and looked at the twinned meat lockers and the twinned pantries. The next thing I knew the little bastard was rolling around on his back, giggling and kicking his feet in the air. "Yeah, I know. I'm an idiot. Be nice or I'll clone you, and then where would you be?" He disappeared quick. I duplicated a couple dozen tamales, still warm, from the master and put them away in the meat locker to keep.
I was pretty disappointed in the quantity and quality of the light put out by the kerosene lamps. I'd heard about something called a genetic algorithm, in which a program optimized itself. I'd have to put either a regulator in place or a limit on the spell. If it worked as I envisioned I could end up performing a spell that would end life as I knew it, at least mine. For example, I didn't want a solar flare coming from my mantle where my lamp used to be.
I took a two lamps down to what I'd laughingly referred to as my work room or my lab (I do so love it... 'quick, Igor, to the laboratory!'). Granted, I'd warded the crap out of it; ceiling, floor, walls and door. At the door end of the room I had a table and chair with a circle of protection drawn around them. It was a long room because I eventually wanted to play around with offensive spells and I didn't want to be too close to the receiving end if I misjudged a power level.
I used one lamp to see by, while the other went into a constraining circle on the floor. I took a seat, relaxed and thought about 'potential'. I restrained the spell from acting quickly or in large steps. I gradually released the spell while focusing on the lamp. It appeared nebulous, then became solid again. I recognized it! I'd seen an Aladdin kerosene lamp before, and that's what I found before me! It had a ring-shaped burner and a similar ring-shaped mantle. They gave out quite a bit of light compared to an old-fashioned strip mantle lantern--about like a sixty-watt light bulb. I canceled the mutation spell then performed a clone spell on it. There, now I had reserved a master to use if I so wished.
Now I was curious. I put the original 'Aladdin' lamp back in the circle, re-cast the mutation spell and sat back to see what happened. It eventually morphed into an organic-looking creation. It was all metal and crystal, about five feet tall. It looked like a Brancusi sculpture. It was a pretty thing in its way. I wondered how to turn it on. I shrugged and said "Light, half power". The crystal elements began glowing until it was about as bright as daylight in the room. Nice! "Light off, please". It quiesced. I walked up to it, and checked with the back of my hand to see how hot it was. It was cool to the touch! I cloned a dozen of them and put them around the retreat. I couldn't think of much else to damage that day. Soon all the old original kerosene lamps got put away in a box.
It was time to do the laundry. I had fashioned an agitator that set into the kitchen sink and did a fine imitation of break-dancing. I had to put a lid over the sink to keep the water from splashing everywhere.
I needed a place to dry my clothing once it was washed. I picked a likely gallery and linked it with a dry, windy place in the north Chilean desert. I needed clothes line and pins. It was off to town again.
I picked up a five gallon can of gasoline, a bundle of firewood, some cedar plank for the sauna, a hundred-pound gas cylinder for the stove, clothes line, clothes pins, some fresh fish and shrimp that were still moving, a jar of horseradish sauce for the seafood, a preserved ham and a little can of lubricating oil that I wanted to experiment with. I warded a bag with a serious preservative spell for the fish then packed everything away and headed home.
I'd never have to buy gasoline or propane again. I cloned everything I brought back from that trip several times. It all went into a pantry just off the kitchen. I reserved one of the cans of oil for a trip to the lab. The firewood went down to the fuel bunker next to the boiler, where I cloned it enough times to fill the entire room. If you clone one bundle of firewood you get two. If you clone two bundles you get four. This progression filled my bunker fast. The laundry line went up and the clothing situation got sorted.
I fretted for a bit at the necessity of doing such mundane things as the laundry. Then I caught hold of myself and remembered an old Zen homily:
Before enlightenment, carry water, cut firewood. After enlightenment, carry water, cut firewood.
Some things never change and by these do we measure ourselves and our humility.
The storm season was coming on. I thought about lightning rods, then got a 'sideways' idea. I cast a nimbus ward around the retreat that redirected any powerful energies away from the structure in a wide, flat disk. I then wondered about magical energies. This was immediately worrisome. The wards that I'd built were like clothing, hiding much and giving a small degree of protection. A magical attack could be like a sniper firing a rifle at me while I wore a mumu. There wasn't much hope for the mumu or what was inside it. I cast another ward, one that was multi-leveled and much more powerful. It was designed to focus and return any magical energy back to where it came from like a laser, and add a 'kick' to it as well. There came to be a large, very black disk on the top of the tower. It fed a solar 'capacitor' that linked to the magical defenses. Whoever triggered that puppy was going to get a weapons-grade sunburn, real fast. That got me on a roll.
I didn't want to be unprepared to fight back if someone had a firearm and a bad intent. I went down to the lab with the intent of causing mayhem. I had no idea where to start. I knew that I could cause lightning but I sure didn't want to be on one end of the bolt. I wanted something more controllable, anyway. I sat there contemplating nothing, really when I felt a 'tap' on my consciousness. An elemental of the void had heard my call and had an answer for me. It requested an audience. I graciously invited it in and 'listened' to what it had to 'say'. It communicated in full concepts, a technique which was a bit hard to get used to. I was reminded of how orbital mechanics worked and the enormous power held by orbiting masses, be they planets, suns, galaxies or galactic clusters. I touched on the orbital energy of Jupiter and lightly connected it to a penny from my pocket. I heard a whip-crack as it disappeared and drilled a hole through the far wall of the lab, warding or no. Yep, that'll do it. I took to wearing a Sam Brown belt sort-of-thing with small bee bee studs all over it. They made dandy bullets. For bigger game I carried a pouch of half-inch ball bearings.
I took a few things down to the lab. I had a box which held a belt knife in a sheath, a garden hoe, a sickle, a froe, a hatchet, a hank of rope, a can of oil, a jar of glue, a can of varnish, a can of paint, a paint brush, a saw, a hammer and a pry-bar. I wanted to perform some experiments into the various natures of things that they took on from being manufactured or produced.
After establishing a circle limiting the spell's radius of effect I put the belt knife in the circle, sat back and contemplated the intent of the spell. I 'talked' to the spell and to the knife. After a couple of cycles with the genetic spell I had a very nice knife indeed. It was beautiful yet understated in its ornamentation. I then changed the spell to one of a more Aristolean intent. "What is your purpose? With what intent were you made? You are intended to cut anything put before your edge or before your point in a controllable manner, yet to be protected and held safe within your sheath. Your goal is not to break or grow dull. You exist to be the best that you can within your nature." Then I let the spell engage. When it finished I took up the knife in my hand. It looked the same, yet I felt a willingness, a purpose within it. I went to the wood bunker and took a piece of dried, aged hardwood in one hand and the knife in the other. I hardly had to press when I found myself with two pieces of oak, cut across the grain. I really had something here. I somehow felt that I had arrived at the core of the art. I had opened up a new line of thought. Intent could be impressed upon things to modify or improve their behaviors. I was certain that intent could be impressed up on people as well. That was the one that got the villagers coming for you with pitchforks and torches. I immediately resolved to refrain from such practices.
I performed the same spell upon the garden hoe, with a different intent, of course. It evolved into something like polished petrified wood and cut through the thin soil outside the building easily, lifting and aerating it while deftly bypassing any plants that I tried to protect and mutilating all the others ... With tools like this working in the fields would be much more pleasurable. The scythe became a terrible weapon as well as a promising tool, cutting down all that stood before it. The oil became almost too slippery to use as it attempted to flow over everything it contacted. I had to limit its effects to be controllable by nature. An uncontrollable, near-ultimately-frictionless substance released upon an unsuspecting earth would cause untold damage to the planet. The natures of the glue, varnish and paint fought the nature of the paintbrush until a graceful application was added to their natures. The protection afforded by the paint and varnish were amazing. The glue--well, it's a good thing that I included control in its nature. Who needs screws or nails when the items being bound together physically merge along their areas of contact? I applied a few drops of the oil to the motorcycle's moving parts, and added a drop to the oil sump. I truly terrified myself with that bike. It exceeded the performance of any Japanese crotch rocket that I'd ever heard of. It FELT dangerous to ride. Divine wind, indeed!
I bought a leather 'duster', a pair of leather gauntlets and a new pair of boots. After putting them along with my helmet through the intent spell I may as well have been driving around in an armored car.
I soon felt much more in control of the intent spell. I treated my motorcycle with it. It became much, much easier to handle and wonderfully comfortable as well. I got smart and applied it to my bed. I awoke with a smile each and every morning after that, fully rested and in no pain. I drew a master circle about the entire retreat complex and cast the intent spell onto it. It was a complex, thoughtful piece of work that brought into play elementals from all the realms. After the spell finished I walked through the halls. It felt as if welcoming spirits lived--no, thrived-- within the walls. I saw gardens and vistas that definitely were not there before. There were temples to each of the prime directions in the appropriate places. I could not help but feel at ease in my re-dedicated retreat. I was surprised not to find the seven Chinese lucky gods taking tea before the fire! Each time I viewed the Buddha in his shrine a different aspect or sculpture greeted me.
I'm afraid that some of the intent spell applications went overboard. After I applied it to my kitchen knives I kept cutting through the counters and I had to replace the butcher block once a week until I got it under control. I actually cut through my dinner plates!
I got too much into the physics, I'm afraid, and told the hammer that it was a force-concentrating device, designed to deliver controllable levels of concussive impact. That's the real definition, but tell that to an infant war hammer! I made the mistake of really letting go with it against a boulder. I had to figure out a first-aid spell under extreme duress. I damned near bled out. After I recovered I went out to inspect what was left of the boulder. I could easily see the cavity formed by my fist gripping the handle of the hammer deep within the stone. Over a third of the boulder was reduced to dust or shards. The remainder was cracked in half. It had been the size of a VW beetle.
After that I bought a face shield, a long leather apron and a pair of gauntlets. I ran them through three iterations of the genetic spell before I ran them through the intent spell. The mask provided protection, transparency and fresh, cool air. The gauntlets provided protection and dexterity. The apron provided protection and ease of motion. That's when I realized that I had almost all I needed to begin doing some serious spell work at the forge. I wanted to learn to be a blacksmith. A master wizard blacksmith.
I ran a clone of that hammer through the intent spell once again, this time influencing it to be a metal-working tool. I made six hammer variants that felt as if they were built for my hand. Well, they were! Next came the pincers. I started with a big pair of pliers and worked my way up in form and function. I packed up my tools, protective gear and a suitcase full of clothes. I put a preservation ward around the whole place and drew an attention-getter to me, so that if anyone messed with the place I would know about it immediately. I let Rodney know that I was taking a trip. He'd found a stream full of fish that he was slowly depleting. He was quite happy where he was and had no interest in hotel rooms. I took off for Centaur Forge in Wisconsin where I knew that I could get some serious training if I paid enough and convinced the right people.
I rented an apartment for the winter, while I learned utilitarian blacksmithing, such as you'd need to use on a farm. In the spring I took a trip to Texarkana Arkansas, where the spring hammer-in was being held by the knife maker's guild. I learned a lot in both places. I'd had to put together a lifting spell to get that damned five hundred pound anvil in my wizard's pocket. It was a variant on my bullet spell but with a much finer degree of control.
I realized later that I was fretting about how to fuel my forge back at the retreat. It must have bothered me so much that, once asleep, I involuntarily sent out a plea for help.
The void elementals were nice enough to show me the rapidly spinning black hole at the center of our galaxy. With that as both a power supply and sink I didn't worry about messing up Jupiter any time soon. The jets of plasma coming out of both poles of the black hole were larger than our solar system by quite a few magnitudes. I had once acted in total disregard of the consequences with that war hammer and came quite close to killing myself. With the power I had at my disposal at this time a loss of control could possibly mean planetary extinction. All my responses had to be thought out, measured and controlled. I could never again indulge in recreational chemicals and their inherent loss of control. The risk was too great.
Once back home the forges went back together gracefully. I had a gas forge (plasma fed), as well as a coal-fired forge with a big double-bellows. I filled my coal bunker from a fifty pound bag of top grade low-sulfur anthracite. I had most of a wrought-iron bridge tucked away in my magic pocket for working material as well as billets of various alloys which I'd come across then cloned my own samples. Using the cedar planks and wrought-iron strap-ware I fashioned a big fireplace settle, just for practice. They're also called sleeping benches or sick benches. The tall and gently curved back was designed to reflect a fireplace's heat back down onto the occupant to keep them warm and out of the drafts. The deep seat was designed for either contemplation, relaxation or slumber. With a nice coat of bespelled varnish it looked positively amazing. After looking it over I decided to pick up a little art work, may be some rugs and wall-hangings too. I wanted to add a little human-based class to the place.
I followed the trail down into Ensenada, then north to San Diego. I found some nice cream-colored and reddish middle-eastern carpets that I fancied. Most were made of wool, but the best were made of silk. I found a couple nice desert south-west paintings I liked and bought them as well. The scenes gave me an idea. I bought a deep-sea fishing rod and gear, packed up and left for home.
I cloned the rugs, then ran them through slightly different genetic spells to give me slightly different rugs. The sinfully smooth rugs certainly felt nice after padding about on that slate floor. They became even more luxurious after the intent spell wove its magic into them. Some I hung on the walls but most covered the floors.
I had read in various fantasy books about a scrying table. I wanted the same thing but I went about it in a different fashion. I located a nice big eight foot by eight foot clear section of wall in my great room, or living room. I then established a roving viewpoint, call it a wizard's eye. Next I linked that eye to the section of wall that I'd selected. As a precaution I forged a three foot tall iron fence and bolted it firmly in front of the wall just in case the next step went a bit too well. I moved the viewpoint to twenty feet off the shoreline of Lanai, Hawaii. The picture was impeccable. I slowly strengthened the link until I could hear the surf, then smell it. I had the ultimate correspondence: the map WAS the thing. I no longer had to step out of the front door. I had access to anywhere on the earth at a moment's notice. I wanted to try one further thing. I picked up my new fishing rod, put a shrimp on the hook and sat on a chair just in front of the fence I'd installed, with my feet pushing against the bars. I edged the correspondence even further and cast through the portal, for a portal is what it had become. I fished off the coast of Hawaii with my ass sitting on top of a mountain in northern Mexico. It took me a half-dozen shrimp before I brought in a fish for dinner. I de-focused the link and headed for the kitchen to cook dinner. Rodney wondered where the hell I'd gotten a fresh salt water fish when I gave him a couple that I'd cloned off. I left him guessing.
I'd learned my lesson. Every time I latched onto something new, I cloned a copy. I suppose that I had become the ultimate packrat.
while working with my wizard eye I pulled back to view the earth as a globe. I found at least one protected compound like mine on each continent. Eurasia had three and one was in the White mountains of the Eastern United States. I projected from that fact that I had peers.
I woke up one morning and headed down for breakfast. There were two little guys already sitting at the table drinking coffee. My newly-bespelled home would never have allowed anyone within its boundaries that intended me harm so I relaxed. I made a cup of tea and introduced myself. One was an itty bitty fellow with bandy legs and a face like a walnut that wanted to look like Peter Lorre. The other was a bit taller, hairy, had a huge nose, was quite muscular and had a competition-grade beard. They were a gnome and a dwarf named Otis and Ragnar. They heard that there was a wizard around and came to beg a favor. Otis began. "You see, it's the fracking. It's destroying our lands, polluting our waters and killing our children. We can, and have, put up with a lot but our children are our future." He pointed over to Ragnar with his thumb. "Neither of our races breed very quickly so killing even one child is a real tragedy to us. Entire galleries have been destroyed, killing extended families. This has to stop."
"I agree. As a matter of fact you've been more patient than I ever would be. This killing in the name of profit has to stop, and by damn, it's going to right now!"
I led them down the stairs to the cavern where the air sang of the power of earth and water. I got naked and lay down in the sand. They refused to leave the safety of the stairs. I closed my eyes and pled for help. I called in anger and in pain. The elementals flocked to my call. I drew a globe in my mind then reached out to where the fracking and oil accidents had occurred. More and more sites filled in on the globe. I asked for their help in cleaning up the mess and shoring up the damaged lands. The elementals spread out like a shock wave in all directions. The tar sands sank back into their deep beds. The spilled oil on the sea beds sank back down to where they once came from. The sea beds themselves that had been perforated, and in some places shattered, fused and healed. The drilling platforms became un-homed and floated free, their pipes that fed crude oil to their tanks were severed and wells were sealed as if they'd never been drilled. The gas mines suddenly--stopped. The pipes were severed and the stone gas-reservoir caps slowly transformed into knurled quartz. The same events occurred around the world. Thick layers of refractory quartz formed over all the oil and gas reserves. Nothing could drill through that. The coal became un-minable. It changed in structure until the teeth of the great rotary engines shattered against it.
I had no idea how vindictive the elementals had been. It was a day with far, far reaching consequences. The legs had just been cut off of the world-wide energy industry.
When the elementals returned, happy and exultant, I thanked them and blessed them for their efforts in helping the elder ones. I had a feeling of openness and welcome as they faded back into their places. I awoke and rose, dusting myself off. The gnome and dwarf were on their knees, watching. Their voices were quite shrill. "You--you turned to stone! You became stone!" I shrugged. I am a wizard whom the earth elementals seem to have adopted as one of their blessed ones. The void elementals have aided me as well. I wish to be balanced in my word and deed. Thus I'm happy to have aided you. The elementals also expressed a feeling of welcome to you and yours. I suggest that you could move away from such places that have bad memories for your kind and move here to the mountains in this area. I'm certain that the elementals and I can aid you in establishing new, safe galleries for your families."
The two of them put their heads together in conference and came up smiling. I heard the dwarf for the first time. "It shall be as you say. We shall endeavor to convince our people that living under the protection of a wizard may not be such a bad thing. Now, what may we do for you in exchange?"