Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Part Three - The Bridge
The towering monstrosity stumbled backward, away from the wizard. He knew he was bound to whatever task the wizard may demand of him, however dangerous or tedious. Anger bubbled along the sedimentary muscles that formed his hideous face, casting dust where wrinkles crushed together. In a swift motion, his right arm swung upward along his waist, pounding its fist thunderously into the left palm, breaking finger pieces into shards that fell in low thuds to the ground. Turstin lifted his left arm to shield his face and leaned the staff in front of the wizard as a way of protecting the old man. The wizard calmly batted the staff from obstructing his view and looked pitifully at Turstin.
The creature lunged and pitched forward, thrusting his arms toward the river. In a moment, several other rocks lying about began to grumble, crack apart, shift and lift into malformed structures resembling enormous men. Dazed and drunk with sleep, they tumbled about as they stretched their legs and struggled to maintain balance. One stood quickly to straighten his back and reach toward the stars, but leaned back too far. Toppling into one of his confused comrades, his spine broke in the middle and his torso fell in an avalanche; the two figures crumbled together in groans and rolled about until the pebbled pieces lay lifeless in the sand.
By now, the Magician had lost his patience: he made an obscure sign with his left hand and directed it toward the original creature. Without a sound, the leader and his five remaining kin began to move toward the water. They waded in formation, one after the other, until a fine line of stepping stones began to form along the tops of their jagged heads. Turstin looked to the wizard for instruction and received an invitation to lead. “No, no... after you, please,” he said with a shudder.
The wizard whisked to the shore and jumped solidly from one rock to the next. He looked over his shoulder at Turstin and beckoned with a short wave. Turstin quickly tightened his pack straps and belt and held his staff aloft as he followed, hopping to the first rock successfully. He jumped for the second rock but slipped on its slimy surface, cracking his shin on the monster’s shoulder and creating an uneven splash as he fell sideways into the water. The unfortunate creature turned away from Turstin and brushed the boy’s kicking feet from his back, sending Turstin helplessly on his own.
The magician chuckled from the opposite shore and said, “Well, there’s no use now, my fine gentlemen. I thank you for your assistance. You are freed.” The stone monsters immediately disbanded, some wading off to the shore, some simply sinking into the murky water and out of sight. “Come on now, Turstin. Let’s get you out of those wet clothes and next to a warm fire.” The wizard smiled, put his hands together and walked into the woods.
Turstin was annoyed with his master’s lack of assistance, but felt more comfortable in the water than atop the cracking heads of the rock men. Holding his staff above his head, he trudged cautiously to the shore and was wringing out his clothes when the magician returned with wood and kindling.
“You can hang your clothes to dry on this,” the wizard said as he handed Turstin three sticks. “Stand two of them in the sand and lay the third across them.” Turstin quickly did as he was told, trying to watch with great interest as the wizard built a pyramid with the sticks.
“It is love that brings fire,” the master announced. “It is the union of wood with wood.” And in the same way as Turstin himself would have done, the wizard piled old, dry leaves around a flat log and spun a stick in one of it’s divots until smoke began to thicken the air.