‘One Last Magickal Ride’ by Guest Author Paul DeThroe

Guest Author Paul DeThroe

The ice melted from my perpetually frozen skin, first in drips and then chunks. Though I had been imprisoned in thick ice for well over a thousand years, I had no idea exactly how long.  I was once the world’s greatest wizard.  But I let my guard down for a beautiful lady, whom I trusted more than I should have.  The next thing I knew, I became the world’s second greatest wizard.  Once that happened, I became trapped for all of eternity at the very top of the world. Or, so she and I thought.

Then a funny thing happened. The world warmed up.  It could’ve all been foreseen.  As humankind’s knowledge increased, along with its population, new technologies would surely take hold and choke the atmosphere with thick clouds of polluted dust, creating an oven-like effect.  Unfortunately for me, the damage was already done.  Yea, I was awakening now, but into a time that had passed me by.  As my consciousness came back alive, I would know nothing of my new existence.  And I would know no one.

The first order of business was to find a way not to freeze to death.  I know that sounds kind of weird coming from someone existing in suspended animation for over a millennia, but with the thaw, not only did my mind come back to life, but so did my senses.  Sense of freezing is a horrible, albeit, very important, feeling to have.

Seeing how I haven’t used my once all powerful magickal powers since before my long, frozen exile,  I was quite unsure if I could even muster enough magick to keep from meeting the doom that should have taken me to Hades many years ago.  But, somehow I managed to remember the chant to produce invisible fire and that warmed me up rather quickly.

The next thing on my agenda was food and water.  A thousand years’ worth of hunger and thirst has a way of making your body scream at you in ways nothing else can.  Simply unable to ignore those feelings, I had to once again dig deep into my antiquated memory to summons a spell.

This one was to bring an animal to me.  I called upon a reindeer, which was really the only kind of meat suitable for an old world European to munch on.  There really shouldn’t have been any of those creatures this far north, but it made me happy to realize my magick was still strong, so quickly after being reanimated.

After slaying the beast with my old knife, I sliced and diced it and threw it into my invisible fire.  When it was done, it was the most delectable meal I could ever remember eating.  And I have an extremely good memory for an old fellow.

Once I got my belly full, I took a good nap, not that I needed one.  I dreamt of my family, long lost through the sands of time.  I awoke in tears, such that I miss them.  I balled like a brokenhearted teenage girl when the thought hit me that everyone I knew was dead.

When I awoke, I started walking.  I had no idea where I was going, nor how long it was going to take me to get there, but it was an incredible feeling stretching the ol’ legs out after so many years of being frozen in place.  It was so darned cold, but I used my magick to make an invisible fire circle around me, to keep me warm.  I walked and walked, unable to tell how many days passed because the sun never set.  By the time I reached unfrozen land, I noticed my fire was fading away.  That had never happened before.  I took it as a bad sign.

I planned on walking until I got to civilization, not really caring how long it would take.  Occasionally, I ran into a lone family or small village.  Most of them were kind enough to take my old bones in for a rest and a hot meal.  I was always completely gracious.  I was very confused though.  Everything about their way of life was foreign to me.

They lit their houses with glass which had fire inside.  They cooked and warmed themselves with fire that didn’t come from wood, but rather from invisible gaseous fumes from underground pipes.  The listened to music from boxes and watched other people inside other boxes with glass faces.  And the weirdest thing was, they talked to people that weren’t there, with other small devices they held to their ears.

Not wanting to give my true self away, I took it all in stride, never asking what this was or that was.  I didn’t want to seem ignorant, even though I was as unknowing as a baby.  It was readily apparent, to me at least, that I was a stranger in a strange land.  And to be honest, I didn’t think I would ever be able to figure this strange world out, much less fit in.

With each household I left behind to continue my travels, I thanked the family graciously.  I always blessed them with a quick, but powerful spell of prosperity, even though I could tell my powers were getting weaker with each gift I gave.  This worried me to no end.  I was losing my magick, my mojo.  Troublesome, indeed!

I knew I had to find some kind of way to replenish my magick before it was all gone.  I just didn’t know how.  I never dealt with such a thing before.  When I first realized I had magick, it was there, and that was it.  I never had to think about it, never doubted it.  But now I did.  Was this a world where magick no longer existed?  I prayed that idea was foolish.

One overriding thought kept occurring to me.  I was sent to this world for a reason, even though I had no idea what that reason was.  If I used up all my magick, how could I possibly accomplish whatever it was the gods and goddesses who melted the ice wanted me to do?  That idea was puzzling and fearful.

Finally, after many days of lonely walking, I made it to the great city.  I was amazed at everything I saw.  In some places there were more people, in what the locales called ‘blocks’, than I had seen in my entire life.  They were bustling, like bees in a hive.  It was a very impersonal experience.  Hardly anyone was talking.  Most people had music listening devices in their ears.  Almost everyone looked at me like I was mad, just because of the way I was dressed.  Perhaps I was the crazy one.

Not that the great city was a bad experience.  I didn’t felt threatened.  I guess I looked to poor for any robbers to try to take me, and besides, my hardened, oak walking staff would have taken care of any bad guys anyways.  At least, I thought it would have until I saw two masked me use a fire stick on an unwitting victim.

I was very frightened by what I saw, but when the bad guys left, I went to the aid of the injured man.  I used a good part of my magickal powers to save his life, but it was worth it.  Even the crowd of people that gathered looked upon me in a different light after that.  When I got up to leave, they just sort of mumbled to each other and got out of my way.  I always liked the effect my magick had on people in need, and also the effect it had on bystanders!

The most interesting things I saw, were the incredible art that was literally everywhere I looked.  Though the people seemed unfriendly at times, their superb cultural tastes more than made up for those deficiencies.  Very eclectic, this modern, high tech, new city was.  Bards stood on corners playing stringed instruments that were quite unknown to me, with hats and buckets at the ready to collect loose coinage.  They were quite unlike the bards from my own era, however, because the bards from my day loved to have people dance around them.  Whenever I danced around the modern bards, I was quickly shooed away with the most abusive of language.  These new people seemed so strange to me!

The way folks dress in this modern age was probably the one thing which threw me off the most, besides the impersonal nature of the huge crowds gathered on every corner, waiting to cross the road.  The way these people travelled also seemed bizarre to me.  I almost choked from the noxious smoke that poured out of what they called ‘traffic’.  Where did all this smoke go?  At times, it was so thick it nearly blocked out the precious sun.  How dare these modern folk neglect the very things that gave them life?  I was appalled!

At one point, I saw a crowd of people, who for once, where not gathered at a corner.  These folks were standing in front of a huge glass window, watching the box with pictures.  Death and destruction played out in the screen of this box and the voices coming from it announced the dawning of a new day of war.

What the voices called bombs were dropped on houses and buildings, in what was supposedly some faraway place.  The crowd cheered the massive slayings with an incredible hunger for suffering.  I doubted they would be so happy to see that kind of terror reign down upon them, though I did wander what kind of tragedy would make them feel such hate in the first place.

The scenes of carnage and suffering brought a huge foreboding on my mind.  How could such a highly advanced society make war so easily and so impersonally?  In my day, it was hand to hand combat.  Battles were brutally violent, yes, but a certain amount of respect overruled the desire to simply kill.  Sure, to the winner goes the spoils, but, once conquered, even enemies were brought into the fold and treated with a certain amount of reverence.

Wars have always been fought over land, religion and resources.  But the kind of insufferable damage I was witnessing was uncalled for.  After all the time I spent frozen in ice, I had hoped that humankind had developed a utopian attitude, one where differing peoples and societies could find ways to make peace instead of war.  I was severely disappointed.

I left that crowd of snickering buffoons and continued walking, not knowing at all where my feet were taking me.  At times, I was overwhelmed with the giant buildings seemingly blocking out the smoke faded sun.  Soon, I found myself standing in front of a magnificent looking building with a gigantic picture of Mother Earth.  The building was called the United Nations.  I wandered, if the countries were so united, why was wars still happening?  I decided to go into this great building to find out.

I was allowed to enter the building, which made me happy, but was searched by modern day knights with fire sticks, more than once.  Everyone who entered was searched, but they took extra care with me, because my attire made them think I was a madman.  I felt the same about them, to be honest.

When I was finally admitted, I went to a large room with many chairs, which overlooked the goings on of the people of many countries.  It made a tear come to my eye that these modern day folk would at least attempt to come to peace with one another, but my opinion soon changed.  All I heard was dissent.  There was no attempt whatsoever, at finding ways to cross cultural or religious divides.  Unlike the fabled Forum in Greece, where ideas were shared in a peaceful setting, this United Nations was simply a spectacle put on to find ways to bash one another, defile each other’s beliefs and take count on who was for and who was against the wars they seemingly all wanted to start.

Fed up with all the incessant hand wringing, I got up and started walking down the staircase leading into the main auditorium.  The guards tried to stop me, but I froze them stiff with a mere glance from my eyes.  I made my way to the speaker podium and everyone in the place looked at me with shocked horror.  Apparently, no one had  so brazenly stood in front of these ambassadors of the world, unannounced and uninvited.

They all looked at me as if I were about to blow the place up with one of their bombs, but I was undeterred by the chilly reception.  I had important things to say, and I was going to say them, and they were going to listen.

“Leaders of this brave new world; listen to me!” I began my hypnotic diatribe.  “You have gathered in this iconic building under the guise of being united, but never before have you ever been so divided!”  The shocked looks on the faces of the men and women ambassadors began to change, and they looked at each other curiously, not knowing what to expect next.

“I am from a different time and place,” I blurted out, not knowing how they would take that revelation.  “I am a wizard from days gone by, from when magick was alive and filled the air.  This is no longer the case.  I arrived in this world, not knowing what to expect.  I have found that intentions are grand, but actions have failed to live up to hype.  This age seems to have reached a tipping point.  The acquisition of energy seems to topple all agreements and vows of peace.  Instead of working together to build a utopian society, cultural divides have splintered the world into peoples who merely cry out for peace, but those cries have been ignored by leaders who seek nothing but war, to gain ground in their petty desires to control natural resources.  You should all be ashamed!”

“You all know the energy crisis which seems to be the cause of all your problems cannot be fixed because your tremendous demand for it is unsustainable,” I restarted my rant, after a momentary break.  “If you spent the money spent building war machines on putting the poor to work and feeding them, utopia would certainly follow.  But, the path you are currently taking this world down is a path that will lead you all straight to Hades.”

The mumbling which overtook the audience of unbelieving ambassadors, their assistants and the general public, told me my words would go unheeded.  I would end my plea now, but not before I said my final peace.  “You have all been warned by countless prophets that the end is soon.  Instead of finding an alternative, you have collectively hastened your own demise.  Turn things around now, or there will be no turning back and no future to even bother with the pointless negotiations you waste your time with now.  The choice is yours, men and women of the United Nations.  Change your path or destroy your world!”

With that caveat, I turned and walked off the podium.  As I did, I released the spellbound crowd from my collective hypnotism.  Guards instantly sprang into action and surrounded me, with evil intent in their eyes.  They forcibly grabbed me and started to stick some sort of contraption into my side, but I was in no mood to be apprehended and wasn’t about to find out what their contraption did, so I invoked a spell of invisibility and simply disappeared before their eyes.

Their astonished looks at my parlor trick made me giggle inside, but I made sure to keep it inside, because I didn’t dare laugh out loud, for fear of giving my exact position away.  So, I quickly and quietly slipped away, walked off the stage and made my way out of the auditorium, while the throngs of ambassadors, assistance and onlookers gasped in astonishment at what they just witnessed.  There was so much more I wanted to do for these highly advanced people, but nothing in this world could change the hearts and minds of humanity, except humanity itself.

As I walked outside, into the muggy, dirty air, I saw hundreds of people holding signs and chanting in protest of those who worked inside the building, I just exited.  Knights armed with fire sticks, clubs and glass shields, formed a human wall between them and the building.  I had little doubt they would hurt anyone who tried to cross their line of protection.  Still unseen, I slipped around them and walked away, into the heart of the bustling city once more.

Perhaps, in my invisibility, my eyes became opened to the true suffering emanating from every building and every corner.  Scattered amongst the well-dressed folk who were always in a hurry and too adept at turning a blind eye, where many, many folks dressed in rags, looking for handouts.  My heart went out to them.  They seemed as lost in this crazy world as I did.  Most people, who bothered to glance at the downtrodden folk, walked past them with looks of pure contempt.  Occasionally, however, someone would show compassion and drop a coin or a piece of paper with pictures and numbers into their outstretched hands.

Being a man of compassion and healing, I couldn’t bare seeing these poor folks suffer so.  As I walked past each one, I threw a spark of love and healing at them.  It was the least I could do.  But, there were so many of them.  I soon felt my invisibility waning and knew that my magick was running out.  Once it was gone it would never return.  I certainly didn’t want to die in this cold, cruel, unusual world.  I had to be alone to think.  Luckily for me I walked past a vast grove of trees, which seemed so out of place amongst the tall buildings surrounding it.  It was a welcome sight, nonetheless.

I slipped into the trees, just before my invisibility completely disappeared.  Feeling weakened, I went to a small brook, stuck my hand into the water, cupped a handful of it and drank the foulest water I ever tasted.  Taken aback, I stumbled back into the wood, to collapse, exhausted, next to an oak tree.  I immediately felt peace emanating from the wonderful tree, which was magickal in its own way.  No tree in the world made me feel closer to my gods and goddesses, than the oak.

With the peace the tree seemed to give me, I began to relax and felt my spirit recharging itself.  I went to sleep and dreamt of faraway times and people I once knew and loved.  I awoke sometime later, and realized I was totally alone in this world.  If I died, and I knew I soon would, no one would even care.  I had no other choice but to forsake this world.  There was nothing else I could do for these people.  I longed for home.

With just enough magick left to perform one last act of magick, there was no doubt in my mind, what it would be.  I had to return home.  I had never travelled time before, but I knew the spell.  It wasn’t a very difficult one, but if not done carefully, one could end up in the wrong time entirely.  So, with extreme caution, I began meditating.

I soon found myself floating through misty fog, which twisted and turned like a cyclonic storm.  I was heading home.  It didn’t take as long as I expected, but by the time I arrived, I was extremely exhausted.  I collapsed to the ground in a heap.

Children began gathering around me, lovingly laughing as they grabbed my arms to help their tired, old, village druid to his feet.  Soon, several women came along to help me.  They lead me to a village hut and one of them fetched some hot, Sheppard’s soup for me.  It may have been the best meal of my life.  I downed it heartily and then washed it down with fresh, cool well water.  I was in heaven.

The women gathered in the hut were whispering secretively.  I heard one of them say they had never seen a dying man eat so much.  This caused one lady to burst into tears and flee the hut.  The others soon left too.  Feeling full and tired, I stretched out on a pile of furry animal hides to rest.  However, rest wasn’t on the agenda.  Everyone in my family soon gathered at the hut opening.  I could hear the hurried, yet hushed tones of their voices, as they tried to gather enough strength to enter and say their final goodbyes to me.  The funny thing was, though tired, I felt in no way unhealthy.  That all changed when my family entered.

My sister entered first, followed by her children and several of my cousins, male and female alike.  I became filled with heart wrenching emotions as soon as they walked in.  They smiled at me through tear filled eyes and this caused my eyes to moisten as well.  Then, they all came up and kissed me.  I coughed, and realized my breathing had become extremely shallow.  I was, in fact, dying.  It wasn’t as dreadful as I had always figured it would be.  I was at peace.

My last moments were filled with happy thoughts of my family and of my past life.  There were no thoughts of the failures in life which troubled me.  The troubles were all gone.  I had fought the good fight, and, at least in my eyes, had won.  Now, all there was to do was shut my eyes.  The last thing I saw was my beautiful sister’s face, as she kissed me goodbye before whispering that she loved me and that is was alright for me to go.  Then I breathed my last and my spirit floated away into the same mist which had brought me home from that strange, faraway place and time.

©2012