Sunday, 15 July 2012

Short Story Sunday: And A Wizard, Besides

This story is part Dungeons and Dragons, part psychological introspection, but mostly hey sandstorms are a cool plot device.  In all honesty I'm sure I have lots to say about this particular work, most of which is apologizing for how lame it all is, but methinks now is not the time.  I hope you enjoy the tale of the wizard Shasson in...

 And A Wizard, Besides

Shasson was a liar, and a wizard besides. As the sandstorm raged on around him, he began to wonder if that was really such a distinction.

Standing over a half-closed haversack, the wizard fought to maintain his wards and keep the stinging sand at bay. He had pushed his defensive spells harder and further than he’d ever thought possible, a feat that (if he survived) no one would believe.

Well, some people would believe. Not the important ones. Not anymore.

A speck of dust streaked through the glowing bubbles of protection Shasson was keeping up, moving with such force that it cut his face before shooting out the other side. He shook his head and refocused on his spells. For a moment.

A spell is just a lie the universe believes, really. It’s an act of convincing the natural forces of the world that they don’t exist, that they should bow to your will and not that of nature. And being convincing was always one of Shasson’s gifts. One of Shasson’s few gifts.

Shasson’s only gift.

A look of horror settled into his face as the fact sunk in.

The exterior blue orb, his first line of defence flickered and went out before he could refocus. Damnit.

Shassan was forced to his knees, the two remaining wards serving only to slow the sand. He closed his eyes. Everything was terrible. Not even he could convince himself that was false.

At least his companions won’t die here with him, he’d seen to that. Accidentally, of course. Having told them the artifact they’d been seeking for the last year was a good thirty kilometers south, he had been able to sneak off to claim the prize for himself without too much trouble. They were probably still hoping to catch up with him.


Shassan couldn’t see it, but he felt the second ward drop. Sand was rapidly piling up at his feet, and sliding inside his robes. He couldn’t talk his way out of this. There were no more spells to cast. The sand was going to kill him, and that was the truth.

The thought brought him comfort for a reason he couldn’t quite understand. He knelt, curled up inside his final ward, and smiled as the sand tore at his skin. The sand was truth. The storm was truth, a truth he couldn’t obscure or deceive. An ultimate truth. The wards were gone, or going.

His lies were being stripped away by truth, and before long he himself would be blown away by it.

He stood, a smile fixed on his face. The inevitability was simultaneously terrifying and beautiful. His skin was on fire, his robes whipping and ripping in the wind. The final ward dropped. His last lie.

The only thing left was himself. A man in the sand. Not a wizard, not a liar, just a man. Flecks of sand buried themselves into his skin at a thousand miles an hour, shearing away his body an inch at a time. He could see a light approach through his closed eyes. How long had he been waiting for this? How long had he been alive?

He passed out, collapsing into the sand. The last thing he felt was the storm’s savage embrace loosen and disappear. Of course.

A heavily armoured man stood over the liar and wizard besides, who was barely recognizable. The man bent down, and uncovered the haversack. He checked inside, nodded, and slung it over his shoulder.

“It’s here!” He called back to his two companions, one holding a torch that seemed to keep the swirling sands at bay wherever its light touched.

“Great! Can we get the hell out of here now? I don’t know how long this torch will last.” One of the figures called back.

“Hm.” The armoured man nodded. He stood over the unconscious body of Shassan, scowling. He nudged Shassan with his foot and sighed. “You are such a dick.”

The armoured man hefted Shassan’s sleeping form over his shoulder, and the four of them set off into the storm.

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