IS THERE NOTHING ELSE?
“You look very young to be a Wizard I should say,” she replied confidently, and yet quite demurely.
“Yes, well,” Alternaeus said, staring at her searchingly for a moment. “I’ve never been as young as I look my dear. Or as young as I desired to be. But some things are not within our mortal sphere of action, choice, or circumstance. Though once, long ago it now seems, I was almost young enough to wish to remain happy for a while. But, as with most things, Fortune did not favor me.
I suppose, now that you have made me reconsider my unlikely fate, that my lifelong argument with Fortune is perhaps the chief reason I became as I you see me now.”
“Sir?” she asked. “Mayhaps I do not fully comprehend. You seem to me the very most fortunate of all men. Kings consult thee, lords fear thee, wise men seek thy company, men of war avoid vexing you, high and low churchman both look upon you with some measure of real wonder, women seek thy weird but alluring charms, and I have even heard that demons and many other forms of diverse spirits bow before thee and thy power.”
He placed the instrument he held back upon the table very carefully, as if he exaggerated in his own mind some memory of it, and then turned his attention solely to her once more.
“Indeed, my lady. If only men were what was said of them then our reputations would be our lives. And our portion in life. But we do not so easily gainsay Good Fortune, or Evil Fortune, or our unsleeping and jealous God.”
She smoothed the folds of her gown, moved closer to him, touched his hand and looked studiously into his face.
“Are you indeed only a man, sir Wizard?” she asked him questioningly.
He sighed. Deeply.
“I am, in both nature and in deed, only a man, my good lady,” he answered sincerely.
“Is there then nothing else?” she inquired.
“Indeed,” he whispered wistfully. “Is there nothing else?”
Alternaeus the Wizard and the lady Cynewise
from the Wizard and the Wyrdpack