NOT TO BE OUTMARTYRED

NOT TO BE OUTMARTYRED

“And what of the monk Baelwich?” the boy asked.

Alternaeus smiled gently as he moved objects about the table to his satisfaction. To his apprentice he seemed harried in his manner, but also utterly engrossed and happy at his task.

“Baelwich it is hard not to love. He is fearless, and smart, and cunning, and even wise. He is one of the old monks, the ancient kind of monk,” the Wizard replied. “No matter what the high nobles and the rudely ambitious think of him I count him as one of my most trusted friends. Perhaps even, a kind of brother.”

“But he is still considered a young man, is he not? Surely he may even be younger than you. How is it then that you call him ancient?” The boy seemed genuinely confused by the Wizard’s response, or openly curious as to his true meaning. Or both.

Alternaeus halted at this labors for a moment, raised his eyebrows at the question, and looked directly at his apprentice.

“You mistake my meaning boy. He is an ‘ancient kind of monk,’ not in his mortal years but in his immortal nature. He is very much like the Apostles of old in that he fears no power on or in the Earth. His only concern is God and what is Just and Right. Such men are easy for me to befriend, and once befriended, easy to maintain in my heart. Ignorant men may call my efforts fernal-craft and sorcery, but they understand me not at all. For when it comes to what is truly essential in this world, indeed in any world, of all men there is in me no sorcery at all. Only an enchantment with the Truth.”

The boy considered the remark with some seriousness. Alternaeus returned to his labors and worked until his personal expectations were met and his meticulous arrangements fully completed. When the boy saw that the labor of the Wizard seemed finally finished he risked another inquiry.

“What then of the priest Plontius? Is he also your friend?”

Alternaeus looked at the boy somewhat skeptically and scoffed.

“As long as monks and priests are willing to martyr themselves for God, for the Right, and for the innocent then they are the most courageous and admirable of all men, and have my utmost admiration and respect. Such is Baelwich.

Yet monks and priests who watch other men struggle with wrong and will neither physically fight that injustice, nor risk the martyring of themselves to prevent such evils have neither my Earthly esteem nor the friendship of my soul.”

The boy nodded twice thoughtfully at the reply but continued to stare at the Wizard as if he still wished a more direct answer to his questions.

Seeing this Alternaeus said, “To be blunt boy, and to be brutal to your brutishness, I think little and less of the small priest Plontius. He is no friend of mine, and often I wonder if he is even a man at all.”

From the tales of Alternaeus the Wizard

GOODLY EVILS, AND THE EVILS OF “THE GOOD” – TUESDAY’S TALE

Continuing my tales of the Wizard Alternaeus and his apprentice.

GOODLY EVILS, AND THE EVILS OF “THE GOOD”

“I have no satisfactory answer for you lad. Because to this very day, my boy, I am still amazed at those quantities and diversities of important things that evil men will fearlessly attempt over the paltry count of those same things that good men will attempt. Not because evil men are so much more numerous than good men, they are certainly not, if anything they are the distinct minority of all men. Nor because evil men are so much greater than good men, because by both inner nature and by outward behavior, they are not.

No, it has been my perpetual and sad observation that evil triumphs so often in this world not because evil is so irresistibly inconquerable in number, or because evil is so inherently imposing in nature, but merely because men who profess themselves to be good are so very often so very, very afraid.

Now that might very well seem to you like a bleak prophecy about the nature of men in general and the rather uncommon occurrence of real manhood in this world. And to be honest it truly is. But as far as foretelling what you must become, or any man must necessarily be, it says nothing about either of those things by any means.

So, if you have heard and understood all that I have said then this is the only answer I have for you. For all of that, still, be a good boy, and an even better man. For those two ends are very worthy ambitions.

Just remember this though as you mature; be yet far more courageous than most self-described good men.

For to be good without courage is no real ambition at all. And as a matter of fact it is the timid good man who is the certain mid-wife and the sure wet-nurse of most of the goodly evils that men do.”

Alternaeus the Wizard to his young apprentice.

SUBJECT MATTERS FOR THE CHRISTIAN LAYMAN

A LIST OF SOME OF THE SUBJECTS AND SUBJECT MATTERS I PLAN TO ADDRESS IN MY BOOKS THE CHRISTIAN HERO, THE CHRISTIAN WIZARD, AND THE CHRISTIAN SAINT

These are more general subjects and not specifically geared towards the peculiarities of any of them. I had planned on further developing these today but my wife needs me to take her to the airport today. These are only recent Subject-Matter additions to the books as they are further developed.

And although these books are addressed to the Christian Layman I think that I shall develop a different term for him/her that shall encompass all of the aspects I mean by Layman, such as: worker, disciple, hero, wizard, (lay or common man’s) saint, and skilled spiritual and psychological craftsman.

I shall have to think on the term first of course, and all that it should imply.

SELF-EDUCATION/AUTO-EDUCATION

DISEASE

INJURY

REST AND RECOVERY

VACATIONS

AVOCATIONS

VOCATIONS

SOCIAL ACTIVITIES

TRAINING

WORK – beneficial, good, profitable, productive, clean

THEURGICAL PRACTICE

THEURGICAL WORK

FORMS OF BENEFICIAL ENTERTAINMENT, RECREATION, AND

HEALTH AND HEALING

RESEARCH AND STUDIES

VIRTUES

NAMES

STEWARDSHIP

RELATIONSHIP TO NATURE

THEORIES

GEAR AND EQUIPMENT

CREATING YOUR OWN OBJECTS AND POSSESSIONS

SUB-CREATION

PURSUITS – ARTISTIC, BUSINESS, FINANCIAL, INVESTED, MENTAL, PHYSICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, RELIGIOUS, SCIENTIFIC, SPIRITUAL

TREASURES AND TREASURE HOARDS

HEIRLOOMS

ARTEFACTS AND RELICS

ANIMAL COMPANIONS

PARCHMENTS, SCROLLS, AND WRITINGS

NOTEBOOKS

ANCESTORS AND ANTECEDENTS

CHILDREN AND DESCENDANTS

WHO SHOULD TRAIN TO BE A WIZARD, THEURGIST, OR PSIKONIST

EXPLORATION AND VADDING

GRACES, GIFTS, AND TALENTS

ABILITIES, CAPACITIES, CAPABILITIES, AND SKILLS

ATHLETICS, EXERCISE, PHYSICAL CONDITIONING, AND SPORTS

SACRED SPACES

THEURGICAL SPHERES? AND RITUAL ARENAS

AREAS OF BEAUTY AND LIFE

SIN AND SINCERE REPENTANCE

TYPES OF SIN: INTENTIONAL AND UNINTENTIONAL

THE SEVEN STAGES OF REPENTANCE: RECOGNITION, REMORSE, RECOMPENSE and RESTITUTION, RECTIFICATION, RESOLUTION, REPENTANCE, REFORM

CHRISTIAN LOVE (PHILOS AND AGAPE)

FORGIVENESS: GOD’S FORGIVENESS AND MAN’S FORGIVENESS

WHAT CAN THE CHRISTIAN OR CHRISTIAN LAYMAN TRULY DO ABOUT REAL EVIL?

THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN ON EARTH

THE CHRISTIAN LAYMAN AS MISSIONARY

THE CHRISTIAN LAYMAN AS INFILTRATOR

THE CHRISTIAN LAYMAN AS AMBASSADOR OF CHRIST

THE OPEN WORK AND THE SECRET WORK

REVERSING WRONG

POSSIBLE SPECIALISTS (SUB-CLASSES OR SUB-TYPES)? CRUSADER, EXPLORER, ADVENTURER / SAGE, PROTO-SCIENTIST or NATURAL SCIENTIST, PSYCOPHYSICIAN / SEER, COUNSELOR,

HOW THE CHRISTIAN LAYMAN’S HOLY VOCATIONS SHOULD RELATE TO HIS PROFESSIONAL AND MUNDANE OCCUPATIONS AND VOCATIONS

APPRENTICES, APPRENTICESHIPS, AND DISCIPLESHIP

THE LORD AS THE GREAT MASTER

PROMOTING THE GOSPEL

CONVERSION AND THE LAYMAN’S PATHS

THE LAYMAN’S WEAL

THE WORLD’S WELFARE

THE PROVIDENCE AND PROVENANCE OF GOD

BEING “LED”

YOUR PERSONAL CALLING

OCCULT KNOWLEDGE AND GNOSTICISM VERSUS RARE KNOWLEDGE AND RARELY PRACTICED NOESIS

MYSTICISM AND THE MYSTERIES OF GOD

THE SUPERNATURAL AND HOW IT MAY BE DEFINED

ACTION AND ENTERPRISE

MORTALITY AND IMMORTALITY

YOUR LIFE’S WORK (OPAE VITAE)

SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF GOD

DISCIPLES AND FRIENDS OF CHRIST

HOST AND HOME OF THE HOLY GHOST

IN FURY AND FRUSTRATION

IN FURY AND FRUSTRATION

The boy stared searchingly at Alternaeus.

“But she will die,” he said urgently.

Alternaeus looked down at the girl and then over to the boy. Then he sighed deeply, but answered stoically.

“It seems very likely to me that you speak the truth,” he told the boy.

“But, but…” the boy stammered in near desperation. “You cannot let that happen, you must not let that happen.”

Alternaeus placed his hand lightly on the boy’s shoulder and shook his head.

“You are now my apprentice. You must learn this lesson sooner, or later, yet I would have preferred you had learned this one thing, at least, by another and more hopeful method.

I am only a Wizard boy. I am not God, or a god. Some things lie far beyond my power. Death is one of those things. True, Death and I are old friends, and on occasion I can persuade him. But sometimes Death listens to no man. No matter who he may be. Or who he might think he is. I have earnestly tried in this case to persuade Death favorably for the sake of the girl. With little effect it seems to me.”

There was a long moment of silence while the boy looked at the girl and made no reply. The owl was preening itself on his wooden stand. It was the only sound that could be heard clearly in the room. Otherwise the entire tower seemed little more than a tomb to Alternaeus.

The boy shook his head in disbelief, but slowly seemed to sense the atmosphere.

“But you are a Wizard…” the boy said, yet his manner seemed more subdued, or possibly even resigned, and his voice was lower and less demanding.

Alternaeus gently squeezed the boy’s shoulder and lowering himself to his knee brought himself down to the boy’s sitting height.

“A Wizard is only a Wizard my son. Sometimes that is the greatest thing in the world – the most grand, and magnificent, and possibly even the best thing in this world. But it is only one thing of a very many possible things in this world. And because of that, knowing what I know, seeing what you see, being aware of what we are aware, and still on occasion understanding that we are powerless to stop what is truly wrong in this world makes being a Wizard a wondrously lonely and a miraculously terrible thing as well.” The Wizard paused and looked hard at the boy to gauge his reaction. But the boy looked only at the girl.

“Do you understand?” Alternaeus asked him at last.

Finally the boy turned and looked at the Wizard, tears welling in his eyes. In a choked and thick voice the boy replied.

“Yes sir… but, no, sir,” he said with a struggle. “Does it even matter? For what good then will it do me to become such a Wizard? What good then has it done for you to become such a Wizard?”

Alternaeus reached over and took the girl’s soft but cold hand and placed it into the boy’s rough but warm hand. Then he answered truthfully.

“I have no answer to give you boy. Indeed, I have no real answer to give myself. Other than the hope that one day, possibly, we both shall know.”

Then Alternaeus rose and walked quietly from the room. He shut the door silently behind him and left the boy and girl to whatever awaited them. It was well beyond his ability to influence now, no matter what he may wish, or what he might do. There was no need to linger, and no point to watch.

Then Alternaeus descended the steps until he came to the floor of the tower where he crossed the gritty stone, opened the heavy oak door and walked out into the bright sunshine. He continued walking and did not stop for several miles until he came to the marshes at the bend of the river where he saw a young songbird flitting about the reeds, tweeting loudly, playing energetically, watching the water for a meal, and perhaps even looking for a mate. It was, after all, early springtime.

Then Alternaeus sat himself down upon a large rock beside the river and clenching both fists in fury and frustration wept like a small child.

from The Tales of Alternaeus the Wizard

THE IMPERFECT BUT IDEAL CHRISTIAN WIZARD

ALTERNAEUS, THE IMPERFECT BUT IDEAL CHRISTIAN WIZARD

Yesterday I relaxed yet still worked upon my Alternaeus or “Wizard novels.”

(Though it seemed more sport and word-play to me than work. Gladly, I can say that about most of my Work.)

Anyway I sketched out dozens of possible stories about Alterneaus the Wizard, who has become one of my favorite characters. Now many of my characters are actually a proxy-me in fictional form. For instance Marsippius Nicea is the warrior in me, Steinthal is me as a detective and infiltrator, Vlachus represents the monk and priest in me, Thrasher the frontiersman and woodsman and Vadder/explorer in me, Tristas the futurist, scientist and God-Technologist in me, and Alternaeus has come to represent the Christian Wizard in me. He is me as a fictional character. Or more accurately as a fictional example of a Christian Wizard. For I, like everyone else alive, am far more than just one thing. But as far as the Christian Wizard goes he is my paragon or ideal example of one written in fictional form.

But also he has become my fictional exemplar of what an ideal Christian Wizard/Genius should be. Therefore his stories are not just stories but provide a sort of Guidebook in Fiction for how a Christian Wizard should behave and conduct himself in various difficult situations. And in life generally speaking.

Although I am writing a non-fiction set of books about the Christian Wizard/Genius/Theurgist the stories I am writing about Alternaeus sort of flesh out how a Christian Wizard should behave in day to day situations, even though the stories take place in an mostly historical Medieval milieu. Yet the techniques and morality Alternaeus expresses should be applicable to any time period. And to most any situation. That is indeed my exact intent in writing these stories. In addition to being entertaining tales in their own right they will also compliment my non-fiction books on the same general subject matter.

The stories will consist of short situational work tales and moral fables about Alternaeus (as a Christian Wizard/Genius) sort of like most of the cases of Sherlock Holmes or the adventures of Conan. They will be arranged into book form but can easily stand alone as well. They will not be dependent upon each other but will build upon each other.

In any case I spent some time this afternoon and evening briefly sketching out the major stories involving Alternaeus and the lessons he will teach through his stories. Some of these stories will be short, no more than a couple of pages, others quite long depending on the subject matter and what the story describes.

Also I have decided that each book of stories in the novel set, and perhaps even each story, will be introduced with a short section of verse from a long poem about Alternaeus, which, when taken altogether will be a sort of Summary in Verse (Summa Versa, or Summa Esse) of all of Alternaeus’ adventures and will contain, encoded in the verse, various lessons for the Christian Wizard.

This will be very similar to what I have done and am doing with the Viking Cats (found at that link). However, in this case, rather than the Poetic Section merely being a retelling in verse of the prose tales, the prose tales will be types of moral lessons, while the accompanying poem will be a sort of encoded form (in verse) of instructional lessons for the Wizard.

__________________________________

Short Stories involving Alternaeus

A Cup of Seasoned Blood Held High and Close
A Summer’s Still Frozen Tomb
A Tincture of Tantrels, Thiggers, and Thieves
Alternaeus and the Afflatable Axeman
Alternaeus and the Ageless Alchemist
Alternaeus and the Ancient and Infinite Desert
Alternaeus and the Apothecary of Arcadia
Alternaeus and the Architect of Always
Alternaeus and the Assentuary
Alternaeus and the Barbarian Scout
Alternaeus and the Cauldron of the Ken and Kithmen
Alternaeus and the Cunning Craftmaster
Alternaeus and the Eldritch Occultist
Alternaeus and the Fateful Forge
Alternaeus and the Forest of Forever
Alternaeus and the Greek Philosopher
Alternaeus and the Harrowed Hide-Man
Alternaeus and the Hermit Saint
Alternaeus and the Hoary Hoardsmen
Alternaeus and the Invisible Merchant
Alternaeus and the Jewish Physician
Alternaeus and the Knight’s Errant
Alternaeus and the Limitless Librum
Alternaeus and the Long and Lamentable Pilgrimage
Alternaeus and the Loom of Longing
Alternaeus and the Maiden’s Moon
Alternaeus and the Man to Come
Alternaeus and the Minstrel’s Tale
Alternaeus and the Mountain of the Magae
Alternaeus and the Pipe of Splendrous Price
Alternaeus and the Plate of Plenty
Alternaeus and the Prince’s Philologist
Alternaeus and the Quidnunc
Alternaeus and the River of Everywhere
Alternaeus and the Roman Engineer
Alternaeus and the Satyrion
Alternaeus and the Serious Syrian
Alternaeus and the Seven Spjallsangers
Alternaeus and the Son’s Last Sun
Alternaeus and the Stalwart Shire-Reeve
Alternaeus and the Surreptitious Sorcerer
Alternaeus and the Theokardia (Heart of God)
Alternaeus and the Thespian’s Thunderstone
Alternaeus and the Unchanging Thing
Alternaeus and the Unknown and Wondrous Ruins
Alternaeus and the Village Pugilist
Alternaeus and the Warrior Monk
Alternaeus and the Wightwright
Alternaeus and the Wild Woodsman
Alternaeus and the Withered Witch
Alternaeus by the High Sea
Alternaeus on the Ocean of Eternity
Echo No More
His Brandish Blade, Before and Beneath Him
Invention and the Erstwhile Industry
Salt and Cloth and Ashes
Slurry of the Norsemen
That Glass that Looked Upon Us All
That Language Long Lost to Man
The Battle of the Earnest Men
The Book, The Bell, the Candle, and the Corpse
The Cleverly Hidden Tax-Taker
The Clock of Hard and Holy Water
The Colorful Cap of the Cloistered Clergyman
The Crucifixer’s Conundrum
The Day of Lost Things
The Dog, the Owl, and the Fish of Christ
The Fall That Rose Above Itself
The Gamboller’s Gamble
The Grail of Living Waters and the Grael of the Drowned Men
The Hapless Hagiographer
The Hearthland and the Foreign Firepit
The Hospitaller’s Honor
The Insistent Incense of the Incensed Man
The Lord’s Last Avenger
The Lotus-Eater’s Lamp of Little Oil
The Lover’s Lonely Lock
The Lute that Wept When the Women Sing
The Madonna’s Terrible Tears
The Mistaken Martyr
The Mnemonic Mansion of the Mind
The Mosaic of No-Man
The Mystikal Map of the Other World
The North-African Acolyte
The Novice of Necessity
The Parchment of the Buried Pearl
The Port of Many Merciless Plagues
The Proverbial Provencial
The Rod of Earth and the Rood Above
The Ship Saved by Sedition and Circumstance
The Sirens of Sumorsǣte and the Persistent Polymath
The Skalding of the Bitter Bard
The Stars Are Distant, Our Troubles Near
The Templar’s Torment
The Theurgist and the Thamuatugist
The Tower of Intemperate Times
The Undiminished and Unbroken Staff
The Deflowered and Uncaring Spring
The Virtuous and Valiant Layman
The Wandring Ghost
The Warmth of Winter
The Wise-Man’s Secret Heart
The Wizard and His Wyrdpack
The Wizard Who Would
The Wizard’s O’erwhelming Wyrd
The Wizard’s Withy Wand
Wendel’s Wanderlust

KNAVES AND FOOLS

KNAVES AND FOOLS, BOYS AND WIZARDS

Suddenly Alternaeus looked up to see the boy standing beside him. How long the boy may have stood there patiently waiting for him to finish or may have attempted to summon him from his numinous labors he knew not.

He looked back down at the grael. The roiling and lotic liquid was lentic and smooth again, untroubled and clear. Not a shadow lingered, not a ripple disturbed the surface or the depths. It was as if the grael were one more and without any apparent transition a spotless and terrene lens by which to view our naïve and evident world. Or at least some sort of polished glass to see blemishless to the bottom of the Black Sea. From whose distant waters Alternaeus had filled the grael.

“What is it boy?” Alternaeus asked.


“You are summoned sir.”

“By whom, to where, and for what possible reason?”

“I know not the reason sir, I am but a boy,” he said. “But it is by the lord Drew and by master Iter, and to the main hall and hearth. They wish to converse with you, I think.”

“I see,” Alternaeus answered. He rose stiffly. How long had he sat hunched over the bowl this time he wondered?

The boy stepped back with that certain kind of awe reserved for children in the presence of people they considered dangerous or miraculous in some way.

“Did I disturb you sir?” he asked Alternaeus with unfeigned reverence.

“What?” the Wizard asked. Then realizing the boy’s intent he smiled sympathetically and said, “No more so than usual.”

“What I mean is sir, were you able to finish? I waited as long as I dared to signal you as I feared you might be deep in some vital craft I cannot understand,” the boy said in a hushed tone. “But my masters demanded you come quickly.”

Alternaeus placed his hand lightly upon the boy’s shoulder.

“You did well lad. However you reacted. Though I was merely in my private communions. Nothing more. I will come with you shortly. I need merely drain this grael and wash my face and hands. Wait for me at the door.”

“Yes sir,” the boy said, but he did not move.

Alternaeus noticed his non-compliance and motioned for the boy to speak again.

The boy hesitated but then pointed at the grael.

“Is your cup enchanted? Or is this more a cauldron for mixing poisons and curses?”

Alternaeus almost laughed.

“I mix medicines, not poisons. And that requires a mortar, not a cup. Also I never curse anyone or anything. Well, only once have I ever done so. And that ended very badly. This then is neither a Warlock’s cauldron nor a Wizard’s cup. This is but my grael.”

“The Lord’s Grail!” the boy said too loudly and in shock.

“Lower your voice boy, and no, not the Lord’s Grail,” Alternaeus answered firmly. “Though I would certainly pay all I have or know to but discover and examine it for a short time. No, this is but a far less impressive thing. This is my Grael of Spirits.”

The boy considered the meaning of the answer.

“Do you then call up and speak with the dead sir?” the boy whispered, conscious of his manners this time, but still awed. “That seems very impressive to me.”

“Perhaps to you it might.” Alternaeus said. “But, no, you err again, but only from inexperience. I do not call up and speak with the dead, or with any spirits. I am forbidden to converse with or to seek the counsel of the dead or of any spirit not of this world. I merely watch them, and mark their habits, and from time to time see what I may learn by my observations.”

The boy nodded slightly, then continued with his inquiry.

“My mother, sir, says that those who practice traffick with the dead are damned and should be avoided at all times. For the good of my soul. Should I therefore avoid you?”

“Your mother is wise,” Alternaeus answered. “It is a hard enough thing and a complicated enough thing just to try to understand the living and those who inhabit this world. One should not place too much emphasis on the actions of those in other worlds. Their behaviors and motivations are indeed very hard to read, their worlds are yet alien to us, and we can know little of their true intent.”

The boy was quiet and pensive for a moment.

“You are a very strange Wizard sir,” he said after a while.

Alternaeus laughed.

“You think so? Then help me boy to drain this grael and to return these waters to their proper vessels. Your masters await us and my strange assistance.”

“Yes lord,” the boy said with a slight bow.

“And never call me lord. I am no man’s lord, and have no desire to be,” Alternaeus insisted.

“Yes sir,” the boy replied. “But I am not a man,” he then protested as an afterthought.

“You come much closer than many men I have known for far longer.”

“Yes, lor… yes sir.”

Alternaeus pointed out the vessels for storing the waters and when the boy had fetched them they set about their task. Then, after completing their work the boy walked to the door and Alternaeus ritually cleaned his hands and face in a small pewter basin.

“There,” he said. “Let us now see what lord Drew and master Iter require of me. Then, after that is concluded, you will return to this chamber and explain to me how and why you know such much for a mere serving boy, and how your language has flourished so being as you are so often surrounded by knaves and fools.”

“Yes, sir,” the boy answered doubtfully. “But if I do will you promise not to hex me?”

“Oh, I may do far worse than that,” Alternaeus said craftily.

“Sir?” asked the boy, his eyes widening in surprise.

“I may very well apprentice you…”

from The Wizard and the Wyrdpack

Note to my Readers: Recently I have been moving between my main novel, this novel, my detective novel, and writing short stories. So I’ve been posting here some of my work as I have been creating it. Just been in one of those moods.

Hope you have been enjoying it.

And have a good weekend folks…

IS THERE NOTHING ELSE?

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

https://www.artmajeur.com/en/art-gallery/amelni/258892/663-jpg/7539862