Flick peered at his image in the pool of water, spreading open his shirt at the chest to reveal his greatest mystery. What are you? He said to himself as he slowly stroked the amber colored object shaped like a ragged quarter moon that was embedded in his chest, over his heart. Dink, dink, dink, it sounded when he tapped it lightly. Whatever it was, it had been there for a while, longer than he could remember which was not really all that long. His fair skin had healed around it, creating slightly rounded edges where it met the object. All he could do was wonder at it as he could no more figure out what it was than pull it out of his chest. The thing had resisted all attempts and caused him great pain when he and others had tried.
“What are you?” He whispered aloud then slapped his hand in the water, dispersing the image. He dared not stare too long or too deep into the water, for it always brought painful images, so real seeming. He did not understand them, they scared him, and he would avoid looking at them. A sudden noise brought him to his senses. He quickly scanned around him, his ears, eyes, and nose intent on finding the source. Just as suddenly he relaxed as a big buck stepped into view. Flick smiled and walked up to the powerful creature which showed no concern at his presence.
“Hey there, big fellow!” He said, reaching out and stroking its neck, “I thought I might find you around here.” The buck bobbed its head as if in greeting. “How about a little favor? I could use a ride if you would be so willing?” The buck bobbed again and Flick took this as his cue, so he swung his lithe form onto deer’s back and grabbed the antlers at their base with both hands. “Off we go then!” He declared and the buck took off, leaping and bounding through the underbrush.
Flick had been getting the urge lately to visit Erienne, a calling really, one that he could not ignore. He did not know why until he realized her birthday was once again approaching. For as long as he could remember he would visit her on this and other occasions, watching her grow up from a little baby to where she was almost as old as he was. He knew in a couple of years she would be older than him and when that time came, he did not know what would happen– if she would even want to see him any more. But Flick, never one to dwell on “what if’s” let that thought fly away as he exhilarated in the power and speed of the buck swiftly moving through the trees. He laughed gleefully at times as it hurdled over fallen trunks or bounded playfully along.
For a whole day the two traveled together, stopping to drink at crystal streams or eat wild berries, but steadily moving southward all the while, closer to Erienne. And as dusk came, the sky burning purple and orange as the sun committed to its daily death, Flick reached the ruins. This was his haunting ground but he had been up to see the Old Man of the Mountain, as the villagers liked to call him-the Healing Hermit was another name-but Flick knew him as Daerwyn the Mage. People would travel for miles to make use of his healing magic, his potions and spells, and deny that it was anything but common remedies. Magic was to be feared. These were his, Flick’s ruins, and his home just a few miles from Erienne.
In the failing light of day and again at the first weak rays of a born-again sun, Flick could see almost as if it were real, the once great castle that stood there, its proud walls and prouder people, and then it would fade away leaving him with an oddly aching heart. He did not know why, but he was comfortable here, secure. It was not just a place he made his home, it felt like home in a way he could not understand. Flick slid off the stag’s back and gave a friendly pat.
“Good ride my friend. Surely there is not a more magnificent creature of this forest than you.” The great buck appeared to puff its chest out with pride as Flick told it this. “You have done me a great service and I shall repay you when you have need.” The stag bobbed its head one last time while pawing the ground then turned and dashed off into the trees.
Now that his friend was gone, Flick noticed something was not quite right, something was different. He extended his senses out once again, but could not find the source of what was troubling him. Cautiously he moved through the rubble, one light step after another; his eyes, as keen as an owl’s at night, peered into shadowy corners, but did not find a thing. After an hour of slinking around the extensive ruins, Flick stopped.
“Ah well,” he said to no one in particular, “it must be my imagination.” Just then he realized that his dink-as he called it but Daerwyn called it a talisman-was throbbing slightly in his chest. He looked down and could see a faint amber glow that pulsed in time with the throbbing, something that had never happened before. “Curious,” he said, sitting down on a fallen stone to watch it and becoming disappointed shortly thereafter when it faded out. He tapped at it with his finger, but nothing happened. He sighed and let his shirt fall back into place, but he did feel somewhat more energized than usual.
As he lay back on the warm stone and watched the stars appear one by one in the darkening sky, Flick’s mind turned to the Mage, Daerwyn, vividly recalling the last, odd encounter he had had with his beloved friend. Daerwyn’s normally serene face and excited blue eyes, framed by a magnificently long, white beard and bushy mustache, were scrunched up with worry. His thick eyebrows furrowed in thought as his eyes darted furtively from place to place as they talked.
“What is wrong, Master Daerwyn?” Flick had asked upon his arrival, noticing the agitation in his friend.
“Oh nothing,” he responded, managing to cast a wan smile in Flick’s direction as he mixed liquids from one vial into another. “No, no, nothing at all.”
“If that’s the case, then why are you jumping around like a mouse in a room full of cats?” Flick inquired, idly rolling an empty vial between his fingers.
“Didn’t sleep well, didn’t sleep well at all,” he muttered, holding the two vials up to the light as he poured an equal amount of liquid from one vial to the other so that they were even. “Please, if you will, come here and give me a drop of your blood.”
“Because I asked you, now don’t dawdle the timing must be precise.” Flick scuttled over to the Mage who handed him a needle. “Now, do as I do as I do it. Prick your right thumb only.” They pricked their thumbs at the same time over the vials. “Three drops only.” Daerwyn snatched the vials away on the third drop and stuck them in a dark cubbyhole.
“What happens now?” Flick asked, his curiosity getting a hold of him.
“Nothing? Then why did we do it?”
“There is a shaft leading up from that cubbyhole and in three days time the full moon will pass directly over it, completing the potion.”
“What will it do?”
“It does not matter,” the Mage waved his hand absently, “you will be gone by then. Gone, gone, yes gone.”
“I will?” Flick asked, somewhat hurt. “I thought I might visit for a while. You do not want me to stay?”
Suddenly Daerwyn became focused again, more like himself. “It is not what I want, young Master Flick, it is a matter of what you must do. I would have you stay forever, but that is a choice neither you nor I can make.” His shoulders slumped and a tired hand went to his forehead as if to rub his troubled mind.
“You have seen something then?”
“Yes, but I do not as yet understand it, the stars and omens seem… confused, and I have spent the last few days without sleep trying to sort it out.” His mellow voice was laced with strain and weariness.
“Then I will stay and help you figure it out!” Flick added helpfully.
“No!” The force of this statement startled Flick. “I am sure of one thing, and that is you must go!”
“Back, yes, back to where it is you come from . . . I think.” His statement faded to uncertainty.
“I’ll leave in the morning, if that’s all right,” his voice still betraying a hint of hurt.
“Yes, yes, that’s fine.” Then again he was focused. “Be wary, my friend, things are changing, there is a great flux in the fabric of things, but I know not which way the scale of light and dark shall fall, only that you somehow are mixed up in it all.” After saying that, he caringly placed his palm over the object, and Flick’s heart.
Flick broke from his reverie, feeling disturbed. He did not like that feeling, he preferred to be his happy, carefree self, after all, he was going to see Erienne. Truth told, he had not thought much about what the old Mage had said until that moment, and he decided he did not like it very much. After all, he thought, where do I come from?
“Oh Flick, oh Flick what shall we do?” He called aloud as he leaped from stone to stone. “The fate of the world is up to you! / The moon is bright and we’re all alone/ while darkness creeps on baggedy bones. / Fear ye not for lest ye fail/ at shadow’s feet forever quail!” He said the last in a loud, quavering voice and then fell down laughing. “What do you think, Dink? What have you gotten me into?”