Fyodor dismounted his horse beside the tower. The walls of the tower were solid gold and gems sparkled like stars in every golden brick. The building rose almost 100 feet into the sky allowing views over the tops of even the tallest trees in the forest surrounding it. He approached the bronze doors hesitantly. He had no desire to knock and gain entry to this place, but one does not refuse the summons of the most powerful wizard in the land, even if that wizard is your grandfather.
He rapped gently on the door which swung open on his first knock.
“You are expected Fyodor, son of Yacham. Enter.”
The voice came from the air beside him, one of the wizard’s bound spirits no doubt.
Contrary to its ostentatious exterior, the inside of the tower was plain and homey. Warm wood and draperies covered the walls and a gentle light emanated from the entire ceiling leaving no part of the interior in shadow. Comfortable couches and chairs filled the entire area; this was the waiting area for those supplicants who came to beg the wizard’s indulgence.
Without waiting to be told, Fyodor approached the enormous wooden spiral staircase in the center of the room and began to climb. His grandfather’s bedroom was on the third level and he knew this was where he needed to go.
Fyodor climbed past the second level which his grandfather referred to as his office. It was part magical workroom filled with potions and spell books, and part sitting room where grandfather would meet with his visitors to discuss their needs and what they would pay to achieve them.
Halfway to the third level Fyodor encountered a barrier of red light filling the stairway. This magical barrier would repel anyone attempting to gain entry to the upper levels. The first attempt would merely push the intruder back. The second attempt would bring intense pain; no one could survive the third attempt to gain access to the wizard without his consent. Fyodor was both expected and a blood relative to the mage, he passed through the light with only the merest tingle to inform him of its presence.
“Grandfather, I have come as you asked,” he said as he reached the third floor.
The third floor held three sections: a richly appointed sitting area dominated by a stone fireplace, an enormous library which filled over half of the floor, and a sleeping area. A curtained bed and table were the only furniture in the sleeping area but they were of a quality such as even a king could not afford. The exotic wood of the bed, brought from far away lands, was carved with images of nature and the spirit world. The curtains of the bed were of the rarest silk lace and the bedding was so soft that to sleep on it would be equivalent to sleeping on a cloud.
Lying upon this sumptuous bed was the shrunken, gray form of Pyotor the most powerful wizard in all the land.
“I came as you commanded, grandfather.”
“Sit my boy. I’m sorry to summon you so abruptly but my time is very short. Sit. Sit.”
Fyodor perched hesitantly on the edge of the bed, it was as soft as he expected. Pyotor stretched out a wrinkled, shaking hand and patted the young man on the knee.
“Do you know why I dote on you so much more than my other grandchildren or even my sons?”
“No sir. I’ve never understood that.”
“You alone, of all my progeny carry the magical blood that flows in my veins. All the others, even your own father, did not receive the gift of magic; only you.”
Fyodor was confused, he was no wizard; he had enough trouble learning the basic skills of reading and writing let alone something as esoteric as magic.
“But Grandfather, I’ve never done anything magical. You must be mistaken.”
Pyotor wheezed and coughed. It took Fyodor a moment to realize the ancient man was laughing.
“It is not like the stories my boy. Wizards don’t wave their hands and magic happens. We each need a focus to pour our innate power through. Without a proper focus we are merely men limited by the strength of our hands. With a focus, we can be as gods.”
Fyodor did not know how to respond. He had never heard such a thing although he could see the wisdom of wizards not letting on that without their focus they were powerless.
“My life is ending child and I want to bequeath to you my focus as my father bequeathed it to me and his father before him back to the beginning of our line.”
The old man reached into his sleeping robe and drew out a small black stick. Fyodor stared at it for a long moment before realizing that it was not a stick but a pencil. The black wood of the pencil was shiny from generations of men handling it. The point was as black as the night sky and seemed to waver in and out of existence as Fyodor stared.
“This pencil is a thousand years old. It has served every member of our family with the gift and now it will serve you. It will never need to be sharpened and can never break.”
He held out the pencil until Fyodor took it.
“How do I use it sir?”
Fyodor experimentally waved it like a baton, eliciting another round of wheezing laughter.
“It’s not a wand boy, it is a pencil. You use it to draw, describing what you desire. The more detailed the more real and powerful the conjuring will be.”
He reached beneath the covers and pulled out a thick leather covered book.
“Look at this. It is my spell book containing the workings of a lifetime of magic.”
Fyodor opened the book and found it filled with detailed drawings. He recognized the very bed upon which he sat, the tower itself, and every item in the tower. Early drawings were simple but as the book progressed the detail of each drawing became so fine as to make him feel that he was staring at the object itself.
He saw drawings of people, his grandfather’s customers. Animals and beasts were rendered in fine black lines.
“As you draw something it will become real. Your intent will drive the magic as you draw. Once completed the drawing is nothing more than a drawing; I kept all of mine as mementos of my work. The pencil is yours now Fyodor. You may do with the book as you wish but I do hope that you’ll keep it as a reminder of me.”
Pyotor was wracked by another coughing fit and Fyodor saw blood on his lips.
“My time is over boy. I wish you all the luck in the world.”
Pyotor gave a final, wheezing, exhalation and went still. As Fyodor watched, his body faded and disappeared. All around him, the tower and its contents wavered. In moments everything was gone and Fyodor found himself standing in the middle of a field holding a pencil and the leather bound book. His horse looked up at him in confusion as the water trough it had been using had also disappeared.
“But Grandfather, I don’t know how to draw,” Fyodor shouted to the empty air.
(To be continued…)
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