I watched the tower across the valley as the wizard there became a lich. The black clouds came over the hills and blacken the land as the lich attained perfect power.
A Lich is undead. This a wizard attaining immortality and ultimate power. This has always been the end goal for a wizard. A wizard gets to a certain point in there magic where there is only two choices: die or become a lich.
I am a wizard and this is where I am. I am Rufus the Retched. I either wait to die, or I harness all my powers and studies to call the darkness to grant me immortality.
I was a young boy when I started my journey to become a wizard. I grew up in a small timber village in the forests where the mountains were always in mist. In a clearing on the other side of the river lived an old wizard in a tall crooked tower. Most of the time he would stay to himself.
There were witches that lived in the misty hills above our village. They would stay to themselves except when we needed a healer or a midwife. Sometimes a witch would curse us if one of the woodcutters cut down an oak, birch, ash, or wild apple tree.
I wanted to be a wizard for as long as I could remember. I would try and become the wizard’s apprentice, but he wouldn’t have it.
Then one day he let me in. I hindsight he must have been where I am today: ready to die or become a lich. He had me do small remedial tasks as he experimented and studied books and scrolls. I swept, dusted, cooked, washed dishes, and sometimes washed his robes.
For years he wouldn’t teach me anything. I kept my interest by watching him perform magic. Things floated, disappeared, glowed, and changed. He would disappear and come back changed. He would be older and full of mania.
He kept a giant book. Every time he casted a spell or he would come back from one of his trips, he would write it all down in this tome. I couldn’t decipher what it said anytime I’d steal a peek. All I could make out were his illustrations.
Then one day he called me in to his study. I walked in and he sat in his comfy chair and books floated all around him. He was smoking a pipe.
“Sit down Rufus,” he said, “Here have a toke.”
I took his pipe that he offered me and I took a pull. The smoke was herbal and musty. I was about to say thank you and hand the pipe back, but then I went into a dream.
I saw the very cube that makes up our time and space. I saw that I didn’t need to stay in the very center of the cube if I didn’t want to. I saw other cubes outside mine that had me in the center of almost everyone. I saw some mes in different parts of the cube. I also saw some cubes with many mes. I also come cubes with no me in them.
I saw me in a witches hat lying in a meadow with a witch blowing dandelion blowballs.
I was then back in the study with the wizard circled by floating books.
“I think I’m supposed to be a witch,” I said.
The wizard blinked and his face became angry.
“You saw the very universe in all it’s beehive glory and you decide you want to become a witch!?!” He yelled.
All the books fell to the ground.
“A wizard is a master of bending the very rules of nature. We can be in many times at once. We can walk along the very halls between space and time and watch a century as if it is a painting. We can harness the energies of the astral planes and shoot fireballs from our fingertips!
“A witch lives in the mud. She crawls on her belly like a snake. She uses weeds and small animals to make potions. She chooses to stay in the very timeline and space that imprisons all mortals.
“You can either smoke weed and birth babies or you can harness the power that only Gods harness.”
I couldn’t disagree, so I blew out the smoke and handed him his pipe back. He beckoned me to his laboratory.
He led me to his book. When I looked down at it I could read it now. I flipped through the pages and saw the gibberish turn into words and ideas I could understand.
“I must go now. You will now study my book and then begin your own.”
He then vanished.
I spent the next several centuries studying and continuing his book into my own book.
Being a wizard is about knowledge. It’s not enough to know trivial things, but to know the name of a thing. To know a name of a thing requires learning all there is to know in this timeline and in this space.
Knowledge is deeper when learned near a black hole or a near a high energy collision. Several of the mes that became wizards congregate at the edge of a black hole and compare notes. Sometimes we all have the exact note, but a success is when one of us has something new and informative.
I sometimes will travel to a timeline where I don’t become a wizard and see if the dumber me have anything to say. Sometimes I’m crazy enough to think of something brilliant. Most of the time I let myself down. I let me go back to cutting down trees.
I come back to my experiments and spell creations.
So now I am standing at the top of my tower and know that I must become a lich or die.
Becoming a lich means you are energy for ever, but your body still rots away. Most liches I have seen are skeletons draped in strips of cloth and rotting flesh. They try and feed on living energy for more power. Liches spend a lot of energy to keep their awesome powers.
Unless a lich observes his living past, a lich won’t remember it. They spend their centuries playing god. A demi-lich is a lich who has vanquished a god and replaced it.
Choosing to be a lich means the fear of death and the thirst for ultimate power. If I choose to not become a lich, I hang on for another hundred or so years before my body gives up. My timeline ceases.
One day I was floating in the clouds meditating on my decision. I noticed movement in the tall grass down below. It was a tall pointy hat moving through the grass near my old village. It was a witch.
She was a little younger than me (100 years in wizard years is 10 years in human, I must be about 60 now). She was carrying a bag of weeds and looking for more.
“Hello,” I said to her, “What are you doing?”
“I’m looking for more feverfew for a woman in the village.”
“Why?” I asked.
She looked at me like I was a bad person.
“I am trying to help with a woman’s headaches.”
“Why are you helping the woman?”
She sighed and walked off into the tall grass again. All I could see was the top of her pointy hat weaving through towards the misty hills. I felt something I have not felt in over 600 years: loneliness.
I went back to work trying to cure my loneliness. I searched far and wide, and I mean several spaces and several times, for a cure for this awful sickness. I met with myselves on the brink of black holes. None of the notes helped. There became fewer and fewer of us and we one by one decided to become liches.
I went and talked to some of my mundane selves about loneliness. They all talked about their spouses and friends. Some found the cure for loneliness in religion and communities. Once again I disappointed myself.
Spouses and friends took time away from knowledge. They get sick and die. Gods were fickle and demanding. Besides gods also got sick and died and then replaced by the lich that killed them. You can’t rely on anyone or anything else.
A dragon is a perfect being. It can live in simultaneous spaces and times in harmony with itself. I sought Bah-mut the Platinum Dragon for her sage advice.
I asked her about this pain in my heart. She listened as I described the feeling in my stomach and the lump in my throat. I explained the emptiness I felt as I watched the pointy hat disappear into the tall grass.
When a dragon laughs, you can hear the infinite amount of possibilities also laugh. This can be a tad unsettling. Then her voice only echoing in my head she spoke,
“My dear poor child. You are in want of a companion.”
“I don’t want a companion. A companion will slow me down and take time away from my studies and then as I grow fond: die.”
“You are looking at it from the entire timeline. You have the power of seeing outside of your point in space and time, but you have forgotten the single moment.”
And for someone that is considering immortality, a moment can last an eternity. I have complained that a century had gone by too fast.
I spent my next little while watching the little witch. She spent her days in the woods collecting plants and flowers for her potions. She also sang songs which animals would join in. She had a whole singing and dancing number with a black bear named Gus. She spent a lot of times helping animals and the people from my old village with small medical problems.
Villagers would awake her in the middle of the night so that she could come to the village and deliver a baby. She never said no. Between the babies, the sick, and the animals, she didn’t have any time for herself.
She would do rituals deep in the misty woods. She had an oak tree way up in the mountain that had feathers and crystals hang from. All around the trunk were candles and little trinkets. She would draw a sigil in the mud below and speak to the tree as if it could listen.
One day she knelt before the tree and placed her giant pointy hat on the ground. She lit all the candles and drew a sigil in the mud. She sat in silence for a long while.
As she kneeled there in silence I felt that lump in my throat and my eyes began to burn. The bottom of my stomach almost seemed to fall away.
I noticed that she was crying. A wind blew through the tree and the leaves hushed and the crystals clanged. The flames on the candles turned long and showered sparks. Some of them went out. She was crying, but she seemed happy and at peace. She didn’t seem to be suffering from loneliness.
That was the day I decided to become a witch.
The witch was in the tall grass again. Her tall pointy hat the only thing you can see zipping through the tall grass. She came out of the tall grass and rolled her eyes when she noticed me.
“I want to become a witch,” I said, “Will you help me?”
She stood there frozen. She narrowed her eyes at me.
“Why do you want to become a witch? You are a wizard. You understand life, the universe, and everything. You can live forever. You already have magics much more powerful than me.”
“I can’t stand this loneliness deep inside of me. It is eating at me from the inside. Yes, I know life, the universe, and everything, but I can’t seem to rid myself from this loneliness.”
“What makes you think being a witch can cure loneliness?”
He didn’t really know how to answer. He knew in his heart that becoming a witch would cure him of his loneliness.
“You don’t seem lonely,” he finally said.
She laughed, “I am lonely all the time.”
“I see you helping people and the animals all the time. You have birthed all the babies in that village for the last few decades. You have mended, cured, and cared for not just the villagers but the animals in the wood. I have seen you sing with the bears and the birds. I can’t believe that you would ever feel alone.”
“I might know what ails you then,” she said, “I will teach you how to be a witch.”
They spent everyday out in the woods. She taught him different plants, roots, berries, and bark that is healing. Everything has magical properties. She also showed him that the magic in things are to help others.
People stopped by her hut all day. They all had ailments. She would mix up a potion and give the person very specific instructions and send them on their way. Everyone was grateful, but they also feared her. They were even more uneasy about his presence.
He had a hard time with such small doses of magic. He had destroyed whole universes and realities only because he could. Now he was spreading forest gunk on a villager’s burn. He was forgoing his practice for little nature tricks to help mortals.
He noticed that time had slowed down. When he looked at the universe from several different dimensions, time went by fast. Now he was looking under logs for a snail. This made a day go by slow. The small purpose had slowed time down.
He was finally living in the moment.
The villagers stopped being these no name actors in his world. They were now real. He got to know them. While their problems were small and petty, he learned to appreciate the villagers.
The witch explained how nature provided enough for life. She made sure that he understood how to repair what he took from the woods. She explained gratitude as an action not a feeling. She did this by worshipping the trees and the moon.
He had stood on the moon and looked at earth, but she gave the giant rock praise. He had floated close to the sun, but she worshipped it’s every sunrise. He knew the blackness between the stars, but she chose to be in awe of it instead. The complex universe was no match for the simple gifts it provided for life.
There was much difference between the magic he knew and the magic she taught him. His magic was harnessing great power and knowledge. Her power was healing and wisdom. She never wanted to know how to create what didn’t already exist. She didn’t want to see the space between atoms.
The witch and the wizard became friends. They had spent everyday together. He started to understand what she was teaching him. He began to become more of a partner instead of a pupil. They shared meals together. She would ask for his advice with a patient. He would make her laugh.
What he felt was love. Not the kind of love one felt for the forest nymphs or village milkmaids, but a unconditional love. He wanted nothing but the best for the witch. He wanted to add to her life and not take from her. He wanted to share life with her.
She had taught him the two things that he never could learn by sitting on the precipice of a black hole: love and purpose. He now saw the wisdom in his alternative selves who fell in love and work rather than take up magic. He had seen the many universes at once and the space between atoms and he had missed those two principles.
One day a black dragon found itself in their time and space. A black dragon is chaotic and evil. It feeds on the souls of the helpless and strengthens with the odor of fear.
At first it was several miles away destroying the seaports and the city. It ate it’s full of innocence and fear. It spewed acid all over the buildings and people fleeing for their lives.
Only the wizard could hear it’s evil laughter echoing across the multiverse.
Each day the dragon drew nearer. The lucky ones that escaped came through the village with horror stories. The dragon only left when all life extinguished. Then they kept moving knowing that the dragon would be there any day. An icy fear struck the village.
The witch didn’t know what to do. She knew that there was no hope. A black dragon is the eater of worlds. She had no solution.
He knew he had to do something. He loved her and the villagers. This was his home. He would lose so much. He knew he would be able to skip to a different dimension until the dragon moved on to a different world to eat. That would leave this world to perish, a world he loved.
He woke the witch up early one morning.
“I have to go,” he said, “I must face this dragon.”
“You will die,” she said with tears in her eyes.
They sat in silence as the world began to wake up. The birds started chirping. There was a morning mist wrapping around the trunks of the trees. It was peaceful. For a few moments there was no dragon. It was just them and a dawn.
The dragon swept over the woods and the mountains in search of new innocence and fear to feed on. It hated so much. It only felt hatred and rage for all things living. It would spot a rabbit in the middle of a forest glen. He would spew acid all over. Life is underserving of these small pointless creatures.
A man was floating in front of the dragon. The dragon could sense the arcane magic pulsing through the man’s blood. This being was no innocent, nor did it exude fear. This was a wizard on the cusp of dying.
“Go to another world, Dragon,” the wizard said, “This is not your world to destroy.”
The laughter shook the very foundation of creation. The dragon had never faced human opposition before. Man has ever slain a few dragons. A dragon usually wins a a fight.
“You are going to die today, Wizard,” the dragon said.
“Then why try?”
“Because I finally learned all I needed. I love this world. I love my village. I love the witch. I would rather die so they can get old and love more than live with the emptiness.”
The dragon considered the wizard’s words. Then the dragon lunged at the wizard with all it’s hatred and rage.
The wizard grabbed the dragon by the snout and they disapeared into the ether. They appeared at the precipice of a black hole. The energy, light, sound, time, and space sucking into the blackness. The dragon watched as it’s color and texture stretched towards the hole’s eye. Then the dragon ceased to exist.
The wizard fell to the earth like a rock. He fell from the atmosphere. He heard the air whistle past his ears. The dread of hitting the ground centered in his stomach, but he couldn’t do anything.
The witch and the villagers watched the wizard fall. They knew that the wizard had sacrificed himself for them. They wished they could save him. All they could do is watch him hit the earth so hard it shook the ground.
The wizard never became a lich. He didn’t get to live for eternity seeking power. He did become immortal. The village never forgot the wizard and the time he saved them from a hungry black dragon. The wizard died knowing love.