Log in

No account? Create an account
07 August 2013 @ 10:19 am
LJ Idol Exhibit B: "Hired Wand"  
Hired Wand
LJ Idol Exhibit B | week eleven, 1 | 870 words
One Hit Wonder


Zelgard the Wizard was a powerful magician, quite arguably the best of his time. He could conjure, he could transform, he could weave spells of forgetting or even misremembrance, but most of all… he could smite. His target might be someone he'd never even met, someone half a world away, and he could still inflict doom or disaster with a single wave of his wand. This put him very much in demand.

It was also rather troubling.

"The King bids you come to court immediately," a messenger might announce. The King was a vindictive, ill-tempered man, and the notion of reason was utterly foreign to him.

"My enemies in West Antera rise up against me," the King would say. "You must destroy them."

"Might I instead remove their armaments, or make their natures less warlike?" Zelgard would inquire.

The King's answer was invariably the same: "Death."

Zelgard had suggested many alternative solutions over the years—transforming enemies into animals, or moving them to faraway lands and making them forget everything about their former lives. Those were the choices the King's father would have made, but the King had refused them one and all. "Death," he would say, again and again, no matter how isolated or trivial the offense.

No one noticed that Zelgard's cottage was gradually becoming overrun with toads. Had they looked closely, they might have thought some of the toads even looked a bit familiar, with a certain long-necked regal superiority to this one, or a squinty-eyed obstinance to that one. Zelgard finally became so inundated that he created a pond for the toads in a nearby meadow, and put a protection spell around it to prevent larger animals from wandering in and eating them.

One of the usual messengers came by on a windblown autumn day. "What became of the toads?" he asked.

"Change of seasons," Zelgard replied.

"Ah." The man unrolled and raised an official scroll. "The King requires your presence at his court with all due haste…"

It wasn't just the King who demanded Zelgard's services. Noblemen of all lineage and standing came to him seeking vengeance or advantage: "My neighbor's sheep grow fat off the richness of my land." "My scheming kinsmen would have you fence the very forest!"

He'd quickly learned to be cautious about which requests he honored. There was the occasional plea to heal a sick mind or a dying child, but most of the people who came to see him were motivated purely by greed. Zelgard came to regret being such a powerful wizard, and lamented those first few people he had killed at the King's behest before he'd realized exactly what sort of person the King was. He'd been young then—well, younger—and foolish, and he could not bring any of his victims back to life. His growing collection of amphibians was the nearest thing to atonement he could manage.

He dreaded the King's summons. Messengers seemed to arrive day and night. "The King—"

"Yes, yes," Zelgard would say, shutting the garden gate and climbing into the waiting carriage. What dreadful deed has he thought up now?

The King's advisors fared no better in staying the King's hand. Even his younger brother could not persuade him: "Perhaps Your Majesty might—"

"No," the King would say with utter finality. "Zelgard must smite them into the very ground."

One cold, wintry morning, as Zelgard was transporting yet another toad to his protected pond, he decided that he'd simply had enough. He packed up his spell books and robes, his gazing ball and potions, and his dear little black cat. He transformed his horse's tiny stable into a wagon, loaded his belongings into it, and hitched the horse up.

Then he magicked himself into the castle throne room and turned the King into a toad.

There was a collective gasp, followed by stunned silence. Zelgard looked around the room, his wand at the ready to keep any would-be attackers at bay. His gaze fell on the King's younger brother. "Your country needs a new ruler," Zelgard said. "Do you believe yourself capable of treating your subjects fairly and refraining from perpetually waging war on other countries?"

"Most certainly," the King's brother said, with a slight air of confusion.

"So be it." Zelgard swooped up the toad and magicked himself back to his cottage.

He drove the wagon to the pond, where he changed all of the toads back to human form and left them to find their way home. Then he placed the King-toad in the grass by the muddy shore, and drove the wagon back to the main road leading away from the kingdom.

Six months later, a sentry at a village gate on the other side of the world noticed an old man approaching in a wagon. "Halt," the sentry said. "Who are you, and what is the nature of your visit?"

Zelgard smiled with sense of newly regained innocence. "I am Gardel the Elder, and I am a skilled apothecary seeking to ply my trade."

The sentry bowed and opened the gate. "Welcome to Black Oak Village. Your services are sorely needed."

To Zelgard's ears, the words were more beautiful than any he had ever heard.

If you enjoyed this story, you can vote for it along with many other fine entries here.

Desireex_disturbed_x on August 7th, 2013 10:27 pm (UTC)
Of course people would let themselves succumb to greed. :/ Poor Zelgard.

Maybe in this new village he will be able to find some happiness!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 8th, 2013 04:26 am (UTC)
Imagine having so much power, but lacking the ability to know who is actually telling the truth (or who is "right," if all sides think they are telling the truth)? Once you go through that enough times, simply doing nothing starts to seem very appealing. I suppose it would be the "First do no harm" motto applied to wizards instead of doctors!
cindytsuki_no_bara on August 8th, 2013 03:13 am (UTC)
a wizard with a conscience and a pond full of toads! i love it. i think he waited too long to turn the king into a toad, tho.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 8th, 2013 04:30 am (UTC)
I'm thinking that he waited until he was ready to give up being a wizard entirely before turning the King into a toad. That would be a lot to give up, but eventually the people in his kingdom drove him to it. When you're fed up, you'll make much more drastic choices than you usually might!
Pika the Brazen Ninjaporn_this_way on August 8th, 2013 03:23 am (UTC)

Loved this. Now if only someone could get Zelgard to deal with today's politicians...
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 8th, 2013 04:31 am (UTC)
Smiting the politicians, or turning them into toads? Really, I would almost be happy with either one! :O
(no subject) - porn_this_way on August 8th, 2013 04:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kathrynrose on August 8th, 2013 06:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on August 8th, 2013 07:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kathrynrose on August 8th, 2013 07:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
michikatinski on August 8th, 2013 05:22 pm (UTC)
That toad-king got what was coming to him, no? Hurrah for Gardel the Elder. I loved this.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 8th, 2013 05:47 pm (UTC)
The King was luckier than he realized-- Zelgard could have smote him the same way the King had demanded that his enemies be treated. Becoming a toad was mercy he hadn't earned. ;)
blahblahblah, whateverkathrynrose on August 8th, 2013 06:44 pm (UTC)

Enjoyed this!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 8th, 2013 07:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! :)
☾witches on August 8th, 2013 06:54 pm (UTC)
Really enjoyed this!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 8th, 2013 07:42 pm (UTC)
Yay-- thank you!
theun4givablestheun4givables on August 8th, 2013 06:56 pm (UTC)
I'm glad that he took matters into his own hands! That should bring Zelgard some relief. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 8th, 2013 07:43 pm (UTC)
I'm imagining that he'll hide his wizardry in the future, and make his living in a less abusable way. In theory: "Oh, Apothecary, how can I win the affections of my one true love? Is there a potion?" <= requestor is actually a stalker

tatdatcmtatdatcm on August 9th, 2013 04:02 am (UTC)
The saying "with great power comes great responsibility" comes to mind. Zelgard had the wisdom to handle his responsibility the best he could. Too bad the kind didn't.

I really enjoyed this.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 9th, 2013 07:22 am (UTC)
There's a certain tragedy, too, in finding yourself backed into doing the wrong thing because you didn't, for instance, realize soon enough that the former-King's son was nothing like his father and you should have been more careful.

It's very hard to have that kind of power. Even if you would never wage it, being used as someone else's weapon is just as bad!
Laura, aka "Ro Arwen": Castle w Spiral Towerroina_arwen on August 9th, 2013 04:29 am (UTC)
Aww, yay Zelgard! This was a toadally cute tale. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 9th, 2013 07:23 am (UTC)
Thank you!

I can just see the toad-King now, stomping around in the pond and attacking random fish for no particular reason but that they swam too close or looked at him funny. ;)
alien_writings: Happinessalien_writings on August 9th, 2013 04:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, this was really cool! ^_^
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 9th, 2013 07:20 pm (UTC)
Yay! You saw where that 'wizard' suggestion went. I decided to see if it would take off, and it did! Thanks again for your help. :D
MamaCheshirecheshire23 on August 11th, 2013 05:48 am (UTC)
I liked the story from the start, but actually cheered out loud when Zelgard turned the King into a toad. Though there's a vengeful part of me that wonders if he should have been turned into something toads eat instead. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 12th, 2013 06:28 am (UTC)
I thought about exactly the same thing you did (making the king a bug of some sort), but decided that living a long, boring life as a toad was a much harsher punishment. THEN he can die. ;)

Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
lriG rorriMlrig_rorrim on August 11th, 2013 09:22 pm (UTC)
This is fantastic. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 12th, 2013 06:29 am (UTC)
Thank you! As soon as alien_writings mentioned 'wizard' as an idea, this thing took on a life of its own. :)
Awesomely creepyagirlnamedluna on August 12th, 2013 12:36 pm (UTC)
Aw, not long ago I read a story where an angry fairy turned an entire village into toads, then made them human again, and then was turned into toads all over again when the mad sorcerer who wished to marry her turned everyone again. This reminded me of them, such a nice fairytale :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 12th, 2013 08:35 pm (UTC)
It is hard not to think of toads in that they're fairly harmless and they don't wander far. Not too many things eat them, but on the other hand... their lives aren't very interesting. I hate to call them a form of 'living stasis,' but they are, a little bit!

There's a series of books that starts with The Frog Princess that I really enjoy, where an unconventional (of course) princess is persuaded to kiss a frog to turn him back into a prince, and instead is herself turned into a frog! This is a surprise to everyone, including the original frog (who actually IS a prince). Frog-adventures on the way to getting everyone turned back to human again ensue...
(no subject) - agirlnamedluna on August 12th, 2013 08:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on August 12th, 2013 08:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
favoritebean: Robotfavoritebean on August 12th, 2013 07:09 pm (UTC)
*applauds* I'm so glad that the king received a taste of his own merciless medicine. Good job, Zelgard!
I hope you will write more about his journey.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 12th, 2013 08:52 pm (UTC)
The king deserved far worse, but I do think inescapable boredom is an excellent punishment for someone who likes to create trouble all the time. :D
alycewilsonalycewilson on August 12th, 2013 11:41 pm (UTC)
Wonderful story, especially the resolution. I love how he reinvents himself at the end, so as not to be strong-armed into a similar situation again.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 13th, 2013 12:25 am (UTC)
It's amazing how much can learn from a bad experience, isn't it? But if I'd been through what he did, I'd have wanted to hide my abilities too!