Rigmarole – Final.

Continued from: Vol VIII

Mikros, Twerp, and Colorius (née Half Pint) mustered up all their courage and continued walking towards the castle. There, outside the main castle gate, the Wizard of Ounce was waiting for them. Draped in robes of stunning magenta, overflowing with stars, his powerful staff by his side, he made quite an impressive figure. A line of other wizards was standing at guard behind him.

“I have come to ask for your help…. father”, said Colorius, courage growing within him with every passing second.

“I banished you from this land, told you never to return. Did you not understand me?”, questioned the Wizard of Ounce.

Colorius looked down, shook his head, and sighed. “I request a private word with you, fa- oh great wizard.”

Twerp and Mikros watched as the Wizard of Ounce remained silent in thought for a long time.

“Alright”, came the answer. He made a gesture with his hand and the line of wizards turned away.

The Wizard and Colorius walked away from the rest.

“I know you’ve been waiting for me, you’ve been watching me, father. I knew the minute I reached the Impenetrable Circle. How else would you have the Wizard Council assembled by your side? I know they do not gather without prior indication. You’ve been watching me since I left the village. You’ve probably been watching me in the village as well. Am I not right, father?”

The great Wizard’s expressions softened, his shoulder’s fell, he sighed and said, “I am the most powerful wizard in this realm. I have magic enough to last not one but many life times. I have defeated armies, conquered kingdoms, created endless wealth but I have failed in one aspect. I have not been able to harden my heart against my wayward son. I had to banish you from the land, my child. It was expected of me after your behaviour. But I could not banish you from my heart. I have always kept a watch on you. I have always made sure no harm ever came to you.”

Colorius smiled but before he could say anything, the Wizard continued, “However much I love you son, I cannot show it in front of the Council. They will consider it a sign of weakness. It burdens me to say this, but I cannot let you back into the kingdom.”

“I have not come to ask for that, father. I am happy at my village. The quiet life there suits me. However, as your son, I have come to ask for a favour for one of my friends.”

“What is it that you need me to do?”

“You see that giant over there? His name is Mikros. He should rightfully be the next king of his land but due to his size, his father will not allow it. It is almost like a parody of our tale. However, even though ours cannot end in unity for now, I urge you to help Mikros by making him taller. That is the only way his father will accept him.”

Without a word, the Wizard made a small, almost invisible, hand gesture and a tiny vial of golden liquid appeared in his hands. He leaned in, put the vial in Colorius’ hands and whispered, “Make the giant drink this once you have left this town.”

Colorius looked at his father with gratitude, “Thank you father.”

“Do not thank me. I can never do enough to undo my disservice to you. I only pray you understand my position. And you forgive me.”

Colorius looked into his father’s eyes, no more words were necessary. He was about to turn around but stopped, “I have to ask..”

“I’m sorry son, she is married to someone else now. She has a family, she is happy.”

He smiled, turned around, and walked back to Mikros and Twerp. With the vial safely hidden in his pocket, he spoke in a loud voice, “I have tried to beg for my father’s forgiveness but he will not let me back into the land. Let us leave.” The Wizard Council, still with their backs turned, nodded in approval at this.

Before Mikros and Twerp could object, the Wizard cast a powerful spell and sent them just outside Mikros’ village.

Without wasting time, Half Pint explained the happenings to his friends and made Mikros drink the golden liquid. In an instant, he became twice his size.

“Well, they’ll have to give you a new name now”, said Half Pint with a grin. Twerp just smiled.

As you can imagine, the Giant King was very pleased to see his newly enlarged son. He sent one of his best rainbows off with Twerp and Half Pint. And Mikros? Well, he couldn’t express his gratitude enough.

With a rainbow above their heads, the journey back to the village didn’t take very long for our two heroes. As they approached the outskirts of the village, they could make out distant outlines of houses, cattle, and trees forming themselves.

“Look, the village is re-appearing”, said Half Pint. “Wait, Twerp, once we enter the village again, will you return to being, well….. incoherent?”

Twerp smile, “No, I don’t think me or anyone else in the village will have many problems now that we have a rainbow with us.”

“Good”, said Half Pint. “One more thing, you never told us about your father, Twerp. You met my father and saw how he wouldn’t accept me back. Is your situation similar?”

Twerp looked at Half Pint. Sometimes, when you take certain journeys with strangers, you emerge as not just friends but trust-worthy, long-lasting friends, and this was one of them. He told his friend, “My father refuses to acknowledge my existence. My mother called him ‘Pervertous Magnus’, but he’s better known as King Henry.”

Half Pint gasped, “Our King Henry? King Henry of the village in whose court I am housed?”

“Yes, him. My mother was a chambermaid at the castle many years ago and had a thoughtless affair with the King. When she tried to tell the King about her pregnancy, he refused to accept responsibility. He told my mother that if she could have an affair with a married man such as the King, who knows how many other affairs she was having and it could be any other man’s baby. My mother tried her best to plead with him but he denied her any help and threw her out of the castle. After that, she was left to fend for herself and me on her own. When I was really young and her shock was still fresh, she would take me to the castle walls and tell me of the many evils she had seen the King commit. She called him ‘Pervertous Magnus’ because that is what all the chambermaids would call him. Turned out, she wasn’t his first or only mistress. I still have nightmares of those stories but I don’t blame my mother, she was young and didn’t know any better. As time passed, she became more responsible and we stopped talking about him. So, that is my story.”

“Why don’t you tell him now? After we bring this rainbow back, he is sure to reward us handsomely and he might believe you”, suggested Half Pint.

“No, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be associated with the King. I still cannot forget how he treated my mother. I am content with knowing that I have served my village. I do not need any more reward.”

“Will you not even accompany me to the castle to deliver the rainbow?” Half Pint asked.

“No,” said a smiling Twerp, “I am sure you will do a good job of that on your own. Besides, I must get back to my house, we’ve been gone for a while, and there must be lots of cleaning up to do.”

Half Pint smiled and looked at him with admiration, “You are quite extraordinary, Twerp.”

By now the village had completely appeared before them. Twerp quietly slipped away to his small house. Initially, the villagers were confused but soon news spread that Half Pint had saved the day and he received a hero’s welcome from the villagers and the King. He was promoted to the King’s chief council and given gold beyond his desire. Over the next few months, he spent a lot of that gold in sending gifts to Twerp. He ensured to dine with him every week without fail.

And as luck would have it, Half Pint even fell in love with the King’s daughter, a fine young Princess with a big heart. Till now he had honoured Twerp’s wishes and never told anyone of his heroic deeds but he could not keep the secret from his Princess. And with the telling, she also started admiring Twerp just as Half Pint did. Many a times she sneaked out of the castle to join Twerp and Half Pint on their weekly dinners.

A few months passed and the King died in battle. And as it was always written in Half Pint’s destiny, he became King. Along with his fair Queen, he ruled his village justly. The Wizard of Ounce learned about his son’s new achievement and was able to use it as leverage to gain the Wizard Council’s trust. King Pint (yes, he liked to change names, and this one was better suited for a King anyway) and his Queen were warmly welcomed to the Kingdom of Ounce.

One day, news came that Mikros had taken a new bride. He sent another rainbow to the village to show his happiness and ever-lasting gratitude. The village prospered even more.

With time, King Pint finally even managed to convince Twerp to take up chambers within the castle. Twerp started spending time at the University within the grounds. He learned about history, arithmetic, astronomy, and everything else. But his strongest suite was philosophy, and he eventually went on to write a great many books on the subject and became one of the most respected philosophers of his generation.

All was well.

Not Yours

“Mine?”, she looked up at him longingly and asked, hope shining brightly in her brown eyes.

“No, Sloan, not yours”, he told her sadly as he pulled her away, her little hand pressed tightly in his.

She looked back at that puppy till they reached the end of the street and turned the corner. Silent tears streamed down her face. She was only three, she knew she’d get attention if she cried loudly but I think she was too sad for it. I think that was her first heartbreak. She’d only just seen that puppy but feel in love with him instantly. But no, she couldn’t have him, he wasn’t hers.

And here she was, twenty years later, sitting at the window table of her favourite coffee shop on a bright summer’s day, and that same voice said, this time in her head, “No, Sloan, not yours.” So she just sat there, holding back the tears, coffee getting cold, and heart being broken again.

She loved him, this boy. She was mad at him for not loving her as much. She wanted to tell him that he’d hurt her, she wanted to tell him he’d made her cry, she wanted to scream and shout. She wanted him, as love, not a lover. But no, she couldn’t have him, he wasn’t hers.

There was no one to pull her away this time though, so she tried pulling herself away. She was unsuccessful the first time, and then the second time, and then the third time, and then? And ‘then’ is a story for another day.