“I believe a thorough explanation would be helpful,” Rizon stated, "especially one starting with who you are.”
The man chuckled. “Look around, my boy. Can’t you tell?”
Rizon gazed about the room, taking in every detail. Lumos lights, high wooden ceiling, ornate carvings around the doors of the room and the large fireplace, an intricately-carved staff leaning up against the wall…
“You’re a wizard?”
“Precisely. Wizard Quimbet, at your service.”
“Wow, I didn’t know that there was another wizard so close to us!” Abigail exclaimed.
“Neither did I,” Rizon admitted. “Do you know Wizard Martin?”
Wizard Quimbet tapped his chin. “That name does ring a bell,” he mused. “But if I do know him, I have not seen him in a very long time. Ever since the Driving Out of the Wizards, I have lived in this forest in solitude. I enjoy the peacefulness of it. But that, of course, was broken by your entrance and the appearance of that foul beast, which I have destroyed. I believe it is time for me to ask you few questions.”
Rizon shifted nervously. It appeared as if this wizard wasn’t a rogue wizard, but he did know that appearances were not all that they seemed. This wizard might not be a true wizard. They would need to be careful.
“Yes, you do need to be very careful,” the wizard said, breaking into Rizon’s thoughts. “Cautiousness will be essential to your mission.”
Rizon was shocked. “Wait-did you seriously just read my mind?!”
Wizard Quimbet chucked. “A few of us, myself included, do have that capability, although we do not always use it. Now, I want to know who you are and why you’re here. That monster is not an inhabitant of this forest. It’s a foul creation from the pits of the rogue wizards’ dark fortress. The only reason it would be here, is if it was searching for something. Or someone.”
There was a dreadful silence. And then Tallie voiced what the others were already thinking.
“Could it be us?”
“But how could it be?!” Abigail cried. “We didn’t tell anyone! How could they know about us?”
The wizard glanced from face to face. The tension was high. “You can trust me,” he stated quietly. “Tell me everything.”
The knife struck the board with a loud thump. Another perfect hit. But Abigail wasn’t paying attention. Although she usually was thrilled over every perfect hit she made, it didn’t matter to her currently. Her mind was too distracted by other matters. The conference with the wizard had been anything but encouraging. Abigail strode to the board and yanked the knife out of the wood.
Rizon had explained everything. There was nothing that he had left out. Then the wizard proceeded to inform them of the foolhardiness of their mission.
“The fortress is heavily guarded with at least a hundred guards at any given time. These guards are trained to handle anything and everything and are ones you would not stand a chance against. Especially not if it was just the four of you,” he stated straightforwardly. “Secondly, each of these guards has been bestowed with incredible farsightedness. You could not get within 10 miles of the fortress without being seen.”
He sure did a great job of trying to discourage us, Abigail growled. With all of the details concerning fortress protections, rogue wizard skills, and much, much more, he made it sound like an impossible mission.
I’m sure this mission is worthy and all, but I don’t know if I’m up to the task. I don’t have many skills that will aid in fighting powerful, bad wizards. Sure, I can throw a knife well. But I doubt that a wizard will have a hard time deflecting a blade. Will I really be of any use to this mission? Abigail gritted her teeth in frustration as the thoughts wrestled in her mind. Then she let the knife fly.
Lizzie wasn’t fairing much better. She sat on a log in the forest, trying to sort through her own thoughts. Tallie perched beside her.
“You know, when we left, I never really thought about what all this would include. All I wanted was an adventure. I was tired of being stuck in our little part of the forest and never being able to leave. I never stopped to consider what it would cost. Tallie, I don’t think I can do this. I’m scared of what could happen. I don’t think I can handle it. I’m not courageous, at all.”
“Lizzie, having courage isn’t being fearless. It’s taking action even though you have fear!” Tallie encouraged her. “I doubt any of us really think we can do this. But we promised to help Rizon rescue the wizard. We gave our word, and we need to keep it. The wizard is in great danger.”
Lizzie sighed. “You’re right. As always.”
“Who knows? Maybe you’ll find some courage you didn’t know you had!” Tallie exclaimed. “And I’m sure it will definitely be an adventure.”
Deep thoughts seemed to be common among all of the team members this afternoon. Rizon sat in the dirt outside of the cottage, absent-mindedly drawing in the dirt. Suddenly, a movement caught his eye. It came from the picture! Rizon had been drawing a stick figure of his master as he mused over the whole situation. Suddenly, it began moving. It was crawling across something. Various other items began to appear around the figure. Shackles appeared around the figures’ feet. And a thick wooden door fabricated in front of it.
Rizon screamed out of complete shock.
Apparently he had also fainted, because he awoke to find Wizard Quimbet sprinkling water over his face.
“Whoa, what just happened?!” Rizon spluttered.
“Apparently you were quite shocked by the manifestation of one of your talents,” the wizard explained.
“The manifestation of one of my talents??!”
“Yes, my boy. Didn’t Wizard Martin explain it to you? It is a rare talent. Especially rare for an apprentice.”
Quimbet helped Rizon sit upright, as the boy was feeling rather weak from the shock. “You were drawing a figure as you thought about the Wizard Martin. Consequently, it became Wizard Martin. Rizon, you can see anything you wish as long as you draw it, and focus hard enough on it.”
Rizon just stared at the wizard, speechless.
Abigail paced back and forth in front of the huge fireplace. A door slamming made her look up. Rizon strode into the room with Lizzie and Tallie close on his heels.
“I’m calling a meeting,” he announced, placing himself in one of the armchairs. Abigail remained standing at the fireplace and the two other girls perched on the couch.
“You all heard Wizard Quimbet’s description of the rogue wizards, their fortress, and the dangers involved. I’m sure I was not the only one who was feeling incompetent to handle it.”
“You said ‘was’,” Tallie noticed.
Rizon nodded. “I did. But we have a new weapon.” He explained his gift and how it worked to the girls. The room was silent as they began to process this new information and its benefits. “This can aid us a lot. Wizard Martin needs my help, and I intend to give as much as I can. I would greatly appreciate your help, as well.”
“I’ve done a lot of thinking, and I think that I can say that, as of now, although I still have some doubts, I’m in and willing to see this through,” Abigail said. Lizzie and Tallie nodded together. “That’s great that you have this gift, Rizon. But it will only be able to help us a little bit, since you can only see things that you’ve seen before. We’re going to need a lot more if we’re to succeed.”
“And we’re going to get a lot more,” Rizon promised.
“Are you sure that he will be willing to help us?” Lizzie asked.
“Wizard Arhon is a fine man, Lizzie,” the wizard assured her. “He will be able to give you all of the training that you need for this mission. I’ve given Rizon a letter explaining everything. If I know him, and I do very well, he will not turn you away.”
“Thank you so much, Wizard Quimbet!” Abigail cried. “We are completely in your debt.”
“You’re very welcome. I hope all of you succeed and wish you the best on your journey. I only wish I could go with you. But I have too many responsibilities here in the forest to tend to.” He led the four over to a shimmering portal in the wall. “As soon as you enter the portal, you will come out in Glowen. Ask around until you find William Arhon. Please be very careful with what you say, as the people there are not aware of his wizardly-identity. He has done his best to keep it secret.”
“We will be caution itself,” Lizzie promised.
Goodbyes and expressions of gratitude were exchanged, and then the four stood together in front of the portal.
Rizon looked from face to face. “Are we ready?” he asked. The girls affirmed that they were. “Alright, then,” Rizon said. He took a deep breath. “Let’s go.”
They stepped through.