“Help me,” the stranger demanded in strident tones. He stood tall and strong, dark haired with bushy eyebrows and a long thin face deeply etched with pain and fatigue; a man who looked as though sleep was elusive. His cold, flint coloured pupils glinted feverishly and his grey skin indicated a man near the end of his tether.
Paranor had barely heard the tinkle of the small bell at his shop front door, so swiftly did the man enter. Paranor stood, “You look terrible. Let me give you some tea. It’s a special tea with the ability to take away pain.” he stepped away from his small desk and made his way to the fireplace.
“Pah!” the other man replied. “Nothing takes away this pain.” However, he watched with fevered hope as Paranor took the kettle from by the side of the open fire, holding the metal handle with a teacloth. He poured steaming water into a cup and then sprinkled herbs into the cup, completing the ritual.
The other man watched and then said, “You are a healer according to your sign outside.” He was pale, gripping the back of a chair, standing in a way that suggested pure agony. His words came in a torrent and he panted when he had finished as though having run a great errand.
“Yes, I am a healer. Amongst other things,” Paranor answered proudly. He had a good reputation and earned a solid living in the town. His premises were small but he was content.
“I will give you three hundred gold pieces to cure me,” the other man demanded. His eyes were wide and Paranor nearly dropped the cup in shock. He passed it to the other man who sipped the steaming contents, wincing at first and then showing signs of calming; his shoulders losing their hunched appearance and deep lines falling away from his brow.
“Three hundred gold?” Paranor asked, unable to comprehend such wealth. The other man nodded and sipped more tea. “This is good. The pain has eased somewhat.” He looked genuinely pleased, which contradicted Paranor’s first impressions that this man was going to be difficult if not impossible to help.
“What are your symptoms?” Paranor asked, indicating for the other man to sit. The other man did so, his eyes cold and no indication of gratitude.
“Symptoms? It is more than that. I have a demon that has latched on to me,” the statement was made almost in challenge.
Paranor was shocked to say the least. “A demon? Is that possible?”
The other man nodded, “I know not how, but my dreams are haunted with fear. It whispers to me in the night, plaguing my dreams with terror. It feeds on fear, I think. When I wake – it is no better. In the middle of the night it finds a nerve in my skull and picks at it. I have needles of fire in my brain at all hours, day or night.”
“But, a demon? That hardly seems possible,” Paranor arose and went to his fire. He sprinkled herbs on the flames, filling the room with a sweet smelling scent. He took a piece of chalk and drew a symbol on the table top between the two men.
“You are a wizard,” the other man choked, setting his cup down on the table. “I had assumed you were a sorcerer.”
Paranor looked up from his drawing. “Yes, I am a wizard. Sorcerers are rare and I doubt that you would find one anywhere hereabouts. You sound displeased.” There was something about the other man that was causing Paranor some disquiet. To announce he was possessed was alarming, but his manner was bordering on hostile. He seemed aloof and gratitude seemed difficult to fall from his lips.
The other man froze as though weighing his words. “It matters not. What are you doing and what is this symbol you draw?”
“This is a rune. It is a spell of seeing. When I cast it, it should reveal something about your illness,” Paranor explained.
YOU ARE READING
Wizard's DownfallShort Story
Paranor is busy preparing herbs for his healing spells when a man enters his shop saying he is possessed by a demon.Convinced demons do not exist Paranor attempts the healing and initial scepticism is soon replaced by fear. In the demon world even t...