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The world was easier to live in as a wandering wizard 200 years ago.  Of course, it also felt a great deal smaller then, too.  With a wry smile, he realized that as each generation passed, the world seemed to grow.  Five hundred and fifty-three years, or, something close to that, was a long time to wander the world and in each passing year, it changed around him.  He looked around the, cafe he believed it was called, although it served the same purpose as a tavern once had.  A place for people to gather, hear news and drink.  The change from ale to tea was a pleasant one, something he didn't mind all that much.  Better for his health.

As he looked around the cafe, a scene from the past layered over the present.  With another smile, the wizard remembered the day he'd decided his path in this world.

The tavern was filled with people.  He could no longer remember the city or country, only that it had been lively and in his eyes, perfect. Or almost perfect.  She was dancing with someone else.  He'd known she would be, but the pain was still there.  Only a few days before he had told her his love had long passed and he desired to marry her no more.  It was a lie, but a necessary one.  Her life would be short, the span of one person.  Wizard's lives were far beyond what most could ever hope to know.  Their bodies aged slower. One day he would wake to find all those he'd once known, gone.

He shook his head, tearing his eyes away from her dancing form.  The young man she had partnered with would be better for her than he ever could be.  A wizard's life was not paved with gold, but instead filled with study and the hope to have a meal and a soft place to sleep at night.  That was no life for any, but a wizard.

Where would his future lead now?  While not as ostracized as witches, it was still assumed wizards were the cause of problems that only nature could both create and control.

None of that took into account how hard it would be for the people who had watched him grow to believe that he was, in fact, a wizard.  This was the place of his birth, small and provincial.  Only the largest of towns could support a wizard.

Again he looked at the young woman.  Not for the first time since discovering his gift, the young man wondered if he was right to have taken up the mantle.  He could still give it all up, the power wasn't at its full strength. He could marry her, settle down, and be normal.

Then he saw her smile at the man who had taken her hand for the dance.  It wasn't the same smile the wizard had once received, but it was filled with happiness.  That man would love her and offer her a life that he couldn't hope to rival.

What surprised him most in that moment was how happy it made him.

Standing, the wizard left the tavern with a smile of goodbye to the young woman and a life he could never have.

Shaking himself out of the unbidden memory, a smile crossed the wizards lips.  On his only return to the tavern, 40 years later, he'd been able to enjoy a drink with that same woman. While the years had long since taken away her youth, he had aged only a few.  Pretending to be a student of history, he'd asked about her life.  She had unknowingly given him one of the greatest gifts.

When he'd asked if she would have changed anything in her life, there was no hesitation in her reply.  Nothing in this world or the next could replace the family she'd been blessed with.  If she'd perhaps lost out on a true love, but fate had granted her this life instead... Then she held no regrets.

The Wandering WizardRead this story for FREE!