Kindling

Image by Krzysztof Pluta from Pixabay

Drugar pulled himself over the slope, the ground bit at his numb knuckles and he wheezed a sigh as he found his destination. It was a Witch Doctor’s hovel—more of a tarpaulin and an assortment of rods that was playing pretend at being a tent. It was a miracle it stood against the chilling gales, but Drugar knew more was at play here than met the eye.

It mattered not how decrepit the Witch Doctor was, his village would be proud of him none the less, he would bring back the medicine they needed.

With another wheeze, he hauled himself up and trundled over to the hovel.

“She’s occupied.”

Drugar hadn’t noticed the hunched figure, stooped low over an inert fire pit.

“Gods!” Drugar gasped, “I thought you a stone.”

“If only,” the figure—a hale man—looked up from a low hood and smiled weakly, a glint of flame danced deep in his eyes.

“Ah, you’re one of them Fire Wizards.” Drugar dragged himself over the frost and sat across from the figure. He glanced at the fire pit; the figure was rubbing two sticks with hands so cold they could not grasp properly. “You out of practice there?” Drugar hacked a laugh from his tired lungs. “People of your kind are said to make the gods tremble, perhaps the stories are exaggerated?”

The figure smiled wanly again, “I have duelled angels, fought back beasts that clawed their way into our realm and left them smote against the space between worlds . . .”

He was not boasting, Drugar realised, “And yet you struggle to start a mere fire, despite all of that?”

The figure looked at him, “Despite all I am capable of, my daughter lies on death’s door in there.” He looked at the hovel and sighed. “Kings would butcher thousands for my power, and I would trade it all to have some power over her fate.”

“Ah,” Drugar sighed and leaned over. He carefully took the firewood from the figure’s hands and started to heat the kindling, smoke drifted from the pit. “Sometimes all you can do, is all you can do . . . and that is enough. You brought your daughter here, and now you sit out in the cold while letting others express their own power. And do you know why?”

The figure did not answer.

“Because hope, dear Wizard, hope is the fire of the soul. It is hope you must conjure now.”

“I don’t know how.”

The kindling ignited, a spark of flame caught and the pit erupted into a gentle, crackling blaze.

“Perhaps she can show you how.”

The figure followed Drugar’s gaze, the Witch Doctor stood at the flap of the hovel and beckoned him over.

With trepidation, the figure ambled through into the dark interior. Drugar watched with baited breath, and smiled when the dimness was lit by a flame conjured from the figure’s hand. The flame formed into the shape of a prancing pony, and the warm glow beamed off the delighted face of a sick, smiling child.

“Will she live?” Drugar asked as the Witch Doctor hovelled over and dropped a bag of medicine at his feet.

“For a time,” she smiled, revealing teeth as crooked as the mountain she lived on, “But one can say that for everyone.”

“Hah,” Drugar grabbed the bag and dropped a purse of gold. “Let us hope the time is warm at least.” He shot another look into the fire lit hovel, shined a grin, and ambled down the slope.

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