The Mad Magician

This is a story that was told to me by your ancestors, and it will last until the end of time. When all has faded, this story will echo in the stars themselves.

There was once a sorcerer called Jake the Hunter. He was named this because whenever someone had lost something in the city that they could not find, they would always eventually end up at Jake's door. When there was a rather urgent knocking at Jakes door, he was not surprised to discover that something had, once again, become irreversibly lost. So he invited the woman inside, and offered her a cup of blood tea, for she was a vampyre and they are usually fond of such drinks.

"Nothing is irreversibly lost," said Jake to the woman sobbing in his drawing room. "It is merely waiting for someone to remember how to find it."

"How to find it? Surely you mean where," the woman choked out, confused enough to forget some of her grief for the moment.

"No, I do mean how. You see if you knew where it was, it wouldn't be lost. In order to find a truly lost object then the seeker needs to work out how, before he can even begin to search for a where. Do you understand?"

The woman didn't, but that was not a problem as many people did not understand Jake's method. If they did, he would be quite out of pocket.

"Well, before I begin to look for your lost thing, you will need to tell me what it is you have lost, otherwise how will I recognise it as yours when I find it?"

The woman nodded, and wiped her nose on a delicate handkerchief that women are so fond of using. After she had dealt with her leaky face she began to explain her particular problem. Her child had gone missing. She didn't know where, and she was dreadfully worried, as he was only a babe who could barely walk.

Jake the Hunter hummed and he ahhed, eventually he shooed the woman out of his house so that he might have time to think. He agreed with her first upon a most agreeable fee and promised she would have her child back within the next few days.

Now, looking for children is never an easy task, made all the more difficult when that child is truly lost. They rarely stay in one place. There was also a danger that the child doesn't want to be found. Children, unlike combs and other trinkets are easily distracted you see, and will often forget they have a home at all. It was for those reasons that Jake had long ago decided that no matter how good he was at finding things, he would never find a child of his own.

Putting on his coat and hat, Jake decided to head for the door. He would never find anything in his own house, he was almost completely sure that the child wasn't there.

He searched all day, and most of the night, and eventually he ended up in the Faery Forest. He knew that the Queen had always wanted a child of her own, so maybe she had seen the one he was looking for. He walked through the forest, using only a small bit of light, so as not to disturb the sleeping creatures. One never knew how wild animals would react to being woken up in the dead of the night. Jake himself had quite an aversion to it.

He soon came across a clearing and stopped at the edge listening intently. The wind raced towards him, bringing with him the sound of crying. Faeries are simple creatures, so simple they are usually incredibly happy. After all have you ever seen a sad fool? So the strange sobbing sound was quite out of place.

'Maybe that's the child! The naughty Faeries must have stolen him away as a gift for the Queen.' If that was the case then recovering the child would be much more difficult than he had previously thought. The Queen had never been fond of sharing her things, even as a child. It had made her quite unpopular with her brothers and sisters.

Jake sat down, and he hummed and he ahhed, and eventually he stumbled upon a fairly good plan. If he disguised himself as a visiting dignitary from across the seas then he could gain access to the Faery Queen's underground palace. Then he could sneak the child out at night, and return him home.

So Jake began his work. The first thing he did was darken his skin and his hair with a spiced oil, then he dressed in his finest clothes. The next problem was how was he to sneak his magical artefacts in with him. Without them he would not be able to use his magic. Once again he sat and though, he hummed and he ahed until he struck on an idea. He would bind his magical energy into his hair. He could then hide it under a fancy turban and the Queen would be none the wiser.

And so with his now magic hair braided and hidden, Jake the Hunter once more set off to the entrance of the Faery Queen's underground palace. In a small cart he carried a variety of rare incense, wine in bottles that would never run out and expensive cloth so that he may use it to gain entrance to his final destination. What was most bizarre, however, was the fact that under all of the gifts for the Faery Queen and her court, he had hidden a large teeth-root, wrapped in the most unremarkable brown paper.

Upon entering the palace, he was searched, and all his magic accoutrements were confiscated, to be returned upon his exit, but no one thought to search the simple turban upon his head, for what harm was there in hair? He was then led through the winding halls to the throne room.

Now, the Faery Queen was a vain woman, who always surrounded her with the most beautiful luxuries. So when Jake entered her courtroom, he bowed low and began to flatter her.

"Most beauteous queen," he began, "far and wide the tales of your fairness have spread, until I heard them in a far off land. I knew at once that I must see the queen, of whom it was said the moon herself has blessed with skin of alabaster and hair of liquid bronze."

The fat queen clapped her hands and squealed like a pig in delight. She snapped her fingers and demanded that drinks be brought for this intelligent merchant.

Jake just smiled. "Thank-you my queen, that is most kind. For I have travelled a long way in order to offer you these humble gifts."

The Queen and her court were amazed by the cloth, dazzled by the incenses, and soon they had broken open the wine and were merry.

Once all the inhabitants were sleeping from the bottomless bottles of wine, Jake could wander freely through the palace, stopping in the kitchen to retrieve a knife, in case he had need off it. Soon he found a vast door, and beyond it he could hear a child's cries. Upon inspection Jake realised that the lock was too heavy to pick and so he took his borrowed knife a sliced a lock of his hair.

"I am Jake, master of locks, and as your master I demand you yield." With that he pressed the hair against the lock and the magic he had stored in it earlier rushed into the keyhole.

The lock hummed and the lock ahhed but magic is a persuasive thing, and soon it was clicking into place, allowing the doors to open.

Jake strode into the room. In the centre was the child he was looking for. Gathering him close, he rocked him gently, whispering a few soothing words. The child soon fell asleep, and Jake wrapped him in the simple brown paper that had held the teeth root.

He swiftly made his way to the palace gates, for he was worried that soon the Queen and the court would wake and discover the child missing.

"Halt!" cried the guards at the palace gate. They were wide awake; it was against the rules to drink on duty.

'Of all the luck,' Jake thought, 'guards who obey the rules.'

"Who goes there?" The other guard prompted, peering out from under his small helmet.

"It is just a humble Merchant, nothing to worry yourselves about." Jake huddled over, hoping to hide his bundle, but the guards were more observant than he expected them to be.

"What is that?" The first who had spoken asked.

"Just a bundle of teeth-root to discourage the vampyres in the woods, I would hate to encounter one this late at night."

The guard leaned in and sniffed the paper, before leaning back and sneezing.

"It smells like teeth-root." With that Jake was allowed to leave.

As he was wondering away from the clearing and into the woods however, the baby started to cry. Realising the mistake they had made, the guards raised the alarm and soon Jake was being pursued through the woods by the Faery Hunt.

The city was not far now, and once he reached the outer limits of it he would be safe, but the faeries were gaining and Jake had to do something. He stopped and quickly pulled out the knife he had taken from the kitchen, more stolen now then borrowed. He cut another lock of hair off and knelt to the earth.

"I am Jake, master of locks and disguise, as your master I urge you to hide me." He pressed the hair into the earth and hoped his magic would save him once more. For a few dreadful moments nothing happened, all Jake could hear was the angry Faeries bearing down on him, until suddenly the earth rose up and in the shape of Jake ran off in another direction.

The faeries were confused, having not seen the strange magic, so half of them stopped to follow the fake sorcerer, and the other half followed Jake.

Soon he came across a small stream. Again, he knelt by it and cut his hair.

"I am Jake, master of locks, disguise and currents, as your master I beg you to stop those that hunt me." He then sprinkled the hair into the stream and leapt across.

Nothing happened for a few heart-stopping seconds, but then as the faeries reached the stream it swelled and burst its banks. Soon it was so wide and deep, that only the flying pixies could cross it.

So Jake continued, so close to safety, but the flying pixies were fast catching up. Jake stopped suddenly when he spied a spider's web.

Once more, he quickly cut his hair and pressed it gently to the web, so as not to break it.

"I am Jake, master of locks, disguise, currents and traps. As your master I plead for you to stop those that fly in pursuit of me." With those hurried words he gathered the babe closer to him ran on, hoping that the spider's web had listened to him.

As the flying pixies approached, the web grew. So fine and wide was it, that the pixies did not see it's sticky threads until it was too late. They struggled to get free, but the web held onto them fast.

Jake gathered his precious, found bundle close, and hurried back into town. Upon seeing her baby, the mother wept, paid Jake a handsome fee and left to take him home, but not before Jake made her promise to be more careful with her cherished things. Especially when that cherished thing is a child. Because if children are lost they are difficult to replace.

And that is how Jake the Hunter, master of locks, disguise, currents, traps and finding lost things, rescued a baby from the clutches of the Faery Queen. Nothing is irreversibly lost, it is just waiting for the right person to find it.

So is the way of the world.