The Wizard, the Witch, and the Young Couple in Love
by Font Bookfarthing
There once lived a woman called Aurora in the village of Abernath. And she fancied a man. The man, Matt, was oblivious to the fact that Aurora's entire world revolved around him.
Then one day there was a big party in Abernath. And at the party, Aurora coaxed a mutual friend of both hers and Matt's to introduce them to each other. Geri, the mutual friend, guided Aurora over to Matt, who was standing all alone at the food table. "Hi, Matt. Do you know Aurora?"
"Uh, no," he said. Then a moment later, "I mean yeah." Aurora's heart burst into the sky like fireworks. "But I've only seen you from a distance. Hi. Say, who's that girl over there?"
Aurora's heart came plummeting back to the ground like a stone. A stone that might never fly again.
So she wandered off on her own and watched the sun sink dejectedly into the horizon.
As it happened, a witch had gate-crashed the party. And there was a small group of men, drinking Albern's home crew, all grinning foolishly as they clandestinely observed the witch's rather ample breasts. Of course all the women at the party, all the women in Abernath for that matter, knew that the witch's breasts were not really that large. She used magic to enhance them.
One of the women came over to the small crowd to get her husband. "Boll, you're coming home with me right now."
"But, honey, I'm having a drink and a chat with the boys."
"No you're not, Boll Biggerbottom. You're having a shameless gawk at the witch. Now you come home with me this instant."
Boll set down his drink and gave his friends a what can you do? look. And they watched him go.
"What was all that about?" asked Birt.
"Well," began old Mr. Buckinshaw. "They say that young miss big boobs over there is actually a witch. And she comes to Abernath every five or ten years in search of a new man. But she only prefers married men. She beguiles them, takes them back to her castle across the ocean and... uses them up. Sometimes they manage to return years later, spent, nearly dead. But they're never the same after that."
"What a way to go," said Birt. And he looked over at the witch. And she smiled back... a sun shining, spring time, everything is okay now until forever-kind of smile.
A few days later Aurora saw Matt carrying several boxes of supplies. There were too many for him, and he kept swaying, on the verge of dropping the lot. So she dashed over and grabbed the most precarious looking box from the top before it could fall out of his grasp. "Oh, thanks," he said gratefully.
She helped him carry the boxes back to his house. "So," she inquired as casually as she could, "how's that girl you met at the party? I've seen you guys together a couple times since then."
"Oh, I don't spend time with her anymore. It's an awful thing to say, but honestly she's not very bright and she doesn't like animals."
Oh-my-gosh! Aurora thought to herself. He just listed everything that makes me me! Now, how to get that message across without seeming too obvious. And she found herself blurting out, "You know, I'm pretty bright, and I absolutely love animals."
And rather than shake his head at her forwardness, Matt turned to her, beamed his glowingly white teeth at her and said, "Where have you been all my life?"
"I don't know. I haven't kept track. Why don't you tell me your life story and we'll take it from there."
And until her dying days Aurora could recount every single word said between them that day. Every time he smiled. Every secret look he snuck her, and that she snuck him. And they somehow... sailed off together into the sky.
He brought her flowers the next day. And the day after that. And the day after that. But soon he had to stop, because the locals had finally worked out who had been raiding their front gardens.
And then one day Matt asked her to spend the rest of her life with him. And she hoped that she didn't shout, "Yes!" too loudly. A month later they gathered all their friends and some of their relatives, and stood before them as they promised to stay with each other, and only each other, for the rest of their days. "Will you stand with me through evil and darkness and chaos?" they asked each other. And, "Yes," they both replied.
They had been married for nearly five years when the evil witch finally returned to Abernath. Their five year anniversary was just a few months away, and Aurora had never been happier in her life.
Then someone else had a party. And the witch came too. No one ever invited the witch. But she kept coming anyway.
Aurora was standing there, clinging to her husband when Geri called her over to check out her new dress she'd apparently spent two months making. So she excused herself from Matt to go and admire Geri's handiwork.
Afterwards she returned to where she had left Matt. But there was only an empty patch of grass there. An empty patch of grass which did not say, "He just stepped over there." It was an ominous empty patch of grass which seemed to scream out, "He's gone! The witch has taken him!"
"Matt!?" she called. She knew that she was causing a scene. She knew that everyone at the party was staring. And she knew that everyone in the village would be talking about her for the next few weeks. But Matt was gone! She knew it! Her husband had been taken from her! "Matt! Has anybody seen Matt!?" She began running through the crowd, grabbing people by the arm, "Have you seen Matt!? Did you see where Matt went!?"
No one had seen him go. "He was just here a few minutes ago," was about the best anyone could manage by way of response. And then they began to look for the witch. And again, "She was just here a few minutes ago." No one had seen either of them go. They had gone... together!
Aurora ran to the edge of Abernath where the road out of town sloped down the hill. And she looked far down the winding road as far west as she could. There wasn't a trace of him. Matt was gone. She didn't know where he was. He wasn't visiting a friend. He wasn't out hiking. He wasn't out exploring. He was gone. "Gone" was suddenly an entire universe of evil and darkness. "Gone" was forever. And Aurora was alone.
And she sat on the edge of that road and watched the sun go down. She watched it alone. As she would be doing everything in her life from now on.
She was all alone.
Aurora's fried Geri had come over to console her. But Aurora insisted she needed no cheering up. "I'm going to get him back."
"Aurora," Geri began softly, "How? No man ever returns whole after being taken by the witch."
"I will need the help of the wizard Mish. He is learned in Zoodlewaddletikimomo. It is said he knows everything."
"I think you need to lie down. I'll ask Doctor Baker to look in on you."
"Geri! I'm all right!"
"Of course you are," Geri said in a tone that suggested she was lying out of her bottom. "You know, something occurs to me. If this wizard is supposed to know everything, then how come he doesn't already know that you need his help?"
There was a knock on the door. Aurora opened it, and in walked the wizard Mish. He was old and quite short. His face was covered in a thick white beard. "I'll be ready to leave tomorrow," he announced. "Now, where can I sleep for the night?"
The next day they began their journey. Aurora was so excited, it hadn't occurred to her to inquire where they were actually going until several hours into their walk. "We will need to travel," Mish explained, "to the island of Kartuputka. There are thunderhooms there with whom the witch sometimes communes. I do not know exactly where her castle is. She has it protected by a magic field. But the thunderhooms are our best hope. And to get to their island we must convince a captain of a sailing ship to take us there."
"Why are you helping me?" Aurora asked. Everyone else thought I was crazy. They all said I would never see my husband again. And even if I did, they said he would be touched by the evil witch. I mean I'm grateful for your help. But I need to know why are you on my side?"
"Because you are following the voice of your soul. Had you listened to the voices of those others, I would never have wasted my time with you. Even if you were mad, and wanted to do something like build the biggest pile of dung the world has ever known, as long as you are acting directly from your soul... you are being the best person you can be... and therefore you deserve all the help I can give."
Late the next day, they arrived at the village of Farthington, built along the shore of the Humongous Ocean. It was built mainly of wood, on stilts, hanging just over the shore. The constant sound of waves and booted feet on wood filled the air.
"Smell that sea air," Aurora marveled. "Matt and I used to love coming to the ocean-side at least once a year. We could spend hours just sitting on the sand, looking out across eternity."
"Well, it isn't quite eternal, my dear. But it is a tidy voyage to Kartuputka. So Captain Bomboozle is the man we need to find. I just hope he's in port right now. If he's not, then the only other captain I can possibly convince to take us there is a chap who won't be back in port for another year."
They checked around at the favorite haunts of the local sea captains, but were unable to find Captain Bomboozle. So they had to get a room at the local tavern to wait.
After several days it looked as though the captain mightn't be showing up any time soon. So, reluctantly, Mish explained that he could "convince" another captain to take them to the island.
"If you could do that all along, why have we been waiting!?"
"Because I can assure you, my dear, no captain would want to go there. And I am simply not in the habit of imposing my will over those of others. But this matter is quite important. And Captain Bomboozle is quite adventurous."
But fortunately, Captain Bomboozle arrived in port the very next day. His ship, the Nessie, docked after a seven month trip to the Faeryland Islands. As soon as the captain had a spare moment to sit down in the tavern, Mish joined him. Aurora sat outside the window, doing her best to look unhappy, per Mish's plan. "You give the appearance of a gentleman," Mish said to the captain.
"I like to think that I am," the captains said pleasantly.
"But you'd never help out a lady in distress, would you?" he said with a nod towards Aurora out the window.
"I assure you that I would, sir."
"Really?" Mish asked intently.
"Really," confirmed Bomboozle.
"Then you'll be wanting to assist my young friend out there," he pointed out the window, where Aurora was sighing and looking as though she were on the verge of tears. "It's very sad, she just lost her husband to a witch from Kartuputka Island. All we ask is that you take us there. We won't even need for you to wait for us, because I know how frightening the unknown can be to sailors."
"One way trip? But you'll have to work for your passage. What can you do?"
"I can write," Mish said, pleased with himself and showing off his quill. "I can write out your log entries for the next nine and a half years."
"Why only nine and a half years?"
"If you truly want to know your future, then read the final entry after I've written it. That should explain things."
Captain Bomboozle welcomed Aurora and Mish aboard the Nessie. "I've never actually landed at this island myself," he said. "But I did sail by it once about seven years ago. Didn't much like the look of it. And don't forget, I'm providing your ride there. One-way voyage. Clear?"
"Quite clear, captain," Mish replied. "Thank you."
They left the docks and sailed west.
Aurora spent the day learning the ropes from the other sailors. At night, just after sunset, she stood at the bow of the ship, wrapped in a blanket. She kept her eyes on the horizon. She wondered if Matt could possibly know that she was making all speed to save him. What must he be going through right now, she worried. And then she stopped herself. Any more thoughts like that and she would start crying again.
Several says into the journey, they saw smoke on the horizon. "That," the captain explained to Aurora, "is the island of Kartuputka. It is made from an active volcano. But it is large enough that we don't have to worry about lava flows. No, your only concern will be the thunderhooms. A race of giants who are half thunder lizard and half human. They are also overwhelmingly rude."
"Indeed," said Mish, joining them. "'Excuse me' is imply not in their vocabulary."
"How horrible," Aurora exclaimed.
Mish and Aurora arrived at the outskirts of the thunderhoom village of Kraptap. It sounded as though a full scale riot was in progress. But Mish assured Aurora that it was simply the way thunderhooms behaved the majority of the time. Thunderhooms were generally on the order of 15 to 20 feet tall with bodies that looked as though they were left-overs from other animals stuck together all higgledy-piggledy. As Aurora and the wizard watched, the enormous creatures were busy swearing and fornicating and drinking, and many were even howling at the moon.
"Come," Mish tugged her away. "The thunderhoom we need lives this way."
"What do we need one of them for? I thought you know everything."
"Well... not everything. But... almost everything. And whatever I don't know, I know who does know. Anyway, the witch surrounds herself with magic to cloak herself from my own powers of observation. We need the help of a local. And this one we seek deals in information."
Sneaking along back alleys, and managing to keep out of site of the locals, the two of them finally arrived at a dwelling made entirely of wood. Mish knocked. A thunderhoom opened the door and looked right over their heads. He was about to slam the door shut again when he happened to look down and noticed the two humans. "Oh!" he bellowed. "You're way down there! Damn, you are tiny people! You must be the teeny magic folk from across the ocean!"
"Yes, yes," Mish said as he steered Aurora inside the dwelling. Inside was a gob of old food rotting on a huge table, stains of a lavatorial nature in one corner, and on a shelf was a row of severed heads.
The thunderhoom slammed the door shut. "How'd you get to be so tiny?! That must be awful!"
"It is hereditary," Mish explained. "We need information."
The thunderhoom was suddenly interested. "What information?"
"We need to know how to get to the witch."
The thunderhoom nodded. "It will cost you, little fella. Have you got any gold?"
"You must have something to trade for this information you seek!"
"Do you mean," Mish asked, "that information is a commodity?"
"Then I tell you what. Rather than provide you with things... I will do you a great favor and provide you with more information. Information you could never hope to obtain without my help."
"We'll get to that in a moment. Do you possess the information we need?"
The thunderhoom took them to his shelf of severed heads... living severed heads. "Now then, which one of you know the way to the witch?"
One of the heads, a very small wreptile, admitted that he knew the way... but could only show them if they took him along.
"Why not just dictate a map?" Aurora inquired, not at all keen on having to carry a wreptile head with them.
"No, no. Won't work. You must take me with you."
Mish looked into the eyes of the body-less head before him. "You fib. Your plan is to direct us somewhere pleasant, far away from the witch."
"Tis," Mish insisted.
"Shut up!" It was Aurora. "Will you quit screwing around, please!?"
"Quite right," Mish said. He turned to the thunderhoom, "Here is my information; this wreptile head here is of a wreptile who died of a disease which is communicable with thunderhooms."
"Ew! I am a happy thunderhoom that I have not had this one for very long. Tell you what, I'll give it to you as a present. Then it can give you directions as you go."
"That would be acceptable. Thank you."
Several hours outside the thunderhoom village, they made camp. Mish and the wreptile head were discussing directions over the fire. "Head trauma. This head suffered massive head trauma," the head was saying, referring to itself in the third person. "Now it's only a head. So head trauma is all it got's left. Don't take us back to the witch, please."
"You don't have to worry. My own powers exceed hers," Mish said soothingly. "Anyway, the witch mightn't be quite the same as when you knew her... at least she won't be by the time I'm done with her."
Aurora meanwhile sat nearby in her own world of gloom. Her moody thoughts said to her 'we all like to think that if we eliminate the competition, then our mate will only be with us. Is that the case? Did the witch beguile Matt with magic? Or with her looks alone?'
She lay her head down on her arm. She longed for her pillow. She scooted closer to the fire.
She drifted off to sleep.
And she dreamt....
Aurora stood in the middle of a great valley. The mountain walls stared down at her like disappointed parents. And she just knew that they were going to scoop her up and do something horrible to her, though she wasn't sure what. But she was sure that it wouldn't be anything like good. She opened her mouth to try to explain to them that everything was okay, but suddenly she had to burp. Only she couldn't quite get it out. She twisted her neck about and hopped in place to try to force it loose from wherever it is that burps like to hide. But it stayed like a stone trapped in her neck.
The mountains grew more and more upset with her. Perhaps they were upset with her for trying to burp. The trouble was, the more angry they grew, the larger the un-released burp became.
Soon her neck became so heavy that she fell to the ground. She felt her stomach gurgle as it prepared to add a second burp. And they joined forces. She now had two burps stuck in her throat... angering the mountains even further.
And all at once they closed in on her! Five avalanches at the same time! Huge boulders and tons of dirt suddenly fell upon her! She was about to be buried alive! And yet she knew that she would not die; that she would merely be buried... and she would survived... to live an eternity at the bottom of five mountains.
Mish nudged her shoulder gently, "You were dreaming."
She sat up and looked about groggily. "Yes," she said.
"Curses!" the witch shouted, her voice echoing throughout the castle.
She ran to her secret mirror on the wall. In the mirror the witch saw herself, yet it was not a reflection. For the image in the mirror was of whatever person stood before it... but with a life of its own... and a voice of its own... and sometimes an agenda of its own.
"The woman is still coming," the witch explained.
"Yes," said her image in the mirror.
"You said to send her nightmares and that would stop her!"
"I said it might stop her. But there is another with her. Another whom we should fear."
The witch ran to the dining hall where Matt was slaving away moving furniture about. "Matty..." the witch purred, rubbing her breasts and cheek against the zombie-fied man. She twirled her finger over his crotch. "There are some mean old people coming here to hurt me. You wouldn't want that to happen, now would you?"
There was silence, which the witch took to be a "no."
"So," the witch went on, "take the biggest stick you can find and bash their brains in when they get here, okay?" And she blew some magic into his ear.
"Yes, Mistress," he said flatly.
Mish walked with the wreptile head held out before him. "Yes, this is the way," the head explained. "Up there on top of that dark and spooky mountain."
They looked, and perched atop the mountain they could see a castle, dark and oppressive, with storm clouds lurking around it like stink from a fresh pile of poo.
They began climbing.
Finally as they neared the top, they came to a bridge dangling precariously across a chasm leading to the castle. And standing in the middle of the bridge was Matt, large stick in hand. Aurora's face broke into a smile as she called to him, "Matt! It's me!"
With blood-shot eyes, Matt droned monotonously, "You are my wife. Nag-nag-nag. You are evil. I am with someone new now. She is young and sexy."
The wreptile's head burst out laughing, "Hoominian, you have been fooled. You must have got some nasty head trauma of your own."
"No," Mish said slowly and carefully to Matt as he headed for him. "You have been blinded by a fake. Now remember... remember Aurora. Remember the truth." He waved his hands over Matt's eyes... and then they worked again. Now he could truly see.
He spun around and saw the witch hiding round the corner, watching events unfold. He no longer saw the perfect face and perfect body. He saw an ugly old hag with paint obscuring her features and magically enhanced mammary glands. Not much of what he had appreciated was actually real.
And then he turned to look back to look at Aurora. And there was the perfect woman. The one who would be with him until the end of time. The one he would love forever. The one who would love him forever... even when he farted in bed.
He flung his arms open, "Aurora!"
Aurora ran into his embrace, "Matt!"
They held each other and kissed and kissed until even Mish became slightly uncomfortable. And lightning erupted. But strangely this was not the usual deadly bolt of electricity... this was more like fireworks.
Then Matt picked up his stick again and charged at the witch. But she popped back inside the castle and locked the door.
Matt pounded once on the door just for the gesture, then turned back to Aurora. "Let's just get out of here."
"No," said Mish. And he went up to the door and knocked politely.
"Go away!" came a voice from inside. But Mish knocked again.
"What are you doing?" Aurora asked.
"We must stay and help her."
There was a pause... broken by the wreptile head, "Sounds like more head trauma."
"But," protested Aurora. "I always thought that violence against evil is okay. And this witch is definitely evil!"
"My dear... Zoodlewaddletikimomo teaches us that nothing is entirely evil. The witch did an evil thing, but it was an attempt to make herself happy and whole. However wrong she was, she was striving for the perfection of her soul. And that is the same reason that I helped you. She was trying to achieve happiness. Deep down she knew that it was wrong to steal your man. But for her, there was a greater good; her own happiness. In life we are frequently forced to choose our own good over someone else's evil. And each time we hope that we have made the right choice. This witch cannot see things clearly. She cannot see that appearances are unimportant. It is a lesson that she was not given when she was young. And so she must learn it now. And then she will no longer steal other women's mates. And then... we can all live happily ever after. So I must stay, for there is no one else who will teach her."
"What if she won't listen?"
"I will talk as long as the wind blows and the sun shines."
On the third day the witch finally answered the door.
The witch showed them to her hall of doors. It was a narrow hall with nine doors in all, four on each wall, and one at the far end. Each door opened onto another part of the planet. And there was one labeled Abernath.
As they said their goodbyes, Mish handed Aurora a little package he said she would need. She thanked him for all this help, and then stepped through the doorway with Matt in tow.
And suddenly they were standing in front of their own house. It was real! They turned to look back, but the doorway was gone. There was only empty air. They hugged each other briefly, then made for the house.
Unfortunately the door was locked.
"What was in the package the wizard gave you?" Matt asked.
Aurora pulled it out... it was the front door key.