© 2012-2013 Iscah

All Rights Reserved


Before the Fairytale:

The Girl With No Name

by Iscah


Chapter 3

They lived a quiet and happy life for a time. The girl grew taller, and the old man grew older. She read her father's books and learned that far away and across the sea there were other people like her. People who could hear the world sing and make magic and even some who could change their shape. They were called shifters, and it was very comforting to know that though her talent was rare even in the land of wizards she was not the only one. Her talent was a product of magic but did not make her a danger.

The books revealed to her that the essence of magic was to change a pattern. To control the effect, a magic user must first understand the pattern. Anyone could change a pattern, people did it constantly, but the art of magic was akin to the art of an instrument. Anyone can pluck a string, but it takes talent and study to have the strings produce a song. As with music, some were born with a certain talent and ear for the patterns of the world. For them the wind did not merely blow, it sang. A flower did not simply grow, it composed. Those with the greatest talent could change the composition.

Most magic is subtle, so it was easy enough to keep secret. They had few visitors, so there was no one to notice that a song helped more easily light the fire or that the flavor of the wood in the walls had been changed to keep away mice and bugs.

Still the girl knew that people were afraid of her. The books only made the vaguest mention of why the wizards had left the land and crossed the sea, something about kings and sages and counsels, but the girl suspected it had more to do with them not liking to see sticks and mud and cruel words thrown at their children.

But she also learned from the old man that someone without magic and someone with it could live together in perfect harmony. Three hundred years ago, which in some ways was a very long time and in other ways not long at all, the wizards had lived in Gourlin and the surrounding lands, so her ancestral home was also the one where she lived. She wondered if those wizards had left anything behind.

She asked the old man if he thought there might be. He told her there were some people who still called themselves magicians in the land, but most people did not believe in magic anymore. "It is hard to believe in what you can not see."

So the girl gathered eggs from their six chickens, milked their two goats, read her books, and listened to the world sing.

And then one morning after she had gathered the eggs and made a breakfast, she went to wake the old man, but he would not wake. He looked peaceful but cold, and she ran to the village center to find help. The men came, and the old man was buried.

The next morning the mayor came to tell the girl that she must leave. The old man had no children or wife of his own, and the law was clear. His property now belonged to the village. She could no longer live there.

The girl's heart was heavy as she packed her clothes and books and what little money she could find. She took the cooking pots and wooden bowls and hitched the goats to the old man's small wagon. Then she set off to find her father.