The elderly wizard scratched his beard, searching through heaps of old yellowed paper, piled up on his desk, for the desired notes. As he lifted up one stack of sheets a small flat shape crawled out from underneath. He was alarmed for a moment, but then recognised the tiny figure as one of his earliest creations.
The living paper had been made unintentionally, though it was the most fortunate mistake he had ever made. He'd been staring at a page in one of his books, trying to make sense of it but not really succeeding in comprehending the mass of writing in front of him. He just stared at the page without really reading it. With one hand he traced the words with his finger in a futile attempt to force himself to concentrate; in the other he played with a piece of paper, absent-mindedly running it through his fingers, crushing and then unfolding it.
It had been a huge shock to find the scrunched up ball moving, struggling to escape his grasp. Somehow his idle fingers had transferred magic into the paper, and brought it to life. Many experiments (and some origami practice) later, he had perfected the art. His living-room was teeming with colourful paper men and creatures, and paper birds flew elegantly amongst the cobwebs. He revelled in his creations and marvelled at them, filled with an almost child-like fascination despite his old-age.
One of his colleagues and a great friend of his had managed, after much urging, to persuade him to show off his discovery to the world. He arrived by wagon at the Annual Gathering of Wizardry, with a large wooden trunk packed full of various paper creatures, intent on putting on a good show. After he'd made the decision to take part in the Gathering, he'd played around with different materials, carefully sculpting wax figures to be living candles, sure to be a hit with the audience.
He had been right; the non-magical onlookers especially had been particularly taken with his creations. The wizarding community had also been impressed, but they seemed more interested in the potential of this new form of magic than anything else.
And that was where everything started to fall apart. His magic had become a "genre", a "brand" of magic. That was perhaps, along with their incessant desire for greater knowledge, the most hated characteristic of his kind (in his opinion). For some inane reason everything had to have a name, everything needed to be categorized. His wonderful magic became known as golemancy, and before he knew it others had taken up the art.
He didn't appreciate the name, hating in particular its undeserved affiliation with the vile magic of necromancy, but he appreciated the competition even less. All of a sudden, it was up to him to prove himself deserving of the title "The Grand Golemancer", a title he didn't even desire. Worst of all, he now had enemies, who disliked him for no reason other than that he was considered better than them.
To his outrage and disgust, many necromancers had dabbled in his field of magic, attracted (childish though it sounds) by the similar name and also by the interesting possibilities that it offered. Necromancers had, of course, been the creators of the ever popular flesh golem, in his eye a mindless and hideous application of an art-form that should have been about creativity. The manner in which these flesh golems were made was appalling, shady and probably down-right illegal. Though nobody had been able to prove it, it was suspected that necromancers robbed graves to obtain the cadavers used to create their powerful servants.
If these unwelcome changes had one benefit, it was that he now strived to progress his strength. He'd created metal golems, great hulking iron guardians, each one a masterpiece of craftsmanship and magic combined. These now served as his protectors, guarding the stone tower in which he resided. Even this idea had been stolen from him, with iron golems becoming fashionable for rich noblemen.
Tonight though, tonight was the night he would show them all. He was about to attempt a feat of such magnificence, no-one would be able to keep up. He would show those that dared imitate his work by creating something that they could not copy. For days now he'd been ready, but he had to make sure, for if this endeavour was to fail, the consequences could be devastating.
Finally he found what he'd been looking for: Diagrams for a prototype of his first iron golems, adapted to accommodate for something much, much larger. Clutching the paper in one hand and his staff in the other, he ran down the spiralling stairs of his tower and, despite the darkness outside and the danger of the night, he rushed into the forest that's border ended at his tower.
The wolves and bears that occupied the forest had soon learnt that it was unwise to bother him, as had the giant spiders and, with time, even the darker denizens of the forest, the wraiths and lichenbeasts, had realized that he was a force to stay clear of.
Stumbling through the forest, muttering in annoyance about the ridiculous robes he was expected to wear, which caught and tore on the brambles and branches he passed, he eventually reached a vast clearing. In the centre (or more accurately, filling the entirety) of the clearing, a great figure lay.
The being was humanoid in shape, formed out of many trees which had been magically and painstakingly welded together to create the shape of a person. The wizard positioned himself at the head of the creature, and raised his staff.
First he cast extensive fire protection charms, for fire was always a danger to anything made out of wood. Next came more general protection wards, designed to toughen the golem and to prevent it from rotting. Last of all was the most complicated, intricate and dangerous part of the ritual. The spells that would bring the creature to life and bend it to his will.
An observer, had there been one, would have witnessed a spectacular array of coloured light and flashes, leaping from the staff into the wooden golem. The wizard stayed very still, the spells he was performing came instinctively, more important was the actions of his mind.
This process needed concentration, and careful timing. If he was too soon, all his efforts would have been wasted, and he would have to start over; if he was too late, he risked trapping his consciousness inside the enormous creature.
He suddenly knew that the time was right and quickly pushed outwards with his brain. If he'd been asked to, he would not have been able to describe what he actually did, but he was able to picture the desired outcome with the upmost clarity at the time.
The wizard waited with baited breath, and, his excitement mounting, he observed as the tree creature sat up, then shakily got to its feet. It stood at least 150 feet tall, dwarfing all natural creatures apart from the gods.
It opened its gaping mouth and let out a roar, though whether it was angry or not, the wizard could not tell. He considered that this might just be its natural voice. Then it set off, huge strides creating a great distance between itself and the wizard in a matter of moments. Quickly, the wizard raised his staff, sending buzzing tendrils of magic like angry hornets after the creature to halt its progress.
The first projectile struck the golem's barky skin but had no effect. The others were swatted away without effort. As the creature escaped, disappearing rapidly into the distance the wizard reflected how unwise he had been, not to leave the golem with some weakness that he would be able to exploit if something went wrong, as it so clearly had.
As the wizard turned back he felt quite dejected, kicking at a stone as he slowly left the forest. His gloomy, brooding mood lasted only until he got back to his tower, by which time he was already making plans for his second attempt.