Wizard Of Wisdom - [Wisdom Chronicles - Book One]
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by Walter C. Conner
Category: Fantasy/Dark Fantasy
Description: Wil has arrived at his sixty-fifth birthday after a directionless, purposeless, friendless lifetime. In the little village of Wisdom which sits close against the Old Forest, the last refuge of the elves before they departed this world many centuries before, he finds a place where he finally feels at home working as the assistant of the village swineherd, Scrubby.
On the other side of the Principality of Gleneagle, the wizard Greyleige has been hoarding the world's fading magics with the intent of achieving control over the world and the eternal life of the departed elves. The ruling prince's daughter, Princess Caron, has been tracking Greyleige's machinations, convinced that he is the danger to the balance of good and evil in the world that was foretold in the family scrolls that were written by their elven ancestors before their departure centuries before.
Fate has put Wil, Caron, Scrubby and Greyleige on a collision course that will determine whether or not evil will overbalance goodness and plunge the world into a future of endless terror and despair.
eBook Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing/Double Dragon eBooks, 2011 Double Dragon Publishing
eBookwise Release Date: June 2011
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [445 KB]
Reading time: 294-412 min.
All was black behind his closed eyes, but even in the blackness there was sluggish movement as if hot tar was being slowly stirred by an unseen hand. Though seemingly impossible, within the black was an even deeper darkness in which ghostly suggestions of evil floated through a roiling stew of fears, prejudices, and hatred. There was nothing specific, nothing identifiable or recognizable, yet the pall of something debased and frighteningly powerful ever searching for him was overpowering. It left his unconscious mind struggling in an inescapable mire of raw terror.
He had had this nightmare many times during the long span of his life but it was one he could never remember. The only thing he was left with upon awakening was the overwhelming feeling that he had to keep moving and he had done just that for his entire life until, finally, he was tired of moving. Now, he wanted it only to end.
The air was still and close and damp from the overnight chill as Wil awoke, driven out of his stupor by an intense slice of early morning sunlight creeping across his face. He forced one eye open but slammed it immediately shut to protect himself from the brilliance that stabbed deeply into a brain already beginning to throb with each heartbeat. The pain prodded his other senses into reluctant wakefulness and he became aware of a stench so pervasive and foul his gorge began to rise in response.
A shadow fell across his face as he fought for control of his stomach, encouraging him to risk opening the single functioning eye to see what it was that had blocked the painful brilliance. It took a long moment for his mind to work its way through the fog of a stupendous hangover but it finally registered that the shade was being supplied by an enormous hog snuffling at his face from a scant few inches away.
Both eyes at last flew open as Wil scrambled backwards until he was stopped abruptly by a fence rail to which he clung as he began pulling himself up from the ground. He swallowed heavily several times in a desperate attempt to avoid the inevitable but the battle had been lost the moment the revolting stench collided with his throat. Closing his eyes in resignation he turned and vomited noisily and generously onto the boots of a man who had been standing behind him, silently observing his ignominious awakening.
"Must've been a bad night, I expect," the man said calmly as he looked down at his feet. Not only was there no hint of anger or disgust in his voice, even more remarkably, he had made no effort to dodge the repulsive mess covering his boots.
Wil's gaze moved slowly from the man's four feet to his two identical faces which floated uncertainly toward each other but refused to converge into one. "I'm still alive?" he asked dully.
"Well, to tell the truth of it, you don't much look like it and you don't much smell like it, but I expect you probably are else you wouldn't be talkin' with me."
Only by squinting and closing one eye was Wil able to sharpen the blurry image of the speaker enough to make out his features. Stringy brown hair framed a plain, square face marred by scars left either by acne or a distant bout with the pox. Small but shiny brown eyes under heavy brows regarded Wil openly. Slightly shorter than average, the man was dressed in baggy breeches, an ill fitting shirt of coarsely woven cloth, and a home-made leather jerkin. The clothes were old and had been crudely mended many times, marking him as a person of very limited means. The only reasonably new article of clothing on him was the pair of boots upon which Wil had just vomited.
"You don't normally sleep with hogs, I'd wager," the plain faced man offered, "so I'd guess you fell into their pen by accident."
Wil opened both eyes and swayed unsteadily as he tried to follow what was being said.
"You're lucky it was the hogs' pen you fell into, my friend. Had you stumbled into the boar's pen ... well, whatever troubles you have that drove you to this, I expect they wouldn't be troubling you now."
Abandoning the effort to hold the man's face to a single image, Wil closed his eyes. "How far to the boar's pen?" he asked as a wave of pain caused him to reach up with both hands and squeeze his head in a futile attempt to make the pounding stop.
The man ignored the question. "My name's Scrublein," he said, "and you're standin' in my hog pen. I really think you should come out of there and I'll take you over to the house and we'll clean you up a bit and get you somewhere comfortable to sleep this one off." He opened the gate and Wil shuffled through before following Scrublein up a well worn rut that served as a path between the pig sties and the hovel that he had called his house.
"Like I said, my name's Scrublein," the man said, talking as he walked, "but you'll almost never hear that name used on me. Mostly you'll hear 'Scrubby' or 'Scrub' if folks ever bother to talk to me at all. Those're my nicknames, you see, and I've been the swineherd here in Wisdom since I was just a little tad. Fact is, I was born to it. My pa was a swineherd before me and his before him. I just guess we've always been the swineherds hereabouts. I know it's nothing fancy, but it's what I know, and I can't think of anything else I'd rather do."
They arrived at the house as he finished talking and Scrubby lifted up on the door that was sagging heavily on its leather hinges to open it. Wil had been squinting to minimize the pain in his eyes but opened them wide when he entered the dark interior of the hut.
As Scrubby closed the door behind them, Wil stood swaying slightly while he waited for his vision to adjust to the gloom. The medium sized, low roofed room made of wattle and daub appeared to be the entire house. It was cleaner and neater than Wil's muzzy mind had expected it would be.
He ran his hand over his face in a futile attempt to clear the fuzziness from his brain before realizing that Scrubby was still talking. "...your own business, of course," he was saying as Wil focused on his words, "and I have no need to know of them, but I'd take it as a sign of politeness if you'd be willing to share your name with me, seeing as how I've already shared mine with you."
"It's Wil," Wil said abruptly. "Wilton, that is, but I'm almost never called Wilton since my stepmother died. Anyone who bothers to talk to me at all just calls me Wil."
Despite the muck and his disheveled appearance, Wil didn't look to Scrubby like the kind of person others wouldn't talk to. "Judging by your clothes, even though they need a good washin', you're far more high-born than I am," he said. "I kind of understand why some folks don't bother talkin' to me, seein's they look at me as just a swineherd and nothing special, but you... Well, you look like... Well, you don't look like... Well..." His voice tapered off as he tried to find the words to get his thought across.
He looked up at that point and realized that Wil's eyes were closed and his body was swaying on the verge of sleep. He grabbed Wil just in time to keep him from pitching forward onto his face, turned him, and pushed him back to sit down on the sleeping platform against the wall.
"Sorry, Wil," he said gently, "no sleep for you 'til we get you out of these dirty clothes." Wil fumbled at the ties of his breeches while Scrubby pulled off his boots and shirt. Wil finally managed to loosen the ties of the heavily soiled breeches and Scrubby drew them off before allowing him to topple over onto the pallet for the sleep he so desperately needed.
The grating sound of loud snoring already came from the sleeping platform by the time Scrubby opened the door with Wil's clothes in his hand.