Fiction Fragment Friday

This weeks story was inspired by thinking of various enchanted items I have used in gaming. I like to have weird effects and sometimes attribute those effects to mistakes by the wizard creating the item. I started thinking about why items might turn out the way they do and in doing so came up with a whole system in my head for how enchanting could work. This led to the story you are about to read. Enjoy.

  “Well, my young apprentice today we shall begin your enchanting lessons.”  The old wizard pushed open the large wooden door to his lab and stepped through. 

  “Yes Master Arnax.  I’ve been looking forward to it.”

  “Now my girl the first thing to remember is that enchanting is difficult work with many variables.  No matter how good you become you will not always get the result you want.”  He approached a chest in the corner of the room that his apprentice had never seen before.  “This is my personal box of items that came out wrong.  For now, you can have a shelf in it, but we will need to get you your own.”

  “Shelf?  I don’t understand master.”  To Marigold’s surprise the wizard swung his leg over the open lid of the box and started to climb in. 

  “Come now, don’t dawdle.”  The wizard disappeared into the chest.

  As she approached the box Marigold noticed a ladder just inside it.  The chest itself looked like any other treasure chest but opened up to a dimensional pocket.  As she climbed down the ladder everything was dark at first until she was completely inside.  Marigold found herself in a large warehouse with shelves as far as she could see.  Items of all shapes and sizes filled the shelves and she could feel a low pulsing of power.  Her eyes darted everywhere in awe impressed by the sheer magnitude of what she was witnessing.  The dimensional pocket warehouse contained inside the box was easily the largest room she had ever been in.  On the walls and ceiling bright blue crystals as bright as daylight lit the room.  “This is magnificent.”

  “Yes, a magnificent monument to failure.”  He lifted a book from the shelf, and she could hear it purr as he petted it.  “Or in some cases happy little accidents. Come your shelf is down here.”  He walked down one of the aisles to an empty shelf with her name on it.  “You have seen my many successes.  I show you now my failures so you will not get discouraged at your own.  Magic sometimes has a mind of its own and despite your strong will it will express its own desires as you craft.”

  “But master I feel so much power in these items.”

  “Yes, but they do not do what I intended.  That does not mean however that they do not do anything.”  He picked up a chalice.  “Items that have been serving a purpose want to continue that purpose and will defy your will.  I picked up this cup with the intention of enchanting it to provide an unending supply of water for weary travelers.  I did not know that the previous owner only drank wine from it.”  He ran his finger across the rim of the chalice and it filled with a red liquid.  “Instead of water it fills with wine.”  He sipped from the cup.  “Not the effect I was intending, but useful none the less.”

  “I see so if you wanted to enchant a sword for combat you would be better off finding a well used sword than one that had just been freshly forged.”

  “Not necessarily.  Intent is put into a sword at forging.  It has a purpose.  If you had to pick between a sword that had sat in storage for years or one that had seen battle then the sword that had seen battle would likely be your better choice.  Assuming the enchantment is one of combat.  If however you wanted a sword to glow brightly to provide light in dark caves the sword that has sat in storage without purpose would be your better choice.  You must always think about what the item has been used for and what your intended purpose it to select the best item for your specific enchantment.:

  “Master if you know to do that why are there so many items in here?”  She turned red for a minute realizing that she was pointing out her teachers failures.  She expected to be chastised but instead he just smiled at her.

  “Because item selection and intent are just two of the variables.  Time of day, your mood, the whims of spirits, and the chaotic nature of magic all play a part as well.”  He picked up a sword and weighed it in his hands.  “Take Gladimeir here.  I enchanted this sword to end a war.  I intended it to be powerful and cut right through armor.  It does exactly that, but it also makes the wielder feel the pain they are inflicting on their enemy.  This weapon could kill a dragon with a single blow, but the wielder would feel the pain the dragon felt as it died.  That makes a man think twice about fighting.  It’s last wielder became a diplomat negotiating many treaties in an effort to not use the sword.”

  Marigold held up a beautiful ballroom dress.  “What about this?  It’s so beautiful.”

  “That it is.  That dress was enchanted for a princess that wanted a dress so beautiful that everyone would be jealous of her.  She did not tell me that was the purpose of the dress when she asked me to enchant it to improve her dancing.  When she took to the ballroom floor all of her potential suitors became overwhelmed with jealousy over her.  The dance became a battlefield as men and women began fighting to the death for the chance to dance with her. 

  “That’s horrible.”

  “That it was, but the princess enjoyed every moment of it.  The dress fed on the jealousy in the room and channeled it into her vanity.  The more violent it got the happier the princess was.  If she were given the choice she would have never taken off the dress.”

  “How did you get it back then.”

  He picked up an arrow and turned it over in his hands.  “A stray arrow struck her.  Strangest thing they never did find anyone carrying a bow among the fighters or guards.”

  She looked at her mentor.  “And what does that arrow do?”

  “Oh this,” he said.  “It always hits its target but misses anything critical.  This arrow will never strike a killing blow.  Also, it can be thrown and will act as if shot by an arrow.”  He smiled at her again.  “Always remember that just because an item doesn’t do what you intended does not mean it does not serve a purpose.”