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Library: The boy who cried '#'


Author: kapu
Date:Jan 12 2010

It was not unusual they had to hire them this young. Ancient art of sorcery
was fading, scholars and teachers diminishing in number. Was all too common
nowadays that youngsters admired frolicking and slacking in general more than
spending their days in damp dimly lit libraries. Parties set out on adventures
and raids were hard enough to organize as it was, and now there was more
muscle than competent magicians for hire. So they rode out the city gates
amongst them a brand new member, a young boy. A novice explorer. A duckling
savant in magic lore.

Young ones. Youth. How exasperating it was to bear witness to when you
yourself are past that season, forever. Not a worry in the world. Not a single
scar in the face to remind you of a battle won or a lesson learned. Rosy
cheeks to match the hue. Two tiny sparkling eyes like lost diamonds. Stern
posture almost as to defy the melancholy of a rainy morning. There was
something irritating even about this boy's stride, hopping along humming and
smiling like there was nothing askew in the world. Nevertheless the party had
been short a man and the young magician was their only choice for the moment.
Who knew, maybe he would prove to be a worthy member once he got some blood
under his nails in the line of fire. If not, they could always ditch him
discreetly once they got back to town. If they got back to town. War was a
dangerous trade after all.


Days passed, they fought their way through minor disputes and battles. The
young duckling magician held his place in combat nicely, showing promising
courage and adaptability under fire. The second week on the campaign they
finally got to real battle. A real dragon, ruling a citadel. Fairy tale
legendary monster in it's shiny armour lurking in the nest filled with
treasures and coin. The dragon would put their names to the test. A moment of
glory and songs. Or the end, demise of them all. The gargoyle the band had
chosen as their leader yelled out orders and tactics concerning the fight. He
and the other two brutes, a titan and a gloomy lich, would hold the dragon
back and prevent it from hurting the little folk, healers and magicians
including the young boy. Their leader winked a reassuring smile and promised
them fame and fortune including uncanny loot in the end. The minstrel blew his
battle horn, a praise to war and the band marched on to combat.

Time is different in combat. It flows like liquid, ever changing. A lifespan
caught in a heartbeat. A beautiful ballet of warfare was painted on an
immaculate canvas before them. Swing of an axe, flaming spell from a sorcerer,
thump of a shield holding back the enemy and a healer among them all running
for the wounded. Their gargoyle leader had chosen they would engage the dragon
in short bursts, quick offensive maneuvers followed by a defensive stance.
Blood, sweat, repetition and the road to riches. Even the young duckling was
hurling magic spells at the dragon like a veteran of warfare with an arrogant
smile on his face. Never occuring to him that his life was soon coming to an

So self-confident had the young magician become that he started shouting
insults during the battle and laughing at the dragon. He hurled his spells
with unnecessary vigor and excessive dramatic moves. When the leader ordered
them to fall back the young duckling was already concentrating on another
spell towards the dragon. He traced the runes of his chant and quacked '#' for
them all to hear. When the leader led them to safety the young boy was
slapping his thighs and shouting in disappointment. All the other seasoned
fighters were happy to still be alive and busy getting ready for the next
onslaught, but the newcomer magician appeared irritated. Oozing with battle
nectar, drunk on power he claimed to beat the dragon all by himself if just
the others let him. Sulking in the corner he finally stopped ranting. The
older adventurers exchanged muffled grunts and glances with each other
knowingly, they had seen this sort of behavior before.

Next couple of onslaughts went smoothly, no major injuries to report, no lives
lost. The young boy had his game face on again and was hurling his spells and
shouting insults yet again. Preparing to retreat for a defensive move, the
leader ordered them to fall behind him and head back for a regroup. The young
duckling was frowning and chanting his magic incantations, and this time it
came out a high pitched squeal as the boy exclaimed: '#', while spreading his
hands in a ridiculously dramatic movements. 

Of course it was too late by then to be casting another spell, and they raised
their shields in unison to defend themselves. The boy cast sour looks all
around and crossed his sinewy hands on his chest. 'Just you wait and see', he
said as if a promise to himself. Other members of the group tried to ignore
the duckling and started to get ready for the battle again. There was a lot of
things to do and to be taken care of, even without a juvenile duck sulking and
muttering beside them. Some archmage the little boy had become in a week or

In the heat of the battle such things were soon forgotten. Swing of an axe,
flaming spells and thumping shields all over again. the dragon was starting to
yield, they all saw it's vigor droop. The young duck magician seemed eager to
be the hero of the day and be the one to finish the dragon. His incantations
were again too loud for his puny voice, his webbed hands flailing about
vigorously. Their leader was about to order them back to defence for another
breather, when the young boy cried from the bottom of his lungs: '#' !


Days afterwards their thoughts would wander back to the glorious battle
against the dragon and the unfortunate departure of the young duckling
magician. The band had offered their condolences for his family, some members
had even wept during the burial of his scorched remains. During the minister's
long and extravagant sermon the leader of the group, the gargoyle dressed in
black stone, had a vivid flashback of their last moments facing the dragon.
Even now, he wasn't sure if he'd got sloppy and pushed too far when he knew
the dragon would have some trick up it's sleeve - or if he had done it on
purpose. Or because of that young magician's performance. That arrogant little
bastard duck acting up like he owned the world, the gargoyle recalled,
shouting and yelling and going for the kill. For a moment he even thought the
duck could manage it and kill the dragon with his last hurling spell, they all
did. The band had killed the dragon but the young magician was not there
anymore to witness the occasion.

Their minstrel had later depicted the duck's last tormenting moments in a
masterpiece called "Duck a l'Orange" (charcoal, mixed techniques) which they
hung on the wall of their guild. In the middle of the painting stood the young
magician, scorched by the dragon's lightning storm of spells and a huge orange
thunderbolt touching his face, feathers ablaze and his hands and legs like
slowly cooking drumsticks still flailing wildly. Around him were pictured the
band of adventurers, some with courteously worried expressions and some less
grim, borderlining hilarity and mirth. Watching the painting, one could almost
hear the magician in the center go '#' with one finger raised, though now on
fire, like a trickster in a magic show holding a candle and trying to make it