The Wizard’s Path

I decided I might as well get all the openings posted, so here’s another. There are actually at least two versions of this one — originally Dellen was male. Some of the others on my list, though, turn out to be vaporware of one sort of another — in some cases the “opening scene” I had listed turned out to be a paragraph or two, not a whole scene. One is a kids’ short story I’d been thinking of expanding into a middle-grades chapter book, but what I have is just the short story. For one I have several chapters, but written back in the ’80s, so the tech (it’s science fiction) is hopelessly out of date. One doesn’t even have its own file — it’s just an entry in a list of planned stories. Ah, well.

Dellen was hunting mushrooms in the woods when she heard whistling. Startled, she looked up, trying to locate the sound.

It was coming nearer. Dellen straightened up and picked up her half-filled basket. She peered through the trees at the sun-dappled greenery.

There were said to be dangerous people in the forests sometimes – thieves and poachers and so on – but Dellen did not think any of them would be whistling cheerfully. Whoever this was, he or she was almost certainly friendly.

But a girl had to be cautious. “Hello?” she called.

The whistling stopped. “Hello,” someone called back – a man’s voice.

“Who’s there?” Dellen asked.

“Why don’t you come see for yourself?”

Annoyed, Dellen replied, “Because I’m busy over here.”

“The mushrooms will wait,” the voice answered.

Dellen blinked. How had this mysterious stranger known she was gathering mushrooms? Could the stranger see her?

If the stranger could see her, she ought to be able to see the stranger, and even now that the voice had given her an idea where to look, she still could not spot anyone.

The mystery was irresistible. Basket in hand, she walked carefully toward the speaker, ready to turn and run if necessary.

Suddenly there he was, so close and so obvious that Dellen didn’t understand how she could possibly have missed him. The whistler wore a long white vest over a sky-blue robe, and a pointed hat of the same light blue, somewhat the worse for wear, was perched on his head. He was grinning, which made his gray-streaked beard bristle.

And he wasn’t a stranger at all, not really, though it had been years since Dellen had last seen him. “Uncle Zavar?” Dellen said.

“Hello, Dellen,” the blue-robed man said. “You’ve grown.”

“Uncle Zavar!” Dellen said. “You’ve come back!” She ran and threw her arms around him, not worrying about whether she spilled any mushrooms.

He returned her embrace and said, “You knew I would eventually, didn’t you?”

“I… I didn’t think about it.” She looked up at his face. “It’s been so long!”

“Six years. I know. Is your mother well?”

“She’s fine. She’ll be so glad to see you!”

“Well, I hope so. Shall we go and surprise her?”

“Yes, of course!” Dellen turned toward the village. “This way!”

Zavar chuckled. “I think I remember the way, even after this long.”

“Of course you do!” Dellen laughed. “Come on!” She grabbed her uncle’s arm, and together they headed for her home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *