High in the mountains of Nowwheria lies a dormant volcano that bears no name. Atop its barren and lifeless summit is an old castle with formidable walls built in an ancient time. No mortal man has reached this spot in over a hundred years.
Here, the dark wizard slept.
His eyelashes fluttered for a moment. What was that sound? “Balthazar!” He recognized that shriek. His blood turned cold. He rushed for the secret passageway but froze mid-stride as a figure emerged out of the same passageway. In the light, she was a stocky woman in her mid-thirties.
“I thought you’d try to sneak out that way. You must think me stupid to try that old trick again.”
“On the contrary, Princess Anadaria. I knew I would find you here. Let me say your beauty shines brighter every day.”
“Don’t ‘princess’ me you lazy twit. Have you seen the state of our home? I told you three weeks ago to clear off those cobwebs.”
“But my dear, the cobwebs are for décor. When people come to a dark mage’s layer, they expect to see these things. It goes with the job you see.”
“Nobody comes here. I still don’t see why we have to be here.”
“Why it is the only fitting place for a mage of my repute.”
“I thought it was because the property was cheap.”
“Cheap! Why that had nothing to do with it. Where else can a dark wizard live? If we lived near a village, I would be a target for every bone headed knight in three kingdoms.”
“Well, at least we would have some excitement around here. Maybe it would also convince you to clean up once in a while. I don’t want any knight turning his nose up at my house.”
Balthazar assumed his majestic stance and raised his hands to the high vaulted ceiling. “From here, I can control the destiny of nations. I can plot against and corrupt people to the ends of the Earth. I can create mischief, sow discord generate chaos and plunge whole kingdoms into ruin.”
Anadaria put a hand on her hip, “since when has anybody needed you to do that. Last I saw things were perfectly dreadful without you. You could try fixing something for a change.”
“My dear lady, I am a dark wizard.”
“You only became a dark wizard because you were useless as a white wizard. Your charms and spells created such a mess you figured it would be less trouble to claim you were evil and intended it all along.”
Balthazar changed tack. “But dear, what is the matter with this place. It’s a little dark, but I thought you found the mood lighting sexy.”
“That was ten years ago. I was barely out of my teens then. If I had known about you then, I would never have gone with you. I could have been in my lovely castle where I would have my own dear family and-”
“As I recall, your dear family seemed only too glad to be rid of you. After a few promises of a modest reward, enough to attract only the most pathetic knights to your rescue, they cut you out of your inheritance pretty quick.”
Amadaria wailed, “Alas! Woe! My poor father died in misery missing me. My brother after him cared not a whit for my fate and ended all search to rescue me.”
Balthazar was unimpressed “Now cut that out. You are twenty years too old to speak like that and your father didn’t die choking over you. He choked on an artichoke while drunk at his own banquet.”
Amidaria returned to the topic, “Anyway, don’t you try to change the subject. I don’t understand any of that. I still think it wouldn’t kill us to live somewhere more civilized. Besides, junior needs to play with boys his own age.”
Balthazar protested “But he has his pets and playmates.”
“A pet tarantula, a cobra and a bat make pretty poor pets. And if by friends, you mean those zombies you keep around, I think they are a terrible influence. Their personal habits are a scandal, I don’t think they even bathe. Why they are almost as bad a role model as you are.”
A sheepish dark wizard squeaked, “”Well … you know … I try … that is I don’t really know what more I can do for the boy.”
“You could try taking him out a bit. He read about the fair. He wants to go and see the jugglers and magicians.”
“I am a magician.”
“Not you. He wants a proper magician with a turban or a hat. One who can make rabbits appear.”
“Rabbits!” cried Balthazar.
“Yes rabbits. He likes rabbits. And that brings me to another thing. Nothing lives around here and I am sick of catching fish from that one pool. Can’t you move your sorry figure out to the bazaar and get some bread for a change.”
Balthazar made a grand sweep of his hand. “My dear who needs bread, just you watch.” He swept up his hands, chanted spells until a cloud of purple fog appeared containing an old arthritic man in a turban.
“What is thy –cough- bidding –cough – cough- master” it asked. It bowed deeply from the waist and took rather longer getting up again.
Balthazar commanded, “Oh mighty Genei Ajastrax conjure up a banquet fitting for my beloved.”
“As you – cough- wish -cough- master.”
A great long table appeared laden with dishes. Amadaria picked up a morsel, chewed on it and spat it out. “Pthooi! Ajastrax must be a bachelor if he thinks this is food. Anyway, enough of your fooling now take this broom and clean your room.”
“Who needs brooms, I will summon a wind that will wipe clean all-”
“Oh no you don’t you shirker. I remember you tried to get out of work by using your fancy tricks. You turned the spiders into pigeons thinking they would fly away. It took me nearly a week to clean up the mess they made.”
Balthazar puffed out his chest, pulled back his shoulders and bellowed. “The dark wizard shall NOT sweep the floor, he shall NOT dust the curtains, he shall – OW – OW – stop that!”
The dark wizard swept in his dread castle.