Once upon a time, my dears, in a faraway place, there lived the most powerful wizard that has ever lived. He was more powerful than Apollonius of Tyana, or Iannes and Mambres of the Pharaoh's Court, or even the great Myrddin himself. But you will never have heard his name, indeed, it has been long forgotten.
The land where he lived was peaceful and full of enchantment, and so the people did not fear and hate sorcery as those who live here do, but his magic was indeed so great that the Fates had decreed that he must make some sacrifice in payment for his gift, and so it was that he had remained a little child for near on five hundred years, although inside he was aged and as wise as wise can be. And being so wise, he kept his talent secret, for who would believe a little child such as yourselves, my dears, could hold so great a power?
He lived in a castle, where by day he ran errands here and there, ate his bread and broth in the kitchen, stayed out of trouble and beneath people's notice, and slept dirty in a tiny room in the attic. Of course he had no parents, for they had passed away hundreds of years ago, but the cook and the stable master were fond of the boy, and they made sure that his clothes were patched, and sometimes they gave him toys, discarded by the noble children, and mended.
When his day's work was done, the Wizard would slip through a secret door in his room to another room where he kept his spells and books, his potions and experiments, a room that he had discovered long, long ago, and woven such enchantments about it that anyone else who might have remembered or found it forgot about it again straight away.
So all in all the Wizard was content; by day he worked and was sometimes allowed to play, and at night he studied and explored the mysteries, and made great magic.
Now it happened that one morning the Wizard awoke and stretched, yawning, and then opened the shutters on his tiny room to find the sky was as black as pitch outside. At first he thought he had woken early and that it was still night, but as he became more awake he heard shouting and screams of fright from within the castle.
"This is not right", he thought, "Not right at all," and he peered long and hard into the darkness. As his eyes became accustomed he thought he could see a great storm brewing far away to the east where the sun should have risen, a storm so dark and menacing it could have been sent from Hell itself. He closed the shutters quickly against it and went through the door to his secret room.
For days and nights he worked, while the weeping in the castle went on, and the storm got closer and closer, until in the end it was battering against the shutters fit to burst through. Everyone in the castle was so bewildered and frightened that no one thought to look for the boy, doubtless they thought him curled up and hiding in terror somewhere, and so the Wizard worked on undisturbed. In the end he knew that the sun had been lost or stolen, and he thought he knew the way that it had gone.
But how to make the journey? He was a great Wizard, true, but he was also only a little boy. And he knew that if he followed the sun he would go to a world where magic was feared and hated, and a little boy with magic might be quickly caught and killed.
He went back to his tiny bedroom and thought and thought. He could not go, and so he must send a messenger in his place. It could not be anyone from the castle, because to them he was a mere servant boy. He looked around at the toys the stable master had given him and an idea struck him. He would breathe life into a toy and send it hunting for the sun. There was the marionette and the wooden dog, but no, neither of those would do. The toy had to be a natural traveller. And then his eyes fell on the kite. He had had many happy hours flying the kite from atop the castle tower on sunny days. The kite was a deep rich red and bright yellow. It had a cheerful, smiling face painted on it and a tail of bright gilt diamonds. The kite was resilient; it remained aloft and dancing no matter how hard the winds buffeted it back and forth. The Wizard snatched up the kite and ran back into his secret room.
And how hard he worked, my dears, for even more days and nights, only stopping to snatch a crust from the kitchen when hunger overcame him. He worked until his eyes were raw with weariness and his fingers bled, and all the time the storm raged outside. He made spells to strengthen the shutters and walls of the castle while he worked, and spoke every enchantment he knew to turn the storm away but to no avail. It was indeed come from Hell.
In the end it was finished. He spoke the last words of the spell, and would you believe it, the kite sat up and blinked her eyes.
And so the Wizard explained what Kite must do, how she must find the sun and return it to them, else their whole world would perish. As well as life he had given to her all his knowledge; of alchemy, of myth and legend, of their world and of the other worlds she may journey to, and just a little magic to help her along the road.
"I will make a safe path for you through the storm," the Wizard explained, "and when you reach your destination you will assume a shape that will allow you to pass among the ordinary folk you meet."
He went on, "But, my powers have been so weakened that I have only been able to give you enough life to complete this task," and suddenly his eyes were filled with tears. "I wish I could give you more, and I do not think it is just that you should do so much for us and then simply die without reward. What I can do is give you this advice. The world that you are travelling to fears and mistrusts magic, in fact, so much that they teach that sorcerers have no souls, and even the sorcerers who live there believe it to be true."
"But that is nonsense," Kite cried, "Why do they teach that?"
Kite shuddered, her painted eyes wide with horror.
"But," the Wizard went on, "as I said, there are still sorcerers who live there, often as captives and slaves. You will know them by their white hair. You must find and befriend a sorcerer, teach him that he has a soul, teach him that it is safe to trust someone - you - and to have friends. Only when he cares for you will a sorcerer of that world gain the insight and the power to save your life."
"And now," the Wizard sighed, "it is time for you to go." He carried the kite gently to the shuttered window, taking a last sad look at his secret room before shutting the door. You see, my dears, he had spent all but the very last of his power on this one great magic, and he knew that when he had sent Kite beyond the storm and closed the way behind her, he would be no more than an ordinary boy, and remember nothing at all of his wizardry.
Kite saw that he was sad and said, "Don't worry, Master, I'll come back to you quickly, I promise."
"Oh Kite," the Wizard replied, "I hope you will come back, but do not look for me. I must grow up and grow old now, and you will not know me."
Then Kite began to weep but the Wizard hushed her. "No," he said, "You are a kind and generous soul, but please, you must always try to be happy as well, for that will be your greatest strength in finding our sun and bringing it back to us." And with that he opened the shutters.
The wind howled into the room, freezing and full of sleet. The Wizard was thrust back against the wall and soaked through in an instant, but he battled his way to the window and shouted his last spell into the sky. A rift appeared in the blackness and one bright shaft of sunlight shone through from the world beyond. The Wizard released the kite and she flew towards the door, the Wizard's magic steadying her as she sailed against the tempest. In a moment she was lost to sight and the Wizard let the gate close with a snap. Then he sank to the floor, exhausted at last into sleep.
Kite glided beyond the storm and into a bright blue summer sky to settle at the foot of a hill near a village. As her feet touched the ground she changed into a beautiful young girl with long golden hair and a gentle face. She was dressed in a deep red tunic and trews and stout walking boots. Being a practical sort and knowing much of the wind and its fickle ways, she bound up her long hair so it would not get tangled and matted as she travelled. The crossed sticks from the kite were lying on the grass next to her, and as she took them in her hand they twisted together, thickened and lengthened into a strong staff for walking and defending her against attack from robbers or the beasts in the wild. She smiled as she remembered the Wizard's words - just a little magic to help her along the road. Then she picked herself up and made her way towards the village.
And now, my dears, that is all for tonight. It's time you were in bed. We will carry on with the story tomorrow.
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