Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Twilight of Magic

The old wizard hobbled along the beach, leaning heavily on his staff, his breath coming in wheezing gasps. He was the last of his kind, and today was the day he was going to die.

He could have stayed home, died in his bed like a respectable magus, or at the very least died heroically in battle with some young upstart who wanted his power. But there weren't any of those. There were no wizards anywhere. No witches, either, unless you counted those brainless New Age girls who flounced around at the solstices with their tits hanging out, and he didn't. Though, he did like to watch them flounce around with their tits hanging out.

But there were none who did magic anymore. No one who knew what it was to hold the power of a god in their hand and make it do their bidding. No one who could shape reality to their whim and ride the winds of time and space.

He was the last.

There just wasn't any interest in the ways of magic these days. He'd taken on a few prospective apprentices, but none of them were worth a damn. They didn't understand the work involved, the toil one had to go through just to gain the power necessary to extend one's life long enough to actually learn some worthwhile magic. No, these kids wanted it all right away, with no work. He even had one or two of those New Age girls come by, but he threw them out like all the others. Oh sure, he fed them some bullshit about sex magic and slept with them before throwing them out, but still. At the end of the day, he had no apprentice. No one to pass his knowledge to, no one to take up his staff when he fell.

He blamed technology, of course. Wretched little machines with their beeping and blinking and loud goddamned noises. It was bad enough when radio and the motion pictures came along. But then there was television, and the internet. Cell phones, portable music players, video phones...

Video phones! Hah! What the hell did he need a bunch of silicon and plastic and a monthly bill that would drain every cent he had? If he wanted to talk to someone far away and look at them while he did it, he just needed a cup full of water and a scrying pool. There. Done. None of this mucking around with wires and cords and all that.

Bah.

And now this new technology. This "wiring" everyone was going in for. Implanting circuitry and little microscopic machines into their bodies to treat illness and boost intelligence and grow phones in their heads and gods knew what else. Oh yes, I'll gladly fill my veins full of wires and circuitry until I'm no more living than a damned toaster, but spend a mere century or two learning a discipline that can unlock the mysteries of creation itself? Oh no, none of that for me. If I can't use it to look at pornography, I just can't be bothered with it.

Useless bloody children. He was glad he'd be dead soon.

Apparently his body felt the same, as it chose that moment to double over and afflict him with a fit of coughing so severe, he spat up a piece of his lung while he was at it. He sank to his knees, leaning heavily on his staff. A group of young teenagers were playing some sort of ball game, but they all had devices implanted in their hands to manipulate the ball. He growled a fragment of a curse, then fell the rest of the way to the ground.

He wasn't sure how long he'd blacked out, but when he came to, one of the children had his head in her lap, and was stroking his hair gently. He wanted to chase them off, but lacked the energy. Besides, it was comforting. He felt a dull throbbing ache in his chest, and it was hard to see. One of the other children, a young boy, knelt next to him and picked up a rock from the beach.

"Here, old man," he said gently, "Maybe this will help you feel better. Watch."

The boy closed his fist over the rock, and when he opened it again, a two-headed dove flew away into the sky.

"H-how..." the old wizard croaked.

"Magic," the boy said with a smile.

"No." The old man shook his head weakly. "No. It was... it was..."

The boy kept smiling. "I hacked the nanofactories in my implants," he explained. "I figured out a way to overclock their processors, which lets me transform matter into energy, and then back into matter, in whatever form I can think of. I can shape reality--"

"According to your will." The old wizard smiled. A tightness he hadn't even noticed before finally released his chest. He gestured to his staff. "There, boy," he said. "Take that. Keep it. It's yours now."

The boy lifted the staff, running his hands over the smooth, gnarled old wood. He smiled back at the old wizard. "Thank you." He held it in one hand, and circuitry snaked out from his hand, embedding itself in the wood. Soon, bits of steel and silicon slid over it, covering the staff in a glittering silver shell. The young boy's eyes glowed brightly, then faded, and he looked down on the old man with new knowledge. "Thank you," he whispered again.

But the old wizard was already gone. He'd passed beyond this world, a contented smile on his face.

Later that night, the boy with the staff directed his friends to build a massive pyre on which to burn the old wizard. As the flames turned the body to ash, the others crowded around the boy, who was using the staff to perform wonders beyond even his overclocked biotech.

"Cool," one of the other boys said, coming to look into the scrying pool the young techno-wizard had created. "Does it get porn?"

6 comments:

Kat said...

Awesome.

purplesimon said...

Wicked story.

Love the porn bit, that's what makes it feel so real. Erm...

purplesimon out...

Lisa said...

Haha--Simon's a a huge ole perv!!! (just teasing...takes one to know one, or something.)


Love it, as always. Your endings, man, LOVE your endings!!!!

rAsp said...

Brilliant

m said...

porn. hmm. no surprise there, i suppose.

The Blind-Winger Jones said...

Nice one ;-)