(Picture found on Pinterest)
When writing this fantasy piece I was inspired by ‘A wizard of Earthsea’ by Ursula LeGuin. If you have not had a chance to read her novel I suggest you do so, as it is fantastic!
The region of Goa, a range of mountains that descend into flat lands rolling towards the ocean, is a land famous for magic and mystery. From the small towns between the valleys, to the dense forests in the low lands, many a Goan citizen has seen mythical creatures, wandering mages and fantasies that were only spoken about in stories.
The ports at Goa, whose narrow passage ways extend onto the bay, has welcomed many a wandering mage, who is looking for adventure, and desires nothing more than working their magic all across the continent of Asia.
Of all the voyagers to step foot at the ports, the greatest of them was said to be a man named Barun Airavata. He was born on an Island off the coast of Asia, where the grass was emerald green, and the trees were tall and towering. His mother, a young bride, was only able to gift him with two things, his life and her smile, for she died the day after he was born. His father, a fisherman, was a stern man who did not handle the death of his wife well. With no one to bring up Barun in love and tenderness, he grew wild and unkempt, until one day his grim father gave up.
Barun, at the age of 7, was sent to work for the local blacksmith.He began his years as the cleaning boy, scrubbing floors, and cleaning out the chamber pots; but as he grew stronger Barun carried the iron and steel, and worked the anvil. It was hard work, and all he was paid in was whips and lashes.
On his time off, Barun was no where to be found. He would be off adventuring in the forest, or swimming in the sea. He would chase the goats up the hillside, and tease the local town girls by lifting their skirts.
In a hut just above the town, lived the mother of his dead mothers. She took no heed of the boy when her daughter had died, and still paid no attention to him. Her affection would stretch to a greeting when he passed, but at times she refused to leave her hut to even speak with him. The other children in the town called her a witch, and refused to go near her. The windowless mud-hut had strange herbs strung along the outside, while the tiles of the roof were made with cow dung.
One day as he walked past her hut, chasing goats as he always did, Barun was stopped in his tracks by an unusual sight. Tiny flames of foolish fire, which were not uncommon to these parts, danced among the goat legs, in fear of being extinguished under their flailing legs.
They were not innate objects that burnt up, the people of the town called them Aleya or Chirr Bhatti, but the tiny lights went by many names, and were most definitely alive.
Barun, who had heard their name but never seen one, bent down and scooped one into his palm. It burnt brightly, emitting a warm greenish glow. The flame danced around on his palm, which made him giggle.
The boys grandmother, who had been at her doorstep smoking a pipe, stood with curiosity to watch the boy. As she did, the lights let out a ghostly giggle before dissipating into the air.
Barun looked around, but the lights were no where to be seen. His mother’s mother looked curiously at him for a moment longer before beckoning him forward.
“Come with me.”
Barun walked over the threshold of the hut, a place where no child had ever entered. It was dark, the walls were covered in filth and bugs, and the ceiling was low, that even at the ripe age of 10, Barun felt his neck bend do he would knock into a beam.
A large hearth stood at the far end of the room. The old woman crossed briskly over the floor and sat cross legged next to it. She looked at the boy, whom her daughter had given birth to with fresh eyes. Before she had no reason to speak to him, but now … now to her he showed potential.
“Do you wish to learn the arts and powers which are in this world?” She asked.
“Aye. Teach me.” Barun replied with a smile. The witch smiled at his ignorance.
“Everything you learn, is for you alone. You are not permitted to tell anyone.”
Barun nodded. He did not wish to share the secrets with anyone. Having the power to himself, meant he would be better than everyone else.
“Good.” The witch said smiling.
Taking her long tangled silver hair, she tied it into a knot at the top of her head, and freed her wrists from the sleeves which distracted her. From above the hearth she took a few herbs and threw them into the smoking fire.
A mist swirled around them, and spread tot he far reaches of the wall. It mingled with the darkness, and blocked out the light of the flame.
“Are you ready?” She asked.
Barun nodded with determination.