Little Changes

The pale little man smiled and his face continued its twitching. He was sitting with one knee up and the other on its side. His arms reached around his upright knee and he worked with a length of rope at his feet.

Next to the rope was a bundle of brown and dry fibers. The man plucked a few fibers at a time and wove and twisted them into the end of the existing rope.

Arcturas blinked and wondered if this was the sorcerer whose territory he had walked into. Then he caught himself staring at the rope, again, watching the little man's rough and dirty fingers working the fibers back and forth, watching the twisting, changing, gradually lengthening reality of the rope that was coming into existence...and he laughed.

The little man looked up at him and smiled an even brighter smile, waved Arcturas over, beckoned him to sit.

Arcturas had been under the spell of sorcerers before and knew that once ensnared, it was almost impossible to free oneself from enchantment. Sitting down next to the little man, his armor and pack making his descent to the ground rather swift, he knew that he was mostly helpless if this curious little sorcerer intended him harm, but he felt, in spite of his awareness of his own vulnerability, that he was somewhat safe there.

He smiled, enjoying a feeling of ease and peace that washed over him. The evening seemed to get a bit brighter as he sat with the sorcerer. After a while, and feeling like a partner in the business of the rope, he began to pick up fibers and hand them to the sorcerer.

The sorcerer smiled at Arcturas, then, and suddenly it was as if he and the sorcerer were the only two people in the world, that they were the closest of friends. Arcturas felt his whole body relax, even his face, his eyes. Looking at the sorcerer, the details of the man suddenly leaped out at him: sweat on his pale skin, faint veins visible in his face. Each and every hair of the thick stubble on the sorcerer's face suddenly became visible, each one unique and capable of holding his attention.

The sorcerer looked steadily into Arcturas's eyes and Arcturas looked back. Inside the sorcerer's eyes was a cool and comforting blackness that resolved, after a while, into a wooded landscape, night giving way to the dawn.

It was a wooded clearing with a polished wooden throne upon a low dias. Into the throne were carved images of the gods of the land and the animals they embodied. A story told itself on the throne, of the ages of the gods and their journeys through changing time. But the throne was empty and he could see that someone was needed to sit there, once again.

He saw himself crowning a King in that throne and then taking a place by that King's side. And then he was bowing before it, the empty throne, holding within himself the knowledge that although it was only a moment since the sun had risen over the edge of the world, he had little time before it would slip over the opposite edge and set, he had to find the King before then and return him.

When he returned to the world he had left, Arcturas was lying face down on the ground, drool pooling underneath his cheek.

He got to his knees and looked around. Sometime during the night he had started a fire and the coals from it were still there, but he had a faint recollection of talking with someone and perhaps even visiting a hut that might have been nearby, and now there was no sign of a visitor, much less a hut.

While that was strange and did bother him for a few moments, when it came down to it, his things were all there and he felt better than he had in ages, and so it slipped easily from his mind.

The End

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