The Power of Love
Though his new form at first made it difficult, Elvin moved quickly to clean up the mess he had made. His thrashing about during the transformation had caused a few vials and vases to be knocked down, spilling their contents. His clothes, now much to small for him, had split at the seams to become rags on the floor. He used them to wipe up the liquids.
He pulled on some of the Sorcerer's own clothes, which Elvin had the foresight to hide in a cabinet under his master's workbench. He had put them there, long before, hoping to some day possess the time--and audacity--to carry out the mission he had just completed. Then again, he had always been a great deal more intelligent, and driven, than people had credited him to be.
Just because he was an orphan, he was often pitied and perceived as being wretched. Although Elvin hated this assumption people placed upon him, in the end, he realized that had it not been for being thought of as such he would not be in the position that he now found himself. Baldor the Sorcerer, feeling sorry for him, had taken him from a life of begging on the streets to be his apprentice--a very noble profession for anyone.
With the mess now cleaned up and all the jars put back as he had encountered them, he had time to look at the man he had created. Gazing downward upon himself he evaluated the product of his own private sorcery.
He was now approximately seventy-five inches standing and roughly twelve stone in weight. Though he approved of his work, at the same time he knew that his actions would cost him his life if he did not act quickly. Still, if forfeiting his short life meant he could spend just one minute locked in passion with Katelin then he would gladly give it away.
The thought of her beauty spurred him out the door of the workshop to
venture upon the second part of his feverishly put together plan.
Outside he found himself the target of great many stares. Men huddled in doorways as he strode quickly by. He knew they were murmuring questions about his presence. Elvin was positive that none suspected him to be the child he had been just the hour before, no they questioned the sight of a stranger, especially such a large stranger, in their midst.
Their curiosity made him move forward even more briskly. Not only did he not desire to rouse too much suspicion, he also yearned for Katelin to look upon him as many of the young ladies he now passed looked upon him. Their longing gazes made him realize that he had not just changed in size; he was now handsome as well. The thought warmed his heart.
His great strides brought him quickly to Katelin's courtyard then to her door on which he knocked vigorously, while calling out to her.
Finally, the door cracked a hand span. Mauden, her faithful chambermaid looked out; her face defiant against anyone who would disturb the peace of her homestead.
"Who is that wishes to see Lady Katelin?"
"Tis I Mauden, Elvin. I have come to see the Lady today as I have in many days past.
The door closed, abruptly.
"You must call her, Mauden. I can explain, but only to her. Only she will know that I speak the truth."
The door cracked again.
"Master Elvin is a child. You are a man. Now go away."
Knowing that time was his enemy Elvin gently, but firmly, pushed his way inside the house. This sent Mauden scuttling towards the sewing room, one of Katelin's favorite places this time of day.
A commotion ensued that brought forth Katelin, Mauden, and Hester the old family man servant. The trio stood together in defiance of the large man who had invaded their domain. All looked frightened.
"Do not fear me! I am Elvin. I came here just two days past as I had come many times before. Katelin, you must believe me. You must also know now that I am in grave danger. Please, come with me. We must flee."
Katelin, her face a mix of fear and confusion stood her ground.
"What have you done with the boy? How did you persuade him to tell you of his visits? If you have harmed him in anyway his master, Baldor, will be upon you like a vulture on carrion. He loves that boy."
"No, no, Katelin. He does not! Yes he tolerated me, but he does not love me. Besides, his feelings are of no matter between us. I love you, I have always loved you. That is why I come to you this way. That is why I have put my life in danger. I desired you to see me not just as a boy, but as a man."
Now anger, real anger, flared in her eyes. She turned and seized a slightly rusted sword that hung on the wall of her entryway. With speed and skill he had never seen in her before, she thrust the tip under Elvin's chin before he could take a step back.
"You would kill me? After all I have risked to come to you as I am now?"
"I would kill any stranger who burst upon me and mine so."
Desperately, Elvin pleaded, "But I am no stranger. I am who I say I am. I can prove it."
The tip of the sword wavered slightly.
Elvin's eyes looked to Mauden then Hester, reluctant to speak in front of them. Katelin seemed to sense this.
"Speak what you will. I have no secrets from these two. If you are who you say you are, you know that they are family to me. The only family I have left."
"Yes, Katelin. In my panic I have forgotten."
"Then speak or die." The sword tip once more steadied against his throat.
"A stranger would not know that you were to have a child, Katelin. A child by a man whom you never identified, but a man you said could never marry you. To have the child would have been a disgrace to your family name, but you would have loved it no matter what the consequences. Unfortunately, the child died in a premature birth leaving you with mixed emotions of redress and grief. When I first came to you as a messenger for my master, you took to me as if I was that dead child, now born whole. You invited me back as my time spared. Moreover, I did come back, repeatedly over the years. First I came as an orphaned child seeking his mother, but as I grew older, I came as man seeking his soul mate."
The sword dropped to her side, then clanged to the floor. Katelin seemed to sway, causing Hester to put forth a hand to steady her. After a moment, she turned to her domestic companions and asked that they leave. Reluctantly, they both turned to go eyeing the mysterious stranger who spoke such truths as they went.
Just as they left the room, the door burst open behind him. Elvin did not need the look of terror on Katelin's face to know that his death, and possibly hers, had just entered the room.
"So my assumptions were correct Elvin?"
Elvin lunged forward, picking up the sword from the ground where it had fallen. He was no longer a child, he would fight as man would fight, no matter what the odds were against his survival.
As he spun to face his new enemy, a great laugh burst forth from the sorcerer's lips.
"I see you are thinking like a man as well as looking like one now, Elvin. Yet, this is how you would repay me for my kindness? You would bear arms against the man who saved you from the gutters? The man who taught you to read and write in times of great illiteracy? Such is not the gratitude of a man Elvin. Such is the ingratitude of a child too young to realize what has been bestowed upon him."
Elvin, wavered for a moment. "I do not bear arms against the man you describe Baldor. I bear arms against the man who would come to stop me in my quest."
This brought forth a great guffaw from Baldor's lips. After a while his fit or merriment passed turning his look into pity as he scrutinized Elvin.
"No son, I do not wish to stop you, but stop you I must even if it means your death. For you have secrets now that are not to be trusted in the hands of ordinary men. Fashioning grown men from children is a dark art that many Kings would pay handsomely to have. I cannot be positive that you could resist the kinds of temptations they would lay before you. Had you stayed with me, going from a child to a man in the way that all children grow, I may have come to trust you with these secrets. But to come upon them this way, through deception, this can not be allowed."
Elvin lunged forward.
Baldor shouted a word. His hand raised and fell, the room became a blaze of light, and then Elvin could move no more!
Behind him, Elvin heard Katelin cry out. He would have cried himself had he been capable of doing so. Before him, he could see his out stretched arm and the sword within his hand; both had turned a pasty white. He tried to move his head but his body would not, could not, do that which his mind asked it to do.
Katelin, still sobbing, moved between himself and Baldor.
"What sorcery is this, you monster? What have you done to Elvin?"
"I merely stopped him from killing me. Would you expect me to do otherwise? Fear not though Lady Katelin, he is not dead. He lives, he hears each word said between us. He will remain so until I deem otherwise."
"This is not living Baldor. You have transformed him into a statue! To be like this and to be alive at the same time is worse than death."
As the weight of her words fell on his ears, Elvin shuddered, or would have shuddered had be been capable of doing so. The thought of being entombed as he was for eternity was indeed a fate far worse than death.
"Fear not my Lady. He will not stay as such. I will only keep him so only until I have decided on how to handle his insolence. You seem to forget that I love the boy. Any other man would be dead by now!
Nevertheless, how shall I keep what he knows from spreading to others? True, I can easily change him back into the shape he once was, but that would not purge his memory. Perhaps I should make him an imbecile who would be incapable of keeping thoughts in his head? Then he would be of no use to me. Taking his gift of speech would not stop him since he knows how to write. Blinding him would still leave him capable of speech. No, this is a dilemma that will take some time to sort out. Until I do, he can remain as he is."
Katelin turned to Elvin. Looking into his pasty eyes, she put a hand he could not feel to his cheek.
"You must not punish him Baldor. Punish me instead. It is for I that he betrayed you."
Baldor thought about this for a moment. "Nay Lady Katelin, you are not the wrong doer here. True, you are the inspiration, but you are not the perpetrator. Then again, young Elvin here is not the first man-boy to risk his life for the love of a beautiful woman. So, that being said, it must be love and desire that is in the wrong here."
Baldor closed his great eyes for a moment as if contemplating the words he had just spoken.
"Stand back Lady Katelin. Your words have inadvertently made me realize what I must do."
"Then he will live like any other man, Baldor?"
"Mostly, yes he will. He will no longer be a statue and I shall return him to the boy he once was, but he will no longer be a full man. I have decided that I must make him incapable of feeling love for anyone or anything from this day forward. By dousing these flames in his soul, he will not hunger for the touch of another. He will no longer be tempted to aspire to things greater than his own being for the sake of the love of another."
Katelin's hand flew to her speechless mouth. Baldor raised his hands, manipulating his fingers in a complex dance of sorcery. He chanted words that she could not understand.
Even in his tomb-like condition, Elvin realized what was about to happen. His eyes fixed on the back of Katelin's head. He remembered how soft her flaxen hair felt when he braided it for her. He remembered her smell of honeysuckles and the soft touch of her skin. His heart pounded feverishly within his chest as grief came over him. He wanted to remember her later as he knew her now, but after Baldor finished his work, he realized that he would never know her that way again. Why did Baldor not just strike him dead! He would have much preferred that fate to the one that was planned for him now.
In front of him, Katelin regained her gift of communication and once more began to plead with Baldor to end his chanting. Her words did not faze the Sorcerer. Finally, as the old man looked upward, Katelin lunged at him, striking him full in the chest with all of her weight.
They both tumbled roughly to the stone floor where they lay momentarily dazed. Baldor attempted to get up first. Seeing this, Katelin flung herself violently upon him, pinning him to the old man to the ground with surprising strength.
"No. You will not finish Baldor. You will listen to me. I have a way to end this madness with no harm to you or the boy. You must listen."
At her words, Baldor stopped struggling. Katelin slid from him.
Looking back at Elvin, she pulled the old man to him and whispered feverishly in his ear.
Baldor looked up at Elvin when she finished, "You would do this for the boy?"
"If it is possible, yes."
"It is possible. Come with me."
With that, they both left Elvin's line of sight, apparently retreating to an adjoining room.
A few minutes later, only Baldor emerged. He began another incantation, waved his hands, and caused smoke to fill the room once more.
Elvin found himself on the floor, a small child once more, looking up at old Baldor. Nowhere was Katelin to be found. He rushed at the Sorcerer, striking out wildly.
"What have you done with Katelin? Did you kill her? I will kill you someday, somehow if you harmed her."
"Hold back boy! She is well. Except for the fact that she seems to love you more than anything in the world. Look behind you."
As he turned, Elvin saw the most beautiful little girl he had ever known come out the room where Baldor had been. Her hair was flaxen, she smelled of honeysuckles, and her skin was a smooth as that of a newborn child.
She spoke, "Tis I Elvin. Tis I Katelin."
"Fear not Elvin. I've come to no harm. I am just as I was when I was child. Now I shall go with you back to Baldor's house. We shall grow up together in the way all children grow. We will have our love for longer than even you had planned on and Baldor will now have another assistant."
Tears rolled down Elvin's face.
"You have done this for me? Then you love me as I love you?"
"Yes Elvin, I love you."
Behind them, Baldor cleared his throat.
"Come now children we must be getting back. There is work to be done---the King is waiting!"
With that, he turned to leave, muttering as he went about the mysterious powers of love.
Behind him, two children walked hand and hand into their future.
John Darling has been writing off and on for decades. He has written and published one book, and has had numerous articles and short stories published. Just last year, his one and only play was produced by a perfrorming high school in Canada. John says he was "thrilled beyond belief."
The story included in this edition of Twilight Times is part of a book of romance stories that he is currrently writing. While he has been told that romance is his best genre, he always writes a genre to fit the story, not the other way around.
In the case of "The Power of Love," he saw a sign on a shop entitled Baldor's Plumbing and Heating. He thought to himself, "I'll bet he is a wizard with monkey wrenches." This story was a result of that thought.
This just goes to show you that you should never deny any inspiration. Not ever.
Published by permission of the author.