Since Nov 17, 2000

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"No, not always. I was not so different from you. I was born and grew to manhood, all the things you have done. I once even loved. Before my nature was known to me. Before the Guild came. Before the Romans...

She was a beautiful Dan woman with dark skin and eyes, quite different from most of my people. Her gentle smile enslaved my heart from the moment I first saw her, washing her father's tunic in a stream. One day, I asked her father for her life. I had become known in the tribe for my skill with the sword and my knowledge of the ways of the Gods of Asgard. He thought me presumptuous, but my boldness favorably impressed him as well. He asked me for my word that I would care for her, always. I gave my word proudly and confidently. We were joined, in the custom of our people, and soon she bore me a fine, happy son.

As it always had, the wheel of time continued to turn. We moved, following our hunt herds. I became a useful advisor to the elders. Through my studies I had learned the routes of the sun and moon and could reliably predict the tides. I could foretell the full moon for the elders' gatherings, and the dark moon to hide our warriors. My little boy learned to speak, played at little boy games and enjoyed the days as only a small child can.

One spring morning as we were moving camp, we came upon a large hill to traverse, and my family took our turn pulling our wagon up the hill. Without warning, the yoke broke loose from my grip, and the wagon began rolling down at great speed. I turned and looked, and what I saw stopped my heart. My tiny child, my only son, was playing with other boys several yards downhill. Struck by fear of the hurtling wagon, the children could not move and Death approached them with pitiless speed.

Overcome with panic and grief I ran after the wagon, but knew I would never reach it in time. Falling to my knees, I extended my hands and begged Fate to spare the children. I closed my eyes, and shouted a prayer to cover the screams I knew would follow: By the Gods! No! NO!

There was only silence. I thought I had fainted. I thought I had lost my reason. I thought I had died. I opened my eyes slowly, expecting to see the distant shore of Valhalla. Instead, I saw a world that had changed forever

The wheel of time had ceased to turn. Something, something bright blue, leapt from my right hand. Striking the wagon, it froze the wagon to the wheels and the wheels to the ground. The wagon stopped several feet from my child and the other boys. I stared at the scene, without comprehension, for what seemed an enternity.

I was awakened from this strange reverie by the sight of my beloved, running for her child. She swept him into her arms and ran back uphill. When she reached me, she paused and looked down into my eyes. In her, I saw not gratitude, not relief, but bewilderment. And a trace, a trace that was a mountain. A trace of fear. She continued past me, up the hill toward her father's family. My word to her father was suddenly and forever broken. I was lost to her. I turned to follow, but the eyes of the entire tribe were upon me with the same humor as I had seen in those eyes most dear. I was, for the first time in my life, completely alone.

Days later, the elders met with the Guild. The elders could not teach me to use powers they did not know, and the untempered power of a wizard could not be loose in the tribe. I would be given over to the Guild, and returned to the elders when my apprenticeship was complete. My family would be given to my brother to care for, as was our way. My master soon came for me, and we traveled together for many years.

My master taught me the Ways and Rights of the Guild. He taught me to be more counselor than speaker, to watch and to listen anew. I was schooled carefully in the use of my powers with the responsibility of those powers always reminded. I was then sworn the oath: To guide Man, to build Man, to teach Man.

I was, as promised, returned to the elders. With a powerful ally, the elders of my tribe quickly rose to prominence among our people and deservedly so. My counsel had only strengthened their already sound judgment. They came to lead and I was honored to serve as their Wizard. Our people flourished under the elders' firm, strong hands. We came to hold much land, from the Endless Forest to the Sea of Storms. 

Man's wheel turned. Another people rose to prominence, far to the south. We heard many tales of them from our scouts and travelers. They were called Romani, and they carried themselves with a great pride, both in battle and in civics, that was most honorable. But as we would see, pride can be a very grave trap, as well.

The Romans moved north, sometimes in conquest, sometimes in alliance. As their influence grew, their reputation became more deeply known. There was word of turmoil in their Council of elders. Their politics began to shift unpredictably. In my visions, I could see far enough ahead in time to know that a storm was coming, but could not tell why it was building or where it would strike.

I spoke with the elders about the visions. They too, had become concerned about a possible rivalry. Scouts had reported Roman soldiers on the frontier, and the Romans seemed to be moving. Reports had come from travelers and refugees of massacres amongst the Cimbri, evidence of Roman cruelty that deeply confused the elders. How could such an honorable people do these things? They thought that some explanation must exist, but could not find one. I counseled dialog, speak with their emissaries, seek to understand. But, my own misgivings about Roman intentions tempered my advice, it did not persuade immediately. The elders paused to consider these things and deliberate carefully, as was their way. They could not have known that this hesitation would prove so very fateful.

As the elders met, one of our warlords came upon a Roman consular army, moving northeast through the Endless Forest. Taking a reconnaissance for an attack, the warlord's army fell upon the Romans. Though they were superior in numbers and warcraft, the Romans were on ground not of their choosing. Surrounded by snarling giants, pressed from all directions through a thick forest that prevented them from deploying their cohorts properly, the Roman legionnaires, and their Consul, succumbed together in their thousands.

This was something the Romans would not forgive. Now we were the barbarians. Now we were the killers. The face of Rome turned toward our people with fury. No statecraft, no trade, no diplomacy would stay their hands. The Roman garrisons to our south broke camp, and headed toward us in great legions.

I put all my powers at the disposal of the elders. I could use war spells to melt the Roman weapons, I could use spells to frighten their horses, I could do anything and everything but kill Romans myself. To guide Man, to build Man, to teach Man.

But my elders were proud men. "A Battle won with wizardry is won without honor!" they told me. We would fight Rome with the powers of men, and if we were to die as a people, we would die with honor.

They did prevail upon me for one last spell, something which would allow the women and children to escape to the northeast. They asked I swear to do nothing else. I swore, knowing that oath condemned them all. The fullness of time had made my vision of the near future all too clear. So, one night as the Roman legions drew close to the frontier and then slept in their camps, I cast a spell that robbed them of their sense of direction. The Roman soldier awoke, put on his battle armor, picked up his pilum, sheathed his gladius and marched for three days, in the wrong direction by one hundred and thirty-five degrees of arc. Most of our women and children escaped.

But some children, one in particular, had become men. There would be no escape for them.

On the Last Day of the Teuton, as the battle lines formed, I took my place upon a hilltop, as ordered. I watched as the two forces closed. Wave after wave of my people rose against the Roman cohorts, crashed upon them, and fell. Crashed, and fell. Crashed, and fell. I watched the world end, powerless to stop it, bound by my oaths to the Guild and the elders. So many good warriors were lost that day. So many fine men.

The Romans, as is recorded, prevailed. History unfolded as you know it. Rome rose, but, as with all things, eventually fell. The Dark Night of the Mind covered the Western Lands. Plague, pointess wars and endless suffering set man back, but a small spark still burned. The teachings of the Christ reached the heart of a Roman emperor. His conversion kept alight the Fire of Man, and lit the torch to show the way out of the Darkness.

But in my years, I cannot help but wonder, What if I had acted more quickly to persuade a peaceful approach? What if we had allied with Rome, rather than dashed ourselves to pieces on the rocks of her shores?

I will never know, but perhaps with an external threat removed, the military dictators would never have arisen. The cruelty that came to symbolize their culture, fed with the blood of conquest, might never have been. What if the Five Good Emperors would have been a Hundred, or a Thousand? Perhaps the teachings of the Christ would have spread through the hearts of all men?

Many generations ago, before the Romans came, my intrepid Teutonic kinsmen would set themselves upon the sea in sturdy ships. They believed that if they sailed far enough, following the setting sun westward, they would reach the stars they could see on the night horizon. Most were never heard from again. Some may have reached the new world of America. I cannot be sure, despite my long search.

Perhaps our Teutonic explorers did reach the stars...I comfort myself, these long winter nights, thinking of them and their ships..."

-Stories from a Mountain

THE WIZARD - Uriah Heep

He was the wizard
Of a thousand kings
And I chanced to meet him
One night wandering
He told me tales
And he drank my wine
Me and my magic man
Kinda feeling fine 

He had a cloak of gold
And eyes of fire
And as he spoke
I felt a deep desire
To free the world
Of its fear and pain
And help the people
To feel free again

Why don't we listen to
The voices in our hearts
‘Cause then I know we'd find
We're not so far apart
Everybody's got to be happy
Everyone should sing
For we know the joy of life
The peace that love can bring 

So spoke the wizard
In his mountain home
The vision of his wisdom
Means we'll never be alone
And I will dream of my magic night
And a million silver stars
That guide me with their light