“Can you hear me? Don’t be afraid.”
Chula scrambled away from the thicket. Where had the voice come from? It was deep and stern. Not boisterous like another ogre’s.
“What are you?” Chula asked.
“I am the power to make impossible into reality. I am magic. For you,” the voice said.
Chula was an ogre. Ogres were not magical. Though they appeared to be dim-witted monsters they were much like any other mortal race. But they were never wizards.
“You are not for me,” Chula said. “Ogres don’t use magic.”
Then she fled to her camp. At this time of year when the sun rose early and set late her family led buffalo through the plateaus. When the days turned dark they would retreat to the caves.
Her father was making arrows for the day’s hunt and Chula ran to his arms. She did not speak. Words weren’t needed. Her fear was obvious to him. Ogres usually had nothing to fear. His arms were enough comfort that she could return to her duties.
Plants infested the plateau. Many were poisonous, some were delicious. Chula knew how to spot each one. Today she searched for food. Another day she could be searching for medicines or even weapons.
“You return,” the voice said.
Chula looked around. It was not the same bush. The spirit was following her.
“Ogres are not magical,” Chula said.
“No mortal is magic. My kind are magic,” the voice said. “My kind are afraid of the Ogres. That is why you are never our wizards. But you are different. I overcame my fear to speak to you. I ask that you do the same.”
Magic had fears?
“What do you want?” Chula asked.
“You,” the voice said. “To be my wizard,”
Chula looked around. She couldn’t run away. The spirit would always follow. Her only hope was to reason with it.
“I don’t want power.”
“Yes you do,” the voice said. “Why do you study the plants if not to gain power from them? Why do you follow the animals and learn their instincts if not to gain their power? You have gained so much power already that other mortals could not dream of. Take this final gift from me. Be my wizard.”
The voice was closer now. It pleaded to her. She could almost feel herself becoming a wizard then and there. She could raise mountains and summon storms. She had true power at her fingertips.
But to what end? She had no use for this gift. With that thought the spirit retreated.
“I will wait,” it said.
Chula returned home much later in the day with all the food she could carry but the camp was not its usual buzz of activity. The Ogres were huddled together around something and Chula rushed over to see her father lying on his back with a huge spear in his stomach.
“The hill men attacked us on the hunt,” Cousin Bran said. “Can you help him?”
The spear was in deep. Her father was dying. No amount of medical skill could save him. Chula reached for her knife so she could end his suffering, but she hesitated. The voice was closer than ever.
“I am waiting.”