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Where Blows the Wind

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after

The bird has all of his student's proud stiffness, for all that it is soaked with salt and notched from battle. Ogion reaches out to straighten a few stray pinions, and it turns to eye him, but does not snap at his hand as a wild bird might. This must cost him something, for Ogion's haughty young student never did like to ask assistance of anyone, except to learn what they might teach him.

He sets down the water the bird has scorned, and then offers his arm to it. The bird steps on, careful not to gouge his skin with its vicious talons, and Ogion smiles very slightly. He brings the bird down to rest on the ground, so as not to harm the man it will become when the change is complete.

The words of all spells of change are similar, for they all do a similar thing. It is the reversal of another wizard's change that is the greatest difficulty, for few wizards go about explaining the process of their spellcasting to whoever may wish to know. To reverse a change made by a wizard upon himself is perhaps the most difficult of all, for not only must the spellcaster know how to undo the spell, but also what to expect of the man they restore.

It is fortunate that there are few men, or women, in this world who know Sparrowhawk better than Ogion.

The spell he speaks is a quiet one, lacking in the dramatics others might expect of a man like Sparrowhawk, for Ogion taught him restraint and the art of only doing what is necessary, and no more. When he comes to the end of it, he says, "Ged," and there on the floor of his simple house lies the scarred, haunted man called Sparrowhawk whom Ogion once named beside a cold mountain stream.

The manner of his dress is laughable, were Ogion a laughing sort of man, for Sparrowhawk has always been given to austerity, much like Ogion himself, and expensive furs and silks do not suit him at all. But all his foreign finery has been ruined in his flight. It makes a tragic figure of Sparrowhawk, lying senseless on the ground in his tattered clothing. But the shadow that follows him, that brought all this about, is the greatest of Sparrowhawk's tragedies. Someday soon, he will have to face that shadow, and it will be the ending of one or the other. And this Ogion had foreseen, but failed entirely to prevent.

Ogion picks Sparrowhawk gently up from the floor and carries him to the pallet where as a boy he slept. He would sit and wait for his student's awakening, but the life he leads doesn't allow for indulgence. He will be there when Sparrowhawk awakens, and that must be enough.


before

"Master," Sparrowhawk said in his blunt and demanding way, "will you not teach me to direct the wind?"

They stood upon a cliff overlooking all of Re Albi, tall enough so that on a clear day one might see the ocean glimmering at the edge of Gont. Ogion leaned on his staff, gazing ahead of him, and did not speak for a long time, for his student needed to learn patience. Power would come to him naturally, but the control of it would be his struggle, and the control of himself most of all. Ogion was not the most intelligent of men, or the most powerful, but he had learned what lessons could be taught by the elements left in their natural order, and he had a serenity others did not.

"The winds blow as they do for a reason," he said at length, "and I will teach you the changing of it when you have discovered why this is, and what."

Sparrowhawk said nothing, but when Ogion turned to look at him, his young face had settled into an expression of discontent. "Any mage might teach you to command the winds," Ogion added, "but the wind you bring may also set waves upon your ship, or tear down trees around your home. To change something, you must understand what you are changing."

Sparrowhawk crossed his arms and looked down at the village of Re Albi, his eyes flickering from road to building as Ogion watched. "You could tell me these things," he said, finally, sullenly. "Who else am I to learn from, if not my teacher?"

"Not who, but what," Ogion corrected gently, and then he pushed himself back from the cliff's edge, and held out his staff to help his student up. Sparrowhawk stared at the length of wood for a long moment, as if bewildered by its presence, and then he turned away and pushed himself up of his own strength alone.


after

He does not look up at Sparrowhawk, his student still, as he smooths the length of yew wood. His own staff of oak rests in the corner by the door. Ogion thinks of protection and strength, what it means to have no need of fear, and the brilliance of the sun in spring before the summer fog obscures it. The staff he now carves may not even be of good use in the facing of Sparrowhawk's shadow, being solid. And yet it is still a shadow which can only follow, never lead. And that might be the key to its defeat.

But Ogion cannot face the shadow himself, and he cannot force Sparrowhawk to do anything at all. If a staff and his love are all he can give his student, he will give them both gladly, and hope that they might serve for something beyond his own comfort.

"Master..." Sparrowhawk says presently. "I wish I had listened to you."

Ogion maintains the sweeping motion of his sanding, looking down though he knows his student is waiting for acknowledgement. He waits until the staff is entirely smooth, entirely complete. He hums quietly to himself, some song or another, and then puts the words to it he thought of before, so it becomes something like a spell. Patience, he will ever teach patience, but Sparrowhawk knows his lessons well by now. He will wait.

When the staff has no imperfection Ogion can see, he says, "If you had not, you would not be here now." Then he holds out the staff, a sturdy length of yew in the shape of his own.

"There," he says. "The Archmage gave you yew-wood, a good choice, and I kept to it. I meant the shaft for a longbow, but it's better this way. Good night, my son."

Sparrowhawk says nothing, but there is no need, for what he doesn't say is evident in his face to eyes that know him well enough. And few know him better than Ogion.


before

Ogion waits at the top of the cliff and watches the Shadow pull out to sea, leaning ever so slightly on his heavy wooden staff, until at last the glare off the water has concealed the ship from sight. Then he nods once at the ocean and the Port of Gont and the last he will see of his headstrong student, at least for a long time to come, and turns from sight. He does not smile. Neither does he sigh, or express a sense of loss. He has watched the growing of things long enough to know patience and letting go. Sparrowhawk will not yet. So Ogion must let him go.

The soft texture of grass beneath his feet carries his steps lightly back to Re Albi, and he does nothing but listen until the long walk has ended and he is within the bounds of his home once again. Then he stands at the doorway to his home, silent and unlit by the sun at its current angle. For a moment, he considers the temptation to succumb to emotion, to rest for a day to regain his spirits.

But he has goats to tend to, simple needs to meet, and the life he has chosen leaves little time for indulgence, though much time for deep thought. Ogion takes up his staff again and returns to his work.