A Helping Hand
Angela was stuck. Literally, and metaphorically – she was stranded on the Moon, and wasn’t quite sure of how to get home. She’d used the information in her Manual to get here, but...
Angela’s Mom always accused her of not having enough forethought, and well, her lack of forethought had struck again. Angela had gotten to the Moon alright, but she’d left her Manual behind at home; and without it, she had only a vague idea how to get back. She was still new to the whole wizardry thing, and the spell to get to the Moon had been complicated.
So Angela looked out into the blackness of space, out to where the Earth hung like a beautiful ornament surrounded by nothingness, and wondered how long it would take for her air to run out.
It was not a comforting thought.
Angela sat down amid the pale dust that coated every surface, ignoring the fact that she was getting her clothes covered in it, and tried not to panic, staring out at the blue-green-brown orb she’d come from.
She racked her brains trying to remember all the parameters of the spell that had gotten her here, but it was no use: she’d allowed her Manual to do most of the spell anyway, answering the questions it posed rather than writing out the entire spell herself. She just couldn’t remember most of the spell. Angela’s lip trembled as she struggled not to cry.
“It’s a wonderful view, isn’t it?”
Angela shrieked and scrambled backwards, turning her head to see a tall man, probably aged somewhere in his late twenties or early thirties, standing behind her. He was wearing jeans and a shirt with a picture of Darth Vader which said The Dark Side Made Me Do It, and he was looking at her with his eyebrows raised.
Angela put a hand to her chest, feeling as though her heart was about to beat its way out.
“Where did you come from?” she exclaimed, torn between relief that someone else was here, and worry that she was alone with a stranger.
The stranger smiled.
“Earth,” he said, and tilted his head. “New York. You?”
“London, England,” said Angela. “But how did you get here? We’re on the Moon!”
“The same way that you did, I assume,” the stranger said, still smiling. “Dai stiho.”
Some of Angela’s wariness faded a little at the wizardly greeting.
“Oh,” she said, and then: “I didn’t know grown-ups could be wizards!”
The other wizard made a face, somewhere between amused and... something else.
“What did you think happened to all the children who grew up? Did you think that they all just lost their wizardry?”
To tell the truth, Angela hadn’t really thought it through that far.
The other wizard huffed out a laugh.
“No, adults can be wizards, just like you. It’s just that most of them don’t have as much power once they grow older. This little planet-hopping exercise, for example, would be beyond most adult wizards.”
Angela looked up at the other wizard.
“But you’re an adult,” she pointed out.
The other wizard made another face, like he didn’t quite think of himself that way.
“True, I suppose, but I tend to think of myself in terms outside the limitations of age or mortality, and what is the division between childhood and adulthood but another marker of both?”
Angela wasn’t sure what to say to that. She wasn’t sure she’d even understood what he meant.
The other wizard seemed to realise that, because he inclined his head and said, “My apologies. I’m used to saying these things to Dairine, who either understands everything I say or is determined that she’ll work it out herself. I’m the Light-Bringer, by the way.”
“Light-Bringer?” Angela’s forehead wrinkled. “Is that your name?”
“Part of it,” the other wizard confirmed idly.
“Don’t you have a normal name?” Angela asked.
The other wizard looked a little offended.
“Little wizard,” he said, immediately earning Angela’s ire, because she wasn’t little, thank you very much, “let me assure you that you won’t earn any friends amongst other wizards by insulting their names. Not all wizards are even human, you know, let alone from the same country as you, so to call attention to a name you think peculiar only draws attention to your own ignorance, and lack of experience with other wizards.”
Angela flushed, partly from anger, and partly from embarrassment.
“But you’re human,” she shot back without thinking about it, “so what explains your name?”
The Light-Bringer – if that was really his name – looked somewhere between wry and annoyed.
“I only look human.” He sent her a stern look. “A wizard should know better than to judge by appearances.”
“Stop calling me little!” Angela burst out, and then thought about what he’d said. “Wait. You’re not human?”
The Light-Bringer looked coldly amused.
“Not in the least. I merely happen to be inhabiting mortal form, at this time.” He eyed Angela. “Do you have a name?”
“Not one I’m willing to tell a complete stranger,” said Angela, and the Light-Bringer sighed.
“Suit yourself,” he said, and turned, and began to walk away.
“Wait! Where are you going?” Angela called out to him, abruptly remembering that she was trapped on the Moon and this strange wizard might be her only salvation.
The Light-Bringer paused to look back, his eyebrows raised.
“You want me to stay?” His tone was incredulous.
Angela took a deep breath, and told herself that you caught more flies with honey than with vinegar, as her grandfather liked to remind her on a frequent basis.
“Look, I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to be rude. I’m still new to the whole wizard thing, and I need your help. I left my Manual at home, and now I’m stuck on the Moon and I’m not sure how to get home.”
Her face burned at the admission.
The Light-Bringer looked like he was having an inner battle with himself. Then he sighed, and began walking back across the dusty surface of the Moon towards her.
“Shall we start over?” he suggested. “Hello. I’m the Light-Bringer, and I’m a wizard.”
“Angela, and I’m a wizard, too,” said Angela, still torn between embarrassment and anger.
“Dai stiho, Angela,” said the Light-Bringer.
Angela hesitated, because something he’d said before was bugging her. The Light-Bringer sighed again.
“Say whatever it is you wish to say.”
“If most adult wizards can’t be here, because they don’t have enough power, then how did you get here?” Angela asked. “And I’m not trying to be rude, I’m just...”
“Curious?” The Light-Bringer suggested. He looked resigned. “It’s a fair enough question, I suppose. The answer is that I have a little more power than most adults because I’m one of the Powers in human form. I don’t have as much access to my power as I would if I weren’t in mortal form, but... I have a little more than most. Although it has lessened, somewhat, as I’ve gotten older, just as it does with everyone else.”
Light-Bringer , Angela thought, and made a mental connection she hadn’t, before.
Oh. Oh no.
She started to back away, her heart hammering.
The Light-Bringer – the Lone Power? – saw her expression.
“I swear on my name and my status as a wizard, I have no intention of harming you, depriving you of your wizardry, or of otherwise leading you unto temptation,” he said, his voice dry. “In Life’s name, and for Life’s sake.”
That gave Angela pause. Surely the Lone Power wouldn’t swear by Life, even as a trick?
“It’s not a trap,” the Light-Bringer said, his voice patient and oddly gentle. “I swear it. Technically I am an avatar of the Lone Power, yes, but I’m also one who took the Oath, and that makes me a wizard, sworn to the service of Life, just like the rest of you. I even went on Ordeal, and faced myself down – something the rest of me wasn’t exactly happy about,” he added, with a twist to his mouth.
Angela stared at him hard. Usually she was good at gauging sincerity, but with the Lone Power, who could tell? On the other hand, there wasn’t exactly anyone else around to help her out of her fix, and the Light-Bringer had sworn by Life.
“Okay,” she said reluctantly. “But I’m looking you up in my Manual as soon as I get home, just in case.”
“You could always look me up in mine,” said the Light-Bringer, all casual, and then frowned. He looked back the way he had come, and called out, “Rex?”
Something sleek and silver and shiny scuttled over the dusty ground, drawing closer, and Angela stared as she realised that it looked like a MacBook Pro, only with several little legs and a protruding eyestalk. Instead of the Apple logo, which featured an apple with a bite taken out of it, the logo on this computer was whole and unbitten. The computer was, without a doubt, a wizard’s Manual.
“Rex, this is Angela,” said the Light-Bringer, as though his Manual scuttling around the surface of the Moon was completely normal.
The eyestalk swivelled to look at Angela.
“Dai stiho,” said the Manual.
“Is he really a wizard?” Angela asked the Manual.
“They are,” Rex said.
Angela blinked at the ‘they,’ but then thought of the article she’d read about non-binary people in Teen Vogue earlier that year.
“Oh,” she said, thinking everything through. Then: “Sorry for calling you ‘he’.”
The Light-Bringer smiled with sudden warmth. It transformed his – no, their – face completely, into something bright and beautiful.
“Thank you,” they said, while Angela was still reeling slightly. “Now, let’s see about getting you home, shall we?”
With Rex’s help, the Light-Bringer began setting up a spell to open a portal from the Moon to Angela’s bedroom. They explained what they were doing as they did it, and Angelia listened closely, absorbing everything they said. Their explanation made the spell far easier to understand than it would have been otherwise, and by the time They were ready to activate the spell, Angela felt that she understood a whole lot more about the spelling process than she had before.
They had Angela check over the spellwork and give Rex the details of her name in the Speech, and then pronounced the spell ready to go.
Angela felt the spell take as the Light-Bringer recited it, and heard the Light-Bringer gasp.
She looked away from the portal to her bedroom, back to the Light-Bringer, who was looking winded.
“Are you okay?”
“Fine.” They sounded a little out of breath. “It’s just... anything dealing with this kind of distance takes a lot out of me, these days.”
Angela hesitated for a moment, unsure whether she should leave the Light-Bringer alone, but they gave her a reassuring smile.
“Well, thank you for your help,” she said. “Will you be okay if I go through?”
“Sure,” they said. “I’ll just wait here a while to get my energy back before I go home, that’s all – or I might send a message to a friend to bring me home, thinking about it.”
Angela hesitated a moment longer, then stepped through the portal. There was an indescribable sound, and when she turned around, the view of the Moon was gone – she was alone in her bedroom, and the portal had disappeared.
Her Manual was sitting on the edge of her desk, where she’d left it.
“Next time bring me with you,” it said, in a scolding tone.
“Sorry,” Angela said. “I promise I will. Listen, can you bring up the wizard listings for me? I want to see details for someone called the Light-Bringer.”
“Local area of wizard needed,” her Manual said.
“Uh, New York?”
That seemed to be enough, because a moment later a single entry from the listing appeared on the Manual’s screen.
Sure enough, there was the name Light-Bringer, The, with their status, power rating, home address and phone number listed below their name.
Angela got out her address book and copied the details down.
She didn’t think that she’d need the Light-Bringer’s help again, but if she did, it would be nice to ask someone she’d already met, instead of a complete stranger. If her little excursion had shown her anything, it was that she still had a lot to learn when it came to wizardry.