Dojo Darelir, the School of Xenograg the Sorcerer

Tag: fiction

Forced Redemption

September 26, 2022
Lamont Cranston:
You know my real name?
The Tulku:
Yes. I also know that for as long as you can remember, you struggled against your own black heart and always lost. You watched your spirit, your very face, change as the beast claws its way out from within you. You are in great pain, aren’t you?
[Cranston leaps at the Tulku who magically avoids the attack.]
The Tulku:
You know what evil lurks in the hearts of men, for you have seen that evil in your own heart. Every man pays a price for redemption; this is yours.
Lamont Cranston:
I’m not looking for redemption.
The Tulku:
You have no choice. You will be redeemed, because I will teach you to use your black shadow to fight evil.
[Cranston continues to violently resist but only succeeds in exhausting himself.]
Lamont Cranston:
Am I in Hell?
The Tulku:
Not yet.

— “The Shadow (1994)

An unique and fascinating concept: a holy man forcibly redeeming an evil man—a lost soul, really —through both great compassion and harsh discipline.

The Plunder of the Ages

September 22, 2022
And the plunder of the ages is in my grasp!

— “Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts #81” (1987)

Used without permission.

Fool! A Mage’s Hoard You Enter With a Stick?

September 22, 2022
Fool! A mage's hoard you enter with a stick?

— “Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts #80” (1987)

Used without permission.

I’m a Wizard, Mind You!

September 5, 2022
Akira:
I’m a wizard, mind you! This place is kept by powerful gods and spirits of kings! Harm my flesh and you will have to deal with the dead!
Conan:
Can you summon demons, wizard?
Akira:
Yes! To strike at you, I would summon a demon more ferocious than all in Hell!

— “Conan the Barbarian” (1982)

Herleva

September 1, 2022

William’s mother was the most beautiful woman in the world. She was also the most wonderful. She could bring down the moon and make the sun dance with her singing. Flocks of spirits followed her wherever she went; when she worked her magic, so many of them crowded about her that one would think she could barely move.

He loved to watch her work magic. He would sit in a corner, safely out of the way, and fold his arms on his knees and rest his chin on them, and watch while she made the world more beautiful. Sometimes she made medicines, filling them full of light and laughter as well as herbs and simples. Other times she sat at her loom and wove light and shadow into the threads of linen and wool, so that the cloth carried blessing and goodwill, and a little beauty, when it was made into a cloak or a shirt or a gown. And sometimes, though that was not often, she called on the great powers for some purpose that he was too young to understand, summoning the whirlwind and bringing down the lightning.

When he was very small, he had only watched, but as he grew older, she called him to her in the middle of the working, and showed him how to do what she was doing. Once in a while she would even let him do the working. She would tell him what she wanted, and he would do as she had taught him, and brew a medicine or summon a spirit or scry in the silver bowl that she kept, wrapped with great care in a scrap of silk, in her chest to which no one else had the key—because the key was made of magic.

Rite of Conquest, Chapter 6

Ultimate Sources of Power

August 11, 2022

“To a wizard,” Tenoctris said, “the sun is an ultimate source of power and Malkar is an ultimate source of power. But no one can reach an ultimate source directly. The forces that a wizard works with aren’t pure, any more than the water you drink is pure.”

“You’re saying that Malkar isn’t evil?” Garric said with a frown…. “That you serve Malkar?”

“No,” Tenoctris said, tapping her finger on the wall beside her with sharp emphasis…. “No one serves Malkar. And as for using the forces that stem largely from Malkar, I don’t drink seawater either. There are differences of degree.”

Ilna turned her head to watch the waves dancing in the sunlight. Near shore the water was dark, almost purple, but beyond that and as far as her eye could reach the Inner Sea had a pale green translucence like that of the finest jade. It was much more beautiful than the colorless fluid brought up from a well; but of course no human could drink seawater….

Lord of the Isles, Book I, Chapter 18

Powers Beyond Human Comprehension

August 10, 2022

Tenoctris wasn’t a great wizard in the practical sense. She had a scholar’s mind and a jeweler’s soul; large-scale works were for other folk. She saw and understood the forces which had to be shifted; she simply didn’t have the psychic strength to manipulate them.

And perhaps she saw and understood too well. Tenoctris couldn’t possibly have struck the blow that the Hooded One had delivered; but she realized that actions of that magnitude must have consequences beyond those the wizard intended. Consequences that even Tenoctris couldn’t predict….

The Hooded One refused to give his name, but he’d claimed that the chair he brought to Yole with him was the Throne of Malkar. One who sat on the Throne of Malkar became Malkar, became the essence of the black power that was the equal and opposite of the sun.

Tenoctris knew the Hooded One’s throne was a replica, built according to descriptions given by the great magicians of ancient times who claimed to have seen or even sat in it. The original was rumored to be older than mankind; older even than life….

…Tenoctris knew that the Hooded One’s success was a much greater danger [to Yole] than ever [the enemy’s] flame and swords could be. A wizard who used powers beyond human comprehension could not have the judgment to use those powers safely.

Lord of the Isles, Prologue

Author’s emphasis.

I Don’t Believe in Luck

July 8, 2022
Vinny Terranova:
I don’t believe in luck. I make it and I take it, but I don’t stand around waiting for it to happen.

— “Independent Operator” – Wiseguy, Season 1 (1987)

Limitations Become Irrelevant

July 2, 2022
The Ancient One:
Matter is energy which is all around us. Sorcery is simply the art of wielding that energy….
Control the forces around your hands, and limitations become irrelevant.

— “Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme” (2007)

Not eliminated. Just irrelevant.

The Terrain Is Not an Obstacle

July 2, 2022
Sergeant Hazard:
From here on in, you guys are Charlie. Glide through this shit; you don’t clomp through it. Feel the terrain. Feel it, don’t fight it. This jungle is not an obstacle. It’s your friend. Use it. Let it help you. Love it. Love it, and it’ll love you back.

— “Gardens of Stone” (1987)

If It Weren’t For Mob Contracts, Americans Wouldn’t Eat Pizza

June 28, 2022
Harry “the Hunch”:
Who’s the muscle on the Cerrera hit?
Vinny:
Nobody I know.
Harry “the Hunch”:
Well, if it weren’t for outside contracts, Americans wouldn’t eat pizza.
Vinny:
How do you figure?
Harry “the Hunch”:
Aww, this business is doomed ’cause you kids ain’t got no sense of history! Now Lucky figured the best way to get rid of a business problem was to bring in outside muscle. Make the hit, send ’em home. Works to this day. But Genovese, he opened a pizza parlor in Red Hook. Brought in Sicilian muscle to work it. They’d stay a week, a month; get a go on a hit; and boom. Back to Sicily with an American fortune. Next thing you know, there’s pizza stands from Brooklyn to Baltimore.

— “New Blood” – Wiseguy, Season 1 (1987)

Luminous Beings Are We

June 22, 2022
Yoda:
Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it; makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you: here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere….

— “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980)

Emphasis mine. This is the original, understated spirituality of the Star Wars saga.

One Sharp Knife

May 8, 2022
Joe:
One sharp knife can feed you, clothe you, keep you warm and dry.

— “Band of the Hand” (1986)

Why There Is No Justice in The World

May 7, 2022
Chandler Jarrell:
What’s this knife?
Kala:
The Crossed Dagger of Ajanti. They brought it to this world to kill the second Golden Child, the bearer of Justice. His death was a great loss.

— “The Golden Child” (1986)

To Feed and Protect Our Families

May 7, 2022
Don Raphael Aiuppo:
The world that I found had no room for me, so I had to create my own. Me and men like me. We spilt blood to do that. To do something important, which was to feed and protect our families. Today, our grandchildren remember only how to spill blood. They don’t even know why!

— “Squeeze” – Wiseguy, Season 1 (1987)

Never Run From Anything Immortal

May 7, 2022
Unicorn:
Don’t look back, and don’t run. You must never run from anything immortal; it attracts their attention.

— “The Last Unicorn” (1982)

A Weapon Against the Dark But Also a Beacon That Summons It

May 5, 2022

“You see,” [Ravenor] remarked, “why I prefer to use my mind with restraint. Here in Queen Mab…indeed everywhere…any manipulation of the warp causes ripples. The more you use such powers, the greater the force of them, then the greater the reaction. I am a weapon against the dark, Beta, but I am also a beacon that summons it. We must keep ourselves guarded and hidden….”

Penitent, Chapter 19

‘Woke Up’ Has Always Been an Anthropomorphism

May 4, 2022

Harb stared at [Dr. McCoy]. “Moira?? You’ve got my Games machine hacking into strange computers and stealing data??”

“Harb, Harb! ‘Borrowing.’ ”

“But you cannot do that, Doctor,” Spock said, looking rather distressed. “I am not speaking in the ethical mode, but in terms of possibility. The Games computer does not have outside access, does not have any of the access or authorization codes you need, does not have—”

“Spock,” McCoy said, “there’s one thing this computer definitely does have. A personality. And you know who put it there.”

Sarek looked at Spock, very surprised. “I did not know you were doing recreational programming, my son.”

Harb looked from Spock to Sarek. “I asked him to, sir. It’s easier for me to work with a machine that has some flexibility in its programming ability. The ‘personality’ overlays have that: they’re effectively self-programming. I had a personality program in here before that was a great joy to work with—the For Argument’s Sake personality generator—but it was a little limited. So I asked Spock if in his spare time, he would add some memory to it, and increase the number of associational connections.”

Sarek looked at Spock. “You surpassed the critical number, did you not? And the machine—”

“‘Woke up’ has always been an anthropomorphism,” Spock said, a little defensively, “and at any rate there is no evidence that—”

“The point is that a computer that’s had that done to it acts alive,” Jim said, “and some of them have created problems. That way lies M5, for example.”

“I would never do any such thing,” Moira’s voice said reproachfully, “and you know it. My ethical parameters are very stringent.”

“Not stringent enough to keep you from calling a system that should be locked up tighter than the Bank of Switzerland,” Jim said, “prying it open, and yanking out reams of confidential material that—”

“It was the right thing to do,” Moira said. “Dr. McCoy explained the situation to me. And he is my superior officer, Captain, after Mr. Tanzer. Programming requires me to obey a commanding officer’s orders. So I asked the bridge computers to handle the downlink, and as for the satchel codes, they appear in various altered forms in my own programming, because it was Spock who designed them—”

“From my algorithms,” Sarek said, very quietly, paging through the printout.

“Yes, well, Father, they were the best and most complex available—” Spock looked nonplussed….

Spock’s World, Chapter 7

To Test Your Powers Or Prove Their Own

April 28, 2022

Elric turned his stern gaze on [his apprentice].

“As a group we seek wisdom. As individuals we can be eccentric, peevish, perverse, opinionated—apt to take offense upon small occasions. Act with restraint. Be courteous. We get along best at great distances from one another.”

“Every convocation has its confrontations, its challenges. You’ve been sheltered in the past. Once you’re initiated as a full mage, you won’t be under my protection any longer. Others may challenge you, to test your powers or prove their own. Do not rise to the fool’s challenge to be a fool yourself….”

Casting Shadows, Chapter 1

Making a Magical Sword

March 24, 2022

Near the Castle of Erl there lived a lonely witch, on high land near the thunder, which used to roll in Summer along the hills. There she dwelt by herself in a narrow cottage of thatch and roamed the high fields alone to gather the thunderbolts. Of these thunderbolts, that had no earthly forging, were made, with suitable runes, such weapons as had to parry unearthly dangers.

And alone would roam this witch at certain tides of Spring, taking the form of a young girl in her beauty, singing among tall flowers in gardens of Erl. She would go at the hour when hawk-moths first pass from bell to bell. And of those few that had seen her was this son of the Lord of Erl. And though it was calamity to love her, though it rapt men’s thoughts away from all things true, yet the beauty of the form that was not hers had lured him to gaze at her with deep young eyes, till—whether flattery or pity moved her, who knows that is mortal?—she spared him whom her arts might well have destroyed and, changing instantly in that garden there, showed him the rightful form of a deadly witch. And even then his eyes did not at once forsake her, and in the moments that his glance still lingered upon that withered shape that haunted the hollyhocks he had her gratitude that may not be bought, nor won by any charms that Christians know. And she had beckoned to him and he had followed, and learned from her on her thunder-haunted hill that on the day of need a sword might be made of metals not sprung from Earth, with runes along it that would waft away, certainly any thrust of earthly sword, and except for three master-runes could thwart the weapons of Elfland….

It was scarcely dark in the valley when he left the Castle of Erl, and went so swiftly up the witch’s hill that a dim light lingered yet on its highest heaths when he came near the cottage of the one that he sought, and found her burning bones at a fire in the open. To her he said that the day of his need was come. And she bade him gather thunderbolts in her garden, in the soft earth under her cabbages.

And there with eyes that saw every minute more dimly, and fingers that grew accustomed to the thunderbolts’ curious surfaces, he found before darkness came down on him seventeen: and these he heaped into a silken kerchief and carried back to the witch.

On the grass beside her he laid those strangers to Earth. From wonderful spaces they came to her magical garden, shaken by thunder from paths that we cannot tread; and though not in themselves containing magic were well adapted to carry what magic her runes could give. She laid the thigh-bone of a materialist down, and turned to those stormy wanderers. She arranged them in one straight row by the side of her fire. And over them then she toppled the burning logs and the embers, prodding them down with the ebon stick that is the sceptre of witches, until she had deeply covered those seventeen cousins of Earth that had visited us from their etherial home. She stepped back then from her fire and stretched out her hands, and suddenly blasted it with a frightful rune. The flames leaped up in amazement. And what had been but a lonely fire in the night, with no more mystery than pertains to all such fires, flared suddenly into a thing that wanderers feared.

As the green flames, stung by her runes, leaped up, and the heat of the fire grew intenser, she stepped backwards further and further, and merely uttered her runes a little louder the further she got from the fire. She bade Alveric pile on logs, dark logs of oak that lay there cumbering the heath; and at once, as he dropped them on, the heat licked them up; and the witch went on pronouncing her louder runes, and the flames danced wild and green; and down in the embers the seventeen, whose paths had once crossed Earth’s when they wandered free, knew heat again as great as they had known, even on that desperate ride that had brought them here. And when Alveric could no longer come near the fire, and the witch was some yards from it shouting her runes, the magical flames burned all the ashes away and that portent that flared on the hill as suddenly ceased, leaving only a circle that sullenly glowed on the ground, like the evil pool that glares where thermite has burst. And flat in the glow, all liquid still, lay the sword.

The witch approached it and pared its edges with a sword that she drew from her thigh. Then she sat down beside it on the earth and sang to it while it cooled. Not like the runes that enraged the flames was the song she sang to the sword: she whose curses had blasted the fire till it shrivelled big logs of oak crooned now a melody like a wind in summer blowing from wild wood gardens that no man tended, down valleys loved once by children, now lost to them but for dreams, a song of such memories as lurk and hide along the edges of oblivion, now flashing from beautiful years of glimpse of some golden moment, now passing swiftly out of remembrance again, to go back to the shades of oblivion, and leaving on the mind those faintest traces of little shining feet which when dimly perceived by us are called regrets. She sang of old Summer noons in the time of harebells: she sang on that high dark heath a song that seemed so full of mornings and evenings preserved with all their dews by her magical craft from days that had else been lost, that Alveric wondered of each small wandering wing, that her fire had lured from the dusk, if this were the ghost of some day lost to man, called up by the force of her song from times that were fairer. And all the while the unearthly metal grew harder. The white liquid stiffened and turned red. The glow of the red dwindled. And as it cooled it narrowed: little particles came together, little crevices closed: and as they closed they seized the air about them, and with the air they caught the witch’s rune, and gripped it and held it forever. And so it was it became a magical sword. And little magic there is in English woods, from the time of anemones to the falling of leaves, that was not in the sword. And little magic there is in southern downs, that only sheep roam over and quiet shepherds, that the sword had not too. And there was scent of thyme in it and sight of lilac, and the chorus of birds that sings before dawn in April, and the deep proud splendour of rhododendrons, and the litheness and laughter of streams, and miles and miles of may. And by the time the sword was black it was all enchanted with magic….

And now the witch drew the black blade forth by the hilt, which was thick and on one side rounded, for she had cut a small groove in the soil below the hilt for this purpose, and began to sharpen both sides of the sword by rubbing them with a curious greenish stone, still singing over the sword an eerie song.

Alveric watched her in silence, wondering, not counting time; it may have been for moments, it may have been while the stars went far on their courses. Suddenly she was finished. She stood up with the sword lying on both her hands. She stretched it out curtly to Alveric; he took it, she turned away; and there was a look in her eyes as though she would have kept that sword, or kept Alveric. He turned to pour out his thanks, but she was gone.

The King of Elfland’s Daughter, Chapter 1

This novel is available as a HTML E-book via Project Gutenberg.