November 19, 2018


The Aser Stories 36a: Madly In Love


Judging from the looks of things, Danner really must take a long look at her apprenticeship to the wizard Cloudraft... and whatever else is going on in his castle laboratory.

" 'Dannie' is what Cloudraft called you, I heard him with both my own ears. Now how do you want to explain that little slippie-wippie of the tonguey-wungy?" I asked my relative and friend Danner, who was seated in front of the inn's fire with her injured leg propped up on a bucket with a cushion on top. "Seems to me that if anyone else had omitted the honorific in favor of a cutesy-ism, you'd have leveled him first and said 'Did I hear you correctly' later."

"If you hadn't brought me a beer, I'd be ready to level you. You're mistaken." Danner took a long drink from her cold mug and followed it with a piece of redolent sharp cheese.

"Tell the truth," I commanded. In response she shut her eyes like an annoyed cat and turned her face toward the fire. "Hah! I knew there was a reason Lady Seaguard had it in for you! She's jealous! She had her eye on Cloudraft for more than just the prestige of having a wizard living in the castle, didn't she? Ah, but along there comes Dan Ur-Jennan and suddenly, Cloudraft the Great is Cloudraft the Ga-ga over the shaman who is now his apprentice."

"I think I'd rather hear you find a different topic of conversation. As in, how are the baboons and raccoons and you faring out in the barn?" From the way Danner was rubbing her temples with one hand, another subject was a good idea. I had no intention of leaving the conversation alone long, however.

"The baboons think that being dry and warm with vegetables from the marketplace to be a kind of heaven. I'd tend to agree with them. I myself hadn't slept in a hay barn for so long I'd forgotten how nice the scent and insulation can be. The raccoons are happy with the fish we got them, but Marjorie is starting to get cranky about finding a den or apartment of their own before she has those kits. Her language has taken a turn for the worse along with her temper." I moved away from the hearth as some cold travelers came to stretch their hands out to the warmth. "Does Cloudraft have any idea how to undo the spell that made them all talk?"

Danner pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes. "I don't know; I haven't talked to him."

"Maybe you should," I offered, moving again to get away from her reach.

She pointed a finger at me. "I'm telling you, Aser, I am pretty damn sick and tired of hearing his name mentioned in every discussion we have."

"Listen, Miz Apprentice and Junior Shaman, don't point your magical finger at me unless you want a whole lot more trouble than you have now."

She tucked her hands under her armpits. "Leave me alone about Cloudraft."

I stood up. "You know, you and Mr. Unmentionable Wizard need to sort out your difficulties. I'm going to sneak a beer out to the barn and share it with Narsai. That should tell you something about your mood; if a friend would rather drink and talk with a baboon, you may want to reassess your state of mind." I pretended what she said after me was unintelligible, otherwise I might have been insulted or offended.

Danner should have written me a letter asking for advice. "Dear Aser," the letter should have said, "My master and I have got the giddies for each other. But we had an argument and he said I was stupid and I said he was dull, and now we're both mad at each other. I'm more angry than he is, but he's still a jerk. I know I'm not stupid, and I wish there was some way to patch things up. Any suggestions?"

"Yes," I would have written in reply, "I do have a few.

"First of all, as master and apprentice, you have a professional relationship to consider. He is responsible for everything his apprentice does, and you are bound to listen to him and learn the things he decides to teach, be the subject how to grind up bats' wings or conjure a spell to give your enemy hemorrhoids. As his apprentice, you can approach him and say, "As your apprentice, I believe I have much to learn." He will then either continue your education (in which case your task is to learn) or revile you (in which case your position requires you to keep your mouth shut and accept your punishment) or he will kick your stubborn ass out of his chambers, although that will entail him finding you another master to study from lest he be blamed and sued for your resulting escapades.

"Secondly, as regards the little hearts and bubbles floating above your heads, you've got to get a grip. There is a time and a place for romance, but it is not in the laboratory. If you can't surmount the amorous feelings while you're learning, at least find a place other than the incantation room for holding hands and making daisy crowns. If you can't leave the cootchies behind at the door of the classroom, then you should make other arrangements for learning.

"Thirdly, go to your wizard-master and talk. Tell him what you've told me. If he understands, then go on from there. If he is truly an idiot, then ask him to find you another placement.

"Fourthly, if you can't bring yourself to be humble, and you're still too angry to talk, you may seek recourse in mediation. Have an upright, honest official act as referee in the matter, and listen to the mediator's advice."

Yes, that's what she should have asked, and I would have answered.

I collected a beer from the bar and stepped out on the porch. Cloudraft held a small book in his hand, but he was staring at the pouring rain.

"Why don't you whip up some magic and make it stop raining?" I said to him.

"Nature knows what it needs," he replied. "One can suggest, but not control."

"I think you ought to keep that thought in mind while dealing with Danner, too -- that is, if you want to keep her as your apprentice."

"Apprentice," he mused. "Yes, I must re-evaluate our arrangements."

"Yes," I told him, "because I may not want to sleep indoors, either."

That got his full attention.

"Oh, did I forget to mention? I'm coming with you to Oceanwind. And just off-hand, it may be time your Lady Seaguard had a course of instruction on how to leave a shaman alone."

Article © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2003-03-03

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In the same series:

The Accursed
The Aser Stories: Sidelong
The Aser Stories 80: Cabin Fever
The Aser Stories 79: Just Don't Say It Before Spring
The Aser Stories 78: Judgment Call
The Aser Stories 77: "Are We There Yet?"
The Aser Stories 76: A Bone to Pick
The Aser Stories 75: Coalition Forces
The Aser Stories 74: Flying Monkeys
The Aser Stories 73: Elspeth, Ad Nauseam
The Aser Stories 072: Starve a Cold
The Aser Stories 071: House Call
The Aser Stories 70: Dinner Dates
The Aser Stories 69: Fire in the Hole
The Aser Stories 68: The Silk Fable
The Aser Stories 67: The Simple Life
The Aser Stories 66: For What You're Worth
The Aser Stories 65: Taking a Shot
The Aser Stories 64: Second Chances
The Aser Stories 63: The Second Step
The Aser Stories 63: Second Thoughts
The Aser Stories 60: Fish Story
The Aser Stories 59: Ace in the Hole
The Aser Stories 58: Knowledge is Power
The Aser Stories 57: Animal Tracks
The Aser Stories 56: Oz Can Keep Them All
The Aser Stories 55: Small Comfort
The Aser Stories 54: Letting Go
The Aser Stories 53: In a Spirit of Healing
The Aser Stories 52: Stinkin' Kids
The Aser Stories 51: No Words For It
The Aser Stories 50: The Friend in Need
The Aser Stories 49: Run for Cover
The Aser Stories 48: On the Fly
The Aser Stories 47: Just Thievery
The Aser Stories 46: Take My Shaman ... Please
The Aser Stories 45: Hot Stuff
The Aser Stories 44: Courtesy Call
The Aser Stories 43: Adding Insult to Injury
The Aser Stories 42: Natural Selection
The Aser Stories 41: Funny Business
The Aser Stories 40: Happy Endings
The Aser Stories 39: Working Dogs
The Aser Stories 38: Taking Sides
The Aser Stories 37: Dumb Animals
The Aser Stories 36: Harsh Words
The Aser Stories 35: Endangered Species
The Aser Stories 34: Common Language
The Aser Stories 33: Legal Torture
The Aser Stories 32: Whose Fault Is It?
The Aser Stories 31: Money Talks
The Aser Stories 30: The Perils of Sympathy
The Aser Stories 29: Raccoons
The Aser Stories 28: The Ghost of Garfer Miller
The Aser Stories 27: Dynamite
The Aser Stories 26: Junk Mail
The Aser Stories 25: Rose-Covered Cottages
The Aser Stories 24: Crime and Punishment
The Aser Stories 23: Image Is Everything
The Aser Stories 22: Is As Does
The Aser Stories 21: Gourmet Dining
The Aser Stories 20: Families and How They Are
The Aser Stories 19: The Difference Between Men and Women
The Aser Stories 18: On a Silver Platter
The Aser Stories 17: Point of View
The Aser Stories 16: Easy Street
The Aser Stories 15: Moguls
The Aser Stories 14: A Mile Toward Change
The Aser Stories 13: The Price of Freedom
The Aser Stories 12: A Question of Nudity
The Aser Stories 11: Rabbit From a Hat
The Aser Stories 10: Awards
The Aser Stories 09: On A Roll
The Aser Stories 08: Raising Children
The Aser Stories 07: Crosspasses Market
The Aser Stories 06: Judge, Jury, Shaman
The Aser Stories 05:Habit and Stubbornness
The Aser Stories 04: The Wrong Question
The Aser Stories 03: The Labor of Love
The Aser Stories 02: Soup du Jour
The Aser Stories 01: Popping the Big Question
The Aser Stories 40a: Customary Behavior
The Aser Stories 36a: Madly In Love
The Aser Stories 03a: Descent to the Underworld

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