Deafened by the roar of angry currents, Will wondered if he had ever done anything other than crawl down these slippery, treacherous steps. In fact he could not think of, or remember, another time and place. Perhaps his whole life could be summed up by the task at hand. His mind was exhausted and his body was beyond his command. It almost made greater sense to lie down and sleep.
Just as he had the thought, Will slammed head-first into something hard. He lay, stunned, while the storm romped, deranged, around him. Warmth flooded Will’s bones. He no longer felt the pain of his battered body. He smiled secretly to himself. This wasn’t so bad; in fact, it was really quite pleasant. The fingers that gripped the walking wand unclamped their hold. Will breathed deeply as his eyes closed.
The storm revelled, sending small rocks of ice into the world. Lightning struck and lit the atmosphere with broken shards of dancing radiance.
Barely conscious, Will was beginning to feel at home.
‘I dreamed I had a magic wand,’ he sighed, ‘and she was so very beautiful.’
In his half-open hand, the Wand of Time glowed.
Before them there were no more steps. Instead, a door made of time-worn wood nestled into the mountain rock-face. That is what Will had hit with his head.
As if in answer to another touch, the Wand of Time stirred. The walking wands were made to answer their masters, but these were strange times. The Wand of Time began to sing.
I dream of home
I dream of a place
Where I have been
I am now home
I am now home
I am brought to my master’s lair
Awaken young man
Awake young Will
Open the prize and all will be known.
It is doubtful Will ever understood what woke him. Without having consciously heard the wand’s song, he rose. As if he had been doing it every day of his life, he planted his feet squarely against the buffeting storm and placed a hand on the great brass knob to the old wooden door.
‘There you are,’ he whispered, with chattering, clamped lips. ‘There you are, at last.’
With all the strength left to him, Will turned the handle, stepped through the opening, and walked inside the mountain. The door slammed shut behind him, cutting the hail, sleet and madness completely away.
Warm air flooded Will’s senses. He held the Wand of Time against his cheek and took several deep breaths.
‘We’re home,’ he whispered. And in a moment of complete release, he collapsed, fainting onto the safety of the cave’s floor.
The Wand of Time fell from his hand then and lay quietly, waiting for her young master to awake.
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