The trip down Firebrand Mountain was pleasant. There wasn’t much left of Smoggit’s house after the altercation with Xocotí and Pamela didn’t have much to begin with; so they both packed light.
The breeze whistled softly through the trees. The sun caressed their skin with a graceful burn. A delicate film of sweat formed on their brows as they meandered through the woods. At about noon, Smoggit stopped them for lunch. They made a simple meal of the nuts and berries found there.
“Have you always wanted to be a wizard?” said Pamela.
Smoggit popped another berry into his mouth.
“Actually, I would have loved to be a blacksmith,” he said with a grin, “but the guildsman I was apprenticed to kept catching me using magic to create shortcuts in the trade. There’s nothing wrong with a little help now and again, but there’s nothing learned from it either.”
“So he sent you away?” she said.
“Exactly,” he said.
“Do you miss it?” she said.
“Sometimes,” he said as he laid back into the grass and gazed up at the clouds, “but it’s not about what I want to do. It’s about what I’m meant to do. Sure, I could skate through life if I wanted, but ultimately what’s the fun and fulfillment in that?!”
She laid down in the grass beside him.
“I miss the prairie. It was simpler then,” she said, “less demon-Queens trying to kill you.”
“Yes, I’d imagine so,” he said. “The door is always open, you know? To go back.”
“I know,” she said, “but I suppose now there never is any real going back, is there? After seeing all this.”
“No,” he said, “no, you’ve spoken truly there; but, if you truly want to go back, there are ways.”
She turned to him.
“Like what, erase my memories?” she said.
He said nothing. She turned back to the clouds.
“Wow. Is there anything you can’t do?” she added.
He turned to her.
“I suppose we’ll find out together,” he replied.
They paused to hear the wind rustling through the trees and songbirds singing their heightened melody.
“Tell me a story,” she said.
He did not hesitate.
“Once upon a time, there was a young lady who traveled a long distance to study under a little, old gnome. The journey was not easy for her from the get-go. She had everything against her; but she had magic and she had her unquenchable spirit, and though the tide of life waxed and waned, in the end, she overcame it all and found her way to glory.”
“Good story,” she said.
“The best part is it’s true,” he said.
“I’ll take your word on it,” she said, “you are a master wizard after all.”
“So they say,” he said.
They rested for a bit, listening to nature and sound of their own breaths and then continued intrepidly on their way.