( A Darkniciad story )
Stepping out of a warm, brightly lit cottage into a gentle, moonlit snowfall, an elderly woman approached the man standing just beyond the silhouette of light from the door. ‘What are you watching, dear?’
The old man chuckled and said, ‘Someone special, I believe.’
The silver-haired woman laid an arm over his shoulder with obvious familiarity, gazing into the glowing snowball her husband was using to scry. She saw a man who looked much like her husband, with his full white beard and kind eyes, except the man they watched was obviously quite frail.
‘He looks familiar,’ she said, kissing her husband’s cheek. Looking again, she said, ‘Oh, I remember him now. You’ve looked in on him in seasons past.’
The old wizard turned to his wife and said, ‘I think he’s the one. It all depends upon whether he keeps his heart this year, I believe.’
She asked, ‘He’s married?’
‘Of course. There are others, but this one is special I think.’
‘Well, we’ll know soon. It wouldn’t be so bad to carry the tradition for a few more years if necessary, would it, dear?’
He laughed and waved his hand over the snowball, causing the glow of magic to vanish from it. ‘Of course not, dear. I love it as much as you do, but if the ones who will take our place are ready, then it’s time for us go back out into the world.’
A coquettish smile crossed the old woman’s lined face as she suggestively said, ‘That wouldn’t be so bad either.’
He smiled back at her and said, ‘Behave, dear. Let’s go inside, there is still a lot to do, whether it will be me or another who carries on the tradition this year.’
They clasped hands and walked back inside, chuckling when they saw the impatient look on the face of the diminutive sprite who awaited them both. They indeed had much to do, and time was slipping away.
Nicholas slept with his balding head down on the table, snoring loudly. His wife, Marta, hobbled into the room with the assistance of her cane, pursing her lips and shaking her head when she saw him.
‘Nicholas, you’ve fallen asleep again.’
With a snort, he jerked his head up and looked around in confusion. ‘No I haven’t. I was just thinking.’