Once upon a time, in a distant land, there lived a wizard and his young apprentice. The wizard’s name was Rafiqe and he was a self-important man; he dressed in red velvet and gold brocade whenever possible and twirled his mustache whenever he spoke. He considered himself the most powerful and knowledgeable wizard in all the land. Raifque operated a small shop in the capital from which he sold his services. People came to his shop from all over the country to buy potions, get charms and incantations and all sorts of little enchantments.
Rafiqe had a young apprentice Ali, who was only 12 years old. Ali was a soft-spoken, shy and clumsy sort of child who was constantly getting scolded by his master for being slow-witted. Also, Ali was not very good at magic; his charms often didn’t work, his incantations were sloppy and he couldn’t create a talisman to save his life. He had been working and learning from Rafiqe for close to 7 seven years now and his master was very disheartened by his progress.
The only reason he was kept on as an apprentice at all was that there was one area of magic in which Ali excelled: potions. Any potion made by Ali turned out powerful and worked much better than any made by Rafiqe. It had come to the point where all of Rafiqe’s potions were made by Ali.
One day the king announced that one spot on the royal sorcerer panel was open to all applicants. The royal court had seven sorcerers who are employed directly by the King and are considered to be the best in the land. All they had to do was present a piece of magic to the court and if it was considered impressive by the court sorcerers they would get a chance to take the test.
Naturally, Rafique was ecstatic and he spent long hours bent over his submission, creating an immensely powerful magical containment box for the competition. The box was meant to capture and hold whatever it was directed towards, until the correct password was repeated by the user.
Soon, the submission day arrived, Rafiqe dressed up in his best outfit, with his staff freshly polished and his hair fixed into place firmly with a potion, set out to the castle. Ali was with him, holding onto the bejeweled and embroidered cushion on which rested his master’s creation. The arrived at the castle gates, where Rafiqe showed his mastery badge and his application forms. They were escorted by two royal guards into an antechamber, of the side of the throne room. Here, there were already several witches and wizards seated and waiting. Some of them happened to be Rafique’s acquaintances who he greeted readily.
Half an hour later a guard arrived to summon them to the throne room. Everyone filed out hurriedly behind the guard with much last minute adjusting of clothes and patting of hair. They entered the throne room and all bowed to the royal family. The king was a solemn-faced man, seated straight-backed on the throne. His advisors were arrayed at the foot of the throne and the royal panel of Court sorcerers was seated in an alcove to the side. All in all they made an intimidating picture. One by one each applicant was called forward to present their work.
Some presented objects, others new potion, yet others performed spells until finally it was Master Rafique’s turn. He bowed and introduced himself and his invention, “I am Wizard Master Rafique and this is my apprentice Ali, I bring before you today a enchanted box which captures whatever you direct it towards. For example, if you have to capture a criminal you can simply point and press the trigger, which automatically sucks in the target. The box nullifies all magic inside and can safely contain even a djinn or a dragon. They only way to free the prisoners is by using the correct password.”
“Interesting, very interesting, no doubt something like this could be invaluable in the hands of Our soldiers. I hope you have prepared a suitable demonstration.” Said the king.
“Of course, Your Majesty. I have a certain being trapped in the container and I will release and re-capture it for you. I have prepared a binding circle which will keep the being contained while it is out.” So saying, he bent and started drawing a runic circle on the floor, all the while incanting the binding spell. Once the circle was completed, Rafique stepped back and gestured for Ali to place the box in the center of the circle. Ali did and stepped out of the circle himself, being careful not to smudge the lines as he did so.
Just as Raifque was saying the password, at that very moment, a guard came running into the room and jostled Ali who was still holding the cushion. The cushion was knocked out of Ali’s hands and to everyone’s horror it landed right on the circle and disrupted the binding spell, releasing the djinn trapped within. The Djinn was huge, his form towering over the throne room. His misty sea green coloured arms were shackled with huge iron shackles yet, it still took the djinn only a few minutes to take control of the castle. He soon had every last person in the castle under his control. And then he spoke, “You, puny human that dares to trap me, release these shackles at once!” he pointed to Rafique.
Rafique’s face was paler than chalk, as he replied, “It cannot be done, and I made sure of it when I created the prison.”
“Lies!”, screamed the genie, he waved one hand and destroyed part of the roof in his anger. The entire castle shook with the force of his rage and the occupants of the throne room cowered in fear. The genie then grabbed one of the other applicants and casually threw him out of the window. Then, to everyone’s terror he picked up the king, squeezing him tightly. “If you do not find a way to release me, I will be stuck here in this castle for eternity and this will be the fate of your entire kingdom!” He roared, his voice sounding like the force of a tornado. He then shook the king and started to throw him the same way as earlier.
“No stop! I know a way!” yelled one of the court wizards. “Hmm…What way is that?” said the genie, still not releasing the king. “There is a potion that if drunk, releases all enchantments from a person.” said the sorcerer. “Well, what are you waiting for then, bring me the potion!” said the genie. “I don’t have it, or the ingredients for it, they are too difficult to acquire. If you would allow me to leave and give me a few days I am confident that I could make It.” replied the sorcerer.
“Aha ha haha hah! The genie laughed derisively. “Do you take me for a fool human? I know that if I let you insects out of my sight even for a second, you will try to enslave me again. I will not allow it! If you really do not have the needed ingredients then I will send someone of my own choosing. Give me the recipe. ”
“It’s in my quarter’s, written in my grimoire.” The sorcerer grimaced and replied. The genie waved a finger and soon a book was shooting in front of him, the book started flipping through pages while hovering in front of the genie’s face.
“Ah, here it is, ohoho, I see why you do not have it ready, you really are incapable of creating a magic this powerful.” said the genie smirking cruelly. Looking around the room the genie ordered, “All those who can competently brew a potion step forward!” A lot of the sorcerers paled apprehensively and stepped forward. The genie looked each of them over, passing a glowing hand over their heads, “No, no, no, no. Maybe, hmm no. What a useless bunch of humans you are, not a one of you has the capabilities of producing this potion.” As the genie’s hand brushed passed past Ali, he stilled, “Aha, I have you.”
“You boy, I task with finding the ingredients and creating the potion on this paper (a copy of the recipe floats over), if you succeed in your task I will take my potion and leave peacefully. However if you do not return with the potion in a month, I will kill everyone in the castle, starting with your beloved Master. Now Go!”
And so it was that Ali set off on his harrowing quest to find and make the potion.
To be continued…