A Meeting of Minds by Charles C Cole

A Meeting of Minds
Charles C Cole

The most dangerous profession, you say? Sailing along the edge of our flat earth. Mining in deep, near-airless tunnels not far from a clan of territorial dwarfs. Or, perhaps, like me, as psychoanalyst to the supernaturally needy, privy to forbidden tales of violence and betrayal, while exposed to lethal outbursts of the mercurial kind.

Believe me, though I take elaborate precautions, there is simply no potentially greater threat to personal safety than whilst sharing a confining room with an emotionally unstable wizard who possesses unspeakable power. Hear me out.

Wind, for example, is a delightful natural phenomenon when flying a kite or pushing a three-masted vessel home to port, but no rational being intentionally navigates into the near-eye of a mauling hurricane.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the legendary sage Brel’Augr. No? A puny group of would-be insurrectionists escaped to the desolate Wastewoods from the heavily guarded palace of Lord Malthane. The indignant despot sent his agitated wizard in hot pursuit, but not before giving him a public dressing down the likes of which the village of Marshire had never seen before or since.

In a gesture of contrite loyalty, Brel’Augr hurled himself from the highest tower, transforming in mid-plunge into a pursuing dragon. He would not be limited to the kingdom’s crude, muddy roadways. Navigating by his mind’s compass, he soared expeditiously to the last known position of the little band.

But the inconvenient rain and frequent lightning made air travel an unpleasant experience. As his frustration built, the frenzied executioner ballooned, filling the sky until it was as if a solar eclipse settled over the entire civilized world. But, comparatively, the criminals were small and easily able to hide below towering trees and dense undergrowth. Immense size, it turned out, was not a tactical advantage.

The energy of the lightning was absorbed by Brel’Augr’s scaley hide and bounced around inside his volatile essence. His eyes glowed with swirling gases. Rather than hovering and observing, he zigged and zagged impatiently, unwilling to disappoint his supreme commander. And, fatally, Brel’Augr’s magical metabolism boiled within until he literally exploded into an unprecedented heaven-sent deluge. Gone but for the history books.

Methoglyn the Righteous was another noteworthy elemental thaumaturge. The self-same fugitives, drenched to the skin, found a standing dead behemoth of a tree and chopped it down for life-sustaining warmth. Out of the flames, like a phoenix, stepped a flustered and confused warlock, after twenty years of imprisonment, with one goal: revenge. So, when he heard he’d just missed his archenemy’s demise, Methoglyn started hiccupping and spitting fire like a mouthful of watermelon seeds.

By this time, a battalion of armored troops were nearing to assist in the recovery while an army of resistance fighters were creating a frontline of heavy artillery, including rapidly deployed catapults. But the professionals outnumbered the amateurs 10:1, and Methoglyn was an obvious, glowing target.

Mortal men nearest the opposing champion were the first to be sacrificed, by one side or the other. With no time to scheme and caught mid-skirmish, Methoglyn agonized over the best course of action. When he was the only preternatural force on the field, with a demonstrative advantage, Methoglyn the Apoplectic was paralyzed with self-doubt, eventually sitting on the edge of an empty bucket awaiting a payload and somehow, in the heat of battle, being launched over the enemy where he exploded into an all-consuming and indiscriminate firestorm. Absolute victory and total loss as equal partners.

You see my point. Great power demands a need for tempered thinking and measured responses. But who would dare tell a wizard, venting destruction, to consider rationing his rage? When you are a force of nature, you are convinced your strength lies in action, but your true power comes from the voice of reason and the decision-making authority within. You are of nature and more than nature.

Like my father before me, I am here to offer grounding and a time for precious contemplation. Your true strength is your human remnant. Nobody can take away your power to destroy. You are limited only by your impulses. When you release your inner Kraken, circumspection is the first casualty.

And so I sit, opposite you, acutely aware of my vulnerability but emboldened by my resolve and a history of results. When you leave here, you will have your powers intact. You will still be able to vanquish masses of opponents through a wellspring of extramundane vigor, but you will also be able to live to kill again. Your career will be long and violent and memorable, and the world will speak your name in a respectful whisper. This is what I offer. Shall we proceed?

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