William Maltese's "It's Magic" relates the tale of an unexpected love between a young magician and king, along with the attending circumstances that possibly don't allow the insufficient magic of the times, without compromise, to provide any kind of extended happy-ever-after ending.
Once we have love, it's not surprising what some of us will do to keep it. In that regard, "Come along," said the young magician and beckoned from the darkness.
A flame flared brightly, somewhere deeper within the rocky confines, making it easier for the King to oblige the magician's request. The two passed through the larger cavern and entered a smaller one, better-lit and better-warmed by a fire-filled rocky cavity that obviously exited its smoke through some chute accessing the outside world. The immediate area was filled with stone tables and benches; the former were cluttered with all sorts of drying flora and fauna, with bottles and jars of strange salves, balms, elixirs, and potions: all part and parcel of the magician's trade.
The magician motioned for his visitor to take one of the stone seats before the raging fire. The magician took the chair immediately across the way, allowing the King to see the magician's features clearly for the very first time.
"Do I know you?" the King asked, thinking he might.
"Your grandfather knew mine," the young man said, "but there has been no member of your family visiting with mine for quite some time."
The King tried very hard to think of why he was there but came up short.
"The story, I hear," said the magician into the pause, "which is the one that's being bantered around your court to such an extent that it has already made its way into the countryside, is that you may well be losing your memory and your mind. The day is already foreseen when you will have lost all grasp of reality and set the stage for the battle to begin, among your courtiers, to determine who ... you without a blood-line heir ... will be raised to the throne in your stead."
"Yes, I do believe that may be so."
"Your condition results from the arrow wound you received that delivered the poison which now rots your brain."
"Arrow wound?" Surely, the King thought, he'd be well-aware of having been wounded by any poison-tipped arrow.
"Pull up your left trouser leg, Your Highness," the magician said. "See for yourself."
The King did as instructed and was amazed.
"The arrowhead and its shaft entered one side your calf and partially exited on the other side," the magician said, "as you can very well tell by the scarring. The real problem was never the damaged leg, however, but, the ride to your brain since taken by the delivered poison."
"My memory grows more and more hazy," admitted the King, and wondered how long before everything was forgotten.
"It's a shame that I no longer have the Gyphin Wand," the magician said, "for it would quickly reverse whatever the mischief set loose within you. Alas, though, you do remember the fate of the Gyphin Wand ... or do you?"
"I remember that it sounds familiar," said the King, "but beyond that..." He shrugged his dismay when not even attempted deep-thought conjured for him the information he so desperately wanted.
"Your grandfather seized it from my grandfather, thinking, at the time, that my relative wielded too much power by having it in his possession. To your grandfather's credit, he believed anyone who had it, not just my grandfather, would be able to access too much magic. The reason he burned it and irretrievably scattered its ashes throughout our nation's six hundred lakes. Presently, I'm still unable to summon up any of its powers to rectify the wrong that's been done you."
"I don't remember," the King said and wondered who the young man might be who sat across from him and looked so handsome in the firelight with his head of red hair, rosy pink full lips, sky-blue eyes, and lightly tanned flesh the color of ripe peaches. The King's mind, at least still capable of vague recollections of having encountered more than his share of attractive young men, in his lifetime, judged this one to be the most exceptional of all; although the reason behind his meeting up with him had already become murky and stayed that way no matter how hard the King concentrated to make it otherwise.
"There is one thing I might do," the magician said. "In that I do confess that my family hasn't stopped seeking out whatever magic is left in the world, what with the exit of the Gyphin Wand. While none of the powers I have can even come close to those my family once had, what I can provide is a possible solution that, if not ideal, might be considered an acceptable compromise."
"You think you might help me, then?" the King asked, although he'd frankly forgotten with what he needed help, or why. Nor could he remember who it was who had suggested a solution might be found, here, through the woods, and in this cave, with this exceptionally handsome young man in attendance.
"Will you trust me to try?" the magician asked.
"Try what?" the King wanted to know. Where was he? So few people a King could really trust, these days, although why he should know that, he didn't have a clue. He did know there had, once, been someone in his life he could love and trust. If only he could remember who.
"Best we not waste any more time," the magician said. He got to his feet, motioning that the King should stay seated. "As I knew you were coming, I've already prepared the draught." He stepped momentarily into the shadows and returned with a gold chalice partially filled with a red liquid.
The King took the goblet, eyed the red liquid in it, as if it were a fine wine and he were a wine connoisseur. He twirled it, sniffed it, and examined its color. "What is this?" he asked finally.
"You're thirsty, and it's the drink for which you've come," the magician said and dropped to one knee in front of the King's seat to extend both of his hands in aiding the King to bring the chalice and its contents to the royal lips.
Having to admit that, yes, he was thirsty, the King advantaged the decidedly bitter liquid refreshment offered up by this exceptionally attractive young man, and he was rewarded by the magician's radiantly wide smile that dimpled both of the young man's rosy cheeks.
After which, the magician's hands readily caught the empty goblet which the King's quick slump into unconsciousness caused the monarch to release.