Chapter 11

Piggor's Tor was a tiny village with a few cottage industries and two hundred and ten village idiots, the irascible farmer being one of them.

"Farmer Empty Head has his farm on the river side of the village so stay well away from the old loon." Raze advised. "Not alot to do here so a quick, non gelatinous snack, twenty minutes rest and we're out." He sat on a bench in the village square while his students ambled off to the cake shop. "I'm a bit freaked out by Seth's Wand. He picked it out of the junk box because it was the only thing vaguely wand-looking. This is the first time it's shown any independent magical properties."

"Property. Singular." Spider corrected.

"What is your problem, Spider? You're always having a dig at Dick, now you're belittling Seth's wand. Fair enough, you're exceptional but that's no reason for arrogance." Raze preached.

"Arrogance? I am not arrogant!" Spider said arrogantly. "The Wand has only one property! Fact! It is what it is! You getting it? Actually, I was going to respond to your junk box observation but you can go and fry your face. Ponce."

"You're just trying to get out of your attitude. You're a snob." Raze said firmly. "Spider? Did you hear me? Spider!"

"Naff off." Spider said rudely.

"Sulking won't work this time. I'm tired of you putting me on guilt trips, usually infront of my students, so you can belt up." Raze snapped. "Those kids have been in serious danger twice because you urged them upwards and onwards. We have magical tools suddenly developing unpredictable traits. None of that happened before you came on the scene."

"Yes it did! Don't you get it? Magic happens all the time Raze! It occurs constantly, everywhere, whether we see, or understand it, or not. Do you seriously think that you've uncovered and understood every single magical aspect there is? And you call me arrogant. Raze you're only aware of a fraction of what exists out there." Spider told him.

"And you're aware of it all. Yes I get it." Raze said wearily.

"No!" Spider shouted and emitted a static bolt up Raze's arm. "You are a git! Nobody and nothing knows everything and they never will. I'm from a time when magic was seen and approached differently from today. You said that yourself in the classroom. Different Raze. You're taught to handle magic differently to what I know. Not only that but you've called me old a few times and you can bet your incantations I'm old. I've probably forgotten more than you know and that isn't an insult, it's another fact. Well actually yes, it is an insult. Chuck me back in the slag heap, I'm expecting it."

"No. I'll never do that, Spider." Raze sighed heavily. I'm a teacher, as well as a Mage. I was taught to be a teacher. I know you won't disagree that I have to do that responsibly and within a structure. I have no choice because we live in an urban society. Remember the ridiculously named General Bumfitt I mentioned?" A snorted laugh indicated the affirmative. "He was a soldier and a damned good one. I was only fourteen when the Frostbottoms threatened to attack Sunstroke. Why are you tittering? Oh yes, Frostbottoms. Do grow up." Raze smiled. "Because of my age, I was on the back lines with the strategists and herbalists. Bumfitt decided on a warning volley and heck did they get one. Fireballs on par with your grey ooze blaster. Lightning that split tree trunks. Quakes that opened up chasms and deluges of water that formed rivers in them. Then I realised no one else had struck a blow, either physically or magically. I'll never forget what it felt like to use my magic on that scale and I'll never forget that I can still do it. I have the raw ability to harness chaotic elements on that scale, but I had to learn to structure it all to use it as I wished it to be used. Control, Spider. I live in a place inhabited by tens of thousands of people and I could destroy most of it in a week. Do you think I'd want to? Of course not. Nor would anyone else."

"A week! You're only slow, man." Spider sniffed and Raze smiled again. "So! Do you want to know what I think about the hippie wand? Yes, thought so. You said it hadn't done it before. Well duh! You called it a Wand of Tranquility, well if that University gets much more tranquil it'll fall into a coma! It's had no need to, eh? It was still a hippie wand all along but no one had the need to notice."

"That makes sense." Raze conceded. "Dick?"

"No thanks." Spider guffawed. "Ah I hold my sigils up to that one. Sort of. Yes, I transfered the air spell, with good intentions, I'd like to remind you, but Dick already had magical abilities. It's a Staff. Theo would have eventually channelled his own air spell through Dick, regardless of me and my splendor. Maybe it wouldn't have been as powerful as mine, but maybe it would. Unpredictability, Raze. It'll always exist." Spider said wisely and Raze nodded. "Gorgon's giddy bits! Who in soddery is that?" A very large man with a red face and hands like shovels came charging out of the florists behind Harvey and Berwick.

"Oh no, it's Farmer Nutjob." Raze grimaced. "Excuse me! Can I help you sir?" The farmer jettisoned a potted pansy and a cactus at Raze. "Ouch! Hang on! Tell me what ..." Farmer said 'grr', grabbed a rain barrel and wedged it over Berwick's head before hammering it with his huge fist. "Hey! Back off matey, I'm warning you.! Raze threatened. "He's only a boy." Farmer kicked over the barrel and sent it spinning into Harvey. "Right!" Raze hefted Spider like a golf club and clattered the farmer in the groin.

"Can you not!" Spider howled. "No! What are you playing at? No!" Raze rammed Spider, glyphs first, under the farmer's unmentionables, grabbed both ends and yanked upwards. The farmer howled alongside Spider as he keeled over sideways and stayed there. "How could you!" Spider wailed. "That was so disturbing!"

"Are you two alright?" Seth and Theo were trying to get Berwick to walk in a straight line without tripping over Harvey.

"What about me!" Spider shrilled. "That was like being forced into custard with rocks in it!"

"Ugh! Yes Spider. No need to be so explicit." Raze wiped Spider on the farmer's tunic. "People tend to forget that staffs are weapons. I need to teach myself staff combat."

"Not with me you don't." Spider grumbled. "Suppose I'd broken and splintered into ... that! Would you have extracted me with tweezies? No, I didn't think so!"

"You do go on. So! What was Farmer Soresack doing in the flower shop and what did you do to cheese him off?" Raze asked his pupils.

"He gave up farming and took up gardening." Berwick rubbed the large bump on his head. "He's unhinged! Harvey told him he had a Sweet William in his room and he went ape!"

"Perhaps it isn't his favourite type of perennial." Raze suggested.

"And perhaps he's tapped in the head." Harvey contributed.

"Hand that over!" A round man in a tunic shouted at Theo.

"Oh sodding heck! Now what?" Raze strode over. "Constable?"

"He's not getting Dick, Raze. You tell him!" Theo said bravely.

"You impudent little snot!" The Constable made a grab for Theo.

"His Staff! He means his staff." Raze butted in.

"That's what they all say. I'll have that one too." The Constable pointed at Spider.

"My spectacular polished end you will." Spider snorted.

"What was that?" The Constable asked sharply. "Lewd and salacious conduct, eh?"

"What? Heck no!" Raze said in alarm. "Look, we're from the University. Your florist mounted an assault on my students. He'll be fine once everything ... jiggers back into place. Seth? We could do with the mood being a tad more tranquil." Seth nodded and grinned widely. The Hippie let off two consecutive rasps. "Excellent. How about I pay for the flora and your understanding. Yes?"

"His predicament?" The Constable nodded to Farmer, who's eyes were starting to uncross.

"You aren't related to Herbert Drisep are you? Yes, his predicament too." Raze heaved.

"Thank you for visiting Pigger's Tor! Come back soon and you have a nice day!" The Constable smiled warmly. "Give my best to cousin Herb."

"Coincidence. It has to be. Come on you lot before we end up in the clink. And that concludes the Pigger's Tor section of our field trip."

They left the village to its odd little way.

"Are we going to the old ruins tonight?" Seth asked warily. "Not that it's any worse that Pigger's Tor and its simpletons."

"No we'll camp down by the river. No point in bedding down with a thousand stones under your bedroll. Start collecting wood for a fire." Raze headed for the riverbank.

"Raze? About me being an arse with Dick and The Hippie." Spider said.

"Don't worry about it. You have a way of getting your point over and I'm not quite used to it yet." Raze sat on the grass and removed the Reptile.

"No, you were right. I am an arse." Spider said glumly. "Feel free to object."

"I would if I thought you were setting me up. So I was right?" Raze asked suspiciously.

"All the cell structure stuff, Raze. I can go into mind melting detail about all of it. All the hows and the whys. Everything. Maybe I will one day." Spider sighed.

"So that's a good thing isn't it? We'd all benefit from what you know."

"Suppose so." Spider answered miserably. "All this vibrating cell stuff, resonating frequencies, matter transmition and all thar jazz. I can't do that Raze. Dick and the Hippie are natural, living things. They probably came from trees that are hundreds of years old and they grew and developed in nature. I don't know what I am but I'm not natural. I never grew fron a seed or thrived on sunlight. I never swayed in the wind or soaked up the rain. I was manufactured by people."

"Exceptional people, obviously." Raze pointed out. "Spider not everything that's great has to be a natural. Of course there are forces of nature but people have learned to use those forces to create many fabulous and vital things. No, we don't know what your physical form is made of but it was made from something. Added to that you were created with the knowledge of great Mages, and that's aside from your own knowledge through experience. You did grow and you did develop. You're Spider."

"You're pretty nice for a pointy shoed wizard." Spider quipped. "Will I ever know who made me?"

"That knowledge has probably been lost in time, Spider."

"So I'll never know where I came from."

"You're not alone in that. I was an orphan, found on the schoolhouse steps. You're not alone in another way too. You have me and the students for a start."

"And Dick, and the Hippie. Deep joy." Spider tutted. "Can I do the firebolt for the fire?"

"My bankrupt, mytical arse you can. I'll use a flint and tinder."

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