Energy crackles between gnarled fingertips; a changing aura radiating the withered hands
in a myriad of colours. Deft fingers twirl shapes between patterns and old hands twist in
seemingly meaningless positions, an unrepeatable display of dexterity. Time seems to
stand still as strange gestures flick between ancient hands as they whirr with
unfathomable complexity to produce a slow succession of unrecognisable symbols. In the
left hand, an ancient stretch of leather is swung around on the end of a leather strap. The
leather bladder skips and twirls, morphing in shape as it moves erratically, as if pulled by
an unseen force. The hands twist around the hovering leather, their aura illuminating
strange symbols etched on the surface. Together, the weaving of hands and leather form a
pattern of inconceivable complexity, shifting in colour, shape and speed.
As the changes seem to slow the aura begins to flash through the spectrum; green, then
aqua, then blue.
Suddenly, as the light flashes an electric purple, a word is uttered from
parched lips, its meaning lost with time but its power no less potent. The glow flares up
around the old man, replacing the reality he watched moments before with a place outside
of time and space. The light fades into grey and he is left in a place of emptiness.
In this timeless void past and future mingle incoherently and milliseconds blur into eons.
Ethereal shapes shift in the dense grey fog, ghostlike in the silent soup surrounding the
man's motionless form. Lights blaze in spectrums that can be seen only in the
peripherals, and sounds play that cannot be heard; only felt. Twisted, tormented beings
seem to writhe around the man, pressing forward contorted limbs, reaching for an unseen
prize; then disappearing into the nothingness from which they came.
The man focuses his senses inwards, blocking out the confusion caused by the sensory
overload that threatens to overwhelm him. He focuses his mind inwardly, on memories
and glimpses of the reality he once inhabited. As his mind draws ever closer to complete
seclusion, the fog begins to dissipate and he sees through closed eyes with clarity never
The fog disappears completely to reveal a surreal environment - a desert with colours too
vibrant to be real. A dead tree stands in mock grandeur in the middle of a rocky plain, its
grey shape seeming to absorb light, casting almost no shadow over the red sand in the
noonday sun. Sharp rocks jut out from the sand to threaten the soles of passing travellers
and green growth torments the thirsty adventurer with spurious promises of water. In the
midst of this desert stands the old man, the leather skin held tightly in one hand.
The landscape shifts slightly, giving the appearance of motion although no step is taken.
The man remains motionless, but seems to fly over the landscape as it changes around
him; past the desert to the woods beyond. Between the darkness of trees that block out
the light and branches that hover overhead, twisted together in an intense competition for
survival. Over streams and rivers with many and varied beings inhabiting the life-giving
water. Over open grasslands; oceans of green swaying in the breeze. Rivers... Grassy
hills... Rock strewn mountains and open plains all pass around the man.
The changing topography blurs up into a snow covered mountain and the man raises an
open hand; a gesture of warning. The environment stops shifting and the ambience of the
new location is immediately felt. Cold stabs through the loose fitting cloak and the bright
light is reflected from mirror white snow to pierce sun scorched eyes.
The man grasps the leather skin in both hands and begins to run his fingers over the
surface; pausing for a moment on each of the carved runes they touch. After a moment he
seems to find what he is after, and triumphantly removes a cork stopper from a valve in
the skin. Hurriedly he reaches down to grasp a handful of the snow. The cold pierces his
fingers instantly, numbing his calloused skin and chilling deep into the bone. In his rush,
the man wobbles the skin and a small amount of red liquid drips out from the bladder,
falling onto the snow and tainting the pure white with an appearance of blood.
Ignoring the burning cold the man scoops up a handful of the freezing ice and shovels it
into the bladder. With a flourish, he replaces the stopper and etches a symbol into the
pliable surface with a sharp fingernail. Grasping tightly to the leather strap he lets the
skin fall to rest at his side and stands upright, his back groaning in protest. Steeling
himself with a deep breath he prepares for what is to come.
Then opens his eyes.
His surroundings blur and distort, shifting in shape and colour to violently jolt the man
back to reality. Around him the dusty desert stretches to the horizon; a pale red glinting in
the sunlight. Small bushes struggle for survival in the blistering heat, and a dead tree
stands withered, a reminder of the harsh consequence of dehydration.
Completely exhausted, the triumphant wizard lays down in the shade the dead tree offers
and sips at his leather wine flask. With a sigh he rests, and says a silent prayer to his
many gods that he may someday discover an easier way to cool his drink.
This piece of writing is from my own imagination