The Magicless

The magicless work the land by the sweat of their brow, while they say there are elf cities where they plow the ground perfectly just with magic. Some say they even sing the furrows right into the field. After going through what it takes to be so adept at magic, I say that those fabled elves likely still have to work the ground, but effortlessly use magic to make their work perfect. Of course you can’t change the weather, despite what they say about elves, so there must be some trials they still face. I believe that chiefly their struggle is boredom, that in their perfect world they find nothing to learn, nothing to gain an edge on, nothing to master or conquer. There are no great causes or great quests, just the boring sameness of perfectly plowed rows and perfectly placed seeds.

There was a man out in his field who had learned a thing or two. He had managed to trade off his week work and get to a city for a time. He had also spent time speaking with a pointy-hatted old man throughout his days. You could see them walking together on the edge of the meadow like they were talking about what gods were real and what the world looked like when you were dead.

It was late winter now and no one had thought of breaking up the still-frozen ground. The man though had learned a thing or two. He leaned over and brushed away a patch of snow. He held his hand out to the ground, closed his eyes, and fire came out like he was lighting peat. He focused now on how the flame was coming out of his hand and beating on the ground. Trickles of water started to form and the dirt got soft.

The man took a break and stood up. He kept looking down at his defrosted patch of ground. His neighbors saw him standing out there wiping his forehead and wondered what work he had done.

By the time spring came, the man could keep a flame burning from his hand for a while. He would occasionally try to shoo away birds with it, but it usually stirred up the people around him and they got all fussy.

Oh my. My man, what are you doing? Put that out now, don’t go settin’ the whole damn field on fire. Look at you, do you think you’re a mage or something? When a real mage fights there’s lightning and dark clouds and the ground gets up and moves and there’s a whole storm of fire. Are you really going to be able to keep that up to go a whole furlong? If you could do that you would be the hero of this town. That’s not bad, I say, if you keep that up we might get some use outta that. We would make a statue of you out of shit and old wood.

The man practiced burning chaff and trash as much as he could, so much so that everybody started calling him the trash man. In fall, when the wolves came for the chickens and pigs, he was practiced enough to send one away smelling like a crematorium. The others thought twice for a while before returning.

By winter the man was sure he could defrost a whole furlong, so he set out to try as soon as there was frost. “I won’t be able to keep it away, but I sure as well need to know if I can do it at all.” A good number of people actually gathered around to watch by this time, all standing there in the snow, bundled up in blankets and holding cups of hot water or steeped herbs. The fire blasted out of his hand as he ran, burning hot enough to melt away the snow. He got to the end of the furrow and collapsed to his knees. The village cheered. One of the older men walked over to the defrosted furrow and felt the ground. The snow was cleared, but the ground was still frozen. The man realized this too and after recovering for a few minutes, he tried it again, running back. When the old man stepped out this time he picked up a handful of cold, but soft dirt. The men patted the fire man on the back, congratulated and thanked him but none of them were sure for what.

At the end of winter the man ran the furrow with his fire again. In celebration the village planted an early row of wheat. With a little tending and some more heating duty from the man, the village was able to have a furrow’s worth of grain weeks before the rest of the harvest.

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