Excerpt from The Fountains of Aescalon

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This is an excerpt from the story I'm working on now. It will be my first fantasy, a riff on Zelazny and Moorcock.

"Returning to the original question you asked me, though, marrying a wizard's daughter or even a wizard herself would be a wise move. Not only would it give you a new ally, other wizards would be less willing to try and take your place if you've got wizards on your side. They might also be more willing to live in a city or kingdom ruled by someone not hostile to their kind. Finally, it's possible that one or more of your children could be a wizard."

"Against that," he responded, "We have the issue that one of the reasons people want to become wizards is power. Too many of them aspire to power no matter the consequences, or the cost to others. What you're saying has merit, Alexan, but I'd need to be very careful about taking a wizard for a queen."

"That's one of the reasons it would be a very good idea to have many wizards around. Where there are sixties or hundreds of wizards, they will keep each other in check. And the wizard who thinks magical power is the ultimate force is going to be mortally surprised when they discover it's not. Maybe in a duel between two wizards it would be. But when there are too many other wizards for anyone to fight, political power is the winning argument."

"I still don't understand why you are willing to create a situation where you are not the ultimate power. Why don't you want to rule?"

"I told you, Your Majesty. I've been a ruler. It's not something I'm looking to repeat at the moment, because rulers are not free to do as they wish. Even if you're not interested in being a good ruler, the requirements of being a ruler will catch you. Furthermore, having many other wizards around gives me opportunity to pretend to be nothing extraordinary. If there are sixty or a hundred other wizards around, all trying to convince everyone they're the biggest, baddest wizard out there, people will have no reason to bother me, as I have no such intention or need. Finally, the place I come from taught me many things in a lifetime that's been significantly longer than you probably believe, and I've had opportunities to hone my craft. I doubt anyone will be able to challenge me for at least a human lifetime. I hope you enjoy being King, Your Majesty, because the truth is that the constraints of being ruler have you snared already. I suspect you will be a good king, and if you accept my counsel when I offer it I will help you become both happier and better, but your latitude of action is less than many would believe."

"And you would advise?"

"Send messengers to the noble houses and to the wizards. To the former, invite them to send their daughters of marriageable age to Treemount. To the latter, add an invitation to the female wizards who wish to be considered and an invitation to relocate to Treemount regardless. Once they start arriving, see if you can find one you get along with. Any of them will do for an alliance, but finding one who will help you as an ally and a friend is worth doing if you can."

"That's appealing, Alexan. I'd like to marry someone who's a friend, or at least friendly. But those who want to marry me for power may not give up their ambitions so easily. I'd hate to put a prospective friend in the way of a jackal's path to power. You don't owe me anything, but I dare to hope we've become friends, you and I. Will you help your friend protect the woman who might help me rule?"

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on November 5, 2017 2:57 PM.

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