A Familiar’s Tale – Part VIII

Image by Dave Scelfo. Used under Creative Commons license 2.0This is where Korbis shined. He learned from Tal which herbs were used for what, how to blend them to make medicinal wine, how to use mechanical methods as well as magic to set a broken bone…all the tools of a physician of the time. Several times a year, a legion or more of the Roman army passed through the area and both Tal and Korbis assisted their medicos, learning from one another, although Tal and Korbis were careful to hide their magical nature. The Romans did not take kindly to magic unless it was in the form of a rite to a god or goddess. A Roman god or goddess, I might add. The gods worshiped by the locals were not the same, although the more the Romans settled in the area, the more their religion was adopted.

By the time Korbis was in his late twenties, Tal was encouraging him to find a girl, get married and start raising a family. Little did anyone know that my human had retained his first crush on the lord’s daughter, Munika, who had been married off to the son of an adjoining land owner when she was sixteen. Her husband joined the Roman army, was killed in a battle somewhere and she had returned to her parents’ home a childless widow. The problem was, she was not a witch and like most people, Korbis did not want to far outlive his spouse. Tal was able to ferret this piece of information out of Korbis and they had a discussion about it.

“Love does not distinguish between magical and non-magical people, Korbis,” Tal told him. “Munika is now a widow, meaning she will not be considered a prime catch. The lord has already provided one dowry and I doubt he will provide another, making her even less desirable. You, on the other hand, are a free man, have a verifiable skill, can provide for her even if you live elsewhere, and aren’t too bad looking in the bargain. Does she share your feelings?”

Korbis nodded, miserable in his predicament. “Yes, but she does not know of my magic. I have been afraid to tell her. She learned Roman ways during her marriage and now speaks against it.”

“Ah,” Tal said in understanding. “Yet you still love her.”

“Yes!” Korbis cried. “She is beautiful, sweet, gentle, everything that a man could wish for.”

“In that case, there is a spell that can be used to make you appear to age. Mind you, it won’t be as quickly as a human will age and you will get all the aches and pains associated with advancing years but if you can hide everything else, this will make you appear human.”

At this, I cautioned my human and it was not easy to do since I had not yet developed mind-speech. The spell works, yes. But it can come with complications.

[“Such as…?”]

Think on it, my human – Amy. If they had children, how would he explain his great longevity to them after his wife died? How would he explain it to his adult grandchildren or even great-grandchildren? Worse yet, if he did not maintain the spell and started to appear younger? And if a descendant should exhibit magical abilities, and it is likely one or more would, what then?

You will recall the wizard, Gregory, I believe he is called, encountered difficulty with his non-magical father when his magic manifested. He was just forced to leave his home. In the Roman culture, it could mean a death sentence.

Korbis was better off with a local girl who had not been corrupted by Roman influence. The locals were what you term Celtiberians who still accepted magic in all its forms, although they preferred that its practice was not done openly to prevent retribution by the ever-growing Roman presence.

Once Korbis thought about all I had cautioned, although he was extremely unhappy, he saw the logic.

“I don’t want to be deceitful,” he told Tal. “I also can’t stay here and watch her marry someone else.”

“I was just thinking that I’d been here thirty years and it was time for me to be moving on. I would be delighted to have you as a traveling companion. However, if we both are leaving, we will have to wait until the lord finds another physician. Can you tolerate your situation until then?”

Korbis nodded glumly. “I will have to, won’t I? I also need to tell Munika I am leaving with you. She will not be understanding.”

And so, Tal gave the news to the lord, who seemed to take it in stride. Korbis told Munika that he was leaving with Tal. That did not go so well. Naturally, Munika did not understand why Korbis was leaving her and as with most women, tears of sadness and then anger flowed. Her rage served Korbis well, though, as she went out of her way to avoid seeing him. That made the break-up easier to bear.

In less than a month, an older Roman medico was persuaded to take up residence and we were on our way. Tal did not wish to meet up with any Romans (who may have conscripted them) so we made our way through the countryside rather than use the wide thoroughfares constructed by the occupying army.

To Be Continued…