The Wizard Jarond woke easily and peacefully. The morning sun crept through the golden drapes like a it was made of butter, lighting the room in an easy glow. He sat up, stretched, yawned, all in an easy, carefree way. He looked around from his canopied bed to the very large bedroom. He saw what he always saw, a room full of ornate, fine furniture. The dressers and the cabinets were from Ludley, a town known for it’s woodworking. The cabinets had elaborate forest carvings on the doors, and the dressers had inlays of various shades of wood.
They made these pieces just for him, and he paid for them by ridding the town of forest beetles. Not the grandest of work for a wizard, but it did save the town’s trees, and thus their livelihood. An out-of-towner brought one in without knowing it, and they took to the place like crazy.
The divans came from Crofton, a town on the far side of the continent. Their claim to fame were textiles, and they incorporated them into everything. There’s no such thing as a plain couch or plain curtains or plain clothes there, everything had a rich pattern, whether dyed or embroidered or stitched. His were upholstered with a thick maroon fabric, and the design on it was reminiscent of a phoenix. The divans cost him a pretty penny, but they were worth it. They complemented the room perfectly, as well as the rugs from Wergen.
At Wergen he was able to work a deal with the Mayor by capturing three men and two women who had snuck into the palace and made off with several very expensive gems. More people than you would expect doing a heist, but who knows these days. They were hiding in the woods when Jarond found them. They tried to put up a fight. Tried and failed. They wound up imprisoned, the gems were returned, and Jarond had some nice new Crolen rugs that were both soft and shimmery.
He loved waking up, because it meant he got to look at his treasures in the early morning light. Everything in his bedroom was a study in fancy living. And every time he looked at his collection he smiled. Acquiring these things made him happy, and each was worth the effort he put into getting them. How he loved his bedroom, from the intricately carved four-posters on his bed to the wardrobe with the multi-layered folding doors, half cherry and half mahogany, to the claw-footed chairs to the end tables with the mother-of-pearl inlays and on and on and on. When Jarond looked upon his treasures all he could do is smile.
So with a happy sigh, he jumped out of bed, threw some water on his face from the fine porcelain wash bin with the ornate drawings of cherubs and grapes on it, got dressed in the same tunic he wears every day (well, not the same tunic. All of his tunics are the same, ankle length, long sleeved, beige with crimson stitching. He hates having to choose between this outfit and that, so he got a score of the same tunic and cycles through them), and headed out into the castle proper.
It was a modest castle, definitely not the largest around, but it suited Jarond. It could more properly be called a manor, but he liked castle because wizards live in castles, not manors. But if you did think of it as a manor, you would see it as an empty one. Where the bedroom held many pieces of furniture, the rest of the house held none. There were tapestries hung on the walls, mostly to cut down on the echo of the emptiness, but that’s it. None in the corridors, none in the other bedrooms, none by the curving stairs that led to the foyer, and none in the salon that lead to the dining room, the only place to have furniture. In there was a long table and three chairs at the end set for meals and the few guests he receives. It was just him in the castle and the two live-in maids. One to make his meals, the other to keep her company. They were sisters who appreciated how little there was to clean up, just the occasional sweeping and dusting through the place. You could say, if you considered the work-to-pay ratio, they were the highest paid maids in the land.
Jarond sat and began his morning meal. A simple meal, one that he has every morning. A poached egg, toasted bread, milk, bacon, and the fruit of the day. Sometimes it’s apples, sometimes peaches. Today it was plums. He bit into one and almost squealed in delight, for they were both juicy and sweet. Those maids certainly knew where to get food. There wasn’t a single day where he didn’t like what was prepared for him. He counted himself lucky to have found them.
He always enjoys his meals, just like he enjoys waking up, just like he enjoys walking through the castle to get to the dining room, just like he enjoys seeing the maids every here and there and sharing a word with them. All in all, he was a happy man who enjoyed the little things. And why shouldn’t he. After all, he was the greatest wizard in the realm, with no worries, no cares, and an extensive library that was full of knowledge.
He finished his meal, savoring every bite, and wiped his mouth and hands on a silk napkin. That done, he rose and headed for the library, which was to the rear of the manor, er, castle. As he walked the maids had entered the room to clean up what little there was to clean up. They curtsied to him, he stopped and bowed to them. This always made them giggle shyly behind fingers held up for modesty’s sake. Then after a quick look at each other they’d rush off to their tasks. Their names were Sheila and Samantha, a cute couple of maids from Torrier, who were working to provide for their family. He thought he should have more for them to do, but besides the meals, the bedroom and the library he didn’t have or needed much to take care of, hence the one to keep the other company. They have a lot of time on their hands so usually they just chatter away in the kitchen.
Jarond continued his journey to the back of the castle, to the large mahogany doors that lead to the library. He pulled them open and entered into a very large room, a room he had especially built for this purpose. The furnishings were more austere than what he had in his bedroom for they were needed more for their function than for comfort. The front half was empty, save for a simple long work table with two stiff-backed chairs and several pedestals, each with a book propped open on them. On the table were several opened books, an oil lamp, and an inkwell with quiver. The other half of the room was filled with eight tall book racks that ran clear to the back of the room, and each of them were full. Besides the high windows the entire room was surrounded with more shelves supporting more books. He had written most of them, acquired the rest. Not bad for one man’s lifetime. And he was middle aged at that.
There was one more thing in the library, an item he was very proud of. To the right was an open-backed standing mirror. It was seven feet tall and five feet wide. The surround for it was made of a fine cherry wood, with runes carved into the supports and painted black. The crown was especially carved to resemble animals in a forest. Deer and rabbits and foxes and chirping birds and owls and turkeys and wolves and bears in an orgy of flowing intermingling, one becoming the other then another.
The glass was especially different from any other mirror. It was a two-way glass. On the front side it looked like an ordinary mirror. From behind it was like a regular pane of glass, very useful when Jarond wanted to spy on people. But he didn’t use that side a lot. The front was where all the magic was. Thanks to the magical carvings he did himself, he used the mirror to look around the world. This is how he acquired all of the knowledge he used to fill his books. As he walked past it he couldn’t help but feel pretty good about himself. He had to stop, had to ask it a question, just because. So he looked deep into the mirror and said, “Show me something new”.
And now his favorite part. As he watched the mirror clouded over with what looked like a light wood smoke, rolling over onto itself over and over. After a moment it cleared to show him the thin woods not too far from the castle. “What’s this then” he asked no one in particular. Looking carefully, he saw four men armed with swords on horse back making their way to the castle. “Well this is new” he said to himself. “I believe I’m having visitors. This should be interesting.” He folded his arms and stroked his chin as he pondered what this could mean. “Could be anything, although they do look like they’re here for a fight. And one of them has a bow. Yes, this will be interesting indeed.”
By the door was a chime for calling the maids. He pulled the rope and waited as he heard their scuffling getting closer. The door opened and there they were, as polite as you please. That’s what he liked about them, they never came alone and were so eager to please.
Once they were in front of him they said “Yes my Lord” in unison. They even curtsied in unison. So cute.
“There are some men approaching the castle. They should be here within the hour. When they get close open the doors and allow them to enter. I shall be waiting for them here. Be sure to point the way.”
“Yes m’lord” they responded. “Should we prepare something for them”, asked Sheila.
“Hmmm, not yet”, said Jarond. “I don’t know why they’re here and I don’t want them thinking that this is a house of hospitality.” He winced, then said “I mean castle.”
“Yes m’lord” they said in unison while stifling a giggle.
“Should we be worried, sir?” asked Samantha.
“I don’t think so”, he said. “But if they seem hostile then don’t be afraid to take cover. Otherwise be polite, okay?”
“Yes m’lord” they said. And with a curtsy, and a bow from Jarond, the scurried off, giggling the whole way. Cute kids, he thought, and went back to the table to read through a book and await his visitors.