What Makes the Grass Grow.... Blood Blood
Wice, invocations, wanderer, performer
Affect Psyche 3
Lesser Illusion 3
Elemental Air 3
The Gift 5
Situational awareness 2
Essence Channeling 5
Increased Essence 6
Josh grew up in happy land suburbia. His mother was school teacher with nice liberal sensibilities. His father was ran a home gardening supply store, also with nice liberal sensibilities. They were also both minor gifted in Wice.
Little Joshie grew up learning spells and incantations from his parents and grandparents, all in the safety of the closeted mundane lifestyle his parents has so carefully crafted. At the age of 17 he quietly decided, “Fuck this” and joined Augstus Grey’s Carnival of Mystery where he learned the ropes- literally and figuratively- of being a circus performer. Already skilled in divination, and possessing, the Gift, he made a name for himself as a fortune teller. He found himself quite adept at juggling, and stage illusion which he occasionally augmented with actual illusion.
He eventually left the carnival and started traveling the renn fair circuit. His hand weapon of choice is a quarter staff. He’s dressed in a mix of anachronistic clothing. He almost always has a mug, a knife, and cloak on him.
Josh wandered aimlessly the empty grounds at Kings’ Faire. It was way passed closing time, and all of the rennies had gone to the camp ground or in town to the local pub. It was quiet and the fairgrounds were just enough outside town as to get a good look at the stars.
In rennie terms Josh was an guest performer, a juggler and magician by trade. During the day, he’d roam the grounds in costume, perform tricks and tell stories to whomever’s attention he could muster. For this he got a camping pass, admission to the festival, whatever tips he could earn, and very little respect from the festival owners, the cast, or most of the other workers. But still it afforded him a kind of freedom that few had even at the faire. He stopped by the outdoor pub and lit a cigarette. Beats the hell out of community college, he thought to himself.
“You know the grounds have been closed for sometime,” came a voice from behind him. He turned around to see an old man with grey beard smoking a long clay pipe, barefoot but otherwise still in garb. Josh recognized him as the owner of several shops including the tavern.
“And Christmas isn’t for several months,” Josh replied and immediately wished he hadn’t.
“Does your booth owner know you’re loitering around the fairgrounds at all hours of the night?”
“I don’t work for a booth. I’m one of the traveling performers.”
“Oh,” said the old man with a tone of disdain. “If you plan on stealing anything, please stay clear of the magic shop.”
“I don’t steal.” Josh stated firmly and indignantly.
“Oh my I’ve touched a nerve.” Clearly it was sarcasm. “Why aren’t you getting drunk, or getting laid by the bonfire at camp.”
Because it hadn’t occurred to me that those were my options, he thought to say back, but instead he said nothing.
“I am known as the Wizard Archimedes here,” said the old man, “What do they call you?”
“Very well young Joshua, when you speak of this to your mother, tell her I send my very warm regards.”
“Now is not the time, young Joshua,” insisted Archimedes. “Besides you know very well how.”
The old man reached behind Josh’s ear and produced a playing card handing it to Josh.Josh was unimpressed. He examined it further to realize it was his own Joker card that he used in act. Before he could say anything, he looked up, and the old man was gone. Josh flipped the card over again to discover written on it was, “Come back tomorrow night.”
The next day was a Sunday. It was a slow crowd. Josh stayed as far away from the pub, and the magic shop as he could. Clearly Archimedes was Wice, or Rossicurican, or just gifted or…what were all those camps his mother and grandmother kept yammering on about? It was the first time he regretted not paying attention to his magical training.
“Reality is a fluid force,” his grandmother would say, “Take in the essence, release the essence” and from there is was a blur.
He passed by a patron in a wizard’s costume and was struck by the irony. I’m sure if he found out that he was descended from a long line witches, he’d be thrilled and chug on down to Hogwarts, Josh thought to himself. It wasn’t that he disliked magic or the Wice. They were family in that way that intrudes on your life and insist you do things, but even then he respected what he had been attentive enough to learn. He even incorporated simple illusion in his sleight of hand which had the added bonus of irking the handful of gifted he encountered.
It began to rain, so he went to the camp to get his cloak. As the rain came pouring down he passed by the push monkeys standing by their rides, and the random girls as fairies dancing in the rain. He laughed at both for completely separate reasons. As he walked through the employee exit and up the gravel road, his foot hit a loose rock and Josh found himself face down in a pile of rocks. At least I didn’t take the horse path, he thought to himself. He got up. He brushed himself off and limped the hundreds yards or so to the campsite, affectionally known as Rennie City. As he crawled into his pup tent, he was somewhat distraught to discover the rain had immediately stopped.
Either my timing is cosmically bad, Josh thought, or- “You know the rain really does screw up the vendor’s sales. It’s not nice to fuck with people like that.”
“I’ve always found it draws people in,” Archimedes said from out the tent, “Granted the rides, and games might suffer a bit, but then I’m not them. Besides I wasn’t fucking with ‘people’ young Joshua. I was fucking with you. Dry off and meet me at the fortune tellers there is much to discuss.”“You said tonight at the pub!” Josh said while he changed his muddy shirt. Scambling he stumbled out. “Whatever happened to ‘now is not the time, young Joshua’?” It was no good. The old man was nowhere to be seen.
He popped his neck and did a quick survey of the damage, both to his person and to his effects. The shirt he had been wearing was ruined at least until he could get to the laundry. Further distressing, he thought which was never a bad thing. Nothing looked worse in his professional opinion that a rennie with a costume that looks like it’s only worn twice a year. In fact, he stopped thinking of as it a costume years ago, and rightly so. It was what he wore to work. He was dressed as a street performer because he was a street performer. He wore a belt pouches, because his wrap pants didn’t have pockets. His boots, as today reminded him, were purchased specifically because they were water proof and because he did a great deal of walking.
Perfectly functional, he thought to himself reassuringly as he noticed his mug had a chip in it from the fall. Further distressing, he thought, picked up his walking stick and went about his way.
“What are you doing at the campsite!” came shrill voice. It the site manager. He had forgotten her name. She was a very unpleasant very large woman dressed in cargo shorts and staff polo which made her look like a deranged camp counselor.
Josh stopped for a brief moment and quietly recited a “nursery rhyme” his grandmother had taught him. He breathed in deeply, smiled broadly, and exhaled.
“I’m terribly sorry,” Josh explained, “I slipped in the mud when it was raining. I just came back to change my shirt.”
“Is this your tent?” The site manager glared at him.
“Yes,” he paused for a half second thinking way too much of social implications of what he was about to say, “M’am”
“Let me see your camp pass.” Each word was annunciated.
Josh fished it out of his pouch. He choked back his urge to either a make joke about East Germany, or simply wave his hand telling her she didn’t need to see his identification. She looked it over, and then looked at him. A few seconds passed before she said anything. In that time, Josh had enough time to see his whole life flash before his eyes including being sent home, and having to explain to mom why he didn’t settle down with a nice pagan girl in the suburbs, also further debate about use of the word “m’am” which ended in him reassuring himself that the creature before him was in fact a woman.
“Are you hurt?” There was no compassion or sympathy to her voice.
“Only a little.”
“Huh,” she said handing the pass back to him. “You might want to go over to the medic and have him look at it. Why don’t you take the day off? Here have a drink coupon.” She handed him for a free beer or soda, and clomped off.
Josh exhaled, rolled his eyes, lit a cigarette and began to head back. He almost didn’t need the staff. but decided he didn’t want to face Brunhilda again. He stopped by the festival entrance to finish his cigarette.
“Got passed Check Point Charlie, I see.” It was a young girl who worked in one of the jewelery stores. She was barefoot and clearly had been dancing in the rain.
“Sorry?” Josh stammered, “Oh right!”
“Papers please,” the girl said mocking a German accent.
“You don’t need to see my identification,” Josh joked complete with hand gesture.
“What?” The girl was genuinely confused.“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for?”
She cocked her head to the side.
“Never mind,” Josh said tossing his butt and walking away.
The girl followed him skipping all the way. “I’m Calliope.”
“Pleased to meet you Jester.” She said bowed as she danced around him.
“Where are you going, Jester?”
I have to meet a sorcerer at the fortune teller booth, he thought about telling her. He’ll probably make me white wash the fence with an up down motion, or wax his antique cars with equally specific motions. No, she probably wouldn’t get that either. “I have to meet with someone.”
“Can I come too?” Calliope put her hands behind her back and swung her head from side to side.
“You can walk with me,” Josh replied wondering why he hadn’t simply made up an elaborate story as to why she couldn’t.
“I like you Jester!” She violently flung her arms around him, and then jumped back three feet. She shifted her eyes back and forth, as if too look innocent.
“I like you too,” said Josh as he shaped essence into the illusion of a butterfly.
“That’s pretty!” Calliope exclaimed. “Do it again?”
“Not today,” Josh said, “Maybe tomorrow.”
They had arrived at the fortune tellers booth. It was a wooden building made to look like a medieval cottage. It was odd in comparison to the other booths in that it actually had a door, and wasn’t simply an open space with a roof over it. Josh had worked for fortune tellers before at other festivals, but this… This felt different.
“Where you’re going, I can’t follow” Calliope said in a sing-song voice.
The door slowly swung open. Josh walk in. The room was a vast collection of strange artifacts, some of which he recognized as props. On the wall unoccupied by bookshelves were charts of stars, pentagrams, and magical symbols. Some of them were made up. Others he recognized from his childhood. At the center of the room was small table and two chairs of matching hand carved wood.
“You’re late,” came a voice from behind him. It was of course Archimedes. He was accompanied by an older woman. She was dressed the part of a gypsy. Her hair was motlied the with streaks of gray, and faded red.
“Sorry,” said Josh, “I had a fairy and an ogre to deal with.”
“He makes jokes,” said the woman, “But he is not far from wrong.” and then to Josh, “Have a seat young man.”
Josh sat down.
“Are you sure he’s the one?” The woman asked Archimedes quietly.
“No,” said Archimedes, “But he’ll do. He’s Willamena’s boy.”
“Oh,” she said, “Perhaps. Perhaps.”
“He’s a traveler, and he has some talent.”
“I can hear you,” Josh said.
“We weren’t whispering,” said Archimedes loudly, “I’ll leave you two alone. Young Joshua, I will see you at midnight.” Archimedes walked away. The door closed behind him.
The old woman hovered over Josh examining his head and then sat down.
“Let me guess,” Josh said indignantly, “You’re friends with my Gran. There’s prophesy involving a juggler with a limp, and you want me to run an errand for you that you think will somehow save the world.”
“Dear child,” she said sternly, “The world is passed saving and you know it better than most.”