He didn’t know where he was going and he kept on running and running, through the town, past the farms and further and further still until he could not run any longer and when he finally stopped, he found himself in a dark and dire wilderness.
The boy was very tired and very scared; it was very dark, and cold too, and there were winds and noises all around, no roads, no paths and no lights, just gnarled old trees with tentacles for branches, and hard thorny shrubs that pricked and pulled at his clothes and at his skin.
So the boy could not go on any longer, and shivering he just sat down in the darkness, and wrapped his arms about his legs, just to wait for the dawn so he could see again. That was a hard night, full of fear and many times the boy thought how he had been wrong again, done a bad thing again, and how he would really come to no good in the end, as everyone had always told him he would.
After a long, long time, the sky began to brighten and finally, the day had come. The boy stood up and looked around the wilderness, and it was then that he saw something in the distance, and it looked like a house of some kind. He was so tired and hungry by then that he just headed towards it without giving much thought as to what he might say or do when he got there, and for the whole day he kept on walking through the wilderness without water, food or rest towards the building.
The building was what seemed to be a high tower that showed all straight and square above the waving trees.
As the boy got closer, he saw that it was a large house with a tower built onto it; there were no roads that led to it, yet the tower and the house lay in a pleasant meadow that was not like the surrounding wilderness at all, and it seemed clean and bright, as though someone actually lived there.
The boy snuck closer, very carefully, for he had heard tales of witches and magicians which were said to live in places such as this, but he could see no-one, hear no-one, and when he looked through the windows with the greatest caution and care, he saw a great many good and expensive furnishing and objects, but not a soul was in sight.
He went around the back of the building and when he looked through a window there, he saw into a kitchen, and there was a bowl of fruit on the table, and right next to it lay a loaf of bread on a chopping board!
This was too much for the boy. He tried the back door, found it to be unlocked and ran inside, grabbed some fruit and bread and then scurried under the table to eat it there in big hungry bites and greedy swallows.
He was about to come out to get another piece of fruit and perhaps a drink to wash down this amazing meal when he heard footsteps, and quickly hid himself back under the table, making himself as small as a mouse and as still, with his heart pounding for fear that he would be discovered.
Feet came into view, wearing soft brown boots and a sweeping cloak’s hem could be observed from under the table, and a man’s gravelly voice who was talking to himself, “Quick now, quick,” he was saying as he walked around the table in the kitchen, “must be away, must be away, to make the most of the light of day!”
Then the unknown man had collected what he needed and he left the kitchen by the back door without locking it properly behind him, and then he was gone.
For a good long time, the boy remained under the table, far too afraid that the man would come back, but no-one else appeared and the man never came, and so finally the boy came out from under the table, looked around and listened to the stillness of the house.
Now many people had said about the boy that he was way too nosey for his own good, that he just couldn’t sit still, always asking questions, always playing with forbidden things, and he stood and knew that it would have been safer to just leave, take some fruit and be on his way, but he could not. He just had to take a look into the other rooms, find out more about this strange dwelling, even though he told himself that someone more sensible would have taken their chance now and just run.
So the boy started to look around the house.
There were many strange and amazing things to be seen, carvings of animals he did not recognise, sculptures of strange looking faces and people, objects that made no sense at all and he had never even seen in all his life, nor even heard about.
There were so many things, indeed there were far too many to pick them all up and wonder what they might be, what they might do, and so the boy just wandered from room to room and here and there until he came to the big spiral staircase that was going to lead up into the tower he had seen over the rooftops when he was still lost in the wilderness.
The boy walked up the first flight where there was a landing and a door.
He opened the door carefully and looked inside – but he could see only empty white shelves and white walls and windows. There was nothing there.
So he closed the door again and went up another flight of stairs until he came to another door. This door was strange and made of thick metal with many rivets; it was held closed from the outside with many fastenings and a big crossbeam.
The boy looked at the door and thought to himself that another boy, more sensible, more intelligent, better behaved than himself would know better than to open such a door and look inside, but as he was not such a boy, he went to the door and set to unfastening all the snapping locks and then he lifted the heavy crossbar aside.
Carefully, he opened the door and looked inside.
It seemed dark inside the room but something glistened and attracted his attention, and so he walked right into the room.
Behind him, the door fell shut.
And in the darkness he saw that the room was filled with shapes, sparkling shapes, frightening shapes but these were not creatures, nor were they demons; these were crystals, huge, big misshapen ugly crystals and they were humming, droning, and as the boy stood and could not move from the spot, they were telling him things, and these were things he had heard before so many times, about badness, and evil, and pain, and suffering and how all things were vile and horrid, and most of all the boy himself.
The droning of the hideous misshapen crystals got louder and louder, filling the boy’s ears and ringing in his head, and what had happened the night he had left the house where once he lived occurred again – he somehow jarred back into awareness and he turned and ran to the wall where he thought the door might be, but there were more monster crystals, they were everywhere, their twisted moans and screams clawing at his very soul, but he did not stop and he found the door, opened it and escaped out into the stillness of the stairwell.
For a long time he cowered against the wall, his head hurting, his heart pounding and tears stinging in his eyes, but then he got up and carefully replaced the big cross beam and fixed all the locks to keep all that horror inside.
There was the stair well. Another boy would have long gone home, but this one did not. He took a deep breath and said out aloud, “How much worse can it get? I will not leave here before I’ve seen it all.”
So he ascended one more flight of stairs until he came to the next landing. This door was made of glass and it had no lock at all, and when he touched it with an outstretched fingertip, it immediately flew wide open and revealed a most amazing sight.
This room too held crystals, giant crystals but they were incredibly beautiful. Multi-coloured reflections dancing like stars amongst their straight and perfect shapes, fantastic and of such beauty, it took the boy’s breath away and he could not help himself, but he had to step into the room, take a closer look, for how could such a thing be real and here?
As soon as he had entered the room, the glass door swung shut behind him and he could hear something – these crystals were singing, softly and harmonic, but yet insistently and their song too was building up and getting louder.
They sung of such things as the boy had never heard – they sung of beauty and of harmony, of colours and of joy, of lightness and of soaring and for the first time in his entire life, the boy did want to listen for these were stories never told, words never spoken, yet these were the things he had always longed to hear, these were the songs he had cried himself to sleep each night for because they were not there and yet a part of him remembered that they should have been.
And as the crystals sang of joy and grace, of splendour and of majesty, of sweeping glory and the pure perfection of all things, the boy found that his own voice joined them in the singing, raw and sore it was at first, but then with gathering clarity as all the years and all the days became undone and made to be a nothing, the boy sang with the crystals and he knew that he had found a gift that was not just for him alone.
How long he stayed there, I don’t know, but there came a time when he stopped singing with his voice and instead, his heart was singing.
When that happened, he stood up and thanked the crystals; and without a moment’s hesitation, he went back down the stairs and unbolted the door behind which the monster crystals groaned and moaned.
Into the dark he stepped and into the storm of suffering he began to sing the song that he had learned, and as he sang, a wondrous transformation began to occur to the misshapen crystals – they tried and stretched to catch his harmonies in their distorted voices, yet even so, with each one who even tried, the storms of sounds began to drift away as though a wind was changing in direction and with gathering strength and power, all the crystals began to sing the song the boy had brought with him until the song was a movement, then a dance, then a force that melted their forms and gave them a different structure, different existence, which in turn sang clearer and yet clearer still.
One by one, one small shard at a time, the crystals came to life afresh and they began to glow and shine, bring colours and aligning to the perfection and the harmony they found within the song, they turned as beautiful if not more beautiful still than those above them and a unity was born as all the tower rang in song, rang out like God’s own bells across the world.
Far away, the magician who owned the tower of the crystals, heard the song and knew it was coming from his home, but he did not know what had happened, and so he hastened back, flying like magicians do across the lands and seas, and he could not believe just what had happened, for he had grown the crystals for a very long time indeed, one set kept in the grim and dark, the other in the bright and love, so that he might compare them and learn something new about the nature of the universe, and how to do much stronger magic.
But such magic as that song!
Already the wilderness had started to transform, already new life began to raise its glory and the oldest, gnarliest trees of all began to sprout new green leaves, and buds that would become their flowers, too.
Entirely astonished, the magician entered his tower, and there he found the boy, and there he learned that only beauty raises beauty, that only truth can call to more, and that the magic he had sought so long was found just nowhere else but there.
So grateful was he to the boy, and so delighted to have found out about his mistakes he was that he at once made a vow to dedicate his remaining years just to the study of beauty and truth, and he took the boy for his son and apprentice, to carry on his work for all the years to follow.
Together, they brought the blessings of beauty and of truth to many; and roads were built, and people came from far and wide to find their healing here and their own voice, and bring the gift of the Crystal Magician to their lands, their loved ones and their homes.
The Crystal Magician by StarFields
One of the enchanting fairy tales from
The Golden Horse