Gernsback’s Fables: The Apprentice and her Reflection

One day a wizards apprentice was wandering the woods behind the mansion practicing her conjuring spells. The woods were well known to me magical and the wizard’s tower had amplified the magic of the woods somewhat. She concentrated on her conjuring lessons and after a hard day’s of thought and mumbling in long-dead languages she created out of the thick air of the woods a small glowing stone, which would be helpful to light her way back to the tower where she could show her master that she had some skills is something other than sweeping up after the bear-dragon.

She used the glowstone’s light to thread her away around roots that crawled across pathways to trip her and under the branches that drooped to clutch at her hat and cloak. The small animals of the forest stayed away from her light, and whenever she noticed glowing eyes, in pairs or clusters of three, four, and six, they scuttled away on any number of legs away from her. She was safe in the forest.

The wizard had spent years added his own special touches to the magical woods to protect himself. One of these was a hollow of giant trunk in which a wanderer would see the thing that they most wanted, usually a spring, a dryad, or a way out of the miserable forest. The apprentice found this and not knowing what it was, saw a second glowstone.

“How much more clever will he think me if he sees that I have created two glowstones instead of one,” she thought and she reached for the glowstone in the hollow of the tree. She tried her free hand but it would not enter the trunk, some force stopped it, so she reached in holding the glowstone and found her hand could reach the other. When she loosened her grip on the glowstone to grasp the second, both fell away into the darkness of the hollow, never to be seen again.

The apprentice used a traditional traveling torch to see her way back to the tower, where she didn’t tell anyone what had happened.

Adapted from THE DOG AND HIS SHADOW