This chapter on Amsten was deleted because it was a little too real and perhaps a turn off especially for female readers…
The wizard’s bedroom was dripping with gilded embellishments. The blue ceiling had gold foil stamped into its embossed runes. On the walls there hung tapestries of wizards throwing fire and dragons fleeing with fearful expressions. The bed was big enough for a dozen cavorting courtesans, but only three currently resided there.
They were young and nervous girls, unsure of their duties and fearful to displease. Currently the old wizard Amsten was sleeping naked, face down in the white silk.
The youngest and most nervous girl made a questioning look at the oldest. The oldest just shook her head.
“Don’t move,” the eldest whispered with an expression of fear.
Amsten groaned and turned over.
The youngest girl looked at the wizard with disgust. The eldest put her finger to her mouth in an urgent hushing motion.
“Am I disturbing you girls?” asked Amsten. His eyes were still closed. His voice was cracked and bitter.
The three girls looked at each other in terror.
“I would hate to think I was disrupting your precious sleep,” he continued.
Amsten sat up and stroked his long white beard. He let out a long breath sullied with the odor of a rotting fish.
“My purse is on the table. Grab your coin and leave,” Amsten said wearily.
The girls hurriedly obeyed. As they left an old lady entered. She turned to Amsten and coughed politely. “Sire,” she said. “King Unmind has sent another message ordering that you depart today, after you have completed the renewal ceremony. It can be delayed no longer.”
“Madera, do you have the answer to my little problem?” asked Amsten. His expression flitted from fear to grim determination.
Madera looked momentarily disgusted at the site of the old naked wizard, but then she walked to his robe on the floor and picked it up.
“Amsten, my dear,” she said as she helped him put on the robe. “You don’t look well.”
“Stritz!” exclaimed Amsten.
Madera winced. She did not like that curse word. She leaned forward and stroked the old man’s beard. “The Southerner’s have a saying ‘take heed where you plant your seed, for the devil’s must is the fool’s need’.”
“What?” responded Amsten with annoyance.
“Just be more careful where you put that … thing of yours,” she said. “If you continue to pay for your pleasures, they will leave you in dire need of my healing powers.”
Amsten walked to a cupboard, opened it and brought out a leather bag. He poured out some coin into his hand.
“The Southerner’s are just a bunch of lazy farmers,” Amsten replied.
“A lazy farmer is a very rare breed indeed,” Madera said. “Don’t bother pouring out some coin, you’ll need to give me the whole bag.”
Amsten hesitated, then returned the coins to the bag. “You have a solution for my problem?”
Madera nodded. “The virgin girl that is to be sacrificed in your renewal ceremony will be wearing undergarments soaked in very expensive burchan oil. It burns hot and it burns bright, and is very easily lit,” she explained.
Amsten’s mouth dropped open.
“Oh wise and powerful wizard,” said Madera. “The bigger you make your fireball the less heat it has. Today in the ceremony, you will be able to throw a large fireball and yet it will completely engulf the virgin. The witnesses will report that you still have all your strength, and there is no need yet to pass on your power to the next generation.”
“Why will the victim allow such deceit?” he asked.
“Because she has several brothers and sisters and she knows they will face torture and death should she reveal the truth,” said Madera. “I have also provided her with a … medicine that she believes will make her death painless.”
Amsten dropped the bag of coins in Madera’s hand. He put his hands on her cheeks and kissed her on the lips. “Good girl.”
A few hours later, as the gentle winds of the Northern dales ran crisply through the morning dew and rustled the bushes of the ceremony grounds, a long line of witnesses applauded to the screams of the burning girl. The wizard Amsten had proven he still had the power to retain his title, and his life.