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The Cure in Seven Days Part I

August 29, 2013

“A Very Common Man”

There once lived a man. This was of course not at all unusual. He was also a stupid and gruff man. Given the time in which he lived, that was likewise not at all unusual. In fact, being a man, ill-tempered, and lacking much in the way of thought, sometimes even for what was right in front of him, really made him rather common.

There were in fact really only two things that made this man unusual. First, he had recently been bitten by a werewolf, or as such creatures were known at that time, an evening-wolf.

This term really did not do much toward capturing their terrifying nature, but then by the time someone shouted, “Look out, there’s a great hairy beast who only hunts during the full moon, walks upright and yet can otherwise be likened to a wolf, and they say it can be killed by the pure of heart with a silver weapon, but ne’eryemind; y’re poor and I knowed what y’did with the milkmaid last Spring,” you’d likely be already mauled and breathing your last (perhaps thinking sweet, final thoughts of the milkmaid).

As you’ll see, there were a number of things that folks during this time, at this place, didn’t have–had not yet invented. Language that described in a word what it was that one was really referring to was sometimes one of them.

Some of the other things not yet invented were medical insurance, the HMO, the emergency room, the proper physician, nor really even medicine as we know it today. On the other hand, neither had the deductible, medical bills, the malpractice lawsuit, and side-effects that would later make some of the afflicted think, “At least I’m not bleeding out of my rear end,” when seeing the latest drug advertised on TV by people who seem perfectly happy and normal despite their hairy tongues, their lucid dreaming, and their shrunken testicles.

With none of those modern marvels at his disposal, this man, Gryndor, sought a cure for what he imagined would on the next full moon turn him into a howling ravenous monster. In so doing, he wound up at the home of a local sorcerer, which was the second unusual thing. He did not visit this home first, and it was in fact the last place he could think of to try. Being the last place he could think of, he refused to leave despite the fact that he now found himself exchanging information through a door by raising his voice with someone who really didn’t want to talk to him. This was also not unusual because the Internet and cellular phone had not yet been created and so there were lots of disappointing walks home in those days.

“You try the Friars of the Ebony Abbey?” the sorcerer offered absent-mindedly at the door as he stirred his lunch stew.

“Sent me to you, Sorcerer,” Gryndor countered.

“The great and terrible Frobey? His place is a half mile–”

“Sent me t’you.”

“Alex the Hedge Wizard. You know it’s not far at all–”

“You!” Gryndor growled.

This continued for some time as the sorcerer rattled off people and places further and further away. They nearly all had, even Thylma the Worker of Miracles, sent Gryndor to the sorcerer. The one technical exception to this was Old Balgar, Thaumaturge and Master of the Magical Properties of Pears, Walnuts and Certain Other Produce. Balgar had posted a sign stating in large letters–and pictures for those who could not read like Gryndor–that he was away fishing. Interestingly, the small print below all that which Gryndor couldn’t make out actually had directed all concerned to the sorcerer’s home. Despite all those people telling Gryndor to see the sorcerer, he went there last. Gryndor was stubborn and disliked being told what to do.

The sorcerer then tried to pawn Gryndor off on the town elders, but Gyrndor explained they had told him that they could not help. In fact, once they had managed to work it into their meeting agenda, they told him that they would be putting out calls for a hunting party in order to rid the world of a “stinking, downright godless cavorter with the evil one” who also “never did nothin’ towards reflecting well on the town,” and was “he who partakes of the ale rounds of others willy-nilly yet ne’er bought a round hi’self in his wholly miserable life.”

Alas, contrary to popular opinion, politics was discovered at precisely the same time as the oldest profession. Reportedly at the same exact location as well. Of the two pastimes, politics leaves one feeling considerably less satisfied than the other despite what amounts to having done upon one’s person the same exact word in most any language.

“Did I forget to pay my dues again?” the sorcerer muttered quietly to himself while scratching his chin. Guilds were also already invented.

There was a quiet sigh from within the sorcerer’s hut. This was followed by sliding of a latch and the door opening.

“Come in, um…”

“Gryndor.”

The sorcerer eyed him up and down. Then he shuffled out of the way and lead him to a chair at the sorcerer’s dinner table.

The sorcerer sat down opposite Gryndor and attempted to seem interested. He propped his head above the table with his forearm and one hand to his cheek.

“What happened, Gryndor?”

“I was walking home, y’see, from th’pub. Woulda stayed longer, but One-Eared Jack, he didna buy a round even though he just made well at the square selling off ‘is wheat. I says, ‘Hey, wanna pinch thy coin harder, may ye can make the voorgin cry!’ People alaughin’ well enough, but Jack bought them drinks t’throw me out!”

“And that’s when the evening-wolf attacked you, outside the pub?”

“L’rry, no! Was just gettin’ t’that. Tweren’t evenin’ neither. ‘Twas late at night, nearer mornin’!”

“Perhaps we can skip to that part when you got bit. Where did it bite you?”

The Sorcerer’s keen eyes scanned Gryndor’s arms above and legs below the table for a wound, but found none.

“By m’life, on the road! I was walkin’ along the road and ‘e bit me.”

In fact, Gryndor had started the fight himself. The evening-wolf had just finished eating a small farm: the farmer, the farmer’s wife, their dog, three sheep, two chickens, and a bow-backed plow horse. Being quite stuffed, the evening-wolf was hardly in the mood for more to eat.

It might be, however, why he also failed to notice, perhaps due needing a nap after his immense feast, that Gryndor, not realizing in the bad light that he was walking towards an evening-wolf, greeted him. This consisted of two things, which are generally accepted as the male equivalent of the a-frame hug exhibited by females of the human variety. First, there is a grunt that almost resembles “Hello” or “Hey” except utilizing about half to a third as many letters and all of those emanating from somewhere near the stomach. The second thing, which can in many places even today be taken as an offense when ignored, is the subtle piece of diplomacy which is the slight stirring of one otherwise completely relaxed hand. This slight movement is used when there is uncertainty, as opposed to a full wave utilizing the arm and the hand in more energetic motion when, for example, one sees someone they like, or their in-laws and neighbors.

The evening-wolf completely ignored both the grunt and slight wrist movement. This incensed Gryndor who did what pretty much anyone would do after having said hello to a stranger and was ignored. He picked up a rock and threw it at the offender’s head without warning.

“I mean where is your wound? Did it bleed?”

“The beast bled aplenty, I can tell you. The bite is forever upon me!”

The part about the evening-wolf bleeding was merely something that Gryndor wished he had done or was capable of doing. The long disappointing walks in seeking a cure had made those imaginings somehow more important than the truth.

Gryndor stood up, turned, dropped his breeches, bent over, and showed the sorcerer where the evening-wolf had bitten him.

Having gotten the monster’s full attention at the point that the rock made contact with the evening-wolf’s head, the beast turned, roared, and charged. Gryndor, grasping on some level the dire mistake he had just made, turned to flee. He was therefore bitten on the arse. As Gryndor whined, cried, and ran, the beast turned, padded home, and for some reason dreamt of rotten melons.

“Is it bad, Sorcerer?”

Gryndor was especially anxious due to not owning a mirror to see the wound himself.

“Oh, it’s bad.”

“I knew’t! Beshrew me, I’m done! A goner! Forever to eat th’innocent!”

At this point, Gryndor was no longer bent over and was beginning to pace excitedly with his breeches still around his ankles.

The Sorcerer, no stranger to showmanship when it was necessary, stood up straight and spoke in an authoritative tone.

Gryndor! Do not fret and curse thy luck! There is a cure! I shall, over the next six days, bestow it upon thee!

“Also, do not stumble and trip. That is the wife’s favorite bowl hanging on the wall there!

Clothe thyself! Go home! Rest! Return tomorrow! Preferably after lunch. Also, wash thyself in the creek. Thoroughly! Leave no fold, niche, orifice uncleansed! I sooooo command.

“Now, go!

Gryndor did as he was asked. Once he was safely gone, the sorcerer went back to stirring his stew and staring into the bowl. He’d have to think of something to tell Gryndor tomorrow.

It was all about teaching lessons in such a way that people remembered them and understood them on a gut level. Well, that and the fresh ingredients, the proper seasoning, and a good stock, depending on which “all” one was referring to.

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