Chapter 8:

The Great Wizard Reod

ZAUBER: the thread that binds us

 "You called the wizard?" Nanna hissed at Paltar and shot him an angry look.

"I didn't know," he hissed back.

He really hadn't thought this would happen. The wind whipped around them, making the grassy hills look like a storm-tossed sea. It was hard for Paltar to see what was going on, but he tried to stand tall as he watched the silhouette of the man descending towards them. It was getting more and more difficult for him to breathe, and he couldn't look the wizard in the eye. At his knees, he felt something—most likely it was Nanna, hiding behind him. He didn't dare to check.

This was really, really bad. If Paltar also got turned into a goose, he wouldn't be able to sew anymore! And he couldn't let that happen.

"I'm sorry," he blurted out, his words still audible despite the storm howling around them, "This was all a misunderstanding, I promise!"

"Oh?" The wizard tilted his head. "You did not intend to summon me, the Great Reod, to this forlorn place?"

"Of course not!" Paltar said, shaking his head as hard as he could.

This was worse than getting chewed out by his boss at work. Without thinking, he started to bow in time with his stuttering apologies.

"I'm truly sorry," he repeated. "This is all a misunderstanding!"

"Hm." Suddenly, the wizard laughed. "You're a funny guy. Especially, since you're one of them."

As suddenly as the storm appeared, the clouds dissipated, leaving behind a bright blue sky. Only then did Paltar get a good look at the wizard standing before him. The man was at least a head taller than Paltar and had a slender build that was only accentuated by the clothes he was wearing. They were brightly colored, in shades that Paltar only knew from his past life. In fact, they seemed out of place in this time, some of them clearly more ancient, while others were as modern as the suit that Paltar used to put on every day before going to the office. The Great Reod's shirt was decorated with the most intricate lace that Paltar had ever seen, cut in a way that exposed most of his chest where dark red runes were etched into his skin. The wizard's yellow eyes seemed to stare into Paltar's soul as a small, fanged smile spread across his lips. He clapped his hands together and tilted his head, letting his copper hair fall over his shoulder.

"So, what is this about?" He said, smiling at them.

"N-nothing," Nanna called from behind Paltar. "You can leave now."

Paltar turned his head and looked at her. Her feathers stood up, and she looked like she was ready to fight or scared to death. He wasn't sure yet.

"Ah... but if he's here," he whispered, "shouldn't we ask him to lift your curse?"

"No," she hissed back. "Just make him leave!"

"A curse?" The wizard chuckled. "Why would I do such a thing?"

Paltar shrugged. That was something that Nanna didn't talk about. He sighed. This was a bad idea, all around. And yet, the wizard approached them, and Paltar felt Nanna bury herself in his knees, with such force that he almost fell over.

"Argh! Nanna, what-"

"Ah!" The wizard suddenly knelt down beside them and grinned at Nanna. "You're the little princess who insulted me, right?"

"I-I-I did nothing of the sort," Nanna snapped back. "Paltar, do something!"

But he didn't. Paltar was too overwhelmed to react, so he blurted out the first thing that came to his mind: "Please turn her back, Meister Reod?"

The wizard just laughed.

"Turn her back? But look at her, all feathery and funny! She even has a little dress now."

He narrowed his eyes, and looked at Paltar.

"You made it for her?" he asked.

Paltar nodded, slowly.

"I see," Reod laughed. "You have a strange sense of style, but you put your heart into it."

Then, his grin widened.

"Ah, how I love meeting special people like you."

"I'm not special." Paltar shook his head quickly. "I'm just a simple tailor's apprentice."

"And yet, you brought me here," Reod replied with a laugh. "No need to hide that, young man."

"L-leave him alone!"

Nanna suddenly appeared at Paltar's side.


With one flourish, Reod knelt down and looked Nanna straight in the eyes, as if he wasn't afraid that she might peck them out.

"Leave him alone," she hissed at him again, "I'm already cursed! What are you going to do to me, huh?"


Somehow, Reod's laugh didn't sound amused.

But before anything worse could happen, Paltar scooped up Nanna and bowed to Reod again.

"If you can't lift her curse, then we'll leave. Please excuse us."

He turned around, but somehow found himself facing the wizard again, floating in midair with a smug grin on his face.

"Oh, it's not that I can't turn her back," he said. "I just don't want to."

The grin on his face widened.

"Unless..." he said slowly, the word hanging in the air.

"Unless what?"

Paltar felt his heart pounding in his chest. If there was a chance to lift Nanna's curse, he had to take it!

"Don't talk to him! You can't trust him." Nanna hissed in his arms. "Come on, let's go."

"You two are interesting." Reod chuckled. "How about this? In exchange for a display of your heart's wishes, I will reward you."

Paltar furrowed his brows and asked the only thing he could think of: "What does that even mean?"

Reod looked him right into the eye. The air around them grew cold.

"It means I could be... persuaded to change her back," he explained. "Free of charge."

Then, he raised an arm, a white-blue light glittering from it.

"Come to the top of my glass mountain, and I will grant you your wish."

"Paltar," Nanna warned him, "don't-"

"I'll do it," Paltar answered without hesitation.

"Wonderful!" Reod clapped his hands together. "I'm sure you’ll do great. Otherwise..."

He shrugged.

"Oh, well. If you don't make it, then I guess you weren't so special, after all."

"Paltar!" Nanna hissed.

"This is our chance to lift your curse, right?" he replied. "Or do you have a better plan?"

"I don't know!" She puffed herself up. "We could have asked literally anyone else. This seems dangerous. He is dangerous! Don’t you get that?"

Of course Paltar knew she was right. This man was otherworldly. There was really no better way to describe him. For a moment, Paltar tried to catch a glimpse of the wizard's life threads, but the sight blinded him. He couldn't make out the colors or the number of threads. Instead, he only saw a light, brighter than the sun, and jerked away.

"Didn't work, whatever you tried, huh?" Reod laughed. "Tell me about this ability of yours, and I might make this challenge easier for you."

Paltar just shrugged.

"I'm a tailor's apprentice," he repeated. "Nothing more."

Reod chuckled.

"That's your answer, then? Fine with me."

He opened his arms, and the wind whipped up again, tearing the leaves and whole branches from the oak. The storm howled in Paltar's ears, and he couldn't do anything but grab Nanna and hold her close. He didn't know if they was screaming, because he couldn't hear anything except the hissing of the wind.

And then, it was gone.

Cautiously, Paltar opened his eyes. In the distance, he could hear birdsong, and a butterfly danced in front of his eyes.

"Where... are we?" he asked.

"Paltar! You're such an idiot," Nanna yelled at him. "Why did you agree?"


In front of them, there was a giant door carved into the glass mountain that loomed over them. The material of it seemed more like smoky quartz than glass when Paltar looked at it closely, and it became so dark that he couldn't see inside it. But it was hard and smooth as he put his hand against it.

"We can still turn back," Nanna said.

But Paltar shook his head. "We can do this."

"You really think so?"

Nanna looked at him, and her eyes sparkled with hesitant hope. He grinned back at her.

"Of course, Your Highness."

Despite his words, there was a hint of doubt festering inside of him. But Paltar pushed it deep down. He had spent so much time with her, and he really wanted to help her. If only to see her smile.

"Thank you," she murmured.

It's so hard to read her expression, he thought. If she had her human form, it would be easier, he was sure. But even so, he couldn't resist the urge to kneel down and hug her.

"We can do this, together," he whispered.

"Yes," she sniffed. "We can."

For a moment, they stayed like this, and Paltar could feel how his heartbeat returned to normal. But he only moved when he felt Nanna squirm.

"Let's go, then," she snapped at him, "before I change my mind."

He smiled at her, and got up.

"As you wish, Princess."

And with that, he opened the door. Together they stepped into the darkness beyond.

Nika Zimt