"Go..go...go..go.."Penny stuttered, a stark raving fear of realization seizing every fiber of her being."Go..go..go.."
"Yes, Golems, m'dear.Earth Golems, to be quite precise." The wizard chuckled.
No showman in the history of the Spiral had their audience more captured.
It was refreshing, casting magic for the uninitiated. Their responses were always whole-hearted and genuine.
For the longest of moments, Penny could do nothing but stand, an stare. Just a few yards from her, in her own field, were not one but SIX giant earth golems. Dust cascaded from their nooks and crannies as, to the best Penny could tell, they stood, and stretched, as if waking from a long and pleasant slumber.
Sensing Penny's simultaneous fear and curiosity, the Wizard invited "Oh, ho! They're quite harmless, m'dear. Why don't you walk up and touch one of them."
Penny was extremely dubious. Just walk right up and TOUCH one of them? These were GOLEMS, for Saint's sake! Not some mewling kittens recently birthed in the warm recesses of a barn! Golems were one of "those types" of creatures. you know, the type that heroes have to battle and overcome, to save some damsel in distress. Well, at the moment, Penny was feeling quite distressed.
She took a single step forward. Oh, the other kids at Winter School were NOT gonna believe this! As the tales would have it, one had to be a pretty good wizard to summon ONE golem. What kind of hidden powers did it take to conjure SIX of them? It occurred to Penny that this Wizard was certainly no 'con man', but he was certainly more than the eyes beheld!
She stopped, and examined the golems. They just stood there, looking at Penny, the Wizard,her parents, and their general surroundings. They didn't seem particularly 'pleased' or 'displeased', as if one could tell by reading their stony countenances.
Penny too another step forward. The closer she got, the more ready she was to bolt in the opposite direction. Those few yards between her and the golems were shrinking, but they still felt like miles, to her. I mean, hey, she wasn't a frog yet, right? Yet one did not have to be a frog to be squished under those enormous stone ...."feet?" Penny questioned?
The 'Old Hedge Wizard' Chuckled "Well, m'dear, you and I need feet, to push against the earth. These new friends here actually ARE the earth. They don't 'push against' , as much as 'connect to'. The ground itself is their feet, ha!"
Penny marveled. Wow, those were some pretty big feet, she mused. No cobbler on earth could make them shoes.
Again, she tentatively stepped forward, this time with slightly less fear. She was now so focused on the golems, that she jumped when the wizard had stepped up behind to her side, and spoke, unannounced.
"Golems, m'dear, are like many other summoned creatures. For the most part, they are never really 'good' or 'bad'. It's how their summoner chooses to use them that makes that distinction.
"Very few absolutes." Penny replied, as if to say she was starting to , now at last, comprehend their earlier part of their conversation.
"Ah, ha! Spot on, dear Penny!" beamed the wizard, "You're a quick young lass, aren't you?"
At that, Penny blushed. Granted, she was at the head of her class in Winter School, but the stuff they taught there was easy enough.
Penny re-focused."So, I can actually touch them?".
"Why yes, of course!" He replied. And turning to Penny's parents, who still hadn't moved, "And you two , as well, if you please."
After a few false starts, the wizard coaxed Penny's parents to join them up close to the golems. The wizard then strolled forward, like he was enjoying a day at the park, and no only touched the nearest golem, but actually leaned against it, as if were a wall. Well, in a way, I guess it really was a wall. In this case, a very tall stone wall.
Emboldened by the wizards actions, she stepped forward, and with a final check, looking up into the 'eyes' of the looming golem, she reached her hand out ever so cautiously, and then she made contact.After a moment, Penny's parents had done the same.
"It doesn't feel any different", Penny commented, "than any other stone surface." It was neither hot, nor cold. It just "was".
"That's because it's not any different from any other stone surface, m'dear Penny. However, it's what's beneath the surface that counts, ho,ho!" With this he gave Penny another knowing wink. "But come, come! Let us see what the big boys can do for us, shall we?"
At that, the old wizard bent at the knees, and took a pinch of soil, and placed it on his tongue, savoring it like a diner would examine the flavor of a fine meal. "ho, ho!", he exclaimed, "This is some fine soil, indeed! Fine soil, indeed!"
Penny's father spoke up "Thank you sir. We do what we can, but there's just never enough water to do what we want, especially with this drought."
The Wizard placed his hand, palm down, on the ground, and closed his eyes, his head subtly moving as if he was reading a book.
"Ah, ha! There it is!", he suddenly exclaimed, "It's not that you don't have water, it's that you don't have water HERE."
Standing up, he looked up into the 'face' of the golem he had previously been leaning against. Making sure he had it's attention, he made some strange gestures with his hands, with no sounds, and pointed off into the field. The golem slowly nodded. It then made some grumbling noises directed to the other five golems, who, in return, grumbled. Penny thought the sound was like a cross between earthquake and landslide.
Then, the golems started walking, or as the wizard had illustrated, 'connecting' and 'disconnecting' from the earth, in the direction that the wizard had pointed. When they got to that pre-determined spot, they spread out in a circle, and began plunging their 'arms' into the ground. Soil began pushing back, and away from the golems, creating a large, open crater in the field. Apparently satisfied with their landscaping, the golems climbed out of the new hole, and started pushing soil in a straight line, in several directions, all at right angles.
Penny was amazed! In no more than 5 minutes, these golems had just done more earth moving than a team of 20 farmhands! She, and her parents, watched in wonder as they lumbered along through the earth, pushing it aside, like a man walking waist-high through the snow.
"But, our crops?" Questioned Penny's mother.
"Believe you, me, ma'dame when this is done, you will gain more than you loose, to be sure!" the wizard guaranteed.
"Now, since 'the boys' are already trenching, let's get ourselves to the crater, shall we?" The wizard strode confidently towards the open pit, with Penny and her parents rushing to catch up.What new wonders would this stranger's visit bring for them to behold?
Once at the pit, the wizard gently dropped down into it. Penny could see his target, immediately. There in the center of the pit, was a large boulder. Carefully, Penny scrambled down, and caught up with the wizard, who was fumbling in the folds of his robe.
"Now, where did I put...AH! There it is!" he said, as he pulled out a piece of chalk.
"Is that magic chalk, sir?" Penny questioned, already wondering what miracles you could do with magic chalk.
"This? Oh, no, m'dear. It's just chalk, like you might have at Winter School. You see, a chalk can provide lines, and color, but it is the artist that makes us see letters and pictures, and not just some chalk on a board."
With that, he began drawing on the boulder, strange symbols, lines, circles, and representation she couldn't identify.At the top, he drew a spiral.
"If you please, dear Penny, I'll need your help. Would you fetch me that melon-sized stone over there? Yes, that's the one, excellent! Now, bring it here, won't you?"
Penny complied quickly, and cheerfully. This was fun! She brought the stone back to the wizard, who had finished his drawings on the boulder.
"Good. Now, I want you to take that stone, and hit right over here, on the spiral drawing , Please. And don't be shy about it, we need a good strike."
Penny was confused. HE was the wizard, shouldn't HE be doing this? However, the overriding joy of being a 'wizard's helper' made her abandon her confusion, and brought the stone down onto the drawing of the spiral.
"Oh, ho! A bit harder, m'dear, if you please" The wizard directed, keenly watching Penny at work.
Not wanting to fail at her first, and probably only, chance at being a wizard's helper, she brought the stone high over her head, and brought it down with a mighty strike, using her weight and muscles to assist gravity. Expecting stone chips, she involuntarily closed her eyes.
Also involuntary was her young body being ejected from the top of the boulder, as if she had had a glancing hit with a galloping horse;
She landed with an "Oof!" into the freshly turned soil, at the base of the crater.
"Well done, Penny! Well done indeed! Look!" The wizard cheered, pointing to the boulder.
Penny followed his finger, and saw the boulder now lay cracked open, like a Hallows Eve pumpkin. And from beneath the boulder, and through the cracks, water was gushing, starting to pool around, in the pit.
"You can create water from stones?" Penny exclaimed.
"What? Oh, no, no, dear child. That boulder was a 'capstone', of sorts. The water was already here, just trapped in a aquifer.Come, now, unless you want to swim, we'll need to get out of this hole , and soon." The wizard said, offering Penny his hand.
Penny's parents, watching in awe, assisted Penny and the wizard out of the hole.
"Irrigation!", her father exclaimed in wonder, the pieces of the puzzle now in place
"Quite correct, sir" the wizard confirmed, "Once the golems have completed their little walkabout, you should find that water shall no longer be an issue, for you. And, I dare say, with this soil, your farming will be quite productive!"
"Kind sir! You are truly and wholeheartedly welcome to break bread with us! It would be our honor to offer you the hospitality of our home!" Penny's father exclaimed. She had not seen her father this happy in a very long time.
"Well, then, shell we retire from the fields early? We do have important matters to discuss."
And with that, they all climbed aboard the wizard's wagon, and headed for Penny's house. She glanced over her shoulder at the golems wading through the field, and wondered to herself what what 'Important Matters' needed be discussed.
Little did she realize that tonight''s dinner would change her life, forever.