(He remembers fingers, strong and old, tangled in the lapels of his coat. He remembers the harsh burn of a mark underneath his left eye, and the lingering traces of immortal and dark magic surrounding it. He also remembers half-spoken mantras and two crinkled eyes that glimmered with sadness and pooling tears. He remembers the taste of death and wishing he could feel the same thing, have the same fate as his master.)
This wasn't happening.
(Snowflakes swirled delicately outside like gleaming stars, distant stars, dancing politely as if this were never happening. As if his Master really wasn't dying and gasping his last breath. Those gleaming snowflakes are swallowed by the growing fires and their delicateness is swallowed by the screams of angry townspeople, blaming their magic for every loss, every hardship, and the death of one child. Sacrilegious, those townspeople had called them. Demons, they had called Gale and his Master, demons for the accidental death of a poor little girl.)
The Harvest God and Goddess were playing a cruel joke on his eyes, Wizard had tried to convince himself.
"You…" The fingers curled in the lapels of his dark blue coat are weakening, growing limp. Wizard jumps back, eyes wide, the new, burning, painful mark beneath his eye forever branding him an immortal. His Master continues, voice loud and booming despite the grasp of death that was curling around the old man's throat. "Must… live!"
(The townspeople finally break down the door and the last thing Wizard remembers is the volcanic and terrible feeling of being burned alive at the stake for his magic. For something he cannot control.)
He wakes up, hours later, inside of a buried coffin in a Potter's Field and the first thing he does is claw himself out of the hole and look around at the graves of criminals and John/Jane Does. He traces tanned fingers across the mark underneath his eye, looks up at the scattered stars in the sky, the gnarled trees that loomed over the graveyard like dark sentinels, and the rickety sign that says, so uninvitingly,
Welcome To Mineral Town.
Wizard doesn't know what to do.
He doesn't want to live. He doesn't want to die. He doesn't want to leave. He doesn't want to stay.
With nothing but the clothes on his back, the Wizard travels.
It's a lonely path.
He meets her for the first time in Forget-Me-Not Valley. Wizard makes his living as a peddling fortune teller, wary of revealing anything magical to townspeople. (He still remembers the delicate snowflakes that were swallowed by the flames, and the screams of angry townspeople.)
The Inn is decidedly uncomfortable, the designs too garish and foreign for his simple tastes. He learns of coffee here, however, and its something that turns him away from tea forever, despite the price of coffee beans. (Wizard gets the feeling that Marlin doesn't like him, especially when Wizard talks to Celia.)
He hears of a new farmer named Jill, and thinks absolutely nothing of it. Her name shouldn't mean anything. There's no recognition about it. Just a simple name made up of four letters.
But when he sees her, his heart drops to his feet and he freezes in place.
It's the little girl he and his Master had been accused of killing in Mineral Town.
(He remembers short brown hair and a kind smile. Wizard also remembers a twisted face and broken limbs and lost teeth and the crushed body underneath an oak tree. It's something he doesn't want to remember. The little girl's name had been… Claire.)
When Jill offers him gifts and trinkets and cups of coffee, he thinks nothing of it.
When Jill offers him a proposal and a Blue Feather, he wonders if this was what his Master meant when he told Wizard to live.
When Jill dies, Wizard stands by her grave, just as he had stood by several other graves in the beginning, and travels once more with nothing but the clothes on his back and the burdened heart of losing someone he had loved.
He leaves Forget-Me-Not Valley.
Decades later, nothing has changed. He sets up a tiny shop in the cluttered part of a bustling village called Flower Bud. A library of sorts, stocked with dusty tomes of magical qualities. He has nearly forgotten Jill, except for the shred of pain that arises on their anniversary, the shred of pain knowing that he can never go to her.
He didn't expect her to come to him.
"Um… e-excuse me…?" A voice squeaks from the front of the store. He's shelving books. A process of his. Shelf. Reshelf. Forget the pain, forget the burdens, forget the fact that he can never die. He doesn't turn to the voice, doesn't respond to it, and just keeps shelving.
"Hhm…" She sounds hesitant, but then yells, "Hey! Quit ignoring me!"
Wizard turns around, slowly, and immediately he regrets it.
A girl with Jill's face stares back at him, clearly annoyed.
(He can see Claire's twisted body underneath the oak tree and hear Jill's gasping breaths and now he sees this new rancher named Tina's small body and angry face.)
The process repeats itself.
The rancher with Jill's face gives gifts. Wizard falls in love.
The rancher dies, falling off a cliff while trying to retrieve a Blue Feather.
Wizard stands over her grave, at a place where Gale too had died and Wizard had been reborn, and starts the process of traveling all over again.
His heart is burdened, and he sees Claire's face in his dreams.
Years later, Wizard falls into the ocean. The water crashes in vicious tides all around him, and Wizard, out of human instinct perhaps, flounders about in the icy waters like a dying fish, arms flailing wildly as he tried to push himself back up to the surface. His dark blue coat becomes soaked, dragging him down deeper and deeper, and Wizard's arms flail wilder and wilder.
A lithe hand grabs onto one of those arms and heaves upwards.
He falls onto the heavy wood of an oak dock, coughing and gasping for air, smelling like the ocean and dripping all over the rotting oak wood.
"Are you okay!" It's a girl's voice, concerned, and the person kneels down next to him.
Claire's and Jill's and Tina's face look at him worriedly.
The process is painful. This process of living and watching is painful.
This new rancher, the one with all of Wizard's previous love's faces, is named Akari, and she won't leave him alone.
No matter how many times he hands Akari a cold shoulder, she always appears and she always stubbornly gives gifts.
No matter what Wizard does, he can't help but fall in love again.
A year later, Akari drowns.
He travels and travels and travels and refuses to see anyone.
Wizard locks himself up in a tiny house on the edge of Harmonica Town, and he refuses to see anyone. No more deaths were to come of his curse, no more sorrow was to come of his inability to die. One day, he leaves the door unlocked. An accident of course, but only an accident.
"Um… excuse me…?"
Frightened, the Wizard turns around.
"Are… you the Wizard?"
Weird funion of an idea.
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