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Fiction

Spite

Setting: seems to be the same one as Wishmaking
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale
Summary: An old man tries to cheat his prospective heirs by avoiding to die.
Notes/warnings: Central character is nasty. May be creepy due to magical transformation with unintended consequences.
Words: 561

Pure will kept Hynar going, despite his aching joints and weakening limbs, on his search for the spirit pond. It was the only thing he could think of that would thwart his family’s plans thoroughly.

And as the legends said, a strong will was what took him to the spirit well. He peppered what he remembered of the ritual words with curses, but still, he succeeded in calling them. For the first time in years truly satisfied, he lowered his head and leaned on his staff.

The spirits waited, radiating mild curiosity, before finally asking, what brought you here, young elder?

“I am sick of my heirs dividing up my property in their minds before I’m even dead. They have not shown me any kindness or respect in decades, besides checking if I was sick enough to pass on. I will survive them all! I wish to be young and healthy forever.”

After short deliberation, the spirits said, You shall have your wish. Sleep now, and turn around in the morning. Our magic will work while you travel back.”

So Hynar did, and after the first hour was over, he could feel the spirits were keeping their promise. He felt warmer even though the weather seemed the same, and his joints moved more fluidly.

Before he reached the first street, the staff he had needed as support was thrown aside, superfluous. Pains that Hynar had not noticed any more made themselves known by disappearing. Soon the spots of age on the backs of his hands faded. He laughed when he rolled up his sleeves and saw his arms had filled out with muscles that had long withered.

By the time he could see his hometown on the horizon he felt like a young man with his whole life ahead of him. That was what he had wanted!

He grinned wolvishly when he imagined the shock and chagrin of his children when they would learn there would be no inheritance for them, not any time soon.

Thinking ahead, he had made arrangements with a notary before he had left. When he knocked on the door, he rolled his sleeved up again. They must have slipped. Cleaning up first would have been more polite, but without legal backup, he probably would not be let into his house.

After Hynar gave the keyword they had agreed on, the notary asked him in wide-eyed, eager to hear what happened, so Hynar told him.

“You really are him,” the notary said, noticing the youth used the same manner of speaking, the same turns of phrase, that had been typical for the old man he had known.

“I’m me all right. And my age will be a bone my children will choke on.” He went on mocking their foibles, laughing so much he shook and had tears in his eyes.

The notary finally interrupted him, “When will it stop?”

“What?” Hynar looked up and wiped his eyes. He had to look up, not across, and froze in mid-chuckle when he noticed. His hands were those of a boy.

“I thought it had.”

“I might have to look for a warden for you, for the sake of appearance.”

Too shocked by the thought he might disappear altogether, Hynar did not answer.

The notary kept to himself that a warden would be better than a wet nurse.