Apparition for the Avaricious


Photo credit: Charles Carvalho via Google Photosphere

I shadowed Zaooli to incense-hazed coffeehouses, brightly-tarpaulined markets, elite pleasure gardens. Rumor claimed he’d unearthed a city of silver. I learned nothing.

Despairing, I befriended him. One night, loosened by drink and darkness, my queries spawned conspiratorial hints. On a country lane, Zaooli waved aside a curtain of mist…

The silver-paved street, bordered by stately statues, led to a shining palace. A giant iguana with onyx eyes asked, “What is value?”

The magical gatekeeper’s questions, of course. I pondered. We discussed philosophy, wealth, and meaning for hours.

I woke to pale daylight and cursed my foolishness. The path was dirt, the statues trees, and the iguana a misshapen log. I’d controlled everything I imbibed. Zaooli must have a mind-mage accomplice, spying on the spy.

He’d be long gone. I rubbed my aching head. A wise man would find easier prey. But he’d tricked me.

Pride conquering wisdom, I set off.

Word count: 150. Written for this week’s What Pegman Saw challenge. Big thanks to Josh and Karen for hosting this wonderful writing prompt, and giving us all something special to look forward to in these otherwise very quiet weekends! This week Pegman takes us to Brasilia, Brazil. Click on the link to see what sights the other participants found and read the stories they inspired — and feel free to write your own story and join in!

I was having a hard time finding a good image to use until I saw this odd-looking log. With my foggy vision these days, it really did look like a giant iguana for a second there. So it was a short hop to a story about someone who’s fallen prey to a magical hallucination spell.


29 thoughts on “Apparition for the Avaricious

  1. I can see that iguana! Fabulous take on the prompt – I love how your man was tricked, knew he was tricked but decides to follow them anyway. That’s a real example of hope over experience! Great tale

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Lynn, I’m glad you liked it! When I first saw the image I really did think the log was something… an alligator, maybe. But I don’t know whether alligators exist in Eneana, while I do know that iguanas do, so there we have it.

      And yes, the very fact that he got tricked by the mind-mage perversely drives him on, to salvage his wounded pride. It was all I could do to resist having him say, “But now it’s personal.” Such a cliche, I know, but it felt so appropriate!


    • Thank you Alicia — I’m so glad you said that. I had to cut out so much to get it down from the original (more than 250) and I almost cut those descriptions too. But I liked them! Originally it explained more about how the narrator was hiding in the shadows, stalking his target, watching the man spread around his “fresh wealth” at all those places, looking and listening for clues about where and how he’d gotten so rich so quickly.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve constructed this story beautifully. It’s all delightful, but I particularly enjoyed, ‘The magical gatekeeper’s questions, of course.’ This implies so well that your MC was wrong to presume that he knew what was happening. Just brilliant! And I’m really glad you omitted, “But now it’s personal.” You implied it so much more effectively.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I’m so glad you picked up that part, thank you! I was trying to show how, like in a dream, you “make sense” of things that are obviously nonsensical in the clear light of day. So I figured he would jump to thinking about that common trope in legends, that there’s a mystical figure guarding a path or bridge or gate and you have to answer their questions before being let through.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sammi! I always like to hear what lines stood out for other people. That log was a real find. When I first started doing WPS, I figured it would work because I could always find a generic image of a tree or plain or river, something Eneana-friendly. And sometimes that’s what I resort to. But it’s the images with the interesting unique thing that really spur my creative writing ideas! When I saw this lizard-log, I knew I had to write about it.

      Liked by 1 person

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