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But Zakariah knew not to wait. He picked up the bundle and fled into the rain through the hole in the roof. Gaspar, grateful that there was a now a way out, stuck his head through the roof and shouted, “Thank you! And do look out for that Star or you’ll run smack dab into it.” 

 

Zakariah flew through the rainy storm, guided by the calming light of the moving star. I believe the Star was making up for lost time and did not want to pause even though Zakariah needed the rest. When morning came, he was flying low through a canyon. He’d never seen such high rock faces, but I have. I know they can be dangerous places. As Zakariah came to the end of the canyon it opened up, revealing more barren empty land full of more nothing with a peculiar something else in the middle of its nowhere. When Zakariah got closer, that something turned out to be a small stage with a tattered magician standing on it. His beard was long and the turban on his head could barely contain his head of bushy hair. And his cape was so ragged that it looked as if it had been dragged behind a camel for years. His gloves had been white at some point.

Zakariah circled above the old Magician and watched him perform for an audience that no one else could see. The magician waved a wand about over his turban, took the turban off and shoved his hand deep inside, expecting to grasp the soft fur of a rabbit. But when his hand came out, it held a giant hairy spider. Not the rabbit he was hoping for... he clumsily flung it as far as he could fling it. And that was not very far because the spider fell at his feet, scampered much cooler off the stage and scurried into a hole in the ground where it was much cooler than and less stinky under that hot turban where it had been stuffed. 

The agitated magician moved on to his next trick. He drew a small rock from his pocket, which was tied about with a surprisingly white clean string, and swung it back and forth in front of the eyes of an invisible volunteer from his audience. But the Magician only ended up hypnotizing himself and he fell asleep upon his dusty stage in front of no one. Even though the magician’s tricks did not go as planned, Zakariah enjoyed them all the same because he was bored out of his wits for any sort of entertainment at that point.

Below, the magician had begun to snore so loudly he woke himself up. Zakariah glanced at the star: it had stopped its movement. Then he heard the crashing waves of rushing water from the canyon below.

Either the magician’s hearing was bad or he did not care because he rolled up his sleeves as if to begin a new trick. “Hang on, Bundle,” Zakariah said, plummeting down to the magician.“Run for the hills, Magician!” he yelled, flying by him so fast that he was just a blur. “Who’s there?” the magician said, his eyes widening. “I am Balthasar The Great Magician and I run from nothing!” Zakariah zoomed by him again yelling, “Balthasar! A flash flood behind you!” 

 

Balthasar turned and saw the water crashing through the mouth of the canyon towards him. “Holy Heavens, it worked!” he said, jumping up and down with joy. “I’ve saved my village down in the valley from drought!” Irritated, Zakariah landed on the stage with the Bundle looped around his neck and said, “Balthasar! Get off this heap of twigs and climb up that hill!” “Twigs?” said Balthasar, offended, “Ha! This ingenious plant produces medicines, perfume, incense!.. Uh-oh.” Balthasar jumped from the stage as the rushing water smashed the stage and carried it away in splinters. Balthasar and Zakariah reached the top of the hill and lay on their backs breathing heavily. “Thank you for saving me from my own magic,” Balthasar said. Zakariah saw that the star had begun to move again and said, I don’t think that was magic, but I have to go now.” Balthasar, confused and grateful, shook Zakariah’s wing-tip, “I agree... May the winds stay your course, young bird.” As Zakariah flew away toward the Star, Balthasar jumped and yelled after him, “Good heavens! Look out for that fantastic firework!” 

Below Zakariah, the endless desert turned into an endless ocean as he continued to follow his Star. Despite the fair breezes, he felt like he was being watched. He warily turned his head to his side and there next to him was an adult Stork flying right at his wing tip. And behind this Stork was another and another and another and behind that another... five more Storks, just like the first one. “Hello, Zakariah,” the first Stork said as if he had been there all along and they were old friends. “May we have a few moments of your time?” “Have you been flying with me for long?” Zakariah asked. The first Stork said, “You see that boulder off the shore in the mist down there? Follow us down. Please?” 

 

Zakariah looked at the star and it held itself in place. “It looks like I have some time,” he replied. The Six Storks nose dived in formation to the boulder and Zakariah glanced at the star again to make sure it was not moving before he followed them down. 

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Once he had landed on the boulder and set his Bundle down, he looked into the mist but could barely see in front of him. “Hello, Six Storks? Hello?” he called out. “We are here, Zakariah,” the first Stork said as they appeared from the mist. “Have we met before? I am sorry if I do not remember where it was,” Zakariah said politely, only because these birds were older than he was. But these Six Storks seemed familiar to him. When they bowed, he knew why. They were from The Mountain of Victories. Seaking for them all, the first Stork said, “Your reputation spreads in every direction as we speak: Zakariah Watercutter, the apprentice with no training or any skills, attempting to deliver a Bundle on his own.” Zakariah gazed at his Bundle at his feet and proclaimed, “I vowed I would fulfill the Bringer’s duty.” The Lead Stork held up a wing and said, “Five suns ago we at last spotted Ezekiel. He is doing well.” “Thank you, Six Storks,” Zakariah said, relieved. He glanced up at the motionless star through the mist and said, “but I still have no idea who you are.” The first Stork answered, “We are neither Bringers nor Masters but only summoned by the Order under extraordinary circumstances. We are here to fulfill this most important task for you.” The five Storks crept in closer as he continued, “so that you may return to the Mountain of Victories and begin your training.”