The teachings of Ebenezum

Some lovely quotes from the books of Ebenezum, by Craig Shaw Gardner.

ONE

A wizard is only as good as his spells,’ people will often say. It is telling, however, that this statement is only made by people who have never been wizards themselves.

Those of us who have chosen to pursue a sorcerous career know that a knowledge of spells is only one small facet of the successful magician. Equally vital are a quick wit, a soothing tongue, and, perhaps most important, a thorough knowledge of back alleys, underground passageways, and particularly dense patches of forest, for those times when the spell you knew so well doesn‘t quite work after all.”

TWO

“Reasoned decision is important, and there comes a time in every wizard’s life when he must decide what goal he should pursue to give true meaning to his life. Should it be money, or travel, or fame? And what of leisure and the love of women? I myself have studied many of these goals for a number of years, examining their every facet in some detail, so that, when the time comes to make that fateful decision of which I spoke, it will be reasoned in the extreme. “

THREE

“Every sorcerer should explore as much of the world as he can, for travel is enlightening. There are certain circumstances, such as a major spell gone awry, or an influential customer enraged at the size of your fee, where travel becomes more enlightening still.”

FOUR

“ ‘Never trust another sorcerer’ is a saying unfortunately all too common among magical practitioners. Actually, there are many instances where one can easily trust a fellow magician, such as cases where no money is involved, or when the other mage is operating at such a distance that his spells can’t possibly affect you.”

FIVE

“Your average ghost is a much more complex and interesting individual than is generally imagined. Just because someone is dragging chains or has one’s head perpetually in flames does not necessarily make them of a lesser class. Some ghosts, especially those with heads attached and mouths to speak through, are actually quite good conversationalists, with other-worldly stories by the score. In addition, ghosts generally subscribe to the happy custom of disappearing completely at dawn, a habit many living associates and relatives might do well to cultivate.

SIX

“A wizard cannot do everything; a fact most magicians are reticent to admit, let alone discuss with prospective clients. Still, the fact remains that there are certain objects, and people, that are, for one reason or another, completely immune to any direct magical spell. It is for this group of beings that the magician learns the subtleties of using indirect spells. It also does no harm, in dealing with these matters, to carry a large club near your person at all times.

SEVEN

“There are those who claim that magic is like the tide; that it swells and fades over the surface of the earth, collecting in concentrated pools here and there, almost disappearing from other spots, leaving them parched for wonder. There are also those who believe that if you stick your fingers up your nose and blow, it will increase your intelligence.”

EIGHT

“Even for a wizard there will often come times when someone close to you, perhaps even your spouse, criticizes your habits by comparing them to those of animals. This is distinctly unfair to the animals, who have far better habits than we in many areas. When, for example, have you seen a frog collecting taxes or a squirrel running for electoral office? Present arguments like these to those people who criticize you. If they still do not see the wisdom of your ways, you may then feel free to bite them.”

NINE

“Wizards, like all mortals, need their rest. Casting spells, righting wrongs, and putting a little away for your old age can all be draining occupations. The true wizard must therefore always insist on a good night’s sleep, and a few days’ respite between tasks. After some particularly grueling work, a couple of weeks in the country are not out of line. In the aftermath of truly major assignments, of course, nothing less than a seaside vacation will do. And what of those situations in which a wizard’s work affects the very world around him, perhaps the fabric of the cosmos itself? Well, be advised that prime accommodations in Vushta must be reserved at least two months in advance.”

TEN

“The common folk have many sayings, all about it being darkest before the dawn and clouds with silver linings and suchlike. We in the magical trade like to express our opinions of these matters somewhat differently. A lifetime of experience will have taught the average sorcerer that no matter how hopeless the situation seems, no matter how painful and fraught with danger his options may be, no matter how close he may be to an indescribably hideous death and perhaps even eternal damnation, still, the good wizard knows, it can always get far worse.

ELEVEN

“Nothing is quite so unexpected as the truth. If, for example, you find your spells inadequate to defeat the local dragon, immediately go to your employers and apologize profusely. They should be so taken aback by your show of humility that you will have plenty of time to hastily vacate the area, allowing the dragon to eat your employers rather than you, and thus halt any ugly rumors they might have spread about your competence. “

TWELVE

“It is a mistake to think of all demons as being exactly alike. Some are short while others are tall; some are yellow, others are blue; some are nasty and others are extremely nasty. Some of the nastiest are quite fast as well. Should you encounter one of these, it is a mistake to think at all. Much more appropriate are such responses as running, screaming, and the very rapid formulation of a last will and testament.”

THIRTEEN

“Casual amusement can be one of a wizard’s greatest problems. After all, when one can conjure virtually anything, what can one do to ‘get away from it all’?

“Different wizards arrive at different solutions for their entertainment. A sorcerer of my acquaintance decided to increase his physical prowess through a vigorous program of exercise but found that his new muscles were wont to rip his robes midconjure. Another mage decided to develop the interplay between tongue and teeth so that he could exactly reproduce any insect noise imaginable. He became so successful at this that they discovered his corpse one midsummer’s eve, suffocated by six thousand three hundred and two amorous katydids. And of the wizard who tried to start personal communications between humans and sheep . . . well, the less said the better.”

FOURTEEN

“Religion is a personal matter, and those of us in the sorcerous profession would do well to steer clear of it. Still, you will find some situations, say a spell accidentally demolishing someone’s holy temple, where you will be given the choice of (one) conversion to their belief, or (two) being sacrificed to their deity. It is only at times like this when one realizes the true depth and beauty of religions, at least until one can find some way out of town.”

FIFTEEN

“So you think you know great, nail-biting excitement, you think you know truly abject fear, you think you know total and complete despair, you think you know the incredibly degenerate underside of this world we live in, and the ridiculously despicable lengths that your fellow man can sink to, more rotten, more putrid than the lowest form of fungus. . . . Oh. You are a sorcerer as well. Then perhaps you do.”

SIXTEEN

“Beginnings and endings are, for the most part, artificial constructs. You say you begin when you are born, but what of those months spent growing in the womb? Endings are hazier still, for further things may occur that extend and enlarge the earlier story. And that is my final sentence on the subject. Or perhaps this one is the final sentence. No, most assuredly what I write now is the final word on the matter. But now that I think upon it, perhaps this.“

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