The Fifth Story

The Conjuror


   As you know, very few people from other lands ever visit Vàldovar. This is not only because it cannot be found on any map, but also because the country is bounded by high, snow-covered mountains, deep, deep forests, and the stormy sea.
Once, however, many, many years ago, in the reign of King Ferdinand the Thirteenth, a stranger did come to Vàldovar, and this is the story of how he came and what he did – and why, even today, the people of Vàldovar still speak of him.
    It happened like this.
    One bright, clear morning, Aethrid the Watchman was in his watchtower on one of the high cliffs of Vàldovar, looking out over the sea. It was his task to keep a lookout for storm clouds and to warn the people of approaching bad weather.
    In fact, Aethrid had very little to do, because the weather was never bad in Vàldovar. Rain, when it came, was always gentle and never lasted very long – just long enough to water the flowers and keep the streams and lakes filled.
    In the short winter, of course, the snow fell, and this was a time that the children loved. But no-one could ever remember a foggy day, or a day when the sky was grey or the wind cold.