Zepar arrived at a small township and overheard farmers talking about a rich man on an isolated farm a short distance away, and decided that farmer would be his goal. After all, no man acquired riches without desiring them wholly, and his family would be impressed, when he returned quickly and with gold.
Zepar found the man’s farm, and stood on the front porch waiting for his return. A roughly dressed farmer approached at dusk, and though he didn’t look rich, Zepar wanted this done.
“Rich man – tell me your name.”
“It appears you already know my name,” said the farmer. “I’m Rich, pleased to meet you.” Rich climbed the two steps to his porch and held out his hand. Zepar took it, and murmured “Zep” hardly aware of the introduction. They stood there, hands still clasped, while Zepar’s thoughts raced. This man wasn’t rich, but he must still desire something. He could keep searching for someone better, but all he needed was the heart’s desire of a man and if he stayed this course he would be done soon.
Rich’s grin slowly grew larger as Zepar stood motionless. Finally he moved their still clasped hands side-to-side. “Are you okay? Why are you here?”
Zepar let go of Rich’s hand and stepped back. “Rich, I conjure thee to give up to my power and self…”
Rich shook his head. “Won’t work. Rich isn’t my given name.”
“How do you know names have power?”
“Zep, names always have power. I don’t know what you’re here for, but why don’t you come in and have supper. The food’s plain but good.”
“But, I am – I mean I tried – “
“You’re some sort of magician or demon or fairie who wants something, but you have a solid handshake, and I don’t often have visitors. You’re welcome here, if you choose.”
Zepar went in and sat with Rich at the table. He enjoyed the meal and the company and left as Rich turned the lantern down, determined to go back to town and find this man’s name.
Two days later at dusk Zepar was again waiting on the porch. Rich smiled to see him there. “Zep, I was hoping you’d visit again.”
Zepar found he was smiling back, and shook himself. He needed this to be done. “Richard Peter, I conjure thee to give up to my power and self the greatest desire you hold in your heart.”
Rich tilted his head to the side. “My heart’s desire is it? That’s big Zep.” He walked up the porch steps until he was standing directly in front of Zepar. “But you still don’t have my name.”
“What? Those are your names – I spoke with the banker and liverymen in town.”
“Those are some of my names, not all. My mother had three brothers and couldn’t pick between them when it came time to name me.”
“Why are you telling me this? Now that you know why I am here…”
“I haven’t heard my full name spoken since my mother died when I was twelve. It will be a puzzle for you, and not an easy one. I’m thinking you won’t put in the work.” Rich stepped around Zepar and sat down in the rocking chair. “Besides there are rules to things like this, aren’t there? The stories say you have three tries, and you’ve already used two.”
Zepar sat down on the step. “I don’t suppose you’ll just tell me your name. I can’t go home until…”
“Sorry Zep. I gave you a hint, but that’s all. Speaking of names, what is Zep short for?”
“Well, Zepar, who likely has another name he isn’t giving me, though I wouldn’t know how to conjure with it anyway, do you want supper?”
Rich stood up and held the door open for Zepar, who nodded and went in.
They enjoyed a good dinner, and the fine company. They talked late into the night until the moon rose. Rich said “I have to get some sleep, the cows won’t care why I’m late, only that I am. You can sleep in the hayloft; you don’t want to get back on the road now.”
Zepar stared at Rich and then nodded. “Thank you.” Zepar looked at this man who had no magic in him and said “My full name is Zepar Aurelius Toth,” with a bite to it as though baiting a hook.
Rich whispered the name under his breath. “Thank you for your name. But I still can’t give you mine.”
“I know. Tomorrow early I will set out in search of it.”
“Of course you will. I’m not sure if I should wish you luck or not.”
The leaves were a startling shade of orange when Zepar returned to Rich’s house. He had spent all of the summer months tracking down Rich’s uncles.
First he found John the middle uncle, who lived in the wilder lands to the west. Zepar confirmed that his only name was John. Next he found Peter, the eldest, in the largest city Zepar had ever seen. Of course, he already knew that Peter was one of Rich’s names, but he wanted to be certain.
Late at night Zepar saw Rich’s face, and wondered in his dreams if there were some other reason he was so determined to conjure this specific man. After all, he had met plenty of men in the city who gave their names willingly and could have completed his task many times over and gone home. In the light of day Zepar didn’t think about it, just concentrated on completing his task.
Finally Zepar met Michael, Rich’s remaining uncle. He worked on the sea so Zepar had to wait weeks in a coastal city until the boat returned. Having spoken with all three of Rich’s uncles, and confirmed the names that had been given, he returned to the farm.
Zepar saw Rich approaching from the fields. When Rich was at the edge of the yard Zepar stood. Rich saw the movement and paused for a moment. He continued his walk to the house, and Zepar stepped into the yard to greet him.
“Hello Zepar. I thought you decided to find an easier target and go home.”
“I finish what I start.” Zepar wanted to say other things, but wasn’t certain what they were, and so didn’t. “Richard Peter John Michael, I conjure thee to give up to my power and self the greatest desire you hold in your heart.”
Rich smiled sadly. “What happens now?”
“You – I don’t, you should be compelled, I should see your heart’s desire and where it can be found. What is wrong?”
Rich stepped up to Zepar and put a hand on his shoulder. “That wasn’t my name. None of us ever knew why, but mother rearranged their order, perhaps for the sound of it. John is after Michael.”
Zep looked shocked. “But that was the third conjuring. I will have to find someone else, and after so long.”
“Or – “ Rich took a deep breath and backed away a few steps looking down at the ground. “you could stay here. I could use a hand - a partner, and” Rich looked up into Zepar’s eyes, “if you want to see my heart’s desire you only need see yourself.”
Zepar suddenly understood so many things. He looked around at the farm where he had spent the two best nights of his life. He thought of home but it was a hazy memory without detail. He turned away from Rich and noticed for the first time the new addition to the front porch.
“You knew I’d come back.”
“I hoped so. “
Zepar climbed onto the porch and sat in a rocking chair. “Will you join me Richard Peter Michael John?”
Rich climbed the porch and sat down in the matching rocking chair, the one he had spent the summer building so they’d both have a place. “I will, Zepar Aurelius Toth.”
Rich reached out his hand and Zep took it. They sat and rocked silently. No more words were needed, the names had power enough.
***LJ Idol continues. This week we had our choice of two topics, I picked the Winnie-the-Pooh reference. There are only twenty of us left so it won't take long to read them all.***