Darius could not comprehend what the old man had just told him. He had broken the curse? The very notion of it was absurd. Darius knew quite well what the conditions were for breaking the curse, and he knew well enough to know that he had not achieved what was required. The old man saw Darius’s confusion and sighed.
“Young man, more often than not, powerful curses can only be broken in stages. The Pretorius curse is one of these types of curses.”
Darius’s eyes glimmered with hope as he looked at his hands. He had subconsciously dropped the hammer during the odd phenomenon. He tightened his hands and loosened them over and over again as if trying to check something. The old man remained silent and simply observed the young man while stroking his well-maintained beard.
After a while, Darius looked at the old man and said, “I have to break the anvil.”
The old man raised an eyebrow, “Excuse me, young man?”
“To break the curse, I have to break the anvil.”
An enlightened sigh came from the old man’s mouth. Darius continued on, “The man who gave me this curse demonstrated it for me once. He hit the anvil with the hammer.”
Darius remembered that day as if it had been yesterday. The sound had been no different from the boom of thunder. It had been so intense that his ears had started to bleed immediately. He had screamed while rolling on the ground, wailing in agony. It was an unforgettable moment that had stuck with young Darius, one that would torment him for the rest of his life.
“Somehow, that man imprinted that sound in my mind, down to the last detail, during his demonstration. Every time I hit the anvil now, I can tell how different the sound is from the one that that man produced. He told me that to break the anvil I had to produce a similar sound, but ten thousand times in a row. In addition, he warned that to delay the curse each day, I should hit the anvil ten thousand times.”
The old man could not help but be shocked. He hadn’t known the conditions for breaking the curse would be so stringent. Reproducing a sound that had only heard been heard once? Even if that sound was imprinted in Darius’s mind, reproducing it, ten thousand times no less, was ridiculous.
“The volume doesn’t have to be the same, but everything else does,” said Darius as he closed his eyes. The old man stroked his beard in thought for a few minutes.
“Young man, why did you decide to tell me this?”
Darius had seemed to be quite wary of his presence only a few moments earlier, yet now he was divulging some of his most private information. This contrast stoked the elder’s curiosity.
Darius scratched his head shyly and said, “My gut told me I should.”
Darius was someone who valued caution above everything else. However, once those chains had broken, a change had occurred within the boy. It was a small change, all-encompassing yet subtle. Like a small stone falling into a pond. The ripples faded from sight, but the energy never truly disappeared. A butterfly’s flapping of its wings could result in a tornado.
These tiny ripples had an effect on the way Darius thought, or rather, on the way he perceived the world.
The young man suddenly felt a sense of Deja vú. He was sure that he had experienced this sensation before but in a more aggressive manner. That’s when it struck him.
The hammer! When he had held the hammer for the first time during the second test. That’s when it had occurred, a similar sensation of something changing within him, except that change had been much more violent, much more aggressive. Its effects had been quite obvious and straightforward.
This change, however, was at the opposite end of the spectrum. It was gentle, subtle and hard to notice at first, but after some introspection, Darius noticed a few details.
His intuition! It was almost as if he had gained a sixth sense. Anything and everything he gazed at would give him a strange feeling. One that could only be felt and not properly explained, be it when looking at inanimate objects or the old man before him.
As he gazed at the old man, Darius felt an odd sense of security. One that was easy for him to identify because he didn’t feel it often. Darius felt no malice from the old man. On the contrary, he felt as if this unfamiliar old man had his best interests at heart.
When Darius shifted his gaze to the hammer, a different emotion struck him. Violence, anger, power, thunder, fire, familiarity, patience, tolerance and wisdom: all of the above were felt by the boy as he stared at the hammer.
At first, Darius wondered if perhaps the old man had done something strange to him, but that thought was quickly struck down by his sixth sense, like a person rubbing off a stupid idea from a drawing board.
Darius consciously wanted to be wary against the old man, but subconsciously he felt, or rather knew, that he shouldn’t be, as if it were illogical.
The old man looked on as Darius kept looking around himself like an idiot. He saw the internal conflict within the young man but did not interfere. He wanted Darius to approach him of his own volition. The fact that Darius’s intuition had so quickly swayed the young man intrigued the old man.
The elder was a good judge of character, and Darius seemed like the cautious type. However, he chose to trust a stranger due to his gut feelings? The old man found this laughable. He guessed that the curse being loosened had something to do with this. He kept looking on, curious to see what the effects brought onto the young man were.
After a while, Darius took a deep breath and calmed himself. He shrunk and stowed his anvil as he always did. Then he sat on a nearby chair.
“You know I grew up in a simple village,” Darius mumbled while gazing at a wall. The old man walked closer to the lad and sat near him. Clearly, the boy had a story to tell, and he was more than willing to listen.
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