Parts 1, 2 & 3 can be found here:
Mr Marsden wasn’t always an old man. There was a time when he was a small boy, and his father told him he was destined to become a wizard and a very fine one at that.
He was a reluctant student in many ways. He wanted to be a carpenter but his father held sway over his son’s ambitions and introduced him to his spell and potion room, and so his education began.
His father believed in white magic and frowned upon those who dabbled in the dangerous black magic. His father argued there was more good to be done with white magic and that was how he instructed his son.
The son was unhappy at first and unwilling to study with the diligence required and so fell behind in his lessons and became a worry to his father who prided himself on the family wizarding tradition.
One day his father fell ill, and no amount of magic could save him from the disease that ravaged his aging body. The boy believed like many children that his father would live forever and when he learned of his father’s illness and impending death he became racked with guilt and regret.
His father on his death bed asked his son to honour the tradition of the Marsden’s and wizardry. The tearful son promised his father he would work hard to learn all he could and carry on the family tradition.
After his father died the son set to work to study like he had never before. It took him some years to learn the ways of the wizard, discovering it was not easy and required him to make a lot of sacrifices. The long hours eventually paid off and when a rare disease hit the community the son now understanding more and more was able to develop a potion to counter the malicious disease.
The community who for a long time after the old wizard’s death doubted the son had it in him to be a wizard was surprised to learn of his prowess and success against the disease.
Wizardry like any profession is all about confidence and application and the son now aging into a fine young man began to demonstrate his understanding of the huge potion books his father left behind.
One of the hardest potions to make was the life potion his father had begun to instruct him on making before he died. The young man now more resourceful than ever put his mind to the job and in time developed a better potion than his father ever imagined.
He tried it on himself and at first gagged as it wasn’t the finest tasting one he’d made but thankfully his stomach soon settled, and he could continue with his work.
Over the months that followed he started to notice the daily teaspoon of potion was having an effect. He was more aware of his surroundings, he rose at day break keen to begin work on whatever task was pending, and he found his energy levels were increasing. It was a year before he noticed the more obvious changes.
Life was hard in those times, people worked the land from dawn to dusk and the physical strength needed to drag a plough behind an ox was draining and tiring. Men his age showed the effects of the labours they performed. Many succumbed to the exertions and around him he began to see changes. The children he once saw as running the streets playing were now working in various places around the village and they, in turn, were having children while all the while he stayed as he was, his signs of aging hardly noticeable.
Over the years he worked within his community helping where he could never wanting to be in the limelight just happy to be who he was.
As time went by and generations changed around him, he became more and more introverted and focused on the ability he had to manipulate potions to achieve extraordinary heights.
With his playing with potions and plants, he realised there was a real risk of discovery and the last thing he wanted was people sniffing around his place asking questions. So, he bought the container, and it was doing the job of containing all the extraordinary plants he was not just discovering but creating.
His only was concern was the girl, Ayls Main, who for the first time worried him as her perception was above that of the average person.
Mr Marsden alarmed by her statement about the hydrangeas pondered if he needed to be concerned about her.