The Travelogues of Joseph Peterson, from a potential future circa 2123. It is a battered brown leather notebook, with the writing in both ink and pencil, and occasionally what appears to be charcoal. The language was one of the near-English dialects descended from standard American English, but our linguistics team has been able to reverse-engineer it and provide a more modern translation.
The Magician’s home was built on a hill beside a lake hidden deep within the mountains. It appeared to be the remains of an ancient stone structure which had been overgrown by the ages, perhaps with some help from human hands. The hill itself and the earth all around were erupting with fecundity, a great garden, a forest of food, all arranged in precise interlocking patterns. The Magician emerged from around the side of the hill, looking nothing at all like I’d imagined him. He was shorter than I, and stockier. He wore simple, rugged clothing in dark earth tones and a long black coat. He was covered with a fine layer of sweat and soil, and his fingernails were so ragged and caked with earth I doubted whether it would ever come out. He wore a wide-brimmed hat, and carried a staff, and that at least fit my inner image of a Magus, but the hat was cut low and made of dusty brown leather, also caked with dirt. and the staff was… well it was made of metal, some painted black, and one end was a wide, flat triangular shape, which tapered to a thin tube at the other. It had another, shorter tube attached near one side of wide side where it began to taper out, and a half ring embedded on the other side. The magician gripped the staff with his finger through the ring, but gently. The other end of the staff pointed at the ground.
Then, he caught my eye, and a shock went through me, jumping down my spine like a lightning bolt, rooting me to the spot. There were Dragons behind his eyes. I felt like a mouse being transfixed by a snake, like one of the butterflies I used to collect as a child, being impaled on a pin and mounted as a curiosity. I felt stark terror flooding through every fiber of my being. Then, he grinned, and laughed, and he broke his gaze away, and I inhaled again. He slung the staff over his shoulder and turned his back to me. He began walking back toward his home, and after a moment, beckoned over his shoulder.
I followed him through the dimly lit doorway. The inside of the building was littered with objects I could not comprehend. Most were completely unknown to me, though a few bore some familiarity, though even these were somehow strangely altered. These mysterious wonders were hanging from the walls and ceilings, and piled in great stacks scattered around the floor. However, they were also interspersed with things I had seen before: books, scrolls, and the symbols and statues of the Gods, and things I had seen a thousand times: dried herbs and meats, fruits and vegetables, an old stone fireplace over which hung and iron cooking pot, a bearskin rug that lay over the floor of cracked flagstones.
“Follow me. What you seek is not in this chamber.”
I nodded silently and walked after him as he propped his strange staff against the wall, then turned and exited through a small red door in the left wall. We passed through several similar chambers, also littered with bizarre detritus. As I looked, I began to discern some sort of pattern in the way these things were arranged and displayed, but its exact nature eluded me. I was still pondering it when we emerged into a vast, open chamber. The floors were of some sort of waxed hardwood, though the boards had decayed significantly over the years. More rugs of animal hide were spread over the floor near the far end of the room. Except for these skins and one object at the other end of the room, the room was empty.
It was a huge, flat rectangle, almost flush with the wall. It was a completely black mirrored surface, though there was a shiny strip around its edge, while the center had a duller sheen. Flanking it were two metallic boxes, one small and covered with tiny protrusions labeled with incomprehensible inscriptions. The other was larger, and filled with other, smaller, black, rectangular things and iridescent circles.
“That is it? The Magical Mirror? This will answer my questions?” I said. The Magician did not reply, but walked past me and up to the dark mirror. He bent next to it, and I heard him mumble something under his breath, surely some sort of incantation. Then, the central surface of the mirror, which had been dull before, suddenly changed. It was still black, and it was not reflective like its border, but somehow its darkness shone. I stared at it in silent shock, mouth agape, while the Magician took one of the silvery disks from the larger box and then knelt down before the smaller. He bowed to it, touching his forehead to the ground, whispering another spell as he did, holding the disk above his head with both hands. Then he transferred the disk into his right hand and touched one of the little protrusions on the box. Part of the box suddenly extended, and he placed the disk onto it, then pressed the protrusion again, and it retracted once more. The Magician rose, and turned to me.
“Not quite, son. That is the mirror. This is the Magic.”
The surface of the mirror suddenly came to life. The darkness dissolved in an instant, replaced with waves of fluid, coruscating colors. Music poured forth from nowhere. It was clear and loud and it sounded as though many people were playing, but there were no people nor any instruments anywhere. After a moment, I discerned that some of the colors were in the forms of men and women, or creatures like them, for they were flat and without substance. Though they moved in a way that resembled human movement, they merely slid across the surface of the mirror.
“What are they?” I whispered. “Spirits?”
“Yes… and no” replied the Magician. “They exist only within the mirror. But they possess great wisdom, if you can understand their language.”
He reached into his coat and withdrew another flat, black rectangle, longer and thinner than the others, and covered with small protrusions and little gliphs.
“A wand?” I asked.
“Of sorts. Look now, and listen.” He pointed it at the Mirror, and pressed one of the protrusions. The pattern of colors changed, the people disappeared, replaced with blackness again for a moment. Then different faces appeared, and they began to speak.