The world is in danger. A threat has fallen across the land like shadows at twilight.
To counter this danger, a group of famous wizards gathers to pick out a hero to face the evil and preserve their precious world.
Because what’s a tale without a powerful enemy, a hero to square off against him, and wise-worded wizards with flowing hair to oversee the whole affair?
Sort of like the Gamekeepers in Hunger Games—except not.
The wizards—Gandalf, Saruman, Albus Dumbledore, and Merlin—assemble in an underground chamber, air heavy with the aroma of damp earth and smoke from the torches along the wall.
Gandalf: Grim times we have lived to see, my friends. Hope wavers like a candle flame in the wind. We must stop this disaster ere it befalls.
Saruman: To whom would you have us turn?
Dumbledore: A naïve youth, of course, or someone with credentials to match those of a schoolboy.
Merlin: Excellent idea, Dory. I have often claimed vigor and youth can win the day where swords and strength falter.
Gandalf: We mustn’t look to the expected pastures for the harvest. The unforeseen corners—that is where we must seek deliverance.
Merlin: Preferably a corner shaped like an isle where tea and rain flow with equal freedom.
Dumbledore: I have experience in this area. I’ll send out application letters. From those who respond we can begin whittling down our choices.
Saruman: We have little time for such trifling actions. Are we not met for this very purpose? Let us cease these idle words and make our choice.
Gandalf: The world is at stake, friend. That is not something to be taken lightly.
Merlin [slapping the table at which they sit]: Come now, Graybeard. Since when has the world not been at stake? Such is our fate.
Saruman: The enemy rises, a black cloud blotting out the sun of hope and freedom. We must make haste. It is folly to delay.
Dumbledore: Can we agree on my first criterion? The youth with weak arm and wide eyes.
*a few nods of approval and thoughtful pulls on elaborately carved pipes*
Merlin: But I wonder. What will people think when they discover our decision? Certainly we know best, but picking someone who lacks the expected characteristics might raise ire.
Gandalf: Keep it secret. The people we protect need not know how the cogs of fate turn.
Saruman: I say you are all wrong. A leader of power—that is my desire. Someone we need not coddle and guide at every step, but one to stand beside us in dominion.
Dumbledore [shaking head]: No. We cannot forsake our tradition. Who better to undertake a quest than an underdog? One who can stir hope by the fact that he seems destined to fail yet does not.
Saruman: But have we any assurance he will succeed?
Gandalf: Even the wise cannot foresee all ends. Yet my heart tells me we can do nothing but choose sagely and hope.
Merlin: Do any candidates come to mind?
Gandalf: Someone small, easy to underestimate.
Dumbledore: But with room for growth and unlimited potential. I would like to see one of our own shoulder the mantle of responsibility.
Merlin [with contempt]: A magic-user? Come, Dory. Use your head. I agree with Graybeard. The smallest pin, if tipped in poison, can still fell the mightiest man to live.
Saruman: And I say you’re fools. Look around you. The culture of our time demands traits to impress. Strength. Wisdom. Prowess.
Gandalf: The Void take today’s culture. Our duty is not to give them the type of hero they want, but the savior they need.
Merlin: Is that an original, Graybeard? I swear I’ve heard those words before.
Dumbledore: Gentlemen, we’re getting nowhere. I suggest we step back and analyze the situation. What is the threat? How can we best counteract it? Which hero best fits our needs?
Merlin: Excellent idea, Dory. Did you bring scones to accompany our tea? As to your question, our needs are obvious. Small, inconspicuous, homebred. A David to face Goliath.
Gandalf [seeing Saruman about to protest]: Hold your complaints, old friend. We must look to the past if we are to find any hope for the future. History has proven untold times that the course of action we seek is best. For ourselves, for the land, for the soul whom we choose, for the people who depend on us.
Saruman: Empty words you speak. We dare not venture such a gamble.
Dumbledore: Fear not, Saruman. I’ve studied this topic at length. The hero stereotype hasn’t become a stereotype for no reason. To borrow a modern turn of phrase, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
Merlin: Are we agreed then on the type of hero we need? Because my stomach is starting to demand tea and scones.
Saruman [frowning]: No. We’re wizards. The argument has only just begun, though I would have otherwise.
Gandalf: No decision comes with ease. Yet in this matter I feel the winds of fate blow in our favor.
Merlin: We know the type, size, and age. Now we must decide on the exact individual.
Dumbledore [with a quietly confident expression]: I know just the one.
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