I remember the day we came to the island. There were two of us in those dark times, myself and my daughter. Now there is only I.
They cast us adrift in a rotten bark with barely enough food and water to last the journey. I begged for a few of the books from my library, a boon which was granted by the good counsellor Gonzalo. I told him they were tomes on herbs allowing us to pick safe mushrooms and cultivate a garden – and he believed me. It would be like the Garden of Eden once again.
My daughter was a frail creature, not of this world. She barely survived the voyage to our new home and died within a few days of fever. I did not mourn her. I had more pressing matters to deal with.
The spirit of the air was easily bent to my will. He had been locked in a tree by an ingenious witch, the former ruler of the island. My art had not quite reached its highest point in those early days, but it was quite within my skill to free him in exchange for his total obedience in all matters. Like all immortal things, he cared little for the doings of mankind and it mattered not to him whether Milan was ruled by I or some other.
The creature of the earth proved more resourceful. He instinctively shunned me, knowing my nature and it was fruitless to try my art upon him. Instead, I found a store of herbs and created a mixture which I smeared on some berries I scattered near the entrance to his cave. The fool spent a day gadding about the island, thinking himself to be a king. When the madness passed, he could think only of entering once more its sweet embrace, but for that of course, he needed the drug and I and only I, was master of its secret. And so, I became the master of him.
With the spirit and the wretch as my servants I could devote my time to my true intent and my day were spent studying the few precious tomes the fool Gonzalo had allowed me to retain. I grew stronger in my skill, progressing ever closer to my goal of becoming a master magician.
Years passed and my hatred grew stronger, as did my power. The air spirit kept me well informed of the doings of my enemies. Unlike me, he was not confined to the dismal island and could travel the circle of the globe in but a blink of the eye. He told me my brother was much-loved by the people who rejoiced in his accession to the title. They feasted and rejoiced. They thought themselves well-rid of a sorcerer who conspired with devils and thought only of his own power and comfort. They would learn soon enough.
One day the ship appeared on the horizon. I knew who it contained before the spirit had even told me. I could feel the hearts and minds of all the souls aboard. The king, my brother the much-loved duke, the fool of a counsellor. And one other, the king’s ambitious brother. I bade the spirit summon forth a raging storm but was careful not to smash the ship to pieces on the rocks around the island. The crew slumbered under an enchantment while the others were transported to the top of a cliff, overlooking the rocky beach. I had them where I wanted them.
My brother was the first to be dealt with. I had Ariel transport him to a place from which he would not escape. The others fell down on their knees and begged for mercy. They could have it, of course. At a price.
I made them my offer and heard their answers one by one. Gonzalo would not be a party to my scheme. He flung himself from the cliff before my Ariel could catch him. His old broken body lay quite still on the rocks. The king was a weak-willed fool who had supported my usurping out of spinelessness rather than any real malice. I offered him a kingdom to rule – this island, with Caliban as his servant. I knew he could not bear the shame and he angrily refused. Ariel removed him to be with my brother.
The king’s brother Sebastian of course, was made of sterner stuff. He saw the opportunity with which I presented him. He would be king by my power and all I asked in return was my dukedom restored. We would rule the kingdom together, but of course he would be the puppet and I the silent performer. Until such time as he no longer served my purpose. I could see the thoughts of power seducing him as the berries had my miserable servant. He kissed my hand and swore eternal loyalty to me. His mind was mine, his soul likewise.
I left Caliban with a good supply of the opiate berries. He would not survive long without my steady hand to manage the supply. I could sense the figure of death stretching out its hand for his miserable life. As for Ariel, he returned to the spirit world from which he had come. He would never again return to the earthly realm in which he had no stake. He would go back to his own kind where he belonged.
As we disembarked on the ship, my magic staff clutched in my hand and my books safe in the ship’s hold, I saw the faces of the former king and my brother. Ariel had buried them up to their necks in the sand. Their faces mouthed silent curses as the tide moved ever closer to wash out their mouths and eventually, their lungs.
With my dukedom and my power, I shall wait now until the time is right. Sebastian the fool puppet-king will incite a civil war, instructed by me. There will be a pitiless bloodbath in which he and his enemies are destroyed, leaving the need for a strong ruler which I shall gladly supply. My wanderings will at last be over and I shall be lord and master of all.