What color is a crystal ball?

What color is a crystal ball?

By Jason Rogers

An old wizard looked up from his dusty work table. He laid down the ancient scroll that he was reading and put out the candles, noticing the sunlight finally filtering through the forest to arrive in his room. The old man smiled as he felt the warmth of the sun on his skin. He looked around the dust filled room and gazed in wonder at the beauty he saw, just as he did every morning. This room, small as it is, was filled with rows upon rows of shelves. And on those shelves lay hundreds of crystal balls. Perfect spheres, as round as round can be, clear as a mountain stream, constructed by the wizard's own special magic.

The old man did not know how he had learned this magic, or even why. He did not even remember how long he had lived in this old shack in the middle of some unknown forest. Nor did he care, really. All he cared for was happiness.

And he was happy here. During the days, he would go outside and enjoy the warmth of the sun on his skin, the breeze on his cheek, or the smell of the forest. He would even talk to those animals brave enough to poke their heads out from their hiding places. Sometimes he would pet them, and sometimes they would run away. The old man was always cheerful, though.

At night, he would go into his shack, and would work until dawn, or maybe a little after. He would read scrolls from ages past, perhaps trying to comprehend some dead tongue not spoken in a millenia. Or perhaps he would select one of his many crystal balls, and he would work his special magic. The old man enjoyed doing this, other wise he wouldn't do it.

On this day, however, the wizard slowly walked outside into the sunlight, stroking his long white beard as he sometimes did. He enjoyed all the pleasures of being outside, of being out here with nature. He heard the birds chirping, he saw the chipmunks skitter up a tree. He heard the buzzing of bees searching for flowers and saw the colors of the sky as the sun continued to climb higher and higher in the sky. He smiled, and was happy. Thus he spent the remainder of his day, staying even until after twilight, so that he could listen to the song of the crickets. But, the darkness creeped in, and reluctantly, the old man relunctantly retreated into his shack, and closed the door.

The stars provided just enough light to allow his tired grey eyes to see the candle as he lit it with a thought. He noticed that a chill was beginning to set in, and so lit the fireplace in the same manner. He smiled, for he was always delighted in such feats. The chair creaked as he sat, for it was almost as old as he. He began to read yet another set of scrolls, perhaps older than the last set, but his mind began to wander. And wander. And wander. Until he set his sites on a one single crystal ball, picked for no reason other than it was absolutely unique and yet it retained a familiarity about it, as did every other sphere in the shack. He picked it up, and carried it to his desk where he set it upon a pile of scrolls.

He was transfixed by the clarity, the true clearness of the sphere. He gazed into this clearness, as if searching for something. He then began to concentrate, harder and harder as each moment passed. His brow furrowed as sweat beaded on his face. The wizard ignored the sweat, blinking his eyes every few seconds. On and on this went for a tremendous amount of time. To the wizard, ages may have passed, civilizations could have risen and fallen. He would not have noticed. Or cared, really. All that existed in his world was himself and the crystal sphere.

His concentration seemed to have reached its limit, and then it happened. His spell, his own special magic, had been cast. In reality, merely minutes had passed since the beginning of his trance. To the old wizard, however, time did not matter anymore. All that mattered was the crystal ball, and the magic that now resided within it.

The old man's sparkling gaze was filled with awe and wonder as he looked upon the crystal, upon the magic. His face could have been that of a small child looking at the sea for the first time, or a mother gazing lovingly at her new born babe, or a grandfather looking on as his grandchildren played in the fields.

He no longer looked merely at the ball, but into it. And even though he had seen this same sight many times, very many in fact, his wonder has never ceased. He looked into the ball, and saw the many flickering points of light. He saw the many different vibrant colors which were spread across the light. And he also saw the darkness. The empty, cold darkness with which he had tried to fill with these points of light and these colors. His gaze was steadfast on his creation.

His mind grasped for a word to call this magnificense. Then, somewhere in his stupor, he found the word he was looking for, a word told to him by someone long ago. It was a wonder that he had even remembered the word. That word, told to him by someone long ago, was galaxy. Yes! That was it. That was what this creation, this thing of beauty and wonder was called. And these little pinpoints of light were called stars. And these colors were gaseous clouds called nebulae.

The wizard, just as he did on every occasion, began to remember as the thoughts came to him in a flood. He began to move his view of this galaxy with a thought. He did not know how he did it, only that he did. He began to look at different sights, to look at the different stars, at the shapes the they seemed to form, the variety in those things. He marveled at the nebulae, at the absolute beauty and tranquility of them.

He then noticed that some of these stars had tiny pinpoints of light circling around them. He remembered that these were called planets. He smiled as he took a closer look at one. It was a gaseous planet that looked truly fantastic as the blue clouds swirled with the white and the orange with the brown. The old man admired the beauty of the planet, but frowned as he realised something. This planet was missing something, something very important.

Life. It was missing life. There was nothing alive on this planet, for all its glory, for all its magnificence. No life at all. The wizard sighed.

He then remembered a planet, a special planet, somewhere in this thing called the galaxy. The wizard hurried to shift his view to that particular planet, which was special to him. He chose this planet among all others to house one special characteristic.


The green and blue jewel shone as the light from its star reflected off of the oceans. He gasped as he saw this sight, for it was so beautiful. He looked to the skies, searching for signs of life. And he was amazed. As his view descended, he glimpsed so many flocks of many different kinds of birds that he could not count them all in such a short time.

The view then plunged into the depths of the oceans, seeking yet more life. And again, he was amazed. He first saw aquatic animals, always moving, so full of life. He call these fish. He saw fish of every sort. He saw solitary fish, he saw schools of fish, he saw large, small, colorful, drab fish. He saw every sort of fish imaginable, and more. His sights moved past the fish to the many different types of plantlife that was alive underneath these blue oceans. Plankton, seaweed, and even coral caught his sight, causing him to pause at almost each of them just to view them a bit closer. He could have spent a lifetime just looking at these wonders, but he moved on, eager to see what other surprises were in store for him.

He loved the site of life so much. And he saw it everywhere he looked on this special life-bearing planet. To his delight, in all of the places he looked, he found it. From the deserts to the icecaps, in jungles and in the plains, life bloomed. He saw this life, and was pleased. He saw that it was good.

He also saw that there was something else on this planet, something that he had not seen. Something he really had not expected.


A strange thing, man was. Always thinking, always doing. Building, advancing, exploring. Such remarkable feats were accomplished by man. This creature fascinated the wizard. He was curious about its nature. What kind of creature was this?

Man was unlike any other animal or form of life that he had seen on this planet. This animal seemed to be more intelligent than the rest. It seemed to have some sort of consciousness, akin to his own. The wizard thought upon this profound idea for a moment and then continued to observe this curious animal. He saw how man had developed this consciousness, this mind, and how it functioned in their lives. He saw man's eternal quest for knowledge, and the quest for happiness, and the quest for love. The old man smiled, for these concepts were not foriegn to him and he was glad that this creature knew them.

But then, his smile slowly faded as he noticed other things about this Man. He noticed that some of these creatures killed others of its own kind. There were instances where only one was killed. For what reason, the wizard did not know. And there were other times when many were killed. Giant wars of men from one land battling men from another. Again, for seemingly no reason. The wizard did not like this.

He then noticed something else, something that caused his smile to fade even more and become a frown. This something saddened him greatly. He saw this creature called Man, destroy. He saw the destruction of beautiful jungles and forests, countless flora and fauna killed. He saw as Man consumed these forests and jungles.



And Killed.

He also watched as the clear airs where the feathered birds flew became poisoned by huge factories of man, belching huge black clouds of smoke and poison. He watched helplessly as some flocks flew into these poisonous clouds, and saw as some poor birds drop from the sky as the rest tried to make an escape from the floating death. He also looked on as the magnificent oceans of blue become polluted with the dredge and slime produced by Man. He saw as toxic chemicals were dumped, saw multitudes of innocent fish choke on this disease from Man. He saw the death and destruction of the beauty, of the life that was his creation.

He was saddened when he saw this, when he saw that his own creation could do such things, and he was ashamed. The reflection of the fire shone on his eyes as they sparkled, and then on his cheeks as he began to weep. He wept for the beauty that was lost, the life that was savagely murdered for no reason.

He wept...and then he began to think. And think. And soon his weeping stopped, and his tears dried. He then turned his eyes back to the crystal ball, this ball which held his magic. His eyes were filled with a determination. He had come to some sort of decision, some course of action.

He fixed his gaze upong the crystal ball again. He began to concentrate, and sweat began to pour down his furrowed brow as seemingly ages passed. And with a last burst of concentration, the magic was cast.

The crystal ball, and all of the images contained within, went blank. There were no more images of the galaxy, or of stars, or of planets, or of life, or of Man. There was merely the clearness, the perfect clarity of the blemishless sphere of crystal. Just as it had begun, and just as the multitude of other spheres appeared within this shack.

The old wizard sighed heavily as he placed the crystal ball back upon its place on the shelf. He then noticed how fatigued he felt, and prepared for bed. Slipping into his bed, he extinguished the candle with a thought. Thinking about what he had done, he watched the fire slowly die out. Again, he sighed. He closed his eyes, and slept.


Copyright 1998 by Jason Rogers

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Jason can be e-mailed at: addikt@hotmail.com

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