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Tancred launched his ton of spells, in tandem with his sidekicks, his saddlebags full to bursting with greed powder for the jealous and cannon powder for the warlike. They would throw them by the hundreds and thousands. There were lots of smoke-and-mirrors powder for the doubters and run-away powder for thieves on the nick. Tancred led his band of trainee no-goods who obeyed his every flick of the finger and wink of the eye. He sowed so much injury with the powders even his most loyal collaborators ended up by leaving him. Now on his own, he walked for a long time, thinking things over and came one day to the village of Izkul.

Entering the village, he felt a new kind of uneasiness, a rapid beating deep down in his heart. He considered changing himself into… into… into… he had absolutely no idea. He really didn’t know what to turn himself into, the same self who had always caused strife and discord in people’s minds and hearts.

The Izkulis were deep in a sweet slumber. The devilishly gifted Gaspard who always slept with one eye open, smelt the brutal Tancred who had passed through the village a month before. Gaspard then barked loudly enough to warn the whole village; he could recognise the smell of this reprobate miles off. The Mirabelle sisters had had a falling out because of him and it had taken six months to bring them back to normal harmony. And the Grimaud brothers were still not speaking because of the scars from their love life. The Izkulis shut their doors and windows super tight, sealed their chimneys and brought in their animals. They all sat and shivered with fear from head to toe.

Tancred shouted out in a loud voice:
— Open your windows! I’m not going to hurt you. Look for yourselves. I’m on my own.
None of the Sécoulis made a move. Their doors and windows stayed shut. “That’s just one of Tancred’s ruses!” they told themselves. “Just another of his ways to get us to go out so he can chuck his evil, poisonous powders in our eyes.”

Up till now Tancred had entertained himself by terrorising people but today he didn’t feel like doing this. He put his backpack on again to go in search of a friendlier village. He walked for a long time, deep in thought, trying to imagine what new work he could do. Cabinetmaker? Painter? Fireman? Flautist? But none of those appealed. He even considered going back to being the wicked Tancred since he felt really comfortable in that role.

He arrived at the village of Iznodheer. When the cockerel caught sight of him his wattle started shaking and he crowed, “Watch out! Tancred is back!” loud and clear to warn the village and then he ran to hide in the henhouse. The Iznodheers shut all their doors and windows super tight, sealed their chimneys and brought their animals indoors. Tancred felt the same unease from the day before, the same rapid beating of his heart but mixed with something else.
Something new. A taste of bile in his mouth.

“Open up! I won’t do any harm. Look for yourselves, I’m all on my own”.

A brave Iznodheer shouted out:
— Get lost! We don’t want anything to do with you.
— But I’ve changed. I’m not a bad person any more.
— What are you then?
Tancred thought for a moment and didn’t know what to answer. He touched the canon powder is his bag and was tempted to chuck it all out onto the wind. Being a bad guy is so easy. Being a villain is so exciting.

No more, he decided. He wouldn’t throw smoke-and-mirrors powder at the doubters, jealous powder at the envious, and run-away powder at the thieves or cannon powder at the warlike. He put his bag on his back again and set out, crossing dunes, steppes, lagoons, mountains, rivers and oceans. He ended up at the village of Izheer where no one had ever met him. But even so a camel saw him and yelled “Tancred is here!” The Izheers shut their doors and windows super tight, sealed their chimneys and brought their animals indoors.

Tancred felt the same unease, the same rapid beating of his heart, but mixed with something new.
Something different.
The taste of bile in his mouth.
His skin felt raw and tender.

— Open your windows. I won’t do you any harm. Look for yourselves, I’m all alone.

The Izheers listened to him because they were open-minded people.
— What do you want?
— I want to make clay powder for ankles so brittle they can break.
Powdered almond for people with a sweet tooth
Tons of rice powder for grannies
Colourful powders for fireworks.

The Izheers clapped their hands.
— We’ve got all you need here to make all sorts of powder.

Tancred felt his heart beating fast deep down inside, mixed with something else.
Something new.
A smile on his lips.
A glow all over his skin.
A feeling of happiness deep down in his heart.

So there were no more brittle ankles, the sweet-toothed ate their full, the grannies had beautiful, peach-coloured skin and the Izheer town parties became famous for their fireworks. People came from all over the world to see them. Sometimes little arguments flared up. But reconciliation powder brought miracles. Tancred taught the Izheers the art of making wondrous powders and this art was handed down from generation to generation. He finally got to live a happy life right until the end of his days surrounded by loyal friends and his fame reached out beyond all the villages nearby.

Translated by Hannah Charlton


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