Lyeasrakardsul’s inhaled, savouring the smell old books, candles, and pipe-tobacco. The scents were a slight comfort, but alone in the dark penthouse, his fear still lingered. So, he shifted focus to Pentakl’s rules and traditions. His primary suspect as to the cause of his nightmares. The rules were a great distraction since they had been a pet-peeve of his for centuries.
Sorcerers being sorcerers, they all despised rules. Nonetheless, they were accepted as a necessary evil. During his more than two hundred years on the council of sorcerers, the three-to-two majority vote for evermore nit-picking rules had often gone against his recommendations.
In the name of security, spite, or other popular arguments, Lyeasrakardsul smiled sardonically, the way we mishandle the rules, the council can do whatever we please and call it justice.
Still, even in Pentakl — where petty regulations were a way of life — not everything could be regulated, and some were just strange. It was forbidden to wear a fake beard if it might cause giggling. Those kinds of decrees made living in Pentakl a precarious, even for the most law-abiding sorcerer.
When rules failed, traditions stepped in to fill the gap. The most useful one even provided an escape.
The ‘if you don’t like it then get out’ tradition.
Sorcerers were free to leave the treeless plain of Pentakl, taking their chances in the frozen wilds of Empris. They were known as free sorcerers. In a fake show of generosity, the council provided mules, servants, and provisions. A low price for getting rid of sorcerers showing signs of thinking for themselves.
Some of those who left found a way to survive.
In the few liveable valleys, small sorcerers’ towers of grey stone rose above the pine trees. Unless they wanted to try and scrape together a meagre living in one of the uninhabited valleys, these towers were the leaving sorcerer’s best chance. Except for the smoke constantly rising from numerous chimneys, the dreary structures seemed deserted. In reality, most were overpopulated. Filled with sorcerers doing their best to avoid each other while their servants maintained a strained peace.
Never mind free sorcerers, his priorities reprimanded. Remember the nightmares? You can’t prove the rules are the cause. So, think!
Concentrating, he sat motionless. Now and then, he drew a puff on his calabash pipe, the second of his three personal items. He let the smoke filter through his long beard, giving it a sickly, yellowish-white colour.
He was still wearing the ill-fitting pyjamas. In Pentakl, it paid to keep up appearances. However, on his feet he wore the third and favourite of his personal possessions. A small pair of rebellion. Pink, fuzzy bunny slippers. They were his clearest connection to the short life he had before Pentakl. He remembered being angry at his grandmother. She had given him a pair of identical slippers for his fourth birthday. He had wanted a Kor tattoo, like hers. It hadn’t been fair; she was only half Kor and had several.
Still, a story his grandfather later told him had forever convinced him of an absolute truth.
Never underestimate the absolute comfort of fuzzy slippers. It was a story he no longer remembered.
Lyeasrakardsul’s ability to remember anything was developed decades after he came to Pentakl. But he never forgot being dragged away by a Xefef sorcerer shortly after that fourth birthday. That was the last time he had seen his grandparents. Once he learnt enough magick to see them that way, they were both long dead. Watching Absumo, the pirate-archipelago where they had lived was not much of a comfort.
Back then, he had believed the story Xefef told all sorclings; that his family hadn’t wanted him. That his grandparents had sent for them to come and take him away.
It wasn’t until he reached the rank of professor apprentice that he learnt the truth. The sorcerers had a perfectly legal right to take sorclings from all over Sojurut. It was all in accordance with an agreement made when the sorcerers’ nation was founded.
Since he found out, countless nights had been spent rocking the hours away, perfectly at ease through the comfort of fuzzy slippers. But they were not his dirtiest little secret. There was something he could never let anyone in Pentakl find out. At the core of his being, he was basically nice. A terrible handicap for a sorcerer!
“You’ve side-tracked me again,” he murmured accusingly.
His reflection glowered. Lyeasrakardsul had come to believe his nightmares were a warning. A final notice, signalling the end of magick. Since the nightmares had made sleep impossible, he spent his nights probing his knowledge of the past, looking for definite proof that his problems were someone else's fault.
I would bet my life that I know as much about the past as anyone on Sojurut, his sense of self-importance reflected, if someone could wager something of equal or greater value. Which I doubt.
His knowledge of history was accumulated over seven centuries in the Dalmicir school. As he had risen through the ranks, all the way to headmaster. In his not so humble opinion, the accumulation of knowledge should be his school’s only purpose.
Annoyingly, chronicling the ages of Sojurut wasn’t even considered their most important duty. The other sorcerers — particularly the Dwarf headmaster from the Xefef school — had never agreed with his priorities. Xefef thought monitoring the present for non-existent threats was their primary duty. Mostly that meant finding children with talents for magick.
Using Dalmicir sorclings to watch people in the present was simple, but time-consuming. A few years back, the new Xefef headmaster also instructed to report on certain non-magickal individuals. They had never even received the courtesy of a lie to explain why.
The attitude in Pentakl was that sorclings were expendable, but they were not an endless resource. Not that many per generation were found. Even with Dalmicir’s constant search. The sorcerers were clueless as to why so few children were born with magick. But it meant that from the moment they arrived in the sorcerers’ city, a child was nothing but a sorcerer.
We aren’t supposed to have any use for baser things like race and gender, Lyeasrakardsul contemplated, personally, I’ve never seen the point of having a sex, just gets in the way.
Under their heavy robes, sorcerers were vaguely aware of their specifications. But by tradition it was vulgar to ask about someone else’s sex. Tradition also dictated that sorcerers go by the pronoun him. Just one of those things sorclings were indoctrinated into during their mandatory forty years in the Xefef college.
Lyeasrakardsul looked away, letting the black-eyed image in the window win the staring contest. Putting his pipe away, he kicked his uncertainty up the arse and started rocking in a steady rhythmic manner to prepare his mind. He had narrowed down the root cause of his nightmares. Hidden in a time before he was born, the time when Empris became the nation of sorcerers.
Using magick to observe that time wasn’t an option. Magick was only allowed in specific areas of Pentakl. In the five college buildings, the recreational areas, and the mostly empty council building. But not in the schools’ towers.
So, he used a workaround. Even if most of his childhood memories were lost. He was gifted with a superior memory, perfected by centuries of mind-numbing Dalmicir practises. It took little effort to queue up the relevant pages in the secret tomes. That was where the taboo subject of the sorcerers’ relocation was described. A subject only headmasters could read about.
Delving deep into those events, he would try to paint a more nuanced picture. The founding of Empris had been a cataclysmic time for magick. The sorcerers of the time had come close to being wiped out. However, negotiation meant only how they lived had fundamentally changed. From no rules to nothing but rules.
Lyeasrakardsul knew the ripples of those changes had gotten stronger with time. Nonetheless, even with proof, convincing the other council members that his nightmares were heralding problems for all of them would be an uphill battle on a slippery slope.
Because they’re all just as obstinate as you! His concept of fairness screamed.
Yes, in Pentakl obstinance is a required survival skill.
Still, knowing the cause might allow him to formulate a plan. Like all his plans: it would turn his problem into someone else’s problem. Because even if he found proof, cause, and effect, it wasn’t like he intended to do anything himself. As a lifelong Dalmicir practitioner, he knew one thing for certain.
“Everything you need to know about the present can be found in the mistakes of the past, and those who study history are doomed to watch others repeat it, over and over.” He mumbled the unofficial saying of the Dalmicir school.
Well, whatever happens, I’ll only survive a few more decades running on intermittent napping as sleep.
The morbid thought cheered him up a bit. But uncertainty had crept into him, an uncomfortable feeling for someone who thought they knew everything.
Aspiring fantasy author and geek working on a series under the subtitle "Nothing is Everything". That's the the only interesting thing I can think of, but there is always the seldom used option of asking :)
I am always looking for people to make make my characters "come alive" in drawings, check my first two chapters for examples.
Addition: I've finished what I'm calling a first draft of "The Last Philosopher", and am now working on a revised draft. I've also started a short story collection from the same world, and occasionally I write a bit of the sequel "The First Philosopher".
I recently finished a first draft of "The Last Philosopher". So, I'm looking for beta readers, send me a message if you're interested.
Addition 2: Feel free to send me any feedback you might have, especially mean feedback the meaner the better :P Edit: After some consideration I've decided I will also begrudgingly accept positive feedback, since it might give me an indication as to what I should add more off.
For some poorly hand drawn maps and infrequent updates you can find me on FB I wish that was all the social media I've dirtied my already tarnished soul with.
If you've read this far I guess you deserve some sort of treat, the truth is I dislike everyone. I may seem nice but it's all an act... Also I'm less than truthful not exactly 50% of the time.