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Entry 1: Riloth the 15th

I’m so bored. I’m sick of sleeping in the woods. I’m tired of sitting here pretending to study this book full of gibberish. I ought to use this time for something almost useful—instead of making doodles of Daulf. Maybe I should start chronicling my journey. It’s been ages since I kept a research journal. I can call it “field research.”

I’ve been risking my life “adventuring”—as my father would say—for two months now, but I can hardly believe it’s been that short a time. Living under the constant threat of death, dismemberment, and summary execution punctuated with moments of intense action and terror really makes the time pass slowly. Despite the fact that I am on what could be broadly described as an adventure, I am not an adventurer. Those people are insane. I am a researcher in search of answers, just tagging along with a few. I am not one of them.

So, I guess I’ll record my story. For who though? Myself, I suppose. I wonder what the previous owner used these pages for. Whatever they wrote, I can’t recognize the language, which is saying something. If it weren’t in a book I wouldn’t have guessed these scribbles were a language at all. Hundreds of pages lost to time it seems. If only there were spellforms in this so-called spellbook, then it would at least serve some purpose. I tried tearing the sheets out once, but they came back the next day. It’s clearly a book with magical uses, but I wish they would go away so it was easier to carry.

Nearly three hundred pages disappeared.

That was unexpected. Can this book understand what I am writing? Those pages are gone, can it bring them back?

The pages reappeared.

That worked too!

I just tried a verbal command, it doesn't seem that it can hear me, or at least it doesn't react to sound. Get rid of those pages again.

The pages disappeared once more.

Can you make yourself smaller?

The book shrunk down to the size of a pocket note book.

Bigger than that, split the difference.

The book grew to an eleven by eight inch tome.

Perfect.

Amazing, the text resized and shrunk to fit the pages.

Can you answer questions? Are you sentient? Sapient?

Okay, that's a no, but maybe you're just shy. I'm going to hedge and say shy. Should I call you something? You need a name. You probably have a name. What’s your name?

Looks like it's up to me.

What name do you give a spellbook? Grimoire? Paige?

No, that’s terrible.

Spellbook? Can I call you Spellbook? Spellbook it is.

I'm Tal but I've been going by Apprentice Theral Stormcaller for a while now. Call me Tal though, please.

Also, I'm sorry about those sketches of Daulf and his horse. You can get rid of those pages too.

All the pages with doodles of Daulf disappeared.

This changes things. I've been doodling in you to pass the time, pretending to copy my old "spellbook" into you but I think continuing to do that would be wrong. Plus I’ve felt guilty about the doodles ever since Daulf lost the horse. It's begun to feel cruel.

Let's start over.

 

Dear Spellbook,

I'm Tal, and if I'm going to be writing in you, I think I should start by being honest with you. I'm not really a wizard.

I’m a sorcerer.

And now I feel foolish. I expected a reaction—maybe pages bursting into flames or some sort of alarm spell—but what does a spellbook know about the world? You probably don't know enough to try to drown me and steal my bones. It would be rather difficult for you to collect on the bounty if you did.

I suppose I am also technically a wizard, but I don’t think the Seekers will quibble much over that little detail if I am found out. I don't feel like giving a possibly ancient spellbook a lesson on the history of the Dragon Wars and the resulting genocide tonight—maybe tomorrow when we get to town. Just trust me, being a sorcerer is not conducive to keeping one's bones inside their body. So ever since setting out on my own I've carried around a book of doodles, gibberish, and the occasional shopping list and pretended to study it each night to divert suspicion.

Mind you, it takes a lot more than that to fool a Seeker, especially since some of them can literally smell untruths, but it does well enough for the casual bigot. When they witness magic they just look for a spellbook and move on if you got one or gather a posse if you don’t. Lucky for me, no one would dare actually look in a wizard’s spellbook, because if I was actually a wizard, I’d have the right to kill them on the spot. Well, "right" isn’t the best term. Let’s just say if a wizard killed an overly curious villager, no one is going to bring the case to the Tower’s attention.

Sometimes I wish I was a real wizard, so I could learn a useful spell like Clean; instead I spontaneously manifest magic in life or death situations. Sure it’s useful, but those don’t come up every day—unlike getting covered in road dust. Don’t even get me started about doing one’s laundry in a stream. I want to learn Clean.

What's this? I mean, clearly it’s a spellform diagram, but why did you show it to me? Is this Clean? Why do I keep asking you questions? Do you have more hidden? You are a spellbook. I should have realized this when those other pages disappeared. Show me all your spells.

Spellforms and text appeared on the blank pages of the book, the ink dripping out of the paper and forming into lines and an unknown script.

Amazing. I can’t understand any of the text, but this many spellforms are a priceless treasure—and now a new reason for the Tower to want me dead.

Great.

The annotations are in that same strange language. If I could read it, maybe I could puzzle out the mysteries of spellforms.

This is worth a fortune. I should sell you. But who would I sell you to?

Hide all those.

The spellforms and text faded away.

Show me a non-spell sample of the text in the language from the spells.

Ink once more bled out of the paper, writing out fifty pages of unknown text.

Reading spellforms is beyond me, but maybe I can do something about this text. I may be uniquely qualified for this task.

While I am a sorcerer by blood, by training I am a researcher—but that may run in my blood a little too. Before I was on this adventure, I traveled the Continent with my parents. Tamyl, my father, was an itinerant scholar. His life's work was to unravel the history of the pre-Flood world, but I never saw him pass up a chance to investigate any mystery he came across.

Decoding unknown texts was his idea of fun. Not all children are fortunate enough to learn how to read, but most are lucky enough not to be forced to learn to read and write all the contemporary languages on the Continent. Torcish, Rilith, and Waasian; I was tutored endlessly to read and write them all before I turned ten. Once I grew old enough to handle the content, I even started on the language of The Forsaken. Before my life got upturned, I was learning some lost language my father refused to name, and I had only ever encountered written in his hand.

Suffice to say, I think you are in good hands. Literally. If anyone outside the Tower or my father's circle of colleagues has a chance of decoding your mysteries, I think I can. I got to say though, that script is like nothing I have ever seen; this might be tricky.

Don’t think my life was all daisies, libraries, and hand cramps though. My father’s training was mind-numbingly dull at times, but my mother’s training was worse. Much worse.

My mother, Esriel, was a sorceress as well. She came from the ship clan Farvoyage, but never spoke about it much. Most of what I know I had to infer from conversations about her childhood and comments about her own training. She was an apprentice Stormcaller, but was cast out during her apprenticeship. Amongst the ship clans, each ship has a Stormcaller—a "wizard" who specializes in auguries, scrying, and storm magics meant to predict, track, and control the winds.

I'll let you in on a secret of the ship clans. While the Stormcallers are all spell casting, spellbook toting, spellform memorizing, Clean casting wizards, they are also sorcerers. Dragon blooded, stormborn, or any other deific bloodline, the ship clans took in all in the exodus following the Flood. I fear what Daulf would do if he knew the truth. Officially it's the dragon blooded sorcerers that the Tower is sworn to eradicate, but in practice they tend to be less picky. If caught, I could try to pass myself off as a Stormborn, but they must have some method of testing the truth of that; the Stormcallers do.

Mother taught me some of the wizard spells she had picked up in her training. The Tower of the Arcane—or “the Tower” as everyone calls it—probably doesn’t want people to know this, but it’s possible for pretty much anyone to learn how to cast a spell without access to the tightly controlled spellforms. It's just hard. Very, very, hard. Over the years she taught me some basic spells, but there’s a reason wizards carry around those big books of spells. There are only so many spells a person can keep in their mind before they simply can’t hold another. I had reached the end of what I could retain when my mother... passed. We had been working on Chain Lightning, but it was beyond me at the time. She knew Clean, but deemed it a triviality and refused to teach me it until I mastered the more "practical" spells.

It takes more than memorizing a few words and hand gestures to cast a spell. Tower trained wizards use verbal spell components as learning aids, but those aids eventually become crutches, so my mother refused to allow me to use them. The hand gestures are more necessary, since most magics manifest from the hands. The most powerful wizards—and moderately powerful sorcerers—can forgo the use of gestures entirely. The real challenge is the work going on in your head as you use your Will to break into the building blocks of the universe and bend it to your desire. A wizard must review their mental constructs each morning to ensure they can cast spells properly without blowing up or disintegrating into a pile of dust.

While reading spellforms was not an art my mother knew, the Stormcallers knew how, but lacked the knowledge to create or copy them. She tried to explain to me what she knew of reading spellforms, but without an example, it wasn’t possible to learn. The Stormcallers only knew a small collection of spells, all pertaining to weather and seafaring life, acquired at great expense, and guarded fiercely. With a limited number of spellforms, an individual Stormcaller may go years without access to a spellform, as such they have developed mental exercises to help retain and teach spells.

Most wizard’s spellbooks explode, disappear, turn into mice, etc., on their author’s death and finding a copy of something as simple as Clean would cost you more money than you could earn in a dozen lifetimes on the black market. Then you probably will be hunted down and murdered by the Tower for owning it. Since being able to read and write spellforms is a tightly controlled skill of the Tower, they offer huge bounties to anyone who finds one—and hunt down and kill anyone who has one and doesn’t turn it over. Spellforms are extremely rare. If only I could see the spellforms to a spell I knew, I think I could puzzle out the secrets to reading them...

Show me the spellform for Light

Well, this changes things.

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TK523

  • United States

Bio: Aim for perfection, but don't try too hard.

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