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Entry 17: Riloth 19th the 14th

Dear Spellbook,

I didn’t make it back to my room last night in any state to tell you about the day. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but yesterday went—to put it lightly—poorly

After writing that brief entry, I ran through my now rote routine, gathering coins, and heading to Levar’s for my potions.

Entering his shop, I restrained the urge to break down the door as he loaded his cart with alchemical reagents.

At the ringing of the door bell he looked up from his work loading his cart.

“Good Morning Mage Theral! How can I help you today?” he looked me over, taking in my ragged state as I stood there marshalling my anger and added, “Maybe a potion? You look like you could use one.”

I walked toward the counter, ignoring him and placing my pouch of gold down. Through gritted teeth, I said “I’ll take a potion of foregone sleep, and four potions of Clarity.”

Reading my mood, he forewent any further attempts at small talk and gathered the requested items.

“That will be eighty gold,” he said, placing the five vials on the counter next to my purse, which had exactly that much in it. What are the odds?

I drank my two potions right in front of him, and savored the moment as my mind cleared and my fatigue left me, letting out a long sigh of relief. Mind restored, I became aware that things in the shop seemed off. Levar’s skin was glowing faintly, with a yellow light that was blocked by his clothes which looked drab and dark in contract. From behind him, the potions on his shelf, which were already a myriad of colors, looked shimmered with an even more vibrant display of color. While Levar and the potions seemed to glow, the light they emitted didn’t illuminate anything around them, as if they were sitting in a narrow beam of colored sunlight.

What is happening?

I looked down at the remaining three potions in my hand and saw that they too glowed a pure white.

“Theral!” Levar’s voice broke into my awareness as I stood staring at my hands, which themselves glowed a brilliant swirl of shades of blue.

I looked up at him, remembering myself and his past words registered in my mind. He'd told me that the coin purse was the exact amount and was marveling at the coincidence.

“So Levar, just out of curiosity, what would happen if someone, say, drank all these potions over the course of an hour?"

Levar guffawed at my question and said, "Hah, that would be something, wouldn’t it? Besides blowing a small fortune in short order, you would get ill. Very ill. Let me think, hmmmm." As he thought he scratched his chin and looked at the ceiling. "It would take a little time, but after taking three of these, you would almost certainly throw up violently within a half hour. Seizures would follow the vomiting, and you’d lose consciousness for, hmmm, someone your size, twelve to fourteen hours. If you took all four, I would be surprised if you ever woke up after passing out, but if you did your liver would have ceased to function and you would need to see a Blessed immediately to heal it or it would prove fatal."

I didn’t know what to say. The anger I’d succeeded at stomping out started to rise once more. I am not a man prone to anger. When slighted, I tend to brush things off, give people the benefit of the doubt and move on. But in that moment, I couldn’t do that. I seethed with anger.

Between clenched teeth I asked, "Any chance it could cause paralysis of the legs?"

"No, not from clarity potions alone,'' he said, adding quickly, “but you know what, I bet if you took all four clarity potions with the potion of foregone sleep that might just happen. You would need to take four though for the deep whale excrement to build up to the point of reacting with the dryad’s bark in such a manner. That was a very astute assessment, very few know of the paralytic effect caused by mixing dryad’s bark and deep whale excrement. Have you had formal training in alchemy?"

Deep whale excrement?!

A deep whale is a giant lobster that lives on the ocean floor and basically lives off the excrement of other animals. That potion is the concentrated excrement of a monster that in turn lives on the excrement of other creatures.

At least that explained the taste.

My rage finally got the better of me and I threw the three potions in my hand at the wall and shouted, "You sell this literal shit to people?! I could have died! I almost died! This is disgusting! how could you do this to people?"

Shocked by the sudden turn in the conversation, Levar jumped back, breaking some more glass in the process, "Ah, yeah, umm, it—it—it's the standard Alchemist Guild recipe. The excrement is thoroughly sterilized and filtered of all unwanted, uhhh, contaminants. The dryad’s bark is purchased from the druids, no dryads are harmed at all." Recovering himself he continued in a strong confident tone, "My potions are made from only the finest of ingredients, ethically and sustainably sourced."

Only partially listening as soon he stopped talking I continued my tirade, "Why didn’t you tell me I could die?! I almost died!"

Confusion clouded his face. He looked to where the potions had shattered on his wall, obviously not remembering selling me this exact order the today before.

"I, uhh, I am sorry. I thought you were a knowledgeable adventurer well versed in the risks of potions. It's common knowledge to never take more than two potions in a single day, three maybe in extenuating circumstances. You were so confident with your order. Who would drop eighty gold on a purchase they knew nothing about?”

His words sunk in, deflating my anger. He was right.

In my eagerness for a cure, I hadn't asked a single question about the potions I’d paid a fortune for. I knew potions were made of rare and strange ingredients and I didn’t bother to inquire after them. Not only was it irresponsible, it was very much out of character. This whole situation has me acting erratically.

I have many flaws, but I like to think I can admit when I’m wrong. My father always instilled in me that no scholar should love his own idea more than the truth. I always tried to apply them to my own view of myself as well as my scholarship.

I looked up at Levar’s uncertain face and said, “I’m sorry.”

Then I turned and left. Don't judge me. I’m good at recognizing when I'm wrong, not navigating the awkward aftermath of my explosions. Besides, he won't remember.

Ten steps out of his shop, I remembered he hadn’t mentioned the side effect of painful spell casting. Wavering I almost turned back, but my embarrassment won out and I went out to set up my minions. I’d wasted enough time already. At least, that's how I justified it to myself.

Outside in the morning sun, my vision seemed more normal. The skin on the people I passed might have looked a little glowy, but in the bright light, it was subtle enough that I allowed myself to ignore it. Some of my headache still lingered.

Maybe one of these potions is a dud. I meant to mark them as Levar gave them to me, but forgot in all my self important shouting. Tomorrow I’ll label them in the order he hands them to me and try to identify the dud.

I set up Rail and Gill without chasing either of them through an alley or across a rooftop. I’d found that if I called out Rail by her name and told her Gill sent me, she was much more approachable. Then I did the same for Gill, it's not like they would swap stories. After the second day, the rooftop chase lost its appeal, and no matter what I did the young urchin girl always caught wind of me. Besides, it made me feel like a bully, chasing her down like that.

After setting up Gill, l went to recruit Twiggy. Rail is a kind child and a hard worker, so I sought a way to approach her in a kinder fashion. Twiggy and his gang are just the worst. One of the small pleasures of each reset is the look of shock on their faces when I surprise them with a spell. I try to mix it up to keep it fresh.

I was running a little behind and they were already in the alley when I arrived, celebrating the success of their great goat heist. As usual, I approached them with open hostility. I tried kindness once, but they seemed to respond better to authority and right at that moment I felt like blowing off some steam.

"Hey, goblin face!" I yelled at the group, "Get over here, I have a job for you useless wastes of land."

The boys looked at each other as grins spread across their faces. From along the side of the alley, they pulled out clubs made from discarded timbers. One of them even had a knife. I smiled back and as they approached began to cast Slow Fall on the group, prepared to pour in as much power as I could manage.

When I touched the Font with my Will, the Arcane Realm spat me out and the world turned white. Pain shot through my head, and I collapsed to the ground, convulsing. The pain felt similar to the pain of the today before, when I’d tried to cast Glow, only amplified a thousand fold.

Despite being out of the Arcane Realm, the pain persisted, and was soon joined by the agony of cloth shod feet attacking me. Soon, their weapons joined the assault, and my world dissolved into chaos and pain. As they wailed on me I struggled to control my Will, to channel it into anything. The pain in my mind faded as the pain in my body intensified, but each time I reached for my Will, it returned in force.

I struggled to reach out to a Font of power, any Font to harness it to save myself. Fire, force, wind, space, I could appear before them all but as soon as I channeled my Will to access them, the agony forced me from the Realm. And then, as suddenly as the pain struck my mind, the beatings stopped, but the pain remained.

"Cam, I think we killed him. I ain’t never heard no one make a sound like that before." One of them said.

Sound? I made a sound?

Twiggy—Cam I guess but I’m not going to call him that—barked, "Quick! Drag him into the alley. We gotta get outta here, someone might have heard that."

They dragged my barely living body behind a crate and fled. The one with the dagger must have stabbed me because I could feel the blood draining from my side with each heartbeat. Lying there, broken, bleeding, and unable to move, I had a moment to reflect.

If this pain can persist through resets, maybe my gains will as well. If I can ever cast again that is.

The places your mind goes on death's door are strange, or maybe it's just a reflection of my normal scatterbrained thoughts.

What would happen if I died here? Would I wake up again hungover, or would I simply be dead. Or worse, would I wake up thinking it was the first reset, unaware that I'd lived weeks here already. Doomed to die for eternity and never knowing—

Spellbook, have I died before?

Spellbook, show me every entry I've ever written while I was in these resets.

A copy of everything I’d written up till then filled the pages.

Spellbook, get rid of that copy.

Ok good, nothing I don't remember writing. Except for those doodles, I was beginning to forget about them. It seems like ages ago that I sat here wasting time drawing those.

Back to my blood pouring out.

Daulf, he could help. Daulf. Daulf Daulf

I repeated his name, over and over in my head.

He could help me. He could save me if he was here. If only I could speak to him.

And then I was in the Arcane Realm unbidden, standing before a Font I didn’t recognize, but the effects of the potions would not let me pierce it. I knew that I could, but when I tried the pain returned, but still I held on to my foothold in the Arcane Realm. I stood there outside that Font for what felt like hours, pushing through the pain with the force of all my Will and desperation to break into this unknown Font. And suddenly, with Daulf in my thoughts, I broke through, instinctively shaping the trickle of power into one word.

"Help!"

The pain I’d been fending off crashed in on me, far stronger from my defiance. I lost consciousness.

I awoke some time later to the pain in my body receding and Daulf's voice.

"Illunia's tits boy! Who did this to you?"

I knew I was in bad shape, but hearing Daulf’s curse revealed to me how much worse it must have been—which is saying something because I believed I was about to die.

Daulf lifted me in his arms and started back towards the Parlor. His healing prevented me from blacking out again from the pain, but each step shot pain through my insides. At some point, I threw up all over Daulf—the pain of which almost drove me to pass out once more. Two times in as many todays. Bless his probably medically oversized heart, Daulf didn’t even acknowledge it and continued to reassure me that I would be okay.

He brought me to my room and ordered Simon to bring medical supplies. At this point, I was more alert, but still unable to speak. I’d lost teeth, my jaw was dislocated, and my tongue felt as if it filled my entire mouth.

Once he'd settled me in my bed, Daulf started to administer healing of the mundane variety.

He spoke while he worked, his voice stern, but quiet concern evident in it, "Boy, what kind of mess did you get yourself into? I thought the other two were the ones that needed watching, not you. Where was your sword? I told you not to flaunt it, not leave it behind entirely. I shouldn’t joke, this is almost certainly not your own fault, and a few weeks training in the sword would not have prepared you to face whatever was able to do this to you."

He bandaged my wounds, checked my bones for fractures, and set the bones whenever one was found. He found many, and each time felt more painful than the last.

He picked up speaking after setting the first bone, "You know, you remind me of my own boy, Illunia rest him. I didn’t get the chance to see him grow as old as you are now, but I see a lot of him in you. He loved helping his mother and I.” He paused briefly, his voice catching in his throat and his hands stilling where he was splinting my leg.

“He’d follow his mother and me around, asking if he could assist in any way. If we didn’t give him something to do, he’d find something himself. I remember one time we told him we didn’t need his help preparing dinner. He went out to the garden, picked all the tomatoes, and brought them in—a huge smile on his face. He was so proud, with his big basket of unripened green tomatoes. We didn’t have the heart to tell him. It turned out green tomatoes taste pretty good if you fry them." As he spoke, his voice became wistful, and a wistful smile graced his face.

"I bet you are thinking, ‘Helpful, that doesn’t sound like me at all' but you just don’t see yourself clearly. Sure you grumble when you are doing it, but no one has forced you into any of the crazy things we’ve gone through since we met. When problems arise that need fixing, you don’t look for someone around to solve it, you look around for a solution and then step up and solve it yourself—or at least you try. Even when you have no right to expect success, you try, and by the gods’ graces you make it through.”

“On the road to Edgewater and once there, you repeatedly put yourself in the middle of conflict without asking for anything in return. When we made the plan to assault the fortress, you volunteered and took the place of a soldier who had already been assigned to the task. Do you even now realize that no one asked you—let alone forced—you to go? We were strangers. You had no obligation. No, you knew that it was the right thing to do and that you needed to be a part of it, and you did it."

He sat with me the rest of the night, but he grew quieter after that. I’d fallen asleep early during his talk, but now I recall it clearly.

I can’t reconcile this man with his role as a Seeker. How can a man who could say all of that, kill sorcerers on sight and suspicion? I don’t think he could. I don’t think he would. But what if I’m wrong? I know he has killed sorcerers. He’s admitted as much, but he is not cruel, the opposite in fact. Maybe he really is all the Tower claims to be, yet falls short of being.

I’ve heard his tales of the sorcerers he slew, and they were the cruel twisted beasts out of history. I have no doubt they deserved to die, but what about me? I’m not like that, and he would see that if he knew. Right? I know I could reveal myself to him near the end of a reset and see how he responded, but I don’t think I could handle the loss of the person I believe him to be if that picture proves false.

I write this now the following day. I’ve been in my room the whole day. When I woke, I found my headache worse than it's ever been. Whatever was blocking me from using my Will persisted through the resets, and it’s getting worse.

As soon as I woke, I rolled out of bed only to find a world of grey. Whatever had colored the potions on Levar’s shop in my vision, now colored my room in a near uniform grey. It was difficult to make out of the edges of objects, the only thing that stood out was the window. It glowed with a faint white gold light. I fumbled through the grey, tripping a few times before giving up.

I can’t do this. I can hardly see. Maybe I just need to sleep this off.

I crawled back into bed, and slept for another ten hours. When I finally woke, it was to a solid field of grey.

I couldn’t see. The world was glowing with a vibrant grey light. Don’t ask how grey can be both vibrant and glowing, they’re the best words I have to describe it.

I held my hand close to my face, and could see the now familiar blue swirling occluded by something. Vapors of blue wisps now rose from my hand, and the rest of my body when I brought it close enough to my face to see it. This vapor formed a cloud two inches thick around my body. On a whim, I blew on my hand, and the grey air in front of me was displaced with a swirl of a blue tinged grey. I looked to the wall where I knew the window to be, but the white gold light of before was not visible.

The air is grey? Why was that exhalation blue, but my normal breathing is not?

Like the potions in Levar’s shop, the air itself seemed to emit a colored light. Color wasn’t the right word. I had the sense that I wasn’t perceiving this with my eyes, but color is simply how my brain coped with the information. Much like picturing the Arcane Realm as a city, my brain assigned colors to whatever this was.

If I was blind, would I sense these colors some other way?

Cautiously, I made my way to the edge of my bed and examined where the floor should have been. The only thing that pierced the glowing fog was you. At the foot of my bed, you shone through the fog with a light of swirling blue, identical to my own skin from the day before; a lighthouse on a foggy day.

I lunged for you, knocking over the bed side table in the process and sending its contents across the room. Groping blindly, I made my way to the desk where I still sit. Like your exterior, your pages emitted a multi-hued blue glow, but at times, I caught hints of letters in the light. Unlike my body, you didn’t emit the wisps of blue.

For hours I sat, staring at the pages. Whenever a letter appeared, I focused on it, trying to capture something about it. Eventually the letters appeared more frequently, and the fog seemed to thin slightly. With more focus, the letters resolved into a deep blue, bordering black, and the color of the pages lightened to a shade of blue that contrasted well enough for me to read.

Why is that clear? Is it the enchantment? Am I seeing magic? What would that even mean? Magic is a practice, not a thing in and of itself.

I flipped through your pages idly while thinking, when a bright white pattern shone on a page. It was my first entry, the spellform. While all the text I’d written appeared as a deep blue on the light blue page, the spellform shined a brilliant and pure white. Staring at its lines, I could see ripples and waves running along the lines, all the same shade, but somehow discernable.

What in Riloth’s name is that?

I wrote for you to show me more spellforms, and each of them shone in that same pure white. Thinking the color corresponded to the writer, I flipped to the report and Bookish text, but those too were a deep blue. Each spellform was the same pure white, but the patterns that rippled in the white differed from spellform to spellform, and even varied within the different parts of the same spellform.

Maybe I am seeing magic, but what would that even mean? This must be how the knowledge is stored in spellforms, but how is it accessed? I can’t make heads or tales of these patterns.

I studied the spellforms for nearly an hour before I couldn’t look into your pages any more. My headache seemed to worsen the more I studied the spellforms. Whatever mysteries lay in your pages could wait, I had more pressing concerns.

I looked around the room, and could now make out the faint outlines of a few objects. The enchanted room service bell stood out clearer than anything else on the floor, where I’d knocked it with my earlier collision.

I pulled the bell closer to me with my foot, my own leg faintly visible through the fog. Ringing the bell, an echo of pain shot through my mind, not as severe as when I tried to cast, but certainly the same pain. When the bell rang, a pulse of the same red glow it shone with spread out through the air. Despite the pain, I rang the bell repeatedly, marveling at the waves that spread with each shake.

Knock Knock Knock

“Room service,” came Simon’s politely restrained tone through the door.

Oops. Well, I could use some food.

I navigated my way to the door, sweeping my feet before me. The door opened to reveal Simon’s hazy purplish outline in the fog. Like me—and unlike everything else I’d seen—he had a wispy haze of purple around him, though his did not emanate as far. An earring on his right ear glowed with the same yellow as the bell.

Bell still in hand, I rung it again, and saw that the yellow pulse appeared around the earring at the same time.

“I assure you, one ring is sufficient to get our attention,” Simon said, in an extremely polite tone that was in no way sincere.

Embarrassed, I asked him to bring me a pot of coffee, and whatever food was available, and returned to my desk. A short while later he returned with the same hot meat sandwich I’d seen Trish eating the time I’d asked her for money and a pot of coffee. I couldn't make out either clearly, but through blind fumbling I was able to make do. Luckily Simon brought the food in on a cart, which he left for my convenience when I didn’t move to remove the food.

As I ate the sandwich I couldn’t see, I stared at your pages, altering something in my mind and watching as the contrast of the letters shifted. By the time I’d eaten everything, and half the pot of coffee, I was able to make out details in the room as if I was in a non-magical, if very heavy, fog.

The sandwich did not sit well on my unsettled stomach.

Eventually, my progress in clearing my vision stopped, so I began to write this entry

It's quite late now, the reset is probably soon, but I don’t have the clock. I could ring the bell again but—best not to bug the staff.

I can’t explain it, but I have a sense this sight is similar to perceiving the Arcane Realm and my mental vault. Mental vaults are the first step on the path to becoming a wizard, they are the place in your mind that you store all your spell templates, and where you build your bridge to the Arcane Realm. To construct my vault, my mother had me meditate, picturing the house that would become my vault. Well, mine was a house, my mothers was an elaborate underwater cave system, they take on a form that resonates with their owner. Mine took the form of a small townhouse that wouldn’t be out of place in any city.

If I meditate in that fashion, I may be able to exert more control over my vision. The fog hasn’t lessened any more since I began writing, I need to try something else.

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About the author

TK523

  • United States

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

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