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A note from TK523

Heads up! Friday is the last chapter of book 1 and it's an interlude. I will make a post about the status of Book 2 there.

Entry 32: Riloth the 19th the 27th

Dear Spellbook,

Flood.

FLOOD!

I can't believe it. Did that happen?

I need to breathe. I can't breathe. How do I breathe?

Sorry. I'm a little better now.

Flood.

Tilavo killed me.

Tilavo just flooding murdered me! I just got murdered. I died!

I just woke up, I need to settle down. I’m going to go get my potions and hide under a rock. I think I’m safe. If Tilavo remembers the reset I don't think I would have woken up today but I don’t want to stay here and find out.


Ok, I feel slightly safer here. I’m in the woods where I did my first benchmark. I thought about going to the dwarven fortress and hiding behind its doors but being on the road that long is risky if he’s looking for me. Which, now that I have had the chance to settle down, he isn’t. I know he is in the Parlor during the reset, if he wanted me dead, I would be dead.

I didn’t stand a chance, I didn’t even know I was dying until—


Sorry, I had to take a walk. I am freaking out here. On one hand, it's a relief to know I’m safe from death in these resets, but on the other, I WAS MURDERED AND I DIED!

Alright, Tal, settle down, you are safe. Nothing can happen. Tilavo doesn’t know this is happening, he's oblivious to the resets. He hasn't paid attention to you in over a month, he won't start now if you don’t catch his eye. Alright. I’m okay. I can do this.

How did he know about you?

I just went back and read my entry from yesterday. As soon as he touched the page Simon handed him he was different. He smelled the page and then looked at me. Can he smell ensouled artifacts? Can people do that?

Wait, I think I can do that.

How did he know? What is he? He moved so fast. Alright, I'm running in circles. I need to recount the rest of yesterday. Maybe I can sort this all out.

I don’t want to.


Riloth the 19th the 26th

Picking you up and leaving everything else at my workstation, I tried to move quietly to the back of the library. The building had no back entrance, but I hoped I could hide and maybe sneak out when Tilavo came to look for me. I made it about five steps before Tilavo appeared at the end of the aisle in front of me. He was so quick and silent, I didn’t hear him approach then, and even now with your recall, it's as if he just appeared there. It was so sudden I almost walked into him, but he sidestepped me as if it was a choreographed dance.

He greeted me as I recovered from my surprise, "Oh, Mage Theral! Just the man I was looking for. So convenient to almost run into you."

I caught myself from a tumble and narrowly regained my balance.

Turning to him I said, "Umm, sorry, I didn’t see you there. I didn’t expect to see you again. Ah, I mean, that is, I didn’t expect to see you so soon. Those bandits were quite far from town."

With a mischievous smile, he said, "Oh don’t worry about them, they won’t be bothering anyone."

How did he get back so fast?

I didn’t respond, what does one say to that?

After an awkward pause, he continued in a straightforward tone, "Because they are dead. I killed them."

Obviously I got that. I should say something. Say something.

I couldn't think of anything to say, or I couldn't force myself to speak. Probably both.

This time he went on not waiting for a response, "Master Theral, what I wanted to speak to you about was that wonderful sheet of paper you gave to my employee Simon. Where did you get it from? I take it you wrote it, yes?"

Subconsciously, I gripped you tighter to my side and answered, "I uh, like I said, I got it from some refugees."

His eyes darted to you, clutched tightly to my side, and continued, this time dripping in sarcasm. "Oh yes, your child urchin refugee friend, how could I forget? You know, it's rare that urchin children on the run from war find ensouled artifacts. Very rare indeed. I’d love it if you could introduce me to them. I think such a resourceful child could go quite far in my employ."

Ensouled artifacts. He knows!

As he spoke I began to feel a pressure build; an instinctive fear began to well up inside me. I couldn’t breathe, and my Will felt like it was being compressed.

His tone shifted once more, now quiet but stern, "Give me that book. It does not belong to you."

Opening my mouth to speak, I tried to respond, but no words came. I felt like a rabbit cornered by a fox. No, a mouse cornered by a lion. His presence made me feel like I was nothing, something to be stepped on and ignored. I moved to take a step back, and Tilavo plucked you from my grip, so fast I hardly saw it happen.

Finally, finding my voice I shouted, "No!"

At my scream, Tilavo lifted a finger and shushed me, and just like that, I was silenced once more—this time magically. I couldn’t make any noise, I tried screaming, but no sound could escape my mouth.

He began to flip through your pages, which had returned to the Bookish script that filled them when I closed your cover. I'd forgotten I'd told you to do that, and seeing the gibberish text filled me with relief, despite the oppressive aura. My relief turned to shock as Tilavo appeared to be reading the Bookish text.

"Bah, it's in code! Did you write this? Where did you learn this language? Explain yourself!" he shouted holding you out to me to show the text.

Marshaling all the courage I could, I snatched you from his hand and attempted to Blink away, but the pressure on my mind made it difficult to access the Arcane Realm.

I strained with all my Will, pushing my mind into the Arcane Realm, but it was like Tilavo held me back. Out of panic or instinct, I went to my mental vault, somehow doing so without meditation, and ripped open the door to my bridge.

The act lessened the pressure somehow, and I was able to enter the Arcane Realm, but still it took great effort. When I finally did, I couldn’t access the Font of Space. It was as if I was reaching for a Font that did not exist. Already in the Realm, I went to the nearest Font I could find and summoned the tightest and most focused Gust I could, directly into Tilavo.

It did nothing.

Well, that's not true, it blew all the books off the shelves at chest height for eight feet, but Tilavo stood there unmoved as the wind stubbornly blew.

With my Will sight active, Tilavo shone. While people all have a glow to them, with a hazy cloud of their aura extending off of them in all directions, looking at Tilavo was on a whole other level. It was like looking into the sun. He radiated an intense golden white light that hurt my eyes to behold. The color billowed off of him like the pulsing waves of the harpy's song, only more bright and constant. And the smell. It was overpowering, I couldn’t put a word to it, but the spell to my Will sense gave the overpowering impression of age. The aromas of aged wines, old books, musty cellars, all refined into an odor that oozed the feeling of an ancient presence.

He walked slowly through the origin of my spell and grabbed me by the throat. With a flick of his other hand, the wind disappeared.

He pulled my face close to his own and whispered, "Tell me what this says."

Now only being silenced by a hand on my throat, I choked out, "I can't."

Tilavo simply said, "Wrong answer," and my world became chaos.

My thoughts began to race, unbidden through the events of my life. From my childhood to now, random events sprouted anew in my thoughts. Eventually, they grew closer to Edgewater and focused on the moment Daulf handed you to me in that dwarven outpost.

From there my memories flashed before me, between then and now they raced—seemingly random once more—but eventually settled on my memories of writing in you. It started with the doodles and moved to that day in the library. When the memories reached the first instance of the resets I could see Tilavo’s eyes widen in horror and a whisper escaped his lips.

"No."

He watched everything that had happened over the last month of my life, and I relived it with him once more. Each time he saw himself through the eyes of my memories his face grew more stricken, and he would repeat his whispered "No", each more desperate and panicked than the last. By the end he was repeating "No" over and over like a haunted man.

And then the memories ceased, and Tilavo stood there, an iron grip on my neck. Looking from my face to you, his face shifted from desperation to determination. Without warning, he broke my neck and cast me aside like a bag after a long journey. I hit the ground hard, gasping for breaths that would not come. As the world grew dark, I saw Tilavo pick you up and clutch you to his chest, like a desperate man clinging to wreckage at sea.

Behind him, I saw Jarreth, panic and terror clear on his face. My last thought was Oh no, I ruined all his books.

And then there was nothing.

Wait a minute.

There was more.

There was nothing, but still something. No senses except a sense of self. No sight, no smell, no sound. I had an awareness of existing and time passing but no body. I lingered in this place, and as suddenly as I appeared there, I was in my bed sleeping.

This is how I felt when I was awake for the resets and tried to recall them though you.

Have I died before? Have I been dying every reset?


Sorry, I’m back. I had a bit of a breakdown—again—but I feel better now. Mostly.

Okay, partially.

Alright fine, I’m not okay at all but I need to get through this. What do we know?

  1. I can die and still return after the reset. That would be reassuring if it wasn’t paired with the realization that I’ve now possibly died twenty-six times and might be about to die again in a few hours.
  2. Tilavo is terrifying, ruthless, and CANNOT be made aware of the resets.
  3. Tilavo seems to believe that you were the key to maintaining awareness of the resets.
  4. Tilavo can read Bookish
  5. Whatever is written in you is written in a code.

There's still so much I don’t know though. Tilavo is clearly some powerful wizard. Sorcerer? Both? He was so strong. How did he detect you? How did he suppress me? Why was his aura so strong? And the weight of age upon it, I shudder to think about it. How old was he? What had Daulf said, that there had been a string of powerful proprietors keeping the Tower away? Rather I think that a tale spun by Tilavo to hide his ancient existence from the world at large.

I don’t know if my murderer is a good person to be taking information from, but he seemed pretty convinced stealing you would let him remember. He could have taken you, but with me still alive he couldn’t bind to you. Hey! You didn’t bind to him. Thanks! You really do care—or maybe he just didn’t have enough time before the reset to bond you.

Okay, so, we stay far away from Tilavo from now on. Maybe you stay in my bag in town at all times. He should be easy to avoid since he does the same thing every today. I could get someone to map his route, but that might get his attention. I suspect if he reads my mind again he will see that killing me didn’t work, and he might then try something more effective.

Speaking of tasking a new minion, I never checked my reports last night. I think I’ve actually missed a few, ever since the nonsense with Gerald and the Harpy began.

Uh oh. Gill’s tallies are all over the place. The 19th, the 22nd, and the 23rd all went up by one. I don’t think I could have caused that. I should review those days in my vault.

Could I have altered someone’s normal route? What did I do that day?

Alright, I just reviewed the days in my vault. I can’t see how anything could have affected Gill’s tallies over by the Dragon’s Den, until the 23rd when I went over there for the crossbow I hadn’t set foot in the area.

Flood, I’m not alone after all. No, maybe I am?

It’s still early. I have the whole day ahead of me, but I can’t bring myself to go survey. I’d go to the baths but—I don’t really want to be in the Parlor right now. I’m going to walk through the woods, which’s always helped me to relax—barring some more recent woodland jaunts of course.

 

I found something.

I don’t know if it’s significant, but it’s definitely strange. After aimlessly walking through the woods for a few hours, I stumbled upon a clearing. Settling down to rest before doing some training, I noticed the anomaly. In the center of the clearing stood a massive oak tree, shading the whole area. A small door, sized for a halfling, dwarf, or gnome, sat in front of the tree. At first, I missed it; coming at it from the side it looked to be a pole sticking from the earth. I approached it cautiously. The door was five feet tall and looked to be a solid sheet of marble set in a doorframe of obsidian. The handle, a simple steel rod set into the stone, had no lock. The design style immediately brought to mind the architecture of the dwarven ruins.

Directly in front of the door lay the remains of a person. The body had long since decayed, leaving the bones and tattered remains of armor and cloth. Surprisingly the wildlife had not dragged the body away. Animals have the ability to detect magic on some level and they tend to avoid it. If the dead body was not enough of a clue that I shouldn’t touch the door, the fact that I couldn’t hear any animals nearby would have been a tip-off. Surveying the clearing from the center, I could now see that directly across from the door lay a tree that looked like it had been, I don’t know, attacked somehow? It was long dead, and at chest height a patch of bark had fallen off in a two-foot circle. Snaking down to the ground below that patch was a strip where the bark had blown off.

Lightning.

I didn’t touch the door. I’m sitting on a log staring at it now. I could touch it and see what happens. I don’t want to though.

I opened my Will sight, and the door had a sky blue aura, so it's certainly magical. It looked like an ensouled artifact, brighter than the magical trinkets of the Parlor, more like you.

Alright. It's been an hour. I’ve been psyching myself up to it. I didn’t bring any food for dinner so maybe dying before I get too hungry won't be so bad.

I touched the door and I didn’t die.

I touched the handle and didn’t die and the symbol from your cover appeared in the stone etched in gold light. What does this mean? I have so many questions. Spellbook, if you can talk and you have been holding out on me I NEED you to tell me something.

Anything.

Please.

I'm freaking out here, it's been an eventful two days. Is the door an ensouled item? Were you made by the same person? Or did the door emulate your cover? Why did I not die when I touched it? Why am I in these resets?

Nothing?

I guess you really are just a spellbook after all. I don’t know why I thought you were more than a magic item. Maybe my childhood hope of finding an artifact out of legend never really died. Maybe I hoped—I don’t know, for more. For someone to really talk to. I’ve just been so alone since my parents died. No one has called me by my name, my real name, in so very long.

I’m tired.

Tired of hiding.

Tired of being alone.

Tired of hiding what I am from a man I respect.

Tired of not knowing who my parents really were.

Tired.

I’m going to go through the door. Nothing can be worse than yesterday. And if it is, well, I guess it won’t matter, will it? I'll just wake up again, trapped and alone doomed to repeat all of this.

I thought knowing that I couldn’t die would free me of fear, but I think instead it robbed me of hope. If even death can’t save me from these resets, how can I do anything to stop them?

Wish me luck.

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About the author

TK523

  • United States

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

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