Short story: An Invoker's Parting
When I finished, it was seven pages long.
soooo... I posted it here in order to see what other people thought of it. It's loosely based off of 4th edition dnd
Chapter 1: A Hero's Son
Jonn's father killed a dragon. Jonn's father was a Great Adventurer. Jonn's father is a man to look up to, to aspire to, to go to.
Jonn is a bit sick of hearing about Jonn's father.
Ever since I was little, I was always compared to my father. I was expected to do better, be stronger, be #1 in everything.
It could wear thin after several years.
It wore thin after five years.
Of course, they were probably comparing me to him since I was born, but I can't really remember anything before I was four years old. Age four through nine were the best years of my life. My daddy was the best. My daddy could beat up your daddy. My daddy can do anything. And the others agreed. My daddy was #1.
I have to admit I was a bit of a celebrity. I hadn't realized then, but it was all because of my father.
It was my ninth birthday when it happened. I had just blown out the candles when someone wondered, out loud, on what my father did on his ninth birthday. I then thought “Hey, isn't it my day? What about me?”
The next few weeks were the worst time of my life.
I slowly came to the realization that I had nothing to do with my status. It was all my father. If I did good, I was “just like your father.” If I wasn't the best, it was “I'm sure your father could have done better.” It was “your father” this, “your father” that, and lots of “why aren't you more like your father?”
I started sneaking out of the house, trying to find somewhere where I could be known as “Jonn”, not “Jonn the Dragonslayer's son.” It wasn't easy. Everybody and their dog knew me, but more importantly, knew my father. It took the better part of a year and I ended up going halfway across the city before I found the temple.
I found my niche there.
There, I wasn't “Jonn the Dragonslayer's son.” There, I was Dan, the mildly clean street urchin who could be trusted to sweep some halls for a meal and wouldn't run off with the broom.
Soon, I fell into a pattern. Every chance I got, I went to the temple. Mom would usually pack me a lunch and tell me to make sure it got eaten. She would also give me a few coppers for a drink somewhere. She didn't ask where I was going, and I didn't tell her. On the way to the temple, I would stop and give my lunch to some cats in an ally (that ally ended up with a lots of cats,) hurry down some streets, duck though some alleys, stash my coins behind a loose brick, climb some fences, and end up at the side entrance to the temple where the same old priest was with the same old broom. I would sweep for an hour or two, the priest would peer at the floors I swept, then I was allowed into the lunchroom with the acolytes for a meal and a sermon. The meal usually wasn't much, soup with maybe a meatball, single piece of rough bread, and a small glass of milk if we were lucky, water or thin ale if we weren't. At home, I would get meat with every meal, bread made with good flour, and all the milk I could drink. The food at the temple couldn't compare at all.
It was the best food ever.
I guess it was because I had earned it myself. It wasn't food for “Jonn the Dragonslayer's son,” it was food for Jonn. Well, food for Dan, but names didn't really matter.
After a year or so, by being a good and mostly trustful worker, the old priest offered me the chance to be an acolyte. My situation wouldn't change much, I would still do chores and get fed, except that I would get three meals instead of one (and three sermons,) and I would get a straw mat to sleep on so they could get me to do chores for longer as they didn't need to wait for me to come to the temple. In addition, I would be taught to read and write, cared for if I got sick, one day off per week, a small bit of spending money, and a possible future with the clergy.
It didn't take me long to decide.
I went home, told my mom that I got a job at a temple, and that they wanted me to stay there. She gave me her blessing and a whole gold piece, then sent me off with and extra change of clothes, just in case. The ally cats got a new nest that day. And my stash got moved closer to the temple. Good thing too, as some other urchin was watching me closely as I entered and left the ally.
My mom really was wonderful. Her eleven year old comes home, announces that he is moving out, and she lets him. I guess she knew what it's like. Grandpa was a bit of a bigwig himself, when he was still alive.
Don't look at me like that. I know, I know, I shouldn't have ruined those clothes like that, but I needed to keep up my act as an urchin. What urchin has a spare set of clothes? Besides, I was given a set of robes at the temple and was told to wear those.
My father? There was some bandit trouble somewhere so he went off to fix it.
Chapter 2: Priest in Training
Where was I? Oh yes, first day at the temple.
I was woken up at the crack of dawn, fed oatmeal and a sermon, swept an entire wing of the temple, fed soup and bread and a sermon, wrestled with books and teaches with books, fed soup (got meatball!) and another sermon, drilled with prayers till nightfall, then collapsed onto my mat. Which was a bit of a mistake. The mat was thin and I hurt my knees. The next year was a bit of a blur. Mornings I either swept or scrubbed floors, a couple times I shovelled nasties in the stable after I got caught doing a prank, afternoons I would learn to read and write, and once I mastered that history and some tactics, and evenings I drilled prayers till I could say them in my sleep. I wasn't the only one. Several times, usually on my days off, as I was trying to fall asleep, I would hear other acolytes muttering prayers as they slept. The biggest event was when I got two (Two! Can you believe it?) meatballs in my soup. The look on the cook's face was a sight. You would have believed he had accidentally given out gems instead of rocks by his expression. I hurried to my seat before he could take one back. Then I got into a fight with another boy who got no meatballs in his soup. The priest who stopped us didn't believe our reason for fighting. We both ended up shovelling nasties for a week afterwards.
Year two was almost the same, except that some mornings I was trained in weapons. I had a bit of an advantage over the other acolytes as I had some training with weapons before I came to the temple. It was year three when things really got fun.
After I learned to read, I became a bookworm. Every bit of spare time I had I spent reading. As such, I soon learned everything an acolyte of my age was expected to learn, so I was excused from afternoon classes as long as I spent them in the library reading. Of course, I didn't have any trouble with that. One afternoon, while I was poking around in a low traffic area of the library, I found an old book. And I mean real old. It must have been a couple hundred years old by the looks of it, and if the date on the inside of the cover was correct, it was. I still remember the way the book looked when I set it down on a reading desk and blew the dust off of the cover. “The Arte of the Invoker” the cover read, in big, gold, fancy letters.
I spent the next nine months reading that book. It was a really odd book. I could only read a page or two a day, and the words seemed to burn themselves into my mind. I would have read more, but the book appeared to not want more to be read. After I read the page or two it wanted, the rest of the book turned into gibberish and wouldn't change back until I had a night's rest. I suppose I could have reread the parts of the book that I had already read, but I could remember them perfectly. Word for word. And the day I finished reading it was the last day I saw that book. I read the last paragraph, shut the book, leaned back, shut my eyes, and remembered the book. When I opened my eyes, the book was gone.
At first I thought that a librarian had put it away, but after I questioned them, they said that they never saw a book like that. When I told them that I had been reading it for the last nine months they got confused and said that I had been reading other books, never the same one twice. I realized that the book must have been a magical book. Now the changing letters had been a clue, but it looking like other books while it was being read except to the reader, and disappearing once finished? Definitely magical.
It was either that or I was going crazy. On that happy note, I started my fourth year at the temple. Year three started the fun, year four was when the fun happened.
Year four was when acolytes were taught divine magic. As I learned to call upon the power of the divine, something began to click in my head. The words of the book where still burnt into my brain, and as my proficiency with divine magic grew, they started to do something. I would wake to find myself reciting the words of the book, and felt a deeper, stronger connection to the magic than the other acolytes. I mastered the basic prayers faster than any priest remembered and was doing magic that shouldn't have been possible. Six months into the year found me, once again, excused from afternoon classes as I had learned everything I could from that class. Rumours where flying about me, the magic prodigy, yet I barely noticed as the words from the book started to invade everything I did. Every morning I would wake up reciting them, I would recite them when sparring, during morning chores, when listening to the daily sermons, even instead of my nightly prayers! Every time I discovered what I was saying I stopped, as I was getting weird looks from everybody.
I guess I was scared of what they might do if they got said.
Chapter 3: Calling Gods
What finally pushed me over the edge was when they started to interfere with my spell casting. The flow of magic through my body was a sensation unmatched by any other. When a senior priest asked me to demonstrate a simple prayer to some other acolytes, I was unable to get past the first line. I tried three times.
I lost my temper a bit. I engaged in a bit of colourful language, then yelled at the words, the sky, at the world in general “Fine! Fine! If you want to be said, then I'll say you!” and then I started to say them, right from the start of the book.
Half a hour in, and about a eighth of the way though the book, was when the words started to get away on me. I couldn't stop saying them. I tried. They did echo nicely though. A bit too nicely. They got louder with every echo, instead of quieter. Also, the temple didn't echo in that spot. Not even when George blew up a table.
Half way through the words, they began to write themselves in the air. They started coiling around an invisible arch in the center of the courtyard, writhing and whirling faster and faster with every word said.
On the final paragraph, the words suddenly stopped moving, forming an arch twenty feet tall and ten feet wide. When the last word was said, every word flashed with a bright light, blinding everyone in the area. When our vision returned, a archway of softly glowing white stone existed in the center of the courtyard. As I stared at the arch a point of light appeared in the center of the arch. It quickly grew to fill the entire arch, and I could see something approaching through it. It was roughly man-shaped, but much bigger than a man, and I could sense that this was a being of immense power, unmeasurable by human standards. It paused on the other side of the arch, then stepped through.
My memories of the next few minutes are a bit fuzzy. It's understandable, as a god being present has a bit of an affect on those unprepared for his arrival. I remember falling to my knees along with everyone else in the court, then, after surveying the courtyard, he spoke to me. This is where I curse my mortal failings. A god, speaking directly to me, and I can't remember his words! All I can remember is the general meaning of his words. He asked me if I was the one who Called him. I said I was, because even if I didn't know what the words would do, I still said them. He then studied me for what felt like an eternity.
If you are the type who get squeamish when people stare at you as if they are seeing your deepest secrets, don't attract the attention of an elder god. Because when they stare at you, they are seeing your deepest secrets. And you know it.
After reviewing my life via stare, he lifted his gaze from me. After another eternity, he returned his gaze to me and told me that he thought I would do well. Then he reached down and touched me. A god. Touched me. I still haven't got over the fact that a god touched me. And not only did he touch me, he gave me the smallest mote of his power. And even though it was the smallest, the feedback still knocked over everyone in the room and destroyed the furniture.
As I lay on the ground, stunned, I saw him turn and walk back through the arch, which then vanished, as if it never had been there in the first place. I then faded from consciousness.
Chapter 4: Strange Little Book
I awoke three days later, in the hospital wing of the temple. Once the healer on duty noticed that I was awake, he rushed off and soon returned with not only the high priest of the temple, but with the high priest of the entire order! They asked me how I Called the god, and I told them of the book. They got all excited about it, and were very disappointed when I told them that it disappeared. It was then that I realized that the words from the book had disappeared from my mind as well. In their place was a small, golden mote of light. As I considered this mote of light, some words sprung to mind, and without thinking, I said them.
I am glad that I wasn't pointing at anyone at the time, and I just blew a hole in the wall and destroyed a bed. I now think that the mote of light was the mote of power the god gave to me. It had decreased in power since it had been separated from it's divine source, but it was still powerful. As we stared in shock at the new window, glowing particles gathered together and formed a small book in the crater. The high priest (my temple's high priest, not the high priest of the order) walked over to the book and picked it up. He looked at the cover, then flipped through some pages. When asked, he gave it to the high priest of the order, who imitated his actions. “Strange book,” he announced, “Gibberish on the front, gibberish inside, gibberish on the spine, but what an odd way to appear. Must be important.”
“Can I see?” I asked, and was handed the book. At first, they seemed to be right. I couldn't read the book any better than they could. But then the words on the cover seemed to rearrange themselves without moving and suddenly I could read them.
“Prayers for the Aspiring Invoker.” I announced, earning startled looks from the high priests.
“You can read it?” asked the higher priest. I flipped through the first ten pages.
“Some of it.” I replied. “The words on the cover, the first four pages or so, and,” I flipped the book over to check, “on the spine have, uh, changed. They didn't move, but I can read them now.”
“Let me see.” the higher priest takes the book and stares hard at it. After a minute, he shakes his head. “Still gibberish to me.” He thinks a bit, then nods. “Well, this book seems to want to be yours. Do you mind if make a copy of it for our records?”
“Go ahead.” I reply, “I think I should take it easy for a week or so. That, uh, bolt that I did took a lot out of me. Not to mention the Calling I did.”
“First you are going to eat this.” The healer had returned with a covered tray, from which delicious smells were emanating. He glares at the hole as if it was a personal insult to him and his profession, then whips a bedtable from somewhere and places it on my bed and the tray on the table. Taking off the cover, he revealed some disappointingly clear broth. At my clearly sad look, he gives me a no-nonsense stare and says “I don't know what happened to you, but you haven't eaten in three days. I don't want to shock your system with something hard to digest.” He then turns to the high priests with all the authority of a doctor in a hospital. “What are you still doing here? This boy needs his food and rest, which he won't get if you two are staring at him like hungry vultures! Scoot!” He then chases them from the room, but not that quickly, allowing them a dignified exit. At least, as dignified as you can be while being threatened by a short, angry doctor with a tray cover. At the doorway, the healer pauses and shoots a look at me “Don't get too comfortable. Once you have finished that I'm moving you to a room without a hole in the wall.” With that statement, the healer exited the room, leaving me to my broth.
Chapter 5: Books Like Me Best
The next day, as I was lying in my new bed, there was a bit of a commotion outside. I was feeling a bit better, so I got out of bed and made my way to the window. Outside I could see a courtyard, and a pair of very flustered scribes were excitedly conversing with the high priests. The scribes gesturing at some paper they held which the higher priest took and looked at. The high priests then had a quick talk about the papers, then they turned to the scribes and said something to them. At that the scribes quieted down and stared at to ground. They must have replied as the high priests got flustered and started talking very quickly. After that the four of them took off towards the scribe hall. As the interesting stuff seemed to be over, I went back to bed.
About a hour later, I as was eating some soup with three meatballs in it, the high priests came in looking very ashamed of themselves. I stopped eating and gave them my full attention, but they seemed reluctant to talk. After many glances at each other the lower high priest cleared his throat and said, “We appear to have lost your book.”
I stared at them for a time, not really registering what they said. “What do you mean?”
“The scribes were attempting to copy your book when they noticed something odd. Every page they transcribed was different from the book. Even the same page that the same scribe copied twice looked different from each other. It appears that your book didn't want to be copied. Also, when the scribes returned to the hall this morning, the book was gone. Nobody took it out of the hall, and the hall is locked every night.” The lower high priest cleared his throat again. “Basically, no scribe took it, no locks were fiddled with, and we don't know where it is.” He then gave me an apologetic look.
I looked at my bed table. “Is that it there?” Sure enough, it was on top of my bed table, neatly squared off with my book of prayers. Right where I would have put it if I had it last night.
The high priests were amazed. “How did it get there?” one of them spluttered. “Did you take it?”
I shook my head. “The only time I left this bed was when you two were talking with the scribes in the courtyard over there. I watched the four of you talk, then got back into bed.”
“How could this happen?” asked the higher priest, “It couldn't have walked here, could it?”
“Maybe it likes me.” I replied. “In fact, I wonder...” The high priests watched in confusion, then horror as I pick up the book and dunked it in my soup.
“What are you doing?!?” The lower high priest squeaked as he hurriedly fished the book out of the soup. “This book is one of a kind! You can't just drop it in your soup like that!” He paged though the book hurriedly. “Soup, or for that matter, any liquid can damage a book! If the pages get wet the ink can” He stopped speaking abruptly, feeling the pages. “They aren't.”
“Aren't damaged? Thank goodness for that!” The higher priest proclaimed, then he turns to me. “That was a very foolish thing to do, child! What were you thinking?”
“It's not that they aren't damaged, they aren't even wet!” The lower high priest said. “Look! Feel the pages! It's as if they weren't in the soup at all!”
“What? Really? Let me see!” The two high priests fingered the pages excitedly, talking quickly in low voices. They seemed to come to a consensus, and hand the book back to me. “It appears the the book is unaffected by the soup. But please refrain from further... experiments, shall we say. I wouldn't want to find out what actually can harm the book, so be careful with it, will you?” Without waiting for an answer, they drew themselves up and departed, leaving me with my soup and a soup-proof book.
Chapter 6: Can I Break It?
Of course, being a curious fifteen year old with an invulnerable book, being careful was the last thing on my mind. Through the course of dozens of “experiments” and over the next two months I had lots of fun with the book and discovered several things about it.
1. The book would always be where I would put if I had it the night before every morning, no matter where it was the previous night. Tested by throwing in a ditch, a river, and a boat on separate occasions. Even sealing it with magic is ineffective. It got out of George's “Completely Foolproof Chest.” I believe that only a god could stop the book from returning to me.
2. If the book was placed on a solid object, items could be placed on top of it. Otherwise they fell right through it as if it was air. Same thing would happen if I attempted to block something thrown at me with it.
3. The book completely ignores liquids of any sort. They slide right off of it without the book getting wet. When the book is held liquids pass through it as if it was not there. Completely useless as a soup stirrer.
4. All words in the book are complete gibberish to anyone but me, and then only the words on the spine, the cover and the first couple of pages are legible. More pages are becoming legible over time, and they appear to be high-powered offensive divine spells. Words copied from the page are gibberish to everyone, including me.
5. If placed into some sort of situation where it's existence is a spacial impossibility (e.g. Squashed between two large stones) the book disappears, appearing the next morning in the usually fashion. Largest weight supported is roughly three hundred pounds. thee hundred and five pounds cause it to disappear.
6. The book won't burn, freeze, or even change temperature. Tested by placing in a cooking fire for ten minutes, then removing and touching. Also put it in an icebox for an hour.
So I had a small book that I could not damage, lose, and that only I could read. I sold it to a few book collectors and made some money off of it, but I was found out and had to return the money.
Epilogue: Parting Ways
Several years later, I graduated from being an acolyte and was given a membership in the clergy. Although I was a full priest, I never got used to being called by the title of “Father Dan”, due to the fact that I wasn't fully trained in my priestly duties. My training in that field was cut back in order to give me time to learn how to use my invoker powers. My mother had died a few years back from a wasting disease that nobody could cure, even with all the money my father threw at it. She was the only one who knew that I was “Jonn the Dragonslayer's son” as well as “Dan the invoker.” After she died, my father broke down and just... stopped living for a year. He left soon after. We had a bit of contact, but not much before he left and parted rather amicably.
Since then I have lived a most quiet life (well, as quiet as one who Called a god can be) in the temple, but lately the urge to do more has come upon me. I don't believe I will remain in the temple much longer. The power I have been given from a god should not be left to stagnate in a dusty temple.
It should be used.
For what end, you ask?
I do not know.
But I intend to find out.
And god help the one who tries to stop me.
So be it.
So now that you have read it, what do you think? Please post your thoughts, likes, and any typos you find.
Last edited by Golnor; 01-17-2012 at 10:43 AM. Reason: typo