Forum Tea Expert
Joined: 13 Sep 2009
Location: Tea shop
|Posted: Sat Nov 30, 2013 4:34 am Post subject: Hey, a story thing!
|The thick molasses feeling of walking into the dreamscape clung to his clothes and his skin uncomfortably as he found himself in a vast meadow in the fullness of springtime. Hardly a prison at all. Brennen walked through the field for a time, seeking Trian, wondering why Dane would choose such a strange illusion to entrap his former mentor in, and why it worked so well. He encountered a small girl eventually, hiding amid the taller flowers, who squeaked and called for her father when she caught sight of him, running down towards a creek.
There stood a short man, nearly two feet shorter than Brennen himself, sitting with a woman with bright red hair who was dancing in the shallow water. The man scooped the little girl up in his arms merrily, smiling and laughing.
“What’s this, dove? You found a wanderer? Hail, friend! What brings you here?” It was Trian. Except, he looked fifty years younger than he did in reality. Brennen halted at the top of the creek, looking down at the man dressed in bright red and gold, appearing happier than he had ever seen him in life. The little girl had bright red tresses, just as the woman who had been dancing until the black clad stranger had followed the child to them, and what more, she had the same eyes as the younger Trian.
His family? Trian had never mentioned a daughter before, although Brennen had once heard of his wife.
“You don’t know me?” the words were too quiet to be heard. Mirth left Trian’s eyes, replaced with steel.
“I am Trian, of the House Defole, Heir-Apparent to the Southlands,” a note of command Brennen had so rarely ever heard in his life entered his mentor’s voice. “Who are you and on what business do you disturb us?”
He repeated himself audibly this time.
And just as quickly as it had came, the hardness in Trian’s eyes was replaced with confusion. “I’m sorry, have we met?”
“I am Brennen,” a pause, unsure how to best continue this train of thought. “We used to work together.”
“Work together?” the man seemed more confused. “Of course, you must forgive me, I am on holiday with my wife and daughter. It’s been so long since I had seen them,” he turned to the woman. “Pardon me, Kris dearest, I need to speak with our visitor in private.”
He walked up to where Brennen stood and smiled back down at his family. Trian’s family. They had been dead now for almost six hundred years. What sort of trick was this, and how did Dane manage to manufacture it? Brennen’s musing was broken when Trian spoke.
“I do apologize, I do not recall your face at all, Brennen. I suppose you are here to tell me my father wishes me to go to the summit to discuss the grievances of the people in the Realms. I told him I wished Hekater to go in my place, but I suppose my brother did not agree to my request.”
“No, that is not why I am here, but you are needed.”
“Always, it seems,” he cast a longing glance back down. “I have spent nary a month here since my daughter’s birth, and here I must leave yet again. Kris shall not be pleased to hear this news. I confess, neither am I. But what is it that you need, and how may I help?”
“I need you to remember.”
“Remember what?” he tilted his head quizzically. “Where did we meet?”
“On the road to a city called Shakamet, a long time ago.”
His face creased, “I do not know of a Shakamet. Is it far to the north? Your coloring and voice suggest you are of the Northern Sands, I do not believe I have ever been there before. Are you certain that I am who you think I am?”
His memory was altered, it seemed. Dane was powerful, yes, but Trian was perhaps the most skilled Wizard yet alive. That he would be snared this deeply was troubling. A gentle touch was needed here, lest Brennen do more harm than good. Trian was locked in a dream of sorts, as they all were, but this one seemed to lock step into the past, rather than an ideal future.
“I am confident that you are who I seek,” Brennen scanned his mind for useful information on how to break the spell. “We spent much time discussing the workings of wizardry. It troubles me that one such as yourself would forget such matters. The Art is a high matter.”
“Yes, yes,” Trian’s face contorted, he was wracking his mind for some recollection of this. “You said your name was Brennen? It does have a familiar feel to it, now that I say it. But I cannot seem to place you, friend. I am just so very tired, and was so happy to see my family again. I confess, often I fear I shan’t ever see them again.”
“Few joys can match that of a family, or so I have heard,” he had to dispel this illusion, put cracks in the façade. “What is your daughter’s name, if I may ask?”
“Aslin,” the reply was immediate, the smile on his face suggest all manner of parental pride and fondness. “My little girl. Never see her enough.”
Brennen frowned again; something did not sit well with him. The name should have been difficult to place, a manufactured memory to support the trap, but it seemed genuine enough. Indeed, Trian seemed much more stressed to place him at all. What manner of illusion might this have been, and how deep was it set then? It recalled the Summit of the People, which kicked off the Wizard’s War, along with Hekater Defole’s murder of his family and seizure of the Southlands by force. It had been a particularly trying time for Trian, where he returned home and was defeated by his brother, wandering in self-imposed exile for some years before returning. In those intervening years is when he had met with the wizard himself, and became his protégé. Trian himself favored illusions and softer, subtle spells. It seemed so strange that he was so utterly defeated by his own specialty.
“I am sorry,” he said again. “Brennen. Yes, I do believe I remember you,” his hair had greyed, suddenly. “We were doing something important, yes. I don’t know why I left, actually. I just wanted to see them again…” he trailed off, a mist rising in his eyes. “I’m so tired, I can’t recall quite what it was? Can you tell me? I’m just so very tired.”
Why would an illusion alter the victim’s visage? The landscape began to dull, the colors washing out and fading away, the figures down in the creek became blurry, their laughter grew faint and distant. Brennen was seized with a sudden realization. It was not an illusion at all. It was a memory.
Trian continued to grow frailer, his eyes hollowed, his form bent, and he wore down from the strain of remembering. They were dead, Brennen realized. This was this last time he saw them. Trian suddenly looked so very old to his former student, so very washed out and dull, much like the landscape around them had become. “We must away,” he said suddenly. “It was so important, why can’t I remember it? I will tell Kris that I am needed. So many lives depend…” he turned back towards the creek. “I’m so tired…”
Brennen realized then how hard the man had pushed himself. Trian was a recluse because of this. He lived in the shadow of this moment. If he had not left, they might have lived. The guilt of it still had not left him. That memory was clear as daylight, even after six hundred years. Time might have dulled the wound’s pain, but it never healed.
“Why don’t you rest,” he found himself saying, suddenly. “I apologize for the interruption. I will manage without you. You deserve the rest.” He did. He had for a long time.
“What? No, don’t be foolish. If I can help, I ought to help-“
“Go back down to your family. They miss you.” You have done enough.
“I miss them,” he said distantly. “But, what about what we were doing? You came all this way to find me, you must have needed my help?”
“I will have to manage. I’ve a talent for finding help in unlikely places.”
“You do indeed,” he nodded. “Are you sure?”
“I am. Go to them.” They needed you.
He began walking back down, his back straightening, the color returning to the world with every step back towards them. “Strange, I feel as if I shall never see you again… I can’t seem to say why.”
“I know why. Goodbye.”
Do it right this time around, Trian. Save them.
And suddenly the black cloaked figure was gone from the meadow and creek, and a happy family resumed their happy afternoon together.
Delicious tea, or deadly poison?