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SofTS Official Snippet #8

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SofTS Official Snippet #8
Post by runsforcelery   » Thu Feb 05, 2015 6:26 pm

runsforcelery
First Space Lord

Posts: 2134
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 11:39 am
Location: South Carolina

Guys ---

I'm very sorry for how late this one is coming in. Sharon has been really, really sick for the last couple of weeks with a respiratory problem that just isn't going away, and while she's been under the weather, I've had to pick up and carry a lot of other balls. There just haven't been enough hours in a day to keep up with everything, I'm afraid. Anyway, this one's a bit longer as a sort of consolation prize.
_________________________________________

“You mean . . . You’re saying someone took my memory?”

“Precisely. And that means you’re already part of someone’s plans.

“But . . . why?” The younger man shook his head, eyes dark.

“For any number of reasons. I can’t tell you much, but this much I will say: all wizards are puzzle solvers at heart, and most of us cheat. We may not like the way a puzzle fits together, so we change the pieces or rearrange their patterns. For every wizard who seeks one solution another wants a different answer, or simply for it to remain unsolved. It wasn’t always so, but the past is the past. We have to deal with what is, not what we’d like to be.”

The old man paused to stare into the fire. When he spoke again, his voice was softer.

“Some of us try to believe our solutions are in the best interest of all, or at least of the greatest possible number, but we’re all quite ruthless. As for you, it would seem someone wants you ignorant of the part you might play if you still had a past.”

“But what makes me important? Who did this to me? You say you’re a wizard — how do I know it wasn’t you?”

“It could have been,” the old man agreed, his spoon chasing the last stew around his bowl, “but if I wanted you removed, it would’ve been easy enough to simply kill you.”

He looked up and met the younger man’s eyes levelly. The redhaired man swallowed, and nodded with a jerk.

“Then what is your interest in me?” he asked softly.

“At this moment? To keep you alive,” the wizard said simply.

“Really?” The hairs rose on the back of the redhaired man’s neck. “And why shouldn’t I stay that way on my own?”

“Because ignorance doesn’t change what you are. You’re a danger to too many who follow the tradition of the Dark Lords of Carnadosa. Perhaps you’re safe from the one who stole your memory, but there are others who not only can but certainly will kill you if they even suspect you’re alive. And the reason will be simple. You threaten them, whatever you know or don’t know . . . so long as you remain alive.”

“So.” The younger man studied the wizard as the fire roared to the gusts sucking across the chimney. “You may be telling the truth — or a truth, at least. But how do I know your truth is one I’d like?”

“No one wishes to know all the truth.” The wizard’s voice went gray and old. “Believe that, young sir.”

“I do,” the redhaired man said softly, “but I can’t just take the word of the first wizard I meet. I remember another proverb. ‘Trust not in wizards. The best are none too good, and most of them are evil.’”

“All proverbs have a core of truth,” the old man agreed. “The art’s fallen on sad times. There’s no Council, and the majority of my brothers and sisters in the art are at best some shade of gray. But if you don’t trust me, you’ll be dead within twenty-four hours.

“Not by my hand,” he went on quickly, raising a palm against green eyes that were suddenly burning ice. “If I wanted you dead, not even Bahzell could keep me from killing you now, while you’re too ignorant even to understand the reason for your death.” Power seemed to smoke above him, and the redhaired man’s mouth dried as the shabby old man suddenly became a perilous menace that belied his wet, bedraggled appearance. Danger hovered about him like some invisible fog, but then he shook his head, smiled, and the peril withdrew. Yet it never quite disappeared entirely, and his flaming eyes gleamed between his lashes.

“As it happens, however, the last thing I want would be your death,” he said. “If you die, I’ll undoubtedly accompany you to Isvaria, and I still have much to do. I’ll admit to selfish as well as selfless motives, but you have enemies, both mortal and of the art. Your own skills may protect you against the former, but only I can aid you against the latter.”

“But why?!” The redhaired man half-shouted. “Damn you and your cryptic hints!” He mastered himself with a visible effort. “At least answer me this much Wizard — how did you find your ‘puzzle piece’?”

“I didn’t find you; I waited for you.”

“Very helpful.” The younger man drummed on the table, frowning, and tried another approach. “Give me one good reason to trust you — one reason I can understand now, Wizard!”

“I still honor the Strictures of Ottovar,” the flame-eyed old man said softly.

“Words! This is my life, Wizard! I don’t know one single thing about you, and even less about your damned puzzles. I know nothing at all about altogether too much, so give me a better answer. How will trusting you keep me alive? Tell me, Wizard!

“I never said it would.” The old man’s voice deepened and his fiery eyes flashed. “But if you trust me, you won’t be the first, and no man who’s ever trusted me has been betrayed, though many have died of knowing me. They died attempting to aid me, or simply because they came too close to my world of darkness and half-shadows. Don’t mistake me! I offer you no promise of life, only a choice. I live in the shadows at the edge of what you’re pleased to call ‘the world,’ and I’ve lived there a very long time. But I’m not part of the darkness.”

“How can I know that?” the redhaired man whispered. “I want to trust you — the gods know I’d sell my soul to know who I am! But I don’t know how to trust you. I don’t even know who you are!”

“Remember what I said about asking ‘who,’” the old man said gently. “I can’t tell you that, but I can tell you what men call me. After that, you must judge for yourself. Perhaps you may even know my name. But beware! Reputation is only hearsay, and even if I mean you no ill, you may yet come to curse the day we met.”

He paused, his face cold with warning, and the redhaired man felt a sudden urge to disavow his questions before he could hear their answers. The strange eyes burned brightly, their polychromatic depths dancing, and when the wizard spoke again, his deep, measured voice rang like iron on an anvil.

“I am called Wencit of Rūm, last Lord of the Council of Ottovar, Keeper of the Strictures of Ottovar, Chief Councilor to the Gryphon Throne of Kontovar, and I’ve waited thirteen centuries for this conversation!”





CHAPTER TWO: Friends at Need

Wencit of Rūm!” The redhaired man stared open-mouthed for at least ten seconds, then shook himself as if to fight his shock physically. “You’re the wizard who destroyed Kontovar?!”

“Like all tales, that one’s less than completely accurate,” Wencit sighed, turning his head to look into the fire. “But, yes. I spoke the Word of Unbinding, yes, and freed the Council from the Strictures to let us strike our enemies.”

He sat silent for a long, still moment, as if his wildfire eyes saw memories in the flames, then looked back at the younger man.

“We were three hundred strong, and we were powerful. Oh, yes! We were powerful, my friend.” His voice was soft, and he sighed again. “And we poured out our strength like water and wasted our lives like fire. The world had never seen a working like it, not since Ottovar ended the great Wizard Wars ten thousand years and more before . . . and when we finished, there were four white wizards in all the world. Just four, and two of them were mad . . . .”

His face was wrung by an ancient pain as his flaming eyes bored into the redhaired man like augurs.

“Kontovar was destroyed,” he said, still softly, “but only its corpse. Everything which had ever made it Kontovar, the Kontovar Ottovar and Gwynytha carved out of the darkness and brought into the light, had died already. Fire had consumed the Gryphon Throne. Trōfrōlantha, the city of Ottovar and Gwynytha, lay in ruins, the Dark Lords had triumphed, and they were poised to pursue the refugees even here, even to Norfressa, to complete the Dark Gods’ victory. The only hope of those who’d fled was for us to cripple the victors, because we lacked the power to kill them, though we did our best.” He laughed mirthlessly. “Oh, yes, we certainly did do our best! But we couldn’t kill them all. Only the gods themselves know how many of their slaves we did kill, or how many lesser wizards died, but too many of the arch-wizards lived. Hacromanthi they called Kontovar after that — the Grave of Evil — but not even the grave truly lasts forever, and the evil wasn’t dead. It only slept, and that sleep was uneasy.”

He fell silent, staring into the fire again, and the redhaired man fought to comprehend the impossibility the old man represented. Somehow he couldn’t doubt the word of his strange, shabby-majestic companion, yet it was preposterous. The second most fabled wizard of history wasn’t supposed to be found in a tavern kitchen! And yet . . . and yet . . . .

He watched tiny motes of wildfire hang before the wizard’s glowing eyes and knew he heard the truth. And that terrified him to the marrow of his bones, for what conceivable business had he with a man who’d brought death to an entire continent? And then an even worse thought occurred to him. If Wencit of Rūm himself required his services, could he even hope to refuse?

“And now,” Wencit shook himself, rousing from a moody inspection of the flames, “I’m the last white wizard of Kontovar — may my friends recall me with fondness in Isvaria’s halls! The gods know I gave them grief enough when they were alive!” He smiled at memories, then frowned. “But if their tasks are ended, mine isn’t, and I need your help. I said you were an important puzzle piece, but that isn’t entirely accurate. Or, rather, it’s not specific enough, because the truth is that you’re a key piece. I might almost say the key piece.”

“But —” The redhaired man swallowed sharply. “I still don’t understand,” he went on, his voice much quieter, almost plaintive, his anger supplanted by confusion. “You’re Wencit of Rūm! Every schoolboy knows the legends about you, the things you’ve accomplished. You can’t need me!

“Wencit of Rūm is my name, not what I am,” Wencit said. “Not necessarily, at least. I’m many things to many people — and for you, at this moment, I’m far more important than a maker of legends.” He snorted in self-derision. “Nor is legend-making all it’s said to be, my friend! They’re uncomfortable things, legends. They’re usually made by people who wish with all their heart they were somewhere else, and any sane person avoids them like the plague. But that’s beside the point, because whatever I am to other people, to you I’m the only man who knows how you fit into the struggles of wizards. I know a path through them, though honesty compels me to warn you that there aren’t any easy roads, and a journey with me won’t be pleasant. Oh, it may have its moments, but you’ll curse me as often as you thank me.” He grinned suddenly. “Bahzell could tell you I’m not the easiest trail companion even under the best of conditions, but you’re committed to a journey, no matter what. Unfortunately, it will almost certainly be a very short trip if you leave this tavern without me. For that matter, honesty compels me to admit that the odds are against survival whatever you do, I’m afraid. The only absolute certainty I can give you is that you won’t survive without me; the rest of the outcome is still . . . to be determined.”


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: SofTS Official Snippet #8
Post by johnb   » Thu Feb 05, 2015 6:32 pm

johnb
Lieutenant (Junior Grade)

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Location: Hertfordshire, UK

David

Many Thanks for taking the time to post this. All the very best to Sharon.

John
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Re: SofTS Official Snippet #8
Post by ksandgren   » Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:03 pm

ksandgren
Captain (Junior Grade)

Posts: 329
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:54 pm
Location: Los Angeles, California

Thanks rfc, both for this snippet and the one for Safehold. Best wishes and prayers for you and for Sharon.
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Re: SofTS Official Snippet #8
Post by lyonheart   » Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:32 pm

lyonheart
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 4790
Joined: Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:27 pm

Thanks indeed RFC!

All the very best wishes for Sharon!

Hoping the next news is better.

L
Any snippet or post from RFC is good if not great!
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Re: SofTS Official Snippet #8
Post by dan92677   » Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:43 pm

dan92677
Commander

Posts: 218
Joined: Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:33 pm
Location: Southern California

Wow!!!!!

RFC, Thanks, and I will keep you, your wife, and your family in my prayers!!

Winter is a rough time of year for too many of us older people.
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Re: SofTS Official Snippet #8
Post by fallsfromtrees   » Thu Feb 05, 2015 11:25 pm

fallsfromtrees
Vice Admiral

Posts: 1773
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2014 10:51 am
Location: Mesa, Arizona

dan92677 wrote:Wow!!!!!

RFC, Thanks, and I will keep you, your wife, and your family in my prayers!!

Winter is a rough time of year for too many of us older people.

Prayers and best wishes for Sharon and all in the Weber family.

Thank you for the snippet, but if it comes down to a choice between taking care of Sharon and posting a snippet, for Heaven's sake, take care of Sharon.
The only problem with quotes on the internet is that you can't authenticate them -- Abraham Lincoln
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Re: SofTS Official Snippet #8
Post by Chief-CWH   » Thu Feb 05, 2015 11:59 pm

Chief-CWH
Lieutenant (Senior Grade)

Posts: 97
Joined: Sun Aug 04, 2013 1:25 pm
Location: Tx, Al, La, VA, Ak, Md, NC and everywhere in between. Army Brat-Army Officer

Thank you for the post.

I hope Sharon gets well soon.
-------------------------------------

Commission Officer Vs Warrant Officer
When you Commission someone you hope that they will work.
When you Warrant someone you know that they will work.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ret US Army - Ordnance/Signal
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Re: SofTS Official Snippet #8
Post by Eagleeye   » Fri Feb 06, 2015 4:49 am

Eagleeye
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Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 4:41 am
Location: Halle/Saale, Germany

First: I second all the good wishes for Sharon and Second: Thank you, very much!
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Re: SofTS Official Snippet #8
Post by Peter2   » Fri Feb 06, 2015 8:12 am

Peter2
Captain (Junior Grade)

Posts: 334
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2014 10:54 am

Very many thanks, RFC.

Pay us no mind – Sharon must come first. We can wait, and you take whatever time you need. At least, from what I can see, the weather in Greenville doesn't seem too grim at present.

All the very best to you both, and I wish Sharon a speedy recovery.
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Re: SofTS Official Snippet #8
Post by Invictus   » Fri Feb 06, 2015 9:00 am

Invictus
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Posts: 215
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Location: Perth, WA

Thank you very much RFC, and I hope Sharon has a speedy recovery!

"When you talk about damage radius, even atomic weapons pale before that of an unfettered idiot in a position of power." Sam Starfall
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