December 28th, 2001, 08:36 AM
The collaborative story, "Tales of Baldarr"
Here's a thread with only our story, tentatively called "Tales of Baldarr." To discuss collaborating on this story, please go to the "Talk about Tales of Baldarr" thread.
[This message has been edited by An8el (edited January 12, 2002).]
December 28th, 2001, 08:38 AM
Feacus Fidelle starts:
Vertigo. Slight pain. A little nausea. That's what the others said it would be like. Baldarr
fell to his knees, his mind spinning. He was suddenly taken up in a coughing spasm, blood and saliva spewing from his mouth. He made a weak moan. His eyes burned. Whips of pain flogged his back, and his nerves screamed in agony. Baldarr could no longer will his throbbing hands to hold his body up, and he collapsed onto the marble floor. He was oblivious to the stab of pain to his skull as it hit the marble, his whole body wailing from the sheer shock of what had happened. Tears streamed down the man's face as the fresh memories of the spell surfaced in his mind.
Baldarr took a deep breath and lifted himself off the ground, clenching his teeth against the pain. He stumbled across the long temple room where he had been left, past column after a column of marble. When Baldarr had visited the temple before the hüag, he would spend hours pouring over the ancient hieroglyphics inscribed into the endless marches of columns. The stories of the past were writ on the marble surface, telling of the bygone days of Cencaria's infancy-stories of the gods in Olympia, of Pheona and the King of Darkness. Indeed, this had been Baldarr's favorite place to visit when he was studying at the Academy Magiius. These pleasant thoughts were far from Baldarr's mind as he struggled to make it to the lavatory.
Baldarr spotted the small, wooden door in the west wall of the room. He was all too thankful to find the place empty as he stumbled to the sink closest himself. Baldarr hastily turned the faucet, impatient as the pipes filled with water and a slow stream came forth into the sink. Baldarr filled his callused hands with the cold water and threw it on his face. He didn't mind that it soaked his woolen robe; he was too exhausted to care. After wetting his face a few more times, Baldarr turned the faucet back off and reached for a washcloth hanging from a small wooden peg in the wall. As he dried himself off, Baldarr looked up at his visage in the small silver mirror. Deep rings of black lay under his eyes, and his face seemed to slump in fatigue.
Baldarr made a small mordant chortle as he thought back to what the graduate physicians had said about the hüag. They had claimed it would be a simple process, relatively free of pain and over within the hour. As the physicians had claimed, a mage specializing in hüag spells would incant the ancient Spell of Magiius, a magical chant invented by the renowned sorcerer-turned-physician. The chant was invoked whenever a studying physician completed his stay at the Academy, and was known as being the most important moment in a physician's life. This was because the Spell of Magiius activated the hüag-the ability to see all afflictions-whether they be exterior or interior, in he to whom the spell was directed. Veteran physicians had also begun to refer to the process of obtaining the hüag by the same name.
Baldarr had received the hüag yesterday, and the result was instantaneous. Baldarr remembered standing in the central room of the Academy reserved for hüags. He remembered glancing around at the room's cylindrical enclosure and all the tapestries and murals depicting the Miracles of Magiius. The silence was broken when his instructor and the mage, face hidden by a dark brown hood, entered the room. There was a brief ceremonial introduction, and then the mage dismissed the instructor. When the door had closed, the mage turned to Baldarr and removed his cowl. A gasp escaped his throat as he saw the mage's hideous face. It was covered with scars from boils and gouges that had seemingly never healed. The old man's forehead was marked with innumerable tiny stitches, the purpose of which Baldarr hadn't the faintest idea. And the man's eyes were even more peculiar. They were large and contained deep gray pupils hinting at a vast and profound wisdom.
They mage suddenly slammed his hands together, roaring in laughter as he saw Baldarr snap out of his daze.
"No time for daydreaming," the man said, once again shrouding his face in his cowl.
"I…I was…," Baldarr stammered, his heart suddenly racing. He didn't realize how nervous he would be at the hüag.
"You were daydreaming. Now, let's get this thing over with. Let me see, where is that dratted book?" The mage plunged his hands into his cloak, feeling around for the object. Apparently finding it, the mage's face brightened and he said, "Aha!" The old man pulled the thing out from the depths of his cloak. It was a massive book, leather-bound, and spine and cover alike covered with strange inscriptions which Baldarr thought held a striking resemblance to the characters on the temple's pillars.
Baldarr waited anxiously for the mage to start the ritual, the mage himself having seemingly forgotten his subject as he slowly flipped through page after page of illuminations and fancy writing. Under his breath, the mage was muttering something like, "…dratted spell…physicians and their hüag…" He said the last word with an especial tinge of contempt, and violently flipped the page. Coincidently, he seemed to have found the spell, for the old man looked up at Baldarr and said, "Let us begin." There was no verbose introduction like Baldarr had expected. Just a short, and rather sloppily-said stanza.
The mage cleared his throat, spending a few seconds perusing the page on which the hüag was written. From his vantage point less than a foot away, Baldarr could clearly make out the diagrams accompanying the spell-positions of the spell-caster's fingers, the intonation of the words, and other such things Baldarr found quite trivial. His patience up, Baldarr made an angry sigh.
"Will you start?!" he said, at once regretting it as he was ensnared in the boring gaze of those deep gray eyes.
"Very well young man!" spat the mage, slamming his book shut. He immediately began a series of chants, his arms and hands and fingers moving so quickly that they at once became a blur. Baldarr's heart boomed as his stood there, the incomprehensible words whispering past his ears so fast and so silently that he felt, for the first time in his life, utterly terrified.
And now the mage had silenced, but Baldarr had barely noticed this when an onslaught of pain ripped through his muscles and he fell to the floor. Thus the hüag had begun.
December 28th, 2001, 08:39 AM
Baldarr found himself still leaning on his hands over the sink. You were daydreaming. He remembered the mage's accusation in his head, a familiar one. He stood up and stretched, feeling his usual easiness stiffened by how long he had spent laying on a marble floor.
He looked back at the mirror to see how far back behind himself his arm could reach. In the mirror, the skin on his arm began to bubble. He couldn't take his eyes away as his skin erupted and sloughed off his forearm. He wrenched his eyes away from the mirror to look at his arm. His skin was clear.
His mind raced wildly, fearing something had gone wrong with this huag.
[This message has been edited by An8el (edited December 28, 2001).]
January 1st, 2002, 12:52 PM
Keeping The Equilibrium
As his eyes cleared, Baldar began to hear voices inside his head. Whispers perhaps, barely audible, but definitely there, tickling his ears as if the sounds were a swarm of tiny flies attacking the delicate surfaces of his eardrums.
The voices grew louder and the ticking sensation quickly turned to pain. Baldarr buried his head in his hands and immediately felt the warmness of blood, which was now trickling from his bleeding ears. He stared at the blood as it began drying on his calloused hands, watching as the stains swirled and danced across his trembling palms.
The blood stopped moving and Baldarr looked at the image in his hands. A face started back at him; a face he knew. A face he feared he would never see again. He screamed. "Mage, what sorcery is this?" he cried. "Why didn't you tell me?" he sobbed, watching as his tears puddled in his palms and slowly washed away the evil image his fears had painted.
January 1st, 2002, 07:07 PM
The face. That dreaded face.
He'd never meant for things to turn out that way. He'd never meant to kill her. If only she'd listened! With the gods as his witness, he'd given her a warning. She chose not to heed it. It's not his fault that she was dead. It was hers!
If only such thoughts didn't ring so hollow.
And so he cowered, on hands and knees, staring at the veins of the marble floor as his tears collected like rain drops on the newly waxed tiles. All the guilt that he'd worked so hard to bury wriggled it's way to the surface. It bore through his mind like a worm through a rotten apple.
"Why didn't you warn me?" Baldarr sniffled. His voice was torn between anger and self pity. "Why?"
The mage watched him not unsympathetically. "Ah, my boy. It's a hard lesson, but one that each must tackle when enduring the huag. In the beginning, your deepest fears and most private desires are brought to the surface," the mage drew open his book once more, "and then they must be faced."
Images flashed through the mage's aging head. Images of his own trial. His breath shortened as memeories of heartache and gut wrenching pain charged through his mind like a wild stampede. "And Baldarr, my boy," he said sadly, "I'm afraid this trial is just beginning."
And then, as the mage began to chant the incantations once more, Baldarr loosed a scream that echoed through the marble halls like an explosion. It sent shivers down the elderly mage's spine.
January 3rd, 2002, 02:11 AM
All he could remember was pain. It had rifled through his body forcing him to the floor.
Slowly his body had adjusted and soon all he felt was a consuming numbness. Blood-coloured hallucinations writhed in front of him. They gradually took shape. A snarling mouth then a familiar pair of eyes.
Baldarr realised what it was shaping into with a shock of fear. He crawled hurriedly backwards whimpering. As it flew towards him pathetic soundless cries errupted from his wretched figure.
Pain started to filter through the numbness as it whirled around, slowly forwards to him. Suddenly it coiled tightly around his face. Whisps of crimson filled his sight, blocking out the blurred vision of the chanting, withered old mage.
Lances of pain speared his chest as the face flickered away with a hiss.
Baldarr blinked and looked around. A warm glow of relief spread through his tired limbs. The mage chanted out one more word before squating down to watch him. An avalaunche of pain suddenly hit Baldarr, flinging him backwards onto a smooth but hard marble wall.
He slid down and landed jarringly onto the floor. Miserable, weak sobs burbled out of him.
An eternity seemed to pass before he regained the strength to open his eyes. He felt like someone had cut open his soul and let all the life energy, happiness and optimism inside him drip slowly, cruelly away.
Baldarr wanted to feel relieved and happy it was over but all he did feel was a cold distant pain inside his chest. It was colder than he had ever felt before and probably colder than anyhting he would feel again.
Then he remembered the second part of the ordeal. He had to get to the Healer's Shrine.
Only a short fifty metres away. Something he could jog to in ten seconds when he was in his normal condition but he wasn't even able to stand up now.
January 3rd, 2002, 11:50 PM
"How do you feel now?" the mage examined Baldarr's eyes carefully. The mage had sat down the rest of the way and was leaning against the marble wall against the younger man.
The echoes in the silent hall amplified Baldarr's heavy breathing. It was awhile before he could answer. The buzzing in his head was gone too. So it really is over, he thought, relieved. "Cold," he said out loud, gesturing to his solar plexus.
"That will pass. It's the protection of the huag's visions, so you don't have them all the time." The mage felt about Baldarr's solar plexus, then his head and neck. Satisfied, he struggled to get up against his heavy robes.
"You'll be sore. I think you're ready to get your, hmmm, I'll go and fetch it for you. After the Shrine was when, but, ahhh." The mage rearranged his robes now that he was standing. "... Since your huag was, ...well, rest here." The mage ambled out, continuing to mutter, shaking his head.
It wasn't long before the mage returned, holding a staff. He handed it without ceremony down to Baldarr with wry, pursed lips holding back a smile. "Well, you're in the club now, since you still have a mind. ...There's probably something more, with huags like this one, that you will do...as you saw."
Baldarr took the staff and pushed against it heavily to get himself up.
"Thank you, Mage Fausskolen. Forgive me that I can't honor your learning now." Baldarr grinned, snorting with the irony. I'd better get going to the Shrine before I collapse, he thought. Painfully, he dragged and tapped himself out of the marble hall towards the school's shrine.
Mage Fausskolen stood still, musing. Watching this huag had made him think of his own promise when he took the huag, late in life. He had always imagined he was too old for a healer's life. So he had used that excuse to stay in the school to study more magery. Turning to leave the hall, the mage mused that he probably wasn't so old after all if he still had the knees to squat with.
[This message has been edited by An8el (edited January 04, 2002).]
January 4th, 2002, 02:23 PM
Baldarr sank to his bed in a dizzied state. His body felt numb and distant. If only his mind would follow suit! Unfortunately, that aspect of him remained surprisingly sharp. That face, his sister's face, which he's witnessed in his vision, was opening old wounds that he'd thought had scarred over. He'd worked so hard to forget her; but as it always seems to be with painful memories, the more effort you put into shutting them away, the harder they hit you once they return. And as it was, while Baldarr was attempting to bury those hurtful thoughts once again, the terrible event played through his mind as vivid as if it had occured this very morning.
He stood on the cobble-stone bridge that led from the village of Fealdine, the smells and sounds of running water drifting somewhere beneath him. His sister, Victoria, stood before him, her face screwed up in anger. Tears streaked her cheeks.
"You can't leave! You can't abandon me and mom," she screamed for the hundredth time. She was only nine, but she'd already developed into such a melancholy creature. Her hard life was taking it's toll.
But Baldarr's patience was wearing thin. "I have to leave! Don't you see? I'm mother's only hope!" He'd told her this repeatedly during the past week, but she refused to listen. Fear had too tight a grip on to allow her to listen to reason. Baldarr knew this, he could see it in her dampened eyes, but there was nothing that could be done for her at the moment. He had to leave. Mother's illness was going to kill her within the next two years. Father had already fallen to the same illness the year before, and he knew for a fact that his mother wouldn't last long. In fact, now that he was thinking of it, two years was probably an overestimation.
But how could he explain all of this to Victoria so that she'd understand? Baldarr shook his head. He'd already come to grips with the fact that he couldn't. He had to leave and she would just have to deal with it. As coldhearted as it sounded, there was no other way.
Tired of explanations, Baldarr patted his sister on the head. "I'm sorry. I know you don't understand, but I have to go. Take care of Mom."
He started to walk away, but Victoria grabbed his hand and bit down with all the force her little jaws could muster. In his shock at the sudden jolt of pain, Baldarr thrashed his arm aside, slinging his little sister onto the cobble-stone walkway. And directly under the wheel of a passing carriage.
The wheel rode over her neck with a sickening crunch. Baldarr ran to her aid but by the time the carriage had passed, his sister was gone. Her lifeless body lay completely still, eyes bulging as if surprised.
Baldarr tried to scream, but his voice was choked off by a gushing flow of vomit.
This had all happened four years ago, when Bladarr was fifteen. It had taken some time, but he'd slowly come to forget that terible day. He pushed it out of his mind with constant work and vigorous studying. And it had come as some solace that he'd at least been able to help his mother. Upon arriving at the temple, he'd quickly told the authorities about his predicament and a missionary was sent to his home village to cure his mother and bring her news of her son's whereabouts (he'd never had the heart to tell her he was leaving, and after his sisters death, he was so afraid to see the hurt in his mother's eyes that he just ran).
Baldarr, shaking slightly as he lay his head on his pillow, had trouble swallowing past the lump in his throat. "I'm sorry," he said aloud, as if his sister's ghost were beside him. "I'm so sorry."
And for the first time since the day his sister died, he cried himself to sleep.
January 4th, 2002, 04:35 PM
Lost in a large book
Baldarr slept. And in his sleep he dreamt.
In the dream he was back in The Hall Of The Huag. The hall was empty, silent. Only his footsteps echoed faintly amongst the tall pillars. He slowly made his way across the marble floor.
In his dream he reached the middle of the large hall. Then faltered. The air grew thick around him. Dark. Terror enveloped him. Slowly, as if wading through tick mud, he took another step. The air rang with the sound of a giant bell. - The First Seal - a voice said in his mind.
Suddenly he stood at the foot of the stairway leading to the shrine. He felt the magic of the huag within his heart. Cold. He took the first step on the stairs. Then the second. And the third. He looked up and the stairs seemed to go on forever. Weariness drained his strength and in the dream he closed his eyes. But he continued to climb the steps. The bell rang again. Its tone even deeper. Its sound even louder. - The Second Seal - the voice intoned.
He stood in The Healer's Shrine. In front of him lay the altar. As he had done in reality, so he did in his dream. Falling to his knees, he locked his hands before him in The Sign of The Phoenix. The world narrowed until it was only a small circle of light. Himself and the altar. A scroll rested in front of him. The healers Scroll. He reached out towards it.
He saw the small cracks where it had been rolled up. He felt its ragged edge and rough surface beneath his fingers. He smelled the wax used for the seal. His right hand closed around the yellow parchment. The seal erupted in fire. He screamed.
His hand was on fire, flames licking his skin. Heat. He screamed again. The flames waved, melted and grew. The world expanded. The shrine reappeared. From the flames rose The Phoenix, filling the shrine. Then also the phoenix changed and he starred at his sisters face again. A single tear rolled down his chin. The bell rung a third time and the ground shook. The voice was inside his head anew. - The Third Seal is still unbroken... -
January 6th, 2002, 04:41 AM
As Baldarr heaved his long rail like body off his bed he felt a refreshed and his energy had been revived.
He vaguely remembered a dream he'd had last night. As far as he could remember it had been a nightmare.
The Healer's Shrine and the Healer's Scroll had been in it somewhere. It was all ver hazy except two things: bells ringing which were followed by the words 'The Third Seal is still unbroken.', and there had been lots of flames.
Baldarr hardly any breakfast but instead spent the time trying to figure out what 'the Third Seal is still unbroken' meant.
As far as he knew the Seal might be something to do with your emotions or power. The Psionics knew a lot more about that kind of thing than he did. There were no power Stages that Healers had to unlock, healers just studied and practised to make better use of the power they had.
Baldarr decided he needed to go stretch his legs a bit. He exited his small flat in the Student's Housing area. A thought struck him as he made his way down the outside staircase. He'd have to move out soon. All healer's had to move to one of the cottages on the fields north of the Academy after their Huag. He would miss his little apartment.
He decided to bypass the huag Hall by going past the front of the Academy. As he walked past the marble steps of the Academy he noticed a group of Imperial Guards lined up at the Academy Door. A large group of eager looking Healer's surrounded them, most where about Baldarr's age.
Army horns suddenly blasted out and a clear voice cut through the air.
"Healer's of the Imperial Academy! Our gracious Emperor Salaknin has ordered that ten Healer's of this Academy are to go with the 1st and 2nd Wolf Legions, the 5th, 9th, 10th and 12th Infantrey Legions and the 1st Hound Legion when they go forth to meet the Nghar barbarians on our Northern Borders. The Healer's must have gone through their Huag. Any more Healer's that wish to join up are welcome to."
* * * * *
Mage Fauskolen listened intently from within the Academy Doors. He still felt guilty about deceiving the boy that he had undergone a normal huag. It had been neccessray so the Second Seal could be broken.
The boy would doubtless join up to get away from his painful memories. It didn't really matter anyway if he did or not but atleast he would get hardened up a bit for his future trials.
The boy had to break the Third Seal in time so he could control his grief and self loathing enough to acess the vast strength and Godly Blood within him. 'Poor child.' murmured Fauskolen. But someone had to have been thousandth in line from Pheacus Fedille.
January 7th, 2002, 12:05 AM
Mage Fausskolen was not distracted by the sounds of the Ukintile as he weaved his way though the winding streets. It wasn't far. After a brisk walk down to a side-street, he turned into a courtyard where two older children were running around a well, chasing each other.
"Hello, Reino and Sooniss. Can you go and get your grandfather for me? Tell him his old school chum is here." Mage Fausskolen sat down to wait on the stone well steps.
A man twice the age of the mage tottered into the courtyard with a bucket. "Reinold you magician, how wonderful to see you! How is the achedemy? To what do I owe this rare visit?"
"A matter for an old scholar such as yourself. How are you Twento? Would you like me to help you with that bucket?"
"No... an old man like me can still carry water. Keeps me healthy while I still can walk around."
"You always were stubborn. Here, you carry the smaller one and I'll fill this." The mage took one of the buckets standing beside the well and filled while he spoke. "I wanted to take a look at that book of yours
you were telling me about last year." The two of them walked into the patio of the stone house and into the study, which was the only large room in the house.
"There, thank you, in that basin. I'll just put these here while I...." Twento toddered over to the shelf for two cups and to the water crock that the mage had just filled. He pumped out a fresh glass of water for the mage and sat down. Then he remembered that he also had some bread which he brought to the table also. "Go on, I know you like to get to the point. An old man likes company, but I'm not one to torture you with pleasantries when I can see you have something on your mind."
Reinold Fausskolen sipped the water. "I have just finished a huag for one of the graduates at the school. It was very unusual. I wondered what these books of yours had to say about such a thing."
Twento reached under the table where many other books were stacked and pulled a thick tome out onto the floor. "This one I think you'll find interesting."
Reinold picked it up from the floor and looked at the cover. It had the wild curve of the Rod of Pheacum outlined on top of a dragon's mouth.
"Yes, it speaks of a huag lasting two days. There are many, many poems about them, even though you can read, you won't be able to read them all because the language has changed. Look here," Twento leaned over to point to the page toward the back of the thick dusty book.
The mage read silently. "I see what you mean. What do these say?" Reinold pointed to passages written with a decorative hand and pictures of the huag's Shrine steps.
"In the fire of huag, one who sees the future pain will become that fire," Twento read with a squint. "It means that a healer who can predict injury or sickness will become a dragon himself. I know that doesn't make any sense because the huag doesn't work that way, but that's what it says."
"Yes, well...it's making more sense if you had seen this huag and this person's reaction during it." The mage sat back and broke off a piece of bread. "Does it say anything about about the Seals?"
"No, that part has been destroyed long ago. Just these few pages have been transcribed from one of the copies. Here is a picture though." Twento turned the book upsidedown for the mage to see the image
reversed. The dragon's mouth looked like a bell when turned upsidedown.
"That's enough for me. I doubt if I should warn the poor fellow, because we have no idea what may happen to him because of this. So because I can't say, I'll say more of nothing." Mage Fausskolen grasped the hand of his childhood teacher across the table. "Thank you for your impatience with me. I promise to come more often, but I must go now. May I honor your learning?" The mage bowed and brushed his knee with the sign of the Pheonix held to his brow. He then rose and clasped the old man in a bear hug.
Reinold Fausskolen hurried back to the shrine at the school.