Juan Silversmith is an artisan who is suddenly condemned to a slow death by a rare illness... however he will stop at nothing to find himself a cure. This is his tale.
(The first of a few stories that will probably bring a concept of a world I have to life)
The candles were growing dim. It was nearing mid night and he still hadn’t finished. Bent over, haggard black hair streaked with grey with matching stubble coupled with the shadows cast by the flickering light hid a tired, weary face with eyes fierce enough to stare down a feral beast but desperate enough to make an angel weep. Shuffling across the room, his feet dragging against the wooden floor but carefully stepping over certain areas that were illuminated with candles, Juan Silversmith peered at the parchment in his hands, tilting it to the side so that the light caught it. His eyes raced across a page filled with sigils, scribbled notes and little diagrams. To anyone but him they would be the mindless jottings of a crazed man. It was the reputation he had built up actually. Only a single kos away was the town that had once accepted him as their silversmith, it was a town that now shunted him and his residence as cursed and the abode of a madman. Juan wiped the sweat from the cusp of his lip with his sleeve and continued scanning the paper for a while before looking at the wall he was facing as if searching for something.
Eyes darting about the chipped and at places charred wall, he took a deep breath and muttered something, though to anyone nearby all it sounded like was a growl. The wall and the room itself remained the same save for a breeze that crept in from a partially opened window, threatening to extinguish a few of the candles. Whatever his words had caused to happen, if indeed they did to begin with, it was something that only the aging man could see. His eyes focused on a point in front of him, a grizzly, grim smile etching the side of face. He reached out and with a bit of chalk that had left his writing hand darkened to the same color, began to draw a figure that slowly evolved into a pattern surrounded by odd sigils and other markings.
It wasn’t that long before he was done and he took a measure step back to glance at the runes and markings. He glanced at it for a moment and apparently satisfied with his handicraft glanced back down at the parchment in his hands and then shuffled to the side, stepping over a marking on the floor, careful not to disturb it and then began to draw nearby.
And so the night dragged on for at least an hour more as the man moved from one spot in the cleared living space, etching the cryptic runes and drawings on the floors and walls. In fact, it was apparent from how everything from the floors to the walls and bits of the ceiling were marked in a similar fashion that Juan had been at it for a very long time. It was at as he reached a final sigil that his impatience began to show. It was becoming hard for him to keep his hands from shaking… whether from fear or from excitement it was hard to tell. His eyes betrayed both emotions.
Juan Silversmith, as his last name suggested was a silversmith… A noble profession in itself and of itself, really. A silversmith knew how to mold metal as well as he knew how to mold magic and was thus capable of and entrusted with the creation of masterpieces with precious metals, most notably silver. The craft of precious metals wasn’t as easy as it was more commonly found ones and as such required more finesse with the magic involved in their refinement and shaping. Juan may not have been a renowned craftsmen but he was well known and respected in his community… That was until he’d found out about his illness. About 3 years ago, Juan had noticed certain … differences in his magical abilities. There were times when he could channel the Flow with greater ease and power and at others simply summoning a little Flow would leave him exhausted. The body aches and bruises came shortly afterwards. Worried and rightfully scared about what he was experiencing he sought the help of a well known physician and healer in a nearby town… one who quickly diagnosed him with an incurable, tragic ailment that would eventually kill him. His world shattered, Juan had returned home… but he didn’t return defeated. No, instead he packed his things and left his home to go find a way to save himself. He wouldn’t perish like this…
The man looked at his handiwork one more time, letting his trained eyes scan for any mistakes that he doubted would be present. He hadn’t studied and labored so long to be foiled from salvation by a silly little mistake. Once he had ascertained that there was nothing out of place he placed the sheets of parchment he had been holding down in a corner of the room and kept them from being blown away by placing a stone on top of them. Now… now would be the real test. Glancing up to the ceiling, the cloak that had been until now hiding a once healthy body now sapped of its health fell to the floor, billowing its way down. Raising a hand so that his palm faced the ceiling, he breathed out turning the open palm into a fist and pulled an invisible something down and then pushed that very something away. As he did this, in perfect tandem with his motions, the wooden ceiling dipped down, splintering, and bits of saw dust and chippings sprinkling down on him. Just as these bits began to get a little bigger the mysteriously sagging ceiling exploded outwards, planks of wood flying every which way as a cool breeze and the muffled light of night filtered into the enclosed room. With the candles dancing to the chilled silent tune of the night, Juan Silversmith carefully stepped over his marking and found the center of the design that at a first glance would look like a random assortment of figures, strokes and designs with bits of runic wording and sigils here or there… but on closer inspection, one would find that the design actually spiraled outwards from where he now stood. The entire design had a sense of chaotic order to it. Arcs, geometric shapes, curved tribal designs all vying to find their place but all of them within a certain boundary that would then distinguish the overall spiral.
Kneeling in the center, Juan began to whisper something in a constant stream, his voice still sounding like a constant growl. He wasn’t going to die… He wouldn’t allow for it.
His journeys had taken him around the kingdom and once, beyond as he sought one alchemist, healer, elementalist, and even a Mancer to ask if they knew of remedies to his affliction. None of the people he’d met, however obscure or renowned had a cure. Unwilling to give up, Juan would spend some time with each that permitted it to learn of their craft… and so, within an year and a half, Juan had returned to his town a much more learned man… and a much more driven one. Since his return he’d begun to experiment with different skills and concoctions that he’d learned of, sometimes with very obvious and disastrous results that had ruffled the feathers of his neighbors who stopped coming to him with business. Instead, they began to fear him and the odd things he’d get upto out in his garden or the loud noises that might come from his home. That fear bred hatred and a few younger more spirited albeit misguided residents of the town had tried to go upto the house to vandalize the place. They had never returned… and since then Juan had been left alone. He had been labeled dangerous, though no one in the town seemed to have the willpower nor courage to drive the man away, for shortly after the boy’s disappearance smoke that glowed of its own volition rose from Juan’s house for 7 nights… The villagers didn’t understand what was happening there, but had assumed enough that it was best left alone.
Juan was taking deep breaths now, the growl like whispers punctuating each and becoming shorter with each repetition. The air around him had begun to grow heavy, the occasional breeze that would pass by now deciding that it would be better off elsewhere. Juan Silverback didn’t care nor did he notice this, his mind knowing that his time was short… so short in fact that he doubted that he’d get another shot at this after tonight. His joints and body were threatening to mutiny as it was… This experiment would either work or kill him in the process. Either way he’d win… with the latter allowing him to claim to himself that he had at least given it his best shot.
Sitting alone on the wooden floor, surrounded by runic symbols all around him, Juan muttered the last of his labored incantations and waited… his heart already beginning to sink at the lack of activity around him. Everything was still… and absurdly quiet too. It was as if he’d scared away the crickets and toads that, otherwise struck up their cacophonic orchestras every night. He was just beginning to tell himself that if nothing else he would now get one good night’s worth of sleep, when things began to pick… drastically.
The moon, so far romancing the clouds, left them for some solitude… and as the first ray of moonbeam slant into the now open room, the wind that had so far abandoned the house, returned with almost vengeful gusto. The candles that had been as integral a part of the design as the etchings were blown out as the wind spiraled inside the room. The moon came into full view, flaunting its ageless beauty before the mortal man who was being enveloped in the magical maelstrom. It watched from its pearl encrusted, velvet throne as the markings around the hunched man gained a life of their own and tore themselves from their planar constraints and joined the vortex around the man… a vortex that began to glow with shifting shades and hues or a myriad of different colors… a few that mortal men wouldn’t have even dreamed of. One would have been amazed at the ethereal beauty of the scene unfolding beneath them…
Below, in the center of the maelstrom, Juan could not appreciate what was happening. In fact he couldn’t even think. As soon as the first bit of moonbeam had crept into the room, his body had erupted into a world of pain so profound that his back arched, his head thrown back in a silent scream whose muteness was more than compensated for by the magical upheaval screaming melodiously around him. He couldn’t see… There had been a flash of color but shortly after that, he couldn’t see anything. All he knew was that his body felt like it was trying to rip itself apart. A few painful tears bit their way out of eyes that had rolled into his head; whites that mirrored the moons gaze.
The moon however, seemed to take affront at such a vile besmirch upon her beauty and just as the maelstrom around Juan and the pain in his body grew to a crescendo, a beam of moonlight… an actual beam that rained from the heavens, blasted into the room so that one would believe they had gone blind for in that moment, there was nothingness. Just pure white and nothing more.
As suddenly and violently as it had started, the ritual, if that was what it was, ended. Silence sought to reign over its reacquired domain with a tyrant’s rule. The town nearby, thankfully did not witness the spectacle for if they had, trunks would have begun to be packed and perhaps, a few pitchforks, stakes and axes readied. At the lonely house, however, nothing stirred, nothing moved. The house seemed to have been caught in time. The etchings Juan had so laboriously drawn were gone leaving nothing behind to allude to their ever being there. The papers that had been set in the corner were missing as well, the rock that had held them down having disappeared as well. With the haughty moon shining bright in the sky, gazing down to ensure that she had seen to the man who had so vainly tried to look upon her true self, the house stood barren and deserted. The roof was still punctured by the occupant’s angry energy and charred along the edges now from the upheaval of magical energies it so vainly tried to contain. Outside a few pages of parchment fluttered away with the tamed wind while a few planks of wood now littered the overgrown gardens.
As silence began to grow complacent upon its unchallenged throne a single growl overthrew it… A growl that grew into a howl that punctured the night and even touched the cold moon so that it seemed to repent what it had done and sought to hide its tears behind its dark lover. In the darkness that then reigned, the sound of something heavy shuffling across the floor, a shuddering breath and fierce eyes the gleamed into existence.