Ithuriel: Inception (Chapter One)
Presenting original fantasy fiction from Robert Roach, this prose series features sword and soul hero Ithuriel in adventures placed in fantasy lands.
An expansive, rolling sea surrounds this small, picturesque island. In topographical & geological terms, the islet's beauty & composition seem like a mix of small present-day Grecian & Japan's Goto islands: mountainous, but with rolling hills filled with deep green forests. These hills are interspersed with craggy hillocks here-&-there. Pale yellow sand, finely ground & soft, blanket the atoll's narrow beach.
The evening's weather is quite calm at this locale, but the goings-on within the rugged hills' elegant estate are tense. For the very few people in this era that are able to perceive powerful necromancy, there seems to be a bubble, made from thin, burgundy film, that encircles the manor's grounds -- if these people were around to observe all of this.
The epicenter of this night's excitement is a sparsely-yet-tastefully decorated great room. The vaulted ceiling, cloaked in shadows, is almost imperceptible in the evening. During the day, the arched columns create arcs & recesses. Numerous windows notching the exterior walls allow plentiful sunlight during daytime hours. Constructed on a rocky outcropping, dazzling daybreaks & night falls -- when the sun reflects off of the azure Sea Ashran -- grace this reclusive estate.
This sorcery-shielded island is one of many islands in this "uninhabited" atoll just east of The Horn of Sandeh. The extraordinary estate on the island & its main inhabitant are a mystery. Rather, they would be a mystery if the world at large knew of the magus living here & the island he's shielding.
Multiple decades earlier, he used his considerable necromantic skills to protect this isle & to build his home. This evening, the interior's great room is filled with pungent & pleasant fragrances. If this evening weren't so fraught with anxiety, this would be a lovely & languid place to pass the night.
However, the tension is unbelievably high. And this evening is unlike any other before it.
Legless, slim & wrinkled -- due to extreme age, a wizened light-brown man leans wearily in a floating chair. Like its occupant, the chair also lacks legs. It's obvious that the seat is made from & operates on sorcery. The chair's lines are sleek. Its cushions seem very comfortable. Evidently, the bald man spends much of his waking time in the chair.
Though fatigued, this centuries-old warlock steadily gazes into a pulsating, electric globe of gas. Sparks dance at this gaseous orb's periphery, but the intermittent twinkling lights don't distract from the images projected within the sphere. The sage is watching the orb's contents intently; the elderly man's concentration never wanes.
Censors used to lighten the darkness are all around the chamber. These provide both ambiance & soft lighting sources for the room. Wispy smoke wafts toward the high ceiling. Instead of using congealed mastodon fat as the source for illumination, a mystically-created substitute provides the censors fragrant fuel. Low tables & cabinets placed around the lightly ornate room are replete with alchemical items. In addition to tasteful & thought-provoking artwork from all parts of the known world being scattered around the hall, protective charms & other symbols are carved into the walls.
An intelligent, tall & curvaceous woman is in one of this great room's eight corners. She stands at what seems like a scientist's workbench, organizing some of the magical items on the counter's surface. As the wizard's assistant, straightening up after the mystic seems like a never-ending chore. But the frowning young lady doesn't mind this job. Concern is the reason for Silvya's dour expression as she looks over her shoulder at the exhausted sage.
The nut-brown lady thoughtfully shakes her head, her mid-length locks whirling, displaying her frustration.
"Master Abdemon, you're overextending yourself. You must rest!" the sorcerer's assistant exclaims in an exasperated tone. Though she's quite familiar with the sage's hard-headed nature, Silvya constantly tries to get her charge to take better care of himself. The orphaned young lady is extremely earnest with her responsibilities.
"Yes, Silvya. In a moment," the ancient man replies.
"You said that an hour ago, sir!" Silvya rejoinders. "Given our positions & our ages, it feels like our roles are reversed -- like I'm your foster-parent & you're my godchild."
"A nearly 700-year old godchild, eh?" the sage chuckles.
Having spoken of parents, Silvya's mind involuntarily recalls her own mother & father -- especially since their murder was the impetus for her mystic internship.
Her parents' untimely & unfair demise -- at the hands of a Kabandha acolyte -- is what spurred Silvya to pursue the alchemic arts. Her smoldering anger at this injustice still steadily burns. Though not an obsession, Silvya's pursuit of a fair resolution -- however this resolution will be effected -- drives her in every aspect.
After her parents' murder, it was this quest for justice that led her to the aged wizard. They encountered each other just when the young lady needed direction & guidance for her rage & Abdemon needed a serious-minded assistant. Perhaps "encounter" is not the most accurate verbiage.
At that moment of immense loss, when Silvya most wanted revenge but didn't know how to go about this, the young lady heard a soft-but-persistent sound. Though she initially ignored this "siren call," in time Silvya couldn't disregard it. This humming persisted. The young lady had no explanation for this distracting situation, but, somehow, she knew it to be authentic.
So Silvya finally gave in to this seemingly aimless echo. She listened to it. She followed it. Eventually, this reverberating sensation guided her. It led her up Sandeh's rugged east-facing coast & to the country's horn. The beaconing has ultimately led her to Abdemon & his tutelage.
"Child or aged fool," Silvya half-chides/half-jokes, "you're pushing yourself too hard. You must rest."
"Again, my apologies, Silvya. I'm sorry," the sage replies. "But grant me a bit of patience. The night hasn't ended. And we both know that this may well be the world's most critical night to date.
"Just a little while longer. We've almost made it. He's almost made it. I must monitor the boy for a bit more."
Abdemon returns his attention to the images in the globe. These reveal Ithuriel's real time activities in Aston.
"Okay, sir," Silvya relents. "Just a little while longer."
Ithuriel story elements are the sole property of Robert Roach/Hometown Productions ©2020
Words and illustrations by Robert Roach