Chapter One

Go down

Chapter One

Post  Darkwolf on Wed Jul 15, 2009 10:03 pm

It took me quite some time to figure out exactly what had happened.. Some shocking event had occurred, everyone around me made certain I was aware of that much, but I was unclear on the details. I worked for a small legal firm that primarily handed civil matters – property damage, mostly – and I was in the office when the announcement was made. The head of the company himself delivered the news, but he was at the other end of the room and I was right in the middle of some paperwork. I only caught pieces of his speech, words like “cathedral”, “fire”, and “down.” I thought this might mean even more paperwork for me.

Word reached me that we were to get the rest of the day off. I didn’t quite understand any of it, but everyone looked very grave and upset so I didn’t say anything.

I left the office and, since it was still early, decided to visit a friend of mine who lived in that part of town. The streets were remarkably empty, and I wondered if whatever had happened had given everyone else the day off. Nearby a mule-drawn cart –likely the property of one of the farmers from the surrounding villages that sold their harvest in the city market – had been abandoned. The animal shifted from hoof to hoof in the middle of the stone road. In addition to the oddly obtrusive location of the immobile cart, it had been left completely full and unguarded. I could think of no explanation for this occurrence, as the local farmers were fiercely protective of their few possessions, so I simply continued on my way. I figured I’d have an interesting story to tell my friend, at least. The row house I sought came into view a little ways down the street and I hurried my pace toward it. There was a strange smell in the air that I found unpleasant and I wished to get inside and be rid of it. I knocked on the door and was received by the servant, who informed me that Gregory was in his study.

Gregory was a man of both science and magic. He had spent much of his childhood studying various natural philosophies and had gained entrance to the area’s premier scientific institute at a remarkably young age, the youngest student ever to attend there. It wasn’t until his early adulthood that he developed an interest in magic. Previously, all of magic and spellwork had been kept out of academics; it was seen as the domain of religious belief at best, and the tool of non-human creatures at worst. I do not understand much of the particulars of his methods, but essentially Gregory argued that magic could be harnessed in a scientific way. I’m not really sure about all of that, but the institute has since begun teaching the study of magic.

Gregory’s home was one of the nicest in the neighborhood, arguably in the entire city. His fame had bought him that servant, the finest in antique furniture, and an odd assortment of clicking, spinning, floating, and glowing knickknacks. I entered his study in the back of the house which served as the culmination of his life of travel and research. I had been in there several times before and seen the walls of trinkets and souvenirs.

Gregory was not seated at his desk like normal, but was instead pacing about nervously. When he caught sight of me in the entryway he rushed over and grasped my arms.

“Benjamin!” he cried breathlessly. “There you are. How are you? Are you hurt?”

“What are you talking about? Why would I be hurt?”

He let go of my arms and gave me a strange look. “Haven’t you heard?”

“Heard what?”

“There’s been an attack; a big one, possibly one of the biggest ever, certainly the worst during peacetime.” He resumed his nervous pacing.

“Wait, what exactly happened? Where was the attack?”

“Downtown.” He reached up to one of the shelves and pulled down a small wooden object. Of his entire collection, this was the piece I remembered the most clearly. It was a peculiar thing, worked into some kind of star shape and painted over with crisscrossing lines in green and red. The craftsman had taken great care to carve several divots into its surface and smooth them out, making what looked like finger holds. Gregory told me he had found it in some small, rural village that had recently been decimated by raiders. He said he could not figure out what its purpose was, and he had been researching into it off and on since it came into his possession. We normally referred to it as the Star for simplicity’s sake, as he would often consult me on whatever conclusions he drew about it. I always said that he likely knew about it better than I did.

Gregory ran his hand slowly back and forth across its dimpled surface. “It happened this morning. It must have been very sudden, because I didn’t see the city guard respond for quite some time.”

“Did you see it?” I asked. “The attack, I mean.”

“Not when it happened, no. I headed that way afterwards. It was…” He gripped the Star and looked at me. I will always remember that expression. Gregory, the man of the world, who for as long as I had known him had always been so full of confidence and knowledge, looked like a lost child. He tried to finish his previous sentence, but only the croak of a half-formed word came out. He had broken out into a sweat and I could see his hands trembling, whether from his grip on the Star or something else I could not say. It was almost too much to see him this way.

I told him I needed to be getting home. He replaced the Star upon the shelf and took a moment to regain his composure.

“Promise me you will go straight home,” he said gravely as he turned back to face me. “It is not safe to wander the streets right now. No doubt you smelled all of the debris in the air, that can make you very ill.” I made my promise and bid him farewell. I knew he was not just concerned about my health in telling me to get inside. If this really was as big as it seemed, the city guard would be eager to round up suspects.

In the street the smell was as strong as ever. The sun was on its way down behind the tops of some buildings by that point. I started back the way I had come and passed by the cart again. The mule must not have been secured very well because it was missing.

Instead of stopping at my office I continued down the street, further downtown. I’m not sure why I was going where I was going; I still had no idea what had occurred, so maybe I was just curious. I heard a lot of commotion coming from somewhere relatively nearby, which made me wonder if maybe another riot was in progress. When I rounded the next corner, I had a view of Cathedral Square, so named for the immense church built there. I did not see the grand wooden doors, though, or the two steeples, or even the stone steps at the entrance. Instead, I saw utter madness. Bits of rock were scattered down the street I had turned onto. A great plume of black smoke rose up into the air, obscuring view of most of the square, and nearly making me wonder how I did not notice it before. A sensation of intense heat washed over me and forced me to blink. My vision became blurred with the tears squeezing out of my eyes. I was vaguely aware of noises – shouts, I think, or screams – and tried to discern if they were coming from behind the smoke or from somewhere else. It was difficult to tell due to a low yet oppressive rumbling. Suddenly, I felt my arm seized, and I looked to see a man grasping me, his face just barely concealing panic.

“You hurt?” he asked.

“Hurt? I wasn’t here. I mean-“

“More are left, come on.”

I was at a complete loss as to what he was talking about, or what he expected me to do. He looked out across the square, and I followed his gaze to another street. One of the town guards was there, his hands up by his mouth and shouting something. I wondered if he was shouting to us.

I took a closer look at the man who had my arm and realized he was a guard, too, wearing the polished armor with the city crest painted on the chest.


Posts : 8618
Join date : 2008-02-19

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Back to top

- Similar topics

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum