The Fringes of Memory

For your story and lore submissions
Post Reply
User avatar
Gondowon T. Falbor
Town Member
Town Member
Posts: 54
Joined: Sun Oct 06, 2013 1:33 pm

The Fringes of Memory

Post by Gondowon T. Falbor »

Gondowon wiped his brow as he finished hammering the last shingle into place. Where once was a hole in the roof of the ranch house was now a solid shingling job that the sage had to admit he was a bit proud of. The night prior some drunkards had decided to climb onto the roof and do a fancy jig to celebrate a birthday or a wedding or something, and by the time Gondowon had awoken and noticed the damage, they'd already ran off. He didn't mind too much, however, since he'd been meaning to do some repairs to the ranch house anyways.

Gondowon smiled and nodded, deciding now would be a good time to get himself some lunch. He gathered up his tools and climbed down the ladder to the ground below. He grinned as he saw a young axebeak waiting for him at the bottom. "Nicodemus, hello! Were you waiting for me?" the sage asked the large bird. Nicodemus bobbed his head, seeming to understand the sage's words. Gondowon had liked this axebeak in particular since the day he'd hatched. He could see an intelligence in the bird's eyes beyond that of his kin, and he'd enjoyed watching the bird explore the world around him, seeming to want to understand everything it saw. Gondowon landed and turned just as Nicodemus put a curious beak to the sage's sweaty face. "Whoa now Nick," Gondowon laughed, "I could use a little space here. Are you hungry then? Is that it? I was just about to get some lunch for myself. Perhaps you'd like to join me?"

"Kweh-kweh!" Nicodemus chirped excitedly, perking up and jogging over to the entrance of the house. Gondowon grinned and followed the bird. He gently pushed his way past the large bird as he entered the ranch house, and had to turn to stop Nicodemus from following him. "Nick, you know you're not allowed inside. Leo doesn't let any birds in, not even you." Nicodemus hung his head and backed out of the doorway. Gondowon gave him an affectionate pat on his beak and the bird quickly perked up again, cooing and cleaning its feathers as it waited. Gondowon smiled and dropped his tools off by the door, heading to the kitchen to prepare a meal for himself and Nicodemus. A few minutes later he'd come up with a simple sandwich and salad for himself, and one big bowl of greens for his axebeak friend. Gondowon took the dishes back to the front door to find Nicodemus sticking his head inside of his backpack. "Hey now, you can't-"

Gondowon froze and his smile faded as Nicodemus pulled a black leather mask out from his pack. The bird looked at Gondowon expectantly. "Hey!" Gondowon yelled, putting down the food he'd prepared and running towards the axebeak. Nick took this as an invitation to play, and ran outside, mask still in his beak. Gondowon sprinted after the bird, desperately trying to catch the playful creature, but came to a halt when he realized he would never be able to outrun him. "NICODEMUS!" he yelled, more harshly than he'd intended to. At this Nick stopped dead in his tracks, turning to stare at the sage. After a moment's pause the axebeak hung his head and slowly returned to Gondowon, realizing that he'd done something wrong. The sage let out a sigh and held out his hand so Nicodemus could drop the mask into it. When the bird complied, Gondowon gave him a pat on his beak. "I'm sorry I yelled, Nick. This... this is one of the few things of mine that no one's allowed to touch." The sage looked down at the weathered black mask, and let memories flood into his consciousness. "It's very important to me..."


Gondowon inhaled deeply, taking in the fresh morning air as he walked beside his horse. Walking his own horse next to him was Gondowon's mentor, a witch hunter named Fringe. He waited for his teacher to quiz him on something, as he usually did about this time of day. The two of them had been traveling together for a few years now, and Gondowon felt he knew the man rather well at this point, so he was getting impatient as Fringe kept quiet. Finally, the young sage spoke up.
"So-" he began before being cut off by Fringe.
"Name every method of casting a spell you can think of, and at least two methods cannot be ones I've taught you,"
Gondowon smiled. That was more like it. "Standard somatic and verbal components that draw energy from other sources, standard somatic components for drawing upon inner energy through channeling, using pre-made items designed to allow the user to cast a spell such as a staff, wand, or scroll, etcetera... there's ritual casting which takes longer but allows a wider array of people to use magic, often at the cost of some kind of material component, there's countering a spell and then reflecting it... um... truenaming, which has always puzzled me, and I suppose if we're listing off every way, then we can include binding to an outer entity or a ghost as mediums sometimes do, if the subject binds to an entity that is capable of casting spells," he said, listing off each method that Fringe had taught him thus far. He then paused as he recalled the other methods he'd learned through his own studies. "One can also call upon daemons to cast spells for them, though I suppose that falls under ritual casting and sometimes binding... One can also take more drastic measures by drawing upon your own life energy as a source of power, though without practice it's risky and often kills inexperienced magicians... " Gondowon paused as he remembered the last method he'd learned about, one whose cruelty made him shudder. "And then there's the other step... using someone else's life energy as a source of power. This method has no negative repercussions to the caster, but very often anyone with a loose enough moral compass to use such a method ends up killing the other person... sometimes intentionally, in order to maximize power output."

Fringe nodded and pulled the brim of his hat down a little more, a habit Gondowon had come to realize meant that his mentor was thinking deeply, or recalling something grave. "Good. You forgot divining and sympathy, but otherwise you got everything I'd taught you and more."
"Well, personally I don't think either of those methods are really spell casting-"
"Fine fine," Fringe interrupted, cutting his pupil off before he began an argument they'd had before. "Where did you learn about the last two?"
Gondowon paused. "I... don't remember."
Fringe looked at the young sage, staring right into his eyes. "Yes you do," he said, smirking, quickly catching his student's lie.

Gondowon sighed, and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I found them while I was looking through your journal."
Fringe nodded and faced the road again. "Fair enough. At least you learned about them," he said. Gondowon was surprised at how well Fringe took the fact that he'd been snooping through his things.

"To think, that someone would use their followers as vessels to power their own magic... and when he ran out, he desperately used his own body as fuel until he killed himself. What would drive someone to such madness?" Gondowon asked, looking to his mentor for an answer.
"Frankly, it's not that huge a mental step," Fringe said darkly, pulling his brim down a little further. "Technically, we do the same sort of thing whenever we enchant our weapons, using our own life force to give more potency to our steel. Using someone or something else as a source isn't that far off when you've already decided it's ok to use your own body. Actually," he continued, his tone becoming lighter and more conversational, "You could use plant life and the life force of the earth itself using that method. Careful use of it is known as 'drawing mana' from the earth, mana being the life force of the surrounding land. The more land you can draw from, the more powerful spells you can cast. It's actually quite handy for those with a lot of time, but not much spell energy of their own. I'll have to teach you it at some point... I can't believe I haven't already."

Gondowon smiled. This was the Fringe he preferred to talk to; a knowledgable and curious man who seemed to enjoy life, and teaching his student new ways of overcoming darkness. Suddenly the witch hunter turned to the young sage and gave him a wicked grin. "By the way, the last two methods you told me came from my journal, did they not?"
Gondowon's smile faded. He didn't like wherever Fringe was taking this. "Yeeesssss?" he replied hesitantly.
Fringe's smile broadened. "So that would mean I technically taught them to you."
The young sage let out a long sigh and planted his face in his palm. He knew where this was going now. His mentor laughed and pulled the brim of his hat up to get a better look at his pupil's face. "You failed to name two methods that I did not teach you. Fifty pushups, here and now. I'll be just up the road when you're done."

Gondowon stopped his horse and shook his head as he watched Fringe walk away, still laughing. He then rolled his eyes and got on the ground and started counting pushups as he performed his penalty.


Gondowon broke from his reverie and returned to the ranch house to get the food he'd left behind while chasing Nicodemus. He moved to place the mask back inside his backpack but found that, for whatever reason, he could not. He stared at it for a long moment, and then hung it from his belt, deciding to keep it with him for a while. He retrieved his and Nick's lunches and headed back outside to where the axebeak was waiting for him. "Kweh kweh!" the bird chirped as he saw Gondowon walking over to him with a large bowl of greens. "Come on," the sage said before giving the bird his food, "Let's go eat by the big tree." Nicodemus bobbed his head and followed Gondowon, eagerly awaiting his food.

They sat down in the grass under the branches of the biggest tree on the ranch. Gondowon particularly liked this spot, and spent his time here whenever he needed a quiet, shady place to read or write. He watched as Nicodemus scarfed down his lunch, spreading bits of salad across the lawn. The sage then looked at the mask hanging from his belt, and let his mind wander once again.


Gondowon finally caught up to Fringe, who had apparently had made it a point to walk faster while his pupil did pushups behind him. Before the young sage could say anything, however, Fringe continued his morning quiz. "Name every way to resist magic."
Gondowon sighed and began listing off methods between breaths. "There's an advanced technique... to simply repel magic... of nearly any kind... it draws upon... inner energy and it... nullifies the spell," he said, eventually catching his breath again after running to catch up to Fringe. "You can counteract a spell's effects with another one of the opposing element, whether it's fire against ice or positive energy against negative energy. You can also use the same spell cast at you to counteract the magic, though this can sometimes prove difficult, as you must quickly discern what spell they're casting as they cast it, and the result of the two similar energies meeting often ends with some kind of explosive repercussion. You can also cast a dispelling effect on nearly any spell in existence to gain the same effect, with a much less volatile reaction. Finally, you can stand in an area that is warded against, or nullifies magic.

"You can also just dodge the spell," Fringe added, glancing at his pupil with a gleam in his eye.
"Well, I mean..." Gondowon protested, not wanting to perform another penalty game, "That's not specifically resisting it, now is it? That's avoiding it."
Fringe chuckled and nodded. "Well you mentioned counterspells, which aren't resistance either... but you have a point. I'll phrase the question better next time."
Gondowon let out a relieved sigh, realizing he wasn't going to have to do more pushups. Nevertheless, his curiosity got the better of him. "How is dodging a spell resisting it?"
Fringe stared at his student, a serious look on his face. "Never underestimate the mundane methods of countering magic. If you can block a spell with your shield, do so. If you can jump out of the way of a fireball, do so. If you can pin a wizard and stop his arms from making the motions needed to finish his incantation, then do it. It's best to rely on magic as little as you possibly can when you're fighting against it."
Gondowon frowned. "But there will be times when the mundane is not enough."
"True," Fringe replied, "But more often than not, it is." He then faced the road again and pulled his brim down. "Unfortunately, the mundane will not be enough today. Not against the man we'll be facing."

Gondowon tensed as his mentor finally spoke of their target. He'd been avoiding the subject for a few days now, only mentioning that they had a job and that it would be difficult. "Master Fringe, I think it's about time you told me what we're up against. What crimes has he committed that brought him to the inquisition's attention?"
Fringe once again took a dark tone as he explained the situation to his apprentice. "He has used villages as ritual components, in the largest magical circle we've seen in a long time."
Gondowon's eyes widened. "Entire villages?" he asked with disbelief. The witch hunter nodded, a grim look plastered to his face. Gondowon put a hand to his forehead, trying to comprehend the motives behind such atrocious actions. "What... what does he plan to do?"
"As far as we can tell, he's opening a gate to the afterlife."

Gondowon stopped walking, as did Fringe when he saw that his student had come to a halt. "It's just a theory," Fringe explained, "The inquisition believes he's going to summon spirits of the dead to create an undead army."
Gondowon had so many questions to ask about the afterlife, and yet he understood the gravity of the situation and the priority it took over his curiosity. "We need to get there as soon as we can," he said, a serious look washing over his face as he mounted his horse. Fringe nodded, and pulled his leather inquisitor's mask from his belt. He tied it to his face, and mounted his own horse, galloping off with his student to where the necromancer was waiting.


Nicodemus nuzzled his beak against Gondowon's face, forcing him to look up from the mask. The sage stared at the bird for a moment, then lifted an arm up. Nick chirped and moved to Gondowon's side, sitting down under his arm, and settling his big golden head over the sage's legs. Gondowon stroked Nick's back feathers as the large bird fell asleep next to him. It was only now that he noticed just how large Nicodemus was getting. Soon he'd be big enough to ride, and Leo would likely want to put him to work as soon as he was. Gondowon sighed, trying to think of some way to convince Leo to let him keep him for himself. He doubted he'd be able to, but he still hoped. He looked down at Nicodemus, and chuckled when the bird started cooing in his sleep, almost as if he was snoring. Then he yawned as he found himself relaxing. He drifted off, but soon found himself in an unpleasant nightmare as his mind continued to remember the day he lost his mentor to the Cataclysm.


Gondowon and Fringe entered combat almost as soon as they arrived at the ruined courtyard that the necromancer was completing his ritual in. He'd already summoned several zombies and skeletons, and he'd even had the time to make a golem to hold the witch hunters off. Eventually, though, Fringe and his student were able to make their way through the droves of minions the necromancer had created.

When they entered the ruins, however, they found that they were too late. The necromancer had drawn up the circle and already they could see the sky darkening as a portal to another world opened up before them. Gondowon charged forward, hoping to stop the necromancer somehow, but found himself thrown back by the man's magical barriers. In response, the young sage held up a hand, and using his own magic, tore a hole in the wall of force that was keeping them from reaching him. Fringe grinned at his pupil's quick thinking and rushed forward through the gap Gondowon had made for him. Seeing that his spells had failed, the necromancer drew an old rusted sword and managed to parry Fringe as he struck. The two of them exchanged a few blows as Gondowon stood to try and aid his mentor.

Then they all felt it. A change, not only in the air, but in the nature of the air itself. Something was coming, and they looked to the North.

The Cataclysm. Magic was shifting, warping, or destroying everything in its path and it was coming towards them at a near impossible speed. Gondowon's eyes widened at the spectacle of ruin rushing to meet him. Fringe turned to look at his student, who was standing helpless in the middle of the courtyard. He quickly realized that there wasn't enough time to save them both. He leaped into action, running back through the gap Gondowon was still holding open, pouring all of his magic into the spell he was casting. He threw a barrier over his student, even going so far as to use his own life force to strengthen the protective magic, hoping it would be enough to save Gondowon.

Then the wave hit them, full force. In a millisecond, what remained of the stone ruins around them melted and twisted into unrecognizable shapes. The horses outside were conjoined into a hideous gelatinous mass of flesh. The necromancer was mercifully ripped to shreds before he had a chance to feel what was happening. The magical blast smashed into the barrier Fringe had thrown over Gondowon, and the flash of the impact nearly blinded the young sage. The last thing Gondowon saw, was Fringe being knocked into the portal, where the Cataclysm fused the dark magic of the underland with his mentor's form. Then, the blast overcame the barrier, and Gondowon blacked out.


Gondowon wasn't sure when exactly he woke up, whether it had been hours, minutes, seconds or days after the Cataclysm had struck. He was lying on his back, feeling drained, and looking up at the afternoon sky. Everything seemed to hurt, but he was fairly certain that meant he was alive. He sat up, and examined himself as Fringe had taught him, checking to see if everything was moving how he wanted it to, and that all his limbs were present. He found a chunk of stone lodged in his leg, and with a grunt of pain, managed to pull it out. He quickly performed the motions for a healing spell. Nothing happened. He paused, then tried again, making the motions more carefully to make sure he was casting the spell correctly. Still nothing happened. He stared at his hand in disbelief. He couldn't cast spells. He desperately reached for his weapon, hoping that he was wrong. He made an attempt to charge with sword with magic, but when he did he felt an enormous wave of pain wash over him as a bit of his essence was ripped apart from the effort.

"It seems that I miscalculated the effects of my spell," a familiar voice said from nearby. Gondowon turned to face who was speaking, and was shocked to see Fringe, standing in the middle of the warped ruins, staring at him. His face was nothing like how the young sage remembered it; his skin was white and stretched tight against his bones, some of which Gondowon could actually see peeking through holes in the man's visage.
"Fr... Fringe?" Gondowon asked, hesitantly. The witch hunter gave his student a sickly smile, causing a chill to go down his spine.
"Yes, Gondowon, it's me. Though it's been a while. At least, for me," Fringe said, walking towards him. "Six times? Seven? I think it was seven times I was ripped apart and put back together before the universe decided to make me immortal."
Gondowon's eyes widened as he realized exactly what his mentor had become. "You're a-"
"A lich, yes, Gondowon. I've already performed more than enough tests on myself to confirm it. And you," Fringe said, kneeling next to his pupil. "You seem to have had all of your essence trapped within you by my barrier. I do apologize about that; it must be a shame being unable to use magic anymore." Fringe then glanced down at the sword in Gondowon's hand, surprised to see that it was shining and filled with power. "Oh! You're not completely sealed away! That's good, that's good," he said, pulling the blade out of Gondowon's grip. As it slid from his fingers, the sword lost all of its magic, returning to a mundane hunk of metal. "But I suppose it must take a great deal of effort to push through such a handicap. I don't envy you."

"Fringe," Gondowon said, grunting and struggling to stand. "Why are you so calm? My magic's sealed off, and even worse you're... a... you're a lich! We need to be finding a way to fix this!"
Fringe turned to Gondowon, giving him another sickly smile. "And why would I want that?" he asked, instantly charging his student's sword with more magic than Gondowon had ever had in his entire body. "I am... so much more than I ever was, or ever would have been. This is the happiest accident of my life, Gondowon. Not only do I have more power than the entire inquisitorial council combined, I have all the time in the world to explore the world of magic! To experiment, to change things! I'll unravel the very nature of the world, and understand what makes the universe work!"
Gondowon's jaw dropped. "Fringe, you can't be serious! Unraveling nature? Experimenting with magic? You... you sound like the very sort of people you once hunted!"

"AND WHAT OF IT?" Fringe yelled, spinning the blade to his student's throat. "Who can stop me? You? You can't kill me, you can't even hurt me! No one can! My body is a temple of adamantine and filled to the rafters with pure, unadulterated power! The explosion of the universe that crippled you, made me a GOD!" the lich yelled, raising his arms to the sky and laughing wildly. Gondowon just stared at the man he once knew, now mad with power, and turned into something horrendous.
"Fringe, please, don't do this," he said pleadingly.
"Oh, no no, don't you worry, I'm not going to kill you," Fringe said, lowering the sword and handing it back to his student, "I'm very fond of you, Gondowon. You're like a son to me."
"No, I- I mean... don't leave who you were behind. We can fix this. I'll fix this. I'll find a way, I promise, just..."

"My precious pupil," Fringe said, smiling and handing the young sage his inquisitorial mask, "It's been nothing but a pleasure, but it's time for me to go now. To new horizons." He then turned, and began walking away, stopping to look back at his previous student only once. "Good luck hunting me, Gondowon. We'll see each other again."

With a flourish and a bow, the lich once known as Fringe left, leaving Gondowon alone in the middle of the ruins.


"Kweh-kweh!" Nicodemus chirped, waking Gondowon with a nudge. The sage rubbed his eyes, and stumbled while trying to stand. Despite having to relive the worst day of his life in his dreams, he'd slept very soundly, as it was now nearing sunset. He finally stood up, patting Nicodemus on the back. He walked the axebeak back to the stables, finding his thoughts still stuck on his old mentor. He'd been chasing Fringe for years now, following a path of bloody experimentation and dark misery left behind the lich's footsteps. A few times they'd met in person, but the conversation and often immediately ensuing battle was always short. It pained Gondowon to see so much of his once good friend still there within the monster that he'd become, and that he still didn't have a way to fix it.

Nicodemus could see that his human friend was hurting and cocked his head to one side, cooing gently. Gondowon noticed the bird's concern and gave him a crooked smile. "I'm just... thinking about an old friend," he said, trying to reassure the young axebeak. "I lost him to the cataclysm. It's... it's my fault he's gone... if I had been quicker, I could have..." Gondowon trailed off as regret washed over him. Nick rubbed his head against the sage's face, trying to cheer him up. Gondowon ruffled his feathers and sighed. "I'll be ok," he said, half-heartedly. "I just wish things were different sometimes."

He then walked in silence alongside his avian friend until they reached the stables. Nick settled himself in his pen and gave Gondowon one last look, chirping in what seemed like a worried tone. "Don't worry about me, Nicodemus," he said, smiling genuinely this time. "Tomorrow I'll be right as rain, I promise." With that Nick laid his head on the ground and closed his eyes, letting out a sigh of relief. Gondowon chuckled at how much like a person the bird seemed sometimes. He then left the stables, heading back to the ranch house. Leo wasn't back yet, but then again Gondowon knew better than to keep tabs on the mercurial elf. The sage dropped his things off by the door and pulled the leather mask from his belt, staring at it for a long time before finally placing it on top of his backpack.

"I'll never give up on you, Fringe. I'll save you if it kills me."
"The road an adventurer walks has no destination, yet they reach places no one else can dream of reaching." - Gondowon Tedra Falbor
Post Reply