Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Finding a Home|
I had been out of school a week now and in Germany for two days. The locals seemed to be humoring me and putting up well with my questions. I was taking (I thought) a much deserved vacation before starting collage. High School had been boring, even with all the college level classes I had taken. My part time job at the metal fabrication shop had even started to get routine.
I was eighteen and had an appetite to learn. I spoke five languages and had four bachelor degrees from correspondence courses. One in Metallurgy, one in Chemistry, another in Engineering and the last in Architecture. To be blunt, I was a bookworm. Not to say I didn’t do anything else, I had two black belts, one in Ti chi and the other in Judo. I practiced both religiously since the age of five.
I also played Dungeons & Dragons and had a love of the middle ages. After I had started at the fabrication shop I had done so well that they let me make a few things on the side. I had also learned the value of regular crafts and was able to make my own clothing or cook my own meals.
While at dinner at the guest house the night before, one of the locals had told me about some old ruins. They were in the woods about twelve kilometers from town. One thing I liked about Germany was the state they kept the country in. There were forest meisters, whose job was to keep the woods clear of underbrush. It was a good thing, because it sounded like any roads or even trails ended five kilometers before I would get to the ruins.
I was up early and stopped at a couple of shops for lunch supplies and then started walking. It was still early when I reached the end of the road and entered the woods. I had dressed in my Dungeons & Dragons outfit and carried the things I had made. The landmarks that the locals had given me were fairly specific and I didn’t have any trouble finding the ruins.
When I entered the forest I stopped to put on the chain mail made of titanium. Then all the rest, a modified katana sword made of titanium and the short sword, also made of titanium. Then there was the straight tanto knife on my leg and the sykes dagger hanging down the middle of my back, both were made from carbon fiber.
I also had two seven inch slim tanto style stilettos (both were also carbon fiber) on both of my forearms and I carried a folding knife with a three inch tanto style blade. It was like one of my characters in Dungeons & Dragons.
I reached the ruins an hour later. It sat on a large rocky outcropping with a twenty foot gap where the gate used to be. It didn’t really look that big, but I could see that it had been easily defensible. Looking down from the lip of the ridge, I saw that it rose up twenty five to thirty feet above the ravine floor on fairly steep rocks.
I was sure that the keep had probably been gone over several times over the years and anything to find would have been found. I decided to scout around outside in the ravine, maybe I would get lucky. After a couple of hundred meters I found a spot that looked like I would be able to climb down. I was halfway down when a clump of brush I was holding onto broke free and fell. When I regained my balance and looked for another bush to hold onto, I saw it.
It was a crack about eighteen inches wide, the brush had pulled the top covering loose and exposed a skeleton. Well part of one anyway, I saw that the arms were scrunched up and broken. Then I saw something that really drew my attention, well a couple of something’s. The first was the knife, it was sticking out of the ribs.
The second was a Sapphire ring that was lying below where the hands were and the third was the object that the skeleton still held. It was something wrapped in a heavy cloth. When I carefully pulled it loose, I saw it was a bronze tube with rotting cork in the ends. I tucked it carefully in my belt and then picked up the ring and knife (which came out with a grating sound that sent shivers down my spine).
After securing everything I finished the climb down. At the bottom I sat down on a large rock to see what I had found. The knife was heavily tarnished brass and the handle cracked bone. The ring was a narrow gold band (almost like a woman’s) with a Sapphire cut in a diamond shape.
The brass tube is what really drew my attention though. It was an inch in diameter and a foot long. Using my folding knife to carefully remove the cork I found it held a stash of precious stones. There were twenty rubies, emeralds and sapphires, but more importantly I found a piece of parchment.
Carefully I worked it out and when it was finally free I opened it to find a kind of map. With a shock I realized it was the keep and it showed another entrance, this one in the ravine. If I was reading it right, the entrance was on the other side of the keep. I thought it might be worth looking for.
Gathering everything up, I started down the ravine. When I reached the keep, I started a slow circle around it and when I was on the other side I saw the narrow crack in the rocks. After pulling the brush that was blocking the crack loose, I turned sideways and squeezed in. After a few feet there was a turn and everything was pitch black. I thought I would have to turn back, but then I remembered the tiny light on my key chain.
Turning on the tiny light, it looked like the passage stopped six feet from the corner but I remembered the map that showed it turning again. When I reached it I found the way opening up more and then there was the door. It was green and when I got close I realized it was tarnish. A small scrap showed it was bronze like the knife. On one side was a small slit type hole that strangely reminded me of the knife blade.
Pulling the old knife from my belt I inserted it in the hole. When I did there was a loud click and the door moved slightly. It was enough that I was able to see light around the door. I wasn’t sure about this, I was far enough under the old keep that there shouldn’t be any light filtering down this far.
It took some doing to break the centuries of tarnish loose. I finally had enough done to allow me to push the door open so that I could enter. When I stepped through, it was like stepping back in time. I found myself in a small ante room with another door. I couldn’t see where the light came from, it was just there. There was a small table next to the door and a stand to hold clothing.
The other door was bronze and strangely untarnished. It had a simple latch that I lifted and when I pushed it open, a soft light slowly came on. When I stepped through this door I felt a tingling sensation pass over me. The room was like someone’s living room, there was a couch and a couple of chairs.
They had wood frames and cushions made of leather. It was as if the light was from indirect lighting but there was no sign of the lights. There was a large fireplace with a fire that was burning merrily away. There was also a feeling of age and of long disuse.
The room had three other doors, one in each of the other walls. There were even three windows that looked out onto three entirely different scenes. One looked like a bright spring day, the second a rainy summer day and the third was of a snow covered evergreen forest.
It seemed a very comfortable room, with several large animal pelts on the floor. As I stepped further into the room I saw the intricately carved tables next to the couch and chairs. A pipe with a large leather pouch next to it seemed almost common place.
Going through the door on the left I entered a dinning area with a table in the middle of the room and eight chairs around it. A large wooden cabinet stood in the far corner next to another door. There were two more windows in here as well, one a large bay window overlooking a peaceful sea, the other looking down into a tree covered valley.
Through the other door and I was in a kitchen. Pots and pans hung from a set of bars, there was a couple of what looked after a minute of study to be brass stoves. Both seemed to be warm and when I opened one, there was no flame or any source of heat that I could see. The two sinks were just as strange, they both had running water that fell from the wall into the sink and just as neatly drained away.
The large fireplace had arms that could hold large pots and be swung over the fire. It also had Y shaped brackets to hold a roasting bar. The only other door opened into a shallow closet that seemed to hold food. Back in the first room, I tried the door that had been on the far side of the room and found myself in a short corridor.
There were two doors at the end, one on each side of the hall. Entering the one on the left, I found myself in a bedroom. The bed was low and wide, with a wood frame and it looked like a stuffed leather mattress. There was a small fireplace and a large window looking out at a sunny meadow. The other room held a stone basin with flowing water and a large raised stone tub that could probably fit six people. There was an area with a stone seat, (I couldn’t help thinking Toilet).
I went back to the first room (I was thinking of it as the front room now), I went in the last door. It had been the one on the right as I first came in. It was a large library with thousands of leather bound books and scrolls on tall wooden shelves. There was another door on the other side of the room, when I went through it I found myself at the top of a large spiral staircase.
At the bottom were four doors, the first door opened into a study with a large desk. There was a small fireplace with a comfortable looking chair in front of it. I looked on the desk and carefully turned over a leather covered book sitting in the middle of the desk. It was in a language I didn’t know. The more I looked at it, the more it looked like a mix of several languages.
Sitting in the strait wooden chair, I tried to figure it out. Remembering a class I had taken about decoding ciphers I pulled a blank sheet of parchment to me and started decoding. It was a couple of hours later that the key hit me and I realized how simple it was. The book was a journal and it talked about some apprentice being late and having to go find him. I looked at the number on the cover and saw other journals on a shelf nearby. Closing the journal, I set it on the desk before leaving the room.
Back in the stairwell I tried the next door only to find it locked with no visible lock or keyhole. Across the hall was another door, it opened to show a row of narrow beds with a bathroom at the other end. The last door opened into a large chamber with a raised platform in the center and a beam of light that shown down from what looked like a small sun.
The walls went around the platform and were smooth to the touch. Most of what I had seen so far, I could explain away although it was a stretch. What happened next was not expected. When I stepped up onto the platform, the room seemed to spin for a minute and then it was as if I stood in a bright sunny meadow, only there were two suns.
A man stood before me and when he spoke I couldn’t understand him. He spoke again and still I didn’t understand. He frowned and then mumbled something and made a gesture and then stepped up to me. Before I knew what he was going to do, he touched me between the eyes. It was almost like a shock, only the tingle seemed to stay in my head for several minutes and I blurted, “What did you do?”
The man smiled,“I made corrections so you would be able to understand me.”
I blinked, “is this real?”
“In a manner of speaking. You are still in the training room of Objer’s Hall. This is a teaching tool for his students.”
I thought about this, “So you’re like a computer AI?”
The man tilted his head as if thinking and then looked at me, “Yes, in a way. I was created to teach students in the ways of magic. By your thoughts, I see what you think an AI is and yes, it is close to how I was made.”
I nodded, “and you think I am one of his students?”
The man smiled again, “at first, yes. But I can see from your mind that you aren’t. I also see that Objer’s Hall is empty and long unused. How this came to be I don’t know, but it means a secondary spell must be activated.”
I watched as the man frowned and then a second man appeared. He looked to be an older man, “So my Hall is empty and long unused. How did you pass the door wards?”
Even as I started to ask, (what door wards), a thoughtful expression crossed his face, “I see, never mind. If you have found the knife and have my ring then I am no more. I leave all I have to you. You have great potential for magic and can learn a great deal if you wish.”
Turning he looked at the other man and then nodded and seemed to fade away. The first man looked at me, “You have my master’s offer, will you accept?”
I thought about this and then looked at the man, “I will have to think about this. Is this the only place you can appear?”
“oh no, I can appear anywhere in the Hall. I haven’t appeared before because I was in what you would call a learning phase. All the knowledge in the library was being absorbed into the learning spell.”
“How do I leave this illusion spell thingy?”
The man smiled and made a gesture. The room was as I had first seen it, with one exception he was still there. I turned to leave and the man started following me. I glanced at him, “What do I call you?”
He seemed to think that over before looking at me, “You can call me Merlin.”
I couldn’t help the burst of laughter and then I covered my mouth. I went all the way back to the living room and sat in front of the fireplace. He seemed to get thinner and then disappear while I sat there. Shortly my stomach began growling and I looked up at one of the windows to see it getting darker.
I went into the kitchen and opened the pantry. After only a minute I started pulling things out to make myself something to eat. I was thinking the whole time and finally set the sandwich I had made down, “Merlin?”
The man appeared, “Yes?”
I nodded, “Alright, teach me.”
He grinned and bowed, “We start in the morning master.”
He gestured to the other room, “You can use the master’s room to sleep in and tomorrow morning we will begin with the principles.”
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