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Old 11-29-2022, 01:56 PM   #1
Terquem
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Idaho Falls
Default The Fantasy Trip inspired Fiction, The Tower

What does death look like in the world of The Fantasy Trip? I’ve been reading the comments and ideas in the Discord channel about how characters die, the way strength is used to represent character death and fatigue, and the special relationship to magic it has (is there Strength in all things that live?) and it made me think of a story to write. In this story a character with a unique relationship to death searches for a powerful sorceress who he hopes can explain the experience he has had - the two are then thrown into a situation where they must rely on each other’s secrets to survive. The story is called, “The Tower”

The Tower
by DH Austin

Prolog - A Death Uncounted

He was on the ground now. His shoulders and head rested against the stone of the castle wall where it bulged outward near the ground. His left hand throbbed in pain and the right was numb. Bodies lay all around him and above him the battlements were silent.

Everything was death.

The sun was bright and high in the clear blue sky above him. Many birds were circling but there were no sounds. He was afraid to move his head, unsure of potential sharp edges that might cut him from his cracked and damaged helmet. He tried to look down at the ground around him, but his swollen face got in the way of his vision. With great effort he rolled, onto his side, and then he saw them. There were many. They were tall and vaguely human-like, and they had thick long legs, four long and thin arms, and massive feathery wings. The garments they wore were simple long dresses with no sleeves split up to above the knee and colored in muted yellows and browns.

It seemed they did not notice him or that they did not care that he was watching them. One of them came close, kneeling near a fallen soldier, and it reached a hand through the armor and drew out a wisp-like thing. It then stood and released the wisp into the sky. The wisp rose up like a leaf caught in a wind going higher and higher until it was out of sight.

The tall thing had the face of an angel with wild golden-brown hair, but he could not tell if the thing were a man or a woman. Its countenance was pure contentment, bliss even, and its eyes radiated calm. At one point it turned to look at him. His eyes met its eyes, and he began to cry. He wanted to sigh, feeling he had earned this, this moment at life's end, but his chest was weak. He had fought with every bit of him. All of his strength and all of his training he had given in this one, his first, and last, battle. This death was not a bad death, he thought.

The thing continued to look toward him. Slowly, its expression changed to one of surprise and it seemed to become agitated, distraught.

He lifted his left hand, in pain, and turned his palm toward it, saying, "You are not what I imagined you would be."

It was startled, and its wings rose high in the air. Its arms waved up and down and then it called out in a loud voice, "Marge, we got a problem here."

Others of the beings heard the call and came rushing over. A much taller one among them, who wore a green dress with gold edges, came and put a hand on the one who cried out, and said, "It's okay, Eloise. Sometimes the body will still appear to have life even when they have died. In any case, they cannot see us. I told you that, remember?"

The one, Eloise, he heard, raised two arms, and pointed at him, and then moved her pointing fingers to the left and to the right.

His eyes followed its fingers.

There were gasps and one high pitched scream from the winged angels.

The one in the green dress covered her mouth with two hands and reached out with her other two arms and pushed the ones near her, including Eloise, back. It then took two giant steps toward him and kneeled beside him on the ground.

He was not afraid.

It lowered its head, bringing its eyes right to his. It peered at him, and with one hand wiped away the tears on his swollen cheek. "This," it said, its voice soft and low, "is not normal. You see me, man, and I see you are not at all dead to this world."

Being gentle, the thing took off his helmet, stroked his hair a few times, and smiled.

"I am Margerory Avaladeris Sofian," it said. "We are not here for you. You should not see us. I do not know what to do with you. Who are you, and what do you desire? What do you want?"

He tried to smile, but there was pain.

He said, "My name is Alan, Robert’s Son, of Dastrane. I want to be alive again."

It was Margerory's turn to cry.
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Old 11-29-2022, 09:38 PM   #2
Shostak
 
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Default Re: The Fantasy Trip inspired Fiction, The Tower

Interesting, Terquem!
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Old 11-30-2022, 10:15 AM   #3
Terquem
 
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Default Re: The Fantasy Trip inspired Fiction, The Tower

Chapter 1 Part 1

“What is the value of sentience? Our world teems with magic and things that have the illusion of life. Where is the strength of a living thing? From where does the flow of magic originate? Is it simply the need to know love? If a living thing does not long to be loved, can it said to be alive? Many have lived within me. I have not loved them, but I hoped I would. I am The Tower.”

“So, you’re alive?” She asked.

“I am a sentient being. I do not know if I am alive or not, though I think I once was.”

“Why do you think that?” She put her hand, gently, on the banister, now strangely aware of the Tower’s possible humanity.

“I have a name, but no one has used it for a long time.”

She was curious now. Her original fear was fading.

“Name,” she said, “what kind of name?”

“I remember being called Alduen, Alduen Beaumont. I can almost remember that I was Alduen, but maybe I wasn’t. Maybe it is just the name of one of the people entombed within me.”

She froze at the top of the stair, as the fear came back. The tower felt colder now. The stone seemed darker. The light, which had been visible through the narrow window on the floor below her, grew faint as dark clouds gathered above the moor.

“Are there,” she swallowed, hard, “are there many, entombed?”

"Within my walls and floors," the Tower said, "no, not many, but some, and more in the catacomb below. But, that is enough about me. Why are you here, Lisa of Callinwitch? What brings you to the Tower?"

"You know who I am? You can see me?"

"I sense you. The Aben Moor Sorceress is known to many of the creatures who have lived within me. They have talked about your coming."

She turned quickly, looking back down the curved stairs. Nothing was there.

"Monsters?" She asked.

"Monsters, yes, I suppose, and others. Some are just creatures looking for a dry place out of the moorlands all around us. Other things which only appear alive, and are less alive than I am, can be found below."

"The dead roam your cellars? Maybe your corpse is among them?" She tried to be interested in the mysteries and less afraid of the situation.

"For certain it does not. I don't know why, but what of me that has become the tower was hidden, hidden away for a very good reason."

She kept looking back behind her to the left, watching the stairs and the floor below as it grew darker. She had brought torches, naturally, but she was not yet ready to create light that others might notice. She wanted to know more about the tower, about the previous occupants.

It had been three days since she left the home she had known for the last forty years. The journey was not far, but there had been many stops along the way. Her home, well the place that had been home, belonged to the previous Aben Moor Sorcerer, Duncan Rhoanee. Lisa inherited the property on the coast, and the title of Aben Moor Sorceress when Duncan disappeared thirty years ago. Their relationship had always been a difficult one to describe. To the people of the moorlands they were a wizard and his apprentice, while to those who knew them well, they were more than that, more and at times less.

The tower was many miles inland and to the northwest of the town of Callenwitch. Between the coastal town and the high Aben Moor there were many smaller villages and settlements and Lisa had made it a point to try and stop at each one along the way. She had always tried to live up to the responsibilities of the title she had inherited and the people were always glad to see her.

Her magic, learned from Duncan under years of tutelage, was known to be powerful, mysterious, and something to be feared. She was the protector of the moors. Hundreds of years ago the witches of the moors had chosen a human mortal to train in the ways of spells, and gave that sorcerer the knowledge and abilities to draw power directly from the moor itself in order to keep the balance of wild magic and learned magic under some control.

Many wizards who did not understand the secrets of the Aben Moor had come to try and tap into the wild magic for many years. Some would come to challenge the witches directly. They died. Others would try to find ways to grow their own strength by spells that were not right or not balanced to the moorlands energies. They suffered from fates worse than death. It was the task of the Aben Moor Sorceress to protect the moor from these misuses of the strength of the moor.

Duncan had first told Lisa about the tower when she had turned twenty three years old, the year he had left on a mission he had said was of great importance to the balance of the moor, and never returned. He had warned her of the tower but he did not give her many details about its dangers or its origin.

What Lisa had learned about the tower was not much more than what Duncan had told her. He had said it belonged, originally, to the first Aben Moor Sorcerer, and that it was located in the very center of the moorlands.

He had said it was abandoned for a good reason, and nothing more.

A threat had come to the moors and Lisa was sure the reason was tied to the tower in some way. That is what brought her. She was not prepared to find that the tower had reasons of its own to wish to be left alone. They would need to agree that only a compromise would satisfy them both. It would take a dead man to make them understand.
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Old 11-30-2022, 04:23 PM   #4
timm meyers
 
Join Date: May 2020
Default Re: The Fantasy Trip inspired Fiction, The Tower

wonderful, well written and inventive. I liked it allot.
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Old 12-01-2022, 01:17 PM   #5
Terquem
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Idaho Falls
Default Re: The Fantasy Trip inspired Fiction, The Tower

Chapter 1 Part 2

The Tower was quiet now, as if it had no more to say to her.

When she had first entered the tower, it had greeted her with a warning, but Lisa had assumed that that was an old spell left to frighten less intelligent creatures, that understood the words, away. It wasn’t until she had reached the top of the stairs on the second floor that it began to dawn on her that the tower was actually talking.

She was alone and so had no way of knowing if she was hearing the tower’s messages in her own mind, a type of magical message, or if somehow the tower was able to make sounds of its own. If the tower was truly a sentient being of some kind, it must have a way to tap into the magic of the moor itself and use that magic to talk. This was a rare kind of magic. It was not uncommon for inanimate objects to posses the magic, a gate was the most common type of object of this kind, but to be sentient, unlike a gate, which worked on set parameters established by the creator of the gate, was rare.

She had told no one where she was going, when she left, and had kept her destination a secret along the way. There were common stories about the tower all across the moor. The stories never intrigued her, but Duncan's warning about the tower had always made her curious. Stories about curses and evil spells that were the sort of stories parents would tell children to encourage them to be well behaved, were of no consequence to Lisa.

“Don’t make bad choices,” the stories would always say, “or you will go to the tower where people are never seen or heard from again.”

She wondered why Duncan had never warned her that the tower itself was a being that could access magic itself. He must have known, she thought.

Although the working of spells was not common, among average folk, the understanding of how magic worked was well known by nearly everyone.

“There are two kinds of magic in the world,” Duncan had told her the first day of her training, when she was just a girl of thirteen. “Both kinds of magic,” he said, “where created by tapping into what most people would call strength. A living thing has a life force, or strength of life, and as long as the thing continues to live that strength is a measure of the life force of that being. A living thing loses some of its strength when it works or exerts itself beyond simply existing, pushing itself, or when injuries or illness take a toll on the life force, sometimes leading to death.”

It was this training, Lisa recalled, that she found the most interesting of all. She learned simple spells easily enough, but this life force, this strength and how it is manipulated, fascinated her. The casting of a spell required a wizard to use some of their own strength, channeling this into energy that can be something physical outside of the body, or something only perceived by other living things, illusions, the most powerful and difficult to control magic of all.

A wizard could not use up their own strength to the point that they would risk death, but they could easily use enough of the strength they had to drain them so powerfully that their body was rendered unconscious.

Strength, while the body is not injured or suffering from illness, poison, or disease, returned to all living things over time. This was another thing that Lisa wanted all of her life to understand. How much strength does any living thing actually have, she wondered? Could it be measured?

And how, exactly, does a non living thing, like the tower, have, or access, strength, the life force that is the source of all magic?

The second kind of magic that Duncan had taught her about was wild magic. The magic that exists, often, within some living things that have a magical nature, or some forms of magic that can come into being simply because the world is full of living things. There was great magic in the moors, and in the highland moorlands, the place called the Aben Moor, the magic was very strong indeed. Living things there would sometimes grow to enormous proportions well beyond what nature intends. Some places in the moors have ongoing magical effects that create lights, sounds, smells, weather even, that cannot be explained.

The wizard learns to tap into their strength to cast spells. The number and kinds of spells was not great. Most wizards know a few of the most commonly known spells, while a few know many more. But, spells are controlled things. A wizard learns the proper way to cast a spell and the results of these spells are almost always the same, no matter who has cast them. These are the spells that most folk are familiar with. Sorcery is something different.

Lisa had learned the spells that Duncan knew. He taught her the way to cast a spell, how to tap into her own strength. He also taught her the secret of the Aben Moor, and the way to draw strength from the life force that is in all things. This magic could not be used to cast those simple spells. This was a secret handed down from immortal beings to the first sorcerer of the moor a very long time ago. With this magic the Aben Moor Sorcerer could understand, see and hear, and interpret the animals and plants of the moorlands. With this power they could know what was needed to heal the sick, aid the injured, restore the growing vibrancy of things, and with focus, transfer the strength of one living thing into another, if needed. This was the gift of the Aben Moor, and the power of the Aben Moor Sorcerer or Sorceress, to know life and channel its gifts.

If the tower had strength, and if there was a connection between the moor and the tower, any sorcerer that mastered that strength could be the most powerful wielder of wild magic in all the world.
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Old Yesterday, 01:01 PM   #6
Terquem
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Idaho Falls
Default Re: The Fantasy Trip inspired Fiction, The Tower

Chapter 1 part 3

Lisa was aware of a living thing near her. It was not the tower she sensed, but something more familiar. She felt it in her body before she felt it as it slid over her hand resting on the banister. It was a small snake and she knew it meant her no harm. She turned her head. Knowing the importance of startling it as little as possible, she kept her hand still. Small snakes, until they are known, should always be handled with care, Duncan had taught her.
It was a brown and green garden snake, a small variety, harmless, not venomous in the slightest, making its way over her hand without interest in her.

She could tell it was not well. "Oh, you poor thing," Lisa whispered. She lifted the snake on the back of her hand and let it regain itself as she rolled her hand over and with her other hand gently traced a line down its body.

"You have not eaten," she said.

"This is Suressa," the Tower said. "She came in through the door with a pair of grindylow a few weeks ago and has not been able to find her way out again."

“You understand the animals of the moorlands?” Lisa asked aloud.

“Yes, but don’t ask me how. I have always been able to understand them, but I don’t think they understand me. If they do, they do not listen to my warnings. I often think they come in when they can, just to frustrate me.”

“It’s not you,” Lisa said. “The ability to understand the language of animals is not a two way road. There are very few animals that perceive us in the way we perceive them. They are aware of us, but talking to them is as effective as talking to a plant. They hear us, but our words have no meanings to them. My teacher used to claim that he could talk to dogs and they understood him, but I think that was wishful thinking on his part. He loved dogs, after all.”

“He sounds like someone I would like very much. I also love dogs. Once there was a dog that lived under the front stairs for a few years. I would talk to her, but she did not talk back, naturally. She would bark when strangers approached and that was often enough to keep people away.”

Lisa continued to gently stroke the snake on her hand. She was unaware that a stranger had entered the tower.

“My awareness of things does not extend far beyond my walls,” the tower said, “and having the dog around would prevent things like the man standing in the doorway who is now looking up in your direction.”

“Hello,” the man said. “Who is there? I can hear your voices. I’m sorry to disturb you, but it was looking like rain and I am lost. I thought this was an abandoned place. I saw no lights and the door was open and then I heard voices. If I am trespassing, I’ll go. I am not a dangerous person.”

She thought it was odd that the man would say something about himself like that. Lisa had no reason to be afraid of the man, but something wasn’t right. She wondered how he was able to get so close to her without her sensing him. One of the first lessons Duncan had drilled into her was how to be aware of the almost imperceptible aura that living things had all around her.

Even something as small as a spider, or even a moth, had strength and that strength can be sensed if you are trained to feel it. She felt nothing from this strange man.

The great wooden door on the first floor of the tower stood wide open.

Outside the dark clouds had turned the day to shadows and grays almost as dark as the inside of the tower itself. The smell of rain came in.

Somewhere far off to the east, lightning flashed through the clouds. It was too far off for the sound of the thunder to reach the tower. The light illuminated the figure in the doorway for a moment.

He was pale. Not unusually pale but fairer than the people of the moor. His hair was thick and short, and light colored like wheat in a field in the sunshine. He had the face of a boy, but he was built strong with broad shoulders.

“Are you alright?” Lisa asked.

“What do you mean?” he answered, and then he said, “May I come in? Is there a fireplace? I could build a fire. I know how.”

“Close the door and come in,” the tower said, “or you may let in things that are more dangerous than you.”

“Yes, sir,” the man in doorway said and closed the door behind him. “Is there a reason you prefer the dark?”

“I do not see with eyes,” the tower said. “I am the tower. I cannot stop you from being here.”

“The tower?” the man said puzzled.

Lisa had left her pack near the door when she entered the tower.

“There is a pack by the door on the ground to your left. You can find a torch there. My name is Lisa, and you have met the tower. Who are you?”

“My name is Alan, Alan Robert’s Son. You live in this magic tower?”

“No, but it belongs to someone I know. I was just checking on it. It is a coincidence that we are both here on the same day. You said you were lost,” Lisa said, “are you a stranger to the moorlands?”

She was making her way slowly down the stairs. She reached the bottom just as the man was standing up from the ground where he had just lit a torch from her pack.

They were just a few feet apart now. And for the first time Alan saw Lisa in the light.
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