Though maybe not the beginning this is the tale that begat the others in this cycle.

SYRAC GROANED: The Miscast Spell                                                            

   Syrac groaned.  It was a groan of great distinction, one to match the tumultuous throbbing of his broken head, the woe of his scorched and battered body and the ruination of his hopes. 

   He groaned and tried to open one eye.  Success! He essayed the other eye. Bravo!    It was dark.  He was lying on his back.  His lips dry, tasting of ash and less pleasant things.  He smelled smoldering wood and other burnt oddments, a melange of exotic, and worse, expensive materials which he knew he would later regret the burning of.

Syrac groaned.   From above a deep voice chuckled,“Ah! Master Syrac!  You have returned to us at last”.

   Sudden flame blossomed illuminating the wreckage wrought of the calamitous failure of the spell casting he had attempted.  Syrac could see from where he lay the summoner thereof. The Daemon: tall, naked, glossy red and scaled; yellow cats’ eyes, brassy teeth and claws glittering.  Dancing in his palm, a yellow plume of fire. The stricken mage sat slowly upright, coughing harshly.

    “Would I had…had not!” he sputtered, spitting and clutching his throbbing head; smearing the ash from his mouth with a shaking hand.  By the light of the flame he could see the blasted shambles of his sanctum and the Daemon’s amused smile. In the beams of the ceiling above he heard the flutter of leathery wings and the excited, frightened cheepings of the mousedrakes.  There were two of them: a mated pair and they darted back and forth among the beams of the ceiling looking for an escape.

    The Daemon moved to set upright a great iron candle holder.  Replacing the scattered candles and relighting them. The damage to the room was now more apparent.

    “By the Three, all is ruined!” Syrac cried as he surveyed the room.  “The Grivax! I have destroyed the Grivax! Damn, damn and thrice damn!”

   “So it appears, my friend and this time disastrously so!  Quite inconvenient to be sure,” consoled the Daemon shaking his head sympathetically as he paced about the room inspecting the damage, “ But what have we learned?  It is now confirmed, as we conjectured, that the translation of the one hundred and sixty-eighth canto of the Armohva-Kahla is corrupt. Progress is made,” he soothed, “It is a step forward.  What matters a few broken crucibles and charred spellbooks? I will admit, though, that the loss of the Grivax is a sore blow.”

   “It matters little to you, Daemon!  But I assure you it matters a great deal to me, blast it!”  Scowling at his infernal colleague, Syrac moved to lift himself from among the debris littering the floor.  He leaned unsteadily against a large, heavy table, brushing the settled ash from his robe and snapped irascibly, “Then we need to find a better translation by a better scholar!   My Galarian is abominable; neither is your knowledge sufficient. And that damned pretender Visidro who sold us, at no little expense, mind you, no little expense (may his shriveled stones shrivel further!) the cursed translation shall soon, by the ash of my beard, be croaking in the muck of a pig wallow!”

   “Calm yourself, sorcerer.   We need now firm reason and not invective.”

   “What, then, do you propose?” cried the wizard, “How shall we resolve this particular thrice damned conundrum?   We must have the words accurately.”

Then with a somewhat vituperative sarcasm, “ What is to be done, O Terrible and Wise One?  The Conjunction will not await our stumbling efforts!”

   Staring at the charred ceiling, ignoring the scorched sorcerer’s bitter jibe,  the Daemon tapped one claw against his chin. He closed his eyes in thought. A moment passed.  And another before they flashed open again.

   “The Monk of Nossos, if not gone on to a richer reward,  may be the scholar we need. I have had certain, ah, unpleasant dealings with him in the past, which it is to be hoped, that in his dotage he may have forgotten.  A man of intolerant religious views and no love for my race to be sure, but his scholarship in these arenas is unsurpassed. Sadly, he is also notoriously monkish in his habits: eschewing congress with the mundane world, as well as the pleasures and necessities of the bath.  In other words he is a hermit and he stinks. Or so it was when I knew him. Yes, it will have to be the Monk”, he sighed, “And it will require a certain diplomacy, I think.”

   Slowly and somewhat gingerly Syrac crossed the room to the shuttered window and unbound the silver wire seals, now covered in soot and blackened,  holding the rune-scribed shutters closed. He pulled them back and breathed in the soft, cool air. 

   As he gazed out at the open fields and yet shadowy meadows surrounding his manse of Seven Falls, the mousedrakes arrowed out into the gray dawn, chittering and crying their distress;  bronze bodies still dark in the new light. Above the distant Forest of Weare the sky was a soft violet washing the eastern horizon.  

   “Pah! And how much is the cost of this diplomacy think you?”

   “I shall learn as much, anon,” and the Daemon and stepped to the open window.  With the foreclaw of his right hand he traced a rectangle in the air which glowed with a lambent luminescence against the imminent dawn.  Then with a gesture as if pushing open a door, a door opened. A room was revealed lit dimly by means not apparent to Syrac’s eyes. Mounting the window’s sill the Daemon stepped through.

   Bowing gracefully he said, “Good Syrac, while you effect repairs here I shall seek out the Monk.  Look for my return, but not soon.” Then with a gesture he dissolved the portal leaving the sorcerer alone.

   Syrac summoned a light of his own.  Not the garish flame of the nether-worlder but a modest, effulgent, glowing sphere which traveled above his head and slightly before.  He surveyed the charred chaos of his spell-chamber. There was much work to do before the Daemon returned. 

   Syrac groaned and shook his head.

© ImSJ 2023
Views: 1158
critique and comments welcome.
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Flag Content