“Hassan, get up here.”
It was a set of words that usually made the young man sigh, called by his tutor to perform some tedious task. Today though, in this damp and dank cave complex, it hurried him along with excitement in his heart. Scrambling up the rock face with relative ease, thanks to the handles that Avenar the Erudite had called into the dull black material.
As he clambered over the top of the rock formation, he stopped with eyes rapt on one thing.
“This, my student, is an Enchiridion.” The brunette Wizard spoke reverently of the relic in front of him. It stood at about four foot high, a white-pearl surfaced obelisk that hummed gently with power, lines of gold energy flickering just under its surface.
For some reason, Hassan could feel himself kneeling in its presence. “It’s beautiful, Master… I can feel ‘it’ from here. It’s hard to explain.” He did not mention the light fluttering touch he felt around his head as he knelt.
“Enchiridions are artifacts of the Old Age, my student. In them, they contain the Language of Magic, storing spell calls away in vast repositories. By contacting them through our assembly relics, they can often impart information on us, teaching us how to shape the world around us, how to channel magic to be an extension to our will.” His master, a legend in his home of Skarlshold, explained. He beckoned his teenage apprentice closer with his own assembly relic, a glossy stave of pure white that glimmered with faint flecks of gold particles. In truth, he possessed several such relics of the Old Age that formed his current outfit, gauntlets and armour that shielded him and helped him work his phenomenal powers.
Hassan’s own relic was a gauntlet of soft white, marked with indentations that glowed with the golden hue of magical energy.
“I came here when I was younger than you, my student. It was the second Enchiridion that I ever made contact with, and as you connect with it today to learn more, so shall I.” Avenar explained, “When I say ‘Now’, touch your gauntlet to the surface and relax.” He brought his stave up, ready to press the tip of it against the surface as soon as his student’s hand was close enough.
He flinched as his gauntlet-clad hand touched it, the glowing indentations flaring dramatically as contact was made with the repository. That fluttering feeling that had been touching his mind was suddenly on his hand, surging its way up his arm and into his head as it dumped spell call after spell call into his young, open mind. Even as flashes of complex mathematical formula and command words darted by his vision and lodged themselves into his memory, he could feel a calling. Something urging him into action, soon joined by a counter-point that sounded very familiar.
‘Touch your forehead to me, Child of Heresy.’
“Hassan, what are you doing!?”
‘Long has this Enchiridion awaited the touch of someone like you.’
“Please, my student, awaken!”
‘Beware the Demiurge, Child. Beware the Instigators. Beware the Daemons and Administravia.’
“You are in danger, my student! I cannot assist you, you must save yourself!”
‘Do not be afraid of us though. We are Teachers, and neutral in our task. Drink deep from our knowledge, you will need it all.’
Hassan felt light, adrift. He could feel his body falling backwards as the world seemed so full of brilliant illumination. There was a solid thud on the back of his head, and just as quickly, the world went dark.
“Hassan? Hassan? Student, answer me.” Avenar spoke urgently, shaking his apprentice by the arm.
“Master…” His eyelids fluttered, before he tried to push himself up onto his elbows. His vision swam, and he soon found himself sinking back down onto the ground. “What happened?”
“You fainted.” The reply was too simple, too quick to be the truth.
“I heard voices, Master. They showed me things… it did.” Raising a trembling hand, he pointed at the Enchiridion. “I think I heard you too.”
His master’s expression was grave, giving his student a long and somewhat appraising look before sighing. “We have much to discuss at some point, my student. But not now, not here. If you would stay your tongue of questions so we can focus on returning to the others? I promise that when we have the right moment in time, we will talk about what occurred here.”
“Did I do something wrong, Master?” Hassan asked in a voice that reminded the older man so much of those first few years of having him as an apprentice. Avenar placed his hand on the young man’s shoulder and shook his head. “Not at all… you are a fine student, there are just times and places for these sorts of discussions. Trust me, my student.”
“Yes, Master…” Hassan sighed, squirming a little in an effort to relax on the hard, damp floor. Several minutes passed before he spoke again. “Master?”
“Yes, my student?”
“Did the Enchiridion show you anything new?” The question came, and Avenar took it as their original trip might have formed it, rather than this new development.
“Yes, Hassan.” The wizard sighed, looking for a fleeting moment like he would give anything to scrub what he had learned from ever existing. “Yes, it did.”