by Than Pence
Cramp Winner: With an amulet, Faybiss realizes he's been given a great responsibility.
|Everyone in the room sat expectantly. Master Jokule had just been buried and his final testament was about to be read. Faybiss was hopeful he might hear exactly what he expected. He was Jokule’s most favored apprentice, after all. Everyone knew it.
Bishop Quantic entered with a small scroll tucked under his arm. As he passed Faybiss, the older man sneered. Though the room had been filled with murmurs, everyone hushed as the bishop approached the altar. Without preamble, he began quoting from the scroll.
“I, Master Trygg foo Jokule, pass along the Dygric amulet to Faybiss Cascade. For everyone else that has stepped before my desk, I pass along warm sentiments.” As Quantic finished, Faybiss detected a level of contempt within the bishop’s tone. Faybiss guessed it was because the elder had thought himself more worthy of the infamous amulet.
As the magic tied to the amulet was activated, the item materialized before Faybiss. He grabbed it eagerly and set it around his neck. He felt all eyes upon him and the bishop left the room in a hurry. Vortice was the first to ask “What’s it feel like?”
Faybiss had barely registered his own feelings: he’d almost expected this would happen. The question forced him to contemplate. In thinking, he realized that something peculiar began affecting his vision. The longer he stared at Vortice, the more he noticed small pearls of light floating around the boy’s body. “Dude,” said Garlipe. “You already have Jokule’s stare down pat!”
With that, Faybiss looked to Garlipe and gasped at how many pearls surrounded the gruffer teen. They were mostly dark orbs. When Faybiss focused his sight onto one of the black pearls, the scene around him changed. He saw a younger child with Garlipe’s stout features smacking an even smaller boy with a closed fist. The scene disturbed Faybiss slightly. He blinked and was amongst his peers once again.
Looking back at Vortice, Faybiss gazed into one of his many, many white pearls. When the scenario shifted, he saw Vortice being given an opportunity to cheat on a recent examination that had been provided by Bishop Quantic. The boy chose not to cheat. Faybiss recalled that Vortice had scored top marks on that exam
Faybiss starting thinking that that the pearls surrounding the people near him represented memorable moments of their owner’s past. The contents of those moments colored it.
With this newfound knowledge, Faybiss decided that he now understood why Master Jokule was so well known for staring intently at his pupils. It also made Faybiss uncomfortable because he couldn’t see any pearls orbiting around his own body. As he became accustomed to it, he more readily noticed that all of his classmates were silently surrounded by orbs of light or darkness. Few were as uniformed as Vortice’s bright lights. With a sobering realization, several more were hosting darker orbs, like Garlipe.
Faybiss realized that he could spend hours or days staring into the moments of the past, but it felt like he was stepping into moments of privy that weren’t normally accessible. He also stumbled upon the conclusion that Jokule had obviously used the Dygric amulet to view into everyone’s past.
Everyone, including Faybiss.
The idea almost made the apprentice blush. He thought of all the private moments that he’d entertained by himself. For the most part, he was silently mortified and Faybiss couldn’t think of why Master Jokule had chosen himself as the amulet’s new owner over everyone else.
* * *
Hours later, Faybiss was on his bed staring at the ceiling when there was a knock at the door. Without a moment’s pause, Bishop Quantic entered Faybiss’s dorm room. Surrounding him were countless pearls. Many were dark.
The bishop quietly shut the door and stared at Faybiss. “I see that you’ve won ‘the grand prize’, Master Cascade.” Faybiss could only nod. His eyes kept going from the bishop’s eyes to the orbs that swirled slowly around him. He wanted to focus on one but knew it wasn’t appropriate. “Did, ah, Master Jokule disclose the amulet’s power?”
“Uh… what do you mean, sir?”
Quantic scowled slightly. “Master Jokule never revealed the nature of the Dygric amulet, but he never took it off his person. His magic even disallowed anyone from removing the amulet from his corpse, as you know. I’m wondering if its nature has been revealed yet.”
Knowing that his lie would possibly generate a darkly orbiting pearl, he shook his head. The bishop’s scowl deepened, making the silence seem palpable around them. “Very well.” With that, he left Faybiss’s room.
Upon leaving, Faybiss caught a glimpse of one of Quantic’s darker pearls. The scene around him shifted to a treachery : the bishop violently murdering Master Jokule and using sinister spells to cover his tracks.
The revelation made Faybiss’s blood run cold.
After Quantic shut the door, Faybiss knew he was no closer to discovering why he was chosen as Jokule’s heir, but he now realized why his greatest master had been considered the most powerful mage at the Farenta’se School for Spelling:
Knowledge made one terribly powerful.
Faybiss grasped that he might not be the most responsible person to carry this odd burden, but he knew that a level of importance had now been thrust upon him. It made him queasy but he was willing to accept it. “After all, Master Jokule saw something in me that made him think I was apt to receive this amulet,” he muttered to himself. “I guess I just have to trust him.” The thought made Faybiss a little more comfortable because, obviously, Jokule had seen the teen at his very best… and most embarrassing worst.
Word Count: 947