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  • Writer's pictureJon Huber

The Keepsake pt. 5

Two men stand facing each other amidst a breathtaking landscape, one is a teacher, and the other his student. For what seems like an eternity, the two stand in silence, simply basking in each other’s presence. The professor softly smiles, and the wizard stares back at him with a look of disbelief on his face. Finally, the wizard breaks his steely gaze and begins to scan his surroundings, from his left, then his right, to the empty pillar, and finally to the stunning dagger that he grasps in his right hand. At last the professor begins to speak, the conversation is quite one sided with the wizard offering little contribution. His teacher speaks of death, courage, and time; about what he experienced the day the wizard resurrected him and the nightmare that became the professor’s reality because of that action. No man was ever to live twice in the realm which the wizard occupied, but the professor did. This act greatly upset the gods and the professor was to face the consequences for as long as the divine beings saw fit. The wizard’s instructor is a man of deep integrity and will, who conveys the difficulties which he faces due to his student’s actions bluntly and without jest. The wizard stands and listens intently as his former teacher speaks, not minutes before he resided in his workshop, performing a ritual which very few knew the outcome of. Nearing the end of his monologue, the professor informs his student that he knows of his intentions, and he warns of the effects it would have on the wizard’s life. Our faithful wizard remains deathly still, since his use of the resurrection elixir, he had bear witness to a small portion of what the dark arts had to offer, but nothing of this magnitude.

The world in which the wizard finds himself seems undeniably real, he can smell the earth on which he stands, and he attentively listens to the voice of a man who he watched die. The power of this magic not only baffles the wizard, but sparks an intense feeling of resentment, not only toward the professor for keeping such powerful witchcraft from him, but toward the magic community for stifling the infinite possibilities. A rage burns in the wizard like he has never experienced before yet he remains calm and collected, although the words which the professor speaks are unpleasing to him, to see the man and hear his voice brings our sorcerer an immense amount of joy. The professor ends his speech with an invitation, he tells the wizard that if he were to follow him, they could both return to the morning of the professor’s assassination. Although the details are unclear, his teacher is quite persistent that this is what the man is meant to accomplish in the forest, yet our faithful wizard knows very well his purpose for entering this realm has nothing to do with turning back the hands of time. The professor’s demeanor seems different to the wizard, he appears to be in a state of haste, as if their time together is limited. After taking a moment to collect his thoughts, the wizard decides to indulge the professor’s behavior and agrees to accompany him for the time being. By raising his hand in gesture, he invites his instructor to shepherd the trek, the professor’s face lightens, and he swings around to begin their journey. As the man turns his back to the wizard, an item entangled in the professor’s hair catches the wizard’s attention. A stunning bronze bell hangs from a small piece of leather which keeps the professor’s long hair in order. At this, the wizard’s pace slows as he yet again falls into a trance of thought.

Our faithful wizard knows something is amiss, unfortunately for him the literature on this hellish conjuration ended with the ingestion of the bitter fungus. The wizard did not summon this realm to traverse time, yet this has been the only option presented to him aside from the conspicuous bell. Our devoted wizard, oblivious to the riddle in which this macrocosm demands of him, does the only thing he can think to do, he asks his instructor for the bell. Immediately the professor’s behavior takes an intemperate turn, he accuses the wizard of an extreme negligence of reasoning and takes off sprinting into the dense forest. It is at this moment the wizard realizes that a decision must be made, as before long his dear friend was surely to disappear in the immense forest leaving the wizard with no indication as to what his task is.

The wizard darts after the professor, quickly gaining on him as he clearly has the physical advantage on his aged teacher. When the wizard catches up to the man, he grabs his shoulder, only to have the handful of suit forcefully ripped from him. With his instructor quickly shifting into another direction, it becomes clear that he no longer wishes for the wizard to join him, and that his purpose was now to vanish as quickly as possible, taking the bell with him. As the chase ventures deeper into the forest, the vibrant green slowly fades to gray and the air becomes brisk and unpleasant. Catching up to the professor rapidly for the second time, the wizard grabs the man’s shoulder and spins him forcefully to the ground. His instructor scrambles to get away, but the wizard grabs him by the waistband of his pants and slides the man underneath his sizable frame, pinning the professor to the ground by sitting on his pelvic bone. His teacher refuses to quit his attempt at freedom, first by shouting and squirming, then by tearing at the wizard’s face. Relentlessly flailing about, the professor digs his long nails into his student’s face. As blood begins to spill from our faithful wizard’s forehead and cheeks, he draws himself further from the man’s reach and attempts to rapidly assess the violent situation. In this moment, time stands still, the aggressive scuffle taking place between the men slows and the wizard has an opportunity to evaluate.

The breath he draws into his lungs is extremely sedated, as if the air were dense like earth, and in this moment, he is only afforded one. The wizard knows this opportunity is soon to escape him, the forest begs something of him, but he has yet to put it together. Once again taking an inventory of his surroundings, the wizard realizes that the color has completely drained from the once lively forest, leaving it a dull grayscale. The professor’s suit, although creased and soiled from the tussle, kept its peculiar shade of orchid purple. The wizard’s ivory-colored hands still carry their color, with their delicate shade corrupted by the ever-present black soot. All color left the segment of forest the two men find themselves, all color except for theirs and that of the marvelously crafted dagger which fell to the woodland floor during their altercation. With the wizard’s long and drawn out exhale he studies the blade, its small details and precise craftsmanship. The dagger is beautiful, unlike any beauty the wizard had previously known, beauty like that of a woman, it draws the wizard in and refuses to loosen its grasp on his attention. With this, the wizard realizes what he must do, he now knows why he is in the forest, to obtain the bronze bell.

When this moment of realization hits him, he is at once thrust back into the undesirable scenario which continues to unfold. The professor returns to yelling and clawing at the man’s face but once decided, our faithful wizard takes little time in completing his task. He reaches for the dagger which lay within his grasp, taking hold of it with both hands, he raises the gleaming blade above his head. The teacher, who lay pinned underneath his student, realizes his fate and ceases struggling. Now, dropping his hands to the ground, the professor’s demeanor changes to that of submission. His teacher locks eyes with him and the wizard drives the dagger into the man’s chest, directly through his heart. With this act, the professor’s body goes rigid, not a single movement occurs. The forest bursts back to life with color and excitement, even more so than previously. Unfortunately, the beauty is lost on the wizard as his attention is focused on a single item. From the professor’s stiff remains rises the elegant bell, slowly untying itself from the hair which it binds. Once untied, the bell dances in mid-air directly in front of the wizard, slowly ascending out of his reach. With elegance and charm, the object dances until it is nearly ten feet above the kneeling sorcerer. Once finished, the bell levels out and hangs perfectly still, meters above the wizard’s head. With a deep inhale into his nostrils and a slow deliberate exhale out of his mouth the wizard raises his right hand and holds it parallel to the floating bell. Without warning the bronze offering plummets from its invisible perch in the sky and falls directly into the hand of the wizard. The moment the bell reaches his hand, the impact of it causes him to blink, and with that the wizard finds himself back in the candle packed room.

We rejoin the wizard while he sits in the same place he recently departed from, in the same position, as if he never left. The items which he had delicately set out are no longer there, only the sea of candles remain. His ashy staff is located to his side and what hovers in its place is a skillfully crafted, ancient bronze bell that bears no trace of age. The wizard lowers his gaze to the ground where his items once sat, the only thing that appears in front of him now is a magnificent sterling silver hammer. The mallet possesses not only the same meticulous craftsmanship of the dagger from the forest, but it also has the same gold dressing and design running down its handle. Slowly, the wizard grasps the hammer and raises it perpendicular to the bell. Striking the bell with a mediocre amount of force, the wizard immediately recoils at the tremendous sound that it produces. It rings out in an almost hypnotic way, whining like a singing bowl, only its volume never ceases increasing. The humming becomes so loud, and so intense that the wizard can almost see the wave of sound the bell creates. Suddenly, this vibration draws to its apex and concludes by wrapping itself around the room, lighting every candle on its way. There is absolutely no sound in the room, the wizard sits completely still amongst the now lit candles, all burning a rich white flame. He takes one last deep inhale before lightly chiming the bell a second time. With this, the flames of each candle begin to grow in brightness, barely moving yet burning brighter and brighter. Our loyal wizard squints his eyes to combat the ever-intensifying glow, but it rapidly becomes overwhelming. As quickly as he returned to the quaint, candle ridden space, he yet again disappears, as the thick white glow slowly engulfs him.

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