To Whom It May Concern:
It is with deepest and sincerest regret that the death of Tyvernos “Breeze” Oriflamme deprives me of the pride of personally conferring upon him the Victor’s Medal, the greatest of all rewards for valor and devotion to duty. I join with you in lamenting his departure from the mortal realm of Palladium.
Very Truly Yours,
Whew! That felt good. I have so much to get off my chest. Did it convey this complex potpourri of emotions that I’m struggling to bear after the abduction of my friend, Oric Bellode? It’s very complex. See? Dad, I know you’re still reading, please hug mom for me if she hasn’t fainted. If she has, well, I’ll see to it that I indenture myself to her in the kitchen for as long as I stay. Oh! Speaking of which, I’m on my way home. I am in need of some rest and relaxation and the comforts of home and the people who love me. I have been away a long time and, in that time, I have experienced the wonders of Palladium and reached a plateau in my warlockry studies. I miss you guys and can’t wait to see you. I’ll be home soon so I figure I’ll just deliver you the letter by hand rather than wasting copper on the parcel post or pigeon poop.
Mystery follow mystery but the most mysterious thing of all is what has become of the part of my system which has almost taken the form of my second nature. I was especially cautious to provide myself with the indispensable before leaving home, but it has disappeared and I have lost all trace. I have unraveled many of other people’s losses, but here is one of my own which has thrown me on my beam ends. I would not have troubled you, but in this benighted spot, although you will scarcely credit it, I cannot procure what I much need, so send by FIRST post, as my movements are uncertain, one large box of tabacco-weed. Note my assumed name and enclosed address, which I beg of you to destroy as I do not wish my whereabouts to be known.
It’s pretty intriguing, no? I just can’t seem to gather all my thoughts and collect them into a cogent, coherent, construct. I’m torn between the former and latter for my delivery. Regardless, I love you guys. I’ll be home from college tomorrow. This year’s “Study Abroad” program was an incredible experience and I even got to “intern” with CrIsis — the Palladium world leader in CrIsis Management and CrIsis Counseling. Can’t wait to fill in all the blanks between my letters. See you soon! Wait, I’m probably standing right in front of you. Oops!
Otto plodded along merrily in the cool afternoon. He looked every part the sun-kissed diva on the sun-soaked divan. The sun was high overhead and the leafy canopy filtered a few stray rays. Craning oaks strained to claw the clouds while their branches provided domicile and their boles provided dominion. The Northern Wilderness still felt like home. Warbling tweets alerted the forest denizens to the presence and passage of visitors. The wind passed through gently, touching everything, disturbing nothing — an unseen honorific with the gentle caress of an immaterial hand. The forest whispered with sibilant sighs and silent susurrations. The breeze ruffled his fur even as it ruffled my feathers. I let my gaze linger as it traveled upward at the Bismarck cradled aloft in the arms of our invisible companion.
Transparent is a ten-foot-tall elemental essence fragment known as a Phantom. He is considerably less powerful than even a “minor” elemental but he can be summoned as a spell instead of the usual two-hour ritual. We only recently found out that he’s actually a girl. That’s quite a mistake for an elemental. My apology was summarily trod upon by the invisible pitter-patter of little footprints on his…er, her heart. Tranny has been my faithful, invisible manservant, er woman-servant, for nearly as long as I’ve known Otto. She certainly has peculiar taste in clothing but there’s no accounting for taste, right? She dutifully toted the doggy-dirigible down the forest path and with no less spring in her step or verve in her swerve than Bennu-flan in Otto’s elan. It was good to be home.
The Oriflamme residence was nestled in a quiet neck of the back forty; it sprawled across tree-tops somewhere between bucolic and bumblefuck. My father, the Master Air Warlock, Oren Oriflamme, had made his humble beginnings here with my mother back when they first retired from The Defilers. He called this place “Solace” and the name stuck. He and my mother, Shaniqua, have spent many years in Solace — including my entire childhood and young-adulthood. As a Gnome I’m not ignorant of the differences in our respective lifespans but it has never been a more prevalent thought than lately. My entire life, thus far, has been a blink of an eye or the bat of an eyelash to my parents. Their sense of the passage of time is immutable and depthlessly unfathomable to me. I will live and die a life of adventure and excitement — experiencing all the highs and lows that a full-bodied, rich experience has to offer — in the span of a heartbeat. Each of my breaths is exponentially more potent…more valuable than a thousand of theirs. They will, one day, outlast my expiration and find an end to the circadian cycle.
The prodigal son returns with appreciation and love.
My mother and father were on the tree-house porch busying themselves with sweeping and reading respectively. Oren, intent on the leather-bound tome in his lap, and Shaniqua intent on whisking away the nervous energy that undoubtedly riled her with anticipation. The broom swept methodically, vigorously and its cloyingly-familiar “swish-swish” arched an occasional Oren eyebrow. My father reached out with his senses and scanned the forest for signs of me. He, too, was anxious though he showed it differently. He couldn’t have been reading more than a sentence or two at a time between toe-tapping scans of the verdant panorama. I couldn’t help but watch them for a while…until Bennu’s Benevolence gave me an introduction.
“Mmmrrrr…Rrrrufff!” reported the whimper-bark of a benighted Bernard.
“Otto?” my mother called hesitantly. I guess it would make me hesitate if I lived in a tree-house and I heard a dog barking above me. My mother, always the sane, grounded, and astute one. I could smell aromatic delights wafting from the sensory-orgasm that permeated her kitchen. No doubt that’s what had prompted Otto’s failed prowl. Tranny had successfully made hers though she levitated downward on a current of wind with the immobilized Bismarck cradled in invisible arms.
“RRrrrrUFFF!” he responded in kind with what can only be described as a Goddess’s fondest memory.
“Otto!” she squealed like a little girl who had just gotten a doll-house for Christmas.
“I warned that boy about enchanting animals with other animal’s abilities.” Yup, dear-old-dad. Who’d have surmised?
“Hush, now Oren, Tyvernos is home…wherever he is,” she tsked him and clucked reproachfully while looking up into the trees and scanning the skyline.
“Giving a dog ‘Fly as the Eagle’ is as bad as giving an eagle ‘Swim as the Fish’. I told the boy. We’re warlocks so we don’t mess with the natural order of things if we can help it. There are plenty of other ways to solve that problem. Isn’t that right, Otto?” My father apparently had a big-enough chip on his shoulder to think that he could actually sway the Bennuficent to his side. Hah! That’s rich. When Otto alighted on the deck, suspended in mid-air nearly 7ft above the porch, both of them wasted no time in approaching and petting him. “Odd, Tyvernos doesn’t know any incantation, so it can’t be ‘Winged Flight’ or even ‘Flight’. Could it be levitate? Perhaps ‘Feather Fall’.” He began stroking the dog absently while ruminating.
“That’s enough Oren,” my mom sighed exasperatedly. “You never take your mind off the magic.”
He appeared to be ignoring her and they were both ignoring the fact that Otto appeared to be floating or levitating, held aloft by invisible hands…or wind currents.
That’s when I canceled the invisibility.
“Hey guys! Look what the dog dragged in!” I pealed, beaming from ear to ear as I embraced my mom’s ankle and shin in a full-body hug.
“Tyvernos!” they shouted in unison — and I couldn’t tell if theirs was a surprise born of joy or fright — but I welcomed it nonetheless when my mom reached down and plucked me gently from off her ankle and crushed me to her breast. “Oh Ty,” she cooed into my ear, rocking back and forth. I felt a little like Otto in the arms of Tranny. The Bismarck, from his perch, looked down on me with contempt. One day doggy dearest! I flashed him my most winsome, furtive smile, and brandished my pearly whites.
“It’s good to see you, son,” my dad intoned with solemn sincerity. He was always so serious.
“It’s good to see you too, father,” I mocked with elder-elven monotone. My delivery was impeccable.
“Bah!” he scowled and threw his hands up in that ‘oh-so-familiar’ manner that brought me right back to my high school years of home-school. I used to love getting a rise out of the old man; it was good to know I still had it in me. My mom laughed heartily and I bounced in her arms.
“I want to introduce you guys to Tranny!” My mom put me down and addressed me with mock sincerity.
“Tranny?” she echoed.
“Why, yes. Transparent, please deposit the Bismarck on the porch…gently!” I added hastily as an afterthought. Otto had reminded me of his apparent lack of shocks and struts on more than one occasion. Admittedly, Tranny could be a little thick but I was getting used to her “direct” and “straightforward” nature. I think it meshed rather well with mine. Birds of a feather…
“The Gnome has made himself an elemental fragment-friend.” My dad could be so obtuse.
“Really, Oren, ‘the Gnome’?” she queried incredulously, “he’s your son for the Wind’s sake!”
‘’Pops, I made myself a greater air elemental friend that cleared CrIsis a two-hundred mile swath of death and destruction through the Yin Sloth.’’ Both he and my mom froze simultaneously and he turned an icy glare on me.
“What did I teach you about being a Warlock?” this must have been rhetorical because he kept on going — and I could see his blood begin to boil. “What did I teach you about respecting the Elements? What did I teach you about valuing and honoring ALL life forms?” Was it my turn to speak yet? I didn’t think so…but then, he didn’t mind continuing by himself. “I’ll tell you what I taught you!” Whew! That was a close one. “I taught you the principle rule of being a warlock: With great power comes great responsibility. We have a gift — moreso than any other practitioner of magic — to command incredible forces of destruction and chaos in natural disasters and calamities. I refuse to believe that you irresponsibly unleashed a Force of Nature and inadvertently caused the senseless deaths of innocent beings and the destruction of a natural habitat. I patently…flat-out…refuse to believe that my teachings have been in vain. That the time I spent with you, the countless hours I spent GROOMING you to be my heir and successor and the love of my life…my only son…were for naught.” He stopped then. “Shame and disappointment still my tongue.”
“That’s good. I didn’t think anything would ever still your tongue. Would you like to hear the rest of the story?” He nodded solemnly and my mother cringed, a tear welling in the corner of her eye. “You guys loved me when no one else did. You raised me as your own child and you taught me from your hearts. You nurtured me to become a seasoned adventurer with a good heart. I may not be ‘principled’ but I’m not a damn ‘anarchist’! Pops, let’s sit down and enjoy some of whatever smells so damned delicious, and I’ll regale and recant the tale of how Tyvernos Oriflamme saved the world-saving saviours of Palladium in the Yin Sloth Jungle.”
Otto picked just then to bark for timely punctuation.
“Mom, that stew was incredible! And the rabbit was simmered to perfection.” I rose from the table and trundled away over to sit by the hearth in my old mini-sized ottoman. Otto’s namesake kept him curled happily at my feet with the remains of rabbit carcass between his paws and peeking out from under his jowls. I had long-since dismissed Tranny after thanking her wholeheartedly for her continued service and steadfast dedication. She had beamed at me with such a smile as would grace faces of the gods of See Invisible.
“Thank you dear,” she lovingly smiled. “You’ll sleep in your old room then?”
“I will. Thanks mom.”
She kissed me on the forehead and admonished us. “You boys don’t stay up too late now. I’ll be serving breakfast withOUT the help of a Phantom when the sun rises. You’d do well to remember that.” She yawned sleepily and ascended the steps to the upper floor where our bedrooms waited.
“Goodnight, dear,” Oren murmured.
“Night mom,” I followed suit.
She didn’t turn back but receded into the shadows of the tree.
“Now, my dear boy,” my father turned with renewed interest in his eyes, a bubbler in his hand, and a bag full of wacko-warlock-tobacco in his lap. ‘’Tell me about this ’Lion Headdress’…’’
‘’Really? And then Necrom possessed her right there?’’ my dad squeaked like a gnomish waif one – one-hundredth his age.
“YOU DARE?!?!” I bellowed in my best demonic voice. I imagine it looked pretty funny emanating from a Gnomish body but I gave my best rendition and my pops was lovin’ it!
“Haha! Ahhh…that’s priceless! You dare!” he growled in mock-anger. “Wow! And then what happened?”
“Well, pops, I employed the old Oriflamme intellect with a little deductive reasoning and some clever-and-useful ideas.” He pulled hard on the slide and the glass-blown bubbler let out a gurgle when he lifted his finger from the ‘carb’. “I cast Electromagnetism.”
He spit out the breath he had been holding and, I shit you not, Oren Oriflamme laughed a hearty bowlful of jelly laugh in fits and peals of chortles and giggles that warmed the cockles of our souls. “HAhahahahahahahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….aaaaaaah! Ahh…” he caught his breath and caught the coughing fit of a wheezing smoker’s throaty hiss.
“I did, pops, and I centered that sucker right on ol’ Necrom’s face!”
“Ohh! Whoo! Hah…you wily little Gnome! You showed ol’ Necrom, didn’t ya?”
Abruptly we both turned, high as kites, laughing giddily in the wee hours, and saw a mortified look on my mother’s face.
“Tyvernos Oriflamme, I am your mother. I love you. I trust your judgment. And I am very scared for you. I wish your father’s howling laughter hadn’t been loud enough to rouse me from the dead of slumber…but it did…and I heard that story. Maybe not all of it but enough to know that you are lucky to be alive.”
“Shani…come now, the boy is grown. He’s his own man. This is the way of the world!” my father growled plaintively.
“Oren,” she paused to ensure she had his full attention, “it is time for bed.”
“Rest up my boy,” he yawned. ’’You’re gonna need it. Tomorrow, I’m going to show you a new spell or two. Avramstown wasn’t built in a day so I hope you’re prepared to stay a while.’’
My mom had already begun to head back upstairs but she paused at this and I could see the hint of a smile touch the corner of her mouth nearest me, though she didn’t turn around. She was thinking what I was thinking: My dad really missed me. He knew the only way to get me to stick around for a while was to teach me a few spells. Hell! It might take a few days to learn each one. I was wily for sure…but my old man, he was a crafty devil.
“Spells for your repertoire. You won’t find them in any textbook and there’s no guarantee they’ll save your life, but you are my son and you are the heir to my Air. Besides, your mother will kill me if a hair on your head is harmed or out of place…though, I plead not to know how she can tell.”
My dad really knew how to command the Elemental Air. He graciously and patiently taught me three new spells. Most importantly he taught me the value of family, friendship, love, and dedication to something greater than myself. For my dad — that dedication was to my mom and the the Skies. For me — that dedication is to Bennu and to CrIsis. My dad never asked me about the source of my power but he never needed to.
Written by Tyvernos on…an unknown date, in the 69th year of the Wolfen Empire.