It's my third year in town and so I attended my second Festival of Forgiveness. Last year I made something up as I still wasn't comfortable sharing anything that I truly needed forgiveness for, and much of that is between me and the New God. My preference would have been to stay in the library or in my room, however I'm trying to embrace the message of community love that Father Bert has been preaching, may the prophet guide his soul, and so attended this year.
I’d like to think that I’ve grown in the last three years since living in Chuton, to start accepting others that have Fey influence flowing through their veins but I struggled at the Festival when an Elf presented themselves. I didn't know what was worse, a couple of the townsfolk asking for forgiveness for killing others, or the flash of memories from the horrific years I spent among the Elven kind as a teen. If it stays in town, I’m going to have to keep aware.
The town forgave me for taking books from the library but I still feel guilty about it. Mrs Ellis is quite strict about books not leaving the library and I was hoping she would be at the Town Hall to forgive me as well, but I didn't see her around.
After we all finished asking for forgiveness, I could see that Father Bert was about to provide us some wisdom from the New God when he started having difficulties breathing. I was about to run over to help him out when it felt like hands were closing around my own throat. I turned and faced what appeared to be a shadow of my own form, right in front of me and its hands were clutching around my neck. I thought a demon had been summoned and almost fainted in fear. Gathering my wits, I tried to strike it with my staff but struggled to connect because of the awkward grasp it had on me but I was able to push myself away from it.
With room between us, I swung out my staff and still couldn't connect which made me wonder if it was even real. But it must have been, as it started to claw back into my skin as if my shadow-self wanted to possess me. Luckily one of the townsfolk struck it from behind and the shadow form dissipated. The Town Hall was so loud and everyone was running around I didn't even note who helped me out to thank them. I can guarantee it wasn't the elf (they probably summoned the shadow demons).
There were commotions going on in all the corners of the Town Hall and people were finding remnants of some conjuration spells. One of them found a page from a book however the letters were appearing as translucent ghosts and impossible to read. Having spent days upon days in the library where the page had likely come from, I joined up with the blacksmith's son Alaric, a flying mechanical device he helped fix up called Bzzzantine, and a rather odd sounding human named Waylon that spoke in a dialect of common I hadn't heard before who claimed to be from a far place called England, and we all went to find the rest the book.
We arrived at the library and, as it was quite late, it was locked. We could hear Mrs Ellis mumbling inside however I had key due to being able to access the building during nights where I couldn’t sleep, so unlocked the door and went inside to makes sure she was ok. Alaric stayed downstairs to chat with Mrs Ellis while I led the flying contraption and Waylon to the magic section upstairs to see if we could find the book the page had come from. When we got upstairs every single book looked blank… not blank as in completely blank with nothing on them, but an odd ghostly feeling blank like the words and images in them had all been removed just leaving, for lack of better words… kind of translucent scarring.
We went downstairs to see Alaric listening to Mrs Ellis prattle on about three goblins that had come to the library. But her story kind of shifted and she was saying how Alaric looked like the Ogre that was chasing the three little goblins and how it went to the first goblin’s house and blew it down. She stopped telling the story and slumped into her chair and just stared at us. We figured it out that she wanted us to act out the childhood story and so Alaric the ogre chased us three little goblins to our houses and huffed and puffed and blew the houses of straw and wood down, but when he got to the house of brick he was all puffed out.
Once we finished the story a book flew out of a case and fluttered around Alaric's head. Waylon snatched the wordless book out of the air but it kept flapping around. He held on to it as Mrs Ellis started to tell us some other stories. She fell short with her narration so we had to help her out and shortly after three more stories, we each had a book flying at us. While Waylon and I were able to catch a book flying over head, Bzzzantine and Alaric struggled and because if it, the flapping pages of the books sliced paper cuts into them.
As I was struggling with the book, I noted from the corner of my eye that the ink in the pen Mrs Ellis had in her pocket was oozing through her clothing and formed into a big black inky spider – much worse that any creature I had ever seen in the Mistwood. I could tell that the animated book I was holding was trying to do me harm too so slammed it to the ground under my staff. After bashing it a couple of times the book stopped moving.
I stepped behind a bookshelf but kept the demon spider in my sights. Over the top of the bookcase I could see Bzzzantine trying to slice up the book with his sawlike hand and the book flew into Bzzz's propeller which I can only assume caused Bzzzantine to drop to the ground. I had to think fast as the demon spider was about to sink its fangs into Waylon so I slung a stone at it and knocked off two of its black spindly legs. Waylon jumped over the spider slamming into poor Mrs Ellis, however knocking her down caused the spider demon to pull back out of my site as it seemed to be linked to the flow of ink coming from Mrs Ellis' pocket.
As I came around the bookshelf I noted Bzzzantine was on the ground and not moving. The book appeared to be sucking up at the oils (is that what they were? I'll have to ask Alaric) coming from Bzzantine's cuts. Having read up on the Clockwork physiology, I knew that there was some sort of winding key to start Bzzzantine up again so wound it and the next thing I knew he flew off with his sawblade spinning and headed straight towards the pen in Mrs Ellis pocket.
I could tell that the New God was looking down on us as the spider demon exploded with ink going everywhere. All the books started flying off the shelves and sucked up the ink thus refreshing their pages and became whole again. I noted that there was one book in the corner of the library that wasn't trying to absorb the ink into itself so I went over and picked up the book and opened it up.
An immediate overwhelming sense of dread flowed through me as the book was calling out for me to kill those in the room. For some reason my mind reflected to the blessing I received from Father Bert during the Festival of Forgiveness and I said a quick prayer of thanks to the New God and could feel their presence flow through me and was able to push out the evil that was trying to enslave me.
The book had a diagram of bones forming into a V into the spine of the book and there was some sort of foul magic emanating from it and so tore it in two breaking the binding it had. All of a sudden, the evil heaviness that seemed to permeate the space we were in was lifted and we could all tell the energy had shifted. Blessed be the prophet.
Waylon wanted to leave Mrs Ellis in the library (some people have no compassion or remorse… he knocked the old lady out!) however Alaraic and I carried her back to the Town Hall where all the villagers seemed to have reconvened. I suggested he get in touch with the apothecary and left Alaric to look after Mrs Ellis.
As I was listening to tales the others were sharing about their dealings with dark forces in other parts of the town, there was a shriek from the gravedigger and a massive shadow demon seemed to spawn out from him. He admitted to murdering someone at the festival so could possibly be studying some sort of demonology, I'll need to keep an eye on him. Anyway, as the demon started coming forth I followed several town folk out of the building. Watching through the window, I saw the demon strike out at Lion who gnashed at the demon in response. After a short time, the townsfolk came together and defeated the demon.
Having served my master, the great wizard Bartholomew, for 13 years I've been around a lot of magic. I've copied plenty of volumes for him, as well as the library, however the words and symbols never really resonated with me. I don't know why, but when my shadow self drove itself into me something triggered and I was able to recall some of the spells I had transcribed many years ago. I've wanted to follow the path of magic for a long time and finally feel the energy flowing through me. I now also know that my master wasn't the good person I thought he was & maybe what the gristmill owner John said about the inquisitors was right.