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Fantasy Sad

Cracking the pages as he reread them, Farim skimmed over his journal for about the third - no forth or maybe fifth time that day. It was a well worn device of his own creation. Once a smooth and flexible burgundy leather-backed book, it was now creased and sun-bleached to that same terrible tone of a decaying camel's fur. It had developed the texture of the sand that sat at their feet. The white pages had yellowed and even when it was perfectly sealed away and bound it had a musty smell that was so strong it repelled the mosquito and undead alike. Only the flies seemed not to notice.

The flies and Sir Berden of Thorn who on a near constant would ask Farim to read "some of whatever it was he wrote in that journal of his."

"Would not telling you defeat the purpose of putting it into a book?" Farim would retort. Sometimes like this. Other times he would have some other vague jab at wisdom that served as a simple mask for a simple refusal for a simple request.

Sir Berden would smile away. He had a silly smile that seemed to make the rest laugh. Farim never understood it though.

"Laughter is the admittance of foregone discipline," that was always his excuse.

"Come now Farim, we are going to be traveling together for some time. You, me, Teventire, and Jiq'al over there. A band of heroes. You must tell us some of what you are up to. If not for curiosities sake then for friendships sake," Sir Berden paused then and reconsidered his words. "Right, you are the desert-dwelling sorcerer. The lone magician of the shifting sands. I forgot friends are not something you do."

Farim shrugged. "A friend is just an enemy who has yet to stab you in the back."

That had been back when they talked though. Sir Berden no longer asked to read the contents within the journal. Though, if he asked now, he would be able to read it for himself. Every-last-fetid-emotion-filled-word!

The journal had started out as nothing more than a record for Farim. A running account of his deeds and various other actions taken throughout the journey that he decided to set out on. Page one was little more than a page long description of the people he met. Namely his party and that blind old traveler who had divined that "the four in mine third eye should uncover the great treasure of the Serpent's Stone in the lost pits of Szin' Kadash."

"The Serpent's Stone is exactly what I quest for," Sir Berden had boasted on that first day. "With that stone back at my estate in Thorn, why my noble village could prosper for generations to come. The plague would be healed and the crippled mended. All made well in an instant."

What noble ambition. Did everyone need such cause for the work they did? Could not simply one lust for adventure or desire work for work's sake? Silently Farim had taken the quest upon himself. A stagnant mind or body was a sorry thing.

Farim read on detailing the nights they spent at camp and the jokes told by Sir Berden around the crimson campfire. It detailed nightly ambushes from goblins or mummy soldiers, described the blue desert dust that danced off the tip of Sir Berden's blade like dew drops off the bowing leaf of a flower. It described Farim's fire that wrought sand to glass and foe to ash.

It described their arduous path through the Green Face Canyon and the death of the goblin leader that had been praying on innocent travelers for decades. Their city adventures against the Black Masks and Thieves Market in Urdur. The seduction of Spider Queen in the Cedar Forest (performed by Berden who was as much a bard as he was fighter) followed. The battles of the lost pits and the parties that followed each of these major events. All were described and Farim recorded them all.

Sir Berden drank with Jiq'al and Teventire. They made quips, sang songs, wrote poetry, and then drank some more. Each camped night, each song, party, and all were cataloged by date and importance.

They were at the last stage of their adventure. The last few encounters before they received the Serpent's Stone and could call an end to this adventure. They were right there.

Farim turned to the last page. It was stiff, yellow, and salted over.

It was always here that all life paused. Not a good pause, as if Farim was suddenly aware of some joke and for one split moment showed his humanity and broke a still air with a soft chuckle. It was a pause that reached into your chest and stretched your heart to a halt. A pause that turned the air to poison, that dried the lungs and deprived them of their labor. A pause that split fantasy from reality.

On the last page Simon was no longer Farim the sorcerer. On the last page Simon was just a nerd in a room plastered with numerical charts and min-max calculations for nearly every TTRPG. No. He was less than that on the last page.

"Simon, sorry to ruin the fantasy. But the treatment didn't work. I am sorry that Sir Berden and Farim never really got a chance to just talk like two good characters. I am also sorry that I could never find a way to talk with you. You were a great hero and I think you could be a great guy too. It may be too late for us. But it's not too late for you to make good with Miles or Chuck.

I don't know what else to say. Except this. I love you man. Seriously. I love you.

-- T"

Simon buried his chin into the book that he had titled his "Adventure Log."

"It was the way of the desert to take and bury all." Death was just a part of the natural order of things. It was pointless to cry.

It was all pointless.

Pointless.

Pointless.

To have seen it all. Recorded everything the man... the character... the man... everything he did and have never participated in it himself. To have never even known his name, it was all...

Farim opened the journal once more towards the beginning. There had to be something there. A word. A name. A soul - his soul - anything. All that was lost in the desert could be found in pits, in trenches, in dunes, or in crinkled corners.

October 13, 2021 03:20

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1 comment

Elaine St. Anne
14:20 Oct 21, 2021

This a well developed story. I would like to know more about who the characters are which is a good thing. I particularly liked “a friend is an enemy who has not stabbed you in the back

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