The Manacrypts Memory

Submitted into Contest #140 in response to: Write about a character with an unreliable memory.... view prompt

6 comments

Fantasy Drama

A Manacrypt’s Memory

His storm clouds gathered overhead, becoming darker every hour, but it didn’t rain. They would be stronger this time, they needed to be. He wouldn’t waste a drop.

“I don’t understand the beads,” The boy said, “why do you have so many of them?”

Vyncis pretended not to notice the boy’s staring. He was used to it by now, and none of the caravanners he traveled with, not even the adults, were used to seeing manacrypts. Wizards, sure, but not manacrypts. 

“They’re crypsis stones.” He said. 

“Uh huh,” The boy cocked his head, “that don’t s’plain why you got them all hanging from your face like that.” 

“Men like me need reminders, our memories are different.” 

You don’t look that old to me.

Vyncis grinned. “No, I mean, Manacrypts. Especially Manacrypts of the Brotherhood. We dedicate so much time to learning—consuming as much knowledge as we can– we forget to remember. 

The boy giggled, “forget to remember–like if you make a list to help you remember your chores, but you forget you even made a list to help you remember?”

“No–”

“Or, like you forget to practice your songs to help you recite your temple verses?”

“No.” Vyncis said, “Often we must forget to remember. We forget in order to remember. It’s–”

“Nope,” the boy said, turning toward the fire. He cranked on a metal handle, and two fat geckos sizzled over the flame, “that don’t make no sense.”

Vyncis chuckled.

“Daryon!” A voice called out from one of the caravans that’d parked for the night. “Get inside before this storm comes and soaks you to the bone!”

“I’m cooking the Mr. Crypter some gecko!”

“I honestly don’t want any.” Vyncis said for the third time since the boy wandered over to his fire.

“I promise. You’re gonna love it. I promise you are.” The boy added another stick to the fire. “Besides, you even said it won’t rain tonight.”

“It wont.”

“See mom, Mr. Crypter says it won’t rain!”

“Manacrypt honey, he’s a manacrypt. And if he says so. Just don’t stay up too late. We gotta leave early tomorrow to beat this storm home.”

“Kay!” He shouted. “Now, as we was saying: I thought you mastercrypts had extra good memories.”

“Well,” Vyncis began, “we learn so much that it isn’t possible to remember all of it, but a manacrypt forgets nothing by accident. We have to prioritize what we remember. It is an intentional act of forgetting. Think of it as a sacrifice–knowledge for knowledge.” 

“So the stones…”

“Help me remember, yes.”

“Do the stones store memories? I didn’t know crypsis can do that!”

“They can, but mostly they’re used to store spells. The process of decrypting the aetherscript or manacypher is overwhelmingly time consuming and information intensive.”  

The man slipped his fingers behind the curtain of black braids and removed a matted dreadlock that ran through a small red stone. A vein of white sparkled inside.

“That looks like one of my marbles.” the boy said. “Is that a spell?” 

“It is. A consuming flame–the first one I ever decrypted.” 

“I’ve seen that spell,” Daryon said, unimpressed, “My friend Timmons knows how to do a consuming flame. He uses it on sticks when we want to make a fire.” 

“Of course, that’s every young wizard’s first spell, and many years down the road, if Timmons should ever decided to become a manacrypt– a maker of new spells–like me, he’ll find the process of decrypting his consuming flame, is far more complicated than casting it.” 

“Why would you want to decrypt that spell? It’s boring. Why not decrypt a cool spell, a powerful one.”

Vyncis rubbed the red crypsis bead–it flashed.  

“Because, once you learn the simple spells, like consuming fire,” he held up his hand and a tiny ember, the size of a grain of sand, glowed dimply on his palm. He blew on it, fueling it into a bright speck, then turned over his hand, letting the ember fall, “then you can build upon it, and combine it with other spells to create even more marvelous magic.”

The ember drifted away, moving erratically on invisible shifting winds. It sank low, nearly resting on a log, then suddenly sprouted wings–a fiery butterfly glowing in the dark. It flapped twice, lifting into the air, then reverted back to an ember. It sank slowly, and disappeared in the fire beneath the spit. 

“Wow!” The boy leapt to his feet. “That was amazing.”

Then the flames roared and reached, singing the geckos.  

“Hey!” The boy yelled. “You’ll burn them.”

Vyncis laughed, and the flames calmed again.

The boy sat back on his log. “So all those are spells?” He pointed. “What about that big one?”

Vyncis looked down. A black crypsis stone hung from a tangled braid just above his heart. “It’s a memory. A bad one.”

Lightning flashed above the camp and, for a moment, Vyncis saw the young boy clearly–grey blue eyes, wide at the sudden brightness.

“Why would you want to keep a bad memory?” The boy tapped the geckos with a finger. “Almost done.”

Vyncis rolled a log over the fire with his boot. “Because bad memories can sometimes be useful.”

“How so?”

“They can motivate you.”

“How does your black stone motivate you?”

“Enough about the black stone.” The manacrypt said. You don’t want to know.

The boy deflated. “I dunno, if I had the ability to get rid of my bad memories, I would.” 

Vyncid scoffed, “What kind of ‘bad memory’ could an eight-year old possibly have?” He laughed. “When your mother forced you to eat your greens?”

“No,” the boy said, “And I’m nine. And this is the season of bad memories. I think everyone in Tavisport has bad memories now.” Lightning struck again, and the boy shuddered. “Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Battle of Storms.”

Vyncis raised his brow. “Is that so?”

“Yeah, that was when Lord Balith’s mages fought the wizard that came to kill him. That’s what caused all the storms.” 

No mere wizard caused those storms. 

“Your lord has many enemies,” Vyncis said. 

The boy sniffed. “I remember the flood.” 

He wiped his face. Vyncis said nothing.

“My father, he tried to save the neighbor's kid. He was stuck in a cellar, but the flood waters came and pulled them both away. When the water drained away a few days later, I found him on the beach. He was all puffy and purple. He wasn’t breathing.”

The wizard froze. “I’m–I’m so sorry. If that was a memory of mine, I’d want to get rid of it as well.”

“No.” The boy shook his head, “got to say goodbye then.” He sniffed again, then tapped a log with his foot. The embers hissed and his round wet face glowed orange in the light. “I want to forget my mum’s face when I told her.” Then he spun towards Vyncis, startling him. “Could you take my memories away?”

“No, it—“

“It ain’t even a long memory. It’s short, like a painting. I can just see her face. I see it all the time, when I go to sleep. When I think about my father. My mother used to say my father and I had the same eyes, the gray-blue eyes of Tavis Bay. But now, I don’t let her look into my eyes, I just remember her face from that day. Can you? Can you take my bad memory away?”

“No,” He said.  “I can’t, it doesn’t work like that, not on other people's memories.”

The boy stared into the flames, tears glistening down his cheeks. The manacrypt didn’t know what to say, so he said nothing.

“Way I see it, there aren’t enough good memories In the world, don’t make sense to go around carrying bad one’s on purpose.” 

The boy poked one of the geckos. 

“They’re done!” The boy shouted, sliding the spit away from the fire. “I promise you’ll like it, crispy gecko was one of my dad’s favorites.  I have a lot of good memories too, I guess. Of me and him, sitting at a fire like this, eating so much our stomachs hurt.” 

A smile stretched across the boy's face, and it occurred to the Wizard that in that moment, the boy wasn’t thinking about his bad memories anymore, a good one pushed it away. There was so much resilience in the boy. He is strong. He’ll grow up to be strong

He decided to pretend he liked the gecko, no matter what it tasted like.  

For the boy’s sake. 

Vyncis sank his teeth into the gecko. Then he smiled at it, surprised by it. It was actually delicious. His mouth watered in anticipation of the next bite. And the smell, not just of the oakwood accents in the meat, but the acorns roasting in the fire. 

A gentle breeze reached through his cloak, cooling his back, and caressing his beard. He looked up, the darks clouds parted, carried away by the wind. A dense constellation of stars winked at him above the firelit canopy. Then the flames flickered on the trees, then the boy's face–he was looking back at him, at his chest again. 

The manacrypt glanced down and saw the black stone memory churning like a boiling cauldron–fueling his need for vengeance. 

 “You never did say why you were headed into town.”The boy said, his eyes still searching the Crypsis stone, as if by looking into it he might see the manacrypt's bad memory. “We’ll be in Tavisport by noon tomorrow. What are your plans?”

The Manacrypt reached up, seized the stone in his hands, then closed his eyes. He felt the pain it contained, but let the green veins in the crypsis begin to change color, glowing campfire orange, starlight white, and Tavis Bay blue. 

He took another bite of his Gecko, smiled around his full mouth and said, “I don’t exactly remember.”     

April 09, 2022 03:29

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6 comments

Graham Kinross
23:57 Apr 14, 2022

I like the memory storage and forgetting things on purpose idea. That’s a cool magic system. You should keep working on that book. The gecko thing in the background was a nice little touch. What happens next? It would be cool if the boy went on to become a Manacrypt himself.

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Brian Stanton
02:07 Apr 20, 2022

Thanks! This story, and manacryption magic is part of a much larger story. It's a world I started to build when I was in middle school, and had been working on occasionally for the past twenty years (wow, that sounds wierd, 20 years...) I haven't come back to it in a while, but I will. I wanted to develop my writing a little more, and get some smaller projects under my belt before i try to write a novel in that world again. Lol. I have lots of ideas, but little skill, and I'm running out of time. Thanks for reading it.

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Graham Kinross
03:02 Apr 20, 2022

I can recommend a writing coach if you’re interested. I’m working with two guys who are helping me organise my plot, characters and their motivations. It’s really been helping me. Your idea is really cool.

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❀Leo Fall❀
23:45 Apr 10, 2022

I like how you made it more of a power than the Manacrypt(that sounds really cool by the way) simply forgetting things because of the prompt. The lore behind that power and everything is really neat, I enjoy this, the story and everything.

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Brian Stanton
02:00 Apr 11, 2022

Thanks! All the lore, the crypsis, and manacrypts are from a fantasy novel I've been working on for along time. I haven't touched the story in a couple years, but I thought it would be fun to write in that world again. The prompt gave me a good excuse to pull out all my old notes. :) Thanks for reading it!

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❀Leo Fall❀
02:05 Apr 11, 2022

That's neat! I love when people, myself included, use old story ideas. It's super fun. The universe sounds super cool! Always : )

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