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The Wizard (Idrargo's Stories)
The second short character story of three in the Silver Ship module.
The woman of nothing, San Ikbal, paces the great circle deck of the silver ship. Her voice like obsidian writes poems upon the air, a hallucinatory trail of epics for none but the anthroposeals to enjoy in the vessel’s wake.
The world-lover Idrargo leaves his Square House at the silver ship’s apex and descends to the great circle deck.
“Favored gardener, what future do your poems bring today?” he asks.
The silver ship’s dreamless companion stops her circuit and bows to the immortal pilot, “A mirror darkly, shadows, uncertainty.”
“Ahh … as always, so unclear since good Ourania departed this our Garden.”
The silver woman made a broad, slow gesture with her left arm.
“True! I am pompous, to call the world still a Garden with the gardeners so long gone!” laughs the wizard, then groans.
Swiftly, San Ikbal moves closer to Idrargo, her eyes aglow with amber concern. There is no need for words, she has voyaged with Idrargo to a thousand shores and his love of speech is but an old high human affectation now.
“Nothing, nothing. The flesh grows weaker, the price of life grows higher. Even the distiller’s art cannot sustain a single body forever.”
“I will summon ‘l Peleset to bring the draught of liquid life at once.”
“Thank you, San,” Idrargo grips the sky-chrome railing and looks to the horizon. They sail the world-sea now again, upon the orb that was the Garden, calling upon a fallen town to barter lore and trinkets of the past for the futures of the settlement’s criminals.
A shadow between blazing main-sun and cool deck. ‘L Peleset, the sailor, the distiller, the penitent. The synthetic human brings a chilled flask to Idrargo’s lips and a liquid life revives him.
“You are become a vampire,” chuckles ‘l Peleset with a slow rumble like gears and gravel, “taking souls for time.”
“I cannot allow myself to die, for who else can love this world as I do, admire it with such care and wisdom?” replies the pilot wizard.
“Lower and lower become these fallen humans, now it is ten souls to give you a year, soon it will be a dozen,” says ‘l Peleset and puts its hands of carbonate and plasma steel besides Idrargo’s own glittering flesh.
“I have seen the projections, my friend slave of glass and porcelain and steel, but you will not convince me to trade this corruptible flesh for builder-matter. But I must bear witness as a man if I am to remain a man, not divorce myself mind from flesh like the departed lords.”
“It will end in tears. Human stories always end in tears,” says ‘l Peleset.
“Hush, made one, no need to bring our wizard lord so down,” whispers San Ikbal who has completed another circuit of poetry upon the air.
Idrargo’s grin quivers but does not slip and the show goes on.
The day has come! Today the wizard Idrargo's silver ship docks at New Increase, as it does every bidecennium. The day is decreed a public holiday, as is tradition, for today the city's stocks of oldtech are replenished. Cryptic minds for its machines, singing appliances for homes, energenerators for its workshops, field repair orbs to maintain its shields, source adjusters to keep its nutrition pellets delectable, and more. Every low wizard and maintainer in the city waits for this day.
It is also a day of celebration because today the dregs of New Increase redeem themselves. By their sale to the wizard, they purchase the treasures of Long Ago to maintain the elevated glory of their city.
While the citizens, the rabblers, and the pleebs celebrate in the Columbaria district, the sixty-four houses of designated origin controlled and guaranteed are honored with a gift-giving visit to the silver ship itself. Each house sends a delegation of sixteen worthies to meet the undying Idrargo and receive their tokens of appreciation.
By the eighth clock of night the warlord elect and his golem armored gamer guardians are arrayed at the lip of the Ramp of Heaven, where the great glyph H-in-the-Circle marks the place where heaven kisses earth. Behind, below them stand the sixty-four house D.O.C.G. delegations, each numbering sixteen of their best resplendent in their house-hued ceremonial robes of increase. At the sides stand chosen musicians, the city's finest, here to accompany the vessel's arrival and express the citizens' gratitude. Then stand arrayed four of the electric priests' ancient flambé meck golems, their glistening bug bodies and threat of plasmick fire forming an honor guard against any soft-flesh mob that might try to swarm the ramp. Then, the curious, the hopeful, the poor. Citizens all the way down the ramp, huddled and bundled, to where its roots emerge from the godsmeat plaza in the Columbaria.
It is cool and humid as the selected visitors wait for the rising of the Big Sun and the Little to mark the arrival of the Silver Ship.
"There, I see it!" a piping child's cry breaks the noble silence, and even the most refined break stance to glance to the south-east. A flash, then another, as the mirror surface of the ship reflects the first rays of the rising sun. It is, indeed, the bidecennial visitor.
With eerie swiftness the silent nauphract approaches, foaming the waves beneath its needle fin keel.
Sunrise! Atomic fire!
Timed to perfection, the yellow light of Big Sun strikes the starboard side as the Silver Ship comes to a halt above the Ramp of Heaven and the musicians strike up the perfect 54th millennium rendition of the prehistoric opera The Show Must Go On.
The Silver Ship catches the tune, and joins in polyphonic harmony, as its bow unfurls like a dandelion and a silver gangway extends, delicate as a butterfly's proboscis.
Thirty-two mirrormasks, dressed in shimmering robes and the bowl helmets that recall the Builders on high, greet the gathered multitude with arms upraised in the gestures of cornucopia and mercy, then file down the gangway, extending glowing cords of energy to make the ascent into the Silver Ship safe for the flightless humans of New Increase.
The worthies ascend. The citizens cry out to them.
"Patron! Pellets! New vidys! Games! Medys! Our clinic needs a new medigolem! Soma! Yes, soma! Jay needles! A new mind for my father!"
The cacophony of needs fades as the worthies enter the atrium.
The throng of over a thousand worthies fills the atrium near to bursting. Unphased, the mirrormasks usher one visitor after another to share a moment with the wizard.
Some guide the delegate up the steps onto the apron stage, others take their gifts off their hands while making appreciative noises, yet more guide each delegate to shake the hand of Idrargo and ask a question, further attendants quickly whisk the delegate away after they receive their answer, a palm-sized perfect mechanical painting is pressed into each delegate's hand depicting their meeting with the wizard, and off the stage they go.
"It is more true to me than even an ambrotype could hope to be!" gasps one worthy to another of the vivid mechanical painting.
The other ignores him, for the mirrormasks are cooing and ushering the peacock-robed delegates onwards, into the Lustgarden, fabled for its countless delights.
Soon, the delegation of the Iron House is called up.
Almost in a daze, the visitor is led off stage by the mirrormask whistling appreciation as they pass a mechanical painting into their hand. The wizard looks like a demi-god, like a saint, interceding for the visitor, offering them peace.
A sense of relief floods the visitor, a slight weakness at the knees.
The mirrormask is all gentle, chittering concern. They pass a flute of sparkling wine into their visitor's other hand.
With painting and flute in hand, their head spins as they try to take in the Atrium. Even if they wanted to, and they're not saying they would, but it would be nice to touch the wonders lining their way, but it would so rude to put the flute or the painting down. There's no convenient tables here. Oh, the mirrormask seems to have read their mind and suggests there are tables in the Lustgarden. Yes, right through here.
Dear reader! More waiting this time, I know! Life happens!
Not just life … finally, after a much long wait, the second edition of my Ultraviolet Grasslands is in print once more. It was a while getting it ready, but I’m very, very pleased with it. As punch, as the juice-vendors say.
I know. It came out a month ago. But, I’ll let you in on a secret, it’s also just a month till baby’s impending date with lungstuff, and whoah. I am bad at multi-tasking. Like, not a little bad. The kind of bad that should get an alignment in D&D. Maybe an axis from good, as in competent, to bad, as in incompetent. That will totally not be confusing. Bad Neutral Demi-Good.
Anyway, the book is really nice.
With a pretty cover.
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