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The Accidental Apprentice (Pt. 1)

“ Ah, I see someone has come at last to me. I wonder how long it has been…”

My head was ringing. It felt like I was waking up from a bed of sludge. My thoughts moved slow, all of my actions sluggish. Each time I tried to open my eyes, a pinkish light shone just bright enough to make me close them again. The voice I heard was unfamiliar. Had someone else fallen into the cavern?…

As if suddenly sensing danger, my body started kicking into gear, and I found myself scrambling backwards until I bumped into a wall. I forced my eyes open against the pink light, making them adjust as I looked wildly around. Most things were still blurry to look at, and though my mind was running faster by the second, it seemed to be playing tricks on me. The room I was in was not the one I had been in what felt like moments before. There was no ice, no snow, no light, other than the pink one a dozen feet before me.

“Oh,” the voice said, “You look… confused. You didn’t mean to come here.” It almost sounded sad.

“Whereami?” I managed to spit out at all once. It took more effort than I imagined. My mouth was dry and speaking caused a spike of pain in my head. All around was dark stone, and darker wood coated in a pink hue coming from…

“Hm… an interesting question, my boy,” the man said. The light was coming from him, or rather, the light was him. Hovering a few inches off the ground was a man comprised entirely of a soft pink light. He wore simple robes that hung loosely about him and seemed to billow ever so slightly at the edges, as though he were caught in a perpetual breeze. His hair was short and kept, and he had a light beard that covered his cheeks and chin. Both were the same pink color as the rest of him. He stared down at me intently, a small smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.

“Tell you what. You’ve got questions, and I’ll admit, I have a few of my own. So how’s this: you can ask me your questions, and then I’ll ask you mine. Does that sound fair?”

I nodded, my body relaxing a bit. I didn’t seem to be in any immediate danger from the light man, and I was regaining my senses with each passing beat. He seemed pleased at my answer.

“You look like you’re coming down. I’d offer you some refreshments, but…,” he trailed off and gave me a knowing look, chuckling when I gave him a puzzled one in response. “There’s a chair to your left, please sit, I’m eager to ask and be asked questions. It has been some time since I’ve conversed with anyone.”

To my left was indeed a chair, nestled into what seemed to be a writing desk. It was hard to make out anything upon it with only the man’s pink glow giving off light, so pulled out the chair and sat, giving the desk only a cursory glance. It didn’t seem to have any deadly traps poking out of it, so I turned my back to it, affixing the pink man with my gaze, eager to ask.

I stared at him in wonder for a few moments, every question I had buzzing in my head, none of them making their way to my mouth. The longer I looked, the harder the questions were to pin down. The man was… only light. How was that possible? He wasn’t see-through, like a sunbeam, but he gave off light like a torch. To his credit, he waited patiently, smiling at staring back at me as though he understood how strange everything must have seemed from my position. My first question came to me suddenly, and I found myself trying to look around and past him.

“How did I get here?”

“Ah, I had a hunch it would be some variation of that. Well, and you’ll excuse me if I return a question to you so quickly, do you remember what you were doing before you came here?”

I hesitated for a moment, and he smiled again. “It’s alright lad, no answers the wrong answer unless it isn’t the truth.”

I furrowed my brow and looked him as square in the eye as I could, considering they were all the same shade of pink.

“I fell. Into a… cave of sorts. In the tundra. While rooting around inside I found a uh…” I frowned my brow, thinking. My mind still wasn’t running at full speed. “Some sort of… Window? Or door? Almost like the cave was inside of a… a house or something.”

The man nodded slowly. “You don’t remember anything else? No statues, or odd structures? An orb?”

I perked up. “Yes, wait yes, there was something like that. Half stuck in ice, it was this.. Black…thing? It…” I half turned from him but pressed on, “It looked valuable, so I tried to dig it out of the ice.”

“And there is a cut on your hand,” he said.

I looked down and saw the scrapes and scratches that covered my hands from my tumble into the cave. Confused I looked back up at him.

“The black orb you discovered was a gateway I created to my inner sanctum, where you are currently. It can only be accessed by blood, and magic.”

I shook my head. “I have no magic.”

His eyes seemed to twinkle amidst the pink glow. “What is your second question, my boy?” he whispered.

I stood, pushing the chair back as I did, feeling confused, and more than a little panicked. “Where am I? Who are you? What are you?” I backed against the desk and tried to control my breathing, stopping the sudden flow of questions from all erupting from me at once. As cordial as the man of light had been, something still felt off. Magic? Blood? Was this man some demon worshipper? Was I trapped in his dungeon, the newest sacrifice to fall victim to curiosity?

The man drifted forward a few feet eerily, his legs neither moving nor making a sound as he came closer.

“You are currently within my inner sanctum, the laboratory I build for magical study and arcane experimentation. We are separated from the material plane, in a place safe to conduct such research without fear of causing anyone harm, and free from prying eyes of those who would seek to use my knowledge for foul purpose.”

I started stammering at him, as he spoke, feeling dizzy from what he was saying. “W-we’re not on… does that mean we’re in space or something?”

“Ease yourself, boy. Take a deep breath and let me finish. To your next question: what you are looking at is a manifestation of my consciousness which I separated from my physical body and contained in a magical construct some number of years ago. I am not living, but neither am I dead. I simply am.” He stopped only a few feet away from me, but didn’t seem to be threatening. Everything he said was matter of fact, although none of it made any sense.

“To answer your third question, my name is Remaunt Gaul, High Wizard of the Caulsic Order, and you my boy,” he said raising his hand, “Have grown much to frightened to continue this conversation. You should rest.”

I tried to cry out, certain I was to see fire and lightning spring forth from his fingertips, but I never got the chance. The scream died in my throat as I felt my head loll forward, my body suddenly heavy. I tried to look at him as I slumped to the floor, and I caught his face as the world darkened. He looked not malicious, nor murderous in that moment. As I drifted off to a dreamless sleep, I remember thinking that he looked… concerned.

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