The Red Hand

Pithic's fall into the rabbit hole

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Pithic Okelak
was not sleeping well lately. The past nights were spent tossing and turning, unable to sleep.

After the initial shock of learning that his work entailed dealing with only one student, he began to suspect that his newly appointed position was not a blessing after all, but a test that Lady Fate had thrust upon him.

This case… Pithic was simply flabbergasted at the amount of interest the Academy took upon his new protégé. Surely there was a reason to it, for the Ritual of Binding all students took before entering these walls showed clearly that all its members were but chattel (they killed an apprentice for each cohorts passing being taken in) to them. So, why this as-yet-unheard-of tolerance on their part? What was so special about Journeyman Goldentongue to merit spending so much resources on him instead of simply throwing his mutilated corpse to the dogs? Pithic made it his mission to know, as something did not quite add up.

To his surprise, perusing all the Academy’s files pertaining to Samir yielded little to no information. Certain parts were mysteriously missing, making Pithic suspect that the trickster was involved in something important for the Academy. But what? Dangerous as it may be to investigate the dealings of his masters, Pithic was simply too curious to stop.
So he set out to interview all of Samir’s relations in order to extract details he could then piece together, but not before making a serious mistake in starting with the young man himself…

The interview did not go well, of course. Samir’s notorious lack of concentration with the mundane made the conversation a jumble of non-sequiturs and typical Samirian nonsense. Pithic had to resign himself to failure when Samir, probably sensing the defeat in the old man’s voice, decided to throw his case worker a bone.

Something important was brewing within the high circles of the Academy, for they had “forced little bastards into my head to keep me from spilling the beans, you see”, Samir had glibly told him. As Pithic sat back in his chair, pondering if the student’s words were to be taken literally or symbolically, Samir proceeded to make a demonstration and settle the matter. With a bounce Samir had risen from his chair, pulled down his trousers and proceeded to sit on Pithic’s prized scrying bowl. Before the Old man could utter a gasp of astonishment, Samir laughingly exclaimed “We’re on a secret mission to…“

Right then, Samir’s eyes rolled back into his head and a seizure took hold of him. It was only later, when Samir had woken up, smiled and brightly exclaimed “See!? How cool is that!??”, leaving with a spring in his steps that Pithic found out that the seizure also involved defecation…

Interviewing Samir’s friends was a slow and convoluted process, for Pithic had to sneakily insert questions relating to their mission throughout an interview related to Samir’s behavior, which was no easy task.

Mavrikos replied to questions with short, concise answers that did not betray anything regarding their whereabouts. Concerning his friend’s behavior, nothing was said that Pithic did not know already: a stream of confusing and shocking actions that made the Academy look bad, but in the end made things done nonetheless.

Rhea was a hard one, for her skills at knowing everything (she was some kind of a prodigy in the divination arts) made Pithic’s task an impossible one, so he decided not to ask questions he should not ask with her. She did mention a sacrifice she made to a hag to help Samir though (a debt repaid or some such), but the way she looked at him while she said it made it quite clear no further details would come forth. Pithic was left wondering if Rhea knew of his misgivings and was just playing with him, feeding him nonsense.

Orfée clearly had a soft spot for Samir (or everyone around her, really), but in a way a mother would towards her mentally-challenged child. She was the worst Samir apologist of the bunch. “What was the reaction of the priests when Journeyman Samir tried to excuse himself to go ‘urinate violently’, Orfée?” he had asked. “Oh, you know Samir. He likes to shock people, that silly-nilly! The priest were taken aback, of course. But who wouldn’t when faced with such a crude, yet personal need to leave their presence?” she’d reply. “And why were you there exactly? A context would help me better understand my… burden if you will.” “Oh, he is a handful, isn’t he? Well, Mavrikos needed some closure from his past, so we went there for that, you see. We are a tight-knitted group after all” Again, little information was provided.

Nasah’s interview was an uncomfortable one, for Pithic was always leery around necromancers. Nasah though… Pithic had never seen a necromancer like him. Nasah’s obsessions towards the dead was a completely innocent one; no thirst for power or world domination (typical necromancers, those) could be detected. Nasah simply liked to explore the anatomy of corpses. ANY corpses. Pithic found out that Samir had spent a lot of time helping Nasah out in his experiment (that ring of his was a subject of unhealthy obsession on Samir’s part. Lots of book loans on spells relating to the undead. Pithic was suspecting that the young mage was trying to exploit loopholes of being an undead through that ring), even volunteering to be the “part-time corpse” for Nasah to “explore”, which puzzled Pithic somewhat. Samir’s general flippancy towards everything made him think that he simply did not care about anything (or anyone) other than immediate hedonistic pursues. Was Samir’s attitude some kind of front for something else? Was he actually able to care for others? Samir, having a soft spot for others? Mind-boggling, that. He’d have to dig further into that at a later time.

Hasdrubal’s interview was a short one, for as soon as he stepped within the interview room, the runes carved into the floor activated, making all magical properties flare up (a necessary precaution when interviewing wizards to know if there are any magical means to lie through an interview). Hasdrubal’s back lit up like a lighthouse beacon, surprising the young gladiator. Taking his shirt off, he was able to see the multiple graffiti magically marked on his clothes. Pithic could see multiple slogans about a great leader of “Mewling Quims”, which did not make any sense to him. Before he could utter a word, Hasdrubal swore and screamed “I’m going to make that little bastard eat his own fingers and reattach them to his hands once he shits them back out!” and stormed out of the room.

Resigned and about to admit defeat, a student entered the room, an arrogant sneer on his face. “Do you want to know more about this mongrel mutt you are cursed to oversee?” he asked by way of introduction, sitting down without prompt.

Pithic had learned a lot after the hours-long interview with Theofyr. Quite a lot, actually. Maybe even too much. The potion-maker had taken lots of steps (and spent a fortune, apparently) to spy on Samir in the past few months and learned things he should not be privy to. And now Pithic knew about it, too. A cold dread began forming in the pit of his stomach. “I think I went too far in my investigation”, he murmured, rubbing his eyes. He decided to forget what he’d learned that day and instead concentrated to the task at hand.
Samir was back at the Academy after coming back from a mission on a dream plane, having fought some kind of dragon in the process. Pithic was charged with regulating Samir’s magical items purchases before heading out to do gods knew what else for his masters. Delaying the decision to allow him to buy cursed items on the cheap was a great victory for the old case worker, something that rarely happened when dealing with the ever smiling illusionist. However, Samir was now able to happily craft his own wands, to the horror of many within these walls.
Samir often went out of the Academy on “rogue missions” (Theofyr had provided him that information) to enact dealings with various bards and engineers around Whadi for unknown reasons, but now he seemed to have recruited his friends Rhea and Hasdrubal on one of his outings. His grocery list of magical items made Pithic raise his eyebrows in bewilderment. So many low-charged wands… and the trigger words he wanted for them was baffling: no words at all, but funny sound combinations that made no sense, other than what a deaf and dumb peasant would utter, as if he did not have a tongue…
Pithic sighed for the thousandth time that day, ordered a tea from his orderly, then set to work on writing his report to the headmistress of discipline.

Comments

I always wondered how long would the «butterfly» from Samir second log would end up remaining on hasdy’s headgear. I guess this closes this story arc. :)

Pithic's fall into the rabbit hole
 

Pretty ballsy to assume we survive the dragon… ;-)

Pithic's fall into the rabbit hole
 

That’s how I roll… Giggidy

Pithic's fall into the rabbit hole
SebDano

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