Adventure School, Episode One:
The Supposed Secret Diary of that one Legendary Magus
This story contains graphic sexuality and will eventually come to include scenes of (non-sexual) violence as well. If such things offend you, feel free to direct your browser elsewhere. If you have questions about distribution of this text outside of Nifty, please contact me: troublemonkee at gmail dot com.
Most adventuring schools (the ones that are left anyway) are located in extreme places: a barge on the middle of the ocean, in the center of a frozen tundra, deep within a jungle, etc. So it's no surprise that the Obsidian Signatori is located in the searing expanse of desert just north of the ocean on the central continent. Of course the climate at the school is regulated by weather witches, but it's useful for training to be able to send students out into the desert to work on their constitution among other things.
Skip Dashe was a senior at the Signatori and acutely aware that his name was on the stupider side of silly. He had chosen it upon acceptance to the institute and despite overtures against it made by well-meaning desk clerks, he had been obstinate and so Skip it was. Perhaps as compensation for this fact he had become one of the finest archer's in the school's storied history. Stupid name, yes, but no one to laugh at - especially if you liked not being impaled.
By the time Skip returned from his latest assignment it was almost nightfall. He walked onto the campus at twilight and the security golem at the front gate of the institute regarded him dispassionately.
"Human male visitor. State your purpose." The golem said slowly in tones that resembled the scraping of gravel on gravel.
It spoke from a mouth that wasn't quite a mouth and a face that wasn't quite that either. The golems for the most part were piles of enchanted stone assembled in vaguely humanoid fashion. Zophir liked to call it "workman's magic", efficient if painfully inelegant.
Skip fished in the little cloth pack strapped to his waist and retrieved his card, a plain fragment of parchment with his name written in a neat golden cursive. The golem took a look at the card and placed out his hand. Skip rested the paper in the golem's palm and it changed from brown to blue. When Skip took it back it was brown again. The spells that created the golems were the same spells weaved into the identification cards so that the golems would always recognize students, faculty and employees. Otherwise the golems were completely impervious to magic. It made them useful, though crude.
"Welcome, Student." The golem intoned.
Skip walked past the automaton and onto the campus proper.
Obsidian was never the biggest institute, but it was the oldest and as such the architecture was scattershot. A mix of gothic influences and more modern designs peppered the green lawns while paved eggshell colored paths snaked between buildings. Skip was interested in only one at the moment, his dormitory, where he would hopefully get some sleep after the treacherous day he'd had. Varsaleg demons were near impossible to kill without flaming silver arrows and guess who had run out mid-mission? His arms were chafed from chopping through their sandy bodies with a hand axe.
Skip entered the building and climbed the stairs that turned into his hallway. A few of his fellow upperclassmen hailed him as he went and he tried to be amiable toward them. Rumors had been growing for some time that the "golden archer" was as unapproachable and frosty as his silver-oak bow. A few well-placed smiles weren't going to reverse the talk, but it couldn't hurt. By the time he reached his door he was exhausted both physically and socially. He fished his key and slid it smoothly into the lock. He opened the door and should have been more surprised.
His roommate was sitting on the edge of his own bed (for a mercy) on the far side of the room with his head tilted back as what looked to be a freshman eagerly throated his cock. When the light from the hall filtered into the dark room, the freshman stopped and looked over, but Skip's roommate made no move to cover his nudity, offer an apology or to reassure the stunned kid. He just grinned a vaguely sheepish grin and tousled his curly mop of lime green hair. At least this week's green was better than last week's vomit pink.
"Uh oh. Looks like the cat's home. The mice must scatter." Zophir said, then looked down at the freshman. "That means you, man. Thanks for the blowjob though."
The guy nodded slowly and then rose. On his way out he nodded reverently toward Skip and started running once he was out the door. Skip sighed and stepped into the room, closing the door behind him as Zophir pulled a pair of (tiny) underwear up over his still hard dick. Skip threw himself into bed face down and groaned into his pillow.
"You have no idea how I've missed this bed." Skip's muffled voice wailed from the pillow.
His roommate scoffed and Skip looked up. Zophir was lean and wiry, well-proportioned for a Magus but nowhere near as toned (or tan) as someone who spent a decent amount of time in the field. Zophir was as well known for being a shameless fuck as he was for being bizarrely lazy, he would do anything to avoid actually going on adventures - despite, of course, being enrolled in an adventure academy.
The magus stretched and his muscles shuddered. He was still hard and a spot was starting to dampen where his shaft head pressed against the thin fabric of his underwear. Precum or left over saliva? Hard to tell. Zophir caught Skip looking and his grin slid into place.
"You know, Skip. Technically you ruined my fun just now. You owe me." He reached down a hand and cupped his balls; his dick, roused, leapt forward against his underwear.
"Me?" Skip asked incredulously. "I didn't tell you to send your freshman away."
"No..." Zophir walked over slowly. He was perpetually aware of the effect he could have on others. Skip was starting to feel that effect stirring below his waist. "I suppose you didn't. Shall I call him back? We could introduce ourselves properly."
Zophir was standing at the edge of Skip's bed now, his erection pressed urgently against his briefs. There was no use pretending he didn't want to touch it, he could already feel his roommate sifting gently through his thoughts. Skip reached up and ran two fingers over it. Tracing the head and shaft lightly while Zophir closed his eyes and purred gently. Skip was about to pull his the underwear down completely but was thwarted by a knock at the door.
Zophir growled low in his throat and gestured to the door without opening his eyes. He said something quickly in some dead language and the door flung open.
"If this isn't urgent, I'm going to filet you with a paring knife." He said with his eyes still closed. He didn't have to look to see who it was. He was a magus after all.
The red head standing at the door didn't flinch. He looked in on the scene: Zophir hard in his underwear and Skip lying on the bed looking up at him and then over at the door.
"Can you get your rocks off later? I found something I think you'll both want to hear about." The redhead said.
"I only want to hear moaning, Alistair. Just moans."
"Quiet, Zophir." Skip said as he rolled up from his prone position. Zophir made a whimpering sound, but Skip's attention was already diverted. When it came to a potential adventure there was no retrieving him. Realizing his defeat Zophir sat down on the bed next to Skip with his arms folded tightly: "We're listening, I guess."
Alistair smiled broadly. His enthusiastic nature made him an odd fit at Obsidian, which tended toward the serious, the deluded and the homicidal. His genuine honesty forced him to drop out of his Thievery concentration, his passivity made armed combat impossible, he had no natural aptitude for magic and his exuberant chatter had rankled every monks studying for the Stoicism finals. Currently he was on a "Rotation" non-concentration where nearly every department at the school took a turn hosting the irritatingly gregarious student until they simply couldn't handle him anymore.
His most recent studies had been with the Magus' Office of Research and Development. Skip assumed his urgent news would be somehow related.
"I think I found the journals of Baal Shiron." Alistair said through his slightly crooked smile.
"False. He never existed." Zophir raised a finger and an invisible force began to push Alistair out of the room. The shocked redhead pushed back against the force, digging his feet into the carpet as the wall of magic shoved hard against him. Zophir turned back to Skip, his grin fully engaged, "where were we?"
"Wait!" Alistair complained breathlessly. He had lost a few feet of ground and was almost out of the room despite his fighting. "Zophir! Stop...I'm ser-"
Zophir pushed a hand out in the direction of the door and the force pressing against Alistair doubled - lifting him off his feet and throwing him out into the hallway. The door slammed shut behind him. For a moment there was a torrent of curses coming from the other side of the door, but Zophir hissed and the curses stopped abruptly. Skip frowned, "you really don't have to treat him like that, Zo. He means well."
Zophir raised an eyebrow. "Oh? I seem to recall you felt differently when you snapped his bow in half and told him that your dead grandmother was a better marksman, among other more colorful insults."
Skip winced. It wasn't his finest hour. Alistair had been on Archery rotation and Skip was assigned as his tutor. In a moment of particular ineptitude, Alistair shot an arrow that nearly murdered the cat of the school's headmistress. Skip's subsequent outburst was something of a school legend. It took months for the cat to regain its balance without a tail.
"You might as well have saved your breath - nothing seems to penetrate his unfortunate mind. And now he's wailing about Baal Shiron's journals?" Zophir frowned. "Idiot."
Skip didn't agree. Not entirely. Alistair was...difficult to handle at times, but he was earnest. Zophir descended onto his bed and his hot mouth found Skip's easily even in the dark. They kissed and Zophir's quick fingers found their way underneath his roommate's shirt and wasted no time pulling it off. As the scene progressed toward the unavoidable, a voice whispered in the back of Skip's mind. By the time he was fully hard and pressing himself into Zophir's slick hole, he didn't know whether it was sex or the promise of adventure making the blood pound in his ears.
"So it's authentic, right?"
Skip shot a glance at Alistair and the redhead shut his mouth immediately. It was before ten a.m. and he had already lured Zophir out of bed using a litany of compromises, promises, and bribes, one of which consisted of a set of circular motions with his tongue that the magus had a hard time resisting. Still, even now it could all fall apart. Zophir's steaming cup of coffee sat un-sipped. He curled one hand around his cup while he drumming his fingers on the wooden table. He was more or less lost in the thin volume that Alistair had dug up.
Neither the archer nor the apprentice knew much about Baal Shiron beyond common lore. He was allegedly an arch-magus, a master in various forms of magic and the first in several millennia to achieve perfect prescience. He arrived at a knowing so deep that he isolated himself entirely from the world. According to some accounts he feared that something was stalking him through the far reaches of consciousness, others accused him of losing his mind. Yet others claimed both.
Skip wasn't entirely concerned about the fate of the magician. If artifacts of his reign could be uncovered it would be the find of a lifetime. Skip could already hear the praise being lavished upon him. He would be awarded adventurer of the year, hell, of a lifetime. As soon as Zophir finished his deciphering anyway.
Several hours later, nothing had changed with the magus. Alistair was napping in the stacks and Skip's ass had fallen asleep sitting in one of the hard-backed wooden chairs of the library. Zophir was a statue, only his eyes moved, and then his fingers flexed around his coffee cup and he lifted it to his lips. He took a short sip and then placed the cup back on the desk. Or at least he attempted to. With his attention focused elsewhere, he placed the cup on the very edge of the desk and when he withdrew his hand it tipped over and began falling to the floor.
Zophir looked up at Skip.
The cup never hit the ground — both it and it's liquid content, half splashed by gravity, had stopped their descent before hitting the floor. They stayed perfectly suspended. Things were like that around Zophir. His level of talent was rare, innate. Magic to others was work, for him it was a reflex. The cup suspended in the air was an unconscious response, he hadn't glanced at it once. He probably didn't realize it had fallen.
Zophir blinked and then yawned. He reached his hand out and the cup rose to meet it.
"I'm fairly convinced that this is an authentic relic of Baal Shiron's. Either that or it was written by an incredibly powerful fraud. There's a lot I can't make out, it's in a language that hasn't been spoken in maybe a thousand years and the wards on it make my brain itch."
"But it's authentic." Skip repeated. Alistair probably didn't even know what he had brought them. "Does the journal say anything useful?"
"It seems like fragments of some kind of conjuration. Like I said, there's a lot I can't decipher, but from the looks of it it was some kind of barrier spell. Something like the spells they use around here to control the weather, but deeper, more complex. Quite frankly, it's pretty beyond me."
Zophir was not quick to humility. For him to be admitting that the work in the journal was past his ability to comprehend it then...
"However," Zophir continued, "there are references in here. References to a companion book. Another example of Baal Shiron's work would help decode this one."
"A second book? How do we find it?"
"It's already been found. It's quite famous, actually." Zophir yawned again. "It's the only work of a magus featured in the Library Mechanica."
Skip felt a headache approaching. The Library Mechanica meant...
"Yep." Zophir nodded, casually reading his roommate's mind. "We'll have to go through them."
"Nope. Absolutely out of the question."
The Dean of Tasks sat on the edge of her desk, her human hand held around a porcelain cup of coffee and her sleek black panther's paw gripped the edge of the desk lightly. Her fine straight hair fell in sophisticated layers and her rim-less glasses sat at the tip of her nose. She looked over her glasses at the two students. She put down her cup and smoothed out her pencil skirt.
"Two of our star students traipsing into contested territories in order to read a book that our school has openly coveted for twenty years. That's bad enough, but then you want to ensure that we rouse as much chaos as possible by allowing you to pursue your findings indiscriminately?" The Dean shook her head. "Zophir, as much as I'm tickled to see you taking an interest, I can't allow either of you jeopardize our relationship with Machina."
Machina, Steam & Metallurgy had been growing of late. What had started as fringe group had gained enough members and renown to begin considering itself the future of technology and magic studies. They had accomplished this mostly by reducing magic to just another kind of fuel to run their machines. The 'ungifted' responded well to the de-mystifying of magic, the stripping of its allure and its transformation into a means of tangible production. Of course then they set their calculating eyes on recruiting academy students.
Skip considered the whole thing a ridiculous admissions game, but he was smart enough not to mention it around the school administration (who considered any reduction of their student body as an affront) or to any magi (who largely considered the advent of technology to be a cheap way out of the rigors of magical studies).
"Madam Dean," Zophir started. "I'd like to say -"
"I can't allow it. That's final."
She seemed serious so Skip gave the requisite nods and promises while running through the checklist of things he would need to travel into the heart of Machina territory.
Red. No. Strawberry Blond. Slender. Soft. Kisses on his neck. Like morning mist on hot skin. Words he could almost make out. A name. Just a bit more. Just a little closer. Further. Harder.
Cliff woke up to the blinding pain crushing the space behind his eyes. He groaned aloud and reached to his nightstand, eyes shut hard against the intrusive sunlight, he fumbled until the bottle found his hand. Shaking and sweating he emptied three black pills into his hand and brought them to his mouth quickly. It took some effort to work up enough saliva into his dry mouth to swallow, but the pills were mercifully tiny.
After a few minutes of stillness and searing pain, the pills began to do their work. The migraine subsided to a manageable level and Cliff sighed. It had been months since his last attack. He had forgotten how brutal they could be.
With the pain controlled, awareness crept in: The softness of the pillow behind his head, his sweat matted hair, the vertical shafts of sunlight coming through his shades, and the stickiness coating his stomach and running down his left leg.
Fuck, he thought looking down; it had been years since a dream had made him cum. He made a note to ask his doctor about upping the dosage of the black pills.
Swinging his legs off the bed Cliff ambled off toward the shower positioned in the far corner of his little apartment. Once the shower was running as hot as he could get it, he stepped in and let the pressure beat down on him. With his eyes closed under the spray he tried to recall the images of the dream, but the details were already escaping him. The pills were designed to suppress any trace of precognition. They left him feeling slightly perplexed as if trying to access a memory obscured by too many years. It was a fogginess that kept clear of his other mental processes and so the dream and its urgent (or frivolous) messages slipped out of his mind as Cliff began thinking about the day ahead.
After his shower he began his routine: Thirty minutes of weights, an hour of martial art forms, thirty minutes of meditative stretching, an hour of —
The harsh voice buzzed out of the smooth chrome box on his desk. Cliff stood from his artfully folded position on the ground and went over to the box. He raised the mouthpiece and spoke:
"Vice-Controller Winchester Clifton Zeigger, Sir."
"Zeigger. You're awake. Good. We intercepted some intelligence this morning. Is your end of the channel secure?"
Cliff reached down to the smooth chrome box and pressed the underside lightly. A hidden console slid open and Cliff checked the glowing red lights and the array of switches. The rigor of the communication encryptions were nearly impossible to break and even if they could be, who would have such knowledge beside Machina, Steam, and Metallurgy? It was redundant, but Cliff humored his superior.
"The line is secure, Sir."
"Good, Zeigger. We've intercepted something on the ISA. It looks like some kind of action is oncoming, something that might or might not involve you. We're still decoding the information. We have two of our best Scriveners on it, but for now it seems like it is best for you to go to Library Mechanica. You'll meet with the managing supervisor on-site. He will be briefed about your arrival. You will leave within the hour."
Then the line went dead. Abruptly. It was that way with top brass. No good-byes and no good-lucks. Just radio silence.
Cliff sighed. The ISA, Intentional Spectrum Analyzer, was as close to a belief system as Machina had. It was a massive machine with leads covertly placed around the world. The machine was a scientific reduction of the principle by which empathy magic functioned; human beings give off waves of emotion and intention, those waves can be interpreted. The ISA was supposed to take the guesswork out and provide a definitive, calculable map of the immediate future. But the results of the ISA, exposure to the knowledge of the sum of human intention implicitly influenced anyone interpreting the results. Scriveners were created to solve the problem. Heavily and consistently drugged individuals whose entire cognitive mechanism was purposed toward unbiased interpreting of the ISA's results. They were seers, after a fashion, though to use such mysticized language could result in a court-marshal within the ranks of Machina.
Now the machine was sending him south. Away from the confines of the First Machine City. Away from technology and progress. Cliff shivered and began to pack his bags.
Part one. fin.
This is my 2nd Nifty story. The first being Whatever in the High School section. This project started as a bit of lark for my inner geek. I <3 RPGs and I theorized a story full of RPG stereotypes. The project has evolved a little since then, but hopefully still retains some of the silly irreverent air that I was going for. Feel free to email me: troublemonkee at gmail dot com - if you want to point out inconsistencies, tell me how my grammar blows, or (hopefully) tell me that you liked my story. Thanks for reading and I hope you stick with Skip and Co. on this ridiculous journey of theirs.