Zebulon: Tale of the Time Sorcerer

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Summary

In the alehouse of Hogtie, the Storyteller Dwarf, tales of the legendary Time Sorcerer flow as freely as spiced red wine. With the arrival of an intriguing guest at the Dragon's Tooth Tavern comes the story of a mage so fearful of death, he transcended his countless reincarnations.

Status:
Complete
Chapters:
12
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
18+

INTRODUCTION

At the counter of a tavern called the Dragon’s Tooth sat a lanky man in a black jacket and a tall hat. To his right sat a dwarf guzzling down cups wine while the lanky man sipped ale timidly from a wooden mug.

After throwing back his twelfth cup of the night the dwarf turned toward the man, his face lifting with a sense of familiarity. At once the drunken dwarf addressed the lanky man, taking time to sip wine between each pause.

“I know you!"

“Do you?"

“You’re Icarus Crane! The detective!”

“Eh, I prefer the term, private investigator.”

“You solved the Case of the Silver Goblet!”

“Ah, yes. A personal favorite of mine.”

“And just last week, the Case of the Missing Banshee, I assumed you took care of it as well?”

“As well as I could. You see, I knew the banshee was real, but anyone who knows anything knows banshees don’t kill. Nor can they.”

“Outstanding! And that was your latest adventure, was it?”

“Not exactly. In fact, I’m working a case right now.”

“Oh? What do you think you’ll call this one?”

“Well, it involves a murdered pixie, a misplaced satchel of gold, and an eye found at the scene which appears to belong to either a large pirate or a very small cyclops.”

“Any leads?”

“Well, when I was passing through I noticed this was the only place in town where a man could stop to wet his whistle. That and the fact that alcohol had been found in the pixie’s bloodstream told me that the poor girl must have come here shortly before her demise.”

“That a fact?”

“Now this could either be a dead end, or the next step to solving this case. As for what this caper will be called I have no idea. The paper’s name the adventures. I just go on them.”

“They should open up a voter pool.”

“That they should. Personally, after I finish a case I like to not dwell on it anymore.”

“Fair enough. Your job seems difficult as it is. People say you’re an eccentric, that you’re morbid in a beneficial kind of way.”

“Is that what they say?”

“So I’ve heard.”

“You do a lot of listening?”

“I’m a little guy with big ears. What else did the gods put me here to do?”

“I see your point.”

“The name’s Hogtie, by the way.”

“Pleasure.”

“It’s all mine. Say, let me order you a drink! I’m a regular here. Ale, right?”

“Oh, I couldn’t.”

“You sure?”

“I got a lot on my mind. Like I said, this visit is more for business than for pleasure.”

“I understand. I guess that explains why you’ve been sipping at that mug for the last hour.”

“It’s been that long?”

“Time moves fast here out in the Western Woods.”

“That it does. Say, perhaps that may have something to do with this case? I’ll have to make a note of it!”

“Not to change the subject but I just have to ask, did you choose your own chronicler?”

“No, actually. It changes each time if you can believe it. Usually, before a case really gets going I meet someone who takes an interested and they proceed to follow me through it. They make detailed notes and when the case is solved they send it into the newspapers. Editors take care of polishing up the long account and by the end whoever aided me in my investigation gets compensation for sticking it out with me.”

“That’s amazing!”

“Yeah. In the old days, it wasn’t that easy though. No one knew who I was. My first few cases went undocumented, forever lost to the past.”

“That’s terrible! You’re a legend!”

“Flattering, but I’m just a detective.”

“Pardon my ignorance, but that word, what does it mean?”

“Which one? Detective?”

“Yes! Is it a foreign term from the isles? You are from the isles, aren’t you?”

“Yes and no. You see, I made the word up.”

“Made it up?”

“Yes, it came to me in a dream one morning. When I woke up I wrote it down and I just kind of knew what it meant. I suppose its simplest meaning would be a profession in which an individual solves crimes while not being tied to the investigative restrictions of the state.”

“Like a rogue knight! Or an independent guard, unbound to territories!”

“I suppose those are a few ways of putting it. I guess I’m just a detector, which is where I think my mind made up the word in the first place.”

“Ah, interesting. Icarus Crane, the Detector. I like it!”

“As do I.”

“Any idea about how long you plan to stay in town?”

“I did rent a room at the Goblin’s Thumb Inn, so I suppose a few days.”

“Well, let me tell you, Mister Crane, that as long as you sit at this bar you won’t pay even a copper for your drinks.”

“Please, I couldn’t accept your charity.”

“I’m afraid you got no choice. You see, while I am a regular here, I’m happy to say I’m also the owner.”

“The wine-drinking dwarf who lives in a tavern. Now it’s coming together!”

“You’ve heard of me then?”

“Hogtie! Of course! You’re the famous Storyteller of Avenel.”

“The best storyteller in all of Generica, more like it.”

“I feel a little silly for not putting it together earlier.”

“Ah, you’ve had a long day.”

“I suppose you’d like a story then?”

“What makes you say that?”

“Come now, everyone knows the great Hogtie must collect his fair share of tales, lest the stranger who shares his bench be cursed with a hundred years of bad luck.”

“So you have heard the tales?”

“You’re quite famous out on the isles.”

“Happy to hear, though I’m afraid the curse that floats over me still reigns true. A story for a story, that’s how I operate. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single tale you can offer me that I don’t already know.”

“What does that mean for me?”

“No worries, Mister Crane. Though this is the first time this sort of thing has happened in reverse, I know exactly how to fix it.”

“Oh?”

“Indeed. It’s even quite simple. All you need do is listen to one of my tales.”

“Is that really all?”

“A tale for a tale, isn’t that what they say about me?”

“True, but are you sure it will work?”

“Hear my story and I promise you, detective, no bad luck will curse your bright head.”

“I trust you, Hogtie. Proceed when ready.”

“I hope you don’t mind, but to help the flow of the story I’m going to assume the first-person narrative of the protagonist. I often find it best to tackle the more abstract works this way. If it’s all the same to you.”

“I’m sure any story you tell will be sufficient.”

“Very well, let us begin. I shall now convey to you the tale of a man named Zebulon. A strange name for a strange sorcerer, indeed. Our story takes us back to a time lost to time, to an age, or ages, forgotten by the modern world.”

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