Markus rubbed his eyes and looked blearily out of the window as the first rays of sunlight kissed the tops of the buildings outside. The second candle had burnt low long ago. He’d been here in the library almost every night since arriving, grabbing a couple of hours sleep when he could but otherwise working with methodical intensity as he pored over manuscript after manuscript in his search.
“Hello Pelor, care to shine some light on the mystery of Gehrigan and his amazing vanishing memory?” he murmured quietly as he watched the dawn turn to day. He waited, listening to the silence but not really expecting a direct reply. Instead he took the moment to still himself and look within his own personal library.
He visualised himself placing everything he’d learnt tonight on a series of shelves, just as he had every other night since meeting his new companions, and traced his fingers lightly over the books and scrolls he’d already placed. Markus was sure the answer would be here somewhere, and if not now then soon.
The absence of part of Gherigan’s memory disturbed him more than he’d admitted to anyone, even Bon. Although Bon probably knew anyway – he had a way of finding and keeping secrets. Markus understood forgetting and the slippery way memory worked, how emotions and the now of things affected how you recalled what has come before. He also knew how the perceived importance or usefulness of something determined the likelihood of its immediate recall. But always there was continuity. And memories made people who they were. So for someone… for Gehrigan to lose a whole period of time, not just forget, was as if someone had stolen part of him… a part of his essence. And so Markus studied and investigated and trawled through his extensive knowledge in the hope he could find the answers and help his new friend.
“What do you think Garrett?” he whispered, glancing at his friend curled up in the corner. Garrett had kept him company on and off and was always enthusiastically willing to help. He encouraged Markus without judgement or understanding and sometimes gave him the impetus to go on. He’d also been extremely helpful in eliminating or confirming various flora and fauna that could have contributed, as well as locales where these things existed. Garrett’s help hadn’t provided the answers Markus sought but Markus was glad of the company.
His mind drifted to his other new-found companions then. To Elrich, the proud Hin paladin who could teach him so much and hopefully share the songs of his people with him. To Gyda, the passionate shield maiden (although the maiden bit was unlikely Markus thought) who was so far away from home and was constantly trying to prove herself. And to Modryn, blessed of Pelor and the miracle of a thousand generations who had so much to learn himself about the nature of his god, his father and himself. He was glad Bon was so insistent that they join paths – there were so many stories here he didn’t know where to begin.
But then he frowned as he contemplated Gehrigan. He was so sure that Gehrigan had been fleeing the ghosts of his childhood that when he met the… ‘normality’ of his family life it had thrown him. Gehrigan was, at his core, a good man with good parents who felt strong family bonds like love and loyalty. There was absolutely nothing to run from. And yet Gehrigan had a massive hole where part of his past should be. And it niggled at Markus like a stone in his boot. So he forwent sleep and pleasure and chased the dragon.
He could hear the castle stirring and knew that his time of quiet was ending so he went over his questions once more, counting each one of on one of his nimble fingers, before waking Garrett and going to break his fast.
“Who would steal part of a man?” Who indeed? Such things didn’t occur by complete accident that often, and Gehrigan showed no signs of physical trauma that one would normally associate with memory loss. So either Gehrigan had an unknown enemy that he had forgotten, Markus surmised, or he had done it to himself.
“What could steal part of a man?” Ahhh that was the question wasn’t it? There were natural beasts that exuded poisons that could do it, or certain herbs, or certain traumas, or creatures steeped in magic, or otherworldly planes, or arcane items, or artifacts of legend, or certain spells and castings… or even the gods. Markus shook his head. Too many
options, too many answers. He needed to do more research and was glad they were intending to head to the capital and the library there.
“Where could one steal part of a man?” This at least he had the beginnings of an answer. Gehrigan had been quite open about his last memory before the blankness and his first memory since. It gave Markus something to work with and he, with Garrett’s help and maps, had already started planning how to get there.
“When was it stolen?” That seemed to be an easy answer, but Markus didn’t know enough about the Who, What and Where of things to be sure. It appeared that Gehrigan had lost his memory and regained it… but what if… if it had happened afterwards? Markus shuddered as he thought about some of the options he’d considered that he hoped hadn’t taken place. High and dangerous arcane like the legendary Wish spell… tentacled dwellers of the deep and dark who could twist and eat your mind… the god of secrets and whispers whose name he would not even think lest he hear, so on to the question of…
“Why?” Markus paused in his reverie, remembering something he’d read or heard somewhere… The Why of things is sometimes the key to everything. Why did Gehrigan have a hole in his memory? What purpose did it serve? Whatever was missing was important – Markus was sure of it. More important than fighting dragons and monsters or making maps or keeping secrets or singing songs. Maybe not more important than being blessed by a god, Markus though wryly, but knowing the gods it is probably all connected.
He stood up and put it all back into his mental library, shook his head to clear the cobwebs, sighed, stretched and yawned. He’d work it out eventually, but for now the food here was plentiful and good and he could hear his belly rumbling. He walked over to his friend and poked him with his foot. “Wake up Garret, my friend. Time for a new adventure. Let’s see where today takes us.”