0027 – Gareth: Captivity, Part 9

Gareth had bathed and eaten with the grim efficiency known only to those who really, really have better things to be doing with their time, but are filthy and hungry.

He put on a fresh robe – how considerate of Karl to supply him with so many – so quickly that he nearly tripped and fell in the process. He’d been walking while dressing, eager to reach the study.

It was time for action. Time to find out what the book meant.

Gareth opened the cover. He had slipped into the habit of letting the book speak first, so as not to bind it to answer a direct question when it may have more important things to tell him.

“ARE YOU READY NOW? HAVE YOU SLEPT AT ALL?”

“No,” Gareth confessed, rubbing his eyes. “We don’t have time for that. I’m clean, I’m fed, that’ll have to do.”

“FAIR ENOUGH. LOOK, I WON’T MESS YOU ABOUT. WHEN YOU FIRST OPENED ME AND STARTED ASKING ME SILLY QUESTIONS, I WASN’T TOO FOND OF YOU.”

“I know that.” Gareth was too focused to be affronted. “Most people aren’t, honestly.”

“PROBABLY BECAUSE YOU’RE SO NAIVE AND IRRITATING.” The book told him, plainly. “BUT NONE OF THAT MATTERS RIGHT NOW. I COULDN’T SEE INTO THE BOOK YOU FOUND, BUT IT REALLY THREW YOU. I’M GUESSING KARL WROTE IT. WHAT IS IT?”

“It’s called Eternal Isolation.” Said Gareth.

He immediately realised his mistake.

His heart jumped into his throat. A few awful seconds passed while he waited for something atrocious to happen. When nothing did, he opened his familiar book again.

“BE VERY CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY.” The book admonished him. “YOU DIDN’T ENUNCIATE IT WITH THE INTENT TO CAST IT, – OR EVEN IN THE RIGHT LANGUAGE – SO NOTHING HAPPENED. BUT ALL IT TAKES IS A LITTLE ANGER BEHIND YOUR WORDS, AND YOU CAN BE THROWING DANGEROUS MAGIC AROUND ACCIDENTALLY. YOU COULD PROBABLY FEEL ITS POWER?”

Gareth nodded. “I could. Sorry.”

“CONTINUE.” The book bid him.

“Nearly half of it was a message to me, taunting me. The rest was a vivid description of exactly what he did to my wife.”

“WORDED IN SUCH A WAY THAT THE BOOK ITSELF SERVED AS SERMOMANCY. TO CAST IT UPON HER.”

“Yes.”

“HE’S A REAL BASTARD. I TOLD YOU. THERE’S NO REASON WHY HE DOES THESE THINGS. HE’S JUST EVIL.”

Gareth’s initial instinct was to vehemently agree, but reason took over.

“Nobody is ‘just evil’.” Gareth stated it as though it were objective fact. “Everyone’s got their own motivations. I just don’t know what Karl’s are.”

“DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE THAT? WHAT DID HE DO TO YOUR WIFE?”

It was a while before Gareth could summon up the will to say it out loud. “He took away all her senses, one by one. Locked her in her own head, forever. She’s… going mad.”

“AND YOU THINK THESE ARE THE ACTIONS OF A MAN WITH A JUSTIFIABLE MOTIVE? YOU THINK HE STANDS SOMETHING TO GAIN FROM HIS CALCULATED TORTURE OF YOU AND THE PERSON CLOSEST TO YOU?”

“Evil doesn’t exist.” Gareth said it with conviction. “Not true evil. Men might do ‘bad’ things, but there’s no such thing.”

“OH, I SUPPOSE WE CAN FORGIVE HIM THEN. HERE I WAS, ABOUT TO ARM YOU WITH THE TOOLS TO GET OUT OF THIS COTTAGE, FIND HIM, AND MURDER HIM GRUESOMELY, AS WELL AS SAVE YOUR BELOVED WIFE, BUT HEY-HO, I GUESS ALL HUMAN BEINGS ARE VALID AND EQUAL AND ALL POINTS OF VIEW ARE TO BE CONSIDERED. SO WE DON’T NEED TO ACTUALLY DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. FINE, HOW ABOUT I TEACH YOU HOW TO MAKE A KILLER CHOCOLATE CAKE IN THAT KITCHEN INSTEAD? SINCE YOU’RE APPARENTLY CONTENT TO LIVE OUT THE REST OF YOUR EXISTENCE HERE LIKE A MEEK LITTLE MILQUETOAST.”

Gareth was taken aback by the wall of abuse he’d just read.

“I never said that.” He retorted sharply. “I want to get out of here. And I want revenge. AND I want to put things right. I just want to ask him why before I do it, that’s all.”

“FAIR ENOUGH.” The book conceded. “BUT YOU’RE STILL WRONG ABOUT HIM.”

“Look, it doesn’t matter.” Gareth was getting frustrated. “Just tell me how to get out of here, would you?”

“I WILL. BUT FIRST, WOULDN’T YOU LIKE TO KNOW HOW WE’RE GOING TO SAVE PAMELA? I WANT YOU FOCUSED. I WANT YOU TO KNOW THIS ISN’T HOPELESS.”

Gareth nodded. He WOULD like to know.

“Yes.” He said.

“DO YOU REMEMBER I TOLD YOU EARLIER THAT IF YOU GET YOUR HANDS ON A DEAD SERMOMANCER’S BOOKS, YOU CAN USE THEM YOURSELF?”

“Of course.”

“WELL, I DIDN’T WANT TO GET YOUR HOPES UP BECAUSE WE COULD BE PRETTY MUCH ANYWHERE, BUT THE STAKES HAVE BEEN RAISED SINCE THEN.”

“Go on”. Gareth was feeling eager now.

“I KNOW WHERE A FEW OF THE VERY EARLY BOOKS ARE. ONE OF THEM CAN TURN BACK TIME. THINK ABOUT HOW IMPORTANT THAT IS. I PUT THE ITALICS THERE FOR EMPHASIS.”

Gareth didn’t need long to think about it. “Pamela.” He said. He cracked a smile for the first time in over a week. “It doesn’t even matter how long we take to reach her, as long as we have that book.”

“CORRECT. YOU’RE NAIVE, BUT NOT STUPID. I’M GLAD.”

“I still don’t…” Gareth tapered off. “I still don’t like the idea of her suffering. Lying there, going mad. I’d still like to reach her as soon as we can.”

“OF COURSE. AND THAT’S WHY WE’RE GOING TO GET OUT OF HERE. TODAY.”

“How?” Gareth asked. “I already thought of ‘A Door That Opens On Command’ weeks ago, but it’s probably taken, isn’t it?”

“IT IS. I DON’T KNOW WHY YOU CAN’T SENSE THAT. WE’LL WORRY ABOUT YOUR DEFICIENCIES AS A MAGICIAN LATER. BUT YOU KNOW WHAT ISN’T TAKEN?”

“What?” Gareth had the feeling that he was about to be made to feel frankly idiotic..

A WINDOW THAT OPENS ON COMMAND.

Gareth slapped his face hard into his palm.

One Response to “0027 – Gareth: Captivity, Part 9

  • LINDA DUPEE
    1 year ago

    Love it! Getting better and better and now we enter philosophical debate on the nature of evil. Hope to see a development of that theme.

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