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Thread: The Memory Man

  1. #1
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    The Memory Man

    The Memory Man


    [ Dramatis personae ]

    Gabrielle Marie Twylith
    Zachary Cade Booth
    Caduceus Ezekiel Grimaldi
    Lillian Marici Sesthal
    Taylor Zumdahl
    René Magritte


    ***

    “Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it.”


    Michel de Montaigne
    Last edited by Ataraxis; 02-07-10 at 10:42 PM.

  2. #2
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    Name
    Lillian Sesthal
    Age
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    Race
    Apparently Human
    Gender
    Female
    Hair Color
    Silky Black
    Eye Color
    Eerie Blue
    Build
    5'7" / ?? lbs.

    The way to Camus was longer than Lillian had first realized. In terms of duration, she had hit dead on the nail: there were only two more days and seventeen hours to go… in terms of sheer grief, however, the poor teenager had been devastatingly off mark. The voyage had been harsh, but not because of the beating sun or the ruthless terrain of these uncharted lands. Not to her, at least. The traveling librarian had never considered herself an especially robust person, what with her frail constitution and utter disdain for physical exertion, but the months she had spent on her own had accustomed her to long treks across inhospitable territories.

    Her latest charges, however, clearly found the whole practice preposterous. Brielle, the red-haired girl, her senior of only one year, had moaned and groaned merely hours into the first day of their march. Her complaints had been many, later on: a pebble in her shoes, a cramp in her left calf, then the right, even a persistent itch on her ankles. For all of these, they stopped for her to rest and recover, and every time Lillian corrected her calculations with a frown.

    Zachary, their elder by half a dozen years at the very least, was more vigorously built, and Lillian had hoped he would endure the trip better than his distaff comrade. That hope had been short-lived; being a man, he could tolerate pain and fatigue to preserve his masculinity, but he would also sulk in the fresh shadows of a tree every two pit-stops, panting in silence while fiddling with sticks of tobacco he had called cigarettes. He would always play with them nervously for a few minutes, before cursing and putting them away in his pocket. He showed much resolve, but for each cloud of smoke he refused himself, his mood would foul twofold.

    Taylor, the young boy who had become attached to Zachary, was the only one who never complained. Mostly because he had nothing to complain about: the child was an endless source of energy, so much that they wondered if he was somehow draining them all dry of theirs. She had heard flocks of seagulls with more vocal restraint than the ten-year-old, and a few days into their trek, the girl was seriously pondering if exposition to gangrene would be an easier affliction to endure… but every time he laughed and gave her his big, wide, boyish grin, she would again and again find the answer with a sigh and a smile.

    This was a motley group with which she now traveled, and thinking back on their first meeting, she realized how much of an understatement that was. Brielle and Zachary were not from this world: they came from Earth, a name of which she had found many traces throughout Althanas. Both sought to return to their homes, or at the very least, that had been their primary goal. Now, however, she did not know: save for conversations about entertainment media and popular culture she was only slowly learning to recognize, they had become very reclusive about their home. Yet, Lillian never asked. She had promised to help them find a way back; once she did, they were free to take it or refuse it.

    The sun had begun its slow descent, vanishing behind the shadows of a great valley as the stars began to settle, lighting up like pale candles in the vast darkness. From experience, she knew Brielle and Zachary would request to make camp: within minutes, she was proven right. They found circles of stone not far off from the wayside, near a thin line of evergreens – there were many across the countryside, prepared by past travelers for those who would come after. There would usually be tinder and dry wood stashed away under a moving stone, left by the previous adventurers to have rested there. It was not a kindness she often saw in Althanas, and the strange human connection was enough to warm her heart.

    That is, until she discovered something else left behind. “Oh, gods no!” Lillian rushed to the center of the campsite, kneeling hurriedly next to the mewling old man left for dead on the scorched brambles and cinders of an old campfire. Much to her surprise, he was still alive, and within moments she had done everything to help, uncapping a flask of water with one hand while resting his frail head on her backpack. He lapped at the water like a famished toddler, the weakness in his eyes reflecting with such alarm the helplessness of an abandoned child. He gasped, coughed on the water, but Lillian resumed his hydration once he could breathe again.

    The girl removed hardtack from her knapsack, breaking it into pieces before soaking the crumbles with a mist of water. The old man opened his mouth, gasping with such envy at the sight of sustenance, and she let the soggy crumbs drop. With heart-breaking gratitude, he swallowed the food, sighing in relief.

    “What happened to you?” Lillian asked gently, once she felt the codger had recovered some colors. “Did someone do this to you? Bandits?”

    “Nay,” was his only answer, wan and hoary. His throat had already dried, and she furnished him with more water. “I… cannot remember.” Lillian quirked her brows at that; the answer had seemed… amused.

    “What can you remember?”

    “Ah…” he began, pondering the question. The emptiness of his pleading eyes was filling with something new, now. It was unusual. Out of place, even. Yet, she could not put her thumb on what it was. “I remember… that I never do. Not this.” Her look grew even more quizzical, and her companions seemed equally bewildered. “It is never worth remembering.”

    Looking back at the others for advice, she only received shrugs in answer. Sighing, she turned back to the old man, setting a comforting hand on the tattered rags over his shoulder. “Is your home nearby? Perhaps we could help you get back?”
    Last edited by Ataraxis; 04-22-10 at 09:40 AM.

  3. #3
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    Brielle Twylith
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    "Yes, I'd very much like that," the stranger said. His coarse voice was like gravel in Brielle's ears. Lillian fumbled with getting him another drink.

    Brielle knew tiredness was the only reason Zachary hadn't jumped forward to take over. He sat back, arms crossed at his chest, and Brielle knew he was going over in his head all the things Lillian was doing wrong. Zachary had a huge thirst to prove himself, and it was displayed best when treating someone. He'd fussed over her every blister the last few days, digging through his medical bag and offering up remedies.

    Zach and Brielle had been cocky at the beginning of this five day trek, both assuming they were fit and lean and could take a little walking. Twelve hours a day, however, had taken a lot out of them.

    Brielle had started to fail first, and she knew it. The first day in she was whining. She'd fully expected Zachary to hold out longer, but his male stubbornness was both admirable and infuriating. He hardly said a word about his feet or back hurting. He never complained about the heat. He was never the first to ask for a rest. It was always Brielle. She was happy to note, however, that his already lean frame was seeming a bit frailer, and whenever she asked Lillian for a break, Zachary sat down just as gratefully as she. Taylor, on the other hand, was just as robust as Lillian.

    When Lillian went to help the man up, Zachary hopped forward to help. He hooked one of the mans arms in his own, and helped Lillian pull him to his feet. The stranger smiled wearily at them all. He was short, balding, and had the look of a portly man who's just lost a bit of weight. His arm looked dwarfed in Zachary's elegantly muscled one, and his skin was pale, peppered with liver-spots.

    "It's just over this way," said the old man. He gestured into the copse of trees, and they started off, following the mans vague directions. Zachary half carried the man, with Lillian at his back. Both of the girl's small hands were up should the man fall, and Brielle had to hold back a snicker. "As if she'd be able to catch him," she thought to herself. "She's all of 90lbs, if that. If he falls, they'll just go down together." Brielle made a point to walk next to Lillian, should such a case erupt. Taylor followed closely behind Brielle. Closer than she thought necessary. She wondered silently if the perverted little boy was staring at her butt. Taylor seemed to have an unhealthy fascination with anything female related. In the last week she'd had to fend off his multiple attempts to see her naked while bathing, or "accidentally" touch her.

    The walk was relatively silent. The man had little to say, and the quartet was road-worn and a little cautious of the old man. Even Taylor kept his endless questions in check. The man didn't look like he could hurt a fly, but then again neither did Lillian, and Brielle was pretty sure the lithe little teenager could take her and Zachary out without much effort.
    Last edited by Twylith; 02-07-10 at 01:38 PM.

  4. #4
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    Zachary Cade Booth
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    Zachary shambled along with only a slight interest in the stinky old man he was helping walk. He had subconsciously adopted the assisted movement stance, which would allow him to direct the man's collapse, should he fall. It was one of the earliest things he had learned in his EMT courses back on Earth. The smell wafting about the man suggested he had urinated on himself at some point, though that in itself was helpful only in a vague way. Alone, it could have been a symptom for a multitude of conditions. But paired with his seeming disorientation and apparent lack of memory, Zachary could only assume some kind of head trauma had occurred.

    "So, can you remember how you got here?" He asked.

    "No. Funny enough." The old man croaked. He reminded Zachary of an older Liam Neeson.

    "Well, join our club." Zachary muttered quietly, though apparently not quietly enough.

    "Eh?" The old man asked, turning his head toward the paramedic. He exhaled, and the smell that filled Zachary's nose was the tortured, slow death of food stuck between receding gums for weeks at a time. He resisted the urge to vomit, throw the man away from him, force a cigarette into his mouth, or all of the above. Instead, he smiled reassuringly. Poker face? Check. Medical Bag? Check. Half-hearted interest in this guy's health? Check. Super-medic is ready to save old gomers everywhere! Now what did I do with my cape?

    "Nothing, sir. Brielle and I have the same problem you do. We woke up near here about a week ago, with no memories of how we got here. Maybe there's something in the water." Zachary smiled.

    "What? Yes, of course there is. The waters of this region are abundant with fish." He lifted an eyebrow at Zachary, and the paramedic remembered with a pang of irritation that his jokes and references were useless here. He could, however, hear Brielle stifling a laugh behind him. "But if you get me back to my home, I can help with your memories."

    Zachary turned a questioning eye toward Lillian.


    "Slip into a world where the air I breathe is mine.
    There's nothing to overwhelm me and nothing to cloud my mind.
    Come with me into it and you know what you will find.
    Time doesn't exist here, we will never die."

  5. #5
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    Lillian Sesthal
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    The answer had confounded her as well, and it was Lillian’s turn to shrug at Zachary’s puzzled look. “I’m sorry but… what do you mean by that?” she asked, squeaking as the man missed a step and almost tripped. She kept her hands on his back, but Zachary had taken the brunt of the old man’s weight on his shoulder, guiding it to press along his body. Thanks to him, the codger recovered with much more ease, and the teenager sighed in relief.

    “Memories,” he repeated simply after righting himself, his tone one of equal surprise and confusion. It held an air of passive chiding, as if offended by their lack of common knowledge. “I can help with them.”

    “Can you really?” Lillian seemed unconvinced, and she had every reason to be: if he could not even remember how he ended up a dehydrated husk in the middle of a communal campsite, then she very much doubted he could help her companions recall events of much greater complexity. “I don’t mean to offend, but it seems unlikely… are you perhaps an apothecary?” It was a plausible hypothesis: a learned man of this intricate trade would know how to brew concoctions that aid memory, while a proclivity toward tasting his own experiments could likely induce his forgetfulness and strange behavior.

    “Hah, nothing so crass!” he exclaimed with a laugh from the belly, something he quickly came to regret. The hacking and coughing was physically repulsive, what with the spittle and bits of rotting food that flecked the grass like fat raindrops. Lillian felt her stomach turn just a bit, when the foulness of his breath finally reached her. “Come, come. I will show you.”

    The path they had followed across the relatively small copse of trees had begun to rise, until it broke out into a vast field of lazily swaying grass. Lillian had not noticed the presence of the endless plains during these last days of their trek, yet she guessed that tree lines and steep slopes had hidden the region from her eyes, which she knew had been all too focused on the road ahead.

    An impressive log cabin sat atop a rise of darker stones and thicker grass, more a flat, broken hilltop than a small cliff. The construction was old, reinforced with chiseled rocks at the foundation, and decorative vines had infested the roof and eastern wall. Oddly enough, Lillian noticed that there was no stack of lumber lining the front, as well as the absence of any exhaust or stone chimney. Perhaps winters were mild in these western regions of Kebiras, and there would be no need for such heating. Still, she kept note of it.

    “What joy!” the old man said at once, out of the blue. His withered index was pointing at the cabin, and she thought she saw a shadow move from the tumulus of unused building stones that were left out front. A lithe shape had slumped there, perhaps having succumbed to slumber as it waited. “An auspicious day… very, very auspicious,” he mumbled on to himself. “Five visitors at once… such fun!”
    Last edited by Ataraxis; 02-07-10 at 07:34 PM.

  6. #6
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    With a sigh of mixed boredom and resignation, the robed figure rose to his feet, brushing out the folds in his vestments. A handful of long, lazy steps carried him to the cabin, for what seemed as if it were the hundredth time, to bang a closed fist weakly against the ancient plank of a door. After several long moments, he rested his forehead against the wood with a dull thud.

    "Where is he?" Caduceus muttered as he turned to slump against the frame. The magician had travelled far to speak to René Magritte. Rumors had reached him in Ettermire of a man who dealt in pasts -- remembering, forgetting, and drawing power from them. These tales led him across the ocean to Kebiras, and the small town of Camus, where the locals referred to him only as the Memory Man. From there, it was only a couple of days' walk to what they had told the young mage was René's cottage, overlooking a vast field of tall grass.

    Finally, the magician pushed himself away from the structure, and looked up at a surprising sight. Five figures climbed the hill, among them a slight young girl whom Caduceus recognized, smiling perplexedly. "Lillian," he called out to her as he approached, arms wide. "Lillian, what are you doing all the way out here? When last we met, you were busying yourself with House matters." He glanced about at her traveling companions, particularly the man and young lady in their strange attire. "And who might these...intriguing folks be?"
    Last edited by Zook Murnig; 10-01-10 at 09:21 AM.
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  7. #7
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    "Intriguing? I've never been called that before," Brielle thought. She was still standing partially behind Zachary, so she sidestepped to get a better view of the newcomer. Looking up, she saw a pair of the most intense blue-grey eyes she'd ever seen. She gave the man a small smile, and a wave.

    "Gabrielle Twylith," she said. "Most people call me Brielle, though." At that, Zachary turned a quizzical look towards Brielle.

    "I didn't know your real name was Gabrielle," he said. Brielle scoffed.

    "And where did you think "Brielle" came from?" she asked. Zachary shrugged, but the gesture was somewhat muted as he was still holding onto the old man. Brielle shook her head, and turned back to the man.

    "Anyway, I'm Brielle, this is Taylor," Brielle gestured behind her to the little boy. "And the quizzical one is Z-"

    "Clark Kent! Nice to meet you," Zachary said, holding his free hand out to the man. Brielle shot him a scolding look which was mirrored by Lillian. Taylor and the stranger just looked confused.

    "His name is Zachary," Brielle began. "He's trying to be funny, while completely forgetting that no one here has any idea who the hell Clark Kent is," she added.

  8. #8
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    "Damn. I keep forgetting that. Without my humor, I'm nothing but a tall, sexy, life-saving paramedic." Zachary made a rather convincing sad face, though he quickly sobered. As antagonistic as ever to his bitchy librarian companion, Zachary pushed all of the old gomer's weight onto her and leaned forward. By this time, they were face to face with the newcomer. Impatient and tired of diplomatic protocol, but anxious to meet someone new from this world, Zachary grabbed the man's hand before he could lift it and gave it a vigorous, wild shake that set both of the men to wobbling.

    "I am Zachary Cade Booth, from the humble Kingdom of Murphysboro, in the great land of Tennessee." Zachary ignored the scathing look from Brielle, and bowed low with an exaggerated entertainer's flourish. Zachary glanced at Lillian. "So you know our delicate flower of poisonous pollen, eh? Let me guess, she strung you up to the ceiling with spiderwebs and beat you with a shoe? No, don't tell me. It's no fun if I don't guess it on my own. Did she cover you with bees?"

    Zachary continued ignoring Brielle's aghast expression, though he could feel Lillian's eyes burning holes in his back.

  9. #9
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    Lillian Sesthal
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    While it had vexed her to no end, Lillian was not surprised that Zachary would ruin her chance encounter with an old friend. Ever since their first meeting, she and the paramedic had been butting heads day in and day out, and their reasons for that lay beyond mere clashing personalities. The girl had truly despised him at first, and for the things she knew he had done, she thought him the lowest of men. Her stubbornness and judgmental attitude had conditioned him to treat her with utter contempt and disrespect, sometimes bordering even on abuse; yet, while his disdain of her went on unabated, she had learned to let hers fade.

    Nothing was forgotten, nor was anything forgiven. Still, with what she knew today of him, she had chosen to give him the courtesy of closing her eyes and ears. He was not a perfect man, perhaps not even that much of a respectable one, but the mistakes he had made… he understood they could not be cleansed. He shouldered the responsibilities that came with his crimes, and never sought some selfish redemption out of doing so.

    He was a man with heavy regrets, but not a monster; thus, she would not treat him as such.

    She shouldered the old man’s weight as best she could, serving as his crutch as they approached the old beech doorway. “I must say I’m just as surprised to meet you here, Cad. As for the House of Sora… I’ve delegated. I very much enjoy work in a laboratory, but the lure of field discoveries have a hold on me I can never seem to ignore.” Lillian gave him a shy smile, the same that most friends she had not seen in months were wont to recognize.

    “Though, might I ask what brings you here?” the girl went on, changing the subject. As ecstatic as she was to see a familiar face, she was not so air-headed as to think this was pure coincidence. The magician was never known for traveling without purpose, and these were far too distant realms from the known lands of Althanas for her to think otherwise. “Perhaps you have business here?”

    Enough!” the old man cried in exasperation, thrashing his wrinkled arms every which way as he stomped like an impatient child. “My home, my home! You keep me from my home with your interminable prattle of hellos and how-are-yous and how-have-you-been-doings! No one denies René Magritte his specially made rocking chair!”

    Lillian blinked thrice as the old man picked himself up and trampled off as hale and hearty as a sprinter in his prime. He rushed toward the door, but did not extend his hand toward the brass knob; he drew his neck back, then brought down his forehead on the wooden panel with a mad roar. It burst open under his headbutt, and he trudged inside with a comforted sigh.

    From the open doorway, they heard him call. “What manner of animals are you? There are chairs and tables in here for you to continue sharing banal pleasantries! Gods!” A clatter of wood and pottery came from within, and it seemed to be the fearful sound of utensils being set.

    None spoke, and Lillian only stared at the threshold in silent disbelief. It seemed logical to follow the man inside, yet… wholly irrational as well. Without turning to the others, she made a small note out loud. “Mystery… solved?”
    Last edited by Ataraxis; 02-08-10 at 10:05 PM.

  10. #10
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    Zook Murnig's Avatar

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    "Quite..." agreed the magician, staring in disbelief at the wholly unusual event that had just unfolded. He shook his head gently for a moment before turning back to his old friend and her companions. "That marvelously manic gentleman is...René Magritte? That can't be right. He was supposed to be a mystic visionary, a man of great mind and greater spirit. And, in fact, quite sane!"

    He ran a hand thoughtfully over the rough stubble of his jaw, pulling at his lower lip in bewilderment as he trod back up the hillside to join the wild man in his home. Caduceus heard the crunch of footfalls behind him as the others followed him into the tiny cabin. The stacked logs described a miniscule living space, and once everyone was inside, quarters were cramped and most of the party was forced to seat themselves or else crowd the others out. A dinner-strewn table filled the majority of the space, with the elderly gentleman seated alongside it, rocking in his heavily-cushioned chair, as promised, with the strangest and most distant grin on his face.

    This crazed codger could never have done the things Caduceus had heard described. His mind just wasn't there. Still, there was nothing to say that the mad man was not who he claimed, and the magician had to be sure. He pulled out the chair beside René, sitting down clearly in his view. "My name is Caduceus Grimaldi," he said, speaking as softly and calmly as he was able. "I must know, are you who you say? Are you truly René Magritte? Are you the one called the Memory Man?"
    Last edited by Zook Murnig; 04-18-13 at 09:39 AM.
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    The Rubric: Remeberin Garthabel (1)
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