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Library: The story of Nathaniel


Author: geryon
Date:Jun 23 2005

A thousand years ago lived a young gnomish boy called Nathaniel. He was a
bright lad, student in the School of Tinkering & Illusions. Being the best in
both subjects and showing promise much beyond his years his skills were the
envy of other students. But his nature was that of a a prankster.

He lived in the secluded gnomish town of Woodshaven which had been established
just a decade ago by gnomes fleeing from their old town which had been
destroyed by hordes of goblins from nearby mountains. Combined effort of
gnomish illusionists had managed to create an intricate web of illusions that
diverted anyone from finding the new town deep inside a forest and also kept
any dangerous animals away.

One morning Nathaniel decided to go fishing. He grabbed his fishing pole and
started his walk towards the river. Unlucky for him this also happened to be a
day when his fellow students had decided to pay back some of his old pranks.
So while he was preoccupied thinking what the weather would turn to and where
would be the best place he failed to notice an illusion appear around his
fishing hook designed to repel fish. This illusion was chosen because it would
be sure to ruin his hopes of catching anything.

Nathaniel spent the morning fishing but was growing quite annoyed with not
getting any fish and all the animals were acting in weird and annoying ways.
After hours of catching nothing he decided to head downstream, maybe he'd have
more luck there. He walked to one of his favourite spots at a river fork,
located next to the Web. But today, even this spot didn't produce any fish.

Then he spotted a fish breaking the surface just a bit more upstream, then
another and yet another one. Only problem was that to go upstream would mean
leaving the protection of the Web. But surely there was no danger, it was only
a short way and he could find his way back. His parents were strict on their
opinion, no crossing the Web but how would they find out, they'd want to eat
too and he had promised to bring fish. So the decision was made and Nathaniel
walked to the spot he had seen the fish.

Amazingly even here the fish eluded him but that thought left his mind when he
heard a loud growl behind him. A huge bear had wandered to the same spot and
what's worse, it was right between him and safety. Bears had always been a bad
omen for Nathaniel, named after his great grandfather who had been killed by
one. He couldn't think straight, even a quick illusion could help him but how,
and now the bear was heading towards him. Nathaniel ran, he ran as fast as he
could but gnomes aren't that fast and the bear was following.

A cave, there has to be a cave ahead he though as he headed towards a
cliffside with the bear behind him and obviously gaining ground on him. Then
he saw what he had hoped to, a small opening in the cliffside, big enough for
him but not the bear. He was breathing heavy and his legs felt like they were
made of lead. The cave was just ahead, a few more feet and he was safe.
Suddenly he felt an impact, numbness and was flying into the cave. The bear
had caught him and swiped with a paw. Nathaniel lost consciousness.

It was already getting dark when Nathaniel woke up, he was bleeding and
couldn't feel his legs. He looked around, no bear in sight but it could still
be waiting outside. Then he spotted something disturbing, a skeleton, not a
gnome but a larger humanoid. Was this going to be his future, dying in this
cave? He couldn't get back to town, all he could hope was people to get
worried, find him and come to rescue. So he waited, writing into his journal
what had happened to pass the time.

It was getting too dark to write when he saw light, not from outside the cave
but inside. The skeleton had a thin necklace on and it was emitting light. Not
just any light but many different colours, dancing around it in a lifelike
fashion. He crawled to the skeleton and removed the necklace and held it. He
looked through the necklace but couldn't, there was his own reflection looking
back at him reflected from seemingly nothing. Part of him watched in awe and
wanted wear it, the other part of was scared to death. He dropped it and
crawled further away from it.

It was morning. Nathaniel could feel his life slipping away slowly but surely,
help wasn't going to arrive in time. He wrote about the necklace, his feelings
and thoughts in his journal to stay alert. Then curiosity took over, what if
he wore the necklace. There wasn't anything else he could do and maybe, just
maybe it would save him.

No one knows what happened after that, Nathaniel's journal was found in the
cave next to the skeleton two days later. Nathaniel wasn't anywhere to be seen
and neither was the necklace. Trackers tried to find out what had happened but
the only tracks went inside the cave, nothing came out and so his destiny was
left in the dark.