Left Behind: Surviving Suicide – Entry Two

The last year has been one of the most difficult ones for me, and for my remaining family. In the past six months alone we have lost my oldest brother and father to suicide, followed by my grandfather due to age. And it was almost a year exactly, of this downward spiral, that my grandmother died. I’m not sure the month of April will ever be a good month for me, seems it has a lot of terrible events and history, just sad I was born in the month.

I can only guess why my dad decided to follow after my brother’s example and end his own life six months later, and like most people in similar positions, my thoughts aren’t ones that leave a positive impression. For the most part my dad’s passing has been dealt with by anger, at least on my end. I am just so mad at the choice he made.

A week after they found him I learned he started writing a farewell note in the car, but I haven’t bothered reading it. When I told my manager how my dad wrote a note while slowly suffocating in his own vehicle, I jokingly expressed what a load of horseshit it was because all he had to do was open the damn door. I’m not sure that sentence articulated the feelings I have about the whole situation, but I hope it came off angry, because that was its intention.

And nevermind the whole note, it could be filled with all the heartfelt crap he wanted to put in it and I’m not sure if at this juncture I would feel anything but anger if I read it. The fact is he made a choice, and it wasn’t even a quick one like my brother’s, but one that took time. Lots of time. Enough time that if there was any doubt whatsoever it wouldn’t have happened, because he went by asphyxiation and all he had to do was crack a window.

What really hurts is believing that one of the key causes of him deciding to end everything was because of my brother’s passing. I know he lived vicariously through him, but it makes me feel like such a failure as a child to think I wasn’t good enough for him to stick around for. That my younger brother and sister weren’t good enough for him. It isn’t a surprise that my older brother was highly favored, he was very successful, smart, caring, and devoted. As a middle child, and someone that doesn’t feel successful in life, my self-esteem was already low before all of this drama. The passing of my dad just helped show even further just how little I meant to him.

I realize that’s a poor look to have, especially after the passing of two very important people in my life, but if I’m being honest with myself, I just feel a huge burden of inadequacy.

My step-mother tried telling me my dad wasn’t doing well, so I attempted to reach out. I called him the weekend before everything happened to go over our Easter plans and to confirm I had the time off to be with him. I made it a point to be with my grandparents, his parents, every Easter for the past many years. I’m not sure if my dad ever realized every single vacation day I ever, ever took from work since getting a job was spent with my parents. Well, except for one; last year I did use one for my birthday. But that is a work history of over thirteen years where I constantly had my family in my heart when taking time off.

I am so happy I didn’t distance myself from my family as I got older, but at the same time I am resentful because I feel it slightly thrown in my face. With my older brother I felt a distance from him after he got married. We use to be so close growing up, but with the military and later on a family that bond became more of a memory. The biggest regret I have with his passing is thinking if I only reached out maybe he wouldn’t have made that choice. With my dad, well, that regret isn’t there because I can honestly say I tried. And so I’m a bit resentful, because it just wasn’t enough. I just wasn’t enough.

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Left Behind: Surviving Suicide – Entry One

Never having read Frankenstein and only knowing a basic premise of it, the story and idea weighed on my mind the other day. Someone had contacted my (previous) sister-in-law, informing her they were the recipient of my brother’s corneas, and are now able to see. Two things entered my mind upon hearing the news.

First was I was pissed off, not because of them but because she was contacted and thanked. Little does that person know how the very next day after his death she was already talking about moving on. How three months after his funeral she remarried. How six months after his passing, her and the new husband, both unemployed, spent his life insurance on a trip to New York. Or how her personality caused the downfall of my family.

And then there was the second thought; Frankenstein. It occurred to me that by people donating their organs and body parts for others to use once they have died, essentially they are all helping to create the creature in the book. The donation program may be better known if it was referred to as something to help make scientific achievements by merging parts from those no longer living onto people with dead parts. Call it the Frankenstein Project.

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Becoming an Abstractor – Part Three

Timothy Durston found himself pacing anxiously in a stereotypical study often found with the elite. The room was filled with the used smell of fine paper, treasured leather, expensive cigars, and spiced spirits. Before him sat an older version of himself, though it was with high hopes Duston’s own age would be graced with more laugh-lines and less of a stern gaze.

“I already accepted this assignment father, there is no reason for you to interfere.”

“You told me yourself that Abstractor Kireek held off giving any information about this mission. As a lord I can tell you this, the situation is extreme and requires military action. How the High Council was convinced untrained Clerics could handle a small stealth operation is beyond comprehension.”

Frustration caused the young man to rake his fingers through his hair, disturbing the carefully placed locks. “Listen, father, I know you mean well but this is a golden opportunity to -”

“To see my youngest son killed because of some fool’s negligence in understanding the current situation and wanting to advance their career. And yes, son, I know you hope to have it do the same for you.”

Timothy flexed his hands in a burst of irritation. For his father, no age, no experience, no accomplishment was going to make him an adult. But still, Durston forced his position, desire to be heard, understood, and supported coating each word. “I didn’t come here to argue this father.”

Raising a single brow in skepticism, his father leaned forward with clasped palms. “Then why are you here, son, if it isn’t for the usual help and advice?”

“It is for help, just not the kind you currently have offered.” Timothy gave a heavy sigh, letting it release the tension in his shoulders as the conversation headed in his intended direction. “I need my casting circles renewed. I was hoping you could get Alchemist Truvile to do it before I leave.”

“Let me see your hands, son.” Timothy turned towards his father for the first time, meeting his eyes. Hesitatingly, he made the short trip to the front the man’s desk and held out his hands to be inspected.

Cursive writing and odd symbols marked the tip of Durston’s index finger, across his purlicue, and reached the end of the thumb. Tapping the tattoo, his father caused a light blue flash to cross from end-to-end. “Hmm…what is it you are wanting Truvile for, son?”

“You know what I need him for father. The marking is only half charged.” Timothy withdrew a few steps, feeling the small distance hid his vulnerability. “I want the brand to be fully charged for this. As you said yourself, this is an extreme situation. It would be best if I were able to perform to the best of my ability.”

Several moments passed between the two with ticking of a clock the only sound. A slow, authoritative tone lined his father’s voice. “You are asking for me to obtain Truvile’s assistance to renew your Cleric’s Circle instead of going through the temple’s services?”

“Yes, as I said, I would like to have my mark at full charge before we leave in the morning. The temple always has a delay and they don’t give full charges to Clerics of my rank.”

“So you’re wanting your father to use his connections to go over the temple’s rules and arrange a full charge?”

An amused smirk crossed Timothy’s face. “Oh, come now father, rules? Besides, there is nothing that denies me from having a fully laden brand, it’s just not something the temple does. You gave an invitation of help when I first arrived.”

“As with any offer, Timothy, what’s in it for me?”

Anger flashed in Durston’s eyes as his back went rigged over his father turning the conversation into a business exchange. “Either you are able and wanting to help your son, or you’re not. The benefit would be knowing you prepared me for this dangerous mission and realizing that if successful, you will have a son in higher standing with the council and our family would gain additional political pull.”

Soft knocking reached their ears just as the door opened to the study. A man gave an easy bow and apologized for the interruption. “Alchemist Truvile is here as requested my lord.”

“It is good to see you my good friend.” An older man with a thinning crown of gray hair, maroon robes, and standing a few inches under Timothy made way into the study before the servant closed the door once more.

Standing to greet the older man, Timothy’s father made his way around the large desk and gave a two-hand embrace. “Thank you for coming on short notice. It has been too long since we have last seen each other and I feared you may not find the time for my invitation. My son has foolishly accepted to go with Abstractor Kireek and his mad brain of a plan in dealing with those unsanctioned casters. It wont do for him to have any disadvantage that we can help avoid.”

“Um…Hello Alchemist Truvile. It’s a real honor to have you here.” Timothy overcame his moment of surprise and confusion, giving a formal bow to the older man. “I should have known my father would have the foresight petitioning for you.”

The three gentlemen set up the equipment Truvile brought with him, and began the work of renewing Durston’s tattoos he used to cast quickly through. All Clerics from the realm carried similar markings, so that when the index finger touched the thumb, they could immediately activate a caster’s circle to perform their work. Though the small markings allowed the Clerics to cast in a moment’s notice, they weren’t ideal since they required an alchemist to charge them. Charging the tattoos negated the staleness a permanent casting circle, and lack of energy usually gathered into such a small area.

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Becoming an Abstractor – Part Two

It was shortly after the large gathering that Durston found himself approached with a message as he and his companions lingered. The order was simple, he was to stay in the temple and join the High Council for the more in-depth discussion on the situation in Cyphorica.

“A personal meeting with the High Council, Cleric Durston. It seems that they will be requiring your special talent for the situation up north.”

Durston made a slow turn around the crowd still standing near the tower, discussing the news that was shared with them all. There were two others besides himself with the mauve vestment also approached by the temple’s servants, he shouldn’t have found it surprising as few Clerics had the psionic abilities. “So it would seem.”

Timothy Durston wasn’t sure exactly how the temple handled unsanctioned casters within their borders, but he knew that it fell onto a very prestigious class of Clerics known as Abstractors that sought them out. They were specially trained to the sensitivity of magic, able to track any user down, and then enter their minds disengaging them from the power they wrongfully wielded.

“Now I know why it felt like Lady Au’Lira was talking to me. Not sure what help I’ll be though, I know next to nothing about Abstractors.”

“There, there Durston.” The man placed a comforting hand on Timothy’s shoulder while giving a soft chuckle. “Looks like the good life was short lived my friend. After today you may just find yourself out on the field again.”

“Oh, by the Great Circle, I hope not!” Durston blanched at his companion. Life wouldn’t be so cruel as to remove him just shortly after arriving back, would it? No, of course not. He was just being asked to help since the current situation required a larger than normal operation.

Where once he desired admittance into the tower now faced, Durston instead let out a heavy sigh. It was with a quick prayer that he returned to the interior of the building earlier packed to capacity; one in which he asked that his newly established residences wasn’t already being changed.

Raised, and centerfold sat a crescent table with seven unoccupied fauteuil in the forefront of Durston’s cushioned bench. The young man kept himself slightly to the side of any possible direct notice from those who summoned his presence. A continued prayer whispered from his lips as he watched only a handful of others complete the assembly.

An imposing, six-foot-tall figure roughly dressed in worn traveling clothes made way to the small group. Two servants struggled slightly behind him, each carrying an awkward load of packs and gear. Noticing that the commotion had everyone’s attention, the man indicated to have the items piled before them.

“These packs are to contain one additional set of clothing. If you don’t own anything deemed comfortable and sturdy for hard travel, speak to Priya Hachen with lodging and assignments.” The man’s eyes pierced through the confusion of his sudden appearance. “I told the council they didn’t need to waste time with another meeting. We will have several days of travel where we can discuss the situation and the plan of action.

“The stables will be preparing your horse and additional gear. If your horse isn’t made for distance, you will be assigned another. Pack only what can fit in these bags. Anything additional or unpractical will be left behind or tossed away when I discover it.”

Silence followed the man’s abrupt arrival and address. Durston himself wasn’t sure what to make of the situation, as the orderliness of the temple was completely ignored.  A middle-age Cleric sitting closer to the stranger snapped out of her daze in irritation. “Now, you see here Abstractor Kireek, I wont be trampling out along the wilderness. I have obligations. More importantly, I did my field work, fourteen years worth. The position I carry now has assured me that the most I would travel is a day.”

Annoyance masked the man’s face as he eyeballed each of them in turn. “Note I do not care about the obligations you carry here within the temples as none are special enough that they require any one of you personally to attend them. Know this is not a request for volunteers, this is an order. I dismissed the High Council and they listened. If they are willing to follow my word, then so shall you.”

With a nod of his head, the man turned on his heel and proceeded to the exit. As an afterthought, he turned once more to them. “We will gather at the temple’s gate. You will be dressed properly and packed, ready to go and travel ready by dawn.”

Not waiting for any further arguments, Abstractor Kireek left his audience. Durston could feel the tension in the air as tempers pushed their way past the shock. Along with Timothy, and the middle-aged Cleric Estel Ell, three others shifted uneasily in the room.

“That man. To have such audacity. I can’t believe he told the High Council the meeting would be a waste of time.” The speaker was a pepper-gray hair man Timothy knew as a scholar who signed his work simply as Reevan.

“Do you think he means to give us the day to prepare? Or do you suppose we should get back to our normal schedule for the day?” Cleric Claire Waters looked to the other, unprotrude by the day’s events.

Durston stood then, drawing attention from his colleagues. “Well I for one am taking the remainder of the day off. If we are to do field work, even for a short time, then I want to be comfortable. And that means not having random gear assigned to me.”

Making his way out of the Tower of Clerics, Durston saw no evidence remained of the crowd-of-bodies from earlier. As he made his way further from the tower and into the main areas of the temple, acquaintances passed curious greetings, each wondering what the High Council would want from someone so young. Keeping his head high, and walking briskly as if a man on a mission, Durston brushed them off with an air of importance.

This was a game, one of social standing and political influence, and he knew how to play it well. Though his prayers went unanswered, Durston knew how to turn the situation into his favor. If he were to be sent out on field work, then he would make it more than that. After all, it was the High Council themselves who directly requested his personal assistance. He would turn this into a promotion, further advancing his career.

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Becoming an Abstractor – Part One

Two years had passed since Timothy Durston graduated as an official Cleric of the Realm. And while most would argue two years working the field was hardly enough experience, family connections and politics saw to his steadfast career advancement. Even if the promotion was premature, true talent and ability left their mark on the young man, so it was with great excitement Durston made his way to the Cleric’s Temple.

In all the realm there was no more fantastically found place as the temple. Along with structures carved with the creamiest marble, empowered by the strongest seals, decorated with the detail of true artistry, and surrounded by spectacular gardens; the Cleric’s Temple collected and housed all of the realm’s magic within its walls. It was here their great nation marked as its center, and in all aspects it truly was; geographically, spiritually, financially, governing, magically, and militarily.

The grounds themselves occupied a hill, lifted above the main city overlooking The Capital. Intricate pathways, mazes, and gardens filled the spaces in-between six buildings circling the central Tower of the Clerics. At its focal point the tower was capable of harnessing the abundant energy within the realm’s borders in extreme emergencies, or draining rituals. Purposely formed as a fair size summoning circle, the Cleric’s Temple set the example of the meticulous layout of every major city within the Circles of the Realm.

Durston kept his eyes leveled as he made his way among the flowerbeds, doing his best not to look the part of an impressed sightseer. Even though he knew his final destination would be connected with the institutional part of the temple, Durston was still forced to inform his superiors of his arrival at one of the sub-buildings that dealt with assignments and housing. There of course was also the Alchemist Lab, Healer’s Ward, Caster’s Keep, Fighter’s Barracks, Tamer’s Kennels and Tower of Clerics; all of which made up the temple.

A smile found its way on the young man’s face, eliciting an aura of charm, as the thrill of finally being back in this domain of comfort settled into reality. Reaching his destination, Durston let himself into the small two-story enclosure. Before him sat a mature woman behind a heavily oiled desk.

“Oh, if it isn’t the notorious Lord Durston’s youngest son. I heard you were making an early return to the Capital.” Standing upon his entrance, the woman bowed in respect.

Giving a light chuckle, Timothy changed his smile to a full face grin. “Aunt Priya, it is good to see you. And how dare you bow as if welcoming a stranger.”

“Yes, well, my nephew may as well be a stranger. Imagine, failing to informing the family of his most recent promotion. Do you realize we had to find out from the temple, and only because they were asking if you were going to stay in the dorms or with the Lord. Honestly, it made planning a party a bit rushed.”

A slow feeling of unease made its way to the creases of Durston’s eyes. “What did my father say about the housing arrangements?”

“Your father was a youth once you know. He instructed the temple that as an independent adult you were in need of privacy as befitting your station.” She placed a motherly hand on his arm. “Your father isn’t a tyrant Timothy.”

True to his aunt’s words and his father’s decision not to further interfere, at least on this matter, Timothy Durston was given a small but single residential room. The Cleric’s themselves didn’t monitor the running of the dorms in which they used to house those stationed within the Capital, instead choosing to contract a third party in the city. By only placing high ranking officials within the temple’s walls, the grounds were kept from the cluttering of additional architecture. Further separation from home and work also added to a more respected and professional atmosphere in the day-to-day running.

A week’s time passed since Durston’s arrival to the Capital, his dorm life shared with the residents of 28 other Clerics. Though being assigned to the temple, Durston was still considered green with a low rank position, hence over an hour of his day was spent traveling between the two. Ambitious faces hidden behind smiles greeted him regularly, consequences of a powerful and respected father. These social ambushes were something Timothy grew up with and trained to tolerate.

Today was no different from the day prior as Durston made his way through the throng of people going about their tasks; his newly appointed mauve vestment giving no standing of awe amongst the locals desensitized to the common occurrence of Clerics amidst them. But once he passed the temple’s gates, leaving the hustle behind, Durston noticed a different and tense atmosphere.

“Hey, what’s going on?” Timothy asked a passing acquaintance.

The man stopped, a bit dazed from Durston suddenly blocking his way. “Not sure myself. It started just after twilight. The High Council is calling an emergency meeting.”

“The High Council? It’s that serious then. Any idea what it could be about. Have we been attacked?”

“From the gossip I hear, we may have been. All Clerics in attendance within the Capital are being summoned. I suggest we head to the tower now.”

The two began making their way towards the gathering crowd, speculating what the cause could be. “I heard Lord Raneer arrived sometime during the night and that he called the meeting. You haven’t heard anything from you father?”

Timothy Durston gave his companion a quick look before facing away. “I’m not staying with my family but in the dorms down in Conyer’s Court.”

Giving a small word of surprise, silence enveloped the pair as they reached their destination. The Tower of Clerics was ardently designed to command admiration from those lucky enough to lay eyes upon it. However, today no one stopped to show their respect or regard for the history and mastery, but instead anxiously made their way inside to the auditorium.

A silent hush fell over the room as a middle-age woman with golden-tresses cascading down her back made way to the center of the group. Pausing long enough for the weight of her gaze to make its way around the room, she addressed her audience.

“Under normal circumstances and formality the majority of you wouldn’t have the honor of being here, or within my presence. But recent events have made us forgo the usual procedures and call upon you today. For those unaware, I am Lady Au’Lira, a Grand Wyvern and currently in charge of this situation.”

Noisy whispers filled the room, friends and comrades turning to one another in excitement and worry. “It has come to our attention from Lord Raneer, an unsanctioned party has risen in the shadows of an outer city, Cyphorica. The patterns of history are not new to me, and so typically this group would go unmentioned to many of you, being dispatched quickly and soon forgotten.

“However, the limited intelligence that has been obtained shows us this beast has teeth, a wide stretch and already trained users in the art of magic.” Gasps rendered Au’Lira momentarily quiet. “Yes. That fear unites us all here now. Further details and announcements will be made through section leaders, but for now I asked you all to attend because I must request your assistance.”

Durston produced an audible gulp as those wyvern eyes landed on him.

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