a young man, uncertain of himself, yet growing more certain with the power that clings to him
Pendergast (aka Pen or Pender) Redwynd is a dishevelled but not unhandsome young, human male of about twenty, with a thick mop of straw-blond hair that falls in a mess about his brow and partially conceals cool blue eyes that peer out at the world with a darting thirst for knowledge. A wisp of blond peach fuzz frames his pointed chin and thin lips, which seem perpetually askew with quiet anxiety. He wears a ratty brown robe of cloth and burlap in the style typical of wizards, with a crimson scarf wrapped loosely around his neck and hanging to his waist. Over his shoulder he carries a leather, cowhide satchel with an enormous golden buckle on the front. From within the satchel a dizzying array of rolled and crumbled parchments, papers, scrolls, and other trinkets burst outward, giving the impression that the satchel itself may explode at any minute. Clasped around his robe at the waist is a thick brown belt, which supports a sheathed longsword. Looking at Pendergast’s thin and wiry frame it is almost impossible to imagine him wielding such a weapon with anything but the utmost awkwardness and hilarity.
Look at me and you may not see anything special – but I have a secret.
I never knew my parents. I know they never loved me because of the way I am – an aberration – and that they abandoned me to this unfortunate, irrational world. To be honest, I don’t remember much before Eryl the Bookbinder. Eryl said he’d “found” me but he never told me what exactly that meant. I know he was always good to me – as good as a fat, drunken, dimwitted bookbinder can be to a scrawny, half-elf orphan.
I do remember the day it arrived. It came by way of a bent old man. When he entered the shoppe an acrid scent I easily identified as sulphur followed him like an invisible shroud. He gazed at me from above a hooked nose with black eyes as bottomless as eons in space. He removed a crusted, crimson turban from his bald head and placed it on the counter between us. Without uttering a word, he extended the book toward me. The cover of the thing was fashioned to protect the contents – a thick leather wrap that encased the pages. Along the spine there was a vicious rupture. The leather was folded back, seared and congealed, as if some force, or some thing, had exploded from within. I took the book in my hands, calculating its weight, and explained that damage of this kind would be expensive to repair. The old man simply nodded, placed the turban back upon his head, and shuffled out into the street.
When he had gone, I examined the book further. Its cover was simple enough – a reddish brown leather embossed with unremarkable border work. Nothing special aside from its design as a protective case. However, the pages inside were of the utmost quality – heavy, finely crafted parchment – and the writing was like nothing I’d ever seen before in my many readings. It was completely illegible – the most ornate, elegant script work I ever seen just spelling out nonsense for page upon page. Even Eryl, who’d probably seen more books in his life than most scholars or librarians had never come across writing such as this.
Eryl finished the work in a fortnight – even amidst his existing repairs. He may have been a drunk but he was certainly a skilled bookbinder and I’d always respected that. Alas, the old man never returned. The book sat in the shoppe for months gathering dust but never fully leaving my thoughts. Eventually, amidst other work and a mind gone awry from drink, Eryl simply forgot about it. I on the other hand remained fascinated and managed, without much difficulty, to remove the book from the shoppe and carry it away to my own small place of study.
Upon reflection it’s all very clear to me but at the time I was puzzled by my own fascination with the thing – my aptitude for study, reason and deduction were all so raw then. It certainly wasn’t extraordinary in any measurable sense – just a leather-bound book full of nonsensical gibberish…elegant but nonsensical. Yet, I couldn’t escape being drawn to it, as if some power within those words was calling me – begging me – to set it free, to unlock it, to release it upon the known world. A deep, dark, prehistoric power beyond the what we know and see with our own eyes. I would spend late evenings pouring over the script by candle light, tracing its intricate lines and curves, eventually recalling those lines and curves in my mind, almost as if in a trance. I’m forced to smile now, thinking back to those days and realizing that much like in a romance with a woman, I was flirting with a great power – a great love – beyond anything I’d ever loved before or would love since.
I can still remember the day it first happened…
Now I find myself on the road with the unknown universe at my fingertips.
Do you want to know my secret? It’s arcane and ancient; full of wonder and mystery; terrifying and illuminating!
My name is Pendergast Redwynd…and I’m a wizard.