The following morning we ride with the Chief to his cabin home. It’s a little ways from town, safe and secluded. Exactly the kind of place you’d keep a 13 year old girl with burgeoning psychic powers until she was properly integrated into society. It’s a quaint but pleasant domicile. Me and Augumon sit on the couch as the Chief knocks on a bedroom door.
The door opens and the Chief persuades her to come out and join us.
“Hi! I’m Augumon.” says Augumon.
I introduce myself with less enthusiasm. The Mage introducers herself by tersely saying just her first name. Small conversation is initiated; she has a small circle of friends that like playing table top adventure games…hence the handle. The discussion shifts to her powers and get a little more complicated. Fortunately, unlike the people of the Song, I don’t have centuries of technological and cultural knowledge on her or her adoptive father and that makes explaining myself a little easier. What they need to know is fairly easily conveyed, I’m a galactic warrior from beyond the stars and I’m here to train her.
The ‘why’ is where I still remain elusive. To be truthful I’m not entirely sure myself. It’s more a feeling than a thought and I’m going to run with it. Why am I so eager to pass on this knowledge? I tell myself over and over that it is because “it is that will which is mine own” but after my encounter with the King Other I am terrified that I act in service to something else.
Am I but a pawn in my own game?
The Chief wants assurances of her safety, as any good parent would. My retort is asking whether or not he’d like her bleeding to stop when she uses her powers. They both like that notion very much. Her distrust is plain in her face but I can sense the eagerness in her heart.
She rises and makes a demand of me, “How I know?” “How do you know what?” I question back. “How I know if true?” “You want to see it for yourself?”
She nods. I stand up and walk across the room. I point at the television.
“Throw it at me” I tell her.
The Chief asks if we can use something a “little less valuable”.
“Throw me!” Augumon volunteers. “Dude, you’re a little more than a little more valuable than a TV” I chide him. “Yeah but I won’t break” “You mean that I’ll catch you, right?” “Yeah sure that to” “Ok” the Mage says. “I’m ready” says Augumon
She tenses up her shoulders and the TV rises off the ground into the air. There is no doubt; she has a strong presence in the weave. Her hand claws up as lashes her arm forward and the television is sent hurtling towards me. The technique is raw, primal.
I hold my hand up as I was catching a baseball and it is that easy. Through the weave I seize the device in midair and gently set it back into place. Clearly she has power but wields it like a club. Above all else we must refine her abilities. There is no peril of time, and I’m shaken by what happened with happened with the Bastard, so there is no need and there will be no use of the time chamber.
Upon closer inspection I am reminded of how exceptionally shitty TV’s were in the years prior to my birth.
“Augumon, I think we got a gift for her in the bag” “Oh yeah! I almost forgot”
Forgot? I just thought of this. How can he know? Well, that’s it.
My companion pulls out a hand sized digital device of particular significance that the initiated will recognize. If you’re among the uninitiated then don’t worry about it…too much.
“If you ever need to find me this will help” he tells her. “Ok that’s cool but not what I was talking about” I say as I wander over.
I reach into the bag and pull out a DVD player with a built in screen and three films of particular relevance. She is instructed to watch all three movies and that training begins later this week. The Chief is instructed that this if future technology and it would be to the timeline’s benefit to not have it leave these premises. He agrees.
Augumon and I step outside for a moment as the Chief prepares to take us back into town. I’d like to have a little chat about that gift of his.
“So you just wanted to go on an adventure, huh?” I press him. “Wha are you talking about?” “That’s quite the gift you gave.” “So you know what that is, huh?” “Dude, of course I know” “Yup I guess you would. You’re not mad are you?” “No of course not…” “Because we’re still partners, right?” “Yeah, yeah we are but you got to listen for a sec, ok?” I ask as I get down eye level with him, “You didn’t decide to come here on a whim. Somewhere deep down you really wanted to come here for that reason, right” “Yup. Was that bad?” “No, no it wasn’t but you have to be mindful of your desires. My will can bend the fabric of this world and I suspect that as an extension of mine, so can yours?” “Ah, I uh…I’m confused. What does that mean?” “It means that if you want something badly enough then the world will accommodate you. As such you need to think about what it will do see that wish done.” “Like you and the Queen?” I close my eyes and swallow hard, “Yeah like that.” “Hey cheer up! It’ll be ok. I promise.” “I do sincerely appreciate that bud but I don’t if that’s a promise you can make.” “It will, I’ll show you.”
I pet his t-rex head and he hugs me. We can make this right but I’m afraid that his optimism is naivety and ignorance of what we’re really up against. If it is as I fear then all of this is akin to a doomsday prepper preparing to outlast the Sun’s supernova.
That’s enough existential dread. The Chief comes out and we load up into this truck and make our way back into town. He asks where we’ll be staying, as he’d like us to remain inconspicuous. We go back to the motel. We arrange a meeting time for two days later and he drives off.
Augumon pulls my long coat out of the bag and uses it to cover himself as we walk to our room on the first floor. I pull out the room key from the bag and we make ourselves at home in that dingy room. While the two of us idiots watch movies, have a dance competition, and re-steal the 79’ Camaro; now would be a good time to explain a few things…namely, the bag.
What it says on the tin is what you get, “a bag that contains everything we need”. Now given that we know that the worlds will attempt to balance themselves out from whatever displacements you introduce into them how can I justify so haphazardly introduce such a device. Simple, keep it small enough to not make a major difference. These worlds are bound by their creators like knots and similarly have as much give as they are, knowingly or not, designed with. My error with the Song was not respecting that it’s tied like the Gordian knot. This Peculiar Place is more a figure eight knot; you can pull from several directions in increments and not notice the difference.
In the grand scheme of a ‘world’: car keys, clothing, a couple thousand dollars, and a motel room will have no bearing on reality as those things exist and are in common use. A DVD player and a modern television will have more of an effect because these are advanced technologies but are technologies that already exist. If worst came to worst some jerk would patent the designs and get rich by leap frogging technology by a couple decades. That would only negatively affect the actual future inventor/patent holders, which sucks for them but it isn’t a threat to the world.
However a pseudo-magical device that grants humans quasi-divine power in a self-sentient digital world that is currently in fledgling state, if existing at all, could have some severe repercussions. I understand why Augumon did it, who doesn’t empathize with trying to relive past glories if you’re past a certain age, but we all too often forget what made those days “glorious”. You only get to be as big hero as the evil you face and all that entails. Not that I have room to talk.
Two days come and go and the Chief picks us up under the cover of early morning. I’m back to my tunic and robes. We walk into a deep part of the woods where there is a bog…I am a thief and pretender…and the Mage is waiting for us. This is the first part of training, setting up shop.
As I use the saber to slice trees into balancing stumps I instruct her to lift the pieces in heavier and heavier loads. She is powerful but her focus wavers. When angered or stressed she lift an entire tree but she needs to heat of the moment to do it, her connection to the weave is too reliant upon her emotion. It will take time but she must find clarity to achieve control.
At the end of our session our little arena has been made. She bled a lot and I know her father is going to give me hell for it. That’s all the more reason to find that clarity, that center. Once she can interact with the weave with a little less emotion then that should stop.
The most important take for me is that I’m only going to train her in the light. As a grey I could train her in both but that would not be wise. Though she may be a child who’s been exposed to far more darkness that any person should, she is still a child and the light makes a better foundation. It’s easier to learn to question rules as you age than it is impose rules upon questions. That and the dark is inextricably tied to one’s emotion, something that calling upon endangers her life. Quite unlike the Bastard she has an affinity for it. By nature of her birth and her life experiences she is attuned to it. Whereas the dark would overcome and wield him it would consume her.
Maybe once she’s secured a safer connection to the weave and has achieved more emotional stability I would highly encourage her to master her dark. Yet we must learn to walk before we can run. The next couple weeks will be nothing but basics, the months after that will be augmentation & martial combat training, leading into the half year mark we shall focus on advanced applications, at the half year mark we will begin the deep dive into advanced technique, and hopefully by the nine month mark we can start rounding out the advanced techniques with advanced applications.
Just as we’re about to end for the day I take a wet rag and wipe the blood away from her nose. I tell her that she did a great job and Augumon is overjoyed to praise every cool thing that she did in excruciating detail. In time we’ll worry about curbing ego but for now I need her to want to come back. For what it is worth she is very powerful but I can’t say it enough, that power is bloody raw.
The Chief came by to drop off lunch and check-in on her around midday. He comes back around to collect us all a couple hours later. When he does he has company. The Mage’s little group of friends consists of the Paladin, Cleric, Bard, Ranger, and Zoomer collectively calling themselves the Party. The Paladin’s mother is his co-pilot. On our way back into town she’s quite insistent on being the conversationalist. That’s not her usual M.O. Clearly she’s here to get a sense of us. Augumon wins her over.
As we pull into the motel parking lot she invites us to dinner. I politely defer to take her up on the offer at a later time. Augumon hides underneath the long coat as we talk. Just before they’re about to pull away the Mage steps out of the back seat. She places her hands together and bows, calling me sensei. I am moved and bow in kind. Maybe it’s just a formality but that meant a lot to me.
Before she goes I ask her, “What do you want you Gi to look like?” “What is Gi?” she asks. I point to my vestments and tell her, “It’s our uniform.”
She nods acknowledging that she understands.
“Do you have it pictured in your head?” I ask her.
She nods. I hold up the bag a gesture for her to reach in. She pulls out her Gi, exactly as she would want it. There’s a magical kind of wonder in her eye.
“Thanks” she says.
She gets back in and they drive away. Once they do I sense eyes on me. The angry jock is watching me from his Camaro from across the street. I glare at him and he drives away.
Let me not be bothered by his nuisance.
We rest for a couple hours when a knock comes at the door. Augumon covers himself with the sheets. I answer the door to be greeted by the Party. They have many many questions for me that all essentially revolve around whether or not I’m a galactic warrior. I assure them that I am by telekinetically closing the door. They knock on the door more. I open the door and they have a thousand questions about their irrelevant assumptions. This, this I do not have the patience for.
“I’ll tell you everything” volunteers Augumon. “Everything?” I query him. “Most everything” he clarifies.
Truth be told, I’m more than happy to let him play baby sitter. I need this time to do some assessment of my surroundings. The easiest thing for me to sense should be a portal to this shadowscape that started the whole mess for this town. Since I can’t I can only assume that there isn’t any…now. For one I know that its return will more than likely be a slow creep and not a grand explosion. While we’re here I must remain vigilant.
Why am I so certain that they will return? My little bag of wonders may have a negligible effect on the world but the presence of me and dino companion do not. This world will make an effort to realign itself the Nightmare Hive will take advantage. The Mage’s growth should not upset the balance as we are honing as opposed to awakening her power. With a little help and a lot of guidance she can beat it for good.
While I’m being honest I need to own up to something. I don’t expect the Nightmare Hive to react. I’m counting on it. If I can confront it in its realm I can confirm or deny the foreboding suspicion growing in my heart. When that time comes we will be ready for it.
If I am to have any hope in the face of my grave fear we must be ready.