Teachers and Students

“It is said this arrow seeks your heart
But in Truth there is no aim
There is no time
There is no arrow

There is only your heart”

– unknown poet of the late 20th century

“What is this?”
“This is my version of string theory.”

– same poet

Sequence #1 – Chapter 1 – Sage & Thomblin

Sage finds Thomblin looking out one of the parapet windows on a day gone dismal grey. Her breath clouds the ancient glass as she leans against the granite stones of the wall. Her hair is raven black and seems to undulate of its own accord. Her eyes are cyan blue.
“I have a bit of lunch here if you are interested. . .”
He sets the burlap sack, which he carries, on the rough hewn oaken table. The contents shift slightly, at length settling into a stable configuration. He pats his pockets till he finds a small pack.
She does not turn to face him, but heaves a sigh not unlike a dry and tired old soul confronting Eternity.
“I see that you are bored and you must understand, I am not here to be your entertainment. That is the job of some younger scoundrel, as yet unnamed.” He fidgets until he finds a flask of something that might have been wine, once. Retrieves a sandwich from the pack, examines the contents, puts it back, and then pulls another. This process continues for some time until he is at last satisfied that the sandwich he wanted is not to be found.
He sits with flourish, peels and uncorks the lunch items, cracks his knuckles like a concert pianist preparing to play and mumbles some kind of incantation.
“Old man, why must you make such a huge production out of everything?”
“Not so old, in fact, younger than I used to be.”
“And to what do you attribute your advanced age?”
“Clean living.”
She chortles.
Sequence #2 – Chapter 1 – Tygrae Vivian

Vivian is fishing, well; she is dragging her hook through the rippling stream. In its current unbaited state only trout seeking to end their existence will throw themselves upon such a barren hook. Well past the age of consent, this is how she gets away from her family and appears to be doing something useful.
She runs the stones along the bank of the brae, a task requiring mental concentration as she maneuvers around a recently fallen oak.
She comes around the boughs and wham, there is a fully arrayed warrior facing her with his bow drawn. She can see the silvered edge of the arrowhead that is pointed at her chest. She slips and falls trying to stop. He does not help her up, nor does he lower the bow.
She laughs. She can’t help it.
“Are you injured little cat?” His voice warms toward the end. She checks to be sure all her limbs are still attached and working. He lowers the arrow as she clearly presents no threat.
“I am no cat, sir. How shall I call you?”
“I am called Dark Captain Tygrae, do you wish assistance?” She nods in the negative.
The Dark Captain returns the arrow to its quiver, unstrings his bow and with a final test of its fatal yew, he secures it to his back. With the poise and ease of a task often done, he loosens his ebon leathers, returns the hold straps to his sgian dearg array and removes his leggings to his pack.
In a show of trust he turns and walks to the rippling brae, bends to the water and drinks a long draft. When he stands the waters sparkle as they drip from his short ginger beard.
His hands are not large but they are swift and horribly scarred. His legs are sturdy and his shoulders erect (tough he favors the right shoulder, probably an injury).
He sits on a large rock beside the waters, leaning back against the cleft in the bank. He is now invisible to any casual passers.
His voice is not unlike the rushing water behind her, “While it is never my way to tell someone what to do, I would ask that you might consider sitting a spell.” She doesn’t move. He says, “Or stand as is your want.”
He rummages through his pack without apparent concern about her. He produces a bagget of course bread which he breaks and gently hurls a half at her. She snags it before it can hit the water. Its tastes sour but very substantial.
Holding the bread in her mouth, she shimmies up a large rock, that is half in and half out of the water. He pitches a small round of white cheese at her.
From his pack he withdraws a skin of wine. “I loved a woman once . . .” (dry laugh – no humor in it), “but I was not worthy of her glance, not worthy of her concern. Oh, she wanted to know the warrior ways and there was no limit to the number of compliments she offered. She was quick and lithe but had no heart for the dance. No instinct for. . .” Tygrae sighs, lowering his food and his paring knife. “Oh yes, a Lady who would be a warrior.”
The brae fills the silence.
“It was the night of the Lute Player’s Ball. We danced. On the balcony above the founts, she asked to be my Tyro, my student. . . my protégée, such a thing is not unheard of these days.”
Vivian is a study in concentration. She tears small pieces of bread and cheese without looking at her task. She quietly stuffs them into her mouth.
“I wonder if you have heard the tale of Nimue and Merlyn?” He chews and considers, makes a sign in the air. “He loved her more than himself, taught her all that he knew and more
and when she had taken . . . everything he had to give, she put him under a rock and left him for dead.” He shifts and his leathers creek. The wind plays with the verdant forest roof.
“People often wondered at his defiance of age, wondered how he could master the energies of the unknowable without falling into chaos, wondered how he could let a slip of a girl kill him. . .” The wind goes silent, the forest is listening.
“He didn’t die. . . no, not dead yet” Roiling clouds from nowhere obscure the part of the sky that can be seen. Vast things are moving above the world. A strange wind walks the trees, is there a coming storm?
“He crawled from under the rock she had placed on him and took assessment of his life. He found that while he still loved her, he could not bear to see her again.”
The waters in the brae become restless. Vivian is no longer eating, only wide-eye watching.
He laughs and the rocks shake. There is a peal of thunder, distant, but powerful.
“He walked away. Left the court and his friends to her tender mercies and we all know how that went. . . don’t we?”
“He walked away from the only woman he had every loved. . .” The warrior becomes harder to see in the dusk of gathering clouds, appears older.
“He walked the world. . . a vacation of sorts – yes, a vacation (he laughs again, some of the edge is gone). He consorted with dragons for a time, a long time and he became a physician, a poet, an engineer and a warrior. He learned many tricks and ways, even spent some time beyond the seas. There are more than a few songs of his travels; he danced more than a few dramas to keep himself entertained.”
Vivian no longer notices the chill of the unyielding rock beneath her, no longer notices the rush of the approaching storm. All she can see are his glowing cobalt eyes in the darkness. Her continence is that of the rock she on which she perches, but her heart is wild.
He lifts his hand and everything becomes silent, the wind, the sky, the brae. He sighs and the sun returns to the world. He takes a bite of the loaf and chews it.
He lowers his hand and the sky is clear, the sun is warm and the weather clement. He spends the rest of his meal in silent contemplation.
When at length he’s done, he stands, brushes crumbs and debris from his leathers, looks up and down the road.
Walks to the rock she is on and extends his hand to Vivian. “And now little cat, do you fancy adventure?”

Sequence #3 – Chapter 1 – Martel and Carl

She’d known him for four years and seven months and nothing like this had ever happened, in fact nothing like this had ever happened to her before.
He was in the lobby, at the annual Ides of March party. He was smoozing with Jameson in shipping and Maxwell in Engineering and her. They were talking about something boring when the new kid in accounting came through the door.
She’d only recently learned to Timporshift, a technique for speeding or slowing time. To the best of her knowledge he was the only one, other than her capable of using this technique, but he and the kid both went timporial in a heartbeat. She pushed to her limit and joined them in Fast Space. She couldn’t keep up so both of them seemed to be wavering into and out of Real Space.
Then she saw what he was doing. It looked like transparent tentacles extending out of his body in all direction, not just Three Dimensional Space. And they were moving fast. The kid was growing a similar array but it was nothing compared to his and she thought, “The kid is way out classed.”
Both Carl and the kid knew it. The kid kinda surrendered and Carl didn’t attack but cease in his display. He shifted into different shapes and all of them seemed to be in the same place at different times.
Then he spoke to the kid, “Young one, you may not touch me here. Return to your tribe.”
“I carry a message.”
“Messenger? Then why come you arrayed as a warrior?”
“It was estimated that I might actually survive this way.”
“It occurred to none that this might provoke me?”
“It was estimated that everything provokes you, I merely wanted to get your attention and live long enough . . .”
“Your masters breach our agreement and if this ‘message’ is of no import then I will extract payment.”
“This is understood. Therefore let me speak. This one,” and the kid pointed directly at her, “is not of the kind. What is your intention in assisting her?”
“My business is my own.”
“Still . . .”
He was on the kid before any of them had a chance to think. His eyes were. . . there are no words for his eyes. “Young one, your masters owe me. I will remind them of this. If I decide to release you remind them that they are in no position to renegotiate this debit. As for this one, if I ever scent even a whiff of you or your kind within parsecs of her I will find your masters in person and show them the extent of their error. They will not like what happens next.”
He backed away from the kid who was visibly shaken. With his physical hand he patted the kid on the shoulder and all of them returned to Three Dimensional Space. It was rather like being on a conveyor belt that suddenly stopped.
She noticed that the kid didn’t say a word but turned and left through the door never to be seen again.
She looked at him and despised him in that moment. He had never said anything about this to her. “You did not have to protect me,” she spat.
“Technically I was dealing with old business and I must admit I might have enjoyed watching him kneel under your hand, but such amusements are reserved for another day.”
She hurled her cup into the trash and stormed out. He followed. She turned on him wondering if he would shift into something dangerous. She was afraid.
He approached her cautiously and looked sheepish. “Martel, I am sorry. I was acting purely on instinct, no one was hurt.”
“Is that some kind of excuse?”
“No, it isn’t.”
“What happens if I hurt you, are you going to do that to me?”
“No, never.”
“How can you say that?”
“Time isn’t linear . . .”
“I hate when you say shit like that!”
Silence.
She stumbles into the ladies room, crying, not even sure why she was crying. Sees herself in the mirror and notices what she has noticed before, her eyes changing color and shape. Becoming . . . Oh God, was she becoming one of them?
“I’m sorry.” He is there.
“You are not supposed to be in here.”
“I’ve always wondered what it looked like in the Ladies room . . .”
“Get out.”
“Yes, but first I make a promise. Next time one of those things comes, you can deal with it yourself. I have never considered you a lesser . . .”
“Get out,” but her voice had softened. He had gone.
To no one in particular she had asked, “Why do you care so much old man? I’m just a girl . . . just any girl,” but then she sees her own eyes again.

Sequence #1 – Chapter 2 – Sage & Thomblin – On the Outside

Thomblin watched the old man as he poured over maps, charts and schematics, wondered if he had ever been a young man. He kinda smelled like a man. . .
She checked her leggings, had he hesitated for the smallest fraction of a second? The beard was so frustrating. It hid most nuances of his expression. What would he look like without the beard?
Sage rapped the table with one of the tomes he held. He was prone to such actions when her attention strayed.
She said, “Why don’t we go outside? Continue your discussion on Dark Energy in the light of day?”
“Every time we go outside. . .”
“The air is fresh out there. . .”
“The air in here is perfectly. . .”
“I promise, promise on my heart, I will at least feign attention on this most boring subject, if we go into the garden.”
“I promised that I would show you the Disciplines and the Arts. You are the one that asked me to teach you.”
“And I will attend your brilliant dissertations concerning all your complex magics when we are under an open sky.”
“Oh, very well, you’ll ignore me either way, so we might as well venture out a bit.”
Sequence #2 – Chapter 2 – Tygrae and Vivian – The Archery Lesson in the Garden

How could she know exactly what he meant? He was prone to such wild expectations.
Vivian pulls on the archer’s glove and pulled the quiver and the other archery gear onto her shoulder. At moments like this she wished he’d gone ahead and shot her when first they met.
But no, he had dragged her to a covenant house. Set her up as his tyro, his new tyro. Everyone looked at her funny. Everyone knew Tygrae and no one knew her.
Why had she agreed to this? She was no warrior.
The sky above the archery range is warming with the crimson and gold spirit of a new day. He is there waiting for her. He is holding the arrow he fashioned last night. The blade of the head is sharp enough to bend light. It glistens in the first rays of the sun. Sharp on one end, beautiful in the hand but it can cut.
Everything he said to her was a poem, an arrow, but now he stands in silence as she strings the double curved bow of Artemis. He had shown her the way of making a perfect arrow, now he hands it to her. She just wants to hold it, look at it, and keep it.
She’s hoping he’ll tell her to sequester it in her quiver, to draw out another lesser arrow.
He indicates this one.
She notches the lovely, ebon shafted arrow, hoping he’s only fooling,
“Draw.”
She tries to focus on the familiar feel of tension as the muscles in her shoulder and back slide.
` “Release!” he shouts
And before she can aim, before she can think, before her mind can stop her, she lets fly the arrow, and its sooooo beautiful as it arcs away, only complete in this perfect motion.
“It must be released before it can be truly appreciated. See how it catches the morning sun, see how it arcs.”
“You are so careless.” she shouts. “I have no idea where it’s going. How will I find it now that it’s gone?”
“Look in your hand,” he says.
And there is another arrow. She has no idea how it got there. It’s somehow different and yet, as strangely beautiful as the first.
“This isn’t funny.” she says.
His eyes are deadly earnest. “It’s not meant to be.”
She notches the new arrow, takes aim on his chest . . .
Silent, he doesn’t flinch.
The arrow pierces his right shoulder barely missing the top of his lung and nipping the top of his right shoulder blade.
His expression is enigmatic. “I didn’t say release!”
“You knew I would!”
“Come here and pull this thing out. No, not back out. You’ll have to pull it in the direction it was going. Break the feather end off first! Ouch! Now pu l l l l l l. . . Don’t stop, pull!”
“You knew I would! Speak to me. Speak to me!”
“That hurt.”
“What can I do?”
“In my kit there is a vile of clear liquid and clean cotton patches. Yes, now soak your hands and the patches in the liquid. Don’t be afraid to spill it. Split the patches. Put one on the hole in the front and one on the bac . k k k. k,. k .k .k ! Damn that hurts.”
“Hold still”
“Why, so you can shoot me again?”
“Are you going to die?”
“Not at the moment, but the day is young.”

Sequence #4 – Chapter 1 – Two Children under an Open Sky

She has in her short life achieved the truest form of Love, the Love that asks no return.
And now she uses every aspect of herself to save him.
She builds a fire in the twilight, a dry pyre consuming her offering of incense wood, becoming a river of twinkling crimson spark salmon cascading into the sky. She builds a fire in twilight under a sky gone crimson.
She struggles to move his supine form to an energy Lagrange point near the fire’s ring of stones. When, at last, all blood is drained from the sunset, when the sky is black velvet strewn with diamond chips, when silence has become the voice of the night creatures, she snuggles in under his listless arms.
When she can worry no more, she falls into the open arms of the Lady of the Night, Nyx. She sleeps.
The arms of Nyx close around her as she opens her heart, opens her mind to a possibility she’d rather not consider. How can she heal him, when she cannot heal herself?
Her sadness falls like rain, quenching this dry and desert place. After a time her rain tears cascade to the sea, increasing the depth of the oceans. In the manner of her people she does not hold her grief behind clenched teeth. Her’s is the lamentation worthy of a saint and he is the one she yearns for with all her heart
In her dream sky he becomes the focus of her sigh, the need of her cry. He becomes her every thought.
In a time after Time, in a place beyond all Space, she learns the sound within all the world. She falters at first but with the trust of a child she learns the dance. Every second becomes a lifetime as she drubs the drums of her feet, beats the staccato of the Dance that changes things with poise and grace.
Because she doesn’t know it’s impossible, she unlocks her every joint, stretches every fiber in perfect form, exceeds herself until every movement, every nuance, becomes a metaphor, an alter where she offers her prayer to the Universe.
She becomes a stroboscopic flicker, committing the blasphemy of bending Cause and Effect, her movements exceeding the cradle of Time and Space without question, pause or consideration of the consequences, the cost to herself.
She becomes the daughter of Nyx. She becomes the night and she covers the land seeking his smell, his spore. Seeking him in his injury.
Finding him at last in the heart of the Mountains, she congeals by his side and he is howling mad with the parasites of infection.
She isn’t even aware that something inside her is changing, mutating . . .into . . . How do you say what can’t be said . . .? Her hands are becoming, something . . . There’s something about her hands. Her hands are becoming anti~parasites. And within her grows a need. She wants to touch the parasites. She feels the correctness in this.
The first soul parasite she touches withers and dies. She touches another and another and . . .
She extends her hands, for now she had many, like a Hindu goddess, hands in all directions. She caresses all the parts of his mind, body and soul. Where her hands touch him a healing begins.
Beside a fire that has gone out, under a sky pinking with a new sun, his ragged breathing is soothed.
His heart has found a path to true healing and she relinquishes the Night.
Sequence #3 – Chapter 2 – Martel and Carl – On the Question of Trackers

It was one of those quiet moments when things can be discussed at leisure. Carl had a cup of Yerba Mate and Martel had a bottle of pre-manufactured green tea extract.
Carl had found the window and appeared to be doing nothing but looking out across the campus grounds.
“What’s a tracker?” Martel asked out of the blue. Carl physically jumped, never a good sign.
He shot her a sideways glance, “A tracker is a person or thing of unknown origin. They show up at random points in space or time.”
“What do they do?”
“Where did you hear about trackers in the first place?”
“It was a note on the dash of your car. . .”
“Damn, I have got . . .”
“None the less . . .”
“OK, you will probably need this information sooner or later. A tracker can be used to track certain individuals . . . don’t interrupt. . . track certain individuals of some small talent. When trackers are human they are typically in the process of going mad. In their distress they generate parna spikes like those bombs they used to use for submarines. . .”
“You mean depth charges?”
“Yeah, they drop bombs where they think a submarine might be. When they go off any sub unfortunate enough to be too close is either destroyed or detected. Trackers are like parna bombs. When they spike any ‘sensitive’ in the area is affected.”
“You said parna spikes were bad.”
“They are. Parna spikes can go up any number of levels and they are very distasteful.”
“How does a tracker do that?”
“I would rather not talk . . . OK, the tracker is sacrificed. Anything parna spiking will eventually be driven mad. Nothing can generate spikes and no go mad, it has to happen.”
“But we use parna all the time?”
“First, we are using it only in moderation with a great deal of self discipline.”
“Speak for yourself.”
“WE, are using parna only in moderation with a great deal of self discipline. Why do you think I have introduced you to the concepts of Life Force interplay so slowly?”
“I just figured that I was a particularly slow apprentice.”
“Again with the self image . . .”
“Are trackers dangerous?”
“Not particularly, just really annoying, but that’s not the question is it?”
“No, the question is why there are trackers?”
“I honestly don’t know.”
“Is someone or something using the tracker?”
“Again, don’t know.”
“OK, this just isn’t going well; you have admitted twice that you don’t know something. Can you stop a tracker?”
“Yes, but that might be a bad idea. It’s almost impossible to see who’s holding the leash.”
“Great. So what should we do with a tracker?”
“Let it do what it does and lay low. Whatever you do, don’t react.”
“What happens if you react?”
“You’ll have to take the tracker out.”
“That’s a little melodramatic, don’t you think?”
“Once one of them has your scent, they are relentless.”
“This ever happen to you?”
“No.”
“How do you know? It did happen, didn’t it?”
“This is not open for discussion.” His face had become closed. She knew she would get no more information on this subject.

Sequence #2 – Chapter 3 – Tygrae and Vivian – The Art of Letting Someone Go

Tygrae lifts his ebon travel leathers, engages the safeties, and checks all the weapon arrays, both hidden and showing.
Her entry into the room is a study in silence.
He signals that he knows she is there with a slight shift of his stance, much the same way he would shift his position to defend against an assassin’s stealth attack (the difference being, she would very likely leave unscathed).
“Tygrae . . .”
“She speaks . . . I am honored. Such an honor.”
“Don’t be like that. Why are you behaving in this fashion?”
He slides his gear into place, turns to face her head on, a move seldom attempted among their kind, among the warrior poets. The tension level in the room skyrockets.
“Tygrae. . .why?”
“I love you. I wanted you to love me.”
“Is this what happened to the other woman warrior? The one before you found me beside the stream?”
“I love you. I wanted you to love me.”
“I love you as a mentor. Your wisdom rises above us like a mountain above the plains.”
“You love me as Nimue loved Merlin. Seeking to learn all my spore, but withholding yourself.”
“It’s creepy when you talk like that.”
Silence.
He moves to pick up his travel pack
She moves to block him, more by strategy than physically blocking him. He counters with a move she has never seen. He says, “I didn’t teach you everything I know.”
“Then teach me.”
“I love you. I love you as a man loves a woman. Now, show yourself to be more than a child. Stand aside.”
“Why are you going there? A man your age . . .might not . . .”
“I am retasked as a seeker and seekers go to the Far Places.”
“I am not fooled; this is of your own asking. Why did you volunteer?”
“I knew I would go when I was promoted from guardian class. Yes, before we had even met.”
“So, you wanted me to love you knowing you were going to the Far Places””
“I have walked the Loop and I have seen my suffering there. From you I wanted a reason to live, to continue living.”
“You wanted me to love you knowing you were going to leave””
“I only asked a token. Not your sex, nor your vows, but you could not even give me the token of your affection.”
“You want . . .”
“From you I want nothing, except passage from this room.”
“Don’t go.”
He moves toward the door and she yields. The creek of his leathers follows him out of the room. Silence pours in from the Void to fill the spaces he leaves behind.

Sequence #1 – Chapter 3 – Sage & Thomblin – the Circus of Heaven Incident

The day is slightly over-cast and humid, very humid. The Sage carries a folded dragon parasol and an orange. Thomblin literally dances across the wet grass of the manicured lawn. Her pull-over shirt shimmers with translucent rainbows, a light in the greyness.
A commotion by the East-gate catches her attention.
Some kind of massive animal is trying to get through the gate. The guards and tenants are trying to help it into the courtyard.
Sage laughs, actually laughs. Thomblin looks. . . wary. “OK old man, what is that thing?”
“It’s one of the animals in the Circus of Heaven. An elphfulum if I guess correctly, never really seen one myself.”
“It looks all furry and it’s so big and smelly. I don’t like it. Let’s go back. . .”
“Pish and Posh to boot, let’s go see what’s going on.”
“You knew this was going to happen, you knew these things were coming.”
“As I remember it was your idea to come outside, you said “Why don’t we go outside?””
“And now I want. . .”
“Look! Seraphim and cherubs.”
“They are all golden, I like silver myself.”
“The seven Dragons of Regwin and the golden Stallions of Far Calabria, oh, and a Unicorn.”
“Ha, you can never ride one of them.”
A fanfare rings out and, as if on cue, the sun breaks through the clouds. The Parade of Heaven labors across the grounds and the first of the beasts are exiting through the West-gate.
A cloud whale, trailing pure white streamers of vapor, drifts above the mêlée, circled by domesticated wind sharks.
“Thomblin, they are leaving, this must have been a parade to get our attention, a kind of advertisement to get us to come to the show. I hope they have caramel floss, I love caramel. . .”
“I’m glad it’s going.” She interrupts.
The Sage turns and sees her for the first time since they noticed the parade, his expression strangely confused. Her expression, enigmatic.
“Why do you choose to be this way?”
“This is crap, I want to know about the important things, I want to know about Love.”
“The Circus of heaven is more fun.”
A long silence ensues.
She walks toward the South-gate. He follows.
“Old man. . .”
“Stop calling me ‘old man’. I, at least, am young enough at heart to want to go to the circus.”
“Tell me of Love.”
“No.”
“Tell me of Love.”
“Let’s go back inside.”
“Tell me of Love. I want to know.”
“No, no you really don’t.”
“Surely you were in love once. . .”
“Far worse than that, I am in love now.”
She smiles and pirouettes. “Tell me, tell me old man.”
“Stop calling me. . . “
“You are in love? With who?”
“This is none of your concern. . . I want to tell her, but she doesn’t want to know.”
“She doesn’t know? Who is it? Who do you love?’
He turns away and sits on the grass. She moves quietly to face him, a suppressed smile on her features.
He says, “I don’t like you, please go away.”
“So, it’s a love that is wrong?”
“Yes.”
“You’re afraid.”
“Very much.”
“You should just tell her.”
“No.”
“You should hold her hand and tell her.”
He takes her hand. She looks confused.
He says, “She is younger than me.”
“That shouldn’t matter, not if you love her.”
He says, “You look at love as some kind of enlightened commerce, an exchange of vows and fluids. “There is more under heaven than is provided for in your philosophy. . .”
“Who is it?”
“It is. . . it is you. There, I’ve said it.”
Her expression is not unlike one she would wear while watching a diseased homeless commoner hawking up a chunk of lung. She withdraws her hand and wipes it on her leggings.
She calls him a pervert, calls him a sick old man, and vows that she has never felt so cheapened in her life.
He leaves, his movement a study in sadness as he walks toward the West-gate, following the Circus.

Two days later, she walks through rain that falls in sheets, through chance dancing ghosts on windswept on midnight streets.
She wants to find the Sage to tell him that he was wrong. That love can only occur between a young woman and her young man, the one, the only one for. Wanted to tell him that love has to have a future, where the lovers enjoy each other’s company forever.
She finds the Circus Grounds. She stamps across the wet dank grass only to see that the show is over. It is packing and will be gone by first light.
She enters and approaches a small man in carnival dress. He says that he has not seen the Sage, says that she should go back into town and ask for him there.
She grabs another carnie and he tells her to go.
She grabs a woman who must be a performer. The woman tells her to go home, to forsake her quest, but something about the woman makes her sure that the Sage is here. She insists and they woman tells her to wait here.
Directly the woman returns and hands her a slip of paper, then leaves without another word.
The note reads, “My dear Thomblin, I have joined the Circus. They took me on despite my total lack of anything resembling talent, must have been my recounting of our little drama. So now I am the cotton candy man making spun sugar topiaries for an awed audience of tender brats. I wish you well and farewell, Chyfrin the Sage of E’rhothous- Ra”
She finds the carnies somehow less friendly. When she asks again for him they just laugh and laugh.

Sequence #3 – Chapter 3 – Martel and Carl – the Cosmic Wheel

Martel doesn’t like knowing.
Doesn’t like standing in front of the massive picture window and watching as the World spins on the silent lathes of its cosmic axis.
Doesn’t like the way she now sees trees as dirt fountains and the way the sky gathers parna as it recedes beyond the horizon.
She was not happier when she was just drifting through life, but she was at least ignorant of her naïveté.
He had stood, over there, just outside the garden gate, his face shifting and fading into and out of real Time/Space. He had taken on a glow that was clear even in the full light of day and. . . And he was holding out his hand. The air crackled with St. Elmo’s fire and she could just make out his voice. He had called her, pleaded with her to go, to go with him.
And suddenly the world went lucent, and there was a thunderclap! And he was gone.
He was gone.

Sequence #4 – finis – Children Alone

She could never give herself wholly, could never yield her whole body, her heart, her soul, the way that children do, holding a small flower in their hands, saying, “Take this, and love me. Please love me.”
She held herself back, hiding away the tender part. She became her own dragon, damsel and the tower in one.
Empty, she feels so empty. No longer lithe and limber, no longer filled with naïveté, the primal energy of simplicity.
She sold her Heart for silence.

Chen Lei

Chen Lei shuffles across the doorstep into his house. He surprises his daughter, Chen Xi .
“How is your mother?”
“Sir, she is still quite ill.”
“I have come home to care for her . . .”
“Sir . . . a man of your standing must not do such . . .”
“Gentle one, any man who would fault me for caring for my wife when she is ill is not worthy of consideration.”
Chen Xi embraces her father and they exchange chi for a long time. “Sir, you are wise.”
“None of it. When was the last batch of medicine brewed?’
“Moments ago, it is still fresh and charged with content. I was preparing to feed her when you arrived.”
“You have spent too much time in this house, as you are a worthy daughter. Go to the market and get the ingredients for dinner. Avoid Gen Gaou, he always charges too much for vegetables.”
“Sir, I would stay here . . .”
“No more of this. I am here to care for your mother, as she has cared for me. Obey he in this. Go to the market, but change into some spring trappings.”
“Sir?”
“On the way here I saw that young man . . what is his name?”
“Sir. I am embarrassed . . .”
“Young one, the present is always a gift and the future is only a promise. We must always prepare for the promise of the future. You are the future little one. Now go.”
Chen Xi shuffled out of the room. Chen Lei straighten his clothing, gathered the medicine into a tureen and stepped into the bed room.
“Hello, is my wife Ping here?”
“Husband, you are home early . . . I must fix you something to eat.”
“Yes, about that, I require that you eat . . .”
“Oh no, where is Xi?”
“She obeys her father in all things and is at the market gathering the ingredients for dinner.”
“She should . . .”
“About this eating thing you mentioned, please eat some of this.”
“Husband . . .”
“I am a man of some honor, am I not?”
“Yes, you are a good and noble man.”
“I am a good provider for this family, am I not?”
“I am honored above others . . .”
“And are my wishes to be ignored?”
“No sir.”
“Then please, Ping, please eat your medicine and care for yourself. You can not serve me and not serve yourself.”
“Husband . . .”
“Woman, you make me absent from court and the others will be talking. Let me help to heal you so that I may get back to my difficult job of service to the king and to the empire. I can not focus on the matters of state when I am silly with worry about you.”
She lifts her hand and brushes his hair the way she did when they were young. She sits up and takes the tureen. Knocks away his hand when he tries to feed her and starts to feed herself. “You are a stubborn old fool.”
“Madam. you might be correct. In matters concerning you my logic is often flawed.”

The Binder and the Dark-spawn

Jenelle is sleeping on the couch. I sit in the chair, right beside her head.
Her demon is running back and forth across the back of the couch. It does that a lot when it’s bored.
It is a slither of smoke with oversized paws that conceal nasty little claws. I have seen it for as long as I have known her. It is my small talent/curse.
It’s time I spoke to it directly. The myst that makes me demon-proof is kinda thick and it take a bit of concentration to thin it enough to speak Hesirith. That, and it makes the shielding kinda itchy and cantankerous.
“You. . . on the couch.” It ignores me.
“Shac-akawak-naw wa-tokata. . .” That gets its attention.
My hand is on her arm before it can get back into her. “Sorry, old sport, but no.”
If it dissipates, then problem solved, one less of its kind.
It decides to try attacking me. Bad choice. The shielding holds. They hate it when I laugh at them.
By its actions it has created a relationship with me. I reach through the connection and grab it by the underside. They really hate that.
An hour of really pointless struggle ensues and the dark-spawn starts to run down. It can’t feed on either of us and I’m not letting it out, so its starving.
It whines for a while; threatens for a while more and at length goes silent.
“Now, little pup, I am sure you have heard of Binders. Yeah, it’s like that. I am gonna make a deal. Either you dissipate and leave this plane for all eternity or I bind you to something inanimate and throw it into the ocean.”
It tries to bite my face. I sigh.
“Son this is pointless,” and I find the part of me that does the binding.
The creatures speaks, “Hold thy hand. Lest you in haste bring a misfortune to all concerned.”
“You mean Jenelle?”
“She summoned me and in exchange for the gifts she gives me I provide her with. . . entertainments.”
“About that, I don’t care, leave now or be bound and learn to entertain fish.”
“You insolent human, if you knew of my master. . .”
“I am the Keewah of Sultac, Binder of Nethers and Dark-spawn. I am the Fear-god of your fathers and your master fears me. Stop the rhetoric and decide your fate.”
“She needs me. . .”
“No, she doesn’t.”
And it is gone, choosing dissipation above binding. Eh’.
Jenelle awakes and is dulled by the experience.

Within an hour she has thrown me out of the apartment. The last thing she said to me before throwing her cell phone out the window was, “How can I write now! I needed that inspiration if I’m ever do anything worth a crap. You did this to me, and I hate you! Never come back!”

So, I guess its true, you must be careful when you throw out a demon, that you don’t throw away the best part. . .

Day 17 – Personal Mythologies ~ Darkness in Light

i am slowly becoming my own Parthenon
angels and demons join in my aspect

then let us dance
while there is air in the sky

speak volumes to me
with your eyes
that i might know sustenance when you pass

let us blend our shadows
and our songs
as we forget civilization
and stroll this desert place

let us bend the sky
with the peals of our laughter
let us lift the oceans
to reveal all the treasure that is ours
let us become the eternal Now
and speak no further of grey tomorrows

Day 11 – Poetry ~ Darkness in Light

If you could have asked
Is it raining
in some future place?
Or will I suffer
the slings and arrows . . .?
And got your answer

If you could lift your hands
Against the Sea
Turning back the tide
turning back time. . .?

If you could
Spin the sky backward
rearranging the clouds
Without a second thought. . .?

If you knew a guy
Who could remove this tattoo
Wipe away this memory
Would you?

Day 18 ~ Lucent, My Own Personal Demon

kind numb now
its been . . . weeks?

isn’t it funny how things just . . . fall away
just . . . fall

dreams and reality converge
when you cook your brain

better than drugs
but i feel so . . . so bad

walk
put one foot in front of the other
lift drop

a shadow detaches itself
come to stare me in the face

rescue?

this demon says
‘you’re a scurvy clot . . .’
nope
that is not the sound of rescue

he says
‘what are you doing out in this heat?’
‘i’m on a journey . . . a quest of sorts’
(all of the sudden i feel so lower case. . . )

he says
‘what the bloddy hell?’
i’ figured
it worked for the French Foreign Legion . . .
i want to forget . . .’

‘how come you aren’t dead?’
‘there is a microfine mesh on my skin
a type of johnsonian junction strand thingy
as long as electrical current runs through it
it cools my skin . . .
the technology was prototyped on beer coolers’

‘but at night it gets bloddy frigid out here’
‘the current reverses
and it heats’

‘but your skin . . .’
‘SPF 437’

‘water?’
‘water condenses from my breath
and my sweat on the mesh
and some from the air
and some in my gear’

i say
‘i carry some food
the rest falls from the sky
at Manna Stations along the way’
he says
‘neat’

i say
‘what is your name demon?’
‘me . . .?
i’m Lucent’

‘not Lucifer?’
‘oh heavens no
i’m only a minor demon’

‘why not Lucifer?’
‘You hardly rate Him old son
seeing how you are nobody important
nope
just me . . .’

walk
put one foot in front of the other
lift drop

he says
‘so if that battery thing . . . breaks?’
‘in that event . . . i’m everso screwed’

Day 12 ~ Names ~ Voyages of a Ship Named Heart

With steely determination
She climbs into the part of the ship
That no one speaks of

A slight tingling sensation prickles
all over her body
This part of the ship is invisible and she
Must grope toward this unknown goal

Her finger-tips brush against a barrier
Pushing through the barrier
She moves into a room that a dusty
rich and aged smell
The room was silent
save a disquieting sub-sonic hum

In the center stands a massive marble table
The rest of the room contains only a reading chair
a massive bookcase
hunting tapestries
and a few other odd pieces

As her eyes adapt
She makes out four semi-sentient watchers
Stationed at strategic points around the seven-sided table
Their inhumanly intense regard focused on the center
Where a woman’s pearl-handled
Silver mirror floats within a pale violet amethyst crystal

Air circulating through the room
Makes the watchers’ gossamer hair ripple
Like sea weed dancing as the waves pass
Sensing the watcher’s attention is only for the thing inside the crystal
She ventures into the room

She sees the mirror holds the likeness
of a rather plain looking woman beside a lake
As the crystal and mirror revolve
The woman scoops a handful of water
and offers it to someone off to the right

She feels somehow strangely compelled
to feel sorrow for the woman

The Pilot is beside her
He says
“Her name is . . .”
And his voice breaks
She can’t hear the name