[UPDATED ALMOST DAILY]
Today something amazing happened, it was … a terrifying feeling, yet pleasant in its own way.
What was it you wonder? It is not that important yet, but the process that led to it is.
As you know it was a night the last December, I was roaming aimlessly around the city in search for gifts, without a specific store in my head, hoping to find something nice for my family and friends.
I crossed the path with an old man, bent from the back, covered in rags, with deep blue eyes, his white hair was a dirty silver now, his thick beard covered his long skinny face.
His movements spoke words of shyness, his gaze was filled with wisdom. I remained frozen like never before, but I was not filling disgust, nor fear, nor repulsion. I felt pity and sorrow, I wondered why this happens to this kind of people. As you know I don’t do this kind of stuff but pushed by compassion, I pulled out some coins and handed them to him, he took my hand in his and thanked a couple of times. I don’t like it when people think your act of kindness is the work of God, and mostly I hate when they wish me that God should bring me happiness.
To my surprise this old man didn’t follow the same script I was accustomed to, he looked deep into my eyes, stopped breathing, his palms were hotter than mine, a warm feeling was filling me and the old man spoke “Play the game but beware of the fox!” then like someone turned the lights out the warm feeling faded. As if a spell was broken the old man became the same shy person and moved along with slow sloppy steps heading into an alley.
I wondered if it really happened and started going after the elder, when I reached the dark gloomy alley I couldn’t find any trace of him. A bit scared I started to enter it and looked into the shadows for any sign of his were about , he could have fallen, well he looked weak enough. Slowly I called after him “Hey, old man! Are you alright?” but no answer came except a small rustle behind a garbage bin. With precaution I closed in and listened for other noises. Dead silence, nothing more, not even the wind made a sound. Suddenly a crow like bird startled me when it flew from behind the bin, as it rose I thought I caught a glimpse of a white star on the birds chest but it could have been some food in its beak.
Not finding him there I rushed back to the alley, this was spooking me a bit. I went back to my business, a little troubled but didn’t pay much attention to the event, I had a lot to search for and little time to do it. It became more crowded as I reached a street well known for the stores and special deals for this time of year. People were entering and leaving stores with bags full of presents, the joy could be seen on their faces, Christmas was coming and the gifts frenzy was all around.
I needed to buy something for my family and my close friends but I didn’t know what to be this year, everyone was doing it and I was thinking of something special, not the usual stuff, gloves, scarfs, socks and other clothes were out of the picture. Checking the windows for something to catch my eye I reached the end of the street twice and I could not think of anything, not even a little. Stress started to set in when I heard some girls chatting in an excited tone “Can you imagine we found such gifts in such a secluded place?” said one girl while the other replied “I didn’t even know it existed and I have traveled that alley many times, it must be new and want to make a name for itself, I am so happy, my boyfriend is going to love it, it’s just what he wanted”. I turned to look for them and caught with them to ask for directions, they pointed to a nearby alley that I admit i haven’t traveled before or I just could not remember.
Eagerness rushed me to that place and found it as the girls described it, the whole store frame was made of dark brown wood, the windows had a crisscross pattern, with snow like decorations in the corners, they were so well made that they seemed a little bit frozen. A board was hung above the windows ” Magical shop! What you need is what we got!”. As I turned the golden door knob and entered the door, a bell chimed above, a soft sound that took me by surprise. The warmth was taking over and the smell of perfumes was filling my nostrils, I could see candles lit here and there. This looked more like a library or an antique shop but the items displayed were from a vast range and there weren’t two alike. “Feel free to leave your coat here, it will be safe” sign stood above a hanger. Since it was so cozy I did as the sign instructed and left it hanging there, It felt better indeed, my body became more relaxed now and I could feel myself calmer. I wondered if it was safe to leave the store unattended since there was no sign of life anywhere nearby. Maybe they have cameras and the door can only be opened from the outside unless someone lets you, therefore I tried the handle and the door opened as easily as the first time. They must be confident that nobody steals their stuff or they are insured.
“Hello, anyone here?” I asked in a low voice but nobody replied, I started to look into the shelves, touching random items, from statues representing different gods, animals, plants that looked so vivid. If I weren’t there so close I could have sworn they were animated or slightly moving. Maps hanging on the walls encased in glass seemed three dimensional, the waves danced as the clouds above them sang, some aquatic beasts disappeared in hypnotic whirlpools only to reappeared in different part of the map, volcanoes fumed and filled the surroundings with red lava. It must have been some high tech thing just to impress, something like a hologram. I searched for details about the program used but I found only the text “The World of Krynn: Before the Cataclysm”.
Another thing that caught my attention was a lamp sitting on a shelf, it’s just as I imagined the lamp from Aladdin. I harassed the it`s neck with the top of my finger but I was reluctant to do a real rub. On other shelves were books about planets and islands that I never knew ever existed. Trinkets that seemed from native tribes to some forgotten corner of the world, they appeared to emanate some kind of energy. Weapons of all forms, shapes and materials were displayed safely behind glass prisons, wands, cloaks and masks were stored behind a counter. High on the walls were trophies of animals and beasts that I could not recognize. This store had everything, all that was missing were items from the future just that I could not recognize them or they were stored in another place. I could swear the store had more rooms available, and I realized it was bigger on the inside than it looked from outside. Toy replicas of cars and planes were ordered on a special wall that allowed the view from an unusual angle.
“Aaah, a customer! Hello there sir..” came a voice from behind me that gave me a good scare. “forgive me, I didn’t mean to scare you!”
“Hello!” I replied, “I’m sorry I just could not hear you come behind me, it’s just that it was unexpected” I replied with my heart pounding crazy in my chest, striving to burst out.
“Yes yes, it must be because of these magic slippers I have, you see… he he” laughed the old woman, with a soft voice. She seemed older than the ancient maps on the walls themselves, her face filled with wrinkles, her hair once a pure gold it was now alloyed with silver and platinum. Her eyes were so young and full of life, they almost shone with a mystic green as jade itself. Despite her age she stood straight and proud like a valkery. As she rubbed her hands together sparks seemed to form around her fingers. “Is there something I could do for you, young man? Maybe a gift or a trinket that could help you guide your future?”
“I’m not sure what I want, it’s just that I was looking for some unique gifts for my friends and family and I see that you have quite a collection, but what I found intriguing is the fact there are no duplicates!” I searched again with my sight and could not find two identical items.
“That’s because every item here serves it special purpose to a specific individual. Let’s take a simple mug,” she moved near a shelf and picked up a metal one “some use it to brew tea in it therefore it needs to be of metal, others need it to drink alcohol therefore it must be sturdy, others want it for display therefore it must look beautiful. Each person is different and so are their needs.” as she grasped the objects they began to slightly glow, to radiate a warm feeling, as if it was resonating to the touch.
“I … I would like to know if you have something special fo…” as I was speaking she cut me over “..For you! Yes yes, you all ask the same question… Maybe, maybe not, the problem is not that we have don’t have something for you, we have something for everyone. The correct question is if we have the right thing for you, do you really need it?”
“Well I would like to get some gifts for my friends and mostly for my family but I was curious if you had something even for me, but I don’t know what I want, I mean I kind of know what I want but it’s hardly possible” I told her.
She patted me on my arm and whispered looking sideways as not be seen or heard by anyone else “Nothing is impossible, it’s just that people tend to put limits on their abilities and goals, they are scared that they will fail, or that they will change” she held me fast and asked “Are you afraid? How far would you go to obtain your dreams, what would you be willing to sacrifice?”
“Wait … how would you know what I wish for?” something about this discussion scared me and I became determined to search for my gifts in another place. “If you will excuse me I will take my leave, thank you for the hospitality!” I turned around and headed for my coat when she started to speak.
“Be careful young sir, those who leave the shop aren’t able to find it again, “this chance only comes once in a life time”.
As I was dressing up I thought “Yeah, right!”. “Right it is, I’m not playing with you” she said and in that moment I froze.
“What did you just say?” I asked and turned to face her but she was nowhere to be seen. But she was there, a moment ago, where could have she run to?
“I didn’t run, I wanted to be here” a voice came from my left behind some shelves and as I turned the voice came from my back “but then I changed my mind and came here”. Startled I jumped a couple feet away.
“You think magic is gone, that everything is smoke and mirrors, that the world is filled with impostors” the stopped to think a little and continued “it might be in some cases, more than often but not always”
“My young boy, you have no idea what the world has to offer, what the Universe is made of, you for example are full of potential, I can see it and i really can see it. You have the gift and you felt it before, you thought it was an ability to control your dreams, it was just luck that got you all over the obstacles in your life”. Before I could tell her about the sufferings she continued hushing me with a finger “Yes yes, we all have limits, we can’t do everything we want if we don’t know how to do it, what we want, what we need, what has to be paid in exchange” She got me here, she made me curious, damn it, she knew exactly what buttons to press and how to catch my attention.
“You have two options. One is simple, walk out the door and never have this chance again, that I can vouch for it. The other option is to listen to what I have to say about your origins and about what you can achieve but also what it costs”, again costs what is this about costing?
“All in due time, I will explain everything but you must chose because time is short, and you have no idea how short it is” she said in a grave tone then with a sigh she continued “I can’t make you chose, it must be your doing, so be swift”. Can she read my mind, how does she know things before I even say them?
“You may describe it like that but it’s not the same, it’s more like you expel your thoughts towards me, I just pick them up and … think of the following example. You are cooking something in your kitchen and only you know what you are making but the smell that is in the air reaches someone near you blindfolded, he doesn’t know what you are making but he can figure it out from the smell, not exactly what you are doing but an idea. This is the same thing. Now let’s focus, I won’t rush you, you need time to think and that must be done in private, I will leave you to your thoughts alone for a short while, I need to get something done. Just remember that once a decision is taken you can’t change your mind just like that. Any action has it’s reaction. Either by leaving or remaining something will be changed either way irreversible” As she said the last word in a low tone she turned around and began to chant in an unknown language while tracing strange symbols in the air, they took shape and hovered as if they were written on paper. These symbols began to change shape slowly into a circle then the circle began to spin into a sphere, reaching amazing speeds. It looked like an actual soap bubble starting to expand, more and more, touching things and making them change color and shape. It engulfed me as well but she old woman reassured me “I have just removed the spell cast on the shop, now more things will become visible. Feel free to explore it as if it was your mind.” and she disappeared by fading into nothingness.
Imagine the shock I had, I could not believe my eyes, for a moment I felt like the ground was slipping from underneath. I felt a rush of air as the bubble engulfed me and my eyes burned from the light that it emanated, when I opened them just a second afterwards the room was changed, the amount of items displayed was bigger, the shelves reached higher levels, there were wide archways leading to other rooms filled like this one with strange trinkets and artifacts, some of them I can’t even describe or name, I can not think of what they were or the purpose they served but they were radiating a light glow. I knew right away they had magical properties, what kind I could not identify. My blood ran faster and I got excited, oh how I wanted to to use each and every one of those artifacts, to know the secrets hidden but I was afraid.
I got scared of the possible outcome, I sensed my new found powers surging through me and a strange hunger, a hunger for magic. But how could I possibly sate that need was more upsetting than anything else.
Hidden words were now visible written with magic on each shelf, display case and tags. Somehow I could read them, but their meaning was not clear. “You have to make a choice!” the old woman’s words rang in my head following my every thought. Her presence was still sensed in the room but I couldn’t see her.
For the first time in my life a burden was pressing not on my mind, but on my heart. In the end I chose, even if this led to what I became I still regret nothing. Oh my diary, if only could have been there, the things I saw. It will be hard to explain so you can comprehend even a small fraction of it. Try to imagine the ink that I use to write this down, it marks you, first you feel something like pain, your structure changes a little, a mark is left there forever, but in the same time you gain value, the ink makes you great, because you are no longer empty. You take shape, a meaning, you become important, your every page becomes unique, just like my actions. I felt information stick to me as I passed books, I barely touched some sealed scrolls and I knew what was inside, some were protected by spells and I could not understand what I felt, but a sickening feeling took over me.
The objects that had a slight glow meant that they were magical or they had a spell cast upon, a spell came into my mind that allowed me to identify what kind of enchantment was cast upon them, the light began to vary from item to item, from pure white, golden or silver to red or even purple. My survival instinct kicked in when I tried to touch a purple aura item, it was alerting me by blocking my movements for a millisecond. I think this happens when our auras collide, not sure yet.
I came upon a crystal ball and touching it gave me a shock, I could feel energy surging through me. My eyes became watery, an image formed in my mind, it showed a beautiful place, I was flying at great speed. I went over plaines and hills filled with flowers and tall grass. My voyage took me over forests so close I could almost feel their tips bruising against my hands. Mountains covered in snow went below me and I could see wild life moving, looking towards me as if they knew I was there, species I was unfamiliar with came before my eyes in a glimpse. Then I saw a region covered in clouds, dark as iron and filled with storms. Below them the earth was scorched where the lightning struck, creatures grotesque enough to make you sick carried urgent missions left and right. Too absorbed in their jobs weren’t even noticing my presence. The first sight of a castle came into my view, an anomaly that looked like a castle, the walls formed a 5 pointed star with high towers where they met. In the towers and in the buildings I could see lights gleaming a strange green light radiated from the windows. On the streets light poles hosted red orbs that seemed to pulse as pedestrians passed them, sucking vital energy from them. In the middle another tower, bigger than the others shaped like a demon with a giant snake coiled around his body way up to the giant’s head.
I heard a voice calling a name, it was more a sensation than actually hearing it. It wasn’t my name but I knew it was calling me. I identified it from another direction, it seemed so far away yet so close so I headed towards it. The voice was grave, almost desperate, pleading. A beacon of light marked the origin of the calls. I could not yet distinguish the name nor if the person was a male or female, yet I felt the need to assist it right away, it was full of urgency. It seemed that I was not moving at all but as I watched below I could not even identify the surroundings and still it seemed like forever, like a nightmare where you can’t move. Finally I reached the place and the pillar of light was immense, it covered the radius of a great city, I could not see behind this wall but I had to enter it. As I took a deep breath I passed through it. I could not see anything yet the voice was guiding me straight to the target. I lost almost all senses, where was up or down, nothing had color, I was one with the energy, I had no more hands, feet, either that or I was blind.
Slowly the light dimmed and things began to appear, shadows at first, details began to form, I was in an immense room, a ceiling filled with strange floating light globes, walls covered with tapestries, book shelves stood tall and strong carrying their burden, hundreds of items. This was familiar, yes, the store, but how did I came back? The answer dear diary came from the voice of the old woman.
“A brave but stupid thing you just did, I should have kept a better eye on you.” She was holding my head in her lap, stroking my hair with a wet fabric, it was smoothing to the touch and every time it touched my skin I felt more energized. The sweet smell was filling my lungs with delight, I felt dead tired, but she urged me to stand up. “It’s not yet the time to sleep, it seems you have made your choice…”
My mind cleared and I understood right away what she was implying. I asked her what that meant and she took a moment to think this through then she continued “You were supposed to chose first and then put you to the test after some instructions” She turned her head to the wall and one of the tapestries began to burn slowly in a corner “You have the gift of the creator, you can create worlds, magical worlds, to put it simple you are a Forger, with the power of your mind and magic you have created a realm. it’s not that big yet as you can see, but it started”.
“Where is the place located and what’s it called?” I asked remembering the map in the previous room.
“I don’t know, it’s your world, your doing. Everything in it will have to be named by you. Of course you don’t have to create everything, the inhabitants can craft their dwellings if they have the knowledge. You must know a thing right away. You see the flame on the map? That is the amount you have created, also after you have created the landscape with hills, mountains, plains lakes and rivers and so on, you must populate it with creatures, sentient beings, but it all depends on you. If you don’t do anything for a period of time the flame dims and eventually it burns out, leaving the world unfinished. An unfinished world will crumble, and it will die out. And so will your magic, for you see, this has become your magical source. It’s called equivalent trade.”
“In other words I’m a god?” I asked scared of the thought, and she nodded. “This only applies in my world right? I can’t create anything outside of it I hope” thinking of a stupid nightmare that could create some awful things. “Yes and no, I know what you fear but it doesn’t work like that. It takes years of experience, study, practice and a lot of concentration to make something materialize in this world. As you might have guessed this world also has a Forger, nobody knows him yet but it is said that sometimes it appears and interacts with our kind and gives advises and guiding.” She looked over her shoulder to a hourglass on stand and helped me rise “It’s about time! Come, let’s meet your world.”
I got up still shaky and headed after her, she stopped in front of a table. There was only one item in the middle, it looked like a metal hexagonal plate with writings on each edge, in each corner there was a circle with a small needle pointing up.
“Here you have to finish the ritual, it might sound like a dark ritual but for it to be completed you have to comply.” From a drawer she took out a small knife with runes on the blade. To little surprise I understood what they said “Give and you shall receive”. The looked at me in surprise “You can read it already? My my, you are a gifted one. The bond has to be completed by giving some of your blood to the world you have created. For it to work you have to keep it balanced, it can’t be filled with good or with evil. There are six needles and you have five fingers on your hand. You have to sting different fingers in each one. Let’s do it”
My first impulse was to have all five fingers from the left hand get stung but then I thought it’s better to have three from each hand. After that the small droplets of blood began to flow into the writings on the edges and the metal pulsed with energy. Another circle appeared in the middle of the plate when she told me to cut a small incision in the palm of my hand and place it on the circle. As I did that something began to suck my blood with incredible force, the pain was excruciating but she insisted that I keep my hand there no matter what. The pain began to diminish and it ended in being relaxing. She saw me being calm and removed my hand from the circle. The blood was gone, instead a liquid metal was in the circle. It began to boil, vapors formed creating a small floating cloud about twenty centimeters above the table. Electrical surges formed, the color shifted from red to yellow, green to violet, blue to orange. Slowly the cloud contracted into a small ball, the ball changed then shapes, it became liquid again, then it started to crystallize. As I concentrated on it I could see it take various shapes: creatures, objects, letters and others I could not name. It stabilized into small gem, the shape was what made me curious, it looked like a convex lens but it was rough and unpolished, the edges were irregular. I picked it up hoping that some amazing thing would happen but nothing.
I was so fatigued that I placed my hands on the table to regain my balance. She took me by my hand and we headed to some chairs, they felt so comfortable. What a day was my first thought letting out a sigh. By the time I opened my eyes again she had already prepared some tea, the flavor was so strong it slapped some sense back into me.
“I have watched you and I can say I am impressed of your choices.” sensing I didn’t understand anything she continued. “You have made a balance in your world, giving blood from both hands in equal amount. There are six needles and five fingers for a reason, One hand represents the good and the other the evil, Even if you sting all fingers from a hand there is required another from the other hand so there are both values in the world. Your sense of justice or intuition made you chose and I admit you continue to amaze. Since now you are fully one of us, I have to tell you my names. There are two names for us the gifted, the one that everyone knows, the name given at birth. My birth name is Sara. My other name, is Haghe, it means…” I sensed something and I interrupted her “Mentor! It means Mentor, right?”
“Quite impressive, yes it can be Mentor but it means Guide” and she smiled again. Sipping her tea she put the cup down, holding my hands she asked “Now, what are your names?”.
“My birth name is Darian, but the other one is unknown, I have to think of a name by myself or is it as received?” I could not think of the other name, nothing came into my mind.
“It has to be something that represents you, for example you could be the Forger but there are others as well, it must be something that only you have and defines you.”
“Intuition, I would chose this one, you said yourself, I have a lot of it and things stick to me naturally”
“It’s a good name but I would think twice about it, you don’t have to rush it. Let it come to you. One other thing I have to add. Both the names that you have when you speak them to someone else that is normal will only understand Darian, but another gifted person will know your true name, your magical one. Also bear in mind, not all of us are happy to see other mages because like the balance in your world, there are two sides of the same coin in ours, some have become good, some went on the other side and few, quite a few rest on the edge. I for one I reside on the edge, I’m neutral.”
Oh that was a long talk that explained rules and how everything goes, what we strive to achieve and how we uses our powers, for the benefit of the world or personal gain. She took me in a part like a museum dedicated to some of the most powerful and inspirational mages that lived or were still alive. Artifacts, tomes, relics were encased in powerful magic bubbles. Sara presented the history of our world as far as she could go back in time and it was impressive. The spells she cast to recreate events and display the power she had gained left a residue of knowledge in my mind, the basics were inscribed permanently, I had only to learn to control them.
I was now thinking what to do next, how to develop this world I have created, what should I name it, how the inhabitants live and how will the balance be affected. All I had were questions.
You see my beloved diary, things aren’t strange enough yet. I learned in a short time a lot of things. I chose to be a mage, I could have returned to the normal world but something made me chose what I did. Call it fate, destiny, karma, intuition. All would have had the same result. I could not leave the store that night and I stood there to study, the need to understand more took control, I felt a hunger for knowledge, a thirst for new horizons. I could not sleep anymore, I learned some spells that kept me going, I became like a sponge and absorbed any information that was provided to me. Haghe fed me with books, and trinkets and provided guidance on how to evolve, how to create my own world. She showed me how the world was actually that there are creatures in this world that live among humans and neither know about the other, because you see the one who has created this world we live in, has great power, he was able to create such a big world that a mere map will not suffice. He has created an Universe, but that inspired me, that gave me an idea. What if I could surpass that, what if my world would be not just as big as his is, but more complex, instead of one world I will have multiple ones. After I will finish with this one I will create another one to run in parallel. And why not if my power would hold create even more.
“Darian, take it easy, time is no longer an issue, you don’t have to rush it!” she told me after she figured out what I was thinking. She could see that my eyes were changing, they became to glitter. She could see that the power I was gaining was increasing at an alarming rate. I had to spend that power before it engulfed me since I could not control it. Others failed to subdue it and they became pure silver statues, one material for other magical items, there are mages who take subjects under their wings and grow them so powerful that they transform into other magical materials. Some were so rare and powerful that became keron, a kind of crystal, this material could make the most powerful artifacts known. It was so rare that some mages dedicated their whole life trying to gain even the smallest amount, they became known as the perfectionists. While some managed to get their hands on such materials, others became hunted, others hated for their amazing powers. You see this isn’t the perfect world, it’s far from it. But even so a balance is in place, nobody
[UPDATED ALMOST DAILY]