Friday, 23 November 2007

Literary Section III

Gothic Fantasy: The Memoirs of Prometheus
Act I: The Name of the Game

Part III: Flying Solo

Read Part I first! Right under the Dumbledore story.
Part II.
Part IV.
Part V.
Part VI.

Master Rama the Gentle was true to his name: he called me Magus the moment I crossed the Threshold, the moment I first joined with Klymene. In the world of Wyrd, “Magus” refers to one who can access reality’s building blocks and rearrange them, so as to produce miraculous – magical, as it were – effects. Of course, it is as much a talent and a birthright as it is a skill; a skill achieved and practiced at some cost. Usually, the cost is one’s spiritual and mental reserves, limited to a degree by the strength of their Alma Magica. In extraordinary – and might I add, dangerous – circumstances, the cost can be much, much higher.

This is a story told to me by an ancient Vampire knight, as a parable for the limitations and risks of my then-newfound power: “The Graumannwelt – an old, German term meaning “World of Grey People”, the non-Wyrd reality) is akin to a titanic stone giant, upon whom the world of Wyrd rests as its regalia. The giant now slumbers, as it has for many centuries, dreaming our existence. Once, it thrived on these dreams, marveled at the beauty of the Wyrd enveloping him and encouraged them to play out. With the onset of the ages, the slumbering giant’s body hardened and it started to forget its regal garb, small details at first, then whole sections. As it forgets about them, these pieces fall to ruin, unless the giant’s dreams burn intense to remake them. But memory of what has been lost is harsh, thereby sealing away all desire to reclaim it. Therefore, whenever we act on our birthrights with reckless might, we stir the giant’s dreams and as one tries to resist and wake from a displeasing dream, especially if it is intense, thus does the giant push us back until we stop reminding it its former glory; and if we persist, it might elect to not see this dream ever again… So long as the giant sleeps soundly and content, so may we.”

And there you have it: the Wyrd and the Graumannwelt must brush against each other gently, risking terrible consequences if one vulgarly trespasses into the other. Therefore humans would do well to remain at the safe, dreamy, poetic fringe of the Wyrd and the Wyrd should avoid altering reality in flashy, dramatic ways which interact with Graumannwelt –which is called Hubris – or risk failure, at the very least, expunction from reality, at the very worse – which is called Nemesis. The only exception to this rule (at least, the Nemesis part), are the Kyuuketsuki, Blutsauger, Nosferatu and called much else, commonly known as… Vampires. Dead, yet not dead, devoid of soul but possessed of immortality, they are the Zwischenweltenmenschen, the “People Between Worlds”, who hide from the light of the Sun and the perception of the giant. But I am getting ahead of myself…

After the prospective Magus’s (usually) intense tutoring, for all the above reasons, they have to be tested and judged by three Wyrd, regarded as Masters, Wise Men and Women, Luminaries or what-have you, among their kin. This committee, of sorts, is called Opus Elementum. Now, usually, this is a matter between Magi but there have been rare exceptions, where another Wyrd has acted as member of the Opus on a given circumstance. Thus, a month before my testing, Master Rama asked me how bad I wanted to be recognized “officially” as a Magus for, as he said, in his eyes I was Magus enough (not in small part thanks to Klymene). Of course I wanted to be recognized! Though his approval was enough for me, I wanted to wear it proudly, as a badge of honor.

“Well then, as you know, Bowen is not a Magus but he is a respected elder to most Wyrd and Ozymandias and I could fill in the rest of the Opus positions. Would you like that?”

“I would be honored beyond words sir! However… if it is alright with you, I would rather the Opus Elementum were chosen for me in the usual way… whatever it is.”

“Oh? And why is that? I am telling you right now, this is not a test. Should you agree, it is all said done. I swear it by the Standing Stones” which, of course, was an oath so outrageous as only he could take. Indeed I had believed it a test but not of my integrity; in fact, I had no idea why he would pose such a dilemma before me but I felt I should answer as I did.

“Sir, you three are well-renowned Masters, respected by many, if not all. Already I have to live up to studying under you, much less being publicly approved by you.” It was the first thing that came to mind and I blurted it. I had found that with Master Rama, your first thought was your best one.

“Very well. It is your right to ask this but let me tell you a secret: no matter what you see, who you talk to and what you do in your life, there is something you must remember; along with what I told you when first we met and as ancient as the Law of Tales… There are no Masters in the world of Wyrd. All are students, until they elect to stop, whereupon they simply don’t study and learn no longer. The only Master one has, is the one they accept.” Words that made me shake with excitement and tingle with joy. Words I cannot fathom, for Rama the Gentle, whom I had accepted as my Master, is sure to have said this, knowing of the dreadful things that lurk in our world.

Christmas was a favorite period for facing the Opus Elementum, for the testing took place just before the festivities. Should you fail, there was ale, warm honey-wine and apple cider to console you. Should you pass, all the more reason for the ensuing merriment. I will not dwell on the events of that night in 1992, for their memory brings me such pain as my death could never inflict. Save to say, it was recorded as one of the most unusual Opus to ever test a Magus, consisting of the Maga Helena, a spindly Lon Dubh Fae (the Fae keepers of secrets) by the name of Walter Braniggan and a Vampire, nearly 3 meters tall, named Dmitri. That last one was mostly silent, with the eyes of a wolf and after he tested me: “I shall acknowledge you young fokoosnik (which, I think, is Russian for “sorcerer”) but it matters not. You will die very soon, if your mind is not set on killing your enemy because your heart forbids it” he said with his level, deadly serious and almost uncaring voice. How right he was, I could have never imagined…

This is Prometheus exactly at the end of Act I,
(yes, he is 22 years old, believe it or not)
while the drawing featured in Part I is the more
manga version, many years after the events of Act I.
This is - in my opinion - an extraordinary piece by
Lockie and reminiscent of Gary Chalk's and Brian Williams's
style in the Lone Wolf series.

After passing my Opus Elementum, I started being an active member of our Order, under the orders and guidance of the three men the Dragons of Kildare considered Masters. However, though at 22 years of age I was quite adept at Channeling and Kineticism – a definitively combat-oriented combination when coupled with the Elemental Technique – and had proven my resourcefulness on numerous occasions, still something ate me. Though many, who had been tutored at the same time as I, had already taken posts and long-term missions appropriate to their abilities, around the world, Master Rama kept me close at home – so to speak and even had me tutor a few new arrivals. I was proud of his trust but still, it gnawed at me that I never flew solo. Even if it had not been obvious to the untrained eye (which it was), he could see it, clear as daylight. So he decided to indulge me, as well as make use of my love for Japan and my rudimentary mastery of the tongue:

I was to go to Kyoto and locate a certain individual by the name of Long Kuei; a pseudonym of course, but using his actual name would either result in nothing or serious trouble for me, since he belonged to the Ajisai Sect of the Eastern Vampires, also known as “The Heartless”. He informed me that this guy had been in his prime during the rise of the Meiji Government and had died quite a violent death, shortly after his marriage. He had returned to the Land of the Living to avenge his killer and comfort his young widow, in the form of a Katsuishin (karada de tsuihou-sareta seishin, “an exiled soul with a body”, a person cast off from the Karmic Wheel in order to atone for their inefficiencies in life), as they are called. Those things he did, but having led a less than virtuous life in certain respects, the Karmic Wheel expected him to go the distance and attain inner peace and balance before returning whence he came.

He was a dangerous opponent, my Master told me, and coming from a man like him, it bore serious weight. But Long Kuei was also very, very honorable, following a strict code of morals that made him stand apart from a mindless or even devious Katsuishin. I was to locate him and relay him the following message: “...that the merciful blade that may be a step towards your goal, is in the hands of a friend of a grudgingly accepted friend and equal”. If he accepted the message, I was to take him to Skellig Michael. If not, I was to try and convince him, using strictly words, for I was no match for his skills, plainly said. That, I fully accepted, if a little stubbornly.

Though, among other things, I was chosen for my command of the Japanese tongue and my knowledge on the eastern culture, still I was unexposed to the subtle nuances of a Katsuishin-driven society; not to mention the exotic power brokers and resident horrors of the East. Thus, I was to make a brief stop in Singapore, where I would meet with a trusted contact of the Dragons, a Ryuumajin, by the name of Sorakirin (which, at the time, felt like a really silly name), who would help my endeavors and guide me through the new kind of wonder and darkness.

So it came to pass, that two and a half years ago, at a Singapore Buddhist temple, I met the young man who was destined to become my most trusted friend and my most persistent hunter. I don't know, maybe it was the atmosphere of Singapore, maybe the fact that he was Chinese or just the place of the meeting, but I half-expected a Houshin Mystic with his ring-topped staff and traditional garb and everything. Silent, mysterious and wise; was I ever more wrong? Sure, he turned out to be both mysterious and wise during the events that followed our acquaintance, but... Suffice to say that when a Kawasaki Ninja-riding guy appeared, with a Mohawk painted bright, light blue, wearing black biker's clothes, it never occurred to me it might be him. If not for the fact that in Singapore I was hard to miss (thick, copper-red hair worn long and a trimmed beard the same color, in westerner's clothes outside a Buddhist Temple, for example), we may have never made contact. Anyhow, he parked the bike and came to greet me, all smiles and good humor. I once prided myself on my sense of humor, so getting along was really none too difficult. I was being made uncomfortable by his persistent smile and cat-like face, but it was not until later that I understood the true nature of this uneasiness.

[To be continued…]

And check back during the weekend, for a new drawing by my friend Lockie.



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Thank you