I wake up, hurting everywhere. My ribs feel tender, and I can feel my face starting to bruise. I take a breath, and the universe explodes in a riot of sensations. I can smell the oil of cars, hear the wind rustling all across the junkyeard, spot a bird high in the sky. So many sensations!
“Hey, are you alright?” “No fucking dammit it. I am not ‘okey’, Greyscale. First you beat the crap out of me-” I stand up but the bombardment of impression increases in pitch”- and now everything is too much!” I close my eyes, grateful for the sudden darkness.
I try to cancel out the numerous impressions I get, but they’re so loud. Greyscale’s snaps his fingers next to my ears. “Me beating the crap out of you, and what you’re feeling right now are connected. Now focus on my voice.” Greyscale starts to talk, a nonense-story about a frog with a broken leg and a deep well and I listen. He’s has talked for over five minutes before I realize that I am not get the same sensory overload– no that’s not it, I am getting the same overload, but focusing on something helps taking the edge off.
“Now tell me what happened, and leave nothing out”, he demands. So I do.
Then it’s my turn, I decide. I glare at him.Hard.”Now, explain what the hell this has been about.” “You’ve opened the bridge of souls, becoming a berserker. And a berserker, as I have explained already, is someone whose soul is melt with that of a beast, pulling power from that animal soul. That is in essence is berserking. But I never told you the mechanics about it, which brings me to your little episode.”
I put a hand on my face, and I can feel how tender it is.” Which is what, more precisely?” ” A berserker has a conduit open between souls. They pull on that link, drawing power from it. Now that you’ve made the initial opening, the conduit will always be open, at…. say 5-10% of the capacity– which is why you’re feeling what you’re feeling right now. Your senses have been enhanced.”
I look up high in the sky. A crow, one with heterochromatic eyes gives me a brief look before doing whatever crows do.
“You still haven’t explained why you’d beat the living crap out of me though.” “When a berserker pulls on the conduit, they become stronger, faster, heal more rapidly, but controlling that power is no small feat.” Greyscale takes up his phone and gives it to me. A video is on: It’s me attacking him. He is telling me to stop, to control myself, but I don’t seem to hear him. I don’t recognize myself. It’s me, but at the same time not.
I pause the recording as I look directly into the camera. My single eye is dead without nobody home, like that of a mannequin’s. I watch the rest. My muscles are tense and I growl, like an animal. I launch the steering wheel at him, which he returns. Eventually Greyscale slams my head in the ground and I lose consciousness.
“You lost control. Now the good part is that you’ve managed to awaken your powers. To be perfectly honest, I thought that we’d be doing this for hours, not minutes before you got the hang of it. The bad part is that we’re going to have find out how far you can take it before you lose control.”
“And how do we do that? Please tell me you’re not going to hit me again. That’d really hurt.” I try to keep the whine out of my voice, but it’s hard. “Relax. I want you to open your conduit, and then double the feedback you’re getting. We’ll do that in turns, til you hit your limit.”
“Right– let’s seee……..”
I touch the pink necklace and try to get a feel of the power flowing into me. In my mind’s eye, I envision it as a small stream, a three-dimensional helix, seguing into itself. So two streams? Yea, that’d make a good analogy.
I picture two helixes–
— and I am filled with power..!
I open my single eye. “Easy there”, Greyscale cautions. It’s hard to think, to focus before the power I am feeling. I want to move; to dance; to kick something. Eventually, but not without a struggle I master the feeling. “Good, good. Now double it.” Two streams become four streams, and I am standing up, ready to go my ten rounds before I know it. I grab a car and stop. What the hell am I doing? Greyscale stand next to me, watching me carefully for control-issues. I nod at him, as to say I-am-fine. But I am not fine. The euphoria makes me giddy and my hands tremble. I can feel a cold, excited sweat breaking out on my back.
“Do you want to go further? We can stop now if you want to.” Against my better judgement I tell him. I anchor myself. Four streams divide, and become eight streams. Alien impulses to rend, to feed, to kill explode through my mind. I am a beast. I will bite the sky and- I bit down on my lip in a savage move, and hot blood spurts across my lips. I am a man. My name is Rune Fallowfell. I am a man. I repeat that inside my head until I have enough control to make eight helixes into a single one. The sudden lack of power is as disappointing as it is relaxing. But a part of me is already jonesing for more. Will always want more.
I hear Greyscale talking in a loud voice. “…. you hear me?!” “Yeah I hear you.” “What’s your name?”, he asks suspiciously. “Rune Fallowfell.” “How old are you?” “Fifteen.” “What’s my favorite beer?” “I don’t have a fucking clue. Geez, what with the hundred questions?”
“I just wanted to make sure you’re you, and not something else.” “Like Verde?” “Huh?”, Greyscale asks, confused. “Verde– I named the fragment of your soul.” Greyscale looks at me, with a weird look. He shakes his head, but I don’t know if it’s because I named the other soul in my body, or if it’s a response to what I just said.
“How much of the conduit is open right now?” I close my eyes. A single stream flow softly. “One helix.” “So if one stream is equal to say 5%, than you were at 40% before you lost your cookies. Not bad for a first try.”
Greyscale thinks. “We’ve covered the security-issues, and the power-issues… now it’s time for you to learn how to identify other supernaturals.” “How do I that do that?” Greyscale grins at me. “Smell me.” “I am so not going to smell you. Are you going to fart in my face? Is this some kind of practical joke?” He sighs. “This is not some kind of practical joke. And that was once. Now-” he adds with emphasis”- smell me.” So I reluctantly smell him.
Greyscale’s scent is like that earthy smell that all men have above the age of eighteen seem to have, deoderant and something else, something which smells like a form of static…. Once, when I was young, we went to Gothenburg, one of Sweden’s biggest cities. In Gothenburg there is this place called the ‘Universe’, basically a big zoo-like theme park I guess you could call it. One section of it is reserved entirely for reptiles, and other things that scurry in the dark, and that screams at light.
And that’s what the third segment of Greyscale’s scent reminds me off. That dry smell, leathery, of something scraping its belly across leaves, and that feeling, which is a scent and yet not. Of course, he is a dr- a, a wyrm, so that makes senses. “You smell like a terrarium.” Greyscale looses it. “Hahahahah.” He doesn’t speak for a while, merely breathes. “That’s a good one. I will have to tell Hermann later.” “Yea, about that. Why isn’t Hermann here?”
Greyscale squirms a bit.”Well, we need a lookout, that’s one reason. Another is that for this type of training to work– I’d have to get a bit violent, and Hermann could never do that to you.” His face softens. “You know– he really loves you like a son, which is no small feat, considering his background.”
I crane my neck, and stare at Greyscale. Cmon, you can’t say stuff like that and don’t tell me anything. “Hermann, he didn’t have a childhood. So it’s important for him that you have one”, Greyscale says, hesitantly.
“Anyway, we’re getting off track. Identifying supernaturals– if you encounter someone, or something that smells…. like I do, with that bite, then you know.”
“Is there a way to hide your… scent, your signature somehow?” “You grasp these things quickly. Yes, there are ways, but they’re complicated, and not something you can learn right now.” He stops abruptly.
“If you ever meet someone who gives of that feeling of magic, but have no magical signature, no scent, and who comes across as a garden-variety human?” “Yea?”
“Run. Run far away. A supernatural like that is either very old and up to no good, or ambitious enough to master a complicated skill at a very young age and thus should be viewed no small amount of caution- ’cause a skill like that, that’s not something you just learn to scare your neighbour.”
He clasps a hand around my neck and ruffles my hair. “Now let’s go find Hermann. I am sure he is worried about you.” “Gee– and why might that be?”
“Hey! You hit me first….”