Bonds Of Brotherhood
I lace my shoes. Open the door. “Hermann I am going for a run”, I scream. With that I am away. I love running. I love the repetition of it. The movement, repeated a thousand, no a million times over. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I had a indestructible body. I would run–
–and never stop.
I follow the road from my villa, and out into the forest. I wait at an pine for my digital clock to align my position. My top best used to be twenty kilometers, roughly a half-marathon. But that was three months and a dozen pizzas ago. The clock chirps a electronical beat.
I breathe slowly. In through my nose, out through my mouth. And I start to run. This is in part an effort to start exercise again, and in part experimentation. Until yesterday, I could smell people, hell I could identify them on scent. But then I couldn’t.
The barrowman’s scent disappeared. It wasn’t like the scent of the dwarf, which I couldn’t smell. I did actually smell the barrowman, and then he disappared. Being able to put Greyscale through a wall is all good, but I need something more subtle. I look down on the clock. 20:36/4.12.
Hmm that is faster than I should be going. I try to get a sense for my rythm. But I am not going any faster than I usually do. Is it because I have become a berserker then?
The perpetual pull on Verde’s power must be doing things to my body that I myself isn’t aware of. The thought is a thrilling as it is scary.
Which brings me to a problem, one which I think I have solved. I put a hand on my necklace. Verde? /What is your worry, little mortal?/ You know how of we can only communicate when I am touching the gleipnir? /The thought has crossed my mind./ Well, I think I have a solution to that.
I grab the necklace, envision the form I want it to have and I slap it against my uncovered hand. Rather than hitting my hand, it flows onto it, a two-dimensional facsimile. Or like most people refer to them: a tattoo.
I miss a step as the new connection reconnects. /What… what have you done Rune?/ Verde’s voice sounds like I feel: groggy. It’s like a car. Normally the connection between me and Verde is that I drive, and he seats in the backseat. But now? Now he sits next to me.
With our new connection Verde pick the particulars out of my brain. /Rune, he moans./ I can’t tell if it’s a happy moan, or a sad one. You see, I started thinking about this whole gleipnir thing. And when my kind of mental makes me think of something, I really consider it.
So I touch the gleipnir, which allows me communicate with Verde. Physical touch. But I can’t always be touching it, as my incident with the shower proved. It’s clumsy, and not very sophisticated. Another idea that struck me was that with the gleipnir always touching my skin– well, there’s no way for me to not have contact with him all the time.
I started experimenting with the shape of it. I had settled for a glove when I saw an add for tattoos. An answer so obvious I hadn’t considered it. /You do realize Rune, that everything you see, everything you experience, I will be part of?/ I said that we were going to be partners. I wasn’t lying then, I am not lying now.
I can feel Verde back in my head, seeing the same things as I do: the trees, the wooden path, the sights and the sounds, but with a different logic.
Through the bond I feel a tangle of emotion, clumped together, crystallizing in a single emotion: gratitude. It makes me uncomfortable.
Hey Verde? /Yes?/ What do you say, we see how far I can push myself in… I glance down on my clock… three hours?
I can feel him nodding.
Three hours later I finally stop. Not because I can’t go further, but because my shoes can’t. I look at the clock. One-hundred and eighty-six minutes. Three hours, give or take some. Thirty kilometers. I shake my head. I have broken my old record by an hour and eleven kilometers, which is insane. Ask any runner, and they will tell you that running ten kilometers without training is possible. Ask them if it’s possible to run ten additional kilometers when your record is twenty, and you haven’t run in months?
I lean against a stone and pull out two bottles. One contains water, the other is my very own homemade energy-drink, not the shitty crap you buy at stores. At further thought– it’s not I that is insane. It’s magic. What could we do for the sick? The feeble? I have all these ideas for AIDS, cancer.
As my heartrate slows down I look at a nearby tree. Hmm. Verde? /Yes?/ Do you remember the junkyard? He sends me an impression of mindless rage. Not that. What I did.
He sends me a panorama of pictures: hollow eyes, skin turned scales, claws…. That!
Claws. That’d be something. How would I go about creating those, Verde? /It’s fairly simple. You need a firm vision of what you want to change.Magic. And you must not hesitate./
Got it. I imagine long claws, curved, like something a badger would have. The single helix becomes three. I know my success like only someone that has Aspergers can. It works–
— and I scream. The claws are too long! They’re cutting through my fingers. Verde?! / In order to retract them you need to do the same, except in reverse./ Between the pain and the panic of being forced to live with badger-hands I reverse it.
Did you know this could happen? I see Verde open a closed eye in the Sunny Isles. /Yes./ And you didn’t I should know about it?! Verde rolls around, casually destroying a isle. / You treat magic like it’s a toy, Rune. It is not. What have would have happened, pray chance, if you’d done the same thing to your throat? Tried to give yourself gills?/
I blink, horrified at the thought. I’d died. Suffocated. I get it, magic is dangerous. But next time, warn me, maybe? /Maybe./ This time I imagine slightly longer nails. My nails look like that of a woman’s, rather than the claws Greyscale had.
Third time’s the charm then. Six, no seven centimeters. Seven centimeters– I repeat it in my head. This time I succeed. Now how to measure their sharpness?
I place my claws against the bark of the tree. I apply pressure–
–and they sink in. Huh. They’re sharper than I thought. And didn’t Greyscale cut a car in two with these babies? I pull to the left, and the entire tree comes crashing down. Sharper than wood then. I kneel beside the stone I previously leaned on. I scratch it with my claws.
I raise a clawed hand over the stone and I make a cut down, slicing the stone in two. Sharper than stone even. In other words, while the barrowman might have poison, I have claws. Verde sends me a picture of the barrowman biting himself, and then flinging the blood.
He’s right. I need some kind of projectile weapon. I tap my claws against the bi-sected stone. I look down on those claws. I grab one, and with more force than perhaps neccessary, I remove it. I focus on regrowing a new one, as I hold the old one is my hand. I pitch my old claw against a nearby tree.
It misses and I accidentally kill some kind of bush. But this holds promise. I shake my head and begin my run back to the villa.
I am standing in the kitchen, with a scissor in front of my stomach.Now I know for a fact that magic does something to my mass. That’s why I can grow badger-claws. Why I can heal like I do. Why I partially shifted. But to what degree?
I maximize the power pulled from Verde, four helixes, four strains. And I try to impale myself with a scissor. Just before the scissor comes down I tense my stomach. The scissor hits my abs and splinters. Hmmm. I take out a second scissors, and then I release the power.
/Rune, what are you doing?/ I raise the scissor. /Rune Fallowfell, you stop this folly this very instant!/ And I slam it down, a second time. The pointed edge of the scissor penetrates my stomach and I scream. /Rune?!/ I pull out the scissor. Was just confirming a theory. Verde reads my thoughts and sigh.
When I pull power from Verde, my mass shift. I become stronger, more streamlined, heal faster. Denser. I wonder what happen if I did the same to my arm. Would I strike bone? And what would happen if someone were to shot me? I make a note of finding a gun somewhere.
Realizing that I smell like a locker room, I walk down to the lower plane and shower.
I step out of the shower and Verde suddenly screams that I should dodge left. I narrowly avoid Greyscale’s fist. I drop the towel around my waist and bring my knee up. He parries it with a knee of his own. This close, I put my hands on his face and drag him down as I bring my second knee up, intending to smash his face. He stops my second knee with a fist, but I feel something breaking.
I turn at a heel and I kick him with everything I got. He flies through the second living room. I elongate a claw, pull it free and send it flying at his center of mass. I aim for his stomach, but hits his shoulder. He gasps.
“You know, every time we do this, you come up with something new.” “Does this acknowledgement mean that I have finally graduated then?” “Oh hell no.” Greyscale explodes through the second living room. Before I have even time to put up my hands he grabs my left arm while he punches me in my right side. With such force that I know if I had been a normal human, I would have died. I fall into a pile on the floor, boneless. My right ribs are broken. All of them, I think. My spine is also messed up. I am blackening out on the edges of my vision, and Verde is growling in my head.
“It just means that in a order of magnitude, I can finally stop holding back on you.” He leaves me there,whimpering on the floor.