The Man With The Eyes Of A Bug
I trudge through the forest, having finished my lessons in Ochre and I enjoy the quiet of the forest. A forest without Nevena. My day was… hectic, you might say. Isocrates has never mentioned how much energy it takes to put up an act for longer than, say, thirty minutes.
/Rune… you will get over her. Greyscale have loved and lost, hated and despaired and while he never forgot his first love, time will heal you./ I pass a tree that was probably old when my father was born. What if I don’t want to heal? What if I want to take this…. ache and nurture it?
A squirrel leap overhead. I toy with the impulse of breathing fire down its neck, before judging it a waste of magic./It wouldn’t be good for you. You have it in you to live forever, barring decapitation or a similar trauma. Consider; what would happen with person full of grudges, given eternity?
The crunch of snow that my feet make fills the air as I think. Bitter, they’d turn bitter./ It is a tragedy of sorts. Some ancient supernaturals have seen the world change from bronze weapons and spirits living in the milk to towers of steel and antibiotics but they cannot see this. All they have is a long list of grievances and things they hate./
I sigh, both out loud, and mentally. Alright, you’ve made your point. Girls suck./ How eloquently put./ Now you’re just ribbing me./What do you think it is that Mizu wants to tell you?/ I shrug. Beats me.
A sudden thought occurs to me. Maybe she knows about Hermann and has some advice?/ Perhaps. But be on your guard. An average kappa is dangerous. One with nearby water and a Place of Power is worse still. And she has held onto that spot for more than half a century./ I am not sure I follow you there.
/A Place of Power is… real estators claim that location is the most important thing when it comes to chosing one’s home, and a Place of Power is a location filled with magic. Consider it a battery of sorts. It can, used properly, augment one’s magic. Such places are in demand, and the fact that Mizu has managed to retain one for so long speaks volumes of how ruthless and practised she must be./
And just like that I enter Fenner Bog, where Mizu herself stand, one ahuizotl on her left, and one of the brook horses on her right. The white horse glares at me and reveal large serrated teeth.I pull on magic and grow claws, badger-edition. The thing about brook horses, according to Greyscale, is that they aren’t true predators. They’re bullies. They’ll pick on anything they view weaker than themselves, but nothing with actual strength.
I open my mouth and a blast of fire erupts in the direction of the horse. It takes a startled step back, before catching itself. It resumes its staring contest, but we both know who is the big fish here. And speaking about fish….
Mizu bows and I bow, ensuring that my bow is slightly lower than hers. I notice that her crown of lilies is blooming despite the time of the year. Green eyes that seem darker somehow stares into my own. Or my single one. The most fascinating though, is her skin. Blue and marbled.
“What”, I begin, aiming to win this contest of politness,” can I do for you?”
She laughs, a cold laugh that lacks warmth. “You could not die”, she says, as if talking about the weather. “And”, I begin carefully,” how will I avoid death?” “By not antagonizing Tam Linn”, she responds.
I manage to not roll my eyes, but its a near thing.”I have been told about Tam Linn, and rest assured, there will be no antagonizing.”
She shakes her head. “You have been told, but you still lack the proper understanding.” Her expression changes. It’s hard to judge her face, her features being so alien, but horror is pretty universal. And there is definitely a great deal of horror in her face. “Tam Linn is immortal. Not like your Greyscale, who could survive having his head cut off and his heart removed a dozen times over. Not like Richard Corazon, who survived having arm cut off. Not like Meredith-Ptah, your nurse, who spent centuries in sarcophagus. Tam Linn cannot die. This is why the members of the Council made him one of the Seven. They hoped that something, someone, would kill him.”
She breathes in, then out. “Everyone knows this. Everyone knows that he is mad. And older supernaturals are no strangers to madness. Yet his madness is unique, because there truly is only one who is deathless.”
She points at one of the frozen pools that dot the area. “See for yourself”, she commands. I walk up to pool, mindful of some trick. Magic rises on the wind, magic that smells like a vivarium. The surface of the pool mists over, revealing a scene of a bar.
The people in the scene move without sound, like something in a old, uncolored movie. Without voices to listen to, I focus on their faces. Some are Asian, some Caucasian. But they all look…haggard. They move slowly. Their eyes dart to the entrance of the bar everytime someone enters. Their clothes are old-fashioned: suspenders and oxford shoes and suits of older cuts.
The door bangs open and a non-descript man enters. Really, that is the only way I know how to describe him. Brown hair, fair skin, brown eyes. He could be anyone, if it weren’t for the large red hantprint on his face. His arrival hasn’t gone unnoticed. Each of every person in the bar, from the waiter to bartender, to a small dog, stares at him. He says something to the room, something for everyone to hear.
I don’t know what he said, but most people in the bar look down. His eyes twitch… and start to shine like diamonds, with shards of multicolored light thrown about. An aura springs into being around him, and the entire pool turns white. I blink. When I open my eyes, it is to a bar where half a dozen people have been turned into charcoal.
The man strides on. The bartender vaults over the counter and draws a short-sword. The man makes a cutting motion, and a thin line of light cuts the sword into two. The bartender rips his shirt off, and a large horn starts to form on his forehead. A second beam, heavier and broader sends the bartender flying through the wall.
A woman raises her left hand. It melds into a lance of flesh and she shoves it through the attacker’s chest. The man looks down on. With a searing flash of light two things occur simultaneously; the woman is rendered into dust, and the wound… simply goes away. Not regenerating. One moment there is a hole that isn’t bleeding, and the other moment there is no hole.
The man seems to stare into the direction of the camera, so to speak, and two shining eyes, which makes me think of bugs come into focus. The last thing seen is light and then the pool mists over.
/Tam Linn. That was Tam Linn./ I swallow. I turn to Mizu– who is gone. Both the horse and the ahuizotl are gone too. I was watching the pool with so much interest that I didn’t even notice them leaving.
And so I am left there, with nothing but questions and a ominous sense of dread.