Hiding from the Energy Web
Keela and I land on a high hill, its sides covered in blue and yellow wildflowers.
A few small houses cover the top of the hill, surrounded by a high wall.
The houses and the wall are decorated with the royal symbol, in dark blue and gold.
“This is the royal camp,” she says.
“That’s what it’s always been called.”
“Our ancestors came to this area as an army, after a war, and the surviving leaders camped here.”
“In many ways we are still an army.”
There are guards everywhere.
I scan their weapons with energy eyes.
I can’t tell exactly, but the weapons seem to generate a powerful energy stream.
There’s nothing like them among the guild masters or the city.
“Princess,” says one of the guards,”you can’t bring outsiders here, especially wizards.”
“It violates the security protocols.”
“Call my father and tell him that I’ve brought a traveler who wears the second necklace.”
“Repeat my words exactly.”
“Then see what he says.”
The guard bows and moves back twenty feet.
He touches a metal armband, and speaks into it.
The guard approaches with a stiff, military manner, and carries a glowing silver armband.
“The king welcomes your guest, princess, but asks that he wear the inhibitor.”
The princess takes the armband in her left hand, and touches my arm with her right.
“Everyone who comes before the king wears an inhibitor, even me.”
“It gives the power of flight to all who wear it, but it blocks wizardry.”
“This is how we protect our king.”
“Does he have so many enemies that even his daughter must wear the armband?”
“My father trusts me, and his guards,” she says angrily.
“This is our way. That’s all!”
The people in the marketplace distrust the Tshuan for their strange ways.
I will not follow those fools.
Still, something about this place troubles me.
Energy weavers use different images to open their sight to the energy world.
When I open my sight, it feels like I unfurl a thin, sparkling, transparent material.
The cloak grows and spreads out in all directions.
It wraps itself around everything and lets me see through different eyes.
My vision opens, and I focus on the armband.
I’ve never before seen a place that the energy web avoids, until now.
The energy web surrounds, but barely touches the inhibitor, or the body of the one that wears it.
The sight sickens me.
Everything touches the web.
Nothing can exist without it.
Energy masters strengthen their natural connection to the web.
In the name of protection or paranoia, someone gave birth to this device.
It blocks all but the weakest bond with the energy web.
Something is horribly wrong here.
“Doesn’t the inhibitor make you sick?” I ask.
“It interferes with the natural connection to the energy web.”
“No,” she answers.
“Our scientists found the minimum connection that would keep us healthy and strong, and still block a master’s strength.”
Patterns and Chaos
How do I overcome this device?
I will not go among the Tshuan with no way to defend myself.
I look at the inhibitor again with energy eyes.
Perhaps I can find a way to modify its patterns, and disable it.
First I must understand its patterns.
To do this, I need the twelve primary energy patterns, the mothers.
All energy patterns and energy bodies derive from one or more of the twelve.
The twelve mothers hover in my mind as a spinning circle, always in motion, waiting for me.
The mothers act as a lens, a translator.
I see all other patterns through them, and the mothers teach me about the patterns.
The process seems simple.
I imagine the circle of mothers, spinning around the object.
Then I wait.
Connections form between the object’s patterns, and the mothers that they come from.
The connections imprint themselves in my mind, and afterwards, it’s easy to remember an object’s patterns.
I just think of the physical form of the object for a moment, and the energy pattern glows brightly in my mind.
That’s how it always works, but not today.
The mothers show me nothing about the armband.
I look at it using the mothers, and all I see is chaos.
It changes and changes, and doesn’t connect itself to any of the mothers.
In fact, when I try to sense the armband’s patterns, the image of the mothers grows dimmer.
I sigh, and move the circle of mothers back into my mind.
Another pattern appears in my mind within the circle of the mothers.
It’s unconnected to the mothers, and changing every moment.
A young Tshuan market woman gave me an object, after I healed her child.
She said that the Tshuan call it the the grandmother.
I studied the grandmother pattern for a few minutes, before it burst into flame and turned to dust, but it seemed pointless.
All I saw was chaos.
I felt a strange sensation, a distinctive rhythm that pulsed through my body, but it disappeared when the object turned to dust.
Balshown was fascinated by my story of the grandmother, but it burned up before I could bring it to him.
I try now to feel the grandmother’s strange rhythm pulsing and brightening my energy body.
I find the rhythm, and see the chaos of the grandmother pattern, changing along with the rhythm.
I imagine the circle of mothers, surrounding the armband, with the grandmother pattern resting on the armband.
The chaotic pattern of the armband stabilizes as the grandmother’s rhythm flows through me.
The rhythm helps me see through the chaos to the pattern that is hiding behind the chaos.
That pattern binds itself to all twelve mothers, and the cluster of connections imprints itself into my mind.
The Black Necklace
I will not be cut off from the energy web.
Without thought, I reach for the armband in my mind, and alter its energy pattern in a subtle way.
It’s physical appearance is unchanged, so Keela and the guards can’t see what I’ve done.
Now, the energy web embraces the armband.
I take the open armband from Keela’s hand, close it around my arm, and the seam of the opening disappears.
“How do I take this off?” I ask Keela.
“You don’t,” says the guard.
“We’ll remove it after your audience with the king.”
Keela looks nervous as we walk into the king’s house.
She’s hiding something.
“How do I address your father, Keela?”
“There are many ways to refer to him, Master Yagrin.”
“Those of high rank call him Commander.”
“Try it, and see his reaction, but don’t touch him when you greet him.”
The king’s house is simple, more like a military headquarters, than a home.
He sits behind a blue stone desk in the shape of a half circle.
He’s a little older than me, and average height for the Tshuan, 5’6″, with the typical piercing green eyes of his people,
He has silver hair, not the weak, grey hair of old age, but strong and thick.
He rises to greet me, and waves the guards away.
“A pleasure, Master Yagrin,” he says, and touches his palm to my forehead in the way of his people.
“An honor, Commander.”
“You do well in choosing my daughter as advisor.”
“Now come with me, so we may compare your necklace to mine.”
The king touches a small metal panel on the wall and a doorway opens.
The three of us enter what looks like a large empty closet, and the door closes.
Silence covers us for a few seconds.
As we hover in a thick column of colored sparks, hundreds of feet high.
Then the king touches his armband.
The color fades, and we move deep underground.
We walk down a long, cool hallway into a small room.
Then, we approach a glowing circle on the floor in the center of the room.
A box of clear crystal floats five feet above the circle, and holds the king’s black necklace.
I walk closer to get a clear look.
The necklace and its stone are identical to mine, except for the royal symbol on the stone.
“The case will only open for members of the royal family,” says the king.
“It’s coded to unique energy patterns, found only in the bodies of the royal family.”
“What happens if someone else touches the case?”
“Only an alarm,” says the king.
“Try it and see.”
I walk toward the case.
It opens before I reach it.
“Father!” Keela exclaims.
“It opens for him, without even a touch.”
The king is shocked.
“Only the early generations of the royal family could open it like this.”
I don’t touch the necklace, afraid of violating some rule.
The black stone on the necklace is glowing, along with the stone that I wear.
“Touch the stones together, Yagrin, and let us see what happens.
I take off my necklace, hold it in my hand, and touch it to the other necklace.
Caves and Sleepers
The dim room is filled with a bright image.
An immense cave, over a thousand feet long.
Filled with hundreds of boxes that look like metallic coffins.
It’s only an image, but I open my sight to it.
The boxes are not coffins, but stasis chambers filled with living people, frozen in time.
“The sleepers live!” says the king, “waiting to be awoken.”
“Now, we must find out where they are.”
“Who are the sleepers, Commander?” I ask.
The king points a weapon at me.
“Master Yagrin, I’m sorry we meet like this.”
“There’s so much that I’d like to know about you, and the power you have over our most precious artifacts.”
“Perhaps you even travel from the same world that our necklace came from!”
“Still, this is too important to take any risks.”
“The sleepers are ancient masters of our people.”
“They are destined to wake when it’s time for Tshuan to rule the world again.
“Your necklace comes to us now, so it must be time for the masters to awake.”
“I need your necklace to locate, and awaken the sleepers, and, I need your silence.”
“You’ll remember nothing of this meeting or the last few weeks.”
The last few weeks are my whole life in this world!
I will not forget them.
I reach out with my mind for the weapon.
Its energy patterns are extraordinarily complex, and seem to change in the same chaotic way that I’ve seen before.
Still, with the help of mothers and the grandmother, I’m able to see the weapon’s true patterns, and twist them all into the pattern for water.
The weapon disappears, and the water rushes to the ground.
I raise a protective shield around me, like the one that I used to protect Tzina from the lightning.
I put my necklace back on, and the image of the sleepers fades.
“The inhibitors and the ancient weapons are protected against a master’s power,” says the king.
“Still, you sabotaged the inhibitor!”
I flow the inhibitor into water as an answer, and it rains to the floor.
“What will you do to us?” asks Keela.
“Nothing, today.” I answer, “but the guilds will be warned.”
“It saddens me that innocent Tshuan travelers will be treated worse than ever.”
“Master Yagrin,” says the king, smiling, “there is no way for you to escape this complex without me.”
“You have a choice, Commander,” I answer.
“Either I turn the entire mountain above us to air, and fly out of here, or you give me your word that you will let me go.”
The king thinks for a moment.
“I agree,” he says.
He takes me to the surface and releases me as promised.
The guards stare as I walk past, shocked to see that I no longer wear the inhibitor.
I calm my mind, and listen for the sound of the energy web.
Then I leap into the sky and out of sight.
When I am too far away to hear, they speak.
“He hates us now, father.”
“He doesn’t like us or trust us, but he’s not someone who hates easily.”
“Why did we test him like that?”
“We don’t have any idea how to use his necklace to find the sleepers.”
“I had to know, Keela.”
“He is the master that the legends promise.”
Our weapons are like water when he comes.
He carries and masters the blackness.
He touches the sleepers and they awake.
“What now, father?”
“What we have always done, Keela.”