Vibrations: Harmonic Magic Book 1, page 7
“It would be my pleasure.” And with that, Dr. Walt started his story.
The man had been born Rindu Wroun in a small village along the coast far to the north. Because of its location, people living in the village worked primarily in farming and fishing. Rindu’s family was a farming family and as such, he started working hard from a very young age.
What set Rindu apart from other boys was his uncanny knack at knowing things he shouldn’t have been able to know. He could somehow tell when it would rain, what plot of ground to use for a particular crop, where to find water in times of drought, and even where to look for fish, though he rarely got to go out on the boats with his friends to fish because of the work he needed to do on the farm.
His family and, in fact, the whole village did not have a problem with his keen insights. It helped to put food in their mouths, so why should they care? They were not superstitious and he was a valued member of the small community, even as young as he was.
One day, a pair of Zouyim were passing through the village, on the way to their temple from somewhere in the north. When they saw Rindu, they immediately sensed that he was naturally talented in vibratory energy. That was how he recognized things intuitively. He was uniquely attuned to the energy fields that surrounded all.
When all was said and done, the monks paid Rindu’s parents a large sum of money in compensation for taking their son to the temple for training. His parents, while heartbroken by the loss of their son and his useful skills, understood that it was a great honor for him to be accepted to the temple. Saying his goodbyes, he accompanied the monks as they returned to the temple.
The grand temple of the Zouyim was at Kokitura, a large mountain in what on Telani is the Mount Shasta region. Rindu, being a serious and diligent child, applied himself and learned quickly. He became an important Zouy in the temple and enjoyed his studies and his work.
When he was 18 years old, a group of Sapsyra warrior women stopped at the temple to resupply and rest on a journey they were taking. The two groups were different in their methods and responsibilities, but both were dedicated to the protection of and service to all people, especially protection from the Arzbedim, the rogue vibratory mages who were evil and bent on world domination. Thus, they shared and helped each other whenever there was an opportunity. Rindu knew this, though he had never actually seen a Sapsyr before then.
There were male and female Zouy monks, but the Sapsyra were all women. Being exotic and unfamiliar, Rindu was curious about the visitors and snuck looks at them when he could. During the four days the Sapsyra rested at the temple, Rindu met Ylleria Zose. With her light brown hair and her blue eyes, her confident swagger, and her beautiful face, Rindu instantly fell in love with her. She originally feigned disinterest, but in reality, she was immediately attracted to him as well. Over the next two years, the two met often, even going on missions together, when their superiors would allow it.
They married when Rindu was just about to turn 21 years old. On Gythe, women generally took their husband’s name, as on Telani, but it was different with the Sapsyra. The husband always took his Sapsyr wife’s last name because of the warrior wife’s elevated position in society. Thus it was that he was no longer Rindu Wroun, but Rindu Zose. As was customary, however, his daughter inherited his original last name. So, when their daughter was born, she was named Nalia Wroun.
Because Ylleria was gaining prominence in her order and could not be away for long periods of time, the family lived at the Sapsyr compound at Marybador. Rindu would stay for a month or two and then travel back to the Zouyim temple at Kokitura. During a time when he was with his family at Marybador, the Gray Man attacked the Zouyim temple.
The Gray Man, who was reported to have come from another world, had risen in power and prominence among the Arzbedim. He seemed on a mission to crush all resistance to his plans for world domination and so his attack on the temple was not unexpected. What was unexpected was the effect.
When Rindu arrived at the temple, with his wife and his daughter, he found it destroyed. Only five monks escaped the destruction, monks who were away from the temple, as he was, when it happened. The remaining monks found each other and they agreed to meet every four months. They split up and went separate ways so that they could not all be attacked together, ending their order for all time. Thus it was that he was one of the few vibratory energy masters left alive in the world.
As the Gray Man gained power, it was clear to Gythe’s remaining protectors that something must be done. Destroying the Zouyim and their temple was the final insult. Within six months, the Sapsyra gathered 100 of their best warriors to finish the Gray Man and his forces once and for all. Because of her prowess, Nalia was included in the 100, with her mother commanding the entire force. Rindu was meeting with the remaining Zouy at the time, so he was not able to go with them. He didn’t find out about the attack until after it happened.
The small army traveled to the Gray Fortress, which was far north of Marybador and the Sapsyr compound. Destroying all the human troops of the Gray Man, as well as some creatures that were not human, the Sapsyra arrived at the walls of the fortress with 97 of the warriors still alive. It looked as if nothing could stop them.
The number of Sapsyra quickly dwindled. Between traps, magical and mundane, and special reserve troops, getting to the interior of the fortress was a hard-won effort. When they finally faced the Gray Man and a small group of powerful assassins and warriors, there were only 32 Sapsyra left. In less than an hour, only Nalia and her mother were still standing, and both were wounded.
The Gray Man, himself taking part in the battle and by far doing more damage than any of his forces, walked calmly to Ylleria Zose, who was injured and bound hand and foot with thick rope. Looking at Nalia first, who was twenty feet away, he focused on Ylleria’s eyes. With a smirk, he waved his hand. Ylleria literally disappeared.
Nalia gasped. With her ability to use vibrational energy, she saw the force traveling from the Gray Man’s hand into her mother. Then, Nalia watched in horror as her mother simply shook apart. The particles of her body vibrated rapidly and then exploded outward at an impossible rate. And just like that, her mother was dead and gone. Literally gone, with a flash of light and a soft thumping sound. There was not so much as a trace of the material that had made up her body.
She readied her one remaining weapon and prepared to die, but the Gray Man waved his hand again and she felt as if she was locked in chains. She struggled, but could not move.
After explaining to her that he wanted her to take his message to the order’s compound, he let her go. Limping out of the fortress, Nalia swore she would get her revenge against the Gray Man.
The message to the Sapsyra was this: “Disperse the order, cause me no further problems, and I will allow you to live. Rise up again and I will destroy every last one of you. You have been warned.”
From that time, seven years ago, until now, Rindu and Nalia worked not only to evade the Gray Man’s minions who were multiplying across the land, but to start a resistance movement. Though fairly successful at the former, they were spectacularly unsuccessful at the latter. People were scared and would not rise up. The few Sapsyra and fewer Zouyim that remained had gone to ground, committing themselves likewise to gathering a resistance.
When they met Dr. Walt several years ago, they realized that he may be helpful in finding a way to destroy the Gray Man through technology or ancient magic. He agreed to help and redoubled his efforts at researching old civilizations for anything that could be useful.
“And that, in a nutshell, is where we are at right now,” the doctor finished. “I think we can help each other, Sam. When we get back to my compound, I will do some research in the materials I have collected and stored there. Perhaps there is something that has slipped my mind, something that will be useful.”
“Thank you,” Sam responded. He looked to the ground, picked up a leaf, peeled it, absently dropped the shredded leaf pieces as he tore the
“Yes, my boy. You have a question?”
“Yeah. Do all the Sapsyra wear masks like the one Nalia has? It looks horribly uncomfortable. Is it magical or is there some religious or spiritual reason for it?”
The doctor laughed. “Again, I am guilty of my familiarity with the situation. I can see how that would be confusing. No, other Sapsyra do not wear masks. The simple reason is that, according to Rindu, and to Nalia herself, she is hideously ugly. Because the Sapsyra code of ethics, much like chivalry or bushido on our world, is based on honor and service, they tell me it is shameful to subject others to her ugliness. To force others to avert their eyes is too much for her honor to bear. I have argued that it is a silly position to take, but they cannot be dissuaded. I myself have never seen her face in all the years we have been together. I don’t think she ever takes the mask off. Ever.”
Sam grimaced. “That sounds degrading to me. I have known some pretty ugly people, but as I got to know them, they became more normal looking, or even attractive, to me as their personality shined through. It is unfortunate that this world is so harsh in so many ways.”
“Oh, you haven’t experienced the half of it,” the doctor responded, sadness evident in his voice.
Sam slept that night in a few blankets his hosts had let him use. The temperature was moderate and the ground under the tarp dry, so he slept soundly. Skitter remained with him, sending something about staying to see what would happen. Sam was glad for the hapaki’s presence.
He was awakened by the smell of food. Rubbing his bleary eyes, he saw Rindu standing over a crackling fire, spoon in hand. A large metal pot, the source of the aroma, hung on a crude tripod over the fire. Sam breathed the scent in deeply, deciding he was hungry. His rumbling belly agreed. The more he thought about it, the more he realized he was not just hungry; he was famished.
He tried to converse with the stoic man.
“Good morning. I am Sam.” He pointed toward his own chest. “Sam.”
The man looked at him, his face expressionless.
He tried again. “You are Rindu?” He pointed to the man. “Rindu?”
“Rindu,” the man confirmed.
Pointing to the hapaki, Sam said: “This is Skitter. Skitter.”
“Skeetah,” the man said. For a moment, the man’s mouth twisted as if tasting something foul. “Skeetah, Samg,” he forced the unfamiliar words out, pointing toward each in turn.
Sam smiled. “Yes, yes. Great! Maybe you can teach me some of your language. How do you say this? Fire? Pot?”
The man looked unimpressed, but he said the words and Sam repeated them. By the time Dr. Walt came out of his tent and Nalia came in from a nearby stand of trees, Sam had learned a dozen words. He would have to make an effort to learn to communicate with these people so he wouldn’t need Dr. Walt to translate all the time.
With everyone accounted for, the small party sat down and ate the thick liquid Rindu was cooking. It had a sweet, spicy taste and the consistency of over-cooked stew, mushy with chunks in it. Sam was not able to identify what exactly the chunks were. For Skitter, Dr. Walt produced some strange vegetables—or were they fruit?—that Skitter hungrily devoured. The hapaki seemed to be feeling more comfortable with Dr. Walt. He still gave the other two a wide berth, though, Sam noticed.
After breakfast, they broke camp, packed all their belongings into backpacks, and started off toward the West. There was an animal trail of some kind through the vegetation, so they made good time, considering how dense the surrounding foliage was.
As they walked, Sam tried to learn more of the language for this world. Kasmali, Dr. Walt had called it. Rindu was patient and would tell him what things were called, but when Sam asked Nalia, she just stared at him with that blank mask until he looked away. Dr. Walt, of course, would answer any of his questions, but seemed preoccupied with asking Sam about home. And about Skitter, who had decided to accompany Sam “just to make sure the pup did not endanger itself.”
After two uneventful days, they arrived at Dr. Walt’s compound. As they crested a hillock, Sam got his first look at the place his companions called home. The land sloped gently down on all sides into a dell which, although wooded, was not a true forest. Through the haphazardly spaced trees, Sam caught the glint of metal and the dull, squat shapes of structures made from other materials as well.
“Home sweet home,” Dr. Walt said cheerily. “Come, let’s get settled in and we can figure out what to do next.”
As they got closer, Sam scanned the area, eyes wide. The compound looked to be the illegitimate child of crude civilization and modern technology. One large building sat squat and wide in the middle of a clearing that was partially surrounded by trees. It glinted softly in the afternoon sun. It looked to be made of metal panels of some kind, though how that would be possible in this primitive world Sam could not understand.
At odd intervals around the large building were smaller buildings, some made from logs in the manner of log homes Sam was accustomed to seeing on his world and others with stranger construction. At least one building seemed to be built with planks and had a roof made of sod. Further out, he saw what looked like a rigid wooden teepee. Bordering the edge of the compound, he saw another structure that looked like a solid stone square, though as he got closer he saw that it was made of smaller stones painstakingly fitted together to create the building’s walls.
Sam noticed other things as well. Some type of contraption was pumping water from a nearby river and circulating it toward the center of the compound where several people were dipping buckets and carrying them to other areas. It looked suspiciously like a self-powered Archimedes screw type of device.
The hodgepodge of technology he was familiar with mingled with crude implements or structures surprised Sam for just a moment. Then he nodded to himself. Of course. Dr. Walt would implement technology he knew from Telani, but knowing how something worked in general principle and creating it from scratch without modern tools were two different things. He would have to look at all these things more closely later. Maybe he could help. He was handy with tools and had always been fascinated by primitive tradecraft.
Dr. Walt was calling to a man who was coming out of one of the smaller buildings, speaking rapidly in Kasmali. Turning to Sam, he spoke in English. “I asked him to prepare that cabin over there,” he said pointing to a small sturdy looking cabin made of logs to the rear and approximately 50 yards from the large metal building. “I’m assuming Skitter will let you know what he requires so we can accommodate him as well. Excuse me, but I must take care of some things. Make yourself at home. We will speak at dinner time.”
With that, he hurried off, calling to another man, who joined him as he was walking. The two chatted with each other in their strange, foreign tongue until Sam could no longer see or hear them.
Checking with Skitter—the hapaki sent that would stay with him for now—Sam followed the man to the cabin Dr. Walt had pointed out. It was small, but well built. It had a cot inside made from lumber with wood slats as a mattress support. The mattress, a surprise to Sam, was the same rough cloth he had seen elsewhere in the compound, and stuffed with some sort of dried grass. Lying down on it, he felt a few of the grass blades poke through at him, but it was relatively comfortable. Tired from two days of hiking at a fast pace, he dozed.
He woke to a sending from Skitter: They come. Hungry. When…eat?
Sam had no time to answer before one of the men, the one who showed him to his cabin, he thought, arrived and pointed toward the large metal building. He made motions like he was eating something, and started walking, pausing to make sure Sam was following him. Sam did so, Skitter trailing.
Inside the metal building, several rooms were partitioned out. Through the doorway of one, he could see a room containing what appeared to be ancient books, scrolls, and stone fragments.
“Ah, my boy,” Dr. Walt said, standing to receive Sam and shake his hand. “Got a bit of a nap, I hear. Good, good. We have a lot to talk about, so it is good that you are rested. First, though, dig in.”
Dr. Walt turned to Skitter. “And as for you, my hapaki friend, I have had the men search up something I think you will like.” He held out a plate with several long, greenish brown objects on it. “It is called onekai and I have found records that the hapaki enjoy eating them. It is a fibrous vegetable that grows abundantly in some places, if you know where to look.”
Skitter could hardly contain himself. Sam felt the feelings of anxiety melt away and feelings of excitement, hunger, and pleasure replace them. Nearly tripping in his haste to get to the food, he stopped short of the doctor and gingerly reached up with his thin, dexterous paws, taking the plate from the man’s hand.
Waddling back toward Sam with his treasure, Skitter sat on his haunches and looked up at him. This…best…food, he sent to Sam. Like Dr. Walt. He...friend. Then, he sat and waited patiently for everyone else to start eating, glancing from his food to the others with hunger in those big, green eyes. Sam chuckled to himself. His furry friend was nothing if not polite.
Oh, thought Sam, if only all things were that easy. “He says thank you,” he told the doctor. “He says you are his friend.”
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