Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Winding Road: The Despair of Pi

by Frank Gori

Lazeron Pi heard the voice of his teacher Morte Bisset, “We share the ability to do magic with many others. Applying that magic with knowledge is a wizard’s greatest weapon, and makes us stronger then sorcerers.” Master Bisset was a harsh tutor and his tastes and desires still brought bile to Lazeron's throat, but Morte was right about knowledge.

The guard with a deadman’s lever was standing in the key to a wizard’s spell trap. The design was thought to be a secret only known to a handful of wizards and its purpose was solely to contain living spells. 
 
Wizard magic was mind over matter in the extreme. Manipulating the ambient energies of creation and bending them to one’s will meant imposing order on inherently chaotic energy. The mind needed to be a little broken to achieve such a feat, though some wizards called this enlightenment. Lazeron was more honest about the situation, it was the price wizards paid for power.

 Sorcerers achieved the same effect by calling on magical energy inherent in their blood. This subjected them to magic’s chaotic rules and at anytime the bliss or despair could come. The breaking protected wizards to a limited extent.

Lazeron was both a wizard and sorcerer, though the magic in his blood alone would have made him a middling mage at best. With time Lazeron would be a very potent wizard, assuming he survived the next five minutes or so. Gifted wizards learned to combine the discipline of wizard magic with the raw fueled power of sorcery into something greater.

Lazeron stole a glance at Dab. The numbers were a little quieter in the presence of his childhood friend. Before Laz bloomed into his power he shared a summer with Dab. They faced bullies, told one another trivial secrets of childhood, and on occasion shared a quiet moment in a simple brotherly embrace. The memory of that helped Laz get through some of the less innocent affections that soiled Laz’s childhood a few years later.

The irrational power of the numbers was Pi’s secret knowledge and the foundation of his wizardly might. Pi was also a sorcerer and could call on his emotions and blood to fuel his power. Combining the two was powerful but dangerous. Laz had little choice, he watched the living spell infuse itself into the guard and it was a form of the dragon spell. It would enact a transformation that would result in a creature not quite as powerful as a normal dragon, but powerful enough.

Calling on his fear and worry for his friends was easy, channeling that into the cold reason of the perfect equation 22/7 was harder. He began by associating each digit with a face, three for Mal as Malleck struggled with three identity roles around his patron son, subject, and suitor. One was for Dab as Dab was the only friend from Laz’s childhood who had survived his mentor’s envy. Four he associated with Zool because four was a number about balance and a feminine male who was both a consummate professional and comrade at the same time took extraordinary balance. One, again for Dab, five for Bellany as she was as much a star as Lazeron ever encountered, nine for the surviving female prisoners they liberated, and two for himself a caster arcane of both wizardry and sorcery.
The wall or iron and stone were up. A wall of force was his next objective, his mind associated six with his mentor as that was the number of times… Laz lost focus a moment and felt the gut wrench of despair. He was tired. Desperate really, this prison was clearly designed by a Mage and he was outclassed. The guards were a sham, they were there to force him to use his magic, his master always said his desire to show compassion to outsiders would be his death and only now was he being proven right. They needed the wall though so six dam it. Six was for Morte Bisset as six was the number of time he… the world slipped away.

Six… six was something.

Lazeron felt strong arms embracing him, lifting him up. Then they went away, six.
A maze was before him there were six paths. All seemed wrong, he knelt for some time there and wept. Then he felt the eyes of something malevolent and angry on his back, it was a lion and a serpent at the same time, and Laz had to run down a path or be consumed. Instinctually he took the fifth path a path that made him want to dance. The path was beautiful and vibrant and he smiled a moment despite the danger. He had to find Dab, Dab would be in the labyrinth and Dab would keep him safe.

The fifth path ended at another juncture of six branches but he could hear Mal giving orders down the third so the third path he took. He sensed Bellani in Mals path which meant they’d probably be lovers but there was an infinite amount of potential within Bellani if she chose to let it flourish. Laz had a brief moment where he could almost hear her discussing the death path with one of the nine. It made him scream.

Was that his scream? No, it was not.

Death came in the form of a boatman, he had but seven fingers and the life of one of the nine would be his toll. Mal didn’t know that so he accepted the bargain. 

“Don’t bargain with Death, Mal,” Laz tried to call magic to fight it but couldn’t latch onto the number enough to do so.

Ballany’s unborn baby giggled and Laz returned to the maze. This was confusing but then it all became confusing after his apprenticeship as a wizard. 

Zool was there at the maze; he raised his hand and smacked Laz six times. Once again Laz’s mind drifted to Morte, his debased love sometimes involved striking. In tribunal his defense was that he needed to break Laz’s mind and abuse was the fastest way. Something stopped another round of smacks from Zool, Mal, the unborn infinity and Pi would dance forever in the maze but something stopped it.

Something was important…

The arms were still there. Had they always been there? Propping him up and keeping him from being eaten by the serpent? Only in the moment of their absence did he notice they were gone.
“DAB,” Lazeron screamed it and the world came rushing back.

They were in the court of the self proclaimed sewer king, the boatman suddenly made sense. Lazeron briefly missed the comforting insanity of Despair. The sewer king was a potent Mage and would exact a heavy toll for passage.

Lazeron opened the sight and glanced toward Bellany confirming his fear, the life within her was strongly magical. He wondered if she knew. The Sewer King would surely notice.