The Book

Kaelyn hung her cloak on the wall next to Mason's and sat down in front of the book. She hadn't really looked at it all that closely before; just identified it and stuffed it in her satchel. It wasn't that thick, she guessed it was roughly two hundred pages long, with soft leather covers, plain and unprinted. It looked more like a journal than a professionally created book. Centering it carefully on the oaken panel she opened to the front page. Written in large, irregularly-shaped letters was the title:

Embracing Chaos

Being a new system of Magic

Kaelyn gasped quietly. “Chaos magic? That's not supposed to be possible...” She said under her breath. Magic operated by cause and effect; the more pronounced the effect you wanted, the more work you had to put into the cause.

She considered asking Mason what wizards knew of Chaos magic, but decided to forge on ahead without help at least for a little. The author of this book had bad handwriting, and a certain unpredictability when it came to capitalization, but seemed ironically well organized for someone trying to base magic on chaos. The second and third pages were taken up with a table of contents. Kaelyn scanned the chapter titles and was less and less comfortable with each one:

  1. The great Lie of Order
  2. Balance and re-Direction
  3. The many Uses Of the Blood
  4. On conversing with The Agents of chaos
  5. The Redirection of Cost
  6. Spells AND Rituals
  7. Index

Okay, the Index didn't make her particularly uncomfortable. She suspected she understood the first chapter already; albeit from the other side. Order sustained the universe, without it there was no guarantee that day would follow night or that eating would sate hunger. So a person who sought chaos would see this as an externally-applied tyranny... Kaelyn suspected she knew the type. So instead she skipped to chapter 2.

At present the elemental Chaos inherent in AND underpinning the universe has been trapped behind, or Beneath, the veneer of order, and those who seek to Free Chaos must therefore have some understanding of that Veneer. Order demands that effect have a Cause, that Reactions stem from Actions. At present we must abide by this Constraint. However, there is a Loop Hole that can be used, for the true student of the Chaotic Nature. The price that is Paid for each desired outcome can be REDIRECTED to another sentient being, Will He or Nil He.

In this Innovation, the Practitioner acts as a catalyst or conduit and through them the power of Chaos flows and is Shaped to their Will...

It went on like that. Kaelyn skipped ahead to the next chapter, but was only able to read a little bit. Not that she was squeamish; a healer deals with blood all the time, of course. But this was the opposite of her art. A healer knows about blood to return it to its true purpose, to clean it and encourage it to clean the body. To a healer, blood is an ally, indeed it's almost sacred; its the symbol of the body's ability to self regulate.

This was a perversion of all of that. Discussions of how blood could be an agent of decay, descriptions of using blood to mark things, to mark one's self, to seal dark pacts by mingling blood. Kaelyn was about to skip to the next section when she felt a small tab on one page, deeper in. Someone had folded a small scrap of paper around one of the pages. Kaelyn turned to that page, which was in the “Spells AND Rituals” section. And her heart froze.

The Summoning Of Sacrifice

If you would summon a Greater Devil, more is Required, for the DARK Lords do not respond to the lives of mere animals. Though the process be Repugnant to Lesser Minds, it is in FACT quite simple. A SACRIFICE of a maiden of marriageable age, but as yet Unwed, in a basic Pentaform Sigil, if performed at the Dark of Moon, will Bind the Will of a Dark Lord to yours...

“Mason....Mason? Where are you? Oh. Mason, come look at this,” Kaelyn said, shaking. She stepped aside to let the apprentice wizard read.

His face grew serious, and determined. She admired that; instead of being scared he became focused, and she found his determination bolstering her own.

“This page was marked...and this book came from under Brant's bed, in his quarters above the dry goods store. Mason...I'm worried about Daisy.”

Mason just nodded and looked at Kaelyn, then stopped to do some mental arithmetic. “The next new moon is... Well, it was just full moon two days ago. So we have twelve days.” Kaelyn nodded uncertainly, it wasn't something she had much attended to. “If you say so.”

“Should I go get the Magister?” Mason asked. He stood and was halfway to the door that led to the living quarters.

“, not yet. I think we can figure this out. We have a pretty good idea of what...I think it's obvious that it's Brant now... We know what Brant is thinking...and we have time to find him. Tell me, Mason...if words have power, am I in danger of...tainted notes? If I take notes on what I've learned from this book, are those notes also evil? I don't...that is, healing magic doesn't really work this way.”

“No, it's down to your intent as you write. Whoever wrote this was studying the forbidden art, and this was their record of that. This is evil because of its intent. It has nothing to do with the Divine, or even with the Natural.”

Kaelyn noticed once again that Mason's diffidence and lack of self-confidence disappeared when he was in his element. He answered questions clearly and directly; she suspected that was from Sonja. It was also fun to watch, especially when he realized he was doing it and stopped doing it.

Which “Um, anyway, so no, your notes should be perfectly safe. Also we will keep the workshop safe, if you want to bring Master Colm here to verify.”

Kaelyn considered that. She would like her Master— that is, former master's— opinion, but she wanted to have her own ideas first. She felt that was what he was expecting of her. Then she got confused, trying to decide if she was just doing what she thought he wanted, or if she was doing what she actually thought was right, then she couldn't decide if a just-starting-out Sojourner could do anything other than what they had been taught by their master, and if independence came with time and practice. Then she stood up and took a breath.

“I think I need to take a walk for a bit. Will I be able to get back in? Do you lock the workshop?”

“We do, Sojourner—”

“Mason. I can't tell your Magister what to do, but if you start referring to me as 'Sojourner' I might go crazy. I need someone to just sees me as me, not as a title or a rank or whatever. Please just call me Kaelyn. Or 'Kay'. Kay works well.”

“Very well, Kaelyn. Um. As I was saying, we do lock up. There are some expensive and possibly harmful things in this workshop, even before you brought that book. But I can give you the password.”

“Oh, it's not a key?”

“Well, we are wizards,” Mason said, smiling a little. “He leaned down and whispered the password in Kaelyn's ear and she hoped he didn't notice the goosebumps that formed across her neck and scalp as he did.

“I'll remember that...thank you, Mason.”

And she headed out into town. She needed more help, and she needed some time to think without all these distractions.

Well, just one distraction, but he was very tall.


© 2020-2021 Nathanial Dickson. Written during #NaNoWriMo 2020 Contact me on Mastodon