This story begins with Masked – The Fortress (1). To access installments in narrative sequence, click on an entry title, then click on “Next” at the end of that installment.
John found himself standing in a cavern three times bigger than the apartment he shared with his roommates. The stalactites that had somehow formed around sources of pale blue light glittered, and dazzled his eyes. If John had been more fantastically inclined, he might have believed the cavern had been formed out of diamond. But diamonds didn’t work that way… right?
An elderly man dressed like a medieval monk reclined on pale cushions arranged on a ledge before John’s disbelieving eyes. The man’s face held condescension, and his hand held a large beetle that glittered like the stalactites. When he spoke, his lips did not move. John placed the accent reverberating in his mind as German. “When you get over the initial shock, you will have many questions. Allow me to assure you that there is no rush. Time will not pass for your body on Earth while your mind is here in Aum. Ask whatever you need to ask.”
John felt something scuttle against his foot. Looking down, more insects made from the same material as the cavern crisscrossed the floor. One centipede looked eight inches long. John did not especially fear insects, but their motion here distracted him. “How are you speaking in my mind?”
“The magic of Aum takes many shapes. One of them is telepathy. The longer you would stay here, the easier you would find it to speak mind-to-mind, without language impeding you.”
“You said… your name is Bloodwater?”
“Indeed.” Bloodwater smiled with yellow teeth.
“Are you evil? Nobody normal has a creepy name like that.”
Bloodwater cocked his head, taking the question seriously. “I chose that name because many, many breaths ago, I tried to cut my hand on something sharp here in Aum. I just felt curious about what might happen. I felt pressure, but no pain, and when I split my skin, what came out was clear and thin like water, not red or viscous. The sight took my breath away.”
John examined what he could see of Bloodwater’s hands for a significant scar, and saw only the marks of age.
Bloodwater finished the story. “When I wanted the wound to close, it closed, and the clear liquid that had came out simply disappeared. Like much of the magic of Aum, all it required was an act of will.”
“What is happening? One minute I was sitting in the kitchen, and now… What is going on?”
“I am making you an offer.”
Thank you for reading! Coming up next week: John continues to learn about Aum and the scryer.
Previous Aum stories include Globe Without Goodbye.
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