Light Seekers #7 – Teeb


 We’ve been following the river for a long time, avoiding the area most traveled. Either way, I haven’t spotted anyone taking this path. Most are probably like the migrants, following the little bit of light as it moves around. I had to be different, don’t chase the light, find the sun. I fill our canteen with water from the rivers as Levi sleeps. He hasn’t said he’s upset about his usual optimism has started to wear off. It’s getting colder. The light is going East, we’re going West and it gets colder the further we go. It’s good Levi picked up some skills from his dad because we probably would have already died without them. We managed to find some berries that were edible. We didn’t need dip into the little food we have left, and store some for later.

“Did you even sleep,” Levi asks me as he opens his eyes and stretches.

“A little.”

“Rough sleeping conditions, I’m sure once we find a town we can get a tent or something.”

Levi and I used to have a ton of things to talk about but since the caravan incident we haven’t had much to talk about. Our conversations consist of spotting things along the river. Occasionally we try to catch an animal. We wouldn’t know what to do if we caught one. But we try.

“Hey, stop,” I place a hand in front of Levi.

“What is it?”

“You see that?”

“See what magic eyes,” he jokes.

“No look,” I point out the dim glow of a fire, not far off.

“Looks like a campfire.”

“Yeah, maybe we should go around.”

“I think we should go over.”

“Why would we do that?”

“Well, if they’re comfortable camping in the area, they probably know it well,” Levi reasons.

“What if they’re raiders?”

“I think they’d make more noise if they were raiders. Just trust me on this one, please,” I didn’t know that was in Levi’s vocabulary.

“Alright, but if they’re violent, I’m stabbing someone,” I’ve never stabbed anyone.

We hold off and watch from the trees before approaching. Three people, one man, one woman and someone in heavy clothing with their face covered. They’re not raiders and look pretty comfortable. We can’t hear what they say but occasionally they laugh. They’re not raiders, and they don’t look armed.

“Wait,” Levi is headed over before I can make a call.

“How are you all doing?” Levi asks as he approaches the campfire.

“Great, fellow traveler,” the woman answers.

“I’m Levi, and this is my friend Najar,” he introduces me.

“Nice to meet you,” I wave, she waves back and I notice her hand is more reptilian than human.

“I’m Sammy, one of the men introduces himself, this is Vienna,” he points to the woman, “and this is Jorge.”

Jorge moves his fingers in various motions, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand,” Levi explains.

“Jorge doesn’t speak,” Vienna explains, “but he’s offering you a seat.”

“So what brings you out this far,” Sammy asks.

“We’re heading to the next town,” Levi explains.

“We got a little lost,” I add.

“Well, you don’t have far to go,” Vienna smiles. “Keep heading the direction you were going, you’ll find the metal road. It’ll lead you to The Demon’s Mouth. Follow it, and on the other end, you’ll find a town.”

Jorge signs something else, “Jorge says it’s a magnificent town,” Sammy explains.

The three share their food with us, and tell us stories of their travels. We explain the caravan situation to them. To our relief we’ve made it out of Raider territory. They’re heading in, but assure us that they’ll be fine. The three are sorcerers, they’re traveling on an expedition to expand their knowledge and become better sorcerers.

“Can I ask what happened to you arm,” Levi shyly asks Vienna.

“Oh, magic. Using magic you don’t understand is the only way to understand it, but it can also come with unintended consequences,” Vienna rolls up her sleeve to show the reptilian scales extend nearly to her shoulder. “It should wear off eventually,” she laughs.

“You should have seen when she turned her feet into paws,” Sammy adds to comedy.

“But, we’re all victims. I’ve got this lizard arm, Sammy has horns that he shaves down and poor Jorge lost his ability to speak,” Vienna speaks and Jorge prepares to sign, but shrugs.

It’s a good time, the first in a long time. Our bellies are full of food, and we’ve got a safe place to sleep. We settle on sleeping in shifts when they realize we’re still fearful of raiders. Levi, Vienna and Jorge go to sleep first, leaving just Sammy and I. Most of the conversation had been lead by Levi and Vienna, so the two of us don’t have much to speak about.

“You want to bring light to the world, it’s a noble cause. Do you know what the light really is,” Sammy asks.

“No, I don’t know,” I play along. Light is light.

“Some people say the sorcerers took the light with them when they lost a war. There was never any war. The answer is much more simple. A door,” he smiles.

“A door,” I ask stifling a laugh.

“Yeah, a door.”

“So where does the door go?”

“Another world.”

“Another world?”

“Another world, there are three you know. There’s our world, where we live right now. Then, there’s a world with eternal darkness. There, people live without the ability to use magic. They don’t have any traces at all. Here, everyone has a little that they can harness if they function.” Sammy holds out his hand and pours some water on it. Slowly it forms into a little ball, changing shapes, before it flows back into his cup. Just a display of magic for emphasis on his story. “The third world, that’s where the light comes from. It’s a world of sorcerers, real sorcerers. Not like my little band of misfit friends, but people who have a true understanding of magic. There, the light shines all the time. When the sorcerers left, they closed that door. The little bit of light shining through under the door is all we get.”

“Then why does it move?”

“Well, things happen on the other side of the door, people move around. Build stuff, tear it down, changes the angles of the light. That’s why nobody ever knows where it’s going to stop or for how long.”

Another story about the light. Another possibility of what might be at the top of the Phaeton Mountains. I expected sorcerers, now there might be a magic door. More than one magic door. I might be a poor judge of character because Sammy’s story isn’t any less convincing than the one Aaron had told back in the barracks. It might be more believable, he is a sorcerer, a bad one, but still a sorcerer.

I ponder about the story that he just told me, but I’ve only got one question. “When I use magic, I get sick if I use it for more than a few minutes.”

“I don’t think the door can help with that,” Sammy laughs.

“Neither do I,” I smile at him. “But I was hoping you had some advice.”

“Have you tried a mask?”

“A mask just increases your magic power, it doesn’t stop puke.”

“Not all masks, you must have never been to a town with a lot of magic users,” he laughs.

“No, the people with the strongest magic are from the more important families. The rest of us never really have a reason to.”

“Ah, I see. It’s a common misconception that masks increase magic power. Really, what they do, and what any skilled maker could tell you this, is augment the magic. It can make the magic stronger, but it can also change it, make it more controllable. Do you have a mask?”

“Yes.”

“You don’t wear it, do you?”

“No, I can barely use magic as it is. I was afraid if it was too strong, I might do more than just puke.”

“Well, try the mask. If it doesn’t work, find a new one. The town you’re going to is full of magic users. Some people never take their masks off. It’ll be a good place for you to learn more about magic. People there don’t all have a lot of magic, but they’ve made a lot with very little. You may like it there, I always enjoy my stay.”

Sammy and I spend the rest of our shift discussing magic. When it’s our turn to sleep I can’t help but think about the different things he’s told me. The world is bigger than I thought, there’s so much that I don’t know. I still don’t have a firm understanding of magic or any idea of what is waiting for me. Even with all of that, I forgot the Demon’s Mouth.

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