I know I just posted chapter 19 (August 9, 2020), but this is its original version. Something about it just didn’t feel right. The pacing or something… I think the theme of this chapter will resurface in the future, but I think I like the bread crumbs I left in the current version than this overly direct approach. Also… Them mysterious bookstore and shopkeep tropes, as well as Sylus being self-aware and punching the fourth wall… 🙄
It was early morning. Sylus stood outside trying to make out a sunrise in the Misty fog. He’d never seen it before, and he knew he probably wouldn’t see it now, but he was awake, so why not try. Sure enough, the sun rose over the eastern horizon. It honestly wasn’t as impressive as he thought it would be. Then again, this wasn’t exactly the normal world where a sunrise is considered something beautiful.
“The moon looks better.”
He turned to find his son standing on the porch.
“When the moon rises, it’s really pretty.”
“Everything’s prettier at night, but it’s also scarrier.”
Sylus sighed as he approached his son, “What are you doing up at this hour?”
Daniel shrugged, “Time’s weird. I’m awake when I’m awake. Night or day, it really doesn’t matter anymore.”
Sylus pursed his lips.
“I know you’re upset about bringing me here…”
Sylus sighed again.
“But I honestly couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. I guess… It’s not normal, but it’s normal to me.”
“You live in a place filled with monsters. Every day there’s a substance seeping into your skin doing god-knows-what to you… How is this normal?”
“I don’t feel sick or anything… Actually…” the boy’s gaze wandered around a bit, “Can… Can you promise not to get mad at me?”
Sylus raised a brow, “What on earth would I get mad over?”
“I-I…” he bit his lip, “Saari said I shouldn’t show you until I’m good at it, but… I have superpowers.”
Sylus’ eyes lit up, “Excuse me?”
“Y-yeah… C-can I show you?”
“Dan, yes! Please! Show me!”
“Promise you won’t get mad?”
Sylus spun around on the walkway, throwing his hands in the air, “Dan, how on earth could you upset me? Look at your father, Daniel. Look at what I am. What I’ve… be… Become…”
“I like you this way, Dad,” Daniel stepped off the porch, “Its kinda cool, actually. My dad’s a tentacle monster!”
“Jeron said you might feel that way… But be honest with me, Dan… How are you feeling about all this?”
Daniel thought a moment searching for the most honest response he could muster.
“You look really good, Dad. You look like yourself. The tentacles are kinda weird and… I mean… I know its not just you in there and stuff… It’s… Weird. BUT! It doesn’t change how I feel about you. I love you, Dad.” He wrapped his arms around his father.
“I love you, too, Dan…”
“Promise you’ll still love me after you see what my superpowers are?”
Sylus sighed, “Of course, Dan.”
With a nod, the boy ran back inside. Sylus waited patiently for a few moments before his son reappeared with a box of chalk.
“Okay so it’s not very good, but I think I can eventually figure out how to do it better…”
Daniel dropped to his knees on the pavement. Taking a piece of chalk, he began drawing shapes on the concrete surface. Sylus watched in awe. He was always impressed with his son’s artistic abilities, but what he was seeing before him was on another level. Perfect circles and squares were laid out before him. What looked like symbols started filling in some of the open space. Sylus raised a brow as Daniel sat back, looking over his work.
“Oh noooo!” he cried out, “I meant to make grass grow not start a fire…”
Daniel looked around nervously. Darting across the front lawn, he picked up the hose and handed it to his father, “Just in case, okay?”
Sylus took the hose with an absent nod.
Daniel reached into his pocket and took out a small crystal. He crushed it in his fingers and dusted it over his design. A small spark shot from the chalky lines. Daniel took a deep breath before the entire area within his creation lit up on fire.
Sylus was quick to turn on the hose.
As the flames and the smoke settled down, Sylus found Daniel looking upset at where his chalk lines had been.
“I-I’m sorry, Dad…”
“What’re you sorry for, Dan?”
“That was awful and dangerous and stuff… I didn’t mean it… I made a mistake… I should’ve used the hose to clean it up, but I just wanted to show you…”
“How did you do that, Dan?” Sylus knelt down before his son.
“I… I’m really not sure… The symbols just started coming to me. I’ve been drawing them for a while, but Saari finally saw one and she recognized it as something called a sigil? She said its old magic. She was helping me try to figure out what they meant. We still don’t know all of them… I don’t think we ever will and I’m too scared to just draw random shapes in case they do something really bad…”
“So… So the Mist… It has affected you?”
Daniel nodded, “It’s not bad. It’s not like I have Jeron’s abilities.”
“Wait, Jeron has powers too?”
Daniel bit his lip, “I promised I wouldn’t say anything…”
Sylus sighed. “You all should know you can be open about this stuff with me, right? Dan,” he reached out and took his son into his arms, “I’m so proud of you for handling this so well.”
“I’m a superhero, Dad! Just like in the comic books! Now I just gotta learn how to use my powers better!” Daniel pulled away with a grin on his face.
“And none of this is at all scary to you?”
Daniel shook his head, “Nope! I mean… maybe a little, but Saari can see the sigils I draw and she’s managed to pick out some kinda harmless ones for me to practice. I won’t touch the other ones until I know what they do. That’s the only thing I’m scared of.”
Sylus gazed in awe at his son.
“Y-you’re not mad at me, are you?”
“Dan? How on earth could I be mad at you for this? I’m actually very proud of you for being so responsible with these powers. They seem like they could be very dangerous in the wrong hands, but you’re doing very well.”
“I-I also wanted… to ask… um… If Qaitax knows anything about them…”
“Ah,” Sylus leaned back a bit, “I suppose that is the person to be asking…”
“Can you ask him about it for me? I-he… He still scares me a little…”
“He says you’re something called a… a… I can’t pronounce that, Qai… Sigil weaver. That’s the translation. You’re a sigil weaver and apparently, you’re learning these sigils from other people across… Excuse me what?” Sylus paused a moment, “Across space and time, huh? Who are these people?” he paused again, “Ah… that’s… morbid…”
“What did he say?”
Sylus sighed as he turned to his son, “Well… There’s a good chance that ghosts in the void or something like… well… dead people are talking to you, or well, giving you their ideas…”
“I-is that… Dangerous?”
Sylus gave Qaitax a moment to render a response.
“Qaitax says it can be, but not necessarily. He suggests… What? Where is it? Ugh…” Sylus sat down on the ground, “I’m not ready for that, but…”
“What is it?”
Sylus’ gaze once more met his son’s. Daniel was riddled with concern. The last thing he wanted was to upset his father.
“Well… Qaitax says that you have to write down every sigil you learn and keep them all in a book of some kind. He also said there’s a master book somewhere that would be very helpful but… It’s…”
“Somewhere in the Void?”
Sylus nodded slowly. “I-I’ll go look for it…” he stood up.
“NO!” Daniel grabbed his arm, “DON’T GO! NOT AGAIN!”
Sylus froze in place.
“What if you don’t come back? What if you come back and its been a thousand years? Please don’t go, Dad… I’ll figure this out… I… I promise… I promise, Dad. I’ll figure this out. Don’t go back there. Please!”
“I-I shouldn’t’ve told you… Saari said I shouldn’t… I should’ve listened…”
“Oh, Daniel,” Sylus knelt down before his son again, “I’m glad you told me. I want to know what’s going on in your life…”
“But now you have to go back into the Void… I shouldn’t’ve said anything… I don’t want you to go back there again… Please don’t…”
Sylus sighed heavily, “I’ll have to go back someday…”
“Someday! Not today, please? Please don’t go… I’ll… I’ll get a nice journal and keep all the sigils I learn in it. We’ll figure out what they mean eventually…”
“Qaitax says that’s what the master tome would be good for…”
Daniel shook his head, “No. Don’t go. Please. I’ll keep practicing the small ones I know. It’s better that way!”
Sylus sighed, “To be fair, I’m not ready to go back there yet. I’m not strong enough to-”
“Good!” Daniel wrapped his arms around his father, “Good! Stay here! Don’t go!”
I can help the boy with some Saari may not be familiar with, but as this magic is linked to a temporal phenomenon, I can only potentially understand sigils created during my existence. Ones created far into the future may be more difficult if not impossible…
Talk to him, please…
He does not wish to speak to me. I will not force my involvement.
You know more about this than I do… He’ll understand…
With a heavy sigh, Sylus closed his eyes.
“Sigil weaving is one of the many ways gifted mortals can manipulate the Void. It is not meant to be understood by spawns, but it is magic based on qualities of the Void mainly being that we do not converse or create thoughts in words, but images. Sigils are stripped-down interpretations of real-world actions. They can be anywhere from utilitarian to utterly devastating. You are receiving these sigils from all across space and time. Some weavers long departed, some not yet born. The master tome would help you decipher what you are seeing, but it is beyond our ability to retrieve it at this time. You must continue to keep a concise journal of sigils and mark their results upon practice. I may be able to assist depending on the sigil. My connection to the Void was long severed, but I may still be able to glimpse some meaning in the designs.”
Sylus’ eyes slowly opened and once more Daniel was looking into his father’s gently gaze.
“Was that helpful, Dan?”
Daniel nodded slowly, “I guess I wanted to understand it better, but now it sounds so hard…”
“Well, let’s start at the beginning! The first thing we need is to find you a good, sturdy journal for you to keep the sigils in. Then something to write them with…”
“I just use my old pens. I know them really well before I draw them and I’ve never made a mistake.”
“We’ll get you some new pens or maybe one nice new one… I wonder if there’s a stationery store anywhere outside the Mist…”
“I can order them online, Dad…”
Sylus shook his head. “This is too important to just get online. Besides, I’d have to go out to the post office to pick any packages up anyway. I’ll see if I can find a store. You should pick out your journal and writing instrument yourself.”
“They can be really expensive, Dad… I was looking online…”
“Shh… Money is of no object, Dan. You will have the best tools possible. Of that, you can be certain.”