EoP – Part 122


Echoes of Power

Part 122


“So you mean to tell me that you spent the week-end exercising and meditating?”, Bryan asked in disbelief.

“Yeah, just as I said. I went running both Saturday and Sunday morning, around the hills to the south near the park.”, Alexandre said with a proud smirk.

“Nah, even after asking you a third time I don’t believe you… I mean, meditating, why not… But you, running and exercising on a resting day? No way!”

Alexandre almost laughed. If only his best friend knew all of it, he would probably freak out. Or perhaps not, considering… But he couldn’t very well tell him any of it, or ask him directly about his… condition, could he? No, that would be crazy. He would seem crazy. What if he had been hallucinating it all? Then he would really seem crazy, even to himself. And if he hadn’t well he’d still surely seem stupid, and that was inconceivable! Plus Damian had told him to keep his mouth shut about their arrangement. He’d had problems telling what was real and what wasn’t recently, which was completely understandable considering the strange ‘powers’ he had discovered, the monsters that had attacked him and the deep wounds that had just vanished under the shower…

“I swear to you my friend. I even got someone to give me a few pointers.”, Alexandre added, explaining his encounter with Damian but leaving out the important details.

No, if he was crazy he didn’t want to know it. Not yet anyways, he was finally living something interesting. Wait… Talking about vanishing wounds… He looked at his best friend’s face and noticed the thin pink line under his eye which was still there. That seemed to be the only trace left of his injuries after his violent practice session of the other day. His face was not bruised at all and his arm was not in a cast anymore. When had it disappeared by the way? Alexandre couldn’t tell, he had been so focused on other things that he hadn’t paid attention… Perhaps he was really a werewolf after all, and perhaps all of this was indeed real… Oh god, I’m going crazy!

“Hmm?”, he asked as he noticed Bryan had gone silent.

“Damn it, you weren’t paying attention again, were you? I was telling you I started training again this week-end. Softly, not to get hurt again, but I’m back in there!”, Bryan said as if reading his best friend’s mind.

“Oh! Nice! I was just thinking about the fact I hadn’t seen your cast the last few days! So, not too rusty I hope?”, he taunted Bryan with a smirk.

They had been sitting on a bench near the library since the morning classes had ended. It had been almost four days since they had been able to spend time together, the week-end had been really full for both of them and then the last few days had seemed to pass in the same way. Somehow their classes had been packed so tightly together and full of content that they hadn’t had a minute to breathe and each of them had things to do during pauses or after school, rendering their talking time almost nonexistent until that afternoon which, strangely, was almost completely void of any class.

Bryan had asked the question that he burned to know the answer to first: what about the date? To which Alexandre had happily provided details for almost a full hour, recounting how the evening had gone well and how he found Chloe amazing, which was very true, she was fun to be around and incredibly cute! Then, after ‘fangirling’ over that as he called it, they had moved on to other subjects, mainly filling the other in on what they had done up until that point. Alexandre noticed the rest of their group of friends heading in their direction and was about reply to their loud greetings when he spotted an unfamiliar redhead in the distance.


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EoP – Part 121


Echoes of Power

Part 121


Back. And forth. One way and then the other, slowly and gracefully. The blade of grass danced in rhythm with the beats of his heart, slowly swaying from left to right and the from right to left. He could see it as clear as day. His eyes were closed, the sounds around him had all faded into the distance and he could barely feel the soft breeze or the warm sunrays on his face. His concentration was solely directed at his inner self, his thoughts and his feelings were focused on a single image: a lone blade of grass. It was a strange sensation that Alexandre had never quite experienced before. He knew he hadn’t moved from his spot on the grass but it felt like he was somehow floating around, he could still feel his whole body but it felt weightless.

In any other circumstance it would have felt completely to him to say this but at that precise moment it was as if he was one with the grass: floating around lightly and without a care in the world. It wasn’t as easy as he had thought to keep focusing his mind on a single object but somehow he managed to drive away any distraction that came his way for a period of time that felt like hours. He couldn’t say how long it had been however, perhaps even just a few minutes, and therefore he did not dare break his focus in fear of being reprimanded by Damian. The teenager suddenly noticed something peculiar however: as the blade of grass kept undulating it seemed to begin to glow slightly. It was almost unnoticeable, a sort of thin halo running along the border of the plant, however Alexandre couldn’t tell if it was the way he imagined the light around it or if it came from the blade of grass itself.

Just as he was beginning to focus on that strange vision, it disappeared. The teenager felt like he was suddenly pulled backwards, he was falling! He gasped and opened his eyes with a start. He had tried to yell but it had come out as a sharp gasp. His heart was beating loudly as he looked around and he felt beads of sweat roll on his face and arms. The sky was still as blue and as clear as before, the wind blew lightly on the hillside. The only thing that was different was the sun which had risen higher in the sky. Alexandre somehow deduced he had remained in his state of meditation (or whatever that had been) for a bit more than two full hours! As he calmed down his heart, his eyes darted all around, looking for the silhouette of the older man but, after a few seconds and having looked everywhere, the teenager realised that his teacher was gone. He must’ve left while I was deep in the meditation exercise.

“Without even a goodbye or anything…”, he groaned as he stood up.

Alexandre started stretching, taking that time to think about what he should be doing. If he left, does that mean it’s over for today or should I wait for him to come back? The young man was pondering the best option, carefully weighing the possible consequences to the next decision he would make, when he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. ‘Next week, same place, same time.’ That was all the message said, short and to the point. Even the number was hidden, but Alexandre didn’t doubt for a second that it was coming from Damian.

“Well then…”, he sighed after a few minutes of stretching his stiff limbs.

He ran off towards the city at a slow pace, preferring to warm back up a little before picking up the pace.


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The Phone

a short story by Sullivan P. Oopy.

*

handonphone

She jumped with a start as the phone rang again. The piercing beeps echoed in the empty house. A second time, a third time. It kept on ringing, and yet she wasn’t making a move to get up and pick it up. Instead she was rooted to the spot. Fear? Apprehension? Anger? Frustration? All of these feelings boiled inside her. She wanted to scream at the top of her lungs, to let her tears flow freely, to get up and run far away from that place. But she couldn’t. If she did it would only mean surrendering to her most primal feelings, it would also mean surrendering to him. No. That was not acceptable, it was not an option. She had to remain calm and strong. This was nothing. It would soon be over. She closed her eyes and tried her best to drown the sound of the phone out of her mind. One deep breath. Two deep breaths. As she exhaled for the third time she slowly opened her eyes. The ringing had stopped, the room was silent again.

She could feel her heart slowing down slightly, her breathing becoming less ragged. Oh, she wasn’t relaxing yet! No, not yet. This wasn’t over. It never was. Each time it kept ringing again and again for as long as she refused to pick up. It drove her mad. But this time, this time maybe… Maybe she would be stronger. Maybe she would stand up to him and not cower by answering. That was the kind of woman Hope Wien was, strong and independent, reliable and friendly, someone her friends could definitely count on. That came from her mother, Camellia, from the Wien side of the family, the strong side. Of course it was strong, her mother had somehow managed to convince her father to take her name when they had married, a feat that Hope had not seen repeated anywhere else. Wien was a strong name. Originally coming from the european city itself, and pronounced the same way, it had changed to a softer ‘ween’ when she had arrived to America all those years ago. Reluctant to accept this at first, she had slowly got accustomed to it, even getting her brother, who had remained in Austria, to say it that way when he talked to or about her.

Her brother. Thinking about him brought her immediately back to reality and made her shiver. He was the one responsible for all of this. Slowly and methodically torturing her with those calls. Each year, on the same day at exactly 6pm the phone would ring. Wherever she was, whatever she was doing, whether she was at home or only had her cell phone. It would ring without fail. How he got ahold of her, she would never understand, the point was he did. Every time. He would let it ring for as long as it would: once, twice, three times, as many times as it was necessary for her to pick up. Sometimes it lasted a few minutes, sometimes hours. Once she had just thrown her phone into the river out of frustration. However he somehow had managed to call the friend she had been spending the evening with. He never stopped, he was relentless. As if this call and the feelings it brought down on her was the sole purpose of his life on that precise day.

“You psycho!”, she wanted to pick up and yell at him. “Why won’t you leave me alone already?! What have I ever done to you to deserve this?!”

But she couldn’t manage to do it. Never. Because somewhere, deep down, she knew she deserved it. Once upon a time it had been her who had the role of the torturer and him the role of the victim. Oh how she regretted it! How much she wanted to go back and change it, make it up to him. But time only went forward and karma had caught up to her. She was too far away for him to actually come over but the psychological torture he imposed on her each time seemed to be enough to content him. She sighed once more and looked outside, anxiously waiting for the phone to ring again. Rain started pouring heavily over the city, night was dark and cold. She was prepared this time and yet, as the phone rung again, she couldn’t help jumping one more time. She closed her eyes, repressing her emotions deep inside her and inhaled one last time. Two rings. Then, slowly, she got up and walked to the phone. Three rings. She extended a trembling arm towards it. Four rings. Five rings. She quickly grabbed it and picked up.

“Y- yes?”, she said.

Damn it! She cursed inwardly at her trembling voice.

“Who is it?”, she added in a more confident tone, for the form, despite knowing perfectly well who it was and what he wanted.

Her heart had stopped beating as she now waited for the dreadful reply. At first there was silence, no, not silence, she could hear him breathe! But he said nothing. Then there was a slight change in his rhythm. The bastard is smiling, he’s enjoying this! She couldn’t see him but she knew it. Rain started pouring more heavily and the sound it created against the large windows was harrowing. Come on! Come on! Say it! She silently prayed, wanting this to be over. A flash of bright light momentarily lit up the sky. Tears welled up at the corner of her eyes and she was about to say something when, finally, he spoke.

“Hallo… Wien!”, her brother said as thunder roared outside.

*

EoP – Part 120


Echoes of Power

Part 120


Repetition?

Alexandre tried to understand what his master meant with that. Of course he knew the saying that said practice made perfect but how could this apply here? He was barely beginning training this way, how could he use his experience in something he hadn’t even seriously practiced once? Or… Perhaps Damian meant something slightly different? Bits and pieces of old memories flashed in his mind, his mother’s words, things he remembered having heard on television…

“Try counting in your mind,” his mother had once told him, “from zero to a hundred. My trainer gave me this advice when I started yoga. You just count and try to picture the numbers in your mind and you focus on it, you think of nothing but the numbers. Once you’ve reached one hundred you start again. Go on, try.”

She had smiled at him, inviting him to sit back down besides her and to try this exercise. It had been years since Alexandre had thought about these few days in the months where she would be home and try to do some activities with him. He had always been bored by her definition of fun -almost always doing boring things grown ups liked to do, at least that was how he saw it back then- but he still tried to participate to make the most of the time he could spend with her and to please her. He could also remember a few TV shows that she watched at the same time, giving pointers as to how one could relax and try to meditate. It was always the same thing: focus on a point of your body and just try to picture it in your mind.

So, something like a single thought. And then work from there?, he thought, trying to understand what Damian had tried to explain. Counting it is then? No, I always get distracted. His mind worked at full speed, trying to come up with a solution to his master’s request as fast as he could so as not to get reprimanded once more. Then what? What should I focus on? I’m never going to succeed am I…? He was starting to feel desperate, relaxation techniques had never really been his thing, especially when they were close to meditation. Come on, think! I just have to find something to focus on, it shouldn’t be that difficult! He took a deep breath and tried to relax.

The warm wind rustled in the grass. He could hear the birds singing around him and the distant shouts of children playing in the nearby school. Somehow a piece of an answer came to Alexandre. He listed in his mind all of the things that were in his surroundings, trying to form an image of something he could focus on. A tree. The sky. The sun. The birds. The sounds he could hear. But strangely the thing that left the most striking imprint on him was the grass. A single blade of grass. It wasn’t as if he could see it per say but if felt like he could somehow imagine a single blade of grass as it slowly danced in the wind.

He suppressed a proud smile, unwilling to unnerve his teacher, and tried to focus his thoughts on that image, replaying that moment like a short video. He saw it, small and green, dancing back and forth, to one side and then to the other. Flexible yet strong and tough. Somehow, and he couldn’t quite understand why, the blade of grass had taken over his thoughts without much difficulty. This is actually working!, he thought. Which he regretted immediately as he found himself distracted by his surroundings once more. Damn it… he swore before trying to focus back on the grass, hoping Damian had somehow not noticed any of this. The teenager slowly took in a deep breath before trying the exercise his master had imposed.


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EoP – Part 119


Echoes of Power

Part 119


“No.”

Alexandre shivered and corrected his body position for the third time in less than a minute as Damian tried to make him get in an uncomfortable sitting stance. The older man’s voice contained chilling accents and the teenager couldn’t help being affected by them.

“To begin training in the art of Empirium you must first learn the basics and to learn the basics you must first learn how to feel the flow of mana around you. Only when you manage to achieve the minimum requirements I impose on you, will you be able to begin trying to sense the energy circulating all around us. As I said, this training will not be easy.”, Damian said in a flat voice as he circled around the teenager.

The older man was slowly making Alexander correct his posture as he did so.

“Yes master.”, Alexandre replied.

“Quiet. You are not to talk anymore, not until I give you permission to do so again. Listen, learn and apply. That is all I require from you at the moment.”, Damian cut him off almost immediately.

“Now straighten your back, a little bit more… Good. This is the position you will learn to maintain while I teach you this exercise. Is that clear?”, he added as he kept circling his pupil.

“Yes master.”, replied Alexandre after an uncertain silence.

Damian did not speak, simply nodding (which Alexandre managed to guess, even with his eyes closed) and continuing to slowly walk around him. A few minutes passed like this in complete silence. The teenager could feel the warmth of the rays of light hitting his face and the soft wind rustling his hair. He tried his best not to move but he realized this was much harder than he had anticipated, it hadn’t even been ten full minutes (in his estimation) and he already wanted to get up, move his body, stretch his limbs and run around. He had also been able to feel the gaze of the older man fixated on him the whole time despite his lack of words. Finally, as he was feeling his legs getting numb, his teacher spoke.

“Good. Notice how your breathing has become slower and more even, this is proof that you are holding the right position,” Damian said, sounding satisfied, “what I want you to do know is to relax as much as you can, try to empty your mind as much as possible at the same time.”

Alexandre hesitated on whether to react to his master’s words or not, but decided to remain silent and simply do as he said. Moving or talking would mean breaking his position and he was almost sure it wouldn’t be well perceived. He tried relax, though it wasn’t really easy with him natural flexibility (or lack of, to be more accurate), so he quickly focused on emptying his mind. He had already tried a to do a bit of meditation in the past, mostly at the request of his mother and had heard quite a bit about it from her. Sadly he had never managed to completely focus on the task and always ended up distracted. This time was not exception. Each time he tried to focus on nothing in particular, a number of wild thoughts barged to the front of his consciousness. For a few minutes he struggled with it and it must have shown on his face because once more he head his teacher’s voice from his side.

“Stop. I can see you’re not doing this right, you’re going nowhere with this. You mustn’t force yourself to focus on nothing, don’t try to think about a void in your mind, you’ll only drive yourself crazy. That is the worst way to calm down and to clear your thoughts.”, Damian paused and Alexandre heard him walk in a circle around him a few times before continuing. “Exceptionally, and since this is only the beginning, I will give you a chance. Here is a piece of advice, the only one you’ll be receiving from me about this: don’t focus on nothing or on everything, start small. Try focusing on a single thought and work from there. Repetition is the greatest training.”


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EoP – Part 117


Echoes of Power

Part 117


“As I am sure you have noticed, there is something different about you, something… unusual, to put it in kind words.” Damian started as Alexandre sat besides him on the grass, “Those creatures that attacked you, they were real. I can assure you that much. You are not dreaming, this is not some hallucination, or delusion of your mind, this is reality. Cold and harsh.”

He paused to look the teenager straight in the eye. Alexandre had to refrain a shiver as he found himself immediately made uncomfortable by the two blue orbs, it felt as if the older man could look directly through him, into the deepest corners of his mind.

“If I hadn’t intervened, you would probably have died. It’s as simple as that.”

Once again he was silent, giving Alexandre time to take it in. If the teenager couldn’t at least come to terms with that then it was useless to waste time on him. At least he seems to be reflecting on that, Damian thought. That seemed a positive sign.

“I- I understand that,” Alexandre replied.

It was true, he did understand the point the older man was making. It had already started dawning on him some time ago and he hadn’t been able to refrain the icy chills since then. What if he hadn’t been there that time? The first time had been pure luck, the teenager still couldn’t say how he had managed to survive it… Plus he had a feeling it wouldn’t be the last time he encountered such strange -and dangerous- things, so he had to be ready, to be able to defend himself. Even if just a little. Damian silently nodded before speaking again.

“What I am going to teach you will not make you invincible, it will not make you strong. You will not learn to bend the laws of our world, at most, and depending on your hard work, you will be able to blur them a little, to curve them slightly. My teachings do not have the goal to make you a superhero or anything close. I will simply be opening your eyes to new possibilities and showing you the potential ways to go. Only you will be able to act upon this new knowledge and explore them. Is that understood?”, he then asked.

“Yes master,” the teenager replied, listening carefully.

“Good,” said Damian before pausing for a short moment as if he was pondering something. “Tell me, what do you know about mana?”, he then asked.

Alexandre furrowed his eyebrows, trying to think about what he knew. He knew that it was something used by video games as a magical energy but that it was based of beliefs and myths about a secret inner energy that could be shaped by one to affect their bodies and the world around them. Apart from the other names it had in different cultures he didn’t know much, though apparently it seemed important for what Damian was about to teach him.

Once again he older man nodded as Alexandre gave voice to his thoughts.

“Yes, you are partly right. Mana, under this name or others, appears in many cultures, mostly in video games nowadays. Why do you think that is? Because there is truth to it, like there is to many of the tales and legends that people tell,” the man in his forties explained. “To an empirist, one who trains in the art of empirium, it is the name of the energy -if you wish to call it that way- that we act upon to bend the laws of this world. It is somewhat akin to fuel that is used to power vehicles. To an empirist it is, to make another analogy, both the paint and the brush that we use to give form to our desires.”


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Ombre & Plumes – 3 – Les jardins de Sha’ana

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D’ombre et de plumes

3

Les jardins de Sha’ana


Alors que la nuit était au plus sombre, sur la table basse en bois le pendentif se mit à émettre une faible lueur argenté. Celle-ci s’intensifia de plus en plus pour finir, au bout de quelques secondes, par éclairer toute la pièce. L’adolescent se retourna dans son lit, le visage légèrement crispé et le front perlé de sueur. Depuis que la lueur était apparue ses rêves s’étaient retrouvés remplis d’innombrables images, de sons et de sensations, s’imposant à son esprit dans un flot continu et venant peupler ses rêves d’ordinaire paisibles. Cette surcharge d’information le prit d’assaut avec force, sans discontinuer pendant de longues minutes et, lorsque ce maelström s’arrêta enfin, elle laissa le jeune homme trempé et haletant. Ce dernier sombra ensuite dans un sommeil profond et sans rêve duquel il ne sortit qu’au petit matin, se réveillant avec un léger mal de tête.
Lorsque Thrista ouvrit les yeux il fut ébloui par les rayons du soleil, déjà haut dans le ciel, qui lui éclairaient le visage. Il mit un certain temps à comprendre où il était avant de reconnaître les gravures familières au plafond, elles représentaient un paysage forestier avec un sentier au milieu menant à ce qui semblait être un lac. Bien qu’il ne soit pas d’habitude très matinal, il lui arrivait de temps en temps de se lever tôt lorsque la journée promettait d’être intéressante. Il était à peine plus de la première septime du secondaire lorsqu’il reprit conscience alors qu’habituellement il ne se levait pas avant le milieu de celui-ci, ce qui le surprit légèrement. Il se redressa sur le lit, cherchant à se remémorer son rêve de la nuit car il lui avait semblé très étrange et important. Mais après plusieurs minutes de réflexion et n’y étant toujours pas parvenu, il se décida à s’habiller. Thrista enfila un haut en tissus blanc, pas trop épais pour ne pas étouffer mais utile en cas de chute de température et un pantalon marron fait de la même matière. Il s’apprêtait à mettre son haut de tunique mais se rendit compte que quelque chose manquait. Il balaya la pièce du regard et aperçut son collier, celui-ci était fait d’un lacet en cuir dont la couleur rouge écarlate avait un peu passé au cours du temps et d’un pendentif en forme de papillon aux ailes ouvertes finement gravé dans du métal argenté. Il le mit et au moment ou le métal froid de la petite sculpture d’insecte toucha sa peau son rêve lui revint d’un coup et le déluge de sensations le fit chanceler. Il se souvenait à présent de ce qui lui semblait si important à son réveil.
Des fleurs, un doux parfum. Des ailes gigantesques aux plumes du blanc le plus pur. Une étendue de terre sèche. Un froid qui se répand lentement à travers son corps.  Des yeux noirs, menaçants et brûlants de rage. Une voix profonde et hors du temps. « Pas encore… L’heure n’est pas encore venue… ». Un cavalier solitaire chevauchant dans la nuit profonde, le ciel menaçant gronde. Un éclair, le cavalier s’effondre. Un mur de flammes avance lentement, ravageant tout sur son passage, brûlant terres, villages et être vivants sans distinction. Qu’est-ce que cela signifiait ? Pourquoi avait-il rêvé de cela maintenant ? Thrista n’en savait rien, il avait appris par expérience que les réponses à ces questions viendraient avec le temps et que, malgré toute la frustration que l’inconnu pouvait apporter, il n’était pas bon de trop y réfléchir. Un rêve était un rêve après tout et était fait pour rester dans le royaume de la nuit. Il se décida donc à laisser cela de côté pour le moment, se promettant de tout de même de méditer sur ce qu’il avait « vu » en temps voulu, et finit de s’habiller pour pouvoir descendre prendre un repas dans la grande salle avant d’aller se promener en ville.
Malgré l’heure encore matinale, la salle commune était déjà occupée par une vingtaine de personnes, hommes, femmes, en groupes ou solitaires, voyageurs ou locaux. Ils venaient tous ici pour goûter au délicieux déjeuner que proposait l’hôtesse. Thrista alla commander une assiette de crêpes de céréales au sirop, plat qu’il affectionnait particulièrement depuis qu’il y avait goûté, auprès de la jeune fille qui s’occupait de l’accueil des clients pendant les heures de repas. Il vint ensuite s’installer à une table proche d’une fenêtre et attendit patiemment que l’on vienne lui servir son plat, réfléchissant à la façon dont-il allait occuper sa journée. Il pensa à passer au dojo du nord pour se défouler un peu puis à aller flâner dans les rues marchandes pour acheter ce dont-il aurait besoin pour la suite de son périple. A son étonnement ce fut la patronne elle-même qui vint lui apporter son plat, ce qu’elle ne faisait presque jamais aux heures de repas habituelles.
« Avec les compliments de la maison,  lui sourit Carmen en prenant place en face de lui.

– Eh bien, que me vaut cet honneur ?, demanda Thrista d’un ton moqueur en entamant sa première crêpe.
– Tsss ! C’est cela, moque toi, petit insolent…, le brima gentiment la femme, je voulais simplement te parler, rien de plus. Ce matin j’ai repensé à notre discussion d’hier et je me suis rappelé de quelque chose qui pourrait t’intéresser, toi qui cherche des compagnons de route. Il y a quelques semaines de cela il y avait justement un jeune homme ici, il m’a dit voyager à travers l’Alliance à la recherche de connaissances à lui. Il avait un étrange lézard avec lui et semblait très intéressé par toute information que l’on pouvait lui donner sur les créatures de la région. Je suppose que lui aussi devait être un mage, peut-être même se prépare-t-il pour le prochain Tournoi ? Enfin bref, je me suis dit que ça t’intéresserait peut-être; il est parti il y a plusieurs jours, vers le nord, en direction de Lagos je crois. Il doit avoir fait du chemin depuis mais qui sait, vous vous croiserez peut-être ! Vicker qu’il s’appelait si ma mémoire est bonne, les cheveux roux bouclés et la langue bien pendue… Enfin ! Souhaite-lui le bonjour de ma part si jamais c’est le cas.
– C’est possible en effet, confirma l’adolescent après avoir écouté la femme, peut-être un invocateur au vu de ce que tu me dis. Je ne suis pas certain que je le croiserai un jour mais qui sait ? Merci quand même du renseignement Carmen. Je suis venu pour le mariage de la princesse donc je ne partirai pas avant la fin de la semaine, au plus tôt. Il est donc peu probable que je le croise, mais si un jour cela arrive, je n’y manquerai pas.
– Bien, tu fais à ta guise. C’est tout ce que je voulais te dire pour le moment, si autre chose me revient je te préviendrai, conclut-elle avant de se lever et d’annoncer que les chambres n’allaient pas se faire toutes seules. »
Thrista la remercia de nouveau et commença à manger, dégustant les délicieuses crêpes au sirop et imaginant quel genre d’adversaires il pourrait bien rencontrer au tournoi. Lorsqu’il eu fini son assiette et qu’il se sentit enfin rassasié il se décida à y aller, faisant mettre ce repas sur sa note avant de partir en direction des quartiers nord de la ville.
Il lui fallut une bonne heure de marche pour atteindre le temple du nord de la ville, il avait prit de nombreux détours par des rues calmes pour éviter un maximum la foule qui était de sortie ce jour là. Cela lui avait également permis de digérer tranquillement le repas du matin. Ce qui était communément appelé temple était en fait un ensemble de bâtiments en bois, de style oriental, disposés en carré autour d’une grande cour habillée par un jardin. Celui-ci était composé de différents arbres et arbustes de toutes sortes, d’espaces de relaxation pour que les visiteurs puissent venir s’y détendre ou y méditer ainsi que d’un pont qui chevauchait une petite rivière artificielle. Tout ceci était fait pour refléter le plus possible le calme et faciliter la paix intérieure, voie que poursuivaient tous les initiés du temple à travers la méditation. Car en plus d’être un centre d’entraînement aux arts martiaux, le dojo était aussi un lieu où l’on rendait hommage à Sha’ana déesse instigatrice des valeurs du temple : Force, Honneur et Esprit. En effet, tous les disciples devaient avoir un niveau élevé dans au moins un art martial, respecter les règles et les codes de vie imposés par la déesse mais aussi se cultiver et renforcer corps et esprit pour ainsi devenir des initiés accomplis. Chacun pouvait venir rejoindre le rang des disciples, sans critère de restriction, mais le dojo était également ouvert à tout étranger désirant simplement passer un moment de calme ou souhaitant se mesurer aux arts martiaux du temple.
Thrista pénétra dans l’enceinte et alla s’asseoir sous un grand arbre près d’une des quatre petites fontaines qui étaient dispersées dans cet espace de verdure. Il posa son sac à côté de lui en se mit en position pour méditer, vidant son esprit de tout ce qui pouvait le tracasser, il laissa ses sens vagabonder à leur gré et se concentra sur son cœur spirituel, le point central des flux de mana chez un individu. Une fois qu’il eut une image claire en tête, il étendit sa concentration à tout son corps puis, petit à petit, à l’environnement qui l’entourait, l’étendant sur une dizaine de mètres de diamètre autour de lui. A l’intérieur de ce rayon il pouvait ressentir tous les détails des changements dans les flux d’énergie. L’exercice qu’il faisait aujourd’hui, il l’avait appris quelque temps auparavant, il lui permettait de se reposer physiquement tout en entraînant son maniement du mana et son endurance à l’utiliser. Il avait encore du mal à rester concentré sur la totalité de ce qui l’entourait très longtemps, il se focalisait très vite sur des petits détails comme les mouvements des feuilles de l’arbre non loin ou les battements d’ailes d’un oiseau qui passait au dessus. Mais il était impossible de nier qu’il avait tout de même fait d’énormes progrès. L’adolescent pouvait rester dans cet état pendant plusieurs heures sans être déconcentré ou se sentir fatigué lorsqu’il émergeait ensuite, ce qui représentait un réel avancement par rapport à ses premiers essais. Il se tint ainsi, immobile et observateur pendant ce qui lui parut ne durer qu’une dizaine de minutes, à étudier en même temps les mouvements organisés d’une colonie de fourmis à ses pieds, les mouvements des feuilles au dessus de sa tête et les battements de son propre cœur. Mais lorsqu’il revint à lui le soleil était presque au tiers de sa course dans le ciel. Un bruit sur sa gauche lui fit tourner la tête, l’un des anciens du temple se tenait debout à côté de lui en l’observant.
« Bienvenue à vous visiteur. Veuillez m’excuser si je vous dérange dans votre méditation mais je ne peux m’empêcher d’admirer une telle concentration de la part d’un jeune homme. Peu de jeunes de votre âge arrivent à rester aussi concentré que vous une heure durant, même parmis les fidèles de notre temple, lui dit le vieil homme en le saluant, un léger sourire aux lèvres.
– Merci, lui répondit Thrista en souriant à son tour, ne vous inquiétez pas, je finissais à l’instant. J’ai peut-être l’air très concentré mais je ne le suis pas autant en vérité, lorsque je commence je n’ai qu’une hâte c’est que cet exercice soit fini pour que je puisse passer à quelque chose de plus physique. »
Le vieil homme se mit à rire de bon cœur à cette remarque.
« Eh bien mon jeune ami, vous faites extrêmement bien semblant alors, ça je vous l’accorde. Mais je dois dire que moi aussi, dans ma jeunesse, je pensais à bien d’autres choses que de méditer pendant des heures chaque jour, annonça-t-il, riant toujours. Vous êtes donc venu dans l’esprit de vous défouler après votre méditation ?
– Oui c’est bien cela, acquiesça le jeune homme. D’ailleurs savez vous si je puis trouver une salle pour m’entraîner ?, demanda-t-il ensuite.
– Bien évidemment mon jeune ami, je suis actuellement l’un des trois Maîtres Anciens de ce temple, quelle honte aurais-je si je ne le connaissais point comme le fond de ma poche ! Reprit-il avec un petit rire. »
Thrista sourit à son tour, ce vieil homme lui plaisait bien, il semblait bien moins austère et conservateur que la plupart des prêtres et grands maîtres des autres temples qu’il avait rencontrés jusqu’à présent.
« Suis moi, je vais te montrer le chemin. »
L’homme le mena alors vers l‘ensemble des bâtiments directement à l’opposée de l’entrée principale, ils passèrent devant plusieurs salles où avaient lieu des entraînements aux arts martiaux de contact pour s’arrêter finalement devant une porte en bois à d’apparence simple. Ils pénétrèrent dans la pièce qui contenait de nombreuses armes de tous genres allant de l’arc à l’épée lourde en passant pas des protections pour tout le corps.
« Je me suis dit que cette salle serait tout à fait appropriée pour ton entraînement. Elle est renforcée grâce quelques sorts et est faite pour résister à des chocs violents, donc n’hésite pas te donner à fond.
– Merci à vous Maître Ancien, c’est vraiment très généreux de votre part, le remercia le jeune homme en commençant à se changer. »
Il en profita pour observer la riche gamme d’armes mises à la disposition des personnes venues utiliser cette salle. Thrista savait la faveur que lui faisait le vieil homme, seuls les fidèles du temple devaient normalement avoir accès à cette salle, pourtant il avait eu l’autorisation d’y pénétrer et même de s’y entraîner. Il n’allait pas laisser passer une telle chance !
« Je t’en prie mon jeune ami, mais ne crois pas que je te laisse utiliser librement cette salle pour ton simple plaisir, lui annonça le prêtre, le faisant relever la tête. J’ai senti une présence spirituelle intéressante provenant de toi tout à l’heure et je voudrais te voir à l’œuvre. Cela fait un moment que quelqu’un ne m’a pas rendu curieux à ce point. J’ai beau me faire vieux je suis toujours fasciné par l’empirisme et les combats, expliqua-t-il ensuite avec un petit sourire en se rapprochant. M’accorderais tu le plaisir de voir de quoi tu es capable ? »
Le vieil homme affichait un sourire bienveillant, de plus devant tant de générosité l’adolescent ne pouvait se permettre de refuser.
« Bien sur, c’est la moindre des choses que je puisse faire pour vous remercier de votre accueil, répondit Thrista sans hésiter. »
Il vit alors une flamme dans les yeux du vieil homme, comme si sa réponse venait de raviver quelque chose d’enfoui en lui depuis longtemps. Il ne décela cependant pas le soupçon de malice qui venait ajouter du pétillant à ce regard remplis de sagesse. Au grand étonnement du jeune homme, le plus âgé ôta le drap qui cintrait son corps pour se retrouver dans une tenue identique à celle des jeunes qui suivaient l’entraînement aux arts martiaux et vint se placer au centre de la pièce dans une posture d’attente. Thrista fit de même après une courte hésitation et vint se placer en face de lui.
« J’ai bien peur de ne m’être pas présenté jusqu’à présent, je te prie de m’en excuser. Mon nom est Zani, je suis l’un des trois Maitre Anciens de ce temple et suis également réputé comme le meilleur combattant de ma génération parmis les disciples de Sha’ana. Que dirais-tu d’un petit duel pour s’échauffer mon ami ? »
Tout en disant cela le vieil homme se pencha en avant pour saluer son adversaire potentiel et se mit en garde, une main dans le dos l’autre en avant paré à toute éventualité. Ce dernier semblait avoir instantanément perdu plusieurs dizaines d’années. L’adolescent mit quelques secondes à revenir de sa surprise, mais finit par saluer également son adversaire avec une courte révérence, avant de se mettre en position de combat. Il se mit en garde, les poings brandis devant lui, prêt à réagir à la moindre attaque.
« Mon nom est Thrista, je suis un apprenti empiriste, je n’ai pas non plus une grande expérience dans les arts martiaux, mais je suis ravi d’accepter votre défi Maître Zani, s’exclama-t-il avec un sourire.
– Bien, acquiesça le vieux prêtre, alors es-tu prêt ? Je suis peut-être vieux, mais je ne suis pas impotent, bien au contraire. Sois attentif mon garçon, qui sait, peut-être pourras-tu même apprendre quelque chose ?, ajouta-t-il le sourire aux lèvres, en commençant à tourner autour de Thrista. »
Le jeune homme fit de même, lui aussi un sourire au visage.
« Juste un conseil, commença Zani, le pétillement dans ses yeux s’intensifiant visiblement, ne me sous estime pas ! »
Il bondit vers Thrista avec une vitesse surprenante pour un homme de son âge et le frappa au ventre sans que celui-ci n’ait eu le temps de réagir.
« Tu pourrais le regretter… »


Chapitre Précédent *-* Sommaire *-* Chapitre Suivant

*

Récits d’Ore

Stanley – 33


 STANLEY

Season 2

Part 33

Rated M for mature content.

Previous Chapter


“Uh oh…”, she said.

Michel looked up at her, his eyebrows frowned. he appeared not to have noticed anything.

“Trouble…”, she simply added, discreetly pointing to the three men.

As hard as she may have been thinking he would, the bearded man did not turn his head immediately, instead he stared at the window, looking at the reflection of the restaurant to see what she meant. Wow, he’s not as thick as I imagined, she thought. Well, not up there at least, she added with a smirk which, unfortunately, quickly disappeared as she remembered what was going on. The three strangers had entered the restaurant like cowboys entering a saloon, completely confident and proud of themselves, and they had reasons to be so! They were tall, buffed and all seemed extremely intimidating with their black suits, their black glasses and their neatly combed short hair. A normal person would have done everything they could to avoid even having eye contact with them, one could feel the strength of their gaze even through the tinted glass. They took a look around, slowly scanning the perimeter, as if they were looking for something. Or someone.

Stephanie had almost hoped that they weren’t there for Michel and her. Perhaps they are just coming here for a simple meal, she thought as she took a sip of her soda, still discreetly looking at them. Unfortunately she was wrong, they were there for the two of them, for as soon as they took a look at the whole room, making sure the way was clear, they approached their table without even a hint of hesitation. Damn it…, cursed the young woman. How did they know we were here so fast? How did they even know it was us? We made sure to cover our faces when we escaped and the cops following us weren’t able to see us clearly, I’m sure of it. Plus we were careful not to leave any DNA on the scene. So how?! She couldn’t explain this. Somehow the government -because these guys were clearly not cops or private goons, they belonged to the government, probably a well hidden branch too- had already heard of them and was tracking them.

“Do you think we should try to run?”, Michel asked quietly.

Stephanie shook her head.

“No,” she replied as discreetly, “we still aren’t sure they are here for us, plus I’m sure they’re armed. Let’s wait a bit more. But be ready to act when I give you the signal…”

“Le signal? Quel signal?”, Michel asked, confused.

The young woman did not reply, moving slightly to get in a more comfortable sitting position as the government agents closed in on them. She was racking her brain to try to find an explanation to their presence so soon and a plan to get out of there if things went awry. Was it possible they were from… No, she thought, impossible. Or is it? She couldn’t say. She had heard things, rumors, about a special branch of the government, a very very very VERY secret agency that took care of… special cases. Cases involving events that weren’t really explainable with normal logic, mysterious disappearances, etc. But these were all heresays, and bad hearsays at that, nothing more. She had no assurance that it was linked to them. They couldn’t… they couldn’t have known about her, could they? No, it had been so long… She had the urge to get up and run away immediately, she didn’t want to see if what she had heard was true, but she couldn’t. If she did they’d surely catch her. She had to wait and take them by surprise if she wanted to make it out… But how?, she thought as the three men stopped besides her and Michel’s table. She didn’t know yet, she’d have to improvise… In the meantime she turned her head towards them and smiled.

“Hello! Is something wrong?”, she asked as innocently as possible.

To be continued…

Stanley – 32


 STANLEY

Season 2

Part 32

Rated M for mature content.

Previous Chapter


She had the impression they had been running for hours as they finally slowed down to a normal walking pace. They entered the fast food, trying to act as normal as possible despite their heavy breathing and the fact that both of them were drenched in sweat. They sat down at a table after ordering something to eat; Michel had insisted he “fill his belly with the sweet delight of fast cuisine” and she hadn’t had the heart to say no, her stomach rumbling at the smell of those delicious fries. Her partner started devouring his meal immediately and she followed in turn, both famished after having to run away from that horde of cops.

They had been halfway through the second rooftop when they had heard the shouts of police officers telling them to stop coming from the stairway behind them. How they had managed to get up there so fast was something Stephanie couldn’t explain but they had managed it. Of course neither of them had hesitated even a single second before starting to run faster, she couldn’t get caught, especially not after what she had done. She didn’t manage to stop herself from cringing at the thought, it had all been for naught… Plus she didn’t have a very fond memory of prison cells. Apparently Michel wasn’t too keen on letting himself get caught either because he lead the way without slowing down.

Where the shouts of the police officers had not even fazed her a bit, the first gunshots had almost made her freeze on the spot, almost. It had been surprising, she had never heard a gunshot from such little distance and the whizzing of the bullets as they rushed past both of them was quite surprising too but, since Michel didn’t skip a beat in his run, she didn’t stop and kept running. They had cut it close, very close even, she had to admit that. Even with all her good will and the energy she put into moving her legs one in front of the other at the highest speed possible she couldn’t help but being a little scare, or, more precisely, a bit apprehensive. Being on a rooftop wasn’t that dangerous in itself if one knew how to keep one’s balance and not to do anything stupid. The problem is that they were doing all the stupid possible at that moment: running at full speed, not caring where they stepped, running away from cops and being shot at. Not the most clever thing she had done in her life…

She had barely felt anything as the bullet had grazed her on the right side of her chest, making a hole in her jacket, it had been the feeling of wetness and the dizziness that had come after that had alerted her that something was wrong. She hadn’t said anything though, not before they had managed to get back down to the street. Then, and only then, as the cries of the police officers on the rooftops could still be heard, she had told Michel.

“Let’s get to the car first , we’ll see that then,” she had replied as he had advised to check her wound.

They had driven off as quickly as possible, somehow evading all the police cars on the way and had finally ended up in the commercial zone. Michel had parked the car near a mall and had bought a few supplies to treat her wound while she was evaluating the damage. In the end it hadn’t been to serious, a gash on her side and nothing more. Still hurting but with a clean wound and a reassured mind, they had walked in the nearest fast food to grab a quick bite. And here they were, unsure of what to do next, if they had been tracked by the police or if they were now fugitives. After all, the cops hadn’t been close enough to get a look at their faces so they most likely were safe, but one never knew. Stephanie was starting to relax, thinking back to the apartment and the clues they had found as she ate her chicken burger, when she saw the three men in black suits walk in the room.

To be continued…

EoP – Part 116


Echoes of Power

Part 116


“You are late,” was the first thing the teenager heard as he approached the man he had met just a few days before.

“Yeah, I know, I’m sorry I-“, he began his reply but was interrupted.

“I told you not to be late,” he heard Damian say, cutting him in the middle of his sentence and

Alexandre looked at the older man, frowning as his surprise slowly passed. He almost grunted. Almost. The only reason he managed to refrain himself from doing so was that he had a feeling that in doing so he would earn himself another snarky remark. He was realizing too late he had been right in his negative premonition a few minutes earlier, almost regretting his decision to have come. Damian’s face was an unreadable mask as he sat on the ground, his blue scarf around his neck and his legs crossed. His hands were on his thighs and he was visibly doing something akin to meditation. The man hadn’t even opened his eyes or moved to greet the teenager even though Alexandre was sure he had heard him approach and recognized him. The light-haired teen was beginning to regret his decision to accept someone like that as his teacher, whatever the odds of him being killed by dangerous creatures in the future…

“Do you regret your decision?”, suddenly asked Damian, still in the same position, as if he had read the teenager’s thoughts.

“Uh…”, Alexandre began, his surprise making him hesitate, “no, no! I don’t regret it, I just…”, he paused again, unsure of what to say.

Damian remained silent, as if he was waiting for his student, inviting him to explain himself. Alexandre’s hesitation didn’t last long though. He had been prepared to anything when he had accepted Damian as his teacher, well, not anything, as he didn’t even know what would happen next, but he knew it wasn’t going to be something ‘normal’… Plus, despite the thoughts that had crossed his mind, he wasn’t ready to die yet and if that weird dude, sitting on the grass in front of him, could help with that he wasn’t going to say no. Plus he wanted answers, he needed answers. Whatever I have to do, he thought as he opened his mouth again, no matter if this is a bad decision.

“I just have so many questions that I don’t know where to begin,” he replied as he walked the few paces that separated him from the strange man who had agreed to tell him about what was going on.

“Alright then!”, Damian exclaimed as he finally opened his eyes, looking at the teenager with his unsettling blue eyes.

“I will answer your questions, that I have promised, but before we begin anything I must ask you, are you willing to let me teach you about the art of Empirium?”, he then said, still looking straight at Alexandre, before adding, “You know why I am asking that, don’t you? This is not going to be easy in the least, learning to read and use the flow of mana will come with a price, do you accept that?”

“Yes.”, replied Alexandre with a nod, not even letting himself a moment to think about it.

He wanted to know and he saw no other way, at least none in which he could keep it all to himself… Damian looked at him silently for a moment, as if he was evaluating the teenager’s resolve, before nodding and standing up.

“Very well. From now on you are my student, I am your master and that is how we will refer to each other. You will do as I say, no question, no complaint, just follow my orders. I will answer your questions, if you have any, when the time comes, that is when I decide so. I will do it then and only then. In the meantime you will know only what you need to know. Is that understood?”

“Yes!”, replied Alexandre, looking straight back.

The teenager saw Damian frown slightly, the man took a few steps towards him, their gaze never breaking off.

“‘Yes master.’, that is how you will reply to me from now on, only in that manner. Once more, is that understood?”

Alexandre almost froze again, the intensity of the gaze was barely sustainable as it became clear he hadn’t been wrong about Damian. This was not going to be easy.

“Yes master.”, he repeated, straightening slightly at the words.

Damian nodded, seemingly satisfied, before sitting back down.

“Now sit, there are things you need to know before we begin…”


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