It was 23 of June of 2020, or the day after I made poor Santi’s head spin from the sheer amount of information I had dropped on him. It had taken him the whole afternoon to convince his family of the truth, namely that he wasn’t drugged and I wasn’t an impostor. It helped that he opened a portal to Leon and bought some Leon blood sausages, though he preferred Burgos’s. He then opened another portal to New Zealand, showing them the mountains shown in the Lord of the Rings movies. And for good measure Santiago opened a portal to a certain place in Aragon and bought some goat cheese.
Needless to say his family was pretty convinced that I wasn’t the devil, or that they had quite a few delicious dishes that night in celebration of all that had happened that day. I would go into loving detail about it, but since I normally can’t eat due to my precepts, you too don’t get to enjoy it. Or maybe I should describe it, and give you all hunger. Hm. Ok, I’ll be good.
Leaving my desire for something I don’t need aside, Santi had plans that day so he woke even earlier than usual. By eight in the morning he had finished his daily practice, eaten breakfast, showered and was free since he wouldn’t leave until 13:20. As for why he had woken so early in the morning? He wanted to make sure he didn’t suffer from any kind of power incontinence. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised about his control over his new powers, I was at ready to avoid any disaster like opening a portal to the surface of the Sun, but it never happened. Good for him.
So at 13:17 Santiago left his house and got on the bus. Exactly where he lived I can’t relate, since that Madrid was different from your own, but it was a decent borough for middle class families. One thing that is the same in this universe, is that Madrid’s public transportation is quite good, strikes notwithstanding. In fact you wouldn’t be wrong to think of Madrid as the same place as your universe’s due to their remarkable similarity, just not with the same names. Actually, due to my brilliant laws regarding the use of the Steel Bulwark, this Earth is very similar to your own despite all the Fayd stuff. The probably biggest deviation is that World War 2 was bloodier due to the involvement of the Söhne des Lichts and the Abfangjäger. Oh, and everything prior to 14,000 b.c.
Santiago’s destination was a mall in his area. While on route there a certain teenager got on his bus. This young man was of East Asian ancestry, having both Korean, Japanese ancestors. He was in Spain for a mundane reason, his parent’s job, in addition he had come last year and would leave by March to return to Japan. This had made him impressively open with relationships, since he knew that if he screwed up he wouldn’t deal with it for long. The reason why this is important is simple and showed itself when he saw Santiago.
“Hey.” He greeted Santiago.
“Hm.” Santiago nodded at him, before the teenager sat by his side.
“What good luck to get a seat at this hour. I should have expected you would come early though.”
“Hm.” This hm was affirmative, although you would need to know him to recognise that.
“You aren’t very talkative today huh? You still sleepy?”
At this Santiago turned to him and raised an eyebrow, the teenager decided to shrug in exchange.
“I know, but you normally speak much more.”
“You did tell me you had passed, congrats. Here you are provost, here I am second dan. I knew you were better than me but still. What is a provost equivalent to, seventh dan?”
“Thanks. Not a direct correlation. Roughly yes. But there isn’t a waiting time of years between exams like in kendo.”
“I know, I still have a few months until I can get to third dan.”
“You’ll pass, good enough.”
At this the teenager stared at Santiago, who hadn’t been looking at him while speaking.
“You remind me of a year ago, Coconut. Why have you returned to the ways of the Coconut, instead of remaining as the sweet apple you truly are?”
Santiago sighed in annoyance, before deciding to just give up. He knew very well that Miyamoto Akihito never surrendered when it came to knowing people. He had demonstrated that when he had silently been by his side for four months, from October to January, despite him ignoring Aki all that time. Santiago guessed he had earned the Coconut nickname, even if it was embarrassing.
“Yesterday I learned my sister is still alive, I can do magic, and there are terrifying beings out there.”
One thing that Santi appreciated about Aki was that he was just as silent as he was, probably Japanese politeness, even if he had been infected by Spain. As such Aki didn’t do any noise, he just widened his eyes and hung his mouth. Santiago took some morbid pleasure in that he had managed to wipe both Aki’s stoicism and smile, which seemed to be the sole expressions he was capable of.
“That... is unusual.” Aki took a moment. “Do you need help to get her back? I…”
“Aki, I may sell you weapons, since I trust you, but I want plausible deniability in case you are doing something illegal. Don’t tell me what you do.”
“I’m not doing anything illegal.” Aki paused to think. “Unless exploring a new area in the Fayd is illegal.”
“It isn’t. Though you are encouraged to report it.”
“I… can’t do that, sorry.”
“Hm?” Aki looked at Santiago with curiosity. “What has your brain come up with?”
“I think I know why you don’t go through official routes. Anyway I sort of expected that, I buy a lot of materials from you. You must kill a few dozen daemons daily, with how many you get for me.”
“I still can’t believe you saw me injured one day and just decided to sell me weapons.” Aki shook his head at that and turned to the front. “Wait.” He turned back to Santi. “Don’t change the subject, sister, magic, existential horror.”
Santi smiled at him, before recounting what he had experience the previous day. While he was telling him, they got down from the bus after arriving at their destination. By the time he had finished they were already in the mall, heading to a certain restaurant.
For a moment the conversation had entered a lull while Aki glared at Santi. Santiago just walked peacefully, knowing he would talk soon.
“I call bull.”
“You having mastery over space-time on the level of Yog-Sothoth. He is space-time itself, all of space-time.”
“You like Lovecraft?”
“Lovecraft’s big in Japan. You know, since the concept of humans being unable to deal with great beings is so rare, things on the level of the Outer Gods are the only horror there is. Even if they are similar to Daemon Gods. The existence of the Fayd cripples horror I swear. When your neighbor can level a building with a thought…”
Unspoken was the fact that taking into account the quality of materials that Aki sold to Santiago, Akihito could also level buildings with a thought.
“You’ll like to know that Primordials are just as terrifying as Outer Gods, even with the Fayd. As for your question, the answer is universal barriers.”
“The dividing line of space-time.” Knowing that Aki wouldn’t understand with just that, Santi continued. “Imagine that the universe is a sphere floating in a liquid contained by another sphere. Between the first sphere and the liquid there is a separation, that allows the universe’s space-time to be distinct from the liquid, the Fayd’s space-time. Each universe is an independent entity, and the Fayd too is independent from the Sea of Chaos. This separation is a universal barrier, or a stretch of enforced void.”
“Enforced… void.” Santiago smiled wryly, even he wouldn’t get it without the Primordial potion.
“Enforced void is… weird. It is a sort of negative space, but that is a horrible description. Think of it as a region of the Sea of Chaos where nothing is allowed to exist. Not even space-time. If something attempts to cross it he will find it like a wall, it will push back against him. That said, there are ways to circumvent them, however they are mostly unavailable to anyone that isn’t a Ruler or above.”
“So each universe has an independent space-time surrounded by a barrier made of enforced void? Got it.”
The horror in Aki’s face made Santiago chuckle. At that moment they arrived at the restaurant.
There they were greeted by a waiter. They told him they had reservations, and he guided them to their seats, which were secluded from the rest of the restaurant.
“Don’t worry, it’s just a detail. I’ve been told there are five classes of beings in the Sea of Chaos. One of them is … there are no words about it in any language spoken by humans, so I’ll call it Verse after poetry. A Verse is a self-sustained stable limited portion of the Sea of Chaos. A “Verse” to the “Song” of the Sea.”
The look on Aki’s face didn’t change at all. The expression on the waiter’s face did change however, but she was a professional and she simply twitched.
“In the Sea of Chaos everything is possible, everything. Even things you can’t think of. On the other hand a Verse has a limited set of rules, like our laws of physics.
A Verse is stable. Or, there are no paradoxes. While in the Sea of Chaos mass having both normal gravity and reverse gravity is possible, I think that in a Verse that is impossible, because such an existence would collapse faster than a quantum leap can happen. As such a Verse can have no paradoxes, its laws of physics are complete and they work perfectly. Any paradox detected is due to not knowing how the Verse really works. On the other hand in the Sea of Chaos all paradoxes are right and wrong, meaning that 1=2=6=5=7=209=23=0 is both right and wrong in the Sea of Chaos.”
“Stop. I don’t need to know more, I don’t-“
The waiter had chosen to ignore the talk behind her, willfully believing that they were talking about a book.
“Don’t worry, the next part is easier. A Verse is self-sustaining, this means that a Verse with no outside intervention can last for extended periods of time in the Sea of Chaos. This is important since most things that arise in the Sea are immediately destroyed. Partly because they aren’t stable, partly because they lack a universal barrier to protect them from the Sea.
The crux of the issue is that a Verse can be a lone universe, like ours, or a universe where the Many Worlds Theory is true, or a multiverse of ten universes.”
Aki sighed as they reached their reservations, which where empty. As they seated at one end of the eight seat table, he chastised Santiago.
“All of that just to tell me that it’s multiverses that possess universal barriers, and not just universes.” Seeing that Santiago opened his mouth he rushed to say, “I get it, Verses. You truly love explaining things, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do. Anyway, do you know that Primordials could be considered living Verses? Though they are more complex than that.”
Aki facepalmed and groaned.
“So you are on the level of Yog-Sothoth since he is a living part of the universe, Verse, and you are a living Verse, I take it?”
“An embryonic Verse, and the ability to cross universal barriers is rare among Primordials. It took Watcher from the Dark a friggin long time to learn how to do that. But other than that, yes, you got it.”
“Good. Now let’s speak about something else, alright? Something lighter.”
“I don’t see why it’s so difficult, you are brilliant.”
“I think metaphysics are way above Bachillerato level curriculum, just saying.”
Santi, in his mind, understood that he may have gone a bit overboard with the explanation. However he mused he should be excused since he had to share what he knew. It was difficult to just wake up one day with secret knowledge about the workings of the universe, or rather, Sea of Chaos. Was it so bad that he wanted to speak about it to organise his mind? He thought not. But knowing it was a very bizarre subject, he dropped it.
“Alright. I think it is time you told me what do you want my family to do with those Windcutter Cloths you brought me last week.”
“Who names those things?”
“My dad. Don’t dodge the question, Aki.”
“If that is what you want it’ll take 36,672.23 euros.”
“That’s highway robbery!”
“You may be my friend, but prices aren’t negotiable Aki. And I know you have the money, since I paid you 230,000 for those materials.”
“But you are asking a seventh of that for a simple long coat! A long coat that is barely a hundredth of the total material I sold you.”
“Price of quality work Aki. My family is expensive, we’ve been doing this since before the Phoenicians arrived at Tartessos. And a third of the cloth was unusable, too singed to do anything.”
While the two friends were discussing the price of Akihito’s equipment the other commensals arrived. They were thirteen including Santiago and Aki. Of them five were students of the San Ignacio de Loyola school, located in the borough Santiago lived in, though one of them had finished Bachillerato and wouldenter college after summer. Two others were students, while the last six were adults.
Santiago could identify all of them save two. His classmates were Aki, his former upperclassman Isabel Reyes García, the daughter of the navigator family Almudena Herrero Guerrero, and a friend of Aki’s named Ignacio Fernandez Ruiz. He knew Almudena pretty well due to both of their families dealing with the Fayd, though her family made maps and Fayd navigation implements. Of the other two he knew little.
While he didn’t know the other two students he could pinpoint the adults, since all of them dealt with the Fayd. The scruffy looking man sold and maintained Fayd exploration vehicles, he was known as Felipe González Redondo. His automobiles were sturdy, efficient, reliable and fairly priced. The only reason why he was not hideously rich was that all of his machines were hand made, so he sold only a few.
The shady looking man owned a medicinal shop which was authorised to both make daemonic medicine and heal Fayd related injuries. Despite his looks he was nice, he just liked black way too much. While his medical ability was medium, his medicine was some of the best.
The well dressed woman was slightly different, in that she didn’t own a shop. She was actually a researcher, owner of the famed private Fayd research firm Kosmos. Santiago wondered for a moment how someone as famous as Ana María Suárez Cortés wasn’t swarmed, before he noticed that while her firm was renowned, Ana was not.
The gentle looking old woman was actually Nuria Medina Gómez, also known as the Asura. She was Akihito’s kendo sensei, as well as a retired mage. She was infamous due to her combat prowess, as well as how many areas of the Fayd she had explored.
And finally, the stern woman was an agent of the Agencia Española de Control sobre Materias de la Distorsión, or Fayd in English. She was probably Aki’s legal counsel. Her name was Silvia Serrano Molina.
Once they had all arrived Aki, Isabel, Ignacio and the other two students rose.
“Good evening everyone.” Said Aki. “We have invited you all for two reasons. First, all of you managed to learn that I was exploring the Fayd and decided to help me. As we recently managed to achieve a great victory, we wished to thank all of you for it.”
He raised his glass in a toast and the others followed.
“Second, we think you deserve to know why we haven’t gone through the usual channels, as well as who we are. It is because of this that we invited you here, except Santiago. He deduced half of us on his own.”
Santiago waved when the others turned to him, and shrugged.
“I’m an expert at reading body language, and Santiago’s weapon provider. First I sold him weapons for two humans and a daemon, and Ignacio started to show signs of battle experience. Last month I began to sell weapons for six, and Isabel too demonstrated experience. Recently I saw the three of them alongside a daemon and the other two. While I don’t know you two you did show familiarity with conflict.”
“Impressive.” Commented Silvia. “Are you interested in a part time job at the AECMD? We could use someone like you.”
“Sorry, I don’t think I will have the time. I’m learning magic soon.”
“You?” Asked Almudena, that knew of Santiago’s issue.
“I’ll tell you later, let Aki finish.”
“Thank you Santi. First, presentations are in order. As Santi pointed, we are six but our daemon isn’t here.”
Then the other four presented themselves, it turned out that the other two were called Francisca Hidalgo Santana and Rubén Gallego Cruz. After that Felipe insisted on everyone saying what they did for the group, and it turned out that they did exactly what Santiago had expected. Except Silvia, that also made sure that their operations were above board while unnoticed.
“Presentations done, though I’m sure most of you knew each other, particularly Santi.”
“The Kyrioi apo Metallon are a very famous daemonsmith family.” Said Nuria. “I always buy from them, best quality in Europe, in my opinion. Since Santiago’s family stocks their products they are quite prominent in our community.”
“Thank you for your patronage. But let us allow him to speak without interruptions.”
Santi smiled at Nuria, he had seen her sometimes at the family shop so he was somewhat familiar with her.
“Bah! He made us come here instead of telling us one by one. Let us reward his laziness with interruptions.”
Aki’s smile strained a little when he heard that his motivation had been so easily seen through. But in his opinion by doing this he could get everyone to know each other, and tell them of his activities. A more efficient solution even if he saved time and effort as a result.
“Ahem! So, ignoring the blatant attack I’ve suffered-“
“You aren’t denying it?” Asked Rubén.
“Anyway. The reason we have been so secretive is meaningless. We just don’t want to share the place we are exploring with others.”
Nobody in the table believed that for a second, Akihito just wasn’t that reckless. Exploring an entirely new area of the Fayd with six people was folly, normally expeditions were made of several dozens of people. From a young age everyone was made conscious of the dangers of the Fayd, and while some may be willing to take the risk, most wouldn’t explore without at least some supervision.
As such everyone there, all of whom had experience with the Fayd, understood what was implied by what they had heard.
“Nod if yes. Am I right to suppose that you didn’t just say that you didn’t tell us you did it because you didn’t want to share?”
“Why are you doubting me? Do I merit such trust?”
“That is a yes then. What do you think, Ana?”
The discussion continued, with the experts taking silence on the part of the squad of five as a confirmation of their guesses. They couldn’t intervene in the conversation anyway.
“A curse. A powerful curse that impedes anyone from communicating the truth about whatever that place they are exploring is.”
Everyone turned to look at Akihito’s reaction, but he did nothing.
“A curse that only impedes direct communication then. How is such a thing possible?”
Ramón’s doubt was understandable. A curse capable of affecting so many people was nearly impossible to imagine.
“Maybe it is some sort of curse that affects those that know the truth? Like, it spreads when someone gains knowledge of that place, making it so that they can’t speak of it?”
Almudena’s proposal had merit, but thankfully Santiago had knowledge of one such curse.
“No, I have seen a curse of that type.” He then thought for a second. “No, the truth is that I am under such a curse.”
Curiosity filled the air at Santiago’s words. It is worth saying that everyone in the table was experienced in the Fayd, and yet none of them had ever heard of such a curse.
“I am unable to spread the identity of our Kyrioi patrons.” Explained Santiago. “No, I think I actually know what is going on, but…”
“But?” Asked Silvia.
“But is unbelievable and terrifying. I said before that I am an expert at reading body language, to the point I can predict another human’s actions. And yet I found no incongruity on his micro expressions. I know that a curse like the one used by the Kyrioi actually disables body language in order to avoid any communication.
Taking into account that the Kyrioi are Spain’s greatest and oldest magical clan… I doubt anyone could do better with such a curse than them. But they may do something better.”
“What are you waiting for then?” Asked Nuria.
“Sigh. I simply am preparing myself. I believe the curse impedes the acquisition of knowledge of that place in Madrid, maybe even further. It is a curse upon our very land.”
“What?! Why do you think that?!” The fear in Silvia’s voice was blatant, aware of the power that needed.
“I have recently… No, let me start again. Whenever I asked Akihito about that place I saw a certain thing. A flow of SINQUM and Ether rising from the ground. I believe it holds a mental compulsion to ignore it. I can’t be affected by such things, so I could see it. Unfortunately I can’t actually see the flow when inactive, so I can’t tell how big the effect is.”
“So knowledge of the curse isn’t a taboo? That was the name of a curse of this kind, right?”
“Yes.” Confirmed Ana María.
After that a discussion broke over how to deal with such a thing if true, with everyone making plans in their own way. Santiago kept quiet, since the methods of the Kyrioi had failed to detect anything, but maybe others would have better luck. As they run out of ideas the discussion halted, but soon afterwards Silvia tried to excuse herself.
“Are you mad? We paid for this meal, and we’re here to celebrate the kids detaining that criminal.” Scolded Nuria. “Who, now that I think about it, is probably related to all of this. Meaning there are ways of circumventing the curse.”
“Prisoner?” Asked Santiago.
“A man from an organisation that has emerged recently. They are pretty good, but these guys,” Silvia pointed at Akihito, “managed to get one of them.”
While Silvia wasn’t the only one who wished to leave, no one wished to offend the Asura, and the meal resumed. Santiago later reflected that the meal was a pleasant affair, with him finding the members of Akihito’s squad quite pleasant. All in all, a relaxing time, since aside from there being a prisoner he already knew practically everything.
After two days had passed I summoned Santiago, around 8:30 in the morning.
“It is time. Return to me.”
Before opening a portal Santiago finished a self-hypnosis exercise he had learned in therapy, and then crossed over.
I should mention the limitation of his portals. First, he needed direct line of vision, in order to see the space between the two points. Second, it is a little known fact that electrical and gravity fields are actually distortions in space-time. The density of air is low enough that the distortion can be ignored, so he can only open portals in materials of density between air and void. This limitation does apply to the Fayd, but only for daemonic SINQUM. Finally, it requires little concentration, so he can open many portals at the same time.
Once he crossed over Santiago received a surprise, I had redecorated. The floor was now covered in a soft carpet, and I had a bed, one chair, and a single desk. The basin was still there, he’d need its healing properties.
When he saw me I waved at him, and signaled at the chair. Once he was seated I began to speak.
“Good morning. I am glad you followed my advice. Have you thought of any questions about what I told you three days ago?”
“Yes, why was I and my sister targeted?”
“You already know that. You two are part of the Kyrioi apo Metallon.”
Kyrioi apo Metallon, roughly meaning Lords of Metal in Ancient Greek, were a somewhat reclusive family of daemonsmiths. They offered some of the best equipment in the world, and definitely the best in Spain. They were so good and so ancient in fact, that there were Greek, Phoenician and Roman myths about them. Even within the family itself there was debate about whether the Immortal Blacksmith had ever existed. But the Alonso family didn’t just sell their products, they were part of it.
The reason why Santiago’s twin had been kidnapped by that Lich, and Santiago’s Guardian stolen, was because the family was so mythical, that their Guardians had mutated to become more powerful than that of an ordinary human. This mutation only happened in members acknowledged by the clan. The acknowledgement ritual made it so that the children of every active member of the clan received the mutation. After all the Kyrioi were said to be over ten thousand years old, and they surely were at least three thousand years old. Their descendants populated the world.
While the Kyrioi weren’t the only such clan in the world, they were the least defended one when their secrecy was breached. Of course since they were so secretive no one outside the family should know they held such a mutation. Because of this the disasters that fell upon the Alonso family had caused great unrest upon the family.
There were nine branches, all of them with ordinary names due to their secrecy, only identified by their favored products. They were Blade, Bow, Blunt, Pole, Axe, Gun, Hand, Cloth Armour and Metal Armour. However every branch could produce all kinds of weapons, it’s just that everyone had a different specialty. Each branch was allowed twelve smiths at a time, all within three generations of the oldest smith. Gonzalo, Santiago’s father, was the sixth smith of the Gun branch. Furthermore only the smiths were allowed to tell outsiders of their affiliation, with having knowledge by itself imposing a curse on the one in the know, a curse that impeded them from telling others of it.
Suffice to say that only Santiago and his family knew of his affiliation, which made him uncomfortable whenever the Kyrioi surfaced in a conversation. Fortunately the curse was so effective that it affected even his body language, making it so that no one ever realised it.
I had been watching Santiago closely, to see how he would react. I was pleased to see that he didn’t. With all that I had told him that he didn’t know he already suspected I knew that. A satisfying conclusion. Oh, I try to avoid reading people’s minds, so I don’t always know what they are thinking. It helps keep life fresh.
“How did they know?”
“I must say that due to the laws I work under what I can tell you is limited. This is because I am heavily encouraged to respect free will, and the decisions of mortals. Telling you how they did things would be skirting too close to the line.
That said, if you do things for me I have more freedom in what I can tell you.”
Santiago gnashed his teeth and clenched his fists.
“Isn’t there any way?”
“Taking into account I am one of those who enforce the rules? None.”
That took the wind from his sails. He visibly slackened, his muscles relaxing. Knowing that I had the answers and wouldn’t tell him was taxing on him. It was akin to being in the desert and having an oasis just out of reach. What I wouldn’t tell him is that the knowledge would do more wrong than right, because even that could derail my plans. And he wouldn’t like for my plans to fail, since his success was the main goal of them. I did take pity on him, when I saw his disappointment.
“I can tell you that if you successfully gain the Guardian I want you to have, I will be able to tell you more about the Daemon God that took your Guardian.”
“But won’t you be the one that gives me a new Guardian?”
What? I’m not completely heartless. I just look at the greater picture, but not in human terms. My plans always try to save and aid the highest amount of people, without having severe side effects. Honestly the only reason my plans aren’t always the best option are because of the human factor. Every mortal that manage to fulfill the objectives I gave them has been satisfied.
My answer renewed Santiago’s spirits, and he straightened.
“How do I get this Guardian then?”
“As I said previously I can make a new Guardian easily. The issue here is making a Guardian compatible with your original. This is so that when you two fuse together they will complement each other and enhance your power to greater heights. And not rip you apart.”
“Aren’t there any effects to fusing with my Guardian?”
It is understandable that he’d worry about that.
“Good question. The answer is no. While a Guardian is basically a True Daemon, it is one inexorably tied to your psyche. Even when separated the conexión you share is deep, so deep in fact that you are the same person.”
“Don’t think of your Guardian as something other than you. Think of it more as a split personality, except even less distinct. You and your Guardian are the same person, just with a slightly different filter. A filter born from your differing experiences. If you fuse you will gain your Guardian’s memories, or maybe your Guardian will gain your memories.
Your Guardian is you, you are your Guardian. The worst that can happen to you both after you fuse is becoming more talkative.”
“I see.” And he did actually get it, based on how he smiled at the prospect. “I guess this is why you said that being separated from my Guardian made me more powerful.”
“Yes it is. I won’t bore you with the details, but two Guardians or daemons working as closely as I plan for yours to be are more powerful than a single one with twice the power of one of the two components. It’s due to laws about how SINQUM actually works that your civilisation is yet to discover. But you can think of it as a tornado. A hot current and cold one by themselves aren’t destructive, but when they collide in certain circumstances they create the destructive force of nature that tornadoes are.”
“That’s cool. How do I actually get my second Guardian?”
“The base process is an imitation of the one that happens during conception. At that moment the Guardians of the parents emit a small part of themselves. Once the zygote is formed an embryonic Guardian begins to develop. A Guardian has several life stages, and in all of them it is fully functional. An awakened Guardian is different in that the awakening process causes it to become a True Daemon that fuses with the host physically, whereas previously it was a purely mental entity.
In order to awaken a Guardian one must reach a certain level of mental ability. Concretely abstraction. This is because for a base Guardian to develop the mind it is part of must also develop. So you could say that only once you have the abstraction abilities needed to become aware of your Guardian, it is developed enough to become a True Daemon. The easier process of forming a bond with a daemon actually causes for the maturation of the Guardian to speed up by feeding on the daemon.”
“You do know that you have just shattered my civilisation’s understanding on Guardians?”
“Yes. You are free to inform others of this if you want. Allow me to continue my explanation. You must know that your researchers aren’t wrong to say that Guardians are the same besides elemental affinities and powers, but they don’t know why. The answer is tied to two main factors, the physical laws of the universe, and the genetics of the species. These two together make it so that Guardians of different species in the same universe are similar, and those of the same species nearly identical.
What is different is due to a myriad factors, but is mainly tied to the mind of the person. It is a very complex affair, but boiled down it means that the powers and elemental affinities of the Guardian are determined by the psychological makeup of the person, while they are developing the Guardian.
Next I will say what is similar between Guardians. And that is how it develops, how it works, and how it uses magic. The first one is easy, within a the same species in the same universe Guardians grow the same way. The second one is more complex. It means that Guardians are like a species of daemons, they share functionality, but this is irrelevant for your purposes.
Magic is where things get interesting. You have been taught that Free Magic requires only faith or belief, right?”
“Well, that is false. Requiring only faith is what the formation of daemons does, and as you know the results of that are unpredictable. If you want to create an specific effect with SINQUM you must guide the process. Here is where different species and universes vary. Some use geometric figures, others rituals, chants, reagents, etc. What is used depends in what the Guardian has evolved to interpret.
In your case that is visualisation. You must hold a strong mental image so that your Guardian guides the process of making a flame. Or else you may just lit yourself on fire. This is why for the Guardian to mature the person needs a certain level of imagination, because only then can the Guardian function. Since the Guardian is part of the mind the maduration from daemon bonding causes the person to develop said abstraction capabilities.”
“What is Standard Magic then?”
“A prerecorded mental image that automatically guides the Guardian. It is why Hybrid Magic is what humans use. Since it is modifying the prerecorded image it allows to change the process while still being as fast and nearly as easy as Standard Magic.”
I paused to let him assimilate the knowledge. In all honesty I didn’t need to explain all of this, but I wanted him to understand what I was going to do and why.
“I explained all of this to make clear why I can’t just give you any Guardian. To do that I’d simply have to introduce an artificial embryonic Guardian in you, and since your original is already mature thus giving you the mental abilities needed to mature a Guardian, it’d simply mature on its own.
The issue is that your original was taken six years ago. Your mind is not the same as it was, and most of the makeup of your original was induced by the Daemon God that stole it. So to make sure that both your Guardians are compatible while the second one matures I will strengthen the connection between your original and you.”
“So, will my second Guardian be like the first?”
“Good question. The answer is no. In fact due to what the Daemon God did, you will get the opposite powers.”
Santiago’s eyes narrowed as he thought.
“Like hot and cold currents.”
His voice was filled with suspicion, understanding that I was giving him information with every word. I did this so that he’d realise that I plan every single one of the words I speak, and so he may learn to discern more information that I’m allowed to from my not so innocuous wording. What? Just because I uphold the rules doesn’t mean I can’t see the loopholes. They are there on purpose.
“Correct. The reason why I approached you three days ago, and the reason I wanted you at your best are because of this. Being at your best will ensure the process goes smoothly. Doing it today will help because again, the Guardian is connected to you by a two way street. Your first Guardian will also change, but thankfully today is the day he increases his stage, and any changes to its powers will be attributed to that. This way we won’t alert that Daemon God to your growth.”
Santiago took a sharp breath, understanding what I implied. That the Daemon God still had designs for him in storage.
“Motherfuc-“ He stopped himself when he remembered I was there. “Mother, that guy isn’t satisfied yet?”
“Kid, I’ve heard way worse swears than that. Anyway, now you know, so let’s start the process.”
He nodded forcefully and looked at me expectantly.
“First, lie down in the bed, otherwise you’ll have an appointment with the ground.”
When he had finished moving to the bed I continued.
“Now, just relax and try to avoid thinking. You won’t even notice anything, except you may hear your original’s thoughts and you don’t want for him to hear yours. Not yet anyway. I will try to hypnotise you.”
He closed his eyes and began breathing slowly but deeply from the nose, and exhale even slower from his mouth. Hypnosis is very different from how pop culture presents it, at least therapeutic hypnosis. It isn’t mind control in any way, you just enter such a profound state of relaxation that you grow susceptible to orders. Thus the name coming from Hypnos, Greek for sleep or the Greek god of sleep. However it is perfectly possible to break from it, it is just that normally the person doesn’t want to. But if they don’t trust the hypnotist or his orders, they will be likely to disobey.
To be successfully hypnotised the person must fulfill certain requirements. First, they must be able to concentrate and avoid thinking. Second, they must have good imagination. This second one is because hypnosis relies on presenting certain suggestions to function. The first image the hypnotist must present is pleasant sensations, like the breeze on a warm day, impressive sights, maybe the smell of grass in the morrow. The second is that the person must descend, like an elevator going down, or going down a mountain. The third is imagining all worries melting away with the exhalation.
I will spare you the actual process, since it is very long. It can take several minutes of constant talking, in a relaxing tone, to make someone enter it.
“You are now walking down a gentle slope, your hands sliding through the young wheat stalks.”
While I spoke I created the embryonic Guardian and fused it to Santiago’s mind. This part of the process I hadn’t talked about because knowing I would do mental surgery isn’t relaxing in the least. At that point he nearly stopped relaxing, spamming a little, but he managed to maintain his state of relaxation.
“The Sun in shining gently on your back, the Spring Sun, warm, pleasant, comfortable. From the front flows a gentle breeze, it is fresh, crisp and carries the scent of morning dew…”
Once the new Guardian was properly lodged in his mind, I started to strengthen the bond. As I expected Santiago didn’t notice anything, since rather than an invasion it was more like becoming complete once more. Describing the state of hypnosis to someone that hasn’t experienced it is difficult, so just take my word that Santiago didn’t even care when he heard a voice in his head. A voice very similar to his own, but still slightly different.
‘What is happening?”
‘I’ve never felt this good.’
‘Why is it so pleasant?’
‘I feel warm. Complete.’
‘Will I feel like this whenever I increase my stage?’
These kinds of thoughts were what was going on in the original Guardian’s head, proving me correct. Indeed they were one, and being separated made them uncomfortable, like they had an arm cut off.
I witnessed the new Guardian’s growth process, and had to contain myself from laughing out loud. This was even better than I expected. Indeed, being part of the Kyrioi was wonderful for mages. Even with the circumstances as they were this kind of power was unprecedented. I then decided to alter my plans, with this there was a much better possibility.
Once the process had finished I slowly woke Santiago. When I was finished he just looked at me, smiled and closed his eyes. I raised an eyebrow at him and sent a wry smile at him, bemused. So I grabbed the bedding and flipped it over.
“Eaugah? What kind of sound is that?”
He glared at me from the floor, and for a few seconds floundered while trying to get rid of the beddings.
“Not funny. You don’t do that to a relaxed man!”
“Sure I do. Laughing at humans is one of my pass times, alongside real life romance and drama. It is always enjoyable when people do the right thing.”
I then shook my head with a faux sigh.
“Though sometimes I marvel at the stupidity of humans. How does a species so similar to my own manage to still be so dumb at times, I’ll never know.”
Fine, I do know. But I refuse to acknowledge it.
“What is your speci-woah!”
Trying to refrain from chuckling when he tripped on the bedsheets was a herculean task.
“I am an Eternal, a being born before Death. Before change. Before the Sea of Chaos.”
A bull could have crawled into his mouth in that moment.
“Unfortunately I can’t describe that, since it was very weird. I don’t think beings of the current reality can understand it. Think of it as an unfinished creation, before the last building block, Death, was added.”
“And are all Eternals so human?” He asked from the floor.
“Nope. Only my kind, and unfortunately I am unable to tell you what I am.”
He grumbled as he untangled his feet from the covers. I pretended to not hear flattering remarks such as me being stingy, a tease, a sadist, or a… wow, I hadn’t heard that one in billions of years.
Once my mirth abated I decided to get serious again.
“Can you tell me what powers you got?”
Santiago closed his eyes to try and feel his Guardian and soon he was scowling.
“What the heck?” He looked at me in the eyes. “Sorry, I can't understand what my power is.”
“Guessed so. Come on, let me bring you somewhere.”
The transition was jarring. At one point we were in my office, the next we were in from of the Bulwark’s central pillar, first floor.
“Wow. And I thought I was good at moving through space.”
“I’m so much older than you that I doubt there is anything as old as that difference besides Eternals. Go on, touch the ICP.”
“Information Centre Pillar. It contains all accumulated magical heritage of your kind.”
He nodded and, by his standards, skipped to the ICP. He truly was glad to finally have a Guardian, to not be disabled anymore.
For the sake of speeding this telling, let me just show you what he saw and heard.
<Greetings. I am the Central Command Unit, as well as Information Centre, Request Processor, Mission Emitter and Reward Distributor of the The Tower Of Wisdom That Reaches Down From The Heavens At The End Of The World To Provide Humanity With The Seeds Of Salvation.>
<Scan complete. Subject: Human male of 17 years of age. Healthy, athletic, trained in combat. Shows symptoms of->
At that moment I intervened, recording the information of Santiago's case.
<Is a Case-G-1. Universe of origin: Gates of Death. Functions granted: A6. Name: Santiago Alonso Caballero. Affiliation: Kyrioi apo Metallon.>
<Do you wish to have your Guardian inspected?>
Santiago looked at me, unsure of whether this was what I wanted. I nodded. For the record all interactions with the ICP are private except to administrator α-3, me. Or in a Case-C-1, to an administrator β-1 or above. The authority in the towers goes from D to A for users, ranked from 1 to 7, and from beta to alpha for administrators. Of course we only adopted this lettering system a few dozen years ago.
Santiago agreed to the request and he immediately felt a warmth spread through his body.
<Scan complete. Results:>
<Guardian name: Satan.>
<Guardian elemental affinities: Absorb Bless, Nullify Curse, Absorb Light, Nullify Darkness. Absorb 10% of all other elements.>
<SINQUM pool: 29.>
<False Tree of Qliphoth: A power derived from several kabbalistic traditions, as well as the subjects own views and mental composition. Some traditions dictate that the Qliphoth arose from the shattered vessel of Gevurah that devours the Ohr Ein Sof to grow. Others claim that they are shells that cover the Sefiroth and impede the Infinite Light, Ohr Ein Sof, from filling the TzimTzum, maintaining the existence of the World but simultaneously giving rise to evil.
It is said that the Qliphoth has ten parts, contrasting the Sefiroth.
They are Nehemoth (Whisperer) opposing Malkuth (Kingship), ruled by Naamah.
Gamaliel (Pollution) opposing Yesod (Foundation), ruled by Lilith.
Samael (Desolation) opposing Hod (Glory), ruled by Adrammelech.
Harab Serapel (Burning of God) opposing Netzach (Eternity), ruled by Baal.
Thagirion (Grief) opposing Tiphereth (Beauty), ruled by Belphegor.
Golachab (Burning One) opposing Gevurah (Discipline), ruled by Asmodeus.
Gamchicoth (Devourer) opposing Chesed (Kindness), ruled by Astaroth.
Sathariel (Concealment) opposing Binah (Understanding), ruled by Lucifuge Rofocale.
Chaigidel (Confusion) opposing Chokmah (Wisdom), ruled by Beelzebub and Adam Belial.
Thamiel (Duality) opposing Keter (Crown), ruled by Satan and Moloch.
And Da’at (Knowledge) has no opposite, for the Qliphoth isn’t united.
This, of course, is from digging in the writings of Jews, Christians and Mystics, for everyone claims their Tradition to be true. For the purposes of this Guardian however, all of the above is relevant.>
As he read through the notification Santiago’s eyebrows progressively rose. Some part of his mind noted that he should become familiar with at least some kabbalistic traditions, even if only to understand why he got a power called Satan.
<1) False Tree of Qliphoth, Stage 1:
-Allows the creation of space-time distortion False Tree of Qliphoth.
-The False Tree of Qliphoth is composed of a weak universal barrier, representing the void of the TzimTzum. It possesses strength that scales with stage, at stage 1 it has strength like concrete.
-Where the False Tree of Qliphoth touches outside matter it produces “Tainted Miasma” at a speed depending on stage, at stage 1 it creates 1 m^3 per hour. When “Tainted Miasma” comes in contact with non-void it imposes the Trascendental Curse, “Weak”, lowering all attributes, including mental ones.
-The False Tree of Qliphoth has “Qliphoth Rhizome”. Root-like appendages emerge from the Tree to acquire energy for its growth. The Rhizomes drain SINQUM from the Fayd, daemons or Guardians depending on stage. Rhizomes can deal “Blunt” and “Pierce” elemental damage depending on the area of impact depending on stage. Rhizomes can move at speeds depending on stage. At stage 1 they drain 1 unit of SINQUM per second or impact, deal weak damage, and move at 50 km/h maximum.
-False Tree of Qliphoth produces Ohr depending on SINQUM absorbed, fixed. The conversion is 200/1 SINQUM per Ohr.
-Ohr can be used to enhance SINQUM effects, whether they be powers or magic. This enhancement is fixed. Enhancement is of 8,000 J, or a force of 8,000 N applied over 1 m, per Ohr.
-False Tree of Qliphoth possesses ten vessels. When all vessels are filled stage will increase and Fruit of Divinity will ripen. At stage 1, 1000 Ohr needed to get to next stage. At stage 1, Fruit of Divinity will enhance all body attributes by 1 Ohr.
-False Tree of Qliphoth is fixed. It must root like a tree to sustain itself. At stage 1 it can last 1 hour unrooted before dissolution.>
The only reason Santiago’s eyebrows halted their ascension was because of physical limitations, and this was before he saw the next part.
<2) Kyrioi apo Metallon Fame bonus: Your family is so famed that daemons based on them should appear. They however found a way to funnel that faith to enhance their abilities. Enhanced powers. Enhanced resistances. Enhanced SIMQUM pool. This effect can not increase.>
Santiago felt himself calm down as he saw something familiar, and when he recalled his SINQUM pool he felt normalcy return. Indeed, even with the Kyrioi enhancement a power of that magnitude would leave him with highly diminished reserves. Normally the reserves varied, depending on quality and quantity of powers, between 20 and 50.
Satan stage 1. Path: NA.
Affinities: BLS Absorb, CRS Null, LGT Absorb, DRK Null, 10% Absorb All Elements.
False Tree of Qliphoth stage 1. 0/1000.
Kyrioi apo Metallon Fame bonus.>
Santiago then turned to me, saying nothing.
“We’ll have to find a place for you to plant that tree of yours.”
I smirked when I saw that he had no reaction. Poor guy, he didn’t know what to make of his power. Though I will admit that it is the weirdest power I’ve ever seen.
“I’ll just say two things. The Daemon God that took your Guardian calls himself Ein Sof. And he used your Guardian as the vessel for the Keter of his Sephiroth, transforming it into Adam Kadmon.”
Understanding dawned on him, and he said the first thing that crossed his mind.
Bio: A depressive 21 year old on anti-depressives for the past six years, I write because over the last seven years I have thought of over fifty stories, forty settings, and one massive unifying setting born of real life physics, philosophy, and various mythologies (Aztec, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Chinese and Shinto), and yet I haven't written anything till today. So I thought, why not? And began writing one of my newest sub settings.