The Paths of Magick



Draft 2, Chapter 11 - Of Bonds and Breath, The Twin Doused in the Waters of Death (3/3)


Chapter 11 - Of Bonds and Breath, The Twin Doused in the Waters of Death (3/3)

The Tunnel Rat Mageling II - 4th of Mead’s Tap, Year 1125 A.E.

Eiden lay sprawled out on the floor near Fin’s side of the room, his bodies—be they of flesh or spirit—utterly and entirely spent.

The use of his aura, and spirit in general, took much less time to recover than the strength of flesh and bone. Yet, somehow, Eiden had exhausted that too.

Fin had said: as above, so below. And that rang truer now than ever, the spiritual malaise weighing down his limbs like a blanket wrought of lead.

His spirit was weak, but his mind was willing.

On second thought, maybe not even me wits are good no more.

Eiden’s mind, and by proxy will, had also been wrung dry. Quite literally, too, as the gutter-wizard had taken the substance of his emotions and expelled them into the Physical.

He had endowed them with tangible form in the waking world like some godling. Each spark of mana was temporary—mortal even—but no less a wondrous act of creation.

They were still primitive magicks, he felt but at the thought of future possibilities and potentialities, the lad licked his lips.

He tasted iron at the back of his mouth, Eiden’s head hurting like the Hells.

The pains had started after he achieved the ability to maintain separate kinds of emotional emanation summoned concurrently. They worsened further with his auric exercise, in specific, with the use of telekinesis.

It was a dull and throbbing sort of ache, the blood pounding in the affected areas of his skull. It felt like a little spook or trickster spirit of some sort played the skald’s drums with his brains.

In a word, unpleasant. But, he would make do, pain being the intimate friend it had always been. By the ‘morrow, he would be back to some magicking properly once again.

For now though, some fresh air would do him good; the tunnel rat had made a habit of hanging by the window to just linger in the taste of free, clean breath.

It was a luxury for rats, to breathe without shackles.

Eiden got up from the cool marble floor like a dead man raised from eternal slumber and made his way towards the window, opening its shutters. Supporting himself on his forearms, he rested his chin atop them as he looked out into the night.

The Twins did their dance in the tide of the horizon, great whitemoon Alba waxing and the middling blackmoon Erebus was as He always; dark and foreboding in His Vigil over Terra and the Veil Between.

His visage was a dark reflection of Solaria, the black no longer simple shadow but something more. It was a darkness made into palpable but wrong light, piercing to the eyes—caliginous.

For the Twin Doused In Death’s Waters was a hole bored through the fundamental fabric of the Heavens Themselves, beyond the Place Where Stars Dwell and into the Void; the foundation upon which Terra and the Hells were built and separated.

Eiden knew so from all the tales he had heard throughout his life, though whether such fancies were true was anyone’s best guess. The tunnel rat only knew that his head was chock-full of myths and legends of the Sevenfold Faith, brain-aches notwithstanding.

Slowly—as he looked out into the wound of the night—the hunger that had come upon him so violently in the morn’, came back.

With a vegeance.

His spirit wanted for mana. Wanted for the stuff of spirits and flesh-made-simple.

Specifically, this call—this need—came from his Center, the First Basin of the spirit bound physically to his navel. Eiden still could not see clearly into this cavity of his subtle body, a caliginous veil obfuscating his inner spiritual perception.

And so, his senses—mundane and auric—quested outwards, in search of sustenance. The skin of his spirit spread like fog on a cold spring morning, covering the room under its domain; no physical Shroud manifested instead only blooming in the World of Spirit.

His aura snagged on the Exorcist’s cork-sealed bottle, the mana within alluring—it was so grand and intoxicating, the sheer amount of essence concentrated within.

No, can’t, Eiden scolded, treating his own spirit like some wayward pup. That’s Fin’s stuff.

Eiden returned to scouring the room, his hunger turning desperate all the while. His spirit snagged another source of worthwhile mana; the hearth that lay smoldering and dead.

His Center had sniffed the remains of flame like a crow to carrion, intrinsic attraction giving directive; instinct guided the invisible hands of his spirit.

Eiden had not fed any lumber to the hearth today, the room having been warm enough already. Yet now, another sort of fire ached to be fed, and he would heed its call readily to rid himself of the pang of longing.

Like acid at the back of his throat, sizzling and crackling, this sensation could not be ignored. It rang throughout all his spirit with the piercing cry of a newborn, originating from his Center like a blood-curdling scream rebounding off cavern walls.

The mageling tunnel rat took the firewood by the side of the hearth and laid it atop the smoldering remnants of the once-roused fire, placing tinder and kindling all throughout.

He blew the embers and cinders, endowing them with his breath and giving them second life as flame once again.

When the fires grew big and fat, he sat down in front of them, the rug already thrown far and away; he was hungry but not a savage. Eiden still heeded to the Exorcist’s words.

The mageling closed his eyes, plunging himself in the black of the mind.

A feeling, so familiar yet just out of his reach, flitted on the edges of Eiden’s awareness as the image of the flames came unbidden to his mind’s eye. Whenever he tried to grasp this fleeting fairy, it danced away from his mental clutches; it would only be caught unawares by trap and ambush set.

Eiden let go of his attempts to catch the feeling, the hunger having reached its apex height, burning bright as Solaria at noon. Yet there was no holy light to this sensation.

The darkness black of Erebus lay not only beyond the window of this room, but too lay festering in his navel. A caliginous wound in the night.

His aura spread over the hearthfire without the care it once had, claiming this parcel of the World of Spirit as its own. The spiritual skein made itself at home and hearth, settling in the cracks of the soft flesh of reality-in-between like the drying of mortar betwixt brick.

Having done this already the night before, the mageling opened the gates of his Center, the act coming easy. The walls of the arteries and veins closest to the First Basin relaxed their natural constrictment, letting the mana flood in.

The essence of fire burned its way through his pathways—the flame he had kindled having been much bigger and hotter than the one of last night. Essence was the distillation of the Physical, afterall. It would show the properties and signs of its original host matter.

Too late, he told himself through gritted teeth as he harvested every last drop of the flames with abandon most painful.

Finally, his Center no longer ached but instead his spirit-veins, for he had abused them thoroughly in the wake of his blind hunger. They were, after having passed a trial by fire, bloody raw and inflamed; tender pain throbbing with each natural passing of substance insubstantial through them.

That stings like the bloody Nine. Won’t be able to eat mana again so soon now. Might even hav’ta go without magicking to conserve me strength.

Eiden opened his eyes to an unexpected sight: his left hand, and by proxy entire left arm, had lifted and grasped towards the now ashen hearth.

His fingers clutched at the air, the empty without full of nothing.

Not a single cinder left behind, the room cold as the cliffside on a morning of Last Frost.

Only bitter grey was left in the wake of his ravaging.



A note from Xcaliburnt

Sorry for the formatting issues. I fixed the chap now.

Heyya guys. Long time no write. Well, long time no post, really. I am writing a heck ton.

Please rate the story if ya haven’t already! It would help out a ton to get more visibility and what not. Reviews help too. If ya stuck until here, ten seconds to rate is a blip on the radar compared to the time reading through (checks notebook) 50k words.

We are halfway (kinda) through the final(ish, again, kinda) draft of book 1 of volume 1 of the Paths.

This chap is mostly a transistory chap between the last one and the next (eiden pov-side of the story). I have been weaving a lot of stuff, and we’ll (maybe) finish up some threads, tying them up nicely. Again, this is a maybe as I tend to end up writing more than I originally planned.

I have seen a tendency of mine pop up more and more. Two of them, actually. The first is that the prose is at times too prosy, and at others hard to understand. The second is that some of my magic-system explanation (word-vomit info-dumps wrapped in a thin veneer of poetic writing) tend to be magic-babble at first sight.

Now, the magi-babble thingy isn’t actually magi-babble that means nothing—each word I choose quite thoroughly and tear out my hair to find the perfect descriptor. I explain parts of the system as best as I can, and they tend to be hard to understand (as physics and metaphysics hybrid system tend to be), so I empathize with any difficulties y’all may have. This ain’t the most accesible piece of fantasy, what with my downright *ancient* use of verbiage. See, I did it again.

Just as an FYI, I don’t write so purple prosy to feel superior or whatever. It’s just fun for me—I’m a literature nerd who fell in love with the Illiad and its poetic language. The diff between draft 1 and 2 is night and day in general quality and richness to the writing, but the readability is horrendous.

As to what I’ll do for either of those things? I don’t know yet. The magic exposition (soul-cycle/watcher behind the veil/ pale river thingy) I might remove and put somewhere else. As to the tendency to wax poetic and never wane to more manageble vocab, I’ll *attempt* to reign that in. Will be hard and will probably fail. I got hooked on it.


Here are some cool stuff about the chappy:

mochiqume treats are mochi (a japanese gummy-like candy/cake, kinda like pao de queijo, a brazilian type of pastry, I guess). Yes, Yuuhi is an analogue for Japan (kinda, as I tend to try my best to make new things out of historical nations rather than 1:1 translations thereof).

Quocca is fantasy cocaine with a dash of some properties like denner resin from Kingkiller Chronicles (a not so subtle inspiration for the Paths). The teeth don’t stay white because of the actual psychoactive compounds of quocca candy, but instead because of the additives and the refining process of the druggae. It uses a type of resin native to the tropics of the Continent as a vector for the quocca—kinda how like coke is used to make crack, it’s a method to bulk-up product and sell more while using less.

Fantasy drugs are cool as heck. Though, uhhh, don’t do drugs kids.

Oh, and as I remember, Turchia is a turkish/ottoman empire/ turkey analogue (kinda, haven’t read up enough history there yet to flesh out this particular parcel of the Middle-Eastern Realms).

By the way, I’m not just jumbling these cultures together because they “look the same”. I try to avoid that sort of eurocentrism and implicit bias/ ignorance like how I also avoid making cultures other than european into fantasy beast races. The reason why I *do* tend to lump together cultures (take a look at kedwen, by the way—it is a mix between saxon, anglic, slavic, nordic and mediterranean) is because the world of Terra is very empire centric—imperialism and colonism are still quite in vogue and I want to explore that sort of thing, be it through Valencia (a mix between Mexico and Brazil), or through Turchia.

Sokrates and Plato are analogues for the actual greek philosophers. It’s fun to add them in. Might change the names a bit more later on like how I made magic into magick or arcane into arkane. It makes the vibe a bit different, just enough to be alien and new but not too much to be unrecognizable.

Again, thank ya guys for reading so far, please do leave a rating as those help a ton for the Paths to get more visibility.

About the author


  • Sex is good and all, but have you ever just been platonically hugged? -Sun Tzu

Bio: I like pizza.

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