The Realms of DelusionA CAPOW one-shot
By: Kirk Ryan Ramdath (or Weapon X indeed!)
Rekishi's peaceful nap was interrupted rather abruptly when something clonked him on the head. Rubbing the area on his head that was hit, Rekishi let out a mighty yawn. As the light being filtered by his eyes began to focus, Rekishi wondered exactly how long it had been since he was last awake. He knew it was merely a few hours at most, but somehow it felt like a significantly greater period of time had gone past. “No matter,” he muttered as he stood and stretched his arms out to loosen his muscles. He had stopped to rest against the tree on a walk home from Washuu's Used Bookstore/Library, where he had spent the day doing some reading. After a few moments of scanning the ground, his eyes found the culprit that had awoken him. Smiling, he picked up the apple and inspected it as best as he could under the orange glow of the setting sun. Aside from a small bruise, it was relatively unscathed. He wiped it on his sleeve a few times, and took a large bite out of it, relishing its sweet taste and allowing its juices to energize him. Slowly, he began walking in the general direction of The Retreat. His fingers drifted into one of the hidden pockets woven into the insides of his trench coat. For but a second a frown was etched upon his usually unexpressive face as he realized that his finances were rapidly dwindling. With all that had happened since his arrival in Capow, he had not given much thought to monetary concerns. The small amount he had built up during his travels was almost depleted, and he knew he would not be able to count on Madoka’s hospitality should he run out entirely. The solution to his problems was simple. If he wanted to remain in Capow, he would need to find a permanent job.
He tossed the remaining apple core into a nearby garbage can, and began to think about what kind of job would best suit his particular skills and interests. "Hmmm. What ARE my skills and interests?” he wondered to himself, still on a slow course to The Retreat. By now the sun had sung its swan song, and would not be seen again on this night.
"Hmm?" Rekishi turned his head towards the noise. A small figure stood in the shadows, barely visible between two small buildings.
"Over here, m'boy," a crackling voice sputtered while beckoning Rekishi with a long, bone thin finger.
"What is it you desire of me, Old One?" Rekishi asked, approaching the old man.
"Don't let my..." the old man broke into a coughing fit, his dry heaves grating heavily against Rekishi's ears.
"If you are sick, Old One, perhaps there is something I can do to help? I know! a few healing spells.” Rekishi said, reaching to support the elder.
With a strength that belied his appearance, the old man clutched Rekishi's outstretched hand. "There is nothing you can do for my condition, boy. There are, however,” he said, relaxing his grip, "other things we can do for each other.”
Rekishi, taken aback, was speechless. What could the old man have in store for him? Some exciting quest? Some perilous journey? He could not tell. For some reason, though, Rekishi felt that he could trust the old man. He sensed a certain strength within the old man’s frame. Something that told Rekishi that at one time, this man was a force to be reckoned with.
He moved frighteningly close. His eyes bore holes into Rekishi, as if he were reading his very soul, and judging it at the same time. "Have you ever,” whispered the man, "heard of the Realm of Delusions?”
"Nay, I have not Old One.”
"My name is Tan.” The man coughed again before continuing. "And I should hope that my character demands more respect than my age.” He smiled a feeble smile. "Come with me.”
Wordlessly, Rekishi followed behind him, noticing that they were walking away from The Retreat. They walked for several minutes without interruption, save Tan’s occasional fits of coughing. Eventually they came to the front of a somewhat dilapidated building. It was this one which Tan entered. Rekishi followed him inside and down a flight of stairs before entering a room that was pitch-black. Suddenly the poof of dozens of flames being lighted sounded as numerous candles simultaneously came to life. Though still dimly lit, Rekishi could see that the room was meagerly, if not efficiently furnished. The old man sat cross-legged on the floor in front of a small square table, upon which a kettle of hot tea was steaming. He motioned Rekishi to sit on the other side as he poured a cup for himself and for Rekishi as well. Rekishi sat in the same fashion as Tan, and laid his staff at his side. Rekishi could see a dim aura blue surrounding the cup before him, and began to ask a question. Tan touched his index finger to his lips. "Shhhh. Let me tell you my story, boy, and then feel free to ask me any questions which remain.”
"My name is Rekishi,” Rekishi said, a smile glinting in his eyes. "And I too hope that my character demands more respect than my age.”
Tan smiled. The tea he was sipping had brought renewed vigor to his appearance, and the coughing had stopped. He spoke more loudly, and with much more resolve in his voice. "Aye, Rekishi. Very well. Firstly, yes, I do have some magical abilities, though the sickness that affects me has limited them severely. And yes, the tea itself, is blessed with it's own form of magic. It is the only thing I have found in this star system that eases my pain. The illness itself has no name. Giving it a name,” he paused to take a sip, "labeling it with a human word, would bring its cause down to a physical, a human level. We give names to things we understand, or things we are not afraid of.
"Have you ever heard, Rekishi, of the Realm of Delusions?”
Rekishi shook his head.
"I thought as much.” He sighed. "You know, much has changed since the days I was your age. Everything was simpler, more black and white! Sorry, I am getting off course here.” He smiled. "At your age, the mind wonders. At mine, it wanders. But I digress! In my youth, when I was apprentice to Doru the Wise, the Master Mage, I discovered in one of the seemingly infinite books in my master’s study, a story that talked about something called the Realm of Delusions. It was written in a dialect that I had not yet mastered, so I was only able to make out phrases of the tale here and there. Words like fear, challenge, fate, and reward-- seemingly a typical fantasy. So completely did the tale devour me, however, that I could neither eat nor sleep for days after. At first I dared not risk informing Doru of what I had done. You see he had instructed me that I was not to attempt study of things beyond my training. My cursed ambition was my downfall. When he finally learned what I had done, he scolded me greatly for my lack of discipline, but then he softened, and explained my folly to me. That day was the first day of the rest of my life.
"He told me that on the fringes of reality lies a place that few know about! a place that is unfamiliar and unpredictable to all. Called the Realm of Delusions, it was created at the dawn of time to serve as a home for those whose very nature it is to tamper with reality. A place where creatures with such power could practice their craft without fear of upsetting the balance of real space and time. It is more prison than home for some creatures however. He told me that any goal that a mortal mind can conjure could be found there. In fact, one could only get there if you had a goal in mind, and you could only leave once that goal was found.
"The reason, Doru explained, that I was having trouble sleeping was because the passage on the Realm that I had read had a curse woven into it, but one that would only affect those it deemed not worthy of reading it. The nature of the curse was that if I did not enter into the Realm within a short period of time, insanity would overcome me, if starvation did not.”
"After it was explained to me how to travel there, and all other instructions and warnings were given, Doru wished me luck, and released me from my duty to him as an apprentice, on my word that I would return to his service upon my return, and complete my training. I was finally able to eat and sleep again once I had resolved to go. By the time I reached home to see my sister for perhaps the last time, I had even decided on my goal. When I explained things to my sister, she insisted that she come along. Five years my elder, and the only family I had left, I did not want her to endanger herself. Damn my weakness that I could not say no!”
The old man looked visible shaken for the first time since he had begun recanting his tale. "I do not remember much about my time in the Realm,” he continued, more solemnly than before. "My sister was a swordswoman without peer, and we fought many battles together using our combined skills. The closer we got to my goal, the more dangerous things became. Forces began to turn against us—the weather, the land, the enemies, everything. The hardest thing is that the challenges it forced us to face were not things beyond our comprehension, or things impossible in our world. Rather it seemed simply as if anything that could possible go wrong, did. Such is the nature of the Realm, I suppose, with its own warped code of rules. It was during the last battle we fought that... that I was spit back into this world, and I lost my sister. A killing blow was directed towards me, and I was too weakened to avoid it. The last memory I have of that world is my dearest Mita, lunging in the path of the blow!”
"When I awoke, I was here. It took me some time to realize what had happened though. My sister had not gone to the Realm with my goal burning in her heart... She... She...” Tan covered his face with his hands for several seconds before he finally regained control of himself. "The only explanation I could think of was that she had entered the Realm, with the goal that, should my life ever be endangered, she would protect me with hers. With the realization of her goal, I surmised that whatever forces it was that governed the Realm, had decided that our purpose there was over. On that day I swore that I would not die till I was able to determine for certain my sister’s fate. Unfortunately however, I soon after realized that one could not travel to the Realm twice in the same life. Even if I could have, my first trip there left me in such a pathetic condition that I doubt it would have been possible. As you see, I still have not healed. I was also too mentally distraught to continue my training with Doru, and he went on to train another apprentice, one who would eventually replace him as Master Mage. I devoted my life to this insane quest to quench my own guilt, but never to any avail. Forty three years ago, I went to see Doru on his death bed, to pay my respects to the man who was once a teacher and always a friend to me. It was then that he told me… about this night. This, Rekishi, is where you come in. Fate brought you here, Rekishi. This is your destiny.” Tan looked into Rekishi’s face for the first time since they sat down.
"I am an old man, Rekishi, and all my life has been leading up to this point. I understand that you are probably wondering what on earth this crazy old man is going on about, and what I could possible want from you. Maybe you're even wondering why you should help an old goat like me overcome his guilt, and the truth is that I can think of no reason. I only know what Doru told me that night—that on this night, I would find the answer to my problems. I had enough faith that they weren’t just the ramblings of a man halfway to the next world. When I felt you coming, I sensed the great power that you have locked inside your young frame. You have the power needed to make it to the Realm, and the wisdom to use it properly once you get there. I sense that much from you.” Tan stopped speaking, and just stared at Rekishi, as if awaiting some, or any kind of reaction.
"I am truly moved by your story, Tan. The pain of losing someone whom you love can truly be a tremendous one. I am afraid that you have much more faith in my abilities than I do, however. What you have described is certainly no easy task. If you had asked me this but a few months ago, I would undoubtedly have no reservations, but now... I have ties... that I do not wish to lose. People that I have shared experiences with, and whom I care about.” Rekishi paused. He thought of all the relationships he had developed here in Capow. Especially of Emiko. It was then that he noticed that something did not feel right. Something Tan said. What was it though? Rekishi tried to recall what Tan had said just minutes prior, but he could not pinpoint anything out of the ordinary. He decided to play it safe, however. He always trusted his instinct. "I realize that there are no guarantees in life, and I have never been afraid of a challenge-- if I believed in its cause. However I shall not risk my very life simply because your conscience has plagued you for so many years. We all make mistakes in life. Your sister obviously cared much for you, and she gave her life so that yours might continue.”
As Rekishi spoke the last sentence, Tan squinted his eyes in his direction. "What are you saying, boy?”
Rekishi smiled inwardly. Tan's small change of character was enough to convince Rekishi of what the danger was—it was Tan himself. He gripped his staff and braced himself for action. "She sacrificed her life for you, and you have wasted that sacrifice because you have wasted your life!” After he finished speaking, Rekishi suddenly felt as if waves of energy were flowing through his body, the shock of it causing him to roll from his sitting position backwards into a low fighting stance, facing towards Tan. Once the waves stopped, Rekishi recognized what he was feeling. Somehow, Tan had tricked Rekishi's senses into believing that Tan was much less powerful than he actually was. The waves were a result of Tan removing the spell and his normal power level becoming evident. The thought of this stunned Rekishi. He had never before been in the presence of one who was so powerful.
"Fear not,” Tan said, still sitting at the small table and sipping tea. He did not even bother to look up at the alarmed Rekishi. "You shall not be harmed. What you have done is impressive, Rekishi. No one has ever escaped my spell. Perhaps I have become complacent, too many easy kills. It is a pity that I am not allowed to harm you directly with my powers. It would have been enjoyable to sup on your energy.” As he uttered his final words, Tan's body began to dissipate, rising like smoke into the air, till nothing was left.
Some forty minutes later Rekishi finally made it home, still wondering what exactly had just transpired, but glad that he had survived it.
[The next day...]
"So how did you finally figure it out?” Anne asked, one of the crowd that had gathered while Rekishi told the story.
"It was something he said,” Rekishi stated. "It took me some time to pinpoint it, but I remembered this morning. He told me that fate had brought me there, and that ‘it was my destiny.' Well, remember when I was at your store reading, Anne? It just so happened that I was reading History of Magic. It stated that Doru, the Master Mage was notorious for his annoyance of people who blamed, or relied on fate for anything. He believed in taking responsibility for your own actions, and taught all his students the same message. That's where Tan slipped up.”
A young martial artist walks home wearily after a lengthy practice at his dojo. The streets are dark, but the brisk wind is enjoyable after a physical workout. He notices an old man sitting on a park bench, signaling for him to come over...
BWAHAAHHAHAHAH!!! Anyways, it’s been ages since I’ve written, so I decided to do
a one shot basically to intro Rekishi to the newbies. Any questions or comments,
feel free to go ahead. You have NO IDEA (well joseph might..^^;) how many times
my intended direction for this didn't make it..^_^; I might be a bit rusty, so
keep that in mind...
Anyhoo, "Realm of Delusions” was originally "Realm of Soft Delusions,” which was
taken from the Smashing Pumpkin song, Porcelina of the Vast Oceans. Anyways, I’m
going to give you the lyrics to that song now, because it simply is beautiful:
Porcelina, written by William Corgan Jr.:
Anyhoo, "Realm of Delusions” was originally "Realm of Soft Delusions,” which was taken from the Smashing Pumpkin song, Porcelina of the Vast Oceans. Anyways, I’m going to give you the lyrics to that song now, because it simply is beautiful:
Porcelina, written by William Corgan Jr.:
Shinobu: I need a drink...
Madoka and Chika:Aw, Shinobu!
Shinobu: I need a drink...
Madoka and Chika:Aw, Shinobu!