A god has chosen him at long last, but is it the one he wants?
“Have you tried a past life viewing?” Casey asked as she placed a book back in its proper place on the self. It was a little after the midday meal so there were few in the library with us. Any lurkers were tucked away in their own corners, reading whatever literature they’d engrossed themselves in.
“I don’t see what good that’ll do. May just get nightmares for my trouble.”
She giggled, her smile warming her freckled face. She had a lot of them and was self-conscious about them, but they looked positively charming to me. Casey was a classmate of mine that had attended school the same time I had. Curvy little redhead with a temper to match, Casey belonged to the Discipline of Brigid with her talents. Her flame colored hair was braided and coiled at the back of her head, but it easily went down to the small of her back. She also had a lovely set of tits.
“Worried you were once a rat?” She asked while taking one of the books from my arms.
“More worried I was something even worse… like a tax collector.”
She rolled her eyes and lightly elbowed me and I smiled. My feelings for her never extended beyond friendship. I’d always chalked it up to growing up together, but while I liked to look at Casey, that was all I did.
“Did you hear what happened yesterday?” She asked as she moved off the stepping stool which put her a good foot shorter than me.
“One of the professors sleeping with the students again?”
She rolled her eyes at me, “No, I am serious.”
“Enlighten me, Luv. To which event does thou speak of not related to an educator sleeping with students?”
“One of the major wards on the ground cracked.”
I arched a dark brow at that, “Wear and tear or did someone break it?”
“I think someone broke it. You know the elders renew the enchantments on them every year.” She scanned the shelves and found the next spot for the returned book, “I mean, they’ve been around for a century so far. Hard to think it would just suddenly break on its own. It’s not an engine.”
I tilted my head at that while Casey took another book from my arms and reshelved it, “Engines don’t break on their own, either. Could be one of the younger ones playing around with magic. Not the first time something’s broke or exploded with them playing about.”
“I dunno, Brice.”
“You don’t have to be,” I shifted the books to one arm and curled my free hand to flex my bicep, “with guns like these, you’re as safe as can be.”
She lightly hit my stomach with the back of her hand, “Be serious, please.”
“I’m not worried. A ward broke. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t already repaired by now or they have a bandage in place to take its place until they can. This is Myrddin, after all. Nothing safer. Only a nutter would try to attack a school for the magically gifted.”
She nodded at that, taking the last book and tucking it between two volumes, “I suppose you’re right. The whole thing makes me feel uneasy.”
“You’re a worry wart, it’s what you do.”
Casey stuck her tongue at me and walked back down between the row of books and back to our empty cart of returns. She pushed it back to the entrance of the library and we took place in our customary stools.
“Are you excited about tomorrow?” She asked.
“Sure, if you like getting stood up six times in a row.”
“Don’t say that…”
“Why? It’s true.” I rested my unshaved chin on my palm and stared out at main entrance that was open to show the spring weather. “If I don’t get selected again, I won’t try anymore. It’s becoming redundant.”
“You’re going to give up?”
“And then do what?”
“I’ll probably become one of those wandering magi. I’ve enough credits and endorsements to be solo. It's better than being the residential boogie man.”
“But that’s… dangerous. I mean, there are all sorts of things outside the school.”
I shrugged a shoulder, “Doesn’t matter. I made up my mind last year. This is the last time.”
I could tell Casey wanted to talk me out of it. But, just like we all have cues about what kind of mood we are in, she saw that I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. Or be talked out of it. She’d try again tomorrow once I left the Dais. I’d listen to her politely and then pack my bags.
“Excuse me,” A small voice said. I shifted my attention to him and noted it was one of the newly acquired pages. He wasn’t more than nine at most and had to stand on his toes to look up at us, “Professor Bills said to come here and speak with someone about today's topic.”
“You are in the Myrddin library, good sir,” I said with a grand sweep of my hand, “There are many topics you can find here. To which do you seek?”
He bit his lip and I worried the professors were playing a joke on him. Or worse, me. “I am looking for anything about The Dreamer.”
“Covering the ‘Dreaming’ in history?” Casey asked with a warm smile. It put the boy at ease and he smiled back at her and nodded. She pointed a finger at me, “Brice is the local expert on that.”
I snorted, but noted the change in the kid’s expression from all smiles to big eyes while he looked at me, “Yeah, I’m him.” I said in a dry tone, “Brice the Unchosen. Passed over five times now.” I pointed a finger at him, “And if you don’t turn your work in on time, you’ll be just like me.”
Casey kicked my leg, “Not being chosen by a god is not the end of the world.” She lectured, trying to put the page at ease rather than trying to soothe my wounded self-esteem. I’d been called a prodigy before, but now I was just an infamous magi with no patron god. The whispers were bad, but watching people flee from me was worse.
The page looked me over, taking in my appearance in my normal garb. I'd forgone wearing my robes the year prior. My robes normally have no braids or colors to represent either my magical discipline or my god. The elders haven’t bothered to argue with me about my dress, but silent disapproval was abundant.
“The Dreamer,” I said, resting my chin on my palm while looking at the kid, “Has very few references. Take out your pen and I’ll tell you everything you need to know so you don’t have to run all over the library.” I waited while he fished around in his little bag and pulled out a small notebook and pen. “If you read any text written on it,” I started, “or watch the videos, they state the ‘Dreamer appeared and unleashed monsters onto the Earth to consume the majority of humanity.’ During that time Gods, that had been absent for centuries reappeared to fight off the creatures and save what humans now walk the Earth. Since then, the world itself has changed. Wilderness rose up to reclaim cities, technology only works in certain places, and mythical creatures roaming about once more. Lastly, man was once more able to wield magic.”
I paused while he continued to frantically write, once he was finished he looked up at me and I resumed, “Some say the Dreamer is actually one of the gods we presently worship. I think that’s a load of bullshit, myself.” There was another kick against my leg from Casey, but I continued on, “But what caused the 'Dreaming'? What was the motivation? Better yet, who actually gained from it?”
The page only blinked at me, “What do you mean?”
“No one does something for nothing. There is always a reason. Animals, people, and gods all have reasons for what they do. But, no one can answer those questions and gods are hush-hush about the whole thing. And that’s it. It’s all theory you’ll get into in your fifth year.”
He nodded and finished writing down a few things before peeking up at me, “Is it really bad? Not being picked?”
“You can’t pick your family or your gods, but you can pick your friends.” I said with a shrug, “I can’t say socially it is fun, but I haven’t died from it.”
He gave us a quick nod and turned to hustle out of the library. “Turn your work in on time!” I called after him,
“You’re horrible,” Casey said with a long sigh.
“No, I’m a bitter, cynical asshole.”
As night came, I only stared up at the ceiling of my room. The other men about me shifted and snored in their sleep. Dread settled on to me while I lay there and listened to them.
Before dawn, I pulled myself out of bed and headed to the baths. The water was chilly that morning, but I liked it that way. It woke me up and brought back some of the focus I’d lost. All those that approached the Dias did so in a white robe. Kind of like the sacrificial virgin to the dragon. This time I didn’t bother. I wore my pants, shoes, and woven tunic and left the robe in the trunk at the foot of my bed.
The Sentinels of the Dias said nothing to me as I approached. They only held the door open for me while I walked into the dimly lit room. It was so different than my first time. I’d been full of nervousness and excitement, the unknow making me nearly dancing on my toes. This time I yawned and knelt in the center of the circle with both hands resting on my knees.
Pulling in a breath, I lifted my hands up over my head towards the faint light of the room, “I call you,” I said, my voice monotone, “gods of aspects, elements, and time. This day, I offer myself to you and open myself to your will, guidance, and purpose.” I lowered my hands to either side of me and lowered my upper body until my forehead pressed against the cool surface of the stone.
I settled myself in for a long wait. Unless something was to happen, I’d be stuck in this pose until the half hour went by. Already my legs were starting to numb...
“My will, guidance, and purpose… what are you, a puppet?”
I just about shit myself at the voice and jerked up. I looked around the room but saw nothing in the available light. The voice had been female, no more than a whisper but I had heard it clearly enough. I peered into the darkness that surrounded me and found something there… it moved away, moving like cream in coffee.
Was this it? Had a god finally decided to choose me? My heart started to race a hundred times a minute and I nearly forgot that I had been asked a question.
“No, I swear I am a real boy.” The words left my mouth without thought and I just about kicked myself for it, but the laughter I heard eased me.
“Wit. Very nice. What is your name this time?”
This time? “My name is Brice, ma’am.”
There was silence for a time after that. I started to worry until it spoke again, “I am Dreamer. We have much to discuss.”