Zenith – Part 10

Emily reached out for that comfortable feeling that she often brushed against. She found it instinctively. But it wasn’t just a comfortable state of mind. It was her mind. “Violet. I– I don’t know what to say.”

Violet’s soothing voice rippled from the back of Emily’s head. “Don’t worry. We’ve been talking for two months. I– I’ve grown quite fond of you.”

Emily sat down in the tub letting the warm water rush over her. “Oh no. I didn’t say anything embarrassing did I?” she joked, “I would have probably been more careful if I’d known it was really you.”

“Oh you know, nothing too bad,” Violet replied with a chuckle, “I mean, I do know all your habits now though.”

Emily blushed.

“Not like you could lie about anything anyway with how we talk.”

Emily felt Violet close to herself. The tub suddenly felt larger, occupied by two. Her eyes brushed open and she was alone; the room was still the same. She closed her eyes again and let herself fall deep into mind-space once more.

“I’m sure you’ve already told me and I brushed it off like a dream, but what happened?” Emily questioned back in the tub for two.

“After you left that night someone else arrived. But didn’t approach the house. Instead he,” Emily paused for a while, “he cut me off somehow. My fold has no connection to the outside world. I was working on a mission. I have a feeling we’ll be continuing that work. It attracted some negative attention.”

“From Jiro.” stated Emily.

“I assume so,” Violet put a comforting hand on Emily’s shoulder, “He is powerful, but you have me.”

Emily rested her head on Violet’s shoulder, “I feel like I know you and don’t know you Violet. I trust you, but I don’t know what I can trust you with. I guess I welcomed you deep enough into my mind that I’m not hiding anything from you,” she lifted her head, and looked into Violet’s yellow eyes, but I don’t even consciously know what you can do.”

Violet brushed Emily’s hair aside and matched her gaze, “There is a story deep in some history of magic books that talk about a set of people known as Zeniths. One person for every arcanum. These people have an incredibly powerful grasp of their magic. They come and go throughout time. No one knows when the last group was on Earth.

“Ged thinks that I am the Mind Zenith. As soon as I awoke I was able to utilize Mind at a high level. He spoke about how strange mind-space can be, but I’ve always felt at home, no matter how convoluted connections become. Ultimately I don’t know what I can do.

“You know, when I first knew I was trapped, I sought out many mages through mind-space. You were the brightest beacon I ever saw. I don’t think it is a coincidence that I was the first mage that you ever met. I don’t think it is a coincidence that I can reach you and find you as easily as I can.”

“You don’t mean…” trailed Emily.

“I think you’re the Space Zenith,” Violet stated plainly. “I don’t know what that means fully. I don’t know why this would be the case. But I –” love you “–will stick by your side and help you grow as best I can. It’s a lot to ask, but I hope you can help me too.”

Emily’s eyes were wide at the concept, “I don’t…”

Violet blushed, “oh no. I’m sorry.”

The tub split. The two women faced away from each other. Violet looked down and dropped a tear into her bathwater.

“That’s not what I meant.” a warm pair of arms wrapped around Violet from behind. “There is no one I’d rather have at my side more than you. Two months ago I thought discovering a new arrangement of prime numbers would be an exciting phenomenon to be a part of.” Emily’s face was now looking over Violet’s their eyes meeting, but everything else upside down, “you’re just telling me that I am some sort of super-mage. I mean, Magic! My whole world is crumbling around me.”

“Oh Em, I’m sorry I didn’t mea–”

“No listen. You are the most comforting person I have ever been near. I don’t know anything about Zeniths, but earlier today when you were speaking it felt good. Being with you like this feels good. My whole world has gone crazy these last few months, but you have provided a steady hand for me to hold onto, even if I didn’t know it was you. Just–” never leave me.

Violet pulled Emily down and kissed her forehead. “I won’t.”

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Zenith – Part 9

“Mind-space is a bizarre place. Physics change by the second. Up is down, and left, but not right… Yet. Mathematics don’t add up. Intent permeates the skin and shakes your bones. Words have power in the physical world, but in mind-space emotion is king.

“When you are in your own mind-space, everything is familiar. But when minds merge things are incomprehensibly strange. A mind mage must learn to steel themselves for the discomfort of another person’s mind.

“In this realm formed by the power of a mind one must let go of rational thought. Minds are not rational objects. Science is useful for understanding the outside world, but to understand your inside world, we must turn to art.

“Even so Mind is intrinsically bound to Space. Nothing can exist in mind-space if there is nothing in physical space. Space is boring without a Mind to create meaning. While the two can’t understand each other completely, they would be useless separated. Insurmountable distances may be rendered pointless when bridged by the power of the mind in the same way being face to face with someone can alleviate misunderstandings of the mind.

“You must develop your Mind or your Space will suffer. It is like working out; You will be much more effective and strong if you exercise both biceps and triceps rather than focusing on just one. Not only that, your mastery of Space will help you in Mind, but only if you let go of your previous notions of what space really is.”

Emily looked confused at her mentor, “I’m trying. I don’t know what you want me to do. You tell me to practice my Mind magic, but give me no outlet to do so. You send the other mages on missions, send me too.”

“Other mages have a partner. You’re the odd one out. If Violet were still here, I’d pair you up. She was always strong with Mind.”

I am here a voice said in Emily’s head.

“She is here,” stated Emily, surprised at her own words.

Ged turned around and looked at Emily, “What did you say?”

“Umm. Sh- She is here?” Emily stuttered, “I- I don’t know. It just came out.”

Ged closed his eyes and Emily felt him pushing his mind outwards. “She is,” he murmured.

I’ll help you.

“She’ll help me.” Emily’s words poured out on their own again.

Ged’s eyes popped open. “Violet. How?”

“You said it yourself, She was always strong in Mind. Mind and Space fit together.” Violet’s thoughts poured out of Emily’s mouth. Emily noticed that the words tasted sweet. The world around her flickered with comfort as she spoke them. She couldn’t believe her own mouth, but it felt so good.

“Why didn’t you tell me you had been in communication with Violet? This is important!”

“I- I didn’t know! I thought I was dreaming!” Emily was shaking. Her own words brought back the terror of an unknown in her life.

Ged took a deep breath. Emily could see his mind racing around possibilities. “With both of you we have a chance. I need to formulate some plans.” He looked at Emily and paused, “and you need to understand what is happening. Go home. Talk with Violet. Come see me tomorrow. We have some hard work ahead of us.”

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Zenith – Part 8

When Emily woke up the next day she was ready to take on the world. At least once a week she had a dream much like that one that left her feeling more rejuvenated than she had any right to be.

Ged had a point I guess, Emily thought as she took her morning shower, I have been a bit haphazard at times with my magic. She dutifully washed her hair and got dressed considering how to satisfy Ged’s demands without giving him the pleasure of victory. As no solid plan came to her, she did what she did every morning and went out to collect her drug of choice.

Coffee in hand she sat down on a park bench with her thoughts. As she ran over dialogs in her mind a bearded man barely caught her attention out of the corner of her eye. It wasn’t the beard, or the unkempt clothes that she noticed, but instead there was a slight glimmer that she practically felt emanate from him. He must be a mage.

This mystery mage was on the move. He looked vaguely familiar as if he was in some dream, but Emily was certain she didn’t know him, and she knew all the mages operating in this part of town. Something was wrong, so Emily decided it was time to follow.

He moved like a mage. He seemed to skip steps as he walked. Suddenly he would swap sides of the street, but it was never something that would catch someone’s eye if they weren’t looking for it. Emily followed a bit behind, her knowledge of Space making it easy to follow without directly watching him move. She watched the shift of space he left behind and followed with plenty of space so as not to let him notice he was being followed. She followed past the parks and down a path between two university buildings. She was being careful, but didn’t notice the lack of people in this path.

She barely had time to dodge out of the way of a ball of fire rolling at her as she turned a corner. She huddled on the other edge of the corner. A sound seemed to come from nowhere, “Do not follow me if you value your life.” It was a whisper but not from nearby. Emily peeked around the corner again to see if her target was still there. She only saw a bright light fade out to reveal an empty corner. There was a quickly fading fold in space present, Emily was tempted to follow but decided to take some heed to a warning, one punctuated by a fireball, and turned back

She entered Ged’s hall about ten minutes later to find it sitting empty. Emily decided she would just sit down and wait for him to return. Thirty minutes passed and she began to feel sleepy. She never did finish her coffee this morning and things got exciting fast. She closed her eyes and succumbed to to a slumber.

—–

“Emily! It’s the middle of the day and you’re sleeping?” Violet’s voice scolded her. Emily turned around to see Violet standing with her hands on her hips. “Don’t you have something to do young lady?” A small smile peaked on Violet’s face. “Or did you just miss me?”

“I just had a run in with the strangest mage. I thought I knew everyone in my part of town but this one…” She trailed off not knowing how to describe him.

“Jiro,” Violet responded losing her smile, “it must be.”

“Jiro? I’ve never heard of him.”

“He isn’t part of the Society. Be careful Em.” Violet stepped forward and gave Emily a hug. “I need you to stay safe. Now I think someone is calling you.”

Emily was suddenly aware of a male voice shouting “Hypatia!” all around her.

—–

“Hypatia! Wake up! This is a formal hall, not your dorm room!” Ged was still angry. Emily sat up straight, eyes wide open.

“You are correct sir! I’m very sorry,” Emily pleaded with Ged.

Ged sighed, “at least you came back. I hope you spent some time thinking about what you’ve done.”

“I have sir. But I also had a strange interaction on my way here this morning. I think it is more important right now.”

“Oh really? And what could be more important than the unraveling of the universe?”

“I ran into a mage that I didn’t recognize. He tried to blast me with a fireball after I followed him.” Jiro, said a voice in Emily’s head.

Ged’s frown became more of a frown. “You’re sure you’ve never seen this mage? There are plenty who don’t come to our standard meetings regularly.”

“I have made a point to know who operates here, Ged.” Ged squinted his eyes at the mention of his name. “You yourself told me to. And I do listen to what you tell me.”

“Tell me everything that happened this morning,” Ged commanded, and Emily obliged.

—–

“I see. At least you didn’t follow him further. Maybe you have learned something from me,” Ged sighed. “I’d advise not getting near this man in the future. He is very dangerous.”

“Is he Jiro?” questioned Emily.

Ged’s eyes snapped to Emily, trying to analyze her face. “How do you know that name?”

“I don’t know. It’s almost as if it came to me in a dream.”

“Do not speak it with anyone else present you hear me? It might be him. But we cannot afford to panic any other mages. If it is him all the more reason for you to NOT engage.” Ged closed his eyes and an alien vulnerability showed in his voice, “I can’t take it.”

“Something about him felt familiar. Even how he folded space had a familiar signature. But I didn’t recognize him. How is this possible?”

“It doesn’t matter Hypatia. If you see him again, get away. That is all you have to know.”

Emily sighed and stood up, “Alright.”

—–

“I think it was him,” Stated Violet, “I think he cut me off.”

“Who are we talking about?” asked Emily.

“Jiro. That’s why he’s familiar to you.”

Emily sighed and shook her head. “Great now my subconscious is trying to comfort me and make excuses.”

“Excuse me?”

“I know this is just a recurring dream of mine. It’s nice to have, but I’m starting to see through it.”

Violet smiled, “You’re a mage, Em. Do you still think I’m dead?”

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Zenith – Part 7

“Hypatia,” Ged’s voice bellowed across the hall, “Explain yourself.” The Director of the Society of Mages in Portland was a tall bearded man, broad shoulders. He wore robes and carried a staff. If wizards from fairy tales existed in the modern day they would look just like him. The only thing setting him in the modern era were the Nikes on his feet and the digital watch on his wrist.

“I am innocent of these charges,” Emily protested, “your reports must be mistaken.” Two months had passed since she had adopted her new name and she had become a known member of the Society.

“Young lady, just because you can alter space doesn’t mean that you should. Many mages have reported a wanton abuse of your powers. When you overuse power, you risk complications.”

“I can take care of myself Ged.”

“Do you want another life on your hands though?”

“I–” No one had heard from Violet in those two months. Emily clenched her fist. “I am leaving now.” She turned and stormed to the door.

“You are powerful Hypatia, but you are immature. You must learn restraint. STOP”

Emily didn’t slow down. She felt the power in the words but it paled in comparison to an old feeling. “I’ll return tomorrow, Ged. Maybe you’ll take the stick out of your butt.”

She felt space start to fold around her, Ged trying to trap her in the room. Emily smiled and simply waved her arm and space rearranged itself, even placing her closer to the door. She opened the door and turned her head back, “I told you. I will be back. It’ll be better for both of us,” and she walked out.

Asshole, Emily thought as she rode the bus back to her apartment, Why does he have to act all high and mighty. When Violet laughed at my friendliness I, She had trouble thinking beyond that line, I didn’t understand. A tear dropped down her cheek. Two months. No one thought she could still be alive. The Society had determined it to be an accident caused by Emily, and her guilt was strong. She still thought about her, dreamed about her, regularly.

It was late when Emily made it home. The sun had set and she ate leftover pizza cold out of her fridge. As she sat on her bed in her pajamas her emotion bounced between anger and sadness. I don’t know how to deal with him. He uses her against me. The closest friend I ever had, that I only knew for one day. I have a feeling Violet would know how to respond. She closed her eyes and laid herself down.

Sleep came quickly but was not restful. Emily tossed and turned well through the night. Then a she was still. A look of relaxation hit her face and her mind engaged in a recurring vision that always left her feeling better.

—–

“Hey Emily, I’m glad to see you again.” Violet’s black hair cascaded from her head and split to reveal her caring smile. The two stood across from each other in a strange and emotional space.

“Oh Violet, I’m so sorry,” Emily cried burying her face in her hands. “I wish you were still here.”

A hand landed on Emily’s shoulder, and with it a wave of comfort filled her soul. “I am here. And you have no reason to be sorry,” Violet’s voice dried Emily’s eyes.

“Where have you been this whole time? Everyone thinks I killed you!” Emily’s voice tipped with worry, “Why did you wait to come back til now?

“I didn’t wait. I have been here. It isn’t your fault Emily.” Violet pulled Emily into a hug. “Now you need to sleep. You’ll do no one any good if you’re tired.” She rested her chin on Emily’s shoulder. “Sleep well, my friend.”

Emily slept.

 

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Zenith – Part 6

That bath was the most relaxing bath Emily had ever had. She pushed everything out of her head and focused on just enjoying the warmth of the water around her. Too much had happened over the last 24 hours to even comprehend. Just thinking about thoughts made her remember the feeling of Violet diving through her mind. She shuddered despite the warm water and tried to relax.

Thirty minutes later she climbed out of the tub, her fingers creased with prune-marks. She pulled her towel over and dried herself off reveling in the soft fluff she had made sure inhabited her bathroom. Before long she was dressed and sitting at her desk. Homework suddenly seemed so petty compared to the reality of reality she now knew. Is there a mage that could change something as fundamental as math? she wondered as she looked over her books. There must be some constants in the world right? Of course, she knew that just yesterday she wouldn’t have thought that reading minds or teleporting was possible either. She pushed the thought of her entire academic career being destroyed by a mage with a stray thought out of her head, only to find it replaced by the idea of her accidentally destroying the world with a stray thought.

“I need help, don’t I,” she said out loud to the empty room. Violet and her talked a lot last night, but she didn’t seem all that more experienced than Emily did. Violet talked about other mages in Portland, Emily thought, I should try to find some.

“Don’t tell another mage your name. That is lesson one. The more information another mage has about you the easier it is to affect you.” Violet’s words echoed through her head again. Emily considered names she could use. Theorems and Mathematicians bounced through her head, It seemed petty to use her past life to define this strange future but at the same time, it seemed right. “Hypatia,” she said out loud, getting a feel for the word. “Hypatia.” It sounded good. Hypatia was an early mathematician, educator and philosopher. Seemed as good of a name as any.

Equipped with a new name, Emily thought about how she could go about meeting other mages in Portland, but her mind kept returning to Violet. She was starting to feel bad about leaving so abruptly this morning. Other than their first meeting, Violet had been nothing but kind and generous to her. Conversation was pleasant and she seemed to know a lot about this new world. Emily felt a stronger connection to Violet than she did to any other person she had met since moving to Portland.

Beyond just her connection, she felt that a compatriot was something that Violet needed. Something about how she talked about her past made Emily know that there was something dark and unhappy lying beneath the surface. Someday, pledged Emily silently to herself,  I will return her aid.

The walk back to Violet’s house wasn’t very long, and Emily’s mind was occupied thinking about magic, so she barely noticed the time pass. Emily didn’t even notice the light rain start to fall or the strange man watching her walk down the street. But then a sudden realization pulled her out of her thoughts.

“It’s not here.” She panicked. The fold wasn’t there anymore. She looked around, confirming that this was the right spot. The space around her didn’t even feel wrong anymore. Emily’s heart sank. With wide eyes she searched for anything that would give a hint of what might have happened after she left Violet’s house that morning.

The sky opened up and let rain wash everything away.

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Zenith – Part 5

“Seriously?” Emily was standing next to Violet staring at the door.

“Yeah, Just focus on your apartment as you open the door. If you want you could ask it nicely. That helped me early on.” Violet paused. “I admit it sounds stupid out loud.”

Emily glanced at Violet wondering if this was some cruel joke. Her mind took control and looked for a hidden camera in some corner of the ceiling, then she returned to the door. “What if it doesn’t work?”

Violet chuckled, “well then you’re just another new mage right? Why worry about it? You’re the one who charged into my house earlier.”

“Your space, not your house. You assaulted me before I could get to your house.”

Emily reached out to the door. Hey Reality, she thought to herself, it would be really cool if my apartment were on the other side of this door. She touched the handle of the door slowly turned it and pulled it open.

Violet’s jaw dropped. She had asked Emily to try, but never truly expected it to work. On the other side of the door, was not the broom closet of Violet’s house. Instead it was a somewhat messy bedroom. The desk had piles of notes and a day old sludge of coffee sat in in a glass coffee pot on the night stand. Violet resisted the urge to dive back into Emily’s head and check to make sure it really was her first day as a mage.

Then it was a broom closet again.

Violet spun around just in time to see Emily start to collapse. She stepped forward and caught Emily just before her knees buckled and she fell. She carefully picked Emily up and brought her to the bed. Violet chuckled as she laid her down, “Rough day I guess.”

—–

“Man, what a dream. Magic huh?” Emily groaned as she rolled over in bed. She re-adjusted her pillow and moved the cat out of her face. Her long golden hair was slightly damp with sweat, the room felt warmer than she normally kept it. Light was streaming in from a window. “Ugh, why did I pull open the blinds?” She reached across the bed to grab her other pillow to cover her eyes but got a hand full of hair instead. Emily’s eyes snapped open and she sat up immediately.

Laying in bed next her was Violet. Emily was still in her clothes from the previous night. She was not in her room. That was not her cat. She didn’t have a cat. Was that not a dream? She closed her eyes and felt with her mind to see what she could see. The dimensions of the room sat in front of her. Beyond that she could feel the edge of the strange folded pocket of space they sat in. She could faintly even sense an awakening mind directly next to her.

A groan pulled her out of her trance. Violet rolled over on her side and jumped as she remembered that she was not alone in bed. “Oh I’m so sorry. You fainted last night after opening the door and I thought I’d make you comfortable and I didn’t have another bed or a couch or anything so I put you here but then you didn’t come to and I got tired so I layed down for bed next to you too,” she took a breath and lowered her voice, “I hope that wasn’t too weird.”

Emily’s eyes locked on Violet. She was wearing pink pajamas. Her face was bright red. Something about it seemed oddly cute, even though she knew Violet could probably wipe her mind if she wanted to, in that moment Emily felt like Violet was vulnerable for the first time.

Emily stood up. Looked around to get her bearings briefly, then stated, “I’m sorry to bother you,” and walked out the front door with wide eyes. She was able to quickly find the bend in space and stepped through onto the street. It was the weekend and she needed to process what she just woke up to. But first she needed coffee.

Luckily down the street was her favorite coffee shop, so she turned and headed that way. Once she got to the door she remembered her previous day’s coffee adventure. Well, if i can change spaces, I bet I could make that cup actually hold 12 ounces, she thought with a smile. as she got to the front of the line she focused on the cup the man at the register grabbed and encouraged space to extend inside of it. She felt, more than saw, the cup expand inside, but stay the same shape on the outside. As the man poured the coffee he seemed a little frustrated at how slowly his coffee pot was pouring but didn’t seem to notice why it took longer. Well, that was pretty easy, Emily thought as she picked up her cup and walked outside, I guess Violet was right.

She walked quickly, except for slowing to sip her coffee, back to her apartment. The sun of the previous day was replaced, in normal Portland fashion, by thick clouds so Emily was feeling a little chilly in her skirt and t-shirt. She was ready to take a bath and try to figure out exactly what was going on with the world.

As Emily approached the door to her apartment she felt strangely nervous. Visions of the previous night flashed through her head. She kept worrying that she would open her door to find herself in Violet’s closet, or worse that her room had disappeared completely. Twenty four hours ago, she had no idea that magic existed and now she was terrified that she destroyed what little material things she owned.

I think you can do anything to space that you wish,” Violet’s words repeated back to her in her head. “create space, destroy space, interpose space. Reality will bend to your whim.” It terrified Emily. Even Violet, who Emily saw as one of the strongest people she had ever met, seemed to have a tinge of fear as she said those words.

Her heart was racing as she reached out for the door handle. She was trying to stay focused on what she knew was behind the door, her room, but her mind kept jumping between possibilities that seemed impossible to her past self. I need to calm down, she thought, If I can truly adjust reality with my thoughts is is the wrong way to be thinking. She turned the handle and opened the door.

Inside was her room. Messy as always, clothes from the previous day on the floor, her pajamas lying on the bed. Stacks of papers and books littered her desk. The view was the same as the one she had seen just a few hours before. Emily suddenly realized she had been holding her breath and exhaled. The tension she was holding in her back released and she walked to the bath.

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Zenith – Part 4

Standing in front of Emily was a house. It didn’t look all that out of place. She was still in the park blocks, she could see Portland around her, but everything past the house looked a little blurry. Emily had never heard of a house being located anywhere near here, and with this location it would be worth a fortune.

The house was of a victorian style. Broad windows, tall ceiling, covered patio with a cute outdoor couch looking out over the street. The walls were painted a pastel yellow with white trim. On the peak of the roof was a classic weather vane with a metal cut out rooster on top. In the sloping corner of the roof a swallow had made a nest and dutifully sat over its eggs.

The house looked so perfect it appeared to glow. The grass of the park wouldn’t have felt out of place on a golf course. The paint didn’t have any chips and certainly didn’t look to have faded at all. A bouquet of flowers sat on the porch, all looking pristine but many flowered during different seasons.

Emily took the first step up to the deck.

“STOP”

The word had power behind it. Emily had no choice but to freeze in place. She felt a tendril of energy reach out to her mind and she tensed up trying to keep her mind under control.

“RELAX”

Emily dropped her shoulders and let out the breath she had been holding in. She was unable to panic as she felt her mind opened like a book. She could almost relive her memories as she felt some foreign force flip back through time in her head. Images, emotions, words, all were openly revealed to the other occupant of Emily’s head and Emily felt it all, but was unable to protest.

Then her book closed and her mind was her own once more. Emily shook herself. She had no idea what just happened.

“You also have no idea what you are now,” said a voice as the door of the house opened up. The black haired lady stepped forward, wearing a blue sundress with her yellow eyes burning. “You charged into the unknown without any thought that that unknown might be a dangerous place for you. I’d ask why you’re here, but I can tell you know I know. I’ll try to answer some of your questions. Come on in,” The woman walked into the house leaving Emily stunned for a minute on the porch.

Inside the house, bookshelves lined the walls. Some books looked brand new, others looked like they could have been older than the city they lived in. The room had a rich smell of knowledge, and though it was situated in a strange pocket of space, any feeling of size, was completely normal inside the house. The rooms were set up for a single occupant. The dining table had one chair, there was one bed upstairs. Emily had a feeling she was the only visitor other than her new friend that had entered the house in a long time.

“My name is Violet. I’m a mind mage for the most part. Though I have enough control over space to get in here, which I can tell you do to. Took me months to be able to get in though, you just waltzed through on your first day,” Violet trailed off. “Kinda unfair if you ask me.” Violet forced a smile as she looked over her shoulder. She picked up the kitchen chair and brought it over to her library chair, motioning to the larger more comfy of the two as she sat in the other.

“What do you mean a mind mage?” questioned Emily as she sat down. “And I guess you know who I am but I’m Em–”

“Don’t tell another mage your name. That is lesson one. The more information another mage has about you the easier it is to affect you. Yes I know your name, but you need another name to give people, gives you another layer of protection. Now think of something or someone you can make a code name of sorts from.”

“What do you mean, how can they affect me? and what is a mage?”

Violet closed her eyes and sighed. “I’m sorry, I have a tendency to move a little fast. I’m used to just understanding people, it is hard for me to step back.” She opened her eyes but they didn’t seem to focus on the woman sitting across from her. “Why have you been able to see strange pockets in space lately?”

“I–” Emily didn’t know. Ever since this morning she had been much more aware of the space around her. Distances between things, volumes of cups. But it wasn’t until Violet asked her that she thought about it. “I don’t know.”

Violet looked straight at Emily and finally focused on the real world. “You are a mage. Like me you can use magic.”

“Like spells?” it didn’t make sense to Emily, magic only existed in the stories, “Are you going to tell me I can shoot fireballs or something?”

“It isn’t much like your traditional wizards carrying a staff and vanquishing dragons. Though some of them do still wander. The magic we can wield is often a little more subtle. I often feel like I kindly ask reality to change and it says OK. For me I guess, I ask for the universe to let me open up someone’s mind and it adjusts itself to allow it.”

“But all I’ve done is notice strange things, how do you know I can change things?”

“The first step is often seeing things. What makes you different, is that often the first appearance of magic is through a violent event. Yours was a coffee cup.”

“What was yours?” Emily tipped her head slightly, genuinely curious about her new acquaintance.”

“I–” Violet’s eyes widened. She knew she brought this on herself and didn’t know how to get herself out of it. “I would really rather not talk about it.”

Emily noticed Violet’s shaken appearance, “Oh, I’m sorry. Probably bad form for mages, more information about each other right?”

Violet was even more stunned. “Did you just try to save me face?”

“Well,” Emily replied with a chuckle, “as far as I know you are the only other mage in Portland, I have to try and keep you on my good side.”

Laughter burst through Violet’s body. She shot backwards with such force that she nearly knocked her chair over. A cat that was sitting in the corner that had been asleep the whole time so far jumped and ran upstairs.

“I don’t understand,” trailed Emily, “What is so funny?”

“It’s just that,” Violet struggled to speak through bouts of laughter still falling from her mouth, “it has been so long since I met a mage who even tried to be nice, and here you are: a first day mage trying to make me look better after I rudely dug through your head.”

Emily looked down, “Sorry. I guess I still don’t understand.”

Violet’s laughter subsided after a moment. “No, I’m sorry. You have to understand. very few mages work with each other kindly. I think maybe that was just stress leaving my body.” She stood up walking to the kitchen. “How about I make it up to you, I know you like coffee, but how about some tea?”

“It’s not some magic tea is it? I don’t need a spirit journey today.”

“Don’t worry, I’m a mind mage not a spirit mage.”

Emily’s head snapped to look at Violet, “Wait that’s a thing? I was making a joke!”

“Oh yeah, there are a lot of kinds of magic out there, but they all follow that same theme of asking reality’s rules to change to suit you.”

“So we have Space, Mind, and Spirits? what else is there?”

“I have a little bit of experience with Life as well. Then there is Death, which I know it sounds like it is the same, but don’t tell a necromancer that.” Violet paused for comedic effect, but when no laugh came reconsidered. “That was a joke. Mages often call ‘pure’ magic Prime, and then Matter is basically any stuff that isn’t alive. Forces is all the energy things, and then there is Time and Fate, which is where things get really weird.”

“Oh,” pipped Emily, feeling completely overwhelmed.

“Don’t worry,” reassured Violet as she returned with a pot and two cups, “I’m not going to test you.”

“OK, so you said it took you months to get into this space does that mean you didn’t make it?”

“Nope, I found it much like you did. After talking with some other mages nearby I eventually learned an old mage had made it. Then that mage passed and left it alone. It isn’t a good spot for most of the magic community around here, so no one wanted it. I trained regularly to be able to get in. Which by the way, says to me you can probably do a lot more then just follow me into here.”

“Like what?”

Violet started to pour the tea. “I think you can teleport. I think you can bend space like this pocket. I think you could make a second layer of space situated on top of this house right now that when you open a door you enter a different version of the same place.” Violet looked up and locked eyes with Emily, “I think you can do anything to space that you wish.”

Emily picked up her tea with wide eyes. “Okay. Well. How about we start with some get to know you stuff before I accidentally break the universe?”

Violet smiled. Maybe it will be nice to have a friend again, she thought as she obliged in a lighter conversation.

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Zenith – Part 3

Emily didn’t often maintain plans for her weekends. This weekend was no different. She knew studying would take up some of her time, but prefered to act as time went rather than trying to create structure in her life. Because of this freedom, Emily decided to spend her evening trying to understand what she felt in the park blocks on her way to class.

 

It was a strange feeling in that space. She had walked down this road so many times and never saw anything strange, but today there was something about it that made it feel like it should be bigger. Walking over that spot felt like she was stepping over a fold in space, like someone had taken a map of the area and pinched two points together. Across the street everything felt fine and as she walked into the park she reached a point where the park felt correct.

 

Emily stood on the opposite side of the street staring at a space that didn’t seem to exist. There must be a rational explanation for this, it’s not like it is magic,she thought. Let me think this through. Yesterday everything felt right, so what could have changed. The weather? it seems just as sunny. Maybe a tree got cut down? I know some of these trees seem awfully close to the road.

 

While she was lost in thought she almost missed the young woman she watched earlier walking towards her. Almost. What caught her attention and pulled her out of her daze was the fact that as the raven haired woman approached the crowd on the street seemed to get thicker. There are almost never this many people on the street at this time, Emily thought as a hint of deja vu kicked in. This is just like the cafeteria! Emily just barely caught a glimpse of the lady’s rich black hair and bright golden eyes before the crowd got too thick.

 

Then as quickly as it built up the crowd was gone. It was hard to even tell where the people went. It was as if they didn’t really exist. Like they were figments of imagination. But something was wrong. She is still here, but I can’t see her. Emily didn’t know why she thought this. Maybe it was the same thing that got over her about the street, and her cup this morning. Maybe she went IN there, Emily considered the fold in space and crossed the street again.

 

If it is a fold, she reasoned,  I should be able to unfold it. Or at least climb into the fold. She did it just now right? Emily thought back to her high level physics classes she took before dropping her physics minor. I was never good with extra dimensions.

 

Reaching out, Emily felt for the place that space changed. Once she found it she traced her hand along the fold and tried to understand what it felt like. This is NOT the absence of a tree. If anyone asked her what reality felt like before that day she wouldn’t have been able to tell them. Today her brain told her that the three dimensions of space had a certain thickness to them, almost a velvet quality. This fold felt a little rougher, like a carpet that has been worn down from traffic. At the roughest spot she felt a tiny gap. She lightly applied a pressure in a fourth dimension and felt her hand slide into a space that didn’t fully exist. Her heart skipped a beat and she pulled her hand back out.

 

Should I really just DO this? Visions of science fiction films where people get turned inside out while teleporting flashed through her head. I don’t even know what this is. Maybe Dr. Frank would be able to help. But she knew better. If her professor knew anything about folds in space time she was sure he would have said something related to it. She reached her hand forward, found that magic spot and pushed.
Her hand went through. She took a step forward. Her arm was in deep. Another step forward she saw her foot disappear. Then she was no longer in a normal space.

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Zenith – Part 2

“Em, what happened to your hands!”

Emily snapped out of the daze she was in and returned to the table. While she never really had many strong friends, she was sitting with three other students mostly held together by the high level math classes they were all taking. Finals were coming up and so many free moments during the day were taken up by study groups. Even meal times weren’t protected.

“I um,” she looked down at her hands, “I fell earlier. I didn’t realize how bad it looked.” Her hands were thoroughly scratched up. Parts of her palm were stained red from where she had been bleeding. “I guess my adrenaline just kicked in.”

“Are you telling me you took notes in class with your hands like that and you didn’t even notice you were bleeding? Are you sure you’re not an alien?”

“Ha ha, very funny Steve.” It was a joke that had come out of the fact that Emily just had a mind for numbers — and that she tended to be a social outcast. “I guess I should go clean up.” Emily stood up and without needing to look where she was going, made her way to the bathroom.

Halfway there she felt it again. That feeling of wrongness that hit her earlier on the street. looking away from her hands she looked around at the various tables occupied by students enjoying their lunches. One caught her eye, a woman with hair darker than black. She had a delicate looking face, but held herself in a way that implied she was far from harmless. While most tables were occupied by many people, she sat alone writing in a notebook as she took bites from a sandwich. It wasn’t the girl herself that felt wrong though, it took Emily a minute to figure out what it was. Her backpack, and suddenly it clicked. Her backpack was larger than it appeared. While it looked like a normal backpack, Emily was certain that if the girl wanted she could fit at least one person, probably two or three, inside.

What is going on? she thought to herself as she started to walk towards the mystery girl. But as she started moving people started standing up. the closer she got to her the more people were pushing in the opposite direction and it became harder and hard to see her, let alone reach her. After struggling past a guy built like a football lineman Emily gave up as she was faced down by two basketball player sized men. It’s as if the universe is protecting her. I have to figure out what is going on. Somehow Emily knew that she wasn’t going to be able to just walk up to this girl, she’d have to try something else.

Emily finished cleaning up her hands and returned to her study group. “Hey Steve, you know a lot of people, do you know who that girl is?” Emily asked pointing to the raven-haired girl.

“Oh ho ho! you have a thing for witches now?” laughed Steve. This is why I don’t normally talk to you, thought Emily.

“What are you talking about?” Questioned Amanda, who was the closest to a friend that Emily had in the group.

“They say she turned Oscar Simmons into a frog after he tried to copy off her test. I don’t believe it, but if witches did exist I bet they’d look like her,” smirked Steve defensively, “Besides I haven’t seen Oscar in a while.”

“I thought he moved to New York,” chimed Amanda.

“Yeah, but it was her that told the administration that.” rebutted Steve.
“Whatever Steve, forget I asked. If you can’t be serious you shouldn’t even bother,” grumbled Emily as she opened up her textbook. But she wondered how much truth there was in Steve’s conspiracy. After all Emily couldn’t shake that feeling of wrongness in the air around her.

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Zenith – Part 1

Emily Davidson didn’t have a dramatic awakening. Many mages were snapped awake by death or destruction. For Emily one day she was living a normal college life and the next she was complaining about undersized coffee cups.

Just like many mornings before she left home and stopped at the corner coffee shop to get her liquid sleep to make up for her lack of the real thing. Unlike those previous mornings as the barista handed her her ‘12 ounce’ cup of coffee she looked at it and said, “This is a ten ounce cup. 10.26 to be precise.” The barista looked up at her confused. Emily shook her head and turned to walk outside. She passed the exactly 15.34 meters it took to get to the door and opened it to an angle of 87*. She then stepped outside into the sun.

The sun was as bright as it ever was in Portland during the spring. There was a little bit of moisture on the ground left over from last night’s drizzle. Trees were regaining their leaves and a few even looked like they were getting ready to flower. Overall it was a pleasant spring day. If I have to be up for class, at least it is like this she thought to herself with a slight smile as she let her eyes droop and soak in the sun. Even with her eyes closed she could feel the buildings around her defining the space she occupied.

Then she tripped.
her eyes flashed open as she fell. That shouldn’t have happened — The space here is wrong. As soon as she hit the ground she was standing. Her spilled drink lay open on the ground, but its missing two ounces were out of her mind. She didn’t know what she meant when her brain said space was wrong. The road looked just like it had any other day. The roots of a nearby tree had pushed under the concrete sidewalk and made a bump. To anyone else it probably looked like she tripped on that, But I tripped on emptiness not a tree root. Even as she thought it it didn’t make sense. Frustrated she picked up her bag and walked carefully to class.

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