By Accipiter G. Goshawk
The continuing story of Trav and Cassie!
Read how the story began in Points of view: part I…
At first, all he could feel was the cold unyielding soul of the copper circlet. With a deft movement, he twisted his mind and easily found the two opals resting on his temples. Beyond, he could feel an endless universal encyclopaedia, stretching out into infinity.
All he had to do was reach out.
His mind easily passed through the thaumic portal and into the Focus proper. He knew that the circlet was merely a doorway; the actual magical marvel was in the interdimensional void beyond. Here, in a time between times and a space removed from the clamour of the world, Remex Matthews had crafted the ultimate tool for discovery and research. All around him -floating in thin air- he could see spindly metal arms supporting lenses and delicate equipment. Of course, they were merely illusions, logical aids useful to the uninitiated.
Trav didn’t need any of that. With a simple sweep, he cleared the floor of the childish constructs and instead materialized a dais on which to stand.
Then, he called up the Sun.
In a heartbeat, the depths of space materialized around him and in the centre, hanging like a small red apple, was the heavenly furnace. He willed the image to grow larger; immediately, the room spiralled and accelerated. In half a second, the Sun was closer. Much closer. Its impossible size now filled the room and Trav staggered backwards as a hellish wave of heat crashed into his fragile frame.
“It’s only an illusion,” he repeated to himself shakily.
He peeked from behind his straining lids at the deadly fires now spiralling angrily around him. Slowly, he managed to focus and regaining a modicum of control. Exerting more willpower than he felt comfortable admitting to, he managed to dim the Sun and shrink it to a more reasonable size. He dialled the heat back as well and soon the room became more welcoming. He squinted once more at the object of his study and finding it manageable, opened his eyes wide.
The star now stood suspended before him in the inky black like a large ball of fire, the small eruptions of incandescent material swirling outwards into the void.
Trav hardly noticed. With his usual focus, he turned his thoughts to his assignment.
“Obseran Matthews wants me to observe. It’s a test. I’m ready,” he murmured to himself as he materialized a small leather-bound notebook. Drawing a deep breath, he turned his head upwards towards the flames.
The first hour dragged slowly by, as the Trav circled the floating ball with intense concentration, noting down everything that came and went on the fiery sphere’s surface. After another hour, his notebook was half-full. His mind on the other hand was empty.
“Why does she want me to observe one object for a whole day?” He groaned inwardly as the Sun completed another revolution around his small podium. He was utterly meticulous and very little had escaped his watchful eyes; but there were limits even to his dedication. He huffed and flopped down on to a plush couch that had conveniently appeared from thin air.
“What I need is another way to look at the thing,” he murmured as he thumped a pillow in frustration.
Immediately, the Focus reacted. A series of coloured lenses began to circle the star invitingly, beckoning Trav back to the dais. His tiredness forgotten, he grabbed his notebook and returned to work.
The following hours were some of the most illuminating in his whole career. Using the Focus, he easily dissected the Sun into small manageable pieces. The Thaumic instrument also proved invaluable when it came to extracting numbers and chemical characteristics from the astral body. In minutes, he had what would have taken a team of astronomers years to discover.
This fact was utterly lost on Trav as he powered onwards, lost in the intricacies of the Sun’s intimate anatomy.
It was because of this, that he initially failed to notice the tongues of flame slowly licking at the corners of his mind.
As he wrote fact after fact in his notebook, his thoughts turned to the Sun’s molten furnaces and a shiver crossed his soul. He began to feel annoyed as the random feeling returned every time he tried to banish it, threatening his study. Gradually, the terrible fires advanced into the steely fortress that was Trav’s brain and the young man felt himself weakening, as visions of endless destruction filled his mind.
In front of him, the floating star was no longer small or dimmed. Instead -under the influence of Trav’s point of view- it had grown large and twisted; the flames were no longer a dull red but a piercing shadowy green. In his mind’s eye, the scholar felt its insatiable hunger. He saw worlds swallowed by its greedy furnaces; countless lives destroyed in an instant, civilizations erased in a second.
Soon he was powerless, lost in the hellish nightmare he had conjured. He fell to his knees and cried out, even as the vacuum of space ripped his words and his breath from him and cast him towards the terrible blaze. Soundless and incapable of movement, Trav floated into the endless burning. His body turned to nothing; the only thought that remained was of final destruction.
The grumpy squawk snapped him out of his desolate trance and an instant later, he was blinking at the lights of the Focus room. Obseran Matthews stared at him appraisingly as she placed the circlet she had removed from his head back into its velvet case.
“Well? What were your observations boy?” she said gruffly, her eyes sliding back and forth over his face, searching.
“I-I initially took an hour to study the external properties of the object in question Obseran…”
Miraculously, he managed to give her a quick and eloquent account of his main findings. During this time, Remex Matthews listened carefully. She nodded from time to time, but her eyes remained fixed on his and an odd expression threatened to mar her smooth forehead.
“Very good. An excellent first attempt. I must say I am…impressed Observer. You missed a considerable amount, of course,” she added sternly, “but I think that can be overlooked for now. Tomorrow you shall look at something a little more complex. I think the sea perhaps. Now, off you go.”
Trav didn’t remember how he got from the top of the Third Spire all the way to the Hall of Thaums, nor how he found himself being shaken awake by Cassie an hour past dinner.
“Trav! Are you all right? You missed dinner; are you sick? Did the day tire you out? How was the Focus? Was it cool? Did you fail?” she asked as a look of horrified realization crossed her face. “Please tell me you didn’t fail! I mean, if you did who cares right? Matthews is a witch, everyone knows that! I’m sure if you asked Obseran Graves he would be willing to take you-“
“Cassie! I’m fine,” he exclaimed exhaustedly, “It was just a very long day, ok?”
“Oh,” she said dumbly. A small clattering of silverware sounded from behind his turned back and he rolled over to see his bubbly friend hoisting a platter of food on to his desk. Cassie smiled sheepishly.
“I thought you might be hungry,” she said smiling awkwardly.
Something loosened within him and he smiled back warmly.
“Thanks Cas,” he said, slowly getting to his feet and moving to his desk. He hesitantly took a bite from a bread bun and discovering it didn’t taste of ash, wolfed it down hungrily.
“So?” asked Cassie again as he slowly tucked into his meal, “how did it go?”
“It was amazing. I looked at the Sun, Cas! I had access to all its secrets, all the information surrounding it. And I never left the Third Spire!” A forceful joviality had crept into his voice and Cassie frowned.
“Was Matthews satisfied?”
“More than that. She was impressed.” This time true happiness tinged his words and her frown dispersed. “I’ll be looking at the sea tomorrow.”
“The Sea? Wow! I’d love to be able to do that! All the fish! All the life! Do you think Matthews would ever agree to let me use the Focus?”
“No,” he answered flatly. The sharp note caught her off guard and she shrunk back a little.
“Ok, sorry I asked,” she said coldly.
“I- Cas I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just…Matthews is very particular and I doubt she’d be willing to let someone else use it. Plus, it can be a little, well, dangerous.”
“What do you mean dangerous?” she asked alarmed.
“Don’t worry.” He waved her back down to the chair she had just jumped up from. “It’s a question of Thaumic protocol and using the proper resonance equations…”
He droned on for a few minutes until he was sure she had lost interest and then he easily changed the subject to her day. They spent the next hour laughing as she narrated her various failed attempts at capturing an adult Kierophant.
When she left, Trav returned to his bed. That night however, sleep never came. Every time he closed his eyes, the inescapable fiery tongues of the Sun appeared before him, burning through his mind’s inadequate defences and scattering his hope like ash in a storm.-
The story continues in Points of view:part III…