The Magician Child – Chapter 2: Equilibrium

Dusk’s sobering curtain veiled the sky, its silver-blue relieving the blush and artifice of yet another twilight spent outdoors. The young woman awoke on the lumbering giant’s shoulder. The rhythmic thud of miles gone underfoot, which had cast her into slumber sometime during the afternoon, was now an unpleasant forebearer of another roofless, bathless, foodless night in the desolate open uninterrupted landscape.

She whined and yawned, arching her spine back to its intended curvature. The porter trudged on, mindless, mechanical. She leaned into its great hairy ear.

Sleepwalking, are we?, she howled ruthlessly into the cavity. The giant sniffed. What of our agreement, oh monstrous being?, she chided in mock outrage. For the most part, she merely found it eerie how the juggernaut could simply disconnect, and mindlessly preambulate the land. Mostly, it was her empty stomach speaking. I pity you if we discover that we missed a village on account of your… Just then the giant dragged a weighty forefinger upwards through the air, indicating something in the distance. Her starving eyes found the mark before the finger had completed its arc.

Salvation, she cried. What is it? A farm?

The pair entered the village under the cover of darkness. The last miles were marked by an incessant stream of voiced needs and desires to be forthwith assuaged. The porter remained idiosyncratically silent. Which, consequentially, explained why it noticed first that something was amiss.

Where is everyone?, she complained, personally affronted by the absence of village folk. She landed in the street noiselessly. Hello? Not even a breeze swept the dirt streets. You can’t do this to me, you hear? I am NOT sleeping outside again. She picked a house at random and tramped over to it. Finding its windows firmly shuttered, she raised her voice an extra decibel for good measure. Not even the dead and buried could turn a deaf ear to her summons. I knooow you’re in there! Come out come out!

Shooo! Shooo!

Huh!? The voice had come from further than the house she currently besieged.

Go away!

Befuddled, she leaned over a fence and poked her head into the alley beside the house. Who’s there?, she called out, dropping the pretense of her indignation. The alley itself was drenched in obscurity. However, on the opposite side of the next street, she could make out a beam of light from a half-open door. The light sliced a rectangular frame into the thick woolen darkness. Motioning for the giant to follow, she ventured blindly down the alley.

Shooo!

There, mid-air, on a second-floor balcony, stood a ludicrous little elderly woman in a nightgown, brandishing a straw broom threateningly into the air.

Shooo!, the elderly broomster repeated. Get!

The young woman hugged the wall as she side-stepped the recipient of the shooing into view. At first, she saw only darkness.

Wo!, the young woman’s arms went slack with boyish wonder as her eyes finally outlined the lanky mammoth of a shadow, barely distinguishable from the surrounding gloom. When her eyes reached the slender yellow eyes haphazardly adorning the apex of the indistinct form, she was positively gawking. Without relieving the shadow of her unabashed admiration, she yelled for the giant.

Beast! Blindly, she reached back and found herself scratching at the looming giant’s ankle. It was all she could do not to drool. Both the shadow and the nightgown turned to look at her.

You!, the broom quivered menacingly in their direction.

Me?

No, not you. You! The old lady aimed her broom higher. The young woman followed the trajectory of the threat and found the giant intently gazing forward at the shadow.

Hey, she whisper-screamed to the giant, do you have anything to do with this? The giant did not respond. S’what I thought.

We have nothing to with this grandma, she parried rudely.

Take it back.

Take it back?, she repeated under her breath, take what back? I meant what I said, lady. She threw her hands up in passionate exasperation. What is up with this place? She threw a glance back at the giant, screwing up her face in a quizzical expression. Can you believe this old lady?, she jeered, and was surprised to find that the giant actually did. It stretched out from the alley to its full towering length and stood there quietly intent, consternation strewn across its face. Towering, and yet, she noticed, barely meters higher than the shadow. With a weary sigh, she stepped aside. She recognized that intensity in the giant’s eyes and knew better than to meddle.

Fine, you’re on your own.

The two giants, shadow and flesh, eyed each other a while. The uncanny similarity in height made the girl glance back suspiciously. Whether the light sliding from the ajar door on the second floor was too dim to cast shadows, she could not decide, but it certainly seemed as though a shadow was not, in the dark alley, where a shadow should probably have been. The stand-off endured. She noticed a few creeping figures surfacing from the shuttered homes, a few heads prying from the shelter of the unlit night. She wondered whether they hid from the shadow or… An idea struck her then. She pranced slyly away, off to merge with the populace. The path to the satiation of her many discomforts had rematerialized before her now, and she moved to dissociate herself from the two gargantuan beings. She was mere paces from making good her escape when, to her dismay, the giants stirred out of inertness behind her. Somewhere in their silent exchange, a bargain had been struck. The shadow had collapsed and slipped across the narrow street to merge at the porter’s feet. Despite the apparent resolution of the shadow problem, the hostility of the village folk did not seem wane. On the contrary, it seemed now rather that they associated the giant’s arrival with the shadow’s assault. A correlation that did not work to their advantage. To the giant’s advantage.

Monster!, had she just uttered the condemnation? That her depravity could still out-fox her good sense, amazed her beyond shame. Be gone!

The village suddenly burst in outrage around her, echoing her brazen condemnation. She grinned, still hanging on to the thin veil of her cover. The giant lumbered off without so much as a glance in her direction. Whether this was out of excess loyalty or pure lack of wits, she would never know. The shadow followed suit obediently, dancing upon the houses as it slithered thinly, pale now in the starlight. Villagers scattered like chicken insects, seeing the shadow’s touch about as favourably as a bubonic pestilence.

The sky had unleashed its full fury upon the land when she finally tracked down the giant’s encampment. Sopping and miserable, she crumbled beside the measly fire that sizzled sonorously under the outright regurgitations of the clouds above. A pot was set there, upon the embers to stew and gurgle unenthusiastically amongst the pitter-patter of the sizeable raindrops.

Why do they hate me?, she at last muttered in raging unchecked self-pity.

The landscape brooked no compromise, but a vast desolation and open sky. The giant pinched the tiny ladle between its nails and helped her to a serving of watery slop.

If I have another sip of your root soup, I think I will start sprouting some myself, she mumbled, nonetheless accepting her portion. She scoured her manyfold accoutrement one-handedly and came away with a worn silver spoon. From her sleeve, she withdrew a triangular satchel tied with a lock of hair. She rambled incoherently under her breath as she dissolved a smidgen of powder into the ardent murky stew.

Stuck in Jergraplis of all places. A conglomerate of any and all most boring characteristics of all worlds. Jergraplis, jergraplis. Should be a swear word. Ha! Jergraplis you. I jergraplis onto you. Yeah, that’s good. Shhhlp. Urgh. I hate this jergaplis soup. Hehe. Yeah. 

She dissimulated the satchel back into her sleeve in a seamless motion, re-accommodated herself on the rough ground and in doing so caught the giant’s glare.

What? It’s inedible.

Behind, the shadow frolicked upon the rocks and shrubs, swaying and flickering at the whim of the flames.

Partway through the night, she woke with a start. Something was scampering from within her arms and out of sight.

I knew it!

She stumbled after it clamorous in her groggy unresponsive body, but as soon as she left the area of their encampment, the trail grew cold. She ran back to the giant.

Didn’t you see it? It ran right by you. Wake up, you useless giant!

The giant did not budge. Furious, she crouched by the fire, glowering as she reorganized thin sticks into the fire. The rain had abated some, and the fire had nearly capitulated its doomed vigil. The rush of startled wakefulness faded and she was left gazing drowsily into the flames, rocking slightly on her heels as she squatted. Then she fell back into a deep dreamless sleep.

When she awoke the following day, they were already on the move. The giant crossed the land, as a weather pattern would. She rummaged through her mouth for saliva and found none. She lowered herself to the giant’s belt, found a stoppered horn, slung it across her shoulder and climbed back up to her usual perch. She unstoppered it and drank sweeping gulps of the tepid elixir therein. Partway through a sigh of utmost satisfaction, her sight met the shadow. Her eyes formed into the practiced slits of a proficient skeptic. She glanced at her own shadow atop the giant’s newfound one. How could she not have noticed before? Or maybe she had but did not make a conscious note of it?

Then, whether in response to her doubts or simply out of personal desire, the giant spoke. The giant was rarely moved to words and so she willed herself to listen.

In the ancient culture of my people, the giant spoke with the painstaking articulation one would expect an ocean to possess, and for a lengthy moment, the giant spoke no more. Then another wave of words broke the surface: …the ceremony that marks the incorporation of our giant bodies.., the words trailed off again.

During the intermittence, her eyes returned to find the shadow which seemed to respond to her gaze by being exactly, precisely a shadow. And despite repeated efforts to surprise the shadow out of character, she only caught hints from the corner of her eyes.

…is characterized by the separation of giant and shadow. 

Hiatus. The shadow was slick. It never allowed itself to be caught off guard. Were all shadows like this? She glanced at her own, rocking there on the giant’s shadow’s shoulder. Abruptly, she threw a fit of convulsive motions, all the while studying her shadow. Slick indeed. She narrowed her eyes. Maybe not today, she thought, but…

It is not well understood whereto the shadows disappear.

Her pathetic attempts at concentration had been in vain. The giant fell silent, and spoke no more. Her mind germinated with unanswered questions. Is this your shadow? Why is the separation necessary? And what happens now that you have merged anew? What size are you before you “incorporate” a giant body?

Deep down, however, she knew that answers would not be forthcoming, now that the giant’s rare bout of speech was over. And heroically, she managed to bite down the impulse to ask anyway. She glanced at the shadow and thought of the previous night. Although she could not be sure, it seemed that regardless of the world or dimension they travelled of late, people were somehow aware of their existence, and, whereas some reacted with indifference, others reacted to them in a negative shunning way. As though they were unnatural beings. As though they were a disturbance to the order of things. And she wondered if they were.

Their pilgrimage carried on its course uninterrupted throughout the morning, and if the landscape altered at all, it was so gradual as to be unnoticeable. There was a treacherous message hidden there in the drifting land, and her eyes interpreted it as an invitation for sleep. And so it was that in the early afternoon, she was jolted from a perspiring nap, by the absence of motion. She rose to find herself atop a rock spire. Disoriented, she stood, and, yawning extensively, scanned her surroundings. It seemed that even monotony could not last forever. At last, the landscape had broken out in rocky outcrops, which, in the wavering distance, erupted to dramatic heights. It appeared that they had traversed quite a distance through this new landscape before the giant had elected to stop. She sauntered towards the edge and gazed downward.

Jergraplis that’s high!

Amongst the pillars, semiliquid floating spheres of a rich shade of ochre bounced at varying heights and angles. There was something playful about the flow of their bouncing that made her immediately want to smile. She studied the intricacy of their pattern of motion and eventually determined that it was a set trajectory. Ripples travelled their surface upon impact in a flawless absorption and transference of power. When she was certain that she had integrated it all, she stood and edged backwards, until only the tips of her feet were grounding her to the spire. She took a deep breath, letting the pattern unfold itself in her mind. When the time came, she surrendered herself to the void. The spheres carried on their bouncing, unaware of the young woman diving backwards towards the ground. Her intuition did not fail her. She landed directly on top of one of the ochre spheres which travelled a few lengths from the ground. The sphere bounced off her back joined the ground and was just about to rebound when the girl landed on it again. There was a moment of extreme tension as the transfer of weight travelled from her body into the sphere, and sometime during the transference of that weight into the ground, the sphere exploded catastrophically. She was driven straight into the ground by the devastation force of her remaining momentum. Ears ringing with the sheer deafening magnitude of the explosion, she twisted and wormed on the ground trying desperately to suck air back into her lungs.

When the asphyxia waned, her senses returned in a bolt of lightning, searing the length of her every nerve. The pain was so crippling, that she began laughing uncontrollably. And with every new wave, her hysteria deepened. Spheres bounced every which way above her, only now, there was a frantic, unnerved energy, where once there had been playfulness. Like an insect colony on alert. Understandably so, she thought. And, with a barbarian exertion of will, she rolled herself to one side, off of the defunct sphere. The ground was rough under her side. Oh, how she wished her skin to be as rubbery and elastically forgiving as the spheres. She extended an arm to the nearest spire and brushed her fingers against the polished stone.

Well, that explains it, she whispered with a cough that made the back of her tongue taste like blood and dust. The spheres never touched the ground. She laughed to herself.

The sun was low on the horizon when she found the giant, sitting cross-legged, meditating opposite its shadow. The sphere carcass flopped with a disgruntled smack onto the giant’s knee. She limped towards the giant’s hip and clambered up its rags to, at last, settle in the crease between its leg and waist. The giant raised an eyebrow at her.

Don’t ask, she muttered, believe me. She winced and closed her eyes to the simultaneous concert of pain and relief of pain. The giant held the deflated sphere to the light to inspect it. Something foul is afoot, it thought. In his time of peaceful contemplation, he had seen the emergence of many spires, including the one that arose under the sleeping girl. A year would not pass before the plague completely consumed this world. As he contemplated this, the shadow too inspected the collapsed sphere. It intimated to the giant that he should lower the sphere until it made contact with the ground. The giant, curious, obeyed the direction. And through a magic unknown, the shadow fed the sphere its own shadow and, now whole, the sphere sealed itself around it.

Wo, the girl whispered wide-eyed.

The giant released the sphere and a ripple travelled its supple skin as it regained its creamy tone of sand in the setting sun. Equanimous, it settled, floating a mere hand’s length from the ground. The girl, suddenly inspired, crossed her legs and closed her eyes in concentration. Wind cast her hood back and her neck-length white hair bristled playfully, a lock’s breadth from her collar bone, as though to a rhythm of its own. Focus drew itself forcefully upon her features as a mental shuffle took place. Time stretched the fabric of silence to the apex of its tensile strength. The enterprise was not a simple one. She endeavoured to reorient her mind to become a welcoming vessel to attain an appropriate state of flow for the task at hand. The giant slid a hand beneath her, like a paper gathering a spider, and lifted her before its eyes. The woman that now sat in his palm, remained oblivious to these outer-worldly happenings. Attuned to her every breath and motion, it marvelled at the curious little creature. Its depthless eyes recorded the exact moment during which she achieved synchronicity. Eternal peace washed over her like a swift painless death. Where had she gone?, the giant wondered, not indifferently. Gazing beyond its hand to the woman’s shadow spread long across the rough earth, the giant found its answer. There, he observed a slight oscillation ruffling the edges of her shadow. And from an oscillation, was born a ripple, and from a ripple an undulation, and so forth until, the dark formless shadow flailed uncontrollably like an untethered sail in a gale.

Oh, she said, simply, as she opened her eyes again. She was sitting on the sphere. She giggled light-heartedly. The giant blinked, its empty hand dropping, limp with stupefaction. This woman, he thought, shivering inwardly. The girl glanced at her shadow poised mid-air, freely levitating in the absence of the sphere’s own shadow, and wondered what exactly she had achieved. Probably nothing, she thought, shrugging dismissively.

Onwards, she commanded, triumphant upon her new mount, and, to her partial surprise, the sphere obeyed. And so they set forth together towards the epicentre of the plagued landscape.

The giant’s shadow stretched impossibly long ahead of them, apparently reporting its findings back, for the giant acquiesced and grunted periodically. The findings were plunging him into an increasingly sombre mood. As they neared the epicentre, the rock acquired the qualities of glass infused with a murky green pigment, like the congealed seaweed in lakewater. The spires grew to such density, as they approached the source of their manifestation, that the giant soon found himself having to shuffle, rather than walk, amongst them. The spheres, which had mostly avoided their passage, now bounced, restless and maladroitly through the columns. As though wounded, they grazed the spires and bounced awkwardly against one another, in what, she could only imagine, was meant as a defensive maneuver, meant to dissuade or distract from a weakness of some sort. Offsprings, a nest, perhaps. Whatever awaited ahead was being amply ill-omened.

Giant, what do you see?

Judging from the giant’s scowl of consternation, she would have to see for herself. She stood upon the shadowless sphere, shakily found her balance, and then, using two opposing pillars she performed a series of acrobatic leaps. The sphere, using the momentum of her initial push, copied her movements. They rose in concert and crested the spires, landing in unrehearsed synchronicity.

Yeah, she whispered in a jazzy tone. So cool.

Ahead in the near distance, the spires thickened to form a uniform rock formation. The giant could barely proceed as it was, and so, in a motion of bestial might, it hooked a heel upon the plateau clumped pillars. As the earth quaked beneath her feet, she watched the giant effortlessly mantle its way onto the rock. She settled back upon her mount and they carried on their journey in the bright beginnings of twilight. The rock beneath their feet was gradually sealing itself as they progressed, leaving fissures like the earth at the bottom of a dried-up lake, only half a dozen paces deep.

The giant breathed deeply.

Yes, I sense it too.

A depression formed in the rock bed ahead. From it, arose sounds of childish laughter, of innocence at play. Neither of the two practiced pilgrims lowered their guard. Insidious evil wore many guises throughout the worlds.

What do you think?

They halted at the edge of the depression, and were now gazing down into a meadow overgrown with dark thick-bladed grass. The weary giant spoke not. Something tousled the grass below. The sounds of child play echoed anew against the cliffs of smooth glass surrounding the meadow. A few golden bubbles soared through the air, a child jumped from between the grass to catch them.

Up! Uuuup! Yuuuup!, one by one, he did not let any escape his nimble hands.

Hmmm, the giant grunted low, and when he was met with uncharacteristic silence, he turned to see that the girl was already gone. A noose was fastened to its outsized little finger. The giant closed its eyes with despair at the girl’s fool-hearted nature, and sighed.

Halfway down the cliff, the rope came to an end. With a quick smile of admiration at her own reflection in the glassy obsidian green of the rock wall, she launched herself off and fell the rest way down. Upon contact with the ground, she tucked into a roll and tumbled to a stop a few paces away.

Lemon-squeezy, she said in a low voice, then winced at the lingering pain from her previous, much less graceful landing. She prowled forth, dissimulating her presence in the grass. Though she could still hear the cascading laughter, what she found first was not the mysterious child. Scattered amongst the roots of the grass, lay lifeless spirits in their hundreds. She gasped. One could not fathom a more horrific sight. Her heart sunk. She was immensely relieved that the giant had not come to witness this, for its wrath would be of infinite reckoning. Spirits were creative, benevolent beings revered in almost every world as good omens and bearers of lost wisdom. The child’s laughter was now irreversibly stained by the horrors her eyes beheld.

Tears welled as she discovered the extent of the massacre. Her hands trembled as she weaved her way forward. She found the child near the centre of the meadow. She spied on him from a distance, as he skipped along between the dying spirits gathering the escaping bubbles of gold semiliquid that leaked from the severed bodies cruelly dispersed amongst the roots. Laughing, innocent, the boy splashed them against his bare chest. His emaciated body dripped with the golden ooze and still, way past the point of senseless destruction, the merry merciless game carried on. A short knife flashed into view as the flow of bubbles dwindled. The well of dying spirits was bleeding itself into a drought. Her rage took swift action and the knife disappeared from the child’s hand before it could wreak its mindless barbarity upon another helpless spirit. When the child looked up and saw the woman holding his knife, he froze into place. Then, his eyes travelled the extent of his murderous frenzy, as though just now awakening to the evil of his actions.

I was just.., he mumbled. I was.., his lower lip quivering. The rest was left unspoken, as he ran and buried his sobs in the folds of her clothes.

Giant?, she screamed hesitantly. Giant!

The giant lowered itself into the clearing, outstretched an impossibly long arm towards them and, with thumb and forefinger, pinched the measly brat away from the girl. The child, hanging by his shoulder, did not protest as he soared through the air. Rather, he simply dangled like a ragdoll, sobbing and rubbed his eyes. As he noticed the giant’s redoubtable eye set upon him, however, the child’s bearing altered with sickening swiftness. His mouth cracked open, revealing a wicked grin of serrated teeth. The evil flea sunk its teeth deep into the giant’s finger. Reflexively, the giant dropped the vicious creature, but then caught him again. When the giant unfurled its thick fist, however, the child had dissolved into a cloud of gritty smoke, which now trickled lazily from its fumbling fingers, leaving a yellow stain in its wake.

Look out!, the girl shouted as the ground below churned, casting an entire yard of grass into a downward spiral. Even as the wormhole materialized, she was dashing through the grass towards it, resolute to execute justice, whether or not it meant diving straight into the wormhole after the boy-turned-ash. She sensed the wormhole’s gravitational pull as she closed in. Then, she was met with a second, more powerful force that vehemently opposed her forward progress. She wrapped her hands around thick blades of grass and dug her feet into the ground and still she could not gain ground. It was as though her nature and the wormhole’s were mutually repulsive.

The giant stood clear of the portal and stood in awed helpless silence. Observing an event, the likes of which, the worlds had likely never encountered. Still, the woman pushed, straining every ounce of her being against the invisible forcefield. The air around her was suddenly set ablaze with innumerable luminescent orbs which began orbiting her body. In a burst of savage power, she screamed and took a step forward. The space between them began warping and still, she advanced. The sheer brutality of the energy emanating from the encounter petrified the giant. The space between shimmered with amassed heat and, for a second, the world witnessed the birth of a star. Then it all went black. The wormhole vanished and the girl tumbled violently forward, to land into a heap of scorched grass, unconscious.

***

Her return to consciousness manifested itself, at first, in details. Softly swishing grass, starlight, the smell of burnt grass. Time drifted past as she faded out, then in again. As the more general experience of consciousness returned to her, an inversion of perspective occurred. She no longer noticed the details as they made way for a less profound and more encompassing state of awareness. A single star became a night sky, a blade of grass, a meadow. The giant sat on the cliff’s edge, calmly conversing with a crimson spirit. One survived, she thought with detached interest. Then she remembered the massacre.

Only one survived, she murmured, sorrowful. She picked herself up inelastically to the thunderous protest of her every articulation, taking whale breaths to steady her heart. The ring of scorched grass meant nothing to her. She stepped out of it, as though obeying a superstition not her own, and set off on a silent stroll around the meadow. She meandered a moment allowing her mind to fully rejoin her body. She could find no trace of the massacre, nor of the playful child, and hoped that this was not a result of the seething rage that had overwhelmed her. The grass swayed with an inexistent draft, unveiling a weak golden glow to the corner of her eye. Instinctually, she cast a glance over her shoulder at the giant still communing with the spirit. Then she vanished from sight.

Only one survived, she purred gluttonously. And with a wolfish grin, she prowled forth on hands and knees. As she neared the golden bubble trapped amongst the blades of grass an evil glimmer traversed her watery unblinking eyes. A viscous green glow now flowed freely from the labyrinthine trove of her overlapping garments, casting shadows of avarice across her face, swelling her normally delicate features, grotesquely exaggerating the size of her eyes. The obscure underworld of the meadow where danced silver streams of starlight hither tither upon the copper-hued earth, was set aglow with a wavering interplay of lavish gold and velvet green. She snaked forth, projecting black blinking shards of shadows as she went. She sang to herself in a hushed not-quite baritone.

Bu-bble. Bu-bble. Come give me a kiss. It’s time for a kiss, for bed, it’s time for bed. Shhh my golden love. Shhh. Shhh. Give me a kiss. Do it now. Now. Shhh. Now. Shhh…

And so on, her song fading as she came to a halt before its prison of grass. She sat cross-legged before the curious altar, humming as she worked, unweaving the blades which held the sphere captive. Once set free, the sphere immediately rose through the air.

Shhh. Shhh. Come down. Come down. Shhh.

She formed a depression below the sphere with a downward wave of her hand, and the bubble instantly responded, lowering in whimsical swirls. She eyed the floating orb with curiosity, yearning, need, hungering desire, and with a final look back, born more of a general feeling of guilt than of real intension of occulting her actions, for, indeed, she could not even see above the towering grass; she reached for the radiant bubble. Delicately as one handles a moth, she gathered the sphere with open clawed fingers. Instantly, the bubble burst.

Ooooh no, she murmured, wide-eyed. The yellow liquid gushed into her hands and slid down her forearm. Her pupils dilated and the universe flooded in, into, inward, within. Surely, she would not be expected to contain it all, and yet, as surely, the universe poured endlessly in.

Woooooooo, she began. Woooooooooo. Wooooooo. Woooo. Woo. The onomatopoeic mantra assuaged nothing and yet, one could not be expected to swallow the universe in silence. Could one? She was in no way convinced of this. In it poured. In. Until, as suddenly as it had begun, she had consumed it all. All was darkness without. And for a moment she did not dare glance within. She strove to calm her breathing, only to realize that there wasn’t any air.

Oh, she exclaimed, dumbfounded, although the sound, having found no particles to vibrate inside the vacuum, never materialized. Oh, she thought, more accurately.

Woooooo, she screamed noiselessly as the universe contained within her revealed itself in a brief blast of ruthless sensory overload. Once. Then, again. And again. Like staccato seizures. No longer able to bear the polarising starkness of the vacuum-universe dichotomy, she shut herself from the vacuum without, and fully embraced the universe within. Instantly, she was thrust into a mad careening rush of nucleic fusions and supernovae, of creation and destruction, of solar warmth and inter-planetary cold.

Wooooooooo. Wooooooo. The giant and the spirit turned to her. Woooooooo. Wooooo. Arms outstretched before her, knees rising to her chest, she trotted grotesquely, circling the meadow. The giant gaped, appalled. How such an innocuous, punch-drunk soul could come to possess such terrifying power, was a source of bottomless astonishment and despair to him.

The crimson spirit had fallen quiet. Its mental whisperings had dismayed the giant. The peculiar pair shared the intricate burden of the fate of worlds in solemn deferential silence. Spirits did not often confer with worldly beings, if any being at all, and the giant had learned a great deal from the exchange. His eyes followed the girl’s silly parade around the meadow. It would seem that the mere fact of her presence wreaked havoc upon the worlds. The child’s massacre had been direct retribution for the young woman’s crusade, her systematic upset of the delicate equilibrium of forces across worlds. Whether the child was the actual manifestation of this force or merely a pawn to its execution, the spirit could not say. Only that the status quo of the universe, by the nature of the conjoined forces that brought about its inception; was corrupted, to begin with. That whichever way one chose to perceive the universe as it evolved since its origin, very few benevolent forces actually went into its creation. The giant had come upon this line of reasoning while studying the origin-event. The Interpreters held that “one may reasonably extrapolate an inlaid slant towards destruction”, and they referred to the inceptive force as “troubled”.

Moreover, the spirit alluded that their stumbling upon destruction at play, may not have been as accidental as it may have appeared. The young woman’s fate, by some obscure accident of providence, was irrevocably entangled with that of these most destructive of forces, and the giant was still unconvinced whether she consciously executed her role in the greater schemes of things, or whether she acted on instinct alone. And, could the same conclusion be drawn of the other spirit latent within her, the woman. As the pair watched from their vantage point, the girl’s extravagance had taken the shape of a series of tumbles and leaps through the tall grass.

Woooo, she yelped ecstatically. The giant remembered that the spirit had indeed communicated its desire to join their pilgrimage, to follow, if only, in order to further observe the girl. Not for the first time, it pondered the wisdom of such an enterprise and found himself yearning for the rare moments of peace when she slept.

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