Volume I : The Flood
Chapter 30 – But I Cannot Hate You[2369 words]
Amon was crying for his father, for Crazy’Ole, and for the Ducians. He finally knew what the disaster was, and had just confirmed it from the message in the Terroculus. Nietzsche died, his father died, Mayor Dusti died. No one in Duc had survived in the flood!
When he had heard the thunder and seen the low dark clouds from the east, Amon knew that there was a thunderstorm in process. In his short fourteen years of life, Amon had never seen a summer rainstorm in Duc, nor had he ever witnessed heavy rain that lasted so long. When the thunder became denser, the thickness of rain also increased, and Amon realized what was going to happen.
It was too late for him to go back to Duc, because it was also raining hard in the mountains where he lived. Mountain torrents were everywhere. Valleys were filled, roads were covered in water. He finally understood why Crazy’Ole had told him to go as high as possible.
Amon looked out to the west horizon from a hill, to the area where Duc should be. He could see nothing besides low, thick clouds, and lightning leaping inside. Tears glistened in his eyes. Crazy’Ole had told him that the next message would appear when the disaster arrived. However, Amon still couldn’t “read” it until two days after the thunder began, when he vaguely heard a big bang from far away. It was not loud, but Amon’s heart clenched. Suddenly, he sensed that the Terroculus in his belly pouch was calling out. He returned to the village and hid in the big cave of fire, telling the others not to enter. He then took out the Terroculus and started meditating, trying to sense the message inside. He finally saw an image. It was Crazy’Ole standing in front of him in the darkness, hair and beard tangled as usual —
“My boy, when you see this message, I would have just ended my life. You hear it right, I’m dead and so is your father. I died due to the god’s rage, because I flew to the sky to reveal his existence, and attack him with all my strength. I’ve been studying the gods and their secret throughout my life, but I haven’t seen any of them even once. I couldn’t miss this last chance.”
“Don’t ask me why. I can tell you clearly, I’ve been tired of living! You have every right to think I’m crazy. I am over one-hundred-fifty years old. The magic makes me powerful, full of energy, but it means nothing to me any more. I know that you have questions, I can give you the answers now.”
“You must want to ask me, why I can’t just wait for you to solve the secret, which may make me a god as well someday. I don’t have that much time left to live. Even if I did, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to return to the right path. I was on the wrong path from the very beginning. Bair had told me that.”
“You awakened the power of two sides, and passed the tests accordingly, becoming a second-level sorcerer and warrior. I saw it with my own eyes, but what may surprise you is that I cannot do it myself. ”
“It’s been too many years since I last practiced any body arts, and I am really too old now. Though I looked strong, the power in my bloodline has decayed. I’ve been wounded too many times in my life, and have suffered from too many diseases. If I restart from the beginning, I wouldn’t even pass the body purification test. How ridiculous, an eighth-level sorcerer is weaker than a little boy!”
“If you have picked a wrong path, the further you go, the higher you achieve, the harder it will be for you to restart. That’s why I asked you to find Bair, I presume that he may have found the right path all before the supreme levels. For the rest, you can only count on yourself.”
“You must also want to know how I can foresee the disaster. Let’s just keep that as a secret. I’ve told you all I can. This is the last thing I keep from you. As for Duc, maybe it’s meant to be destroyed. People get what they deserve, and I’m one of them. I die for everyone, everyone dies for me.”
The next content of the message was similar to what Golier had received in the shrine, but more vivid and detailed. It was about how the rainstorm had been generated, and how it was related to what occurred in Duc. Amon cried in his mind, “Crazy’Ole, why didn’t you save them if you already knew what was going to happen? My father’s dead too! He was innocent!”
Crazy’Ole continued, as if he had knew what Amon was going to ask him, he laughed, “Do you want to ask me why I didn’t save your father? Why didn’t I save everyone?…My child, I’ve done my best to save you, and guided you on a path to a deity! Are you going to hate me instead of thanking me?…I’ve been asked too many questions similar to this in my life, I think so are the gods!”
Amon was speechless, then he wailed like a child, or to say, he was indeed just a child.
Crazy’Ole had ended his crazy life, Amon’s father had ended his drunk one, along with all the Ducians. How could Amon drive away the grief? He had to say farewell to his loved ones so early in his life. Duc’s downfall meant that he had lost his hometown and his family. Amon felt like he was abandoned by this world.
Unlike Golier, Amon didn’t witness Nietzsche flying into the sky defying the god, nor did he know why there must have been such a flood. He couldn’t understand some of Crazy’Ole explanations either. For example, Crazy’Ole claimed that he died due to the god’s rage. But why did he have to fly into the sky and defy the god, and which particular god it was? Crazy’Ole didn’t tell him any of those explicitly.
Maybe Crazy’Ole thought that it was not Amon’s place to understand all these. The boy in grief didn’t have the energy to figure them out, he was surrounded by a huge mourn that distracted him from keeping the absolute serenity in meditation. He was interrupted from reading the message.
When he was able to control himself from crying, wiping the tears from his sore eyes, Amon recalled that he didn’t finish reading the message yet. So he tried to focus and activate the Terroculus once again, but he found that something unexpected had occurred.
Crazy’Ole was not a god, he couldn’t predict everything. He didn’t expect that Amon had already passed the faith’s confirmation, becoming a third-level sorcerer even before the disaster had arrived. When the message was interrupted, the next message came out. So when Amon activated the Terroculus again, he read the next message. The message about the disaster disappeared forever, Amon lost the last part.
The next message was about advanced magic. Not every magic, but only those a third-level sorcerer could practice. Since he could only read them once, Amon had to force himself to stay in the state of absolute serenity so as to carve them in his memory. Only when one passed the faith’s confirmation could one stay in absolute serenity where it was possible to memorize so much information all in one time.
Third-level mages might have different favorite magic and potentials. But it was a basic line for a third-level mage to be capable of staying in absolute serenity.
At the end of the message, Crazy’Ole started to talk again —
“My child, when you are reading this, you must have ascended to the third level. I don’t know if you have already found Bair. You’ll have to take the rest of the journey by yourself. You have nothing to worry about, or anything to lose. The whole world is waiting for you.”
“I have given you some of my tokens, the badge with my crest for example. Bair has received one from me as well. He has sealed the last message inside it, and let Schrodinger carry it to me. It was Bair’s token as well.”
“I’ve been travelling to many places on this continent. Many have received my favor. Some of them swore to pay back the debt to me, my descendents or my disciples. Bair used to be a member of the Magic Senate of Ejypt. He had taught magic to many nobles and priests. Some of them also swore to thank him or reward him.”
“You may go to them for help when you are in trouble, that will be my last gift to you. However, you must also take into account that these promises may have been broken or forgotten after all these years. The human heart is very mysterious, nothing can ever be certain. You have to learn to protect yourself, for being a low level sorcerer is dangerous. Dealing with people may be a test more difficult than those in magic.”
At the very end of the message was a list of names and families, each with brief introductions. The first person on the list was Golier, the chief priest and oracle of the Enlil Shrine of Syah. Crazy’Ole expressly exhorted Amon to visit Golier once he became a supreme sorcerer. Metatro’s family was also in the list, with an explanation of their relationship. Crazy’Ole didn’t know that Amon had already met Metatro, and had taught him magic.
Amon walked out the cave at sunset with deep fatigue in his sore red eyes. It was as if he had experienced the vicissitudes of life in half a day. The cavemen were frightened. Some guessed in fear that the rain could be the tears of the gods. They relaxed when they saw Amon came out of the cave in one piece, no longer crying.
To Lynk’s surprise, Amon asked him for wine for the first time. Lynk fetched him some from the fine brass bottle Amon had given him.
Sitting in his house, Amon was wondering why he had the need for wine. Maybe he was missing his father. The impulse was gone after several sips. Holding the goblet, he started to ponder about his future. Crazy’Ole said that the whole world was waiting for him, but Amon felt that there was no room for him in this world. He had no place to go, his future was in deep fog, except for one path.
If he wasn’t content for being a fake “god” in a caveman’s tribe, then what he could do was to become a sorcerer as Crazy’Ole wished, and unveil the secret of the gods. Even though he couldn’t find Bair, he could repeat what Bair had already done. There was always something one must do in his life, but Amon couldn’t think of anything else.
At the end, he stood up and lamented, “Oh Crazy’Ole! You knew what was going to happen! Did you set all these up? You are so cruel, but I just cannot hate you!”
Amon didn’t have the habit to waste. Since he no longer had any intention to drink, he put the remaining bottle of wine in Schrodinger’s hay. Schrodinger had been watching him from the hay. But when Amon stored the bottle, it just turned over and slept over the bone, not showing the least interest in the caveman’s wine.
Amon had been feeding nice food to this cat, but it was becoming slimmer every day. Compared to the time in Duc, it was slender and fit with smooth, glossy fur. It was not suitable to call it a dirty fat cat any more. The change took place slowly, but at a glance, Amon suddenly noticed that the cat had experienced a lot in these days as well.
Everything was changed. The whole Duc was washed off in the flood, and Amon was no longer a light-hearted boy!
The cat had been following Amon all day, staring at him. Was it worrying about him? Was it afraid that he might do something stupid? Anyway, it was now his only companion from Duc, and would be his only companion in the future. Driven by a feeling from nowhere, Amon dragged Schrodinger into his embrace, and murmured softly while petting its back, “Duc is gone, everyone’s gone. There’s only you and me now.”
Schrodinger was surprised by Amon’s sudden action. It seemed that it didn’t enjoy being hugged and petted by Amon. Sharp claws reached out from its toes, trying to scratch Amon’s arms. But hearing his words, it stopped halfway, and just started to wriggle unhappily.
Amon saw that the cat was uncomfortable in his arms, he sighed and put it down, then sat on a cushion to start meditating. Only in the absolute serenity could he forget the sorrow.
Amon could start to practice some advanced magic. What he was interested in most was spatial and message magic, relating to the special parangons left by Crazy’Ole. Neither of the two was within the range of a third-level sorcerer though. So Amon was going to learn the detecting magic, which was the basis of both spatial and message magic.
Message magic, especially, was just the extension and sophistication of the detecting magic. Amon had already had a good understanding of it, so it didn’t take much time for him to learn the basic one, the Detection Eyes.
Without seeing and hearing, even the smallest of details in the dark was in his perception. But Amon suddenly opened his eyes in shock and stood up, breaking off the magic he had just mastered.
Common sense of magic told Amon that the Detection Eyes could let one sense the environment much more distinctly than merely using the other ordinary senses. But Amon surprisingly found that two things in the house were “missing” in his Detection Eyes: Schrodinger and the strange bone! It was as if they didn’t exist in the Detection Eyes!