The Light Behind the World
Chapter 27: Spirit

Copyright© 2010 by Sea-Life

In the morning Construct and I spent two hours working again on speaking Taluatu, as we now knew was the proper way of referring to the spoken language. We realized many other fine points like this as we gained familiarity with the common modifications done for conversational purposes. For me, the goal was to speak in unaccented Taluatu, but for Construct it was a matter of eliminating a clipped, toneless artificial quality he tended to fall back on when unsure of his words. I often thought my dreams were sometimes my subconscious trying to clue me in on something, so as we practiced, I quoted Shakespeare and recited limericks.

We knew the old man would not arrive at the cabin until after lunch, so we went through early enough to get there ahead of him. I brought an insulated pitcher of lemonade, some glasses and a plate of oatmeal cookies Mom had made that morning. Construct had confirmed the compatibility of our physiology, declaring Taluatan and Earth humans as essentially identical.

As soon as I sensed the old man walking up the trail towards the cabin, Construct performed his invisibility trick, which he had revealed to me when we began our investigations of the other facets. I guess its pretty simple for an artificial being composed of interlocked fields of Light to decide to be unseen. Even knowing he was not physically there, I hadn't considered the possibility that his appearance might be changeable, or even optional! It certainly made our efforts to gather information easier, at least once I was able to give him a chance to find and lock on to the path I'd taken in my mind to get there.

"Hello young man, welcome to my little hut in the hills." The old man said as he walked up the steps to the porch. "Be a good lad would you and grab the small table and chair that you'll find against the wall on the left just inside the door, and join me," he pulled the small sack from his shoulder and shuffled over towards his chair in the spot where he usually painted. I opened the door and glanced inside, spotted the small table and chair, and grabbed one in each hand, pushing the door shut behind me again with my foot. I put my chair near his and the table between us. I shrugged off my pack, and set the pitcher, glasses and plate of cookies on the table.

Up close I realized the man was not as old as I'd been estimating from a distance. He did have a patch of white in the lock of hair above his forehead, and was speckled with gray at the temples, but his skin was clear and unwrinkled. His eyes had the classic whitish glaze of cataracts, though. I imagine he had a great deal of trouble seeing more than a blur, even up close.

"Can you see me?" I asked, speaking my very first sentence of Taluatu to another living person.

In response, he raised his hand, and his magpie companion flew in from where it had been circling above us and landed on its perch.

"This is Pearl, and when she sees you, I see you through her eyes. It is an old soul-diver trick, but then, I am a soul-diver who is old before his time. It is the gift of Pearl's eyes that keeps my daughter from denying me my trips up here to paint and reminisce, or worse, sending one of my young grandchildren along to distract me. My name is Eru, greetings."

"I am Davey, thank you for your welcome. I have brought a drink and mid-day refreshments that my mother made for us. Would Pearl eat a cookie?"

"She would be quite happy to sample your treat, and would not object at all to coming to sit on my shoulder to do so, unless she need fear your furry companion?" I felt Dare stir on my shoulder.

"Forgive me. This is Dare. Dare and I ... share some old tricks too. Ancient tricks though I have only recently begun learning them."

Pearl flapped over to rest on Eru's shoulder. I poured us each a glass of lemonade and handed Eru two of the cookies. I grabbed two for myself and gave one to Dare, who climbed down from my shoulder to eat hers on the table. When Eru lifted a cookie up to Pearl, she took the whole cookie in her mouth and fluttered down to the table and ate her cookie alongside Dare.

"It seems our companions are equally adept at forsaking their natural instincts." Eru said.

"Their closeness to us changes them I believe. I know that Dare and I shared a dangerous experience which left us both much more sensitive to the other. Did you and Pearl arrive at your closeness in a similar fashion?"

"No, Pearl has just been with me long enough that the soul-diver tricks which allow me to share her eyes have become more of an open road between us than is usual these days. They say the old Spirit Masters used to have that kind of bond, but our society does not look too kindly upon such as them these days either."

I wondered if this was an opening, an offer to share secrets. Eru certainly seemed to see me as more than a curious teen.

"I confess to curiosity, and wonder what brings me to a cabin on the edge of the woods to speak of Spirit Masters."

"Fate perhaps," Eru replied. "Our current administrators do not have much use for those who might see fate's hand in things. They are too busy basking in the glory of having lead us through our recent time of troubles. And see themselves as having stepped in to deny our fated demise."

"I can accept fate, it has played a large part in my life already, and I am very young."

"Not as young as your years suggest. I can see that already." Eru drained his lemonade. "I also suspect fate is not through with you yet."

"You see truly. I expect fate to be a lifelong companion and I both fear and welcome it. I already know that fate has chosen me for something. But I know fate does not make every choice in my life, and hope that I will find the wisdom to guide the rest of my life without loosing the people and things I love to those parts under fate's influence," as I spoke, I poured the remainder of the lemonade into Eru's glass and put the pitcher and my glass back in my backpack.

"Do you want me to put the table and chair back in the cabin?"

"No they are fine there, if you are going to visit again."

"I will leave the glass and the plate of cookies then. If you and Pearl do not finish them, take them home with you to your daughter. I will return tomorrow. Can I bring lunch?"

"Yes, I would enjoy that very much. Thank your mother for the cookies, and the lemonade."

As I stood at the porch steps looking back, I smiled at the image of Eru and Pearl sitting together on the end of the porch in Eru's high-backed chair. Eru smiled back and with a short laugh added

"Perhaps tomorrow we can talk about how finely you speak Taluatu for someone from ... elsewhere."

"Yes, that would be a good idea," I said after a long pause. Then, with some consideration for its affect, I reached out and moved Dare and I back to Meadow.

Construct appeared immediately after I did, and was practically a-twitter with excitement.

"Davey, this man is more than he seems, and I think we are very lucky indeed to have met him."

"you heard me speak with him about fate, Construct. Neither of us were using polite euphemisms there. We both believe that our meeting was not accidental, that we were fated to meet. I have a sense that he is going to become a part of my life just as you have become."

Dare and I said our goodbyes to Construct and I moved us through to my bedroom. It was still early in the afternoon and I thought about my options. It was a school day, and the Legion would all still be in class, Ginny was in Los Angeles, Dad was at work. I checked with Mom when I went downstairs, and she had not made plans for lunch tomorrow, so I told her that I had taken some of her oatmeal cookies to a friend today and was visiting again tomorrow with a promise of bringing lunch this time. She laughed and accused me of being too lazy to provide my own food. I laughed back and said I could provide a fine lunch, but she was the one who managed to whip up the amazing ones, so of course I wanted to impress my new friend.

 
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