The Many Writings of K. A. Jones

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The World Walkers: Quiar: The Case of the Counterfeit Enchantments (part 8, sixth continuation)
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Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 4, continued
Part 5
Part 5, continued
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 8, continued
Part 8, second continuation
Part 8, third continuation
Part 8, fourth continuation
Part 8, fifth continuation

Peric looked at the charm in Kaito’s paw and then at the fox. Kaito was a Moonjumper in hiding on Quiar, who could apparently use their magic. Kaito was a… friend, acquaintance, of Lucille’s. Feeling unsure Peric looked over at Bertram, who appeared to be just as unsure, and then at Sini. She was looking at Kaito with her head tilted to one side as though he was something very interesting that needed close studying. Peric wondered how long Kaito had been in Seahorse Port, especially as he’d become one of the people to visit if you wanted specialised charms, and how knowing what he was would affect things.

“I promise you it won’t cause you any harm,” Kaito said, startling Peric. “The charm is one I made when I first started working with the magic of this world and I’ve kept it because it reminds me of how far I’ve come. It’s nowhere near as good as the one I’ll be able to make for you, but it will help you with keeping your empathy under control.”

Looking at Lucille, Peric waited for some sign that she trusted the man who had become a fox. “How does it work?” she asked, sounding interested but not suspicious, and Peric was grateful she’d asked. “Most of the charms I’ve seen have been wrapped in that stuff that keeps them inert. If you’ve had that one since you get here surely it will be useless to Peric now.”

Kaito smiled. “That stuff? It’s a form of transparent fabric that is only created on Quiar, for the purpose of keeping short use charms inert until they’re needed. For most people it’s impossible to make, even though I have been trying, and an absolutely fabulous way of doing things. The charms I make are…” He shrugged, looking a little uncomfortable. “They’re different and I think it’s because I’m not Quiaran. All of them work as well as any charm you’ll get from someone born here…”

“In some cases a little better,” Sini said, nodding as though she’d made a decision. “When my sister got hurt Kaito dropped off a pain relief charm, because we’ve known each other a while and I bring him business occasionally, and it’s still working now. I have an idea why now.”

“Sini…”

“I understand, Kai. I’m not angry, I’m not hurt, and I’ll keep your secret.”

“Thank you.” Relief filled Kaito’s voice. “I would have told you, when I had the courage, but it’s not easy to admit to someone you’ve come to care about that you aren’t the person you think they are.”

“You are the person I think you are. Being an ex-Council Moonjumper in hiding doesn’t change who you are. It’s just changes my understanding of your abilities.”

“I ran away.”

Sini shrugged. “I would have done the same thing.”

“Lots of ex-Council Moonjumpers have,” Lucille said. “You aren’t the only one to have run instead of let them take your tattoos, Kai. It was the right thing to do.”

The surprise in Kaito’s eyes made Peric smile. “You really believe that?”

“I told you before that I made a huge mistake in judging you before because I didn’t understand. How could I?” Lucille sighed. “Studying the worlds, learning to be a Moonjumper, and actually being one… there’s a big disconnect. The Council are doing things the wrong way, because if we actually travelled while we were completing the exams it would change everything. Of course they won’t listen to what we’re saying…”

“Lucy, what have you told the Council?”

“That they need to change the curriculum to give new Moonjumpers a chance to understand what travelling from one world to another is really like.” Lucille shrugged. “As I’m on the Council they might actually listen to me.”

“You’re… Seriously? You passed all thirty-five?”

“For all the good it does.”

“I never believed you would.”

“No one did, apart from me.”

“I’m glad it was you.”

“Really?”

Kaito nodded. “You’re a different person to the one I left behind and…” He looked at Peric. “The old Lucille never would have travelled with a mouse, a raven, and a chimera.”

“True, but that was before I understood the difference between a Moonjumper and a true Moonjumper.”

“I always said that there are people who were born to travel the words and people who were born to follow the rules. I thought you’d be born to follow the rules.”

“Travelling the worlds has taught me something about myself. When I was young we lived on Kniroch. It was Father’s world and Mother chose to stay there until they could afford to buy him a one way to Athare. They weren’t expecting to have a child as early as they did, but I was born while we were still on Kniroch and from what Mother says I may have already been able to travel between the worlds.”

“How did you find out?”

“I met Father’s sister. The aunt I didn’t even know I had, because neither of my parents had chosen to tell me about the other side of my family. When I got back I was so angry with them both and they didn’t even have a good reason for not telling me.”

“You’re still angry with them now.”

“Of course I am. They kept this whole side of me a secret. I always believed that Mother and Father were both Atharian, but they aren’t, which affects me and my siblings.”

Peric reached out to take Kaito’s offered charm, Lucille’s anger making it hard for him to block out as much of Seahorse Port as he had been. As soon as he touched it he felt as though a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Breathing in a deep breath he reached out to touch Lucille’s hand with an almost trembling paw. As soon as he touched her she looked at him, guilt welling up in her eyes.

“Don’t feel bad, Lucille. It’s not your fault that a close negative emotion had such a bad effect on me.”

Shaking her head, Lucille knelt down in front of him and curled her arms around him in an unexpected hug. “I’m still sorry. I knew you were having trouble dealing with your empathy and I should have thought before I let my emotions get the better of me.”

 ***

Bertram couldn’t help smiling at the look of surprise on Peric’s face. The mouse should have expected something like that from Lucille, because there was no chance of the Moonjumper ever being able to detach herself from the situation on Quiar or the people she’d become close to. Plus, it had been obvious right from the first time they’d met that she was fascinated with the mice and was doing her best not to hug them in case it was the wrong thing to do. He thought for a moment. It had been obvious to him at least. Maybe Peric had missed that with everything that had been going on.

As Peric tentatively patted Lucille on the back Bertram’s smile turned into a grin he knew his friend didn’t appreciate from the glare he was getting. “It’s fine, Lucille. Kaito’s charm is working wonderfully.”

“You never did answer Lucille’s question,” Bertram said, turning to Kaito. “How does it work?”

The fox looked thoughtful for a moment. “You understand how normal charms work?” Bertram nodded, so Kaito continued, “When I first created a charm, the charm Peric’s holding, I knew what to expect from a charm made by someone born on Quiar. I managed to get someone to teach me the basics when I travelled here as a Moonjumper and when I ran here to get away from the Council I knew that I’d never be accepted as a human. So the first thing I did was begin to learn how to use the magic of this world, while keeping as far away from people as possible, trying to become as Quiaran as possible. I made an empathy charm in part to stop anyone from reading me because I wanted to keep my hiding place a secret.

“From the moment I made it I was expecting to have to make a new one within a week, maybe at the very most two, because it was being used everyday. I wore it on a chain as a necklace. Every day I waited for the magic in it to fade, had a new one already prepared and wrapped, but it never did. Some weeks it’s stronger than others, which is probably due to the moons. What I seem to have done is created a cross between a charm and an artifact. Fortunately it appears to be something that only I can do.”

“That’s…” Bertram shook his head. “If it’s true then you’ve stumbled upon another use for Moonjumpers from other worlds on Quiar and that’s something that needs to be kept quiet.”

Lucille nodded, finally releasing Peric, and stood. “We’re on the look-out for the record book from the Moonjumpers’ Bureau in Sheepshank. It was stolen and I believe there’s a reason for that.”

Kaito looked at Lucille. “I have heard some rumours…” He made another move to brush his hair back, showing that he obviously wasn’t born a fox. “Even though I have no contact with any Moonjumpers I have been listening out for anything that might affect the other worlds, in case something big was happening, and I did hear something about a book. I don’t know which book or whose hands it was in, but it might have been the record book from Sheepshank. Of course it could be something else entirely.”

“That’s the problem with rumours in Seahorse,” Sini said. “Some are useful, others are lies, and the rest are puzzles. A lot of the time when a rumour passes from one person to another it changes. It may only be a small change, but no matter how small it can change the meaning of what you’re hearing. When it passes through a number of people the rumour can have become something entirely different to what it began as.” She smiled. “Really, before it becomes a rumour it’s a useful piece of information. There are some people who change rumours on purpose in order to make them harder to understand.”

“It’s takes time get used to the way Seahorse works,” Kaito explained. “Sini has lived her entire life, so she has a different point of view to someone who travels here from somewhere else. I was born on Athare and chose to live here, which has given me an insight into how hard it can be to understand the way news travels from one end of the city to the other, but I can’t say that translating the rumours gets any easier. That’s when someone like Sini comes in handy.”

“Thank you, Kai.” Sini sounded a little embarrassed. “It’s just one of those things I’m good at.”

“When I first arrived here I think I would have ended up living a very different life if I hadn’t been lucky enough to meet Sini. I’d managed to earn a little bit during my travels by selling some of the possibly illegal things I brought from a couple of worlds I’m not going to mention and then I got myself a job as a waiter in one of the eateries in the aim of eventually finding somewhere permanent to live. Then Sini spotted me working on a couple of charms for friends, that I had to specifically limit so that they worked like normal charms, and asked me if I could help her out.”

“I chose the right fox for the job and that’s why I bring people to see you if they need charms. If you weren’t good at what you do I would never have offered to help you sell your wares.”

“Why did you bring Lucille, Peric and Bertram to see me?”

“If anyone can make charms to keep the three of them safe from the counterfeiters it’s you.”

“Do you ever export your charms?” Peric asked, sounding as though he was thinking of how much use the permanent charms would be in Sheepshank.

“I don’t, because I’m trying to keep my head down, especially with the counterfeiters around. I was beginning to think about it…”

“Because I told him it would be a good idea,” Sini muttered.

“…but I don’t want everyone to know what I can do, even though I don’t often sell the permanent charms I can make. I’ve adapted what I was taught so I can limit a charm to work for a certain period of time. They are still better than the average charm you can buy from any stall.”

Sini nodded. “The last charm I bought from Kai lasted three weeks. If I’d bought the same type from a stall in the market it might have lasted me a week, if I was lucky, but I was probably looking at around four days use. Given a choice I’d spend out more for Kai’s charms.”

“Something I have been working on is recharging the charms I make.”

Bertram looked at Kaito. “That doesn’t sound like it would work too well, with a normal charm at least.”

“I thought that, even about my charms. Then I happened to find one on the street as though it had run out and someone had just dropped it.” Kaito shook his head. “Understandable, but annoying. When I picked it up I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but then I realised that reusing them was an answer to the problem, and it would make me a little extra money.”

“It would be useful,” Peric said, again sounding thoughtful, and Bertram knew that Peric was thinking of Sheepshank once again. “Even though you’re the only person we know that can make permanent use charms and possibly be able to recharge the limited use ones.”

“If Kai can then it’s likely that I can do. Maybe even other magic users from the worlds of the web could.” Lucille bit her lip. “I just don’t know if it’s something we should be experimenting with.”

Mirrored from K. A. Jones Writing.


>>“You are the person I think you are. Being an ex-Council Moonjumper in hiding doesn’t change who you are. It’s just changes my understanding of your abilities.”<<

Very well said. I like Sini.

>>“True, but that was before I understood the difference between a Moonjumper and a true Moonjumper.”<<

I think that would be clearer as "a Council Moonjumper and a true Moonjumper."

I'm fascinated by the differences in how Kai's magic works.

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