The Many Writings of K. A. Jones

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The World Walkers: Quiar: The Case of the Counterfeit Enchantments (part 8, seventh continuation)
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This entry is part 56 of 62 in the The World Walkers collection

Part 8, sixth continuation

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Notes: every time I think I might begin getting to the end of part eight the characters start having another conversation about something. I’m not sure how much longer it’s going to be, but hopefully we’ll be getting towards part nine sometime soon. For anyone who ever commissions me this is part of the reason my stories always end up longer than I plan on them being. Word counts are not my strong point (part eight was meant to be 2,500 words and it’s now probably around 10,000).

This entry is part 56 of 62 in the The World Walkers collection

“It probably isn’t,” Kaito said. “That doesn’t mean that there aren’t already others out there who have been experimenting, because there are settlements of displaced races here the same way there is on pretty much all of the other worlds.”

“Do you know much about those settlements?” Lucille asked, looking at Kaito but opening the question to everyone, hoping that someone would know about them. On most of the other worlds the settlements were mapped, and Lucille had visited them on the worlds she’d travelled to, but Quiar, being one of the least connected worlds, didn’t have any recent maps in the archives. “When I have some spare time I think I might quite like to visit them and see what sort of people end up here.”

Kaito shook his head. “When I arrived I did my best to avoid them. I never knew who might recognise me and who might still be able to contact Athare to let the Council know where I’d disappeared to.”

“You aren’t worried about me telling the Council?”

“No, I’m not. If you’d turned up here alone I might have been, but you’re here with a group of Quiarans trying to find the maker of counterfeit charms because you’re connected to the world.” Kaito smiled. “I’m glad that you’re a true Moonjumper.”

“There are more of us than you think, Kai. We just don’t dare to advertise the fact.” Lucille bit her lip, thinking of the people Kaito had left behind when he disappeared. “Is there anyone you want me to tell that you’re safe?”

Lucille waited as Kaito appeared to be thinking about the question she’d asked. If she was ever forced to run from the Council she didn’t know how she’d feel about her family knowing that she was alive, or the few friends she had on Athare. There had been a time when she was certain that she would be their best Walker, and she was, but the Council had no understanding of what it really meant to walk the worlds, because it was too easy to cling to the bad teachings of those who had gone before. Sighing, she pushed all her worries about the Council to the back of her mind and focused on the present.

“I don’t know, Lucy,” Kaito finally said, sounding sad. “My family… they never supported my decision to become a Moonjumper and I think they might be happier with me gone. There were a couple of people I thought of as friends, but I don’t know how they feel about me now, after I ran away to avoid being arrested. It would be so easy for them to simply have put me to the back of their minds because I’m a fugitive.”

“Give me some names, Kai.”

“Azure and Carver.”

“Both Azure and Carver disappeared not long after you did. I know where Carver is, because he trusts me, but Azure… Carver might know. I’ll talk to him when I get a chance.”

“Why did they disappear?”

“It was their way of staying safe. Carver knew that if an arrest warrant had gone out for you then it wouldn’t be long before one went out for him and Azure. When we talked about it afterwards I knew he was right, his only option really had been to walk away, but that didn’t make what had happened any easier.”

“Does Carver blame me?”

“Carver blames the Council, Kai.” Lucille shook her head. “We all blame the Council. I wish there was some way we could change things, but right now I just don’t think it’s possible. They have too much control.”

“I know.” Kaito shrugged. “That’s why I’m here, in fox form, and the majority of the wrong people are still pretending they’re Moonjumpers.”
“They aren’t pretending. I think we need both types of Moonjumper and the natural Moonjumpers, because we all have different priorities. Natural Moonjumpers want to change the worlds, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; the true Council Moonjumpers want to work with the worlds; and the other Council Moonjumpers, those who don’t connect with any of the worlds, are there to keep us all grounded and remind us that sometimes it is better to stay detached.”

“You really believe that?”

“I do, Kai. We all have a reason for existing, even though we were created by the Council because they wanted someone they could control, which obviously failed.”

“We were talking on the way here,” Bertram said, surprising Lucille because he’d been really quiet ever since they’d entered Seahorse Port, “about how true Moonjumpers, and maybe natural Moonjumpers, are like chimeras. You’ve said that you have Knirochians in your family, Lucille. Is there are chance you might have some Beshakians there too?”

“It’s possible,” Lucille said, thinking about what Bertram had said and trying to correlate it to what she knew about the Walkers she worked with. “We don’t always know much about our family trees and…” She looked at Kaito. “I don’t think that would work with all the Moonjumpers because I can’t see many of the races mixing with a Knirochian, for example, in that way.”

“Although…” Sini said, sounding just as thoughtful, “there have always been settlements of your kind, a mix of different races from different worlds, and surely those born here could be called Quiaran.” She lifted a shoulder. “I don’t know how these things work.”

Slowly Lucille nodded. “It makes sense, but at the same time… There’s a huge mix of races living on Athare now, because it is the central world of the Web, and they aren’t all thought of as Atharian. Maybe because they keep their racial magics…” She sighed. “Understanding this is going to need a lot more thought, that right now we really don’t have time for if we’re going to catch the counterfeiters. The Council, the Moonjumpers, and all the problems with them will still be there once we’ve completed our job.”

 

Peric nodded. “Sini, do you know any of the settlements of mixed races?”

“Yes, there are a couple not far from Seahorse Port. Why are you asking?”

“It’s possible they might have noticed something and if Lucille asks the right questions we might find out something that would help us with the investigation.”

“That is if they let me into the settlement in the first place.” Peric looked at Lucille and she smiled at him. “Why would they let someone like me in? I’m a Moonjumper and they’re displaced people who probably have no way back home.”

“I can only enter one settlement,” Sini said. “At the other one they do their best to be self-sufficient because they don’t want anything to do with any of us.”

“That doesn’t surprise me,” Lucille replied. “There are other worlds where settlements of races not from that world come together and try their best to be self-sufficient because they hate what’s happened to them and feel the only way they can ever be happy it to keep as far away from the races who live on that world as possible.” She sighed. “Sometimes they’ll let the Moonjumpers in to help and sometimes they won’t, although we often find that after a few generations the people within the settlement become more open to learning about the world they live on.”

Looking around himself Peric wondered what he’d do if he ever found a door that led him to another world. “I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

“From what I’ve seen the races of Quiar don’t often find doors to other worlds.” Lucille bit her lip, staring at nothing. “I’ve met a couple of displaced Quiarans, but not as many as I have of the other races, and there are no settlements on any of the other worlds. People have come up with theories and one of my favourites is that most of you simply don’t need to travel to another world. The doors often only chose those people who need to be somewhere else, even though they don’t always accept that, and you don’t need to be anywhere else. Quiar is home and it always will be.” Smiling, she looked at Peric. “I’m not going to say you don’t have problems here, especially considering the way your hames, phyles, and urns work, but I can understand why you all love Quiar. It’s beautiful.”

“I agree,” Kaito said, “although I think I have a better understanding of the way different groups work together than you do, because I had no choice but to learn because of what I changed myself into.” He looked at Peric. “Peric would be my ally by hame and by phyle, but not by urn. Bertram and Sini would be my allies by hame, but not by either phyle or urn.”

“Sometimes I think I made a mistake by learning about all the worlds of the web, because it became so easy to forget what I’d learnt before about whichever worlds it was I’d been doing the exam on.” Lucille sighed. “Now I’m learning more about the worlds I’ve chosen to be mine, from the point of view of the people who live on them as well as as a Moonjumper, and it’s amazing how much I’ve forgotten.”

“I only ever studied three worlds, because I assumed they’d be the worlds I’d most love to spend time on, but I was wrong. At least you have a chance to explore what you want from being a Moonjumper, instead of making decisions only to find they were the wrong ones later on.”

“Kaito is part of the reason I believe all studying Moonjumpers should visit the worlds while they’re studying instead of visiting the worlds after they’ve finished their exams. If I’d known that Quiar, Kniroch and Beshaki were my worlds I might not have decided to study all of the worlds.”

“You would have studied them all.” Kaito smiled at Lucille. “Learning was the most important thing to you and I know you say now that you’ve forgotten a lot of what you learnt but that really didn’t matter then. I’ve never known anyone who could take in information the way you did, which is why you passed your exams so well.” The fox looked over at Peric. “Anyone outside of the Council doesn’t know much about the exam system, but before I left Lucille had passed most of her exams at gold level and that is a level I could never have imagined reaching. I was lucky to pass all three of the exams I took. How did you do on your thirty-fifth exam?”

The question looked like it had taken Lucille by surprise and when Peric carefully opened himself to her feelings he knew that it was a question she really didn’t feel comfortable asking. He looked down at the charm unable to believe it had really been working for years, but he didn’t doubt what Kaito had said. If Lucille hadn’t been with them, hadn’t known the fox, he wouldn’t even have known how old it was.

Finally Lucille said, “I passed at platinum,” she said quietly, not looking at anyone.

“Seriously? You managed to pass one exam at platinum?”

Nodding, Lucille wrapped her arms around herself. “Yes, I did.”

“Lucy, what’s wrong?”

“I try not to tell anyone about passing at platinum. When I got the letter I felt so proud that I’d managed it, but there are three reactions to passing all thirty-four exams and passing one at such a high level. People don’t believe me, even though I have the tattoos to prove it; they become amazingly jealous of what I managed to achieve through years of hard work and not having friends; or they congratulate me honestly before acting normally.”

“I can tell you one thing now. I’m not jealous. I know what you went through to pass all of those exams and right now…” Kaito stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Lucille again. “I’m so glad it worked out for you.”

 

Lucille couldn’t help breathing a sigh of relief. “Thank you, Kai.”

“Sometimes you’re an idiot.” He squeezed her before stepping back. “We may not have been friends back then…”

“I always thought of you as a friend, even though there were times when I really didn’t like you.”

Kaito smiled. “I always thought of you as a friend too, but you were hard to read. Sometimes I thought you only put up with me because I was friends with Carver and there was always something between the two of you.”

“Carver was…” Lucille tried not to think of the times before Carver had been forced to leave Athare behind, because she could feel the tears welling up in her eyes before she’d even really said anything, and she really didn’t want to cry about him again. “Maybe, if I hadn’t been so focused on passing the exams and Carver hadn’t been Carver, things might have been different. I might have told him how I felt about him before he left Athare. Now… things are different, Kai. I guess I still have feelings for him but as there can never be anything between us I’m not ever going to tell him about them.”

“He’ll probably never tell you how he felt either, but I know he was in love with you. He had been since…” Kaito shook his head, laughing. “Do you remember that afternoon when he came over to ask you to borrow a pen and you told him he should plan better for the possibility of his pen running out of ink?”

Nodding, Lucille smiled at the memory. “That was the day Carver decided he wanted to be friends with me and didn’t give up until I agreed to spend time with him at least once a month. He thought I was too studious and needed to have some fun occasionally.”

“That was the day he fell in love with you, Lucy. He didn’t stop talking about how wonderful you were, how much he appreciated the work you were putting into becoming a Moonjumper, and all you’d done was basically tell him he was an idiot.”

“We always promised we’d visit Quiar together when I completed my final exam.” Lucille sighed. “He left Athare the night after I received the letter that told me I’d passed and we never got a chance to keep that promise. It took me months to decide to visit Quiar, because I didn’t want to come without him, and then I found that it was one of my worlds.” She shook her head. “I didn’t want to accept being Quiar’s Moonjumper to begin with. It felt like I was doing the wrong thing.”

“Until you talked to Carver and he told you to stop being a moron, right?”

Mirrored from K. A. Jones Writing.


>>because there are settlements of displaced races here the same way there is on pretty much all of the other worlds.”<<

That should say "there are" instead of "there is" above.

Kaito's backstory is intriguing.

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