Suddenly, I became aware of another presence in the Library of Souls; the gaze of an interloper afflicted me, a palpable focusing of energy and ill will in my direction. I could feel eyes upon me, a subtle sensation, like someone sweeping exposed nerve endings with the tip of a feather.
I caught sight of a form, crouched behind a bookshelf, watching me intently. At first I thought it was August Schiller; for he had the right height, weight, and bone structure. But the aura was all wrong. Then I realized it was Just. Just Just.
I motioned for him to come forward. Sheepishly, he stepped from his refuge in the shadows.
“Did you follow me all the way?” I asked.
“The one so magnificent in the mind of his/her own self is trying to know how Just me crossed the oceans and great spaces without being seen?”
“I was wondering, yes.”
“Simple. Simple is the whole idea. Used the Three Tone Invocation of Quand, The Celestial Jubilation of Arboaz, The Reaper. Maybe one or two other animal spells.
I shook my head. I was never very good at primitive magic. The violence put me off. All that blood and animal sacrifice business. I hate having to climb down the layers of residual brain, all the way from the esophagus to the sphincter, playing consciousness like a pennywhistle.
“That’s what Xyr gets for being so stuffed with self inside own skin. Spells beneath Xyr’s notice.”
“You can stay here, beneath my notice, if you wish. Just don’t ask me to explain anything to you. I am occupied.”
“Xyr let Just me hear everything said to the woman. Thought Just me was so interested in studying with Xyr, didn’t care about nothing else. Let Just me listen in. So Just me no longer interested in studying with Xyr. Just me yen for paradise.”
“You? Achieve Valkynne? I doubt it.”
Just licked his lips until they shined, and he smiled at me, as if I had invited him to a cannibal feast.
“Don’t know why Xyr wouldn’t accept Just me’s thoughts– can’t prove Just me wrong, neither. Thinks Just me don’t know what talking about when it comes to Nobite.”
“Not that again.”
“HAH! So what if isn’t even real to begin with? It’s magic, dummy! Whatever you want it to be, whatever you can turn it into. Is Xyr’s science so very different?”
I went back to my research, blowing dust off an ancient file, while Just rambled on. My indifference seemed to provoke him to new levels of aggression. I think the dust stung his eyes.
I was far too preoccupied with my own problem to care.
The direct approach to Valkynne had failed.
I wondered if Valkynne might be subatomic rather than dimensional– reasoning that occult laws might break down with size in the same manner as Newtonian laws. It was a weird, fluky theory– one which I did not particularly believe. But I have learned not to disregard flash intuitions, no matter how odd. These coincidental offerings sometimes lead to profound insights, and I suspect they well from dormant faculties.
When I found a suitable shrinking spell, I realized that size reduction was not going to be the road to Valkynne in itself– but it could be used as a research tool.
FRANCESCO NOOGIN AND CROW BOTH CONCUR THAT SEGMENT SIX FOLLOWS.
TO CONTINUE IN ORDINARY SEQUENCE, FOLLOWING NUMERICAL ORDER, FOR ZEKE RINGO’S ULTIMATE VERSION, NEXT TURN TO SEGMENT SIX