Ventus – Day 66 of 135

–And then he was in the flow of Vision, hearing the burr of Armiger’s voice in his own chest, and an overlay of chorusing identities in the walls, in the sullenly firm door and the very earth under his shoulder. It was like he’d fallen in a snake pit, with a thousand heads rising hissing all about him. Jordan grabbed his head and doubled up again with a cry.

He concentrated. This is my hand; he brought it up to his eyes. This is my sight. I am here, not in the palace, not in the walls: here.

Jordan rolled to his knees, gasping. The powers whispered and danced around him, but he had carved out a bubble for himself in their center. He could see and hear, and act. With some difficulty, he got to his feet.

Cold air lapped at his throat. He almost laughed. “You’re cruel,” he said to the Winds. “Now you’re going to listen to me for a change.”

He sat on the cot and wrapped the cloak around his shoulders. There was no need to take deep breaths to enter the visionary trance now; he closed his eyes and summoned it.

First he had to know where he was. He could see the mansion around him in translucent outline. The basement was indeed extensive, and he was next to a place with convoluted shelves that must be a wine cellar. There were several stairs leading up, and he instinctively chose the narrow servants’ way as his goal. That led from the back of the wine cellar, predictably enough.

There was a cistern down here, and a long room with a high arched ceiling. Castor’s manor had an exercise room and archery range in the basement, which was probably what this was. All these rooms opened off the same corridor as Jordan’s cell. In addition there were several side halls that ran to lockers of various sizes.

The problem with this way of seeing was that it didn’t seem to show people. Jordan knew there was a dog on the main floor, almost exactly above his head; he could see it. The rest of the rooms on that level were visible too, though in a jumble of perspective as if he were standing at the base of a huge glass model. He had to sort out what he was seeing, and if he had not had ample experience reading architects’ plans at Castor’s, he might not have been able to sort out hall from room, chimney from garderobe.

It only took a few minutes to work out the shortest route from here to the tradesman’s entrance. Night was falling; in a few hours the area would be quiet. Then he could make his escape–provided the next parts of his plan worked.

He needed to see more than just the outlines of the place. When the Heaven hooks descended on the Boros manor, Jordan’s vision had briefly expanded to include distant places. He had been able to see what was happening inside the manor, even though he was hundred of meters away. Try as he might, however, he had ben unable to repeat that experience.

There was something else he could try. Jordan focussed his mind on one name, and hurled it into an imagined sky with all his might:


He waited. There was no response, and he could see nothing as he scanned the vague landscape that opened out beyond the manor.

Ka! Come here!

Nothing. He waited a long while, but the little Wind must be too far away to hear him. All right; on to the next idea.

Careful not to break his concentration, he rose and moved to the door. He ran his fingertip around the keyhole on the large iron lock plate. He could actually see inside the lock if he concentrated; the mechanism was simple. All he needed was something with which to manipulate the tumblers.

There was another thing he wanted to try. He had nothing to lose now, where before he had been afraid of alerting the Winds to his presence by experimenting. Jordan returned to the cot, gathering his cloak on the way; it was getting quite chilly in here.

For some time now he had known he could communicate with the mecha. He had been reluctant, however, to ask himself the next logical question:

Could he command the mecha, as the Winds did?

As he sat by the lakeside and poured water from bucket to cup and back again, Jordan had discovered something he had at the time been afraid to test. Each and every object in the world knew its name; all, that is, save for the humans who lived here, because they had no dusting of mecha within them.

The waves on the lake had known their identity as waves, but as they lapped against the shore they disappeared as individuals. Jordan had found by experimenting that when you changed an object into something else, its mecha noticed and altered its name to suit.

That had got him wondering: could you command an object to change its name; and if you changed an object’s name, would the object itself change to match it?

The cot was a plain wooden frame with thin interwoven slats to lie on. He pried one of these up and held it out in front of him. “What are you?” he asked it.

“Cedar wood. Wood splinter…

“You are now kindling, hear?”

Consistent,” said the splinter.

“So, burn!”

He held his breath. After a moment the splinter said, “Ignition of this mass will exhaust all mechal reserves. Further transformations will not be possible without infusion of new essence.

“Just do it.”

He opened his eyes to watch. Nothing happened… then the splinter began to smoke. “Ow!” He dropped it, whipping his fingers to cool them. For some reason Jordan had assumed the thing would neatly sprout a flame from one end. Instead, the entire splinter was afire.

“Splinter: douse yourself.”

It didn’t answer. Well… it had said something about exhausting reserves. Maybe the mecha in it had died in setting it afire. He closed his eyes and examined it with his inner vision, and indeed the small flame was a dark spot in the mechal landscape.

Jordan restrained the urge to leap to his feet and shout. He would only bring down the guard–but then, couldn’t he just command the guard’s clothes to burst into flame too? Was there anything he couldn’t do now?

He sat there for a while, giddy with the possibilities. He picked up another splinter, and said to it, fly.

That is not possible for this object, said the splinter.

Hmm. Well, at least he knew he wouldn’t freeze now. He picked up a rock and tried to convince it to become a knife, but it demurred, listing off a dozen conditions he needed to fulfill for it to transform: heat, presence of carbon and significant iron deposits, etc.

So the mecha were limited. It wasn’t really a surprise–and he could hardly complain! He should be able to get out of this room, at least, if he could pick the lock. He might even be able to defeat the guard if he was clever–but it would be better to sneak past him, if possible.

He pried a good splinter off the bed, and said to it, “Can you become harder?”

At an exhaustion rate of 50% it is possible to–

“Just do it.”

The splinter seemed to shrink a little in his hand. He bent down, closed his eyes, and applied it to the lock.

Ka,” said a voice like a chime.

Jordan turned. Hovering in the narrow window slit was the wraith-like butterfly from the market. It had heard him after all!

“Greetings, little Wind,” he said respectfully. “Can you help me?”

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