Chapter 10: Oracular Elocution
“Fiera, before you start ranting again,” I said as I entered the gymnasium, anticipating her comments, “I can’t spend every chapter giving you enough attention to make up for all the time I didn’t spend with you. You need to learn to live with it like my other characters do.”
“Hmm? Oh, hi.” Fiera said, glancing back over her shoulder at me. She held her arm to her side, cradling her chin with her other hand, as she stared up at the viewing sheet. She let go of her chin and with a quick flick of her wrist darkened the display. Turning to me she said, “So, you have a name for Nick’s world now.”
“Well, I remembered the ones I liked.” I informed her. She grinned mischievously as she gracefully made her way across the platform.
“Let’s have them out, and then get on to mine.” She said, sidling over to my side. I produced a list of prospective names and held them out in front of me. Standing on her toes, she leaned over my shoulder, then shook her head in disgust and snatched the list away from me, settling back onto flat feet as she took a step away.
“I liked the top three.” I stated, stepping over beside her.
“Elysian, Elision, [‘practically the same thing’ she muttered under her breath] and Lacuna.” she listed off, then glanced up at the ceiling as if considering each one.
“Fiera, I recognize that look.” I said accusingly. “You’re silently tossing out each one on that list.”
“Well, I can’t help it if they’re all worthless.” she said, handing me back the list as she rolled her eyes. After shaking her head in disappointment, she added, “Okay, the first two start with ‘E,’ and you already have Eldia, so no more ‘E’s.”
“But…all right, fine. Why not Lacuna?” I asked.
“Mirror world.” Fiera shook her head, as if I should have picked up on that (although I hadn’t). “Lanoche starts with an ‘L’ for one, and for two, you need to come up with something a little more original. It’s a nice word, but you read it in the book you just finished reading, [‘Silentium,’ I interjected. ‘Quit interrupting!’ she snapped, and continued] but you need to find something else." Why don’t you ask...”
“You are not finishing that thought.” I said, glaring at her.
“Oh come on. Like we haven’t already talked about First Worlders.” she said, crossing her arms in annoyance. “Fine.” She shrugged and walked back to the viewing sheet. “But you still don’t have a name for Nick’s world.”
“Well, since you’re so determined to have a say in it, any ideas?” I asked.
She rolled her head over her shoulder to stare at me upside-down, giving me a look as if I were the dumbest thing to walk the planet [‘Well, you come pretty close.’ she chuckled. ‘Not funny, Fiera.’ I replied amidst her laughter]. “That’s your area. I’m just the one that approves your ideas.”
“Oh, and who gave you that authority?” I challenged. She spun and faced me normally, grinning.
“You did, just now.” she said. “Because I’m going to make sure you stay up really late tonight if you don’t. And even if that’s not enough, I’ll just start calling it whatever term I want until you finally concede.”
“You’re getting better at threats.” I grumbled. She made a half bow and faced the white sheet again. “So what was on there before you turned it off?”
“Come see.” she said, flicking her hand. Instantly the screen crackled to life, sending off a shower of sparks as it did.
“That’s new.” I commented about the sparks, and Fiera shook her head.
“That’s not the screen. Kamikazes.” She pointed at the black, saucer-shaped vehicles flying through the air. They sped around in a small canyon, veering back and forth to avoid the rugged walls on each side. In the middle of the valley path stood a brown horse, and on that horse’s back sat a familiar figure.
“Hey, Nick!” Fiera shouted at the screen, and Nick wheeled his horse around with his knees (since his hands were occupied holding his sword and shield).
“Hi, Fiera! Hi, Mr. J.F.H.!” Nick shouted, then slashed at one of the black objects that flew by. “Care to call these off, Fiera?”
“No, I thought you’d have more fun going up against them.” she said happily. Nick groaned and deflected another incoming flyer with his shield.
“What are they?” I asked, and one of the flying frying pans flew up to the edge of the screen sheet, a fuchsian glow emanating from the underside of the pan. A small, green Imp sat on the black, non-stick coating, his legs straddling the handle of the pan, which pointed at me.
“You.” I hissed, glaring at the small figure. His face was slightly wrinkled, but his forehead held multiple, prominent folds of skin. Long, pointed ears stuck out like wings from the side of his head, and he grinned as he returned my stare. He twisted in his seat, searching for something behind him, then held up a thin, graphite-colored wand no thicker than a pencil, which began to puff off a great cloud of pasty smoke.
‘Well met, old friend.’ The words appeared in the cloud, blazing the bright blue of plasma strands as they formed into recognizable letters. ‘How are you?’
“I thought I’d never have to deal with you in this form, but otherwise great.” I muttered, scrunching up my nose. Then my face fell slack as a realization hit me. “Are you dragging in the Harpiers?” I asked, and he grinned even more broadly, his big, cuddly eyes glimmering with energy.
‘Perhaps I will.’ The words once again appeared in the word cloud. ‘Maybe we can retell the story of Owl and Primrose.’
“Similar format, but that was a graphic novella, Imp.” I snapped, trying to shoo him away. His craft bobbed away, then floated back. “And no, we’re not retelling it. Once was enough.”
‘But of course.’ His word bubble responded. ‘I hope you enjoy my Kamis.’ With a final grin, the Imp rotated his craft and sped back into the group. The frying pan flyers clustered into a group around the Imp, then as a unit sped out of the canyon, vanishing into the horizon.
“You know him?” Fiera asked when the last of the Kamikazes had left.
“Yeah, I do. He’s mute, but he makes up for it with his word-wand.” I said, shaking my head. “And he wasn’t wearing his ‘I Don’t Care’ shirt.”
“His what?” asked Fiera, arching an eyebrow as she looked at me.
“It’s a Grammar thing.” I told her.
“Oookay.” she replied, turning back to the viewing sheet. “Nick! Where are you going?”
“To the Tower!” he shouted back up, sheathing his sword and slipping his shield onto his back.
“Which tower?” Fiera asked, jumping into the screen and landing on the path next to his horse.
[“That wasn’t quite what I was expecting it to be like.” Fiera said, looking back up at me. “A little too straightforward.” “Well, I’ll make it a little more Rogue for you next time.” I said, smiling]
“Welcome to the Other Side, sis.” Nick grinned as Fiera dusted herself off. He slowed his horse to a trot, and held out a hand to her. “Want up?”
“No, I’ll walk.” she replied, matching the horse’s canter. “So, where’s this tower you’re going to?”
“Well, it’s supposed to be through this pass, out by the coast.” Nick said, eyeing the mountain directly in front of him with minor annoyance. Up ahead, the path curved to the right, meandering around the mountain that sat in the center of the pass. “Once I get through, I just keep heading west, and the Tower’s easy to spot. ‘Sposed to be as big as a lighthouse or something.”
“Or something.” Fiera echoed with a laugh. “Well, let’s hope it’s not made out of sugar, or you’ll get a sugar high.”
“Sugar doesn’t affect me.” Nick said, sweeping his arm over the path ahead in dramatic fashion. He grinned and glanced over at Fiera. “Seriously, it doesn’t. I’m just normally this hyper.”
“Best not to give him caffeine.” I said from the other side of the screen.
“You should join us.” Fiera suggested, glancing over at the thin veil that separated the gymnasium from Nick’s world.
“I’d rather not.” I said flatly. “I have enough problems dealing with the Imp and Oracle. I don’t need to compound it by getting directly involved in the story yet.”
Fiera began laughing so hard she almost fell on her seat, and even Nick chuckled at the comment.
“Oh, that’s good.” Fiera said, wiping a tear from her eye as she recovered. Still, her face was held in a giant smile.
“You know what I meant.” I pouted, and Fiera’s grin grew broader, reaching her ears.
“That sounds mighty familiar, doesn’t it, Nick?” she glanced over at him. Nick immediately shifted uncomfortably in his saddle and his horse took a tentative step back.
“Um, uh…well, yeah it does, but uh…” he stammered.
“Ugh.” Fiera snorted in disgust. “Why am I the only one who finds it worthwhile to pick on the Narrator?”
“Maybe Nick has more brains than you give him credit for, Fiera.” I snickered, and she rolled her eyes at me.
“Men. Seriously, you need to get a life.” she scolded me.
“And if that means no more talking to the voices in my head?” I asked slyly, and Fiera snorted.
“Like that’ll ever happen.” she declared. "Your mind is more fractured than shattered stain glass."
“Thank you for spelling that out in plain terms, Fiera.” I said. “I’m just going to delete that.” I grinned and reached for the keyboard.
“Ah, ah, ah!” Fiera slapped at my hand as I reached for the backspace key. “You know the rule: once it’s typed, it stays on the page.”
“But…” I stuttered, and Fiera shook her head firmly.
“No. Rules are rules.”
“Fine.” I sulked, pooching out my lip.
“Hey, that’s my line!” Fiera chided, and I laughed.
“No, according to the narrative (and I should know since I’m the Narrator), that’s my line.” I said in mock superiority. Fiera sped around the stage behind me and backhanded my head.
“You’re really getting into a groove, aren’t you?” she asked as she stepped back in front of me.
“Yeah, that, and trying to pick up sarcasm.” I winced as I rubbed the back of my head. “That hurt.”
“Serves you right.” she stated, folding her arms across her chest and tapping her foot. “So what do you have for me now?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Oh come on!” Fiera exclaimed, sighing dramatically as she rolled her eyes. “Seriously, you need to drop that. It’s starting to get under my skin.”
“Not literally, but okay, I’ll try.” I said, and Fiera shot me a withering glare.
“You know what I mean.” she growled, maintaining the scold. “You’ve done your time talking to me, so now something needs to happen.”
“And the Kamis don’t count?” I asked, waving my arm at the screen. Fiera brushed the comment away and shut down the screen in one smooth motion.
“That was Nick’s world.” she said. “I want you to do something in mine.”
“Well, other than shut it off and save it, I hadn’t really planned on anything.” I said.
“What about Boredom Heights?” she asked, and I smacked my forehead.
“I completely forgot. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” she said with a swift bow, then straightened and tapped her fingers on her arm. “And quit fixing those pronouns.”
“Sorry.” I apologized, and went back to typing. “Anyway, I’m thinking of calling the school Boredom Heights, since this school is where the gymnasium is located.”
“And?” she rolled her hand for me to go on.
“And there is THE Auditorium, where I view all the Phoenixan stories.” I said begrudgingly.
“See? That wasn’t so bad.” she said placatingly, and I snarled.
“No? The Phoenixan Mods are already trying to invade KOB, and even saying ‘Phoenixa’ is like putting up a big, neon sign that says ‘fastest way into KOB, right HERE!!!’ It’s not helping.” I growled.
“Isn’t this really the Moderators Realm, though?” Fiera asked. “You told the Others that the Viewing Auditorium was in the Mod Realm.”
“Well, it is and it isn’t.” I said, and Fiera rubbed her forehead.
“You know I’m not going to keep asking you to repeat things in plain English.” she stated.
“Yes, but I have to get the Seer terms off my chest.” I responded with a grin, to her utter chagrin. [“Okay, you had your fun with the words, smart guy. Now finish the explanation.” Fiera snapped.]
“All right, let’s see. The Moderator Realm is the region above the spiritual realm, or the Overlay Region. The Overlay is tied to the physical world, but lacks the breadth of the Mod Realm’s manipulative scope. In Overlay, you can mess with what you already have, almost like using cheat codes in a video game. Follow?” I asked.
“More or less. If I need you to give a better explanation, I’ll make sure to let you know.” Fiera said.
“Anyway, then there’s the Moderators’ Realm, which is the next level above that. Being in the Mod Realm is like being able to rewrite the code of the physical world and Overlay.”
“Lots of computer analogies. Anything less abstract, Sheldon?” she asked.
“Not funny, but I’ll try.” I pouted. “Okay, it’s like this. Here’s a cup of water.” I pulled one out of the gymnasium’s air. “I can do that in both the Overlay and Mod Realm. Anything I can do in the Overlay, I can do in the Mod Realm. In the Overlay, I can change the water to Kool-Aid, but in the Mod Realm, I can build an entire, microscopic community inside the Kool-Aid.”
“Show me.” Fiera said.
“All right.” I replied, and enlarged the [“What flavor do you like, Fiera?” I asked. “Go with…yeah, just stick with cherry. It won’t clash with my attire.”] red Kool-Aid, revealing a small, aquatic city floating inside one of the small air bubbles in the foam. A giant (relatively speaking) circular platform, oriented parallel to the gymnasium’s floor, supported a wide landscape of spiraled towers, their points tipped in a teal that was just a shade away from Fiera’s eyes.
“Nice touch.” She said with a smile as the image faded.
“Thank you. So that is what you can do with the Moderators’ Realm.” I said. “As far as what Second World, which is what this gymnasium is a part of, is like, it has elements of the Moderators’ Realm, and indeed the Mod Realm bleeds over into Second World…”
“So what you’re saying is that there’s a Moderators’ Realm for the story worlds, [the Third Worlds, Mr. Picky] and a Mod Realm for the Second World.” Fiera stated.
“Yes.” I confirmed.
“But what’s the difference?” she asked. “Isn’t the Moderators’ Realm one region?”
“Yes, it is, but the only major difference between the Second World Mod Realm and the Third World one is that in the Second, Mods deal directly with me, like you are right now. In the Third, their interaction is confined more to the other Moderators in that story world.”
“So, basically, what you’re saying is that if I’m talking to other Moderators, then it’s the story world Mod Realm, but when I’m talking to you it’s the Second World one?” Fiera asked.
“Well, there are some minor literary differences between the two that are a little difficult to explain,” I said teasingly, “But that pretty much is the only difference between the two. The other differences would be like comparing different shades of blue in the sky on any given day. Pretty miniscule.”
“Pretty much a waste of time.” Fiera corrected.
“Not for me, but I’m not going to spend the time arguing with you.” I told her.
“Well in that case you don’t need to talk to me.” Fiera said, and shut off my writing before I could reply.