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clockwork19 [2012/11/29 01:15] (current)
doan created
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 +“Sorry about that!”
 +
 +Will looked up to see a set of jagged teeth grinning down at him, two blue eyes sparkling with the fever of insanity. The only other features of the face were two ears like NiGHTs’ but inverted, covered by a red mask. He had not personally encountered Jackle before but he recognised him from the descriptions given to him by Claris and Elliot. He cackled at what he obviously thought was an absolutely hilarious joke, then became distracted by a glint of light from the corner of the room. Will blinked and sat up, unable to connect the images he saw in his head in any coherent pattern. His head ached and he couldn’t focus on anything he looked at. When he did manage to look around the room, he caught a glimpse of Reala and Wizeman in the far periphery of his vision. He wanted to scream and run, then he realised that they were completely ignoring him, focussing instead on something even further ahead in the room. Reala was keeping watch over Wizeman, who still looked very damaged – Will couldn’t see three of his hands – and Wizeman was studying one of the giant cuboid slabs with the writing more ancient than any on the planet, his face in rapt concentration, more like a scholar than a terrifying Lord of Nightmare. When he caught sight of Will watching him in turn, he inclined his head to regard the young dreamer.
 +
 +“You are fortunate,” he said, “To meet me under such circumstances, where I can consider you one that I owe a debt to, at least one to let you live. This is my territory, by the virtue that I am here right now, and none have ousted me from it, and you are trespassing, and you are very weak and defenceless. Your companions are elsewhere, and cannot save you. You are alive only because you and your companions aided me greatly.”
 +
 +“In what?” gasped Will. Despite his pain, he still had the strength to keep his gaze steadily and defiantly on Wizeman, “What have you done?”
 +
 +“Have I conquered the entirety of Nightopia and forged it into an unending nightmare of my own device, do you mean? Why, no. Not yet, at least. But you have fought the ones who betrayed me, and would overthrow me, and that is close enough for me. I do not expect true allies who are not those who I have created and whose actions I spend every second of the day controlling… and even then, my people drift away from me. Perhaps a nightmare is a nightmare, and not a Nightmaren after all… and I was always gifted with the power to create nightmares. You know, Will, sometimes I wonder if a Nightmaren was meant to be more like cat – a proud, independent creature, a predator with the entire Universe as its prey, with every living thing fearing them while respecting and secretly admiring them. A truly regal being, like a lion. Maybe it is wrong to try and control such beings. But then I would never have any loyal followers. But I would have a true legacy, one that would outlast me when I am gone.”
 +
 +“Like having a kid?” asked Will. He couldn’t quite believe that he was having such a conversation with Wizeman and living. It felt more surreal than everything that had happened to him so far, and the least like a situation that would have a second part to it. There was a difference in Wizeman. He seemed weaker and more fragile, but at the same time more noble, more cautious and precise, and infinitely more dangerous.
 +
 +“Yes, like you mortals would have a child. I am weakening. There is no way to disguise this. The battle with the Awakers took a lot out of me. I do not know whether it was the right thing for me to do, to aid you mortals and your pathetic world, but it is my choice, and I will have many chances later to make this world my own, however this goes. Except that I may not last much longer. A Nightmaren does not die of old age if they are left to their own devices, but once you manage to weaken one, they will never go back to how they used to be. Maybe I should have fixed that, as well – made us able to grow, like a mortal. But no, our unchanging nature is the only thing stable about this world any more. We are the closest thing you have to justice, in a world where justice has failed. You should remember that.” 
 +
 +“I don’t think people are as bad as you think they are,” said Will.
 +
 +“Ah, well, I suppose you have known some of the good humans. You aren’t one of the worse, yourself. But I see all the humans.”
 +
 +“But you know people can change,” said Will, “That’s why NiGHTs and the kittens won’t do as you say any more. Because even though it looked like they couldn’t help themselves, they still found a way to do some good. And the people in the Unused world weren’t all bad, even though they couldn’t be in this world at all. Maybe you can even change, one day.”
 +
 +“I suppose death is a kind of change,” said Wizeman, letting out a long-suffering sigh, “I was rewarded, you know. As though I had done something they considered good by choice. I was only assisting the enemy of my enemy so that my enemy would die, but apparently nobody trusted me to be noble enough even to do that.  Anyway, the twist of fate brought me some good luck, although I will not thank those who will seek to take it all off me in the next inevitable battle – for I am not surrendering. See – I have been allowed time alone with the beautiful knowledge I have always sought. I can use it to find out more about how this world works, and use the knowledge to create more and better Nightmaren.”
 +
 +“It’s not always that bad to be creative,” said Will, “Even when you’re creating a nightmare. It means there’s more of the Universe – more colour and more light and more life. It means the Universe lives on. That’s what the Awakers don’t understand. They think to go to sleep is to switch off. But you don’t switch off before you get the job done, so it can carry on going by itself from then on!”
 +
 +“Oh, trust me, I will not fade away until this job of mine is done,” said Wizeman, “And even then… Reala and Jackle are to be my heirs. They will carry on my work. I have already given them partial independent sentience, so they may well betray me, but I haven’t spotted them doing so.”
 +
 +“Then you should be nice to them, so they don’t want to betray you!”
 +
 +“Or I could give them enough ideas that they at least have the means to create something good of their own, if they won’t carry on my vision,” said Wizeman, “And they won’t be able to help bringing something of my world into theirs, if I am the one to plant seeds of inspiration into their minds.”
 +
 +“I think that’s what we all do to each other every day,” said Will, “I don’t think you can not do it.”
 +
 +“You know, Will? You may be right. Maybe that’s where I’ve been going wrong. We can’t help creating a little chaos, even when we do our best to preserve order, because two people meeting causes so much to pass between each other’s minds, and it always mutates. I wish there’s something I could have done about that. Then I would have had as much power as the Awakers,” said Wizeman.
 +
 +“But they lost in the end,” said Will.
 +
 +“Yes, yes, they did. And so do I. Repeatedly. And so will you, my dear, one day,” he said, “Now, begone. I wish to return to my reading, and your friends are waiting for you.”
 +
 +Two of his remaining hands floated up to a curtain of lightning and peeled it back as though it were a stage curtain, revealing blackness that led into another realm. NiGHTs had already discovered it and was pulling faces at Wizeman through it. Will waved at the peculiar final boss on the way out. 
 +
 +He saw a woman winking at him from the shadows.
 +
 +NiGHTs said his goodbyes, and followed the AdvoCat to the waiting kittens, to the long and daunting task of rebuilding all of Nightopia that had been destroyed by the Awaker attack. They saw units of Nightmaren chasing down and eradicating the last stragglers of the routed Awaker army who hadn’t fled back to their own silent, still world, never to gain enough power to return. A lot of them were independent of Wizeman, now, due to the shock, and someone would need to explain to them what had happened to them, and lead them as what was essentially a new race of people. 
 +
 +Then Will smiled and woke up. Claris and Elliot were waiting at his bedside to greet him. No, he was on the sofa. He had fallen asleep curled up on the sofa with a controller dangling from his hand. It was a Saturn controller. Cass’ Saturn.
 +
 +Helen came down the stairs, whistling a tune. She had brought pizza. It wasn’t the slightly off the use-by date pizza from the cupboard, it was fresh pizza from the takeaway. A victory celebration pizza.
 +
 +They ate in silence while Will played.
 
clockwork19.txt · Last modified: 2012/11/29 01:15 by doan
 
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