Into the Wild – Chapter 14

Chapter 14 – Devon finds a Deity

Devon lay reading on his stomach under a tree just outside the cave’s entrance. He liked this spot early in the day before it got hot. The sounds of the little insect in the grasses and the herds of wildlife and birds moving with abandon across the plains made him feel more connected to this place. Mat was probably right; they needed to get out. Sitting beside him was a little mammal; he had no idea what it was. I reminded him of a cross between a rabbit and a squirrel; it was about the size of a dog and adorable. He had tried a friend spell on it a few days back, now every time Devon came to his tree, it would appear out of the grasses and settle in on the blanket Devon had laid out. He’d grown fond of the little guy. He looked up when he heard Mat finally emerging from the cave. “You were up late last night.”

“Did I wake you?” asked Mat.

“Not really, I heard you come in but only because you tripped three times.”

“Yea, that wine is strong.”

Devon chuckled as he returned his attention to his book. Until a couple of days ago he’d spent far more time studying than Mat, which was typical. As expected though, once Mat started to see results his OCD had kicked in. Now he had a laser focus which would soon allow him to surpass Devon, leaving him in the dust.

The books told them just about everything they needed to know about the history of magic in their new world as well as the application and casting of the spells they currently had at their disposal. At a certain point, the manuals would cease to provide instruction. The only way to advance further was to find books, parchments, or a mentor willing to share their knowledge. Eventually, they would have to settle into doing research. That was still years, if not longer, away and unworthy of their concern at this point. As promised the basics of their skills they already knew. The more they studied; the more memories they unlocked. The intricacies of the mechanics needed practice. They had to focus if they ever wanted to scratch the more intimate understandings of the powers at their disposal.

“Why were you up so late?” asked Devon.

“Are you sure you want to know?” commented Mat as he raised both eyebrows.

“Probably not but tell me anyway.”

“I cast my first circle and brought something out.”

“Something?”

“Yea, it didn’t last long.”

“What was it?”

“No idea, some kind of demon blob.”

“Demon?”

“Don’t get your druid knickers in a knot; I’m just calling it that. In all honesty, it was plasma, but it was responsive.”

“That’s sorta creepy.”

“Well, don’t worry too much. I’m going to need to do a lot of work if I want to keep it around. I almost passed out from the headache.”

“Did you make any headway on your alignment?” Asked Deon.

“Interesting you bring that up right after I tell you I summoned a demon blob.”

“Isn't it related?”

“Maybe a little. Are you hungry? Let me get a bath, and then I’ll fix us something,” said Mat as he hopped up and headed for the cave.

“Change of topic often?” yelled Devon.

A few nights back after they had both collapsed from a full day of practice, they sat down after dinner by the fire exhausted. Both of them had discovered that too much study leads to headaches, so they were both in pain. After a couple of wineskins lay empty on the floor, the conversation turned to a couple of the more controversial topics they’d been putting off — the choice of a Deity and an alignment.

This world apparently had interactions with higher beings, but Mat refused to call them deities. Devon knew this was going to be an issue from the start. He was spiritual, but Mat was as atheist as one could get. In the end, the book's definition of “deity” was what settled his friend's mind and allowed him to get past his hang-ups over the word. Mat preferred the alternate word they used, which was Arch, as in ArchMage. The books defined a deity as a higher being who had dedicated their studies to a specific type of craft and achieved a level of mastery which allowed them to transcend the living world and move onto a higher plane. The books hinted that even mortal creatures, like them, could obtain such a lofty title if they were talented enough in their field of study. Choosing to devote yourself to a deities’ cause would enhance and aid a user in their execution and advancement of their chosen craft.

Their books showed them the choices along with brief descriptions and tenants of each specific deity. As expected, most of Devon’s options were either nature or animal based. Mat’s, on the other hand, appeared to have come straight out of the Cthulhu mythos and were creepy as hell. That also went a long way towards helping Mat accept the whole idea. They decided since beliefs were a personal decision, they would not involve themselves in the decisions of the other.  Belief, be it called religion or something else, was a private matter and in many ways like cocks. It should never be pulled out in public or in front of impressionable youth.

Devon had been reading the suggested choices and was gravitating towards a deity called Dixigau; it was a trickster who was fleet of foot and sharp of wit. There was something about Dixigau that just felt right. He flipped back to the pictures of the deities for the first time. He’d decided at the beginning not look at any of the representations fearing they would sway his choice. When he reached the page he at first smile broadly and then, almost as quickly, his smile faded as he turned to look at the little guy sitting beside him.

“So did I choose you, or was it the other way around?” Devon asked.

The little creature hopped a couple of times then bounced forward landing in the center of the book on the page with the picture. Devon leaned in close, “Is this you?” he asked both afraid and excited.

When they were almost nose to nose, the little creature stood on its back legs and with is furry front paws leaned forward and placed one on each of Devon’s cheeks then licked his nose. Devon in shock watched as the little guy bounced a couple of more times and then took off into the grass just as Mat leaned out and yelled, “Dinner is ready.”

As Devon made it back into the cave, he found Mat smiling. “So you finally introduced yourself.”

“What do you mean?”

“Dixigau has been patiently waiting for you to realize you’d chosen your deity.”

“Did you know?” barked Devon in surprise. “How did you know?”

“Devon I deal with the forces outside the world of the living now. That little Cantaco…”

“Is that what it’s called.”

Mat cocked his head, “Are you just pretending to study? Yes, they are plentiful up on the plateau but not so much down here.”

“And you could see him and know what he is?”

“Yup, he even talked to me one night and asked about you. It was a few days ago; I think he was deciding whether to reveal himself. Clearly he took my suggestion instead.”

“Your suggestion? What did you suggest?”

“To wait and see how long it would take you. He’s a trickster remember. I like him.”

“Seriously Mat, sometimes you astound me.”

“Stop taking your studies so seriously and enjoy the process of learning. The journey, this time, is worth the notice.”

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