I can't discuss Rogue Nemesis just yet today. There's no way I could formulate all my thoughts on that matter into a post just yet.
In other news: Tao is alive! He and I discussed the Tarot that Kay did for me on my last post on AIM. ^_^ Really, I'm just glad he's alive. The actual screennames and times for this conversation have been redacted for obvious reasons. In case you guys forget, the cards were "Knight of Swords", "Judgement", and "The Tower."
Tao: OK. So In this order... The knight of swords is the card I associate with you-- sort of a Knight Templar type-- this is what's right, I work in the service of what's right, screw your counterexamples, I know what's right."
Amalgamation Sage: Yeaaaaah. ^^;;;
Tao: Chivalrous, bellicose, aggressive, sticks to his morals...the headlong rush into the unknown without fear, bravery, skill, heroic action, all of that.
Tao: And now, as usual, your infuriating proliferation of major arcana.
Amalgamation Sage: So yeah. Judgement. ;___;
Tao: Atonement, judgment in some higher fashion...the possibility you're being taken advantage of by someone, favorable legal or personal outcome in a conflict, rebirth, improvement, upgrades all around, and a need to be honest about stuff. Oh, and the possibility that this person (you or not) needs to adjust their conduct towards others to the nicer, fluffier model. All in all, it's a positive thing. Good outcome based on who the person is, and in general karmic balance working out.
Amalgamation Sage: Hooray! ^_^
.__. And then the Tower.
Tao: Sudden and dramatic change. Possibly catastrophic.
Amalgamation Sage: She did basically just hit my situation right there on the head. XD
Tao: Unforseen circumstances, disruption, abandonment of the past beliefs and possibly of friends, sudden change of opinion, sudden destruction of trust, terrible change, and possibly breakthrough to new areas. It's the Resonance Cascade card.
Amalgamation Sage: Yup. That's about what I expect. ^_^
Tao: So either you ascend to a higher plane, or everything goes to shit. Fun!
^_^ Ahhh Tao. Always there to fill me in on exactly how screwed I am.
A Time Lord Anecdote(1):
I recall one of the most important lessons that Time Lord ended up giving me during our short training period together.
I was panicking. An entity that we had decided to call a Phantom had been chasing me off and on the entire day. This thing was damn near made of bloody steel, because I'd hit it with everything I had and it was still moving.
And I was telling Time Lord all of this, doing my best not to break down and cry. He looked amused as hell the entire time. Then he made a crack along the lines of:
"Hey, if it eats you, I get your Yu-Gi-Oh cards, right?"
And he was smiling like a madman, looking like he was about to crack up. I stared at him, wondering what kind of crack he was smoking and where I could get it. Before you think anything else, please remember: It was eight, almost nine years ago. We were allowed to have Yu-Gi-Oh cards back then. Nobody gets to judge us.
As per what he said to me? I went berserk, "(Time Lord), are you fucking insane?! I'm a dead man! Dead! Nothing hurts this thing! I've been hitting it all day, with everything I've got! What is wrong with you?!"
And suddenly, his expression went deadly serious. I blinked. where had this come from? I couldn't match that expression, it was like trying to match gazes with an angry tiger. I'd much prefer to run like hell, thanks.
He said to me, "There's always something trying to eat you, there's always some horrible monstrosity waiting to prey on humanity, and there's always someone who'll die at the hands of the things that 'don't exist.' You Laugh, (Amalgamation Sage). You always find a way to joke about it, or deflect it, or something else. If you let it weigh you down, you will go insane and then you will die. I'm grinning and coming up with jokes because I'm used to this. Now stop freaking out, laugh it off, and come up with a plan."
I blinked. I considered it. Then I saw before me a lifetime of dealing with things like that phantom. A life of always having to be ready to come up with something on the fly to deal with a million potential problems. A life of pain and tragedy. Then I sighed. Then we figured out what to do next. After all that I learned how to grin and stop panicking and actually come up with a plan. I wouldn't be who I am today if I hadn't learned that lesson.
Am I hurting right now? Yes I am. The guy who basically showed me how this business is done reworked my memories and is running some kind of messed up game. I had another World Collapse headache as soon as I got to Buffalo, and by the power of Caffeine I've taken the edge off it. (I called it something else in my last post. World Collapse just seems shorter and more fitting.) For better or for worse though, I know I'm in the right place. Something REALLY doesn't want me here. And I found a Starbucks that I went into when I was here almost a week ago. I think I remember what happened during hours 24-20
Hours 24 - 20
We rolled into the parking lot of the Starbucks, and she was finally starting to get this suspicious look on her face. I ignored it, getting out of the car, pressing a hand against my skull, letting my body lean against said car for one long moment. For all of you who've never had a World Collapse migraine before, imagine the most aching pounding thudding massacre to ever exist dancing about your skull. Now imagine it sucking away your hopes and dreams and leaving you nothing more than a lump that needs to lay on the couch and contemplate the hope and dream of someday living without pain. That's about what I was feeling as I pressed my face against my car.
The woman said to me, "Okay. Reinforcement fairy, who are you?"
I grunted, "(Amalgamation Sage)"
She looked surprised, "(Time Lord) has mentioned you. He wanted to take us all down to Philadelphia to visit you, wanted to meet someone else 'on his level.'"
She was giving me this appraising look. I didn't look all that impressive. My eyes were dilated by the migraine kind of like a pothead's, my face was in dire need of a shave. I looked about ready to collapse. Then she started looking at me, and I mean using her third eye, her astral senses, her sixth sense, you know the drill. And she did what most people do when they see what's under the hood. She took a step back, her expression one of confusion.
She said, "What are you?"
I said, "On (Time Lord)'s level. Now I see a Starbuck's over there, and I need the caffeine."
We went inside, and she said to me, "I'm (Weaver) by the way."
I remembered (Time Lord) talking about how he'd met some new people. People who'd needed training, people he wanted to meet me so they knew someone else in this field. This was not how I wanted to meet them. I nodded to her, and we walked into the Starbucks. I'm don't remember the walk. What I do remember is me sitting down in a corner booth with her, nursing sanity-brining coffee. Caffeine, one of the few things that reduces the overall power of a World Collapse Migraine. I savored it like the elixir of life that it was as Weaver explained what had been happening.
Weaver and her friends Spinner and Cutter had been visiting Time Lord. He wasn't at his house, and his door was wide open. They had gotten worried. They waltzed on in to look for clues, and then they ran into Mantis City. Weaver was the shield expert, so she covered the retreat. The catch was, the door shut and locked, trapping her inside the house. She ordered her friends to go and find Time Lord, and I gotta give the young lady props for that. She had guts. She decided that she could hole up and maintain a shield for quite some time in the fortress that Time Lord built. All she had to do was wait. The trouble was, Spinner and Cutter never came back.
So lets Recap: Time Lord was gone. He'd threatened me to stay the hell out of all of this. Weaver would be dead if I hadn't shown up. Time Lord would KNOW that. So he must have consigned her to death. Unless me assuming that was the point, and he knew that the only reason I'd go running straight to Buffalo would be if I was angry as hell, in which case he'd HAVE to pretend to want to stop me. In which case, the only way to save Weaver if he and Spinner and Cutter were somehow unable to would be to make sure I showed up at just the right time. Unless it just looked that way, and he really did want Weaver to die in that house.
This highlights the biggest difference between me and Time Lord. He liked Chess, and I liked Gomoku. Chess is a game of vast, overall strategy in a war between two sides. Gomoku is a game of single combat between two opponents. Martial Artists love Gomoku because (and I finally figured this out,) Gomoku shows you all the movement patterns and strategies you go through in a sparring match. Strategists love Chess because it shows you what you believe in and what you're willing to sacrifice to win the battle. Gomoku is the game of a person, and Chess is the game of people. I despise playing people against each other and throwing up sacrificial pawns. No one gets sacrificed, nobody dies, never again. That's my motto, and I get the feeling his is something different.
I knew what would happen next. Whether it was Time Lord moving the pieces or the Mantises, I had one move to make. I just had to ask myself what I would do if I were them. So I went to work. As Weaver was explaining her story, I was projecting around the coffee shop. Shield after shield, against each wall, window, door and entrance. Then I started throwing up the special shields, specifically Break-walls. The final count was two layers of normal shields, six layers Break Walls, and one final layer of normal shields. I do love Breakwalls. The greatest spiritual defense ever devised. I would know, I made it.
So she was busy explaining to me their wonderful gang, and how it would be great to get back together with them, and how Time Lord and I could tell old war stories and sing Kumbaya around a gods-be-damned campfire...
I was busy sensing the twenty odd Mantises surround us on the astral plane. She saw my expression go dark, and stopped talking. I didn't care. I was through running. I aimed to misbehave. She finally noticed the Mantises.
She mouthed the words to me "Run?".
I shook my head.
She actually said out loud, "They're telling me to stand and die."
I blinked. They talked to HER before they talked to me? Who the hell did they think I was?
I actually projected the message, "Who the hell do you think I am?"
One of the mantises around the building responded with, "You referred to yourself as the Reinforcement Fairy?"
Unbelievable. We'd just met the only entities in this part of the world that didn't know who I was. Wait a minute.
I projected the message, "Where'd they import you guys from? Indonesia?"
Well that answered that.
Weaver said to me, "We can run out the back, right?"
I said, "Use your senses. Look at the walls around us. Aren't you supposed to be some kind of shield specialist?"
Weaver blinked, finally using her senses, "I...oh. What are those?"
I grinned, "Sorry (Weaver). I forgot, you're a bit wiped, aren't you? Don't worry about it. You just spent a whole day holding down a fort. Just relax. The Shaman is Shamanizing. Keep your arms and legs inside the table, alright?"
She gave me this look. She was asking herself, "This is the guy that (Time Lord) says is on his level. How does he deal with a small army of incoming Mantises?"
And the answer is preparations. Lots and lots of preparations. Spending the entire time I was talking with her preparing. I chugged the rest of my coffee and projected to every single thing within a mile of us that could feel it in one very clear message:
"COME GET SOME."
The Mantises were skilled. They attacked the coffee shop with a level of brutality that would have served them well against trained soldiers. But I was a Shaman with prep time, and after they shattered their way through the two layers of normal shields, they ran straight into the Breakwalls. Breakwalls were a little something of my own creation. They look like regular shield walls, they act just like them, except for one little detail: They break easy. And when they break they shatter in a 180 degree burst aimed toward whatever hit them.
Five seconds of brutal carnage later, and the astral plane was covered in dead Mantises. Three bleeding, broken creatures had survived, and tried limping through the coffee shop. I projected outwards. Killing them did not merit the drawing of a sword. Just three waves of the hand to convert the final barrier I put up into a wave of destruction. And no one in the Coffee shop would ever know that we'd fought a battle to the death against a Mantis Platoon. Thank the god or goddess of your choosing that the Veil was still intact.
I shook my head, and said to Weaver, "I'm getting another coffee. Want anything?"
Yeah. That was all pretty funny guys, and it was fun remembering it. But it wasn't a victory. I know it wasn't a victory, because I somehow ended up back at my apartment with a full tank of gas. I remember hanging out with Weaver and helping her sort out her things at her apartment. Gods only knew she needed to get ready for whatever happened next, and I needed Ibuprofen. That's what happened during Hours 24 - 20. But nothing that I've written so far is a victory.
I think I fucked up somehow. I think that it's been nearly a week, and I don't know what happened after I reappeared in my Apartment. I think Spinner, Cutter, and Weaver are dead. I found Weaver's apartment earlier today, and the whole place looks ransacked. I'm going to Time Lord's house tomorrow. I haven't seen any sign of The Fucking Blank Businessman, or any Mantises, which I'm calling bad. Things like them don't just disappear on you. But they can wait. Oh they are very good at waiting.
I'm going to sleep. Tomorrow will be better.