Orphan At The Edge Of The World 136 Crawling Chaos 34

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After an impromptu shopping trip, everyone changed into nice clothes and Zeke dropped the other three off at the Saint George Hotel before heading off to see his aunt and take care of the bribe to his commanding officer. Luxury for dollar, it had to be at least three times better than Port Haven's best hotel and even had a specialty salt.w.a.ter swimming pool among other not as common amenities. The absolutely ma.s.sive four room suite wasn't much more pricey than the two room suite either.

Seeing no reason not to, Orison purchased some swimming suits and they went to enjoy said pool. Leaving Jimmy with Neil, the young mage even tried to get some equilibrium by skulking off to the steam room to sweat out some misery. That effort ended up being aborted fairly quickly when a movie producer started making overtures at him. He didn't feel any weird vibes but the guy was fairly taken with the idea that Orison had what it took to be big and wasn't under the impression that no wasn't a soft start negotiation. The man looked genuinely dumbfounded when Orison left.

A young man that had been in the steam room at the time rushed to catch up with the young mage and said, "He didn't understand that a personality that screams confidence but not old money wouldn't want what he has to offer...He doesn't know where that confidence comes from. Don't worry. Whatever brought you here, this is a safe place but that has a limit of fourteen days. That was one of the promises made between the 'genius loci' and the person who built this place."

After saying his bit, the man stepped back off the elevator and let Orison be on his way. Back in the sanctuary of the suite, he stepped into his room and decided to dedicate his evening and early night to making medicine. About an hour in, there was a knock at the door. Without taking his eyes off his work, he invited Jimmy in.

The boy sat on Orison's bed and watched him work for awhile before he said, "I know I didn't take it well but I want to thank you."

Orison's movements became a little sluggish but he'd done what he was doing enough times to not make mistakes of any unrecoverable nature. "Thank me for what? I made a mess of it thinking everything would just magically be fine because an admittedly good but not omniscient fortune teller told me to do it. I am far beyond the point where I can use naivety as an excuse."

Jimmy said, "Dad and mom have some serious problems. Shaking them up and sending them to some new place might be the best thing that could have happened to them. My big brother's always looked out for me, maybe a little too much but maybe he'll have a chance to finish being a kid instead of having to step up to care for me and my baby sister that'll be born in another eight months.

"There's a lot of things in my head I'm still trying to understand but I believe them because they feel true. They're me... I hate my life. I would keep hating my life. I ended up hating my big brother when all he was trying to do was keep a bad girl from hurting me. Me now and me later aren't that different. I'm glad you gave Jammers back to me.


"I was scared and confused. I still am but I just wanted you to know that I'm glad you came back for me. I wasn't very happy before you and I had a lot of fun after you disappeared. The me then didn't listen to you and tried to live normal even though he hated it. I don't have to do what he did... I, uh, said a lot more than I meant to. I just wanted to say thank you and that it's what I would have wanted if you had asked. That's all."

Finding a good stopping point, Orison turned to look Jimmy in the eye. "Thanks for trying to make me feel better... Unless you can at least survive until I leave and still be able to tell me what you said now when that time comes, this isn't something I can just be okay with. You are twelve and a twelve year old with a grown man's memories doesn't make you grown, not really.

"You'll get there fast but you've also lost something special to get the special I gave you. Depending on how things go, I could have done it later and you could have had both. Then again, maybe not but now it's certain that you... Sorry. Here you are, trying to make me feel better and I'm trying to tell you why you should feel worse. That's not exactly helpful, is it?"

Jimmy forced a smile through misty eyes and said, "You're a worry wart. Maybe I would be too if I were you. I got my hands full being me... I'm gonna sneak into stuff and be whatever a twelve year old with a grown man's memories is. Have fun being an old prune in a man's body or whatever it is you are."

Orison gave him a saintly smile before wrestling Jimmy down and force feeding him the infamous primer draught that another Neil of another time learned to dread but appreciate.

A vague look of recognition flitted across Jimmy's face. "Wait, I know what this is. It's halfway to nine! I'm going to be up all night! That's just mean, plain mean."

The young mage said, "It's not my fault you grew up on processed meat, canned food and preservative soaked snacks. I've improved it some. You'll only be up half the night... If it makes you feel better, tell Neil I have something to discuss with him and know that misery will have company."

In an effort to not waste time, the traditional regiment was condensed from a two week course down to four days with two of them being spent naked and unconscious in a bathtub, occasional showers to rinse them off. Orison wondered briefly why Neil went along with things so pa.s.sively when he practically fought tooth and nail before. Then it dawned on the young mage that he had improved the detective's life pretty well before bringing things up last time.

Although it was a joke that had been played off, Orison wondered if Neil's comment about how bad off he had been, mental state wise, when they first met was actually understated. The young mage had most definitely been more candid and less round-about this time too. The only problem was, the way things were being done now was how a person made a loyal subordinate, not raised a friend into a companion that was willing and capable to fight side by side.

Zeke wasn't idle during that time. Through discrete channels, the ex-soldier was contacting people and wiring funds to separate places for materials. That the man knew names and code words that had those receipts and transactions erased as soon as they were completed was a bit frightening but incredibly useful. Since they were using a black ops distribution system Zeke called 'Ghost Trail' with their own funds, not even the people who made it would be able to catch and trace the discrepancies for years. That's a.s.suming anyone would ever bother to look when it didn't involve sensitive materials and supplies.

Aside from alchemy and a little enchanting, Orison also leveraged some future knowledge for more funds. A series of micro transactions and a little fudging with gambling translated into a lot of resources that never even had the chance to consolidate before they were distributed back out for various purposes. People who needed things at certain times would find them suddenly available and certain less than reputable ent.i.ties would be catalyzed to return favors at opportune moments.

Whether real or imaginary, Keita's whisper about not needing many keys but only the one that opened the obstacle in front, stuck with the young mage. He leaned on and exercised the principle on behalf of several people to aid those who he thought well of and to bring an avalanche of misery on the few he despised. Sadly, there was only so much that could be counted on before b.u.t.terfly effects ruined the clear picture he could take advantage of.

That point was driven home on the morning of their fifth day in the Saint George Hotel when two bets Orison had placed, lost. And a stock that should have gave a triple return, only gave a fifty percent increase. Even if they had been discrete nibbles and treats handed out here and there, an acc.u.mulation of three days worth of tampering was already muddying the course of things and those effects would spread out.

As low key as they tried to be, on a personal level, his group wasn't one that blended well. Orison called a halt to their operations and decided to pack up once he felt the slightest hint of gnawing paranoia. A few b.a.l.l.s were dropped but the design focused on greatest to least importance order and they had began straying into 'not really important at all' territory anyway.

Six days later, the group of four were leaving the coast of Floridia for the Western Keys, a collection of islands that would be their last brush with civilization for some time. Thinking back over their near week of travel, Orison marveled at all the ingenious ways the 'Ghost Trail' stowed the goods they picked up along the way. Only on two separate occasions were there snags in the pickup. Both were easily avoided surveillance meant to create a modic.u.m of future accountability but that would mark red flags for 'quality control' to get curious about later.

Between government and secret societies, one had little options on what to do if avoiding involvement and scrutiny were desired. Fortunately, Orison had a memory map and planned on cheesing the c.r.a.p out of it. He also didn't plan on sticking around for ages like last time. Zora's warning aside, he had other places he wanted to be. Between his current time and the best chance to get off this world there were two opportunities to be exploited as well.

With a warning to enjoy themselves as much as possible before there would be a 'significant social dry spell', Orison set his group on a loose leash. On the three main islands, they spent five days on the first, three on another. And in the dark of night, he and Zeke secretly ferried them to yet another where they spent a week. Despite all the subterfuge, the young mage felt a sense of approaching trouble a day before they were supposed to leave.

It didn't feel as bad as the paranoia feeling but it did represent some kind of loss or inconvenience of a high order. The remaining instinct from his Rithus inheritance wasn't that sharp, even after Orison had tried to resurrect it a little. If it was strong enough to feel, it was important.

He thought he had managed to dodge well enough before sharing a rental on a fis.h.i.+ng boat that contained an old couple and two of the husband's old friends. The sense that there were more people in the cabin below them proved him wrong. A man and a woman came up to the deck. Trailing behind the woman were the recognizable forms of Jacob and James.

The man was a devil, in the literal sense, disguised as a debonair Wall Street shark. The woman was human but only barely so. She had tipped the scales that Zora had dangerously flirted with, completely. On the outside, she was a dark haired glamour queen that looked like she had stepped from the covers of a thirties magazine, dating the time of her fall from humanity's grace.

The 'devilish' man spoke first. "You know why we are here, right?"

The man was looking at Orison with no doubt the young mage was the right one to talk to. Cluing the woman in, she also focused on him.

Orison sighed. "Considering the lovely patina of curse energy flowing around your female companion, your devil may care att.i.tude and the two kids behind you, I'd say that flesh peddler Smiley's untimely disappearance?"

The woman said, "Now, you just know we're going to have to make an example out of you, honey. Nothing personal, mind."

Orison gave a saintly smile and said, "None taken. Forg-"

The young mage didn't get to deliver a witty comeback that day. He didn't even have time to give a look of condescending pity he planned on delivering at the right time. Retribution was too swift.

Whispered prayers behind him reached a fevered pitch as three old men and an old woman wore a much more literal 'armor of G.o.d' after some scripture quoting of Ephesians. The devilish man literally withered like a salted slug as the four retirees pointed golden swords at him with s.h.i.+elds raised before them. The fate of the devil in disguised was all but sealed the second he 'jumped' onto the boat.

No less in agony and the focus of Orison's attention due to the two boys within arm's reach of her, the woman was in spiritual battle. Sadly whether in wisdom, power or wiles, the woman wasn't a match for Granny Georgia. And by the sound of the ghostly wailing mixed with echoes of rhythmic chest thumping, the old lady was p*ssed.

"Papa Legba, the darkness has raked its claws at your children. Ayizan, they s.n.a.t.c.hed the babes from boughs of your fierce arms. Loco, they left their muddy prints in the garden of your house!" The old lady Orison only knew of by the nearly fearful but awed whispers of Zimbia and Peaches during pillow talk, howled into the air several hundred miles away.

Those words weaved with magic and faith struck the curse twister in front of Orison with no less biblical wrath than the devil by her side received. Her skin cracked and blistered. Her bones broke. The curses and charms that bent the force back at the old woman merely folded and struck her twice.

Freed from ensorcellment, James looked around in confusion for half a second before rus.h.i.+ng to his little brother. Jacob stood frozen in panic. Neil, who had been sneaking up from behind s.n.a.t.c.hed the petrified boy out of harm's way.

As the four retired 'crusaders' finished slaying the devil and casting it back to whatever h.e.l.l would take in the spiritual remains, Granny Georgia symbolically reached out and ripped what remained of the dying curse twister's powers and used it to pull the boys that had been s.n.a.t.c.hed back to her. Neil, who was trying to s.h.i.+eld Jacob from the grizzly sight of the ghastly remains of the woman, was pulled with him. For reasons Orison could only guess at, the power s.n.a.t.c.hed Jimmy but left James behind.

Staring in confusion at where his brother had disappeared, he looked to the nicer old people for answers first.

The woman coughed politely and said, "You're standing on my rain jacket, young man."

James apologized and picked it up, dusting it off a couple of times before he handed it to her. Everyone then looked at Orison who was looking off into the distance with a frustrated and defeated look on his face.

Zeke said, "Our rental buddies would like a word with you."

Orison turned to everyone. "I'm sure you'd like an explanation but we're going to be hitting a rough patch of supernatural weather in about eight minutes. We should get below deck."

Offering no other word, the young mage walked down. Zeke fell behind. Torn for a moment, James followed them instead of sticking around with the four retirees. Before his foot hit the floor off the last step, James was a.s.saulted by a wet suit.

"What is this?" the boy said.

Orison depressingly sighed out, "It's a concept that won't officially exist for a few years and was going to be your little brother's legacy. Right now, you need to put it on for protection."

A few more accessories both of a mundane and magical nature were pa.s.sed around.

James looked over himself in the mirror. "Hey, this is pretty spiffy. Can I keep it?"

Orison, who was currently getting undressed with Zeke said offhandedly, "Sure. Why not."

James looked them over with wariness and comparative curiosity before the two young men were abruptly covered with their teaser suits. Suddenly James wasn't interested in comparing body parts but equipment, obviously finding his lacking.

"Why do I have this instead of one of those?" James said, a little surly.

Zeke said, "Little man, you SHOULD be asking different questions. We are about to be swimming for our lives in a few minutes."

"Do they know?" James pointed up to towards the older folks still on the deck or in the steering box.

Orison sighed. "They already know enough but probably cling to the hope that they can do something to save the situation."

The boy popped off, "If it was that bad, why is the boat so calm. In the pictures, we'd be slos.h.i.+ng and banging around."

Zeke said, "They're using everything they've got to keep us pointed at the swell. You feel that lightheaded sensation mixed with heavy feet?... Yeah, here in just a little bit it's going to be headed the other way. Then there will be plenty of slosh and bang for you."

Almost as soon as Zeke was done talking, there was a brief stillness before they and everything else in the cabin that wasn't secured started lightly floating up. Orison s.n.a.t.c.hed James to him while Zeke wrapped himself around the two of them as tightly as he could. Four breaths after they were floating, Orison put the best telekinetic s.h.i.+elding around them that he could and held it for the six seconds it took for their small wood paneled room to turn into a mess of splinters and rolling water.


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Orphan At The Edge Of The World 136 Crawling Chaos 34

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Orphan At The Edge Of The World 136 Crawling Chaos 34 summary

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