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Spirits Within

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November 3, 2013


“…we’ve been at this for an hour. I don’t th-“


“No, you ARE thinking. That’s the problem.â€


An exasperated sigh escaped the judoka’s mouth. Marcus frowned, biting back a grumble of frustration.


“I get it. You’re still worried that what happened to Richard will happen to you. But mastering the Beast Rune is going to take more than just the raw strength of your bear form. You've tapped into that potential once before... you can do it again.â€


It had been the Master Mage himself who had turned Arcturus towards training, certainly more than he’d done at his four years at Claremont. It was rigorous to the point of being a job in and of itself, and his teacher seemed to know far more about the Beast Rune than he did. In the end, it was just a lot of philosophy, as well as an unusual fighting style that was unique to Arc’s inherited magical ability. “Juuhoukenjitsuâ€â€”the Way of the Beast King’s Fist.


At first, it was nothing but forms and katas. Admittedly, Marcus thought it was utterly useless at first… until the first time he’d used it in a fight. When the mind is reeling, the body remembers its training; this was universal, and suddenly Arcturus felt he could relate to the Beast Rune in a way that he’d never done before then. Nevertheless… he was holding back. He could sense the wall he had put up ever since that fateful night on his birthday five years ago… Marcus really wasn’t sure if he was ready to bring it down. The Cult of the Beast Rune, however, was giving him very little choice.


“Okay. Let’s start again.â€


Marcus shut his eyes. He wasn't sure how much time had passed after that. The moment he stopped concerning himself with time is when everything felt timeless. He felt a sudden rush, as if his entire body was suddenly weightless, and when he opened his eyes, the dojo was gone. In its place was a wide expanse of grassy hills, and a circle of stones that reminded him vaguely of Stonehenge. 


...not exactly what I expected.


"No, I suppose it wouldn't be, would it?" Marcus spun around at the sound of a voice other than his own. He paused at the sight of something oddly familiar: a figure nearly a foot taller than him, wearing a dark green robe, his face entirely covered by a ceramic bear mask. "I was wondering how long it would take you to get here."

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"You? More or less. Communication here is far easier than when you're in the physical world."


"...so we're in my head then."


"Yes. Though you probably don't remember when we met..."


Marcus paused, considering. It was vague, and five years had passed, but there was something familiar about the figure's voice. It wasn't just that it sounded like his own, which was weird enough, but....


"It doesn't matter," the figure said, interrupting Marcus's thoughts. "You're finally here to claim the Beast Rune, yes?"


"I... guess so?"


"You should know that this task isn't a simple one. I took pity on a frightened child, but the others may not be so forgiving."




"Other beast spirits. You remember your friend Crow, yes? He did tell you that the Beast Rune is not one, but several. And the magic you possess is quite similar to the primal elements themselves... Why do you think elemental magic comes so naturally to you?" The figure sat down, legs crossed, both hands on his knees. Marcus could see the runic symbols on the gloves he was wearing: Terra and Lux: the Earth and Light runes. 


Marcus had to admit that it made a lot of sense. Suddenly the entire landscape where his bear spirit dwelled in his mind was perfectly logical. Beyond that, he remembered what had happened the first time he encountered the Cult of the Beast Rune. Unda, the Water Rune, reacted to the Beast Rune. Being afraid of the water was bad enough, but allowing the Beast Rune to take over didn't result in anything bad--except for a slightly freaked out sewer technician.


"Ah, so you remember that. Good. That will make this easier."


The bear-masked figure pointed to one of the stone arches, marked over and over again with Fulgur and Ventus: the Storm and Sky Runes. A spark flickered in the archway, swirling into a transparent portal. 


"This is where your first... no, your second trial begins. I suppose I would have been the first... It's good to know that my decision was not a regrettable one."


"Thanks, I think."


"Don't thank me yet. You may very well be stuck here if you fail. A word of caution though..." He turned slightly, watching as Marcus reached out to the portal, disappearing in a flash of light. "...huh. Well, I'm sure he'll figure it out. Poor kid's still got some growing up to do..."


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