Journal of the Late Noel Aig


Solomon and I just got back from Boston. I have to admit, I’m actually quite relieved by this trip. I hate to say it, but I had, in a small part of me, hoped to find some trace of these Soul Marks in Gypsy so that we’d have some sort of clue to work from. But finding only the remnants of soul torture, while by no means good news, means that this very kind and resourceful woman who was kidnapped attempting to help rescue me has no lasting effects left by the Seers.

I was nervous in the room before I checked her. Gypsy didn’t betray the slightest hint of worry sitting in the other chair while I explained about how my soul was also ripped out and there might be marks left behind from the encounter. She actually knew about it already, or at least the possibility, so it was easier just to let her know that I knew specifically what to look for and it would only take a minute.

With closed eyes I concentrated, subtly wiggling my fingers by my leg as the mudra for the effect. I felt my mind reach out, magical tendrils that slipped from my head through and into hers. Exploring anyone’s mind is an experience that can only be described as “vast.” It’s like a giant plane opens up in front of you, with different distinct levels and walls freely standing or floating in an endless space. Even that fails to properly describe the pure sensation aspect of exploring a person’s psyche, and any metaphors I can use are only descriptions of poorly visualized impressions.

I did the mental equivalent of turning the music up very loud so as not to unnecessarily invade Gypsy’s privacy. There’s a certain amount of trust that goes into letting somebody into your mind. I could find out nearly anything I wanted if I traipsed around long enough. True Name, age, dark secrets, anything. But I wasn’t interested in any of that. The only thing I cared about was the state of her soul.

Like a plastic corpse, the representation of Gypsy’s soul lay before me. When you connect with somebody else, while you see their thoughts and experiences, any existential concepts are often filtered through the mind of the reader. In this case I saw a soul as a transparent plastic mold in the shape of Gypsy. Certain organs could be seen inside of it: the brain, heart, circulatory system, and skin on the palms.

The plastic mold itself was bolted to the table with what looked like shiny new hinges. The remnants of older ones that had been ripped apart were still attached at different places, but no longer able to hold the soul in place. There were burn marks and blisters as if somebody had taken a metaphorical blow torch to the casing, and scratches like the Plexiglas at a 30-year-old ice arena. Still, it was in at least passable shape, and time would eventually heal those scars.

I closely examined the polyethylene sarcophagus, searching for black markings left inside. It could be anything, but in my mind a Soul Mark would manifest as a black globule attached to some part of the inside of the soul mold. Thankfully, I couldn’t find any. I slowly pulled my own mind back, settling at last in my body.

“Absolutely clean. Just the damage from the soul torture. The kind that can only be healed with time.” I settled back in my chair and breathed a sigh of relief. No new clues, but Gypsy was going to be fine.

As calm as she seemed before, she visibly relaxed after hearing that. “What about you? They have a way to help you?”

This question took me off guard. I hadn’t expected her to think about helping me. I mean, she had already helped me and this was where it got her – in a hotel room looking for permanent damage to her soul. I took a moment to make sure the surprise didn’t register in my voice before responding, “I have no soul marks. And the torture isn’t a big deal. I can handle it until it fades.”

It’s true that Mastigos understand torture better than any other Path. It doesn’t mean we’re the best at it or like it the most, but we understand what it represents and how it imprints itself on the soul. If done properly, it works like a wire brush and Teflon coating for sin. If not, it ruins and destroys, leaving the subject more susceptible to sin and Hubris than when they started. And sometimes, that’s the idea.

Gypsy nodded. “Yah, you just sorta…deal I guess. I’m at least sleeping better since Ti made it scar over.”

“That was good of them. Any pain heals. Endurance teaches us.” When my Master had said that to me, it sounded wise. Now as I repeat it, I sound like a day-by-day calendar. Regardless, she understood what I was saying, even if it wasn’t very helpful. Nothing I could say really would be.

We talked a little longer and I treated her and Sol to Indian food to satisfy my usual post-ride desire for spicy food. Gypsy also came from a blue-collar family, and my mention of Clint Eastwood seemed to throw her off a little bit. She comes from a family generally given to Awakening, it seems. I didn’t mention that two of my cousins were Awakened, but I did speak at length about my Sleeper immediate family. My father’s gardening, how my sisters keep moving to Manchester to try and marry footballers, etc. It was a nice meal with good company and well worth the trip to Boston.

That night I continued to teach Solomon how to interact with the Shadow World. I’m fortunate that he shares my predilection to a Japanese mindset, as he takes the lessons well and easily and generally understands the way in which I describe things. This will make future lessons easier. I also had a long talk with the Rider, trying to better understand its motives and methods. Like any spirit, its primary goal is to gain Essence. I’m starting to get how it plans to do that, and unless Solomon and it can learn to work together without getting Sol Claimed, it will get very difficult to keep sending my friend at OPD in circles.

I’m sure it’ll all get worked out.