Chapter 5:


A Snowed Abode

After coming out of that bizarre concoction that somehow flies... Pax, along with Clemens, named because his parents presumably thought he was kind as a toddler, although as an adult one would think it would be difficult to equate, and from now on will be referred to as Clem since, I do not know, but he might look like a mollusc... the two, at any rate, start to think about making their way out of Nix, mostly the only place they know of and have lived in, but they might have wondered around the corner every now and then in the past... anyway, in order not to procrastinate too much the two shall... talk to some of the people in Nix again, because why not, no? Talking, after all, can be said to be the heart of the narrative, but not all are impressive...Bookmark here

The first two in the shell do not appear to say much, so Pax thought better than to waste time with them for now and went over to the next couple of people on the outer edge, the moustached one, who simply said...Bookmark here

"I see you have thus resolved to go and seek out our possible ailments? Well, do remember that even if Pons is always available to consult - it might be merely anxiety. Still..."Bookmark here

And... no, the other one will only help with ethereal matters, whatever those are, so presumably we are not at that stage yet... and so, Pax exited the shell into the main town, and noticed the bearded, slightly militaristic fellow who earlier mused about streams, say...Bookmark here

"I wish luck in your quest to resolve our problems, Pax and Clemens, for if the last monarchy fell... what a possibility for a merciful peace... if only..."Bookmark here

Pax then thought, possibly... that it was nice to be so relied on, was it not? Or, perhaps, too much pressure? And why is it these people all around are just there to talk to, anyway? Why can there not be, possibly, a big party of villagers to ever so politely ask this monarch to dampen down his aspirations lest there be consequences? It is not as if the French revolution only happened because a couple of guys went to play tennis or something... well, perhaps the latter bit... also, why tennis specifically when there are so many other similar sports, who knows... but anyway, the point is, verily, one knows not how it is always a few people who happen to resolve some grand, complex narrative (besides the rationale that to the perceiver the individual is more important than the collective, since it is usually a singular spectator, per se)...Bookmark here

Either way... Pax suddenly glimpsed a shop, and thought why should he not visit it just before going into the wide, wild world... in it, a variety of items, although most were for show one suspected, like the façade of society itself, at any rate...Bookmark here

As soon as Pax entered the shop, the thing is... something strange occurred as soon as he jumped on this... magic circle thing; a certain amount of visual noise was suddenly in the air, as if the brain's neurons were not seamlessly passing information along synapses anymore, or perhaps that twilight state in between sleep and wake, when the world has not quite switched to high definition, and was possibly a few decades behind still (due to subjective perception being so). This happened as soon as Pax went on this symbol (so it must have been it, he inferred), and there was not quite any other way he could have gone, either, as the corridor was narrow. Appropriately, now, there were also a couple of those wizard statues that he saw previously, which said the same thing really, with the exception 'art' did not match 'heart' now, it went along with... 'mart', and so the inscription proved comedic, he thought. In any case, he went along, and the owner proffered...Bookmark here

"Hello there, Pax, I have heard this is but a lull in a potentially upcoming conflict, and so... I would have thought my items could prove useful, especially if you venture outside..."Bookmark here

He had a variety of items, but suddenly one did not seem so interested in getting any for some reason... whether one would regret this in the future, when they might be needed, is another matter... but, living on the edge has its interests... the shopkeeper then clarified...Bookmark here

"Oh, and... what happened as you entered is a curse a mage once put on my shop, unfortunately... it will resolve itself as you exit, but it sure would be nice if I could somehow lift this spell... perhaps with something around the shop, and something else? Not sure... but it is surely ironic that this happened with my side hobby here..."Bookmark here

His side hobby turned out to be... a lot of magic-related items, as it happens. Besides the circle and the statues, there were several other items lying about too, which, of course, Pax went to tinker with...Bookmark here

There were also some potted plants, though, as it happens, which meant not everything was related to magic... unless they were somehow used in some ritual Pax simply did not know of...Bookmark here

"What is incipient life but magic within?
What, though, makes this so tragic?
Which percipient would reveal?"Bookmark here

This was, then, what they seemed to utter... one did not know if it was simply animated or living beings that made such utterances, or perhaps art did... unless it could be argued that it was all art (but then would that not be inclusive of the whole universe which would be stretching it a bit?) - what indeed Pax was certain about, though, is that he was uncertain about what the above possibly meant, for opaque it was, although still appropriate considering the setting, he thought. Why, also, are they all questions?Bookmark here

Nearer to the shop's counter there were also...
"Scales... of justice? Hm, not quite in an item shop, I assume... but maybe magicians like to weigh their baubles? If indeed they do have baubles, for one is not sure... perhaps the seller weighs... portions of potions?" Idly wondering about random items' usages is always a good hobby for a procrastinator, especially, because what else are items for in one's eyes?Bookmark here

Close to it there was also...
"An hourglass? Why, are there some time mages around...? Those rare creatures... somewhat not as potent as the job description makes them sound, not quite equivalent to... a certain sorceress..." Pax truly wondered about the innocuous and trivial, but if he did this not how could some problems be resolved in the future? Who he refers to remains a mental mystery, though.Bookmark here

There were also some pretty empty jars in the northern edge of the shop...
"What would one fill these jars with? Some time later perhaps they will become useful, but as for now..." Could this, perhaps, be useful to resolve the curse...?Bookmark here

More bottles could be glimpsed still, but this time they were not quite plain and transparent...
"Plenty of pigments to choose from, but whatever might these be? Maybe the actual items the shopkeeper says are on sale? Or do those always need to be invisible or something...? Perhaps condiments? But why would magic users need those?" Why indeed, one would think... it is not as if it is a prerequisite for spells to be in such a a variety of jars to be cast, and even then one is only assuming that this is what they are for. For all anyone knows the shopkeeper simply needs to remember something indicated by that variety... some things may be more than decorative.Bookmark here

Next to them were something even more... plain, though...
"Oh jolly, just brown sacks, whatever does anyone want to do with such special items? I, myself, would have no idea unless I thought of this before; why, the hue probably does something to the items inside... possibly." Why indeed would some item shop have such sacks... unless the items are potatoes or something, that is? It is even more of a mystery when containers are opaque...Bookmark here

More bags then, but with a bit more variety...
"Is this where everyone does their daily shop? Because it does not seem to be very packed with everything... and it does seem to be geared towards a certain type of consumer? Or am I misreading it?" Maybe it is, in fact, where sacks are bought? Maybe potions are an illusion...Bookmark here

Downwards a slightly more interesting bunch of bottles...
"No... can it be? Alcohol? Magic users imbibe this?! Do not tell me this is their secret weapon... stumbling around, people would ignore them, and suddenly they play their tricks... the devious creatures..." If it was it would be news to me, too...Bookmark here

Then a laboratory sort of aspect to the next few bottles...
"A chemistry set? Is that what magicians rely on after all? But where do they get out all their equipment on stage? Some sort of 'hammer space'? Or am I getting the wrong sort of magician here?" Who knows if you are, Pax, for all we know rabbits might come out of those containers...Bookmark here

Lastly there was what...
"Looks like ketchup, goes well on chips and such, except... there does not seem to be anywhere to buy that from? Unless we need frozen ones, of course... plenty of snow here to keep them cool. Ah, warm chips, such alchemy..." Well, one hopes it might be more useful than the items currently being sold if one has no money to buy them with (who dreams of that...?)Bookmark here

As one can delightfully witness, it is no easy way out, even from a simple shop, for procrastination is ever present, and there are always shiny things to tinker with... but Pax made his way out of the shop finally, at any rate (why, if he left the heavenly floating abode, what would make him stay in some place cursed with visual noise?)Bookmark here

Out he went back into Nix generally, all the way back to that old grandma that for some reason hangs about in the cold and yet not much health-wise seems to happen...
"So, you are now fearless and venturing forth to the south? Maybe I shall have an ending not mired in conflict... if so, I would be ever so grateful, young friend..." She said, seemingly aware that Pons had been talked with (was she psychic perchance? Is there an entire layer here we are not aware of? Or does quantum mechanics seem to be involved like it appears to do with the seer's age, possibly? One knows not what one knows not...)Bookmark here

Pax also went back to his house upwards, maybe to take a nap if one desired (and why not? It is the very engine of procrastination, and besides no one had said Ignis will come tomorrow for certain or such, and so in denial he hopes in, for no two pair go better together...) - but also to talk to his housemate, in case she needs to say anything just before leaving...
"Clemens! I assume you're going with Pax to seek out what might be the cause of strife? Saying that, one might only dig so deep before the fundaments of idealism are encountered..." Clearly, then, these three knew each other for some time, but what do I know? Especially about the aforementioned fundaments... what if they are more like a fractured base? A leaky roof (if roofs were ever indeed used to build idealism upon, somehow)? How, also, can idealism even be integrated in architecture, or should one not take this literally?Bookmark here

Now, finally, Pax made his first tentative steps outside... just beyond the gate of the wall, in order to exit this place, and there happened to be two other characters waiting outside, as if barred from entering for some reason, or maybe they had no keys? They likely tried knocking, though... one seemed slightly sketchy, but the other one merely enthusiastic, although what for remained a mystery, as it could not have been the cold or the infinitude of snow...Bookmark here

"Hey there, citizen, I've been stranded here, as it happens, since I was about to travel in between the two places, north and south, but as hostilities increased I was wondering if..." The enthusiastic fellow, with spiky hair and goggles for some reason, stopped abruptly, as if the cold shut his mouth frozen after all, but no, it was clearly a psychological issue...Bookmark here

"If...?" Pax prompted.Bookmark here

"I could be caught in the crossfire... wars know no middle, you see... I was working on my engines, but had to pause for now, for no one would anyway if I were not around..." He finally finished, with still some thoughts seemingly left out. What he was referring to, though, no one knew, and for all anyway did know it was all imagery... or not, as one needs to assume some things happen to be true...Bookmark here

"Engines...?" Pax inquired.Bookmark here

"I construct these machines, some say a relic of a by-gone day, but the past is never the past I think, the future merely incorporates it, and so I continue..." Well, that was a somewhat interesting interlude and thesis of what time consists of, Pax might have thought. Why, though, someone who constructs machines thinks this... no one is sure, for theory of mind might be as elusive as antimatter in outer space...Bookmark here

"Say, could you possibly retrieve something I could use in my repairs? It does happen to be in the town below the castle which is nominally ruled by the monarch, and so is in a state..." He continued, somewhat more practically minded.Bookmark here

"Hm, I could try since that seems to be my general direction and we may already be at risk at any rate... I'm also a bit interested to see what kind of machine this is..." Pax surmised. One has to wonder, though, when risk is evaluated are future events taken into account? Would multiple events then appear to lessen the risk, just because it appears to be more worthy?Bookmark here

"Thanks! I'll let you take a look... it is a sort of tool that could fix a capacitor - one in a sort of flux? I'm not sure myself. But we could see once it's ready..." What he is referring to one has no idea, but one assumes the future will reveal, possibly...Bookmark here

He was indeed a strange fellow, one usually stranded in some dystopian, cyberpunk narrative, but if so does this mean this is the world Pax inhabits? Oh, one must mention, as it has likely not been mentioned, that this world happens to be called 'Locus', in keeping with the naming tradition it seems, it plainly means that this was where they lived, the place, but genetically it is where genes are too, so in a way it makes doubly sense? Who sensibly knows...?Bookmark here

The other guy was even stranger, though, for he sneered like no one imaginably does, and he did try to hide it, but not quite so well...
"Why, hello there. I am but a humble representative of... the town down south, the domain the monarch holds, and..." He hesitated too, but unlike the other, nearby fellow, this did not seem to be borne out of apprehension, but more out of a hesitancy to the way he could conceivably be perceived perhaps, as he was scanning Pax as if a mechanical device was installed in his mind and it was its entire, sole mission to do so, all the while still perpetually sneering....Bookmark here

"Yes...?" Pax replied, in order to get out of this little impasse...Bookmark here

"I just wanted to say how much the town needs you, how useful you would be if you would then next go to the castle to put an end to this... oppression... why, yes..." He clearly was not being forthcoming or even remotely as honest as, say, the other person was with his enthusiasm, or the old lady with the way she sees and saw the world. He was hiding something, not even trying too hard to do so, which makes one wonder why...Bookmark here

"Sure, just as I have been told by so many others here... (why does he seem hesitant though...?)" Pax noticed, but as he was going to go anyway, and Pons seems to think it was the next best step, he did not think it would be better to drop out now (as much as his procrastination begged him to... at this point it was either that or wait until something happened externally...)Bookmark here

"Why, yes, you would be greeted so... handsomely - if you do go to the castle. Why wouldn't you be? Why, indeed..." He was clearly a strange one, but as long as he merely talked to Pax, and did not enter Nix, one figured he could not do much damage... at best, this might be an intelligence gathering exercise, but from behind the gate not much can be noticed...Bookmark here

At any rate, beyond all this chit-chat, Pax was indeed finally going to exit his hometown... I mean, it is not like he could not have done so before, or at least just after he talked with Pons, but the journey is worth more than the destination, surely? Unless, of course, it is some castle in the middle of the desert and one needs to escape hastily for one particular reason, only then it is the shadows which plunge one into despair...Bookmark here

So, Nix effectively is a sort of base for him, at least at the beginning (as the world is only so large, and one might not be sure distances can be travelled quickly), and there did not seem to be many places one could go to, at any rate - besides those two below, that is. But that is where Pax intends to go, so he is not quite worried about much else right now, except perhaps about this last dodgy character, but a deferred problem is still a problem that comes later, he figured, and so he made his way outside...Bookmark here

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