The World Time Has Forgotten

The Chosen 3

“You seem to be in a good mood tonight,” Master Zemus noted, peering over the top of his eye lenses. He lowered the glass to the table and took another small, precise bite from the supper plate. The Manor cooks must have done a satisfactory job in the meal, because Fisk heard no complaints.

“I made a new friend today,” the boy told him with enthusiasm.

“Friends can be good,” the man replied. “Does he seem useful?”

“Well,” Fisk mulled it over for a moment. Then he nodded, “He has special robes. I think he has a rank in the Manor.”

“Ah, so he’s someone who works in the Manor?”

“Yes,” the boy answered. “Though he’s not a master like you are. He’s older than me, but not a grown up.”

This seemed to make Master Zemus curious. Fisk could see a calculating gleam his narrow eyes. He didn’t say anything for a long time, simply letting the words trail off. The boy ate, wondering if he said something wrong.

When Master Zemus did speak next, it was a question, “Does your new friend have a name?”

Fisk nodded, happy to be talking again. “He said his name is FuSoYa. I think it’s a pretty funny sounding name, don’t you?”

The sharp sound of his teacher’s utensil meeting the plate demanded silence in the eating room. The boy didn’t know why there was a growing tension, but even he could sense it. Again, he wondered if he said something wrong.

“I know this person,” Master Zemus’ face was grave when he glanced at Fisk.

Their eyes met and held. Fisk found it hard to look away, waiting to see what his teacher would say next. It didn’t seem like it was a good thing.

“He’s not the sort you want to be friends with,” the man finally said.

“Why not?” Fisk asked, swallowing the food in his mouth. It went down with some difficulty, scraping the inside of his tense throat. The boy almost coughed, but didn’t dare to move to get a drink of water.

“FuSoYa is very dangerous,” Master Zemus informed him grimly.

The boy thought about it a moment. At first, he wanted to protest and tell his teacher that FuSoYa was very kind to him and didn’t seem dangerous at all. But then, Fisk remembered how the other kids were scared and took orders from the older boy. He should have been warned by the fact that even the bullies were afraid of one lone boy.

Instead of dismissing it, Fisk asked, “Why? How do you know?”

“He is a mind mage. All mind mages are dangerous,” came the short answer.

The boy responded with a blinky, confused look, “But he helped me.”

“Yes, that’s exactly what a mind mage does to get someone to lower their defenses,” Master Zemus said. He leaned forward just a bit, as if inspecting his student. “You don’t understand what a mind mage is, do you?”

Fisk shook his head sheepishly. He’d never heard the term before now.

“I don’t like conducting business at the table, but this is important,” his teacher pushed his chair back and folded his napkin.

The boy straightened in his seat, indicating he was ready to receive his master’s wisdom.

“A mind mage is a magic user who has the ability to tap into the minds of others for their own use,” Master Zemus said simply. “This means he can sense your emotions and read your secret thoughts, at the least. A strong mind mage can change your thoughts, alter your memories, make you see and hear things that don’t exist. A very skilled mind mage can take complete control over someone else.”

Fisk tried to digest all of this. He didn’t understand everything, but his teacher’s voice was very dark. That was enough to make him scared.

“Could you imagine someone else taking control over everything you think, say and do?” he prompted.

That made it more clear. And even more scary. “They can do that?”

“Yes. They can and they do,” Master Zemus pursed his lips. “You could be under the control of a mind mage and not even know it. They manipulate you and make you forget. Everyone around them is nothing more than tools for a mind mage to control.”

“But he didn’t seem like…”

“Of course not,” his teacher warned. “A mind mage won’t let you know they are tricking you.”

Fisk swallowed.

Master Zemus leaned back, templing his fingertips together. “Did he come out of nowhere unexpectedly?”

The boy nodded.

“Did he do something nice for you?”

The boy nodded again.

“Did he act like he was your friend, even though he didn’t know you?” Master Zemus’ eyes narrowed with meaning. “Was it really easy and sudden to become his friend?”

Fisk thought about it further, expression becoming more and more distraught.

“I bet it was very easy to talk to him, too, even though he was previously just a stranger,” his teacher placed the properly folded napkin on the table.

The boy began to shiver, staring down at his half-eaten plate. Everything Master Zemus said was true. All those things did happen.

“He… just wanted to use me?” Fisk asked with a weak voice. “Why?”

The man made no move to try to comfort his student. His words were cold and solid, “Strangers don’t do kind things because they are kind people. People always do things to gain something for themselves. Don’t ever mistake niceness for generosity, Fisk.”

It sounded terrible… to think that every nice gesture was nothing but greed in disguise. But, so far, Fisk couldn’t argue that it wasn’t true.

“What about you, Master Zemus?” the boy asked, voice suddenly very quiet. “You are kind to me. Is that because you want something?”

“Of course,” came the smooth answer.

Fisk’s face fell.

“I’ve spent all of my life learning and studying,” Master Zemus continued. “I took you in because I wanted a student who could inherit everything I’ve discovered. I don’t want my work to be lost if something should happen to me.”

The boy opened his mouth. That didn’t seem too selfish a thing to want. Still, Fisk couldn’t help but wish there was something more — like the want of family.

That’s when the boy realized that even he wanted something from Master Zemus. Even his good wishes to care for his master were rooted in selfish hope. As his green eyes focused on his teacher, the understanding sunk in, and his world seemed a little darker for it.

“Now,” his teacher said. “Promise me you won’t go near that mind mage again.”

“What if he comes near me first?” Fisk asked, perplexed.

“I will have a talk with him,” Master Zemus said. The words left a prickle over the boy’s skin. “He won’t try his trickery on you again. I promise.”