5 005

A Frog in the Well

"COME IN!" a huge roar seemed to appear from inside the small stone building surprising Moss.

Frozen, he simply stood there timidly while wondering if he had upset Blake and whether it might be better to come back later.

The door quickly opened as Moss saw the frenzied appearance of Blake who seemed more natural now compared to yesterday when he was dressed in official garb for the Ceremony.

"Come in, quick, shut the door."

Entering the building, Moss closed the door behind him. The first impression Moss got of the building was that it was like the outside, small, other than the main room which he stood in now, there was another room in the back which he could see into clearly consisting of a table and a chair.

"Do you feel any different?" Glancing at the young boy in front of him Blake couldn't contain the surprise in his voice, it had been less than one day for the boy's life bond to form and progress to the Hatch stage.

"No but the marking has disappeared."

"Hmm.. that is normal but are you sure you don't feel anything different?"

Not sure how to answer, Moss quickly thought about it before replying. "It feels like I have more energy than before I think."

"I see." Pacing the room Blake made a surprisingly good impression of someone who was equally frustrated and excited at the same time.

"To be honest this is the first time that I have ever heard of someone establishing a life bond to the Hatch stage so fast. Normally what happens next is that at this point you and your creature start to form a level of communication. The next stage Spurt, is in essence you exercising their ability or drawing on their power."

Pausing and looking at Moss again, Blake had a look of interest in his eyes "you haven't spoken to your creature in any way?"

"I… no but I had a strange dream and I woke up like this…"

"That could be it, it is not rare for a life bond to evolve like that but it is more common that your life bond will try to reach you in a more direct way."

"Wait, let me check." Placing both palms together Blake seemed to be concentrating before slowly pushing outwards with both hands on to Moss's chest. An invisible aura seemed to charge the air and penetrate towards his body. At the same time, a small roar could be heard in the air and a strange creature seemed to hang in the air above Blake's head. A beast with thick hair and a long snout that stared directly at Moss.

Taking half a step backwards, Moss moved back instinctively out of fear. However Blake's palms never stopped from moving and soon came into contact with his body, a short burst of electricity seemed to flow from his hands towards him. The moment Blake made contact with his body a strong repulsing force seemed to appear and a small roar could be heard.

Moving back before anything else happened, Blake quickly stopped his movement.

"Looks like I am right, you're in the Hatch stage but it seems like your life bond creature is a bit strange, normally at this point they have a sense of awareness and will try to contact the host."

"Do you remember any part of your dream?"

For some reason, Moss had a strong feeling that he shouldn't talk about his dreams, glancing down he could only give a noncommittal no.

"Ok. How about this, try closing your eyes and clearing your mind. Breath in and out following the beat of your blood, imagine it circling inside your body."

Trying out what Blake had just said, Moss didn't feel any different.

"Be patient, and take it seriously."

Carefully breathing in and out, Moss tried once more, this time he could feel the sound of a different beat in his body, a second life.

"I can hear it!"

"Good, well there is not much we can do at this point. You might as well try and focus on this feeling and see if you can talk to your creature."

"Come back again in two days." Showing Moss the way out, it seemed like Blake's patience had run thin.

However unknown to Moss, the thing that made Blake change his attitude was not the fact that he didn't have any other ways of helping Moss but the reaction of his life bond made him think of a special case in the past.

It was rare for a life bond to communicate through a dream, it wasn't uncommon but for a creature that hatched from a life bond at this speed it was a bit strange that they seemed to be still evolving. He could see that Moss's creature was a bit different, it seemed to be more sensitive and very wary of any interference on its host.

Walking back outside of the house Moss still held Huojin's gift in hand. The time was still early, thinking about his plans for today he decided to venture into the woods nearby at the spot where Rottis would frequently appear. It was time to put some more practise into action.

On his way back Moss could see the larger houses in the village stacked close to each other, watching the people moving about and the village come to life made him reminisce about the times he could remember back when he was part of this community. Unlike other children his age, Moss had already grown up, he was more distant and felt no connection with the village. Deep down he had already decided to go look for his dad. He was sure he was alive but first thing was first, he needed to understand his life bond and make sure his mum had no need to worry in the future.

Gradually getting closer and closer to the woods, he felt more at peaceful. Maybe the life bond had changed more than just how he felt, other than feeling more full of energy Moss could clearly hear sense the movement of other creatures in the wood through the ground. It was like his senses had become sharper or perhaps it was related to his creature's innate abilities.

Passing to his usual spot, he decided to sit down and try the process he had learned in Blake's house one more time.

Time seemed to pass slowly as he focused on nothing but his body. He could feel that the creature inside him was definitely alive, breathing in and out he tried to measure the sound of the two beats. A strange idea seemed to come to him, he wondered what would happened when they both beat at the same time.

'TUK TUK TUK TUK' the slowly rising beat seemed to become like one.

A shadow seemed to form in front of Moss, though he didn't notice with his eyes closed. The sound in the clearing that he was sitting in became instantly more quiet.

A long shaped oval thing seemed to be squirming in front of him. Perhaps realising something was wrong Moss slowly opened his eyes to the strange sight in front of him.

"Are you…?"

The words almost stopped in his throat. A strange mewling reply could be heard. Reaching out with his hand, Moss moved it closer to the strange creature in front of him, just a moment before he made contact a strange sensation pierced his mind as a connection began to be transmitted into his mind.

A cascade of confusing emotions seemed to assault his mind, fear, pain, happiness, hunger.

"…stronger…" Moss clearly heard the words in his mind. He suddenly realised that the dream he had was real, he hadn't been dreaming, he had been talking to this creature. At the same time he wondered what those things that had been chasing him in his dream were or were they just another part of his imagination.

Calming himself down Moss concentrated on the feeling of connecting between them. This time a stronger reaction seem to appear between them and the connection between them expanded and more information came to his mind in indistinct form.

The clearing was silent as Moss was lost in his communication with his life bond. Time never stopped but the sudden stillness of his body that seemed frozen in the space was like a stone statue.

After a long time had passed Moss finally woke up from his stupor. He had learned a lot of things in this strange time, however the memory of what he learned was also starting to become vague and hidden under a shroud that did not let him to recollect it at all.

Standing up and brushing himself down, Moss knew that a lot of things had changed. He knew now that he had processed into the third stage Spurt, after communicating with his creature he realised that his ability was not useful in any sense. Though he was without a doubt in a PA relationship, the strange thing was that the creature's ability was passive and would always be there.

From what he could understand the ability he received from his life bond was a form of shadow manipulation. As far as he could tell, the passive ability he received from his life bond was the ability to learn what the owner of the shadow was thinking or feeling, however well he could interpret the meaning depended on his ability. The strange power he received seemed to be able to evolve, as Blake had mentioned, their tribe was different to other tribes because of their bloodline.

The ability in of itself was strange and Moss did not know how useful it would be. In a way it was like how a person looked in a mirror, the surface of the mirror would perfectly reflect how they looked on the outside but it was hard to tell what was inside. Though he guessed his ability could give him a sense of learning more about a person, it was as hard as reading a person's face. The only way it was different was that he realised his ability allowed him to sense the dominant attitude of a person he was looking at, similar to how when you taste food you can tell if its sweet, sour or spicy.

Standing up Moss grabbed the bolas that was Huojin's gift to him. Clearing his mind, he decided to put everything to the back of his head for now.

His hand made a smooth motion as he slowly practised using the small tactile weapon from various distances and positions. It didn't take him long to get used to it, though moving and throwing the bolas would be a different thing entirely, so far, he could only catch and capture things that didn't move like the tree trunks. He couldn't imagine if he would be successful at capturing a live Cane Sparrow.

It was starting to get dark and time for him to go home.