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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 99: Brown 85
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Previous chapter: Chapter 98: Slade 81
Thalaoniri? Are you there?
It was the third time Derek attempted to contact his elf friend. This time the answer came.
Morach? Man, is that you? Cool. How's it going?
It's going well, overall. The sprites are fighting back against the humans, finally--putting them to sleep, then taking their weapons from them. I still have to go confront some of them, to let them know we mean to protect ourselves. But, he added, that's not why I called.
It struck him as the thought passed that called was an odd word for what he was doing; but Thalaoniri seemed to get it.
So, he returned, what's up?
How to put this, Derek wondered. Put it straight, came the answer. I'm getting married, he sent.
Wow, way cool! Congratulations!
Don't congratulate me yet. I'm really not at all certain of this, of getting married and all.
Don't sweat it. After all, you must love her, or you wouldn't have asked her to marry you; and she must love you, or she wouldn't have said yes.
"It wasn't like that," Derek said aloud in his distress, then realized that didn't help. It wasn't like that, he sent.
Oh? What, then?
It sounded stupid even when he thought it. Our parents set it up.
Oh, man, I'm sorry. What, she's some kind of boar or something, right?
You know, ugly, nasty, and fat.
Oh, no! She's none of those things. She's sweet. She's cute. She's the most graceful girl I've met. In all, I don't think I could have chosen so well myself. And I've known her for years--well, we haven't seen each other for a long time, but she grew up gorgeous. I couldn't ask for better.
It took a moment for the reply to come. So, Thalaoniri thought back, what's the problem?
What was the problem? This was going to be very difficult to explain.
Thalaoniri, I'm going to tell you something about myself that no one in this world knows, as far as I know.
What? You're not--
The thought hung for a second, and Derek interrupted before it continued. Oh, no, nothing like that, he sent. Not at all.
O.K., so then, what?
Again, Derek was not sure how to begin.
This is going to sound really strange, but I'm going to have to tell you a story. Once there was a boy--a human boy, living with humans. It was in another world, a world which would seem fantastic to us, with machines that could fly and send pictures through the air and maybe even think. This boy was named Derek.
You're committed now, or you will be, he thought. He continued.
When Derek was twelve years old, something happened, and one of those machines accidentally killed him. There was lightning stored in it, that it used to make the pictures, and it leaked out. He died. The odd thing, though, is that he didn't stay dead. He woke up in another world, still twelve years old, still having many of those strange machines with him. He died again there, and in another world, and another, and another, and--well, probably half a dozen different worlds, and in each he lived for a while, and then someone or something killed him. Along the way, he learned a lot of things. He lived a lot of years in some of these worlds. But he was always still this twelve-year-old human child.
Then something different happened. He died--that wasn't different; he was getting used to dying. This time, though, he didn't wake up as a little boy in another world. He woke up in a dark, warm, safe place, where he couldn't move but didn't really need to move. He lived and grew there for a long time. Then the place he was staying got too small for him, and he was forced out of it, and finally he began to understand what was happening, for at that moment he was born, and he was a baby, and he was a sprite. And his mother named him Theian Toreinu Morach; and he was me.
There was silence.
Wow, that's quite a story. Did you make that up yourself?
Um--no. Actually, I wish I had. That's what happened to me. I can tell you all about all those worlds, what happened in them, how I was killed.
Thalaoniri seemed to be searching for an alternate explanation. So, maybe you were, like, born with someone else's memories? Maybe when your spirit was coming from wherever it is that baby's spirits come from, you bumped into this other spirit that was leaving, and you got a bunch of memories from him?
I hadn't thought of that, Derek sent, and indeed he hadn't. The answer, though, came to him swiftly. I think that's probably not right. You see, whoever he was, I've got his things, the machines he used in those other worlds. I collected them, and have them hidden not far from home.
Again his elf friend seemed to be looking for answers.
Well then, maybe you found these weird things, and then you had this dream because you'd seen them, and then later you confused the dream for real memories, so you thought you were this person who lived in other worlds and had all this stuff.
It was an interesting theory. No, that doesn't work, he sent. Remember that day you found me in the woods, and I said I had come looking? Well, I knew exactly what it was that I was going to find. I had dropped it on a huge ship in another world. I knew what all these things were before I found them. I walked to where they would be, and they were there, all things I had already known and used in other worlds.
Oh, but you're, like, psychic or something. You've got these weird powers. Maybe you don't know it, but you can see things that are far away, and you saw these things, and knew where they were.
That was weird. Actually, I can see things that are far away. This isn't that.
Maybe, the elf started, but Derek cut him off.
Thalaoniri, just for the moment, assume that my explanation is right. That means I'm not really a sprite; I just happen to look like one right now. One day, probably, I'll get killed, and then I'll just vanish--I saw it happen to someone like me once, she vanished and left nothing but a little pile of dust--and that's really not-- He broke off.
Little Bug, the thoughts came, assuming you're right, why shouldn't you be happy while you're here? Why shouldn't you use whatever time you have here to make someone else happy, too? Just because you don't know what's going to happen to you doesn't mean you shouldn't live a normal life until it does.
That made sense.
Besides, Thalaoniri added, you could be wrong. Maybe this Derek guy is off in another world, and you just happened to bump into him and get some of his memories. Maybe you'll live your whole life here, and die as sprites do, and go wherever sprites go when they die, and all of this that you've got in your head is from someone else. You'll have given up some of the best parts of life for something that had nothing to do with you.
There were reasons why this didn't seem true. However, the elf was right. Derek could and should live the life given. Wherever he had been, whatever he had done, before this, he was now Theian Toreinu Morach, and he needed to be the best Theian Toreinu Morach he could be. Somehow he thought that's what Lauren would have said. Indeed, he thought that was even what Qualick, the four-armed mutant who took over the religion classes at the school when Lauren was killed, would have told him. You are here for a reason, Derek Jacob Brown. You are Theian Toreinu Morach for a reason. You won't find out what that reason is by trying to be Derek Brown; you'll only discover it by being Morach. It was time to accept who he was.
Thanks, Thalaoniri, he sent. That helps a lot.
Hey, no problem. Think you'll be out this way again? My dad would love to see you.
A return to the elves would be interesting; but then, there was a lot to do here if he was going to get married. Can't say. I'd love to come, but apparently I've got wedding plans. Besides, whether I'm Derek or Morach, I have to go speak to the humans and let them know we sprites don't want war if they will stop killing us.
Well, keep in touch, and let me know. We'd love to have you. Besides, you don't take up much room, and you don't eat much, so it's not like we have to do any serious planning.
Derek laughed. Yeah, I'll think about it.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #198: Verser Trials. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: