I faced the mirror, peering at myself in the gloomy light of my small bathroom. To say that I looked like shit…well, if you were to shit something that looked like I did, you’d go to the doctor. Before the Guild, before Nidia and my banishment, I would have been good looking. Well, maybe not good looking but not “lives under a bridge” scary. The years had been hard on me. My skin was pale and sallow and my cheeks were sunken in. Deep bags hung under my eyes and between them my sharp, hooked nose made me look like a tired, half-dead hawk. I hadn’t shaved in a few days, my eyes were blood shot, and my hair hung about my face in disarray.
I looked into the mirror a little deeper. Not Deeper, just deeper. Me and Al hadn’t really talked much in the past few years. He was too busy cleaning things up, trying keep my mind from shattering apart and we’d grown apart.
But it was kind of hard to ignore your imaginary friend.
I took a deep breath, beginning to focus my will. It was a slow process. The bathroom began to spin, my vision to blur. Though I was gripping the sink with white knuckled determination, fighting not to move an inch, it felt like I was moving through thick, clinging fog.
“Come forth, Algernon,” I whispered.
With a sickening lurch, I felt the barrier between my mind and body dislodge. It was uncomfortable, almost like having a joint out of socket with the added joy of numbness.
I felt a sudden pressure drop into my left eye, followed by a deep cold that numbed half my face. Suddenly, it felt like someone else was in the room. The cold ran down my neck and shoulder then through my left arm all the way to my fingertips.
My face shifted, my muscles relaxing and hardening in strange ways. It was still my face, only an alien expression underneath. Slowly, the iris of my left eye changed from the burnt, reddish brown of copper to the dark, gunmetal grey of steel.
Then, just like that, it wasn’t me staring back at me through that eye. It swiveled independently, looking around the room until fixing on the mirror. I could still see through it but it was fuzzy and distant, like looking through a dirty camera lens.
And it certainly wasn’t my voice that said, “You’re a bloody right git, you know that?” A thick Irish accent overwhelming my Tennessean.
Somehow, I made more of these posts than I needed, so you’re getting a bonus Behind the Scenes today.
In the world of Virgil McDane, the mind is the key to any mage’s power. Almost like a cloud of Aether itself, it is a representation of that mage’s magic. To grow in his power, he must explore it, even change it. Change the mind though, and you change the mage. Similarly, if you change the mage, his mind will follow suit.
This type of infrastructure is essential to a mage, but gets complex. There are different ways to deal with this upkeep, but one of the most common way is to create a familiar, a split personality developed by the mage for organizing, sorting, and managing the mind and its magic.
Algernon is Virgil’s familiar and has been with him for most of his life. He is highly intelligent, has a perfect memory, and the ability to manage dozens of tasks at the same time. That’s all fine and good, but Virgil often times finds himself at odds with his imaginary friend. Their drives come from different aspects of Virgil’s personality. Al doesn’t take things as seriously, isn’t as temperamental, and doesn’t see the harm in most things whereas Virgil is highly emotional.
If you want to see what other tricks of the mind Virgil has up his sleeve (or in his head), Sorcerer Rising is now available on Amazon.