43: Jack


Nam got back on subject. “I suspect that most of what we do which looks unfamiliar to you is flux arts. Which you should consider science, not ‘magic’.”

He shook his head and looked back to his hand.

“Flux is the substance of reality itself,” she explained. “That ethen now inside you is capable of some function or functions involving the manipulation of flux. Which is what Rogan and I do.”

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Jack kept studying the pattern on the back of his hand. He sensed something about it, a meaning or a purpose he could almost see hidden in it… “So what are ‘ethens’ again?”

She stood and walked back over, handing one cup over to him. “The plural is ‘ethe‘. ‘Ethen’ is the singular. Or more properly, it is the particular and ‘ethe’ is the collective. The word simply means ‘tool’ in Bruxilan. Ethe are objects which carry patterns to control flux.”

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The way she lectured reminded him of a high-school teacher, which he found bizarre considering her jungle-girl outfit. He accepted the tea and shook his head with a smile. “You say that as if it explains something.”

Nam wasn’t responding to humor today. She sat down nearby and studied her tea, looking sad, or concerned. Or worried.

“We don’t understand what happened. You just walked up to that creature and put your hand on it, ignoring our warnings to stop, and suddenly you began screaming. Why did you do it?”

She didn’t mention the other woman who appeared. As he suspected, that had been some sort of hallucination.

“I don’t know, to be honest. It seemed like I was in a dream at that time.”

He left out said hallucination. No point in convincing them he was crazy.

She studied her cup for a bit, then looked over to him and spoke with care. “Jack, your ethen is exceedingly unusual. Frankly, it is a deadly problem to both you and us. You will learn to control it, or you will not survive having it.”

Jack contemplated the palm of his hand again, but with an edge of concern, now.

“Survive?” He echoed the word, understood what it implied, but couldn’t give it any reality, yet.

“If you do not learn how to control it, that thing will kill you.”

She looked down again, then stated, “We cannot remove it. It is wedded to your Rhyuin the same way Rogan’s Ijinstone connects to his.”

Rhyuin,” he tried to pronounce the difficult word, without comprehension.

After pursing her lips, she said, “There is a connection between that ethen and your Hitochin. The Hitochin is the Yashin– the Gate– within your chest, and it connects to the center of your Rhyuin, your spirit. You don’t know the Bruxilan words I’m using, so perhaps you could think of the Hitochin as your ‘Heart Gate’. It is physically located near the heart, which is probably why your culture relates the heart to the spirit. Do you understand?”

“Something like a chakra?” he wondered, remembering a long-ago girlfriend and her yoga lessons.

She nodded. “It is a similar concept, but the locations they give for chakras are not quite the same. The gates within you connect your body to different aspects of your spirit. The Hitochin opens to the very core of your spirit. Thus this unknown ethen is welded to the most important part of that thing, that mind, which you call Jack.”

“Is there someone who can remove it?” he probed, not liking the way she was describing the situation.

“You must think of it as now being part of your mind. Separation from it would be fatal. It would effectively mean tearing your mind apart. Such a tightly-fashioned spirit lock is rare. Few makers would be willing to create such a dangerous thing without the moderating influence of an Ijin’s mind. Outside of Ijinstones, I’ve only seen this before in the slave stones with which our quarry controls his victims, but that thing in you is no slave stone. It’s something we’ve never seen before.”

A chill ran through him as the significance of her words sank in.

She just told me that this thing will be part of me for the rest of my life.

- my thoughts:

Don't be looking for any particularly Hindu or other Eastern religious connection. The Gates do correspond to positions identified in different chakra systems (note that it depends upon which school of thought you are studying precisely where and what all the chakras are) but I'm not aware of one that corresponds precisely. And I'm definitely aware of none that define major chakras in the hands and feet. (These are minor chakras, in systems that have the concept of minor chakras.)

Note that their function is slightly different as well, thanks a different theory concerning what mind and spirit are, here.

The Yashin or Gate system found in Sword of the King has gates in hands, feet, upper head (brain) lower head (actually in the first cervical vertebrae, roughly level with the mouth) center thorax (next to heart) below solar plexus (actually, liver), and roughly aligned with the female uterus and male bladder. (For those who haven't studied anatomy, the male and female bladders are positioned differently.)

If I'm wrong and that corresponds to an existing Eastern system, please let me know. I know there's a Tibetan one that defines the major chakra in roughly the positions given for the 'Gates' except for the hands and feet.

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