From the moment the guardsman woke, Rogan had watched him experiencing a greatly broadened sensitivity to flux. That tool, whatever it was, had somehow awoken strong flux-sense in the man.
He had heard of sudden awakenings, but this was a wee bit over the top. How could sensitivity this great have remained hidden from the man for a full half-century of life? The latest he had ever previously heard of for a late awakening was the early twenties, and that had been a relative light-weight.
After a short discussion about whether they would do something with the hulking corpse, Rogan at last ruled that they would report it as soon as possible and get moving. It was too large a beast for them to deal with in anything like the time they could afford to spend on it, and they had no good means to do a cremation properly. With luck or good fortune, Ain Giraan , the administrators of what remained of the Gireidil nation, could send some means to treat its fallen with due respect.
It took less that a half-league of travel away from the fortress, making their way toward Aum, for them to realize Jack had awoken to truly powerful flux senses, and those senses were overwhelming him. He was going to be a severe liability for them. Rogan began considering whether they would need to turn back.
Jack clearly detested being the one slowing them down, but no matter how much he insisted he would continue, nor how much Rogan grumbled, Nam called a stop and wouldn’t permit them to resume traveling until she felt he was ready. That didn’t occur until the sun was well above the surrounding trees, and even then, it was a slow road.
Once they resumed the hike, his mind began fixing on each tree crowding the path, then on several at a time on both sides, and then, it seemed, on hundreds of objects, each a sharp presence in his mind, most of which should have been concealed from him. The forest paraded in the direction opposite his, as if he were walking the opposite direction of a massive crowd, overloading him with sheer numbers that preempted his knowledge of the ground under his feet.
Rogan knew all that intellectually, but couldn’t actually imagine what Jack was experiencing. It was not the manner by which his own senses came to him. But it sounded to him like what Nam described of her own flux-sense, which was, as such things went, extraordinarily powerful. Except Nam had awakened to it as a small child, when still barely more than a toddler, and her mind had grown up learning how to process it.
But, after a fashion, he understood what was happening to the man. His own mind could sense only a fog of intense detail in the area immediately surrounding him, and it came to him like the sense of touch rather than sight. But, on that day during his training when his mind had at last connected up to that sense, when a half-decade older than Nam had been, he had also been overwhelmed. Every strong artist short of the kind known as ‘Naturals’ went through some variation of what he was now watching.
The guardsman’s foot again caught on a root, tumbling him over.
He landed on his hands and knees, but it was obvious in Rogan’s view that the combined sense and sight of the ground’s rapid approach had jarred him as if he’d struck his head against it. Breath halted, skull ringing and heart pounding, he clung in desperation to his position and waited for the world to stop turning upside-down.
This was going to be a long trip.
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