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Mind-Bonds

Archivist note: This article is from an older recovered archive and might be obsolete or in need of updating.

Most recent revision is shown below, by Bookworm.


Captain’s Personal Log–Mind-bonds
Posted by Zachary Somerset on March 1, 2010 at 11:30am

(Author’s Note: This story parallels the events in Bookworm Hienrichs’ story, [http://bookworm-h.livejournal.com/14024.html Feb. 28, Part 2.])

I was growing increasingly concerned about Miss Bookworm’s chronic fatigue, especially after she began to express concerns about sleepwalking. When she showed up at my house one afternoon, looking utterly exhausted, and still felt tired after a four hour nap and the short walk back across town back to her apartment, I was determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. Miss Book went back upstairs to her quarters. I lingered downstairs, venturing into Miss Bergamasco’s shop for a while. It was a dual purpose visit–I was shopping for something for Nell, but I also wanted to stick close by Book’s place for a bit, to see if I could see or sense anything unusual happening.

My plan didn’t go unrewarded. It wasn’t too long afterwards that I sensed someone stirring upstairs. Shortly after that, I heard an apartment door open and close.Walking outside, I turned the corner of the building just in time to see Bookworm venturing out for a walk.

“Hello again, Miss Bo–Book?”

I did a bit of a double-take at the sight of my protegĂ©e. It wasn’t so much Miss Book herself that was startling, but the darker aura around her, a dim parody of her normally calm glow. Deep within her, I could sense the presence of another. A male presence.

“Oh! Oh, hello again, Zac,” he said. It was Book’s voice I heard, but I knew it wasn’t her speaking. The real Book was quiet, hardly to be sensed at all. Locked away as a prisoner inside her own mind, quite possibly. “What kept you here? I thought you’d be back home to Nell by now.”

“Book…come here for a second…”

The invading spirit’s eyes hardened behind its Book-mask. “Why?” he asked.

“You’re not…yourself.”

I could sense the spirit’s fear. “Why, what do you mean?”

Book’s body took a step back. I knew I needed to take control of the situation, and quickly. Under normal circumstances, I would never establish a mental rapport with Miss Book–or with anyone–without her express permission and without explaining all of the ramifications, much less use that rapport as an entry point to breach her mental shields and enter her mind. Doing so was a serious breach of privacy. If forced, it could even be the mental equivalent of rape. This, however, was an emergency. Bookworm was in great danger–not just spiritual, but physical. She could very well be killed by the spirit that had taken possession of her.

“I’m sorry, Miss Book,” I said, and lunged, swiftly grabbing her arm, creating the physical connection needed to establish the mental rapport. My mind touch began exploring hers as I familiarized myself with her unique mental signature. I found her shields breached, all but nonexistent. The male presence coiled within as if ready to strike.

Her body stiffened.

“Who are you? Release Miss Book at once!” I ordered, using my mind voice to make it clear to the spirit, if he hadn’t already sensed me there, that he was no longer alone in his playground of Book’s mind.

“No!” he shouted. A feral look crossed Book’s face. Her body broke free of my grasp and ran for the edge of the sea wall where it stopped, poised to jump into the Vernian. “Don’t come any closer!” the spirit yelled. “I’ll throw her into the sea and drown her if you come any closer!”

I hadn’t lost my own mind-hold on Book, yet I wanted to avoid having to rescue her from the sea waters if I could. “Leave Miss Book be! You can’t get away with this.”

“Oh, no, I’ll not let her go! I have a chance to live again!” I could hear desperation in the spirit’s voice.

“No, not really. It wouldn’t really be you, and it would be at peril to your host.”

Book’s body snorted derisively. “I don’t care! Anything is better than haunting a graveyard, and I’m getting more and more control every day.”

“Sir,” I informed him, hoping I might still be able to convince him to release Book on his own, “you don’t seem to understand. You won’t be able to regain your life this way; you’ll only end up killing Miss Book. She can’t go on hosting you forever!”

“Pah–you’d say anything to get me to leave! Keep in mind–I have nothing to lose here. But you–you have a great deal to lose!”

I was done with this. He was angering me, and I couldn’t allow my rage to blind me to what needed to be done. For Book’s sake.

“But not today!” I reached a tendril of my mind into the trigger point within Book’s which I knew would awaken her instantly. The spirit realized what I was doing too late. Turning his attention back inwards, he attempted to subdue Book again, allowing me the brief moment of distraction I needed to close the distance between us and drag Bookworm a couple of meters away from the edge of the sea wall.

Deep within Book’s mind, I could sense a battle raging, but with Book’s consciousness awakened, she was actively fighting the spirit attempting to take her back over. It lost the battle and fled.

#

I could sense the moment that Book became aware of my presence within her mind. I gently withdrew my mind-touch, wordlessly sending comforting feelings as I did so.

She groaned. I could tell she was trying to make sense of what had just happened to her–both with the spirit who had possessed her, and what had happened in that brief moment between us.

“Miss Book, I’m so sorry I had to intrude on your mind without asking,” I said, hoping she’d understand why I’d felt the need to invade her mental privacy. Hoping she wouldn’t be frightened of me, now that she understood what I could do. “Do you remember what happened?”

“Oh…oh, Zac. I…I think so….”

“I’d like to fortify your shields so that you’re unlikely to be attacked that way again.”

“What? Oh…yes, yes. That would probably be wise.” Bookworm sat back up.

I touched her arm, more to comfort her than anything else, given that the rapport already established between us made the physical touch unnecessary, and gently probed inside her mind again, piecing together her tattered shields and then strengthening them. “There, that should help for now, although it would be beneficial if we could do some mental work together to teach you how to enhance your own shields. I don’t know that I can teach you much more than that, in terms of mental abilities, but that much should be do-able.”

Book stared up at me. “I felt that. I really did.” She shook her head, looking a bit dazed. I knew she probably had a lot to sort through and attempt to make sense of.

“Yes,” I replied. “I tried to be gentle, but there was a bit of a wrestling match in there for a moment. You fought him off well, by the way. You did that, not me.”

Bookworm stood up, walking a short way to sit on a nearby step. “I just…it seems too hard to believe. Ghosts…possessing me?”

I settled down beside her. “It happens. Though not often.”

“And you’re sure they can’t do it again?” I sensed her panic as well as hearing it in her voice, and sought to reassure her.

“For now. As I said, though, it would be best if you could learn how to strengthen your own shields. I can help with that.” I thought back a decade to the earliest shield work I had done with My Lady, long before either of us had dreamed she would someday be my wife, and grinned. “Nell would tell you she hates shield work. She once called it a pointless exercise in trying to keep me from reading her mind. I’m sure the fact that she was fifteen and had a crush on me wasn’t helpful.”

“At this point, I would be very glad to learn anything you can teach me.”

“Once you’re fully rested, let’s work on that first.”

“Rest.” Book sighed. “That sounds like the most beautiful thing in the world.”

I wasn’t surprised. I had detected the lingering signatures of more than one spirit’s possession in her, and wondered how much–if any–rest her body had actually had in the past week. “I’m wondering, though, why you’ve been invaded by a swarm of ghosts. You did know there were more than the one?”

“I didn’t know there were any until my struggle with Mac. Somehow, I picked up a lot of information from him during that.”

I nodded. “I wonder if something here made you especially susceptible, or maybe just attracted them to this area in the first place. There’s a graveyard nearby, isn’t there?”

“Yes, between the Mechanix Arms and Mr. Footman’s lab,” Bookworm gasped, looking at me in startled realization. “It was Mr. Footman! He built a machine, to try to contact the spirits in the graveyard! It did strengthen them, but for some reason, it also weakened me. It made it possible for them to possess me!”

That explained a lot, yes. It didn’t explain how the spirits had gained entry into Book’s house, though; I’d warded it just last summer. But then I remembered–Deryni powers and rituals had a way of not always working as expected here in New Babbage. Even when they succeeded, they often did so weakly. Chances were, the warding around Book’s apartment had faded away over time. I had made the mistake of thinking I would get the same results in New Babbage that I’d always gotten in Gwynedd–a mistake I wouldn’t be making again anytime soon. Book had suffered enough due to my error, might even had died. It was a sobering thought.

I offered to renew the wards again. This time I would make periodic rechecks to be sure they didn’t fail again. Book took me up on the offer, and we walked the short distance back to her apartment. As I’d guessed, the original protections had faded away. I set the ward cubes again and repeated the prayer rites, invoking the angelic presences to renew the protective shielding around the apartment. I also offered to exorcise and ward the graveyard, but Bookworm reminded me it was on Mr. Footman’s property, not hers. I resolved to have a word to the man as soon as possible about his device and the grave danger he had exposed Miss Bookworm, and potentially all of his neighbors, to.

Nell sent me a worried mind-thought, asking where I was, and what was keeping me so long. I briefly filled her in on the story, telling her I’d give her the fuller account once I returned home.

It was time to take my leave. “I must run. Nell’s been worried, wondering what’s keeping me. I just explained.”

“But how…oh. Yes, quite.” Bookworm’s cheeks grew rosy.

I smiled, knowing she was piecing the puzzle together. “Mental rapport has its uses.”

We walked to the door together. She stopped me with a hand on my arm. “Thank you, Zac. I…I think I owe you my life.”

I patted her hand. “You saved your own; I just handed you the tools to make it easier. That’s my job, you know.” I smiled down at her.

She returned my smile, stepping away. “Well, I won’t keep you. And my bed is definitely calling me.”

“Good evening, Book.”

“Good night, Zac.”

She closed the door behind me. I heard the lock turn as I started down the stairs. As I started my walk back to Clockhaven, I could still sense Book behind me through the bond we’d forged today. She was tired again, unsurprisingly. I hoped this night she’d finally get the peaceful sleep she needed.

Reassured that she’d be fine, I closed down the link between us. If she needed me for any reason, I would sense it through that bond, for a rapport, once made, was permanent. I knew her mental signature now even as she knew mine. But for now, there was a warm hearth and a welcoming wife awaiting me.

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