I’m sure most people would think that Royale looks a little silly since he’s always dressed so nicely. But I think he looks dignified.
There was solidness to him, and gravitas, sadness too. He wasn’t morose or taciturn or whatever else people say that I am, but there’s a little part of him that never lit up even when he was being friendly and warm. That’s the weight of age I suppose.
I don’t know how to write dialog, I’m not a writer, so I’m going to recount the conversation as best I can and you all can just deal with it.
Me – I thought I was never going to see you again.
Royale – You may not have. The fact that I am here means that you have shifted, you have grown more powerful, and that there are things I need to tell you.
Me – What do you mean?
Royale – I’m not really here Grace, not in the way I once was. You must have figured out by now that my enemies caught up to me. I led them on a merry chase but all races come to an end. No one can run forever.
Me – I wasn’t sure what had happened, I thought maybe you just didn’t want to speak with me anymore.
Royale – I’m sorry you thought that, I would never have left without saying goodbye had I any choice.
Me – Are you a ghost then? The professor says that ghosts aren’t really people, they’re like shadows.
Royale – The Professor? From Gilligan’s Island? Is Russell Johnson your mentor now Grace?
Me – What?
Royale –Just a joke Grace. Always so serious. Life is only worth it if you enjoy it. I’m not a ghost, there’s no such thing as ghosts, not as far as I know. Death isn’t the end, not in the way people think of it, death is more flexible than that. You really can’t understand until you experience it unfortunately. Think of me as a messenger. In the old times we called them sprites. I’m not the Royale you knew but a facsimile with a message.
Me – So you’re not Royale? You just look like him?
Royale – Not exactly. It’s more complicated than that. I’m afraid that I don’t have much time to discuss the nuances of the phenomena at the moment. I hope to check in with you again someday, but for now I have a specific topic to cover. During our training I told you often of the spark of magic and its ebbing in the world. When I was a young man we could do fantastic things, and even those feats paled in comparison to the wizards of old. When I met you I wasn’t convinced that there was enough magic left in the world for any new apprentice to even learn. Now it takes so much energy to do even the simplest things. It’s only your great strength that allowed you to learn.
The retreat and rebirth of magic is a natural thing, it strengthens and recedes over the eons. There have been lean times before, but I worry that this may be the final cycle. It may be mankind has built so many machines and changed things so much that magic will never return. But there I go getting maudlin again when I should be delivering you my message.
In times past, the wickedest men didn’t resort to blood magic or the dark arts. Even to those with damned souls such practices were anathema. But as you know, scarcity is what drives people to act in their worst nature. As magic becomes harder and harder to come by, people turn in greater numbers to the forbidden techniques. A hundred years ago I could count on one hand the number of blood mages I had encountered. Now it seems they outnumber the true mages.
I fear that you have a very hard and dangerous life ahead of you Grace. Desperate people are fighting for scraps and their desperation turns them into animals. I was long pursued by a group of people that believe the ritual killing of mages will imbue them with magic powers. They may even be right. Now that you have reached a certain level of power they’ll be after you as well. They and many others looking to exploit and harm you.
Me – I don’t feel very powerful.
Royale – Bilocation, Grace, that’s a very difficult feat to achieve. That marks your first step into a larger world. One unfortunately that has become very fraught.
Me – That? The whole thing was a mess.
Royale – But you did manage it. You need to be very careful now Grace. The people that killed me will be aware of you soon if they aren’t already. And there are others. I wish I had done more to prepare you but I ran out of time. I was a fool. Too preoccupied with my own fears, my own conceits, I should have told you more, taught you better. So many things that I thought were important. If there is one benefit to death it’s that it strips away all pretense. I’m sorry I didn’t do more for you, Grace.
Me – You did everything for me. You have nothing to feel bad about. You were the only person who ever cared about me even a little bit. Do you have to go? Can’t you stay?
Royale – I can’t stay because I’m not here, Grace. I walked the world for more than 400 years, more time than any man deserves. And yet in the end there wasn’t enough time. You always think there’s going to be more time. Even when you should know better. I think you’re in for a bumpy road but I wish you nothing but happiness and everything good the world has to offer Grace.
I wanted to touch him, just touch his hand, but he was gone.