He’s the second thing you see when you open your eyes.
The first is a welter of scribbling on the wall beside you, a visual cacophony of symbols, hashes and curves. You try not to look at it for too long, as it starts to move and shape itself into new meanings if you stare for more than a few seconds.
You don’t remember doing that, but you’re fairly sure you did that.
You shut your eyes for a moment, then open them in a different direction. Your eyes fall on a young man, mostly gangles, slouched into a too-small school desk. He sits up, eyes widening behind chunky glasses, the thick tome he was holding in one slender hand lowering to the desk with a soft *plomp*.
“You’re awake,” he says, eyebrows peaked in concern. The word seems to reverberate, meanings breathing in and out.
“Yes,” you manage, “I think I am.”
He’s young, just college-age, and a student here at the University, where you’ve been brought for safekeeping after your “episode” last night. Turns out his transformation into a mage wasn’t much different from yours: sudden, destabilizing. But his was accidental: he already knew about mages and magic when a student’s work in the Alphabet got transmitted to him through uncareful, curious eyes. Yours was unexpected, for sure…but you’re fairly certain it was intentional. The question of “why” will have to wait.
Jared might not be the first person you imagine when you think “mage” or “wizard,” but given all that’s happened lately, it’s not all that surprising that a young poet, obsessed with language and understanding the deep nature of things, would find joy in being a mage. It helps him write, he says, and he shows you how a certain kind of focus can reveal every detail about a situation in a fraction of a second. Counting grains of sand may be a waste of time, but with this power, you don’t have to: the total understanding of how many grains there are, what colors and shapes, what they’re made of, where they were born – it all comes to you at once like a wave hitting your mind. The sensation – a kind of purity of knowledge that flares white behind your eyes – is something like erotic.
It’s all a bit much, frankly. But Jared, at least for now, will be your guide. It will have to do.