Luminarist + November 2015 – June 2017: Chapter Seven — Milky Way’s Chimaera
Celestial Institute, a boarding school for adults, is located on the fabled world of Terra. Only those chosen by the Shining One may enter. People of all walks of life come here to hone their gifts and effect positive change. The newest recruit is Meissa, a young woman anticipating the future.
She becomes fast friends with Nadir, a man with little self-confidence whose guardian is the powerful Zenith. Upon the school throne stands Alhena, the Shining One herself. Backing them is the Acolyte of Archangels. Becoming entangled in Celestial Institute’s inner workings, Meissa knows that everyone has purpose, and her light shines the brightest of them all.
In the quiet little city, a young woman in a blue shirt, white vest and jeans adjusted her bottom-framed glasses as she stepped from an express bus on to a main intersection. It was in the middle of the evening, but she had just gotten out of class at Sheridan College Oakville campus and was on her way home to her small apartment when she spied a metaphysical shop tucked into a plaza close to this intersection. She swiftly walked towards the store, wondering if it was open. A metaphysical store, surely they had psychics there, right? Maybe, just maybe, she could talk to her grandfather. This sort of thing was taboo in her family, but she’d been living alone long enough to go after what she wanted. Nobody had to know about her personal activities. In college she was popular enough as an up and coming illustrator with her own blend of traditional Indian art and the underestimated manga style of the Japanese. She should be working on new pieces for her portfolio, yet her grandfather’s recent death so stunned her that it killed off her inspiration. If she could only talk to him one last time. She was horribly lonely without him; he was the only one she was close to in her emotionally distant family.
She increased her speed as she saw people shopping contentedly in the store. “Iris Phoenix,” she murmured to herself, “what an interesting name you have.” A rainbow hued bird that arose from its own death could be what she needed to go on. Once inside, she felt at peace, absorbing all that she could before going to the storeowner and inquiring of an appointment with a medium. The store was tastefully decorated, almost in a bohemian fashion. Clearly, she was in a New Age themed establishment, which suited her purpose just fine. She didn’t want to go to a pandit that her parents endorsed. She wanted to do things on her own, find out and discover the spiritual world for herself. She felt that she didn’t require a guru in the same way her ancestral religion dictated in the West.
“Excuse me,” she asked a staff member, “is there a medium here that I can speak with?”
“Of course,” replied the person brightly. “May I have your first name?”
Her voice dropped a little. “It’s Nairn.”
“Welcome to Iris Phoenix, Nairn. Daniel will call you in shortly.”
A man? Nairn paused at that. She assumed that most new age psychics were of the female sort, unlike the male priesthood in some religions. Feeling more nervous now, she occupied herself with a shelf stocked with angel oracle card decks, most of them created by a single authoress named Doreen Virtue. How interesting. She knew very little of angels, and didn’t believe all the newly common stories of them being pure goodness and light. They were mere creations – they couldn’t be perfect. In the old tales, weren’t one of their wings metaphorically always dipped in blood? Yet everyone was said to have a guardian angel. She snorted. Oh really? Well, hers died, and she would speak with him today.
“Nairn?” called out an elderly man’s voice. She put down an angel themed tarot deck that she couldn’t help but admire the artwork of, and turned to the source of the voice. A man stood by the back door and smiled broadly at her. She felt better and went over to him, expecting to be invited inside into a small private room where she would receive a full reading and speak with her grandfather through this man whom she assumed to be the medium she requested. “Miss, your grandfather has only one piece of advice for you: Take the bus on the way home.”
She protested. “Why the bus? It’s getting on late, and my area isn’t exactly the most brightly lit in this city. I was going to call a taxi.”
“Trust him on this.” The smile was still apparent on his full face. “You’ll be protected. Don’t worry. Take the bus.”
She raised a brown eyebrow. “Are you charging me for that one message?”
He shook his head. “I’ll explain to the staff. You need to catch that bus.”
She hesitated. “Well, I was looking at one of those tarot decks.”
“No time tonight. You need to go home right now.”
A spike of fear cut through her, she swallowed and nodded and left the store, running to the intersection when she could see the telltale lights of an express bus headed down a main street. Out of breath, she boarded, offered the driver a weak smile, and tapped her card, looking at her seating options. No such luck, every seat was packed with someone or something. What bad timing she had, and she fumed inwardly as a black haired man removed a black messenger bag from the seat adjacent to him. His eyes lifted from his tablet to stare straight into her uneventful brown, and she stilled at the colour of them. A cold blue, almost as pale as ice, regarded her and she felt a chill deep within. No way was she going to sit next to him. She’d rather stand and hold on to a bar for dear life. It seemed as if he mentally shrugged and went back to his activity.
“Miss,” spoke up the annoyed bus driver, “there’s a seat available and you’re winded. Please take it.” She couldn’t say no to such kindness or an operator’s safety instructions, and uneasily made her way over to the one who she thought might have offered her a place to sit.
“May I sit here?” she asked, gripping the back of the seat’s rim tightly. His hand made a gesture of welcoming, and she took her time in arranging herself, using the pause to study him. He was vaguely familiar somehow. Where had she seen him before?
“I wouldn’t have moved my bag if you weren’t welcome.” He was glued to his tablet, and that annoyed her a little. “Relax, Nairn, I’m not ready to bite.”
She rolled her eyes before stopping. “How do you know my name?”
“Easy there, lady. You did design work for me.”
“I don’t meet my clients in person,” she retorted, “and I only do projects for other students until I graduate.”
“Well there you have it,” he replied easily, refusing to fill in the missing pieces for her.
She challenged him. “Prove it.” Still actually not looking at her, he reached into his pressed black slacks and pulled out a wallet, removing a student identification card for University of Waterloo. It was current, and this Mirai was marked as an undergraduate. Then another card came out, all in a fingerless black glove. She recognized it as one of her designs. “Oh.”
“Fuck,” he growled low at the tablet, audible to her ears but not to the other passengers. “Fuck this shit, Yuki, I’m replacing your ass.” She couldn’t stop watching him and those strange eyes. In fact, he looked plain strange for her preconceived image, he bore a slight goatee, three piercings in each ear, hair done up in long bangs and a short half ponytail, fingerless black gloves, and was that a chain he was fingering in his left hand? “Oh, it’s just Yukito, my e-reader. He’s giving up his ghost. Well pal, there’s no Heaven for asses like you.”
“What are you – were reading?” she asked out of curiosity.
“What would you rather be doing?”
“Seriously? You don’t even know me,” she snapped, exasperated by the many times she’d been hit on. Sure, she didn’t dress the most conservatively, but that was no excuse for men to try tempting her. Despite her self-righteous indignation, she couldn’t tear her gaze from that cold blue. “Keep your pants on, little boy.”
“You don’t know if I know you or not. And I’m wearing a skirt.”
“What?” her eyes quickly glanced down to where Yukito, an innocent looking tablet, rested on his lap clothed in black slacks. Oh, right, that’s where his wallet materialized from.
“Made you look.” That shattered her initial tension, and the two talked all the way to her stop. She did the most talking, chattering away without realizing it, but speaking of topics typical for a first meeting between two strangers. She soon learned that he was an engineering student in his final year of undergraduate study, and that led to a discussion on massively multiplayer roleplaying games.
“What’s your class of choice?” she asked as they walked down a lonely road, since he insisted on accompanying her on her way home in such a shabby neighbourhood.
“White mage,” he flicked the chain casually.
“No way,” she stated in disbelief. “You don’t strike me as a white mage type. I’d have pegged you for an assassin. I always play the fighter class, it’s easiest for me.”
“What class would you want to play, noob?”
“Hey!” she swatted at his hand holding the chain. “I like my fighter.” They reached her door, and she was about to bid him goodnight when she nearly stopped breathing at the light that suddenly manifested in that cold blue. It had to be a trick of the surrounding visual ambiance. The artistry of contact lenses these days, that was curious. Maybe she could wear golden ones if the disgust of a foreign substance on her eyes was tolerable.
“We’re going to create you a new character,” he told her firmly. “One that you can be truly proud of, not one where you play her safe.”
“Now?” She had to work on her portfolio.
“Now.” There was a note in his voice telling her that he spoke of more than a simple character creation.
“All right,” she accepted, and allowed him into her shabby little studio style apartment. If he tried any funny business, she had a plan. Anything could be used as a weapon, no matter how innocent the object. She led him inside, through a hallway decorated with her various works, and abruptly into a space that served as her bedroom. Beyond that was a smaller room, leading to the kitchen and a closet. “It’s not much, but this is home.”
“You live alone?” he questioned; she hoped it was of innocent intention. Sure, she’d worked for him, but she didn’t actually meet him before. That must explain that eerie familiarity – she likely saw at least a photograph of him before.
“I can’t stand my family,” she muttered almost under her breath. “I was glad to get out after declaring an illustration major instead of chemistry. Why’d you pick engineering, Mirai?”
“It seemed appropriate,” he looked out her huge single window, the curtains not quite all the way drawn. Moonlight filtered in, the Moon had a calming effect on the two of them and they smiled at each other in the near darkness. Nairn could detect something of a melancholy in him, however, and she pressed a little.
“Appropriate? What do you want to do?”
She chuckled. “Besides me. I mean when you’re done school, what will you do? You’re in your final year.”
She didn’t expect him to say that he didn’t know. There was that hint of melancholy again.
“What about you, Nairn?”
She didn’t like that he changed the focus to her, but obliged him anyway. “Character design and illustrating light novels. I’m hardly a writer, though I’m sure someone out there must want to make use of my skill. I’m not stupid or too shy to admit it. I have skill.”
“Show me,” was his simple command, one she wasn’t sure she could fulfill.
She slumped. “I’ve been in a funk. I can’t find inspiration. I find art tedious and dry if I’m not into it. I’m worried – I need new pieces for my portfolio. Prof Niall is counting on me.”
He was watching her closely, chain rubbing against his chin as he considered her. Her expression remained steady, one that read, “If you don’t like it, bite it,” yet her body was feeling warm and tingly under his gaze.
“Let’s create that character,” he said abruptly. She saw the wisdom in his idea. Character creation was still a craft, even if one was tinkering with predetermined attributes. Then again, if the collective unconscious theory for archetypes was valid, anything she could create was refraction.
“All right,” she conceded, moving over to her drawing centre. Plugging in her relatively old laptop, she powered it up and pulled up a chair for him to sit by her.
“You should invest in a Mac,” he pointed out. “I could name several reasons why.”
“I’ve heard them all, penguin boy. I can’t afford a seventeen hundred dollar laptop in addition to the software and a new tablet. At least my stylus is good.”
“Hmm, right, which MMO do you play?”
“On Terra’s Wings,” she blushed. On Terra’s Wings had a reputation for being a little, well, on the girly side. “It’s not exactly a MMO, but it’s still sort of an RPG.”
“You play otome games?” he grinned at her. “Tough girl Nairn has a soft, romantic side?”
“OY!” She grabbed a nearby textbook and aimed for his head, missing completely.
“Okay, so which of the roles do you feel most called to?”
“Roles?” she smirked at him. “My my, has Mirai indulged in an otome game? Besides, I did the character designs for this project!”
“Oh really?” he rose to her implied threat. “Well, you are in dangerously close range with the concept creator, missy.”
“WHAT?” she yelled in shock. “You invented On Terra’s Wings?” No wonder that he knew her name, but she couldn’t recall ever meeting him – in person. “I thought Sairensa was the creator. That name sounds feminine to me.” She glared at him. Sweet, sensible, aloof, haunting Sairensa, whom she’d grown close to during the game’s development, was this freak?
“The very one, my dear Himeko.” Himeko was the codename she used on the development team. “I felt more comfortable in masquerading as a woman on what was a predominantly female team.” His eyes were nearly glowing in the moonlight. “Which character were you planning to seduce? When development was over, I left the team, as Himeko would’ve known.”
“The angel of death who created Celestial Institute,” she answered in a tiny voice. “He’s the secret character route you have to unlock very carefully.” She could’ve sworn he was inching closer to her, she couldn’t be too sure, and felt herself tighten up as she searched that cold blue.
“Did you make it to his ending?” He was so near to her. She was still reeling from the idea that her online best friend throughout most of her college years was a man – this weirdo.
“N-no. I couldn’t unlock his good ending. The bad one made me scared to go for his route again. His route is secret for a reason – it’s the hardest to complete with all that character soul searching. Sairensa would’ve known that,” she finished, mocking him with her tongue out. The next thing she knew was his face in her immediate vision, pulling off her glasses with his teeth, one hand placing them on her desk, the other with its chain cupping the back of her head.
“Do you know why you couldn’t reach his good ending?” he murmured, his lips hovering just above hers. “The key question was to enrol into a program that spoke to your soul. I tracked Himeko’s progress. You chose the Michael class, when the game – when I – when the angel knew you were best suited for something else.”
“What should I have chosen?” her voice dropped to a whisper.
“You tell me.”
“The Gabriel class,” she breathed against him.
He gave a low chuckle. “No, Nairn, you can do better than that. You were the closest beta tester to reach the angel’s good ending. What is the prize for winning the good ending?”
“A fancy CG?” she joked, but she knew, all jokes aside. Those who could attain the best game ending would win more than a beautiful drawing of their character with the creator angel. There was a secret class – the Luminarist. “You don’t mean … I could’ve been the first Luminarist? Me?”
“Congratulations on beating the game, Himeko. Sheesh, took you long enough to begin the ED for the best possible ending.”
“Sairensa … were you the angel?” Cold blue were half lidded, but they didn’t seem so cold to her now. The light in them was warm, drawing her in their heat. Where did the ice go?
“I’m your angel of death,” he affirmed, holding back, waiting for her decision. Her hands came up, fingers passing over his head and untied the band of the half ponytail, allowing his hair to fall free. She slid on to his lap, his arms catching her for her not to fall when their shy kisses intensified into more. Her fingers deftly worked at his dark blue tie as it fluttered to the floor, she pulled up his caramel brown hooded vest as he abandoned his chain to rub small circles into her with his thumbs, fingers clutching at her azure shirt. Her white vest had long since been abandoned, as well as her sense of demureness as she kissed him more deeply, hands touching all that they could. She made a small sound of frustration when he was only minimally returning her movements, her hips jerked up and into his abdomen. Rewarded with a gasp drawn from him, she pulled her face from his far enough to peer at his expression and was caught by the sadness and desperation she found there. “In the end, the needs of the whole demand sacrificing the needs of the parts.”
“No wonder people don’t pay closer attention to Jung,” she said firmly, holding his face in her hands. “Sairensa, Kurai, Mirai, all of you is acceptable to me.” A grey feather fell like a snowflake between them, landed on the waistband of the pants she was wearing. He looked at it for the briefest moment before returning his gaze to hers.
Those words brought a smile to his face, eyes still sad but the light in them was brighter. It was her turn to be surprised. They were glowing, they truly were glowing. In a sweep she had ignited a spark in him, she felt herself being lifted and instinctively embraced him tightly, even as he lay them down on her bed, the chair no longer a sufficient servant. “Everyone has purpose,” he said as he rested his weight upon her.
“Have you found yours?” she asked.
“I’ve known mine forever, you who so skilfully paints the effects of light and shadow.”
“How will your light shine?”
“With yours, my light shines only with yours.”