Remember The Name - Chapter 24
“Me?” Asked the man. “Why?”
“Um… You see… I was with Grandpa Pincheno just now, but you keep calling him “crazy Pincheno,” so I… I thought you might be someone else.”
“Hmm… You’re pretty smart, huh?”
The man’s eyes shone despite the dark, which Lucid found to be unsettling. The boy instinctively took a few steps back, but the man seemed unfazed by his reaction.
“My name is Janus,” he answered, smirking.
“Then, Grandpa Pincheno is…?”
“A secondary personality. A petty thief who appeared out of nowhere, trying to take over my body.”
This was all very difficult for Lucid to process. Everything the man had said lay outside the boy’s understanding of common sense.
“I’m the real owner of this body. I don’t know what he did to it, but when he appears, I become unconscious and rest asleep, and vice versa. He’s gotten weaker recently, so I’ve been able to control my body more often. It was my first time losing consciousness in a long while, and look what he’s done. Bringing a little kid like you to a place like this…”
“So, you mean to say that… You’re two different people?”
“Were you even listening? Hmm. I guess you’re too young to really understand the concept of personality. Whatever. I don’t need to explain myself to a kid I just met today.”
“Can I ask one more thing? Where are you planning on going? The mountains are really dangerous at night.”
“That’s really none of your business, but… My goal is to reach the other side of the mountains.”
The man glared at the boy, annoyed at the incessant questions.
“I don’t see why you need to know any of this, but I’ll entertain you one last time. I plan on going to the other side and never come back here. Ever. I already know you’ll ask why, so I’ll spare you the effort. It’s because Pincheno, the insane idiot, committed too many sins that I have no way of resolving. I’m leaving as a favor to society and as a way to repent. Got it?”
“But the Granpa Pincheno I met was very nice.”
“Nonsense! Do you even know how out of his mind he is?! Has he… Has he told you he was a sorcerer?”
“Yes. I also…”
Lucid had intended on explaining that he, too, had started to learn magic in order to become a sorcerer, but he couldn’t bring himself to speak, as he saw that Janus wasn’t interested in listening to him at all. Instead, the man began to swing his arms wildly, shouting in anger.
“Let me tell you something about that madman! He flooded an entire city! Hundreds of citizens, all drowned to death! He made himself a wanted criminal, so even now, I have bounty hunters and knights coming after my head.”
He choked out a mocking laugh as he watched the confusion settling on the boy’s face before speaking again.
“I don’t know how he became a sorcerer. I know nothing of magic. Anyway, that’s what’s going on. Whatever he told you to get you to come all the way out here, just don’t think about it and forget all about it. Sorcerer? Hah! What use is a power he can’t even control?”
Janus then turned around and made his way into the mountains. The boy stared at him for a moment before rushing after him, grabbing the sleeve of the man’s robe to pull him back.
“Grandpa, you can’t! It’s too dangerous!”
“That’s why I’m going. I’m old, and I’ve lived my life. I have no regrets, and I have no intention of letting a madman take over my body any longer. That’s the whole point of going. If you get it, let go.”
The man shook free from Lucid’s grip and began to take deep breaths to dissipate his anger. When he had calmed enough, he knelt down in front of the boy to match their eye levels. He felt a pang of guilt at having vented at a child who knew nothing of the matter.
“I don’t know your story, nor do I want to know. The longer we are together, the more we become connected, and I just can’t afford to let myself be distracted. But you seem like a smart kid, so let me give you some advice. It’s not wise to stop someone from going their way when you don’t fully understand what they’re going through. How would you feel if someone got in your way and stopped you from doing what you wanted to do? How would you feel if someone who doesn’t know your struggles suddenly started to follow you, telling you which way to go or not go, sticking their nose in your business? Warnings against danger can mean well, but unwarranted interference is nothing but a hassle. And Pincheno has done a great deal more than just cause hassle. He ruined my life. I’m tired, and I’m old, but I have to do what I have to do. Kid, everyone has a path they must follow. This is mine. It’s time for you to follow your own path.”
Though he had finished talking, Janus took a moment to look into Lucid’s eyes before standing up again.
“Be careful in the dark.”
And with those final words, the man disappeared into the darkness.
Lucid was alone once again, left to stare blankly at where Janus had been standing moments before. He was startled back into reality when he heard the hoot of an owl, and he made his way out of the forest, realizing that he had no time to waste. By the time he left the forest, the moon had taken its place in the sky, shining pale between the clouds.
He climbed the small hill and looked down at the peasant town. The clouds moved to reveal the faint moonlight, and Lucid watched as it shone over the entirety of the town. Perhaps it was due to the wind, but he couldn’t help but feel that it looked eerily cold. He couldn’t bring himself to go down the hill. He knew that the town would still be deserted, but he feared having to once again face this truth. He knew that neither Myeong-su nor Gyeong-eun would have never experienced anything like this in their lives.
His classmates of Year 1, Class 3 had always been rowdy, energetic, and fun to be around. They had friends to talk to, a home to return to, and parents to welcome them back. He alone had to stand on top of this hill, out in the cold. He alone had to return to a cold, deserted peasant town. Why?
Lucid shook his head to free his mind from these thoughts and made his way back to the town. No matter the circumstances, he had to find shelter from the elements and get some rest. Before he could stop it, a long sigh escaped his lips.
This night, like the night before, was also filled with the rattling noises caused by the wind, but the boy was much too tired to mind it. When he woke again, it was late morning. He left the house, having failed to chase away the sleepiness, and laid down on the rock once again. The sun was higher up in the sky today, which helped the night’s cold wash away that much more quickly.
As he was resting, he was hit with the idea that perhaps he should practice his magic. It would keep his mind occupied, and though he had only had a day’s worth of learning, he felt confident that he could do it. He began with the most basic magic, “Praete.” He understood the concept of slipping. The feeling of slipping on leaves and falling down was still vivid in his mind, so he decided the replicate that sensation. Though Lucid had been hardly aware, in the moment of his fall, he had achieved anagnorish (intuitive understanding) of the forma (slipping). In other words, he had acquired diapho (complete understanding). As such, theoretically speaking, all he had to do was recreate that image in his mental space, add a few conditions, and reenact it in reality. However, all this was easier said than done, as recreating an image in the mental space was a rather difficult ordeal. Lucid began to ponder over why he was unable to complete the task and concluded that this was not the ideal situation to be practicing magic in. Indeed, his head was a mess, his mind incessantly jumping from one thought to another. The disappearance of his family, searching for the missing townspeople, Pincheno, Janus…
Last night, Janus had departed into the mountains. Perhaps he would return as Pincheno. Pincheno, after all, knew that Lucid had no other place to go.
‘Does that mean,’ thought Lucid, ‘that I must remain here, waiting for him?’
That would only send him back to square one. Waiting in the town because his family might return, and waiting again because Pincheno, the man who had taught him magic, might return. Lucid didn’t like this one bit. Was there really nothing he could do but wait? He didn’t even know if or when they would come back. Janus had told him that all people have their own paths, and that Lucid should also find his own way to go. But what did that mean? What path should he walk? Lucid once again found himself in an endless cycle of worry.
He decided that simply waiting for everyone to return was not the way to go, and that it would be better to be brave and go out searching for them as he had yesterday. Of course, he had only been able to work up the courage thanks to Pincheno, but regardless of the means, he had been able to see for himself that the townspeople had not gone into the mountains. There could be other ways, but at least he understood that actively searching for signs and clues like this was the correct approach to solving this issue. Enough waiting, more moving.
Lucid returned to the house and packed some food, not forgetting to fill a water pouch and tie it to his waist. He took other necessities (old, worn out clothes for the most part) into his bag, and though it wasn’t much, it still helped to enhance his determination. With confident steps, he made his way out of the peasant town, without looking back once. His goal was to reach the closest city to the town. His friend and neighbor, Bruelle, and some of the adults often visited there, so he knew the general direction to follow. Cities had a large population, so perhaps there were at least rumors about what had happened to his town. Such was his hope.
There was only one road stretching across the entirety of the vast meadow, so Lucid walked on, never having to worry about losing his way. He rested as he needed, and he spent his time on the road practicing the recreation of Praete in his head. When he wasn’t practicing magic, his head filled with stray thoughts and worries, which is why he made a conscious effort to only think of magic and nothing else. That was the only way for him to not feel so alone in the world. The fact that the magic wasn’t going as smoothly as he had hoped was an entirely different issue of its own, but as Pincheno had said, magic was a “lifelong research,” so he would have to keep wondering and pondering over it without giving up.
Once across the meadow, there was a mountain pass to go over, but judging from the sky, it was too late now to cross it. Compared to the dilemma he had been faced with yesterday, this seemed like a rather trivial matter, but he had been with an adult in the mountains. Now, he was all alone, having to spend the night outside by himself.
Lucid looked on towards the pass and took a moment to think things through.