(A Power Colors Short Tale)
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously
Copyright 2016 by Talee
First Edition: March 2016
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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Thanks to all those who have supported my efforts by reading my books and especially those who provided reviews encouraging others to read my books. I write for you, and am happy that you find my works entertaining.
This book is dedicated to all who struggle to find their way in the world. Remember great things happen in everyone’s life, the key is to make the most of them when they come.
Dem looked up as his father came home from the factory. He could feel his father was in a bad mood so he quickly swept his collection of crystals into the drawer and hustled over to prepare a caf for his father.
“Five today! Five of them damn dead crystals. Another day like this and I will be demoted back to crystal polisher. How the hell could they bring me five?”
“I’m sorry father. Did others have that many too?”
“Others? Oh, yes I suppose so. The whole damn batch was bad near as I can tell. Means a bad pay period for both your mother and I.”
“Here. Here’s a couple more for your collection. Don’t know why you want them, they are useless.”
Dem could not believe it. His father handed him three crystals two were pink and one was clear. He had never seen a clear one before. They were said to be the most valuable of all crystals. Key crystals is what he had heard them called.
“Thank you father. But a clear one? Won’t you get in trouble?”
“No they had so many today they were throwing them out in the trash. The call for that costume jewelry has never been significant, and this many all at once would have driven the price even lower. Besides, the boss thinks it is funny that I have a son who likes the dead ones.
Now get cleaned up. Your mother will be home shortly and she will want to eat dinner. They worked extra today to try and make up for the lost batch.”
Dem hurried over to his drawer and placed the three new crystals in it, being careful to wrap the clear one in a rag and separate it from the others. Then he closed the drawer and hustled over to the refresh station as he heard his mother announced at the door.
“Oh my god! What a horrid day! We lost everything out of the new shaft! Everything! I have to do a double back and then work a double tomorrow to try to get through to the next cache. We are so far behind production goals now we will be lucky to get minimum rate this pay period.”
“We’re in the same boat, believe me dear. I cut 5 of those crystals before they pulled the batch.”
“Five? Oh no. That will put you on notice won’t it?”
“Yes, I’m sure of it. Need a full year of good production to overcome a day with five.”
“How do they expect you to know? That’s so unfair. They don’t allow anyone who can feel those damn crystals to work in either of our jobs, but we get a bad batch and we both get put on notice. They need to put the planner on notice not us.”
“No, it’s not fair, but what can we do? At least both of us have jobs. Several of the cutters have spouses who don’t work. And Shell has five dependents. I can’t imagine what they are going through right now.”
“Yes, that’s true. I guess we should count our blessings.
Dem, come here, I have a couple for you. They dumped the whole load in the tailings so I picked out a couple of the prettiest one’s for you.”
Dem smiled and nearly ran over to his mother who was holding out her lunch box. He went over and looked in and could not believe his eyes. A yellow, a blue and a very large black crystal. They were uncut and the black was still attached to the stone they formed in, but they were beautiful.
“Thank you mom, they are beautiful. Dad brought me two pinks and a clear one. This is really going to improve my collection.”
“Alright, put them away and let’s eat. I have to hit the sack as soon as possible since I have to be back for first shift.”
Dem rushed over and put the three new crystals into his drawer and stared at them for a moment before sliding the drawer closed and hustling back to join his parents for dinner.
…Dem looked up from the cutter and smiled as he saw the look of approval on his father’s face.
“That’s a perfect cut son. Too bad that black is a dead crystal. It would have brought top credits with a clean cut like that. That’s the one from that bad load we hit five years ago isn’t it?”
“Yes, mom brought it home in her lunch box that day. I’ve found several more blacks on the tailings since then, but nothing as large and perfect as this one. That’s why I saved it for last. I wanted a perfect cut on that perfect crystal.”
“It doesn’t matter son. That crystal is useless and consequently worthless. But is sure is pretty with that double tip cut you did. You will be a very good cutter. Need to get your application in this month. They will be hiring new cutters right after graduation and you have to be at the top of the list to get a look.”
“I already did dad. Completed the application this morning.”
“Excellent. Now we can’t be on the same team, so you will be trying to get on with one of the other three crews. Remember if you get an interview, these guys have big egos. Tell them how much you admire them and how you hope to be as good as they are someday. Lay it on thick and make them believe it or you won’t get hired.”
“Got it dad. You have been telling me that since I was 5. Got me through school pretty easily too. One boss is not much different from another and teachers and administrators are bosses too.”
“I guess so, but these guys are real ego maniacs. Put forward your best effort and you will be fine. I’m proud of you son.”
“Thanks dad. Gotta run, Lessa is supposed to meet me at the gym.”
“Lessa this week, huh? Well just be careful, son. That could mess things up too.”
“Give me break dad, we are just friends. See ya later!”
Dem could hear his father laughing as he headed for the gym.
…Dem pulled open the drawer that held his collection of crystals. Over 100 of them now, varying in size from the small yellow that was less than a centimeter in diameter and only about two and a half centimeters long all the way up to the black double pointed crystal that was half a meter long with a diameter of nine centimeters. Had that black crystal been pure, it would have been worth more than his parents had made in their whole careers combined. One that large and perfect would be used by a team of masters to move starships. Only the greatest of masters could handle the level of power colors a black of that size could focus.
Dem ran his hand across it feeling its smooth cold surface as he thought about the interview he would have in a few hours at the factory. Cutting one like this would be trusted to only the most skilled of cutters like his father. Dem could only hope to be that good one day. He reached for the clear crystal he had been given the same day as he got the black. That had been a bad day for his parents as the whole lot of crystals from the new shaft had all been declared waste. Neither parent got payed for that entire week of work because the company lost the week’s profits throwing out that many crystals.
But for Dem, it had been a very good day. He had gotten his two most prized crystals that day. The key crystal and the black. Both were crystals that he would not be trusted to cut for many years, assuming he got the position today.
He picked up the clear crystal and held it close to his heart. It always had a calming effect on him when he held it so.
If only I knew how to make you whole once more. If I could take all that is stored in you into me, what would I learn? Could I then call on your powers and know what to do with them?
Oh how I wish I could know what you know.
Dem felt his mind clear and a focus he had never felt before, even when cutting crystals, settled over him. He saw centuries melt into one another and felt thousands of people dream and wish and draw on the crystal. And suddenly he knew why the crystal was unusable. It was too charged from too many people with the talent drawing on it and the other crystals it could connect to.
Some of those who had drawn on the crystal, especially in the early years, had known how to use the power colors and were surprised at how freely they came on this hill. Dem could see the weaves they formed with the colors drawn through the key crystal and its children. Yes, this one was to heal, and this to teleport. This one was to see the future, and this to see the past. There were hundreds of combinations, and they all made sense to Dem somehow.
I need to free you of these memories, so that you can be free to do what god intended. Give them to me, let them go.
Dem felt the visions flow into him, and he knew he needed to filter and discard those that were meaningless or he would become like the crystal. He focused on the weaves, storing one of each and then letting all the rest of the memories flow through him and out into the ether. This was right, he did not know how he knew it, but he was certain that was what needed to be done.
He moved through the memories as they flowed at him faster and faster. Keep this one, discard that one, move on to the next. He would never know how long the process took, but he missed his interview and did not care. Eventually, the crystal quit sending him memories, and he felt elation at the success. Then he collapsed and slept until his father awoke him the next day.
“Son! You missed the interview? How could you miss that? I spent all morning convincing them to give you another chance. Hurry, you need to be clean and presentable in thirty minutes.”
“What? Missed the in… Oh my god. I got so distracted. Sorry dad. Thank you for getting me another chance. I’ll be ready.”
Dem nearly ran into the refresh unit. Fifteen minutes later he was dressed in his nicest suit and standing in front of the mirror making sure everything was perfect.
Time to go. I will have a lot of making up to do. Now what do I tell them about missing the first interview? Can’t tell them about the memories from the crystal, they would never believe me. I got the day wrong. Bad excuse, but better than nothing. If I fall all over myself telling them how grateful I am that they are giving me another chance and how much I admire them and the incredible job they do. It might work. I can’t let dad down after all he did to get me the interview.
Dem arrived at the factory five minutes before the interview as he had been drilled to do. He walked in and pressed his palm to the ident plate next to the interview room and the door opened immediately.
Okay, focus. Absolute calm. It will be a couple of minutes before they start the interview, but someone will be watching already.
Dem walked in and took the seat designated for the applicant facing the glass wall that appeared to be a mirror right now, but would turn clear when the interview began. His dad had briefed him over and over on the process and what to expect. There would be between three and five people on the other side of that glass wall, each with a different specialty. The first task would be to figure out who the cutter was and focus the answers to win that person over. Then watch for the reactions of the others and win each over based on what they reacted positively to.
No problem, I’ve got this.
Dem cleared his mind and attempted to achieve the level of focus he had been able to achieve when working with the crystal. As he thought of the crystal, he felt the surge in energy. It was as though he held it in his hand, but it was back in the drawer where it always stayed. Still he reveled in the energy and calm it gave him.
They are going to love me. I will be offered a job before I leave today.
Dem saw the glass wall clear. There were five interviewers, two older women, one woman that had to be just a couple years older than him, and two older men.
Odds are the young woman is HR. One of the older people will be the master cutter here. There that man with the scars on his hands. He will be a miner. One of the other three then will be the cutter.
The young woman spoke first.
“Applicant Dem. You are being allowed a second chance at the interview because your father is a highly respected manager here and we do not wish to lose him over your lack of courtesy.
Please take a minute and explain to us why you did not make the appointment yesterday and why you think we should still consider you as a viable candidate for this position.”
Dem felt the calm of the crystal and projected confidence as he responded to the question.
“I am truly sorry. There is no excuse for having missed the appointment. I will not try to justify it. I do swear to you that this is a once only occurrence, I will never again be late for any appointment with any of you.
I am deeply honored that you have given me an opportunity to meet with you and try to convince you of my readiness to learn from the great master cutters who work here. I know that the skills of your team are beyond exceptional and that I will be working with the very best if I can convince you that I am able to learn the requisite skills.
I have learned many of the basics from my father, working with dead crystals, and hope to be able to perfect the techniques required of a cutter under the guidance of the master cutters my father tells me are greater than himself.”
That’s her, the one that smiled. She is the master cutter. They are all nodding, so I have struck the right level of contrition. Time to ask for the opportunity to interview while I have them on my side.
“Please, ladies and gentlemen, allow me the opportunity to answer your interview questions and demonstrate my desire and preparedness to take instruction.”
The young woman looked to the others and they all nodded. She turned back to him and spoke.
“Very well. We will begin with a set of rapid fire questions designed to determine how well you handle pressure and how well you think while under that pressure.”
As she paused for a breath, the others started firing questions at him about color, clarity, and uses for the various crystals that were mined here. These were easy because he had spent his life cataloging and looking at crystals, researching their traits and uses.
Then came a bunch of questions about cutting and angles. It was interesting because three different people asked the questions, But Dem knew who the master cutter was and directed his answers to her. He watched the others to ensure he was pleasing them with his answers, but he spoke to the master cutter.
The questions came rapid fire and Dem had to stay focused to ensure he answered each question in a manner that he got positive responses from all the interviewers. The man on the left tapped his index finger if he wanted more, and sat back when he was satisfied. The master cutter pursed her lips when she wanted more and had a slight smile when she approved of the answer. The HR lady was the best of the bunch at hiding her emotions, but her eyes glistened when she was satisfied and they narrowed ever so slightly when she was expecting more.
All that ran through his mind in the background as he focused on answering each question completely enough to get approval from everyone without running on so long that he lost anyone.
And then suddenly the questions stopped.
“One moment applicant Dem, we will consult and may have a couple more questions.”
The wall turned back to the mirror state and Dem could see the absolute calm on his face and in his eyes. He looked like he was preparing to cut a crystal.
Then the wall cleared once more and the five interviewers were all wearing the same calm.
“Applicant Dem. The interview committee is satisfied with your answers. They were accurate, clear and well expressed. You can expect to receive an offer of employment in the next day. The specific position and pay will be determined by the master cutter before you receive that call.
Assuming we reach agreement on position and rate, are you prepared to accept a position and begin work day after tomorrow?”
“Yes, ma’am. My thanks to the entire team for taking the time to speak to me today.”
Again the smile from the master cutter, and the looks of approval from the others. He had them.
“Excellent. The only remaining item then is for you to pass the crystal sensitivity test. A crystal tuner will be with you shortly. Please remain in the interview room.”
The mirror wall reappeared, and Dem had to fight to keep his calm focus.
I did it! Dad will be so proud of me. I’m to be a cutter like him.
Then the door opened and a middle aged man walked in and took the chair opposite him.
“I am crystal tuner first class Kez. Please hold out your hand, open and palm up.”
Dem quickly did as he had been asked and the man produced a green crystal and lay it in the palm of Dem’s hand.
Dem could feel the crystal, both physically and with that calm connection he had experienced with the key crystal. This one was very clean, only a few memories existed and most of those were from this man forming the same weave over and over again.
Dem watched as the man stared at him and saw the glint in his eye.
“You have the talent. It is not sufficient to be a tuner, but clearly too much to be a miner or cutter. Sorry kid. I’m going to disqualify you.”
Dem felt his heart sink. And he looked the man squarely in the eye as his mind cleared once more. He felt the key crystal respond to him as he remembered the weave that was used to reach out to another person’s mind.
And suddenly he could feel the man’s thoughts.
“Why would you find pleasure in disqualifying me?”
“Get out of my mind! Damn, I could have sworn that you did not have enough talent to form that weave. You might be able to become a tuner after all, but get out of my mind now!”
Dem felt the connection drop, and saw the change in the man’s eyes. The confidence and arrogance was gone. Now there was something else. What was that? Respect? Or Fear? He could not tell.
“I will recommend you for the tuning program, based on your demonstration of skills I still do not see the strength for it in you.”
“Thank you, sir. You are absolutely certain I cannot be a cutter?”
“Why would you want to be a cutter when you can be a tuner?”
Dem thought about that for a moment. Tuners were the highest paid skilled labor in the factories, and most considered them to be near to masters. Some were even rumored to have gone on to study in the mastery.
“You are right. I’m sorry. It is just that I spent my entire childhood hoping to be a cutter like my father. Thank you for recommending me to be a tuner.”
The man nodded then got up and left the room leaving Dem sitting there stunned.
I have the talent? And how in the heck did I touch his mind? I just remembered the weave and then I was in his mind. Unbelievable. Dad won’t like hearing that I have the talent. He really hates the tuners. They are the ones who decide crystals are unusable.
I wonder if he will still speak to me if I reject one of his crystals. Will I be able to reject one of his crystals?
“You may go applicant Dem. We will inform you of the results by the end of the day tomorrow.”
Dem nearly jumped as the sound came out of the air. He pulled on the crystal’s calm once more and got up turning calmly for the door and walking out of the plant.
…Dem checked his messages again. Three days and nothing. The comp unit had told him he would be notified of the results two days ago. This was extremely unusual. If they were going to reject him they would have done so by now, but if they were going to hire him that should have been done by now as well. Dem had no idea what to do now. His parents were understandably concerned as well, they had never heard of this situation coming up before either.
He opened his drawer and pulled out the black crystal, caressing it, seeking comfort in its feel. Once again he felt that absolute focus settle onto him, deeper than the focus he used for cutting and far more intense. Then he was in touch with the crystal as he had been with the key crystal days earlier.
He saw centuries melt into one another and felt thousands of people dream and wish and draw on the crystal. And he knew why the crystal was unusable. Like the key crystal, it was too charged from too many people with the talent drawing on it.
As with the key crystal, some of those who had drawn on this crystal, had known how to use the power colors and were surprised at how freely they came on this hill. Dem could see the weaves they formed with the colors drawn through the crystal. Yes, this one was to form a shield, and this to calm a storm. This one was to create a storm, and this one to block access to the power colors. There were hundreds of combinations, some were similar to those he had seen with the key crystal, but most were different. Many of these weaves were focused on attack and defense, or bending nature to one’s will.
I will free you of these memories, so that you can be free to do what god intended. Give them to me, let them go.
Dem felt the visions flow into him, and he automatically began to filter and discard those that were of no use to him. He focused on the weaves, storing one of each and then letting all the rest of the memories flow through him and out into the ether. This was right, he was certain of it.
He moved through the memories as they flowed at him faster and faster. Keep this one, discard that one, move on to the next. And they continued to flow until he could not remember anything else, just the need to sort and discard. Then suddenly they stopped flowing and he was left sitting there at his desk exhausted and drained beyond anything he had ever experienced before. It took a great deal of focus, but he eventually put the crystal back in the drawer and closed it. Then he slumped over onto the desk and slipped into blissful sleep.
“Son! Wake up. How long have you been here? Are you okay?”
Dem struggled to open his eyes in response to his mother’s concerned tone.
“What? Yes, I’m okay mom. Sorry, I must have fallen asleep. I will go to my sleep station. Sorry.”
“You are still in the same clothes you were wearing when I left for that drilling symposium two days ago. Are you sure you’re okay?”
Two days ago? I just sat down a few hours ago and checked my messages. What is she talking about?
“I’m fine mom. Just a little worried about why it is taking so long for the plant to get back to me.”
“They still haven’t gotten back to you? Good grief, I’ve never heard of such a thing. Check again.”
Dem touched the ident panel and it opened the messages screen. It showed 1 message pending, since yesterday afternoon.
“There it is. What did they say?”
Dem touched the message indicator and it opened.
Candidate Dem. We apologize for the delay in getting back to you. There were some anomalies in the readings during your interview. We would like to invite you to come in for a second interview with the head of our tuning department and the senior master assigned to the plant.
Please let us know your availability for such an interview if you are still interested in a position with us.
Thank you for your patience.
“I’ve never heard of that before either Dem. The department heads do not waste their time on interviews of individuals with no previous experience. And I’ve never heard of the senior master getting involved in an interview for anyone.
What did you do?”
“I don’t know mom. I really don’t know. But this could be good, right? I mean they didn’t tell me they were not interested. They want to interview me again.”
“It could be good, I suppose. But when one of us gets called in to see the department head it nearly always means we are being let go. Still, you are not yet an employee, so that does not make sense in this case.
Maybe your dad will know. He should be back tomorrow and you can ask him then. Try to set up the interview for after he gets back so he can advise you if there is some precedent that he has heard of.”
“Okay, that makes sense. I will ask for day after tomorrow.”
He keyed his response to the message and hit send. Hopefully, that was not too far in the future, he had already let nearly a full day pass since they responded to him.
“Now dial up some food, you look positively pale. Did you forget to eat while your dad and I were gone?”
Dem felt his stomach rumble and suddenly realized how hungry he really was.
It happened again, I focused on one of those crystals and a great deal of time passed without my noticing it. This can’t be good for me.
But I learned so much. And I’m as certain as I am sitting here that the black crystal is now clear and ready to be used.
As he thought about it, he felt the black crystal respond and suddenly he was filled with energy. The key crystal was probably more powerful because it could pull on other crystals, but this black one was very large and extremely powerful.
Dem got to his feet and walked over to the food regenerator, taking a seat next to his mom. She had already keyed up a large meal for them and was stirring an antiviral into his caf.
“Here drink this. You need the extra protection if you are going to insist on letting yourself go without food like this. I checked and you have not called up a meal for two days.”
“Sorry mom. I’ll try to do better.”
He settled in and ate the meal she pushed on him, forcing the last few bites down to satisfy her.
“Okay, go get cleaned up and change into some fresh clothes. I want to show you the new cave we opened. We have already found five key crystals. It is going to be a very profitable dig. Management thinks it might be big enough to generate some bonuses this year. That would sure be nice after the losses we took over the last couple of years.”
Dem felt a quick surge of excitement at the idea of seeing a new cave still filled with crystals. There was something special about being in a room filled with Xum crystals. You could feel the air humming with energy. It was truly amazing.
“That sounds wonderful. I’ll be right back.”
Two hours later, they were entering the mine security scanning building. Dem had forgotten how popular his mom was among the miners it had taken them almost twenty minutes to get from the transport center to the security scanning building. His mother had to tell several people about the training she had just come back from.
Each time she would tell the story, Dem would focus on the amazing beauty of the mountain range to distract himself. The grand blue peaks capped with the white of the snow that never melted at those elevations was beyond beautiful. And he could lose himself in their grandeur.
At long last, though they reached the Security scanning building. As they entered one of the mine transports took off down the main shaft with a full load of miners and support crews.
Five scanning stations going in and five more coming out and they still had to wait in line for several minutes to get to the scanning stations. Of course his mother spent that time talking to the other miners in line and telling them how wonderful the new laser drills were and how they could detect and avoid crystal refraction much more effectively than the current models.
Dem though was impatient to get into the mine and feel the thrill of the crystals that were so concentrated in this mountain. Just being this close he could already feel the soothing comfort so many crystals in such a concentrated area. Finally, his mom reached the scanning station and pressed her palm to the plate declaring that she had one guest and was destined for cave 197634 on level 72.
“Proceed to the waiting area, have your guest press the ident plate.”
His mom nodded to him as she stepped through the scanner and stopped in the small waiting area just past the exit from the scanning area.
“Dem applicant for crystal tuner. Access denied. Foreman Rem guests with the talent are not permitted in the mine for safety reasons. Please show your guest to the exit before reentering the mine.”
Dem stood there in shock for a moment until the security guards started moving toward him with intent. Then he shook himself and stepped back out of the line and toward the entrance.
His mother intercepted him before he got to the door.
“Oh my god. I’m so sorry son. It completely slipped my mind that to be a tuner you have to have the talent. People with the talent can be overcome by the concentrated power of so many crystals in such a confined place. That’s why tuners work in isolation rooms with no more than five crystals at any one time.
I’m so sorry. I should have thought.”
Dem automatically reached out for the key crystal to feel its calm and it responded instantly. But so did several other crystals that were much closer to him and he felt their strength and clear clean feel.
“Dem! Look at me. Concentrate son. We have got to get you off the mountain. Come with me.”
Dem felt the pain as his mother slapped his face, but it was a distant thing and he ignored it glorying in the feel of the crystals that were responding to his touch. He felt the strength as they filled him with energy.
I am so strong, what could I not do with such power. I could cure all illness, or end poverty. Damn with the power stored in this mountain, I could bring the witch hunters themselves to their knees.
Then suddenly the touch of the crystals was gone and all the power and strength with it. He wanted to scream at the sense of loss, and tried desperately to reach out for the key crystal, then the black. But neither one responded. It was as if he were buried in cotton.
Then he felt the pain again as his mother slapped his face once more.
“Dem! Come out of it. I got you on the transport, but I might not be able to get you back off if you don’t wake up.”
Dem opened his eyes and saw the concern in his mother’s face. With several other faces peering around her trying to see him as well.
“Where are we mom?”
“Oh thank god. I thought the crystals had claimed you. Are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine. Where are we?”
“We’re on the transport almost back to the city. You have been unresponsive since we left the security scanning center. You just about scared me to death.”
“Sorry mom. I was… Never mind. So we are almost back to the city? That must be it. I must be too far away.”
But he knew that didn’t make sense, he had been able to feel the key stone from the security scanning building. He was much closer to it now and it was not responding. Clearly something was blocking him.
“Dem, I’m Kre Master A’Ah. I apologize, but I found it necessary to put a power separation weave on you to prevent you from activating any more of the crystals at the mine.
You must learn how to control your talent and resist the draw, or stay completely away from the Xum Mountains. Come see me when you get back to town and I will remove the weave after we talk about how you can protect yourself from repeating today’s near disaster.”
Dem looked around but he could not see the man who was speaking to him.
This must be telepathy. I have read about this. How do I respond to this? Oh yeah, you think your response and focus on the person you wish that response to go to.
“Thank you, sir. Where will I find you? My mom says we are almost back to town, but I have no idea where to look for a master.”
“Well, my offices are on the northwest side of the city, but I can meet you at the south entrance to the plant if that is easier. I need to make my daily visit to the plant anyway.”
“South entrance to the plant, sir. Okay, I will see you there shortly. How will I recognize you?”
“I will recognize you. Just come to the gate.”
“Dem? Are you okay? You phased out on me again.”
I’m fine mom. But I have to go to the south entrance to the plant to talk to a Master A’Ah. Have you heard of him?”
“Master A’Ah? Yes, he is one of the senior masters that works for the plant. What business do you have with him?”
“I apparently did something wrong at the mine, and he intervened. But I have to meet with him to learn how not to make the same mistake again. Then he will undo the weave he put on me.”
Dem was amazed to realize he knew exactly what he was speaking about. The power separation weave was considered to be the worst thing you could do to a master, and was only done at a last option or to win a sparring session during testing. What he had done by touching all the crystals at the mine was to draw the power colors through them, and the huge number of crystals there made that very dangerous. He could have burned himself out if he had continued unchecked. Not to mention the fact that such an incredible amount of power in the hands of someone who did not know how to control it could be a disaster in and of itself.
“He intervened? What did you do? The masters never intervene.”
“Too many of the crystals in the mine were singing to me. Fortunately he was alert and noticed it immediately.”
“So that’s what brought you back. He did?”
“Then I owe him my thanks even if he reports this and it costs you the chance of getting that tuning position. At least you are still with me.”
Dem had not considered that possibility and now he was concerned. If he was disqualified from the tuner position, he had no other plans. He had prepared his whole life to become a cutter and his ‘talent’ would prevent that from happening. The only position in a crystal mining community for someone with the talent was as a tuner.
If he were blocked from that position, he would have to go to one of the big cities and try to find work there.
The thirty minutes it took to get to the plant entrance seemed like three days as Dem worried constantly about what the master would say to the plant officials.
They walked toward the entrance and Dem scanned the people there looking for someone who looked like a master. But none were wearing the robes he had heard they often wore.
“Dem, and your mother foreman Rem I presume.”
Dem nearly jumped as the tall slender young man spoke to him and his mom.
“Sir, I understand you brought my son back to me today. For that I am eternally grateful.”
“It is an honor to serve ma’am. But in all honesty someone with such an affinity for the crystals probably would have figured it out sooner or later and freed himself. Of greater concern is his lack of training. He was gathering a very large amount of power colors.”
“Sir, I’m a miner, I should have known better than to take him to the mine after learning he was being considered for a tuner position. Thank you for protecting my son from my mistake.”
“It’s an honor to serve ma’am. Now I need to borrow your son for about an hour. I apologize, but this must be private time so I can ensure he understands and learns what is necessary.”
“Thank you sir, I will wait in the dining hall.”
“Excellent, I will send him there when we are done. Dem, please come with me.”
Dem could not force himself to speak for fear of saying the wrong thing, so he simply nodded and followed the master through the security checkpoint and into the plant fearing the worst every step of the way.
Finally, Master A’Ah pressed his palm to the security plate in front of a door and stood aside indicating Dem should enter as the door opened.
Dem tried to pull on the years of training and focusing for cutting crystals to calm himself as he walked into the room beyond. It was a relatively small room with a table designed for a group of six or less people and a set of privacy controls. The walls, table and chairs were all white and the ambient light made the room bright without making it blinding.
“Have a seat Dem, we need to talk a bit.”
Dem obediently went to the other side of the table and sat in the chair that was roughly at the middle of that side of the oblong table. Master A’Ah sat directly opposite him after keying the privacy controls. Then he pulled two crystals out of his pocket and placed one on the table and gripped the other in the palm of his hand as he lost focus for a few moments.
“Okay, we are secure. We had planned to have this conversation with you in a couple of days when you came in for the interview, but events of the day have pushed my hand a bit and we need to determine if you are what I think you are.
First, though, I need to teach you how to shield yourself from the compound effects of crystals. To do that, I am going to release the power separation weave, but I need you not to reach out to the crystals you have stored away. Okay?”
Dem was confused. How could Master A’Ah know about his crystals? More importantly how did he know that Dem tended to reach for them when he was nervous? But clearly he knew those things, so the best thing to do was follow instructions.
Master A’Ah again closed his hand around the one crystal and lost focus for a moment and suddenly Dem could feel the crystals on the table and the two that Master A’Ah still had in his belt pouch.
“Okay, Dem. Now comes the hard part. I want you to focus on this green crystal here, and ignore the yellow crystal in my palm.”
As he spoke he pointed first at the green crystal that he had placed on the table earlier and then at the one he held in the palm of his hand.
“I want you to feel the green crystal, ask it to send you strength and fill yourself until you no longer feel nervous.”
Dem followed instructions and reached out to the green crystal with his mind, imagining that he was caressing it feeling its cool sleek sides. How cool it was and how comforting, then he imagined feeling it warm up as it drew in energy and sent it to him, filling him with its strength and calm.
Everything was working smoothly and then suddenly he felt the yellow crystal warm up and begin sending him energy. He pushed that aside and focused on the green, but the yellow was persistent and pressed him. Dem was frustrated, that it kept pressing him, but he did as he had been instructed and ignored the yellow focusing his mind on the green. The yellow remained, and became more persistent.
I need to do something, that yellow is continuing to send me energy, and now I feel the blue and the black from his belt pouch pushing energy toward me as well. I need a shield to block them, but it has to allow the green to reach me.
As soon as he thought about a shield, his mind sifted the weaves he had learned from the key crystal and the black, and sure enough there were three shield weaves among those he had kept in his memory. Two of those had to do with protecting his body from various types of attacks. The other one was to shield his mind from mental attacks. That was the right type, but he knew he needed to modify it to work in this scenario. He examined the weave, the colors that were woven together and how they were woven. How was probably not the answer, but maybe the colors involved were the key.
He felt the deep focus he used when cleansing the crystals shift into place and suddenly it all came clearly to him. He did need to adjust the weave, but he also needed to change the color combinations. If he did this instead of that and added the greens here, he could make what he wanted.
He got the weave the way he thought it should be and then imagined it coming into existence and settling on him. Immediately the other crystals stopped sending him energy and he was able to focus on the green and draw energy and comfort from it.
There that is right. Now he said to draw the energy until I was no longer nervous. Am I nervous? No, I’ve got this.
He opened his eyes and lifted them back up to Master A’Ah’s face noting that he had that distant look in his eyes.
“Okay, sir. I am calm and no longer nervous.”
Master A’Ah’s eyes focused again and he smiled.
“Yes, I see that. That was a rather unique weave you used. Where did you learn that?”
“Sir, the core of it came from a weave that my black crystal shared with me. But it needed to be modified to allow the green to reach me while all others were blocked. In this case, I believe all green crystals would be accessible to me, but I am not 100% certain. I know your instruction was to focus on just this one, so I will need to think through that and try to get a better solution long term.”
“Excellent, but I saw no indication of training in the mastery in your records. Where did you learn to form weaves and modify their patterns to fit your needs?”
“Sir, I don’t know how to form weaves, I just focus on the pattern I know and suddenly what I that pattern produces happens. As to the modification, I really don’t know where that came from. I don’t remember it being in any of the memories from the crystals, and that is the source of all my other knowledge of patterns.”
“So you are saying that you learned these weaves from the crystals? How did that work?”
Dem felt panic as he realized he would have to tell his secret, and that likely would mean the company might claim his two clear crystals as their property. But he knew that there was no chance he could lie to this master without being caught.
“Sir, I just ask them to share their memories with me, and then I filter through them and keep the ones that I think will be of value to me or someone else. So far that is mostly a stack of patterns that have been formed with the assistance of the crystal in question.”
“So you get the crystal to share its memory with you. And then what happens?”
“Sir, the crystal releases those memories when it shares them, and the crystal becomes more effective at gathering and distributing the power.”
“It’s true then. You are a crystal cleanser. I have read that such talents existed once, but had never really believed they still did.
So you don’t see the power ribbons in the air around you?”
Dem was confused, but he looked around the room to make sure that the master was not creating something he was supposed to see.
“No, sir. I don’t see any ribbons, at least not in this room. Is that where the colors in the weaves come from?”
“Yes. We in the mastery who study how to form weaves can all see them in and around everything. You are the first person I have ever met who can form power color weaves without seeing the power color ribbons.
And I just tried to get my crystal to tell me about the weaves it has experienced, and got nothing at all in response. But you say you ask the crystal to share its memories and it does, right?”
“Yes, sir. And after it shares its memories, it releases them and becomes an untarnished crystal. I have done this with a key crystal and a large black one. Please don’t take my collection of crystals away.”
“Trust me, your talent is so rare and so needed, no one will take any crystals from you that you do not want to part with. We just need to have you cleanse crystals for us so we can make use of all those lost batches. There are billions of credits worth of those to be cleansed, making those you have cleansed from your own collection a pretty inexpensive bonus.
What do you say? Are you interested in a position as a crystal cleanser for the mastery? We will want to share your skills with companies like the one here who produces so many crystals from the mines. But you will become a master in your own right and will earn a commission for every crystal you cleans.
Dem could not believe the words coming out of his mouth, but they tumbled out unbidden anyway.
“Sir, two questions. What’s in it for the mastery? And how much commission are we talking about?”
“Fair questions. First the commission part. The company will want to give you 10%, but you can easily claim 50% because without you, those crystals are worthless.
As for what the mastery gets out of it. Other than the obvious increase in the number of available crystals, we have experienced a number of crystals becoming less and less effective over time and use. And we would like to restore those before they become useless.
More, if there is one of you, there are likely others in the realm, and we will want you to teach the others to do what you do.
The time is near when every available crystal will be needed, and all will need to be at peak performance. You are critical to that day.”
50%? On a crystal like the large black I have at home, that would be very significant indeed. We are talking enough credits to make me very wealthy. And provide security for mom and dad.
“Sir, I have only cleansed two crystals, and each of those left me completely drained. I can do this, but it is not a fast process. Are you certain, that the company will allow me to keep my crystals even if I cannot produce more than a couple per week for them?”
“First, I think we can help you to become more efficient, and we certainly can reduce your recovery time. But even if we could not, yes, the company has enough unusable crystals they will not care about the ones you have, so long as you are willing to help them recover some of theirs.”
“Okay, sir. And you say I will become a member of the mastery and have the protections that affords a person?”
“Yes, absolutely. We have as much reason to want you on our team as the factories do. So in exchange for helping us find and train more like you, we will extend the protections of the mastery to you.”
Thank you Sir. I believe I would be very interested in such an arrangement. When do I start?”
“First thing tomorrow if you are willing. I will share an image of where you want to go to join the mastery, and you can find one of those weaves that allows you to teleport I’m sure. Use this image to focus on with the teleportation weave in place and you will teleport directly there. Okay?”
“Yes, sir. Thank you Sir.”
Dem suddenly had the image of a large beautiful entry to a group of buildings that looked very much like one of the universities. But he knew instinctively this was a school for the mastery.
Hm. Master Dem? Crystal Cleanser Dem? Master Crystal Cleanser Dem?
I think Crystal Cleanser Dem. No reason to tie this too closely to the mastery. They will want to care for me more if I don’t claim to be one of them.
What a glorious day this turned out to be.
Dem reached out with his heart for the key crystal and felt it respond immediately, filling him with the absolute calm once more.
He would be a critical player in the Xum crystal business. And he would be returning commissions to his parents instead of denying them commissions. That was worth a lot.
And it did not hurt a bit knowing he would be a very wealthy man. How could it be that he was the only Crystal Cleanser?
Dem could not wipe the smile from his face as he left the small room and headed back to find his mother in the dining hall.
“Thank you for your time Dem! I have shared your skills with Master H’San and we both look forward to working with you Crystal Cleanser Dem.”
“And I look forward to working with you Master A’Ah.”
P’Hilz Story Available now
The K’Jin Mission Available now
K’Jin Released Available now
Alla’s Path Coming Soon
Torl’s Journey Book 1 in the series
Rebuilding a Legacy Book 2 in the series
End of an Era Book 3 in the series
Seala’s Burden Book 4 in the series
Taarl and the Fools
Game Book 5 in the series
Master Mixer Sslasl
Sslasl and the Mastery
Aarn Becomes a Man
Crystal Cleanser Dem
All Things Real A reference to the people and places in the Power Colors books.
Barth Reality A reference to the people and places in the Barth Novels
Born to a miner and a crystal cutter who worked for one of the largest crystal mining companies in the realm, Dem dreamed of one day becoming a crystal cutter himself. The Xum crystals that were mined and cut here were among the most valued items in the realm having the ability to help masters gather the power colors and bend them to their will. Of course there were always some crystals that came out of the mines which could not focus the power colors. These were called dead crystals and were the bain of the miners. But Dem found them beautiful and found their touch calming. Strange as they thought it was, his parents would bring him some of the dead crystals for his collection from time to time. Eventually, Dem had a large collection of these crystals and with his dad to train him had learned to cut crystals by practicing on them. Nearing his graduation, Dem got an interview for a crystal cutter position at the plant and was holding his clear crystal running his fingers across it to feel the calming effect of its smooth polished surface. If only I knew how to make you whole once more. If I could take all that is stored in you into me, what would I learn? Dem felt his mind clear and a focus he had never felt before, even when cutting crystals settled over him…