Drawing from Reference
A multi-toned purple colour caught Wirt’s eye. The cupboard’s grandiose assortment of teacups vied for his attention: the conceited gold-rimmed cup pontificating its worth in the centre. Wirt reached for it then pushed it aside at the last moment and grabbed the modest violet one. It wasn’t as large or as aesthetically pleasing as the gilded teacup, but he needed a strong brew right now. It was near midnight, but the findings from the clearing today left Wirt’s heart burning inside his weary body demanding answers before sleep. He threw in some dried Yaupon holly and poured the hot water. “Well then Dad, let’s crack on.”
Books, measuring tools and samples from the clearing were spread on top of the kitchen table. Furthest from Wirt were his measuring utensils; a ruler, weight scale and magnifying glass. To his side, the Ouroboric textbook the house had provided him with, and nearest to him, the samples themselves; a vial he carefully filled with soil, clearly showing the various stratum layers of dirt, another vial filled with the water from the puddle, and sitting carefully on a cloth napkin, an infinitesimally small basket containing the smallest apples Wirt had ever seen.
Wirt dithered about touching it again. He’d already damaged the basket picking it up earlier. The sides of its weave were frayed from the pressure of his fingers. The mind-bogglingly small scale of the item forced Wirt to confront some truths about himself he seldom thought about in his prison, that just on the other side of the Distortion keeping him trapped was a world filled with people smaller than the fingers on his hand.
“Humans and their bobbles, ey, Dad?” … “Ah yes, the magnifying glass would help to see more detail. Let’s have a look.” Lifting the magnifying glass, Wirt’s eyes widened at the marvel of the miniature item. He spotted there was more than just apples inside the hamper, there appeared to be some plants and sand inside as well.
Wait, no. Small rocks inside as well.
“Sand for me is rocks for them.” Wirt corrected himself. “Odd assortment of goods, though.” He scratched his longer-than-comfortable stubble and tried to remember where he put his Malus encyclopaedia. It was always one of two possibilities: either he misplaced the book himself, or the house took it away again. “—No, I haven’t checked the top of the cold box.” Wirt peered overhead his refrigerator and sure enough, his book on apples was there. “Wipe that smug look off your face, you probably saw me leave it there. Figures you’d guess I left it in a high spot with my height.”
Hundreds of pages of the Malus encyclopaedia illustrated the many varieties of apples one could find in the provinces within the Square of Eagwith. The types of apples Wirt grew were the breeds that were available when he’d moved to this place. Mainly Braeburns and Winesaps, both of which leaned toward red and purple hues (and preserved best over colder months). The apples inside the basket, however, were light yellow, and had spatterings of bright pink. They also appeared to be ripe, now, in the Spring, which was not how most apple species matured.
Wirt lifted the basket to his nose. Embarrassing to say, it was one of his keenest senses, and it could perhaps reveal more about the peculiar breed.
It smelled like apples, obviously, dry wood, moist cloth, and… female? Wirt snorted. That couldn’t be right. He had to take a moment to blow his nose, the plants inside the basket were dry grass, which Wirt had a slight allergy to. With a cleared airway, Wirt inhaled again deeply.
The basket truly smelled like a girl. Now that he’d a moment to think of it, it was odd that the basket was full, laying upright and unattended in the clearing…
“—I know you told me to check. And I did! The clearing was empty!” retorted Wirt. “Well you were there with me, I’m hardly to blame in full!”
Wirt was sure there was no one in the clearing with him at the time. He would have smelled the woman’s presence otherwise. The only other logical reason to him being unable to smell her would be if there were wild grasses in the area which would have obstructed his senses, but only moss grew in that dingy spot.
“She must have been in the clearing earlier…’probably scared her off coming in…” said Wirt sheepishly scratching the backside of his neck and sighing. He could imagine a beautiful woman collecting ingredients for her craft just to be disturbed by his own alarming presence. Even if the girl was in the clearing with him at the same time, at the very least, she was definitely not the stain he found on his shoe. Wirt confirmed it was a burn mark when he was repairing the shoe sole earlier, and if memory recalled correctly, women didn’t explode when stepped on.
Not that he’d ever had experience stepping on a person before.
Wirt gently tilted the basket to let the apples roll into his palm. They may have been small, but they were so aromatic compared to the breeds he was accustomed to. He so very much wanted to try them, but with his size, they’d likelier end up lost in the sea of his saliva before he got a chance to bite into them. Wirt carefully rolled the apples back into the basket and set them down.
Wirt’s skin itched as his heart burned with realization. The scent of a woman on the basket was good news... The odd water that left his hands dry and the fact that there was a woman in the glen confirmed beyond a doubt that the Ouroborics of his confines were loose. The outside world was seeping into his. Somewhere there.
Downing his tea, Wirt rushed to the Ouroboric textbook: Ouroboric Principles in Use. He had taken some time the previous night to flip through it. It was an incredibly detailed book, ranging from the very basics of Ouroborics (usually taught to children) to advanced practices exercised by Master Distorters. It’s as though the author had all of humanity in mind when writing it, but also keeping a curious child in-mind. The book was well-explained in all topics, but one little problem kept coming up as Wirt read through the pages: the text was clearly meant for human Distorters.
And Wirt was a Glutantoj.
He had more Ouroboric stamina in his lip hair than many people had in their entire bodies, but what he didn’t have was a disciplined outlet for that power. His Ouroborics sort of just…happened. He didn’t even have to think about the Distortions half the time, they would just express themselves. He knew that calling Strings required trades, but he was never consciously giving anything. It made him wonder what was being taken from him.
As he didn’t consciously perform Distortions, Wirt had to start with the basics, he knew as much, but his curiosity gave way and he skipped ahead to the section of the textbook labelled ‘Slips’. He’d never heard of those, but they seemed interesting enough. The pages were painted with intricate symbols, Circric terms and maths. One picture showed a visual depiction of what Distorters imagined a Slip to look like in reality. It showed a string sewn into a cloth going from one side of the cloth to the opposite through a single perforation, and then exiting through the same hole and returning to the originating side creating a loop. The string and cloth analogy made the Ouroborics sound simple to Wirt. Maybe he could skip a few lessons and start here. Apart from the imagery, there was a paragraph in Language written in the margins:
Slips [Field: Physical Science, Domain: Dorin, Category: Alteration/Reversion of State]. Say there is a Distortion before you which you’d like to dismantle. Most Distortion types don’t allow for reversion without casting another spell (which is not true reversal, only a forced change of state to resemble the previous). But let’s say, for whatever reason, the initiating Distorter produced a Distortion which was purposely undoable, allowing for a complete true reversion of matter of state. That type of Distortion would be a Slip.
The construct of a Slip is simple in theory, harder in practice, and tricky in undoing. The originating Distorter performs a Distortion to sew the Slip in place, purposely leaving large gaps in its entanglement. It is weaved into the fabric of reality in such a way that pulling on the String will unravel the Distortion if pulled in the right place [warning: pulling the Slip in the intermediary areas may cause further entanglement and form a Knot (see section 5.0 Knots)]. One end of the Slip String will need to be held in place, while the other end is to be pulled. As thus, Unravelling [see section 8.0 Unravelling] requires two people.
Wirt re-read the last line.
—requires two people.
Wirt shut the book. He didn’t want to read about Ouroborics that required more than one set of hands. If taking apart the Distortion which kept Wirt confined would require more than just his own efforts, the likelihood of success was less than slim.
“…I know, you’d help if you could, Dad,” said Wirt placing a hand on his shoulder. “Ta. You’re right. We won’t be solving anything overnight.” Wirt stood from his chair and started to collect the books off the table. His tea had gone cold, the data samples were ambient to the touch as he moved them to the kitchen counter, but the girl on the cover of the art reference book was hot...
She had a metallic sheen to her hair which was tightly pulled back into a bun. She needed to have her hair out of the way. Afterall, she would be contorting herself into so many positions soon. She wasn’t overly skinny either, Wirt nodded approvingly, having ample fat around her hips and thicker legs than most women…
The crotch area of Wirt’s pants tightened uncomfortably. It had been a long time since he’d last drawn.
Wirt cleared his throat. “Dad? I’m going to be drawing in my room for the rest of the night. Want to clear my head of all the muss of the day, channel it through an outlet. I’ll be seeing you in the morning!” … “Right then, enjoy the visual box. Night Dad.”
Hastily, Wirt grabbed the art reference book, broke a piece off his aloe vera succulent (which wasn’t doing well despite his best efforts) and ran up the short set of stairs to his bedroom.
The bedroom was a tidy, small room with dark accents, and an enormous window facing the south. The walls were wallpapered, several vases with wildflowers decorated the corners, and the centre of the floor hosted an itchy rug that constantly snagged on Wirt’s socks. The bed frame was pressed up against the window to allow Wirt a cooler night’s sleep (but it wasn’t uncommon for him to come downstairs to sleep on the chesterfield on hotter summer nights). Ringlets of vines which had crept up the stucco penetrated the window’s screen mesh and overgrew the field of sight almost entirely. In the mornings, the light coming in would shine through the leaves making a greenish glow.
The bed frame cracked slightly as Wirt sat on the edge and awkwardly tried to prop up the art reference book. He opened the book to a page where the woman was posed on her back with her legs bent in the air. Her breasts leaked to the side her body was leaning. It must have been hard contorting her body into these shapes with such generous proportions. Wirt managed to set the book vertically using one of his shirts to support it. A clothes pin kept the book open to the page Wirt wanted.
Wirt’s knees cracked as he got up to look through the collection of belts in his dresser. He had only one pair of shoes, yet the house provided him with an assortment of waist-wear. The maroon belt from last week was missing but a new one had shown up in its place: a thin, cream-coloured belt with forest animals engraved in the detailing. Beautiful, thought Wirt lifting it and fixing it around his neck.
Wirt threw the duvet to the ground, covered his left hand in aloe, unzipped his pants, and began choking.