Nariel’s Station Archives – Multiverse 163 – Ludger’s first meeting with a spirit

System Admin Note: Documents in this series come from translations drawn from the pre-technological societies in Multiverse 163, or the world from the station core’s Inkosi Tiikeri books. Please make certain you notate the date of retrieval, the initials of the data collector, and the date of publication.

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Ludger settled down onto the hard packed dirt floor near the hearth. The rest of the steading was gone – the men on their hunt and the women doing whatever it was they did when the men left. The only ones still inside were Ludger and his master, the broad shouldered shaman Halvdan.

The two sat facing each other in silence for several minutes. Finally Halvdan looked at him. “It is time for your first test,” he said in his deep, gruff voice. “To prove to me you are still a worthy student.”

“What is it you wish of me, Master?” Ludger asked. He knew he must sound a little sullen. The seventeen year old didn’t want to be stuck inside with the shaman. He’d been planning on joining the hunt until Ortwin stopped him.

Halvdan’s eyes narrowed. “Your test is to call to a spirit and see if you can coax it into answering,” he said. “If you can’t do that at your current skill you are worthless as a Shaman and will be sent back to your mother’s hearth.”

Ludger cringed. His mother was already displeased with him over his lack of progress. “Lazy, useless lump,” she often called him. Even when he tried to step into his missing father’s place, as the eldest son should, but Agathe wouldn’t let him. She was always pushing him away, trying to get him into trouble with both his teacher and the leader of the steading.

Ludger knew becoming a shaman was the only thing that would save him from banishment from his home and family, if you wanted to call this band of people who were, at best, disinterested in him a family. He took a few deep breaths and tried to settle himself into the calm that was supposed to come with summoning a spirit.

Ludger tried for several minutes but nothing happened. Halvdan sighed. “Perhaps you do not have the potential I thought I saw in you,” he began.

Ludger wasn’t paying attention to his teacher’s words. In the distance, he heard childlike laughter. He began casting around with his magic, seeking the source. A log in the fire broke and sparks flew out into the room.

One tiny, nearly invisible spark flew over in front of him. Ludger’s eyes were fixed on this tiny dot of light. He watched as it grew to the size of a small bird. It laughed again at him and introduced itself as a fire spirit.

“I have never seen anything like you before,” Ludger said, his voice barely above a whisper behind the tangle of his newly grown mustache. His thick, stubby fingers twitched as his desire to touch the spirit momentarily overwhelmed him. He knew better though and tried to settle down into some semblance of calm.

The spirit laughed again. “Fire” and “calm” were hardly synonymous with each other. “True,” Ludger replied with a smile. “However, if I cannot control myself I cannot speak to you like a reasonable person.”

The spirit inclined its head. It asked him what he was trying to accomplish. Ludger explained what his test was. He told it about how his future was no longer his own because the Fates put his feet on this path, and he didn’t want to disappoint the gods even though he’d never wanted to be a shaman to begin with.

The spirit asked him why. Ludger found it hard to put into words, so he allowed the little spirit into his mind. As it – she, Ludger realized, the spirit held a female aspect – rummaged around she made several unhappy noises at the way his mother treated him. She also gave him a good scolding for his thoughts on Halvdan, who was a mighty shaman and deserved more respect than he actually gave him.

Finally, the spirit withdrew. She was quiet for a moment, and then asked Ludger if he knew something of his future importance would he consider being a shaman a worthwhile position? Ludger snorted. “I’m the unwanted son of a foolhardy man who abandoned his wife and children. I have no status, and even as a shaman it’s doubtful I’ll have the kind of authority  you’re talking about,” he said with some bitterness. “How can my future be anything but one step above pure revulsion from those in my steading?”

The fire spirit asked him again if he wanted to see wanted to see a glimpse of his future. Ludger finally said yes. Images washed over him – pictures of a flame haired man and a woman with skin the color of coal; a towering set of gates that so repulsed him he felt like vomiting; a snowstorm that seemed fit to bury more than just the steading but everything in the whole land; a strange looking feline far more massive than even the largest wolves in the territory around the steading; and finally, the impression he stood beside that same flame haired man as an advisor and a friend.

“This is what the gods have in store for me?” Ludger whispered, awed by what he’d seen. The spirit told him they were possibilities, but only if he embraced the path the Fates put him on to achieve them. Ludger closed his eyes briefly and then opened them, the crystal green full of determination. “Then I will accept this path. I will see these people and do these things. I’ll be a powerful shaman and earn the respect of those around me, even if the steading never accepts me fully.”

The spirit told him that she was leaving him a gift and that he now needed to return to the Overworld. It took Ludger a moment to realize he’d been conversing with her in the narrow strip of existence between the realm of the gods and the mortal plane. He nodded and, with her help, sent himself back to his body.

“…Really don’t think you deserve to be my student, Ludger,” Halvdan was saying. “You cannot even summon a spirit.”

“Are you so certain, Master?” Ludger asked. He felt something in his hand and looked down. A fire opal the size of an egg rested in his palm. It was twisted by fire – the only way these stones could be formed – into the shape of a lynx roaring. He held up the token. “I have seen much, Master. I now know why the gods gave me my gift and the Fates put me on this path. I will not fail those who will come to depend on me. I will be a powerful shaman, and those who doubt me can rot in Helvete’s halls.”

Halvdan stared at the lynx in his hand. “You were granted more than just a vision, my student. You’ve been bound to a path by the gods and the spirits I do not think you’re prepared to walk.”

“That is why you are here, Master,” Ludger said. “To give me some guidance. Else I will falter and fail, and bring dishonor to myself.”

Halvdan raised an eyebrow. “Don’t you mean to yourself and your family?”

Ludger shook his head. “No Master, I don’t,” he said. “My mother considers me less of a man than my father, no matter how hard I try to help the family. So I will now no longer allow her to influence my life. I am a shaman, and as you’ve said on numerous occasions, shamans walk alone among mortals but in good company among the spirits.”

Halvdan nodded. “You are ready,” he said. “Tie that stone around your neck as a reminder of that path, of your oath to the spirits and the gods, and we will continue our lessons.”

“Yes Master,” Ludger said. He went back to his sleeping area and retrieved a long piece of leather thong and some smaller fire opal beads. It didn’t take long to wrap the stone securely in a web made of leather and beadwork. Agathe would most likely try to take it from him, but this was his first gift from the spirits. Only death would take it from him.

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Station Status Update – April 2018

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(No, I didn’t take this picture – but I wish I did. As always, any photos/images used here, unless directly stated, come from Pixabay.)

So it’s April.

Spring.

And I’m finding I don’t have a lot of energy to enjoy what few sunny days I see on the coast. Not just because of the hours I work, but because I’m emotionally drained a lot of the time due to stress. My husband is awesome, amazing, and I couldn’t do without him. However, my roommates…that’s a different story.

I’m not going to get into that right now though. I have to be at work in an hour (I’m at the library which shares the same parking lot) and I want to be able to put on my customer service smile.

For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook – which I’m guessing is the majority of you – I posted a huge announcement there that I’m also going to share here:

The Tiger’s Keeper will not be coming out until January 2019.

I’d love to see the first of the Inkosi Tiikeri books published this year, but to be honest, I don’t think it’s going to be possible for me to get it done. I’m just too tired, too drained, and have almost no time/energy to write anymore.

Though the “no time” will be changing within the next week or so. I got myself a refurbished Chromebook through Amazon and will be able to work whenever and wherever I want. I won’t be able to play video games – this one has a very limited amount of HD space – but I don’t care. The Chromebook isn’t for playing games. It’s for me to listen to music on, do research, maybe blog a little, and WORK ON THE DAMNED BOOKS I NEED TO WRITE!!!

Another thing I like about being mobile is that, once I get a vehicle of my own, I can just go. Losing steam at home? Back it up to Google Docs and head out to the library, or the coffee shop, or the beach, or…or…or… I miss Monstrosity (the huge Toshiba Satellite laptop I had for 5 years). Behemoth (my current desktop) is great and all, but I need to be able to get out and about and still work when I have the free time. Hand writing at work is problematic, especially since we have a snoop on our staff who likes to poke around at what you’re doing.

Anyway, here’s a ramble from me. Prepare to see more updated blog posts this month!

Oh…and keep an eye out on this blog for teasers and fun things from the Inkosi Tiikeri universe as The Tiger’s Keeper comes closer to being published. You’ll see all sorts of fun stuff.

Healer Report #2 – An update on my, well, my uterus (TMI again)

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Okay, if you DON’T want to read/hear about the female reproductive system, my upcoming surgery to resolve a rather specific issue with mine, and general female issue discussions, please close out of this blog post now. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

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Okay, for those of you who actually stuck around, in mid April, I’m going in for a minor surgery to (hopefully) deal with the sheer agony and rather heavy flows of my monthly cycle. I got an ultrasound last month and it was ultimately found that my uterus wall was 17 mm too thick, it looks like there are polyps in there (possibly cancerous, possibly not), and there are a few other abnormalities my OB/GYN wants to take a look at.

So, in mid April I’ll go in, get knocked out, and my OB/GYN will go in with a tiny camera and a small little tool. He’ll take out the polyps, cut down the uterus wall back to 5 mm, and insert a Mirena IUD. We were already going to do that last anyway, since being on a blood thinner (Eliquis, if you’re curious – been on it since…November, I think) estrogen isn’t an option. Ordinary birth control pills, which he’d normally prescribe to regulate the flow and help with the debilitating cramps, are out. The Mirena IUD is a progesterone based system. Progesterone doesn’t have the risks for blood clots that estrogen has.

This surgery is very minor and doesn’t have the stroke/heart attack/major blood clots in the lungs issues that a hysterectomy would have. We’re going to see if all of this helps the pain and heavy flow. If it doesn’t, we’ll have to discuss other options.

So, that’s the upcoming surgery.

Brief note on the one I had earlier this month on my left leg. It’s healing nicely. I’m still bruised, but that’s a side effect of the Eliquis as much as it is the surgery. The blood clot (which is an intentional one) has settled into place nicely. The swelling in my left leg has been reduced by quite a bit. Next week on the 4th I go visit with my specialist/surgeon to check in and see what he says. So life is somewhat good.

Station Status Update – Why I haven’t been here much

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Hi everyone~

You may have noticed that Amberwoods Station has been fairly quiet of late. That’s because I’m usually so exhausted by the time I have a moment to blog I’d rather spend what energy I do have on working on the novel – which is on its second draft and, well, moving slowly.

I’ll update you all with everything going on in spurts so I don’t info dump in a single post. If you’re curious about how the job’s going, it’s amazingly awesome…other than the contents of my previous post. (If you missed it, go read it. I get ranty and, um, swear a lot.)

You’ll also notice I say I’m 41 in that post. I don’t actually turn 41 until May 11th, but I’ve been saying I’m 41 since probably mid January, so I just say I’m 41 now. This is my forty first year of existence on this planet as a human outside my mother’s womb, so I count it as me being 41.

I’ve got medical stuff to update you on, but that’s for another post. I’ve been off work for just under an hour – and as of the writing of this post (I’m actually writing this Tuesday night at 9:58 PM Pacific time), I’ll have finished day 7 of an 8 day streak. I’m cold, in a lot of pain, and exhausted. I’m also not quite ready to go to sleep yet, so I thought I’d get a few posts scheduled.

Anyway, I’m going to try to be better about blogging now that I’m getting used to working. Everyone have a great rest of your week, an awesome weekend, and a happy Easter!

Station Status Update – An open letter to grocery store customers

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Dear grocery store shoppers,

I wish to address you as a very tired, very sore cashier. I love you all, even the grumpy arseholes who make my life difficult by being nasty. You can grump at me all you want. You’re not going to make me cry. You’re not going to make me quit smiling. I’m fucking 41 years old, not 13. Get over it.

Now, what I *do* wish to address are two things – the REALLY HEAVY ASS SHIT you bring up that I don’t mind ringing up while it’s still in your cart (I can do that, really) and those little hand baskets you get for just a few things.

First, the heavy ass shit. STOP PUTTING IT ON MY CONVEYOR BELT. It doesn’t need to be there, as I said in my above statement I have this nifty little wand/gun looking thing I can scan barcodes with without having to run them across my scanner so you don’t *gasp* have to put them up there, and NO I will NOT move it down to other side for you because you’re “tired.” You put it up there, you can put it back on your own damn cart.

Those 50 lb bags of dog food/cat food/litter you just slammed on my conveyor belt, further weakening the motor? Fuck. You. I’m not moving it. If the barcode isn’t on top I won’t flip it over myself. I’ll ask you to do it. If you don’t, I don’t have to ring it up as per my bosses. Those 75/100 lb bags of compressed sawdust pellets you use to start your fires? Nope. Not moving those either. Leave them in your fucking cart. I even have a code I can punch in for those. I don’t need them up on my conveyor belt. I don’t have to serve you if you’re an ass and won’t be reasonable when I tell you to do move the heavy shit yourself. (Obviously if there *is* a medical reason, someone’s too frail/sick/weak to move it themselves, I won’t make them do it – I’ll get one of my courtesy clerks to come up and help.)

Second, those little hand baskets. You know the ones I mean. They’re usually plastic with plastic or metal handles. They’re shaped like crates and you carry a handful of items in them up to the registers. Then, what do you do? YOU LEAVE THE FUCKING ITEMS IN THEM! Do you *know* how painful that is for your cashiers to reach into them and pull that stuff out? Our shoulders can and do give out by the end of the day from having to do that. So, do all of us a favor and EMPTY THEM onto the counter/conveyor belt. You put the stuff in there. You can take it out again.

Oh, and one last pet peeve – for the love of your favorite food, STOP ABANDONING PERISHABLES IN OUR MAGAZINES, CHOCOLATES, OR IN RANDOM SPOTS THAT AREN’T AT LEAST IN A COLD CASE SOMEWHERE. Seriously, do you *know* how much food we have to toss out because it’s spoilt because of you arseholes? We can waste upwards of thousands of dollars. Oh, just give it to the homeless? They won’t care if it’s out of date/a little rotten? FUCK YOU WITH A BARBED WIRE COVERED BASEBALL BAT UP THE ASS!

(Yes, we actually had someone say this to our assistant manager when he called her on abandoning about $200 worth of meat in the middle of our paper products aisle.)

*PLEASE be courteous to your cashiers. We’re people too. We can be injured by your rudeness – potentially bad enough to lose our jobs – so consider that the next time you consider doing something stupid.*

(This is, of course, barring any time your cashier actually asks you to leave the stuff in the basket/put heavy stuff up on the counter or conveyor belt. I’m speaking for me and my co-workers, who are exhausted and in pain by the end of the day because of arseholes with no consideration for us.)

Nariel’s Station Files – Amberwoods Station Part 4

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Anila leads you down another corridor to a pair of double doors. “This is our biggest lift,” she says. “It can hold up to one hundred people. We can get as many as five hundred visitors on the days the station is in full swing, so they’re usually in demand.” She glances over her shoulder at you. “There’s only about a dozen of you, but none of our other lifts are big enough to get all of you to where we need to go.”

“Where are we going now?” the woman who was missing her daughter’s wedding asks.

“To the next level,” Anila says. “You need to see the whole station, not just the docking level.” She presses her hand with its long, delicate fingers against a panel set into the bulkhead. The panel lights up and you hear a faint whoosh. The doors slide open and Anila gestures for you to precede her into the lift.

You do as she says, though you hear a few of your traveling companions whimper. Apparently they don’t care for elevators. “Is there no other way down?” the teenage girl with the fascination with Twilight asks. “I don’t like elevators.”

“Sorry sweetie,” Anila says gently. “We don’t have stairs and the teleporters are broken again. We’ve asked the repair techs from Multiverse 23 to fix them, but they’re swamped. The central core’s processors have degraded and she’s really upset. She has a deadline and she isn’t able to work. So they’re trying to figure out what’s going on with them.”

“Child, you should be grateful we’ve been granted this opportunity by God to experience such a momentous journey,” the priest says pompously. “Fear nothing. Embrace everything.”

Anila snorts. “Your god doesn’t exist on this station, priest. I’m not entire sure he exists in any of the Multiverses either. He might exist in Multiverse 243, but Khey Lan and Khyle don’t believe in him and those two have been around long enough to know if he exists or not.” She pauses. “The core doesn’t believe in him either. She’s closer to the gods and goddesses of the Multiverses than the god she was raised to believe in.”

“Is she your god?” the priest asks with a sneer.

Anila’s eyes turn solidly black. “My god is pure death, mortal,” she says in a voice that echoes eerily. “His touch withers. His breath freezes. His very presence draws the life essence from everything.” A moment later the blue returns to her eyes and she smiles cheerfully. “The station core isn’t our goddess. She’s our creator. She’s the one who brought us into existence. Of course, our Multiverses have creation myths. It’s only natural she’d put them in there. But in reality she’s the whole reason we exist.”

“She sounds interesting,” you hear yourself saying.

Anila turns that sparkling smile on you, though you can’t shake the feeling you just had when she channeled whatever it was that turned her eyes black. “Oh, she is. I think you’ll like her. And if you like it here on the station, she might even put you in one of her Multiverses. Or even create a new one for you to inhabit.”

“Can’t she send us back to our own?” the woman whose daughter was getting married asked. “I want to be there to see my grandchildren be born.”

Anila smiles sheepishly. “I, uh, I don’t know. I don’t remember this ever happening. Then again, I’m not the usual greeter. It used to be done by a woman named Liliana, but she got written out of her primary story and moved to another part of the Multiverse so there was a personnel shift. We’re kind of short handed at the moment even though the station core is trying to get all of her new creations placed here.” There is a wry quirk to her lips as she adds, “Personality conflicts are a real problem, along with those from fantasy realms coming in contact with technology from the technologically advanced realms and this station.”

“This station isn’t like any I’ve ever seen or read about,” a young man says. He’s one of those who has, up until now, remained silent. You glance at him. He’s wearing a D20 t-shirt and a pair of ratty jeans. His tennis shoes are Pink Floyd themed Chuck Taylor All-Stars that are in better condition than the rest of clothes. “And I’ve seen just about every sci fi movie and read just about every sci fi book out there.”

Anila laughs as she makes sure everyone is accounted for before pressing a button on a panel in the lift. “I’m not surprised. This station is a mixture of magic and science. After all, the station core doesn’t create one over the other. She plays with both technology and magic quite freely. In fact, there are a few worlds she’s created that mix them both. Those are Multiverses that many of us try to avoid. They’re…not pleasant.” Anila shudders. “To be honest, there are Multiverses that she’s created that scare everyone but her. She revels in playing in them when she’s in the mood. Those are the days where no one goes into her rooms. It means something’s going on that’s got her to the point where – if she’s disturbed by any of us – she’ll kill us in our Multiverse. If she does that, and doesn’t bring us back right away, we fade and disappear. Our existence will only be remembered by Nariel and the station core.”

“She sounds awful,” the teenage girl says.

“She’s a creator, and sometimes a creator must kill their creations,” Anila says. “You don’t want to know how many incarnations I’ve been through before she came to my present character.” She laughs. “My original format was a human noblewoman named Anne who was rescued by her childhood playmate – who happened to be the Prince of Vassa – from a most Cinderella like fate. That was my form, hm, 19 – maybe 20 – years ago.” She gestures to what you now see is form fitting leather armor and her petite form. “This is what I am now. I’ve been a mostly blind elf, a human, a half elf, even a Majiin.” She shudders at that last. “Hope we don’t run into any of those meandering around the station. I can’t do anything against them and even the station core has issues controlling them. If one of those – creatures – should take an interest in you, you’ll disappear and the core might be able to save you. Then again, she might not.”

“If they’re her creations, she should be able to control them better,” the priest says.

“She doesn’t control any of us,” Anila says. “She lets us know what she wants, but we don’t always listen. She loves it when we take her places she didn’t expect, though she often gets frustrated along the way. That’s half the fun of being her, well, I suppose you could say we’re her children. We give her the excitement of getting to know us while leading her down paths she never expects. Sometimes we’ll do what she wants though because it makes the most sense. We’re not idiots. We do know what’s in our best interest.”

The doors open and you step out onto the next level. The corridors are much broader than the previous floor and the ceiling higher. As you start walking forward, a creature you’ve only seen in movies and storybooks appears. Now you see why everything is so much bigger here. “Anila, these aren’t the guests we were expecting,” the dragon says, her dark red head lowering to where she can look at the short elf with greater ease.

to be continued…

Station System Update – Day 2 of the new job

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I am exhausted – but very, very happy. Today was my second day at my new cashiering job. I was on my own all day, though I was able to ask questions as needed. I have awesome co-workers, mostly great customers, and several who already knew I was on my second day because they came through my line yesterday and were told that it was my first day. So I’m thrilled.

My upper back and shoulders ache horribly, which is sort of a surprise to me. I expected my lower back and legs to hurt, but mostly they aren’t bothering me. It’s my upper back, shoulders, and neck. But I’m still loving it in spite of hurting at the end of the day and I wouldn’t trade my job (right now, at least) for any other job I’ve been offered recently.

Station Status Update – Here we go!

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Well, here we go! Today’s my first day of work. I work 8-5 being trained as a cashier at McKay’s Grocery Store. It’s a grocery store local to Oregon only (as far as I know, at least.) I’m excited, nervous, frazzled, tired, and nauseous all at the same time.

Wish me luck!

Station Status Update – Why I’ve been MIA

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As you may have noticed, this blog has been silent lately. A lot has been going on lately and I thought I’d give you an update.

First, I finished the first draft of The Tiger’s Keeper. I’ll be getting started on the second draft soon. I’ve seen doctors, specialists, the ultrasound technicians, and a few other random health people. I see my neurologist on Monday (the 5th). I then go in the following Monday (the 12th) to get my leg surgery done.

The OB/GYN is reluctant to do the hysterectomy due to the fact that I have a history of blood clots and that I’m on blood thinners. I have a very high risk of way too many side effects (most that lead to me being dead) that I’m willing to take his alternatives. Same with the surgeon I met to discuss my pain in the area where the gall bladder is. He’s not entirely sure it is my gall bladder. I’ve got a test coming up to determine if that’s what it is, so we’ll go from there.

This leads to my latest bit of news…

I AM EMPLOYED IN A JOB OUTSIDE THE HOUSE!!! AND I’M EXCITED!!!

I’m now officially employed full time as a cashier at a local grocery store. I’m extremely excited for that. My husband has been out for the past two weeks looking for a job since the business he was trying to get started was pretty much defunct thanks to some poor planning on our state’s part. I decided I was going to give it a shot.

TWO DAYS! It took two days for me to walk in, talk to the store manager while dropping off my application and resume, for the store manager to hire me. This was back on Tuesday. On Thursday, I went in shortly before lunch and filled in the paperwork.

I start on Tuesday. I work 8 A to 5 P with a trainer. I work Wednesday and Thursday too. Then on Friday and Saturday, I work on my own – with someone helping me if I need it, of course. What’s even better is the store manager told me the second person he hired doesn’t get away from the trainer for at least a week, possibly more.

Now I have worked retail before, but it’s been a little under two decades since the last time I was behind a cash register. Yet I’m the one being trusted to run a register sooner.

Anyway, I’m writing this at 1:40 AM, so I’m headed back to bed. All of you have a great day and I’ll report back later with how things go.08

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