Golden Bridge Chronicle

Chapter 2: Master Fox

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Music accompaniment

To play during reading Ascolta – Divenire – Ludovico Einaudi

Was I hallucinating? I rubbed my eyes, trying to wake up a bit more. The fox in the painting was still sleeping, and I could see it moving as it breathed. What was going on? It was clear now that the painting was magical; but what kind of magic would do that? I was trying not to make any sound to wake the fox. Could it even hear? Why was I doing that? I made my way to the bathroom to take a shower. I was no longer in the mood to pleasure myself. The hot water helped release some tension in my muscles that had built up from the surprises. But I wasn’t aware of it, as my mind frenzied through the different options and trying to make sense of it all. I was brought back to reality when the shower became totally ice cold, having drained the hot water tank. I silently made my way back in the room, dressed up for some outdoor exercise and went to the roof.

Some exercise would clear my mind, knowing that knowledge would come to me in time, when I was ready to know it. I started my tai-chi routine. I slowly fell in my trance, hyper-aware of my surroundings. The interconnection of all things, it was comforting. I could taste the colors of the night slowly being replaced by the sound of light. There was order to it all, always in motion. The painting was clearly connected to me, I could sense it in all my being, seeing the line tracing a pathway from me to it. The serene trance I was in took me out of time. I was in the moment, alone.

All alone. That thought brought me crashing back in my conscious self. I was instantly overcome by old wounds. I was profoundly alone. Surrounded by people, I was alone. With close friends, I was alone. I slowly fell to the ground, overcome by tears and that profound loneliness. I always have been alone, included but still somehow apart. First, it was with my friends; knowing deep in me there was something creating a wedge between me and them. First I thought it was my artistic expression. I tried to hide it, trying to fit in. My parents helped me keep in contact with that artistic side, reminding me how much I liked it and I was good at it. Eventually, my friends found me out and those that liked me for me, I kept. I was then in high school and I became fully invested in my art, free from the shame I had put on myself. But I still felt I was missing out on something. I didn’t pay much attention to that loneliness, feeling satisfied with the good friends I had and the art I created. I went to university and it wasn’t until near the end of my undergraduate program that I found another reason to feel lonely; I was gay. I wasn’t totally sure of it, but once I had realized it, I felt I had passed my opportunity to experiment and explore it. I told my friends, they accepted it easily, as the artist boy being gay was a bit cliché. Yet, I still felt different from them because they couldn’t relate to my feelings. I fell lower and lower into depression. Showing to the world a façade that hid my rotting core. I was at my lowest when I had my Awakening, my revelation to magic, the opening of my soul. It was a transformative process, seeing the Great Lie fading away from my eyes. It changed me and made me a lot more spiritual, and more resilient of it all. I had something more to make me apart from the others, but it empowered me. I gained a serenity that I was lacking, I became a valiant soul, hoping for better. But that revelation came at a cost. The only people that had always supported me, even if from a distance; my parents. I felt they couldn’t understand me anymore, and I felt more separate from them due to my Awakening. So, I became estranged to them; a bit more alone, not fully in conflict with them, but clearly more strangers than before. I am trying to integrate my new family, the Mysterium Order, but it takes time. I accepted now that I am alone, but it still does hurt. It comes in waves; I only needed to ride them and stay afloat through it all.

I looked up, wiping at the tears. The sun was coming up, marking a new day, a new beginning. The weather was changing; it was in a flux. The wind was rising, announcing a coming storm, marking the end of the Indian Summer and the return to the cold Fall days. Dark and moody, with little light, depressing until the first snow. I steadied myself and made myself resolute, and I headed back down to start my day. As I came down, changing into painting clothes; I fetched a breakfast and looked at the painting. I took some blueberries from my bush to munch on while I was working. Now, the fox was drinking at the lake. I was mesmerized by what was happening, taking it all in. When the fox finished drinking, it turned and walked back to the foreground, sat under the tree, and looked directly at me. Its attitude exuded nobility, status, and elegance; its amber fur shining under an imaginary sun. It had an inquisitive stare, like a teacher waiting for an answer. I stepped in front of the painting and bowed. I didn’t know why I did it, but it felt right. The fox bowed back respectfully, and spoke.

“Welcome to you kit. Who are you?” It asked.

“I am Beldro, a mage from the Mysterium. I was tasked to appraise this painting. What are you?” I asked bluntly, without sounding to forward.

“Well I am many things, but you shall name me Master Fox. And have some respect to your elder.” Master Fox growled back with an almost inhuman tone.

“I have out-lived 16 generations of you humans and I have still endured. I will excuse your brash manner, for it is common for the kit to judge by what they only see. Give me some of your fruit and we shall continue.” He said and looked back at me expectantly.

I was totally confused. How could I give physical fruits to a pompous animated painting? What was he, actually? Or more who was he? He glared at me, waiting. I had no choice but to humour him. I deposited a handful of fruit on the frame border. Master Fox stood and strode to the painting frame and ate the fruits directly from the frame. They dropped into the painting and he munched on them. Finishing his snack, he walked back to his previous spot and he curled up again, looking back at me.

“I don’t know who you are but I will need your help to find my new ward. My previous one died after long years of collaboration, but now his duties have fallen on the shoulders of his son. There is a time constraint, I need him by the Solstice. Could you find him and bring me to the heir to the Melbourne Legacy? And don’t ask for help from that previous kit. I could smell his arrogance and hubris a mile away. I hid in the forest, biding my time while he probed. He was so full of himself that he was sloppy in his search. He could have found me had he tried. He is trouble that I don’t want to manage, so be subtle. You do it.” He ended, more as a statement, not waiting for my answer. He closed his eyes and went back to sleeping.

“It’s seems I don’t have the choice, but yes it will be my pleasure to find that new Melbourne.” I answered, genuinely intrigued by the mystery.

“Where shall I start?” Talking to only to myself.

After some more observation to the painting, I spotted an old address card attached to the back of the frame. It was an address to a house in the Upper Town borough of Quebec. It was handwritten, but clearly standardized and the paper showed a certain characteristic indicating it from around 1940. The address was for a one “Mister Francis William Morin, Esquire”. I checked the address and it was registered to a K. C. Morin., which turned out to be Kenneth Morin, the previous owner of the painting and dead mage. I should investigate it further and search for any relatives, and any more research would drive me to go to the Order’s archive. I immediately left, without thinking to change into something more appropriate for street wear than stained painter’s clothing. I simply needed to follow the lead.

I arrived at the Athenaeum and went straight to the registrar of the Order. The middle aged lady at the counter welcomed me. She was one of the librarians for the Order. I asked her for the registry of the order’s members and if there was information about relatives in it. She pointed me to an old looking book that kept the valuable information. I thought it was quite dangerous to keep the only copy of that kind of information in paper form. My mind started to think of alternatives, until she pointed me to the exact page I needed. It was written that Kenneth Colin Morin, shadow named Melbourne, Mysterium mage, of the Thyrsus path, had only one son at the time of his death. His wife died some 12 years prior on the 21st of December 2004. She was a sleepwalker of little note. The father of Kenneth was also a mage, Edouard Francis Morin, as also his father was, Francis William Morin. There were no information prior to that. It was quite stunning to have a legacy of so many mages in the same family. There was no information in the registry about the son.

I took note of the information and went in the lobby to sit on a bench. I took out my cellphone. I still found it weird and funny the juxtaposition of a cellphone, with magic and old style furniture in the Athenaeum. I did a quick web search on the family and found nothing conclusive. I needed to access the rest of the estate items to find information on the son, at least his name. I really didn’t want to ask Charles for it, because he would surely become nosy. I needed to ask his superior, Censor Jean Coutu. I searched for him in the Athenaeum and found him looking at an old looking clock. He was an owlish man, around 50 with long eyebrows above wide eyes and a trimmed beard. He looked at me with interest.

“What brings you here young Arche, you finally got the courage to circumvent my assistant?” He asked with a playful tone.

I was shocked a bit with his laid-back attitude, but corrected myself to ask; “I would need to know if you had any information about the family of late Mister Melbourne. Mainly about his son.”

“Yes I have that information, but why would you need it for a painting appraisal?” He asked, probing me for more.

“The painting seemed to have been in his family for a very long time. I wanted to know if he remembered any information from his father about the painting, to have a better context.” I answer, not lying but withholding information about Master Fox.

“Seems reasonable enough. The son’s name is Francis William Morin, here is an older picture from him, from 5 years ago. We do know where he is, he still lives in Quebec City, in Limoulou. He works in IT, or something similar. He isn’t a mage from what we know. You can contact him about the succession and the painting, he already knows that we are managing it, just not the mage order part. Here is his address.” He gave me an older picture of him at a graduation, with a clear 2011 written. He had nice smooth feature, ginger hair and blue-green eyes from what I could see with him in a suit. I found him good to look at but nothing more. I found interesting that he had the same name has his great-grandfather. I thanked the Censor and left the Archives.

I went to a bus and took it in the direction of Francis’s home, hoping to meet him.

Author’s Note

You can comment at Beldro Mercier. Be kind please!

Thank you to Jason Bellaraux and Vlad Strelok, authors of the Shamans In Love series, as my editor and as a good feedback source.

Thank you to Mark Christensen for his editing, review and comments.

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