Amon had never been out for a long journey. He wasn’t even sure how to take care of himself. And Crazy’Ole was now asking him to bring a cat along! Cats weren’t as submissive as dogs, you couldn’t just bring a cat with you. He asked embarrassedly, “Why do you ask me to bring Schrodinger? Will it follow me?”
The answer from Crazy’Ole astonished Amon —
“Schrodinger has stayed with me for thirty years, and it hasn’t changed a bit. I’ve never heard a sound out of it, neither have I ever successfully held it in my arms. It has never left Duc in these thirty years and it followed me here today, so perhaps this is what it was waiting for. Amon, it’s not an ordinary cat, Schrodinger can guide you. I haven’t told you about its exceptional identity yet.”
“What’s its identity? What haven’t you told me?” This cat was amazing. Apart from anything else, remaining the same for thirty years and not making a sound was already beyond all common knowledge.
Crazy’Ole did not answer, but returned with a question, “Do you know where you are going?”
Amon looked at the certificates and said, “Ejypt, right? You must have let the mayor give them to me. With them, I could’ve crossed the desert and went to Ejypt.”
Crazy’Ole shook his head, “No, that’s prepared for the long term. It was not a total excuse that I asked the mayor to announce that decree. I really want you to find Bair out. Ask yourself, who do you think will be your best guide?”
“Schrodinger, of course!” Amon pointed at the cat. “But after all these years, you failed to make it lead you to Bair. How am I supposed to succeed then? Maybe it has forgotten already… Do you still have anything to tell me? Please let me know!”
Crazy’Ole glanced at Schrodinger, “Alright, I’ll tell you everything. Bair has not only taken from the Isis Shrine Troni and Gods’ Tear but also a sacred item and a cat. The Isis Shrine issued secret orders to find those two things. Only the high priests in Ejypt know about it. ”
“A secret order to find a sacred item is normal because they wouldn’t like to let others know that they’ve lost a sacred item. But why did they secretly look for a cat? And why did Bair take a cat with him? There must be something important that we don’t know. Although Bair did not tell me, I’m pretty sure that the cat is Schrodinger. I’ve failed to solve this mystery in the last thirty years though since Schrodinger never responded to me.”
“To tell you the truth, I’ve tried many times to find Bair through Schrodinger, but I’ve never succeeded. It seems that this cat likes you more, I’ve seen you holding it in your arms, which was what shocked me the most in these past thirty years.”
“You should practice as a second-level mage, and the test you are going to face is the ‘faith’s confirmation’. This is all I have figured out for the secret of the gods. It is a tough path, my boy. So I don’t want you to call me teacher since I can’t guide you in this path any longer.”
“Clearly, Bair knows much more than I do. Find Bair. This will be your first step to solving the secret. He must have left more information about the next steps! Leave Duc and look for Bair. With Schrodinger in your company, you have a good chance to succeed. Don’t be scared. With your achievement in magic and body arts, the mountains and the cavemen won’t be your problem. I hope you don’t regret in the future.”
Patting Amon’s shoulder, Crazy’Ole concluded his long speech. Amon lowered his head and said, “I’m not scared, and I won’t have regrets.”
Crazy’Ole sighed with relief, “My boy, you’ve never failed me. Now try and see if you can bring Schrodinger with you. If it follows you, you will have the chance to find Bair.”
What should I do? Amon took a few steps forward and looked back, “Kitty, kitty, follow me!… or Schrodinger? Please, come with me!… Oh good kitty, let’s go.”
After many tries, Schrodinger finally responded. It turned to Amon and squatted down, leaned out a front paw and pointed at Amon. It seemed like a noble lord ordering his servant to carry him, what arrogance from this lazy fatty!
Amon walked over to Schrodinger and held it up. Schrodinger yawned, circled and fell asleep! Crazy’Ole gave him a compassionate smile and pointed to the big bag on Amon’s shoulder. It’s impossible to climb the mountains with a cat sleeping in one’s arms. Amon put Schrodinger into the bag, which fit it well. It could even breathe easily through the bag’s opening.
“Amon, I have some last words for you. Please remember them by heart and follow what I’m about to tell you. The first thing you should do is not directly try and find Bair. Go straight east from here, no matter how hard it is, don’t stop and don’t look back. After three days, look around you and climb up the highest mountain in your sight. Always go upwards. The higher, the better.”
“When the third layer of cloud is beneath your feet, find a place to practice magic. The most important ones are the water magic and air magic. You can use the Aquaticore and the Ventussalte. Place them into your staff and place two standard parangons into the other two sockets.”
“You are very good at primary water magic now. With the Ventussalte, air magic won’t be hard for you either. Most mages only care about the mighty power of magic, but they forget about how insignificant their magic power is when compared to the vast power that exists in nature.”
“So, when you practice the two kinds of magic, the first thing you should care about is not how powerful your magic can be. You should consider how to use them to fight against the power of nature and protect yourself. Don’t say that you can control a drop of water until you learn to maintain it in a surging river. If you manage to do that, you will be an excellent mage, and your body arts will reach the limit for a second-level warrior.”
“Whether you achieve that or not, don’t leave the peak of the mountain. Observe the clouds facing your west. When the sky is covered by dark clouds, find a place to hide. Don’t get hit by the lightning. Wait until the dark clouds disappear and the lightning ceases. Then, you can start to look for Bair with Schrodinger.”
You must remember all of these well and do exactly as I said!”
The last words came from the sky. Amon turned up and found Crazy’Ole flying away scratching the top of the trees like a huge, strange bird. There were still sounds drifting from the other side of the clouds, “Amon, if you can’t find Bair, just dump the cat. You’re on your own now!”
Amon walked lonely in the mountains. He went straight east as he was told to. When there was no road in front of him, he picked the easiest path. His left hand held the heavy fine iron staff, and his right hand held the dagger from Dusti to break his way through the bramble and thistle. He couldn’t go fast on the steep hills. The landform became more and more sophisticated, and the ditches between mountains became deeper and deeper. He couldn’t have gone any further if he didn’t have the excellent energy and reaction. Remote paths appeared in the jungles sometimes. These should be the paths left by the cavemen. Amon didn’t know how strong he was compared to the cavemen and he didn’t want trouble, so he avoided these paths as much as he could.
He soon understood why Crazy’Ole first taught him water magic. A man could stand days of hunger but hardly a day of thirst. At sunset, Amon found a dry gap between rocks and started to rest. He could not continue during night time. Cleaning up the surrounding, Amon lit a campfire. He realized that he did not have any water when he began preparing food.
There seemed to be water not too far away. Amon could hear the vague sound of running water in a lower gully, but there was no way to get there. Amon did not know how to fly, so he could not float down the cliff and retrieve water. Besides, the airflow over a gully was complex. Even the birds avoided flying around here at night. But Amon knew how to summon water, so he just gathered the water in the air to drink. Easy and clean.
He opened the bag on his shoulder to pull out a small pot and the beef jerky given to him by Crazy’Ole. He watched as Schrodinger dragged itself out from the bag with hiccups, smelling of wine. Amon had brought a bottle of wine with him. That was his father’s best wine. Merchants only sold the best wines in Duc, even a bottle of the ordinary one would cost a silver coin, and Amon’s father bought in barrels.
But this kind of wine cost fifteen silver coins a bottle. Sold in beautiful brass flagons, it was the best wine in Amon’s home. In fact, in every part of the continent, it was among the best wines. Amon found that the plug of the bottle was opened and Schrodinger had consumed every drop of it. What an extravagant cat!
Schrodinger lay still in a slouched manner without the slightest bit of shame. Did it not know that it had just finished the wine that was worth fifteen silver coins? Amon found that he could not argue with a cat. He gathered a pot of pure water, boiled it and put in the beef jerky. The beef dissolved in hot water and a tantalising aroma of roast beef filled the air. A pot of delicious beef soup was made.
Amon took out a scoop, bailed out some soup and blew on it. Swallowing it, he found that the hunger and tiredness from a whole day’s walk began to fade away. Before he could get more soup, he saw Schrodinger wander over to him and sit beside the bonfire, it raised its forepaw at the bush on their left.
The second after, Amon felt something there too, but Schrodinger was clearly more sensitive than him. It is called the instinct of the beasts. Although Schrodinger seemed to be a pet rather than a beast in every aspect, it had a sharper reaction to danger.
Amon was calm as usual, he hid his little panic quite well. He wielded his “rod” deftly. A swarm of tiny droplets of water arose and froze to sharp crystal needles. With Amon’s guide, they flew into the bush, when something rolled, crushed a few bushes and rapidly fled. Amon could only see a big long tail whipping.
It was a huge boa. Amon might be occupying the place it used to live. Or it was just attracted by the soup and the bonfire. Boas hated the cold, which could freeze them like a rock. Anyway, it was scared away by Amon’s ice needles.
He had inserted the Aquaticore into the staff so he could use magic this smoothly. Amon said to Schrodinger, palpitating, “Thanks for alerting me!”
It was a bit ridiculous that a fat cat sat like a Pharaoh, and the man in front of it spoke to it like to a man. Amon did it because he did not like the silence that he had experienced all day. He was not sure if Schrodinger could understand him, because the cat raised its forepaw again like a prideful and reserved lord, pointing at the beef soup.
Reading its expression, the cat seemed like it was dishing out an order. “Hey boy! Fetch me a bowl of soup!”
Amon almost laughed, he did not feel scared anymore. Even though he knew that Schrodinger was unique, he still found it funny that a cat was making such a gesture. He could barely hold from laughing, but he just waved the scoop towards it and said, “I have only one spoon. Let me fill myself up before I give the rest to you.”
Schrodinger suddenly raised its tail and slapped the ground, seemingly showing its disappointment, then turned around and slowly went beside the bag to lay down. It panted with eyes open, instead of sleeping.
Amon was a simple boy. He ate half of the soup and waited till the rest cooled down. He then put it before Schrodinger and said gently, “Kitty, you must be hungry, you can eat now!”
Schrodinger just closed its eyes and turned away. Seeing the cat did not eat, and since he himself was not that full, Amon ate the rest as well so as to not waste food. He waved the staff again and a spray cleaned up the pot.
Schrodinger opened its eyes and gave him a surprised and amused glimpse. Other mages would be stupefied to even spitting blood after seeing Amon using such delicate water magic just to wash a pot. This was the lowly servants’ work, how could it be done by divine magic?
After all, it was stupid to waste one’s precious magic power on such trifles when staying in such a hazardous environment!
Amon did not know what to do when Schrodinger refused to eat, so he just found some dry, soft hay, and laid it on the ground. He sat down with the staff in his hands and closed his eyes to start meditating. He was just about to review the simplest air element summoning instructions when he heard an irritated growl!
It was Schrodinger. So the cat had broken its thirty-year long vow of silence! Amon was disrupted by the sound. He turned to Schrodinger and found it lying on the ground and turned to him and started staring at him over its paws. Its gaze strangely reminded Amon of Lord Mayor watching the Ducians in front of the shrine.
What does it want? Schrodinger clearly wanted to eat something, but when Amon put food before it, it refused to eat. When Amon finished the soup, it got angry. Amon had a long night to kill, so he started studying this cat. And he recalled a memorable experience from not long ago.
He had eaten the best food that he ever had during the three days as Maria’s attendant. But what exactly happened was that Maria would finish eating her meal, and say, “Amon, you can have the rest.” then Amon would take the tray to the kitchen downstairs. The meal for Maria was abundant, and she could only finish a small part of it. Amon always helped her finish the rest. Maria would always keep at least two plates untouched as if it was prepared for Amon.
Thinking about Maria, Amon looked at Schrodinger. Maria always left two plates of food untouched for me because she knew that I would eat what she left. But in her perspective, she surely could not touch the food for me or eat together with me. So this cat thinks it was as dear as Maria?
After a long struggle, Amon sighed and decided against arguing with a cat. Crazy’Ole said that it would be the only clue to find Bair. Besides, Schrodinger would be his only companion in this long journey, so at least he should make sure that he could correctly read its intentions.
And Amon was soon proven to be right!
He cooked another pot of beef soup and put it in front of Schrodinger, then sat on the hay and restarted meditation. He tried to communicate with the air around him, to summon and control the air element. First, he needed a blow of wind.
He had put the Aquaticore, the Ventussalte and two other standard parangons in the sockets which made the staff surprisingly handy. Soon, the summoned air created a blow of wind spiralling before him. He then controlled it to blow the bonfire into various shapes. He took it as an interesting game.
When he finally got bored, he thought about the next magic. A transparent wind blade was merged in the air. The next second, it cut through the ashes, leaving a shallow trace. When he felt tired and decided to go to sleep, he added sufficient lumbers to the fire. He found that Schrodinger had eaten the whole pot and was already sleeping in his bag, with half of its head outside the bag.
What a big-stomached cat!