Hello Everyone, this is Charon again. It's been awhile I know. This is my "new" story Hybrid Reflection Theory, which some of you probably will recognize as a rewrite of my old story Soul Keys. This rewrite has been sitting on my computer for a while. I've gone through two other revisions. This one being both my favorite, and the farthest from the original. Now don't worry if you remember the old Soul Keys, everyone from that story will make an appearance in here, if only in a different form.
But if you're new to the whole Soul Keys thing don't worry this is a completely new rewrite and the perfect place to start as I revamp the whole story. I really hope you all enjoy and make sure to leave a comment or two if you can. ;)
The old man sat on the cushion that had been rolled out for him on the cold stone floor. He inhaled deeply on his pipe, his lungs filling with the strong tobacco. He then exhaled the cancerous smoke which flew to the ceiling in bird shapes. His student watched them fly in awe.
"Taro, what are you to do when I die?" he asked. The old man's voice was gravelly and archaic, like some ancient ruin. He straightened the folds of his indigo cloak with gold trimming. His gnarled hands moved slowly over the crumpled fabric.
"But you will never die, master." Taro said, his round, boyish face smiled up at his master. The old man chuckled in response. He ruffled the boy's purple hair, lighter than the master's cloak, but still dark enough to blend in with the evening sky.
"I will die, so will you, and everyone else on this mortal plane." he explained, his voice and eyes softening as if to soften the hard blow. "When I do die you must go out into the world, and find an apprentice. You then must teach this pupil of yours in the ways of the Soul Keys."
"But I don't know enough to teach anyone." Taro said, his naïve blue eyes grew to saucers.
"You will, my boy, you will." the man chuckled, and blew some more smoke birds. They hovered in the air between them for a short time before floating to the arched ceiling and dissipating. But young Taro was no longer staring at the illusionary birds; instead he was studying the wrinkles and crevices of his master's face, as if trying to divine some meaning from them.
"But I don't want you to leave me; I don't know anything of the world out there." Taro's voice cracked. He was nearing tears in his desperation.
"Don't worry." his master assured. "Now go get me my big book. We will learn of the 'world out there' today." Taro nodded and stood up from his own pad. He made his way slowly over to bookshelf that ran all across the north wall from floor to ceiling. His shoulders were shaking as he tried to hold his tears in. He reached out with a shivering hand to pull the ancient grimmoire from a shelf just above eye level for the short boy, but just as the tip of his finger brushed it it fell back and disappeared into the darkness behind the shelf.
Taro's mouth opened to exclaim something but nothing came out as he watched other books on the shelf begin to fall away. Each one revealing a cavernous darkness behind. Soon the whole wall was like a large machine. Each book moving on its own, each one clacking as it rolled back into nothing.
"Tell me what a Soul Key is, Taro." the old man muttered from behind the baffled young boy. Not moving, nor even turning towards his pupil.
"M-Master the books!" Taro finally exclaimed.
"Tell me what a Soul Key is, Taro." Haku commanded.
Taro jumped and turned towards his mentor. "'A Soul Key is a person with powers to enter the most sacred of sacred, the most personal of personal. A Soul Key is a person who can walk the thin line between the waking world and the world of our desires. A Soul Key is a person who can enter others' souls.'" The boy quoted.
"Why?" Master Haku heaved as he slowly rose to his feet, his bones popping with age.
Behind Taro almost all the books had fallen away, leaving a fast wall of nothing tugging at his back. "'To protect the people of the world by protecting their souls from those who wish to corrupt and destroy them.'" He had been trained well.
"Very good." Haku turned his pupil with a swirl of midnight indigo robes and suddenly the room around them fell apart like shattering glass.
Taro's breath caught in his throat as he took in his surroundings. They were standing on the edge of a lake, the water as serene as glass and the color of a polished aquamarine. He could feel the tranquility coming off of its surface. All around them cherry trees stretched out into the sky like the hands of the dead reaching for salvation, but each failing as their fingers and limbs became too laden with blossoms. It was raining shades of pink and red and colors the Taro never knew fell between the two. Between his toes he could feel the green grass, warm in the afternoon sun, and yet cool with solid power each blade drew from the earth.
"Do you know where we are Taro?" Haku asked.
"Your soul master." Taro replied. He was still taking in the sensory overload that was the lake shore.
"How can you tell?" The master quizzed the pupil. "I understand I made the jump from the Human Plane to the Soul Plane an obvious one, but others won't make it so obvious. In fact to the contrary they will go out of their way to make it seem like the Human Plane. To trick your brain. How can you tell the difference then?"
"I... I don't know Master Haku, this all looks and feels so real."
"But that is exactly it young Taro. Our Souls understand the workings of the world much better than our senses can even begin to perceive. I created this place based upon a childhood memory, I molded my Soul to resemble it. But my Soul filled in all the details that I only hinted at with my memory. The Soul will always overcompensate. I let my Soul run wild with the detail but just look at the vivid colors alone bombarding your senses." Haku lowered the lids to his eyes and fell silent. As he did so Taro watched as the colors dimmed. As the whole lake suddenly became more recognizable as a tangible place. He suddenly realized he had looked like he was standing in a painting before. But now, now it seemed real.
"But Master, now you've fixed it, now I wouldn't know that this wasn't real." he pointed out.
"Not true. Run your toes through the grass, catch a cherry blossom." Haku's right hand, gnarled with age and pain, closed around one of the many petals falling around them. "You can feel their very being. You can feel every vein running water through the blades of grass. The soul will always overcompensate no matter how powerful someone is their Soul Plane will seem just a tad too real. Too much sensation will come from the Soul Plane. You must come to know this feeling Taro. This is the way of survival for the Soul Keys."
Taro watched his master take his seat upon the mat rolled out for him. As he did the room built itself back, like a puzzle solving itself around them. Master Haku picked up his pipe from the wooden stand next to him and took a long drag. "Now go grab me my book." Taro nodded and lifted the grimmoire from the shelf. He carried it over, and set it before the old man.
The Master placed a single finger upon the leather cover. "Now I'll teach you about choosing your form of weaponry when in the Soul Plane."