The fridge, luckily, was always majically stocked with fresh things to eat and drink. Along with his coffee, he fixed himself a bagel with cream cheese. And an omelette, hash browns, and sausages. And ruby red grapefruit juice.
After brushing his teeth, he grabbed his walking stick and left. He headed through his Wheel, transferring to the Dominion Wheel. But he found himself instead rerouted to some kind of limbo. Not like any variation on limbo with which he was familiar, but rather a sort of white space, not unlike a Cingular commercial. "Hey," he said, "where am I now?"
And his own voice replied, "Nowhere in particular. Just a brief detour, so that I might speak with you in private, with no distractions."
"Who are you?"
"I'm you. Sort of. The real you, the Writer at the Moment. Dave."
"Oh. You don't sound like me."
"I don't think you sound like me either. But trust me, we do sound just the same."
"Okay. So what's on your mind?"
"Just wanted to inform you of a few surprises awaiting you. So they won't be so, you know, surprising.... First of all, you'll find you haven't been dead."
"Yeah. Also, you've never published anything. Not comics, nothing. Your life, you will find, is more like my real one than your fictional one. There will be a few exceptions. Some things which have happened to me, I cannot change, but, I can at least say they never happened to you. And some things which have happened to me, but hadn't to you, now have had happened. You follow?"
"I guess so."
"You live in Ohio now. Don't worry, you won't be spending much time here. You're still a fictional version of me, and as such you'll mostly be having adventures, or doing whatever you want with your time. Don't worry about the real world, work and all that. I'll handle it. It's not like I have much choice in the matter, anyway, so I might as well. Well... I can't quite think what else to say, just at the moment. I'll talk to you again if I think of anything. Just be aware that the quasi-real part of your fictional life isn't quite as you remember it. That's all."
"Whatever. But I really haven't been dead?"
"Uh. In the fantasy part of your life, you were dead, you were a ghost. In the real part of your life you were not. I've been living it for you, and called myself ektomage, in the online portion of our life. But now I'm trying to be ready to be more positive, have a little hope for the future, or something. Stop thinking of myself as a ghost, which is why I decided to bring you back to life, in the fantasy realm, as well."
"Okay, that's nice. Can I go now?"
"Oh, just one more thing. The Wheel you've been calling the Dominion Wheel? It'll take you to any fantastic world on the Internet, not just those written about on the Dom. The Dom isn't even called the Dominion anymore, anyway. Alas. You can still go to those places, if you wish, but you can also visit any other fictional place written about anywhere on the Internet, including those I write into existence personally."
"Yeah, I think I knew that."
"Right. Well, I don't think I'd ever specifically mentioned it in my writing about you, so I thought I'd better had. Now I have."
"Good. Can I go now?"
"Sure. Have fun."
And so, ektomage found himself in the reality he'd most recently been in, before waking up. Some generic fantasy world which, as far as he knew, didn't have a name. Specific places within the world did, however, and he wasn't in the place he wanted to be. Using his majical walking stick, he quickly made his way to where he'd been, early this morning, and for some time prior. A place called Desperation.
Actually, a barren plain just outside the city. Well, barren save for a few outcroppings of stone, the remnants of former mountains which had long since been mined into practical nonexistence, by the settlers of Desperation. He walked to one large rock, which he'd been floating behind not so many hours ago, in the dark, watching a battle. Then he walked out to the place where the battle had been. He walked around and around the whole general area. There was no one around, and no sign that anyone had been here, except for some vague swirls in the dirt on the ground. The girl he was looking for was gone. He cast a spell to try to locate her, but it failed. He wasn't sure if this was because he was rusty at using the majik of mortals rather than that of ghosts, or because the girl had some kind of anti-majik protection spell working on her. He sighed, supposing it didn't matter much if he never saw her again....
He heard a shout from the distance. "Hey! Tek, old boy, is that you? I thought you were dead!"
He turned and looked in the direction from which the voice had come. He saw a figure, but couldn't quite make out who it was. The figure approached him, and ektomage began walking toward the other man. They soon met, and ekt said, "Ah, Butayde. Yes, I was dead for several years, now, but this morning I've been restored to life. I was calling myself ektomage, but I suppose I should call myself teknomage, again, now that I'm alive. Have we met?"
Butayde looked sort of sheepish, and said, "Well, sort of. It's um... complicated. Listen, the WatM is allowing me to know this... One time, years ago, he started writing a story, then decided it'd be apocryphal, but now he's thinking of getting back to it. It's just, he figures he'll have to rewrite it from the beginning, change things. He still wants the new version to be somewhat informed by the original story, however. And I was a character in that story. Two characters, actually. But before the story even started, we knew each other, even though he'd never written about me until he started writing the story. Now he needs you to meet an old friend, so he figures it might as well be me. Even though the apocryphal story, which was written before you died, now hasn't even started yet. Even he himself doesn't quite understand how it's going to all work out. And I can't say any more, I'm afraid, for you have to be the one to start all that, whenever is convenient for you to get around to it. I will say this, though: you are a knight, correct?"
Tek sighed. "I used to be... lots of things. Vice-lord of chaos, though I can't call myself that anymore. I used to be a knight of the Square Table, but... dammit, all that old Dominion stuff is useless to me now. All the old regulars on the Dom are long gone. I don't want to try to revive anything, start anything fresh, based on anything that happened there in the old days. Thee is no ThELanDOFMilKAnDHoneY anymore. If Queen Alexi ever called upon my services, I would surely uphold my oath, and serve her faithfully as a knight, but... that hardly seems likely. Yes, all the old things are over. Time to start fresh. I guess at the moment I'm nothing. I need to find a new path. Maybe I should even change my name. Calling myself teknomage seems too much to be living in the past. Hell, tekno comix haven't even been published in forever. There's no Adam Cain, no Teknophage, no Mr. Hero, nothing. Who cares? I do, but what of it, if I'm all alone?"
"Well, I like the name tek. Lot of folks do, I think. Some like ekt, too. Don't ask me how I know that, since I never encountered you since your death, and never heard the name ektomage until you mentioned it just now. WatM, what a weird guy. So what happened? How'd you come back?"
"Oh, I met this ghost hunter girl. Didn't catch her name. Cute though, and totally kick-ass. You shoulda seen her dispatch a ghost, before coming after me. I woulda been ni for the evening. It was a slow night."
"Sorry. Ni is Nihongo- I mean, Japanese- for 'two.' Anyway, I wasn't. Because she didn't kill me. Instead, she brought me back to life, with the same sword she used to kill the other ghost. 'Kill' being a relative term, I guess. Dispatched. Whatever."
"Sounds like the Tenseiga. The bringing to life part, I mean."
"Ah, yes. Sesshomaru's sword. I guess hers was sort of a combination of Tenseiga and Tetsusaiga. Or something. But hey, I died before I started watching Inuyasha, and you... when have you been to Earth?"
Butayde shrugged. "Writer Dave, he'll just write whatever he feels like, whether it makes any kind of sense or not. We do know that you always liked to introduce me to fun things from Earth, including TV, so we can assume perhaps that even in your absence, I found a way to continue enjoying such things. Maybe there's an importer somewhere in this realm. Or maybe I used the Wheel, or found some other means of travelling between realms, myself. I dunno. As for you, your mind is at least partially merged with his own, so you should find yourself knowing things that he knows, sometimes. Again, whether it makes sense or not. And dammit, I don't think he wants to have to stop and give explanation for this every time it happens! So let's move on. 'Ni,' you say. Heh. Sounds like a good word for a knight. Say it with me! Ni!"
Tek smiled. "Ni! Ni! Ni!" Soon they were both chanting it repeatedly. Finally, they stopped, and tek said, "Well, maybe I'll just go ahead and add that to my name. Tek ni. Tek two. Take two. Ah yes, a second shot at life. Maybe this one will be better."
"One can but hope. I think, however, one needn't use the word 'ni' when talking to or about you, necessarily. 'Tek' should suffice. Stick it on a handle or something, and leave it at that."
"Naturally... hmmm. A handle, eh? Surely you haven't been using the Internet, in this realm? Hardly a place of advanced technology...."
"Maybe not. Or maybe I have. Who knows? Not the Writer, and therefore not me. Maybe we should check out the Chaos Shoppe and ask me from the future."
"You said what, now?"
"Heh. Just thinking of the old apocryphal story which needs to be rewritten. When it is, it may not even include that character. I dunno. Whatever, let's get going..."
And so, tek and Butayde headed into the city....
back to Dave's personalities