Walk and Thought (Attn: William and Margot)
"Existence is better felt under the feet, then in the head."

The pair have had significant weeks and months to contemplate all that had occurred the last time they had gotten together. The lessons of the spirit were plentiful (if rudimentary) and the thoughts that accompany such things tended to lead down paths that contained more questions then answers. 

It helped to have someone to talk to about it all. 

Either someone you could trust to look after your best interests.

Or someone who might be invested in ensuring you don't fuck up the world more than you already have.

....Or someone who's agenda ties into buoying the youth of tomorrow, above the tide of 'there won't be one'. 

One can't entirely be sure which of those Arturo Nihm is. 

* * * * *

Kindly meet me at this address. It's time for the next phase in your instruction

The text would arrive for both of them without much in the way of grace periods or allowances. It had the air of expectancy that came with the elderly. I've left my comfort zone to come into the city just to grace you with a bit of my time. Be here, now or know my senile wrath

The Address is a simple little diner in the heart of Denver's downtown district. Streetlights flicker and flutter, allowing the passage of traffic of all vehicles (Bikes, Bodies, Cars etc.) while the high rises with their glass surfaces and steel framing glitter under the mid-day sun and cast reflections that make the eyes squint and warm the brow and exposed skin summer has no doubt brought with it as a trend. 

The bodies here are plentiful as well. Many are on lunch breaks. Many more are simply out enjoying the nice weather. 

Arturo Nihm is sitting on a street bench, under a bus sign, quietly offering wave of 'No Thanks' to the buses that have probably been stopping to let him on for however long he has been sitting there. 

He's dressed for dapper. Argyle socks, pale beige slacks, a cardigan of resplendent checkerboard caramel and cream, over a simple dark green polo. His favourite bi-focals and his best cane, the ivory handle carved in the shape of the planet earth, down to ridiculously minute detail in the continent edges and designs. His hair is slicked back and trimmed over his scalp and his eyes carry a wistful sort of distance as he watches people wander past him. 

He is humming something under his breath, the melody lost in the maze of noise the city is so fond of making symphonies out of. 

When they arrive, one by one, or both at once, he is continuing to watch the city, eyes moving from couples to buildings to traffic to life. 

"...We've talked about Decay. We've spoken of creation. Today, we're here to talk about the third of Cosmic All. That which is closest to humanity and that promises the most threat and the most capacity for improvement."

Those bespectacled eyes turn to regard the pair, brows bouncing upward in waiting query. As if he'd asked a question and not simply made a statement.
This time, the duo arrived separately.  Margot had appeared first, just inside of an hour's time after her phone had buzzed an alert of message received.  Apparently, she had not been particularly busy today.  She came strolling up the sidewalk with a moderate buffer to separate her from the foot traffic sharing the street, believably due to coincidence or the uncomfortable impression she gave that you'd likely find gore under her fingernails (though they were painted yellow and perfectly clean).

Big mud-colored eyes picked Arturo from the scenery soon once she was within a block's distance, and she allowed for a moment of brief disappointment that it appeared they would be waiting outside in the sun for Will to join them.  The air conditioner and a seat that wasn't a bus bench would be nice, but so it was.

When she reached the bench first she met eyes with the old man, gave a forced smile of greeting and a small wave of the hand as well, then sat on the opposite end of the bench from him-- or, if he were planted in the middle, she'd remain standing behind the bench and to the side to hawkishly and impatiently watch for William to arrive and save her from extended one-on-one chats.  She had never quite shaken the unease she felt around him.  She either stood or sat, dressed in a white tee shirt, a pair of denim overall shorts, and sandals with white straps that were beginning to fade brown from the color rubbing away over the years.  Dark brown hair was pulled into a pony at the back of her head, and pale skin smelled strongly of the sunscreen she'd thoroughly slathered in.

When Will did arrive, be that sooner or later, Margot flashed him a smile and wave that were similar to what she'd offered Arturo Nihm, but far more genuine.  It had been a little while since they'd last seen each other-- they weren't out of touch, per say, but Margot had been deep in her books as of late.

Short-lived was the reunion, and the old man with the world cupped thoughtlessly in his palm posed a statement that turned out to be a pop quiz.  Margot's dark brows hopped upward on her forehead, and she glanced briefly to Will (a silent communication there, I'll go first?), before looking back to Nihm.

"Is it Order...?  As in, that what puts the universe in place as it is and gives it rules to operate under?"
There was a location given! A time, a place, a set of people to see and, truthfully, William had been looking forward to it. Craving the opportunity to see people outside of suits and robes and dueling circles and negotiations. He had been busy, and busy in ways that give one titles and acclaim and all sorts of delightful terrible things that come with having some sort of standing within the Order.

He hadn't been a fully fledged member for long and yet here he was, at a place where some people consider a terminal rank. A place where people go and sometimes stall because their spiritual being has stuck at a place where their own inadequacies keep them from growing.

William wasn't dwelling on that, though. He was more interested in getting off at the appropriate stop- which was fortunate, the bus rolled up and stopped at just the point where Margot and Arturo happened to be, or at the very least close enough that he wouldn't have a hard time sauntering over that way. Clothing was comfortable- jeans, tee shirt, and a half dozen bracelets that actually do hold some kind of purpose but only if you want to listen to William explain in great deal the importance of color and symbolism and fiber.

He's got a messenger bag with him, and a grin for Margot that makes it seem like they hadn't missed any time together at all. He does not smell like sunscreen, and apparently doesn't sunburn, or at the very least the extension of fearless determination about him extends to his desire to entice the day-star into giving him skin cancer at some point.

"Stasis, the great solidifying force that gives strength to little fledgling created things so they don't become ever-growing headaches." Or tumors. He meant to say tumors, but seemed to have the good sense to not quite liken creation to cancer.
"Good job."

Arturo nicks a bag of gummies (there's only one or two black licorice ones out of a few dozen of each of the other coloured shapes in the bag) from beside him on the bench, popping open the top with a deft hand and offering the bag toward the two to choose a gummy of their liking. Treats were a wonderful incentive. Cavities were a parent's concern. I.E not his.

"Most individuals gather oppositions from the obvious cues. Chaos and Order. Creation and Stasis. This is problematic because they are direct antithesis' to one another. There is little room for sympathy and thus understanding to be had between Chaos and Order, or Creation and Stasis. What little there is, can easily be disassembled in favour of their differences and choosing sides. Instead, one should look more closely at the positive and negative of one. When doing so, the opposition dynamic changes."

Arturo digs around in the plastic bag for one of the black gummies, fishing it out and popping it into his mouth with a delighted little hum.

"Chaos and Creation are in opposition to one another. A negative with a positive and a complex and nuanced relationship between the two."

He clears his throat, excusing himself with an unintelligible murmur.

"As are Stasis and Order. Order is the process through which we find direction to act. One does not act Orderly, one follows Order to a conclusion that best fits the moment, even if that conclusion is to tear it all down. There is no rebelling, no anarchy, no state of disassembling what isn't working without first knowing the Order of things. It is when that Order becomes so encompassing that individuals begin to walk within it's halls without bothering to look at what they are doing. Examine why they are there and why the rules and the laws and the language all work the way they do. There has to be perception or Order becomes...Stasis."

He pauses briefly before the last word, hands laying the gummy bag down beside him again in favour of a bopping gesture out to either side, palms up, indicating the simplicity of his statement. He smiles beneath his rug sweeper moustache and bi-focals, adjusting both with a wiggle of his nose.

"Individuals such as yourselves, who bend and flaunt and disregard the natural Order of things. I trust Order asserts itself in your lives somehow but your very existence is also a contradiction of the rules. A repeating effect that Order cannot correct. A tumor that cannot be excised."

How telling that Arturo latches onto the unspoken metaphor William had wandered around.

"The same could be said for many other things in existence in this day and age, mind you but that 'lack of perception' is what got us into this mess-" He waves his hand around at the city and the people negligently, flippantly even "-in the first place."

A pause. His eyes bounce between the two briefly. Then:

"I want you both to tell me why it is so difficult for you to reach beyond the mirror." He doesn't clarify if this is a personal story to be told, an academic study or something more philosophically esoteric. Per usual, the students will pick their own path.
Truth be told, William rather liked getting treats whilst learning. There was a feeling of nostalgia and memories that were sweet and lemon flavored that he refused to push aside for favor of bitterness that deserved full well to reside in his being. resentment was not something that he wore comfortably, though it is a suit one grows into over time; it's cut correctly for his shoulders, so William may wear it beautifully with vicious dignity someday. He would not, however, let his prior experiences with a mentor who-

Well, that's a different story for a different time. And there were gummies to be had. William selected something turquoise and bear shaped, which immediately got popped into his mouth and his expression brightened. An unspoken yay despite the fact that he is (arguably) becoming an accomplished creature.

"Repeating only if it chooses to, sometimes it works as an enforcement of the natural order... but I guess it's rebellion," he puts his hands up and he shakes his head and exhaled hard to pull himself back to the actual point.

And the question. Why is it difficult to reach beyond the mirror.

"There's a lot of reasons, for some reason there is an erected separatism between what is on one side of the mirror and the other-" and the other, and that other- he gestures forward while he's taking, as though to indicate that 'the other' could go on in perpetuity "-but in some instances it's because what one set of beings need and another set need are wholly different. The dead have an entire society built among things that no longer are here, and their continued existence is directly tied to ours and the need to resolve the reason they can't... y'know... rejoin the natural order of things." He's rambling, but doesn't seem to really notice, "Part of not being able to reach across the mirror is a lack of understanding- if you can't fathom what is there how are you going to interact at all? And after that there was a Storm- you cross and you get torn to pieces but... that's not actually a problem anymore and all we really have to contend with is the collective level of mire and-" This was where he flailed a little around him "-crystalline junk stuff around you. It doesn't exist as bad out in nature and shallow places and sacred places but damn it's hard to get a hand through sometimes. Getting a body through is intense.

"But... yeah, back on the other topic: for us it's hard, or improbable in some instances, to cross over because we're just not ready. Wrong tools, a lack of understanding, and your core says no."
The offer of a candy was accepted, and she plucked out something that looked to promise not to be offensive-- orange (red ran the risk of cinnamon). It was squeezed, regarded for a moment, then popped into her mouth. She hovered with her hands in her pockets and glanced back at the diner behind them, then back to the conversation when a question was posed and Will hopped to the answer.

Margot listened carefully, eyes upon Will's face as he spoke-- her dark brow flexed downward when he began to ramble about the dead, but smoothing once more when he got back on track to explain the Umbra, the Gauntlet, and why neither of them had any hope of passing through just yet. She sucked the candy thoughtfully and nodded her head in agreement. It looked as though she was going to let Will's explanation stand, but Nihm did say 'both' and she realized she'd better contribute at least some.

"We aren't really meant to be there-- physical bodies like our own, humans. As is the case with anything else that exists, we can learn to make the things that aren't meant to be Be, but it takes time. Time and power. The other side of the mirror rejects us just as much as gravity holds us down, but that's only for now."
"...There's an old saying, among my kind."

Nihm clears his throat prior to this statement, a soft thing filled with nostalgia, adjusting his bi-focals after the phrase with a flick of a well manicured finger.

"Sleep brings hope, waking brings regret." He pauses, chuckling under his breath at some memory or other, before his eyes, quicksilver adaptable, return to the pair with decisive scrutiny.

"The concept of 'another world' is a difficult one to wrap our heads around. We lay siege to the mystery with any number of theories but in the boundaries of the Spirit there is...a depth of dream-logic that can defy our expectations. It is why it is so important for you two to be observers first and foremost, because what you see will defy your ability to rationalize and from that defiance, you'll find new paths of thinking. New paths of connecting that you did not know existed. For instance..."

Arturo sucks in a slow breath, head tilting to one side before breathing outward. When his eyes open, there is a far away quality to them, an almost pale azure hue to the grey. A static distance that says no one is home.

"Our surroundings are of logic. Rationale. A sense that all things require sense. That all motives require verdicts. Lines are drawn to provide us comfort and solace when we look at them because we know that a line is a line. That a leg is a leg. That a spider. Is. A spider." A hand raises, wiggling geriatric fingers at something that wasn't there. "This method of something we learned. An imposing of required understanding on a world that had no need for it. We learned it from Order."

His eyes blink back, settling into place once more on the pair.

"...And when Order became so instinctive that it turned into Stasis, we followed right along as seemed so natural."

"You two-" He huffs. It might as well be a tsk. "Operate under the assumption that the Gauntlet is an enemy. That the spirit doesn't belong to you but that it should. That there's something unfathomable about it because you, like so many of your number and all those out there using cross-walks or obeying traffic signs or driving smartcars-" He flicks his hand out at each of the examples stated, passing their little congregation by

"-Believe it, but? That's just Stasis talking. A lifetime of learning it. And your...power-" Is that stifled humour under his breath? "-is just another symptom for how to reach there. Blunt and brutal in many ways, if effective. Mother knows the great binder of all things loves a challenger." He's rolling his eyes, dismissing the Cosmic Entity with a slim hand.

"You belong to the spirit as much as the spirit belongs to you. It wants you there, with it. All the time. It is eager to know you as intimately and deeply as lovers, friends and family and often times, it will go to great lengths to remind you of that. It is hungry, desiring and earnest in wanting you there. Wanting you back."

Arturo turns, his posture shifting enough to indicate the pair of kids should be looking out where he is looking. His face goes a touch grim and his features, a hint defying.

"...It's Her and This-" He waves a hand once again. At the Traffic lights. The street. The obedient little people "-that keep reminding you, bludgeoning you, with this idea that you don't belong."
It ws a hint at what he already suspected- my kind. AS though Mister Nihm were more than an old man with vast knowledge and a touch of eccentricity. He'd developed a collection of them, really, with perhaps a burgeoning desire to become one of those creatures. That is to say: William was developing the desire to live to old age. There is the statement and acknowledgement of defiance- how breaking expectations and shattering the things one can rationalize bring about new insight this. 

He was listening with the sort of rapt attention that came when one was talking to a person about a subject they cared about immensely, when they were offering a perspective that came from a place nobody else had offered before. As progressive as Henry was, the Order of Hermes had specific ways of thinking of things. They had rules. They had expectations. They were an Order, and there was strength in that but also-

It was like wheels were turning and then abruptly found a stick in the spokes of his bicycle wheel, flipped over the handlebars, and hit the pavement. You become intimately aware of things when you have a great accident- it makes you look at the parts and his brain got to have that one glorious moment of flipping over the handlebars in that moment. 

"But waitaminute-" he puts his hands up, mouth drawn in small for a second, "lemme see if I'm on base. It's- what we're doing- I mean- how we're interacting-

"We're trying to take ownership of something you can't own. Like-like with-" William stopped. 

Sat there, looked at Arturo Nihm with the bruises and the delight from his mental accident. He dropped his voice and it was almost like he was talking to himself but talking for an audience-

"The Keeper said 'The impermanent are funny things, believing that the world exists but for them, that things beyond their understanding would harm them... as though they mattered so much.' They talked about how we got so wrapped up in ourselves that we didn't care to look at the world- all of the world- as a whole thing. We gave and there was reciprocation- there was..."

More silence. 

"So... if we belong, how come it's so hard to get there? Why the petitioning, the rituals, the shallow places and the pushing- if we belong somewhere why shouldn't we be able to go?"
"That was the question he asked, Will," Margot reminded in a tone of scholarly scolding and cast a brief glance back up toward him.

Before, when he'd been talking, she was watching the flow of traffic in the street while listening. When his voice had dropped to speak of the Keeper, her attention sharpened in a way that felt much like an arrow quickly pulling tension into a bow string. She'd kept looking ahead, but strained to hear what this Keeper had to say, and made a bright neon mental flag to bring the subject up with him later.

For now, though, she stuck to scolding and the subject of the Gauntlet, and looked over to their conditional mentor in things of the Spirit to speak herself.

"We're born to physical bodies, on this side of the Gauntlet. The Realm of the Spirit might crave us back, but that doesn't mean that we belong there. There are... some impressive impressions of humanity left on the Umbra that continue to echo, but besides them, where does our spirit go when it dies? Not to join the others that live right on the other side. Death isn't a rejoining, you can't reach a dead soul's destination just by Crossing Over."

Her heavy brow hunkered partway toward her eyes, and she looked almost as though she suspected the thought of belonging to the spirits as being some kind of trap, or Ponzi scheme.
"You kids get up to the damndest things."

Arturo is looking at William while Margot scolds the young boy, a frank sort of scrutiny that no doubt suggests this 'Keeper' is something of notice in Mr. Nihm's eyes. That phrase seems to be the only thing he opts to offer on the matter however, as the world around them continues to spin in it's predictable manner. The traffic lights have changed a grand total of nine times since they arrived. Pedestrians have crossed and re-crossed and criss-crossed in the dozens, if not hundreds by now knowing this time of day.

"A fly buzzes around a horse. Imagines that horse to be forever because it and all the other flies it knows will never be able to determine that the horse's life will eclipse many thousands of iterations of their entire species' lifespans. The horse in turn will consider the redwood with it's hundreds of years, likewise an immortal and unfathomable entity. The redwood in turn..." Arturo's hand spins in the air, a rotational 'blah blah blah' for the both of them, while his gaze travels out into the traffic and press of the city.

"We are born to physical bodies on this side of the Gauntlet. That does not necessarily make that birth natural. Perhaps it is a symptom of a sickness. From the birth we suffer through, the life we grow around and even the death places we revere that are only in fact pit stops until something out there figures out what to do with us. Perhaps we-" And he throws a hand out at the collective that is the humanity. Those that walk all around them and these three who seem to only be pretending "-are a by-product of something that has been occurring for so long that we falsely accuse of it having 'always existed'. " He stares at Margot just then, features even. A challenge there. A question about her certainty.

"Perhaps your birth and the resultant magic you grew into, is an antibiotic answer to an unwell existence." Arturo breathes. Makes an effort to breathe deeply at that. Then reaches into his candy satchel for another black jewel.

"William. If you could ask a question and receive an honest and open answer of any being, do you genuinely think you would deserve the answer you received?"

"Margot. If I told you Gods and Goddesses were real and that you could talk to them as easily as you and I are speaking, do you believe they would be willing to speak with you as you currently are?"

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