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Sarah ran down the path past familiar trees and pennants flapping in the fresh breeze. This time there was no snow as the spring air had melted it and warmed the earth. Flower buds and the beginnings of might-be-trees dotted the forest floor.

It had been some time since she was here last but the space was familiar and the buildings like old friends as she broke from the clearing.

Kedrik was on the back porch, sitting sideways at the patio table, sipping coffee from an unusually large mug. He was wearing a light hood over loose linen robes. Something between a temple monk and an ancient wizard

Probably both?

That is, if it weren’t for the bright white kindle sitting next to him on the table.

Sarah slowed to a fast walk a hundred meters from the house both to mitigate any appearance of insanity and calm her breathing. She’d run from the edge of the property. She was anxious and now she was winded. Pulling at the bottom edges of her vest she took a deep breath and pushed it all out at once. A technique that had always calmed her breathing, which is did. But this time her heart kept pounding.

Kedrik was watching her stride across the pine needle littered ground. He’d turned her way as soon as she broke the tree line and now within range he spoke clearly but with a hint of morning in his tone.

“It’s awfully early to be running around, visiting people before they’ve finished their coffee, Sarah.”

Sarah nearly broke into a ran again, a quick bounding step, but restrained herself. She nearly landed on the table like a bird, both hands palm down on the surface, leaning forward.

“I know,” She gasped between breaths, “But I sent you a message- I had to speak with you as soon as possible-”

Kedrik showed that grin. Something between love and amusement. He sat up and crossed his hands in his lap before replying.

“I know. I mean, I expected this to happen, but one can never be sure when or how suddenly.”

“You know?!”

“I have a suspicion. But I don’t read minds. Let’s hear it- and have a seat, you’re looming.”

Sarah realized she’d leaned even further over the table. Half to support her body and half from intensity. She stood up but couldn’t sit. Instead her hands went to the back of her head as she took another deep breath.

“No, I can’t sit just yet. I- you- ah fuck. The totem, Kedrik. What is it?”

Kedrik’s grin softened and he looked her directly in the eyes for a moment. Regarding something. Feeling the field around her for what to say next.

“It is an object that anchors something you need into physical reality-”

“Don’t be cheeky, you know what I mean! You’ve told me that a dozen times and it has always been internal- mental… energetic. This is different, Kedrik. What did you do?”

“I created the object. I gave it what it needed to be useful to you. And I handed it to it’s rightful Guardian.” His words came calm and clear. Intentional.

“No no, you don’t understand,” She declared before letting her hands drop to her sides, “something is happening to me. Something real.”

“Did you not think it was real before? All that you’ve accomplished?”

“Yes, but, this- different. This is different,” She felt frustrated, he was going to make her say out loud what she’d barely accepted in her mind, “Fuck, Kedrik, I can see people’s feelings. And their thoughts, to some extent.”

“Tell me more.”

“Images. Colors. I don’t know. It’s half seeing and half just… knowing? Feeling?”

Sarah struggled to find the words to describe what sounded insane to her rational mind, “Kedrik, please. What’s happening to me?”

He studied her for a moment before his expression softened.

“Sit down, Sarah. Breathe. Drink some coffee. I’ll do my best to explain,” he said, filling a cup she hadn’t seen from a french press that was still hot. Had he known she was coming? An extra cup?

He saw her curious look and again replied to her thoughts, “Don’t look so surprised. I couldn’t pick a cup. Brought two.”

Somehow she didn’t believe him. Not now.

“Alright,” he began, like a story teller settling into a tale told dozens of times… and had it?

“These Totems. They’re just jewelry. They’re just precious materials made special to an individual. Or a few individuals…

… And they are inextricably tied to an idea, or ideas. Concepts. Values. Intentions…

… And those ideas are powerful to the individual because those who take Totems on are not random. They’re paired, and the connection serves a purpose.

I take my time with these. I take my time with the Guardians. Because these precious material objects connected to powerful ideas can shape the way a person sees the world.”

Sarah felt her impatience bubble up into words,

“No no no no! This is something far beyond that. Come on, Kedrik!”

A chuckle and reply, “Let me finish, dear. In some cases -many cases- there’s something more. I put my intent. My will. My focus into these. And I connect them to an energy that the Guardian needs. What you’re experiencing is not the Totem’s power. It’s what the Totem’s power has invoked in you.”

He paused to sip his coffee and let that sink in. Sarah felt more coming and waited.

“Humans are more. More than what even we tell ourselves. Our dispositions will naturally express in ways that are unique. That Totem,” He said, nodding to her hand where it sat comfortably on her finger, “is a powerful ally.

I couldn’t have known how it would express, because I don’t decide that. I only decide what the Totem contains. What you’re experiencing is yours, Sarah. It’s you. Fully realized,” he chuckled, “I’m just the messenger.”

Kedrik smiled a warm smile.

“Kedrik! Don’t downplay this! I’m not even sure I know what it is you did, but it isn’t a side conversation for a coffee break!”

That familiar grin. A sip of coffee. He was clearly having fun.

“No! I definitely did something amazing!” Kedrik laughed enthusiastically now.

“I created an object tuned to your energy with the intention of bringing you something specific. It’s magic, Sarah. Plain and simple. But what YOU are talking about, the ability to see and feel the energetic fields of others. That’s on you. Don’t blame me.”

Sarah began to protest, “I’m not blaming you-”

And Kedrik interrupted her, “Be honest! Haven’t you ever thought about how amazing it would be? How much easier your life would be if only? How powerfully you could serve? Wasn’t there even the slightest hint of this knowing how others felt before you ever heard my name? Isn’t it helping you do your work and explore the world better? Deeper? What’s the problem?”

“It’s not normal!”

“What is normal, Sarah? And what in the hell ever convinced you that you were whatever stupid definition you’re thinking of telling me? What good would it be, with the vision you have for your future, if you were? And do you even know what it’s like to live a normal life?” He asked the questions firmly, in quick succession. Pressing the intent of the words into her. More than the notion of rhetorical, this was energetic. She felt something softening in her. Some wall between her and whatever she was trying to see.

“ You’re not normal, Sarah,” he said softly, “And now you’re ready.”

She had been holding her breath and like a young creature finally breaking free it leapt from her and brought with it a sob. And then another.

She sat there crying, looking down at her knees as if they’d provide composure and maybe he wouldn’t see her breaking down.

But it wasn’t a broken feeling. The sobbing slowed. It was a lightness. Another gasp. She felt released from something that was clamped down on her lungs and now the sweet air was hers again. deep breath.

She slowly let the breath out and felt a tingling over her whole body. As she drew another slowly in, she looked up. He was smiling like a proud father. She could feel his pride. See his love like a rosy glow in the air. And something else. Smallness? A soft blue. Shrinking?

“You’re embarrassed?”

His eyes smiled. Appreciation.

“I feel honored. And humbled,” He replied quietly, “It’s not every day that you see someone reborn. And what small part I have to play is only the beginning. The seed, if you will. I can only plant. It’s yours to water and grow. You did good, Sarah. You do good, Sarah. Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life.”

Bright green. Faint images of growing plants. Warmth. Sunrise orange swirls past.

“Thank you,” was all she could manage.

Cedric pat the back of her hand where it rested on the table,

“No no, my dear, thank you.”

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