Calm down. You’re not dreaming this. You’re not awake either. It’s confusing, I know. But just listen.
If you move your hand to your heart, you’ll find two memory jewels over it. One is mine, the other is Master Corespasa’s. Give both of them to the green hag — I mean, Marceau — later. There is no message for her, but just give them to her. My ruby is the reason you perceive this now. The rest of this message is for you.
By the time you listen through this, I’ll be already on my way to Harmony, or maybe I’m there already, or maybe I’ve been brought somewhere else…
Sorry. I’m starting to ramble. My head does tend to go on and on, more than I probably let on. I don’t tend to talk much, since my head keeps on this incessant chatter that I often can’t stop, unless I sleep or force myself to sleep, which is why that tends to happen, the oversleeping, and the stuff I do that tends to worry Bei, poor Bei. Bei tends to think and talk together, so she talks and talks…– I’m really sorry about this.
I’m getting worried, I guess, about you, and everyone else. So before I start rambling any further, here goes:
I’m having a transfer reaction, Rowan.
It’s not your fault, and if it were not for you having so much reserve power I’d be in a worse situation. But my body is taking a while to get used to your fire programs, that’s all.
I’ll have enough strength left to get to Soji and to talk to him and to manage to reach Beika. But after that, I’m going to crash, very badly, and I’m going to be very sick. I’m starting to feel it, right now. Beika has seen a lot of things about me, but this will be one of the worst.
For once, I just want to sleep and get rid of this pounding in my head, but I don’t want to be dead. That’s what you all worry about me, right? But not today. I want to wake up after the transfer reaction runs its course, and to find that everything turned out alright, and that you had a big part in it.
While I was functioning a little better I already talked to some people that need to help in fixing this big mess we’re all in. If it all works out, Marceau will be having these people in one place soon, and to coordinate their movements, yours too.
So Rowan, listen carefully.
The program lines for all the element programs need to be corrected then stabilized. Because of all the fighting in the capital recently, all the programs are threatening to be unstable. I already told Marceau to impose a temporary ban on offensive programs, and that has helped control the problem. But now we need to re-align all the program lines.
When I made the Force Field I also corrected the fire program lines for the capital. But when the alignment of all the element program lines happens, someone has to maintain the corrected fire program lines.
That’s where you come in.
Rowan. I won’t be around as the Crimson Master to maintain those lines, so you’ll be the one to do it, as the next Crimson Master. Yes, I know that you don’t see yourself as the next master, and indeed you still need to learn much about the fire programs. But you have the raw power, and for this task that is what I need. You understand things fast, and learn quickly. You’ll know what to do, if I tell you.
Stop being angry at your chief. I’ve seen your pain, your disappointment. But Soji is also a man, and his people have been wronged. He did what he needed to do for his people. You’d do the same for Pendi. He’s still the same chief, deep down. But life and pain have done him wrong. It’s not his fault.
Stop being angry at Eloise. You’ve had good people in your life. Eloise does not seem to have had them. It has made her cause pain to many people. Help her to heal. And do the same for Ren, who has wronged you too, and has caused pain after a life of pain.
Stop being angry at Beika, and Marceau, and me. We’re not Soji. We have many faults. We are not perfect. Only in our programming are we better than some, but not in life. Cut us some slack, and take us as we are.
Forgive Johann for what he has done. He has not had real friends in a long time, and you, his oldest friend, have given him pain.
No, I’m not rambling, Rowan. You need to remove all that anger in order to concentrate for what you have to do.
My time is running out. I really need to go and find Soji now. So here’s what you’ll be doing:
Once everything is arranged, position yourself at the emblem of the fire program guild. You know the one; it’s where I placed my hand where I made the Force Field.
Activate the fire program lines.
Keep them steady as the other programmers correct their program lines. That’s not simple, and it may take a long time. Get a heal programmer to help you if you need it. Just keep your power balanced and steady.
When everyone is ready, lock the fire program lines.
That’s it. But it will be tiring. So make sure you rest well.
Get my memory ruby from Marceau before you do this, so you can get the program activate codes. I have them stored there for you.
You can do this, Rowan. You are confident, but you don’t trust yourself enough. You can do this. You’re a very helpful and kind person, so I’ll tell you: if you do your best, you’ll help save everyone in the capital of Pendi. You’ll help Pendi in a way only you can do.
I am thankful for you being here, Rowan. I know it does not look like it, but I do. I had thought that I would be the last Crimson Master, that there would be fire programmers but none that would keep the Force Field. I thought that I would die with its secrets. Now that I’ve met you, you’ve given me hope that at least I have one person I can share these secrets to one day, so that what I learned from Corespasa will carry on without me. I promise I’ll try to stay alive until I manage to give you what I know, all of it. I’ll try.
So trust in yourself, Rowan. I believe in you. Take my place in this important task, and do your best.
I’ll see you in a few days. Now make us proud, crazy redhead.
Rowan sped on a thin cloud to the infirmary. Word had reached Marceau that Assistant Lan had been brought there in the last few hours. Her head was still foggy from being asleep and drunk on love, but somewhere in the middle of her dreams, the assistant’s quietly nagging voice kept ringing in her ears.
She skated through the hallways, all filled with people in white moving to and fro, also preparing for the capital-wide proceeding. Few even knew that the assistant was already there, and many were surprised to hear it. But finally she found a series of helpful answers and helpful pointed fingers. She moved from hallway to hallway, from room to room.
She was led to a glass-bound room, beside others. All the patients in that area had many tubes coursing through them.
She quickly found a redhaired young man over a bed, tossing and turning, soaking the sheets with his sweat. He panted and gasped. His arms burned with his fire program lines. His eyes were opened but rolled upward, as he muttered incoherent words over and over. She did recognize her name among the various mumbled syllables, among the many gasps of pain.
Her heart pounded in her chest. Lan was definitely in no state to do anything important.
“A-A-Assistant Lan, sir,” she stammered aloud, watching him toss and turn. “I’m in second year basic. I can’t do what you’re asking me to do. It’s too hard. You’re asking me to help keep the capital!”
A hand rested over her shoulder. “You can do it, Rowan,” Beika said. The healer was sleepless and exhausted.
“Will…will he be alright, Miss Beika?” she asked. “If it’s something about the transfer that went wrong, I’ll take responsibility…”
“Nothing went wrong, Ro,” Beika patted her shoulder. “It’s just the meeting of strong programs to a strong programmer with a weak body. Hard to look at, though, I know.”
“Ro, dear. Lan believes in everybody but himself. So whatever it is he said for you to do, he’s probably right to believe you can do it. He’ll be fine.”
“But…but…I’ll need a healer…”
Beika thought for a while, then snapped a finger. “OH. That’s right. He’s been rambling about that too. I’ll come with you.”
“Are you sure?”
“There are many heal programmers here, and they know what to do.” Beika went up to him for a while and cleared his damp forehead. “Besides. He asked me to.”
“He did?” Rowan chuckled. “Is there anything he hasn’t thought about?”
“How to take care of himself.” Beika shrugged and smiled. “As usual. Come on. We got work to do.”
But first she came up to him and wrapped her arms around his warm and damp torso.
“You swore. Don’t die on us…master.”