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By the Willow Tree (Lit) (FINISHED)

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By the Willow Tree (Lit) (FINISHED)

Post by RabidFox » Fri May 22, 2015 5:42 pm

By the Willow Tree

The story takes place on a planet much like Earth. It occurs during an era with both Victorian and modern elements. All characters are daemons: Humanoid people with pointy ears, fangs, claws, and commonly spiky hair.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5


(FINISHED)

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RabidFox
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Re: By the Willow Tree (Novel)

Post by RabidFox » Fri May 22, 2015 5:43 pm

Chapter 1


"Professor..." Isaac was in the lobby, surrounded by the senior members of staff. "why do I have to do this again?"

"Because..." Began the professor sitting next to him. "I said so."

"I don't think that's a very good answer." Isaac smiled.

"I know that." Grumbled the older man. "You are just always trying to get on my nerves. That's that. The end. Wooo boy!"

Isaac scowled, angered by the man's tendency to rule absolutely everything. "But I don't want to." Isaac insisted.

"Doesn't matter." And then the professor made an expression like he was done.

"But—" Isaac was cut off by one of the other professors that was sitting with them.

"He told you that he is done." Asserted the man, leaning over the table. "Now you are not supposed to argue with us, little headmaster. It is not your place to tell us what to do. You are ours to control, raise, and groom. How will you ever take power over the entire academy unless you listen to us? Now we will be done with this right now!"

Isaac was none too happy. He looked over to the side, his thoughts preoccupied with ways to escape. He didn't want to give everything he had to a new classroom. It just sounded so silly. What kind of place would he turn such a room into? What, a real place of learning? Oh come on! How could he be expected to function at full capacity with a room full of children? Children... Errr. Children. He couldn't stand children.

"I thought that I am supposed to be—"

"Enough!" Growled another professor.

Isaac had, had enough himself. He got up out of his chair and made his way for the door. The professors persisted to tease him as he left, certain that they would get their way in the end.

'Well, we'll just see about that.' Isaac thought to himself.

He started down the halls, headed for the new classroom of new students. It was supposed to be a temporary adjustment, a small time errand that needed to be treated like a future project. Isaac scoffed, bored out of his mind. The young headmaster could not stand to be treated like a child. He was an adult. It didn't matter if his training wasn't done yet. He was not a child!

Isaac stomped his way to the room and entered early so that he could prepare. He felt like all the preparation in the world couldn't fix his new problem. Spoiled, rich, elitist brats. That's how he saw it. Grumbling, mean, nasty, demanding children. Oh, his eternal dilemma.

But there was a secret to all of this. Isaac blushed, moving things around in the room. He actually was quite fond of children. He just honestly didn't want to try to teach them a real topic. It was such a chore dealing with the children of the high class, especially ones so young. It was not a task that he was up to.

"I have no idea how I am supposed to teach young children advanced psychological concepts." He muttered to himself. "What in the world would such little, frail children know about that?" He looked to the side, his mind heavy with worries.

Isaac was still getting things set up by the time a few of the children came into his classroom.

"Hello." One said, and then he rushed for his desk.

"It's the headmaster!" Piped a little boy. "Oh wow, it's the real headmaster!" Then he caught himself and quietly headed for a chair of his own.

"Good day, headmaster!" Smiled another little boy, as he walked towards him.

Isaac stared at the child, his expression turning to one of fear. "Uh..." He stumbled. "Hello." No matter what he may think about children, he still didn't know how to treat them. He had not been raised around very many boys his own age. His life had been one of endless lessons and tutoring and grooming. The king's son would not be ignorant, especially when he was so completely controlled by the high class members of the kingdom.

Nonetheless, the boy was ecstatic about meeting the headmaster of the school. He was not daunted at all by Isaac's difficult behaviour. Scurrying to one of the desks in the back, the boy tried to keep a low profile. One could hardly say that he was succeeding, however, when he had such a bright look on his face.

Isaac moved towards his desk, facing the children with his hands behind his back. Many times a professor had snapped his hands with a ruler for failing to make the correct pose by his desk. Many times he had been humiliated for even so much as placing his hands behind his back. While such learning was necessary for someone of his calibre, Isaac could have a hard time coming to terms with his life. It always seemed like people pushed him way too hard to be perfect.

After a short time, the class was full and the sound of the bell in the hallway was clearly ringing. Isaac shut the door to keep noise out and then returned to his place by his desk. Behind him was a large, blackish blue chalkboard. There was nothing written on it, as was tradition for the very first class. And, surely, these boys had never even so much as met him before.

"Good day, children." He squeaked out, very nervous.

A little boy chuckled.

"What we are going to be... learning today is..." Isaac stuttered, trying his hardest. "Advanced psychology.

"Now, I know that this sounds really silly to you kids. We may all be psychologists living in the land of psychology, but then that doesn't mean that I think you all know much about it."

What a stupid way to begin a class.

"Anyway..." A few more boys chuckled. "I am the headmaster. I mean... My name is Isaac... I am the headmaster of the school."

Isaac kept leaning forward, then back, leaning forward, then back. Oh my, the anxiety! But Isaac was never one to resist a challenge, and immediately he went into memorized routine. Turning into a stone was not hard for Isaac, children or no children. He would be successful. He would succeed. He would not disappoint. Failure would be the death of him, even if he had to almost die to achieve.

"Now... let's get started." Began Isaac. "This will be an introductory course to advanced concepts in psychology. None of you have completed a basic course, so that this will sound very strange to you. All of it. None of it should make any sense. We're simply doing this class to help me understand business management and time management. I heard that children are very good for teaching an adult such lessons.

"However, do understand that you will be taking some learning from this class and that you are forbidden to abuse any of your teachings. Some of you will understand me in two seconds. Others will fathom me in three. The best of you will understand everything that I am saying, but only comprehend about half of it.

"Now... we shall begin."

Isaac straightened his posture.

"When a man is standing all alone in the road, he is focusing on only one thing. That is himself. He cannot be challenged and he cannot be overthrown. He must be viewed only.

"That, of course, just threw your heads in a circle. Think of this like a class in Japanese. You are going to be struggling in a learning environment. This environment is designed to immerse you, much like another language, into a state of thinking that can grow and change and... yes, it is that word... glow.

"Glow. Glow. Glow.

"You will be tested only by the strength of your own mind. I will not be asking questions. I will be designing paperwork for you to fill out. Tests. More and more tests. That's how I like to perform."

Isaac smiled.

"I like to grade every last thing in your head. I am completely and utterly against all types of failure, laziness, refusal to act, and so on and so forth. Do I think children are capable of such things? Well, I have no idea, but I am required to learn. What I want you to do is not to bother me at all with silly trifles. I am not a man to be played with. If you try to play games with me, you must leave this room immediately. You will not be coming back.

"When a man is reaching his full potential, he does not return to his basics. He struggles to gear himself forward, against all walls, against all sense.

"In advanced psychology, he is not growing into a functional being. He already did that in basic psychology. Advanced means advanced. This is how he will ultimately grip his world. This is how he will finally find peace of mind. His relationships with others will grow, but he himself will not.

"How do we come to an understanding of that? How do we challenge the world around us?

"We must find a place for stopping and a place for continuing. We must push our minds forward to learn how to push them back.

"When I am looking for a place to buy milk, I go outside. I do not simply walk out the door and walk up to the nearest place that offers milk. I go outside. I run, I climb, and I fall all in one place in the centre of my universe. I wander, I bark like a dog, I think like a runner.

"I am invincible simply because I believe I am so. If I were to be defeated, I would never know. I would run around the trees, the buildings, the roads. I would find my world like a wild animal finds shelter. It is huge. It is big. It is unfathomable.

"It is my world. It is my place. It is my world. It is my place. It is my world. It is my place.

"I must understand this one simply reality or I will fail at all life experiences. No, you do not need to experience something to believe in it. You do not need to think at the highest rate possible to achieve the greatest lines of knowledge. The simplest thoughts and care and a frugal attempt at selling your milk for orange juice... that is what you need to do.

"You need to buy orange juice instead of milk. You need to purchase lots and lots of items. You need to go inside a store and buy everything they have. Don't spend any money. Look at it. Buy it. Look at it. Buy it. You see all these things in your imagination? It's money, it's items. You can buy it. Buy the whole store. Not because you have money, but because you have a mind. You have a way to find that mind. You have a way to accomplish that mind.

"You must succeed.

"Now there is a candy bar on the counter. Don't buy it. Look at it. Do you want it? No. No, you do. No, you don't. But you can. Buy it and buy it and create a world around it.

"Now if you took this understanding and you walked into a store, what do you see? You are the top of the business chain. You are in charge of your special department. You are the highest of the highest managers. So what will you let these businesses you own do? Okay, someone else owns it near the top, but you own it at the top. You let that business exist. What do you tell it to do? Stand there? You must instruct it to do something. To do anything. You must help yourself by creating a world that can be explored and defeated.

"You need to see that manager. Look at him. He is your enemy. He thinks he can manage the store without your help. Fire him. You only want good employees that will listen to you. There is too little time in your actual working time for you to focus on disobedient staff.

"So, let's say you want to go to the grocery. You want to buy something? No, your servants can do that for you. But you need to be able to see things from the technical point of view of a shopper. You're owning this store one way or another. You are the government. You create a list of mandates and you set them upon this store.

"Next, we're going to discuss application. Now this is something that you will not understand, but if you went to a school of psychology and you took all of the courses, you would still not be able to do therapy. Or psychiatry. Or anything that would typically make one think of psychology. Why? Because you do not know how to apply the psychology that you're learning to the position of a therapist and so on and so on. You must learn and accept application before you can apply any of your skills to the real world.

"Let me explain. Application is how one thinks about what they are trying to apply. For example, once the man finishes his education at the psychology school, he must then learn to apply his learning in order to discover a way to actually use the knowledge. This can sound hypocritical to a child or just downright confusing. No, application does not mean experience. Experience is what you get once you actually start a job. Application is what you do in that job. Without knowing application, you cannot succeed at anything.

"Does that mean you must go to a different school or take a different class? Yes and no. If you are wanting to apply psychology to a therapist position, then you must go to a part of the school that is normally not available to you. This would happen in your senior years. Then why do I act like you can't learn it at the same school? Well, because it really does feel that way. It feels like an entirely different school. This way we transform language into a tool by denying a person simple understanding of their own field.

"What does that mean? Even adults have no idea.

"What it means is simple. In your senior years at a psychology school, your professors and teachers will finish with you by teaching you application. It is so different from studies that you normally do in the rest of the school, that you would be blown away to walk into a seemingly completely different school that is really just a new kind of classroom with new kinds of teaching methods. Would there be lectures? Oh yes, many lectures.

"All of what I have been saying can sound very sloppy. Don't worry. It gets clearer and clearer as we continue. It is simply because you have never heard of these concepts before. Like I said, it's a lot like learning a language. There is a certain spell to it that binds your interest and commands your attention. Like learning a language.

"Application, application, application."

~*~*~*~

"All right..." Began Professor Archandon. "we're going to be analysing the inner workings of a small business. Today, the small business that we will be working on is a simple, everyday dollar store. We started lessons by taking a brief glance at a department store, then we fulfilled more of our study requirements by thinking about life within a comic book store. After that, we thought about all the many ways we could stock a large book store chain.

"So up next is the small dollar store. Will we be working with a chain or a family run business?" He asked another professor. At the moment, there were eight of them total.

"A chain is best for now. I don't think Isaac is up for the family run part yet." Answered Professor Leigh.

"Okay, so that is what we are going to do today." Announced Archandon. "Isaac... explain to me, not the subject of stocking itself because that is very hard with this type of thing, but explain to me what kinds of items should the ideal dollar store have in stock? We are thinking very basically, but this is still advanced decision making."

Isaac was ready. "I believe that there should be no food. Having food in a small store that is not a grocery is very unwise. While they may still make profits, especially if they are selling bread next to a medium sized grocery store, it ultimately cuts their potential profits by a large percentage.

"Also, there should be no rejected merchandise, such as unsuccessful books from a neighbouring department store. The only acceptable merchandise of this type is pretty much just video games. They won't be very good games, but they will at least draw someone to them. There is a very large market for video games, even if they are not that well made. Somebody always buys them, as long as they are marked cheaply.

"Kitchen accessories are great for such a business, but I feel like, in the current climate, that they are still overused as stock and by a large amount. One must question where all of this excessive stock ends up going, but that is another matter.

"I think that some of the most valuable kitchen related items are actually just the strainer and the water stopper. Those are items that you should get replaced every once in a while, especially the strainer. However, the quality of water stoppers is very low when it comes to dollar stores. The plastic is often warped and virtually unusable if not completely unusable. How do they keep this particular item in stock when it is of such poor quality? I have no idea. It sounds crazy to me.

"Kitchen towels are not very profitable in this type of store. Nobody needs any. They very frequently just use their own old towels. Even a small selection would be pointless."

"I think that I should interject here." Said Archandon. "I must disagree with you on kitchen towels. People constantly dispose of them. New towels are actually quite popular items and do the store a lot of good.

"Now continue. Don't let my interjection disturb your train of thought. Keep that open mindset of yours. It is essential to success."

"Yes." Added Professor Leigh. "Think of this like when you were small and still learning how to add apples and oranges. The essay you wrote as a child has the same tone as what you will write as an adult. You merely learn to spell better and use more proper grammar. Your mind is still there. Your thoughts will have your favourite colour written all over them. Do not see your own personality as a flaw, as being incorrect. You are merely hearing the sound of your voice and the wording that your persona chooses."

Isaac waited for a moment, then resumed the task at hand. "All right then. No kitchen towels. Got it.

"How about arts and crafts? I commonly run into that item in such stores.

"I don't like the overuse of beads. I feel like they sell too many projects that include beads as part of the product. They should not waste so much on such meaningless projects. That sorta thing belongs in a different store. To sell it in a dollar store is to sell it for a dollar and there is not much one can do with beads if the cost is too low. It will not be unique enough.

"One issue I find is that I personally do not like seeing Perler Beads sold in such little stores. Granted it can be a fun activity, but cheap stores will only sell shaped pegboards and a handful of beads to go with them. You get no colour variation and you cannot design it yourself. It has to be a cat or it has to be a flower, etcetera and so on and so forth. Therefore, I would take it off the shelves. How many people are going to want to iron such restricted projects anyway?

"Another problem I encounter is stickers. There are tons and tons of stickers. Why so many stickers to choose from? They have loads in stock and loads that just sit there on the shelves. How can they take such an overuse of a product so seriously? Why is this in such demand?

"I like stickers. I know many people like stickers too. However, I also find fault with the particular selection of which type of stickers to sell. They are not interesting, not even for a dollar.

"It has been in your tendency to hate anything that there is too much of." Interjected Professor Leigh. "Regardless of what type of store it is in unless it is a speciality store... How can you create an intellectual arguement against such an attitude? At some point, even a dollar store is going to rightfully have what would look like to you as an excessive amount of stock. Perhaps you should focus more on the product itself and not how much of it there is. It is on topic, certainly, and you usually have great answers, but I feel like, lately, you have been too drawn to the more advanced topic of stock.

"Also, I worry about your overuse of organization." Started Professor Leigh. "It has gotten to the point that you keep running into strange holes plainly set forth for you on your calendar and on your papers. You walk into my experimental room and you knock everything over and make it ugly. You must stop focusing so much on organization. It will be the death of your education if you keep insisting on defying logic."

"Where have I failed?" Asked Isaac, always the stony face of progress.

"You have not failed. You have learned." Explained Leigh. "You are speaking about it in such a way as to be invisible to you right now and that is how I would like to keep it."

"I always detest that you completely erase food from everything." Chuckled Archandon. "How will I ever eat if you keep drying up all of the stores of any food or drink? You hate the mere mention of a candy bar because it forces you to think about how they are almost universally sold in every store, place, and hat.

"Are you sure that you don't want to eat...? Are you sure that you want to starve to death?" Archandon laughed.

Isaac made a face of displeasure.

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Re: By the Willow Tree (Novel)

Post by RabidFox » Sat May 23, 2015 12:50 pm

Chapter 2


"So say you are designing a mall." Started Professor Archandon. "Just... tell me what it is. Tell me all about it. Say whatever you want. Just make it... successful!"

"Ohhh my, success!" Joked Isaac, sitting at the table with the professor. It was just the two of them at the time being.

"I will interject sometimes, though." Archandon smiled at him. "I have to make sure that you don't get rid of all of my candy bars!" He laughed. "Now... don't worry, don't fret. Just... do it!"

"Okay. All right." Isaac prepared himself mentally for a moment and then began his studies.

"There is a mall. It is enclosed. It is not a strip mall and it does not have attractions in it.

"There are no shoe stores. They do not belong. Shoes need to be sold at a department store or a speciality store. There are no clothing stores. They equally do not belong. Such items need to be sold at a department store or a speciality store. The only clothing that is at the store is very trendy and all sold at the same place. This place also sells a small selection of trendy shoes.

"There are a few food stores. One sells ice cream and hot dogs and things like that. One sells cookies and brownies. And one sells pizza and pretzels. They are all located at the centre of the store, with a dining area in the middle. The dining area is always present. It is not seasonally replaced by holiday promotions.

"There is one store that is far out in theme and products. It is full of special items that you cannot find anywhere else. It does not have any overly mature products and this makes it possible for adults to bring their children along.

"It is important to have certain guidelines and restrictions on the maturity level of merchandise, and it is more profitable in the long run if most people across a wide age range can view each and every store in the mall. It is critical to the survival of the establishment, of the mall itself, to keep a regular influx of customers and to place value on returning consumers. The business needs to focus as much as possible on characteristics and traits that create a welcoming atmosphere for all types of customers."

"Let me interject here." Said Archandon. "Now I see that you have given our mall some places for me to eat. Mmm! Tasty! Success!" He chuckled. "Now let's look at what you have made so far. I can live with a completely assured mindset that I will never be offended by anything. Glorious! However, I will never have anything to wear! Oh my. I guess I can't come at all, nevermind return, since you placed an almighty ban on both clothing and shoes. I guess I will have to dress like death itself considering my only option is pants with chains and t-shirts with silly characters on them. I will definitely want to look five years old! Classy!" But it was all in good fun despite the fact that the professor was actually being rather serious.

"But, yes, I don't like those types of clothes. So back to being without something to wear!

"What if I don't want to eat a brownie?" The professor gave him a funny face.

"You could eat a cookie." Isaac replied, with a biting tone and a flat expression.

"What if I want to eat at a classy restaurant?" Asked Archandon.

"I may end up adding one. I'm not done yet." Isaac was none too happy with all of the professor's sarcasm.

"Here's a good one. Greeting cards!" Said the professor. "What if my mother dies and I need to get a thank you card for the attending crowd at her funeral? That's how you make all of this sound... You are so completely rude without ever realizing it... Isaac, I'm not being mean, but you need to lighten up. Why do you utterly insist that I understand it must be a clean atmosphere? I know that, Isaac. I know that is how you do everything. You do not need to keep repeating yourself every time we have a lesson. I know, Isaac! I know.

"Now you need to focus on people's feelings. You have a nice, functional store here. It could easily make tons of profit, lots and lots of profit. I know that you are not done yet, but I can hear a mile away that, if nothing else, your tone of voice guarantees me a very well thought out and carefully planned store.

"However, what you are missing, like I said, is a degree of softness to people's feelings. You need to understand that this is not just a business that we are making money with. This is a place where people go. Where families go. Where children go. This is a place that will have people in it.

"You think that success is merely making money and getting the job done all while leaving happy faces on your consumers. But what you don't realize is that they are not grinning despite that you have made millions and millions of dollars on them.

"Understand? No, you don't.

"You cannot just sell things to people, Isaac. You have to think of what people really actually need and what they really actually want. On a whole, Isaac. On a whole... Now you might make a playground, you might make their kids very happy, but what about the people that are actually buying things? Explain to me with some enlightenment how you will remedy this problem that you have already created."

Isaac was quiet for a moment, thinking about what he needed to say.

"Okay, so it's too perfect. It's too... stoic. Not feely enough. Let me think about it." Isaac looked up, staring at the ceiling for a few minutes and then, "All right. I know what to do now.

"There is a classy restaurant like you asked for. It is... a sit down restaurant with food on islands and a drink fountain. It is not the most flashy place, but there is a nice tasteful feel to it. It can sit many guests, though, there is a little of a line problem."

"No." Professor Archandon interrupted. "No line problem. We're not gaining a false sense of depth by having a line problem. You are far too educated to fail so bad as to have a line."

"But you said earlier that we were going to construct a mall for the poorer classes. Don't they all have lines?" Isaac was starting to feel stupid. It was like he was arguing with himself.

"Isaac, you're losing it." Said the professor. "You are getting tired and just throwing a wrench into things like drinking a bottle of sports drink."

"Okay, okay, okay."

"No, no, no. Not okay, okay, okay." Archandon glared at him, trying to get him to do as he wanted. "We're not going to suddenly blow everything up because you made one mistake. It was just one mistake."

"What about the cookies?" Isaac was being sarcastic.

"Don't play games with me, Isaac." Warned the professor. "I am in no mood for games."

"I'm sorry, sir." Apologized Isaac, trying to relax.

"Look, why don't you go home and do some homework for a while." Suggested the professor. "We need to stop this right now."

"Fine. I will." Agreed Isaac, getting up from his chair.

"Remember, you're supposed to be thinking about a mall. Not a candy store." Professor Archandon got up from his seat. "I will see you again soon."

"Good day, professor."

~*~*~*~

Professor Leigh had him next. He had much different things in mind than what Isaac had been doing.

"Let's look at stock. I mean the actual topic of it." He began. Isaac and him were in a different room this time.

"I don't want to do stock." Complained Isaac, none too happy with the lesson at hand.

"Well, the world wasn't built in a day." Said Leigh. "You will have to learn this eventually, and I prefer now to eventually.

"Let's begin.

"If you were going to supply to this dollar store we've been talking about, how would you do it?" Asked the professor. "Give me a basic, sloppy, messy answer. Don't think about it too much."

"I would have to check which business supplies what." Answered Isaac. He wasn't really sure how to answer that one.

"That doesn't make any sense." Replied Leigh. "You must present me with an actual answer."

"Ask you?" Isaac tried.

"An actual answer, boy." Reminded the professor. "Come on now."

Isaac took a while to think. "Can't I do this the other way around?" He whined, impatiently.

"No. I have given you your assignment. Now do it." The professor knew that he had to be hard on Isaac. The king's son must reign supreme. If he were to be headmaster one day, even basics would have to be drilled into the ground over and over again.

Isaac took more time to think. "Send an inventory manager to different stores to see if a store could find potential sales in my items."

"Good answer!" Complimented Leigh, with a grin. "How else?"

"As manager of the supply company, I could even, by myself, check the inventories of local businesses. Drive up to all of them and actually walk in and look around. I would need a clipboard, paper, and a calculator."

"And a good pen." The professor pointed his stick at Isaac, encouragingly. "What if you did not have a clipboard and paper on hand. Could you use your calculator?"

"If I wanted to do very advanced learning." Answered Isaac. "Adding things up in my head with the use of a calculator could do to generalize my knowledge of the business."

"It could, yes." Said Professor Leigh. "But it is very advanced learning, like you said, and there are not many people that would be able to understand you. This is where others' minds stop and yours continues. This is your area of interest, not the area of interest to others.

"However, we do have a very annoying enemy to thwart and that can even be our own families and friends at times. Remember, you are the one thinking about all of this. You think about it every day, every week, every month. But what if someone suddenly comes to you and denounces everything you said with an irritating sense of knowing things that they don't? You must simply choose to ignore them. Do not argue with them, do not fight with them. Let them think whatever they want and when they finally go to school and ask the same question, they can deal with the big F on their paper.

"One of your problems is intimidation. You get intimidated way too easily. You must learn to win over your opponents by not having any. Stress is no way to conduct business. If someone doesn't like what you have to say, then who cares! You are not hurting anyone by having an opinion and you are not hurting anyone to use the knowledge that is rightfully yours. They can say whatever they want about your education! If they are spouting nonsense at you to the point of destroying your ego, then that person can just be simply avoided. Just tell them to leave you alone and let it be at that.

"You are not a bad person for having a mind. Do you understand?"

"Yes, sir." Answered Isaac.

"No, Isaac, you don't understand just quite yet. Let me explain..." The professor paused for a moment. "Never let anyone make you feel like nothing. It doesn't matter what their reasons are, even if they are educated ones. Even if they are in your own field! You must not let yourself be insulted and degraded by the insecurities of others. One day, they will grow up and apologize, but that may not be any time soon. In the meantime, young Prince, you must accept that you are the headmaster no matter what. You are destined to be great. Never let anyone drag you through the mud even over a simple misunderstanding.

"Be hard. Be stoic. Be unfeeling. Care for others but do not let them crush you.

"Now back to the study of stock.

"Tell me one thing in the store you always see too much of." Began Leigh. "And, remember, this is learning no matter what you might think. You must sing with your own voice to hear the notes in your tone."

"Candy." That was Isaac's best answer.

"That's a good one." Said Leigh. "Now what else?"

"Magazines."

"Another great answer. Give me another one."

"Ice cream."

"Wow, now that one is creative." Complimented the professor. "How about just one more?"

Isaac was debating in his head over soda or wine.

"Wine?" He chose it because Archandon had earlier said that Isaac didn't allow for enough variety, and people really did drink just about every flavour of soda there was.

"Wine?" Questioned Leigh. "Why choose wine?"

"Because a grocery store often has an entire section dedicated to alcohol and even many, many wine bottles. I just find it... unnecessarily specific."

"But wine is a very popular item." Challenged the professor.

"Yes, but... do people really need that much variety?" Isaac didn't see the point.

"Well, of course they do!" Answered Leigh. "Everyone likes their wine to be very specific."

"Okay, I'll try something else then." Isaac was about to try again when Leigh interrupted.

"No, no. That's fine. That's enough for now." Leigh paused for a moment and then, "Your next assignment is to visit a strip mall and examine the stock in a dollar store. I want you to use the basic method we've been using on our trips together. This is something that you will be doing by yourself this time. It's time for you to become more independent."

"Yes, sir." Confirmed the ever obedient Isaac.

~*~*~*~

7 years ago...

"Asterterkin..." Started the young, nineteen-year-old Isaac. "Why do we have to keep doing this?" Isaac was tired.

"Because..." Began Asterterkin, crossing his arms. "it's just the way things are. And that's it. No difference about it. You are mine to teach, remember? That's what everyone tells you." He growled in a fit of jealousy. "But you are mine. My student! I am your uncle! You are supposed to primarily listen to me. Not those horrible professors."

"I am not allowed to do that." Responded Isaac, expression flat. "You know that. I must always listen to the professors first."

"Well, I am a professor!" Asserted Asterterkin.

"No, you're not." Smiled Isaac, feeling playful. "You may profess, but then you are a combination of a teacher and a professor. You are not one of the professors."

And then, all of a sudden, Asterterkin smacked him across the face. "Don't you ever tell me what to do again! You hear me?!"

"I'm sorry." Isaac took on a solemn look.

"Now, you listen to me." But Asterterkin wasn't quite finished yet. "I am nobility. You are nobility. You cannot be controlled by them so much! Especially the ones farther up top. You are not one of them. You are not a professor. I am far closer to your job than them!"

"I am the headmaster." Isaac spoke in a quiet, defiant voice.

"Oh please!" Said Asterterkin, in his usual picky way. "Now, let us begin!"

"Yes sir." Replied Isaac, looking away for a moment.

Around them was the world itself. They were alone together in a park that was full of trees. Technically, they were in the wooded area. Asterterkin didn't want to risk being seen at the moment.

"This is not a very comfortable place to teach. It's just so hard and impossible!" Started Asterterkin, returning to his previous composure. "Follow me. We are going to go look at some apartment complexes."

"Why in the world are we doing that?" Isaac did not understand, but followed him anyway.

"You'll see. It's a new part of your training." Explained the older man.

"Can't we just talk or play a video game or something?" Moaned Isaac. "Why does so much of my day have to do with learning lessons? Why can't I take even a small break? My god! You have me roaming this town as if I were a stray dog!"

Asterterkin smiled as he walked past the trees and entered the cleared grounds. "Consider yourself like the immigrants from over a hundred years ago. They survived it. Why can't you?

"They were forced from their homes with no one to turn to and nowhere to go. All they had was the option to leave their homeland for a better world. So they journeyed, learning everything they could along the way. They had to survive. They had to succeed. They raised their children in houses too small, bought too little food in the markets, and lived to work night and day. The only time they all got to sit down and have some family time was during dinner.

"You are going to be living on your own for a while. Don't worry. The peasants around here are very kind. They won't hurt you. But don't let anyone know that you are alone. They may think that you belong somewhere else. You got me?"

"Yes, uncle." But Isaac really, really did not want to do this particular exercise. He didn't want to leave home for so long. He wanted to be with his family.

Eventually, they reached an apartment complex. Asterterkin lead him onto the grounds.

"Can't we get in trouble for just walking around here?" Isaac asked, worried.

"Oh no, kiddo." Assured his uncle. "It's not like that. They'll just think we're friends of one of the families."

"One of the families?" Asked Isaac.

"Yes..." Started Asterterkin, looking up at the daytime sky. "Don't think about it. Let it go. Stop trying to connect that sentence. It's not 'one of the families that live here'. Think of Japanese. Don't think so literally. 'One of the families'. Don't think about it any more than that. 'One of the families'."

"Okay." Peeped Isaac.

"No, no, no!" Said Asterterkin. "Do not answer everything I say as if it is a question! You always do that! You need to stop. I am not asking you a question. I am simply telling you something. Do not answer. You will tire yourself out if you keep doing that!

"You see these apartments? They are made of orange stone. You see these doors? They are painted a light grey. You see this town? Let it go! Just let it go! Don't let it control you. Stop looking at every speck and mark on the walls, and stop watching the car doors every time a vehicle passes!"

Isaac said nothing.

"Good, be quiet. That's right. Now let's go." And then Asterterkin was on his way into one of the buildings.

He opened the light grey door and stepped inside, followed by his young nephew. It was strange in the apartment building. Every apartment door was inside of the building instead of the outside. And there was a large staircase that went down to the ground. They passed by the doors, Isaac seeing all the numbers passing him by. He couldn't help it. He kept looking at them and looking at them. He didn't understand why there were so many numbers. It boggled him. How did anyone find their way around this haunted place? It looked scary and abstract and every bit of it reminded him of a house of mirrors.

Asterterkin stopped before a large door. It was open like usual, always open. Isaac didn't understand why they needed a door to split the hallways up. Especially since they never used it.

"Now let us begin our next lesson!" Started Asterterkin.

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Re: By the Willow Tree (Novel)

Post by RabidFox » Wed Jun 03, 2015 4:34 pm

Chapter 3


"How many bricks were on the outside of the building?" Asked Asterterkin.

"I don't know." Answered Isaac. "I didn't even count them."

"Well, what we are going to do is leave this part of the building for a moment and then return." Explained his uncle. "Then we'll come back in here and do this part of your training... I just wanted you to see it first." Asterterkin briefly looked around and then started back for the door to the outside.

Isaac followed him through the hallway and then out the side door of the building. His uncle told him to stop and turn towards the bricks.

"They're too close up to see all of them." Said Asterterkin, pointing to the side of the building. "Let's go over here where it's a bit farther away. You can see all of them from there."

"But why?" Whined Isaac. He didn't want to count a bunch of bricks! "What does this have to do with anything?"

Asterterkin growled at him. Control, control, control. "Just do what I say!"

"All right." Isaac looked at the ground for a moment and then the two of them walked to a better location.

Isaac looked up at all the bricks. It looked impossible, there were so many! What if he lost count? Asterterkin would surely make him do it all over again. That was just the kind of man that he was. Isaac didn't even begin to question him again. Asterterkin was notorious for his over the top aggressive style of teaching, especially with Isaac who he saw as someone that must be completely moulded.

But then everyone thought that. About being completely moulded. Just not... so totally and absolute like Asterterkin. His uncle's thoughts were irrational and ridiculous. Asterterkin's idea of education for him was gruelling. Non-stop learning. Just... so... impossible made possible.

Isaac studied the bricks, his subconscious mind moving like a snake wrapping over everything in his consciousness. He tried as hard as he could to keep count, and, somehow, he was very successful. But no matter how hard he tried, he missed a few bricks here and there and, like he knew would happen, Asterterkin made him do it all over again. After a long time had passed, Asterterkin finally let him have a break. So far, he had not been able to count every brick and he kept making mistakes.

"Once you finally take charge of the academy," Began Asterterkin. "You must be able to think like the academy itself. Your mind becomes the books and your words become like index cards."

"Index cards?" Asked Isaac, tired and confused. He just wanted to go home and lay down.

"Yes, like index cards." Asterterkin gave him a funny look. It was that weird little compassionate smile that he put on sometimes. But then, he started to get strict again. "You need to accept everything that I tell you. You must assume my meaning at all times. Do you understand?"

"Yes sir." Isaac hated having to constantly bow down to his uncle.

"So... right. Index cards." Asterterkin then launched into a small explanation. "See, when you are learning a foreign language, at some point you put a few words on index cards and tape them to things. It's helping you learn in a way that the teacher will not explain. In fact, most people do not understand its true purpose. It's not to help you memorize them. That's silly. There's thousands and thousands of words to learn. Index cards aren't going to help you on that path.

"I've always thought that's what they do." Isaac admitted, shyly. "That's what they say."

"Do not bring in the ideas of peasants!" Shrieked Asterterkin. "You are not a peasant! You are certainly not going to start thinking like one!"

Sometimes Isaac got so sick of his constant attitude problem.

"Okay..." But Isaac didn't really understand.

"Look. It's true." Said Asterterkin. "Come on, really? It's not to help you learn memorization. It's to help you grasp words in between sentences."

"What?" That totally flew over Isaac's head.

"It's to help you read between the lines." Repeated his uncle. "What it does is it converts your memory to a still, static mode that doesn't move. It makes your mind rigid and gives it ground for expansion. Not memory. Expansion."

"I can't follow you." Replied Isaac, giving up on understanding.

"You'll get it soon enough." Said Asterterkin. "It may take many years, but you will eventually get it. See, I am preparing you for a career. I am not... pushing you. Don't listen to anyone who says any different. Even the professors."

"Okay..." Isaac said again, head turning to look off to the side. Asterterkin was so hard to live with at times.

"Your index cards," Smiled Asterterkin. "will be your voice. They will take you places. People will hear them. It will be as if each word you say is a lesson to a greater purpose, a better vision. You will be the head of the school. You will be its unquestioned leader... Some people honestly detest the idea of a boy being so well trained. They can look at it like a bad thing. But it's not. I assure you. This really is how you want to live. Otherwise, why do your parents always allow me to teach you? It doesn't matter what people may say. It's their actions that can sometimes speak louder than their words."

"What about some time to actually hang out with my friends?" But Isaac was still quite young and he didn't like having to do so much work and then so much homework on top of it as well. He was tired. He wanted to run off and have some fun.

"Your friends do not matter." Explained Asterterkin. "You can play later. What matters most is your tutoring. You must succeed. You cannot have your opinions weighted down by others. My god, what if I let you do whatever you wanted! You would play games all day and your mind would be spoiled. And I mean that in a bad way.

"Besides, you may be a lot younger than me, but we get along so great, don't we?" He grinned. "You can hang out with me. You don't need to run off somewhere with a bunch of coarse ruffians."

"Don't call them that!" That made Isaac upset.

"Don't argue with me." It was clear that, that had made Asterterkin mad. The grin on his face was menacing.

Isaac felt himself shrink. Oh how he hated being so forced to obey!

"Next, I want you to go to the library. I am going to give you a calculator, a pen, and a pad of paper." Instructed Asterterkin. "If you make a mistake, you cannot white it out. Simply cross out the mistake and write the words again anew next to it."

"Why can't I use a pencil?" Groaned Isaac.

"Because I told you to use a pen." Replied Asterterkin in a strong tone.

Isaac gave up and resigned to his fate.

"What I want you to do is count the colours of books on the shelves." Explained his uncle. "Skip any books that has a multi-coloured spine and ignore the front and back of the covers. It doesn't matter what the book looks like on either side. What is important is the spine."

Isaac was confused. "Why do I have to do that?"

"No interruptions now." Asterterkin tried to be nice—He didn't want to overwhelm Isaac too much—but the boy was starting to frustrate him with his usual line of constant questions. Isaac really did ask about everything. "The reason you are counting the colours is because you will learn extremely quickly a very important fact about people and books. And that is choice! Psychology obviously. Learn to control people using certain colours, words, phrases, and more by understanding how people think about colours. It's great fun, it is! I do it all the time.

"But remember, little headmaster, you will be learning in a way that I find impossible. You must push your mind past the limits of others. Don't worry!" Smiled Asterterkin. "You'll do a great job!

"Before I send you off to your next task, listen to this. You will start in the section with books on psychology. I don't want you going beyond that particular section. That is for another day. But when you do, it will be a subject you normally wouldn't understand at that point. The subject will be... animals! It's amazing how much people reveal about their minds by studying the colours they associate with animals.

"It's going to be okay, Isaac." Reassured Asterterkin—Despite himself, Asterterkin really did care very deeply for his nephew's emotions. "I don't want to overwhelm you, but you're a strong boy! Your mind goes all over the place and I need to give it some structure. Remember, your parents are letting me do this for a reason! It doesn't matter what other things they might think about me. You're going to be fine. It's nothing that's going to ruin you or destroy you or anything. Your mind can go much longer than you think. I know it may sound a bit over the top, but it's certainly not boring.

"Let's get started." Said his uncle, in a soft tone. "I am going to take you there and then I will leave for some time. I'll pick you up later. Okay?"

"Yes, uncle." Answered Isaac.

~*~*~*~

Wait a minute, thought Isaac. He thought that the next task was supposed to be in the apartment building? Why had Asterterkin changed his mind and so suddenly? Maybe he had been disappointed in Isaac's inability to count all of the bricks. Sometimes, his uncle did that: Make him do something else when he didn't feel like Isaac was trying hard enough.

Isaac was riding in the back of Asterterkin's car. God only knew where he got it. Isaac had no idea. But, like Asterterkin always preferred it, Isaac was riding in the back seat. His uncle thought of it as a challenge if Isaac rode up front. He always told him that once he was 21, he wouldn't care any more.

"Almost there." Asterterkin turned around and smiled. "I won't be gone too long, Isaac. It will be fine. You know this town well enough. You'll be okay. There's no reason to worry. It's not like I'm going to abandon you or something like that." He chuckled.

Isaac was a little angry. He didn't like the way that Asterterkin had finished his sentence and he detested the chuckle at the end. Oh well. It wasn't like he could do anything about it. Asterterkin didn't like suggestions from children, despite that he really wasn't little at all. It was just this weird quirk where he would suddenly be okay with something or all of a sudden he jumped at you. He was so... unstable honestly. Yet Isaac had been raised by this man and he didn't see it the way others did. He did feel trapped in his world, though, despite that he didn't at all want to be.

Once they reached the local library, Asterterkin dropped him off outside, smiled, said goodbye, and drove off. Luckily for Isaac, he knew where to start on his own. They had been to this library before in the past, so he knew his way around. Isaac walked into the building, heading for the psychology section.

He felt silly learning psychology like this. It was so unusual and strange to other people. While Isaac understood the importance of such an education, he feared the opinions of others. What if he went up to someone and said "I'm a psychologist!" He would be ridiculed because he didn't have a degree that they could understand, didn't have training that made sense to them. They would laugh at him, rich boy or not. They would not want to accept the advice of a man that had been "raised in the woods by wolves".

Isaac wanted to cry. He hated being alone in such a weird place. No one made sense to him here and everything around him was abnormal. The poor or whatever they wanted to be called were so... scary to him. He was so used to living his comfortable lifestyle that these unprepared interactions with people he did not know were so hard. Hard, hard, hard. He tried to avoid other people as much as possible while he was there.

Like a good little boy, he headed for the psychology section first, still wondering about the apartment lesson. He was actually a bit curious about it now that Asterterkin had changed course. The apartment building was so weird, so bizarre. It looked like something out of hell. The long, straight hallways with a door here and then there and here and then there. He found it frightening. He didn't even know why. It was too white to him, despite that the walls were actually a pale blue. It just made him think so much of a strange clinical setting.

"All right." He said to himself, as he started to begin his school work. "Let's do what we can."

~*~*~*~

Isaac was standing in the lobby of the library. He was looking straight ahead, focused on nothing in particular. His legs felt like glue and his arms felt like stones. His head, on the other hand, was light and ghostly. He just couldn't think. At all. Maybe he had been standing there for about three minutes? He didn't know. But what he was growing aware of was that he was making himself painfully visible.

Isaac ran a hand through his hair and continued on. He went back to the psychology section and stared at the spines. He was thinking about his "point of view", which Asterterkin taught him. It was very basic. Study the colours of the books, in order to be technical, and then think about what colours he might associate with them, in order to be subjective.

He was tired. Asterterkin wasn't there. It was obvious that his uncle felt like he was not done yet. Certainly, his uncle had already clocked this for himself. That way, he would know approximately when Isaac was finished. That meant that Asterterkin wanted him to continue working and it was clear what his uncle would tell him to do next.

The books were immeasurable. Most definitely, the collection of psychology books was huge. It made Isaac wonder just how many books a normally trained psychologist would read to get their final degree. Isaac wanted to cry. He couldn't stand being so strangely educated, despite that he felt totally at ease with most of the methods. He just wanted to be recognized by other people too, not just by the rich and wealthy who understood his education first hand. He wanted to be somebody special, in a way that touched everyone.

'Will these children I am supposed to teach, and these adults I am supposed to train... will it really make a difference in my life?' He thought privately to himself. 'Will I actually make sense even to the higher classes? Will they even be able to understand me? What is a headmaster?

'Professor Archandon told me that a headmaster is a person who is barely understood by his students. He is a man who cannot be reached or manipulated. He is a rock of perfection. He is unrivalled by all. The headmaster is a position that literally rules the world, as that is what the nobility are expected to do: Rule the world, the world, the world, the world.

'The world, the world, the world, the world.

'The world, the world, the world, the world.'

Isaac was cracking, breaking under pressure. His thoughts spun in circles. He felt like he was going completely crazy, even just pure madness. The young man could not deal with his life. He could not deal with his uncle. He could not deal with anyone or anything. He could not even understand himself.

And the word "tired" meant nothing to Asterterkin. It meant nothing at all. Isaac felt like he had to study the word until his uncle could understand when he really needed a break, but through the years, he had realized that there was no such thing. Asterterkin already understood Isaac's frustrations. He just wanted Isaac to be as perfect as he could be. His uncle just wanted him to be happy and damn it! He wanted him to be...!

Perfect! Because that is true happiness, isn't Asterterkin?!

A while passed, Isaac just blankly standing in the aisle, dry as bones and mind lost. He thought about nothing, trying to calm down. All of his thoughts needed to fade out.

"One day," He said to himself, in a quiet, hushed voice. "I will be the Head of Psychology. I will be the Head of the School. I will rule over the Church... One day, I will not need to be afraid of who I am any more. I will be... whatever it is that I need to be in order to achieve a happy life. But I know not when that will happen or, quite possibly, if it ever will happen."

Isaac tried to hold back his tears. It had been a very emotional day for him. Asterterkin was pushing him harder than ever and his school work was getting more and more difficult. Isaac wanted to go to school with other people his own age. He wanted to learn things at the academy like the other noble children did.

But that was not possible. Perhaps nothing would ever change.

~*~*~*~

Isaac was afraid. He was hiding in a part of the library that was free of eyes. He didn't like all of the people looking at him. Staring at him. No, no. He thought too hard about it. Staring at him? No, just looking at him. Wondering things perhaps? He didn't really think so. He wasn't too conspicuous.

The young man kept thinking about his future. He kept thinking about how he was ever going to lead a normal life. Isaac thought about the grass, the trees, the roads. Not just book covers and bricks. He was forced even to count the blades of grass in the yard. It was horrible for him, but Asterterkin reassured him that there was nothing to fear. His parents actually wanted him to learn that too.

Isaac scoffed, feeling ironic.

Why would his parents be so hard on him? Certainly, they were not like Asterterkin, but seriously? What in the world was going through their minds?

You're the headmaster. Whatever.

Isaac remembered kneeling down on the ground, counting each blade of grass. He would count a blade and then another and another and another. He would look at the grass and make first associations. It was amazing what kinds of things one could learn from grass. Despite his anger at his parents and his tutors, he couldn't help it: It was actually very interesting.

Studying grass in such a way was forbidden for all people except him. Even his father, the king, had never been allowed to do such a thing. Study like that drove people insane unless they had the hyperactivity and the mind and the interest and the education to do it. That was why Isaac would grow up to be a fearsome opponent in psychology. But, alas, once he was much older, he would still have a long way to go to completing his "perfect life", so to say.

Isaac had discovered that a man could learn a lot about himself by taking something so simple and omnipresent as grass and turning it into a course. He would hold it in his hand or stare at it still in the ground, and he would just let his mind go. Most of the knowledge that he was interested in was actually just the first association, though, he did go up the line to five and then ten and then, on an intensive day, twenty. It could sound completely pointless to people, but then understanding such a thing required a certain kind of open mind.

What a waste. That was what Isaac was most afraid of. People not understanding. People not caring. People dismissing him. People telling him that he was a quack.

He felt so alone and hurt. It was unbearable to be such a strange and weird person among countless people that could call themselves normal. Oh how he longed to be called "normal". His "normal", anyway.

It was not too much later that Asterterkin finally returned and, with a great big smile, took him back to the car. Isaac didn't know what was next on today's list, only that he hoped it was time to call it a day. But, out of fear, he could not even begin to ask.

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Re: By the Willow Tree (Novel)

Post by RabidFox » Fri Jun 05, 2015 6:34 pm

Chapter 4


The present...

Isaac was angry. Horribly angry. He had never been so mad in his entire life.

He was staring at the wall of his room. Well, a room outside of his usual domain. It was Asterterkin's world again, in the depth of yet another peasant city. Hidden away, a secret, unknown.

Asterterkin had been telling him things that Isaac had never known. He was trying to get Isaac to understand that sometimes people keep secrets, lots of secrets, tons of secrets. Horrible secrets. Sometimes people never tell you something because they want you to be safe. That was something that Isaac had never understood, but experienced. In the past, he had suddenly learned of things that had happened many years ago, sure, but nothing like this.

This was testing his patience. Yet it was no wonder that someone would have never said anything. Isaac had an awful temper and he would have grown up even angrier than he already had. So much going through his mind and so many things flying by his notice. He was just completely enraged.

It was difficult to understand what Asterterkin was revealing to him. It was impossible for him to grasp the reality of such a thing at all. How could one keep their mouth shut so long and never once had Isaac noticed even the smallest hint? What? Was he damned ignorant? Was he really that impossible? Did people fear that he might destroy his entire world if he knew?

Isaac was unhappy.

~*~*~*~

7 years ago...

"It worked! It really worked!" Asterterkin was so happy. He kept bouncing up and down.

"Really?" Wondered Isaac, having trouble imagining such a thing.

"Yes, really! It really, really worked!" Asterterkin looked brighter than a Christmas tree bulb.

"Awesome!" Agreed Isaac. Normally, he never used that word.

"We'll have to think of more things to do." Asterterkin rubbed his chin, deep in thought.

"How about using something other than coloured marks?" Suggested Isaac.

"But that's so easy to do!" Whined Asterterkin. "I don't know how to do the other ones." He made a pitiful face.

"My big project will definitely work, one way or another." Affirmed Isaac. "I don't know when it will be ready, but eventually we can start moving on to more interesting things."

"I think the marks are extremely interesting..." Said Asterterkin, sounding deflated. "You need to find more happiness in what you already know. Let's not keep moving on to the next thing and moving on to the next thing. It won't do you any good. It will wear you out and tire you out. Don't you want to do something else?"

Isaac looked away, confused.

"Something else. You know, something else." Clarified Asterterkin. "With marks, Isaac. With marks."

"Yeah, I know." Replied Isaac.

"No, you don't know." Asserted Asterterkin. "You might remember me saying something about all the weird word usage, but that doesn't mean you really know what I am talking about. You got confused.

"I'm your teacher, remember? Your tutor. Your uncle."

"Yes, yes, I get it already." Isaac was getting tired of hearing it.

"No." Asterterkin said, firmly. "Now let's move on to our next project."

Isaac gave him a funny look.

~*~*~*~

They were standing by the river, looking out at the water. It was beautiful and scary. Isaac couldn't stand water. It made him feel like it was going to swallow him whole. All that rushing blue, currents so strong they could pull you under. Isaac couldn't see why anyone would want to take a boat and sail out there. Or drive over the bridge or walk over the bridge. Isaac's heart would jump if he even so much as looked at the water and thought about crossing it. Or hell, just looking at it was definitely too much.

But Asterterkin always felt at ease. He was, in many ways, Isaac's opposite. However, in many other ways, him and Asterterkin were extremely similar. He was a good uncle, he was. Isaac loved him to pieces. It was just sometimes Asterterkin would come up with frightening things that Isaac didn't understand, or he would be too aggressive, or he would overuse a smack, or, you know, stuff like that. Sometimes, Asterterkin would even hit him. Not like a smack. Just actually punch him.

Isaac didn't like it when those things happened.

"Uncle..." Isaac began, looking at the sunlight reflecting on the water. "when will all of these adventures finally end?"

"I hate to say it, Isaac," Replied Asterterkin. "but it will be a very long time before we're done here. One day, you will never have to see all of this ever again. At least, not like this. Not like all of this. You'll be fine. It won't be hard any more and... you won't be scared of it any more. It will all just end."

~*~*~*~

They were at the house of someone that Isaac didn't know. His best guess was an internet friend of Asterterkin's.

"I will overwhelm the professors at the academy." Announced Asterterkin, in a quiet, menacing voice. "They will never rule my skies any more!"

"Don't tell me you're going to try and usurp the professors again?" Groaned Isaac, not looking forward to another spell of violence.

"Yes... I am." Clarified his uncle, still looking off in the distance. "They will not know me any more!" He yelled, angrily. "They will not keep throwing my theories in the trash! I am sick of their so-called superiority. This will never happen again!"

"But it always does." Said Isaac. "You can't stop them from teaching and professing. The teachers... the professors. Any of them. You can't control them."

"You think that I cannot win!" Asterterkin gave him a dirty look, forgetting himself. Then he paused, looked at the ground and corrected his behaviour. "I'm sorry, Isaac. You're just a kid."

"I am not a child." Growled Isaac, indignantly.

"Don't argue with me about that right now!" Asterterkin literally threw a fit, then, "Isaac, you are whatever the hell I tell you, you are. Do not get me off track. I am trying to think of a way to keep our ideas from being destroyed."

"They are not my ideas." Isaac looked at the floor. "Stop saying that they are."

Asterterkin gave him a sharp look, then, remembering, he changed his attitude. He tried to be as soft and gentle as he could in such an enraged state of mind. But it was just so hard for him. It was so hard for him to be challenged so harshly by people of unmatched reputation. The professors got on his nerves endlessly. There had to be some way for Asterterkin to take back the school. In his youth, his ideas were greatly respected, but, as he grew older, more and more people sought to change his thoughts back to what they had been when he was young. They told him something that he could not handle. They told him he was sick.

What had they told Isaac? Nothing. They would just smile. But they always reassured him that no one could find him to be like his uncle. It was impossible. Isaac was too easily controlled and then he genuinely wanted to listen at the point that Asterterkin himself could not handle. Isaac wasn't sick like his uncle. He wasn't just fine either. But what was wrong with Isaac was nothing like a vicious, violent man like Asterterkin: A person who hated people, despised order, felt harassed when he wasn't, was paranoid of everyone and everything, and lived in a world that was like sickly paints running down the walls. It had always reminded Isaac of a crazy white dragon with multicoloured scales.

"I really am sorry, Isaac." Asterterkin had taken a moment to calm down. He gave him an apologetic look that was heavy with guilt. "I don't want to take this out on you.

"Let us go home for now." Decided Asterterkin. "Things are becoming too much for the two of us, here in this strange land... And... you're right. My ideas are not your ideas. I am just... everything is just getting to me right now and I fear that you may never come to learn some things that I really just must teach you. I just want you to know," He gave Isaac a solemn look. "that I accept that which I cannot change. But I still have the hope, as much as it bothers you, that I will succeed some day in sharing a beautiful part of the world with you."

~*~*~*~

"You see, Isaac..." Began Asterterkin. They were at home, sitting down. "the reason that we must take you to the lands that the peasants inhabit is because you have a terrible illness."

Isaac frowned, gritting his teeth. He did not want to hear it.

"And, this illness, it may be nothing like mine, but it's tearing you to pieces." Explained his uncle. He was in a good mood today. "You go at everything with the intensity of a lion. You destroy everything around you so that you can rebuild your world. Over and over and over again. Constantly destroying everything. Ruining everything. And then breaking yourself to pieces when you force yourself to recreate all that you destroy.

"It's the headmaster's illness. It wraps itself around every piece of your logic and pulls your ideas tighter and tighter together. It grips it all and let's go and you fall down. You pass out. You fall down, Isaac. You pass out. We have to do everything in our power to restore you each time you burn knowledge into your mind like a hot iron to a piece of chocolate.

"It's a surprise, to me at least, that you never die. I would think you would just perish where you stand. I have no idea how your mind is so logical that you can keep escaping death by a curve. What are you going to do when you're older? Just stand there and recite poetry to me? It's not poetry, Isaac. You can't even make poems like that. They are not even actual poems. It may not be crazy, but it's certainly something."

Asterterkin took a drink and then resumed talking.

"The peasants and their world have a way of bringing down that giant ego problem of yours. It calms you down, it honestly does."

Isaac scoffed.

Asterterkin continued, looking away for a moment. "I don't want to make you upset. I don't want to anger you and punish you. I just want you to submit. I find it terrifying that you can evade a word so perfectly and utterly as if you were gliding on wheels through life.

"You sound like a zombie. Like a dead person. You need to understand your limits so that you don't keep bashing your head into a wall. How many times do I have to talk to you before you understand just even one thing? It's horrible! It's awful!

"Don't you want to learn about Abner's line of work? Don't you want to know about Eugene's insanity? Don't you want to have more understanding of Calvin's obsession with the park? How can you call yourself anything but a 'technical computer guy'? A man that just works on computers and talks for a living. Why in the world would you want to be the technical support guy?

"I am more than the technical support guy." Growled Isaac, his arms crossed over his chest. He wasn't looking at Asterterkin.

"I know, I know." Replied Asterterkin, reassuringly. "But that doesn't stop me from talking about you that way. That's just the way you act, Isaac."

"I don't act like that at all." Isaac wasn't happy with the conversation.

"Yes, you do." Asserted Asterterkin, calmly. "Now I am not going to argue with you. That's that.

"The headmaster's illness would become so bad, it would be like you weren't even a person any more. Like you were some kind of rabid animal. It would consume you entirely and utterly. Every last piece of your personality would be cracked and so much of your mind and your potential would be destroyed. I can't stand by and just watch you suffer. I must help you. That's all that your parents want. That's all that your family wants. That's what I want.

"Do you want to be that way?"

"No." Said Isaac, brimming with rage. "You know that. I have said it a thousand times."

"But you don't understand, Isaac. There is so much that you must learn. But I cannot teach you like the other men at the academy. You won't listen. You won't light up. You won't ask questions. You just sit there and get F's. Constantly an F here and an F there. You're smart, Isaac, you are. But you're also really, really stupid. You can ace any test, be right on top, the very best of the best, but when it comes to actual school work, you make nothing but bad grades.

"You're a damn mystery! Nobody knows how to get you to stop. That is why I am so hard on you. I am not mistreating you, Isaac. You must learn! You don't want to live like a wild animal."

"Stop calling me that!" Demanded Isaac. "That isn't true!"

"But it is, Isaac! It is!"

"I don't like going there! I don't want to keep going to that place with all those people!" Said Isaac.

"You don't have a choice, like I said." Asterterkin replied. He was trying to be as helpful as possible. "It's not up to you whether you go to see the peasants or not."

"I can't understand their books. I can't understand their films. I can't understand anything about them. I hate no one, but that doesn't mean that I am suddenly going to understand their language." Isaac responded.

"You can't understand many of my books." Asterterkin reminded him.

"I'm done. I don't want to do this any more." Isaac got up out of his chair to leave.

"You sit back down!" Ordered Asterterkin. "I am not done with you yet!"

~*~*~*~

"How are you ever going to learn science if you won't read the book?" Grumbled Asterterkin, sitting across from Isaac, who had been busy studying his science book.

"I read the book." Defended Isaac.

"No, you don't." Asserted Asterterkin. "You live in it and pour it out and throw it over your shoulder."

"I have no idea what you're talking about." Glared Isaac.

"You live in it means that you are tired. Pour it out speaks for itself. Throw it over your shoulder should be clear as day." Explained his uncle.

"I don't care." Isaac was none too happy. "I hate reading these books. They're not interesting."

"You can't just read stuff that I write. You have to read things that other people write too." Asterterkin returned to a state of composure.

"They're not interesting and I don't like your 'in the middle' books." Argued Isaac.

"They're not 'in the middle' and you are not as smart as you think you are." Said Asterterkin, trying to be gentle about it. "You don't know everything, Isaac."

"I know that science is boring." Replied his nephew, angrily.

"Science explains how things work and how people grow." Started Asterterkin, refusing to be intimidated by Isaac. "It tells us what kinds of animals live in the ocean and why birds fly west and how people come together in civilisation. It orders us to be perfect and unflinching in our struggles to dominate the world."

"Isn't that more like psychology?" Mocked Isaac, not taking him seriously.

"I'm talking about deep inner workings and growth." There seemed to be no way to breakthrough to him.

"There's no such thing as science." Isaac retorted. "I refuse to believe in it."

"You are misinterpreting me, Isaac." Asterterkin said, in a firm voice. "You will never be accepted by people outside of the nobility if you keep rejecting the foundation of life itself. You will always be considered a bad theorist. Those people don't understand the complex inner workings behind what you say. They know it's there, but they can't see it. It's not that they don't want to understand you, it's that, at some point, they cannot grasp the mind that lives behind stone walls."

"Well, if they're so harsh, then what is the point of associating myself with them?" Asked Isaac, not believing that Asterterkin could answer his question. "Don't you think it's mean to yell at me and make fun of me simply because I don't understand science?"

"They don't yell at you and make fun of you." Assured Asterterkin. "They can get loud, but that's only because they don't want you to think that way. It sounds awful to people when you go around claiming that very knowledgeable, respected scientists have no idea what they are talking about. It makes you look helpless."

"I've been cursed out over it." Asserted Isaac.

"Isaac, that isn't what happened." Explained Asterterkin. "Nobody wants to hurt you."

"That's the way those people sound." Said Isaac, in an enraged tone. "I can't hear them like you do. They're so damn mean and nasty to me. They act like everything in my mind is worthless. And that's kindness? I don't understand what they are thinking behind the veil, but I don't want to be treated as if I am nothing simply because I don't believe whatever I'm told.

"It's not fair. It's not fair at all.

"I want to be treated with respect. No one will. Only if they don't understand much about me. Otherwise, if I try to tell them any of my ideas, they shoot fireballs at me. I figure everyone would if I just opened my mouth.

"So what's the point in talking to them? They're so arrogant. They're so cruel to me." Isaac felt like crying, but he had already resigned that it would not make him feel better. "I only feel at home in my own land."

"They are not so cruel, Isaac." Asterterkin begged him to listen. He hated the thoughts that Isaac had on the subject. Not because they were thoughts but because they caused Isaac so much pain. "You see too much of yourself in other people. One day, that will change. But not any time soon. Your mind is the one filled with arrogance. Your mind is the one that is cruel. Not theirs.

"But I mean cruel in an innocent, playful way, of course. Still doesn't mean that you can understand that reflection in other people.

"When they talk to you, they speak to you with an open mind. It scares you. That is all. It scares you that it doesn't make sense and all you can see is yourself without even knowing that. It's just fear in and of itself, Isaac. People don't really live that way. No one would want to live if all people were mean and cruel and nasty simply because they were not elitists."

"I can't see it." Admitted Isaac. He was still unrelenting on the matter at hand.

"You don't do anything wrong, Isaac." Clarified Asterterkin. "But you are an arrogant tough guy. That's all that I'm saying. It just looks scary when you project yourself into other people, especially without knowing that."

"I don't know what that means!" Asserted Isaac. "I never understand what you mean by all of this! It has never made sense to me at all!"

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Re: By the Willow Tree (Lit)

Post by RabidFox » Wed Jun 10, 2015 6:20 pm

Chapter 5


The present...

"You never did anything to Eugene." Comforted Asterterkin. Isaac was standing in front of him, with his back to his face. "Eugene did those things to himself. You are not responsible for any of it."

Isaac said nothing for a moment, overwhelmed with anger and guilt. "I left him there. I left him there."

"You were scared." Asterterkin reminded him, in a gentle, calming voice. "You were too afraid of all those things to be of help to anyone."

"Still..." Started Isaac. "I could have done something. I could have stayed."

"Isaac, no one would have stayed. Everyone would have ran away. That was the whole point." Explained Asterterkin.

Isaac was always so hard to help.

~*~*~*~

7 years ago...

"Look there!" Asterterkin pointed to the sky. It was green and heavy with dark clouds. "We better get home and quick!"

The pair were standing in the middle of a very private field. Isaac gulped, frightened of the colours and what they might indicate. Asterterkin began the journey back while Isaac faithfully followed him from behind.

~*~*~*~

They were in the basement. It was the next day.

Asterterkin was none too happy. "Social studies. F. History. F. Science. Big F. Always an F. English. F.

"My god, Isaac, why are you doing this to yourself?!" Exclaimed Asterterkin, angered again at yet another pathetic report card. "You can't do anything! How in the world does someone like you make such bad grades? You read constantly, Isaac! You read books. Thick books. Big books. You read like a maniac. You even constantly swallow up the internet. How in the hell do you make such bad grades?!" Demanded Asterterkin.

His uncle smacked him.

"I told you to focus on what you have learned and to answer the questions with actual answers. I am tired of you constantly cheating yourself out of every test that I give you. This is not right, Isaac. This is stupid. This is horribly stupid. Why do you even screw me over when it comes to school?!"

"I don't like those books." Admitted Isaac, in a quiet voice. One could tell that he felt ashamed.

"You can't, and I have told you this a thousand times, just read my books! You must read other people's books too. You can't just take tests based on things that I say. You need to relate to other people and their opinions as well. And, of course, definitely every book they make is full of facts!

"Even I am not so horribly arrogant as you when it comes to learning. All you do is sit around thinking that you're the best and no one else can understand why. You are not God, Isaac! You are just a boy.

"Now I am sorry for being so harsh, but this is just ridiculous!"

"I don't like them, I don't like them, and I will never like them." Asserted Isaac, stubbornly.

~*~*~*~

The present...

Isaac was sitting at his desk. He was home.

His mind was blank as a sheet of paper. Flat, stoic, unmoving. His thoughts were like spools of thread constantly rolling out but never coming back. He felt like a stone.

Life had gotten very hard for him and he was having trouble managing on his own. Asterterkin had not been around for a long time, his parents calling him off the job in order to give Isaac time to recover. But, despite all of their efforts to reassure him, Isaac was without a foundation. His mind had flown.

He kept walking around in circles. Up and down the stairs, up and down the stairs. Back and forth. Back and forth. All around and here and there and anywhere and everywhere. A man had never paced so much. And Isaac was only getting worse. Yes, some of it made him feel better, but most of what had happened to him was intolerable. He could not stand it.

Isaac stared at the windows, pulled the curtains, and looked out onto his world. It seemed so empty. It was like Isaac was the only person for miles. Nothingness had taken over.

When would it end? He wondered and yet he had no answer for himself. When would all the questions stop and he could finally rest again? Isaac was far from being consoled. He was lost within himself, unable to connect with anyone. He stared out those windows, stared out them as if what was outside was on fire. Time kept hitting him in the head, constantly reminding him that nothing was happening. He was just simply falling in space.

There were books everywhere. He had filled every last bit of the shelves, and all of the reading that he had done now felt pointless. He had discovered that he didn't even know what the books meant. Well, he never really had understood them anyway, but he at least did not think they were beyond his skill. Now it was different. Now he was staring at books that taught him things, but those things were only technical. He had never understood Asterterkin or anyone else that had claimed he was a flat down technical thinker. After a long time of struggling with his thoughts, he had finally learned that what he had thought was intelligence was actually akin to obsession.

And lots of it.

But not with people. With books. Not with men his own age. With books. Not with even so much as a cat. With books.

When Isaac was a little boy, he discovered something called the internet. He had already seen a library. And that's what the internet looked like to him. Like a library. He instantly started learning how to create things and how to excel. He became lost in words and dashes and other symbols. He grew up on the computer. Not able to learn with people of his own age, Isaac was forced to learn on his own, except for the intervention of Asterterkin and another man whose name he could not cope with.

From the beginning, the only people that could reach him was his uncle, the man of no name, Eugene, Calvin, and a very interesting white pixie named Abner. Even people like Roger could not hold his attention. His parents allowed Asterterkin and the man of no name to tutor him. Instantly, Isaac learned the meaning of love, but what also came with that understanding was that of defiance. Asterterkin was not always the kindest man and the man of no name was brutal. Love could only forgive so much. And a young boy like himself had found out something that normally only adults knew: And that was the feeling of betrayal.

Isaac was not an easy boy to control. Even Asterterkin himself, a very aggressive and scary man, cursed to the hills on how Isaac was so difficult to dominate. The man of no name was even astonished at the boy's resistance to discipline. Isaac was a mystery to the professors that were supposed to groom him into the headmaster. He was a mystery to everyone, even to his tutors and playmates.

School was something that Isaac could not understand. He did not like sitting in a chair for hours. He could not stand staring at the chalkboard and writing down everything that the teacher said. As early as preschool, he felt different. Asterterkin had told him that he had misinterpreted his differences as intelligence. Surely, he was very clever in his own right, but Asterterkin did not want his successes to get to his head. Especially when he had such horrible scores outside of an unusual collection of interests.

Isaac had never understood what people meant by "having problems". He had problems? Really? What kind? They never seemed to be able to tell him. Despite their claims, they looked to him as if they were up a river without a paddle. Without viewable evidence of whatever they were talking about, Isaac just brushed them off.

But Asterterkin made sure that he always knew, to some extent, what exactly was wrong with him. The other tutor didn't like teaching such things, so he didn't. Yet all Isaac needed was one man to tell him, and that had become the only viable option and that was Asterterkin. His parents hated his uncles, however, that was not to say that they had a choice in the matter.

When you got down to it, his parents always told him, there was a serious problem that was in and of itself completely obvious to everyone but him. They told him: You don't talk. They told him: You only talk to Asterterkin and a few other people. They made sure that he knew that: he was definitely unusual that way. Everyone tried to get him to speak, but he just didn't want to. He didn't like it. Or at least, that was how he looked at it.

Isaac had been through many therapists over the years, yet not one had been able to get him to say anything. Isaac's world really included only a handful of people. Other than that, he honestly spoke to no one, and, if he did, it was only a small list of common phrases. A lot like beginning to learn a new language, where you could only make basic questions and answers. Like a little handbook of phrases for tourists.

When Isaac was young, there was not that much to the internet yet. He tried everything and it was a lot of fun, except for the fact that he never ultimately really knew what people were saying. Such a handicap restricted him mostly to on line games and activities. But that did not stop him from making websites. He would make them anyway. He didn't care that he had no idea how to interact with people in any proper manner.

In his travels across the world wide web, he found artwork and stories and lots of other pretty things. Like pixel art. He liked that. However, no matter what his searches would bring up, Isaac always felt lonely and unable to join others. It was just that simple. They didn't make sense. Their projects didn't either.

Despite everything, Asterterkin always promised him that there would be a day when he could finally understand them. Isaac thought he meant the other way around, like they would learn how to communicate like him. Asterterkin always told him "No", but that meant nothing to Isaac. His thoughts on the matter could not be reached.

Isaac found websites that were full of stories about characters that he already liked. It was something called "Fan Fiction". He started to write that himself, but he never felt like he could do it all the way and he always gave up on completing them. So what he did next was just read what people had already written. He spent hours and hours and hours reading stories. He just had to. He was bored. He wanted something that he could find even just a little joy in. The world was full of places and people and activities that he could not access. He needed some sort of input and he needed to find a way to create output.

However, there was a frightening foe to all of his determination. And that was simple: People that he didn't know personally looked intimidating. Very intimidating. Their aggression was too much for him to handle. He had no idea that it was called friendship. But even pass that, there were places full of what looked like anger and even hatred. Now he was wondering if that was really true. Were those places really filled with things so bad? Well, it wasn't like he had ever known what they were talking about anyway.

He walked a lot. Everywhere. All over the place. He would walk and walk and walk. He was very interested in exploring. And despite that he felt like he was walking into a desert, say, on Asterterkin's little trips into peasant land, it was still something to do. He really needed to get as many hobbies as possible anyway.

If he couldn't talk, then why could he type? That wasn't a question that Isaac had ever asked. It never presented itself to him as an obstacle. Now that he was learning the truth, he sounded strange even to himself. What a weird thing to not understand, that was what he was thinking now.

So, yes, he never tried to talk to people, even if he had to. Whatever he could get away with was fine by him. Always like a young bird first learning to fly, Isaac was constantly avoiding everyone, either literally or in his mind. It didn't matter where his little journeys took him. People were not on the top of his list. Despite that he really wished that he could talk to them, he didn't understand how and that was that.

~*~*~*~

7 years ago...

Isaac was staring up at the sky. It was empty. There were no clouds. Just a bright, clear, sunny day. He didn't like bright, clear, sunny days.

He enjoyed storms and rain and thunder... and even tornadoes. When the weather became disturbed, Isaac always wanted to enjoy it. His heart was full of many deep thoughts, but, unlike many others, he did not need to grow up to value the world the way it already was.

~*~*~*~

The present...

Isaac was finally done. Done with his thoughts, at least for the moment. He had said many things and thought about times he wished he did not know. He had seen the earth shift and change, and he had seen people twirling about in their daily routines.

His mouth was shut. Words did not come freely any more. He was tired and feeling defeated.

He was in the middle of a field, all alone, and then... he simply walked away.



The End

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