Chaos and Order: The War Eternal Chapter 4

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CHAPTER FOUR

The Ties That Bind

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I soon found that my wrestling coach and Aikido Sensei had nothing on Cordi when it came to working. We started with yoga like positions and when I claimed I couldn’t stretch any further and my arms were trembling with fatigue she just said to relax and focus on the knot of energy inside of me. We were working in the dimly lit basement of the safe house and for some reason the shadowy environment felt comfortable. I focused on my center and to my surprise I felt something. Unsure exactly what to do I took a deep calming breath and focused on it. Then I felt a cool sensation from my center flow out and into my body, as this happened I noticed that the shadows in the room seemed to deepen, to take on a texture and a quality like each shadow was unique and held a mystery. Abruptly, my vision shifted and I realized I could see clearly into the shadows and that they had a tendency to reach out to me as if wanting to touch me.

“As I said earlier, in the Courts of Order, I’m the Knight of Shadow. I’m at my most powerful in the shade. I’m weakest, but not helpless, in full bright light or total darkness.”

By now we’d moved from stretching into a series of punching and kicking patterns. I caught on quickly, so she changed things and soon I was learning to summon and dismiss a shadow. Next, she taught me how to control my own shadow so that it flared out into a pair of shadow-claws extending from each hand. I could only hold them for a few seconds but it was an amazing feeling. Cordi, satisfied with how far I’d come in just a few hours had me sit down and meditate.

“Joel, the goal here is to relax and project yourself into the Shadow-Court.”

“What is the shadow court?”

“It’s the place where I met you in your dream. Once you learn to send your spirit there we can move on to more advanced lessons. I can also control the flow of time there, to a degree. We can spend a dozen hours training in the Court while no more than an hour goes by here.”

I sat down and closed my eyes thinking about the core of power inside of me. I then tried to bring up a picture, in my minds-eye, of the place where I’d first talked to Cordi.

“That’s very good Joel, now focus on letting the power flow through your body. Fill every part of your being with my energy from the tips of your fingers to your toes push the energy throughout your body.”

I concentrated on the cool knot of power and slowly started to feel it respond. Then abruptly it slipped away.

“You were focusing too tightly. Concentrate on bringing it up and feeling it, then slowly guide it. Don’t force it, or grip it too tightly, if you use brute force of will on it you’ll just lose control.”

I started over, this time focusing on feeling the power, accepting it, and then very gently I let it wash over me. It felt like there was a tide of liquid power rising and then I realized that it was flowing out from my center, to every limb, in time to the beating of my heart. Then my skin began to tingle as the trickle of power turned into a flood of icy-hot energy that was as bright as the sun, and as dark as the void all at once. The power now moved freely flowing out in every direction, filling my body! Abruptly, I felt my body respond to the power, my skin rippled and shifted, moving without my guidance, under the sweet dusky power raging inside of me, and yet, it felt so good that I didn’t care! I realized in that moment I could sit here forever holding this power and be happy.

‘Oh, my God, this could become very addictive.’ I thought, my mental voice felt distant and unimportant compared to the energy filling me.

I’m not sure how long I sat there, only that by the time I became aware of my physical self again I could feel sweat running down my face, back, and curiously between my pectoral muscles. Even as I sat still, sweating, I practically quivered with energy! Every part of my body tingled, and I wanted to explode into motion I felt so ALIVE!

“You’re ready, now focus on my court.” Cordi advised.

I thought about the grey twilight, the pillars of white and black marble, and the throne sitting in the shadow cast by the twined pillars and closed my eyes. I felt a ripple of movement yet I was sure I hadn’t moved.

“Welcome to my Court, among the Knights of Order this place is known as the Shadow-Court.”

I opened my eyes and sucked in a deep breath in shock. The court looked just like it had in my dream only now it felt more real. Every detail was sharper, clearer, and I could feel the stone under my feet. Then I caught the faint scent of the ocean. Even though my dream had been surprisingly life like, it was still a dream. Now, I somehow knew, that I was here in a different way than before.

“It’s the same, but it feels different than my dream.”

“That’s because when you came here in your dream, your spirit was only partly here. You just sent your spirit-self here using my power and your will. You are here as fully as you can be.”

I looked around for a minute and spotted Cordi sitting on her throne. She stood up and came towards me, easily more than twice my height.

“Uhm, . . . so . . .what do you want me to do?”

“We’ll continue your training. First I need to judge your fighting skills. When I first started working with Beth she had no training. I’ve looked at your memories and you’ve some experience in Tae Kwon Do, and a little Kendo. These skills combined with your Aikido and wrestling give you a good foundation in the fighting arts. After that I plan to teach you how to use shadows to create armor and weapons. That’s about as far as we’ll be able to go today.”

I nodded, “Okay”

“Attack me.”

“But you’re twice my size!”

“Size doesn’t matter to the Knight of Shadow, but if it will help.”

Suddenly she was my size facing me in a gray judo Gi.

“Better?”

I nodded, and gave her a bow and realized that I was now wearing a matching judo Gi. ‘Well I guess it’s appropriate.’ I thought, to myself.

“I agree” Cordi’s voice whispered into my mind.

“Can you hear all of my thoughts?”

“Yes and no, when you’re thinking about me I can generally hear them. There are ways to shield thoughts. I’ll teach them to you later, since some daemons will read thoughts in battle and use this power to anticipate an attack. Ready?”

I soon found that Cordi was a much better fighter than me. She knew every trick, technique, faint, and strike. I lost all track of time as the training continued. She soon had me reaching into a shadow and forging it into a weapon or a shield. Then I learned to step into a shadow and step out clothed in shadow-armor. Then the lessons began anew. Now we focused on fighting while wearing armor. At last I reached a point where I was too exhausted to continue.

“Joel, enough, you have done very well! I don’t think I’ve ever had a better partner. At least not this early in the joining.”

At this point I’d been trying to climb back to my feet from where she’d thrown me. Without having to ask I suddenly knew how to get back to my body. I reached up and brushed my long dark hair out of my eyes and dismissed my armor and felt a relief from its constriction. I was once more standing facing Cordi in a judo gi. She dismissed her armor as well and I could see that I’d at least forced her to work up a sweat. She was stunningly beautiful with her hair plastered to her head and her cheeks flushed from exertion.

“Food, and then sleep are what you need now.”

“What about my family? How will we find them? Are you sure the daemon’s have them?”

“I’ve been thinking about it while we trained. In the morning we’ll start by making a few phone calls. If the daemon’s are holding them they’ll answer one of the phones and then we’ll know. But what’s puzzling me is how they found us. They couldn’t have detected me. Do you remember a black bag with silver runes?”

“I found it the morning after I met you. Why?”

Cordi nodded looking intently at me.

“The bag is unimportant, but what was in it was very dangerous. If someone in your family found that bag and the token it held, then we could have a big problem. That bag imprisoned the token of a daemon called Dar-usk’kin. While inside the bag no other Chaos Daemon could have found Dar-usk’kin, but if the token were taken from the bag they’d sense him right away. If one of your family members put the ring on then Dar-usk’kin would have taken possession of their body. Joel we have to be careful. Dar-usk’kin is a crafty and powerful foe. If he’s free we’re in for a tough fight. In fact, I think we’ll need to find reinforcements before facing X’lye’ous and Dar-usk’kin again.”

“But if this Dar-usk’kin were free wouldn’t it take him a while to bond just like it’s taking us?”

“No, you see Chaos Daemons are very different from Knights of Order. We have to join with our vessels and the joining takes time as mind, body, and spirit are brought into alignment. The Daemons pour their essence into objects. When the object is touched by a human they switch places with the human. The human’s spirit goes into the object and their spirit fills the human. They have access to all of their vessels memories and skills, but they have to keep their token either on them or near them at all times. If the physical connection between vessel and token is severed then they return to the token and the human returns to their native body.”

At this Cordi paused to see if I understood. When I remained silent she continued.

“For Knights it’s a symbiotic relationship. We both benefit from the joining. Once the Joining is complete we will move as one and when we’re fighting it won’t seem like it’s me fighting or you fighting we’ll both be acting and re-acting as one being.”

I looked down trying to understand what she was telling me.

“Enough for now, you need sleep.”

I nodded, “Sleep sounds good.”

With that I pushed my awareness back toward my physical body. I could feel Cordi’s power still running through me and instinctively I began pulling it in, drawing it down, and confining it to my center while thinking about my body sitting cross legged in the basement of Cordi’s safe house. I again felt a shifting sensation and then the Court of Shadow faded away.

***

I blinked, my eyes felt like they’d been filled with sand, and every part of my body felt stiff and sore. I pushed myself to my feet and slowly made my way up the stairs out of the basement and to the largest of the three bedrooms. As I moved I could tell I was out of it, from exhaustion, both emotional and physical. My whole body felt off, uncoordinated, and awkward but I was too tired to care. The bed had been stripped. After a few minutes of searching I found a set of sheets, blankets, and pillows in the hall closet. I was too drained to make the bed so I grabbed a pillow and a blanket and went to sleep.

Sunlight streaming in through the window brought me slowly back to consciousness. For several minutes, I couldn’t figure out where I was and then it came back to me in a rush. The fire, my family presumed missing, and a Knight of Order sharing my body. As the strangeness of my situation sank in I bolted upright. When I did a whole new set of sensations assault me. My long black hair hung down in front of my face. My clothes felt loose in some places and tight in others, but the most overwhelming sensation was the unnatural feeling of movement on my chest. I couldn’t resist reaching up to feel my chest as I looked down at the protruding mounds of flesh.

My hands seemed wrong, small and delicate, as I squeezed my chest I felt the odd dual sensation of squeezing a woman’s chest and of having my boobs squished. Abruptly panic set in and I ripped at the blanket I’d wrapped around myself and spent a long moment struggling to disentangle my legs. Once free I stumbled to the bathroom and turned on the lights. As I did my pants slide down my slim hips to pool around my ankles.

The woman reflected in the mirror seemed familiar to me. I moved forward with little mincing steps because my feet where still entangled in my pants. She was wearing the t-shirt I’d been wearing yesterday, but it was her face that drew my attention. I reached up and pulled my long hair out of my way realizing that it was now at least shoulder length. My face was no longer mine. The nose was smaller and thinner, the chin came to a delicate point, the cheek bones where high and delicate and my lips were full. I suddenly realized I looked like Cordi’s little sister more than I looked like me. Then it hit me, I looked like a seventeen-year-old version of Beth!

Before I could continue to follow that train of thought my eyes focused on my chest. My nipples pushed out, straining the fabric of my t-shirt, making it impossible to avoid one clear fact. “I’ve got tits!”

I suddenly had to know the full extent of the changes and ripped at my clothes finding it more difficult than it should have been to remove them. At last I stood, naked, looking at my reflection. My skin was creamy pale color and I was now the proud owner of a set of breasts any girl my age would have been proud of! I had a thin waist and hips that flared out creating a feminine hour glass figure. The only places where I now had hair were on my head and a very small area around my tiny penis. I was at once relieved, that I was still a guy, and appalled at the number of changes my body had undergone.

“Cordi! What’s happening to me?!” I shouted, slightly reassured at the sound of my normal voice, incongruous as it was coming from my newly feminized mouth. Abruptly, I saw Cordi leaning against the wall looking at me with a mildly interested look on her face.

“Ah, I see we have made a tremendous amount of progress in just one day. If this keeps up our joining will be complete in less than two days. I think that will be a record! Beth really chose well when she picked you.”

“What do you mean our joining will be complete? What’s happening to me?”

“I thought you understood, my power is flooding your body and changing it. I’m a Knight of Order. My vessel’s body must, as closely as possible, match my body. Normally it takes between weeks to even months to get to this stage. I’ve been channeling as much power into you as I could and you’ve done a great job accepting the power and learning to focus and control your new energies. We will be a very formidable team once we’ve finished the joining!”

“You’re turning me into a GIRL! I don’t want to be a girl! I don’t want to be your twin! You never said this would happen to me.”

“I don’t understand,” Cordi sounded puzzled. “When Beth spoke to you she said that you’d have to give up your life and your future to save lives. This is what she meant. When our joining is complete none of your family or friends will know you. That’s a good thing since it will protect them from retribution.”

“Can we find another vessel? I don’t want to lose my life.” At this the ghostly image of Cordi moved to stand in front of me.

“Joel, yes, we could try, but it will take time. You’re not strong enough to use my power to find a new vessel. By the time you’re strong enough your body will be completely transformed. When I leave you, your body won’t change back, this process is irreversible. Then if we did find another vessel I’d have to join with that person and the process normally takes months. In the meantime if the daemons have your family there is no telling what’s happening to them. Joel, for the sake of your family, at this point, there is no turning back.”

I looked away knowing that she was probably right yet unable to accept the loss of my life and gender. After several minutes of silence I looked over at the image of Cordi and let out a sigh.

“Let’s just find out what happened to my family. After we know what’s happened to them we can figure out what to do about us, . . . er . . . this.” I said gesturing down at my body.

Cordi’s ghostly image looked relieved. “Joel, I have several sets of clothes stashed here. You’re taller than Beth was, at the start of her transformation, although that shouldn’t be a problem. I’ve got several different sets of sizes.”

“Okay, but first I need use the bathroom and then I need to get clean. Oh, and I’d like a little privacy.”

Cordi looked confused but nodded and then vanished.

Getting clean was a learning experience. I dug through the bathroom and discovered several different types of cleaning products that I had no clue how to use. I settled for a bar of soap and a bottle of shampoo. My hair was now as long in front as it was in back so I pulled it back and tied it with an elastic band once I’d dried it. Then I went in search of clothes.

“In the top drawer of the dresser you’ll find bras the next drawer down has panties.” Cordi whispered into my mind trying to be helpful.

“I thought I asked for privacy?”

In response I thought I heard a soft laugh and Cordi’s presence faded. I went to the drawers she’d recommended and pulled up a set of black panties that held what was left of my tiny manhood without trouble. I found a matching bra and after several unsuccessful attempts managed to get it on. Now feeling completely stupid I went to the closet in search of comfortable clothes. I found jeans and a black blouse that wasn’t too girlie and felt a little better now that I had clothes on but very self-conscious since they were girl clothes. I went into the kitchen and sat down at the table.

“Cordi, could you please come out and talk?”

“Of course”

And just like that her spectral image was sitting in the chair across from me.

“Cordi, I need to know if my family is safe.”

“Joel, I know. Please understand, if the situation hadn’t been desperate I’d have never allowed Beth to mark you without you fully knowing what was going to happen and what it all meant.”

“I don’t want to talk about that right now, can we just focus on my family?”

Cordi’s image looked down for a second and then back up at me and nodded. “Yes, of course. Let’s go to the study, I’ve got a computer there. We can access the internet and find out what happened at the fire. Then we can try getting in touch with your family.”

Cordi gave me directions and I soon found myself in front of a new looking computer. The dial-up connection was frustratingly slow but at last I was checking news articles. I quickly found a report on the fire. Apparently one body had been recovered from the fire and the family was missing. I stared at the screen for a long time trying to make the words seem real. Yet no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t wrap my mental arms around the idea that someone had died in my house during the fire.

“Joel, we don’t know who died in the house or what really happened. I’ve got a few contacts and while we were in the Shadow-Court I sent a message to my brother asking for back up. I think it’s time we see if he answered.”

“I don’t think I’m up for another trip to the Shadow-Court.”

“That’s not necessary. We also use email to communicate.”

With that Cordi directed me to an e-mail account she used to communicate with other Knights who had been assigned to protect this realm. When I tried to open the account I got an alert that it had been closed down for a violation of the terms of agreement.

“Joel, I need to take control of our body for a few minutes.” Cordi said using my mouth to speak out loud in her feminine voice, a voice that now matched my body better than my own voice. I was starting to learn that when she was really serious this was her way of letting me know.

“Okay.” I responded and relaxed.

This time when she took over it was almost like a warm blanket had been wrapped around me. Cordi walked us over to another part of the room where a phone rested on a small table next to an answering machine. She quickly checked for messages and found none. Then she tried several numbers only to get no answer.

“Joel, something is wrong. There is a regional headquarters for North America where Knights will sometimes meet. I’m going to take us there.”

“What about my family?” I asked, the sound of my male voice coming out of my now female mouth was rather odd.

“If the daemons have them they are either dead or are being held as hostages for us to attempt a rescue. Until we contact the daemons or they contact us the clock hasn’t started ticking. Trust me, Joel, I’ve been doing this for a long time. We need to know what’s going on before we can make any moves.”

“So what will we do next?”

“Watch what I do and, more importantly, how I do it. Feel the power and how I use it.”

I nodded, mentally, since she had control of our body.

“I believe we’ve merged to the point where I can start to use some of my more advanced abilities.”

With that she reached out with one hand and the shadow cast by the computer desk leapt up covering our body. A second later the shadow dropped away leaving us wearing a set of black leather clothes that showed our female curves. The technique was the same one she’d taught me in the Court of Shadow when I’d created my armor so I was able to follow what she’d done. Then she reached out to the shadow cast by the open door and it leapt forward covering us in darkness. The light changed to a dim grey then it fell away and we were inside the ruins of a building.

“By the pattern of creation, this cannot be!”

I knew without having to ask that we’d used one shadow to step to another. To a shadow in another part of the country covering the distance in an instant. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to follow what she’d done. More distressing were the emotions I was feeling through my bond to Cordi, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that she hadn’t expected to find this place a smoking ruin.



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