With the late afternoon sun filtering in some faux-antique looking windows, it was a quiet Thursday at a trendy speakeasy bar when the door swung open and two men headed on in: a tall, middle aged man with a shaved head and beard and a teenager wearing a scarf.
"A bird, huh? That must have been pretty wild... and you did it accidentally. That's some talent," the older man chatted as they made their way over to the bar. They sat side by side on some bar stools. The teen looked around with slight awe - he'd been in plenty of restaurants, but only rarely ever sat at the bar itself. "You know, I wasn't always a Gossmere. When I was your age, I'm pretty sure the guide would have put me in Balimora. Gimme a sec."
The older man closed is eyes and breathed sharply in through his nose. If you weren't watching his face, you'd never have seen it. At that very moment, the bartender broke off conversation with another pair of happy-hour-goers at the other side of the bar and came to take the bearded man's order. "Hendrick's and tonic for me, Coke with a lime for the kid."
"How did you...?" the teenager eyed the older man, astonished, questions running across his face.
"Call the bartender over, or know your drink order? It's one in the same, really. It's how I first discovered magiq. I've done it so often for so long, it's almost instinctual now. No words, no gestures. It's the big benefit of being in your 30's - you get years of practice in."
"But... that's.." the teen stammered.
"Telemancy? Telepathy? Yeah, I know. I like to think of it as a flavor of our communion magics. I just commune harder and with a bigger variety of people." The older of the two gave a weary smile and thanked the bartender for the drinks. He'd leave a generous tip. He always did.
"When was the first time it happened?" the younger man asked.
"To be honest, I couldn't tell you. It's been happening all along. I remember a few specific instances: Walking behind one of the popular kids in high school and thinking a comment about his hair or clothes, then overhearing him repeat the comment to the person standing next to him not even a minute later; thinking someone was mumbling to themselves when I was actually picking up their surface thoughts... That sort of thing.
The thing is... my three year old's started doing it, too. I was thinking about something odd while putting him to bed the other night, and he started asking me about it. I hadn't said a word. Maybe I was that young when I started, maybe later. I don't think it matters. It's a gift and a curse. It's just part of who I am." The older man took a sip of his gin and tonic, then did the same little trick again to call the bartender over. "Can I see a food menu? Thanks. Want anything, Oracle?"
"No thanks. I'm not hungry." The boy looked vaguely uneasy.
"Suit yourself. I'll have the habanero wings. Wait, is that a dry rub? It is? Okay, yeah. I'll have those, thanks." The man flashed a winning smile at the bartender, who returned it.
"Augustus, do you ever...."
"Abuse it? No." the older man cut the teen off mid-sentence. "I do tend to do that a lot though... interrupt. I know it's annoying, and I have to work on it. I've never made anyone do anything against their will, though. I'm not sure I even could, really, because that would be against my core values. Like the Unforgivable Curses in Harry Potter: you have to really mean them for them to work. I don't think I could ever bring myself to actually dominate someone. It just feels.... wrong. I don't know if I could live with myself after that." With that, the teen looked slightly relieved. He ran a hand through a mess of thick black hair.
"Does it ever get overwhelming? The surface thoughts? Do you hear emotions?" The teenager asked as Augustus' wings arrived. Augustus pushed the plate over to him, but Oracle shook his head. "Thanks, though." Augustus quietly finished a couple drumsticks, thinking over how he'd answer the question.
"Yes and no," he admitted, "music helps. Not to drown out the thoughts and emotions. My brain filters that out. There's a phenomenon in healthcare, it happens all the time to nurses... 'alarm fatigue.' If an IV beeps the same way for long enough, you stop hearing it beep. I guess that's how I feel. If I pay attention I can hear it, or if it's particularly quiet around, or if the 'sound' is loud enough, I'll catch it, but not most stuff. Music helps me focus it, though. Especially the...uh... 'out-going' messages. Especially if it's music that I like. I think that's another Gossmere thing."
He finished the wings, wiped his hands and mouth with the requisite moist towelette, and paid the check. "Thanks for hanging out Oracle. I don't talk about this much, people get creeped out. It's nice to get it off my chest."
"No problem," the teenager clapped the older man on the shoulder. They walked out in to the cooler temperatures of the early evening, back to the think tank of other Mountaineers trying to assemble four fragments into a key, without a lock on the Book of Briars to fit it in.