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Let the show begin
Jaxen wriggled in his newly found cocoon. The lesson did no be taught, huh? Apparently Tarin was going to force-feed him wisdom. As it seemed that Jaxen had no where else to go, he might as well absorb what he could.

Strength wasn't something he'd had to consider much in his life. Money purchased all the muscle anyone could want and who needed brawn when you had a former special op's as your personal bodyguard? Then again, even Jaxen was alone sometimes, but he never relied on might to get him out of a sticky situation. If he couldn't worm his way out of trouble with wit and charm, he deserved a beating. Not literally, of course.

He took a concerted breath and grasped at the light as he had previously. Again, as the flinch found before, a boulder blocked his path. The light might as well be trapped on the far side of Mars for as unreachable it seemed. Tarin spoke of strength. Maybe the secret was to punch his way through, but that seemed ridiculous. How does one out-wit a senseless slab? Probably the best strategy was to avoid it altogether.

He wriggled his head 'no' as best he could from the cocoon. The light was out of reach. "Are you going to keep me tied up like this the rest of our time together? I mean, I enjoy it as much as the next guy, but you should at least buy me a drink first."

He raised a curious brow. "Let's say for a minute you were knocked out. Would that shield of yours drop too? What about if you died? Don't worry. I particularly avoid killing people, I'm only speaking theoretically here."
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
"So long as I do be holding the flows, the entrapment remains,"
Tarin explained. He circled his would-be prey.
"You would be in trouble now, if I meant you harm. Luckily, I be here to teach, no be the cause of evil. Take care with such power. Of the two of us, I be the stronger, but there no be telling how much a man can wield this power until he shows you. He often do no be knowing himself until time reveals."

Tarin dropped the flows and Jaxen fell to his own two feet once more.
"Now shape up, lad. You will be getting yourself killed unless your guard be raised. Drink too much of this power before you be strong enough to wield it and you will die as fast as by any arrow to the heart."

As soon as Jaxen was freed, he retreated a step or two. Call it personal space, although he was keenly aware Tarin had no need for proximity to make a point known. "Alright! I'm not fond of being stabbed in the chest or smothered to death by power."
Even as he spoke the gears were turning, however. Tarin just taught him how to overcome another Ancient. Although with one major caveat - they had to be weaker than him. Jaxen quite clearly recalled the ominious presence looming like a thundercloud when Michael meant to kill him in the moments before Tony interferred. Forget dexterity and control, both those guys had the leg up on him. Which left one question that begged to be asked, "Alright, Tarin. How do I get stronger than another Ancient?"

Jaxen acted as though his defenses relaxed, but Tarin's guard remained wary. The lad had proven himself mistrustful more than once in their brief time together.

"An ancient can no control the limits of his strength any more than they can control how tall they do grow. You be born with your strength. It be up to you to reach it. That do come in time with practice and great need."

Tarin was hesitant to turn his back on the lad, but he had to gather the weaves to generate the boy's return.
"And our time has come to its end. I deem you capable to survive your Age, if you be wise."
he said matter-of-factly.

The flows were inverted, invisible even to himself, although he sensed their manifestation. There were rules about such things, what information he could and could not impart to future Ancients. The way in and out of this room was forbidden.

So there was no telling how strong he would become until he reached that pinnacle on his own. Well, if anything Jaxen was good at, it was mastering the art of whatever craft he pursued: tricks, stealing, dancing, driving. They all required practice and patience.

On one hand, he was relieved when Tarin said he could go home, but curiosity made him want to explore. While Tarin was distracted, he swiped the trinket he spied earlier into one pocket. A light sweep of air brushed the back of his neck, and when he turned, the doorway had reappeared. Once more, the hair-thin band of red seemed to stand on its own, but unlike previously when Jaxen assumed it was bolted into the floor, he now suspected that it was crafted of pure power, although he saw no evidence of such.

He turned before passing through the invisible passage. "Just how ancient are we Ancients?"

Jaxen turned to ask a question Tarin was limited to answer. He clasped his hands before him,
"Since the beginning of time."
, he declared. His service was complete.

"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
The beginning of time seemed like a shady answer, but then again, Tarin as a whole was a rather shady character. Jaxen shrugged. He had been hoping to hear an explanation in terms of dates: centuries, millennia, whatever. Especially since Tarin deemed he was worthy to survive his age. Kudos to Jaxen, then. With a few decades under his belt, he should be an expert at living by now.

He passed through the invisible threshold, and a million hands grabbed his skin, stretching him apart, yanking every single hair until he was one flat Jaxen carpet. He tried to yell, but ash filled the space one might assume was his mouth. The threshold rushed around him like a fighter-jet punching through the sky, but faster. When he emerged on the other side, he was hole, but his skin itched like it was sewn back together too fast. He shivered at the sensation and held his stomach while his sense of balance returned.

The room wobbled back into focus as Jaxen realized just which room that was. A veritible crowd of snakes stood before him like he was the spectacle on stage. He instinctively backed up, but the doorway passed overhead without the familiar transport to another dimension, like he'd hoped. Well, it was worth a shot. "Guess you can only go there once,"
he said. His nerves were kept well below the surface, but this time Jaxen had an ace in his pocket. The light was dim and distant, but there. Yet when he reached for it, barely a trickle of what he wielded with Tarin came through. He drew upon the light, but it was like drinking through a clogged straw. Something was keeping him from using its full potential. With this miniscule amount, he might be able to stop one snake, but do nothing but make the dozens others laugh at him.

"Now what?"
He asked, making himself focus purely upon Sora. She was the most human of the ones in sight, but that was a poor comparison. Her scales seemed to slither even as she stood still. What ones could be seen behind the veils of black draping her form in disguise.

"Now you rrrreturn to your rrrrealm,"
she uttered with that wispy sound of snake-language.

She came for him, and Jaxen found himself braced against the slab that was the back wall. He licked his lips when she laid those cold-blooded fingers across his arm. A rising chant filled his ears, coming from the stretched jaws of the watching naga, but their language was unknown to him. He felt like the sacrifice in some sick ritual and powerless to change his fate. He depended on Sora to get him home.

She threw her cloak high and all went dark. All this trans-dimensional time travel was growing old.

"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Continued at Looking Glass

"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."

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