LNH: Hungry Hungry Sabertooths #6pi.VI.6: "Tragedy and Trenchcoats" [2/3]

Jeanne Morningstar mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Tue Nov 3 06:23:49 PST 2020


Occultism Kid's astral form sank back into his body like an overcrowded 
garbage bag into a dumpster. He'd overexerted himself and now he 
wouldn't be able to go astral for a while. He was stuck in this room 
with himself (and technically the Door Warden, but the Door Warden had 
been in a depressive mood and hadn't felt like talking for a while), the 
worst place to be.

In theory, it should have been easy for Occultism Kid to deal with 
quarantine. He already spent most of his time sitting in his room 
astrally projecting. Like many people, he'd had a vague ambition he'd do 
more socially this year, or at least try and get a regular game group 
together again.

He tried to relax, checking his messages and ignoring all the emo music 
the Door Warden was playing. (It was feeling nostalgic.) He saw a 
message from Mashup Laq, who'd also been trying to keep in touch with 
him, and ignored it. Mashup Laq was one of the easiest people in the 
world to make friends with, but Occultism Kid still found himself 
resisting it a little.

Relationships were a strange thing for him. He really didn't want to 
invest himself in romance. He'd had conversations with his apprentice 
about whether he identified as asexual and/or aromantic and still wasn't 
really sure of the answer, but he knew that his life would be even more 
difficult to navigate if he also had to worry about, say, an 
on-again-off-again marriage to the queen of another magical dimension. 
 From his rites of scrying, this seemed like it'd be more Nina's kind of 

What he had was a small number of friendships he cultivated and invested 
himself in, of which Obscure Trivia Lad and wReamhack were the most 
stable. Forming new ones was hard; he tended to stick to the small 
number of relationships he was sure of, which made it all the harder 
when one of them crumbled because a character died or was taken off the 

He did feel an instinctive strong connection to Nina, but guilt over 
what happened to Ultimate Ninja and putting her in this situation got in 
his way, even though he knew that he probably blamed himself more for 
that than she did.

He was thinking again about the decision he made on Neme.sys. It worried 
him from the perspective of how it would affect the Real World, how it 
would affect the LNH and how it would affect Nina. He was worrying that 
she was under under so much pressure that no one who wasn't the actual 
Ultimate Ninja, IE no one who was an actual person, would survive it.

The fact that the problem might be Neme.sys affecting his thinking was, 
in a way, the more comforting option. The problem could have gone back 
long, long ago in his life, beginning with his visit to the dead 
Looniverse, not long after he joined the Legion. [Legion of Occult 
Heroes #4] Ever since then, death, failure and tragedy had never been 
far away. Had the horrors he'd seen impressed themself on him so much 
they'd become a central part of his magic?

He'd thought he was better than the trenchcoaters with their endless 
whirlwind of drama, tragedy and loss--wanting to avoid that was a big 
part of why he'd joined the LNH--but entropy had followed behind him 
every step of the way. If he was an analogue of the Doctor--which, given 
that among his artifacts was a bigger-on-the-inside space-time machine 
called the TANDI, he pretty much was--he was most like the Peter Davison 
one. His victories were all pyrrhic.

There was part of him that was afraid of that and part of him that 
wanted to embrace that. In his jewelry box of artifacts he held a 
particularly powerful one called the Wings of Endless Angst, which drew 
on the power of Darkening. It was obviously (well, obvious for the 
people who had read a lot of Doctor Strange comics) inspired by the 
Peter Gillis run of Doctor Strange, one of the better examples of that 
kind of story. The problem was that after a certain point this became 
the only story anyone ever told with Doctor Strange, at least up until 
the point where Occultism Kid had stopped following most Marvel comics 
regularly. (He wasn't really able to follow the Hickman Avengers run and 
the death of the universe so forth because that was too similar to what 
he'd been through recently.)

The Darkening of the Sorcerer Supreme was one of the two stories that 
creators who didn't really know what to do with magic as a narrative 
element kept going back to--the other was "the Death of Magic" which 
thankfully the LNH writers, for all their boundless silliness, had 
enough sense to avoid. This Darkening was something he had to work hard 
to escape but also part of him wanted to stop fighting it off, just take 
it and run with it... but he had a responsibility to his apprentice.

Part of him wanted to retire, like Irony Man had, and retreat into the 
background. Build himself a secret wizard hut and hang an alligator on 
the ceiling and become a proper mentor-wizard until he had to sacrifice 
his life so his protege could level up. Maybe switch to wearing white 
trenchcoats and call himself Occultism Kid the White--no, that had bad 
connotations, but he could certainly grow a long beard. Go be a teacher 
in a magic school in some other-dimensional islands (not one of the 
British ones, they were terrible).

But no, he wasn't ready to move on just yet. Because his apprentice was 
absolutely not ready to be Occultism Kid. They were still stabilizing, 
still figuring themself out. They had a good bit of arrogance--extremely 
justified arrogance, which was as bad in its own way as the other kind. 
They were as loud, assertive and flashy as Occultism Kid was quiet, 
retiring and sometimes nonentity-ish. They had to learn to listen and 
reflect in the same way Occultism Kid had had to learn to be confident 
and assert himself. The problem is, maybe he'd never actually figured 
that out.

He saw the telltale rainbow flash of the Trenchcoat of Many Colors worn 
by Kid Occultism Kid, his apprentice.

More information about the racc mailing list