As Sharun lurched forward, I snuck a glance at the Oracle. She was staring intently at the fight between Sharun and Ame Kisi. I wasn't sure if she was working hard to maintain her mind control magic, or if she was supporting Sharun with magic, but she was definitely doing something. It helped that she seemed to hate Ame Kisi more than me, despite the fact it was Noel and I who destroyed The Terrible.
Ame Kisi tried to fight with one good arm but it didn't work. Sharun was too powerful and had incredible stamina. Ame Kisi gave more and more ground, sacrificed more and more injuries, until eventually, Sharun whacked his weapon across the length of her body, forcing Ame to shield herself with her spear. She cried out in pain as the spear was wrenched from her hands and flung into the air to land beside me.
Sharun stared at Ame Kisi. Ame took a few steps back and her foot got caught on a rock. She fell on the ground, staring up at her enemy. By now the Hon had regrouped and were fending off the Kisi hunters. The Que dealt with the other tribes, but after Sharun's initial charge, many of the hunter's from the allied tribes were dead or wounded. The Oracle smiled with glee. She shouted at Sharun to finish off Ame. Her eyes never met mine.
Sharun leveled his spear at Ame Kisi's neck. Ame was too tired to resist any longer. She looked at Sharun with a tired expression, her eyes revealing her unwillingness to die. She was breathing heavily and couldn't speak. Sharun retracted his spear, preparing to cut through her neck.
"There is no brain in a vat!" I yelled.
The Oracle turned to me at last. Her mouth widened when the Dragon's Tooth fell from Sharun's hand. Sharun fell unconscious on top of Ame Kisi. The Oracle tried to say something but her mouth only quivered. She frowned and focused hard on Sharun's body, but to no avail. Ame Kisi pushed Sharun off of her body but couldn't stand up. I reached for Ame Kisi's spear and used it to prop myself up. I laughed at the Oracle.
"Tell your master," I said slowly. "He ain't no Laplace's demon."
The Oracle looked at me. Both of her eyes had lost their glow. The wrinkles on her face deepened and her small body hunched over more than it ever had before. "What nonsense are you… my master gave me this power. How did you do this?"
"Epistemological solipsism," I answered.
"What?" said the Oracle.
"You wouldn't understand, since you never had to work for your magic. I'll admit, I'm lucky this world bases its magic on knowledge! Using solipsism to assert my own existence helped me resist The Terrible's mind control magic. All I had to do to help someone else assert their own existence was go back and tweak a few things," I said.
"You're making no sense. Magic as knowledge? Asserting your own existence? What are you talking about?" said the Oracle.
"Oh, your master never even told you how magic works? Man, he really does not trust you at all, huh. Or maybe he just thinks you're incompetent. Can't say I disagree. You couldn't even sacrifice a couple kids to your master, what a disappointment," I said. I had to stall a little longer. I needed to gather some more energy. "Listen, I used a few thinkers from my home world to create mind resistance magic."
"One was Descartes, who used the famous phrase: cogito ergo sum. Except, he didn't stop at 'I think therefore I am.' He thought that because the only reason I know that 'I' exist is because I can perceive myself clearly, anything else I perceive of clearly is also true. He then went on to argue he had a clear idea of god so god must be true and he must be good because that was his idea of god. And if god was good, he could not be deceiving him, so all of existence is not a deception but in fact, reality."
"Another one was Avicenna. He used his floating man hypothesis to argue that even if he was deprived of all his senses, he could still tell that he existed. Yet, he knew that he did not create himself. Since he was a 'contingent' existence that had to be created by something else, say, his parents or nature, there must be some existence that was not 'contingent' but simply 'was,' which was his way of arguing for god. And yeah, that meant all of existence existed as being contingent on god, but it existed as long as god said it did."
"Obviously, this was a roundabout way of arguing about existence, and there were a ton of holes in both of these arguments, as well as similar arguments I used to strengthen my magic, but that's okay! Magic in this world doesn't need to be based on a perfect argument, only on things that can, in certain ways, be concerned 'knowledge,' which is itself such a long and complicated topic for discussion, don't you think?"
Throughout this whole thing the Oracle was looking at me like I was crazy. Even Ame Kisi and the few hunters who were nearby blinked and scratched their heads. My experience working with the Jora tribe taught me that what I was saying wasn't beyond their understanding, but I was being deliberately confusing and long winded. I was stalling.
"Outsider," said the Oracle at last. "Your words sound like meaningless drivel. The other outsiders I've summoned were so much nicer. They came to this world, listened to my master and his Ikon's, and sacrificed themselves happily for the sake of our prosperity!"
"You used to say they were going to fulfill their 'destiny' and not going to go get sacrificed. I'm sure they thought they were going on a quest to beat the demon lord or something," I said. "Anyway, I didn't actually need to prove the existence of god for this magic. I just had to think I did. It's very convenient, the magic of this world. I'm going to spend many, many years working out all sorts of cheap tricks and loopholes."
"Oh no," said the Oracle with an evil grin. She lifted her staff. "I'm going to do what I should have done the moment you refused to go inside that damned cave! Die, outsider!" She yelled a cliché line before casting another red laser.
Except, before the beam of light left the end of her staff, the Oracle disappeared. A violent explosion rocked the earth, making everyone look over. A small cloud of dust covered the ground where the Oracle had stood. A Hon tribesman ran over, yelling out the Oracle's name. He stepped into the cloud of dust and fell forward, his body disappearing below the earth.
I laughed. Ame Kisi met my gaze and I helped her up. She'd wrapped the wound on her shoulder with her clothes to stem the bleeding but was still in very bad shape. In fact, everybody had injuries all over their bodies. I gave Ame her spear, which she wielded with one hand. With Sharun and the leader of the Hon both down on the ground, the Oracle's hunters wouldn't be able to fight off Ame. I prepared a fireball with the last of my energy, just in case anyone thought they could still take us on.
"Put down your weapons," said Ame. The Hon and Que looked at each other. A couple in the back tried to slip out of the camp, but were greeted with spear tips. Eventually, all the enemy hunters put down their weapons and kneeled on the ground. We collected all of their weapons and began tending to our wounded.
"How did you do that," asked a Jora tribesman as he walked near the pit where the Oracle had fallen. "Was it earth magic?"
"No," I said. "I didn't have enough time to come up with a whole new type of magic. But see, sinkholes are caused by underground water, which hollows out the earth underneath. I just needed the Oracle to stand still long enough for me to make a deep, dark hole that she would never be able to crawl out of." I shrugged. "Her blowing herself up with her own magic was just karma."
I smiled. I also refused to explain what 'karma' meant. Figure it out from context, darn it!
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