Main Entry: cru·ci·ble
Etymology: Middle English corusible, from Medieval Latin crucibulum earthen pot for melting metals
Date: 15th century
1 : a vessel of a very refractory material (as porcelain) used for melting and calcining a substance that requires a high degree of heat
2 : a severe test
3 : a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development
The truck pulled into the long winding drive and moved slowly over the gravel through the trees toward the house. Coming to a stop in front of the house, He got out. He was tired. Limping around to the tail gate, he grabbed his gear bag. Joints creaked and muscles protested as he hoisted the heavy bag out of the back. A sound, that was half sigh half groan, escaped him as he rested the load on the top of the tail gate for a second. He was sore all over: his back, knees, neck. The stress and the strain of hard work, for months on end without a break, had taken their toll.
Four months now, it had been. But this weekend was his. He was free. Four entire days, starting tomorrow were his. Briefly, he wondered whether that would be enough to make him feel human again. He felt like a zombie with only the pain to remind him that he was really alive.
Swinging the bag off it's perch onto his shoulder, he raised his eyes toward the house and froze. Time stopped as his mind raced. She was framed in the window over looking the drive, gazing down at him. She was beautiful. Her eyes sparkled, and the setting sun lit up her auburn hair. The jewel on her collar twinkled, and her face glowed with eager anticipation at his homecoming. The gold rings in her nipples flashed and her bare breasts swayed as she bounced on the couch on her knees, like a child bursting with happiness at the sight of him. Her MASTER.
He smiled up at her as the tension gathered in his neck, and the weight of the duffel bowed his tired shoulders. He was not worthy of her in this condition, he thought. An angel bound to a mere mortal. He was not worthy of her, and that was not acceptable. She deserved better, better than the run down shell he was now.
Passion poured fuel onto the flickering ember in his soul. He could, and would be more! He waved at her, turned, and walked into the open garage door. She would be waiting when he was ready. Dumping the bag, he walked to a dark corner of the large cluttered garage, while fishing out a chain from his shirt that hung around his neck. At the end of the chain was a key.
He came to a set of old fashioned cellar doors set in the floor. They were ancient compared to the rest of the building. Made from heavy oak and supported by a field stone foundation which held them at a slant to the floor, the doors were chained and locked shut. He ignored the pain in his knees as he knelt ,slipped the key into the lock, and removed the chains. A long flight of stairs descending into darkness was revealed when the heavy wooden doors were opened. Taking the chains in hand he stepped down through the doors onto the stairs, pulling the doors closed behind him. Shutting them firmly, he replaced the chains and lock on the inside, working from memory in the darkness.
Satisfied that it was secure, he descended the steep stairs, counting them down from the top as he went. At fifteen, he felt for the keypad on the wall. It lit up at his touch, and he entered a seven digit code. Instantly lights came up slowly. The soft concealed in-directs revealed a heavy steel door. A buzz sounded and he pushed it open easily. Soundlessly, it swung open and he stepped through.
The lighting continued into the room where an old flagstone floor stretched out in a forty by sixty square with a ceiling that reached up fifteen feet. Rough hewn timbers supported the ceiling. It was the remains of an old barn that had stood in ruins on the site when he had built his home. The barn's basement was all that had survived, of which he built his garage over the top. Now, it was his Crucible. It was here that he disciplined his mind and body, where he burned away his weaknesses and mortality by tapping into the hidden secrets of his mind to live up to his full genetic potential. It was here where he became the Master, the Master of His Mind, Body, Soul, and the Beast that lived within him. Independent environmental controls had powered up with his entrance. The heat and humidity were already rising, and he was beginning to sweat. Quickly removing his clothes, he hung them next to the door. Overhead lights hung hidden among the beams, along with several mechanical apparatuses of all kinds. He picked up a remote from a shelf, by the door where he had hung his clothes, and used it to brighten the lights. Then with a click of another button, he activated the closed circuit video system, so "she" could monitor him in case of an accident.
Already the heat had hit ninety degrees and the humidity was causing sweat to pour down his face and chest. Moving to the center of the room, he knelt and set the remote beside him. He folded his bare feet under his ass with his toes touching, and rested his hands, palm down on top of his thighs. Neck, and back straight, head high, weight resting on his feet, he closed his eyes and began to force his breath to come slow and steady. The hard flagstone floor was smooth and cold beneath him, which began to hurt his knees and feet almost right away. But he ignored his body's protests, and sat motionless. He cleared his mind of all conscious thought and meditated, focusing on his body. All the little aches and pains, sore, tensely knotted muscles, damaged joints, sprained, strained, and twisted, spasming back, and intense headache, came into sharp focus.
Soon his body was screaming in protest, still he ignored it, sitting motionless and breathing deeply. Time passed. How long he sat there, he was not sure. Over and over his mind repeated to his body, "I am the Master. You will do as I wish". Eventually, the pain began to lessen, as his mind tightened his Mastery over his body. He then picked up the remote and snapped to his feet in one fluid motion. His body responded exactly as he wanted without complaint.
A piece of equipment began to lower from the ceiling to the floor with a click of the remote. As it settled gently, he went into a stretching routine. Working quick and smoothly, he began to stretch and loosen all the things that had tightened during his long meditation. The stretching issued pain and protests of it's own, but he ignored this, also. When he had loosened all his major muscle groups, he climbed onto the treadmill that sat ready waiting on the floor. Starting up a fast pace, he continued to focus on his body. Everything seemed to hurt. He continued to run, pushing his body harder and faster. Pressing other buttons, other pieces of equipment began to drop out of the dark of the ceiling. Still he ran without letting up, harder and faster with every step.
Pushing into the pain, he began to get angry. The Beast within him awoke and began to rattle the bars of the cage he was held in. Screaming and howling its anger in the back of his mind, it began to drown out his body's painful objections. On he ran. His mind started to fragment, separating into it's baser elements and characters. Body, Mind, and Soul, normally flowing into each other and co-mingling, separated into their own personalities: The Mortal, the Beast, and the MASTER.
The Mortal is the body and the everyday conscious mind. He is forever worried about the job, the chores, the social and political, interactive skills which human beings have developed to operate in modern society. He is a paragon of virtue and a pillar of the community. He votes, gives to charity, puts in one hundred percent at his job, and calls his mother once a week. Medium height, weight, and build, the body is in excellent physical condition, despite the bits and pieces that seem to be aging prematurely, due to hard use and living life to it's fullest. The Mortal begins to subliminate until the Beast leaps forth to the forefront of his mind.
Hundreds of thousands of years of evolution are torn asunder in an instant, as the conscious mind retreats before this menace from the past, ever-hidden in it's deeper recesses. The Reptile Brain is the last holding of mans basic animal instincts that are so often ignored or buried so deeply, they are forgotten. The Beast's last stirrings are now usually only noticed by some of his memories; The Fight or Fight Instinct, the Hunch, the Gut Feeling, the Willies.
The Beasts only cares are Survival and Reproduction. He is the reason man survived the climb up the food chain without getting eaten before he got to the top. The one who first climbed down from the trees, and drove animals from caves to make his home. The one who then defended the same cave from predators that underestimated his cunning and rage, thinking him weak and defenseless for his lack of natural weapons similar to their own.
His was the realm of "might makes right." He took what he wanted because he could, whether that be food, shelter, or mates. He lived in the best shelter he could find and hold for himself, killed and ate anything that didn't kill and eat him first, and rutted with every suitable female he could force himself on. Home of all the truest emotions; fear, anger, lust, love, ambition, desire, and contentment, he is the source of all Passion.
Roaring with rage at his confinement, as well as, joy at his release, he leaped from the still moving treadmill, in a rush of adrenaline. In that instant, the Mortal was replaced so much even his body's physical appearance changed. His face grew drawn and taught: the jaw thrust forward and lips drawn back until gnashing, bared teeth showed in a snarl. His eyes squinted almost closed in a glare making them look smaller. His back straightened as his chest thrust out giving him the appearance that he was growing taller, as adrenaline-loaded blood flooded his major muscle groups, swelling them to maximum capacity.
Endorphins coursed through his entire being, every ache and pain gone, replaced by a warm soothing glow. Raw primal energy burst from hidden reserves and began to heal the injured, damaged areas. Joints grew strong and smooth, bones hardened like iron, and muscles snapped with the energy of steel springs. Power flowed through his body until it almost hummed, completely restored in every way. By the time his feet hit the floor, he looked twenty pounds heavier, four inches taller, and much, much more primitive.
The Beast stormed toward the next closest apparatus that had joined the treadmill on the floor, with destruction in his eyes. Leading with a clenched fist, he slammed into the heavy body bag. It danced on it's chain like a puppet on a string. Every ounce of strength his body could supply while fueled by the Beast's adrenalized rage, went into every punch. Like a windmill in a tornado, arms flailed wildly, rights and lefts landing with equal bone-crushing force sinking deeply into the two hundred pound, sand-filled canvas/leather bag.
The Beast remembered every time he had been suppressed, with resentment, every fool who had challenged him, every idiot who had crossed him, every female that idly aroused him, every instance where his simple will had been held in check by the civilized man, who could deny his urges to do whatever he wanted. He took it all out on the bag. For fifteen minutes, the Beast pummeled the bag without mercy or satisfaction, until another voice pushed from a different dark corner of the brain, intruding on the Beast's tantrum.
Like a whisper in a hurricane, it was almost drown out, but not quite. With total calm and confidence, it demanded "switch". Instantly, the body shifted it's stance to comply with the will of that voice. Going from a square head-on stance to a shift with the right foot back and a left shoulder lead. The will of the Master could not be denied. Although the Beast still roared and raged, the Master was now present. Like a matador with a cape and a sword, He teased, poked, and prodded the Beast into compliance of his will.
Almost as Ancient as the Beast himself, the MASTER too had his roots in time forgotten. Pure Ambition, He WAS the desire to dominate EVERYTHING--to become the Master of his world.
The Beast may have been the reason man survived the climb up the food chain, but it was the MASTER who drove them to the top. He was the first to attach a rock to a stick in the rudiments of tool and weapon making so he could better his ability and change his environment to his advantage and liking. He was the one who had dared to steal the fire of the gods when it fell from heaven, to learn it's secrets, and forced it to serve him as tool, weapon, and comfort. He was the first to extend his power beyond himself, by getting others to do his will. Extended family groups working for a single purpose, led by the strongest most cunning, ambitious male, could accomplish what a single individual could not. Banding together for protection, the Master led the group to clear land for planting, hunt on a large scale, and wage war for better territory against others who didn't compliance to his will. Realizing what the Beast could not, the MASTER used mercy, compassion, and charity to earn loyalty that brute force could not compel. Using this knowledge, the MASTER was the first to see animals as something other than a food source, and he made servants of them, again multipling his power and influence.
The MASTERS pride, ambition, and thirst to expand his dominion have driven him across and under oceans, into the air, making the power of the birds and fish his own, even into space beyond the planet of his birth, always seeking to expand his power and control. But his hardest, most constant battle, is with the Beast who shares his home in the mind of mortal man. The truest MASTER never completely vanquishes or destroys the Beast. He Dominates and subjects it, using it's primal energy to strengthen his own power. Like a horseman, he saddles and rides it, always in control and more powerful because of it. The Beast now responds to the MASTER'S will, like a saber-toothed tiger jumping through hoops, at the direction of a trainer with a whip and chair.
Left . . . left . . . right . . . left . . . bob . . . weave . . . shuffle, then BANG! Right hook! The rage and power are no less, just controlled and focused, like the sun blazing through a magnifying glass, and turned into a burning beam of laser light. Years of training and technique surface in muscle memory, and the Beast's flailing becomes the calculated dance of a trained warrior. Wild punches become deliberate attacks, all the more devastating for the skill with which they are delivered. Complex combinations begin to land with the force of baseball bats. The Beast doesn't fight the control. His will hasn't been challenged yet. He revels in the increased damage he now delivers with every punch. The bag no longer satisfies his desire to pummel, so the MASTER whispers direction again.
Launching away from the bag with a leap that carries him to another target of which to direct his punishment, he faces something a little more satisfying to hit. Something that hits back: three horizontal arms, at head, waist, and ankle height, supported by a vertical axis pole and mounted to a heavy wide base plate. The arms were two feet long, three inches in diameter and made of hard wood, mounted to bearings which allowed them to spin. Slapping the top one away from his face as he landed in front of it, he ducked as it came back around, to avoid a sharp rap to his skull. As he ducked, he was forced to knock the second out of his way, also, shuffling and leaning slightly and forcing him to kick the bottom arm away from his feet to avoid tripping. As all three whirled around, his hands, feet, knees, and elbows became a blur. This was the Beast and Master working together, at their best. The Master's skill and calculation kept them moving in all different directions with punches, kicks, and strikes of all kinds. The Beast's instincts and reflexes made sure they were all met with another poised strike before they could land a blow on him, and slammed away, again, with equal violence.
Again, he was unaware of how long his assault had continued. Time was unimportant, as he focused solely on the coordination of his mind and body. They were in tune, the Beast and the Master: rage and reason, passion and logic, poised on a razors edge of control and balance. Now both were at the apex of their power. The Master's control was firmly established; the Beast's passion was fully unleashed. It was time to test that balance and bring them together, unseparated from the conscious mind.
Stepping back from the reach of the poles, he watched calmly as they spun to a stop, then turned and strode back to where the remote rested on the floor, with a spring in his step that had not been there when he had shuffled into the room. Picking up the remote, he returned everything to it's place . Cables pulled everything back up into the shadows above the lights. Touching another button, he opened two more doors on the far wall, across from the door he came in. One was a doorway leading down a dark hall, and the other, a brightly lit, shallow alcove. The alcove was the size of a bedroom closet, and arranged as a display case for a variety of weapons from many cultures, modern to ancient. Prominently hung as the center piece was a sword, an early American Calvary saber. It's long, bright, single-edged blade was razor sharp and slightly curved. It had a leather wrapped, basket hilt weighted for his hand. Beside it was a wicked, fourteen inch bowie, made to match.
Setting down the remote, he took both blades in hand and moved to the center of the room. The blades snapped up as he dropped into a crouch. His mind spun, swirling down to it's center core, that same place he had tapped into the Beast and Master's hidden home, at the beginning of his meditation. Slowly and methodically, his body began to move, almost dancing across the floor, blades moving in patterns that demanded total control. Keeping the two blades moving with powerful, accurate purpose took every bit of power and control he had summoned. One slip or a single moment of failure in communication between the Master and Beast, could be painful, even fatal .
Shuffling across the floor, leading with lunges and cuts, the bowie followed the saber. His movements became ever faster and more powerful. As his body moved, the mind began to center itself again. Slowly, like a three-dimensional puzzle, the raised consciousness of the Beast and the Master dropped a little at a time into their respective hiding places within the mind of the Mortal. He continued to meditate while his mind came back into focus, like a man awaking from a dream.
The gifts of the two ancient spirits that lived within him remained, and he was very aware of their presence. Once again whole, the mortal took his place in the forefront of his consciousness, with the Beast and Master, now, only a thought away. No longer buried deep, they floated just under the surface waiting, their attributes still surging within him: the passion that burned like the sun and the control that focused it like a laser beam.. Gone was the tired, rundown man that had descended into this crucible. In his stead stood a man ready for anything: Strong, Proud, Calm, Confident, radiating Peace, Power and Harmony. Now fully aware again and satisfied with the change in himself, he continued to work his blades, enjoying the newfound vigor and clarity his trial had brought him. Now he was whole and complete, just as he was met to be. Now he was ready, worthy.