Fourth Day continues from yesterday. Actually this is a bit late so I’m putting up another one later this morning. Catch up with the entire Fourth Day series by clicking here.
Unsure if it had to do with his meeting with Aiye, but he started to notice the little things when he would ‘run’. Unfamiliar colours flashed about him like tricks of light, emitted from things he could not trace…yet.
They were almost solid. He appeared just outside the Long-Shadow stronghold.
“Come in, boy”, eerily echoed from within the chambers.
He stepped in and the unearthly glow of their green flames filled the spaces, like luminous lichen lighting up in the wake of a school of whales.
He stood before their resting King. He was out of his corporeal form and transparent. At the moment, he was just another spirit tending to his own corpse, just as his guards were. It was hard to tell if he was facing Nedeseh or not, but his eyes were taking everything.
“Nedeseh, you may sit. This will take a while.”
“There is nothing to sit on, my lord.”
“There should be no secrets or lies between us, Nedeseh. I know what you did to Baru. Call out a seat from the earth beneath your feet. You have my permission.”
A crude clump of earth arose from the earth, then became a detailed stool with patterns of desert creatures adorning its legs.
“I see Amina is still on your mind. She is of man in a way that you can never return to. Why else do you think there have never been fathers and sons in the ranks of the Half-Moon council? Any child made of such a union would be an abomination…the first of which died in the great flood. I’ve been dead too long to be sensitive about such matters, Nedeseh. But I hope you trust that my intentions are in the right place.
“But you have questions for me.”
“I’m an ancient corpse fighting under a self-imposed curse. I’m no sage. Aiye said you’d come to me with questions and I was not to discourage you from asking. I will not lie or hide any part of the truth from you. I’ve trusted you with my life, you should know that you can do the same with me.”
Nedeseh watched the king clean his corpse with great detail to attention.
He would look at a withered limb, then coax out a bit of dust and his flame would grow stronger.
“The less earth on my corpse, the stronger I become. The more earth, dust, well…had Baru’s back-up plan worked, I would have been freed from my curse, at the wrong time.”
“Is…there no place to keep yourselves that would be out of the reach of earth and dust?”
The guards stopped for a few seconds, then continued.
A large clump of clay dropped from the king’s corpse.
“Not without lifting the curse. We have to be in ‘this chamber’ or else we will perish. It is that simple actually.”
Nedeseh felt uncomfortable for his ignorant suggestion.
“Travelling through time. This is what you came to ask, was it not?”
Nedeseh bolted upright in surprise.
“You can, you know? Let’s try something.. By now you should have noticed the lights?”
“How did you…?”
“Why do you think I live here instead of resting with my fathers and those who have reigned after me? Nedeseh, you can think. So think? How else is this possible?”
“You…were you a…?”
“I mastered both light and shadow…then I was told I could only bear abominations. So I decided to stand in the place of those who would have been my seed. I cursed myself. I was eager to know, without understanding the costs. You have noticed the lights, yes?”
“But not where they come from. Not why they appear the way they do. Not what they mean. Not what they are saying.”
Nedeseh had a strange sensation that he had not felt since the last time he was…
“Curious. I’m…I’m curious.”
“Yes, you are…and I will help you get the answers that will guide your curiousity properly. Let’s start with the past. The immediate past. You’ve learned what it means to ‘run in a place’. I saw what you did to the 4 Elements in here. Do it again. Do it now.”
Nedeseh started. It was almost routine to him by now. The voice of the Long-Shadow king was cutting through the strain of his efforts.
“When you see a light…like seeing the sun through closed eyes…walk into it.”
He saw the light flicker strongly to his right so he ‘ran’ to it and suddenly he was standing before the 4 Elements when he had already left the chambers at that time. He stood where his illusion was, he tried to stretch his hand and he crashed through a swirl of colours that only the blind or the insane would find conforting.
It was the Long-Shadow guard who caught him.
He was in great pain.
“You’re lucky I was still in my spirit form. Many who have tried it have made the mistake of stepping outside the walls of reality and died their second and final deaths. You can see it is nothing more than ‘seeing’. You can’t engage the past, and only where ‘you’ stand as yourself with great enough power at any point, for example by ‘running in one place’ as you’ve discovered.
“That’s Aiye’s power. Wherever he stands, he stands with great power…but his case breaks a weak mind to something a little less than dust, a normal mind is turned to the gathering of a child’s after thoughts, a tough mind becomes that of a beast…wild or domesticated, that depends on the character or nature of the soul involved.”
“What is Aiye’s mind like?”
“Do you understand God?”, Aiye suddenly boomed from next to Nedeseh. Nedeseh reappeared in a defensive crouch in defence of the king.
Aiye let out a loud laugh that caused the green flame of the Long-Shadows to wane into a pale mint.
“Answer the question. Do you understand God?”
“No. Are you God? Sir?”
“I do not seek to be him. But I understand him better than a man just stepping into his final death.”
“What is your mind like, sir?”
“Your manners do not escape you as quickly as your sense of calm. A good balance in these paths you’ve started walking in.”
Nedeseh straightened up.
“Good. Everyone relax. My mind is not that of a man’s. No man would have the patience to stand on every surface of the earth in anticipation of travelling through time.”
“Is that what you did?”
“No. I stepped outside of time. The impossible has not yet made peace with you, but it has made peace with me.”
Nedeseh hated feeling like he was in the dark, like when he was in his first life.
Aiye looked at the king and said,”I know we agreed about him, but I still don’t think this is the perfect idea.”
“Aiye. Do not stand in the way of destiny. He will never be the Emptiness. Do not force things to take a different path.”
“I wish that so much for him. Being the Emptiness is so much easier than what I do now.”
“Take him to his first use of power as you will know it. It would be healthy for the both of you.”
Aiye motioned for Nedeseh to stand next to him.
The king whispered to Nedeseh from a distance but his spirit literally picked the words, the intention behind them.
“It is going to be alright. Everything will be fine. Of all things more than man, I pick you first, I respect you most and you will soon know why.”
He and Aiye travelled so far and so fast in time, he forgot what he wanted to ask the king.
They appeared where he first practised running on the spot. He stood where the illusion was and he saw himself hiding and waiting for anyone to fall for his trap. When Pandieh touched him, he was not expecting it, and when he turned, he saw himself.
Young, unaware of what was waiting for him, the possibilities that had already happened.
He winked by instinct. He now understood what it meant.
The king was right. He would be fine.
Just as he started to run he caught a glimpse of Aiye’s true form.
He saw his very self, perhaps 60 years removed from his now.
Aiye winked back at him.
Everything turned as still as stone. Aiye walked up to him.
“Time travel is not just precarious, it is scary.”
The world around Aiye literally vibrated from the power he was exuding. It was with an intensity that he could not understand from where he stood in time, experience and skill.
“When I…you…when we first met Amina, you jumped to where I had first stood to use my powers to the fullest. We cannot be the Emptiness because he has definition…we are nameless. Without any means for men to reckon with us.”
Nedeseh was too frightened to move.
“There is nothing to tell you that would calm you down now. I’ve practiced this moment for a while now…I’m still without the right words.”
Nedeseh got a grip on himself.
“Are you allowed to tell me everything?”
“And risk defeating the curiousity that led to me? That cannot happen.”
“So what next?”
“We become a little more than man.”
“Who else knows of this?”
“Only the king. The Emptiness of this era has his suspiscions, but my demanding respect from you threw him off.”
“How do you know? How sure are you that he is not here with us?”
“I exist outside the limits of ‘his’ power. You doubt me? What would have been the name of your first child with Amina?”
Nedeseh paused a while then spoke with an aged voice,”Ankono.”
Ankono rose from the earth.
Nedeseh didn’t even know that he was already crying.
“Father, there is so much we will tell you. Death is not what it seems to men. It never was. All of us are here.”
He saw the water-child pull herself together from the very water in the air.
The wind-child manifested himself as a cheeky but respectful wind that wrapped Nedeseh up in a powerful hug…for a whirlwind.
He put his arms around them when they became fully human in appearance.
“Is…is this the impossible I made peace with?”, he said to Aiye with eyes warm and wet.
“Well…you will find out.”