Left of Midnight Section Two: Micro-Sections 2.17-2.19

Hello again, my dear readers! This is the next part of section two to Left of Midnight! The newest work in my arsenal of literary masterpieces! Ha! No, it’s no masterpiece. But, it is from my mind and therefore it has quite the value to me. I think it’s turning out quite well. As such, I’m proud to share it coming together with you fine lot. I hope you’re enjoying it as well and will keep coming back to read more. Given the length of the novel, trying to connect all the various chapters and sections together would prove… problematic. So, I’ll just have to trust that, should you wish to read more, you’ll just click on the genre beats tab to the right hand side of the screen and click on the Left of Midnight selection tab to take you to all of the offerings in the book as they stand.

Alright, let’s not delay any further. I don’t have a whole lot to say anyway. Come back next week for the next part and, of course, check out my Story Time With Tim postings on Fridays and stick around for some of my random thoughts that I put up from time to time. Anyhow, read to you again soon!

2.17

“FORTY PEOPLE WERE dragged down into that abyss…” Er’ra Zel finished, staring at her feet and sighing. Whether it was in relief or not, Avery couldn’t tell.

  “Jesus Christ, Er’ra Zel… that’s… that’s horrifying. Did they never…”

  “No,” Er’ra Zel shook her head and looked around the now jet-black emptiness of M’turo Chasm. Only the waterfall remained.

  He noted that a few structures still behind them and along the back wall. A monument to what once was in her youth. Everything else, the boardwalk, the bandstands, the taxi depot, all of it, was gone. Not even so much as a piece of metal or wood remained to show that there had been a park here. Ever.

  “I… I wish I knew what to say. How to comfort you. But… I don’t think that I can.”

  Avery stared into the dark and Er’ra Zel lifted her head to look at him. They said nothing for a long moment. And then she placed a hand on top of his and straightened up into a full seated position.

  “Thank you.”

  “For what?” he looked to her, feeling stunned and nauseous.

  “For just listening. I know you have your own pain you’re trying to chase away. I don’t think,” she stared outward towards where the docks used to be. “I don’t think I’ve ever really spoken about it. My mother nearly went insane. Sure, she was there for me. But she was never the same ever after. And I don’t suppose I can blame her for that. I went into counseling affairs to try and work out my own heartache.

  “Anyhow, they never found any of the people lost. They sent in divers. Yet, nothing. No bodies. No materials from the boats or signs of the boats themselves. Nothing. It was like they all just vanished. Never to be buried or saved. Gone. And, I think you can tell, they just tore down all of it and pretended it never existed. Even the taxi transits tunnels were destroyed to prevent anyone from ever coming back here.

  “However, there wasn’t a whole lot they could do about the channels leading here. Save for, of course, just tearing down the boardwalks and walkways that led here. Now, it’s just a dark secret sitting in the abyss. That place, across the bay, that’s where your cave is located. The one you first found when you arrived. There was more to it before. All those years in the past. Even a resort out on the beach. Now, all that remains is that sunken cave entrance. Just a shallow reminder of what once was.”

  Avery shook his head and rubbed his temples. Then stood up to pace. “Those things… I saw them.”

  “I know you did,” she stared up at him. He looked over at her and felt his gut falling. “I didn’t want to believe what you said. Didn’t want to remember. And yet when you spoke of those eyes and those shadows my whole world went tumbling after. I don’t know why I brought you here, Avery. I just don’t know. At first, I thought it was a whimsical adventure. Now… I just don’t know. And I hate myself for it.”

  Avery watched her turn her head back towards the waterfall and the place where the docks once stood. He sighed and shook his head.

  “I think I know why.”

  She looked over to him as he walked across the beach, now dark brown and soil black in several spots. He placed his hands on his hips.

  “If you could enlighten me, that’d be great.”

  “It’s the shadows that have always been here. Those that are beholden to Beil Zhe Bor.”

  “A myth…”

  “A myth that you want to remain so. But, between seeing Neti and feeling this change in Shōtō, it’s just not a coincidence. Someone said in one of my dreams… no, visions… they said something about the Aurite.”

  “The what?”

  Avery lifted a hand to his chin and rubbed not looking to her. Not yet. His gaze stayed on the surface of the great lake.

  “The Aurite. Though I can’t remember quite yet what it was. There was this other voice one that spoke to Neti. Told him what to do. Told him that… yes, yes, he was to hold his words for the warrior. That the healer was yet to come and there was something that needed to be remembered…”

  “Are you sure those weren’t just dreams, Avery?”

  He turned towards her, his eyes full of sympathy and warmth. He took in a deep breath and let it out slowly as he held her gaze. “Were the shadows just a dream? I don’t want to bring up any point that will hurt you, not at all, but were they dreams? Or do you just wish that they were?”

  Her eyes fell to her lap and her hands clasped together to wring about in a circle. “I do wish it was just a dream. But it’s not. It’s Midnight.”

  “Tell me. Tell me about Midnight.”

  Her eyes came up to his. “Take me home. Take me home and come inside. Hold me tight and I will tell you. But I can’t bear to say any more if I can’t feel the warmth of another. I’ll… I’ll be too afraid. Just hold me and let me know I’m not alone. Whatever is coming is coming fast and I’m afraid, Avery. I’m afraid about what it means.”

  He returned to the bench and sat down next to her to place an arm around her shoulders. He drew her in close and she leaned her head against his chest.

  “I will do as you request,” he said in a low voice. “I will do this for you and hopefully we both can find some peace in these trying times.”

  “I really hope so, Avery. Because it feels like everything is falling apart at the seams. That the darkness has returned and is once more trying to pulling us beneath the surface of the world.”

  “If I have any sort of power whatsoever, I won’t let them. Not without a fight.”

 2.18

AVERY RETURNED TO his apartment. Shaken and disturbed. The day had been long and his thoughts full of exhaustion and fear. Something was coming alright and poor Er’ra Zel was the first to recognize it. He needed help. He needed solace. He needed a friend. He threw his jacket onto a couch and turned towards the short hallway connecting his apartment to Shōtō’s.

  “Hey, Shōtō. You home? I need to talk. Shōtō.”

  He walked into the apartment and saw no one. Heard nothing. He marched over to the bedroom door and triggered the panel beside the door. It slid open and, when he entered, he saw no one. He sighed and went to check the bathroom. Shōtō wasn’t there.

  Damnit… he thought and returned to his apartment to find a seat on the couch looking out onto the city proper. What Er’ra Zel told him had been shocking. It was a lot to take in and he wasn’t sure he was able to really process it all without bouncing it off of someone else.

  Where the hell are you? You didn’t express any interest in exploring the city, now you’re just… gone? Avery frowned and crossed his arms over his chest leaning deeper into the couch, his eyes focused on the central spines of tall buildings rising high above the window and out of view. It was like staring into the depths of a golden forest seeing nothing but the trunks and no indication of the massive canopy at their summit. There’s something rotten in Denmark. Isn’t that the saying good old Rubin used to say in bootcamp? Only it’s stinkin’ in Farediin. Shadows in the lake with cobalt eyes glowing in the dark. There’s something I’m not remembering. Neti keeps coming to the surface. Neti, Neti, Neti…

  He shook his head and sighed. There was no way a dream could tell him what he needed to know about what felt wrong about Farediin and the volcano Ojdemir in which it inhabited. Or was there? It didn’t make sense, but somehow there was a familiarity in what Er’ra Zel had told him in M’turo Chasm Bay and what she finished telling him in her apartment. She’d been exhausted by then, ready to collapse from the long day and he figured it wasn’t just the crazy talk about Midnight. But what the hell was he expected to do about it? Not that anybody, especially not Er’ra Zel, had asked him to, but there was a deep feeling in his gut that there was something he was supposed to be doing. Being asked to do or not.

  Avery leaned forward, dropped his arms, and pushed off the couch. He paced the common room floor before the window not really looking outside but staring deep within himself trying to figure out just what that something he was supposed to be doing could possibly be. It wasn’t clear, but there was an image in his mind. An image of a pond or a lake deep under the surface. An underground lake. Those were all too common in his life lately. Before the crash, he’d never even heard of a subterranean body of water. At least, not to the degrees in which he’d been seeing them.

  Subterranean bodies of water…

  ‘Once upon a time,’ the voice started again easily as Neti prepared to chuck his spear into the water. The fish were easy to see and didn’t seem very startled at his presence at all. ‘There was a being called Minke De’a…’

  Wait, that voice… yes, there was a voice. A woman’s voice. Saying she was the Healer. And that his job was to inform the Trapper so that the means to stop the… what were they again? What did she call them? I know it. It’s right there. He paced faster, his right hand rubbing his chin while his left hand braced his right arm’s elbow. I can’t quite hear it. But she’s speaking and…

  He stopped, his gaze on the long book shelves along the dividing wall between his and Shōtō’s apartments. He furrowed his brows not really looking at any real particular book. He was trying to force the words to the surface but to no avail. And then, another flash of memory. Another dream. The last before waking in that cell earlier that morning. Jesus, has it really only been a day? It feels like it’s been… ages.

  And then it came to him. That last dream before waking in his faux cell being tortured by Nindemus and his minions. The words of that dark being, the one called Biel Zhe Bor.

  ‘If you think that raven headed bitch has given you the weapons you need against me, you are sorely mistaken. You and yours are already lost. Lost aeons ago. Before your kind had even first dropped from the trees. You can fight, Avery-san, but you will lose. Just as every Aurite before you. Just as the Aurite I’ve recently ingested. Yes, his energies will serve me well. I will destroy these Bablynites. And even when ours are sequestered to the Cth’vit, ours will rise strong. For, after all, it’s all according to plan.’

  Holy shit… They’ve been here all along, haven’t they? It’s, it’s… Satan. He laughed then and dropped his hand from his chin to lean forward and slap his thigh only to brace both hands on his knees and clench his eyes tightly against the tears forming in the corners of his eyelids.

  “You fucking lugnut. Satan? Come on, man! Ain’t no such thing and you know it! Just a goddamned dream full of ancient robe wearing monks and shadowy monsters that make up every kid’s worst nightmares.” He exhaled sharply and stood up to stretch his back and place his palms on his lower lumbar, popping the kinks out. Satisfied, he opened his eyes and looked once more at the bookshelf. “I’m getting too antsy. Missing Shōtō I’ll wager. He’s been by my side for too long and… Damn, I’m talking to myself, aren’t I? Sure are, Ave. Just like before Shōtō came along. Letting that madness in again?”

  He braced his hands on his thighs and forced a serious look to his face as he pushed away the thoughts of those nightmares from before. It did no good to worry about things he couldn’t control.

  “Nope. Sure not. This time, I’m going to relax. Just like Zella suggested. Relax and not worry about shadows with blue eyes flaming in the night like burning stars billions of lightyears away. In fact, I’m going to pick up a book and sit down for a good read. Even though I can’t read what the damn things say!”

  He chuckled and began perusing the selections on the shelves. Given how much was available through the holoselections, he was amazed that they even had physical books. Though, they were all in alien tongues he couldn’t even begin to recognize. Not even so much as a volume of Mark Twain.

  He stopped, staring at the cover of three books he’d just been staring at, his finger running across their spines. The language on the edge still alien. Yet, a strange thing occurred in his head. He was certain he understood just what the text said.

  “What… that can’t be…”

  He drew one book off the shelf. It wasn’t heavy, but felt made of some sort of metal. Nothing like any book he’d ever felt before with the soft covering made of buckram and paperboard. With the firm pages within gentle to the touch. The sheets within this metal aluminum tome were less than paper thin yet completely unable to be seen through and had the firm consistency of a sheet of tin. Yet, completely flexible like paper without the added usefulness of being foldable. At least not permanently. He bended a page nearly in half and tried to flatten it into a seam, yet, when he released the page, it just unfolded itself right back into its former shape. He shook his head feeling his eyes bulge as the strange alien text seemed to pop off the page, the meaning as clear as day.

  ‘…and when the last of the former empire was explored, old H’minon fell to his knees for there was no more territory to conquer. All that had come before was now his and those at his back fell to their knees in admiration of the young man who had shown so much tenacity in his years. That he had come to this point was—’ Avery put the book back in its place and stepped back. He couldn’t read the words, per se, but he knew what they said. Like his mind merely translated the text as he stared into their recesses. “That’s… impossible. How can I be able to read that? How? What the hell is going on in this place?”

  He looked back at the book he’d just read a passage from and saw that the spine was still in its alien tongue. Yet the title was clear to him in all of its splendor and suggested glory: ‘The Empire of H’minon: Last of the Graelian Overlords’.

  “No. I can’t be able to…” his eyes fell on one particular book that was thinner that a lot of the others on the shelf yet had a title that was strangely compelling: ‘The Translated Volumes of the Prophecies of Minke De’a’. “Men kay dee ahhh… Seems interesting.”

  A cold chill ran up his spine then and his eyes stared into the abyss of nothing. It was like staring into the depths of a void. That feeling of surrealness that quivers across a body when it feels as if one is no longer there but somewhere else. A phantom in their own reality, a floating specter in one’s own mind.

  “Minke De’a…” And her voice, the Healer’s voice, came to him again… ‘There was a being called Minke De’a…’

  It’s impossible… no, it isn’t. You were trying to remember. Here it is. Here is the memory. It’s all here, in this tome. The Philosophy of Minke De’a. The Aurite who saw the fall of the first empires and the end of the Second Age… We’re in the Fourth… it has already begun… With me… and Shōtō. Jesus, Ave, what the hell are you thinking? He shook his head slowly, tears streaming away from the corners of his eyes. Yet, you know this is the truth, isn’t it? It’s what the Healer said. To find Minke De’a. To discover the truth from him and his ancient songs. ‘He will sing to the Trapper, in his mystic ways, make him see the truths he must accept and the task he is to bear…’ Yes, she told Neti that. It’s all here…

  He pulled it off the shelf and turned away as he opened the tome up to the first page.

  ‘Dear reader, thank you. Thank you for coming to these tomes of enlightenment and philosophy. Within these pages, will you find the words of an ancient. Perhaps you’ve heard of him along the way of the everpath of life (those who have, still are confused by his meanings—as are we all). But, still, perhaps you have not. For he was a mythical figure. One born of a society who communicated not through speech as we know it but rather through song, music, melody. The thrumming nature of their voices was lost long ago during the First Great Purge (and the reasons for it still haunt us to this day!) Yet, their legacy lives on in the many tomes of Minke De’ A [Pronounced: ‘Men Kay Di Ahh’]’.

  “Hmmph. Way ahead of you, buddy.”

  ‘First, a preamble, if you’ll humor me. I am T’yrnomius Nelk of Weld. One of a handful of survivors left after the fall of Midnight’s reign, ending the Second Great Purge. Weld… is uninhabitable now. And as such, I—’

  Avery lowered the book and lifted his gaze to the windows once more. Midnight… he said Midnight. Just like Er’ra Zel… just like the Healer… But, the Healer knew them by another name. Voija. Yes, that was it. Voija. Dark beings who have been here since the beginning of our universe… When was this written? He flipped back to the copyright page which wasn’t really a copyright page so much as an acknowledgement of all of those who’d helped him research and develop the work over the ages. Ages… There was a date. And it put the work some ten thousand years and some change before Earth’s current calendar. His left arm gripped the pages tightly and the book folded around his hand as his arm dropped to his side loosely. Ten thousand years… How long has this war been playing out?

  Avery felt a presence behind him and turned from the window. He saw a man in a long white robe. It was soft looking and made of a material similar to silk. His form slender and tall. His flesh white and almost glowed in the light of the room. His eyes were large and black. There were no irises to speak of. No whites to separate from the rest of the eye. His brows were of a bushy white hair and the hairs on his head long and fair. Whiter than any white he’d ever seen. His hands clasped before him and his gaze fell on Avery.

  “At last we come to this moment, Trapper. Your fair lady’s tale has reminded you of the Healer’s words to the Messenger. Who, even now, sings his song in your heart.”

  The voice spoke words that resonated in his mind but came out as long lines of song. Melodious and gentle. Soothing on his soul and somehow calming of the mind. Love rolled out of the being’s words and embraced Avery with its influence.

  “Minke De’a?”

  “Once, a long time ago, I was known as Minke De’a. The Prophet of times. However, times have grown long and short all at once. Times dictate that we all have a role to play no matter how brief, and yours is that which mandates a balance. A balance that will preserve what life there is to be found in ages to come. But first, a task that is yours and yours alone.”

  “And, if I don’t want it?”

  “Will you turn from the coming Midnight? Will you turn from the coming of the Voija?”

  The being, Minke De’a, stood there in the middle of his common room. And it felt as if reality had shifted once more. In fact, to Avery, it seemed that the interior spaces of the room were shifting. Shifting into some other time some other place where only Minke De’a knew him and spoke to him. He found himself staring outward into the ravages of space and time. A wide window sill rimmed the outer edges of the inner place he now stood within.

  Only, there was no glass. It no longer looked like the floor length window of his apartment but rather an overlook out onto a stony surface rolling away from the outer perimeter of this new room and down a decline until it vanished from sight. What held Avery’s attention, though, was the actual view itself. A bright star far on the horizon. However, it wasn’t the horizon of land, but the horizon of deep space. Stars shined brilliantly in the trillions all across the dark expanse. Stone rolled silently across the void in great patches of rocky clusters. Starlight bounced off their surfaces resulting in a prismatic display of every color of the rainbow bathing the room’s interior. It was far more extravagant than the waterfall in M’turo Chasm. Or, in fact, any other wonder he’d recently found in the land of Farediin.

  “Wh, where are we?” Avery asked unable to pull his eyes away from the view. It was like standing along a cliffside and looking out into eternity spread out before him. An eternity of the universe not as empty as many before would have him believe.

  “Out there, that speckle twinkling in hues of greens and blues…”

  He felt Minke De’a’s long finger pointing towards a shattered ball of stone floating in its own debris field sparkling in those colors in which he’d intoned.

  “I see it…”

  “There is Mindias. My home. Or it once was many thousands of years ago. This is my present, Trapper. My present and my years. And so have I been exiled here, this asteroid basin my people called the Terrestrial Abyss. So named, as it was once a world eons ago. Before it was shattered during the formation of our once great solar system,” his words a mournful dirge. No real language that he would have been able to understand himself, but that Farediin had somehow imparted upon him. The knowledge of ancients filling his mind. “The warlord Kandus H’rohndus Shroenden D’ho Rehmian brought this misery to our doorsteps. Had me exiled for dare warning of the Void fast encroaching upon our worlds. Encroaching for his own arrogance. In so seeking his wealth and his fame, he and his faithful followers discovered the C’thvit deposits on Chondra IX. Brought it back to his vessels of war as he made his slow march across the inner galactic plane. Opened the gateway to the Void. Set loose he who’s name we refused to speak.”

  “Biel Zhe Bor…” Avery turned towards him then and saw tears in his wide eyes. Whereas before, they were dark and impenetrable, now pale and opaque with irises a crystal blue.

  “A simple translation of the whole of his title, to be sure. Yet, no less valid. It means, ‘The Lord of the Olden Realms’.”

  “Silvet,” Avery furrowed his brows thinking of what he referred to as the ‘C’thvit deposits’. “I know this term. Somehow…”

  “The C’thvit has another connotation more accurate to your reference points. They are very literally conduits into the Void. They can be made to close the gates or open them. The Voija are their prisoners. Entrapped in the Void, a place between the realms, between the realities. A dark place full of nothing but the darkest of energies. Those energies fuel the realms. Give life the ability to thrive and replicate.

  “Yet, when the Voija are unleashed from their doomed plots of restless fate, they suck away life. Make it their own energy. They grow, Trapper. They grow stronger, larger, and more venomous. Violence does not end them, does not satiate their thirst. Only makes them thirstier, strikes the hunger deep within their veins of rage, hate, and destructive natures. They are that which consumes and leaves nothing behind to nourish what is left.

  “Imagine a fire that burns uncontrollably. Whereas the fire you and I know leaves the ashen remnants behind to regrow and re-nourish the lands and the forests and the fields, clears away death and clogging detritus, the Voija consumes alone. Leaves nothing but the barren vacancy of lifeless stone. Not even the templates of tectonic temperament remain to bring to the surface the life-giving magma of the underrealm to renew the basic building blocks that will reignite life.

  “There is nothing left, Trapper. Nothing. Only vacancy. Only the… Void. They will turn the realms into the Void. It has been done before. To other realms unlucky enough to stand against that being of terror. It has happened before and now… those realms also are part of the Void. And so long as those great empty places continue to grow, great Lord Renu will never be allowed his birth.”

  “But… where do the Voija come from?”

  “Follow…”

  Minke De’a turned and walked deeper into his room. Only now did Avery take in the place in which he stood, so enthralled was he by the great view garnering his sight. It was a massive room. A library of so many shelves and writings that he thought even Alexandria would be jealous of the knowledge contained within. All of the history of a world long since sunk into the oblivion of the past. Forgotten by all but a few.

  Minke De’a walked up a spiral stairwell that spun upwards three levels. Avery followed. They came out on the top level and walked across a wide platform between more shelves that seemed crafted from the hides of massive shelled creatures that would make blue whales tiny by comparison. And they walked down the dividing corridors of these shelled shelves and came to a balcony, as wide as a single-story home, that overlooked more endless space. Minke De’a pointed.

  “They come from beyond.”

  “Beyond wh—” He looked to where Minke De’a indicated and saw a great swirl of energy that must have been hundreds of thousands of lightyears away yet spread the breadth of hundreds of thousands of lightyears more. His mouth fell agape. It was a bright swirl full of colors that defied the mind to such a degree that white was the first that it could understand.

  “Before.”

  “Before… our universe? Are you saying… they came before our universe? What is it they call it… the Big Bang? Isn’t that what that scientist suggested a few decades ago? I don’t remember his name… but I remember some guys I know who are really into science talking about it. Saying the universe came from some infinitesimally small speck and that it exploded outward to create all that we know.”

  “It is similar. These scientists of yours had a basic understanding of what happened. However, crude though it was, yes. They came from before. A last remnant of a fallen age. A warring age that left nothing behind.”

  “The First Age. But, why, how?” Avery leaned against a railing that seemed designed out of shells as well, the balusters spiraling upwards shining in an opal sheen. His eyes sought out the taller Minke De’a’s. The slender being blinked and smiled.

  “Is it important? Time is short, after all. It’s always shorter than we wish as life marches on oblivious to our concerns,” he turned towards Avery and Avery stood back from the railing that overlooked the other side of what most assuredly was one of the asteroids in the Terrestrial Abyss. He had the briefest of moments to consider how horrible it must have been to be exiled to such a lifeless place, to live out one’s existence far away from fresh air and lapping seas. “Tell me, what do you remember of the Healer saying?”

  He thought for a moment. Thought back to Neti and his attempt to survive in that cave so long ago. In a way, he mused, everyone was just trying to survive that cave. Trying to escape its confines and have a better understanding of the life around them. He smiled. Well, maybe not everyone. Certainly, Nindemus doesn’t seem to really care what’s beyond the cave…

  Neti fishes. Catches his food. Roasts it on the spit. The voice in the darkness speaks. She is a gentle soul. A gentle voice. Coming from somewhere far away. Where is that place? Avery doesn’t know. If she spoke of the Messenger, the Gatekeeper, the Carpenter, the Trapper, the Healer, and the King, then it must reference those from different points in time that can communicate throughout said time. How, he isn’t certain. At least, not ye—the C’thvit! That’s how! Not only does it serve as a doorway to the Void, but to one another as well! But how…

  ‘Focus, Trapper. What does she say?’

  Avery watched Neti cook his meal as she spoke. She speaks and it is a blur. But his mind desperately clutched at those words. They’re important. And they’re meant for him. If only his mind would clear those blurry, slurring sounds up until they were clear enough to understand. Then, slowly but surely, he relaxed and let comprehension guide him. Her words became clearer. Her meaning more understandable.

  ‘…the secret, you see, lies within the C’thvit. It is the conduit through which all knowledge may pass. It once belonged to the Aurites. They who sought out Lord Renu’s rebirth. It had been halted once before, you understand…’

  ‘I understand nothing of what you’re telling me, spirit,’ Neti says taking a bite out of his fresh fish. It fills him with energy and respite and he smiles. It has been too long since he’s had a fresh meal.

  ‘Shhh, Messenger. Yours is only to listen not to comprehend. You will carry this message to your bitter end. But, at this moment, it is all that is important that the words be allowed to be spoken. Time is short. And the chaos of war once more rears its despicable head.’

  ‘As you request, spirit. Say what you will.’

  Neti takes another savory bite and his smile grows wider, his eyes narrower. The words that are spoken are words he doesn’t care about. All that he does care about is surviving this ordeal intact. He knows now that his people are gone. Already swallowed up in the Earth by the consequence of the constant fighting of the gods. However, he is only concerned with his own survival now. The spirit said that he was related to the Trapper by blood. But he doesn’t know how that can be as he has no children. No wife in which to have them with, either. He will surely die deep in this cavernous place free of any such consequence. And that is just fine by him. His belly is full, finally. That is what matters most.

  ‘You sell yourself short, poor Neti. However, though you will face the severe trials yet before you, even the darkness will not stop you from serving humanity once more. They will force you into travesty yet to come, though. And it will be many years before you will be free.’

  ‘As you say, spirit. You are only in my addled mind.’

  She sighs and continues, ‘The Aurite created the C’thvit, you see. Designed them to transfer all of the energy of the universe into Lord Renu’s confines. It is the C’thvit that will be the solution to the travails that haunt you, Trapper. And it is the C’thvit that will allow you to complete the task at hand. As you are no doubt well aware by now, the C’thvit is the conduit between the realms. The two-way entrance that can serve as prison or sanctuary depending on how it is used. And, in time, it will be a means of sanctuary by those you have instructed. And when that time comes, this little bit of time you have accomplished will save the human race from oblivion and preserve Earth as the last bastion of hope for the entire galaxy. Yet, it is always darkest before the dawn.’

  Avery’s heart thumped in his chest, his mind lost in time as he thought about all that the Healer said. For his part, Minke De’a said nothing. Avery was already performing multiple tasks at the same time. His mind torn between a multitude of places in time while still standing in his apartment. He must hear what the Healer has left to say lest Midnight fall forever and close off their one chance at salvation.

  ‘Look to the C’thvit, Trapper. It lies deep within the Earth. Yet, it is also clear as day and open to any who would hear its song amplified from the performance of sages.

  ‘Those who dance and entertain and take away from the doldrum of everyday life. Lull them into the false sense of security the vast majority would rather have. Conflict is always destructive. It is a device left to those who desire control and those who desire peace. And neither are wholly innocent nor altruistic in their endeavors,’ Neti smiles as she says this and just eats away, his eyes staring up into the darkness free of concern.

  ‘To survive what comes next, you must reach into the past even further. The Prophet cannot help you here. He can only help you hear this message. See what you must do. When the time comes, you will know how to reach out to the Gatekeeper. After all, he and yourself have much in common. Particularly in the form of one who would be your friend, your ally, your partner against this great darkness seeking to annihilate the world you call home. They are Voijin. The Voija. Denizens of the Void. Corrupted in the dark and twisted by the hate and fear they are most susceptible to. The Gatekeeper failed. Though, in his time, they almost succeeded.

  ‘They are there, awaiting you. Able to give you the energy required to lock the door, shut the connection. For when next it is opened, what remains of humanity will escape to another place. A fantastic place where magic will allow them to live, thrive, and propagate. They will carry ages of chaos and tyrants to their true master, the King. Who will set the stage for a conflict you need not concern yourself with.

  ‘Not at this point. You will long since be gone. However, your reach will not be forgotten.’

  Avery felt sweat cascading down his brow. Yet, he is still there, still sitting beside Neti as he listens. Neti couldn’t care any less. For him, they are just words from a phantom. But Avery can see them for what they are. The true means by which to drive the phantoms away. The means by which Midnight will be shown the light of day. There’s just one final question needing to be answered: where is the conduit he will require to shut the door for the time being? Where is the silvet, this C’thvit, they keep speaking of?

  ‘It’s there, Trapper. It’s where you are. She can help you. If you are gentle with her. There is pain in her soul. Pain of a past she’s already shared. However, it’s already shone a light on the direction you must take.

  ‘But, before you charter her mind further, seek out the other. Your ally. The Voijin who even in your now has found himself lost and afraid. Sorrow sits heavy on his heart. Show him the way. Show him the C’thvit. Let his mind be guided through the conduit to find his way back. But remember conflict, hatred, aggression, these are the ways of the Voija. It only empowers them and gives them the means to turn onlookers into warriors of the night.’

  Avery feels himself drifting away from Neti and his time. Though he knows where Neti will come in short order, he isn’t certain what awaits the man in later life. It must be more peaceful than where he last left him. The worlds twirl in Avery’s mind and he feels himself drawn back to Minke De’a. But before he can do the such, the words of the Healer continue for one final time.

  ‘Don’t give up, Avery. They are there to help you. They might fight the invite. They might turn away from you at first. But, in their hearts, they see the truth of the matter. Let your light guide them. They both view you as a loved one. Someone who will never let them down. So, don’t let them down…’

  He stands before Minke De’a once more. He brings a hand to his head and thinks he just might have one killer headache later on. He’s not certain of it, but it feels true nonetheless.

  “And so, our time has come to an end, Trapper,” Minke De’a said smiling at him. He folded his arms into his sleeves and sighed. “You know your task and all that is at stake. The past, the present, the future: all rolled up into one. All balanced upon your success.”

  “What if I fail? What if I can’t do what you all hope I can do?”

  Minke De’a waved his hand towards the swirling vortex of energy far beyond his solar system. It grew dark and cold. All of the stars disappeared and the asteroids around them vanished. Even the library balcony on which they stood… vanished. All Avery could see of Minke De’a were the features of his face lit only barely under a dimming light.

  “Then, we will become one more realm of Midnight. And any hope of Lord Renu’s birth will be further diminished.”

2.19

AVERY CAME TO. He stood in his apartment staring outwards into the city of Farediin. Its heart. He heard the faint voices of joy and happiness. Somehow knew, there was a tender thought of fear within them. He gazed outward, the book in his hand growing heavy. It fell from his grip and flopped on the floor with a low thump. He wasn’t paying attention to it, however. His mind was a million places at once. Connected by some sense to Aurites that had come before, Aurites that yet existed in his time, and the Aurites yet to be born into this world of chaos.

  And he cried. He fell to his knees and raised his hands to his eyes and cried. There was pain in the world. He felt it deeply. There was also hope. That sat on his heart as well. And throughout it all, there was a slow march towards a greater conflict. Not just the war he’d been fighting for the last several years. Ever since his brother had died, his mother went into isolation, his two fathers never reaching out, never offering solace. A war he’d been waging within himself now came front and center. And there was a choice to be made. Face his own demons, confront them, let them go. Or, continue to allow them to drive his every deed.

  He let his hands drop to his thighs and his gaze lifted towards the window and out towards Farediin. There was suffering, despite the laughs, and the joviality, and the forced need to be accepted by friends, family, strangers all around those in the city below. The fear was there, he sensed it. Yet, the promise of bringing a halt to Midnight’s renewed reign grew stronger in his chest. He stood to his feet, clutched his hands into fists, allowed them to dangle at his sides.

  “No more. No more hate. No more suffering. No more struggling to survive because we’ve divided ourselves from one another,” his tears streamed down his face and fell onto his garments and the floor at his feet. “I banish those devils who think they own me. Banish them to oblivion. There is pain in my heart. Loss that has been hard for me to let go. But, I see now, my enemy is not those who would stand opposed to us. But rather those who would seek to control us. Use us to create their dark abodes. I accept truth. I will seek truth. I will no longer allow the shadow to linger on my heart. Begone with you! My heart seeks only the light!”

  Avery lifted his arms up above his head, his hands still fists, and let out a scream, “You are not my master, Biel Zhe Bor!”

  A deep tremble echoed out beneath Farediin. Avery felt it, and smiled. The Earth reverberated with the hate emanating from so far below and Avery knew that the time had come to set his plans into motion.

Here we are at the end of this week’s offering once more. We’re making great progress on Section Two. We’re over halfway to the end of it! Much shorter than Section One, to be sure. Even so, I think once we breach Section Three we’ll find that it’s all the perfect length for the story being told as a whole.

Until next week, everyone! Hope all goes well with you and I look forward to delivering to you yet another micro-chapter or two next time!

~Timothy S Purvis

Since you’re still here, why not jump on over to my author’s page on Amazon? I have many other stories there that are fun to read and cheap to purchase. I’m doing my best to make all of my tales available for an affordable and agreeable price! And I always am thankful to your supporting the cause! Just click on my name and the link within will take you to my page straightaway–> Timothy S Purvis

Also, give a thought to purchasing one of my books I’ve posted in the last few years:

Prefer a paperback book: Check out Red Star Sheriff PB on Amazon.

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