Ancient Titans play their games; Stasis and Flux don their staves.
Each their will and way; they circle one another in disdain.
Pushing and Pulling they remain, infinitely thus ordained.
Yet some foul day a catalyst would array, and tip that balance away.
-The Elder Prophecy
A motionless center is surrounded by an everlasting cyclone; a duality that reverberates throughout the ages. Guided by a force much greater than simple intention, a vessel approached the fulcrum of all Being.
In the grey hours of the morning, a groggy lookout sat precariously in his crow’s-nest watching the mist swirl about the seas. He was glad that morning had come, as this would mark the second day of his lookout shift. Tired, wet, and isolated he sat, eyes set ahead in determination, desperately seeking something. Soon, once the morning sun broke the horizon line, the first mate would announce shift change and he could get some much-needed rest, but until then he held his eyes wide open.
The Pearl of Faith had embarked on a perilous journey across the Seas and through the impassable storm towards a sacred end. It had been weeks since they had burst through the eternal storm, with the help of the priest, and into the Forgotten sea. Yet still, their destination eluded them.
The lookout stared drearily across the waters, and silently cursed the events that had dragged him away from his land and family and onto this cold and lonely station. What could he have done when they had come to his home town of Hadath looking for a Sharp-eye to join the crew? His oath prevented him from declining a direct request from a high priest. The priests expected utter submission from those who worked the land, especially if one was born with the gift of a lesser divine-gene and had to swear fealty to the First. Insolence and oath breaking were severely punishable, the worst cases usually ended in public execution. He only hoped that in his absence his eldest son would deal reverently with the priests which came by each week to provide coin and collect the weeks mined ore. Priests never did seem like the trustworthy types to him anyway, with their lush purple robes and Mind-Gene tricks, always preaching Imbalance and chaos. They certainly were, however, hungry for iron ore. He chuckled to himself thinking of the Priest sleeping soundly in his cabin below, and how he had fret at dinner the other night when he was served the same slop as the rest of them.
He was interrupted from his thoughts by a dark speck slowly resolving itself in the distance, despite the thick mist that had been plaguing the vessel for the past 2 weeks, his enhanced vision could make out a faint outline in the distance. Stunned, he willed his vision to see further and pierce the thick mist. Sure enough, he made out the shape of an island. He reached over with numb hands and began to ring the rusty bell which hung off the mast.
“By the Will….” he whispered. They had finally made it.
The Priest woke to the muffled sound of feet slapping the deck and bustling activity as the crew came suddenly alive. Shaken to awareness by a loud and commanding voice bellowing orders, he sat up and listened to the cacophony on the deck, a realization blooming in his sleep-addled mind.
“Stow those Sails!”, he heard the first mate yelling. “Prepare the oars and get ready to row, men!”
The priest started, shocked into wakefulness. What is this? He thought. After 6 long months, had this tedious and uncompromising journey actually come to an end? What would await them upon their arrival? Apprehension grew in him, so he stood hastily and yelped as he bumped his head on an overhead beam. He reached up with a once well-manicured hand to check for a wound while ducking under the beam exaggeratedly. Luckily the only damage was a sharp throbbing, which left him wishing his steward was there to run him a hot bath and ease his discomfort with a grooming. He uncomfortably glanced to the dull barrel, which stood in the corner of his room, and was acutely aware of his present situation- There would be no steward or bath. In fact, there was barely any water left for a wash. He walked over to check the water level and saw that the barrel was nearly empty, save for a measly pool of brownish water at the bottom. He reached in with a cupped hand and slurped some of it up, cringing at the bitter, woody taste.
The captain had refused to refill his barrel on account of the crew’s needs, the Principle he called it. He hadn’t even listened to the arguments the Priest had given concerning his significance in this mission. He was the high priest of the church of Revolution after all, the one entrusted with the duty of Divine messenger! This mission was hopeless without him! He was the only one on board with a Mind-gene, which made him capable of understanding things no normal man could fathom, and hence deliver the Will of a God. Only he could harness the magnificent power of the Origin and survive the ordeal. Only he had the Will to receive it. Still, he had to eat and drink like a lowly lesser-divine sailor! The fact that he could attune his Mind to tap all the sensory divine-genes gave him a power not many men could challenge but still, using his Power-Gene, the captain ordered that water and food be shared evenly upon his vessel. This gene brought all to subservience while on the ship. Subservience! An authority only the church should be able to command, but direct descendants of the First Exile were all born with the ability to influence the Minds of those who swore the Oath. The church had paid a large portion of Iron for that crooked captains services, his silence was paramount. For too long have the ancient scriptures and Power-genes of the First limited the churches Evolution. He knew that would all change soon though, and that knowledge had given him some respite on the trip. But if he failed all would have been in vain… He couldn’t! The Priest would succeed, had to succeed. Yet, despite his wavering confidence, his faith had taught him well; The Will of Revolution always got its way.
He walked over to his adorned wooden chest and pulled the heavy lid up. He would wear his most lavish robe today. The one stitched from dyed minx fur, its hood lined with bright peacock feathers that cascaded down the back of the robe and made the wearer seem fierce yet noble if worn correctly. He pulled it over his head and let it drop down to his feet, then turned the hood up over his head. He then picked out a beautiful white velvet stole and adjusted it so that the ends fell around his shoulders and crossed securely at the chest. He quickly inspected himself on a crude metal sheet the captain had brought in after he had rebuked him for the lack of accommodation in the cabin. Principle or no Principle, he would not live like a beast.
Satisfied with his appearance, the Priest whispered a solemn prayer to thank Revolution for this blessed and unpredictable day and reached for his Staff of Mind. He left his cabin and made his way to the deck in a slow, deliberate, pace so as not to trip over his robes. His ascent up the stairs was ever so elegant, something he achieved despite the rocking boat by using his Mind-gene to enhance Grace. He was the Divine Emissary, stumbling was not acceptable.
As he walked up onto the deck, he was greeted by a frenzy of bustling sailors. None of which even bothered to stop and hail as they should have. He stood there looking slightly irritated and focused his Sight, throwing his gaze towards the island slowly appearing on the horizon, and away from the bustling sensory overload which was currently the deck.
“Oy! Priest!” a crewmate in passing asked without using the proper honorific, “ye ken she burns like the Book of Revolution says?”
Ignoring the insolent sailor, he focused his Mind and using Greater Perception, was able to make out an island in the distance, its single smoldering peak reaching up into the sky. He boosted his hearing and heard a distinct droning hum emanating from it. A warm pleasant sensation began to crawl through him and knew that the insufferable months of indefinite travel were finally over. They had returned where The First had been exiled for believing in the Power of Revolution, swearing to abandon the Power of Origin. This was it! The Origin was within reach! He could feel the Will of Revolution stir within him as if awakened by the droning hum emanating from somewhere deep within the island. The power to destroy worlds would be his to take. The Church would finally break the influence the First had over them and reign the coming era of Chaos for themselves.
The Watcher hummed the Hymn of Sight and considered his duty. His father had been a Watcher, and his father’s father too, as were all his forefathers. And now, it all ended with him. The Holy Constant buzzed in the background, the island vibrating with the intensity of it, its pulse reverberating through the worlds. He stood on his perch above the clouds on the peak of Mount Haleka watching the distant vessel approach in silent disbelief.
He wore a glowing Q’aba jewel on his forehead, which contained a sliver of the Hearth and pulsated along with the Constant- the humming vibration that the Origin emitted, the anchor of worlds which kept the Eternal Storm at bay. A warm bear-fur cloak covered his strong shoulders and he was bare chested underneath despite the cold. A massive sword hung at his waist, and in his hand, he carried the large blazing staff which he had used to ignite the monolithic warning beacon that would notify the people of the prophesized return. The beacon, built over the generations, was so large that it had to be built around the mountain peak itself, and now it burned.
Many generations ago, the first Watcher climbed the mountain to act as guardian of the Holy Constant’s Power, for it had been foretold that one day in the future, the children of the Exiled First, which had been tainted by the Will of Revolution, would return to claim the Power of Origin and use it to tip the balance. Sure enough, that day had come.
The Watcher raised his free hand to shade his eyes as he looked away from the incoming boat to solemnly take in the rising sun. The mountain blazed above him, its fiery heat prickling his skin, he began to hum the Hymn of Courage. The tone of his voice merged with the Constant harmoniously and formed an inspirational resonance that calmed him, and helped him focus on the task at hand. The children of Origin could enhance and share many emotions this way.
Everyone would be humming Courage on this day, for today Courage would determine the result. The Watcher looked towards the town center and saw that the community on the island had begun its journey into the Hearth, the hallowed crystal Caverns deep in the heart of Mount Haleka, where the Holy Constant’s hum originated, and the Power would be created. The people would strengthen the Holy Constant and hum the correct hymn when the time was right, acting to provide the watcher with the Power of Origin so he could face the Agent of Revolution. If he succeeded in drawing the Will of Revolution into him, then he would hold the power of creation in his hand. He unconsciously began to Hum Resolve along to the Constant as he made his way to the coast to face his burden, his hand resting on his Bastard Sword. The Origin would survive this.
She stood before the crevice which led to the Hearth, hand clasped in her mothers, watching the people lined up to enter behind them. Not so many left, she saw, and they all hummed Courage. The Hymn was spectacular, though despite the waves of courage that shook her, the mouth of the caves frightened her. It looked suspiciously like a gaping mouth waiting expectantly for a meal. Bluish light emanated from within eerily, its Glow pulsating along with the sound of the Holy Constant, which felt really loud in her ears almost drowning her own Hymn of Courage out. She hadn’t mastered the Ancient Gift yet and was having trouble attaining the correct tones, making the hymn less effective and reducing her courage. She looked to her mother and saw worry in her large green eyes. She hummed Attention at her, attempting to gain acknowledgment. Her mother looked down at her tenderly and hummed Affection.
‘What’s wrong Child? Do you fear the caves?’ Her mother asked, concern showing behind her comforting smile. Dark face tinted blue by the light, she looked older than usual. Her black hair was tied back in a tight bun, causing her face to look taught. The child looked up and nodded her agreement.
‘It looks hungry’, the child said.
Her mother laughed, but it sounded strained.
‘Beyond that crevice, child, is a path that leads to the Hearth. It is our sanctuary, our safe place.’ She said sweetly, attempting to comfort the worried looking child. ‘You must not be afraid. Practice humming Courage loudly so that I can hear it. It will also help everyone else to have an added voice to the Hymn, especially me.’ She winked at the child and turned back to walk in pace.
The Child hummed Resolve to herself quickly, strengthening her determination, then switched to Courage in a loud and well intoned voice. She saw her mother stand straighter at that. The child buzzed with the hymn and it brought a wave of courage she hadn’t perceived before, her own. It was powerful, and removed any trace of concern she had had. She released her mother’s hand and looked excitedly towards the cave mouth, the Hearth now beckoning her.
Once inside, the sound of the Holy Constant intensified. It beat against her, and she forced herself to hum louder as she followed the flow of people towards the sanctuary. Glowing Q’aba crystal shards grew in an inward spiraling pattern around the cave walls, she knew that they would eventually join the Giant cluster deep inside; the Origin. The cavern floor was a smooth rock that seemed wet but wasn’t, it was cold under her feet as she stepped in line with the others. They were led downwards, and she saw where the cave wall grew so tight it would only let one person through at a time. There would be a large chamber up ahead filled with buzzing people as they hummed and revolved around the Origin. She could hear excited whispers all around her, the prophecy had come true, the time to support the watcher was upon them.
‘I saw the beacon, was a great blistering fire it was! The whole Peak took fire in seconds like a hell-fire!’ She heard one man exclaim.
‘I saw it too’, came his friends curt reply. ‘Yer not the only one with eyes man! Hurry up! I heard the Elder would speak once we’re all safely inside and the ceremony begins.’
‘Really? Where d’ye hear that?’ asked the man, shocked. The Elder did not have a habit of speaking. The child had heard he was older than time itself.
‘Sister Aisha said so when she announced the Return to my wife, she said the Elder would address us directly.’ Came the response.
Excited to hear the Elder, the child turned towards the pass and saw she was next in line after an elderly man. She stepped up onto a carved out stepping stone and stared at the tiny opening lined with jagged crystals, even for someone her size it was a tight squeeze. she looked back and found her mother gently urging her forward, humming Urgency at her; the Elders speech would commence soon. She stooped and stepped through gingerly, careful not to hit her head on any sharp crystals. She stood up straight and beheld the Origin for the First time.
A tower of crystals took up the entire center of the deep cavern, seeming to have once exploded outwards violently from beneath the ground. The cluster trailed crystals towards each of the connecting caverns. The crystals were brightest here and spiraled all around a single Giant shard that vibrated visibly, and pulsated brightly. It loomed monolithically around a swirling hoard of people all humming courage, the rhythm a crescendo of emotion and sound that beat against her and caused her to stop short. She looked for her mother, afraid to lose her in the crowd and saw her stepping in behind her. The child reached out and took her mother’s hand, and they began to make their way towards the spiraling mass.
‘The Watcher will begin his duty soon Child, lets join the humming ceremony and lend him our courage.’ Her Mother said over the loud humming, falling in rhythm with the massive crowd. The child followed, stepping in pace to her mother and not knowing what to expect.
She looked up and hummed uncertainty to her mother ‘Just do what I do Child, do not worry, let the Hymn of Courage guide you.’ She responded confidently.
The child noted how the Hymn seemed to reverberate here, as if it were always a part of the Holy Constant and not the voice of thousands of people. The harmonic resonances were perfect complements to the vibrations and emotions she could feel in her heart. This was natural, she knew this… Stepping and humming, then again, stepping and humming. She stopped being a child and just became a fragment of the Origin, a hallowed frequency in the spectrum of the Holy Constant.
The Elder Spoke from within the Crystals, and the Origin shook with an ancient voice: ‘My Brother’s Children have arrived, The Watcher Goes to meet his fate at last.’ The chorus of humming grew frenzied and began to affect the crystals, the singular swirling mass that was gaining momentum began to glow along to the Constant.
The Elder’s words echoed through the crystal-lit cave. ‘With our help, He has a chance to succeed and hold both the Will of Revolution and The Holy Constant in his heart.’ The Large central column grew brighter than a star and began to pulsate faster and faster, the humming intensifying.
‘Through this act of Courage and Transcendence we shall be preserved, and continue on preserving in return. Let us bid him farewell and lend him strength, for only the victor shall ascend into Godhood and choose the fate of our Being.’ The mad swirling and humming reached an unthinkable frequency, tearing at the fabric of existence.
‘Now Sing my children!’ The Elder announced, ‘Sing with all your hearts!’
And the swirling mass began to hum the Hymn of Transcendence.
A beam of blue light shot out of the center of the swirling mass and traveled along the crystals seeking its way out, it rushed along spiraling its way towards the cave entrance and exploded out towards the place where the Watcher and Priest stood facing each other in determination, weapons drawn.