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Word Count: 2686
C/S: Canon
Main Characters: Erasmus, Morg et al., Daun, Hansine et al., Pollux/Castor, Lana, Peregrine et al.
Rating: General

***

"Eyes I dare not meet... in death's dream kingdom..."

It began at a party.

A Halloween party on Mid. I, as Shae, was dressed as a fairy witch, black and purple hair, black and purple corset, fishnet wings streaming from my back, Ovid at my side. Kestrel had crossed me over, but I ran away from Omphalos, until Ovid showed me the way. Dear smiling Ovid, with that black and green dragon that I could still see in his silver-speckled sky blue eyes, with his tender lips and milky skin, his embraces that seemed to melt the boundaries of where I ended and he began. The only one who ever tried to woo all six of us, persistently and inevitably, until we encountered a woman named Lana on a far-flung world...

We had people to meet at this party. Other Na'wal. A boy, with slanty blue eyes and a slow, cunning smile. He wore a collar around his throat and gazed at Ovid hungrily, devouring his body with that cobalt gaze. "Zareth," he introduced himself impudently.

It wasn't him we were supposed to meet, though. I scanned the room, looking away, searching for a girl with red bangs and dark glasses. Her name was Rani, and she was supposed to help me... I was supposed to help her... I could smell phoenix fire and hell fire and then the song, and the weeping... There was so much darkness, but I couldn't reach her, she was surrounded by loving embraces and kind words, and I was a stranger in her midst. Erasmus, staring at us sidelong through his glasses as he stood by Rani, analyzing us quietly while I turned away in embarrassment, confusion, and dismay.

Zareth's collar somehow ended around my neck, and he pulled me down, down into the house's basement with Esias and Alann, my hand still wrapped around Ovid's hand, who smiled, Eros blessings flaring between us. So willingly, so innocently, we headed down, starting on a path that, in the end, contributed to our undoing.

***

"Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves"


Lore had been erasing us from existence, when I found myself in that abyss, staring at an angel of fate, who bore the void of all cosmos in its eyes, forcing me to stare into them, to find my Destiny. Where was I now? The poem still echoing sibilantly around me, Zareth's voice, Aztheru's voice, my voice... so much light and so much darkness... being pulled from memory to memory, from world to cosmos to single-celled life. It was as if I was a leaf on sentient wind, thrown from various perspectives, made to see things first from a personal perspective, then from many viewpoints, then from some omniscient gaze, always with scattered bits, so erratic, so chaotic, and yet... a weaving pattern emerging, a growing presence always there, persisting... I thought I would go mad. I was going mad. I was mad. So much confusion. I could still hear myself screaming. Screaming. My eyes were open.

***

The thread of Ovid's life... the thread of Zareth's life... their Links fused inside me, the first a faded, stretched thin, silvery rainbow, the second shredded, jagged, mostly down to ghostly spidersilk teetering on the edge of being severed. Zareth's love, Zareth's dominance... all twisted because of his betrayal... or was it all twisted to begin with? His betrayal just a natural outcome of that kind of misplaced, possessive, obsessive love...

"Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone."

***

At a poetry show on Mid, Rani beside me, our hands touching, missions and lovemaking and Spirit Kisses all unspoken between us, but at this moment our faces towards the stage, at a tall, lanky bespectacled man, who spoke so gently, so candidly, so outrageously, that I wept, and laughed, and catcalled and hooted, declaring I wanted his children, wanted his body, wanted him. He owned that room, Muse blessings splayed out and consuming the crowd as surely as he would consume my mouth and my adoration months later, trying to erase the memory of Ovid that shadowed my heart.

"And that, ladies and gentlemen, was Pollux Jones! Give a hand for the incredible Pollux Jones!"

***

Daun, dancing in a crowded bar. Daun, dancing at a crowded party. Daun, kissing me against a wall. Daun, whimpering as she was being flogged at a fetish masquerade. Glimpses of her long blond hair, of those bright blue eyes, those pale long limbs. Introducing Daun and Hansine at a party, when I longed for them both against me, watching Hansine smile broadly, Daun smile nervously, while sparks flowed between the three of us, and I looked away.

***

In a university classroom in Mid, Ardell behind our eyes, head swivelling, curious, intrigued. Who was that girl on the other side of the room, always asking such snarky questions concerning Shakespeare's intentions and motivations, flabbergasting and provoking the professor?

Later, on a bus, Peregrine and Nemera, eyebrows raised. Same girl, laced up in PVC and a corset, red lips, dark eyes. Out to welcome the night at a club.

After study groups, after clubbing, after late evenings beside her in her dorm, then we would know Hansine, know her quick wit and soft skin and secretive smiles, a Seeker of many things in many worlds beyond this one.

***

"The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms"


"Too much!" I croaked hoarsely at Aztheru. "Please... I can't..."

My body was shuddering, my mind reeling, my being felt like it would split at the seams. I was seeing too much, but the angel continued, his grip on my shoulders unceasing, his eyes like black scrying mirrors, making time meaningless, making matter meaningless. I felt every House of the Axis Mundi crumble under the weight of his gaze, until there was only one standing. Fate.

I was spun into future echoes, into branches of what-may-yet-be, interspliced with the memories, with the visions of intersecting webs and crisscrossed destinies.

***

Rani abandoned on the streets... Rani a successful writer... Conroy a movie star... Conroy a father, with two boys and his wife Ashia cradling the baby girl in her arms... Lana, alone, in an apartment in Mid, taking pills to erase Conroy's body and become a woman... Daun a drug addict... Daun an organizer and executive of an NGO... Hansine a professor at a university... Hansine jet-setting around Mid, a famous writer... Erasmus a psychologist and counsellor... Erasmus, a tech support manager... Pollux touring and travelling, Canada's Bukowski and Vonnegut all rolled into one... Pollux, over-stressed and underpaid as a faceless employee at an advertising firm... Shae, living in a cardboard box under a bridge... Shae, creating a publishing company for Rani's work and Hansine's work and Pollux's work and Conroy's work and her own work... Shae, a tired rambling professor... Shae, an overworked, underpaid burnt out social worker... Shae, a screenwriter and poet and political activist... Shae, killiing herself slowly at an office job, year after year...

Their deaths, our deaths, deaths in Mid, plain mundane deaths, hilarious or horrible, gruesome or peaceful... their deaths in other worlds, on missions for Omphalos, their deaths as Trespassers, their lives as Trespassers, each noble purpose and spark of hope corrupted, destroying their own lives and every life they come into contact with.

Their deaths, in a Trespasser stronghold, obliviated by Lore's hand, under Zareth's apologetic gaze, while the Siren Sisters guarded an innocent king and queen of Cillian.

***

The threads of their lives, spinning around me, through space and time, forged by Links, so many Links, straight into me, like hooks into flesh that if ripped out, chunks of me physically, astrally, psychologically, would go flying in all directions, scattered throughout the cosmos. Lilith had been right, but Nemera had been right too.

The Panthera Pardus... the bonds of Blood with Erasmus... the trials Lilith had put us through that brought out Blood and Collar... the recent Spirit Kisses...

"See the pattern," Aztheru whispered into my mind. "Believe in yourself, Peregrine. There is a reason you were brought on this mission. If you had not been here, everything would have been for naught. Remember yourself. Remember Destiny. For you are Six-Spirit, and you serve the Seventh One, the Fairy Star... Arwyn..."

The wind knocked out of me. The six of us pulled out by Aztheru's might and power, merged, integrated...

... a blazing light...

... a yawning darkness...

... Arwyn...

... Shae... Arwyn...

... a seven pointed star, glowing all colors, through a void...

A glimpse of what we were before our birth... a glimpse of what we are after our death... all the same, cycles within cycles, minds within minds, the Omphalos in each of us, the Axis Mundi is our core... and our core is Arwyn...

So much peace. I wanted to stay here forever. I knew what I had been, in the lives before, in the eras before. I knew what I would become. I knew the final outcome, and how it would begin anew. I knew why we were born Six. I knew why each soul and mate and kindred spirit and Na'wal and Trespasser and mortal came into our life and out of it. Each lesson a brick, a stone, a structure to the building of Arwyn. I knew everything.

"Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom"


And then Aztheru let me go, and I fell out of his eyes.

***

"Here, let me show you."

Lore's hands, reaching towards our team. Our bodies beginning to fade. Zareth's voice...

"This is the way the world ends... not with a bang but a whimper..."

My eyes opened. I knew what to do.

Deep inside me, I reached for the Links, the other five helping me, for once all six of us working in unison. Holding Zareth's tattered Link in one metaphorical hand, and the Links of Erasmus, Rani, Pollux, Daun, and Lana in the other, I began to weave their Fates, I began to entwine Zareth into our Destinies. Simultaneously, a third hand groped for a glimmering Pard Link, and I felt Hansine, somehow still alive but badly injured, and sent Nemera down that path with a mission.

"Lore!" Zareth's voice came out strangled. "Lore, stop it! Lore, I'm... I'm going too! Lore, please..."

Lore turned, eyes shocked, to see Zareth fading, and as bewilderment flowed over hir features, the process stopped, began to reverse as ze lost concentration.

"How--?"

Before Lore could finish hir question, a bellow shook the cave, the walls and floor began to tremble and Nemera's victorous jaguar roar resounded in my head. Apparently the spell that had been put around our cell did not extend to the dungeon's pit. I felt the sound of great, ebony leather wings, and felt the great crushing weight of Tomoe the Black Dragon before I saw her. One scaled claw rammed into the bars of our cell while the other swiped at Lore and Zareth, sending them flying into the wall with a sickening crack. The bars split, and I felt the spell weakening. Morg roared, pounding at the cell further with her hell sword, Erasmus assisting with his dragon claws. Tomoe snapped at the Siren Sisters with her massive jaws, and they dodged, being flung towards our cell.

We broke out. Erasmus began shouting orders. Daun, shaky, holding the demon crystals, walking towards Perdita, who with the Ephanese king, had fainted at the sight of the dragon, Erasmus guarding her back. Morg and Castor fighting with the Siren Sisters, while the dragon swiped at their backs.

"Peregrine, what are you..." Lana began, but she did not finish, gasping, my wings extending out, black speckled with silver, my eyes reflecting and become the spaces between the stars, my hair twisting like flames.

I turned to gaze at Zareth, and Lore, who were slowly regaining consciousness.

"Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
"

Zareth gaped, at the poem being quoted back at him, at the sight of me. I still held his Link in my hands, as I strode towards him.

"Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow"


Lore's eyes were wide open now. The two sat there, shocked and terrified, as I stood over them, my voice thundering in the cavern, echoing in their mind. I crushed the last vestiges of Zareth's Link, and then crouched down, grabbing their chins in each hand, forcing them to look into my eyes, into death's dream kingdom. Into their Destiny, their Fate.

"Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow"


They began screaming in unison, first flailing impotently, then scrabbling at my grip, and then trying to tear out their own eyes to stop the images, stop the knowledge from entering them, but it was too late, too late. I let them go, backing away, wings folding against me.

"You are but hollow men," I said softly, turning away.

The Siren Sisters, when they saw that their leaders had fallen and been reduced to madness, that Daun had succeeded in reuniting Perdita's soul shards, that Erasmus was gently "fixing" the King's and Queen's memories, retreated from their respective fights, grabbed a blond apiece, and teleported out of there.

"Don't follow them," Erasmus called out tiredly. "Our mission is done. We have to deliver the King and Queen to Cillian. Hob?"

They were only partly listening, for Daun, Hansine (now in dragon-lady form), Hob, Lana, and Pollux turned to stare at me, confusion and questions in their eyes. But it was Lana who stepped forward, who stroked my distant, pale face, and in a sorrowful voice, murmured: "Welcome to House Fate."

I closed my eyes, and felt myself falling into her arms, surrendering myself to the void.

***

"And today, is a great day for Onofrio, for Ephah, indeed, for all of Cillian!" Queen Perdita called out to the waiting crowd from the Palace balcony, as the masses cheered, flags waved, and confetti and flower petals reined gently down on them from court attendants in balconies all over the building. "For today is the day of peace between our two kingdoms! May peace and prosperity be with us all!"

The seven of us stood in the crowd, lost amidst the revelry and trumpets blaring, Hob's geis shimmering over us protectively so that we were truly not seen and so that we could make a quick return to the Council and report the conclusion of our mission.

I stared at the team, at our weary and worn faces. Daun, her eyes shadowed, still fighting with the poisons of Titrosko, perhaps for all of her life. Rani, the conflict and weight of her past demanding an answer, Erasmus' stoic arm around her shoulders. Pollux, staring out into the crowd, a lost and withdrawn expression. Hansine, already bored, restless, wanting a new assignment, a new adventure. And Lana, who had slipped her hand into mine, looking up at me, still wondering about what she had seen, what I had refused to answer to any of my team mates when I had regained consciousness.

"The mission's finally over," I said quietly.

"What happens next, Perry?" she asked.

I laughed, softly. For one brief, astounding, life-shattering moment, I had known. Everything. What happened before, what was to become. I had merged with the Angel of Fate and saw the innerworkings and unravellings of Destiny. But today, today I was just another To'nal, I was just a Na'wal, I was just a person.

I squeezed her hand. "What we make of it, Lana. What we make of it."

***

Here ends the Cillian Mission. Finally.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1vxJb6MQ34

Comments

( 3 travelers — cross over )
queenie_writes
Nov. 3rd, 2008 02:32 am (UTC)
*wipes tears from her eyes and claps.*
reflecteddream
Nov. 3rd, 2008 03:51 am (UTC)
Welcome to House Fate...
bwanageek
Nov. 3rd, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC)
The Cillian Mission is over already? :P

I really enjoyed it. I'll read the whole thing over again from the beginning when I can spare the time.
( 3 travelers — cross over )