The Path of the Gods, Chapter 2

Julie L.

*When we left our story last, Yana was trying to get used to her new position at work, while ignoring the blue flames that burst from her hand. Donal is headed into the Concilium Chambers with Ebbe and Emme to meet with the gods and goddesses to discuss Yana’s being the Leveler, a being prophesied for millennia.**

Stepping through the doorway took Donal’s breath away. Trying not to audibly gasp, the slight whistle still made enough sound to have the entire Concilium dais turn their heads. Unitedly, Ebbe and Emme stepped in front of him, allowing him to catch his breath and do another tug at his rumpled clothing. The Concilium did not reside on a plane he journeyed through, and the adjustment was always... breathtaking.
He slid his eyes sideways and down, to wink at Emme in thanks. Not every God Pair, charged with leading a Progression Cycle of Spirits through Mortality, into the Hereafter, and then onto their godhoods, were as compassionate as his mother and father. As a high level Incorrupt, he was allowed to meet others who were ahead of him on the Path. He was not always impressed with them. Turning back to face the dais, he forced himself not to look up to the endless abyss above his head. “What is wanted?” The deep rasp didn’t seem to come from anyone’s mouth, but Donal knew better than to respond. His previous, and first, visit to the Chambers had brought with it a painful price for talking out of place. He was not high enough in his Progression to speak directly to them, but he was feeling cantankerous, daring to look through half-closed lids at each of the aged Members.
Ebbe stepped forward to speak, bowing first. “I...”
“How dare you bring an Incorrupt dressed in such... attire,” the voice sneered.
Donal glanced at his Mortal clothing, again cursing himself silently for not taking the handful of clicks necessary to change into his formal robes. Memories of the heat at the Sites had him sniffing slightly; he should have washed too.
Ebbe straightened to his full, and rather mountainous, height and width. “I apologize for his attire, however, I was under the impression that timely information regarding the Leveler being among my lineage would be paramount. He returned and reported, as is required by Law, and I am certain the evidence he has will put his lack of formal trappings in a less damaging light.”
“We should consider him at odds for this transgression. Formality shows the sanctity of the Chambers. A misstep is not in line with the Path of Progression,” the voice answered.
Before Ebbe could speak, the middle Council Member waved his arm lazily. “That is enough. You are an artificial intelligence, a nueral emulation, not a god. Do not speak for us on this matter. The Ebbe of this Cycle is correct. If the evidence clearly shows the Leveler has been brought forth, then formality at this juncture is unneccesary.”
Donal’s mind stopped mid-thought. The voice heard in the Chamber was not a god’s, or even a collection of gods, but a god-created unnatural life form?
He shook his head slightly. It was taught that the voice was the collective thoughts of the Concilium, rendered by their power. As a Spirit, he had asked constantly how it was done, wanting to recreate it.
No wonder no one would answer me.
The goddess to the right pulled her pad closer to her, waving her left hand over it. A small shelf appeared and she began adding select elements to the surface. Tapping the pad three times, and dragging two fingers across the screen in a pattern, a portal opened, rising to the middle of the Chamber and floating. Black, and silent.
“Place your evidence there,” she said, gesturing to Donal.
He snuck another glance at the Concilium, trying to reassess. What he’d learned on his Path while a Spirit, then as an Incorrupt, did not fit with what he’d just heard. He pulled his adapted tele from his pocket, hiding the fact that he was taking the measure of each of those on the dais while walking to the portal.
They were all old, and not simply from appearance. Some of the most ancient did not look it, but his history classes had mentioned many of them doing works on the Path for untold eons, long enough in time and distance that it was not reckoned on the timelines. If something as simple as the voice of the Concilium was not what was taught, were larger things, then, also not correct?
“Is something amusing?” the goddess inquired, though her tone denoted irritation, probably because he was hesitating.
“No, Goddess.” He glanced at her, she motioned toward the portal, keeping her left handing waving patterns above the pad.
He waved his own hand above his tele, pulling up a similar, but less impressive looking shelf, then added the required elements. A wobbly sphere lifted from the tele, and with a few gestures, he placed it into the portal. He smiled at the scenes. Yana always made him smile.
Once the scenes from the Sites were finished, the goddess closed the portal, taking his sphere with it. Opening, then closing his mouth immediately, he realized that having Yana’s image to gaze at was not worth taking on the power of the Concilium.
The middle Member spoke again. “Indeed, it does seem as if the Prophecy is occurring.” His brow furrowed. “She is Mortal. Her Divide is intact?” he asked Ebbe.
“Yes, her Mortal form would not be alive if it wasn’t,” Emme answered.
The Member asked Ebbe the question again. A lesser
being on the Path would have withered under Ebbe’s glare.
Donal’s mouth opened as Emme’s elbow connected with his hip. Through gritted teeth, Ebbe answered, “She is Mortal. Not having an intact Divide to keep her Spirit knowledge from her Mortal self would kill her, as you well know.”
“Insolence will not aide your cause,” the deep voice of the Concilium rasped.
“Nor will ignoring my goddess,” Ebbe shot back. A collective gasp echoed. He closed his eyes, drawing a deep breath before he continued. “Disrespect is not intended, however, if she is the Leveler, which I believe, and have solid evidence of markers throughout her Path as proof, then there is no time to waste with formalities and pettiness.”
Donal and Emme’s eyes saucered.
The goddess on the dais stood erect. “How dare you! You are nothing but a Cycle God, having Progressed not a whit beyond that!”
Donal couldn’t hold his tongue any longer. “And you are an out of touch dotard if you cannot see the danger for us all. The Prophecy is beyond clear about what the Leveler is to do, and a Mortal with an intact Divide, meaning no memories of her past, has been chosen. Your hurt egos do not matter under the weight of this!”
Wood splintered behind his head, as his knees hit his chin. Dropping onto an incalculably hard... something... Donal couldn’t lift himself, or think beyond the pain. A whiff of Ebbe’s morning drink coming from his shirt had him realizing he’d broken Ebbe’s desk. With his body.
Through the tears, and perhaps some blood, he saw a portal open, and an explosively enraged Emme burst out, complete with sparks and fire.
Even in pain, he couldn’t help himself. “You made the fire match your hair color,” he quipped.
Emme couldn’t decide between strangling him or laughing, so she chose neither. Waving her hand, from her shelf she pulled the heaviest element from it, and dropped it onto his back.
“Yes, I know it hurts,” Emme said, voice laced in fake concern. “And you’ll probably have a broken... oh, stop your moaning. I’ll make sure you heal completely. Eventually.”
All he could do was wheeze in acknowledgment. Ignoring her when she was this angry was hazardous to one’s health.
“Now, while Ebbe makes an attempt to clean up your mess, again, you will go forthwith and arrange Yana’s lessons. She is to begin them as soon as the first one has been approved. Do not wait. She needs to start now.” She knelt down, titling her head so she could look directly into his eyes. “Your presence in proximity to the blue flames will not have gone unnoticed, as you are well aware. The Corrupt you encountered on your way back will barter their knowledge to the Demons, and this... incident... with the Concilium will make everything harder.”
She stood and retrieved her pad, waving her hand over it. Pulling elements from her hovering shelf, her mouth moved as fingers danced on the pad. With a flash of sparks and white light, a time piece floated above the pad’s surface. She knelt again, attaching the piece to his wrist. With a few more muttered words and a pinch of items from her shelf, both the time piece and his pad at his hip began to glow and hum.
Standing and straightening her clothing, she said, “All Ebbe and I have about the Leveler is in your pad. As knowledge is needed, your time piece will be able to pull it forth for viewing.” Putting her hand over where the heavy element sat crushing him, she flicked her wrist and spoke a word.
Gasping and wincing, he sat up.
“Do not speak. Leave. Now. Get your guards and protect her.”
Nodding, and knowing better than to cross her again for some time, he limped through the portal she’d opened for him.
* * * *
Not for the first time, Yana cursed herself inwardly about taking on more responsibility. Ambling back to her box while reading on her pad, she was failing at avoiding walls, corners, and others walking just as distractedly as she was. Giving up, she shoved her pad in her carryall, determined to get back to the one place where she was allowed to shut the door and hide. For a few clicks, anyway.
Closing the door behind her, her right shoulder shoved forward, she tripped over her fallen carryall, landing hard on one knee. Before she could breathe inward enough to yell, pain radiated from near her middle. Gasping and grabbing her shirt to lift it, her door opened and slammed behind her. Reaching frantically all around her front, she pulled her hand away. No blood, but she swore her fingers had tripped over something poking out of her skin.
“Ms. Yana, you don’t know me, but I know you. I chased the Demons away, but,” the voice paused and quavered. “They got to you. I am so sorry. I tried getting here as fast as I could.”
She felt her arm being tugged up and cried out. “It’s tearing!”
An arm wound around her waist, being more gentle, but much more insistent, and helped her to stand.
“What is happening? It feels like something is ripping me up... like a pole went through me from back to front, and now the tip is poking out of me and shredding,” Yana looked down at her perfectly intact skin and laugh cried. “What in cold ochu?” she wheezed, the pain compounding with every breath. Through the tears, she saw someone half her age, with the largest brown eyes she’d ever encountered. “Demons?”
“Yes, Ms. Yana. You know they’re real. Everyone knows they’re real, but most have forgotten how dangerous they really are,” she paused. “Uh, yeah, I probably should introduce myself, but we really need to get you home... can you stand up and walk by yourself?”
“I’m going to, even if I can’t,” Yana said through gritted teeth. Taking a deep breath to push the pain away, she continued, “I’m not going to be seen limping out with no visible injuries and no one’s heard any noise.” She paused. “So, your name, and how did you know to come here?”
“My name is Kit, short for Kitarra,” she said with a quick grin. “I work here, in processing, and saw a passel of Demons come through my area’s wall, and they were talking about you. So I came, but, um, the Guardian told me where your office is, so, yeah.”
“The Guardian talks to you?” Yana asked, trying to get her legs to not collapse.
“Yeah, I know it’s not normal, but yes, it does.” She looked down at Yana’s middle. “It’s really bad.”
Yana looked down and saw nothing. “How come I can’t see it, but I can feel it?”
Tossing Yana’s carryall over her shoulder, Kit shrugged. “I... don’t know.”
“But the Demons,” Yana began, heading to the exit.
“Will be back, and if I don’t get you out of here, it’ll be worse,” Kit said, walking closely, but carefully behind Yana’s halting gait. “You have a book on balsams and elixers from the Oracles, right?” Yana nodded. “Well, at the very least, we should be able to find something to hide you from them.”
Yana snorted. “How about getting this invisible pole outta me first? I can feel the internal bleeding.”
“Oh, that’s not good. But really, healing isn’t my strong point, mixes are,” Kit answered. “But on the positive side, I can see and hear those in the Hereafter, so maybe I can get a Guide?”
Sucking air through her teeth, Yana carefully lowered herself into her vehicle. Taking several deep breaths, she wiped her eyes and steeled herself, with a pain-filled sigh. I’m taking home a girl who can see Demons and invisible poles.
Says the woman who’s hand erupted into blue flames no one else could see.