The Path of the Gods, Chapter 7

Julie L.

Having spent the night watching over Yana, Donal glanced at the light beginning to glow through small gaps in the shades. Running a hand down his face, he didn’t need to see the Guardian’s look in order to answer it. “I’m not comfortable leaving her,” he said. “The attacks come at all hours and don’t make much sense in what they are or where they’re coming from.”
“While this is true, the fact that we cannot see them coming until they hit should worry you more than when or where she will be hit,” the Guardian countered, still sitting stoically in the chair next to a sleeping Yana.
“I’ll give you that, grudgingly,” Donal answered. Taking a side-eyed view of the Guardian, he commented, “I really wish, for once, that something akin to tired, or even as small as sleepy, would cross your visage.”
“Unlikely. I do not get tired,” the Guardian answered.
“I’m going to tell Emme that you lied,” Donal teased. “There is no way you don’t need some kind of rest.”
“I did not say I did not need rest. I said I do not get tired.”
“Now you know you’re going to have to explain that. Every being gets tired,” Donal held his hand up to stop the response, “except AIs. Those buggers, whether mechanical or elemental, never stop. I don’t know how they do it.”
“They are built that way,” the Guardian said with a shrug.
“You truly want an answer?”
“First of all, I make sure that I rest and reenergize long before I physically require it, to avoid looking like you do right now. And secondly,” he pulled a hand sized device from somewhere with a twist of his left wrist, “I have one of these.”
“What is that?” Donal asked, desperately trying to withhold from grabbing it and tearing it apart to see how it worked.
“It is a recharger,” the Guardian said, flicking it back into non-existence.
“Wait, you plug yourself into that?” Donal snickered. “Are you certain you’re not an AI in a Spirit form?” Donal watched closely, waiting for a reaction to his teasing. “Really? Not one reaction? Come now, that’s an amusing thought.” He paused, “Actually, that’s an amazing thought. Why didn’t Yana and I think of that before and try it out?” he finished, muttering to himself.
“You do realize, one day, that you will have to confess all you did, whether Spirit, Mortal, or Incorrupt, in order to Progress?” the Guardian asked, raised eyebrow the only hint stating his unease at one day knowing all the two of them had managed to get away with for so long.
Donal waved him off. “Ppfftt, we have way larger issues to tackle than what Yana and I may or may not have... accomplished... as Spirits.”
The Guardian did not answer, and though uneasy at the black eyed gaze, Donal refused to look directly at him or shrink away. Instead, he stared through the shade’s gap, noting that the sun was fully above the horizon. “If you tell Kit to come over, will she listen? And come?”
A small smirk played at his lips. “She is terrified of me,” the Guardian said. “She will do whatever I tell her to do.”
Turning to see if that was whole truth, Donal quipped, “Those eyes would terrify any Mortal in their right minds.”
“Which is why most only hear or sense my presence, but do not see,” he answered. “Kit is most... unusual. I have not had to say much to her, regardless. She has studied and learned her lessons well, for a Mortal, and her belief is solid for one so young.”
“I’m glad she listened, and is so attuned,” Donal said somberly. “I can’t imagine Yana going through this with no understanding because her hearing and sensing have been...”
“Destroyed?” the Guardian offered.
“Manipulated is what I was going to say. Do you know something I don’t? Stop. Don’t answer, of course you know things I don’t, but with Yana, everything  related to her is relevant to me, so what do you know that I don’t?” Donal asked.
“Much of the Mortal systems, and a few elements, that allow for hearing, sensing, occasionally seeing, but most importantly, feeling what my words and presences bring, have not been manipulated. They are,” he hesitated, “missing.”
“Missing? As in not there at all? Gone?”
With a shrug, the Guardian answered, “More like… removed.”
“What... removed... but... I...” Donal sputtered.
Sitting forward, the Guardian said, “Don’t ask how, I do not know. Many things are possible to do to a Mortal form. It is the most highly manipulative form there is, you know that.” He paused. “But you did not know that it was designed that way so that it would be the hardest part of the Path, the form that guides, and challenges, and weighs the most on the Path of Progress. Mortals are allowed to do all sorts of madness to their forms, to see what they will do to themselves and others when they cannot remember who they were.”
He sat back, drawing sigils into the arms of the chair again. “Removal is possible. However, it must be the Mortal’s choice. It cannot be done for them.”
“Except it has.” Donal motioned to Yana. “There’s no way she would do that to herself.”
“She did not. At Ebbe’s request, I went into her form’s past, from birth to now. There is nothing at all telling me that this was her choice. So yes, it has been done, but it should not have been able to be done.”“Just like it shouldn’t be possible for portals, elements, and communications to go crazy and decide not to function,” Donal said with a snort.
“Indeed.” After a few minutes, the Guardian stood. “I send a thought to Kit so that she comes over here within a short time.” Black eyes stared directly into blue-green ones. “We must go. The knowledge I have of the other Guardian has a shortened time where we may act on it. As alil of the Leveler, you have the rights and ability to tap into her, should we need it.”
“If what you think you know is true, we’ll need it,” Donal answered.
With a curt nod, the Guardian’s gaze drifted, eyes half closed, telling Kit she was needed at Yana’s.
Donal called up a portal, leaving a copy of his timepiece next to Yana’s bedside, a link to her location. He hoped it would be enough for him to get back, without a portal landing him inside the sun, or one of the moons instead.
* * * *
Tingling the length of her finger woke Yana from a dreamless, restless, sleep. Stretching, and still feeling the ache of healing muscles all over, her left hand was getting heavy. Groaning, and making a futile attempt to roll over by grabbing at her headrail, she couldn’t stand the weight anymore, and chucked the heavy whatever-it-was, aiming at the gap between her shades.
Kit’s terrified eyes met Yana’s as they both screamed at each other.
“What are you doing here?” Yana yelled, recovering faster from her fright than Kit.
Mouth opening and closing a few times while grasping the door frame, Kit’s voice quavered. “The Guardian told me you needed me to come over, so I did. The entrance was not locked.”
“I... wait, yes it was. I remember locking it before crashing in bed,” Yana answered. Standing back up, having stumbled back into the bed, she said, “I don’t need... what in cold ochu now?” she said, flicking her right hand a bit at the numbness creeping up from her fingertips.
“Don’t wave that around!” Kit shouted, launching herself from the door frame to grab Yana’s right hand and hold it steady. “How can you be so careless with that?”
“With what? I don’t see anything!” Yana was losing her limited patience.
Kit looked up curiously. “Really? Still? But...” Kit trailed off. Standing up straighter but still holding onto her wrist, she continued, “If you can’t see anything... but you looked down, you had to notice something.”
“I didn’t say I didn’t notice anything, I said I don’t see anything. When I woke up, there was something heavy weighing against my left hand’s fingers, and it kept getting heavier the longer I was awake, so I rolled halfway over, saw the gap of light from the shades, and,” Yana paused. She’d never told anyone about her zings. “My whole life, when I need to hear something, pay attention to something, or do something, I kinda get this…” she waved her free hand behind her head, “zing back here. It’s not something I hear, but more like something I feel. No, not feel… sense.”
Heaving a breath out, she continues, “It’s just there, and I know it’s there.”
Kit’s eyes rounded. “Like… a presence?”
Yana considered, then shook her head. “No, because no one’s there. It’s not like when you get a Progression tinge from the Guardian. It’s just something that’s there. I know that really sounds lame.”
Kit tilted her head. “I’ve never heard anyone talk about zings or pushes, not like that, but it doesn’t mean the Guardian isn’t the one behind it, or something.”
“Yeah, or something.” Looking down, Yana continued, “Can you let go of my hand now? I need to toss this.”
“Toss it?”
“Yeah, just toss it up. I guess someone in the Hereafter knows what to do with it,” Yana said, closing her fist slightly and then flicking her fingers upward.
“Or what you just tossed knows what to do by itself,” Kit murmured. “You know, there are Teachers in the past who talked about elements and mixes kind of being autonomous.”
“I remember, but there’s nothing specific and a lot of those time period writings were destroyed in the wars.” Heading into the bathroom to clean up and empty out, she called over her shoulder, “You don’t need to stay. I am fine.”
Closing the door on Kit’s arguments, Yana turned the water on to further drown her out. As she stepped in, both hands began to buzz. Sighing resignedly, she waited a few clicks for the balls to form, the weight to increase, made sure they were pulsing and then flicked her wrists sideways. Looking up, she whispered, “Can I please enjoy the water now?”
In answer, she tossed several more handfuls of whatever-it-was-es in the direction of the sun before the tingling and zinging ceased.
* * * *
Standing in front of a seemingly endless hallway wall, Ebbe glanced in consternation at Emme. “There is no way there is a door anywhere here.”
“There has to be. The mapping Yana showed us said so,” Emme countered.
“What if she was wrong?” Ebbe asked, hand sweeping sideways, feeling for the barest crease demarcating a hidden door. “What if...”
Grabbing Emme to his chest as he threw himself backward, he held one arm out to protect her from being crushed by his weight as he rolled them both away from the flaming orb aiming for his head... which was now engulfing the area where they’d been standing.
Coming to a sliding halt with Emme wrapped in both his arms, they looked back at the endless hallway, crackling and exploding.
“Blue flames. Huh. Who would have thought?” Emme said lightly, tapping Ebbe to release her. Standing and attempting to swipe the debris and wrinkles from her attire at dignifiedly at possible, she side-eyed Ebbe.
“What was that about her being wrong?”
Mouth open, Ebbe stood, ignoring the mess his godly attire was in. “How?”
“How did she do this? Or how did she know to do this, right now?” Emme asked, auburn eyebrow raised.
“Either. Both. She can’t hear us, can’t see us, so how would she know...” he trailed off.
“Dearest,” Emme half snorted, half laughed, “even with all our knowledge, how much does anyone truly know about what the Leveler can and cannot do from instinct, simply because of being the Leveler? We may not have gifted and blessed Yana with everything she needs to do this work, be this being, but what if she already has it, or has access to it, just because of who she is?”
“You mean what she is.”
“No, I mean who she is. Leveler is not a simple title, it’s the name of a being, as well,” Emme answered, her posture hinting that arguing would be hazardous to his health.
Walking to the still flaming, but not hot, walls, Ebbe poked at it. It wobbled and cracked under his light touch. He tilted his head slightly, brows knitted, placed his palm on it, and shoved. As the walls tumbled down in heaps, he stepped backward, looking in both directions of the endless hallway, and saw... ends, within ten of his paces away. “Do you...”
“I do indeed,” Emme said in awe. Touching the heaps with her toes, not daring to use her hands, she watched them lift, separate into their elemental make-ups, and leave. She sucked in a breath. “Illusion,” she hissed.
“Sorcery is against the Laws,” Ebbe whispered helplessly.
“Apparently not,” Emme answered quietly.
Behind the smoldering heaps…
A door.