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Beyond the Vale
The heated discussion’s cacophony grew to unbearable levels, each Seat shouting to be heard. Ezix Uf Nöern, now just Mr. Cottaer, stood and began intoning, his triple mouths sending out sounds so complex that no one could understand them, his spell solidified and the room went silent. “Ah, that’s better.” he said calmly. “Now if everyone is ready to calmly discuss how to proceed with our newest Seat we can begin.
The assembled looked at her, Félicie Tetrulle’. She and Axton had calmly walked into the assembly and moved to the vacant Seat. Everyone assumed they were here to stand behind the Seat of Power as was customary. When Axton pulled the Seat away from the table, something he’d done in the past, his humorous gesture, a nod to the vacancy, no one blinked an eye. When Félicie Tetrulle’ placed her hand on his arm, they barely noticed. When she spoke everyone heard her say, “No my friend, it is not for you. It is for me.” And then she sat in the Seat of Power.
The room exploded with shock, everyone expecting her to meld away into nothing, being consumed by the Aether. It had happened many times in the past. Nexi had come to try, had announced their presence and been recognized. In all accordance with the customs and rites they had taken sips from the Cup of Romatar, an ancient Egyptian Cup that held the blood of the Pharos, leaking out of their dead body to fill the cup. It had supposedly been part of the mummification ritual, or so Ixilthar Re’Ena, the Seat of Corruption, had said. If there was a mother to the Nexi is was Ixilthar. She founded the Nexi Culture and Society in 1692. But she was older than that, the second oldest Nexi. If the Nexi had a father it was Mr. Cottaer, he was the oldest known living Nexi. Along with a select few, they made up The Elders. Ixlithar had designed the Nexi society so that it mirrored Ancient Egyptian culture. It is why every Nexi spoke Ancient Egyptian. With her modifications and changes, Ancient Egypt was the Nexi culture and society. The Original Council of three wrote the initial laws. The full council had adopted them and the society was then built. Only once had they had to change the laws, that was when they had to destroy the Senta Unival Nexi, they existed no more.
Félicie reflected on the past few minutes, a time to reflect while she became accustomed to her power. She thought of The Elders, those Nexi that had existed before The Founding of 1692. Perhaps more existed but The Rolls held every known Nexi’s Name, Sect, and Age. Ezix Uf Nöern was the only name above hers. He was kind, funny, and inquisitive and all together a very pleasant Nexi. She was not. Ixilthar was a very dangerous woman. Her powers were unmatched save for Axton, and truly he was the only Nexi she feared. Ixilthar sat staring at her, that calculating gaze could stare at you for a millennia before she even spoke, all the while calculating your fate. Today was a prime example of her calculations and machinations. Thinking back to the reaction of The Council she reflected.
“No Axton.” she said placing her hand on his arm, she continued, “It is not for you.”
“But Amo.” he said affectionately, her pet name. “You know I have the power to take it. None have had even an inkling of the strength I poses. And if we do not have a Seat we cannot truly have a voice. It is time. We have debated this enough, you know we have to act.” he finished with finality.
“No, Hete, it is not for you.” she said using his pet name in return. He stared at her for a moment, and then reluctantly nodded acceptance. She started to push past him, but he stopped her.
“I will become your Warden if you survive.” he said.
“No!” she said, her vibrant green eyes seemingly piercing through him. When she spoke like that it was clear that you would obey her. Everyone in the Sect just seemed to. This was the exception.
“Yes, it shall be so.” Axton rebuked.
Taken back for a second she paused, then nodded acceptance. They looked at one another, unspoken words passing between them. Their lifelong friendship, Could this be it? she thought. Is this to be my last moment? she wondered. Then she pushed passed him and sat in the Seat of Power. The world went black.
The universe became pain, infused with light. She was falling, through something but she wasn’t quite sure what it was. She glanced below her and saw darkness. The fell into the blackness and all she knew was pain, immense and beyond belief. The universe rose up before her, a wall of blue light in front of it. Screams echoed in the darkness, her screams. Her essence was being torn apart. She could feel the threads of her existence being pulled and tugged upon. She was unraveling. The echoes of light danced across her vision, she knew instinctively that she was dying. The Aether was absorbing her and she knew she would be dead soon, and she was powerless to stop it. I was not wrong. It is for me, I am Power. She though. Aether! her mind screamed as she realized the blue was the Aether. It washed over her, and into her, consuming her.
It was too vast, too much. It would consume her and she would be unable to stop it. She began pulling on it, attempting to cast a protection spell, push back the wall of power that was flowing through and into her, but the more she pulled the more it flowed into her mouth, through her body – hastening her death. The flow of Aether filled her, emptying out every orifice her. Instinct and ability took over and she opened her essence to the Power, drawing into her the full flow of the river that was the Aether. Expanding Self Grow she though and cast the spell. Her body expanded to encompass all of the Aether. More! She thought. The blue… I see the light… I am… pain… more… the light… I am all… I am Aether. And then it should have consumed her, but at that last instant she realized, I am the Aether, I am Power! She screamed in her mind the pain consuming her, the Aether consuming her.
Suddenly she was in a different place, floating in a new darkness. Did I pull all of it into me? she thought. She floated in the darkness for what seemed like years, unending years. All the while she reached out with her will, searching. Years had passed with nothing but the silence of darkness filling her being. Finally, at the very edge of her senses she could feel them, the other Seats. They were here too, in this place that her essence had found. Now she pulled upon the darkness, pulled that into her as well. She pulled ever more and more into her. Taking the whole river into her being. And still the darkness came, crushing her.
Her heart beat slowed.
I am the seat, I will have it all! she thought. Willing all of it into her open mouth she consumed Power, becoming one with it. Beyond the darkness she now saw it, the flow of Aether like lava. A vast ocean of lava. She willed it to flow into her mouth, and she drank deeply.
Her breath became ragged.
In an horrific tone, filled with darkness and hate, filled with kindness and love, she spoke, her voice beyond understanding, echoing through everything in the universe. “I am Power!” she screamed, and then continued to drink into her being the lava, the world turn red and orange and yellow. Fire filled her, she wept tears of lava flowing down her cheeks. She was dying, soon to be dead but she did not, could not stop. She had to have it all, the whole of it. All of the lava, all of the power.
Her heart stopped, and yet somehow she continued to drink. Her body died. She was no more.
Somehow she wasn’t washed away, she knew she had died, and yet she was alive. Then it came to her, she had become Power incarnate. Where she had been, now sat The Seat of Power. The darkness receded. The room came back into view. She was looking at Ixlithar. And then the hot laval flowed for the first time down her cheek. It burned her flesh but barely a thought and it no longer harmed her. Where it fell caught fire. Her mind snuffing out the fires as they began. And then she spoke, her words echoing through the hall, reverberating through everyone’s essence, “I am no more, I have been born, I am again. I am the Seat of Power.” the mantra she had read in the books coming to her now.
The room was silent.
It was in that moment that Axton spoke, “I am Axton Krece-Amon. I am Entropy.” He said, and somehow the room shifted, changed but none could say why. Axton was feared by everyone, not a fear that he would do something to them, but because his power seemed limitless. Any who had ever gone up against him found out what oblivion was like. It was rumored that Ixiltar even feared his power. It had been assumed that he would be Seat of Power, and now this?! “I am Warden and subjugate of Félicie Tetrulle’. She is under my protection, for to harm her, to go against her is to go against me. I am her protector, ware any who think naught of my warning… oblivion awaits.” He said with finality.
The room stayed silent, save for the chittering of the Uz.
After a time the discussion had started again, was she really the Seat without the proper rituals? Everyone commented, all in attendance had reasons and things to say. They were of course immaterial, for in the end she would be chided for her actions, but everyone knew she could not sit in the Seat of Power lest she was. And so they would, reluctantly, eventually accept her. She would have to perform the rites and rituals as was the custom, but all knew… she was the Seat of Power.
As their discussions continued, she spoke softly with Axton. “You were kind to say you were my Warden.” She said.
“It is so. I am yours to command my Seat.” He said humorlessly.
“No Amo, it is not so.” She replied.
“Hete, it has to be so and I have sworn it publicly. I am your protector for as long as I draw breath.” He stated flatly.
“Amo… ” she began, but he interrupted her.
“No!” He exclaimed, “It is so, I’ll brook no further discussions on the matter.” He said with force, ending the discussion.
Reluctantly she accepted him as hers, her Warden. No one had ever taken a Warden. It was in the laws, as set forth by the council. But no one had ever taken one. He would be hers to do with as she saw fit. In all things save those that would put her in peril. He would give up his life for her, and shelter her from all things. She accepted him now, knowing that her power, which was weak compared to any other Seat and many Nexi, would not be enough to protect her. He’ll do nicely. she thought and smiled. She noted the shift in their relationship, she accepted it, knowing they no longer were that, but now something more. She would be his lord until he ceased to be. She then began reflecting on the past, their past. A time long ago, when they were new, before the Nexi.
They had both been young adults during the French Renaissance in Paris. They loved that time and all things French. Neither knew what destiny had in store for them. Yet here they were, almost 5,500 years old (1423 – 4921 + 2000). They had witnessed the world grow and evolve. They had watched humanity take this beautiful world and kill it. It seemed like a blink of an eye to her when she thought about it now. When they had become part of The Nexi. Yes, it was Amdragah Nestici that found us, invited us into The Circle. He’s why we were part of The Founding. He was amazed that we were both from the same village in France, that we both grew up together and both received our gifts roughly at the same time. He was even more astounded to find that we were both of the Sect of Power, or what would become The Sect of Power. It had truly amazed any Nexi that they met. No one else had ever had the gift, except for the twins – somehow they always both became Nexi, even though none yet were of the same Sect it could be possible. You didn’t choose your Sect, you just were. Everyone still commented on how they had both been of Power, and what it might have been like had they not been, or worse, if one of them had been a Chagar. The Chagar were humans, the non-Nexi. It was a derogatory word that meant lesser being. That probably would have broken their friendship. But the universe was kind and they were both born as Nexi, or rather what would become Nexi, and kinder still that they were both of the Sect of Power. Their time in France, in Paris seemed a long time ago. But it was beautiful and she pulled at those memories now.
“Senjan! Wait up.” Tristain yelled. It had been a hot day and the wine would be good this evening. “Senjan, it is good to see you this fine day my best friend.” He said warmly to Senjan. “It’s hot today let’s get out of this heat and go to the Mule.” he suggested.
The Mule was a tavern filled with great music, friends, cheap drinks, and fine beautiful women seeking companionship for a small price. Everyone in the lower east side of Paris knew of the Mule, or rather the men did. And it drew them all here, the men that were the new thinkers. Those without a patron, but who had revolutionary ideas. The real Renaissance men.
“My friend!” Senjan smiled deeply. “Of course we must go. And I have just the thing that will warm your heart.” He said.
“I’m not interested in a woman.” he replied.
“No! Tristain, no. I am speaking of a new way of thought. I came up with a concept today that we all need to discuss. I think we could revolutionize the world with this idea.” He said.
That’s when they stumbled into them, the two people standing still in the street just talking.
“Hey watch it you two!” Senjan yelled as he and Tristan were picking themselves up. Later, at the Mule, “It was his eyes that held power, he was nice, friendly, but those eyes!” Senjan exclaimed.
“Yes, you all should have seen him. Dressed up like a noble. She was dressed as a proper lady. I swear somehow he tossed us like dolls. We should have hit them but instead we flew apart and down onto the pavement.” Tristain said.
“And so what did you do?” a man asked.
“Do? Why we did nothing. There was nothing for it but to invite them here.” Tristain said warmly.
The men all rose their glasses and saluted him. Soon the compadre was in full swing. And everyone was talking about this revolutionary idea Senjan had, until suddenly they were there.
“Measures’ Axton, Mademoiselle Félicie, come here. Join us.” Senjan yelled out. She recalled the evening with fondness, coming out of her reverie.
As the Nexi society was built, and the Sects came into being, no one knew then that the Sect of Power would be left afloat without leadership. When Lu’Atral Vuth’Nahn, the Seat of Power, had pulled upon the Aether to create their city it had killed him. None thought there would be any ramifications for his actions, least of all death. His last act would be the creation of their home.
Everyone had been excited at the prospect of having a home world. It really only was possible because of Ixilthar Re’Ena. She had insisted that they needed a place that was beyond all things. The only way they could do that was to create a world inside the Aether. It was Mr. Cottaer who made it possible.
“Axton.” She leaned in to speak to him quietly.
“Amon?” He asked.
“Remember The Founding and how we all argued incessantly about it. Would it be possible? Should we even attempt it? Would it kill us all? Not even her lordship, her high and I’m mightier than anyone… Ixilthar, knew what would happen.” She prodded his memory. “It was then that the arguments began, how the city would be built, laid out. Down to the minutia, every detail of the city laid out and planned. How everything would be balanced. He did it though, he created the Seats. No one is certain how they function, maybe you could figure it out?” She teased him.
“I do recall those days. That’s when we would sneak off away from everyone and play power games with the younglings. Certainly great time.” He said, pondering how the seats were constructed. Lu’Atral built them in such a way that they are still connected to the Aether, they test the person sitting in it. No one knows how but it tests them completely. They must BE the Seat lest they are destroyed. Many a powerful Nexi has sat in the Seat of Power only to be absorbed into the Aether, some dying horribly, others just melding away as if they never were.
“I recall the first time they told us all they could open portals, the Sound Nexi. None of us understood something that came naturally to them. Mr. Cottaer used his ability to open a portal directly into the Aether, creating an island in the stream. It was so beautiful, it mesmerized everyone in attendance. Lu’Atral Vuth’Nahn began construction of the city in the stream. Mr. Cottaer held it open long enough for Lu’Atral to complete the city’s founding, but it was too much even for Lu’Atral. Everyone could see the strain it placed on him. His body shimmered with beautiful blue light, pulling the Aether permanently out of itself to build something that should not exist. During the casting he, while the city unfolded, he became translucent. As he completed the city he shimmered one last time and was absorbed into the Aether. Everyone was awestruck. He had followed the plans for the city to the minutia, except for in the center he had built The Garden. The Garden was now tended to and overseen by the Seat of Nature and her Sect. Lu’Atral had gone beyond the plans in his constructing Nutenth-hehtt M’antt Ur – The Everlasting City in the River of Night. He had made it a living thing, fabricated from pure Aether, permanently pulled out of the stream. He had fashioned it and it was alive. It had hidden places that were, and were not there. A hall would terminate into a wall, and the next minute there might be a door there. The door might lead out onto a terrace overlooking an oasis in a hot desert, or into the vacuum of space. The Nexi were all aware of the original plans, the safe places. Ever cautious of the things not in the plans there were still those Nexi that were brave enough to explore the hallowed halls’ exception places. This endeavor had claimed a few over the years. Coming out of her reverie she asked, “How long ago was that now?”
“If I recall it was just after The Founding in 1692, yes that was the year.” He remembered.
“Do you think you could pull that much power?” She asked.
She was always asking him how much power he could hold. In truth he wasn’t sure there was a limit to the amount he could hold. He never felt strained or tired or at an end. He was fairly certain he didn’t really have a limit. But he never pushed too much beyond what he knew he could do. He didn’t want to be absorbed by the Aether. “I would try it if needs be, but I’m not certain. I think I could. Why?” He asked.
“I was just dreaming of a way to create a place to put all of the other seats and lock them away so they’d shut up already. What’s done is done.” She chuckled softly.
“If you command it, I shall make it so.” he replied.
Struck by his words, she realized he had become Warden, and their friendship was now forever changed.
Wow! Loved every minute of them