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A landscape with unexplained lights, glowing lava, old pahoehoe, a hint of an old straight road, low gold auroras, and the beams of searchlights carried by two explorers.

Beyond (Part 2)


To Beyond (Part 1)

Enkarra stood on the fabricated platform that extended to the center of the Core Chamber. She could feel emanations of Earth Current surging through the conduits that wrapped about the outside of the thirty foot sphere at the center of which she stood. The mirrored inner surface (that gave no reflection) concentrated and enhanced that power, so that she felt its electric tingle of health and well being even into her bones and soul.

Koniopses her father floated on his back in front of her, suspended by some miraculous communion he had achieved with the Earth Current and the Chamber. His body was straight but not stiff, his arms crossed on his breast. His eyes were open—not staring, not hollow, but not looking at his daughter either. Enkarra predicted that he was gazing on a far future vision.

Not an unlikely guess. So often had the visions come upon Koniopses, Foremost Foreteller. Especially here. She looked down into his face. Old, old, and yet severely serene. His skull gleamed smooth in the diffuse silverine light, his face relaxed into acceptance of mystery. The skin of his cheeks looked so thin as to be almost translucent, the bones beneath pushing up against that fabric like poles against a tent. No wrinkles etched that skin, and Enkarra had to force herself to remember that her father was terribly old—

And dying.

She leaned near and put her hand on his. The skin felt dry, neither warm nor cool. She felt his heart beneath, gently lumping along, steady, measured...Just as the man had been. So much he had taught her of the Foreteller art, even bringing her here often during her childhood, to watch as he sought his still center, and slowly floated up. Enkarra had never learned to do that herself, but she had found her own inner practice, and received her own visions.

None had been like the grand prophecies of the Foremost. Enkarra gazed openly into Koniopses's dark but distant eyes, wondering what final vision he might scry. Would he come back one last time to tell them? She felt her heart lurch at the thought of her dear father finally dead, never to speak guiding wisdom again, to take her hand in gentle encouragement, to listen to her little prophecies with as much awe and approval as he would give to the grandest visions—

She was not here to reminisce and indulge in nostalgia. She cleared her mind with a mental wave, allowed her body to shift to relaxed centeredness, and stood empty beside the Foremost, hand on hand, poised for any vision she might receive, either from him or from the Source.

Most of the New Foretellers now believed that the source of all prophecies came from that mysterious realm beyond the gold luminous mist. Almost fifty annums ago, that first entity to speak through an old janitor had claimed as much, and subsequent visions indeed appeared to have originated in the West. Experiments in collaboration with the order of the Monstruwacans, using improvements on their instruments, indicated that indeed the aetheric trails left behind by the coming of prophetic energies—temporal meridians, the Monstruwacans called them—originated at the mouth of the gold luminous mist.

Enkarra did not care so much about the source, as the content. Her own visions had been colloquial, even mundane. Who would bond and bear children, where to find lost items, who would be appointed some post in the complex order of the New Foretellers. They were always about people, their longings, their needs, their hopes. Mundane, she thought, but Koniopses often took the time to reassure his daughter. "We cannot know what is great and what diminutive, in prophecy." He had smiled and gazed solemnly. "In Foretelling, the smallest prosaic detail may have the profoundest meaning." In her memory, his hand drifted to rest on her shoulder, her eager eyes looking up into his clear intent ones. "To know the gender of an infant before it is born may stop a Watcher." She blinked and almost gasped, but then saw the mirth sparkling in his eyes, and burst out laughing. A single hum of mirth escaped him, and he was solemn again.

She had never known if he had been fully joking.

Now, as her mind went fully still, her body relaxing into the waves and washes of Earth Current, she found herself falling into the stillness of the Foremost's soul. Just as in her little prophecies, where she felt herself mingling with the souls of people she knew, gaining impressions of their lives, she felt herself mingling with her father's soul. Yet his was so vast, so empty, so still. She drifted through its void, trending toward some revelation she could sense but not see. Soon she realized she was following a faint energy trace, like the meridians monitored by the Monstruwacans. With accelerating speed, this led her through ephemeral layers of the void, and she knew them then as annums, centuries, ages of time. Enkarra hurtled toward the future.

Far ahead she saw a gleaming speck in the dull void. As she hurtled toward it, it lengthened, resolved into a tall man in a pale robe, the back of his head shining smooth. He turned only his head a few metrons as she approached his side. She saw his smooth blank face and intent black eyes. "I have gone this far, to the end before the end. Only you can go further." The faintest ghost of a smile curled his lips. "To the beginning beyond the end." He turned back and stared ahead.

Enkarra followed his gaze, and saw the horrid scene take form. An inconceivably immense paw as if from some colossal beast had smashed downward, and great plates and pistons of hardest gray Redoubt metal were crumpled beneath it. Surrounding bedrock was broken and mounded. Just beyond the huge paw, against the dark background of the Forecourt of the Great Pyramid, a slender strand of intense white light arced away to either side.

From within the Forecourt, running and leaping over the low strand of light, people came forth. In loose flapping robes, soft pantaloons, babes in arms, they scurried around the mottled, craggy paw that had crushed the Great Gate, ran under the immense angled leg, and fled down the rock-strewn slope beyond the main entrance of the Last Refuge. Enkarra held her hands to her mouth in horror and empathy for the plight of these terrified and desperate humans.

"This others have already seen." Koniopses's even voice gave her something to steady herself against. "In half a million annums, the South Watcher arrives, to stamp, to crush. The Strand appears, the Powers for Good intervening one last time. Old prophecies, much accepted. All I have added is to know that some of these people..." He stopped and peered at the scene. "There." He flexed a single finger to indicate a middle-aged man among the throng, clumsily stumbling over broken stone, eyes rolling at the great dark leg posed above, mouth stretched in panting grimace, hands clutching the hem of his robe, revealing his pale calves and booted feet.

The Foremost rotated his head and gazed at his daughter. "Our descendant. A Foreteller, though he knows it not. Much will be forgotten by then."

"Our—descendant?" Enkarra was struck by the implications.

Now Koniopses's smile was evident. "You will have a child. Who will have other descendants. And others. Until—"

His eyes flicked back to the man, who now ran on flatter ground, following one stream of humans that were turning aside and running West over gnarled, broken ground, their shadows sharp and long from the light of the Strand behind. Ahead, far beyond the dark Western horizon, shone a distant gold glow.

Enkarra put a hand on her father's arm, felt the firm flesh beneath the coarse fabric. She leaned forward to catch his eye again, raised an eyebrow a metron.

"No, it's not prophecy." He rolled his eyes briefly. "Just deduction not even a Scholar would trifle with. If he is our descendant, then you must have children."

"Dryke." She was following her own deduction pathway.

"Have you visioned any children from him?"

She let her stillness be her answer.

"It is so much harder to prophecy our own lives. That's why I'm here, and not back in my body in the Core Chamber."

"And that's why you think I can't predict my own childbearing."

He turned fully to her and his face was bright with love, his eyes shimmering with fondness and gentle affection. "You are a precious soul. A Foreteller with empathy. That is a powerful combination. Gifts from your mother, I'm sure." He smiled and it was as if his love flowed through his eyes directly into her heart. Tears soaked her eyes and she wanted to feel his arms around her, but he stood immobile. His eyes flicked aside. His finger flexed once more.

"Go with him. He is going where I cannot. Only you can. Go, and return."

Enkarra faced the scene, saw the back of the man, his robe flapping now, silhouetted against the wan gold glow beyond the black Western horizon. Leaving her father standing still and solemn, she surged her soul forward to catch up with the last living member of her lineage.

"It's not just technological, as we've known before. Not even biological, though that's closer. More like—" Dione paced her chamber, her enthusiasm restored by Nemia's long-awaited visit. The view table still shimmered, but the problems listed there no longer daunted her. With the Supreme Scholar's help, Dione felt there was nothing they could not solve. She felt like she used to decades ago: indomitable.

Nemia, holding a black stalk that dangled from the ceiling and peering into its single oculus, finished the Masters' sentence. "—spiritual." She unsquinted her eye and looked over at Dione. "The Great Spy Glass in some sense had living energies contained within it, like the diskoi. The Winged Shadow Creatures knew this, and had a spore or virus prepared, to infect the Glass during their attack."

"Yes. It is as if ill now." Dione paced some more, discharging restless excitement. "You can tell by the image."

Nemia stroked the stalk of the oculus, felt the hard smooth strands of metal that wrapped the flexible tube. "Blurry, fading with distance, poor resolution at even moderate distances, impaired light collection—"

"I think it is lonesome."

The Supreme flinched her head, as the Master's words started a thought-stream surging along her mental pathways—as Dione must have known it would. The Master had become adept at propelling the Supreme's thoughts along productive channels. Nemia followed the sequence until she arrived at a transient summation. "All the other oculuses together afforded the Great Spy Glass multiscopic vision, depth perception, many reference angles from which to assemble a complete view of the Night Land. Now it has only this one. It sees only a flat, dark world."

"That would cause despair in any living soul."

Again Nemia's thoughts surged at the Master's words. She allowed the branchings and convergences, and stated the summation. "Despair is only one half of the duality the Spy Glass must have, if it is to see through the mist."

The Master stopped and nodded, smiling her old knowing grin. "It must have another oculus, to afford it the deep view that pierces beyond the Night Land. And that oculus—"

"Must see with the vision of hope." Nemia nodded her own knowing.

"To provide the antithesis—"

"the impasse—"

"that reconciles—"

"—into truth."

The Master nodded gravely. "Only then will we observe directly that which lies beyond the gold luminous mist."

Nemia's eyes were wide at the implications. "We will finally know whether to encourage our citizens to go, or to stay in the safety of the Great Pyramid. No more unfounded hopes, desperate wishes. We will know." Her Scholar's brain thrilled at the prospect.

Dione was still concerned with practicalities. She strode to her view table and with a palm wiped the top clean. She began to trace glowing lines on the plate with her finger. "The ancients did not just build the Great Spy Glass. They—"

"—infused it with energy. Living energy."

"And so it could be infected, drained, peripheral oculuses depowered as if with disease."

Nemia was thinking hard. "Each oculus must have been powered from the energy of a separate being or creature."

"Human, or monster?" Dione thought she knew, but wanted the Supreme's confirmation.

"Human of course!" The thought that some spirit from the Night Land might be contained in the Great Spy Glass appalled Nemia—though she knew such things had been attempted. "The oculuses themselves are almost surely designed and built upon a close study of human visual organs."

"And the energy which powers them?"

"It would be communal, capable of high resolution distance focusing, color capable, adaptable to darkness—" Nemia's thoughts propelled her to the final revelation.

Before Nemia could speak, the Master already knew. Dione braced herself on the view table. "We will need a volunteer."

They stood in shared distress and determination for a few moments, each of them aware of their strengths and burdens as Redoubt Archons. Nemia came over and put her hand on Dione's shoulder without speaking. Even the mind-speech was unneeded. For many annums they had shouldered and shared these burdens, and had become bonded in their hearts.

The Master lifted one hand from the view table and placed it over Nemia's a moment. Dione did not look up as her other hand moved to point out the next item on the screen. "The present population drain will have drastic effects on future demographics. Especially the increasing departures of our youth."

Nemia stared down at the screen. "I was a youth myself when the first entity came, and the first Peregrination went out. If not for Mett—"

I did my best to inspire you to stay and take up the role of Supreme. His presence was instantly within her, though this time he did not nudge her aside, but settled beside her own soul, allowing her quick and easy access to her body and brain elements.

And she has done splendidly. The Master shifted to mind-speech, annoyed at the entity's intrusion but knowing they could benefit from Mett's input.

Oh yes, splendidly—for people who still cling to doubts about their own salvation. Mett's mood was patiently amused.

Nemia asserted herself. I've done what I could to foster a healthy reflection. Even you might not know the truth of that realm you believe exists beyond the mist.

Mett was smug. But I do know. That is the only basis from which to decide to go on Peregrination. At least for a Scholar.

For a Monstruwacan, the Master sent, clear observation is the basis. And our observation is— She paused for effect.

Nemia completed the thought. —misty.

But you are planning a way to clarify your observations.

The Master remained unmoved, but Nemia started at what this revealed about Mett's presence. You can listen to our conversations without me knowing?

No. Mett was patient, and Nemia fought not to feel the old humbleness and shame that had so often stirred in her, back when she had been the living Mett's protégé. Mett let her struggle, then patiently explained. You will always know when I am here. But I can glean glimpses of your most recent memories, when you are unguarded. You have poor mental boundaries when you are enthused, you know. He took control of Nemia's face and smiled.

She took control back and pressed her lips.

You do not oppose our Spy Glass project, do you? The Master peered unmoving.

Mett paused. Nemia knew why: it would cast suspicion on him if he was opposed to direct observation of the realm beyond the mist. If they succeeded, would it reveal that Mett's descriptions were false?

Harvesting the power of sight from among the populations? Mett waved one of Nemia's hands. Ethically, no, I am not opposed. Many are willing to sacrifice. I'm just disappointed as always that you don't believe my descriptions.

Nemia made a fist. This from a former Supreme? You always mentored me not to act on hopes or hunches, but knowledge.

The convictions of a Supreme Scholar—former or current—are knowledge.

As are the observations of the Master Monstruwacan. Dione glanced down at her view table to remind them all of the pressing agenda, spoke aloud to Nemia. "Let us discuss your plans to encourage more forays into the Lost Cities. Mett, will you leave us now? You have no interest in this area, I trust."

Oh, but I do. He was stroking Nemia's braids through her hands, enjoying the sensation, then began to rub her hips and thighs. These bodies are so sensuous, you can scarcely appreciate them until you have lost them. Skin! But do go on, I will not intrude—much.

Indeed you will not. Nemia took back her body and nudged Mett to the side of her mind. He went docilely, knowing he had limited influence when Dione was present.

"Now." The current Supreme offered her report. "Thus far, we have reclaimed twelve of the Lost Cities—"

Only parts of them. Mett was exacting in his monitoring of details.

Dione acknowledged the correction. It was one reason she wanted him here.

Nemia remained still, then continued. "Some of the longer-established populations there have been breeding, expanding to occupy more of their Cities. Our campaigns through the hours-slips have been successful in promoting the Lost Cities as new internal frontiers, to counteract the enthusiasm for the Peregrinations. We should be ready for another—"

Earth Current. Mett too much enjoyed mentioning the limitations.

The Master was already consulting her view table. "I have reports from the Charging Masters here. The reclaimed Cities are already taxing the energy rations. Unless we can find some other way to combat the blights that are attacking the Underground Fields, more Earth Current must be diverted there. And Koniopses has been granted an increase to the Core Chamber, on the hope that he can break through to a consummate prophecy during his death process. We have no way to know how long that will take. Even he has no prediction."

"The Youth Leagues are joining the Peregrinations in increasing numbers." Nemia remained calm now, even despite Mett's next intrusion.

Youthful optimism is a form of wisdom.

Nemia ignored him. "The Elder Councils the Monstruwacans have established to talk with them are having limited effect."

Dione had to nod acknowledgement at this.

Nemia continued. "The best hope we have of redirecting some of their 'youthful optimism' is to lead another foray to reclaim another Lost City. The thirteenth. I believe I can make something of the numerology. Ancient moon cycles and all that. And we can target a City that may have stored Earth Current. We may gain some energy, not just spend it."

Dione made notes. "Can you engage Scholar research aids to compile the requisitions? Diskoi, heat robes, transport—It all needs Earth Current, my dear Supreme."

And am I not also your dear Supreme? Mett relaxed his sarcasm and shared a rare moment of feeling. I am concerned for her.

Reading my mind again? Nemia's tone was accusing.

No. Simple deduction. You never did discover its full potential.

Nemia looked at Dione and fidgeted herself with her braids. "I'll want to lead the foray myself."

The Master did not so much as blink. "Unwise. You are not so vigorous as you were in your early days leading forays. We need you here." She glanced briefly up.

Nemia knew she meant not just here, in these Archon planning councils, but here, in the Redoubt. Alive.

"I'm bored." Nemia struggled not to sound like a petulant child. "I need a new frontier too. These constant deliberations drain me. I want to act!" Her hand flexed, and the Master knew it was the reflex of a warrior to grasp her Diskos.

"Not compelling reasons.”

If you want to act, lead a Peregrination. There's a cure for boredom, and the ultimate frontier. Beyond! Mett's shout rang in both their minds. These chambers and nagging problems are indeed confining. I am eager to get back. Freedom and space and light await! Abruptly he was gone.

The Master still faced the Supreme. Their session had diverged from the personal to the official. Perhaps that's what Mett wanted, Dione thought. Let us delay another foray until Koniopses delivers his final vision.

If. Nemia was back in her detached role. We should see an increase of Earth Current afterward, anyway.

The son, Dryke, cannot possibly be the next Foremost. His visions are of the past. They don't have a clear prophecy yet on the succession.

They would never accept Cerantae, Nemia agreed. She has departed too far from Foreteller dispassion.

I have observed that the Foretellers have changed. Dione used the preamble to indicate that she had been focusing her powers in this direction.

Nemia nodded. Not Enkarra?

The Master neither moved nor replied, leaving the question dangling. Slowly she sat before her view table. I'll issue a request for volunteers for the Spy Glass project.

Nemia moved toward the door. I'll compile the requisitions for Earth Current.

The Master saw the merest tension in the Supreme's hand. Nemia.

The Supreme turned on the threshold.

You might take a lover.

Nemia turned and left through the door before the Master could read her expression. It took all her effort to hide her thought. Would that it could be you.

Finally all the mobs had been sent away for the day, and Cerantae sat on a cushion before the horizon door to the Core Chamber. She tried to empty her thoughts. How often in her life this Foreteller discipline had restored her—or prepared her. Sometimes, if prolonged, it had even brought her visions. Mostly she had seen Watchers, or shadows of Watchers it seemed. In those visions, why had she seen no Eye-Beam, that blinded (or illuminated) the eye of the South-West Watcher? Where had the Blue Crown gone that had forever hovered over the head of the North-East Watcher? The Red Tether that had snared the ankle of the North-West Watcher, the two Towers that flared perpetually flanking the South-East Watcher, and the Glowing Dome that seemed to block the path of the South Watcher—all gone dark, only the black shadows of the enormous Watchers looming closer, closer—

Cerantae knew why these visions intruded now. They were the symbols of approaching death. Her eyes stared at the door before her, but in her mind's eye she saw Koniopses, standing so still before her, yet feeling his deep passion, his profound acceptance of their shared purpose. No vision this, but memory. It had been the moment when they both knew they must bear children together, to send Foreteller guides into the future.

And to consummate their love. Yes, beneath all his discipline and focus and purpose, all Koniopses did was for love. Love of the future, of the Pyramid and its many peoples—and finally love for his family. Cerantae knew he could not fully embrace that familial love, nor directly express it, lest he lose his visions of the far future. That was where his service to the Last Redoubt must focus.

All of Cerantae's other visions had been parochial, focused within her own lifetime, or at the longest, those of her children. Enkarra's visions too had all been of the very near future—except her latest. In fact, most of the New Foreteller visions in the past few decades had been near-focused. Dryke's had even been focused on the past. He had proposed a new term to define this phenomenon: Afteller.

A problem, Koniopses had thought it, a disturbing trend of disempowerment among the Foretellers. "We are too enamored of our own present lives now," he had stated. "Love of now blocks us from knowledge of a distant future."

Why had no Foreteller prophesied the name of the next Foremost? Always in the vast history of the Foretellers, someone among their order had received a vision of the succession. Often it had been the current Foremost, or among the higher adepts, but sometimes even from the new initiates. Some now were talking of Enkarra, but no one had seen—

She will need much freedom now.

Koniopses's sending spread through Cerantae's mind, and she felt a deep calm spread through her body. Had he been listening in on her ramblings? The door silently irised open on silver light.

Please be with me now.

Cerantae stood and walked into the light. It shimmered in the air, obscuring the silverine inner surface of the Chamber that arched wide all around her. She felt the shimmer in her own bones, seeping into her soul, a pulse of health and well-being. A twinge of concern touched her, at how much Earth Current the Power Proctors were allowing to accumulate here. Had Koniopses redeemed that expense with a consummate vision? Would he tell her now? She tried to wipe these thoughts from her mind and in some degree of Foreteller stillness walked along the platform and approached the figure that lay floating at the center of the Chamber. She stood above him and looked down.

His eyes were open and clear, their black opaque spheres shining with silver now as he looked past her into the light. His face, smooth and unlined, settled with serenity against the firm bones beneath. Under the simple robe his body lay straight but relaxed, still of firm flesh, though he had not eaten for many days.

Now at last I can share my love for them.

Cerantae felt his relief, his joy, his grief, flood through her. All his efforts and disciplines as Foremost had dropped away, and only love was left. She knew what it meant. You have always shared love with me.

Yes. That never threatened my visions, only strengthened them.

Cerantae felt the pulse of his heart reaching out to her, and without moving offered her own heart to him. His eyes were unseeing, hers were closed now, but behind her lids she sensed a brighter light growing, felt it streaming between her chest and Koniopses's. The concentrated haze of Earth Current charged the bond between them.

Dryke. She needed to know if Koniopses had any insights.

My dear son. I will not see him again. Please tell him of my love and care for him.

Do you—?

No. No visions of his fate from me. Enkarra may. But I need no Foretelling to know as a father that distress will drive him to some act of extremis.

Should I—?

Our influence on his life is done. Only freedom and his own choices must guide him now. Do tell him how much I loved him.

Cerantae felt tears well under her lids, did not care if they slipped out to drop onto his robe.

Enkarra then. What of her vision? Is she to become—

Gentle amusement rippled from Koniopses, and at once Cerantae shared it, waves of amber light rippling through their bond. She grinned. I am like some silly supplicant, desperate for truth from the oracle. They both rippled mirth again, knowing how a mother's love could humble even so accomplished an adept as Cerantae. She regained her composure with a reminder of stillness, waiting without expectancy.

Enkarra has achieved—a great concurrence. Koniopses allowed his pride to flow freely. I know she has made official report of her vision, but together she and I schemed to withhold some of its truths. Now you must know.

Her spirit found mine, witnessing the crushing of the Great Gate by the paw of the South Watcher, half a million years hence. Together we watched our far-future descendant flee the crisis, a middle-aged man in robe and home-boots, struggling and staggering among the masses along the Road, running West. Far across the horizon the glow of the gold luminous mist shone, brighter still than our present day. I told Enkarra that here my vision ended, that no further could I probe the future. And I bade her follow that man into the future.

She stared into my eyes. 'He's my son,' she said. 'My brother, my father—' Abruptly she left me, her spirit running to overtake the man, running beside him until I lost them against the gold glow. I waited, watching as more people fled the Last Refuge, terrified that the hordes of monsters that followed behind the Watcher would pour in through the crumpled gate and beset them. Long I waited, in the presence of that Strand of bright light, thin but sharp upon my spirit-sight, flaring behind the crushed gate and dark gnarled paw. Fewer and fewer people fled the Pyramid, and no monster crossed that line. Longer still I lingered, wondering if ever I would see our daughter again, or if I had lost her forever into the gold mist of the distant future.

Finally I saw in the far West a tiny shadow at the base of the gold glow. It grew, clarified, slowly and haltingly approached. So slowly she shuffled, head hanging, shoulders slumped, feet barely lifting. How strongly I wanted to go to her, help her, but I could not move a metron or a moment from that place and time. She must come to me all on her own.

Finally Enkarra stopped before me, an arm's length away. I reached out, but could not touch. Her eyes, her face, awe and dismay having ravaged through it, and joy and grief too, leaving it slack.

'It's true,' she said. 'I've been there. Light, beauty, warmth, bounty—We're meant to live there. Not—' Her hand barely gestured at the Redoubt beside us, the towering Watcher, all the dark Night Land. 'I want a real home.'

She fell forward into my arms.

For long I carried her back, through the leagues, the ages. Now all the love I had withheld from her for so long I poured forth, sustaining her, nourishing her heart. At last she revived, and walked beside me on her own, holding my hand, saying nothing for a time. Finally she spoke. 'I held back love from you too. We had to. But when I saw that man, knew him as one of my family—All that love leapt forth to him. It was that which allowed me to accompany him, even beyond the gold luminous mist.'

I stopped and stared at her. 'But what brought you back?'

She stared into my eyes. A gentle smile grew on her spirit face. 'You and Cerantae and Dryke are my family too.'

Hearing this tale, Cerantae struggled for Foreteller dispassion. There was one truth which they must address. Is it true then? Can we rely on Enkarra's tale as a first-hand witnessing of the realm beyond the mist?

Thus far, we have only been told of it by entities—spirits of our ancestors, we are led to believe. But were not the Silent Ones such spirits, made malevolent by the House of Silence? How are we to know whether these entities who preach to us now are not malevolent?

Enkarra is not malevolent. Cerantae's judgment was not that of a defensive mother, but of a detached Foreteller assessing truth.

Indeed not. And perhaps the entities are not either. But both may be deceived by illusions.

So we still have no clear prophecy to guide our future. A twinge of dismay touched Cerantae's stillness.

We are one step closer. And the next step—

All Cerantae's composure fled her as she knew what was to come. A prophecy of the next moment, and a pulse of mingled dread, grief, relief and gratitude surged through the bond between their hearts. His hand stirred and reached up. She reached down and gently held it. His eyes shifted to gaze shining silver into hers, sending only love through their bond. Then the bond and his eyes went dark.

In that moment Cerantae knew why the name of the next Foremost had not been foreseen.

In the next moment, Koniopses's body and robe drifted into scintillant dust that merged with the ambient light haze.

To Beyond (Part 3).

© 2010 by Gregg Marchese.
Image © 2015 by Kate Coady.