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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 3)


To Beyond (Part 1)

To Beyond (Part 2)

Dione walked the halls of the City of the Monstruwacans, highest in the Pyramid. No longer had she been able to bear the emptiness and futility of her office chambers, with Nemia gone. Even the remaining heights of the Tower of Observation seemed stiffling to her. Though her feet ached against the hard metal plane and her hips twinged, she maintained a stately gait. Must not let the others of her order see her as less than poised. But inside the Master dismayed.

The Supreme Scholar had officially proposed to lead a thirteenth foray into the Lost Cities. As Master Monstruwacan Dione had issued formal protest, on the grounds that the Pyramid could not risk loss of one of its Archons, at least not until a successor had been approved. As proxy for the Foremost, Cerantae had sent concurrence from the Foretellers—though not strengthening it with any compelling prophecy. The Power Proctors too had denied the proposal, claiming a lack of Earth Current to charge the foray.

Nemia had countered with clear deductions from a Scholar research council, declaring that they knew the location of stored Earth Current in one of the Lost Cities—more than enough to offset the power the foray would need. Watching on the hour-slips, many peoples of the populations had clamored in favor of the foray, and Nemia's leadership, knowing how successful she had been in the past.

The Foretellers remembered that her first foray had brought back the Sybilline Book, and a dream virus with it, and some minds and even lives had been lost.

The Scholars countered that eventually so too had new visions been inspired by the Book, and many more future lives had been saved thus. Such reasoning was difficult to refute in the Pyramid at this time. The Master had to weigh her own belief that to focus popular hope upon a reclaiming of Lost Cities against the demographic drain of the Peregrinations into the mist would also benefit the future. Whe tried to remove her personal affections for Nemia from the decision.

Finally the Master withdrew her protest. The Foretellers took a poised position, awaiting concurrence, but the Power Proctors held firm. Nevertheless the Supreme Scholar, three full Youth Leagues and a cadre of Elder Mentors, plus other warriors and retainers, began their Preparations. With dull and uncharged Diskoi they drilled, meditated en masse before the altar of the Twisted Gibbering Thing (reminder of the effects of the Night Land on a human mind), and fasted.

Finally the Power Proctors announced their approval, and budgeted the Earth Current the foray needed. The Foremost Foreteller had finally died, liberating a significant ration from the Core Chamber.

Before any could demand the Supreme's attendance at the Foreteller ceremonies of passing and succession—though strangely there was no body to be committed to the chasm of the Earth Current in the Quiet Country in the Underground Fields, and stranger still, no Foremost put forth as successor—Nemia's foray had charged all the Diskoi, donned heat robes, and was gone through the gate of the lowest City, into the cold dark danger of the Lost Cities.

The Master detached herself from concern by focusing on the terrible task she had set before her. She flicked her sight around at the wide corridor, with its vastly high ceiling. Strips of soft gray light illumined the base of the walls, and the Master saw a thin layer of dust upon them. Wasteful, with so many demands upon the Earth Current. She would issue an edict to the Reclaimers Guild for better maintenance.

Dione knew she was occupying her mind with pettiness so that she would not dwell on the upcoming task. Her steps took her to a high arched doorway, where a Monstruwacan functionary waited in long black robe with a gold belt. Gold has become popular, Dione noted.

The functionary offered a three metron bow. The Master nodded a single metron.

"We have sorted the many volunteers, and assembled the best prospect according to your parameters. " The man's face and voice were flat.

Dione noted his exquisite control. Too controlled. It must have been bad. She looked from his eyes to the door. "How many initially?"

"Sixteen thousand, four hundred—"

"An approximation is adequate." In her heart, Dione was both stunned and resigned. Of course a certain portion of the populations would be drawn to such a sacrifice, but the large number told her how desperation for heroics had grown among them.

I am your only choice.

His thought in her mind, calm, knowing, neither resigned nor over-anxious. You have seen it?

No. I merely know. You need an eye of hope.

Can you truly offer that?

In the way you need most, yet know it not. For it is in the past that true hope lies.

And you have such hope? The Master sensed her own resistance, determined that he should fail her tests, knew its unfairness but pressing him anyway.

He remained poised. I know the ancient name of the Winged Shadow Creatures that attacked the Tower. It is a name from such antiquity that time blurs. From before humans even defiled the land.

How is this hope?

Dryke smiled sadly. The contrast you need is not truly between despair and hope, but future and past. Descendant and ancestor. But if you must: The past is hopeful because it affirmed that life continued, adapted in strange and wondrous forms, but never ended. The past is hopeful because it was. The future may not be.

Dione clung to her testing. Tell me this ancient name of the Winged Shadow Creatures.

We have no language for it; that too is utterly long gone. But a slightly newer language called them Dragons.

They passed a silent moment. Perhaps the ghost of a sense drifted through the deepest layer of Dione's mind. How can you know this?

I believe Cerantae sensed this in me when she named me. My name is another word for Dragon.

At mention of his mother, the Master detached from a surge of dread. She stared deeper into his eyes, probing with all her intent observation. He opened his mind and soul to her, hiding nothing. And she saw what she dreaded. Holding in her thoughts the single remaining oculus with its despairing view of the future, she compared his clear hope in the certainty of the past.

After long moments, she withdrew her scrutiny. You will be part blinded, at least. Perhaps entirely. We cannot predict the effects of the prodecure on your remaining eye and mind. Possibly you will be made insane.

And I cannot predict the future, as you know. But it was this or join the foray to the Lost Cities. We Aftellers risk enough of our souls without the hardships of cold, pain, mere death.

And now you risk sight and sanity.

I have my hope. It will not change.

The Master knew this was so. It was all they needed. She had to think of all the many souls that could be saved if this plan should succeed. To observe the realm beyond the mist—beyond the Night Land—as no Monstruwacan had ever conceived could be done—

What was one Foreteller—Afteller, Dione corrected herself—before that?

How would Cerantae accept such a second loss so soon? Dione determined that she must tell her herself.

She already knows and while she may not approve, she will not try to forbid. Dryke had sensed her thought, and Dione knew how poor her control had become. Cerantae understands the needs of the future.

Now you hope too much. The Master turned to the functionary, not surprised to see he had been replaced by a young woman. "Please show him to our healing center. Best the preparations begin at once."

Guarding her mind now as thoroughly as only the Master Monstruwacan could, she thought: Now we must test Enkarra for Influences, and interview her for the most minute details of her vision. That will matter only if the experiment of the Great Spy Glass succeeds. Nemia, please return soon and sane! We sorely need the Supreme—both of them—at this time.

Enkarra stood at the front of the great Hall of Concurrence in Foreteller City. Before her the Hall was filled to capacity with every Foreteller and high-standing administrator who could fit. They stood in their official costumes, robes of various colors to denote their place among the Order, with the white robe embossed on the chest with red encircled cross dominant. Their belts were of copper, silver, gold. A contingent of Monstruwacans in black robes, the Master at their fore, stood near the back, and scattered throughout she saw the snug dark uniforms of attending Scholars. Without moving her eyes, Enkarra scanned them closely, and did not detect the Supreme among them. Still lost in the Lost Cities, it seemed. The Hall arched far above them all in a dome, lines of softly shimmering cable embedded in the gray metal converging to the peak, where a hemisphere of cloudy crystal emitted soft gold light. None of those in attendance moved a metron. Their exposed faces stared impassive at Enkarra where she stood on a raised platform.

She withheld her thoughts from the mind-speech as best she could, but could not know who in the throng could read them anyway. They would have their coronation now, before even the funeral for the previous Foremost. It is a dishonor. Well, I will show them dishonor.

It was Foreteller custom to speak aloud at this ceremony, and the acoustics of the hall had been designed to carry all voices clearly. An elder Foreteller woman in the front row drew breath. "It is the concurrence of the Foretellers that you, Enkarra, daughter of the previous Foremost, are proposed as the new Foremost."

Another younger man spoke before Enkarra could reply. "Your vision has gone further even than the prophecy of the End Times Koniopses saw."

And another: "We need no greater concurrence."

Enkarra moved only her lips. "Yes. My spirit journeyed as far as he, but only because he was already there. And yes, I went further, but only because another of my family went there too. You have the report of my vision. The Monstruwacans have interrogated me at length. That future descendant did not know I accompanied him, he in his flesh and me in my spirit. And when he went through the mist, only then could I as well. So the accomplishment of my vision is not truly mine. I merely attended those who went before me."

Another Foreteller spoke. "You came back."

"I did not wish to. Oh, how I wanted to linger my entire life there. Bliss it is, sheer joy—But my family is here. So many of those beyond the mist are family too, however removed, but here—" She deliberately broke the customs of the ceremony and allowed her eyes to flick to Cerantae, standing at the very center of the Hall. "—here is my family of the moment. I could not leave them." She supressed the clenching of her heart that Dryke was not in the crowd.

The crowd allowed a pause. Cerantae stood unmoving and did not speak.

A long-standing administrator stirred. "Yet you came back. That too is why you must be Foremost."

"I cared less for the future than for the now. That is why I cannot."

A deeper stillness settled on the hall. Prolonged silence ensued.

Into her thoughts, a private sending Enkarra knew none other could read reached her. It will dishonor him if you do not accept.

Enkarra replied without looking at her mother again. It will dishonor him equally if I do. She opened the part of her mind where her plan for this moment had formed.

I see the way between in your thoughts. You have my blessing.

Enkarra felt a surge of gratitude and relief, and almost tears touched her eyes. She allowed one eyelid to flicker, that they all might know the depth of her passion. This was the path forward for the Foretellers now, and if it limited their prophetic powers, or foreshortened them as her father had feared, then so be it.

Cerantae spoke next, fully enlisted now in Enkarra's plan. "You have surpassed the former Foremost."

"It only seems so, but very well. If you all demand it, I accept the role of Foremost among the Foretellers. Yet let all remember that this was not prophecied, as no other succession has ever failed to be. Now I will tell you why. As my first decree, I declare that nevermore shall we have a Foremost above us. That we have allowed love to touch us has truncated our visions, but so too has this focus of power in a Foremost limited us all. Do not look to me, but look within yourselves. Now all among the Foretellers will be equal, whether we see far or near, or even back, as the Aftellers do." Only a brief pause indicated that she felt a surge of grief. "All visions will be equally honored, equally meaningful. If I am to be Foremost, I will be the last, and see that even the pettiest prophecy of tomorrow's breakfast is recorded and respected."

No pause now, but an eruption of many voices. "We need the Foremost."

"Thus has it ever been."

"Who will foretell the furthest future?"

"Our Order will change!"

"We still need Foreteller guidance." That last one was from a Scholar.

A Monstruwacan added. "Observation of the future must continue."

Enkarra moved her thumb a fraction of a metron. The unrest continued throughout the Hall, minute rustlings, shortened breathing, an edge of fear in the voices. She broke the ceremony's protocol again by pinching her forefinger to her thumb. Silence fell like a weight. "The future is now not so far off. It may not be a failing among the Foretellers that our prophecies become myopic, but only that the end of time draws near, and the future of our own lives grows more precious. Yet even that is not the primary reason. A far better world awaits us. Far brighter, far warmer, far more benign to beings such as we. Beyond the gold luminous mist. Foretelling only holds us back from its blessing."

The silence deepened. They had all heard or seen her report of her visit to that realm, and knew what it portended.

"Yet only your spirit visited there and returned." It was the Master Monstruwacan speaking at last. "Our faulty and hopeful human spirits may be deceived."

Enkarra stared into the Master's eyes, and it was as if they were mere arm's lengths apart. "Our human eyes too may be deceived. Or any instrument made from them."

Cerantae spoke once more. "Hope comes from the past. Faith is for the future. Prophecy weakens faith."

The Master was implacable. "It may save lives and even souls."

Enkarra was just as firm. "It may doom them too. But think, you Monstruwacans, who place such faith in observation, and you Scholars too, who place faith in thinking. And we Foretellers, who hold faith in concurrence. Think! We are losing our view of the future of this world, because it does not lie here. Our future lies there, in that other world beyond the mist. This is no Foretelling, but a certainty all should accept."

The Master, having sensed that private place in Enkarra's mind Cerantae had spoken to, sent her own thoughts there too. None doubt that you believe. Soon we may have a way to test it. That concurrence may be enough to earn the Monstruwacans' sanction for the Peregrinations.

The Peregrinations do not need our sanctions. Enkarra sent it in a way all could receive, breaking another of the ceremony's forms. They grow on their own, and my vision only encourages them. Let my brother Dryke's vision encourage them too. I say the only way through is out.

Enkarra emptied her mind then, allowing no more thoughts to form. The Monstruwacans, with the Master in the lead, turned and at their movement the ring of doors swung open. As a group they exited the Hall. The Foretellers remained still while the scattered Scholars made their way to the doors and were gone. Enkarra turned and left through the door behind the platform, and none followed her there. In stately Foreteller fashion, the others all strode solemnly out of the Hall, while inside they struggled for this new kind of concurrence. Their order would be changed, and none had foreseen whether for good or ill.

A single Foreteller stood unmoving in the center of the Hall. The soft gold light shone down on her alone, but her thoughts were dark. No matter my support of their impulsive choices, I am losing them too. What hope then for my own future? Long she lingered there, awaiting an answer. No prophecy came, but only her own thoughts. When finally she left the Hall, she could not remember which corridor would take her home.

The Master Monstruwacan stood before her crystal window and stared out at the Night Land. From this vantage she could see the shadow of the South Watcher directly before her, and the dark line of the Road Where the Silent Ones Walked sweeping across the gnarled landscape. Far to her left a haze of gold light shimmered faintly.

Many were watching from the Southwest embrasures, as the latest Peregrination marched into the West. Dione could not bear to see that sight, of so many people, the largest number yet, risking their souls on hope of escape. She knew that Cerantae was among them, and she knew that for most of them, hope was not their impetus. They felt that they had nothing more to live for.

The Master must live for the Order of Monstruwacans, for strict observation and recording, that future generations in the Last Redoubt might know of these times, and so understand their own. But was that enough reason to stay, and strive, and observe?

Nemia had not returned. Survivors of the foray had come back, in ragged groups and singles, to tell a horrid tale. At first the foray had made safe progress and reached the target City. There they had found the source of stored Earth Current, for their discoi were drawn to its energy. Loading the great hefty sphere upon a cart, they had sent some to return, led by Nemia, while others moved to garrison the City.

Nemia's group moved slowly, with the heavy sphere lashed to a cart. Approaching a lift near the Core Conduits, Giants accompanied by a trained Night Hound pack had attacked, and the foray had been scattered. Clusters of Youth League members assembled around Mentors to fight back, and some Giants were felled. Other survivors fled back toward the lift and the Reclaimed Cities, but were overtaken by Night Hounds. Nemia organized a defense, forming a line of diskoi with their hafts extended to full, like pikes, interspersed with crouching warriors swinging short-hafted discoi. The line held as the pack of Night Hounds leapt into the spinning roaring weapons. Behind this wall the sphere of Earth Current was rolled to the lift and carried up to the Reclaimed Cities.

Then a squad of Giants appeared, hauling some strange implement on crude skids. One Giant wrenched a great lever in its side, and a short section of the discoi wall briefly went dark. Into the breach a Night Hound leapt, to thrash and snarl, tear and bite. Some Youth fled, and some fought with dull dark discoi, but little harm could they do the Night Hound. It bit them with smoking fangs, the crimson light of its eyes blazing madness.

Then Nemia leapt upon its back and struck downward with a belt dagger. The Hound reared and howled, throwing Nemia to the ground, where the Hound pounced upon her chest. A brave Mentor led a charge of Youth against the wounded Hound, using unpowered pike discoi to harass the beast while the swiftest warriors darted in to strike with daggers, then withdraw.

Finally the Night Hound was driven off, dripping steaming black blood. Nemia lay still, her chest crushed even through the gray armor. Other bodies lay still and red around her. 'Tell Dione,' she whispered. 'Perhaps an illusion is better.' And she spoke no more.

That was a thought Dione could not suffer. She had been the Master too long, devoted to strict observation of reality. Illusion could get them killed or soul-enslaved. Her current reality was bereft, without the companionship of the Supreme Scholar who had befriended her for so long.

The reality of the Redoubt though was hers to determine. The Master went to her view table and stared at the empty surface, its faint shimmering failing to touch the darkness of her thoughts.

Long she waited.

Finally the graph of Earth Current accumulations appeared, and at once the Master assessed that it was more than she needed. The sphere of stored energy Nemia's foray had brought back was now available. The Master sent a command for the Power Proctors to harness it to the Great Spy Glass, and slowly stood to depart the chamber. Only one level up, and she entered the new Chamber of the Great Spy Glass. No longer great, she thought, but the best they had now. Only two oculuses remained, positioned side by side in a small oval chamber of soft shadow, highest now in the Pyramid. The oculuses glinted each with their own spark of fire, one deep crimson with a glint of orange, the other violet centered with a blue-white spark. One long familiar to her as her only direct view of the Night Land, the other new and unknown.

The Monstruwacan attendants moved to the edges of the chamber as Dione walked calmly toward the oculuses. Stopping before them, she reached out and adjusted the pliable trunks so that the oculuses were space properly, hanging at the proper height. Pausing, she honored in her thoughts all those who had risked death and madness to allow her this chance to observe. Nemia and Dryke were foremost in her mind. Then Dione thought of all the dear souls that had departed into the gold luminous mist, and all the multitudes of the future who might continue to do so, and none of them knowing for certain that salvation lay there.

The Master Monstruwacan leaned forward and placed her eyes to the oculuses.

Long she peered unmoving, and long she pondered unmoved.

Enkarra held her brother's arm and guided him along the curving corridor. Occasionally she felt the shiver of his flesh under her fingers, heard the gibbers, the sighs, the distant moans from his drooling mouth, glanced down to see his slippered feet shuffling along the floor. At times, in a slack mumble, he would speak, though Enkarra knew it was not to her. "You cannot be. Do not believe it will endure."

At other times his voice would shrill with manic mirth. "Indeed beautiful! Glorious! For us?"

Mostly he shivered and drooled and shuffled. Long was their sojourn along the curving corridor, and longer it felt to Enkarra, whose right and responsibility it was to walk this way alone. She had changed so much already for the Foretellers, and this too was something she would change.

It was worse than the Monstruwacans had feared. Indeed the eye they had extracted and grafted into the Great Spy Glass had worked to allow the Master to peer beyond the mist, but it also continued to send imagery to Dryke's living mind. What was more, his other eye saw only images of the past now, a constant Aftelling also pouring into his mind. The intense contrast had driven him irredeemably mad.

When finally they reached the circular door, Enkarra drew Dryke to a stop. He complied readily, stiffened and blurted, "Here we belong!" Then he sagged and muttered, "If not this place, when?"

Enkarra faced the door. When last she had walked through its round maw, her father had been within, and his spirit had drawn hers to a future time when humanity was truly beset. From there she had followed on to a salvation she could not dare believe in now. To encourage others to assay that vision of hope she had brought back, and escape the doom of her father's vision, or as the Foremost Foreteller to advise caution against her own vision...It was an impasse she was not able to resolve.

How much worse must it be for Dryke, who not just in memory and vision, but in active sight, saw both realms of the dilemma at once. She gave the mental command that opened the door, and taking his arm again, guided him through into the silverine shimmer of the Core Chamber. "False!" he blurted. And gently, "sweet truths."

When they reached the end of the platform at the center of the Chamber, Enkarra gently drew her brother down to sit. She arranged his hands in his lap, tucked a stray lock of hair from his brow where it had fallen over the bandage on his eye. "What grim grace," he muttered, and then cackled. "It was!"

Enkarra stood and felt her spirit infused with the healing power of the Earth Current. Here as Foremost she might have meditated often, as had her father, receiving the great Foretellings. But she would not burden such future as remained with fragile heirarchies, nor weaken the Foretellers with leader worship. How tempting though to claim the right to soak herself in this enlivening field—though now it only gave her the power to grieve. She knew even its aura was not enough to heal her brother's madness, and she held her tears as she backed away and closed the door behind her. Only as she walked away down the corridor did she allow her tears to fall.

Dryke, she thought. Is your view beyond the gold luminous mist any more valid that mine? We still must fear to believe in our hopes. As father had always said. Now he was gone, even his body dissipated into the Earth Current. And Cerantae her mother, gone too, accompanying the latest Peregrination with only a brief message in Enkarra's view table: Without you all, I am lost. I go to a new home or horror. This old future lies with you.

Yes, still one purpose remained to Enkarra's life. She had been beyond the mist, and seen the people that lived and loved there. Some of them were her own descendants. But were they real? Now only she remained of her family to continue the lineage, that some might discern the truth.

The Master was searching. So many faces, so many smiling lips, sparkling eyes, cheeks flushed with health and humor. All suffused with that ever-beaming golden glow, a haze of rapture and relief in utter contrast to the Night Land she had viewed all her life. Some of the faces she recognized, citizens of the Great Redoubt she had, if not known, at least observed among the Cities. Upon green swards they danced or dozed or dallied, sang or sighed, stretching up to gather ripe fruit, or catch a child leaping from a branch. They swam laughing in clear pools, drank freely from tumbling rills, embraced in the gentle whispers of the breeze. Of all types they were, dark of skin and fair, slender and portly, young and old, active and languid.

For one alone she was searching. Long the Master searched, her eye sockets pressed to the tandem oculuses, her entire Order awaiting her announcement of the success of the experiment. Wait they will, Dione thought. I must find him.

Her sight scanned over vast meadows and idyllic forests, clumped and scattered with peoples. She scanned along the coasts of gentle seas, waving with strange trees dropping sweet nuts, and down the valleys of broad rivers rippling in the gold light. Everywhere she searched the forms, the faces, for one lone man.

Finally she found him. Leaning against a cool bank of earth, smiling mildly, his fair face clear against the dark earth behind. Tall and slender, dressed in austere black, yet all his manner smugly amused, gently ridiculing. He was reading aloud from a book to a group of youth seated before him.

Mett. The Master did not know if she could send her thoughts through the Glass into his realm, but at once he looked up and smirked. He shut his book and with a wave at the youth walked a space apart.

So you have come to me. Aha, what irony. But I can no longer come to you.

Nemia your hostess is dead. Dione did not hide her grief nor her hatred of Mett's seeming insouciance.

Yes. I was there . Mett hid his eyes by looking down. And it seems we entities may choose only one host, and no other.

They recovered her body, and it was consecrated to the Earth Current in the Quiet Country. So at least we know her soul is saved.

As mine— Mett looked up and cocking his head, set his lips in a terse grin —may not be?

The Master held firm. I thought you might want to know.

Oh, I know. I accompanied her on that fool foray, heard her last words, watched her soul slip away as the ruin of her heart refused to beat.

We too have her last words. The Master went entirely still and waited.

She was impulsive but bold, brilliant but unwise, reckless and courageous. Only Mett could so insult and honor the departed. And her last words were both true and false.

Dione sent a glimmer of her impatience. You will say your realm there is vastly better, yet is no illusion.

Mett shook his head and suddenly seemed truly sad. I will say no more about this place. You can see. He swung his hand to encompass the grainy, mossy bank of earth, the group of eager youth, the golden light.

I see a place of such idyllic beauty and plenty, in such perfect contrast to the Night Land, that I cannot help but doubt. No bait could look more enticing.

Mett's face assumed a flat dispassion. Which means the Night Land is equally unreal. No goad could be more compelling.

The Master withdrew to her own austere objectivity. Mett. She paused. Why can you not say the Master Word?

The former Supreme Scholar lowered his head and grinned, closing his eyes. You will not believe, but nevertheless: In the passage from your dark world to ours of light, we are changed. We are still human, but we are changed back into the kind of human that existed before the Sun went dark. And in this kind of human, the Master Word does not reside. It does not need to.

So we are—

Yes. Mett rubbed the book in his long hands. You are fear-adapted, suspicion-bred, Night-evolved. Only humans long in the terror of the Night Land developed the Master Word. Here, we are trust-grown, light-bred, love-adapted. We need no truth-tests but our own souls. He held up the book so the Master could see the letters embossed in gold on the cover: The First History.

You're right... In sudden grief the Master withdrew her spirit, surging back across the fields and plains, the hills and river valleys, to plunge through the light—

—and find herself leaning back from the oculuses, her sockets irritated by their rough edges. The oval chamber loomed around her. Officials of her Order waited outside the door in the ajoining chamber, to record her announcement of the venture's success, and her observations into the realm beyond the gold luminous must.

...I will not believe.

Dione, Master Monstruwacan, turned to stride to the door, to proclaim the Great Spy Glass venture a success, capable of peering into the realm beyond the luminous mist. She determined to issue official proclamation that none of her observations could be trusted to verify the truth or illusion of the images it had shown her.

She flung open the door and blurted to the small group of attendees: "It works. But is shows me no Beyond we can trust. It shows me that we must expunge the very concept of Beyond from our minds. Here we live, and the Night Land is our rightful home. We belong here."

Quickly she turned back into her chamber and shut the door. They will accept such eccentric behavior in one so old as I, she thought, but they would never accept the grief that rose in her and poured from her sore eyes. Nemia was right. The illusion they could not afford to trust was far better.

To Beyond the Green Luminous Mist — A poem related to this story.

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