I was in a fog. All energy was sapped, all thoughts blurred, my memory blank. I would say the energy of my mind and body were rapidly ebbing as I followed the others deeper into the fortress hill. Of course, now I recognize that this was due to the effects of the Stone, but at the time it was as if I were in a dream, and like a dream, it turned into a wisp when I awoke.
Truthfully, I remember little of the adventure. Whindel has promised me that if I ever decide to turn this web story into a book he will cast a spell which will release my memory and turn the underground adventure into at least three chapters, possibly four, but for now I must skip most of it in a blur.
I remember a few things. Alishina noticed the ebb of my energy and memory. As a creature of Water, she flowed over to me and offered me support. To keep my mind in the present, she forced me to join her in a whispered conversation. I found out about her late husband and she learned about my wife, Lisa, and her brave final battle. The more we talked, the more we discovered how much we actually shared. The more we shared, the closer we became.
I also remember that we were attacked at many places, but called upon Earth, Water, Air, Fire, Void/Spirit, Good and Evil to get us out of each situation.
I gradually realized that there were seven of us on the quest. When Ashly called to Good and Evil, they actually sent emissaries. At first I was surprised that Evil was helping, but then I realized that everyone wanted to regain that balance, the equilibrium, that was so missing in the Universes. Although Evil often manifests itself in Chaos, Chaos is the enemy of all Elements. Each element only exists because of the others and for the others. Without Good, there would be no Evil.
That is another thing that I discovered about Glumoric. I had originally thought he represented Fire, but I soon discovered that he was Entropy incarnate. Although he used Fire as a tool, and corrupted it until Whindel was able to redeem it, his main power was in Chaos. He was the opposite of Equilibrium. Part of that chaos was the ability to turn people on each other, to sew division.
That was the Universes, then. There were the Seven Elements and the two opposing Forces, Equilibrium and Entropy. All of the stuff the scientists of Earth knew, like the Weak Nuclear Force, Gravity, quarks, leptons, etc., these were just the physical manifestation of the underlying Universal Forces and Elements.
After hours or days, possibly even weeks, of wandering in a daze, I had hit my lowest point, the tide of mind and body at its lowest ebb. Alishina propped me up physically and mentally, but was worried she was losing me. And then…
And then we were surrounded by fire. The fire snapped me awake, but I knew it had to be the end.
“Welcome,” a voice said. The voice was half familiar.
The fire drew back, creating a larger ring around us. There was another being in this ring. I gasped. Whindel? But he was next to me, holding Ashly’s hand.
“So, you have dared come face to face with me?” Whindel’s twin said.
“I promised Mother on her deathbed to look after you,” Whindel said.
“Keep Mother out of this,” the twin wizard said.
“No. It is time you faced facts. The official cause of death was heart failure, but that is only half true,” Whindel said. “She died of a broken heart, a heart that was broken by her son, Glamoric. You.”
“Yes. Your turn towards Chaos, the lives that you took, those that you destroyed. That is what drove her to her end.”
As I watched the brothers argue in fascination, I became aware of a whisper in my ear. “Move around behind him. I will help.”
I began to flow, like the water. I could feel the ground, the earth, help me by shifting, making my direction always downhill. The wall of fire, encircled me, not to burn me, but to hide me. I could feel the fabric of the Universes, the structure, ether, made of void and spirit, guide me. Good and Evil directed my hand.
I took the Stone out of my pocket and out of the pouch. I could feel the influence even more directly once it left the pouch.
The wall of flame parted. I was directly behind Glumoric.
“Mother always liked you best,” Glumoric said.
“Don’t you remember all of the favors she did for you?” Whindel asked. “I guess it is your lot to be forgetful.”
I took my cue and dropped the necklace with the Stone of Forgetfulness around Glumoric’s neck. He turned to me in a fury, but the fire swallowed me again. In a few moments, the fire withdrew and I was once again standing with the others.
Glumoric was sitting in front of us, his hands and legs tied with a silver cord.
“What happens now?” I asked.
“Send him to the Void!” Ashly said.
“No.” I was surprised to hear Blavrain speak. “Not the Void, for the void is the fabric of the Universes, the ether that holds all of the Universes together. This cannot be disrupted by Chaos.”
“Then what?” I asked.
“He gained his power through cruelty and so needs a symbol of cruelty overcome. His harshness must be banished with a symbol of harshness banished. He harnesses Chaos to make people fight against each other, so we need a symbol of Synergy, of people working together where the whole is more than the sum of their parts.”
Whindel held up the old spur, the Star of Blavour. It began to glow again. A thread of light came out from all of us, including the two I could not see, Good and Evil, and intertwined into a golden strand. The strand, created from all Seven Elements, threaded through the Star and then looped back on itself in a necklace, which Whindel dropped around Glumoric’s neck.
The star grew brighter and brighter and began to lift.
“Hurry, follow me,” Blavrain said.
We raced down corridor after corridor. After a few turns, the light behind us was no longer visible, and we ran on, in the dark.
We turned another corner and I saw light, daylight.
We emerged from the tunnel and stopped, looking around in wonder.
The world was changing before our eyes. We were on a beach and could see the tide recede. A darkness was ebbing with the tide. Live sprang from every recess. A golden glow spread across the world.
“What’s happening?” I asked.
“A new world is being born,” Whindel said. “Like a Phoenix, it is raising from the ashes of the old. This is a world created from the balance of all of the others. The old Element, which was long ago lost, will be replaced with a new. It is taking powers from the others and creating something more.”
“What is this new Element?”
“What was the old?” he answered.
“Void,” I said. He shook his head. “Spirit?” He shook his head again. “What?”
“We can only guess at the old,” the wizard said. “So the only true name would be “Mystery”. When it was gone, we called it Void, and absence of the Element. But we discovered that there was something in the Void. The Void is Dark Matter. It is Ether. It is the structure, the framework, that holds all else together. The Seven Elements would not stick together cohesively without this structure. As each Element has a people, so does this structure. It is represented by what you would call “Spirits”. But it is not an Element. It is a framework.”
“And Equilibrium and Entropy, do they have people too?”
“Equilibrium is represented by all of the people, while Entropy only has my brother.”
“But, but, the king! Blavarain. I thought he represented the last Element, the missing one.”
Whindel looked at me with kindness and pity. “He does now. You see, that was the problem. The Element was lost, so its people were lost. We had an imperfect number, six. That is why Equilibrium was lost. Equilibrium is represented by all people, yet that number of people, like the Elements, had been reduced, became ill-shaped. When Ashly called on Spirit, she invited these beings to represent a new Element. They left the Void and began their quest for a new Element.”
“But then Void is devoid of a people.” I said.
The wizard arched his eyebrow at my turn of phrase, then said, “A new people will be created.”
“The four physical Elements will become one.”
“I don’t understand,” I said. I turned to Alishina. “Do you know?”
Instead of answering, she kissed me. I lost Lisa many years ago, and this was the first time I had kissed a woman in those years. After what seemed to be eternity in Paradise, our kiss came to a reluctant end.
“And what is this new Element?” I asked.
“Love,” Alishina answered looking into my eyes.
“Intellect,” Whindel said.
“Awareness,” Ashly said.
“Empathy,” I added.
“All of those and more,” Blavarain said. “For now we can simply call it “Mind” or “Consciousness”, which is represented by Soul or Spirit.”
“Love and Empathy on the one side,” I said. Alishina squeezed me tighter. “And Intellect and Awareness on the other.” Hands still held, Ashly and Windel drew even closer together. “All of this, held synergistically together by Soul and Spirt. A balance?”
“Equilibrium,” Blavarain replied.
— — —
Will our story continue or is this really the end? Did our author just get tired of it all and quit? And did he really mean it when he said he may take this as the framework for an actual book? Will I, the narrator, have any part in this book? All of these questions and more, will soon be answered! Then again, maybe they won’t! Some questions may have to go unanswered. I don’t know, I just work here. At least I used to. Hmmm…, I may be out of a narrator’s job. Anybody I have a story I can help with?