The Elder stood in the doorway.
Mika looked down.
I was still, holding my breath.
I swallowed and began opening my mouth, still not sure what I was going to say.
I felt maybe it would be best to explain that we weren’t prepared. Or, we hadn’t prepared? But really, the excuse was: I wasn’t prepared. I hadn’t even been rune branded yet, my skin was still as clean of any inscriptions as well. I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into. What to do.
I closed my mouth, still wanting to complain, but honestly, I knew, that would do no good. I was careering on a path destined for the unknown, completely uncontrolled. Only the path ahead, I felt sure of that, not that it mattered, there wasn’t much, no, any choice in the matter. It felt like the mental equivalent of falling off that tree after a fumbling on the stairs. Gravity was in effect.
“You may be a void, but I am the Elder. Your mind is untrained, and unrefined, but it can be heard as loud as day. Others may not hear so well, as that unrefinement, like static, it’s what makes it difficult for us. But the one before you is many generations in refinement. From the moment a child is born, it is understood and accepted into the fold. Voids are like a tear, they leak thoughts and poison to those around them with little cuts that split and cause pain. We don’t hate you for your nature, it is unfair to you. But you have no place among us.”
The Elder paused. I felt a bit worn and bitter from his insults, but I suppose I could understand where he was coming from. I had been thinking about these people’s’ circumstances while arranging the runes. This wasn’t paradise, this was a hive. Each child born with a compatible consciousness, from his words, was assimilated. They very well could hear their brethren before even being born, likely. They grew knowing what everyone else knew, minor differences aside, there was no freedom here. Those like us who couldn’t assimilate, we were chaos to the system. Like a virus that needed to be expunged before it multiplied. It didn’t make me happy, but I at least understood. It was still hard to swallow.
“We will send you off well. Every offering, we send a mix of our strongest and our weakest. This ensures that some survive and complies with the rules of this enclave. We will brand this rune you have devised, as thanks. Your creativity and minimalistic thoughts have provided us with a way forward from our doldrums. It is what we needed, and has been foreseen by the Tree. Your mind is… Old. The things you think, and the memories you share are… no longer of this world. Be afraid of the place you will go, this was the Enclave, the place you will go, is not. Your memories will serve you well there, as poorly they served you here.”
“Mika, You are our child, first and foremost. As the strength of the enclave, protect this child. He may have far more memories, but you are indeed far more senior, stronger, better equipped in many ways. Most importantly, a child of the Enclave, our daughter. When you leave purgatory, extend your roots deep in the ground, like the Trees, and pull your strength from there.”
“Child of the Tree, your name may be different now, but do not forget your past, it remains with you now, and is not our own past. We may not be all knowing, but that which comes after purgatory terrifies us of the Enclave. We know not how to survive outside the Enclave, and will never learn until we are no longer of the Enclave. The small glimpses of your memories show pain and suffering that we cannot comprehend in terms other than fear. You may be weak, but you have skills we couldn’t hope to learn. We will brand you with this rune, you will tell us – which finger do you want what functions? Your thoughts were incoherent of specifics, but we understand the idea. After we are done, you must go.”
My eyes opened wide, bewildered by the ridiculous statements coming from the Elder’s mouth. Looking down at the runes for a brief moment, I had a sudden flash of inspiration as to how they could be used best, with the idea as the elder presented, of the release mechanisms on my fingers, but then it was gone like the fleeting wind. And in that moment, I felt pain, like none other I had ever felt in my life, searing across my skin, crawling like bugs to and fro. White heat wiped my mind, and I roared in agony, my muscles seizing from the sensation.
When I was out of breath, the pain had yet to subside, but I could not inhale. My lungs would not expand, the world felt as if it was crushing me, forcing me to cease to be. And then as abruptly as it started, it ended. I inhaled sharply, my lungs finally heeding my body’s needs.
I collapsed, muscles aching in pain, laying on the ground, I could see Mika looking fearfully at the elder, silent. I reminded myself to breathe again, and took in deep breaths.
“The deed is done. Mika, carry him. We shall begin the purgatory. When purgatory is done, you will know, for we will not hear you and you will not hear us. Then it will be time to Ascend. The sooner the better, as the Tree will stop providing at that time. Take what provisions you can at that time. We wish you well. Child of the Tree, sleep.”
I felt a strong surge of drowsiness, and closed my eyes, submitting to oblivion. I began to fall endlessly, worlds passing me by. As I passed out, I had a dream. It was a dream that I was a side of something, a shape of some sort. All I knew was that if I willed it so, I could be the side closer to something else, so I did. I felt a deep desire to experience what that was like. In doing so, I moved towards my goal, and realized that it felt good. Then I regretted being the closer side, as my will had likely forced the side that was not me, of the shape that I was a part, to move away from what I moved towards, and they could no longer feel the good I felt now. What had I done and put into motion with my action?
After that realization there was a familiar giggling.
Thanks for the support! I am in your care! Thursday we start a new Arc, from Mika’s point of view.