This is a continuation of a story begun in the post “Chapter 1. Part 1.” If you enjoy it, please like and share it with others!
CHAPTER 27: WHERE IT ALL WENT RIGHT
Looking back, I can’t believe I had thought it would be so easy. I should have realized that it was planting this seed that Mendrax wanted to stop at all costs, and so he wouldn’t allow us to simply walk up and do what we had to do. Not without a fight.
I sank my hands back into the orb and the lights in the garden came back on. Pathena attended to Chak. He was completely frozen. Not moving. Not breathing. Even the light emanating from his body wasn’t flickering with life anymore; it was a solid glow.
“He can’t see you,” said the voice.
“Mendrax?” I said.
“Yes my friend?” he replied.
“Let him go!”
“I’m afraid I can’t. You see, Chak here has a bad impression of me and if I let him go, he might do some permanent damage to my beautiful garden,” said Mendrax.
Pathena and I looked all around trying to find the source of Mendrax’s voice, but it was nowhere to be seen.
“There’s no point looking for me,” he said. His voice was smooth and calm. It reminded me distinctly of Teleon. It was a warm and comforting voice. There was something about it that made you want to listen to whatever he was saying. It also came from different places around the room. First you would think it was coming from the left, and the next sentence would come from the right.
“I have to say, you’ve done an excellent job of bringing this seed to me. I couldn’t have picked a better person for the task.”
“Bringing you the seed? What do you mean?”
“I mean you brought the seed to me, just as I hoped you would.”
“I didn’t bring this seed here for you and you didn’t want me to bring it here!” I shouted.
“I didn’t? How did you make it into my mansion so easily then? Did you notice that no real security was present when you arrived? Why did my Umbili attack only your friends, and never you? I told them not to! I wanted you and that seed here safely, my friend. What did they tell you your mission was? Were you bringing it here to end me? Would planting that seed in my garden finally wipe me off the face of the Syllogy?” he said.
“Yes,” I said firmly, though I wasn’t as confident as I sounded. I had never stopped to think how that would work, or why Mendrax would be killed when the seed was planted. I had simply taken Chak’s word for it when he told me the story. Actually, he had simply taken the Higher-ups’ word for it. I mulled this over.
“I can see the wheels turning. It doesn’t make sense, does it Nicholas?” said the voice.
“Don’t listen to him Nicholas,” said Pathena. “He’s lying, you know that. He’s lying to you!”
“Am I?” it said.
“Pathena, he’s right, it doesn’t make sense. How will planting this seed get rid of him?”
“It will restore the balance of time! You know this! Linear time is dying in the Syllogy, here’s the proof!” She gestured at the purple tree. “But when you plant the seed, it will restore the balance. Linear time will be restored,” I could hear Pathena pleading with me in her voice.
“And what does any of that have to do with me? I didn’t hear you mention my name at all,” said the voice. “How will restoring the balance of affect me?”
“You’re the one who poisoned the time, so restoring it necessarily works against your plans!” she shouted.
“But perhaps my plans have changed,” said the voice.
I thought quickly, trying to attack the problem from every angle.
“Do you mind if I ask you a few more questions while you ponder that one Nicholas?” He didn’t wait for a response, but his voice was so inviting I would have said yes if I wasn’t deep in thought. “Why do you trust the Higher-ups so unflinchingly? What have they done that makes them worth trusting more than me? What makes them right and me wrong? How do you now they are good and I’m bad? Mightn’t you have been working for the wrong side this whole time?” he said.
I thought a moment. He continued.
“Remember what Chak told you. I have powers that Umbili don’t even know about. Perhaps we could work out an arrangement. Perhaps once you plant the seed, you could join my ranks?”
“Try again,” I hissed. “I’m not on your side, and I’ll never be on your side.”
“You’ll die for the Higher-ups? You don’t even know why they brought you here, why they chose you. Plain little Nicholas. But if you were to pledge allegiance to me, we could help each other afterward.”
“I’ll be dead afterward,” I said tersely.
“You don’t have to be,” he whispered.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I mean that I can bring you back after you’ve set me free. I can save you. All you have to do is follow me!” he said.
“I’ll never follow you,” I said.
There was a beat. Mendrax was losing his cool collected tone. “But why? You said it yourself, it doesn’t make sense! Why will you follow them but not me?”
Again, I thought a moment. Mendrax let me. Slowly I responded.
“All of the reasons piled in my head can possibly be refuted except one. I’ve seen the love of their followers. The Umbili who brought me here are reason enough for me to follow the one that they follow. If the Higher-ups have people like that on their side, I want to be on the Higher-ups’s side too.”
I could almost hear Mendrax’s disembodied voice squirm when I talked about love.
“You realize that you’re in quite a quandary here Nicholas. You see, both the Higher-ups and myself want the same thing. We want you to plant the seed, following them, then, is also following me. We’re on the same side in this equation.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“While it will indeed restore the balance of time to the Syllogy,” the voice continued, cooling once again, “it will also free me from this prison. You see my friend in order for the higher-ups to trap me here, they took my body away from me. Without a body, an Umbili soul is trapped in the last place that it had a body, which for me would be here in this garden. But I liked having a body, you see. All of the pleasures of flesh were denied me when I was robbed of a body! Whatever could I do? That’s when I realized how I could get it back. Poison time! Time is only necessary for Umbili who have bodies to inhabit it. By poisoning time, I struck a deal with the Higher-ups. The prophecy was made, and as soon as some lucky human came to restore the balance, I would be restored my body as well. I would be free to roam again! You see, I held the Syllogy at ransom in order to make the Higher-ups work against themselves. Glorious isn’t it?”
“Why are you telling me all this? What’s to stop me from leaving now? Won’t it spoil your plans?” I said.
“I don’t have to worry about that,” said the voice, he seemed to be abandoning his attempt to gain my favor. “The Higher-ups want you to do this as well. They know there’s no other way to save the Syllogy. It’s the lesser of two evils in their minds. Release me, or lose the Syllogy, which would you choose?”
I don’t want to choose either. “What if I choose not to choose?” I said defiantly. Pathena looked worried at this.
We’re past that point Nicholas. Remember the prophecy? To finish you must understand your life is yours to give, and given freely by one man, the option not to live. But also for the seed to grow it must be stolen too. So you must pay back what you owe, a debt is sorely due. You’ve already done the given freely part by showing up here. Now it’s time to do the stealing part.”
There was a loud bang and Chak was suddenly sprinting toward me with a sword in his hand. Mendrax was trying to force him to kill me. Instinctively I turned my back and braced for pierce of his sword. The pierce never came. I felt my fingers slip from the agnoscian orb, but the lights didn’t go out. I opened my eyes and saw Teleon, standing in front of me, his clear and calming eyes fixed on Chak, who had once again frozen. In fact, the whole room had frozen, just as it had done in the theater in The Settlement. Pathena’s mouth was open in a scream, but no sound was coming out. Chak’s eyes were filled with rage and he was mid-stride toward me. Teleon and I were the only ones alive at the moment.
“Nicholas, if you’re going to plant that seed, now is the time to do it,” he said smoothly.
“What?” I asked, the sudden stillness in the room catching me off guard.
“I know you, Nicholas. I know that you have resolved time and time again on this journey to do whatever was necessary to save the Syllogy. You must do so once more.” Tears began to fill my eyes.
“But Teleon. I don’t want to,” I glanced over at Pathena. “What about her? I can’t leave her like she left me. And once Mendrax has his body back, who will protect her from him?”
“That’s not your concern Nicholas. You have a job to do. It’s the job you were chosen for. It’s the job you must do. You need to plant the seed to save the Syllogy and Pathena with it.”
I started to move toward the tree. But stopped again and looked at Teleon.
“There must be another way. There must be a way to save everyone.”
“Someone’s got to pay the price Nicholas. That’s always been the case. If it’s going to be you, now’s the time.”
I knelt down and buried the seed in the shallow sand available to me, then drew my sword from its sheath. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, then took another. Tears were streaming down my face now. I had to do this. I had to make the sacrifice. I had to do what was right! I knew Teleon was right. I trusted him. I trusted him to take care of Pathena. I trusted that this is what needed to be done.
The blade was still held high above my head. I wanted to do what was right.
For only a moment, I held my breath and I joined the absolutely silent and still tableau that Teleon had created around us. Silence.
“I can’t!” I yelled. “I can’t do it. I know I need to. I’m sorry, I just can’t.” I lost all control at this point. The tears obscured my vision entirely, and I dropped my sword on the ground. I leaned forward sobbing, my arms wrapped around my waist, and wept bitterly into the ground. The sand rubbed on my cheek as I writhed. My insides were coming apart. My head throbbed. My heart pounded.
“I just can’t do it! There’s got to be another way!” I screamed into the sand.
I felt a firm set of hands grab my shoulders and pull me onto my feet. Teleon spun me around and faced me toward him. He still had his eyes on Chak, but he was talking to me.
“There is. Don’t you remember what I told you? There’s only one thing that will work. There’s only one way that seed can be planted in Mendrax’s garden. I knew you couldn’t do it. I just had to make sure you knew it too,” he said, and a melancholy smile spread across his face; He was still looking at Chak though. “Do you trust me?”
With these words his eyes locked onto mine. My vision was still blurred, but I could see the pain and the joy mingled in his piercing eyes.
Then I heard Pathena screaming.
Want to keep reading? Go to the next section! >>> “Chapter 27. Part 2.”