Book VII Finale: The Broken Silence
Several hundred... no.
Several thousand years ago, a child was born. There was nothing special about him, save perhaps the color of his hair.
His people came to call him Ban'leane-- witch-child-- although he was not much of a witch at all.
He fought to survive in a tribe full of people who feared and hated him, finding some small solace in two unlikely friends and a harsh god who sought to turn him into an alchemist.
He failed the final test, and on that day, he died.
On that same day several thousand years ago, a Crystal was born, and the being that was once the Ban'leane was bound to it as its Keeper.
Every day, the Crystal and its Keeper grew a little bigger, and a little stronger, and a little smarter.
The things the Crystal touched became magical, growing into fantastical things along with it-- including the Keeper and their two companions.
In time, the crystal and its new friends became too much for the little village to contain. There was too much magic, and the people who had been so cruel to the Ban'leane had become as monstrous on the outside as they were in their hearts.
The Crystal sang to its keeper, and the Keeper devoured the furious creatures that haunted the village.
Their work complete at last, they left.
The Keeper and the Crystal traveled the world, searching for answers to the questions that plagued them.
What did it mean to be alive? What did it mean to exist? What made beasts move and plants grow?
What made things change?
They journeyed as far as they could go, learning all the secrets of the planet and the secrets within themselves.
They collected every secret they could find, and became quite good at keeping them.
As they learned and explored, the Keeper came to a startling realization; the world within their mind was far kinder than the world without.
People hurt and suffered and died for the worst reasons or no reason at all-- and they hurt and tortured and killed other people just the same.
But within themself, pain and death and sorrow were fleeting; possibility was limited only by thought, and suffering was unnecessary... optional.
The Keeper withdrew, tinkering in secret with the Crystal by their side.
And as they learned, they grew and changed-- and the world without grew and changed as well.
Years came and went, nations rose and fell, and the Keeper's children lived and died.
And one day, when the Keeper awoke, the Crystal sang to them again, and the Keeper understood.
Everything they had learned and all of the secrets they had kept were ready to be used. They were to be crafted into the finest gift the world would ever recieve.
The Keeper worked for years, hopeful that at last the time had come to set all things right.
There would be no more pain, death, or suffering. There would be nothing but discovery and dreams and possibility for all of time.
And when they were satisfied, the Keeper rose to their feet with the Crystal, and the Silence was finally broken.
The Mirajin Throne
The Cathedral of a Thousand Roses
The Fatis Mirajin shone brilliantly in the light of the rising suns-- and out beyond the broken mountains, a thousand crystal pillars glowed in unison, setting the world aflame in magenta.
Nefirian gazed upon the sight with tears in his eyes.
Everything is in place.
In finely ground crystal powder, he drew a circle around the perimeter of the great room, intricate lines and symbols leading from the Fatis Mirajin out into the world; temporary arcane channels to funnel the power into the heart of Chimre.
He carefully stepped over them with bare feet, pressing his palms against the Fatis Mirajin, warm and pulsing in time with the beat of his own heart.
No one will know anything was ever any different.
No one will know anything has changed.
And it won't matter.
"No," he said softly. "It won't matter anymore."
He rested his forehead against the great crystal, his thoughts leading back through history-- back through secrets and wars and hatred, back to a tiny pocket in time when he and the artifact were the only things that mattered in the world.
Back to his death and birth.
And in the gentle calm of morning, he heard the Fatis Mirajin laugh, and he finally understood; he'd been hearing his own voice resonating through the crystal all along.
Rising to his full height, Nefirian Dreamscar looked out upon the world, lifting his hands into the air as a hundred thousand words filled his mind.
"VALENTH! AWAKEN, AND EMBRACE YOUR NEW REALITY!"
He heard the Fatis Mirajin whispering his thoughts, colored by the vibrations of singing crystal.
The room grew dark as the artifact drank in the sunlight, the lines of brilliant powder crackling and flowing with energy.
The Mirajin sang out loud, and as the floor began to vibrate, the Cathedral followed suit, and the earth with it.
The crystals of Mimore heard the cry and answered in kind, flaring white-hot as they keened their eerie, painful melody.
The sky filled with a million colors, swirling like an opalescent bubble as the Fatis Mirajin called.
And in a great, crashing roar, it drew in the pulsing energy from the crystal pillars and the sky and the suns themselves.
The sky tore open, shattering like glass to reveal the cosmos beyond.
Time slowed, and crawled, and stopped, and in that eternal moment, the crystals' song dulled to a low, trembling bellow.
Nefirian collapsed to his knees, his third eye ripping open as miraplasm dripped sticky and pink from his curling lips.
He pressed his palms against the floor and arched his back, hair tumbling down around his face as his body fought to contain itself, muscles twitching and thrashing just beneath the skin.
He felt his mind soaring beyond himself, into the spaces torn through the fabric of reality. He saw Laps-du-Ment and Ros Albion and Jetersborough and Axl and Soril, bristling with the power of his eternal dream.
He felt the edges of the Veil expanding, sucking in the waking world and all its harsh, hard limits, leaving only infinite impossibility.
And then, as swiftly as the momentum grew, he felt it slam to a stop.
He felt a barrier of vitae pressing against his ultimate will; he felt an ancient power shift and struggle against the whirling Dream.
He saw the faces of the people of Dreamsong as the Veil rose into the sky above them, devouring all it could reach.
In his mind's omniscient eye, he saw the dragons of Schalle launching themselves into the broken sky, furious and intent.
Just beyond them, he heard a soft and trembling voice cry for help, held captive within a crystal glade just moments from oblivion.
He answered with a whisper, and as the Renatus took wing, their sire's warped body spread his own and screamed as the last fragments of his tormented soul fled into the flowing unreality of dreams.
In Gier, he felt the regret of a lost heart and a broken mind, buzzing with realized potential and suppressed grief.
In Aensdoun, he saw the launch of a vengeful comet, soaring as fast as sound on wings of flame.
And in Laps, in the Cathedral of a Thousand Roses which had fused perfectly with the dream, Nefirian Dreamscar Awoke with a trembling and painful and triumphant cry as the comet crashed through the window.
Kelan slammed through the glass, ignoring the bite of the shards tearing through his feathers and skin.
He landed among the dreamshards and the dust, his wings burning bright as he rose to his feet and looked down with fury and hatred upon the Dreamwaker, hunched pitiably upon his knees. "The greatest mistake of my life was letting you live."
"It wasn't supposed to work this way," Nef whispered, drawing in a slow breath as his three eyes gleamed.
He felt a million thoughts shifting and swirling just beneath the pulse of his own mind-- voices of people he had never seen or known.
He pushed them out, for now. "Something's gone wrong..."
"I wanted so badly to believe you weren't the cold, scheming, heartless monster everyone made you out to be, Nefirian.
I hoped against hope that you were mad, but you meant well..."
"Can't you see, Kelan? Nothing's changed...
I tried my best to change the world... to make it perfect and harmless and free for you..."
"WHY IN HELL WOULD I WANT THIS?!" Kelan cried. "YOU'VE TORN A HOLE THROUGH REALITY!
Everything between Axl and Soril has been transformed into a waking nightmare. The natural order has been defiled... no, destroyed!
Beasts and mutants walk the streets, and the people can't even register their own fear! Their own existence!
Valenth's balance was disrupted by your fucking crystal from the start, Nefirian, but now the mirajin has begun to devour the entire world.
And all you can say for yourself is that there's BEEN A MISTAKE?!"
Kelan drew his swords, moving forward-- but Nefirian vanished instantly.
Spinning, he found the little Chapter standing several feet behind him, gazing solemnly out the window, his crimson hair flowing like water around his shoulders and face.
"Valenth and the Reverie are two parts of a whole... two seperate worlds which every creature is irrevocably tied to, body, mind, and soul.
But we can only exist in one or the other at a time, and most people feel the Reverie is nothing more than a shadow realm, a realm where dreams play out and then vanish forever," he said softly.
"What if the two were merged, Kelan? What if vitae and mirajin were part of a whole that were never meant to be seperated in the first place?
What if Valenth and the Reverie were meant to work as one, rather than two sides of a coin?"
"You're insane. You're fucking insane and you've gone too far!"
"Nothing's changed, Kelan. I'm as miserable a witch as I've always been," Nef laughed sadly.
"I did my best, I took all my notes, I researched for years and years and years and took my time and I still failed..."
"THIS ISN'T ABOUT YOU, YOU MISERABLE DEMON!" Kelan screamed. "You've thrown the entire world into chaos on a mad hypothesis you could've never proven!
Even if you meant well-- as if I'd ever believe your lies again--, I can't let you live!"
In the blink of an eye, Nefirian had crossed the room; he held his gleaming mirametal rapier at the ready, his face a mask of pain and anger.
"No one could ever let me live, Kelan. That's just it... I was something profane from birth-- weren't you paying attention?
Come on and kill me, then, if that's what you're here to do. I'm ready."
Kelan snapped his wings, launching himself across the room. His swords met Nefirian's rapier with a vibrant clang, and the dance began.
They circled and spun, Kelan advancing viciously with blow after blow from the two halves of Lifesedge, his eyes glowing with anger.
Nefirian deflected every swing with Mentalie, the mirametal sword throwing off glimmering magenta sparks as it collided with the Flamekeeper's legendary weapons.
"Everything I've suffered these past years... it's all been punishment for my failure to deal with you!" Kelan snarled, bearing down with his blades again and again. "I lamented and wallowed in my despair, instead of seeing the reality of the situation... I allowed so many people to suffer at your hands, yet thought only of myself!"
"I've searched my entire life to find a way to minimize suffering in this horrible world," Nef gasped.
"A world that's done so much to tear apart innocent people who deserved nothing more than all the love and comfort everyone else was entitled to.
People like you, people who insist on your damnable crusades in the name of justice and nature and any other excuse you can come up with to decide who lives and who dies, who should be judged instead of being helped and nurtured, led away from their pain...
No. You're the ansiban! You're the fucking monsters!!
And you know what, Kelan?"
Kelan's swords tore through the air where Nefirian's neck had been a moment before.
"...I've had enough."
His disembodied voice echoed through the chamber, resonating in the Fatis Mirajin, vibrating the windows, and quaking the foundations of the Cathedral around them.
Nefirian hit him like a train.
Kelan sailed across the room, slamming into the floor only momentarily before being launched into the air again as Nefirian blinked in and out just long enough to throw another punch faster than the mind could register, leaving nothing in his wake but thin streaks of miraplasm and a faint afterimage of his former location.
The barrage continued, relentless and brutal; the Flamekeeper struggled to take wing, to break the chain, to escape-- but Nef grabbed him again and again, gripping his throat, throwing him across the room, hurling him into walls and ceiling with punches and kicks and telekinetic force.
At last, Kelan fell into a battered heap upon the floor as Nefirian flickered in behind him, crouched on all fours.
Gritting his teeth, his body warped, shifted, and swelled, and as his skin burst open and his robes fell away, he slithered monstrously out of them, bloated, gleaming and reptilian.
He drifted weightlessly above the fallen Chapter, his thick tail swishing slowly beneath him, his hair writhing with slick tentacles as his ears twitched and swiveled atop his head.
Kelan looked slowly, painedly up at him, trembling. "So... the horror that devoured my friend ages ago finally reveals its true face."
Nefirian laughed, cold and crystalline. "Don't be ridiculous, Kelan. My faces are infinite."
Visions of reptilian monsters danced through Kelan's mind, draped in spines and tentacles, wicked claws and ooze-dripping teeth. The White Boralion, immense and ominous; the Oneroi, slick and white and eldritch.
There were hulking, crocodilian beasts with striped tails, sinuous humanoid creatures with great, winglike streamers of trailing red hair, blind, bat-faced terrors with scythelike claws, and amorphous, slimelike things with flailing limbs in every direction and leering, masklike faces.
One towered over all the rest, great and sluglike in its mountainous bulk, with tentacles dancing down its spine and a horrible, toothy maw that cut across its face and into its broad and terrible shoulders.
It loomed, larger than the mind could register, great fountains of bubbling miraplasm oozing from its sharp and cavernous mouth.
They all gazed into the depths of Kelan's heart and mind with three piercing eyes-- two poison-green, one as brilliant magenta as the crystal that sat in the middle of the room.
"I am the Dreamwaker," he explained in a hundred thousand voices.
"I am the limitless expanse of the mind, the endless depths of dream, the heart of wishes and the lure of desire.
I am the Queen of all leupaks, the champion of Science, the mother of monsters, and the weaver of nightmares.
I am as much a force of nature as your wind and trees and rain-- I am as much a force of creation and life as your beloved vitae.
I am an indestructable, unquenchable part of you and everything on this planet, and I WILL NEVER AGAIN SUBMIT!"
As Nefirian's enraged cry rang in Kelan's ears and echoed in his heart, he realized with dim incredulity that he had been hurled through the window from which he had come, and he was falling.
As he tumbled slowly towards the earth looming above, Kelan thought about Dilndrou and Sasha and Aqk, about Selarion and Bastion and Valdren and Nefirian.
As the dragons rushed in overhead, he snuffed the sorrow in his heart and embraced the hard and rocky crush of the soil, and the reality of what he had to do.
And in his Cathedral in the center of the threshold between dream and reality, Nefirian roared.
Next Chapter: Volume II - Book I Chapter I
Valenth>VWiki Home>Story>Book Seven>Book VII Finale