(Continuing then with the story…)
More history; how Lo came by the sphere
Lo came over to Nal when she entered the large room now filled with people, tables and benches stacked against the far wall, rush lights stuck in sconces burning in their holders all around, casting a warm glow on happy, sweating bodies.
“Come with me to the butchering room, I need to talk where no one will intrude on us.” They entered the cold, rancid room and bolted the door.
“I heard you Nal but I chose not to intrude on your sorrow, it is how it is with us. We are not like the humans who feel a need to run to a lover or a friend for support in times of personal inner turmoil. For us as you will remember, it is necessary to withdraw, find a place alone, and work out the problem until it is eliminated, as it must be. Unlike humans who can carry such as grief, sorrow, sense of loss, anger, hate or their sensuous loves for years, even for an entire life, we clear our minds of such things, constantly refreshing ourselves. Only our goal, purpose and quest remains a constant reminder that we are forever moving, forever changing, forever self empowered. If we lived as humans we would soon drain each other of all energy and fade away.
“I love you from purpose, not from feeling or need though of course there is deep feeling in it, but as a result, not a cause. My vow to destroy the Betrayers is also purpose driven and goal oriented. I follow a vision of perhaps removing a great evil from this world so it may have a chance of, how do I put that, evolving itself, of changing also for the betterment of all. You would suppose that after all the millennia of wandering this world, observing its ways and doing whatever in my power to make significant changes with so little if any results, would have put me off my purpose but it hasn’t. It is not how we are made.
“You will remember eventually of those times when we were young in spirit and we volunteered for this assignment. How we applied ourselves to the study of alien worlds, to understand the mindset behind a world’s mental, emotional and physical change, or evolution. How carefully we chose the forms we would inhabit on this world. We planned so carefully! We were so naive, Nal. When we arrived here all our plans were useless. That is because we were the first and there was only intellectual knowledge of earth in our databases we relied on. We knew the biology, the physics. We knew size, land to water ratios, weather patterns, seasons, temperatures. We knew about the basic races of its human life and the violence we came here to tame and in time bring to an end. We knew the number of people already on this world.
“What we did not know; what our own teachers could not give us, is an intuitive awareness of evil. It came at us with such force it overwhelmed us. It seemed the indigenous life was more or less adapted to it and accepted the horrible trade-offs of their situation. Well, it appeared at first it had no other choice.
“But we could not accept it; our natures rejected the concept of evil and we were stymied over and over in our efforts. We would teach and demonstrate and give lessons and for a short time some of the people would grasp the concept of peace and compassionate interaction but within a few years these people were overwhelmed in turn and often martyred for their beliefs.
“We learned two things: that the humans could accept new, non-traditional ways of doing things and begin acting in such new ways but that there was a programming running here that kept a violent, predatory status quo operating. This programming came from a source similar to our own, a powerful energy or group of beings not of earth, controlling its sentient life through its feelings, its hopes and desires; its thoughts and emotions.
“We had no defence against evil, no mental armour against it, no mental or spiritual immune system to draw upon. We were naked to its attacks and it infiltrated us. The rest you know, and here we are, again, thinking that logically we should be able to defeat this force. First though, we must destroy the Betrayers so we can then apply what we have learned up to this time to discover the source of this evil that is eating this world. You were thinking about why we are here, why try to intervene, and when will it end, some time back?
“I believe it will end soon after the Betrayers are defeated. We will be recalled to give an account of what befell here. Do not fear this great evil we are about to confront, nor the losses of friends through death or necessary separation. Remember the lesson of detachment we had to learn when we had to spend so many long years apart from each other on opposite sides of this planet. Much of your power is tied to the effect of detachment. If you care personally for someone, that caring will weaken your powers. It will cause fear and doubt.
“When we encounter the Betrayers, we must work together but only as if we were alone. Each will bring in his or her skills to bear independently. They will not expect that because they have been corrupted and have fallen victims to the false earth belief that in the many resides the more power. That seems to be the case but it is a massive lie. The many produce less usable personal energy because on one hand the collective takes from the individual to maintain itself and on the other hand the individual is less likely to rely on himself, seeking empowerment from the collective, from the hope that the power that was taken from him is increased when turned into group power.
“You see how subtly debilitating that is? A percentage of energy is stolen from the individual to maintain the collective but of course the collective cannot give back as much energy to the individual when it needs it to fight for it, or to support it because it needs a large percentage of that stolen energy just to maintain itself and its supporting apparatus. It’s a net loss all around and the greater the collective, the more entropy or energy loss is created.
“Conclusion: the collective, any collective is less stable than the individual; more prone to corruption and unlike the individual who can change through self-sacrifice and personal empowerment, the collective that becomes corrupt cannot, ever, be cured. Its purpose is not to serve but to maintain itself and increase its own power. The result is simple: though it eats more and more of its supportive energies, it becomes incrementally weaker, unsteady, reprobate then collapses into a myriad of separate parts. What the people of this world fail to see is that none of the personal energies poured into the collective, the organization or group, can ever be recovered. All of it is lost forever, to man, to nature, to the world and to the concept we Alas call Life. That is what our teachers called entropy.’
“Ah, Lo, yes of course I understand it now. I sincerely thank you for this lesson; for reminding me of things we used to discuss. But what about Deanna and her werewolf? There is attachment there, surely?”
“I am no expert on those races Nal. An Elven maiden shapeshifter and a Werewolf, also shapeshifter, that is something new for me to have encountered. Thanks to my ignorance in this matter I am obliged to not interfere in that relationship. Those people have their own ways; their own powers which are quite effective. I think their “attachment” has a different interpretation than what I put on the analogous human interaction since they lack human feelings and emotions. Let me tell it to you this way, Nal: I sense a kind of innocence at play in them, but for all that, focused and deadly. Contrary to human collectives, their community, be it of two or more, is empowering to them, not dis-empowering or disruptive and draining of personal power.
“Like us they possess a power that does not belong to this world, but theirs is quite different from ours. I sense they were sent to us, that we are not alone to face the coming trial. I also sense we are about to learn much, not only from Wolf and Deanna but from our human friends, particularly a couple of young shepherds, one of whom seems to have disappeared, and from the girl-woman Genti who was introduced to us as a priestess of the old ways.”
The celebration or festivities were drawing to a close when they returned to the main room. They were greeted enthusiastically, Nal hugged by the men, particularly the younger ones, Lo clapped on the back or given the powerful handshake. There was happiness here, and acceptance of something the people had long needed, something that had been taken from them so cruelly in the endless wars of conquest and debilitating retaliations. Any conquered indigenous people know what this is saying.
It was close on to midnight when Nal and Lo were finally able to retire to their upstairs bedroom and enjoy some privacy. Neither had had much time to enjoy the food and Nal particularly felt the emptiness in her stomach but chose to focus on the happiness of being alone and together with Lo. ‘My husband of forever’ she thought and smiled as she undressed and slipped in the hard bed. “Lo? Are you joining me?”
Lo, being of the full Alay did not have the same needs as those of earth. He could go days without eating or sleeping, able to override the demands of a physical body. He motioned to Nal that he would be with her presently, opened their window shutters and listened to the world. Predictably from the distant woods came the call of the Werewolf followed by that of his mate. He sent a quick thought of the inner language that could not be read by the Betrayers for it did not carry beyond a few miles:
‘So, all is well out there?’ He caught a touch of a mind message from the Werewolf: ‘We greet. All well.’
Lo decided it was time to introduce Nal to his sphere. He called Nal to join him at the window which she did though yawning and hugging her naked body with her arms. He opened his great coat and she slipped into it, leaning against him, waiting for whatever he wanted to show her.
He opened his hand to show her the small white sphere he held, barely visible in the darkness. She reached for it but he caught her wrist and held back her hand.
“If you touched it, it would hurt you. You have not been introduced yet so it would take you to be someone intent on controlling or harming it. This is one of those instruments we used in our training before we came here – soon you will remember. We were not allowed to bring them here but one of the Betrayers did. You remember Tel’Madan don’t you? Remember how over time he changed towards us, becoming secretive? Remember his inappropriate, even lurid advances towards you in front of his own partner Miriel who was your closest friend among the Alaya? He possessed this sphere and used it to access information we could not know about, or have. He learned about power over rather than power for, from this very thing.
“Long after everyone had been killed and I was the only one left to counter the Betrayers’ evil, I met with Tel’Madan in a neutral space, on a trireme in the Mediterranean sea. We had both agreed to hire on as sailors and to discuss our impasse. We were sitting in the prow, wary of each other, talking low. Then he said something disgusting about you, how they had enjoyed taking turns raping and torturing you before they killed you. The malice in his voice was so intense I knew then I’d never be able to speak to him of the times before. This was pure evil. Then he made one mistake: he showed me the sphere he had stolen and brought with him to earth.
“In one swift move, I was always the fastest of us, I grabbed for it and jumped overboard, diving deep, inducing a trance that put my body to sleep, not even a heartbeat to locate. I remained under water until dark came, then I surfaced slowly. There was no sign of the trireme or any other ship so I floated, waiting, pondering. I had put the sphere in a pocket and now I carefully reached for it, remembering the burning pain I received when I grabbed it.
“We were familiar with these devices, though you may not remember. Each was programmed to one person only. This one however had been mucked with, probably shared between the two Betrayers so it was a bit flexible, its security having been compromised. I engaged it with my fingers closing in on it slowly. I confused it and finally took it in my hand and closed my hand on it as we used to do. At first there was no response and I didn’t mind, glad that I had removed one important weapon from our enemies. With nothing else to do but floating with the waves and feeling the great sea all around, I kept focusing on the sphere, asking my questions. Finally it responded. It threw out a weak light in answer to some of my questions, turned dark and refused to answer others.
“How were you rescued from the sea?”
“A trader sailed close enough I was able to grab a rope dangling from the side and in the cover of night, climb aboard and hide until they reached port. Disguised as a sailor I grabbed some bundles and followed the others onto the quay, dropped my bundles and disappeared in the crowds.
“But about the sphere, I’ve had over a thousand earth years to reprogram it to my own touch and mind; to make it my own. It has served me well.
“Now I wish to make it accept you as the only other who may hold it.”
“Could we not just make a duplicate for myself?”
“I doubt it. If it could have been done the Betrayers certainly would have done so.”
“Thanks for showing it to me Lo but I’m too tired to deal with that now. Come to bed?”
He mentally locked the device, put it back in its hiding place and followed his wife to bed. She was tired but still she turned to him for the sex. She had always possessed a powerful need for it and he certainly did not mind accommodating that need.
Morning came, bright and sunny, a typical harbinger of spring when hope for an end of winter rises.
There was no sign of Deanna or her Werewolf. Lo and Nal found many things to do around the cottage and barns, repairing, reinforcing, feeding the animals, enjoying a few moments of normal earth life on a farm. The shepherd boy Giles found endless numbers of excuses for leading or following Nal about the yards, explaining things that she did not need explaining and proudly introducing her to his own pig, “Rumpf.”
“I saved his life when he was just a piglet and a fox had grabbed him. With his burden the fox couldn’t run as fast as usual and I was able to catch him and beat him with a stick to make him abandon his prize. Master MacGruder was so taken with the story and laughed so hard that he gave it to me. “That’s my pig, Nal” he said proudly. “I own my own animal! I am a man of property.” She acknowledged his pride with a hug that made him feel as if his feet had left the ground. “I’m proud of you, Giles,” she said, then, “and perhaps later you and I can do some sparring, what say you man?”
With his heart thumping so hard and loud he thought she’d hear it he said,
“T’would be my honour to spar with ye, lass!” and thought himself quite the complete man for saying so. Nal smiled and chuckled. She certainly didn’t mind the boy’s attentions and she knew neither would Lo. ‘He’ll learn my boundaries soon enough and his broken heart, if it must be broken, will lead him on to a suitable partner.’