Tag Archives: Quest

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #73

No, this will not happen.  I have a job to do.  My training and my enhancements were all gifts to me exactly for this moment.  XBA9 was tortured to death so I would have this opportunity.  This is one of those classic turning points in history when one person, one “hero” can make the difference and everything changes, forever.
End blog post #72
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Begin blog post #73

Chapter 32 – The Fight of the Beasts – Part One

The evening before the fight gives us a clear sky with glowing red clouds in a fiery sunset.  The setting sun sends off rays all the way to the meridian above the keep.  It is beautiful.  I ask my handlers if I can just stand for a while and watch the patterns in the sky, alone.  To my surprise they acquiesce to my request and two of them stand almost respectfully at some distance behind me, also staring into the beauty spread so lavishly above us.  Suddenly they both approach me and hold my arms gently.  One of them puts his hand under my chin as I instinctively bow my head in submission and makes me look into his face.  He pulls me slowly to himself and kisses me, as he’s undoubtedly seen women do with each other many times. 

This too is another of those massive breakthroughs. 

The other looks perplexed by his partner’s move, then tries it also.  I kiss him back warmly and gently.  I move my hand to his penis and it is fully erect, hard in my hand.  I fondle him.  He understands now at least one of the uses of kissing.  To him it had always been nothing more than some kind of stupid display of female emotion and weakness. 

Both of them take me around the back of the weapons cases and make love to me.  Yes, they actually make love.  They allow me to play them and arouse them fully before they come.  It is pleasant; it is good; it is like giving the finger to that terrible Force that my “high” sense keeps telling me uses the artificial world of Albaral to poison the men’s minds against women on this world.  No it’s even better than that.  It’s an awakening for the three of us. A bonding that can never be reversed.

They walk me back slowly to the cages.  Tiki is standing, a bit worried I think, maybe jealous.  I take her in my arms and for a long time after the gate has closed and the handlers have walked away we hold and caress each other.  I see many faces turned to me, to us.  On those faces closest to me I see smiles – smiles!  I smile back at them then Tiki and I slip down together into the straw and soon fall asleep.  Another dreamless, innocent sleep that ends with the morning call.  I awaken from a great distance and immediately realize what day this is.

It has been said that ‘only the dead do not know fear’ but if that is true then I must surely be dead.  I do not feel fear.  I feel as a bride on her wedding day.  This is when it comes together for me. 

So many paths, so many twists, turns, dead ends.  But this path has been the most trying.  For years I struggled on it and the thorns, thistles, broken branches and fallen trees kept blocking my advance, tripping me, crushing my bones and making me bleed.  For some days now I’ve stopped struggling and now the path is clear. 

Ahead, in a clear bright light I see one single set of stairs and two altars.  The one on the left is covered with a pure white linen cloth on which the sacrificial victim must lie to be offered in death to the god.  Beside it stands the high priest with the sacrificial knife to cut the victim’s heart out.  Yes, I remember that part.

On the other is a wonderful set of deadly blades and a knight with a golden sword half drawn waiting to knight me and hand me the blades. 

It’s a simple, age-old choice. 

One, I believe and I trust the High Priest to know better than I ever could.  In his hands I die a sacrifice to the God as I have been in the habit of doing over and over. 

Two, I walk to the Knight, kneel, accept the knighthood proffered.  I take the weapons, walk past the altar into the room where the demon in black metal armour awaits my entrance.  He is ready to fight me, dishonour me, kill and devour me along with all I have ever loved and cared for, living or dead.

That is the choice I have been moving towards since I evolved into ISSA consciousness.  This choice determines whether I graduate, or remain in obedient subservience and servitude to a Higher Power.

I choose the weapons.  I go to meet Warmo.  It is time.

End blog post #73

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #56

I’m a philosopher by experience but also because I am a natural-born Altarian.  We are doers, of course, but not exactly fools who rush in where angels fear to tread.  Before we act we seek to know.  Of course it is not always possible to know, since knowledge emanates from a blend of experience and information.  So we act on what what we’ve studied and already know from experience and attempt to move forward. Thus we are more than what we do; we do not necessarily act according to what we are – that is, what we have become.  We do not allow nature or programming to box us in so easily.  As the doctor pointed out, we have a devious mind developed for one purpose: to thread its way unerringly through the labyrinth of life. That labyrinth takes us, of necessity, through the darkest paths of hell — through the experience of evil.
[end blog post #55
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begin blog post #56]

Chronicler Michele Dellman notes a shift in the monologue here.

The following is purportedly from An’Tierra’s own actually hand-written notes found in the same medical facility attached to the gladiator compound in the Great Keep of the city of Hyrete in the kingdom of Elbre.  They were uncovered buried under a corner stone, sealed in a cheelth envelope she probably had her blacksmith friend manufacture for her. These are An’Tierra’s own words as she wrote them.  We must assume that the reason for this shift would be because the “recorder” was not available and she was convalescing at the time.

‘Sometimes when we find our forward movement lost in some impenetrable fog, we must retrace some steps, look back and take stock of our understanding.

And in this search for the source of evil, I must now look back.  I will probe ever deeper into my memories and find me, or a partial me, who has already done this kind of evil and I will study myself there.  I will dig out that buried part of my past that I may understand Malefactus and from this knowledge, trace the evil to its source.  The bait that will attract this source to me is my own heart; that part of it that once belonged to evil and for which evil has, and probably always will have, an affinity – or until I discover the source of this sickness and destroy it.

There could be no better time than now to do this.  Already so deeply compromised, with little room remaining in my heart to go but up, I must firmly and conclusively go down those remaining steps into my ultimate darkness and embrace my own spiritual death.  In that death, I, An’Tierra, will personally atone for all the deaths I have seen – and been the cause of – on this world and before that.  The difficult process of redemption can thus begin – with me.  That was always the plan, to lose myself in this process out here on one of Earth’s stack worlds which could be referred to as a part of the ISSA conscience of Earth.

Why conscience?  Because it should be evident by now that the real purpose of any set of stack worlds is to provide a place where incarnates of ISSA consciousness of any such world can find a temporary home after dis-incarnation – after their physical death.  The spirits, or ‘souls’ of people needed a place of rest during their ‘lost’ times between incarnations.  So their makers; their gods, created astral copies of their world which I, long ago while still living on Earth, dubbed stack worlds.  These worlds have been variously described as the Abode of the Dead; Heaven; Valhalla; Nirvana; Olympus; Great Beyond; Limbo; Purgatory; Sheol; Tartarus; Hades; Place of Torment; Hell and a host of other names found in all Earthian languages – all of them.  They feature heavily in all of man’s religious beliefs and mythology.  Nor are the concepts and beliefs tied to them restricted to Old Earth.  Wherever humanity is found, this belief is also found.  The reason for this is simple.

Over the aeons of human evolution and climb to self-awareness, it became evident that “life” was more than one short passage on some world, having a series of perhaps interesting but ultimately meaningless experiences after which came permanent obliteration of all that one had ever been, ever known, ever accomplished.  Teachers, often called lords or saints; avatars or saviours, appeared here and there over the years and taught continuity of life, personal responsibility and accountability to the whole through worship of some divine source or ‘All Thing’ called God and a turning away from doing evil.  Such evil was generally described as that which causes harm to others and would earn one eternal punishment in some sort of torment or annihilation.

It was taught that spirits or souls of the dead went to certain “worlds” where they were permanently rewarded for their good deeds in heaven;  or where they were prepared for a return to their “home” world – in this case Earth – through further spiritual evolution by suffering,  either in ‘purgatory’ or on some other astral world. Or, they were permanently banished to suffer eternally in hell for having lived evil lives without repenting of such. These were the basic, simplistic teachings given Earthians by their Teachers.

Some described these outer or astral worlds graphically, the best known images of such worlds being the joys of heaven and the tortures of hell.  Generic terms that served well enough in their time but have now lost their meaning entirely.  In the spiritual emptiness of Earth, from the 19th Century (C-19) to C-22, dissatisfied individuals began to earnestly search for the real abodes of the dead.  By the end of C-22 no one believed in death as termination.  It was then known that de-incarnation meant re-incarnation somewhere else.  It was also known by then that the ancient gods, or the God – basically male and autocratic – was no longer in charge of events in the cosmos.  A great shift had taken place which all ISSA beings sensed even if they did not comprehend its nature and wanted to deny it having taken place.

By the end of C-22 Earthians were dying by the millions.  Localized armed conflicts of a violence and viciousness never seen before flared and burned in every large country, and these broke up into small fiefs, kingdoms or independent city-states.  Unknown diseases, mostly caused by decomposing human bodies, ravaged large areas leaving few alive.  Waves of genocides were launched by groups against groups until no one remained to fight or one overcame the other and totally decimated them.  Revolutions took their toll.  So-called Earth changes, Earthquakes and tsunamis devastated low lands and mountain cities.  Food growing lands were poisoned by the rampaging waters filled with deadly chemicals, residues from destroyed petro-chemical refining and storage plants and the ever-present pestilence caused by decomposing bodies of humans and animals.

By the onset of the 22nd century (C-22), Earth had begun to enter her Great Death that would proceed inexorably to the middle of C-24, bringing the peak human population from 8.6 billions at the end of C-21 to possibly less than one billion.  (The exact lower figure is unavailable as the die-back was still in effect when I was in contact with information from Earth) This massive die-back began to have a sobering effect upon the technological and market-place madness that had rendered Earth all but un-inhabitable for most land and sea life.  But one thing remained to plague Earthian humanity: its inability to consider equality of genders.  Through the die-back, women and children’s position in society fell drastically once more. Men regained most of their patriarchal power positions and absolute authority.  Female and child slavery surfaced openly everywhere.  Sexual bondage became the only way a woman had for seeking protection for herself and her children if she had any.

During those terrible times a small group of WindWalkers incarnated on Earth to study the situation.  As one of those  (we were only five individuals) and an “expert” on Earthian mores, besides being now a full-fledged Altarian master of logic, I led this group.  Our purpose was not meant to render physical help as such an effort would have required a massive input of support and services from the Galactic human family which was at that time weakened by, and fully involved in, fighting the Melkiar invasion and in any case was still cut-off from interaction with Earth and her stack worlds.

We concentrated our efforts in determining what was wrong with the thinking patterns of Earthians, that they could not see the damage they were doing to themselves and their world by oppressing the female aspect.

At the beginning of our investigations we had blamed their misogynist tendencies squarely unto their greater religions, all of whom claimed a divine right to make laws based on worship of a single Male Deity that basically, in whatever form worshipped, feared and hated the female.  But these fabrications were no longer in contention for power.  What remained was purely secular.  Political power was ascendant, followed distantly by money.  A kind of Neo-Late-Dark-Age mindset ruled the planet.

The five of us, three males and two females disguised as males of necessity, used various approaches to do our research among two basic groups:  the rich owners from whom we hoped to learn of their needs to oppress their females and young, and among the most exploited groups, in the compounds where women were kept ostensibly for their protection, along with their children.  Among these “protected” groups, young nubile females – and not a few young pretty boys also – were chosen to sate the sexual and sadistic appetites of rich and powerful males.  Many young women were simply auctioned off as house slaves or into the sex trade: to pimps and owners of proliferating brothels and entertainment houses.

As we casually walked among these people and interacted with them, using simple logic methods for questioning, we analyzed their ways and motives.  In doing so it became obvious to us that they were not free of mind to do what they were doing.  “Something” was driving them.

That “something” I concluded was an energy that emanated from one of Earth’s astral worlds.  I remembered having had that idea long ago in another life on Earth.  I had dubbed my “imaginary” world “Malefactus” – first as a joke and a play on words, then as a means of focusing on its reality – at least for me.  A starting point.  I advised my WindWalker group that I would de-incarnate from Earth, re-incarnate on the training astro-world Beta-9 for my license upgrade, some more basic training, and join the fight against the Melkiars as skipper of Jump Scout ships.  Whatever I could learn on Earth I had already transferred via mind-jump through my Galactic Altarian contacts to be stored in Altarian archives dedicated to me as Al’Tara – copies to be filed on the galactic wandering library mind Aíoná.

Following this – I had a clear awareness that I would die in that war – I would return to Altaria for rest, refocusing and research on Malefactus.  My plan was simple.  Once I had enough information regarding that possible astral world, I would re-incarnate on it and proceed to do whatever could be done to effect change there – at what I hoped would be the source of Earth’s misogynist sickness.

As already mentioned I fought and died near the end of the Melkiar invasions.  I spent some years on Altaria, found some of the information on Malefactus I had hoped to locate, and re-incarnated (manifested physically) on ‘Stack World minus four’ (SW-4) of the lower set of the six dark worlds where I am now living, or to put it in a more accurate sense, existing and surviving day to day, always under the shadow of imminent death, as are all of the women in this compound.’

This concludes the Michele Dellman article.

[end blog post #56]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #44

(I must be tired… forgot to post the title of this blog post…)

Fate, yes.  Some Earthian friend of long ago called it karma.  Whatever it was I would pit myself against, I would serve Earth again.  The people would never know but she would know.  She would be grateful.  “Ich diene.”
[end blog post #43]


[begin blog post #44]

Chapter 20 –  Goodbye until the End of Time

The day drags on, yet the moments fly.  I strain to hear sounds from the kitchens that indicate Deirdre is there, working and in her inimitable way, amusing the other workers without seeming to do so, right under the eyes of their guards. 

Why am I torturing myself so?  I act as if I were a pubescent girl in love for the first time with a man who pays no attention to her.  Damn.  What a predicament.  Now I can understand what those poor Earthians went through with their own personal love affairs I thought were so stupid.  Now I certainly could empathize.  Now I’m living their pain.  What a terrible thing this inloveness is!  And the worse is yet to come.

I dread the time of evening meal.  She will come out, unaware, innocent, and will give me my bowl with her beautiful hands, the long fingers shamelessly running over my skin, her hair brushing my bare shoulders.  She will lean against me for a few moments before moving on and returning into the kitchens.  And I will never see her again.

The sun has gone behind the battlements and Albaral has not risen yet.  We end our training for the day; put away the wooden and rough or worn out fibresteel weapons we train with.  Wash and get in line for count, inspection and finally our evening meal.

Two of our own have not returned from the arena.  I should feel something for them, I know, compassion and a real sense of personal loss, not necessarily in that order.  But what I feel is envy.  I’m jealous of their new found freedom.  Death means it’s over, all the pain and suffering we are made to endure; that so many endure all over this world.  Death means we find peace finally.  We can fly away free for as long as we wish it.  Death is our blessed realm.

Of course that is an incomplete picture, but my mind is not into completing images right now.  I feel torn and shattered.  The count and inspection complete we line up at the tables and sit, waiting silently for our meal.  The clattering in the kitchens stops and silent young servant women file out, each with two bowls in hand, passing them out.  Deirdre is not among them.  Again I’m paralyzed by fear that something happened, that our plan was discovered, that they’ve taken her to kill her.  I can barely eat, yet I must so as not to arouse suspicion.   

The meal over we wash our faces quickly as we pass the washing troughs, then file into the cage compound, each to our own.  In the gloom I see a young woman in my cage, and for a moment I think it’s Deirdre but it is not.  She could pass for Deirdre in size and no guard recognizes the subterfuge.  I don’t know where they found her or how they got her into my cage but it satisfies the official count.  I sit next to her and she moves against me, crawling between my legs as the young ones often do, like young animals seeking a mother’s warmth and protection.  I hold her lightly and wait.  More lights go out and there is the usual noise of the changing of the guard outside, only with much less volume than usual.  Many less men out there.  Then as the automatic alarm systems fully set themselves, no one remains in the yards to accidentally trigger the sensors. 

Rising Albaral is hidden behind phosphorescent-edged clouds above the keep.

With night comes the expected storm.  I can hear the thunder far away and soon the wind comes up.  Heavy drops of rain spatter far above on the tiled roofs, sparsely at first, then increasing to a true downpour. Distant lightning flashes and my heart beats as loud as the thunder.  After a time a trainer comes to my cage and opens it.  The young woman, startled begins to stand.  She is ordered to lie down in the straw and to not make a move: she won’t.  Guided by the Cydroid-trainer’s extended arm I step out and follow.  In the gloom I see two guards carrying the body of a woman towards one of the southern portals.  Deirdre?  It has to be!  It opens and I want to run out to her and at the very least, whisper goodbye.  The false trainer grabs me and whispers my task again. 

“You have twenty minutes now to lay the marks.  I will wait for you inside the wall and return you to your cell.  Your friend is fine.”

I run out as if I were making for the crossing, then turn sharply, digging in the muddy sand to leave impressions, run down to the water and go in silently, gliding through the deep waters.  For a moment I can even enjoy the sensation of swimming, even though the water is icy.  Reaching the far side, I run up the bank far enough for my footprints to get lost in the shifting sands.  I steal one moment to stand and stretch in the breeze, outside the keep, giving myself a momentary illusion of freedom. 

I carefully retrace the steps, backward over the first set until I’m in the water, turn and, as silently as before swim back across the moat.  I take a different path along hard ground and rock, back to the portal that immediately hisses shut.  The false trainer leads me back to my cage.  It’s now empty.  I understand the simplicity of that part of the plan here:  I go in with Deirdre; a trainer orders me out of my cage in the night and makes me walk outside the walls and back.  When I return Deirdre is gone.  Meanwhile in reality my false companion is returned wherever she came from and cannot be found to be interrogated.  In any case, she would have no story to tell except she was put in the wrong cage, in the wrong line-up.  She could not know why the mistake was made.  My lies and her innocence almost guarantee a dead-end.

I spend the night transfixed in thorough angst, ice running through my veins – feeling more alone than I remember ever having felt.

I look up through the only opening visible where sometimes you can see a star or two, or where Albaral crosses.  It’s still dark and raining so if they reach the craft in time, assuming they have a reliable carrier that won’t be grounded by lightning, it will have gone through the clouds and become invisible quickly. I can see and imagine the shuttle craft streaking across the skies picking up speed to vanish on its way to Koron, a trip that should take the small craft just a bit over six months shunting time.  How I long at this moment, to be aboard that craft!

Goodbye until the end of time! 

“Don’t look back when you reach the new shore,
Don’t forget what you’re leaving me for,
Don’t forget when you’re missing me so,
Love must never hold,
Never hold tight but let go.

Oh the nights will be long,
When I’m not in your arms,
But I’ll be in your song,

That you sing to me, across the sea.
Somehow, someday, you will be far away,
So far from me and maybe one day,
I will follow you,
‘Til then, send me a song.”

(excerpt from “Send me a Song” by Celtic Woman)

And I cry for us, for her, for me. 

Not all of it is sad. 

I take comfort in the Cydroid’s words of certainty.  She is safe.  What else matters? 

For now I must try to find some sleep.  Tomorrow we will be subjected to the inevitable investigation.  Escapes, even attempted ones, are taken most seriously here as I’ve seen.  If the investigators cannot arrive at logical conclusions regarding the events, they will arrest individuals at random and send them to be interrogated by the inquisitors.  Most will never return.  They will be made to endure the most extreme sophistication of torture ever devised by pseudo-humans, either to extract information (the lesser reason) or satisfy the torturer’s lusts. 

Since Deirdre is my friend and known as my lover, I will certainly be one of those chosen for the inquisition.  Ah well, it’s the price you pay for loving, for caring, for standing out in some way and for upsetting the status quo which I’ve already done much of.  I know in my heart that even if I had nothing to do with Deirdre they would come for me.  I’ve been on their list of suspected subversives for some years now, whomever ‘They’ be.

This I must share here: my experiences on Old Earth taught me well as regards those we are forced to call ‘They’ in referring to ‘Powers’ we know exist but cannot identify because they are chameleonic in nature and use humans to camouflage their evil works.  We’ve always known ‘They’ exist and have power of life and death over us, never mind how many legal ‘rights’ or safeguards we are given under the law.  Whenever we choose right over wrong in their viewpoint and according to their arbitrary rules we are targeted as the enemy; terrorists, subversives, spies and in many cases we forfeit our lives to them.  So, let me emphasize that ‘They’ are very real to me. 

I must sleep now.
[end blog post #44]

 

Detachment to Life

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

“I’ve always felt that what we are taught of detachment at home is an illusion.  I think the ancients know this too, but let us discover it on our own.  They equip us to go with a story that makes sense only until it is tested.  A truly detached ISSA*, seems to me, at this point at least, is an oxymoron.”  (Antierra monologue speaking of her teachings on detachment while on her home world of Altaria – Antierra Manifesto)

Once the basics of one Earthian incarnation have been experienced – surviving, satisfying desires, experimenting with physical senses, what’s left but death, or entering upon a quest for the greater meaning of Life as a self aware being? 

If one chooses “death” which to me means going on repeating experiences pointlessly, then that’s that.  If one chooses the quest, there has to be a sure way to enter into that which guarantees one will not fall back into such silly behaviour as being a sports fan, chasing the opposite gender for sexual gratification, “making” money, hating, fighting, killing then dying to find out it was all a chimera.

Seems to me the way to freedom is opened through detachment.  What keeps us enslaved to the wheel of the System is an array of attachments each one justifying and strengthening the other. It behooves us therefore to relinquish all our attachments to the things this world offers more as bait than as satisfaction (since none ever completely satisfy, and that should be a very broad hint). 

OK, so I want to learn the meaning of Life, not just the meaning (if there be any) of one little incarnation on this little world but the meaning of Life as expressed through an infinite and timeless cosmos: that meaning! Only a free being can ever hope to enter into such a quest.  Attachments are all those things, big and small, that translate as chains, shackles, stanchions, locks, doors, walls, perimeters, limits that take one to termination.  In this situation, death becomes the final attachment. 

Before one tackles the difficult concept of death, one should consider the pattern of lesser attachments that enslave us to our body and its world and how we are connected to the pattern.  As long as a single attachment remains unexplored and connected, death remains the final enigma. Yet unless one can know all about death, even if the words to describe this certainty do not exist, the quest for Life remains closed.  Death was invented to create the impression that there is no such thing as “Life” as an infinite concept; that “Life” had been conquered. All attachments are lies and death is the final and greatest lie of all when living under attachments.

How then does one person achieve a place of total detachment?  As said above, it isn’t easy.  To my heroine (granted she is under extreme stress in that part of the story) it seems impossible.  But nothing is impossible! Impossible is just another attachment!

Detachment, once decided upon, comes through self empowerment.  All my choices are mine and I take full responsibility for the results.  Sure, there will remain many little itches of attachments, like cold sniffles or skin blemishes, but my immune system is self empowerment and that is how I heal myself, as much and as many times as it takes.  I learn not to repeat stupid or pointless moves. I learn to be satisfied with an experience that I know will not improve the more I do it. 

Prayers will not be answered with greater alacrity or better overall results.  Hockey games won’t improve. TV won’t demonstrate a higher level of intelligence. Cigarettes or booze won’t taste better. Crossing borders won’t become easier or safer and sex… well I think we all know the answer to that one.

I learn not to waste my time on the treadmill or the merry-go-round and I learn to use that salvaged time to better my understanding.  If I have any problem on how to direct this new understanding, I cradle it within compassion thus guaranteeing a successful continuation to the quest I am on.

Yes Antierra, it is possible to become totally detached.  You have to learn to take the broader view of the concept.    

*ISSA: acronym for intelligent, sentient, self aware

 

The Accused

(I may have posted this story before, I cannot remember and it doesn’t matter, it’s a question of conscience, feelings, and a particular burning remembrance in my heart.)

The Accused

                                   [a short story from  ~ burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

A black hood is pulled over her head and tied around her neck.

She is propelled into the interrogation room down a flight of four cement steps to fall blindly against a metal table leg.

Grabbed from behind, she is roughly pulled up and her wrists shackled to a bar above her head.

Through the torn blouse and knee length skirt her flesh shows deep bruising and bloody cuts.

She hangs motionless .  Silent.

The interrogator’s voice is harsh, cutting,

“You are accused of treason.  How do you plead?”

No answer.

“You must answer me.”

No answer.

“Make her talk.”

Torture.  Moans.  Gagging.  A scream escapes the hooded prisoner’s lips.

“Stop!”

Silence, except for the prisoner’s halting breathing and low moans.

“Are you a traitor to the state?”

No answer.

“Again I ask: Are you a traitor?”

A sigh but no answer.

“Make her talk.”

More torture.  More screams.  No pleading for mercy.

They tie her ankles to keep her from kicking.
Blood drips down her legs and bare feet;
falls to pool on the cement floor that has accumulated same on many previous occasions.

“Stop!”

“You are accused of sedition against the State.  How do you plead?”

Short gasps, moaning.  No audible word.

“Answer me!”

A high-pitched moan, no verbal answer.

“Make her talk!”

Scream!  Scream!  Long, piercing blood-curdling scream… loud moan and silence.

“Stop!”

The interrogator stands up from his chair and walks around to face the woman.  He looks at her bleeding and shaking form for several seconds.  He unties the hood and pulls it from her head.

“Oh God, no! … NO!  This cannot be happening!”

“Father,”  whispers the girl through her broken face, “you assured me you never tortured prisoners.  I had to know if you were lying to me.  At least I am not dying in ignorance.  I forgive you…”

Her head drops forward.

“Get an ambulance here — now!  Unshackle her, lay her on the table, get blankets, get water, cloths, move!”

From the shadows the attending physician comes forward, checks the prisoner’s pulse and the severity of her wounds and pronounces a physician’s most dreaded words:  “She is dead sir.”

A Meditative Journey into the Cave of Fear

This story uses the prompt “Cave” and was written for the October “blog battle” at rachaelritchey.com,    https://blogbattlers.wordpress.com/2018/10/09/stories-cave/

Short Story by Sha’Tara

It began as a deliberate entry into a gaping opening in the side of a low mountain. I could hear water dripping from wet walls and feel the clinging cold dampness of the place. The question I had to face was whether to proceed into this cave. Of course I could not know the end of it without the experience of it, so I decided to enter.

There was a kind of track sloping down, made of natural crushed shale and slippery under my hiking shoes. After finding my balance, down I went, surrounded by a growing opaque darkness. I had no fire or flashlight, just my senses to guide me and my unquenchable curiosity to push me onward.

As I walked deeper into the cave, it became pitch black and I had to give up trying to use my eyes.  Without any light to define the surrounding darkness, there was nothing to see.  But wait, that’s when I “saw” a new kind of light, surreal, somewhat as depicted in Kirlian photographs.  I could see without seeing!  I could now step forward and down with greater confidence.  The water still dripped from the black walls and I could see it glistening on the ceiling.

There was a warm dankness about the place and I smelled an unpleasant odor. At this point the eerie lighting showed me a small tunnel branching off on the right. I walked to its entrance and saw a dry surface leading upward.  It had an easy walking surface, no loose rocks or shale, just flat grey rock.

Choice.  Should I take this inviting tunnel, or keep on the downward journey of the other one?  Something within me reasoned this drier tunnel would be a dead end, or take me back up and out the other side of the mountain.  I chose to continue down the original cave, ever deeper under the mountain.  That’s when I realized I had passed my first test.

I continued to question the purpose of this weird quest and who had carved these tunnels, and why?  Where was the King under the Mountain?  Where was the sound of hammers as Dwarves carved out the hard black rock to find their precious stones, their silver and gold?

“What will I find in the tunnel?” asks Luke Skywalker of Yoda.  “Fear” he replied.  “Your greatest fear.  Do not take your weapons down there, they will only contribute to your downfall.”  But the young, the rash, the foolish seldom listen to the voice of experience and wisdom.  He went fully armed into the tunnel to be  confronted by his arch-enemy, Darth Vader.  They fought.  Luke won and cut Vader’s head off.  When he looked into the terrible mask, his own face stared back at him.  Fear gives birth to anger, anger to hate and hate to death.  There is no escape. The undisciplined, un-empowered overconfident self is always our own worst enemy.

My fear of what lay ahead became palpable. I sensed a ‘Something’ not alive as we understand the concept and I knew it was lurking further down. It had eyes that could see the minutest details in the dark; that could see into the heart and find every weakness, every frailty, every shadow, every dark, hidden corner where residues of resentment, shame and guilt are stored.  That is what it wanted to feast upon.  It was starving for an orgy on human sin.

I knew then it would never let me leave this place, even if I turned and tried to run back up the way I’d come.  This was its world or perhaps better put, an underworld.  There were hidden passages I sensed as flow of air coming from the sides of the cave. It used these as shortcuts to waylay any creature that wandered this far.

If we intend to walk the darkness of the underworld we must not carry darkness within our mind-heart.  Only the pure of heart can pass unmolested to enter the sacred place of sacrifice.  Yes, that’s what had drawn me down this corridor of non-time.  I remembered what came at the end of this place: sacrifice and redemption.  I understood fully why the beast or beasts, for I now sensed many,  waylaid me.  If I passed, I would have a clear conscience and they would be defeated, left starving.  Thus I would be permitted to offer myself as a sacrifice upon the altar of fire at the end of this journey and in doing so I could call upon the great forces of spirit to grant my one wish. If I passed.

They knew.  And they came upon me to find my darkness; to feed on my fear, for fear is darkness.  I am so close to being devoured here.  I have no weapon with which to ward these starving demons.  I have no protection.  There is no place to turn, not even against a wall – they are all around me, salivating, snarling, growling.  “Give in to your fear… give in and hate me with all the passion that is within you.  Anticipate the pain you are going to endure when my poisoned fangs sink into your flesh, and scream your rage!”

This is when I found some of my power. “Peace!” I said to myself, I came to this place, to confront my fear and not to give in to it.  To test my resolve since that day long ago when I had made a decision and chosen my own name. Shalom Tara! I closed my eyes and slowly sank upon the rough floor.  Beings of light completed this vision then, approaching and taking my hands, helping me to stand and leading me through the rest of the way.

So did I pass my second test. The third has yet to come.

The Sword, the Bow and the Staff

(The continuing saga, in which is introduced the ancient mythological belief in lycanthropy.  Enjoy)

Part I The Calling
Start section 14 (fourteen)

“What are the names of the Betrayers, Nal? I need to know to begin my own search for them.”

“If you feel you can do such a thing, do be careful. There is a tall and very powerful wizard called Gehandor the White because of his pale skin, white hair and eyes so pale they seemed almost white. He is not so much cruel as power-mad. He will use any and all means to gain the power and adulation he craves. Fear is his greatest weapon against men.

The other is Tel’Madan. He is of average height with features commonly associated with people called Mongols or of those from Cathay, with similar eyes but rounder face than mine. From what I remember and Lo tells me, nothing on this world exceeds the cruelty  of this false Alay. Not only did he torture me to death in the most horrible ways, he did so to his own wife.

“Those of course were their ancient names, they would probably have changed those many times since as they moved through the lands and man’s history. Today, they could call themselves Thomas or Paulus, any common and acceptable name, for they serve worldly powers and would carry Christian names. Their last names serve no purpose for our quest since they would take whatever common family name exists in whatever territory they would be serving in. There is also the strong possibility that they found ways to change their physiognomy although Lo tells me he has not been able to alter his.

“No, what we must do is focus on their characteristics, not their names. What we need to discover is where there are major wars being fought and which side is accompanied by a wizard which would usually be the winning side. The mainland seems beset with endless battles and many were being fought there when my mother’s master left Iberia for the city of London. What a dreary and smelly place that is. The fogs are what finally killed my mother, not just the mistreatment she got at the hands of the master when he got drunk, or angry. They would have killed me too if I hadn’t escaped when I did. So many people die in that city. Horrible, Donna, a simply horrible place!

“Come, we need to work with the staff again. Tomorrow if Lo hasn’t returned we will test your skills with the bow. As to searching for our enemies, I leave that entirely to your discretion as long as you remember to be very, very discrete.”

After cutting out a staff of suitable length for Donna from a young ash shoot and hardening the ends in their fire, they began sparring again. This time the advantage clearly went to Donna. She was a swift and fierce antagonist and Nal noted that when Donna moved with her staff she was dancing, not really fighting. She whirled and turned, jumped and ducked as if there was music playing in her ears. Nal, though quite accurate and fast with a staff, lacked the size, weight and reach of her opponent. Twice Donna knocked the staff from her hands and held her down. Finally Nal called it.

Without bitterness or envy, Nal said, “There’s no point continuing this. You and Lo can spar with the staffs, I’m no match for either of you ‘giants’! I hardly ever use my staff except in self defence anyway, usually against animals which are more my height! This one goes to you!”

“Thank you Nal. I was thinking while we were sparring if it were possible to combine our illusion making powers with energy transfer… I’m not sure what I mean but I can visualize it if you want to look.”

“You were thinking – while we were sparring??? It was that easy for you? Hm… but good news for you that is. Let me ‘see’ about this energy transfer. Oh, I see what you want to do here. Never heard of that possibility. So you would extend your hand as if to create an illusion but instead you would shoot off a strand of energy to knock down an opponent, or clear an obstacle from your path? You think that is possible? I don’t remember such in my deepest awakened memories. It certainly would come in handy when outnumbered. We must try that.”

Holding her staff in one hand and planting it solidly in the soil, Donna stood on a firm footing and sighted a small stone at a distance of about ten yards. She focused her mind, gathered energy and thrust her arm with hand wide open in the direction of the stone. In three seconds the stone shattered.

“I just wanted to push it!” exclaimed a distraught Donna. If I did that to someone it would kill them horribly!”

“Perhaps why we never used it, but more likely this is a combined power of the new Earth-based Alaya, the good and the evil blending, more of those strange mutations that arise on this world. You will learn to control it. Do you think you could share this with me so I and Lo could have it also?”

“If it is an Earth-based and combined Alaya power, then you perhaps may be able to absorb it, but would Lo? There is no human in him, except for that which infects him, but that’s different, is it not? This could probably hurt him.”

“Truthfully, I don’t know what our boundaries are. We represent new creatures on this world and there are no rules that govern our thoughts or movements unless we make them. We can only experiment, learn and remember anything new that we discover. Know this Donna: we are very complex creatures now. But if he couldn’t absorb it it wouldn’t hurt him, his system would simply reject it. He wouldn’t notice anything except when he went to test it and there was nothing there.”

“Why didn’t you make new earth-based Alay’s and Alaya’s before me?”

“It wasn’t possible before you, Donna. There is something in you that allows, that gives you, an affinity with us that is not of the natural order of this world. Perhaps, thinking about your question a bit deeper, there has been some change in the human mind, some small piece of evolution that allows some of our powers to transfer to humans. It has, after all, been tens of millennia since we stopped being full Alas.

“I’m curious though, what do you know of your parents, your ancestry?”

“Not much. My father was a woodsman and I was told he died young. My mother is a servant in Torglynn. I have two brothers, both older, and a younger sister who is lame and cannot walk. I have never been close to my older siblings. My brothers despise me for asking too many questions and debating the values of many traditions with them and also because I am taller and fairer of skin than they. My little sister whose father is different than mine is too young to understand much, only five springs to her. She is sweet. She can only drag herself about but she likes to sit in the sun, rock and sing to herself. She wraps sticks or vegetables in pieces of cloth and holds them to herself, singing to them. She has large blue eyes that look deep into you when you talk to her. I worry what will come of her if mother dies. I should like to return one day, heal her and take her away from there. I think I could do that now.”

There was a period of silence between them, both reminiscing.

“Oh the stories we create with our lives, Donna. If we wrote everything down, the books would cover this world. Instead we have bodies and they carry our hopes and dreams and memories and keep us going. To what end though? If there is no heaven or hell, then what is there? I’m an Alaya, or a reincarnation of one. Where did we come from? From the gods, Lo said to me a long time ago it seems. What does that mean? I don’t know. Do we return to the gods? Is there an accounting of the work we’ve done, or failed to do? If we return, then how, when? Where are the rules? I may have been much mocked for breaking many rules in my endless run from slavery but still, there has to be some basic rules, doesn’t it?

“Lo said that we were sent here to basically shepherd the young races long long ago. That’s a purpose but what about all the people? What’s their purpose if they have one, and how are they to discover it? From us? There are hundreds of millions of people here, my mother explained to me, and so I remember now, and there’s but the three of us at this point counting you, and we’re hiding from two powerfully evil ones?

“My life, small though it was and insignificant, probably meaningless, made more sense to me six months ago than it does today.”

Nal began to cry and Donna dropped her staff and came over to hold her, saying nothing. Behind the darkening clouds the sun moved fast, driven to fall behind the horizon. A flash of lightning was followed by rolling thunder. The two women slipped into the cave, re-built their fire and realized they were very hungry but all they had was left over bread crusts and the mouldy cheese that was not improving with time.

“If nothing else happens to change everything again, we need to go hunting tomorrow. Perhaps an opportunity to find out if the bow is also your weapon, Donna?”

“But if I miss, we’ll lose a sure game.”

“No matter, it will be worth the try. If you miss I’ll go out alone and bring something down. You can stay and gather more wood and kindling, or make us another water basket? Yesterday’s is drying up and starting to leak.”

They sat on the sandy soil by the fire. Darkness fell, lit up regularly by more lightning flashes. After the thunder rolls their wolf companion howled forlornly from the darkness. Nal began to worry about Lo, wondering where he was, if he was safe, if he was on the trail, or in a cozy shelter awaiting daylight. She dared not use her thought-form energy to contact him, not sure if she could do the blending, giving it the misdirection he’d instructed to do.

The rain began and it fell in torrents driven by a tremendously powerful gale-force wind. Soon the hills became alive with the noise of flash streams and the crash of stones eroding from their beds and tumbling down. Water began to trickle into the cave from the base of the entrance, the flow increasing with the rain’s intensity. They watched with growing dismay as the water flowed into their shelter, threatening to soak their bedding and put out their fire.

“Guess what, Donna. We now know why this cave has such a smooth sandy floor: it’s stream bed! That also explains the hole at the back of the cave, it’s were the water flows out. So by morning there could be up to two feet of water here. We’d better try to find some place to hang the pack and our bedding, and quickly.”

“No! Wait! I have an idea, Nal. Let me try something first.”

She quickly stripped her clothes off to keep them dry and slipped out into the torrent and rising gale and disappeared. Some moments later a sound as of the earth shooting up was heard around the cave and she felt the ground shaking as in a mild earthquake. The water stopped entering the cave and Donna slipped back in shivering and reaching for her clothes. Nal helped her dry and dress and held her near the fire.

“You had me frightened for you. What did you do out there?”

“So simple Nal. I focused my illusion and projection energy on the front of the cave and blew up the ground all around, creating a trough for the water to by-pass our shelter and a small dike behind it. I did them deep enough and high enough to hold until this storm is over. But we have to think bigger, much bigger Nal. Something strange is happening to my mind and now I know things I should not. I know this country well and I can assure you this is not a natural storm. Do you think your Betrayers have found us and this is round one?”

“I can’t possibly know that! We need Lo here! If it is Betrayer power that could mean they fear us and dare not confront us directly. If they have found us, they know about this cave. They could be trying to force us out into the storm to confuse and weaken us, perhaps even get us separated. Sounds like crazy wild imagination but all things are possible. But if they can move such forces as this storm how can we hope to confront them successfully? We’re surely doomed!”

“You’re allowing your fear of the unknown to distress you, Nal. Stop it! Stop it at once! They are afraid of us! We are the unknown to them. They can’t attack us directly either. If this is their doing, they just showed us their first weakness: as you guessed, they fear a direct encounter. If they use so much energy to create this storm, that will also weaken them. Let them rage and storm at a distance: we are the strong ones now. We also outnumber them and we are creating new forces that may render theirs obsolete.”

“Donna! How can you know such things? Who, what are you? Where does all that come from? How can there be so much power inside an ordinary human girl? There can’t be, I’ve known humans since they first learned to use language. They don’t possess the ability to project mental powers except perhaps in rare ones and those are weak things.”

“Ever since this afternoon I have felt a huge increase of my powers of awareness and discernment. It’s like a bubbling in my mind and my heart. I have doubted and feared this after defeating you with the staff and destroying that stone. This storm, however, has changed everything. I recognize this energy of mine. I know it. Hah! Listen to me. I too have a story! Now I remember, listen to me!

“It is I whose father is a faerie lord or to be precise, an Elven lord of the ancient worlds. More, he is not dead, he lives. As a tiny infant I was stolen from my creche and then lost when the thieves who were faeries crossed the barrier between our worlds and this one. My earth mother in Torglynn didn’t give birth to me, she found me while gathering roots and adopted me but never told me why I was fairer and taller than all the others.

“Oh, if only I had known what I was, I would never have allowed myself to be captured like a dumb heifer, so stupidly, by those murderous invaders, and yes, Nal, I remember all of it, that you saved my life and blocked my memories to help me heal. It is good, what you did but no longer necessary. Thanks to your gifts of Alaya power and my own heritage I now have power even I cannot fathom, but I will bring it out and I will use it without fear.

“I can see far, far away right now, listen. Your Betrayers are far away Nal. There is a war to the south, across a narrow sea and they are both there. They located us because you spoke the inner thought-form language but the storm was sent from a long distance away. We are safe here this night. We can sleep together but now I realize something else I must do. When Wolf returns and calls for me I will go to him and share some of my powers with him. I will transform him into a werewolf: it is what he desires for he’s already told me and I will give him the gift of human words. He will follow me then until our quest is complete, for it is now our quest, as you wished it, not just yours and Lo. I and Wolf will stand by you and help you to the end. Then I shall leave and take him with me. I will go and heal my earth sister and bring her with me and Wolf. As a werewolf he will be able to cross the barrier with me and she will ride him. I and Wolf will train her to become a “Wolf Rider” who possess the power and skills to cross between worlds. Oh yes, I will find my father and perhaps my real mother and will take my proper place among my own people. But fear not, I shall tell them of your mighty deeds and entertain for long evenings at our gatherings. There will be much cheering at the names of Nal and Lo.”

“You can foretell our victory, then?”

“No Nal, not directly. I’m cheering you up, lifting up your sagging spirit and helping you see that evil need not be the winner this time. Nothing is ever sure until done and even then tricks can be played. The real game, it never ends but goes ever on. One victory leads to another war, another defeat, another war, another victory. This must be until all is accomplished and everything is changed, nothing of the old remaining, not for Earth people and not for the Elves. We but travel through space and time until both space and time are destroyed, never to be again. Only the faeries and ghosts who live between worlds can escape our doom but who’d want their kind of lives?”

“Oh Donna… I don’t know what to say. I’m truly shocked to discover who you are. I thought… but never mind, who cares now what I thought? You are…”

“I’m definitely not a “Donna” or such meek earth creature. Call me Deanna for the time being and know that my fate is to become a leader among my people. My mate is Wolf. Tonight I will do my first shape-shifting of this life or at least attempt it. Wolf will help me, he’s so madly in love with me and he wants to have me as his mate, his She-Wolf. Before sunrise I will return in human form and be your human companion but tonight Wolf and I will run together wild and free as befits both, Elves and Wolves. We’ll go down the trail and find Lo to ascertain that all is well with him. When we find him I won’t reveal anything to him, that will be your task. He will not know we were there.”

“Deanna? My earth name is Beanna! Can such be but coincidences or do we have other connections to one another? Tell me if you know, please!”

“I don’t know but it seems of little importance to me now, these earth name details. If there be a deeper connection, it will reveal itself soon enough but unless I can assess that it is of some value beyond mere information, I will pay it no mind. Come, let us be together, make love, dream. I feel an animal energy rising in me, the rising of the snake, the Kundalini.”

“The what?”

“Among the Elves and some earth people, if memory serves here, it is called the Kundalini. The living snake you were telling me about! The real power of love. Tonight I love as a trio of beingness within my self: a living bridge made up of the female energies of a human woman, an Elven warrior and a She Wolf. Tonight, thanks to you, Nal, I begin a new life of power.”

When Wolf called and whined at the cave entrance Deanna was already wide awake, following his movements with her mind, her heart athrob with anticipation. She kissed Nal gently and slipped out. Although naked in the cold, damp night now awash with billions of brilliant stars in the clearest of skies possible, she only felt the heat of her body and that of Wolf. They stepped away together then laid down in the cold sand far enough away from the cave that should she emit cries of passion or pain, Nal would not be awakened.

There were sharp cries but mostly of passion and surprise. Wolf changed and grew, becoming twice as large and darker, with longer hair and much more powerful teeth. His eyes glowed in the dark. Then he turned to Deanna and watched eagerly as she transformed herself into the light grey She-Wolf form she had dreamed for herself, also much larger in size than a normal wolf. They saw each other as their nature intended and howled their mutual joy into the night sky and nipped at one another. Wolf bayed the deeper call of the werewolf and spoke clearly to his mate.

“Run, we run!” And they went chasing off into the night to experience their animal freedom in an open country entirely devoid of human presence but the small Nal sleeping alone in her cave. The smell of small game was strong but they ignored it. The stars, it seemed, looked approvingly upon them as they chased old dreams, jumping from rock to rock and down game trails as they found them.

In that moment for the two of them all was as it should be.

End section 14 (fourteen)