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Keys of Magic - Part 13

“We need to talk.” I told her.

The was a few moments of silence before the Slayer said, “I see that they didn’t kill you. That is good. The fact that you are allowed to return to your conduit means that you must have made an alliance with them.”

“Indeed, they are the people that you expected that they would be. They call themselves the Loyal and they are counter to the Cloaked Betrayer. They claim that some of them are descendants of those who helped you in your battle against the gods a hundred years ago.”

“Good I’m glad that some of them had survived. Who are the ones that survived?”

“I don’t know. They are secretive even to their own members. Using first names, many of them might be fake, and while there is apparently more then the four who are here they don’t interact much with the other groups.” I left the room and headed into the room that I had woke up in.

I laid down in the bed as the Slayer responded, “For the best. If Eyyo really does have that much influence then keeping secrets is the best way to stay protected.”

“I have a question. You seem to know more about the current world. If you have been dead for a hundred years how would you know those sorts of things? Are you taking them from my mind?”

“No, my powers are not that great. I can only read your active thoughts. While dead I was able to watch the dreams of some people. They told me things about the world but it was indistinct and foggy. It was your dream that wondered into mine that was the clearest that I have ever seen. That is part of what drew me to you and allowed me to talk to you through your conduit.”

“I see, now if you will excuse me I’m going to sleep for a little bit. Itina says that I abused my power too much yesterday and I need to rest some more. Also I should spend less contact with the ring because Zillk could have more influence over my personality if I do that.”

“Don’t worry too much about that part. As long as you are not using Zillk’s power I’m protecting you from Zillk’s personality.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes, there are some things I can tell and that is one of them. Of course talking with me might influence your personality.”

“Still, Itina seems to take such things seriously. If I spend too much time with the ring she might distrust me. Since it is important that we keep them on our side I should probably follow her advice.”

“That is true. Very well. Instead you must change what you think of as impossible. I’ll leave it to you to find a way to contact me without the conduit.”

“Again giving me an impossible task. I shall attempt to do my best.” I then set down the ring on the table beside the bed and laid down to get some sleep. I lay on the bed for a minute concentrating trying to contact the Slayer through the ring that was on the table to had no success. Eventually I gave up and closed my eyes to sleep which came on quickly.

My dreams were plagued with nightmares this time. I found myself pushing a giant bolder up a hill and it got steeper and steeper father I got. However there were flames behind me making me sweat so I had to keep pushing. The flames kept getting closer and they were moving faster then I could push the bolder up the hill. However the dream ended before I was engulfed by fire and I could hear the Slayer’s taunting voice saying, “Do the impossible.”

I woke up in a cold sweat I could tell from the light that is was late at night. I reached out toward the ring to comfort me. Just before I reached it I stopped my fingers. I pulled back my hand slowly. Finally I place my hand back down on my chest. Was it Zillk that I reached out for right now or the Slayer. I didn’t know but I was frightened. Being constantly threatened with dead frightened me too but this was different, this was more personal, more alone. It was death by nothingness, quietness. I wanted to grab the ring and stop being alone anymore, I would have the Slayer and Zillk by my side, watching me, protecting me.

But was that what I wanted, to be protected by them? I didn’t really know what I wanted. I didn’t want to die and I didn’t want those that I cared about or loved to die either. The rest of the kingdom was important too but I didn’t know if they were important enough for me to want to save. I had things I needed to do but I didn’t know if I was capable of doing it. I might fail and disappoint everybody, myself, Kindeily, the Slayer, Itina.

Thinking I slowly managed to fall back asleep. Another dream came upon me, clear and bright, dark and grim. I stood on a stage. The light was bright so I could not see the audience. There were people there I could tell but I couldn’t make any of them out. Yet beyond the stage was darkness, rotting wood, broken stone. Those I could make out clearly even in the darkness. I could see off to the sides of the stage was a long drop and the curtains were ripped and tattered.

There was a coffin sitting on a dais near me at the center of the table. I could see into the coffin and the Slayer was there just like I had seen her in the first dream. She seemed to be sleeping or maybe dead, or both. She was wearing the garb of a warrior and the was a red stain on her chest. Blood.

There where no other things on the stage but I could see a pile of things just off to the side near the cliff. Puppets that resemble people that I knew. Sir Nathan and Janet, Lady Kindeily, Itina and the rest of the Loyal. The cloaked Apostate who first attacked me. He didn’t have any distinctive features but I knew it was him.

I stood on the stage not certain what to do. I tried to find words to tell the audience but I didn’t know what to say, I was too uncertain. Then one of the audience members spoke to me. “You hesitate so much. Which path should we take?”

That voice, it sounded just like mine. I have to pause for a moment to make certain that it wasn’t really me that had said it. Finally I responded, “What do you mean which path?”

The voice responded, “The path of individuality.” The stage went dark. Then a spotlight appeared on one side of the stage. The was a doll of me standing on the light. It was alone but I could catch the glimpse of a broken golden ring on the ground next to it.

“The path of guidance.” Another spotlight appear. Another doll of me stood there. Behind me was two figures. One the doll of a warrior woman, the Slayer. The other grim black figure with a bloody sword, Zillk. The golden ring shown of the hand of my doll.

“That path of control.” Yet another light appeared. There were multiple dolls, the Loyal stood around me. Itina had a hand on my shoulder. The ring was visible on a chain around my neck but the Slayer and Zillk were not visible.

“These paths and others are available to you. Yet you can not decide which one to take.”

“I’m afraid. Each one could lead to my doom and those I love. I can I know which one to take?”

“We are all afraid.” This voice sounded the same, just like me, but it also sounded like it was coming from a different portion of the audience. Maybe a bit father back and a little to the right. “There is so much uncertain. Yet we must take one path for if we do not take any of them then nothing awaits us.” Another light appeared but this one was cast over hole in the stage. There was nothing else there and I felt a chilly tingle up my spine.

“Who are you?” I asked.

There was muttering throughout the crowd. Each of them was saying is a soft voice, “You.” “You.” “You.” “You.” “You.” It continued as the audience all told me “You.” It was disconcerting.

“How is that possible? Is this a dream, what is this?”

“A dream, a vision, something like that.”

“A mind turned in on its self.”

“The spirit awakened by the dead gods.”

“A forgotten power long hidden finding itself anew.”

I stared out into the brightness trying to make out those sitting in the seats. Were they really me? I didn’t know. I asked something again, maybe this time I would give myself a helpful answer. “Why now? What good does this do?”

“You are offering yourself a deal.”

“A chance at hope.”

“A future forward.”

“The impossible.”

That word swept the other speakers. All of them repeating, “The impossible.” “The impossible.” “The impossible.”

I asked, “What do you mean?”

“In your heart you know the truth.” This voice was close, very close. It came from one of the figures in the first row. “You can do what the Slayer expects of you. But what would you become then. What is an Apostate that doesn’t need a conduit? What you would become? You feel the answer to that in your heart as certainly as we do.”

I did not speak. I didn’t not know what he meant but I began to fear that I did. I asked, “What would I become?”

That same close voice said, “A god.”

There was silence over the entire theater. None of the audience spoke. The spotlights faded and then a new one appeared. Two spotlights actually. One hand me floating in the air with light spilling out from me. The other was one of the Slayer plunging a sword into my heart.

I shivered as I looked at the two depictions. “Does she want me to become a god?”

“Do you want to become one? She herself may have changed into a god. Can a mortal slay a god? It is difficult enough for a normal person to defeat an Apostate, how much harder would it be for one to kill a god?”

I shook my head, “That’s impossible. A human could not become a god.”

“No? What makes a god so different then a human? Power? Humans can wield vast power, enough to slay a god. Is it then escape from the grasp of age that makes a god? How do you know that you can not escape such a fate. What is it that separates a human from a god?”

I didn’t know how to respond, what to say. I was silent and then another voice spoke up. “Would you become a god to save what you care about?”

“But the closer that you become to one the harder it will be to return to just being normal.”

I responded, “No, I don’t want to be a god. If I did then what would I be fighting against. The Slayer, what would she say. She wanted to kill the gods she that humans would be free. If I became a new god then I would be opposing what she stood for.”

“But you are not the only one.” Another voice of mine said. “You feel it too, that power that remains of Zillk is restless, the others must be the same. There will be new gods, whether you become one of not it will not be the end. The Slayer’s job will never be over.”