The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 21

by Mark Figueroa | Featured Art by A Forgotten Pen at @theforgottenpen

Chapter 21: Love in the Abyss.

“These four pillars of light converge with The Divine Source,” Kanti says. We finally reach the fringes of the red surface.

“Olacium Sorti Mordis—Ah, Etriyenne,” Achron’s human face shouts endearingly. Its eyes light up.

Etriyenne, an Amazonian woman with a brilliant, porcelain body, makes her way to us, gently hovering above the bright red ground. Her well-toned physique is amazing. I try to look away, but fail. Crap! She saw me. I smile awkwardly, stepping on the red surface.

Etriyenne’s large, piercing eyes have intense crimson irises surrounding otherwise normal pupils.  Her hair is a wild white and black, free-flowing flame extending to her graceful ankles. “Achron,” she responds, her voice strong and authoritative. God, she’s so hot! Literally!

Why do I feel this way? So… full of lust and fear.

“Feeling vulnerable? Exposed? Nervous?” Etriyenne inquires expectantly. Her tone is firm, but seductive. “Feeling human?”

“I—I. No—I!” Crap what’s wrong with me. I glance at Archon and trip over myself. Holy crap! He’s large, menacing and monstrous! Why does something like that exist! Why am I getting scared now?

“Etriyenne, this is the new cloak bearer. Emery. He’s Aiven’s kin,” Achron’s fourth face whispers self-consciously. He shamefully looks at me.

Dammit. He can read my mind! I shouldn’t have thought that! Why am I so scared?!

Etriyenne nods. Her porcelain lips curve into a comforting smile as she stares at Achron. “Your brother, he belongs on The Bel—.”

“He comprehends our tongue,” Kanti interjects. “Speak to him casually.”

“I will take Aiven to Mordis and you shall follow when you are ready, bearer of the cloak,” Etriyenne declares. Her hair burns passionately, flickering and sparking at random ends. She rolls her index finger and I stumble off the red surface.Aiven’s ethereal corpse hovers to its feet. He’s slumped over, but gradually stiffens and stands upright.

Olacium Sorti Vivus’s blue surface soothes the fear, lust, and anxiety inside me. I feel calm, but a piece of me feels heavy when Aiven sinks into the red surface: his stone face contorts into a look of shock. Aiven’s corpse reaches for me, sinking deeper and deeper. His arm finally disappears into the smooth, crimson light.

“I apologize for the lack of warning. Olacium Sorti Mordis is not a place one can stand without some manner of preparation. It enhances all negative energy and emotions,” Etriyenne says softly. Her authoritative, compassionate voice echoes softly as she glides over the red light. “Now that you have witnessed its effect, Bearer of the Cloak, step onto the gateway when you are ready.”

“Gateway?” I ask, turning to Kanti.

“The cloak bearer must know all forces in existence to better understand the power they wield. You cannot uphold the fabric of existence if you lack the ability to comprehend what it is composed of., or what you are capable of,” Etriyenne interjects, smiling while gracefully hovering ahead of me. She’s like a fairy, in some strange, yet familiar way. “On Olacium Sorti Vivus, you felt the positive, higher resonances of existence,” She continues. “This crimson oasis in the heart of Olacium Sorti Vivus is merely the entrance to Mordis,” Etriyenne says. She glances then nods at Archon, whose human face smiles endearingly.

“My powers are limited to Vivus, as my love’s abilities are confined to Mordis,” Achron says, sadly. Etiyenne and I are cursed for eternity to be what you would call star-crossed souls: forever in orbit, forever parallel and within reach, yet never able to embrace one another. The space between us is the price we pay for the sins of our past.”

Sigh. “I-I need a minute. I just killed my brother. And, it’s starting to sink in… I can’t stand on the surface of The Below if that’s what it’s going to feel like,” I stutter, holding back the tears building beneath my eyes. “I don’t want to do this just yet. I’m not ready… I mean, you guys and your depressing love… I’m good, on Vivus.” I dart back onto the blue surface. “I need a minute.”

“Brave. Outspoken… Charming,” Etriyenne says, soaring effortlessly over the entrance to Mordis. She lies horizontally in the air, resting her cheek on her fist. Etriyenne gracefully smiles at me. Her curves…

How does Achron land that? I gawk at her like she’s the only girl at the dance.

“Your limited comprehension is to be expected,” she says smiling sovereignly. “You are a boy, Emery. In love, there are no appearances. There is only the heart.” Her eyes twinkle as she gazes at Achron. “The man before you has held mine since physical realm’s infancy. The beauty of love arises from loving the intrinsic beauty of the external; something physical beings have yet to learn,” Etriyenne smiles at Achron.

“With the unrest on the Void. Turmoil in the Grave of Saints. Instability in the physical realm. And, an unknown conspiracy surrounding the revival of Aemon…,” Etriyenne says, changing the subject. She looks at me, as though she were embracing my soul. “…there is a war brewing, and you, bearer of the cloak, happen to have received the cloak in a time of uncertainty. Is your guardian with you?”

“M-My guardian?”

“The ancient symbol of death; the Anubian king of kings, my lord Osiris, the one Achron calls Kanti.  Is he with you?”

…The fuck is she talking about… She can’t—? But? I glance at Kanti confused… Osiris?

Kanti’s blue pupils flicker and a crimson aura dances around his eyes.

“Lord Osiris,” Etriyenne says, hovering to her feet and curtsying respectfully.

Achron’s faces sigh and roll their eyes. His fourth face snickers. “Have you yet learned, my love?” His four red eyes glance at me. “See this religious foolishness, dear boy? Tis a byproduct of our conversation from earlier…” Achron’s first, simple face says.

Etriyenne holds her curtsy until Kanti finally speaks.

“Young flame, how many times must I re-inform you: those names given to me by the ancients no longer hold, I am simply Kanti. The reverence is not necessary for there is only one.”

“Whoa!” I interrupt walking onto the red surface, too confused to care. “Ok-ok… Someone explain all of this. Why are your eyes red, Kanti?”

“Don’t be so obtuse, Young Emery,” Kanti snaps passionately. “My eyes match my resonance. At the higher resonance echelon, where I am vibrating positively, they are cerulean. At low resonance, and absence of positivity, they are crimson. I am a god of eons ago, even in the realm of the divines… Now is not the time to delve into that history, however,” Kanti says, stoically.

I shrug and unknowingly levitate above the red gateway.

“You have discovered one of your abilities. How marvelous,” Achron’s fourth face says sarcastically. “How unfortunate that you need to walk on the dreadful surface to crossover!” It chuckles with a heavy chain smoker’s rasp. “It appears that this is the end of my assistance,” Achron’s faces say in unison as he turns away.

“Wait!” Etriyenne demands. Archon snickers and faces us as I stomp on the red light.

“Come on!” I yell. “Floor open!… Open sesame…?” I glance at the ground, confused, slightly annoyed and unimpressed. What am I doing wrong? Damn, I don’t want these guys to think I’m stupid or incapable.

“Incapable?” Etriyenne questions, curiously. “You are on the right track, young cloak bearer. Reach for the negativity within you and the Mordis will pull you under.”

Hatred? Well, I’m reaching for straws then. The last bit of hatred in me left with the realization that I am not crazy.

“Traverse,” Etriyenne commands, her patience shrinking into the microcosm of the Abyss. Her presence is powerful, but not like Kanti’s or Achron’s; she’s very human in a strange way. Etriyenne has two eyes, but I feel thousands for her gaze, which is as fiery as her appearance. “Well? Traverse Bearer of the cloak,” Etriyenne repeats sternly, hovering around me, snapping her fingers.

My knees buckle.

“On your feet, young bearer of the cloak,” She demands politely. She levitates me toward her, then cuts me a look of pity.

“Enough, Etriyenne. I understand your frustration,” Kanti declares. “It is not a defect in Young Emery’s creation. The boy harbors no hatred; thus, a hands-on approach may prove substantially more effective,” he postulates, locking eyes with Etriyenne.  One of aAnti’s eyes turns blue. He stares at Achron, then back at Etriyenne. “Achron, Etriyenne… four Nothing that I know of have escaped from the Void to the world of the living. I will show the Cloak Bearer how to use the cloak in the physical realm.”

Achron’s faces nod. He gazes at Etriyenne, quietly. They’re speaking about me. I can feel it.

Etriyenne thinks I’m weak. God, I’m such a loser…

Etriyenne sighs, hovering toward me while her energy fixes me in place. She smiles and rubs my head. “Cloak bearer, Kalook-de-Nagcht is imbued with power from the divine source. The will of the bearer, maleficent or benevolent, affect its capabilities. Without malice, the cloak bearer returns the Nothing from whence they came and can release the souls of the departed, among other benevolent actions; conversely, negativity results in destruction, and your attempt at subduing Nothing will result in you devouring them.” Etriyenne gently places me on the border of the Mordisian gateway.

“Dear boy, there have been many cloak bearers in the past who have met their demise from constant absorption of souls and ethereal beings, causing them to overflow with dark-divine energy. This is why Aiven cannot rest on Vivus,” Achron adds regretfully. He sighs, staring off into the distance.

So, the cloak’s like a shower lever… too far to one direction, it burns, and too far in the other, it freezes. If there’s a downside to being too negative, is there a downside to being overly positive? Hmph. Probably not. I glance at Kanti. “… .” Never mind, I’m not gonna’ ask, though; that’s a stupid question.

“We do not know,” Kanti intrudes on my thoughts. Sometimes I really wish they wouldn’t do that. “Do not be afraid to ask questions. Or ascertain clarity. You bear the cloak because those before you were foolish and prideful.  Many thought themselves above reproach, advice, and wisdom. If all were perfect there would be no cloak.”

I nod, taking in the Vivusian glow. Blue soothes the insecurity and uncertainty in me, but my heart feels heavy, shame chains itself to my ankles. “So, the good energy of the cloak, or existence, I guess, is more common than the bad kind, right?” I ask Kant. Achron and Etriyenne both gawk at him; I guess he’s still resonating neutrally.

“Most, if not all, creatures do what they must without ill will,” Etriyenne inserts. “We have a better understanding of consistent high resonance, or benevolence; however.” Etriyenne pauses. She crosses her arms while hovering in place. “Do not take your self image so critically. It requires active, objective judgement and constant awareness, with positive intent to maintain balance. I say this as a warning, because I like you: when the wearer loses control to malevolent desire, the cloak separates from the wearer’s soul.”

“Well, the cloak separated from Aiven. He had time. If it happens to me, I’ll turn to nothing in like a year.  I’ll be fine.”

“Wrong. Aiven separated from the cloak; it began to separate from him, but he passed it on beforehand. If the cloak separates from its host, the host will be destroyed.”

Damn. Never mind then. “How many people has the cloak actually separated from, on its own?”

“Two. The survivor of such a cruel act is one whose name is a crime against existence. Only one of those bearer’s sanity remains intact, forever regretting the actions that led him to the Grave of Saints.”

“Wow… Who was he?” I ask.

“He was a marvel. We know him as the forsaken one,” Etriyenne says, pausing and looking at me. Her porcelain face doesn’t change, but something about her look makes me feel like she feels sorry for me. She smiles, despite the sorrow in her majestic voice. “He described the occurrence as being electrocuted, burned, mauled by rabid dogs, pecked by a ravenous flock of geese while being choked, drowned and pummeled by a stampede. His body was bloated and congested from his existence imploding on itself, yet pressure forced its way out as his latent energy simultaneously exploded from the inside out. Then, he proceeded explaining the continuous implosion and explosion as his skin and organs pulling down on the outside while stretching up on the inside.”

“What happened to him?”

“He is bound to the Grave of Saints. A fate worse than becoming Nothing,” Etriyenne responds, examining me. She crosses her arms. “There is no recovering from consuming and destroying energy.  It is a crime against existence. Such a thing occurs regularly; however, the cloak was created to nullify evil, thus its host will be sacrificed if it deems the host’s actions unsavory. Those given the Cloak of Nothing, must resonate higher than the Nothing.”

I swallow hard. If she’s trying to help me become stronger it isn’t working. “How do I attack then?”

Etriyenne smiles, her lips still as she responds. “You simply fight without malice. When you can subdue your opponent, you grip their forehead and will the cloak to return the aggressor from whence it came.”

Already knew that… Maybe I’m asking the wrong way. It can’t be that simple.

“The explanation is that simple,” She says, responding to my thoughts. “Trying to grab a thrashing creature’s forehead, is what is not simple. Fighting without wishing harm is not simple. Defying darkness as it grows within you, is not simple.”

I look at Kanti who sits beside me.

“I think that’s about it, if you aren’t coming to Mordis. There really is no need for you to stand here,” Etriyenne says passively.

I quickly stare at my watch: TUE: DEC 22: 11:55:05 p.m., feeling awkward while standing around a talking dog and two giants. I try to make conversation. “So…Who is Aemon?”

“We are divine beings, yes?” Achron’s faces reply.

I nod. Where is this going?

“There is no perfection in nature.  Which is to say, dear boy, there is no prime,” Achron continues as I nod again. “Suppose, divine beings are close to prime, yet have beings that are prime to us.”

“Like your own gods?”

“Yes. Relatively speaking.”

“I see. So, Aemon is like one of your gods. He’s a god to the god’s?”

“No,” Achron responds.

I pause. “What is he?”

“Many things,” Archon’s human face says, crestfallen. “His existence precedes that of our gods’ gods.”

Thank you for reading. Stay tuned for the next chapter!

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