Chapter 79: Reality is nourishment.
Aemon closes his palm; my body levitates and my elbow snaps into place. “There we go,” he says. “Now, as you know, I’m confined wi—”
“I don’t care. Save your speech. Get to the point,” I interrupt, indifferently stretching and clenching my palms. My form in this realm is becoming more pronounced.
Aemon levitates me toward him. “You have no emotions, but I will not tolerate rudeness.” He slams me on the ground then lifts me back up. “See that? It didn’t hurt because I took away the pain, the physical and emotional suffering you carry on your shoulders like you’re waiting for something new, some sort of miracle to whisk you away from the reality of your existence. I can make it come back to you as I crush your skull in and crumble your bones like paper. I’ll fix you, smash you to bits, and repeat. I advise you, Emery, hold your tongue; lest you wish to have it stretched out of your mouth and crushed by the repetitive clenching of your teeth.” His four white eyes pierce through me. “I am not asking for your compliance. Merely for your courtesy,” Aemon says. He sets me on my feet with a flick of his finger.
“Sorry,” I mutter. The only logical outcome here is to play by his rules.
Aemon stares at me, unamused.
“Just stay out of my mind,” I say, pretending I have the power to tell him what to do.
“I live within your very essence. In fact, we’re so intertwined that one could even say, I am you. So, I cannot avoid your thoughts without applying a considerable amount of effort. If I were capable of such power, I would no longer be in this vessel,” Aemon explains. His four giant eyes gaze down at me.
I scoff. “Really? By that logic, I should be able to read your mind too.”
“Have you learned nothing?” Aemon responds. “Do you not comprehend that the human spirit is a combination of a soul and a mind? What makes a human unique is that it is the only creature with a dual existence; the only beings who can exist in the Abyss and in the Physical Realm without an external catalyst. Gods, ethereal beings, do not have minds. We have thoughts as all creatures do. To that end however, a creature who needs a mind to be conscious cannot comprehend the nature of unrestrained awareness. Without a mind, a human soul is a formless vibration of energy— it still exists, but it lacks awareness.
Rather than trying to wrap your head around logical fallacies that only apply to humans in the Physical Realm, consider that I am a divine being sharing a physical body with the lesser being that belongs in it.” Aemon pauses, his four eyes gazing through me. “Understand, Emery, I do not belong in this realm, therefore all the rules that apply from me to you, are not applicable from you to me. This is not an insult to you as an entity. The fact of the matter is that—by design—beyond even my own comprehension, we are not equal: I am chaos. I am order. I am darkness. I am light. I am life and… I am death. My destiny is to be all. You, Emery, through no choice, or fault of your own, are simply a consequence of my existence.”
I shudder. “Shut up!” I wail.
“I’ll let your surliness slide, but remember, Emery, I’m keeping count, and that’s one.” Aemon says sternly. “For one, there are no other conscious fragments of me. Anywhere. I would be able to detect them, regardless of the range. Though, it is true that bits of me are within other creatures, I am the only one called Aemon–Think of my particles as leverage.”
“Leverage against what?” I ask.
“My other half,” Aemon responds. He pauses, then speaks. “Has anyone told you why my counterpart cannot leave the Divine Source?”
“Sha-ik’Tael’s recouping her power,” I wimper, pretending I know. “And–and she needs to stay in there to keep the Divine Source and the Meta from collapsing… and stuff?”
Aemon stares through me. “I was present during your talks. Kanti misinformed you. The real reason Shaik-la, which is her true name, cannot leave the Divine Source is that she is trapped–Crippled by her own fear.”
“Justice,” Aemon says.
“If anything, this… you being in me… is justice for you. For tricking the Nothing, making them consume human souls and almost collapsing existence to the point where tons of gods had to sacrifice themselves to build a structure that allows human souls to do their thing…” I shrug.
Aemon raises a fist and laughs. “Yes. Yes, I did do that. But, you see, power is the only force that all creatures recognize. Unfortunately, without power, even the keenest, most intelligent observer in any room is the most ignored. Shaik-La proclaimed herself to be the Deus Magna; a title that she created in a realm where all creatures are meant to be equal, so that she could obtain the power we craved when we were one being.” He slams his fist on the arm of his throne. “You must be blind not to realize everything— all creatures have a counter! A balance. If the Nothing exist and I am using them, what do you think my counterpart is doing?”
I pause. “What would her motive be?” I shrug. “She created the Meta so that the Nothing couldn’t devour the souls who had been corrupted… Sha-ik’Tael is more of a guardian than a threat from where I stand, but you already know that. Why am I explaining myself, you should already know all this—forget it—What is it that she wants then?”
“Like I said. Power.”
“She is and already has it!” I shout.
“Oh no, no, no!—First, Shaik-La needs to escape from the Divine Source that she has conveniently found herself trapped inside of. Do you not find it interesting that she’s confined in the only location where all human souls must pass before being purged?” Aemon asks.
“Where are you getting at, and what is it that you want from me?”
“Simple, Emery. Leave the Nothing alone. Let them eat and watch what happens. I have a theory and I want to test it. The cloak won’t separate from you if you let time pass, and do not commit atrocities with malice. Surely, you’ve realized that by now. From what you have been told, and normal human standards, I am evil. Shaik-La is benevolent. But, have you not considered why the cloak responds so strongly to low, negative resonance, and is powered by positive resonance?”
“You snapped my arm and threatened to collapse my legs backwards. If that isn’t evil, then—Well, whatever, I’ve barely had the cloak for three days; I don’t understand my own power, and in that time, I’ve only banished one Nothing. And, the Nothing don’t just devour souls like candy; they’re smarter about it. You heard it yourself through me. Even if I stopped and just let them be, it would take hundreds of years before they realize the cloak bearer on Earth isn’t protecting his section of the universe; a universe that I haven’t explored yet. Even with Kanti dead, there isn’t going to be—”
“Ignore my display of power. I admit my entrance was… over the top. Would you have listened to me otherwise? Remember, I know you. Your mind respects two things: power, and those who have it. I thought by now you would have realized that the only reason this is possible, is because you’re dreaming. The only moment when you relax long enough to allow me to surface. If I were to devour a soul through you, do you think I would need your palm?”
“I guess not…”
“Of course not. You see how it works with Roslyn.”
I ball my fists, feigning emotion. Sigh. It’s pointless to pretend that I care. “About that, why would I even consider helping you when I can’t even get close to the girl I love?” I’m trying to assert myself, but it’s really hard when my emotions are locked away.
“Emery, your brain is lined with lead, isn’t it? You wish to be more assertive? Well, here you go.” Aemon waves his hand, and I collapse.
“Kanti isn’t dead!” I scream. “Roslyn!… No! I-I!” I can’t think straight! “Ahhh! Take them away!”
My emotions fade.
“Do you believe me to be so cruel, Emery? Roslyn was a test of my new found control. Make no mistake, I have been conscious since before you were born, but have never been able to extend beyond my container, even within your father.”
“That’s great. I don’t care. You still didn’t answer my question, Aemon, why would you expect me to help you if you’re using Roslyn as leverage?”
“She still exists.”
“Fair enough. If I keep her out of arms reach, you can’t get her. So, she isn’t much of a bargaining chip.”
“But, your mother is.” Aemon smirks. “It’s ironic that you spend so much time only focusing on Roslyn when the link between you and Roslyn doesn’t allow me to consume her; in fact, all I eat of her soul happens to trace around your soul, then returns to her. You would know that if you could see your soul, wouldn’t you? It’s your narrow scope that allows lonely Eliza, and every other human stain, go unnoticed.”
I shrug. “Unnoticed for what?”
“My escape route. To put it in a manner you can comprehend, there are particles of my energy inside of your dear old mother that allow me to feel her soul and devour it from any distance before you even blink. Despite my containment and inability to take over a corporeal body, my power is infinite, and I can control it from anywhere. To give you an idea of my scope, I pose this question: how many people have you been around for longer than an hour since the day you were born?”
“How could I possibly know that?”
“Yes! And would you care to imagine how many people they have been around for longer than an hour since they’ve been around you?”
“Please, just get to the point.”
“My point is that, on this puny, desolate, disgusting island you, vermin, call Earth, I exist in every living creature, thanks to the years before you were given the cloak. The particles of me are not conscious, so they are of no consequence to their host, but should the need arise where I need to take drastic action, I will claim every life on Earth and use the energy to wear your flesh, or simply emancipate myself from the cloak that confines me. There are Nothing in every stretch of this realm feeding on human souls, ingrained in planets where the world’s religion reveres them; in turn, there are willing human sacrifices who revere me. You honestly believe the tiny quadrants of the three cloaks, yours included, can stop my revival?”
“Nice try. There are four cloaks.”
Aemon shakes his head, thoroughly amused by my ignorance.
“Anyway, if that were true, you would have risen by now.”
“If I were to fight every divine in existence and every cloak bearer in existence, I need to win by a landslide so I can be prepared for what would happen afterward. For every creature I currently have at my disposal, Shaik-La has hundreds. Her stench is so powerful I taste it wherever you go.” Aemon says staring at his clenched fist. “Without a corporeal body my energy would destabilize and get yanked right back into the Abyss; despite my infinite reserves of power, the strength of what I have at my disposal is less than a hundredth of when I was destroyed.
As you can imagine, I fed on hordes of Nothing, who had fed on hundreds of thousands of souls a piece! The less intelligent, yet more powerful ones were given permission to serve me. Do you comprehend such power, Emery?” Aemon stands up and the towering throne he manifested recedes into the ground. “That was two percent of all life in existence, and it was enough to get through the front line of divines! But, oddly enough, not the all-powerful, all mighty Shaik-La! Why do you think that is? You think the gods who sacrificed their essence to her, were enough for her to create a boundary that transcends the very nature of the abyss? Your god is no different than me. In time, with your continued cooperation, I will reveal my true goal to you. But, for now, I ask, if you have any intelligence, you will allow the nothing to rid the Earth of those capable of lower resonance.”
“I don’t feel strongly either way to agree or disagree. Logically, you’re making sense, but you still haven’t mentioned what you’re protecting yourself against. It feels like your talking in circles. Like that crappy show, Lost.”
“Don’t remind me. That was all you thought about for a month, until you realized how terrible it was. But, I digress. The reason I do not make a move, Emery, is because I cannot acquire the power to guarantee my success after destroying the gods that remain.
You see, the assurance I need is protection. If I fail, and cannot find a place to hide, I will get carried off into the Grave of Saints. I need to protect myself from the ultimate power.”
“Which is?” Even with no emotions, I can’t imagine anything that could stop Aemon if he manages to escape my body. “The Keepers.”
Thank you for reading. Stay tuned for the next chapter!
Like my content? Someone else does too. They just don’t know it, yet. Share it.
Read other chapters and related stories
by Mark Figueroa “So what happened next, dad?” The children asked in unison, clutching their sheets in anticipation. “Well, kids,” Antalaus said, resuming his story. “Lars nodded at me. ‘Then, we crush the heads an’ scoop the remainin’ soft meat from the bone,’ he said. His little eyes barely sticking out from underneath his large … Continue reading The Fountain of Truth
By Mark Figueroa It was Thursday. The last Thursday in February. It was cold, cloudy and windy. Fred sat in his car, watching Samantha. She held her son Robert and struggled to close the door behind her. Fred sighed. Samantha gave him the finger. She slapped the icy hood of the car and opened the … Continue reading Idle Idols: Part 1
Written by: Mark Figueroa Frank N. Cadence was stressed. His meter was running low. The liquid in the glass vial flickered. His heart skipped with each belch in the phial. He could hear the rhythm of his soul catching up to his age. Long ago, Frank Cadence was born a twin. He was teased, but … Continue reading Borrowed Time
by Mark Figueroa aka Anthony Abyss | Featured Art by A Forgotten Pen at @theforgottenpen Chapter 84: More weather terminology. “…There was once a planet in the celestial doldrums,” Kanti replies. “The population resembled spiders. They communicated in shrieks and hisses. Every home was made from large, thick spider webs; there were towers made of webs … Continue reading The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 85
by Mark Figueroa aka Anthony Abyss | Featured Art by A Forgotten Pen at @theforgottenpen Chapter 84: More weather terminology. “…There was once a planet in the celestial doldrums,” Kanti replies. “The population resembled spiders. They communicated in shrieks and hisses. Every home was made from large, thick spider webs; there were towers made of webs … Continue reading The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 84
by Mark Figueroa aka Anthony Abyss | Featured Art by A Forgotten Pen at @theforgottenpen Chapter 83: Under the threshold. Kanti warps next to the oven. “I will not pontificate about the complexity of your situation, Young Emery, but it would be wise to consider that there are facts you do not know when judging someone … Continue reading The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 83
by Mark Figueroa aka Anthony Abyss | Featured Art by A Forgotten Pen at @theforgottenpen Chapter 82: Under the threshold. Kanti warps next to the oven. “I will not pontificate about the complexity of your situation, Young Emery, but it would be wise to consider that there are facts you do not know when judging someone … Continue reading The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 82
by Mark Figueroa aka Anthony Abyss | Featured Art by A Forgotten Pen at @theforgottenpen Chapter 81: Time heals a little, but not most wounds, unless you’re an idiot. “I’d be a terrible parent.” “Whatever. I know.” She laughs. “You,” Eliza inhales and shoos me back with a wave. “Further,” she says, holding her breath. “Good,” … Continue reading The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 81
by Mark Figueroa aka Anthony Abyss | Featured Art by A Forgotten Pen at @theforgottenpen Chapter 80: Horacio. Aemon waves a finger, simultaneously flicking his wrist and sets me down. “The Keepers?” I ask seeing the silhouettes of my limbs. “I swear, Emery, Lead lined brain. Yes, the Keepers. The Keepers preside over an infinite wasteland … Continue reading The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 80
by Mark Figueroa aka Anthony Abyss | Featured Art by A Forgotten Pen at @theforgottenpen Chapter 78: I am who am. “_ __ .” Aemon responds. He continues speaking, but he’s too powerful for me to hear anything except thunder. The darkness rumbles violently. “I- I -C-c-an’t-t underst-st-stand you!” I tense up to keep my body … Continue reading The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 78