The darkness has come......
Five years have passed since the battle of Earth, and the Lyarran Empire has begun to grow dark with a looming shadow. Once revered as a Goddess, Iana now has begun to feel the anger of others for the perceived loss of Aen as an unseen force begins its long planned play to take her place at the head of the great Empire. To save herself, she must trust in the one being that she has tried ever so hard to keep dead.
Aen is not what he once was, and at the same time is much more. Gone is his memory of his old life, but now he is in full control of all his potential power. He is the weapon his creators envisioned with little hesitation in proving it; and more than happy to be left alone before his new life is disrupted. Now he is forced to help Iana to not only save her, but finds himself enacting a plan to find the truth that is so radical it will shake the entire galaxy to the core.
Here is a sneak peek:
Ghosts of Lyarra
Sagittarius A*, Lyarran Research Station A7185
The center of the Milky Way galaxy was a hostile place with stars racing around at unfathomable speeds in a choreographed dance around the powerhouse that drove it all. It had many names; the Great Devourer, the God of Death, and Sagittarius A*. But more simply it was the supermassive black hole that sat at the heart of the galaxy. A crushing point where gravity was so intense not even light could escape it; the black hole was the single largest thing in the galaxy. While the beast itself was sheer blackness and not able to be seen in any spectrum of light, the accretion disc that spun around it littered with debris and matter torn apart circled it like water down a drain that stretched for light years. This disc shone bright as it encircled its master, glowing white hot at the point of no return on the precipice of the edge to the black hole itself; the event horizon.
On the very edge of the black hole’s gravitational tug and out of the reach of any real danger of being dragged in, sat the Imperial research station dubbed ‘The Brink’. Established two thousand years ago, it was the pinnacle achievement of the Empire, but yet was manned by none from the Guild, the establishment for religion and science for the Empire. Instead, it was an automated research station run by drones and a VI. When The Brink was built, it was briefly manned by the Guild but abandoned shortly thereafter. Murmurs and whispers of spirits and bad omens plagued the station. Now it was left to the ghosts and the drones to carry out the important experiments on gravity and observations of the great unknown of the black hole. A most fitting place to hide a creature that was supposed to be no more than a ghost himself now.
Aen stood at the main view port of the observation lounge and marveled at the majesty of the dark monster looming before him. It was the only place aboard the station that offered him any peace. The war within him pushed and pulled his fractured mind to the point of no return. He felt every part the ghost amongst the darkness, a creature so broken within there was no better place for him to be. Aen knew who he was. Three years of studying files provided to him by Iana gave him the complete picture of the being he once was, but his mind still held tight to the locked away memories. He was no closer to remembering anything than the day the giant came to release him from his icy prison. Only two memories pierced the veil of darkness within him, the beautiful face of the Council of the Dark Light – Lyxia - and the whispering voice of another woman that haunted his very soul. It wasn’t the Empress; her voice would appear in his head from time to time to check in on him. It was another one from his past; one that whispered lovingly to him in moments of quiet and serenity. All told, it was quite the experience to be something less than whole and was probably the sole reason he was hidden away here until he could find himself once again.
Looking out upon the epic power of the Dark God, Aen could see his reflection in the glass. Not much of him looked like the being that saved Terra Sol anymore. Gone was the look of innocence and hurt. Gone was the bright eyed and hopeful savior. Now he was hardened. Two years on the icy moon alone tore the innocence away and made him stronger. Along with the loss of memories, Aen was no longer the being that inspired many to fight on in life. He was a shadow of the man he used to be, a ghost of the prophecy of the Harbinger.
He wore his hair longer now than it was in the files, hanging to mid torso in its dark blue color with lighter blue highlights. Aen let it hang over his face to cover the glowing blue eyes that no longer showed hope and love as they once did, but the haunting glow still shone through regardless. He stood at an impressive six foot seven inches and was a statuesque figure of lean musculature. Not bulky but yet with a look that was carved from stone. Dressed in only a greyish colored under layer of the Ifierin armor, he looked like the literal fallen god. The sad, unwritten ending to the prophetic tale of Aen.
The deck rumbled beneath his feet, breaking him away from his silent desolation as the station’s thrusters ignited to push away from the grasp of the black hole’s ever reaching grasp. Every few hours, the station would pull itself back a little more as even from here the gravity well of the dark monster pulled it ever closer to its hungry maw. Aen could feel these ‘ghosts’ that drove the other sentient beings to abandon this place and paid them little attention. This close to such an immense gravity field, it messed with the brain’s ability to perceive reality in the normal way. The black hole warped time and space to the degree that every so often echoes from the past were heard in the here and now. In a way the station was haunted, but it was the darkness of the great beyond within the black hole itself and not ghosts and demons.
Then there were the whispers, the ones that were similar to what Aen could remember hearing on the frozen surface of the moon he was trapped on. He had used the access to the Imperial Archives given to him to research this matter and found his assumption to be right. The stars themselves were alive and as they were, so was this dark being before him now! On the moon, the host star murmured to him constantly, but here the black hole spoke to him directly and by name. The darkness reached out to him and all others around it!
It whispered things only the darkness would know, secrets and vile deeds done in the name of evil. It whispered for him to end his struggle and to throw himself into its depths to join his power with its own, which Aen laughed off. But most importantly, it whispered about a coming storm that would break upon the shores of the Empire of Light and change it forever. These whispers, Aen paid the most attention to. These whispers told of the fall of the only one to help him, Iana.
Then it occurred to him that the engines had been running for more than just the initial burst needed to free the station from the grasp of the gravity well. For a moment he thought that it may be a supply ship docking to unload, but there was not a scheduled delivery of parts and sensors to arrive for another few months. Aside from the Empress, there was only one other that knew he was here, but as soon as he felt the first footfalls upon the station’s floors he knew it wasn’t Bryx. Instead of the heavy crashes of the ten foot J’Karin, there were three sets of light and careful feet treading cautiously from the docked vessel. Aen knew immediately the Guild had sent their prized assassins - the Forgotten - to investigate the ghostly station. It was only a matter of time until his constant inquiries into the database attracted attention. Three years was a long time to go unnoticed in the very connected reaches of the Empire.
Instinctively, Aen flooded the observation chamber in heat from the star that resided within him, making the temperature a few degrees warmer so that he could detect the shift in temperature when his ‘guests’ joined him. He left his back to the door to further invite the stealthy killers to continue to sneak up on him thinking he was unaware of their presence; he was anything but! The door was always open, so there was no noise to alert him as the three assassins crept through it. But the coolness of their dark armor coming into contact with the warmer air inside the room let him know they had arrived like an infrared scanner. Now, as they slowly moved towards him he knew exactly where they were and it was time to have some fun.
Aen slowly turned to face his adversaries; the glow from the event horizon cast an ominous tone to the room in hues of orange and red. Once realizing they had been made, the three assassins stopped dead in their tracks and waited to see what Aen would do. He was curious, more so than he should be and not realizing the gravity of the situation. The Forgotten were sent to kill him and leave no traces, but he was sure they did not know what they were truly up against so he let them make the first move.
It didn’t take long for them to take the initiative and attack as the three leapt in unison towards him in an attempt to overwhelm him. Again Aen smiled to himself; they had no clue who it was inhabiting the station only that they were to kill him. Any other being would have cowered as the three assassins jumped to strike, but Aen simply waved his hand and changed the gravitational fields in the room and slowed time as well, leaving them hanging helplessly in mid-air. The scene intrigued him, three trained and ruthless killers now hung helplessly at his mercy as he stood a few meters away with a curious look on his face. Behind their masks, he was sure they were more than furious!
With a motion of his hand - opening it from a fist while reaching out to them - two of the Forgotten were reduced to smouldering ashes; burning away so hot and fast there was little time for flames as he reached deep within them to superheat their cells to over 5000 degrees in mere seconds. It was so quick there was no time for his victims to even scream. The middle assassin hung in the air until Aen pushed him with his mind and threw him across the room to strike the wall with a crunch. Aen wasn’t in a hurry, so instead of rushing straight in for the kill he circled like a shark that had injured its prey to see what was next, choosing the wide angle to approach his fallen foe. He could tell his opponent’s arm and shoulder were hurt badly the way it hung lifelessly at its side as it struggled to regain a defensive stance.
“Heretic!” it hissed at him. Aen didn’t reply as he closed in slowly.
“You trespass on holy ground! More will come to cleanse your filth!” it spat. “Those who sent you will be destroyed, the Guild demands it!”
The assassin reached with its left hand behind it and drew a plasma blade, throwing it quickly at Aen. It struck home in his chest, but did little to stop his advance. Aen grabbed the creature by the neck and lifted it up to eye level, listening to it choke on the blood he was sure was drowning it from broken bones and internal bleeding. Calmly, he let his heart burn the blade to cinders to demonstrate how little the strike affected him.
“Why does the Empress send her killers to hunt me?” Aen demanded.
“She does not guide us on our journeys! The Guild is not hers to command!” it hissed back with great effort.
“Iana is the Guild. She is their Goddess and their sworn leader.” Aen replied with a response designed more to learn more without revealing much of what and who he was.
“Stupid heretic. There is a storm coming and in its wake is change. You know nothing of the world in the shadows and will not live long enough to see them come to light!” the assassin growled hatefully. “Her fate was sealed when she let the Harbinger fall!”
There it was; the answer Aen was looking for! Tossing his crippled prey back against the wall he began to contemplate his next actions. Iana was obviously in danger and knew little or nothing about this coming storm so it was pertinent that he warn her, but first he had to wrap up this loose end. As he moved in for the kill, the assassin struck out with its good arm in a surprise attack. To Aen, it was not a quick strike but a slow lumbering lunge that was easily side stepped. He caught the assassin by the neck as it passed him and whispered in its ear.
“Your death comes in vain, and your Guild betrayed the Empress for no reason. Today you were sent to kill a God and before you die, know that you fall at the hands of Aen.”
He felt the gasp of surprise, as his whispers were heard and realized before Aen snapped the would-be killer’s neck quickly and letting the body fall to the floor in a heap. Immediately he began to contemplate what the creature had said. The Guild had turned against the Empress and unbeknownst to her they were obviously plotting to take the throne as well; the whispers of the darkness were true. Even from out on the edge of time and space Aen could see the storm building. He knew the puppets, but he would have to look a lot closer to see the puppeteer.
Leaving no evidence, he lit the corpse ablaze and reduced it to ash within seconds. The killers had done him a favor. Not only had they slipped up and let him know what was happening, but they had also given him an important gift; a ship! His time aboard the Brink had come to a close, and it was time to rejoin the land of the living. Aen walked the lonely halls to the control room and inserted a control chip into the main panel. Within the chip lay a time coded program so that as he departed in the assassin’s ship, all traces of him being aboard the station began to be wiped clean. As he made the jump to the Lyarran system, the station resumed normal automated functions with internal sensors registering a malfunction for the last three years. A malfunction that upon reset would show nothing had ever come aboard including the three dead Forgotten.
Lyarran Throne World Havyiin, Palace Gardens
Lyarra shone brightly in the morning sky and warmed the palace gardens giving Havyiin its mid-summer glory that was longed for throughout the Empire. Iana loved the feeling of the warmth on a summer day, basking in her gardens and shirking off some of her daily responsibilities. There was nothing better than strolling through the maze of flowers and trees that lined her palace on Havyiin barefoot, she loved the feeling of the soft grass on her feet. It was a place to regain her composure, the last sane place in an ever growing insane galaxy.
She felt the wind race through her waist long orange hair and her matching flame-lit eyes were closed to revel in the sensation. Her six-foot seven inch frame was stretched out on the bluish-green grass; her one attempt to enjoy a moment of quiet solitude. Sunlight glistened off her golden skin, and she felt Lyarra’s light nourish her every fibre. But despite the serene setting, Iana couldn’t shake the shadow of gloom that had begun to envelope her as of late.
Nothing had been what it was since she arrived back home. Before, the Council was peaceful and pleasurable to work with. Fleet Command was gracious in their dealings with her and the Guild had been like family to her. All that had changed since Aen, his life had altered everything! Now the Council was bitter, always bickering about the loss of an asset and a great weapon. Fleet Com simply bypassed the Empress with important decisions and the Guild seemed distant and cold. Other than her protector Bryx, Iana felt alone at the center of the great empire of Lyarra; a feeling she was not reveling in.
More and more of her daily activities had become a chore rather than enjoyment. After ten thousand joyful years at the helm of the Empire, Iana had come to wonder if the Harbinger had foretold the end of her reign as the cryptic prophecy read. She couldn’t see the outcome of this as the lines of fate and future - once clear to her visions - had become murky and muddled. Aen had done much more than save humanity and she wondered if he hadn’t been the spark that burned the entire Empire to the ground. Soon after arriving home, she had felt the darkness growing on the horizon as the shadows had begun to creep into the light.
It was bound to have happened; she had been gone for so long that whispers had grown in the dark and become ideas. Iana felt the change in behaviors before most even knew she noticed. The subtle hints of dissension from those who up until now, had been loyal to no end. The storm was on the horizon and loomed large in her future. Iana wondered how long she would wait before it crashed upon her. She had begun to retreat within the palace; cancelling appearances and limiting the ones she was mandated to, as done through holo-links. Her world felt like it was coming apart, yet she was bound to show composure and poise up to the very end!
All of this because of Aen; his wake left shockwaves that rattled the entire universe to its core. No one had imagined the power of the gods could live in the body of a physical being, but his birth had changed everything. Some wanted the weapon to hold proudly and ward off the threats from the Husk and other menaces out there; others simply wanted to possess such a being as a trophy. As tempting as both those things were; and the thoughts that through him she could retain her crown forever; she wanted nothing but Aen’s happiness and freedom. This is why she had Bryx find him before anyone else could and why she kept him hidden in the one place no one would ever look. The rest of the Empire thought Aen was dead or lost to the outer reaches of nothingness; Iana wanted nothing more than to keep it that way.
And then there was the matter of the new inclusion to the Empire; Terra Sol or Earth as the humans called it. It was a heated debate if they even were worthy of such an honor, yet Terra Sol was one of the most desirable destinations in the galaxy. It had become a supply line to the outer reaches of the Empire as it was the only Imperial world out in the far reaches. Now it was a central hub for defence, supplies and leisure. Only Havyiin was more sought after as a resort world than Terra Sol; tourism traffic was monumental in the new world’s income and along with some of the riches mining resources stretched throughout the Sol system. Iana wondered if some were thinking about a takeover if Earth wasn’t a part of the Council.
But Terra Sol would be conquered by no one, not after barely surviving their encounter with the Husk. The defence network was second to none as the PA cannon ring was operational within the year following the attack. Along with an orbital cannon network and a dual docking system; larger ships were ordered to dock at the Mars interlink station and people shuttled or ferried to the planet to run through security. It was the most secured and safe planet in the Empire, save for Havyiin itself! There were even rumors of Terra Sol developing a warship in secret, but their Council - Sara Foster - had shot those rumors down repeatedly when asked. The only ship development they had were luxury cruise liners for sight-seeing the great wonders of the Sol system and Iana was inclined to believe her young protégé.
Iana was proud of the humans; throughout such destruction they had risen to great heights and overcome near extinction to become a jewel in the Empire. Though some resented them, their Council had stood tall and proud; backing down from no one in the Council sessions. Sara Foster was fierce in her beliefs; Terra Sol would take second seat to no one in her mind! Though Iana wanted to show favor in the meetings to Earth, it was imperative she be neutral throughout all the proceedings. None the less, Terra Sol truly held a soft spot in her heart.
Maybe that is why she felt the Empire slipping away further each day; staying just out of her outstretched reach. Maybe that was why she had lost faith in the eyes that for so long had looked to her as inspiration. Not everything had soured, but there was a cloud of discontent hanging over everything; a shadow in the grand light of Lyarra.
She thought of the upcoming Council session and the turmoil that usually came with it. Like the rest of the recent sessions, Iana had resigned herself to appear as usual by holo-link rather than in person despite the pleas from Myril, the High Priestess of the Guild world Ryas. Myril was one of the few that still warmly conferred with Iana since the Terra Sol conflict and constantly assured her that the icy relations to the rest of the Guild would pass in time. Aen was a one in a lifetime creature and losing him was a blame that had to fall on someone’s shoulder. In a time when she felt more imprisoned than empowered, it was nice to have a friend like Myril.
A rush of wind roused her from her meditations and brought her back to the here and now. The breeze had shifted and made her instantly aware she had company. She kept her eyes shut, not letting on that she was on to her approaching visitor who had taken such pains to be unseen and unheard. Slowly he closed in on what he thought was an unsuspecting prey, but she knew who and why he was sneaking up on her. For as long as she could remember, her guardian Bryx had conditioned her to be aware of her surroundings; teachings that led to him testing her when she wasn’t prepared. But she was aware, and she knew it was him the second the wind shifted as thousands of years of honing her senses came into play. Iana waited until he was almost right upon her, before she dashed his hopes of catching her off guard.
“If you weren’t such a heavy breather, you might have been successful, old friend.” She said, unable to keep the smile from her lips.
“Don’t play coy with me Empress, you had no clue I was here until the wind turned.” He growled in his heavy bass of a voice; unhappy he had come so close to fail now.
Of course he was right, but Iana wasn’t about to give him the satisfaction of knowing he almost had her beaten. It was hard to be mindful of what was happening around her with her thoughts preoccupied with all of the goings on of late. She knew he picked inopportune moments to test her, but today was not her best of days.
“As much as you try, something your size is impossible to be stealthy.” She replied.
“Ouch,” he groaned sarcastically. “Yet another joke about my size. Perhaps I should start commenting on your age then?”
He was playing with her, but there was also something in the tone of his low voice; something was amiss that he saw fit to get her spirits up before dropping some kind of news on her. They had been together for too long, and that familiarity made him as transparent as water to her.
“Aside from the fact those comments may land you among the prisons on Dyen, there is something you aren’t telling me; I don’t have to look into you mind to know something is amiss.”
Bryx hesitated; it was she who had caught him off guard. He opened his mouth to speak, but the words didn’t follow; at least not right as he intended them to.
“There has been an incident on ‘the Brink’; unauthorized log entries had been tracked for some time and the Guild dispatched a team to investigate.” He said hesitantly.
“Forgotten?” Iana asked.
“Three left last week to look into it, but once I heard about it I logged into the mainframe and it shows no logs of arrivals or even crew members being aboard.” Bryx looked concerned. “I thought that was where he still was, but there isn’t a trace of anything biological aboard and the Guild prowler has disappeared.”
“Troubling development, do you have any way of finding out where he went?”
“He left no traces; very thorough in covering his tracks.” The giant said nodding his head. “All sensor scans of the station show nothing, not even an anomaly. It is a very odd situation.”
“More troubling is the fact the Forgotten were dispatched without my consent, old friend.” Iana replied with a hint of fear. “Have things come to that point already that I am to be cast aside so quickly?”
Bryx didn’t respond right away; instead he looked solemnly at her as he was obviously looking for the right words. There was a reason he had stayed by her side for so long and it wasn’t the fact that of his stature alone. Bryx wasn’t afraid to tell her the truth; a trait she truly needed at times such as these. As he thought, she tried to search his expression for any clues on what he might say, but the ever growling frown that all J’Karin wore on their emotionless faces told her nothing.
“These are troubling times Empress, and since the Terra Sol incident much has changed in our beloved Empire. The thought of wielding the power of Aen has made some on the Council power mad; the thought of him as a weapon has driven an insatiable lust to find and possess him despite the file saying he is deceased. Aen changed everything; and in doing so he possibly paved the way for that change to sweep over us and wipe clean all we have fought so hard to build.” He said at last.
“Like a stone thrown into the pond, his mere existence sends ripples through time and space.” Iana spoke aimlessly.
“You were right to hide him from everyone, but now that he’s out there somewhere I fear what will happen when he is discovered.” Bryx growled.
“No my dear friend,” Iana said with a wry smile. “He dispatched three of the Forgotten to the afterlife and wiped away their very existence on a Guild controlled station; I fear for the one that stumbles upon him in the hopes of thinking Aen is something to possess.”
Nammaran; the Lost Planet of the Prophets
It was odd to enter into orbit of a planet and not see space traffic of any kind, but as Aen slipped into the rotational pull of Nammaran it was as if the planet below was uninhabited. Imperial planets were mostly a hive of activity with trading vessels and docked Fleet ships, but none of that was here. Only the rings of crushed rock and ice that encircled the Earth-sized world broke the nothingness out here.
Nammaran was a hard place to find, but one he located none the less from the files aboard his stolen ship from the assassins. It was a place he could go for answers and it was a place that no one - not even the one who sent the Forgotten - would think to look for him. From initial scans, the planet was more of a water world than a rocky surface, but there was one continent near the northern pole of the planet. Easily overlooked as lifeless, this was the place the heralded Prophets of the Lyarran Empire called home; this was where they meditated for their visions of the future.
It took very little to lock into a geo-synchronous orbit over the small, lonely continent and Aen began to ready himself for his decent. During the voyage here, he had donned one of the reflective suits of armor used by the Forgotten and fitted by the ships rudimentary computer. He had found it odd that this ship wasn’t outfitted with a VI like the rest of the Fleet’s vessels; maybe it made the ship able to slip from place to place without being detected. He almost hoped it made his arrival a secret from the beings below, but if reputation served them well they knew he was coming long before he thought of it.
Turning the reflective surface control of the armor off, Aen decided to leave behind any weapons and the helmet as well. It was better to appear peaceful and arrive unarmed; besides he was more powerful than any of the weapons aboard anyway! He had come to find answers to the questions burning in his head; who was he and why could he not remember anything?
In an instant, he stood on the crushed rock surface of the shoreline. There were little geological wonders here; the entire continent was only five hundred miles long and less than three wide. Looking around he saw the way the landscape had been altered by the inhabitants; there were ancient pillars reaching up to the sky, towering over the rocky path. The first few were broken; the tops and more missing; but a few rows in they were more complete and led to a roof structure over the path that led to an ancient-looking pagoda-style temple in the distance. It was a rock structure that looked to be miles tall that loomed in the distance. There were no guards or anything to greet him; just the barren surroundings of a world untouched by the modern Empire. Aen highly doubted anyone even knew this place existed so the need for protection was obviously never required.
Slowly, he began the long walk to the temple and took note of the crisp northern air that cooled his lungs. It had been so long since he had breathed anything but the stale air provided by life support systems on the station or his newly acquired ship, that he had forgotten how it felt to have fresh air in his lungs. His body seemed to respond to the sensation as his heart raced sending surges of power through him. It was exhilarating; he felt truly alive for the first time since being rescued from the ice and snow. His body seemed to be on automatic now; his mind swooned from the sensory overload he was feeling his body carried on towards his destination and before he knew it Aen was standing at the foot of the highest set of stairs he could remember seeing!
Stretching more than a mile into the clear blue sky, the rock staircase rose high and unobstructed before him as the sound of flapping prayer flags lining the entire way up brought him out of his trance. When his foot touched the first stair, his mind began to flood with images he couldn’t place. Quickly, he removed his foot from the stone stair and stood once more at the base of the temple wondering what the hell just happened! He tried again; and once more he saw images of a woman and little girl running through a grassy field with the wind in their hair. There was a feeling of peace and belonging connecting him to this vision, but he could not place them in his fractured memory. Instead of backing down, Aen decided to continue the long climb and take what this place threw at him.
Step by step, the climb triggered a different vision with each footfall; each different and still alien to him. One was of a child frolicking in the shore waters of an ocean; the next holding a new born infant; another kissing a beautiful woman and swooning with lust. One by one the visions struck him in a barrage he was unable to deflect, but Aen persevered through the assault on his mind and quickened his pace. Over and over, strange memories tore him emotionally apart and as he neared the apex of his journey he found himself with tears rolling from his burning eyes.
Standing but two steps from the summit, Aen toiled with the thoughts of leaping up the last stairs or simply teleporting himself up to avoid any more of the visions. But before he could do either, his body reacted itself and took the last two stairs as two new and familiar images struck him. First was the face of the woman with blue eyes that had haunted his dreams for the past few years as she stood on the opposite end of the Council chamber staring back at him. Then there was the same creature with her amazing eyes just locked on him as the two had a conversation through a holo-link that he couldn’t make out. Once he made it to the top of the stairs, the visions stopped and he was once again alone on this world as he stood before an open doorway. Inside, he could make out a grand chamber with six figures kneeling in prayer on either side of the room with a seventh at the center; he had found the Prophets at long last!
Lyarran Throne World Havyiin
Iana felt a cold chill over her skin as she lay in bed; a chill that she had not felt in ages. It wasn’t caused by the wind or a change in temperature; it was a reaction to something her body was telling her was happening. Quickly, she sat up and rubbed the goose bumps on her arms and legs; the touch of her fingers on her naked skin was soothing and helped ease the almost creepy sensation she struggled to understand.
Most times, the Empress would have visions that told her the future course of things, but lately they had been quiet. Aen had been the cause of that; ripples across the ocean of the universe had muddled the reflections of what was yet to come for her to see. Without these visions, she felt exposed and helpless; unable to regain control of an Empire spinning so rapidly out of her reaches. But this, this was a feeling she had felt before.
Her mind raced to remember; ten thousand years of memories began to sort rapidly in her mind’s eye. Then she locked into it; the last time she felt this chill was when Bryx - a refugee from his young life in slavery - had stumbled upon the shores of the world of endless oceans and found by those who had raised her. They had delivered him to her a short time later; first as a protector and then later as a confidant and a friend. It was the last time someone had ever set foot on the lost planet of the Prophets!
She searched out with her mind and heart; trying to connect with the one who now stood on the forbidden shores. Even she didn’t know how to find the planet, but her fears were that someone had landed there with evil intentions. The Prophets had no way of defending themselves; no weapons to fight off whatever would mean to harm them. It took a few moments, but she felt herself guided in her search as a feeling of helping hands brought her down on the blue pearl of a planet and landed her at the top of a stairwell looking down at a being dressed in the armor of a Forgotten.
Iana’s heart sank; the Prophets were no match for a warrior of the assassin’s capabilities! Then she watched as the creature began the climb and as it closed in on where she stood and noted that the faceless helmet that left the Guild killer anonymous was not being worn. The being was not one of the Forgotten, but was dressed as one for some reason. Time sped up once more and the man stood just two steps down from her. Iana recognized him almost immediately and her fear faded quickly!
Before her stood Aen, but he did not see her as he usually did when she visited him as such. Instead, he seemed to be wrestling emotionally with something internal she could not see. His mind was blocked from her, the Prophets chose to keep his thoughts from her. As he started to climb the last two stairs, Iana felt herself whisked away and gently placed back in her body. Once more she was in her bed back on Havyiin and alone in the dark of her chamber; more puzzled than alarmed now. Just as she was about to reach out to Aen once more to learn why he was there, a voice spoke in her mind as she did to others.
“Darkness grows in the light of Lyarra; the Gods watch but do not intervene.” It whispered to her. “The Harbinger comes to us to mend what is broken, but will not find the salvation from his struggle. It is only after all you know has ended, that you both will find what is lost together. You will watch your death from afar as you sift through the ashes of a dark past to conquer the storm that rages across Lyarra’s grace.”
A tear fell from her eye; the Prophets had spoken to her and showed her what she could no longer see. She remembered one of the visions she had of him ending her reign as Empress and saw the symmetry with what had been just told to her. All she knew was about to change forever, but like Aen she would be able to be freed from the pain by a death that wasn’t. Maybe together, the two of them would find peace and an adventure unlike anything she could foresee.
Nammaran; the Lost Planet of the Prophets
Aen could feel them aware of his presence, but they did nothing to acknowledge him as he entered the temple. Slowly and quietly, he moved towards the motionless and meditating robed figures. There were no recognizable features on these creatures he could use to identify what race they were; they were draped from head to toe with long, hooded robes with not an ounce of flesh revealed. No light penetrated the opening of the hood and no reflections of eyes shone back at him; for all Aen knew they were nothing but ghosts!
“We are not ghosts, Aen of Terra Sol.”
He heard the whispers of their collective voices coming from all directions. The sound of their voices surrounded him entirely and triggered an immediate defensive stature.
“Your might and power is useless here. Only peace and understanding have sway in the temple lands.” The voices spoke in unison. “Come forward and ask your questions, for you have travelled long to ask them. The only thing that can harm you here is the truth and that will guide you to where you are needed next.”
“Where am I needed next?” he asked in response to the cryptic message spoken before.
“That is not what you came to ask, Harbinger.”
Aen paused; this was an awkward situation. They obviously knew his questions, but yet waited for him to ask them before answering. He carefully began to choose his words before speaking once more.
“What am I?”
“You are what you were born to be.”
It wasn’t the answer he wanted.
“I was born a man, yet that is not what I am now.”
“Fate has chosen you to be much more than what you remember of yourself. As the fires cleanse the Empire, it is you who will show it how to go on in the face of tragedy.”
“Fate didn’t make me what I am, so what am I?”
“You are the end of what is, and the light to show what will be.”
This was going nowhere fast; the answers were cryptic and anything but clear. Aen decided to move on to the next question.
“Why can’t I remember anything?” he tried next.
“Because you cannot open your eyes to see it.”
None of this was making sense and it was beginning to frustrate him.
“Every step to find your answers opened your eyes to what you cannot see. The journey held the answers you so sorely search for yet you cannot see past your eyes to see the truth.”
More hidden messages; more puzzles to solve that would give him headaches later. Aen was not impressed with what he was finding here.
“The past lies in the dust under your feet; it cannot help you now, yet it shaped what you are and guides you to what you must do next. In the ashes of your past you find only pain and loss; but in the here and now you can reach out to the falling star of kindness. There is one that needs you to help her more than you need your answers.”
“Iana.” He answered. “How can I help the great Empress of the Lyarran Empire?”
“By killing her before those in the shadows do. By setting her free so she too can find herself.”
“You want me to kill Iana; the Empress?” Aen hollered.
“You must kill one to save the other. It is the only way to face the growing darkness. The God’s chose you for a reason; once you are whole again you will have all your answers. Before, you were struggling with your gifts and fighting your broken soul. Now you have forgotten that soul which made you formidable enough to defeat the impossible. Find what you left behind on Terra Sol and there you can show her what it means to live once more.”
“There is treachery in the house we built, but the darkness holds its secrets even from us. Only when you are whole can you raze the house to the ground and purge the evil from its shadowy corners. Rebuild what has been lost; cleanse what has been tainted, and light the way for those to follow. This is why you were born Harbinger.”
Before Aen could respond, he felt the wind pick up and swirl inside the temple; picking up the dust off the floor and making it impossible to see. The dust storm quickly rose, intensified to a near gale force, then faded away to nothingness in mere moments. When he was able to see again, he was all alone inside the temple that looked exactly the same as it did before the storm. The Prophets were gone and he was left with more questions than answers, with the exception of one thing he hadn’t noticed when he first entered; a portable holo-link device! His borrowed ship wasn’t equipped with one, and he remembered reading that the Prophets would watch the Council sessions from time to time and this was how they did so. It couldn’t be a coincidence this was left here to find; coupled with the upcoming session in two weeks, he was positive they wanted him to observe it. So he scooped up the device and made his way to leave with his frustration over the lack of help still high. As he was out on the top step and preparing to teleport to his ship, he heard a whisper in his ear that almost made him fall down the mile high staircase in surprise.
“To find an answer, you must know the beginning.”
Aen’s head hurt, and he hoped that all these cryptic answers weren’t helping. All he knew is that he needed to watch the upcoming meeting, and that there he would get an answer of some kind. He was just hoping it would be one that he wanted.