1Eternal Darkness: Origins
Resurrection of the Mad Goddess
Disclaimers: Nothing belongs to me. I can't think of funny disclaimers anymore.
A/N: Many, many thanks to Todd for all his help on this and future chapters! Couldn't have done it without you!Chapter 10 Ethrion, Abraxas
"Come to watch the show?" Pious asked the avatar. She didn't respond.
The two were sitting on a park bench on a gravel road. Pious sat watching the sky, hoping to catch sight of the Liches. The avatar, however, was slumped over in her seat, staring at the ground. She had not spoken at all since the two had met.
"Why so quiet?" He asked her. "Is this not a cause for celebration? The Ancients will finally take back that which is rightfully theirs."
The avatar still did not speak. Pious leaned forward, facing her.
"You are not still upset over this, are you?"
"Why shouldn't I be?" She said, miserably. "She's gone. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I don't know anything anymore."
"You don't know what you're supposed to do?" Pious leaned back and looked up at the sky again. "You're not supposed to do anything. Whatever you do now will not make any difference; it will be perhaps days before the Veil is torn apart."
She looked up at him, timidly. "So I should just sit here and wait with you? Is that what I should do?
"I cannot tell you what you should do." He answered. "Do whatever you care to. It does not matter."
"But I don't know what I want to do." She protested. "I don't want anything...actually, no, that's not right. I want her back. I want her here so she can tell me what I should do."
Pious didn't respond, but the avatar continued. "I don't understand. If she was just going to leave me here, why did she make me a living being? Why did she make me conscious? Why didn't she just kill me?"
"Did you want her to?"
She nodded, looking as though she was about to cry. "I guess...it would have been better than being alone like this..." She shivered in spite of the midday warmth. "I hate this. I hate being alone."
"If it's any consolation," Pious replied, "You will not have to be alone for very long. Soon, the rest of humanity will join you in death."
"So I should just wait? Is that what you're saying I should do?"
"I'm not telling you to do anything." He sighed, sounding vaguely annoyed. "The choice is yours to make. You can stay here and wait to die or you can do something else with what time you have left."
The avatar was silent. She looked up at the clouds, wringing her hands anxiously. Before she left, she thought, she told me to do whatever I wanted to do.
But she didn't mean it as an order...it was just a thoughtless statement. She didn't need to tell me to do anything. She meant for me to stay here and die...
So that's what I should do, isn't it?
No. It can't be. She said to do whatever I wanted.
You must want something. A different voice spoke this time. It was her own, and yet it sounded unfamiliar. It reminded her of Alex's voice.
Alex? Is that you?
The second voice didn't answer.
What I want...she thought. What I want, more than anything, is for her to come back and guide me–
Why? The other voice asked. Why would you want her back? So she can abandon you like she did before?
But she wouldn't abandon me. That's the whole point.
She has no use for you. Even if you were with her again, she will not tell you what to do. Nothing you do will matter to her.
Then I should do nothing?
No. The voice was emphatic. If you don't want her to desert you again, you must do something that will matter. Otherwise, you will remain insignificant. You will vanish into oblivion with all the rest.
But what will matter?
Prevent the inevitable. Stop her from reentering this world.
What? Why would I do that?
Because nothing else will matter. If you prevent her from entering the veil, she will know that she cannot abandon you. You will not be insignificant to her. She will need you once again.
The avatar didn't answer. The very concept of working against the Ancient was so alien that she could barely even think about itAnd yet...it made sense, in a way. If she did that, then Xel'lotath could not ignore her.
And, somehow, the idea itself seemed satisfying...
I suppose you're right...but how would I do that?
Anna hadn't spoken since Dr. Lindsey had returned. Jonathan had attempted to talk to her a few times alone, but the ghost refused to say a word.
"It will not be long before the Liches summon their masters." Minerva's voice was quiet, and she wrung her hands together unconsciously. "No more than a week, at most."
"Why a week?" Dr. Lindsey asked.
"Even though they do not have to wait for the planetary alignment, there are still a few preparations that need to be made. Besides, it will take them a moment to stop tearing at each other's throats."
"Pious needed two thousand years to summon his Master." Lindsey added. "Why will it only take a few days this time?"
"Because Pious already prepared everything the last time." She had gone from wringing her hands to plucking anxiously at her robes. "Everything is in place. All they need to do is speak the incantations."
The sound of footsteps cut off further conversation. The ghosts looked up to see a figure walking toward them. She was a long way off, but she was still recognizable as the avatar.
Anna's hand clenched into a fist. "What does she want?" She hissed.
"Are you sure that's her?" Jonathan questioned. "She has no reason to be here. Besides, wouldn't she be teleporting instead of just walking?"
"Now that Alex is the Liche of Xel'lotath, perhaps the avatar no longer has her powers." Edward stated.
"I don't care if she has her powers or not." Anna simply glared. "Why is she here?"
"Wait." Minerva spoke again. "There's something...different about her. I don't think she is here to hurt us. Let her speak."
"If you insist." Anna's hand was still in a fist.
The avatar walked up to the ghosts, looking around uneasily at them. "Um..." she said, "You all are looking for the Runes, aren't you?"
"Yes..." Minerva looked puzzled.
The avatar took a breath, trying to steady her nerves, and said "I know how you can find them."
For a moment, the ghosts silently stared at her, at a loss for what to say. The avatar fidgeted for a moment, then repeated, "I can show you where and how to find the two new Runes. I know this sounds crazy, and I know you probably don't believe me, but-"
"You're right." Anna cut her off. "I don't believe you. Why would you be here to help us?"
The avatar looked away. "I'm afraid I don't have a good reason for you to believe me. It...I...none of this makes sense, even to me. I don't know how to explain it..." She paused, then said, "I want to help you find the Runes because it's the only thing that will matter anymore. If I don't...There's nothing else I can do, don't you see?" The faintest traces of panic showed on her face. "If I don't do something-anything-that will make any difference, she'll never come back, and I'll die with the rest of you, and I'll still be nothing."
As the avatar stopped talking, the ghosts looked at one another, nonplused. "I'm still not convinced." Anna said, keeping an eye on the avatar.
"Annie..." Jonathan put a hand on his wife's shoulder. "Can I talk to you for a minute? Dad, Minerva, Dr. Lindsey, you too."
The others congregated around Jonathan, who asked "What do you think?"
"What do you mean, what do we think?" Anna looked incredulously at him. "You're not telling me you believe her?"
"No, not really. But I think, for now, we have to trust her."
Anna opened her mouth to protest, but no sound came out.
"Why?" Edward continued for her. "Jonathan, remember who she is. Believing her would be suicide; I'm quite sure she is deceiving us."
"She probably is." Jonathan conceded. "But we have no idea where to find our Runes. She might. If she is telling the truth–and I'm not saying she is–then she's the only chance we've got. And I'd rather run the risk of being betrayed than pass up the only opportunity we might have."
"Is there even a chance that she's telling the truth?" Minerva protested. "Why would she?"
"I...Well, I'm not certain. I only have a theory. Lindsey, you said that Mantorok told you the avatar had an infant consciousness, right?"
Lindsey nodded. "So you're saying the avatar might not have known what she was doing?"
"Exactly. I think that, now that Xel'lotath isn't controlling her, the avatar may not think like the Ancient anymore. Her thoughts and actions may be independent now. I know it sounds farfetched." Jonathan admitted. "And I know we're taking a huge risk trusting her. But I think we have to take that risk. It's our only chance." He looked around. "So, what do you all think of that?"
"I think you're crazy." Anna replied.
"I figured as much. What about you, Dad? Minerva? Doctor?"
The three looked uncertainly at Jonathan and at one another. Then, one by one, they nodded.
"I can go along with this for now." Edward stated. "But I can't say I believe it."
Jonathan nodded in reply, then turned to the avatar. "You said you could show us the Runes." He said to her. "Where are they?"
The avatar sighed, apparently in relief, and explained. "We need to head for Ehn'gah."
"All the way to Ehn'gah?" Minerva asked. "Why?"
"The Runes already exist as characters in a Magical alphabet," she replied, "but to actually use them in Spells, you need to...weave them, I guess. You need to arrange the threads of the Veil to describe the Rune and what it does. Since Ehn'gah's got so much Magic floating around, it'll be easier to manipulate the Veil."
"None of us know how to form Runes from the Veil." Lindsey pointed out.
"Leave that to me."The avatar replied.
"But how do you know all this?" Minerva's voice came from nowhere; though she was obviously traveling along with the others in the car, no one was sure of where exactly she was. "Only the Ancients would know how to form the Runes from the Veil."
"I'm not sure." The avatar was sitting in the passenger's seat of Colin's car, which he had left at the dorm in favor of taking a taxi to the airport. A convenient set of spare car keys on his dresser meant that Lindsey, the avatar, and the ghosts were now heading for Rhode Island as fast as the car would take them. "I just...know it. I mean, while I was still me, I didn't know it, but after she acted through me, I did..."
"I think that, while she was controlling you, her mind occupied yours. You shared her thoughts and memories, which is why you remember them now." Edward suggested. He, Jonathan and Anna were seated in the back of the car.
"If you say so." The avatar looked out the window. "Are we almost there? It's been a while."
"This last part's going to take the longest." Lindsey replied. "The roads outside the District haven't been evacuated. We might hit traffic, not to mention we won't be able to go a hundred miles an hour anymore."
"We will if we take this exit." Edward pointed to a road sign. "It's not as crowded as the interstate. Turn off here."
Lindsey obeyed, veering sharply to reach the exit ramp. The avatar gasped, clutching her armrests. "Please," she said, her voice quavering, "Never do that again."
"They haven't followed us." Jonathan looked around as he hovered out of the car. "How long do you think we have?"
"Not very." Minerva reappeared just outside the door to the manor. "They will notice what we have done soon. You are going to have to hurry." Her last comment was directed at the avatar.
"I don't know if I'll be able to do this in a hurry." The avatar protested. "I've never done anything like it before."
Minerva nodded, then turned to Anna. "Was it locked when you were here with Jenny?"
"It was." Anna replied, speaking for the first time since the avatar had joined them. "It was thick with Magick too. I couldn't even get through it. This time, though..." She floated through the door, and a few moments later the door opened. "No problem. I guess now that the Liche's gone..."
The avatar ignored her, running over to the basement door and disappearing as the door slammed shut.
Ehn'gah was huge–imposingly, intimidatingly huge. The grey towers of the necropolis loomed over her, like a graveyard as seen by an ant.
The avatar was deep in the city now, far from the plaza and the Spell circle, and she was beginning to regret having run off. The necropolis was silent and empty, and the slightest noise she made echoed and magnified a thousand times.
The weave of the Veil was almost visible here; vivid streaks of light briefly illuminated single threads. The Veil became more tangible with a greater concentration of Magick, the avatar remembered that much. But why here?
This must have been where the Guardians used more of their Magick. She mused, following a single thread down a back alley. Which means this is where they did more killing...more eating...
"Why'd you run off?"
The avatar jumped, surprised. She turned to find Anna standing behind her. "Oh..." She said. "Sorry, I shouldn't have...I think I found something I might be able to use, and I didn't want to lose track of it." She looked back behind her shoulder, but the thread had vanished.
"What did you find?" Anna seemed more curious than suspicious.
"The Veil is easier to manipulate here. I may be able to form the Runes." She looked at the ground. "You're talking to me."
"Yes?" Anna looked confused.
"You didn't before."
This time the ghost looked away. "Actually, I was thinking about that on the way here–what are you doing?"
The avatar had her back to Anna and was holding something in her hand. White light streamed through her fingers"A thread of the Veil." she explained. "Do you have the Codices?"
"No, I don't; Dr. Lindsey has them-"
"I'm going to need them. Find Dr. Lindsey and bring the Codices. I will be here when you return." The avatar didn't turn around or even shift her focus from the light in her hand. Anna hurried away.
The avatar pulled her hand back, and the light coalesced into a single bright thread, humming with tension–although 'humming' was perhaps not the right word for it. She could hear the sound it was making, but she could also see it and feel it and smell it and taste it and sense it in a hundred different ways that there weren't words for yet. She reached out into empty air and her fingers caught on a second thread, then a third, then a fourth. She brought the glowing streamers together in her hands, braiding them and weaving them together. The smallest trace of a pattern was begginning to appear, and a whispered voice danced on the edge of her hearing. The Veil was speaking, describing the pattern she was weaving thread by thread.
It never even occurred to her to question what she was doing. There was no doubt in her mind how the Runes were to be formed; all she needed was the proper name, the proper pattern, and everything else would come naturally. It was as though she had been doing this all her life.
"Here. I have the Codices." She heard Dr. Lindsey's voice somewhere behind her.
"Good. Read me the first one." She didn't look up from her work.
"'Abraxas.'" He recited. "I can't read this first part...'The Many, the Divider'"
"Abraxas, the Many." She echoed, seizing another white thread"Divides a Spell's effect amongst many targetsUsed in the Runic language to denote numbers, indicates 'more than one'." She couldn't say how she knew it, but already her hands were at work, plucking threads from the fabric before her, spinning them together until they were a blur of white light. The whisperings grew louder, and the shape of the Rune became clearer.
She lost track of how long she stood there, but it wasn't long before the Rune was completed, floating in the air before her. She paused only a moment, pulling more threads out of the Veil to start again. "The next one. Quickly."
"'Ethrion. The Three.'" Lindsey read.
"One of the numbers used with Abraxas. Denotes three targets or recipients of a Spell's effects." She started piecing the rune together.
"One question." Jonathan asked Minerva. "What kind of Spell are we going to use these with? I mean, a Magickal Attack probably wouldn't work; it wouldn't affect an Ancient unless another Ancient cast it. We don't have that kind of power."
"I do not know." The glowing lines of light cast patterns on Minerva's face. "What is there that we could use? Most of the Spells I know of wouldn't be of much help..." She tugged on the sleeves of her robe.
"Bind." Edward suggested. "The new Runes give a Spell three targets. If we could Bind all three of them, we could force them to retreat from the Veil...or destroy each other."
"Sounds like it might work." Anna smiled in spite of herself. "Good thinking, Father-in-Law."
Edward smiled back.
"There. I think I'm finished." The avatar stepped back, looking tired and out of breath. Next to the Abraxas Rune a second Rune was floating, whole and complete. They hovered expectantly, but already their light was vanishing back into the Veil. "Should we head to the Spell Circle now?"
No one answered. They were to busy staring at something behind her. The avatar turned around, looked up, and saw the bright blue circle that had open up in the air above them.
"They've come." Minerva said. Her voice didn't betray her panic. "Get to the Spell Circle as fast as you can. If we can avoid them until they summon their masters, we may have a chance."
The city shook; over the sound of crumbling masonry Chattur'gha's guttural growl could be heard. As one they all turned and ran for the central plaza.
"Take the back roads." Minerva directed, turning off into a narrow path between two buildings. As she ran, the avatar looked back to the sky. The blue portal had disappeared. The Ulyaoth Liche now hovered in the air, searching the city for them.
There was no more time.
The Ulyaoth Liche scanned the city from its vantage point high above it. They had already found the new Runes; how it was not sure, but the fabric of the Veil was only just now returning to normal. If they had the Runes, than they potentially had a weapon against it.
Elsewhere in the city, the Chattur'gha and Xel'lotath Liches had arrived. The Ulyaoth Liche ignored them. It couldn't afford to waste time on them anymore.
The Ulyaoth Liche floated to the ground. The foundations had already been laid; there were no more preparations to make. All that was needed now was the final Summoning ritual, and that wouldn't take more than a few minutes...
It smiled, and began the final Spell.End Chapter 10
A/N: Six pages? Why did it take me a bloody year to write six bloody pages? Oh well. Hope this chapter was worth the wait, and thank you so much for your patience! Chapter 11 coming soon! (Really. It is. I promise.)