A/N1: Hi again! I'm sorry for the very long delay but I'm sure you understand that sometimes it is inevitable (I've been quite busy and had no time to devote to writing the story). Hopefully, I'll be able to update again in a week or two. In the meantime - Enjoy!
Disclaimer: The characters of Stargate belong to MGM. The characters of Farscape belong to Jim Henson Productions.
It was a beautiful morning on New Lantea. The air was fresher like never before, the sky clean, the sun warmth welcoming. It was a promise of a really good day.
In orbit, the massive shadow of the Leviathan was still attracting attention and shuttles as small as bees to a hive were flying in and out bringing in supplies or happy tourists. People found this ship to be extraordinary and wanted to learn more about it. And Pilot was gladly abiding as for him was just as interesting.
The usual morning briefing at Atlantis however took place not in the base but on the Leviathan as acknowledgement to the guests of Atlantis. Richard Woolsey was pleasantly surprised being on board this ship (it was his first time since its arrival for it is quite different from the inside of a wraith hive and much more pleasant).
In the middle of the room, a display of the galaxy was showing a planet, the one on which later on the team led by Sheppard was going to go. The information regarding this planet was obtained on the team's last mission to Memorial. The planet was on the list of gate addresses the team had never visited. But they had to go for it was closely connected to the new mission they'd all accepted (and though the Sheppard was the official leader of the team everyone knew that Mitchell had the con as it was his mission).
Sheppard and Mitchell had agreed to Commander Crichton's proposal to reach the planet not via the gate but with Moya (the leviathan). It would be a chance for her to actually do something, as Crichton had put it. Moya preferred to explore and given it had the chance of being in another galaxy it was not something she wanted to miss. And the other point as Crichton put it would be that the team will have the chance to experience what starburst feels like. And new experiences were something that the team did strive for.
Richard Woolsey was to say the least stunned when they debriefed him on the mission to Memorial. The information they provided regarding Mitchell's ongoing mission was an opportunity few commanders could dream of: the prospect of a team going to explore not only other realities in hope of finding solution to their problems but also of visiting another totally unexplored galaxy (actually the galaxies being two and in two different realities – one alternate and parallel in time to theirs and another alternate but set into the future). And this was what made him more open than usual and he approved the mission without any of his usual retorts or references to 'by the book' rules.
The total travel for Moya reaching the planet had been estimated at twelve hours, which was still quite impressive though Crichton was indeed surprised. He explained to the others that for whatever reason this estimation was far better than the usual capability of Moya. For some reason, she could move faster into the Pegasus but all this was quite welcomed. Not to mention that the address of the planet was relatively close to New Lantea.
The ship was fully supplied with food and all other little but necessary things and was ready to depart. Woolsey wished the team good luck and left aboard a puddle jumper.
"For our new guests, prepare for starburst, people." – Pilot informed.
Woolsey being outside noticed that the tentacles, as he called them, retracted and a light built up from the tail. The light slowly encompassed the ship illuminating it and a small window like a tunnel of stars appeared just as big as to let the ship, through which Moya a second later vanished.
The Atlantis team felt very odd and just like in any kind of star travel the stars became lines as the ship entered into starburst. But the sensation, as I said, was indeed strange. They kind of felt the living matter enter between the stars and it was something that they have not experienced while travelling into hyperspace not even with the wraith hives who were also organic.
"In time, you get used to it." – Crichton said perfectly well noticing how they felt. "The first time is always strange."
"As is any new experience." – Mitchell observed.
"True." – Crichton agreed with a smile.
The two of them were getting quite well along. They were so different yet they had so much in common and even more than he could imagine.
Twelve hours later, Moya emerged from starburst in orbit of a planet, probably M class, with sapphire blue oceans and lush green continents (numbered four). In the distance they spotted the star of the system, which seemed to be an abnormally large yellow sun, perhaps even bigger than Earth's sun and some of the other fifteen planets that preceded this one, which held the sixteenth slot.
"Pilot, prepare a transport pod." – Crichton asked Pilot.
"The transport's already ready for you, Commander." – Pilot said at once.
"Shall we?" – Crichton turned to the others.
The group reached the transport pod and Crichton stood at the helm. The pod left Moya and headed down towards the equator where they were supposed to go. This time, however, Rygel and Chiana were going to stay aboard so to the surface went only Crichton and the Atlantis guests. Five minutes later, the pod reached the surface and landed in a dense forest.
The sight of this environment was probably not so different from most worlds they had all visited but as a matter of fact there was something about this place – a sense, a different sense about this place. It is the kind of thing that can't be explained for it is a feeling, an odd feeling growing inside a person, who makes him aware of some force that presides in the surroundings and it is a feeling that can't simply be cast aside and taken for something normal or usual.
The indicated destination of the team presided some one mile inside the forest so the team geared up and headed in that direction. It would have been great if they could land in that exact spot but the forest was too dense making it impossible so reluctantly they (a.k.a. Rodney) had to walk.
The forest as they noticed was indeed amazing as at first its appearance was that of summer – the trees full of color – the greenest of the green, the air fresh of the trees sweet aroma, their branches heavy but happy and the bark full of life.
Sheppard soon located a path, perhaps especially made for crossing the forest. They followed it for nearly one hour passing by different kinds and breeds of trees – some big, other enormous and some small but all full of life, of colors pleasant for the eye.
And then just as suddenly, the shade of colors changed. It was like they had crossed from one realm into another. The forest now was of lovely colors as though autumn had just come – red, orange and gold intertwined in ways that make the human shiver from the mightiness of the creator – nature.
Sheppard was at the lead, followed closely by Rodney, then Teyla and Ronon. Somewhere behind Crichton trailed off, starring at the beauty of the surrounding environment. Without any warning or sign, ten wraiths emerged from behind the trees.
Sheppard reacted instinctively, firing his gun. He managed to put two down but a third came close to him knocking aside his weapon. On the other side, Ronon and Teyla were fighting side by side as much as they could but the wraiths overpowered them quickly. Rodney has sought cover the moment they appeared but helped his friends nonetheless as he shot two of them just before they managed to strike at Ronon and Teyla. Crichton and Mitchell also had their hands full but they managed quite well on their own.
But they were losing the battle as more wraiths had come and it turned ugly. And then suddenly out of nowhere, as Sheppard noticed while making everything possible to resist the wraith that had one intention in his mind, two figures wrapped in dark green robes appeared. They were hooded and bore bows. The arrows that flew struck down the wraiths so quickly that he had barely seen them taking them out. Sheppard was relieved as he was about to be sucked dry (well the wraith was getting to the point but an arrow took away his chance) but his smile faded quickly as the bows turned into their direction.
Ronon, Teyla, Mitchell and Crichton were indeed surprised by the sudden appearance of the hooded figures but quickly got themselves into reaching for their guns. They did not have this chance however as the arrows flew so quickly that shove the weapons away from them. After this, the four did not make another attempt of reaching them. It was perfectly clear they would be dead before even thinking about it.
"We come in peace." – Sheppard moved forward his hands in the air but stopped at once as he saw the bow-string pitching. The situation was bad, very bad and Sheppard could not see what would help them now. But then a voice spoke in an unknown language. Sheppard turned around and looked at Rodney stupefied.
"Ellentia An' Dame vervau. Vir Atlant nest on'amen."
"Vis Atlant?" – One of the hooded figures turned to Rodney, the bow still in position.
"Ya, Vir Atlant. Neh nest on'amen. Vent sales a vu damina nocte." – Rodney replied totally shocking his team mates. "Veil Mortis und hales een Gallean."
The hooded figures lowered their bows. "In Vis Atlant, can'en zi! Vir bet und tanare."
"Let's go!" – Rodney said with a smile.
"Rodney?" – Sheppard frowned.
"We have to follow them. They'll take us where we have to go. Trust me!"
Mitchell reached for Sheppard. "We don't have a choice." – He whispered to him.
Crichton shrugged at this sudden change of circumstances and followed Rodney without further questions, Ronon and Teyla too. Sheppard was a bit apprehensive just as Mitchell was.
"You reckon this sounds familiar?" – Sheppard turned to Mitchell.
"Yes, very. He speaks in the exactly the same language as Vala did." – Mitchell nodded. "We have to be careful."
"I agree with you but obviously we don't have a choice."
The hooded figures marched quickly and noiselessly so the team had to put up a high pace in order to keep up. The forest became denser but fuller of color and of life. The diversity of trees and bushes was indeed incredible but soon retreated to only one kind – very massive trees with large trunks, grey bark and silver leaves. The branches were so enormous that they were enough to support the weight of a human.
The branches then divided from the trunks but in such complex system that formed floor like flatness. On the flat floor like surface were visible constructions, most probably hovels built of light but enduring material with twigs covering them up as roof. Reaching this hovels' city was only possible by the silvery glimmering ropes, which the two hooded figures climbed up quickly.
The rest of the team saw no other choice but to follow their hosts. Sheppard was first and he had to admit that climbing up these ropes was a curious sensation. The rope itself was very soft and yet durable and climbing it proved much easier than he anticipated. He reached the upper level where their hosts were waiting. Crichton came after him, then Mitchell, Rodney for Sheppard's surprise, Teyla and Ronon.
"Tenin tanare!" – One of the hooded figures said and gestured.
"This way!" – Rodney interpreted at once.
"I got that part, Rodney." – Sheppard said but followed the invitation. He still had to find out how Rodney knew their language.
Their hosts led them up the enormous tree. The stairs were actually again the enormous branches that encompassed the trunk of the tree and led them in a spiral up. Climbing up wasn't tough but they had to take one break before reaching the top level. After all they weren't used climbing them.
They entered into a throne room with green and golden light on a similar flat floor through whose center passed the enormous trunk of the tree. On the right side of the entrance were placed two thrones of oak wood. One of the thrones stood higher than the other one. On the higher throne a woman in white linen dress stood. Her beautiful golden hair fell freely on her shoulders. The age of this woman was not easy to determine and though she looked fairly young there was a feeling that she was much older. And only in her eyes could the years really be seen. Her green eyes lingered for a moment on which of them and only Rodney managed to withstand her gaze as the others looked down almost immediately.
On the second throne just 'an inch' lower than the woman's stood another woman. She was dressed in a grey robe and was a miniature copy of the lady sitting above. The team logically concluded that she must be the woman's daughter. Her hair was silvery blond but shinned like the sun on a bright day. And her eyes, her eyes were also green but not dark. They were a shade of bright green with a hue of gold but more like sun gold than only gold.
And the moment Sheppard laid his eyes on her he stood rooted on the spot. His thoughts raced back to a week before when he was in the Temple of the Axis where he had numerous visions. In one of the visions he was rescued by the very same woman standing before him. There could be no mistake in that. Sheppard had put a lot of thoughts regarding this event and the feelings he had but had come up with nothing. And now he was standing before the woman of his vision. But he had to admit that even the vision paled before the real thing.
But he knew that vision or no vision he was now smitten above reason and no power or object was more powerfully attractive than the woman before him. His heart was racing fast in his ribs and his eyes were glowing. The mystic power of the sight of this woman has already put a spell in his heart. He was hers now. He belonged to her. He had never thought he would find anyone to whom he would give his heart and to be honest he never really looked. But now, she had him. He couldn't explain it to himself how but these things happen on their own. He knew that the vision had showed him an event that has not happened yet but the feelings he had felt were real. It was a paradox, which some called a parallax – the result of an action that has not yet occurred. But the vision only directed him to her. And he was happy it did.
Sheppard, of course, did not show his feelings on the outside. He remained still but his eyes were saying it all (for those that know how to read these signs).
The young lady, for she was a lady, was also looking for him. She knew he was coming. And then he entered first. Her eyes fell on him and she felt a strange surge passing through her body. He had finally heard and answered her call. He was just as she imagined him – not very tall but handsome with steady face and gentle eyes with adamant look in them. And he saw her and his eyes told her everything. She was now happy but did not show her happiness just like him, which made her even happier. He was the one.
"ACan'en a ant Aridis Castri!" – The woman on the higher throne spoke. Her voice was melodic and deep.
"Welcome to Aridis Castri!" – Rodney interpreted again. "I think it translates as something like the fortress of the Dragon."
"Dragon?" – Mitchell looked up.
"Yeah, dragon, as breathing fire and…"
"Rodney!" – Sheppard cut in.
"Sorry…I think this the name of the city in which we are."
"Well, thank them for the hospitality and for saving our lives." – Sheppard said.
"Oh, yeah…" – Rodney said and turned to the queen as he was dubbing her. "Congili a vis ospitulum und vis neh on'omun miht vir feliel."
The woman, or the queen as Rodney calls her, looked down at him with surprise. She was told that one of them speaks their ancient tongue but she was truly surprised as to how well he spoke it (and well she was not the only one).
"Vir aht natis aht Numoris!"
"We are the people of the Forest!" – Rodney translated to his team mates.
"I think she meant the children of the Forest, Rodney." – Sheppard said and surprised even himself. The others looked at him also very surprised.
"It could be…" – Rodney trailed off still shocked. "But how did you…?"
"I don't know." – Sheppard replied truthfully still surprised of his interpretation. Although it was not that much interpretation than mere instinct though he knew not how he came by it.
"Veht unt all'een meht velcare." – The young lady turned to the queen.
"What did she say?" – Teyla inquired.
"Uh, she said – he will know you as though he was born among you." – Rodney replied at once.
"So few words to express something so short." – Mitchell said stunned.
"Well, their language is complex at times and not so much other times." – Rodney explained.
"Which comes to the point how you know that language?" – Mitchell turned to him.
"Well, I don't know. I just do." – Rodney shrugged.
"Dr. McKay learnt our language at the Gardens of Even while at the temple of the Axis." – A soft voice said. And if the others had not seen the young lady's lips move they wouldn't have known who had spoken.
"So you understand us?" – Ronon exclaimed.
"Yes, we do. We have learnt it long ago."
"But to welcome us in their home as the tradition dictates they have to speak in their language." – Everyone looked around and stared again, this time at Sheppard who had spoken. "What? It is logical, isn't it?"
"Yeah, it is." – Rodney nodded.
"We have come to…" – Sheppard started and before he had realized it he continued in the ancient tongue much to his team mates' surprise. "…on'amen a mirht damina nocta ferul as'ar ant vesti'ili Gallean lumis art vigilis Mortis."
Rodney's jaw had fallen straight down as he was watching totally dumbstruck Sheppard and much the same way were the rest of the team.
"Mis an'anana, mer. Veht unt all'een meht velcare." – The young lady exclaimed.
"Fasuh." – The queen agreed. "Vis neh on'amin Atlanta aht damina nocta."
"Thank you!" – Sheppard said but he saw his friends' expressions. "What?"
"Did you actually realize that you just spoke in the ancient tongue?" – Rodney asked him.
"What?" – Sheppard looked confused.
"Yeah, you did." – Rodney confirmed.
"Beats me!" – Rodney exclaimed with a sarcastic smile.
And the answer came back to Sheppard. His memories drifted back in time when he was on a mission in the African desert, Sahara. At the time, he was a lieutenant. The details of the mission were a bit sketchy but he clearly remembered that he was lost and there was no chance he would survive but then he had woken in an oasis and there was food near him. He never could explain how this had happened since his last memories were that he fell totally exhausted as the deadly desert storm hit.
But now the blurry vision came back to him. He was semi conscious as a figure dressed all in black was carrying him. Then in the distance he saw the oasis but lost consciousness again. When he regained a bit again – he was at the oasis. The black figure was standing above him and this time he heard the words.
"John Sheppard, a destiny lies before your feet and though it rests in a tunnel next to all, you will go there. And when you reach the first stop and you hear the voice of the forest your destiny will catch up with you.
Veht unt all'een meht velcare – he will know you as though he was born among you. Veht allia solemn a fie se e – he will guide you to paths lost and unseen. Veht tall'ar farrit a vas Mortis – he will become the voice and will of Mortis. Veht allian fie a nur qu'er nast ol'amen e vint sallen Horrifis Timeris, protectis naturee via farrit Mortis und Gallean! – He will help those to rediscover their lineage as Dread Knights – keepers of peace and justice by the will of Mortis and Gallean."
He drifted away from the oasis and returned to the throne room. Did it happen then – then when his destiny was prophesized? He did not have the answer but it seemed the most likely answer. "Vir alleen ind natis numoris – you will go the Children of the Forest. Vir siik Silvae, the hiiera aht Numoris – you will seek Silvae, the daughter of the Forest. She will help you through the path you have to walk. Good luck, John Sheppard." And the figure vanished. Sheppard opened his eyes though he did not remember when he had closed them.
He made the few steps towards the young lady, knelt down and spoke.
"Silvae, hiiera aht Numoris – on'amin mir und Atlants aint damina nocta fed'in Collosso a tir Altera."
The queen stood speechless. The Atlantean knew exactly what to say and whom to turn to or maybe he didn't but his instinct was showing him the right path, the right direction.
"Silvae!" – The queen turned to the young lady. "Go with him and carry with you the blessing of Gallean and Mortis."
"Thank you mother." – Silvae said.
"We will only need the arrow." – Sheppard said turning to the queen then he froze. He had no idea why had he said this though he knew somehow it was the right thing to say.
"The arrow?" – Crichton said perplexed. "What arrow?"
"The Silver Arrow." – Silvae replied instead. "Yes, we will need it. Mother?"
"Yes, I'll give you the map but seek it alone you must." – The queen said. "But for now you all need your rest. And tomorrow you shall go to retrieve it."
"Thank you!" – Sheppard said and bowed. "Time to go!"
The others still stood rooted and totally confused. If the sudden ability of Rodney to speak this language had shocked nothing had prepared them for the total stun of Sheppard speaking it too. But they understood that the audience with the queen had come to an end and thus they followed Sheppard back down the stairs.
The Nemoreans had prepared two hovels for them. The hovels were bigger than they thought and had enough space. One of the hovels was for the women and the other for the men.
As soon as they settled into the hovel, Mitchell attacked Sheppard with dozen of questions starting with his knowledge of the language of these people. Sheppard told them the story that he had suddenly remembered and as far he remembered it. Mitchell stood still afterwards for quite some time contemplating upon his words.
"So you're predestined?"
"Well, to be perfectly honest with you, I don't know what to think. And I wouldn't use that word." – Sheppard said. He did not like the idea of being predestined for something like this but it seemed to be the only logical conclusion. "Besides most of the time, I don't even have the slightest idea how I did it. I simply did it."
"Yeah, more or less like McKay. You two just like that started speaking some unknown language like you were born with it." – Mitchell observed. "Unlike Vala…"
And here Mitchell trailed off but Sheppard understood. This subject was painful for Mitchell.
"And this Silver Arrow – what the hell is that?"
"Well, it is a Silver arrow. You know bow – arrow."
"Yeah, I got it but what is it for?"
"Well, I'm not really sure." – Sheppard shrugged. "But I have the feeling I'll need it."
"Great – you know it feels like sailing into the total unknown with a sheer stroke of the genius…"
"Of the Ancients and their cryptic ways." – Sheppard completed his sentence. "Yeah, I know. It does."
"Isn't that what we are doing right now?" – Crichton cut in.
"Yeah it is." – Mitchell agreed and smiled. "It is."
The next morning, the team was ready to leave the city of the Nemoreans. They were going to be escorted by honorary guard and Silvae, the daughter of the queen. And though the team did not need someone to guard them they couldn't refuse otherwise they might offend their hosts.
The guard was the same which escorted them yesterday to the city. With great surprise it was when they learnt that the guardians were young women just slightly above twenty years old. They were again in dark green robes, which as the team learnt and saw is a perfect camouflage. And to be honest, they had hardly seen any other guards into the city unless they were moving, which was to tell them how good these clothes were. On the other hand, Silvae was again in greyish robes with silver tassels. She bore a man height bow made of some unknown wooden material and strengthened with a silver string. The bow was accompanied by forty long arrows.
"Are we ready?" – Teyla asked as they gathered before the gates, which yesterday they did not notice.
"Yes, we are." – The soft voice of Silvae confirmed. She and the guards turned around towards the city raising their left hands to their chest and bowing, before exiting through the gates.
Silvae led the group north through the forest. They were going as she explained to the mountain caves where the arrow was located.
It was clear that the forest had a few more surprises for its visitors. The northern side as per legend or request was all in white, puffy snow and here and there adorned frosted trees looked more like crystal statues than living trees. But in all this the sheer beauty of the forest had no competition.
The path took them out of the forest at the foot of the mountains' ridges where the entrances of the ancient caves lied. Silvae led them inside.
The caves weren't that big or spacey but the front of the cave they entered in was special and they quickly understood why. Right before their eyes was a small frozen lake. In its middle on a pedestal was the silver arrow. It was in frame of silvery metal standing suspended in mid air. The arrow itself was no more than five centimetres long. It was attached to a chain.
Crichton was looking at it with stupor. He moved toward it but the moment he set foot onto the frozen surface he was thrown backwards. Sprouts like a golden net appeared around the lake borders.
"You can't take it that way." – Silvae said.
"Thanks for the warning." – Crichton grunted rubbing his numb arms.
"She's right!" – Sheppard said then turned to the others. "You will all stay here while I…"
"You're not thinking about going on alone, are you?" – Teyla interrupted.
"I'm sorry I have to."
"What is this? Some hero nonsense?" – Rodney shot.
"No. It is the way it has to be. I have to retrieve it alone." – Sheppard answered.
"No, you won't for we are coming with you." – Rodney countered.
"No one is coming with me." – Sheppard said with surprisingly adamant voice. "That's an order."
"To hell with your orders. We are not going to let you brave it on your own." – Rodney disagreed.
"You don't have a choice." – Sheppard said and pointed his gun at Rodney's chest.
"What the heck is wrong with you?' – Rodney said stepping backwards. Crichton and Ronon moved towards McKay but Sheppard quickly took defensive position and they understood he wasn't making any kind of jokes.
"I'm going alone." – Sheppard said. "And no one is following me otherwise I'll shoot you myself. And trust me it'll be preferable compared to what will happen if you do."
"Only one can retrieve the arrow." – Silvae interjected. "He must follow his destiny."
"Destiny? What are you talking about?" – Rodney exclaimed.
"His path differs from yours, Dr. McKay. He must follow it wherever it leads. It is said that the arrow shall deliver itself only to its true master. Many have tried and many have failed; for the true master has never come." – Silvae explained.
"Oh!" – Rodney exclaimed. "But how do you know that John is the one?"
"I don't but I do believe he has a destiny and it is calling upon him." – Silvae answered.
Rodney sighed defeated. It seemed that it was one of these strange situations in which even words are useless. What one had to do, he simply had to.
"Well, good luck." – Rodney wished.
"Thanks Rodney!" – Sheppard said a bit taken aback by the sudden change of heart. "Oh and one more thing – do not attempt to take the arrow again. Something tells me the golden net is not the only defence."
"We'll keep this into mind." – Crichton said thoughtfully. "Good luck."
Sheppard nodded, turned around and ventured further into the caves. The path that lay before him he followed purely by gut instinct. He never really liked the idea of neither future predestined nor the idea that he was doing whatever he was doing by the design of someone else (that was evolving as he went). But there was definitely something going on for he was acting unlike him. But then again something deep in him was telling him that he was about to discover a part of himself he never knew. Maybe some things are predestined to happen at some point. Maybe not in every reality but in some reality they are meant to be. The only thing he did not enjoy was the puzzles, the mystery around it. Why these things are never clear? Why has it to be so complicated?
"He shall see the path no one can find." - Suddenly these words formed in Sheppard's head. He had no idea where they came from.
"Stop this!" – Sheppard said aloud trying to cast away this unknown influence. "I make my own choices. I make my own destiny."
He was not directing these words at anyone in particular but was shooting them into the void of the universe – a cosmic call. He was hoping that they will be received and understood. One has to make his choice independently otherwise it was not worth; otherwise it was not a life of your own to live.
The path he was following curved and swirled at times but nothing even indicated where it was going to lead him. By now he was for sure far away from his colleagues but then again with all the zigzags he could be very close. He had lost totally the sense of direction in these cave corridors. And it was then when the path grew larger as it came to a halt. Before him lay a terrain full of crystal formations unlike anything he had really seen. It looked like a meadow but instead of grass there were crystals as tiny and narrow as real blades of grass. And they looked as alive, just as real grass would. As he looked there was a pulse that was crossing the field giving the distinct feeling of wind.
The field of crystal grass was going as far as his eyes could see. But as there was no other path he had to go through it. Although he did not fancy the idea as he remembered the last time he encountered crystal formations things turned quite badly.
"Great." – Sheppard grunted. But as he made his first steps he suddenly remembered the words that had formed in his mind just a few minutes ago - He shall see the path no one can find. And asked himself – is it really true or is it my imagination. But there was no answer.
The moment however he had made just a few steps further he had a bad feeling. He suddenly had no desire to continue further so he turned around only to find that the aperture through which he came was gone. He was standing in the middle of the field and as far as the eye could see there was only the field.
"What the…?" – Sheppard exclaimed. It was certain now that he must be hallucinating for this defied any logic or the other possibility was that this was a very elaborate illusion. But either way was making no sense. And to add more thrills the only light in this place was produced by the faint glow of the crystal grass all around him.
Sheppard stopped to gather his thoughts for he was now confused and disoriented. Usually when one is lost one tends to look for a sign to guide him but here there were no signs. He couldn't go back because he did not know where back was.
He was lost, completely lost and was starting to feel helpless, which was something he did not enjoy at all (I mean who would). He thought he knew what he was getting himself into as he knew that he alone had to find the Silver Arrow but it seems that the answer was as always not so easy. Nothing is easy. Every single moment of our existence we have to prove ourselves not only to others but most of all to us.
Sheppard shook his head trying to get rid of those thoughts. He came here to find the Silver Arrow; no he was here to take it for it'd help him into the crazy quest he himself got involved into. And as he remembered he volunteered for it. Crazy – sometimes people do such things – diving in without even thinking.
'If there is a way in there is certainly a way out.' – Sheppard told himself. This axiom worked every time so why not now.
He started walking trying to keep the direction he came through but he was due for a bad surprise. He had walked more than ten minutes by which time he should have already be in the zigzagging corridors but he wasn't. He was still in the crystal field so he turned around and walked again for the same amount of time – reaching his previous starting point.
He then continued forward. He walked for nearly an hour but nothing around has actually changed. He seemed to be walking forward but he soon realized he was moving aimlessly throughout the vast field. So now for sure he was even more lost than he was in the beginning.
This realization crushed his enthusiasm even further. He had no idea what to do. His brain was trying to make sense of the situation he got himself into but was coming up with no answer.
After trying several different directions – at some he was walking, at some he was running and in others he was sprinting, he sat down exhausted or should we say worn out not only physically but spiritually as well.
He never thought he would fall in such situation where he would be completely worn out and totally helpless. In all such situations that he was before something always helped him. It was like that into the temple of the Axis but there he had the strange starlight to rely on but here there was no guide – nothing.
Nothing was making sense. He came to find the arrow and instead he got himself lost.
'No' – Sheppard shook his head, a sudden ray of enlightenment hitting him. He didn't come here to find the arrow for the arrow was already here. He came to take possession of the arrow for the arrow as the legend goes can be taken only by its master, by its true master.
'Many have tried and many have failed' – Silvae had said. 'For the true master has never come.' But why did she believe it was him? Why? And then – the true master – how could an artefact know whether someone is the master or isn't?
These were the questions that Sheppard was trying now to make sense of but nothing gave him the answers he was seeking. This situation was defying logic on all levels.
'All? All levels? – Maybe not all levels.' – Sheppard told himself. It was true he had not considered all possible solutions. His thoughts trailed off towards Arthur Conan Doyle and his fictional character Sherlock Holmes. Doyle wrote that when Holmes is faced with an impossible situation he starts to think outside the box and Holmes' favourite line then becomes – 'when you eliminate the impossible whatever remains however improbable must be the truth.'
Why have many failed to acquire the arrow? Have they also come to the place he was in right now? And if so, if they have failed what happened to them? Did they just come out and said to dear friends – well we failed or something else happened to them? Did they die out after spending an entire lifetime looking for a way out in this place where there is no way out? And if so, it could mean that their bones lie around or their ashes or maybe nothing is left of those that tried. But then what happened to them? Why did they not find the way out since logically they came in? What was answer of the unsolved mystery?
Yes, the unsolved mystery in a place of almost utter darkness, where the only light is some faint glow. Yes, the only light….
'The only light.' – Sheppard exclaimed jumping to his feet as a sudden illumination hit him. 'The only light here is the faint glow, a faint glow coming from the crystal grass that in the surrounding darkness bears…" – Sheppard did not finish his sentence for he was absorbing the light around him. "Of course…why didn't I see it before? It is right before my eyes. The answer has been right before my eyes all this time."
The light, he thought, the light in the surrounding darkness is silvering. But was this really the answer? Sheppard thoughts went even further for he was feeling that this was only one part of the answer. But was the other? What was he missing?
A silver light - "Of course…" – Sheppard frowned. "What remains is the arrow. But is it the arrow, which is standing at the entrance of the cave or is it something else?" His thoughts were racing, again trying to assimilate this illumination he had.
"I have a silver light but no arrow." – Sheppard repeated aloud to make sure he's making sense now.
'He shall see the path no one can find.' – He continued his thoughts. "He shall see…" – He trailed off again. "To see the path one needs light. And…." – Sheppard froze. The revelation that came to his mind was brutal. "Is it really that simple?" – He shot the question into the darkness.
He had the answer all along. "He shall see the path no one can find. In utter darkness no one can find a way out. But then there is the silver glow and what you miss is the arrow. The arrow is giving the direction or should it be said the arrow is the direction. Was it really that simple?"
Sheppard calmed himself for he had at last understood, well maybe not everything but he understood the essential. He understood the meaning and now he was feeling much more complete than he have ever felt before for the answer to the mystery was unbelievably easy and simple.
He concentrated directing the silvery glow towards the exit, to the way out, which as always is the way in.
At the entrance of the labyrinth, Sheppard's colleagues were waiting for nearly ten hours and there was still no Sheppard. They started really worrying. Ronon even tried contacting him by the radio but there was no signal, no Sheppard.
And then without any warning the casing around the silver arrow vanished as did the arrow itself. Instead a doorway appeared through which Sheppard stepped in. But they quickly noticed that there is something different about their friend.
It was a tiny sparkle in his eyes that constituted the very difference from the Sheppard that left and the Sheppard that came back. For John Sheppard found the truth and the revelation came to him when he asked himself the most important set of questions – Did the others before him see the silver light? And if they did why is the silver arrow still at the entrance? And then the answers he was looking for – if the others did not see the silver glow then the silver glow came with him, no not with him - the glow came with the arrow. And if the glow came with him then he was the Arrow.
And he finally understood it – he finally has found the part in himself he was missing – he was the Silver Arrow, the person that can see the path others can not. It was a moment of pure revelation and enlightenment that gives a person, literally, wings and enriches him.
It was never about finding the object – silver arrow it was about finding himself – rediscovering himself, giving a new meaning to his life, for which he was grateful.
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