Journal #42 - Continued

The alien word struck a chord in my soul more powerfully than almost any emotion I had ever felt before in my life. My head rocked back, my knees grew weak, and the world span in place several times around me. For the first time the man smiled a fraction of a smile. With a suddenly parched throat and dry mouth, I managed to choke out the word he had spoken, "Eionia?" in a far less than elegant tone of voice.

His smile didn't fade, though his eyes and the runes on his outfit took on an unearthly, vibrant magenta glow, bathing his form in varying shades of red and dark pink light. "Yes. Eionia-" he spoke the word and paused deliberately to watch as my body reacted to it again, the smile widening briefly, "is what you would call an eleventh territory. But bare no suspicions, this realm is far from any territory you have ever walked before."

With that he proceeded to lay out on me the whole forest-world-of-possibilities thing I wrote down last time. I learned some pretty harsh truths. Of them all, the one I think hurts the most is the one that seemed to have the least relevance to this guy. "You wish to understand Saint Dane? Look upon your reflection in a wavered pool. He is you at your darkest. Your shadow, your antithesis. He is everything you should have become as things were to follow the way they were meant to be."

I shuddered. This wasn't quite what I was expecting, but several years in silence with only yourself for company can make a guy appreciate anyone, even him. "He is the embodiment of the Travelers failures, but you above all are the one responsible for his creation. Without your existence neither would he be left. All changes to Halla would be reborn but for your existence to end." With that pleasant note he turned away from me to look out across the barren plain, a contemplative expression on his face.

"You are He, and He is You. Remove all other beings in creation and still the two of you would co-exist alone so long as the other was left. You will cease to ensure he succumbs." the simple note of finality in his tone may as well have been a sledgehammer descending upon a small glass sphere. Something at my deepest shattered. I felt a piece of my mind, my essence, my very soul splinter away from the mass.

I turned and ralphed, hard. Thick black sludge hit the ground before me and writhed beneath the magenta light coming from his form behind me. A low exhalation filled the air as the sludge began to gather and condense, forming together into a small black star like those left behind as the marker of a flume.

A screech of unbridled despair erupted from it in a shock-wave that knocked me flat on my back. I groaned. The black star flickered for a few seconds before morphing into a nasty set of tang-like claws and shooting at the other guy. A simple flick of his hand banished it backwards toward the gunk between the territories I had swam through before. To my surprise It hit it like a solid wall and a wet splat as the star was scattered like buckshot across it.

Suddenly exhausted, burning on the inside where that gunk had come from and left my throat, and in a fair degree of pain and numbness still I couldn't really do much of anything as the remnants of the star reformed and gathered fractions of the wall behind it as well.

It wasn't much more than a couple of grains per piece of star, but when it reformed, a pulsing energy washed through it and the star erupted into a well familiar black smoke. "No." I managed to get out. "Oh, yes." Filled with the same despair as before, the voice oozed out of a paler skinned, dark haired form looking rather like I did, yet conveying a sense of power I had never commanded.

He took a testing step forward and raised one hand before his face for examining, then clenched it into a fist and shook his head. "The irony is bitterly delectable. The very force you have been trying to destroy was born from your own failures therein." he said scathingly.

His eyes roamed over the area before settling on the other man, and they grew far colder and more distant. "You always knew this would occur, didn't you? Halla could have held peace! Instead you became so caught up in what you invisioned taking place that you forced events to come to pass." his voice conveyed a lot of anger barely under control. "No wonder Press was always so insistent that this was the way it was meant to be; how else could it be without the balance between the forces. The Travelers existed, so of course to make up for it you must have an equal and opposite being to counteract them." he spun in place and wrapped a hand around my own, yanking me up to my feet.

He stared at me hard in the eyes while gesturing to the figure beside us. "Do you realize that you were never meant to stand here in this place? That you need never have suffered and left ten territories in chaos struggling against me? For you time is flowing forward, but for me it is precisely the opposite; all of these encounters to come for me that are still dwelling in your past, do you understand that it all could have been avoided if not for him? Free will doesn't exist! It's all a series of manipulations set up to lead you here and create me! his voice had begun interrogative, then sunken into desperation and despair toward the end.

"All of the atrocities, all of the lives that have to be destroyed, all because 'That is the way it was meant to be'?! This is a chess game using all the forces of Halla as pawns, and you and I are the respective queens to travel anywhere across the board while doing the bidding of the limited king!" his voice was starting to take on a harsh edge to it again. Apparently I wasn't looking much better than he was sounding, as something in his eyes sharpened and he took a step back.

"... It's futile. You won't stop it. You can't stop it, not while he still rules over all of Halla. But I swear to you, to all of Halla itself, that I will wrench control from him and set right the wrongs of creation. Join me, Pendragon, and let us work together instead of against each other- allow me to guide you as I would yet Nevva. Don't let us become desperate enemies again!" he ordered, seeming to change his mind every other word spoken.

I looked back and forth between them. If what he was saying was true, and I already knew better than to trust it, but just if it was true... could any of this be avoided? Maybe, and maybe not. I wasn't getting a good vibe from either of them. One way or another, things were going to be trouble. And if I truly had to cease to destroy Saint Dane and everything he had done... what did I have to lose in trying to stop him from the get-go?

I felt the energy suddenly thrumming through the air. "... Yes." my voice nearly cracked.

/pause Journal #42.