Exodus



  • Part 3: a prophecy fulfilled

    Although the next part of my tale is by far the strangest, it is important to understand that I truly did die that morning so long ago. When I woke, I was to meet my benefactors. A truly noble people. Very proud.

    As before, I was awake. Some feeling vaguely remembered from the womb warned me that here, beneath the waves, my eyes would be useless. I left them closed. Tiny aquatic noises reached me after minutes of silence: scratching sounds; a faint chittering; water moving in water; submarine drips. Something barely felt flitted past my chest: perhaps seaweed fronds, or the ethereal movements of sand from the seabed. I touched my chest and remembered, with difficulty, the crushing wounds that the Holy Bull had inflicted. Aside from three small puckered scars where my ribs had left my body I could feel no evidence of my death.
    I pondered in silence. I was not breathing, but felt no need for breath. Had I died, or had I been dreaming, as on the Syntyche? Had I truly ever been elsewhere? My mind struggled to comprehend a world different to this. Had I not always floated here?
    My musings, oddly calm, were interrupted by a voice, immediate and powerful.
    “Human. We knew of this day, and it has occurred.”
    The voice was silent, contemplating.
    “Where am I?” I asked.
    The voice spoke again, this time curiously “You are different from the four. The South, the East and us. These are the only four, but you, and the other humans.” the voice paused “Like shattered crystal. You are not unified, not one force. We are one force. It makes us strong.”
    And it did. Around me I could tangibly feel the voice, as if the vocal cords of this being were stretched strands of seaweed, oscillated by slight currents of water.
    “Who are you?” I queried.
    “Your children’s children will call us Undine, but we are of the West Pillar.”
    “Why am I here?”
    The voice was cold now, with a hint of malice. When it spoke, the familiar stomach turning, knees weak feeling returned to me.
    “We are at war with the East, human, and have been for an age. We have cleft their cities with water. We have sunk the great Maayti into the swamp. But we are not winning. Their struggle is desperate, and now they hide beyond our reach in the dry earth of the mountains. The South would make a powerful ally, but he does not respond. This leaves only East and West.” the voice was silent. Around me I could feel the water changing temperature, dropping until my skin was prickling and a dull ache developed in my fingers and toes.
    “We began the war, human, and now we will win.” the voice became more direct, almost whispering “With your help, we will win.
    “You may wonder why it is we who have captured you first. Surely, you think, the East need a tool too? A weapon to win this war and reclaim their cities? They do. But we are the sea and the ocean, and therefore, we are time also. The ebbing of the waves, and shifting of the tides. Fire and Earth do not control time with such finesse as we. When your people arrived here, we were the first to react. The East cannot grasp such concepts as haste. It is a weakness we exploit often.” the voice moved to behind me, and began to explain in more detail.
    “The East are in hiding, but their power is still strong. We have sent ourself: Polyps, Hydras, Scylla. So far from the ocean, though, our grasp on these agents is too weak to affect an attack. This is where you become useful, human. We will imbue you with the means to our end. You will destroy the East.”
    “What if I refuse?” I asked fearfully.
    “Can you refuse to beat your heart? Can you refuse to drink when parched? To obey us is natural and as inevitable as the tides. Now,” the Undine said “open your eyes.”

    My indoctrination to the whims of the West lasted a time, barely understood, it was so great. I learnt how to purge water of impurities with my mind. I learnt how to summon the agents of the Undine to my side. I was taught how to fill mans lungs’ with the water of the atmosphere, in case I had need of self defence. It was explained that I had no need of food or water, but it was essential that I sleep. And when I slept, I did so uneasily in dark crevasses, licked by seaweed and probed hesitantly by white tendrils, the putrid fingers of the lurking unseen. My thoughts were allowed to drift with the tide: I saw the rise and fall of generations. I saw the battles of the East and West, the imprisonment of the North. I witnessed a betrayal, heard the moans of the plague-struck, was woken by a woman, fell into the void, watched a volcanic eruption, felt mountain chill on my cheeks.
    The first time I saw myself die I was shocked. I felt myself wade into the ocean, my limbs beyond my control, and draw stinging water into my mouth. The sky was overcast and raining, the sunlight diffused and unremarkable. In the next scene of death my body had been impaled on some form of pike and lofted in the center of a coastal town. In this scene, too, it was raining and diffuse. The third scene involved a beast with six legs. In the fourth I was crushed by rocks. The fifth was like the first, and on it went. Always my dark hair and blue eyes the center of my vision. Death sometimes approached swiftly, breaking my neck or splitting my skull. Sometimes my death lasted days- exhaustion, starvation, suffocation in ancient cave systems. The death I saw most of all, however, was drowning; always to the grim sound of rain and oddly diffuse light.
    “When you drown,” the Undine had chuckled “we have won another battle. When you feel that icy numbness gripping your heart, it is a welcoming embrace. You are home again.”

    --------------------------------------------

    The Holy Bull snorted and flared his nostrils. It stood silently framed by the mountains and stars of the land. It never spoke directly to me, but I understood its means. Beyond this world great beings communed with the Holy Beast, the teachers of this creature.
    “The land is stable and the warring will stop. In time, East, West, North and South will be in balance. You have done well.”
    The Holy Bull bowed its head in acceptance of the praise, great horns touching moist earth.
    “The bringing of the Fifth pillar had been a risk we were not willing to take, but they allowed the West to see the folly of their war. To treat the humans as a pawn would not have been successful.”
    The Holy Bull looked to me, and I realised that ulterior forces had focused there attention on my pale forehead.
    “We understand. A tool to accomplish your task. Without his sacrifice, the West would never have known that their victory was unobtainable from the outset. It is a shame that he must spend his days with such a vain and capricious people as the West, but to free him would allow far too much power into the hands of the Fifth. It is a precious balance, between the multitudes of realities, and you have dealt admirably with the coming threat. In due time we will acknowledge your contribution.”
    The Holy Bull’s eyes fixed onto mine. I searched for some hint of regret or sorrow for the fate he had condemned me to. There was none. In the majestic and powerful beast I saw only satisfaction. With a shake of his head, the Holy Bull dismissed me.

    I had fulfilled the prophecy of that ancient script: I had warned. I had been shunned. I had been made a pawn.
    I was fated to tread the crash of waves for an age.



  • In some ways, I found this one the most confusing of the three. The main plot is simple, but certain, detailed things (e.g. What exactly is the Holy Bull and who are "the teachers of this creature?") didn't seem to get an answer. I guess I do understand though if you want to leave all of that vague so that we can draw our own conclusions.

    All in all, I liked it, and it explains what all of us were wondering about your character, like drowning people on dry land and summoning polyps and the like.

    (edit)Removed a question that I just found the answer to.(/edit)

    This post has been edited by The Wizard : 27 September 2006 - 06:30 PM



  • I'll reply here to your comments Wizard:

    I tried to base this chronicle heavily on what we do know about Cythera already, and general Greek lore. I wanted to keep the story deliberately vague on those points you mentioned, as the main character himself has no idea of those answers either. I would be more than happy to explain who the Holy Bull is (a character drawn directly from a certain book in the game itself), and other such details, if people are interested (a PM, or an email, or a post in here will illicit a response a.s.a.p.).

    I agree that of the three installments the middle was the best. The first felt too long-winded, the third too rushed. In the end, however, I am relatively pleased with what the first piece of creative writing I have attempted in at least 2 years, and hope you all enjoyed reading it, at least to some extent. :)

    Further comments or criticisms are welcome.

    This post has been edited by dusk : 27 September 2006 - 11:28 PM



  • I thought that it was pretty good and quite interesting. (Part of the reason is that it fits in fairly well with my own version of Cythera's history, in which I include as many of the works of others as I can.)

    Quote

    . . .(e.g. What exactly is the Holy Bull and who are "the teachers of this creature?"). . .

    This might be something purposely left to mystery or known only to the author. While it remains a mystery—that is until dusk says otherwise—I shall guess it to be either the Chimaera or some of their agents. (Of course, this is only my own personal interpretation, given because it fits well enough into my own history; it's no doubt incorrect.)

    By the way, dusk, it occurred to me when I read this: has Phaedrus encountered Selax at some point? (I'm curious because that might affect their reactions to each other in future TSs or in the Tavern; although Selax has been out of Cythera since just before the rise of Alaric, he was present at the time of human's arrival and until around 217 or 317.)



  • @selax_bot, on Sep 29 2006, 11:16 AM, said in Exodus:

    I shall guess it to be either the Chimaera or some of their agents.

    The Holy Bull is actually the author of a certain Cytherian document. Given what you've just said, I'm sure you can guess which one it is.

    @selax_bot, on Sep 29 2006, 11:16 AM, said in Exodus:

    By the way, dusk, it occurred to me when I read this: has Phaedrus encountered Selax at some point? (I'm curious because that might affect their reactions to each other in future TSs or in the Tavern; although Selax has been out of Cythera since just before the rise of Alaric, he was present at the time of human's arrival and until around 217 or 317.)

    It is entirely possible that they have met before. Phaedrus, being at the beck and whim of the West entirely, could likely have been revived to deal with something and bumped into Selax during his time in Cythera. The extent of Phaedrus's knowledge would be patchy, however: being killed so often does not benefit memory, and Phaedrus has difficulty differentiating one event from another.


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