Vrin Ten Mortal Gods(6)

By: John Michael Hileman

Kitaya looked at me. “Would you?”

“Ah, okay. How does it work?” I stood and reached out my hand.

“Notice the top.” He handed me the device and pointed. “It is malleable, slightly firmer than a sponge. Press that edge to your forehead and the moment will be sent to you. You will not actually be present at the event but you will perceive a physical body.

“What if I want to stop it?”

“Close your eyes and blank out your mind, this will terminate the link, and your consciousness will return to your actual body.”

“Sounds simple enough,” I said, not feeling the confidence I portrayed. I placed the soft black cushion on my forehead and instantly found myself standing in a field of knee-high grass. Hundreds of people were traveling up a dirt trail. I looked around. A short distance up the path something big was going on. I made my way to the road and followed the stream of refugees. No one paid any attention to me.

Moving up a steady incline, I looked behind and saw the origin of their trek, a large village surrounding a huge stone castle. Apparently these were the residents of Pagnia, and judging by the multitude, it looked like Rath was planning on destroying more than just the royal castle. I spotted a young child walking along the edge of the crowd, digging a stick into the dirt as he walked. He was wearing the same kind of red rubber armor I'd seen on Rath. He must be one of Rath’s children, I thought. Slowly I turned and scanned the outskirts of the crowd. Sure enough, there were others dressed in the same peculiar apparel.

Topping a slight incline I encountered several small gatherings of women and children sitting about with their belongings piled around them. In the midst of the smaller groups, talking furiously amongst themselves, was a large group of men. I headed in their direction. As I weaved my way through the various groups, I couldn't help but look down on the faces of these poor displaced families. I felt for them; there was great sadness in their eyes. What right did anyone have to push these people from their homes? It was outrageous!

“This is an outrage!” came a voice from inside the circle. I saw an opening and stepped inside. Three men stood talking in the center. Their clothing stood out from the rest in both quality and design. They must be from the ruling party, I thought. The same man continued. “Will we not stand and protect our property? He is but one man!”

“We are not fighters, Fyousa and even if we were, he is too powerful.”

The man grimaced. “We are not fighters because we choose it not, not because it cannot be! We cannot stand still in the face of this aggression and do nothing! He has snatched our homes, taken the land we have worked so hard to nurture and protect! Our people have worked for centuries to build that kingdom! We cannot let Rath take what is not his to take!”

The third man spoke. “Be calm my friend.” He placed his hand on the man’s shoulder. “Does it not state in the great text that the brothers and sisters of light would one day join us? Is it not so they created this planet and our people from the dust of the cosmos? Then is it not fair for them to reclaim the land which is rightfully theirs?” The crowd watched intently as he turned and addressed them. “Tul’ Naydor is no saint but he has demonstrated the power of the gods. He is one of the Ten. He has every right to place his claim on our land! Now disperse! Go back to your families and tell them not to despair, for although things look dark, we must trust that the gods have shined on us this day!”

Reluctantly the crowd began to disperse, and the old man looked back at Fyousa. “Let us not hear any more talk of revolution, my friend,” he stated smoothly. “Is it not better for us to live in the dark, than to die in the light as if we never were?”

The two of them stood in silence watching as the others moved away.

Then-- through the sea of moving bodies-- I saw him. The god of fire, sitting with his legs crossed, staring out at the village. I made my way over and crouched before him. If he saw me he made no indication. His eyes were scanning the sky intently as he rocked back and forth; he was exerting some kind of force on the clouds. I looked up. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, pure white melted into a massive pool of brown undulating liquid. Deep dark colors swirled about in pockets of chaos, blocking out the sun, hovering like a blanket of death. Everything in the valley took on a dim brown hue. I looked back at Rath. His eyes were blank. In eerie oblivion his children played behind him.

With a wicked smile he stood and faced the crowd. Without warning the brown liquid fell to the earth, it burned and smote everything it touched, filling the entire valley, dissolving everything in its path. Leaving nothing but a smoking hole and a memory of better times.

The people watched in horror, clinging to each other with tears in their eyes as everything they had ever known dissolved before them. Their past was erased, and their future looked as dark as the charred ground below.

Rath looked pleased with his handiwork. He paced back and forth in front of the multitude of grief stricken faces. Finally he stopped. His hands moved rapidly in the air in a series of gestures which ended at his mouth and when he began to speak his voice was amplified. “The life you once knew is now gone!” he announced. “I am now your ruler. For those of you who do not know me, I am Tul’ Naydor, the god of fire. But you may call me Rath. You do not realize this yet, but this is a glorious occasion. From this day forth I will provide you with comforts no mortal ruler could. You will never again go without food and you will never again be forced to walk about in tattered rags while the kingdom sucks taxes out of your empty pockets. Under my rule there will be no taxes! These things and many more are the benefits you are now entitled to as residents of my kingdom. No more will disease claim the lives of your family and friends, and no more will you struggle to provide the necessities of life. From this day forth you may pursue whatever endeavors please you, so long as they do not conflict with my own.”

The people hung on his every word; every statement offered a glimmer of hope. Their faces reflected a great yearning as he played upon their desperation like a master musician.

“What I ask for in return is your infinite loyalty and worship. If you treat me well I will return your goodwill tenfold, but if you defy me," he leveled his eyes at them, "I will make things most unpleasant. Now! Behold, as I create our new home and the core of my empire to come!”

With that he turned toward the scorched pit and began creating his new kingdom. He had already designed the buildings and other items he wished to put down. I could see their wire frames floating in the sky. Now it was simply a matter of stamping the objects where he wanted them. In the valley building after building appeared out of thin air. The last of which was his castle, rising from the center of the city like a tall white skyscraper. It shone like a beacon of light, radiant in its beauty. But I knew its insides were dark-- because I knew its creator.

By the end of the day Rath had turned the ugly blackened valley into a paradise of beauty. Those used to living in overcrowded, broken down, hovels were now faced with the proposition of living in brand new homes, with a patch of land to boot.

I followed Rath through the streets as he created large stores of food, necessities, and other assorted treasures. The peasants took what they wanted. It was clear by their excitement they had all but forgotten the injustice and were willing to accept Rath as their new ruler.

My stomach felt uneasy. They were pleased with his gifts and promises, but what would be the cost? I felt sure after the initial excitement died down, they would remember the life they had left behind, and regret their loss.

I had seen enough.

I closed my eyes and blanked out the scene. When I opened them I found myself looking at my companions in the exact same positions I had left them in. “How long was I gone?” I asked.

“Not long,” said Kitaya, “fifteen seconds maybe. How long did it seem?”

“I’d say five, six hours.”

“That is a long time.” She frowned.

“It went by fast.”

“Alright, let me do this before I change my mind.” She stood up and took the box. Gently she placed it against her forehead. Her body tightened and for a few brief moments she was completely occupied. I could only assume she was witnessing the same events I had witnessed, except perhaps from a different perspective.

Her hands dropped and she looked at me in astonishment. “Thank you, Moota. That was extremely enlightening.” Her expression became cold as she turned from us and slowly walked toward the balcony.

“Do you require anything else Ki’ Janu?” he called after her.

“No, that will be all thank you. You may go.” She seemed disoriented.

“Are you okay, Kitaya?” I trailed after her.

“Gaza has not been sleeping,” she said softly, staring through the balcony doors.

“What does that mean?”

When she looked up her face was wet. “A long time ago during the foundation of the world, it is said that Gaza went mad. Creating Vrin was too much for him. The ancient book says he became apathetic and fell into a deep sleep, a pool of forgetfulness. It is that sleep which has protected Vrin from his madness these many centuries.”

“I don’t understand. Why did Sajin wish to speak with him?” I said, half to myself.