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J Hart F

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Changed Earth (Part 2)

Even with the ever present gloom of the smoke laden air, dusk was noticeably darker and Ethan worried about getting to the islands before the night fell. The fires still raged beyond his shield, licking at the earth in an unnatural manner as if the heat was enough to keep the fires roaring. On top of this, Ethan feared the end of his shield was quickly approaching. Rest was fruitless and his body ached more than when he had arrived beneath the tree several hours before, but his energy was significantly more abundant than when he had originally sat down.

"Well, it's time to go, my little friend," he said while reaching toward his shoulder. The butterfly fluttered to his hand, quiet and light.

Ethan stood gingerly, his back seizing a little from the position he was in for so long. His legs were stiff, his head swam a little from the rushing blood, but his resolve kept him upright with the aid of his free hand against the tree. After a quick survey of his little haven, he determined his predictions were accurate. Smoke was overwhelming the uppermost parts of the dome, filtering in and out of the weakened protection. Soot fell onto the uppermost leaves of the tree which shaded Ethan from the dismal blackness that was the sky.

"The stars should be out tonight, moon almost full. Mars and Saturn almost together in Gemini. The aurora is ripping the skies in gentle folds over Canada and Alaska." Ethan looked down to his hand where the blue butterfly flexed its wings in calm patterns. "All of this we cannot see. I fear we will not see for a long time yet." Unless Alexis found more of us, he thought to himself.

Fear not for the face of the Earth. It is changing.

The familiar voice was too calm for Ethan's ragged heart. Emotion swelled in his throat, drawing breath to a stifled, shallow gasping. Tears welled in his eyes as he thought in response, But I don't want it to change like this! So much is lost that cannot be restored.

No response came.

Wiping at his eyes, Ethan steeled his emotions away, subduing their roaming touch to a darker part of his mind. There would be time later to deal with them; time when he wasn't alone with a silent butterfly as his companion. With this simple task done, he turned to the east, looking in the direction of the Coco's Island where his next salvation, his next haven held fast against the destruction of the Earth.

A deep breath in to clear his thoughts, and the full force of the Earth's power entered his body; the flow of every living thing dieing, the touch of the blacked earth and drying rivers, the suffocating clouds hovering over the silent trees, the roiling of the inner body of the Mother. Every touch brought a power, every power brought a message, and those messages ripped apart the hope Ethan held on to with such futility. He closed his eyes.

Alexis pushed herself into his mind, outstretched hands welcoming all who sought her guidance, all who needed her strength, all who longed for comfort. The image was vivid, and Ethan suddenly realized how she had truly embraced her potential, her gifts to communicate with Gaia, and was now directing her full efforts in gathering the remaining Sages. Ethan embraced Alexis' image and felt the touch of the Mother flow up from the Earth, feeding on the life force the tree and the grass, reaching deep into the roots and insects that enriched the soil. He could taste the earth, feel the fresh air coming from the leaves, heard the roar of fire in such a different perspective.

Then the gentle tendrils gripped at his being, wrapping in a tight, prickly way which shocked the hairs on his skin into attention. They coursed in and out of his body, empowering his cells with the gift of Gaia's energy. A sharp tug pulled him downwards.

The sensation of falling through the Earth never brought elation, as he had heard from his pupils over the ages. Feeling the quick drop into the mantle of his world, dropping into the inner fires of its heart, and resurfacing onto a different part of the world unsettled him. Perhaps it was his philosophical background, but he wondered how much of his spirit, his soul, his being remained the same through such a giving of his self. Complete emersion in Gaia. The utter release of reality.

The vision of Alexis guided the pull, and soon his body felt a rising again. With eyes closed and a subtle acknowledgement of his companion, Ethan started to feel the cooling of the surface reach his body. Finally, in such a short time even with the extented awareness of the motion of time through the Mother's understanding of it, the wet press of the ocean's air surrounded the Elder.

Ethan opened his eyes and greeted the welcome paradise of the Coco's Islands, the sea stretching onward and the sky mostly clear. The moon hung above him, bright and beautiful. The butterfly which had accompanied him drifted past his sight, soaring towards its own paradise in the small brush. As he followed its flight, Ethan found the other survivors asleep or resting together some distance to the north of where he stood.

And there, Alexis stood watching him with a smile that lightened Ethan's heart.

As she came closer she called out, "Elder! It is such a relief to see you safe. I was beginning to worry."

"I was well protected, Alexis." He opened his arms and welcomed her body against his. They hugged for a moment before releasing.

She looked directly into his eyes. "Your body is weak and stiff. You need rest."

"When there is time, my child. I have lived through--" Ethan couldn't finish his sentence. It was a lie. "When there is time. I must assist you in whatever way I can."

"There is really nothing for you to do but rest, Elder Adair." Her voice was hard, and Ethan knew exactly what that meant. She reached for his hand and pulled him towards the south where a few unnatural trees were swaying in a gentle sea breeze. "I have set up a special sanctuary for our survivors. It is being enriched completely by Gaia, as if She is focusing on this one spot. I could never have asked for such power from her."

Nodding slowly, "She is making sure we survive. She knows the significance of what is happening and is willing to give us what we need." He stopped just outside the trees, pulling her back from the grace of its beauty. "How many are we?" his voice asked firmly, allowing no decent from her now, pulling every right of status to ensure his answers were met.

She didn't look into his eyes, sorrow or tiredness filling her stature. "Not twenty so far. You make eighteen, but I know of a few more, whether they will make it or not... I don't know."

"And the humans?"

"Approximately five hundred fifty. Some of the other sages are bringing small groups with them... again... if they make it all together. It takes preparation to make it through the Earth, and they may not have time enough for that." She shivered slightly.

Five hundred fifty humans left on Earth. If estimates favored them, six hundred left to rebuild society and start the race anew. "Are these locals just to the north?"

"Yes. I've convinced them to stay nearer to us, promising them protection from the onslaught of the destruction."

He nodded in approval. I would have done the same thing, said the same words, but her presence was always immediately stronger. "Good." He let her hand go and started into the small wood.

Once inside Ethan felt the eminence of power that circled within his new home. The canopy broadened and seemed transparent; pulling the lights from the sky into the underside as if the onlookers gazed at the clear night sky. The interior was much larger than it looked from the outside; allowing for much personal space and quiet from the few others that rested within. Sleeping on the ground on lush grass and soft earth were the sixteen others who had survived this ordeal.

From behind him, Alexis placed her hand on Ethan's shoulder to direct him to his 'designated' area. She spoke softly, "Tomorrow I'll call a proper gathering, now that you're here, and we'll talk about our first actions. My shields are strong enough to last a week, thanks be to Her. We can worry about their reinforcements later."

"Thank you, Alexis."

She smiled, a tear falling down her cheek. "Thank you. I wouldn't have my strength if you had--" her voice caught. She tried to recover without a pause and continued with, "Get some sleep. I'll keep searching for and aiding the others."

Alexis left the confines of the sanctuary; and suddenly the sounds of a true forest filled his senses. Sleep was easily attained in the comfort he felt within the small grove.


  1. Yes, I came back to read it again! Until you write the third installment I'm trying to prevent withdrawals.
    This is the literary equivalent of being out of cigarettes and going through an ashtray for something left at the end of a butt . . .

    Oh - in case you don't realize - that was my unique way of paying a compliment.

  2. This style reminds me of Lord of the Rings. Its really very good. Ever think of publishing?