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J Hart F

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Changed Earth (Part 11)

Ethan felt different.

Well, that's how he had to describe it. The feelings he felt were all normal enough, but underneath everything else was a different sense. He could feel everything around him, he knew everything around him, and he could feel his presence changing what he observed through new senses that were unlocked by Gaia merely an hour before. The words Ethan used to describe this new sensation to Alexis were inadequate, they both knew, and it scared Ethan. He knew he had always been alive, had always felt alive, well, and strong, but the gift of this new power made Ethan feel he had never lived before.

The green of leaves shown with the rainbow of light which filtered through the cells. The ground vibrated as is slowly moved along its path on an axis through emptiness. Wind blowing across flowers and through trees tickled Ethan's body. Subtleties which escaped Ethan's perception were ignited with fury as he tested this new awareness: a butterfly resting on a branch caused the tree to react to the delicate change in its environment and sent more nutrients to that branch to grow ever so slightly faster. Ocean waves washing over the shore, slowly eating away at the sand, stirs the air and releases gentle moisture into the air for plants to grab at as they need. The symphony of Gaia's touch was at Ethan's hand, and the words he spoke couldn't relay what Alexis needed to understand. He felt different.

"You have been given the gift of godhood, Elder Adair... Gaia has made you equal to Herself," Alexis said in their hour long discussion.

Ethan pushed aside the thought, "It's not godhood. I believe she is giving me a weapon... giving me Herself. In a sense, allowing me to use Her abilities to protect the Earth and everything that remains on it. I fully intend to not use these powers unless I have to --"

"--And Elder Sadhin is forcing you into it. His recklessness may very well put an end to what we have all done."

"I must stop him," he whispered.

In that moment, Alexis understood his doubts. "How do you think you'll stop him?" Ethan's eyes turned to the ground and became very distant. She wondered where his thoughts traveled: into the earth where answers might be, into the wind that spoke through the trees, into his heart where his struggle tore apart his resolve. "Whatever you need, I will be with you, as any of the other sages will stand by you. We cannot allow Elder Sadhin to reverse the little steps we have taken."

"This will mean death."


The sound of something hitting dry earth trickled through the air. It came closer to Alexis and Ethan as their conversation turned to the verbal recognition Ethan wished would never come; and eventually rain fell upon them. In amazement, Alexis turned her head to the sky and closed her eyes.

"Rain!" She returned her sight to Ethan. "Rain! It hasn't rained since the war!"

He wouldn't raise his head.

"You did this, Elder. You brought us rain!" In the distance, proclamations of excitement lifted through the air. "Elder Adair, listen to the joy you just brought all of us. Listen to the hope you've filled our hearts with." Alexis brought her pose up onto her knees and leaned closer to Ethan, stretching out a comforting hand and placing it softly on his wet shoulder. The feel of his old bones caught her by surprise, but she kept her hand where it was. "We all know the risks of dealing with Charles and his gathering of sages. We all know the costs of success in these situations. None of us will back away, you must know this."

"Charles is my brother. He is the only one left in my family."

"You won't bring him around. He's made that very clear. You won't give him what he wants. You have made that very clear. When it comes time to deal with him accordingly, we will force him into justice." Alexis waited for Ethan's gaze to connect with hers. Slowly the rain diminished and the smell of rejuvenated plants permeated the shoreline. "The first thing we must worry about is the dawn. Charles must be stopped."

Ethan looked directly into her eyes. "Yes."

"What do we need to do?" Alexis forced all her authority into her voice.

"We have to hurry. Gaia worries if Charles is able to connect with the sun, he will be as imbued with such power as I have; which is why She gave me Her abilities, I fear." He thought for a second and continued, "Which means Charles will need a clear line of sight to Helios... And there in-lies our hope."

Very quickly they had their plan and worked to take action even before Charles Sadhin was on his quest. Morning approached quickly, as the Southern Hemisphere was in its Summer phase the nights were quite short and the dawn flared quickly. Ethan, with little thought or effort, was able to move the black and billowing clouds out of the way to watch the sunrise. Most of the inhabitants of the Cocos Islands awoke once the word had spread that the horizon was visible and rain had fallen.

Then the twilight began. As the eastern purple gave way to a gray-blue sky, red tendrils reflected off the black clouds and a deeply majestic sight graced those who beheld it. There were two who neglected the eastern beauty.

Their minds were distant in a mindscape, traveling south to greet a foe whose intentions besmirched the ideals of all who claim faith to Gaia. Alexis had already decided, in recent moments, to strip him of his Elder status. Ethan felt similarly. In the blackness of their travel, they felt each other's worries. The simple matter of covering the ascent of Helios from Charles Sadhin's view seemed far too manageable.

They planned for trouble and anticipated the struggle to be far more than what they could handle. Neither foresaw Helios interceding in an Earthly matter, but His consciousness was rarely experienced by humans. Ethan feared Charles had accomplished this feat on some level.

Alexis brought the picture of Antarctica and the civilization Charles had built into the mindscape. Its buildings were numerous and stretched into a small suburb. To Ethan's amazement, there was no mansion visible, no castle to center power in, no added protection over one singular house. He sent this thought to Alexis and her reply came instantly, He is intelligent. He has learned from our history well.

Searching the town revealed an absence of Charles' power.

Stealthily, Ethan sent a strand of energy, feather light, on a breeze from the east in search of a trail... which led to a cliff overlooking the ocean a few miles away. The cliff obviously did not belong within the confines of the town: its surface was covered with blackened snow, the wind rushed in gusts of blackened clouds which swirled in fiery passion, and the protective shield was new and growing.

Within were two figures. One obviously seethed with power, eager and impatient. In the mindscape, his energy was already formed as a flame growing and glowing red and yellow. The other figure was more subdued and vastly more arrogant. Her power stretched throughout the shield and pushed upwards as quickly as it could. Slowly the air cleared and the shield expanded. Her energy was as blacker than the mindscape, pulsing deep purples and blues to reveal a hideous monster standing tall.

Gaia spoke in terror and wonder. Alasia... Her powers are great, her strength beyond her, her mind deeper than Styx. Beware...

Alexis' mind drew closer to Ethan's. What does She mean?

Alasia is powerful. She knows much of what Gaia has to offer and is stronger than you, most likely. We will need to be very careful and work as a team. Ethan moved to test Alasia's perception of the environment and the strands of Gaia's power. A slight breeze picked up, sifting from it's natural direction towards the east toward the south. Alexis withdrew a little behind Ethan's presence in the mindscape and watched.

Appearing as a blue swirl around the fire and blackness, the wind took affect. Within moments, the blackness formed eyes in the mindscape and a tendril of searching energy flew in every direction. Ethan hid from it easily...

Until it became a mesh sweeping in wide angles.

As soon as Alasia realized Ethan's presence was so imminent, she cast two spells in concentrated effort. One made an immediate clearing through the blackened clouds to where the sun sat above the horizon, revealing pure sunlight to the cliff where Charles stood. The other was a barrier in the mindscape which appeared as a huge wall of rock, clay, and mud.

Stepping forward, Alexis moved to deal with the barrier which would certainly prevent any spells getting through to prevent Charles from his goal. As she did so, she sent a spell of her own out to test the parameters of Alasia's wall. The consequences shocked both Ethan and Alexis.

Alexis disappeared from the mindscape as soon as her minuscule spell hit the barrier. Ethan took charge with even more vigor. His senses strengthened and the feel of the Earth overwhelmed his perception. He needed to remove Alasia from action. She had already cleared away most of the clouds which stood along the sun's path across the sky and added protective spells to ensure no clouds could easily retake their places. Her attention turned back to Ethan in surprise.

Her attacks came with force. First a black veil descended Ethan's mindscape, removing the figures from view. However, he still felt everything: her feet planted shoulder width apart, her breath mingling with breeze in the air, and Charles' energy gearing up in a heatwave as it worked meticulously upward toward Helios. Minutes remained before nothing could be done.

Where Alasia stood, Ethan moved the earth to enclose her in a pod. The shock of such a sudden change was brief and her powers pushed through the frozen earth with force. In that short time, Ethan removed the veil of darkness and built a restraining wall around her powers within the mindscape so her abilities could only be focused on the plain of reality. His reinforcements were strengthened by the elements which touched Gaia directly, and its fortitude held against all of Alasia's attempts.

Ethan felt her stamp her foot upon the pile of earth below her. Charles had yet to intervene.

It's time for me to go there and confront them directly.

Then I shall take you the swiftest way.

Before his thoughts registered a change in force upon his body, Ethan was standing before a frustrated Alasia and an entranced Charles.

"YOU!" she shrieked in disbelief. "How could you be that powerful! NO one can thoroughly block me in the realm of dreams!"

A quick glance at Charles reassured Ethan of his absence from the immediate conversation. "We have not met. I am your Elder Eth--"

"I know who you are, and you are no Elder of mine!" She flung her hand out toward Ethan and a wall of smoky wind burst forward into Ethan's face. Alasia wasted no time bringing up earth to encase Ethan, but hers was enriched with foliage to harden the bond. Roots and vines bound Ethan's legs and began to quickly creep up his body as the soil spread in a flash.

Without any concern to his own predicament, Ethan forced the ground beneath Alasia to disappear, opening a crater deep into the mantel of the Earth's crust. As she fell, her own spells stopped advancing. Alasia tried pulling ledges for her to fall upon, but Ethan's spell was completely secure. As she neared the bottom, water filled the pit and she found herself floating in a well several hundred feet from the opening.

The water level rose, and as it did Alasia worked to reinforce the protections around Charles and the barriers against the clouds. She knew she was done in this fight. Once she arrived at the opening, she climbed out and stood shivering in the cold. Ethan watched and waited.

Alasia's eyes were dark with furry, starring at Ethan while purposefully ignoring the bitter chill in the air. Only half her mind remained in the plain of reality, the other half worked diligently to remove blockade in the mindscape so she could flee from the battle.

"Do you realize what could happen if Charles succeeds?" His tone was careful, patient and emotionless.

Alasia narrowed her eyes. "Jealous?" she hissed.

"Not nearly. Just concerned for the safety of life on Earth."

"Charles wouldn't jeopardize everything he has worked for. Only he will succeed in delivering us to paradise once more." She tensed which made Ethan transfer his balance to a more secure position.

His attitude didn't change. "No one fully understands Helios," he explained.

"You think your brother doesn't understand his patron?" Her laugh sent chills down Ethan's spine. "You've always known his affinity and connection to the sun. Secretly you've envied his ability to control that raw, untameable, endless power!" Alasia released one chuckle. "He's more powerful than even you."

"Alasia, you must understand what can happen if Helios gives Charles more than he can handle. It'll ignite the remaining oxygen in the atmosphere and destroy all remaining life and any hope of redeeming this world." Ethan's eyes softened.

She didn't surrender her stance. "Charles would kill himself before he let such circumstances come to fruition." The assurance in her voice weakened.

"I can't allow --"

Ethan halted his sentence as Alasia's form dissolved into the ground. She had pulled herself away, leaving silence where she had stood.

And from behind Ethan came a voice which had been lost many years ago. "Diodoros. What a wonderful surprise to see you here."

Turning around, Ethan regarded in horror the youthful form of his brother, Akakios. The body of a young adult with beautiful skin and lush hair bathed in a light which gleaned from his skin stood carelessly upon the blackened snow. His smile beamed while his eyes glared in detestation.

1 comment:

  1. Okie- so I wanted to wait to post a comment until I finished reading everything over from the beginning...
    I must say that I was absorbed! During the fight between Ethan and Alasia I couldn't read fast enough and I had to refocus because excitement was making me jump lines.
    Literally had goosebumps!
    More? Pretty please?