A sequel to May 2014’s wordascope “Yogic – Day of the Leap“
There is a noise on the horizon of existence, something sonorous and deep. It is the kind of noise that turns bones to water and skin to glass; a noise which can shatter or unmake. It is an unwholesome noise. It rides low in the pit of your stomach and drapes itself over and through and under and into you. Without invitation it suffuses you. It is a warning from a world that is other. It is the herald of elsewhere; portent, harbinger, omen and sign. Through ages now since dead there have been many sounds like it, but not like it. The quality and tone of it is different. It is at once, new and impossibly ancient. It is a noise that has not been heard since the Old Time. It is the sound of an idea waking up.
* * *
The sun was setting, filling the ridge-ward horizon with a cinnamon heat that made the stones bleed and weep smears of thick, ochre tears. The towers faded into inky silhouettes, their sharp and craggy edges blurring with the scudding cloudlets.
A shaman trudged their way through glaucous dust, once drab and dead, but now filled with a faint flare of crimson lustre. They had walked for days, following the growing rumbling on the horizon, following the same path as their predecessors had year after year, generation after generation; a line stretching all the way back to the coming of the first people. This shaman had never been required to walk this far, nor had any other for as long as the people could remember. The Litany of the Path dictated that a shaman could only walk forward as long as they could hear the noise in the sky. The noise had never gone on for this long.
She came, finally, to what the Litany told her was the Totem of One Hundred Metals, the lone marker upon the Last Hill, the rise that lay before the broad expanse of the Sacred Wastes. This far she had come, and she could go no further, though she and she alone had the right to walk the path, not even her feet were allowed to sully the ground of the wastes.
The wingéd and jackal-headed totem stood with an eyeless, yet ever watchful menace as sentinel, watcher and memorial over the edge of the Sacred Wastes. It loomed large in the gloom of twilight, casting no shadow. It was a thing not of this place, but of another. A place far older, angrier and more unforgiving than where it now stood. The dying light catching the cracks and curves. Some parts of it were dark and pitted, blurred and corroded by time into lumps of featureless, flaking nothing; yet others shone with a scintillating brightness, still fresh and burnished as if new from the forge; at its base lay a perfect cylinder of night-black steel.
The shaman stood alone on the Last Hill, gazing out at the scorched and windblown landscape of the Wastes; shattered boulders poking from its surface like broken teeth and fractured bones; skeletons of the old world, buried beneath eons of powdery silt from a river long since dead. She adjusted her headdress and did the only thing she could: she looked to the horizon, and waited; the fan of the rising sun on her headdress facing the setting sun beyond the ridge.
“There will come a traveller” the Litany said. “An Inheritor burdened with the majesty of purpose.”
The un-noise of the rumbling horizon began to swell and undulate like a rising wave, building to a peak, ready to come crashing down.
“When the sky splits, we must shepherd their coming.”
It began as a shimmer in the sky over the Wastes. First a ripple in the skin of the night, jostling the twinkling of far distant stars, then a faint haze, like a hair thin pane of frosted glass hanging in the sky. This patch of obfuscating mist began to collapse in upon itself, hungrily devouring its outer reaches, drawing all of its being to a single point: a pinhole in the sky, a bright shining speck of electric blue, like a new star.
“It has begun.” said the shaman.
From the gilded depths of ceremonial pouches she drew two small pyramids of night-black steel and rested one on each of her palms. Two thin trails of pale blue smoke snaked their way down from the hole in the sky and earthed themselves on the points of the shaman’s pyramids. The hole in the sky blazed with an unnatural fire and spewed forth a writhing mass of the pale blue tendrils. They wiped through the vast and impossible distances of the evening air like languid, ephemeral vipers. As they to, earthed themselves on the pyramids they began to coalesce from a vague haze and into something more solid, forming a sphere around the hole in the sky.
With nothing more than her thought and her will, the shaman began to draw the sphere down from the sky, pulling at the tendrils of smoke like they were hawsers or lines. Slowly the shaman drew the shape into being, tugging on this strange string through space and time, a mooring point to the thing making its transit through the rent in firmament.
As the shaman drew the sphere down from the heavens it took on another shape. The smoky tendrils about the sphere twisted and coiled into the suggestion of a body. The blue threads tracing this spectral form like the nerves of a body laid bare of its flesh and sinew leaving only a gross and visceral semblance of ‘electric meat wire.’ It hung in the sky, tangled in the threads between the shaman and the rent like a fly caught in a web. The smoky threads began to glisten and sparkle like fresh rime. Then it flared. With a blinding flash the ghostly moorings between the shaman and the rent snapped. The blue spectre that had hung in the sky plunged towards the ground, trailing a cold, blue flame behind it, filling the sky with light.
It crashed into the dusty earth of the Last Hill, just beyond the Totem of One Hundred Metals. Though it hit the ground with a mighty and thunderous force, there seemed to be no crater or ejection of debris. All that it left was a neat hemisphere of glowing mist, that slowly evaporated into the cool night air. As the mist dissipated, it revealed the naked form of a young women, crouched as if she had landed from a fall, which the shaman supposed, she had. Her bare skin steamed, every inch of it glistening with a bluish frost. Slowly she rose to her feet.
“Greetings traveller.” said the Shaman. “I am Icnoyotl Eleuia; 3,389th to bear the title of Shaman of the Wastes.”
The traveller blinked, scattering small crystals of frost from her eyelashes.
“I am Volante.” She replied “Volante Pakuna.”
Volante turned to looked behind her and beheld the vast expanse of the Wastes and the small craggy peaks of the far distant ridge.
“I…” she began “I made the leap. I gave myself to the empty air…”
Icnoyotl knelt before Volante, her arms held wide.
“You have journeyed to us from the Beyond Realm; the Far-Heavens; from the Star-Mountain; from the embrace of Aase Acalapati.”
“Highest of the High; That which Looms; The Immovable One; Queen of Peaks; King of Mountains.” Volante intoned, her voice quiet and distant as if remembering a dream from long ago.
The shaman pressed her wrists to her forehead and uttered the canticle of blessing.
“You are the first to come to us since the Old Time, oh revered Volante.” Said Icnoyotl
Volante turned back towards the ridge-ward horizon and the dying glow of the setting sun.
“The sun… it’s red.” she said “It’s supposed to be blue…”
“You have travelled, you are far from home.” Icnoyotl clambered to her feet and wiped the dust from her robes. “Come, Blesséd Volante, walk the path with me. There is much to be done.”
“What?” asked Volante.
“Now is the time of new beginnings, My Lady. You are the herald of the awakening.”
“Of everything.” Icnoyotl said with a smile.
With those words Volante’s thoughts began to thaw, and her mind quicken. She understood the true magnitude of what she had done; of the potential of the last form she had assumed; of the ever-burning fire now within her; of the grave and titanic majesty she had dared to challenge. She had made the leap.
“I am The Conqueror.” She whispered. “The Breaker of Ways.”
“So it is written.” Replied Icnoyotl
“And so shall it be done.”
* * *
The rumbling had stopped.
And the world had changed.