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Image for the poem Otherworldly Memories Part IX: The Last Journey

Otherworldly Memories Part IX: The Last Journey

- Otherworldly Memories Part IX: The Last Journey -

   The war between the Fomor and the Tuatha de Danann was over, and we had lost. When the tower at Ynys Gwydr was destroyed, so completely that naught remained of it to indicate that it had once ever so stood there... it marked the final downfall of our once-mighty kingdom. I was carried forth from off the battlefield by The Morrigan herself, for the goddess of death had come to claim me once it was evident to her that I had been mortally wounded. For I had suffered a grievous head wound, dealt to me by my son Lugh, and during the time when I was taken by The Morrigan I remember nothing, for all was dark and I was unconscious due to shock and blood loss. The last thing that I saw, was her pale form coming to me and telling me that she was going to take me to safety, and that I should not be afraid. But neither fear nor courage gripped my heart, for in that oblivious state to which I had been reduced there was not even dreams or nightmares to contemplate. I could only take solace in the fact that the ships that we had prepared to make the journey to far safer harbors had already set sail, carrying my beloved Ethniu to the same place where likely The Morrigan was taking me. She had her own means of travel, and likely it so was that she had secreted away at least one of the ancient flying crafts of the children of Dana. And it is by such means, that I was taken from out the lands of Eriu, and unto the distant isle known as Avalon. It was a hidden place, a place in the other world, which could be reached by way of a specific location in the island that in Roman times was known as Britannia. It was well across the waters from Eriu... to the east, over the sea, and well away from the cares and concerns of the Tuatha de Danann. I know not how long I was, for all intents and purposes, dead for. Only that it seemed as if, at some, point, I awoke.

   I was lying upon a stone slab in a great temple, the interior of which resembled an Abbey of sorts. But one dedicated to the worship and reverence of old Pagan gods and goddesses, whose tall statues lined a great many of the temple's halls. My eyes were open... two of them now, instead of three. I could move my arms, legs, and hands, and noticed that my arms and legs were of flesh once again. Nothing at all so remained of the mechanical parts that had once enhanced me. I felt my face... indeed, I had two fleshly eyes once more, and my hair had grown back more full and perfect than ever before. There was not any mirrors to look into, but I was certain I looked exactly as I had before the accident which had made my transformation into a cyborg necessary. I could not fathom by what healing arts, by what incredible skill this was done! There was, however, it seemed a scar in the middle of my forehead. Likely in the precise place where I had suffered my grievous wound at Lugh's hands. I was naked but for a linen sheet that so covered my form, which I pulled off of me before climbing off of the slab on which I lay. “Hello! I am awake now... is there anybody here with me?” I called out, and from the far end of the chamber, where the door to the hallway beyond was, there came the voice of The Morrigan. “I am here, Balor. It was, I felt, only right to give you some time yet to live, so that at least you could be happy before your proper end comes. You were almost dead... but not quite. You had nearly begun to slip into a coma, but I got to you in time and was able to stabilize your condition until the healers and physicians could begin the task of patching you up and restoring you mostly to your former glory. Your brain was unaffected, for we were able to regrow the damaged tissue and it took with no difficulties. Also, your strictly spiritual third eye should be functioning again, but without the unnatural enhancements that were a result of the cybernetic parts that you were fitted with. Removing all of them from you, and restoring your body to a semblance of its' original health and state was difficult. Ridiculously difficult actually! But you are once again wholly of flesh and blood, and of your original height... as you can likely tell. However, I am of a valid opinion that you are likely to be, for some time, suffering some psychological effects from all that you have been through. Traumatic effects. You lived through the bloodiest war in our people's history... and history will likely record that you perished a the end of it. History does not know, what occurs now, here, in our hidden place in Avalon. How do you feel, after everything?” and I could not find the words.

   “I feel perfect, shockingly...” I began, but began to cough a bit. And, my heart was racing very fast. I was feeling nervous, frightened, and relieved all at the same time. “Alright, perhaps not perfect! But a lot better than I have in a very long time. It is... surreal, walking on my own legs once more. With, I can only assume, my own bones?” I said, and the pale, grim goddess replied: “We were able to regrow them as well, and make them strong again. If I told you for how long you have been out for, you would likely find it difficult to believe me. Much has changed in that time... as it had to, for us. I do say us, because I am no longer among the Tuatha de Danann, although they yet respect me, fear me, and count me among their number. I visited Eriu several times in the past few months to see how things fared there... and it is now as you might imagine... the children of Dana are the masters of the land of Eriu. Of Lugh I will not speak, because I know how much his rejection of you and his mother must have hurt you both. I find it difficult to sympathize with him, although I do grasp the reasons why he did what he did. I of course do not agree with those reasons, since they were misguided and born of fear. Fear of his birthright, of his very own blood, and of what he might one day become. Yet by his actions, he already became what he most feared to be, if not something far, far worse. For he was a traitor to his kin, and now he most live with his chosen people, for the road hither to Avalon will never be open to him. Not in this life anyway. It is one thing to be a traitor to one's country... it is another to betray oneself, as he has done.” And for a bit after saying that to me, The Morrigan was silent and seemed to be brooding silently upon some deep thought or concern. She was mostly unchanged from when I had seen her last. Chalk white of skin, and totally black of eye, eyes with no white in them at all, and she had long raven black hair which she had grown down to her ankles. She was skinnier than when last I had seen her, but not unhealthily. Her ribs were not visible, and she had developed more muscle to her than previously. She wore a gauzy gown in the Greek style, which was long and flowing with a silver girdle about her waist. The gown was totally transparent, and the goddess wore nothing at all beneath it save for some undergarments. Her feet were bare, as were her arms, and she looked very weary. “Are you well, goddess?” I asked her, and she said to me: “Samael... my love... I did not know how you would take this rebirth, or the knowledge that the war in Eriu was lost. I was worried you might break down or scream, and I am just relieved is all to see that you are taking everything as well as you are.” and I admitted that it was quite disorienting. The pale goddess's voice was warm and caring, and I could see in it the side of her that she hid from most others. I walked up to her and gave her a big hug. She returned my affections warmly, and saw that as I so held her and felt her breasts pressing against me... I was becoming quite aroused. She touched me there, in the place of my arousal, and whispered to me: “Oh Samael! Balor... what would Ethniu say?” and I did say to her in response: “She already knows about us... I told her everything of our history together. She does not mind, because it is you!” and Lilith... for that was The Morrgian's true name... sighed in a way that bespoke of pleasure. “It is good to see you are functioning so well already!” she said, giggling a bit as she did so in a bubbly manner. She grasped me down there, and my arousal was complete when she did that. She lay down on the altar, and opened her legs for me, pulling up her gown to her waist. I got atop her, and we made love for some time until our passions were spent. After that, we rested there in each other's arms, looking into each other's faces. Time had no meaning any longer for us... there was no war to fight, no urgent business to attend to, no worries to concern ourselves with. And it seemed by what Lilith said that Ethniu was indeed alive and well. And probably concerned for me. “My goddess... does Ethniu know that I survived the battle? I mean... I know you have not yet had the chance to tell her that I have awakened, but did she know that you were seeing to my restoration!” and the goddess said unto me: “She knows, fear not! She has in all this time grown into a mighty ruler of the Ur'kril people, and their place although still in Avalon is in the subterranean places far beneath this temple. It could be some time before you will be able to see her though, because the way below is only permitted by seven of the high priestesses. But I can get them to grant you that permission! You must be patient, however.”

   And that was how I came to my senses once again, and discovered that I was not dead after all. Ironic given that it was the the goddess of death itself that had seen to my apparent state of wellness. It was a very large place, that temple... and the halls of it were vast and massive to walk through. I was given by the priestesses some new attire to wear. A white pair of voluminous pantaloons that were tied at both ankles and waist with drawstring, and those were paired with a long-sleeved blouse with puffy sleeves that had stretchy wrists for my hands to fit through. The blouse was also white, and I tucked it into the pants before tying those. I was given undergarments as well, and a pair of soft, comfortable slippers of a similar shade of white to my new clothing. All of the priests and priestesses of Avalon wore white, and were of the Elvish folk just like me. Most were much taller than I was, but they had clothing to fit many sizes, heights, and races... including humans. There were humans in Avalon, I noticed, and they were at peace with the Elves who lived there. I was given a mirror at last, so that I could see how I looked. It so was exactly as I had thought! I was wholly myself once again. I began to cry tears of joy when I saw it indeed was so! And this is how I looked... my hair was light blonde in color, with some streaks of pure white and silver through it due to my age. I was far from tall, for the blood of the ancient Elves had so waned in its' original glory and many like myself who carried it were diminished in height compared to the days and times of the ancient civilizations that had existed before the great cataclysm had occurred. My almond shaped eyes were now a vibrant blue... green no longer... and this said to me that they had given me new fleshly eyes entirely. They being whoever had a hand in the surgical aspects of my rebirth into a fleshly life freed from the influence of cold mechanisms. Healers and physicians of great skill for certain! My skin was now totally pale, and as chalk white as was Lilith's own skin. So long without the light of the sun, and it was clear the color of my skin had changed greatly because of it! I had been, in that life, born a hermaphrodite and my body had rather small breasts and a feminine shape to my hips. I also had a more shapely buttocks than men normally do. My abdomen protruded somewhat, but not at all from weight, for I was average built and though I had lost a great deal of my old muscle mass... by some means, the healers had kept my body from deteriorating to the point of total atrophy. For I felt as strong as I had ever been before I had been made a cyborg, and this loss of so much muscle only gave me an even more feminine appearance to my body. My abdomen was a result of my intersex condition. My face had an round, oval quality to it, and my nose was slightly aquiline, my lips small. My hands... both of them... were normal in color once more. The black taint that had been upon my right hand was now cured, it seemed. My fingers were thin, artist's fingers, and I remembered well upon seeing how I looked why it was that once I had decided to live a non-binary lifestyle in which I chose to see myself as neither male nor female. I had fully functioning male genitalia, which was rare for one born as I had been, and for that reason I preferred sexual partners who were women and girls, rather than I did men or boys... though I did have a fondness for beautiful, effeminate looking men and boys. My body had not any hair upon it save for my eyelashes, and I had no eyebrows either. My face appeared older than it did when last I saw its' reflection. My eyes had circles under them, and there were thin lines on either side of my mouth, and a couple of lines to either side of my nose... my forehead had more wrinkles than it once did... but at most I looked middle aged rather than old. Elves did not betray their age as much as do humans when they get older, and I was glad for that fact! Someone had taken the time to style my hair when I was unconscious also, because it was curlier and wavier than once it was... for it naturally was straight. I liked this new style very much though! Sure enough, there was a small circular scar in the middle of my forehead where Lugh's terrible weapon had pierced me. It gave me the appearance of having a physical third eye, though it was merely an indentation. My high cheekbones showed a bit, as opposed to in my youth. But one of the attending priestesses assured me that I was still beautiful to look upon. I undressed to look over my entire body, then got dressed again once I was sure all was as it thus seemed to be. I went with Lilith to have something to eat and drink with her, and the hours flew on by.

   Ere long... she went to see the people whom she needed to in order to have me granted permission to go down into the domain of the Ur'kril. “I will be gone, to meet with those in power and authority here in Avalon for three days and nights, in order to see to this. It is a difficult thing to be granted, but I will plead your case for you, and I am certain all will be well! If it were not for the fact that you only wish to meet with your lost love Ethniu, I would be concerned... but they are never against people going down to meet with their loved ones. But... it is a rare thing, for that loved one to be the supreme matriarch of the Ur'kril folk! Likely, they will send word to her, and she will reply to tell them to allow you to pass below. In fact... the moment Ethniu hears that you are awake and well, she will demand you to come to her, if I am any judge of character at all.” We kissed after that, and she did a slight bow before walking off to see to the task before her. I wondered who these people were, that they had authority even over one who was death incarnate! But such concerns were unwise to consider so soon after escaping death. I was left by Lilith in the care of an exceedingly tall woman who looked like she could actually be my twin sister... save for that her eyes were green as mine had once been, and that her breasts were larger and her hips wider, with her figure being more full. When I say this woman was exceedingly tall, I am talking eight feet tall. The same height I had been when I still had mechanical limbs. She wore a long, flowing white gown similar to the style of Lilith's gown, but less gauzy and transparent. Her face was so much like my own, that I was shocked to see the resemblance to me in it... so soon after gazing into the mirror and studying my own features. She was also around the age I was at the time, but the years seemed to have less of an effect on her than they had on me. She relied heavily upon a wooden walking staff, and seemed to have some sort of albino-like condition that made her a bit weak physically. She was, despite her evident curves, mostly slender and thin boned... her features sharp, much sharper than were my own despite our uncanny resemblance to each other. She had a cold smile upon  her face, and it was quite different from Lilith's evident warmth. Her hair was straight and platinum blonde in color, of a shade that was almost white. It was impossible to tell if this was due to her age, or if it had always had so pale a hue to it. She had her hair styled with neatly trimmed bangs that hung just over where her immaculately shaped eyebrows were. Her hair fell like a bright curtain all the way down to her ankles, just as Lilith's own hair had, and it was trimmed so that it would not get in her face. Because the tips of her ears did not protrude from her hair, I knew that she had the more tapered, less pointy ears that I too did... the mark of diminished ancient Elven blood. I had, in that life, never met this woman before. But I felt as if I knew her from someplace. From the days before Atlantis fell! Her name escaped me at that time, but she was there with me when I came to Atlantis from Kalaborea. We were not strangers at all!

   “It has been literally lifetimes, brother.” she said to me, and I replied: “You must be mistaken, great lady, for I am not a brother in your spiritual order.” She then corrected me: “No, Samael! I mean that... in all truth... I am your blood sister. Your twin sister, to be precise! We knew each other well once, ere the world was broken and all was changed.” and she then sat herself down upon a comfortable couch in the apartments I was granted to live in by Lilith and the priests and priestesses of Avalon. The chamber that we were in at present was somewhat spartan for my tastes, but luxuriously furnished with all of the comforts fit for the palaces of any nobles of our race. I noticed that my sister groaned a bit as she thus sat down, and set her staff aside. “I am not as young as I once was, brother. I wish I was sometimes! I too did not escape the judgment of the gods in the end, and as you can see I too am mortal now. How much do you remember about the days before Atlantis was destroyed?” Thus she spoke unto me, and I did so reply: “Sometimes, I think I remember everything... even things from other worlds and times far beyond the memory of our histories. And yet there are still things that seem so vague to recall, and yet so familiar that I know in time the clarity of the memory will return. Sooner or later, they all always do. As for Atlantis... I remember much, and yet not all. Perhaps, in a way... that is actually as for the best.”

   She motioned for me to sit down next to her, and I felt like a child sitting next to their mother, rather than a brother sitting down next to their sister. I leaned my head upon her bosom, and her breasts were very soft upon my cheek. She did not mind this, and it made her smile. “You are like a child in a lot of ways, Samael. You always were! I am cursed, and burdened, with remembering everything. Every past life, every previous incarnation, every single moment whether fair or foul. I was not always of flesh, as in truth neither were you! Once, we were soul-endowed machines, and before that beings of pure light, and energy, and will. We evolved... or devolved... into flesh. And I was perhaps, the very last of all the ancient machines to be given a form of flesh and blood as we now possess. But the old ways of thinking and the old ways of seeing the universe, no, the multiverse all around us... those are hard to cease. It is hard for me to get used to living in a body like this! One that I know will perish one day... perhaps one day far sooner, than I should like. I have been many things in my lifetime, brother! A scientist, as well as a warrior. An observer, as well as a huntress. The crescent moon is upon the crest of my house, and yours, and I have had many names to many peoples. Some say that I am a goddess! But does a goddess know physical pain? There was an accident at one of my laboratories... it nearly killed me. And it made me frailer than I once was! But I still live, so I cannot complain too much I suppose. Forgive me if I do seem a tad bit on the gloomy side... I am prone to brooding overmuch, and certain dark imaginings at times, which make me fearful.” and I confessed to her, that I too was prone to such fear. Her body felt so warm next to mine, and I caressed her breasts with my hands. She did not stop me, or mind. “We did always have this kind of a relationship you know, brother... where we were far more than siblings. You would enjoy the delights of my body, and seek me out for such comforts when you were sad or upset... or simply lonely and in need of companionship. I am barren, my physicians tell me, so do whatever you like with me... no child will ever be born from my womb.” and there was a hint of sadness in her voice, which made me stop what I was doing for a bit. “Sister... I too, am normally unable to produce a child. My daughter Ethniu was only born because that 'problem' was fixed by the doctor who gave me all the mechanical and biological enhancements that until recently had been a part of my being. Likely, now it is once more that no child shall ever again be born from my issue. Which is just as well, since in truth I am wholly devoted to my daughter and could not imagine that any other child of mine could ever come to mean as much to me as she does.” And my sister, who had still not even told me her name, looked a bit sad after I had told her that, as if she was mourning that she had never been given the chance to have a child of her own. I said to her: “Please, do not cry, great lady! And please, if you would not mind... do tell me what your name is. For I should know the name of my own twin, should I not?” and she said to me, wiping tears from her eyes beforehand and sniffing a bit as she tried to stop herself from crying: “I have had names, names, and more names! In this current life, I think my present name is Brida. It is not surprising to me if you do not remember ever having a twin sister... all that I mentioned knowing about you comes from our past lives in which we knew each other, and were also siblings in many time over. Not every time around, but enough times that to me it has all blurred together as if it is one long life. In time, perhaps in a future incarnation of yours in the distant future... it will become like this for you too. Lives will blur, time will mean something different to you, and you will see reflected in your own eyes the ghosts of every person you have ever been. Now, the reason you likely do not remember me from childhood in this current life of ours... is because our parents sent me away due to the fact that they had promised me to the Sisterhood of Avalon, where I was to be trained to become a priestess of their order. This was because of a desperate pact your mother made with them, in order to be allowed to make use of their healers and physicians to fix certain defects and deformities that you had been born with. To see to it that you would grow up healthy and beautiful, after all! We were both infants at the time, and too young for either of us to remember being parted. The sisters of my order told me everything once I was old enough to understand. I studied other things later, and left on missions to many distant places.”

   I asked her what sorts of things she studied and what sort of missions she went on, and she said unto me: “Science, dearest brother beloved! Science of every sort... and magic too, of many types. As I said to you already, I have also been a warrior, a huntress, a ranger and other things... too many to name. It is no lie to say I was a child prodigy! And no lie to say that my missions were many, and all of them most of all relating to science, to observing certain cultures and peoples, and to guiding them when it was oft deemed necessary to do so. I can say no more, lest it confuse you! We are children of different worlds, it seems, now. Yours is the world of the Elven races and their struggles... mine, is a  world far older and more remote. It is best not to dwell upon such things! Get back to enjoying yourself with me... it will be of some help to me in allowing me to forget my troubles for a time.” and I did as she asked, exploring a good deal of her great body with my hands, through the soft fabric of her clothing. Somehow, this made it all the more sensual, and soon I was feeling sexually aroused once again. She parted her legs a bit so I could feel her better between them, allowing my hands, my fingers to savor the cleft of her femininity. She asked me to lay back a bit on the couch, and told me to take off my pants and undergarments so she could savor my excitement. She bent down and took my hardness into her mouth, bobbing her head up and down as she sucked upon my manhood, stroking it rhythmically as she did so. I soon climaxed into her mouth, and she swallowed the issue of my climax, smiling. “You taste good, brother!” she said in a far more seductive manner than she had previously taken with me. She then allowed me to finger her to the point of orgasm, and after that we both took some time to wash ourselves and after that we dressed fully. For my sister had removed her clothing to allow me to fully pleasure her towards the end. I went out to explore the rest of the temple, and Brida insisted on coming with me so that she may ensure that I  would not enter into any places that were forbidden to me. And those places, I soon realized, were quite numerous! This was a place filled with secrets, and I did not like that about it. I was used to being more in control of my surroundings, and this was a place firmly in the grasp of others. Of individuals whose faces I had not even thus far seen, and only heard people speak of to me. Brida showed me every room and chamber, every chapel, shrine, garden and gallery that there was to safely see. I was impressed by just how elaborate the whole place was, and yet how simplistic much of the design of it seemed to be.

   As the hours passed swiftly, and then soon a good long week had come and gone by with Brida and I spending increasingly more time together... I began I wonder if Lilith was having difficulty securing for me the right to go into the underground. I asked my sister what her some of her own, personal, thoughts were regarding this, and she told me: “It is never all that unheard of, to be honest, for such permissions to take far longer to acquire than is at first assumed. I am sure that Lilith did not expect there to be any difficulties with this... but, you know how paper pushers can be. They spend so much time behind their desks, that they simply assume everyone has all the time in the multiverse to waste waiting on them to get things done! Things are done very modern here, largely, and that means some ridiculous wait times. Honestly? Lilith should have contacted them via computer rather than going in person.” and I asked her what a computer was, since the word sounded highly familiar to me. It surprised me that she laughed a bit before telling me: “A computer is like a tool of sorts that allows people to perform certain tasks a lot faster and more efficiently than they could otherwise. It can also make communicating much faster, but only if many computers are connected to one another via an invisible net, so to speak. Everyone here in Avalon has their own such device, and all of them are connected in this way. So all Lilith had to do was just send a message to the right people through her computer, and they probably would have got back to her by now! But she is sometimes ridiculously old fashioned, so she insists on going in person, which is a lot longer of a process due to lines of people already waiting... and other reasons I will not bore you to death with the details of. So... all we can do is wait.” I then understood better what she was trying to say to me, and we got back to seeing the sights and for me learning more of the history of this strange place.

   Months passed, and in that time I learned everything that there was to know about Avalon. About its' history, traditions, beliefs, and customs. It was a magnificent place, a triumph of the Elves who created it, and who set so much of its' technologies into motion. Those technologies had been taught, in the far distant past, to the original rulers of Avalon by the gods themselves... the same gods who had punished us with mortality, and who had devastated much of the world during the great cataclysm. And because Avalon was within the other world, it had been spared the gods' wrath and so retained its' former glory, which only increased as time went on. Every priest and priestess of Avalon was also expected to at least somewhat be able to grasp how to use the place's technologies, and that is why so many of them took to the study of science with such passion. My sister was not alone in her devotion to this pursuit, and she was but one of countless in that place who were given to such things. I learned what I was able to of the use of every device that would allow me to live in Avalon comfortably and not feel like an outsider. Ere long, it seemed as if the reason why my clearance to go below was not granted yet, was because it was expected that I would use this time in order to settle in and familiarize myself with life in that place first and foremost, prior to seeing what awaited me beneath it. Brida was extremely helpful to me during this time, and without her explaining everything to me in more simplified terms, I might never have been at all able to grasp the necessary concepts. But, I learned quickly... and my sister was an amazing teacher! The civilization of Avalon was highly advanced, and everything about it was to me extremely familiar. Life there with Brida was comfortable, good, and free from any cares, worries, fears or concerns. And, when time permitted, we went outside to walk in the outdoor gardens and to see the alien beauty of the part of the other world in which Avalon existed. I began to grow concerned, however, when it got to be a good year later and still there was no word back from Lilith. I then demanded that I be allowed to see the people she had gone to seek out, and Brida cautioned me about that, insisting: “It is not possible! In truth, they see petitioners but rarely, and I would not be shocked at all if Lilith was refused and went to seek a way to grant you passage below in a manner that would circumvent their whole system entirely. Which would, to be honest by this point, be for the best! I too find all this waiting to be tiresome and it is getting ridiculous now a whole year later. Even my patience, which is considerable, has limits!” and she was clearly frustrated, by the sound of her voice, for my having had to wait so unbelievably long. I had lived through battles, and mad adventures, and seen and done all manner of things in that life. But I not ever before, had been so utterly bored and frustrated with waiting for something, until now! “Show me where they hold court, Brida! I have sent them message after message on my computer, and still I get no answer from them. I even sent a message to Lilith, and have heard nothing back from her either. Something is very wrong here, and I am beginning to suspect that there is something I am being kept in fact from discovering! Everything feels so wrong... it all seems too perfect here, too orderly. There is a sinister undercurrent at work though, and I would wager that if we prod deeply enough... we will see it for what it truly is. I mean... have you ever yourself, in your entire life here, even met those people who are in charge? The real powers that be here in Avalon!” to which she answered with a sigh: “You know what, brother... now that I think about it, no, I have never met them! Nobody I know has even ever met them... and everyone says they meet with people, but no one can even name a single person who has in fact met with them in recent memory.” And this concerned me deeply. I explained my biggest fear that was regarding this: “Brida! What if they do not exist? What if this whole place... is automated by some kind of central computer... I mean, all of these devices have to be connected to a central place if what I have learned and been studying about it is correct. Aside from needing a central power source, that is! There would have to be a room with server machines, and there would have to be maintenance access for them, and by necessity for the central computer too. What if that is Avalon's whole secret? If that is the case... then Lilith has been trying, and failing, to reason with a possibly sentient machine that does not want to listen to anybody anymore.” And something in Brida's face told me she suspected this also.

   “There is a way to find out!” she said, and led me down various hallways and side chambers, and all manner of foyers and waiting rooms, until at last we came to stand before a massive gray metal door a great deal taller than even my sister herself. It was set into a stone wall... which was decorated to either side of the door with massive murals depicting the great temple's outside during various seasons. There were four murals in total, two on the left and two on the right. Everything was enormous in scale in the halls of Avalon, and it was humbling for me to stand before that door. “How does it open?” I asked, to which my sister explained: “It slides upward, they say, when one is allowed to enter. But as I said, I can think of no one who has ever claimed to have been granted entrance... not in all the years of my life. As I said though, there is a way to test your theory about the masters of Avalon!” and she then walked up to the door and began to bang upon it, screaming and yelling for somebody to open the door. There was no answer whatsoever. “We may as well, be knocking upon a tomb!” I exclaimed. Sighing out of sheer irritation, Brida then struck the door with her staff and still there was no answer. “Perhaps the chamber beyond is soundproof?” I suggested... and Brida found that entirely possible, agreeing: “It may well be! Else surely this much noise would cause someone in there to take notice.” She began to examine all of the walls, and inspect the four murals. She then said to me: “You know... they say that people permitted entry are granted a four part code that they need to memorize. It is always said to be the same code, too. If Lilith meant to go and meet with those beyond this door in person... it can only mean, that she had to have already been in possession of that code. It is literally, the only means of gaining entry! But... there is nowhere here to input a code of any kind. And yet, there are four murals present here. I have never in my life been here before, so I always just assumed it would be a keypad... of some kind. But this is a lot more unusual! Unless...” and as she said that, she pushed on one of the murals, which went a ways into the wall and made a loud clicking sound once it was set inward like that. She then proceeded to try all manner of different combinations for the four murals. Each time it was incorrect, the murals would pop back out again, and the whole mechanism would reset. Finally, she chanced upon the correct pattern to press the murals in, because when they were all clicked into place, this time the door opened, making a loud swooshing sound when it did so. “It seems that my sister is brilliant!” I exclaimed, and together it was time to discover whatever it was which lay behind that forbidden door. I was exceedingly nervous!

   The chamber beyond was circular... and so enormous that there was actually condensation in the very heights of its' lofty domed ceiling, incalculably high above our heads. The middle of the chamber had a shaft set into the floor, from which rose a tall pillar-like machine covered in panels, buttons, and many flashing, blinking lights. Tubes, hoses, wires and cables connected this machine to computers that were lining the walls, and those computers were connected to server machines next to them, and there was a vast multitude of these within that place. The central machine was kept secure by large folding legs did go out from it, and which were set firmly upon the floor. Tending each computer was an automaton and each automation was approximately ten feet tall in height, with powerful looking legs and slender arms with long fingers. The robots, for that is what they were, were made to resemble people and had rather detailed faces for machines. Some were meant to resemble men, others women. And these, I could only assume, were the beings who kept things running in Avalon. Brida said to one of them: “Excuse me, sir or madame, oh please forgive me if I am getting your gender wrong, but in your case it is difficult to so tell! In any case, could you tell me where Lilith is? We have not heard from her in some time now, and are quite concerned for her.” And indeed, I was very concerned at this point. The robot turned around to face my sister, and said in a strange sounding electronically synthesized voice that was neither male nor female sounding: “Excuse me? You are unit Brida, are you not! Unit Lilith, came here a very long time ago by your counting of time, and she was permitted access to the under halls by we of the council. She did not come back up from there, though we have detected that she is still alive, so there is no concern.”

   I then walked over to speak with the robot myself, and said to it: “Listen! There is very much concern here, because she was not supposed to go down there by herself. She was to gain access, and then come back and get me so I could go down there with her. Something is very wrong here, and I do not like it! What did she give for her reason for wanting to go down there?” and the machine replied: “She said, to be precise, that she wished to check in on the souls of the deceased to see how they are adjusting to the new life they have been given in the part of the under halls which is reserved for them. To make certain they are comfortable in their new bodies! It could be some time before many of them are ready to come back into the cycle of reincarnation again, and it is our task to make new arrivals comfortable. It can be alarming... to discover that you have died, after all! And even more alarming to find yourself here in the company of others who have also died. Eventually, when the time comes, everyone here must descend into the cauldron of the goddess in order to be reborn. But in the meantime, you are expected to show at least some measure of happiness in finding this part of the other world to be to your liking. Whilst there are many kinds of differing tastes... we find that Elves, as you call your race, seem to favor specific sort of things in common be it aesthetics, clothing, art, or food. In this way, we try to make you comfortable, so that your further journey back to Earth... or to other worlds, if that is within a person's karmic record to be permitted... when your stay here is at an end, will be a pleasant one.” And upon hearing that, I did look at my sister and say to her: “Wait a moment here! You mentioned an accident to me before. One at a laboratory... and you said it nearly killed you... did you wake up from it back on Earth, or in Avalon?” to which she admitted: “Why, here in Avalon of course! I had always assumed that one of my assistants brought me here, in order to save my life. But... now... perhaps I did not survive that accident after all.” And the moment was a somber one, as well as a sobering one. I turned once more back to the robot, and I said to it: “A fleet of sailing ships... were sent from a place called Ynys Gwydr, in Eriu, back on Earth in order to see to it that those individuals that the vessels carried would reach Avalon swiftly and safely. I know that many come to Avalon still living, and I had thought that I had been brought here to save my life. Not that I had been dead prior to arriving! But... my real question here is... did my people who fled by ship from Ynys Gwydr reach here alive?” And there was a long pause, before the robot declared to me: “Affirmative! The fleet carrying the Fomorian tribesmen and tribeswomen from that place did thus arrive safely across the sea, and that folk was permitted entry into Avalon through the usual means that those still living employ to get here. We did not decline them entry, for they were deemed worthy, and their need great. Many were resettled in the Ur'kril domains below, since they were mostly of that tribe. Do you have loved ones among the Ur'kril tribe? If so... I can allow you to visit with them, though you are listed as being among the dead, just for clarification. You and your sister both!” and, I grew angry with Lilith just then, for it was clear to me at that point, that there had been no reason to delay my going down to visit Ethniu. Nor was there any reason to not tell me the truth about what actually happened to me! I asked Brida: “Sister, did Lilith come to meet with you after you awoke from your accident here?” and she admitted to me: “Yes, yes she did! She said I had miraculously survived, but that the procedure to save my life resulted in my impaired health that I suffer from now.” and I asked the robot: “What is my sister's exact condition, if you know it?” and it told us: “She is suffering, from the effects of a type of fatigue that is common to some of the recently deceased, if their passing into death was jarring. It is a disorder that afflicts the new temporary body given to the deceased, but the disorder does get better and fully disappears over time... which is typically a sign that the deceased has fully become accustomed to their new body. I must repeat my earlier query, however! Do you wish passage into the under halls, and do you have any loved ones there?” to which I replied happily: “I do! Oh yes, I do... my daughter, who is also my beloved, is down there. Her name is Ethniu, and she is the supreme matriarch of the Ur'kril folk. Does she know yet whether I am alive or dead? Never mind! I will tell her when we meet. Could you please grant me passage to seek her out?” and the robot said, in a friendly manner: “Affirmative!”

   I should have been more specific in my questions regarding Ethniu, because although I had assumed that because her people arrived at Avalon alive and well, it meant that she was likewise alive and well. The gates leading down into the under halls, were shown to us by one of the automatons, who opened the way for us to enter. It was another sliding door, this one at the other far side of the central chamber containing the robotic council. Beyond that there was a great descending spiral staircase made of metal, and it led us deeper and deeper beneath the surface, through cavernous domains and soon it ended and my sister and I walked onward, through catacombs, vaults, and all manner of sub levels of the temple... eventually descending another stairwell just like the first one, but this one made of ancient stonework. It became apparent that the deeper we descended, the more ancient everything started to look. Then, at the very bottom of the second stairwell, we passed through more caverns into a  great subterranean city. There, the Ur'kril lived and worked, and were content to lay aside their weapons of war in order to now pursue a simpler, happier life where they could be free to pursue their arts of industry, science, magic, and craftsmanship. And to worship their unspeakable eldritch deities without fear of persecution for it. They kept their unusual pets, such as serpents, snakes and spiders, and no one thought them strange for it, since there in that city were only they and those folk with which they had always been closely allied. As we reached the heart of the city, my sister and I noticed that there was a grand celebration but not a happy one. All the peoples of the city were in mourning, and there was gnashing of teeth as many folk pulled out their hair or lashed themselves with whips, or shed their blood in other ways. This was only ever done, when a matriarch had died! “No! Oh gods, no!” I cried out, forgetting that I myself was in fact dead, as I pushed through the crowds of mourners, with Brida not far behind me. “Wait, brother! I think you will not like what you find here, if this means what I think it does...” but I already knew what it meant. I had to know! I had to see, with my own eyes. At the base of the steps leading up and into the great palace from which Ethniu had been meant to reign... there was a great pyre set up, and upon it did lie my beloved daughter, resplendent in a purple gown of the finest silk, a gown fit for a queen. No, an empress! And upon her breast was set a wooden wand with an amethyst gemstone decorating the tip of it, and many ribbons adorning the shaft of it. It was the royal scepter of the Ur'kril matriarch... a special one was made for each and every such ruler, and when they died, their scepter was cremated with them so that the next matriarch, when she was chosen, would require a new one to be made. Lilith was there, weeping, and holding the torch herself. She saw me and cried out: “No, Samael! I... did not want you to come to this place yet... not until her soul could be transferred to its' new, temporary body. She died, as you can see, it is said from a broken heart when she discovered you were dead. I told her you could thus meet with her again soon, but she insisted she wanted to join you, in death, so that you two might never be separated. For the dead cannot in this place live forever with the living! Only visit them briefly. Now she will have her wish, and already I have sent a sample of her DNA to the clone masters who will soon after receiving it begin to grow the body in which she will dwell until the time comes for you both to be reincarnated.” But I saw the slash marks across Ethniu's wrists, and knew it was not a broken heart that had killed her, but that she had died by her own hands. “She committed suicide, Lilith.” and Lilith then explained to me: “Because her heart was broken, from your loss! I could not talk her out of it, and long she was in her grief... before she took this dark plunge.” I stayed to witness the cremation, and I wept so bitterly that it began to break my own heart. My sister wept for me, and tried her best to console me. “It will not be long, and her new body will see her back at your side again.” she assured me, reminding me: “And it will not just be for a visit, either!” And after the cremation was over, and the ashes of my lovely Ethniu were gathered, along with the remaining bits of bone, and placed into an urn for interment in the ancestral crypts, wherein lay the urns of every Ur'kril matriarch who ever ruled in that city... I began my waiting period. At the end of it... Ethniu and I were reunited in joy and dwelt in a part of the Ur'kril city where the dead dwelt apart from the living. In time, Lilith escorted us to her cauldron, to be born anew.
Kou_Indigo
Written by Kou_Indigo (Kara Lucielle Pythiana)
Published
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