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Image for the poem Ancient Memories: The Imperial Vision

Ancient Memories: The Imperial Vision

- Ancient Memories: The Imperial Vision -

   The temple's innermost sanctum was quite darkly colored in the walls, which were metallic but with precious ruby gemstones all embedded within the surface thereof. Metallic, except at the base where all was stonework with a ridge of brickwork above that. Slim columns lined the left and right sides of that chamber,  and from the ceiling hung the lamps which illuminated the place and cast shadows to the far corners. The doorways to the halls on both sides of the sanctum had soaring archways above them, and it would very much appear that the place had been built for a people of great height. However, that was not the case... the size was meant to overwhelm all who entered therein. Grotesque statues of alien gods loomed in alcoves between the pillars, and there was no altar to speak of. Only a low dais on which it could be seen that a round pedestal arose to about the waist height of a person. Upon that pedestal, sat a silver circlet into which was set a single blood-red ruby that seemed to sparkle more brightly than any that adorned the walls. There were no priests here, nor acolytes. This was a place meant only for those who had been chosen and initiated and given permission to enter. Few were even bestowed that sort of an honor, and fewer still when given it were willing even then to break the silence of the inner sanctum. It was not like them, I wanted to find out what was inside... and as soon as the High Priestess granted to me her permission I seized upon it immediately and strode forth through the temple halls, with purpose, to the doors of the inner sanctum. I pressed my hand upon the electronic pad to the side of the doorway, and then before much longer it opened for me and thus did I find myself within that forbidden section. I was not afraid, though the place had a forbidding enough reputation! I was elated, because I longed very much to know why it was that the Crimson Order had sealed this place off for countless centuries. Long had it been since I contemplated this intrusion... but now I needed not intrude at all, for I was welcome.

   I ran my hands over the gemstones on the walls, marveling at the magnificence of it all. This was not a place built simply to build a place... it was a work of art, a labor of love. Or passion. And that, indeed, was something I could entirely understand and relate to. I stopped at the statues and bowed before each and every one of them to ensure that the gods who watched over this place knew that I meant them only the noblest of intentions. I knew not these gods, not their names nor their forms... but I knew that they commanded respect, and this I gave them. Then, I approached the dais and looked upon the circlet. It so occurred to me, that I found that circlet to be most passingly familiar... I had seen it before, perhaps, but that was impossible I realized. For I had never entered into this chamber before today. I heard singing... but from nowhere in particular and seemingly everywhere at once. Yet as if from far away. I smiled and picked up the circlet, placing it upon my pale and shaved head. As soon as I did this, visions came unto me and I knew that this circlet had once belonged to me. Or was meant to, at the very least! I heard the sound of people chanting my names... many names, and all of them mine... and I beheld a great city on a desolate desert planet. I knew that place! Yet, how? And before long, I realized that the gemstone that was within the circlet held some kind of unspeakable power. I had known this sort of experience before, when I broke a certain artifact asunder and it transformed both myself and the three sisters who were all present when the deed was done. On the whole of the planet that was my home world, this was the one place I had never before dared to explore. But now it was time to do so, and I knew it had to be in some fashion connected to that artifact that I had recovered from the thieves who had meant to rob a certain warehouse in the capital city of it. My name and title in that life was Count Gislu Ra'vann of the House of Fire. In the service of the noble Matriarch thereof. In her  name, I had done horrific deeds and in the fullness of time unspeakable acts. I was hardly a hero, and many called me a villain! But on this day, I felt almost vulnerable and frightened. In a way that I had not felt in a very long, long time. There was a certain darkness to this temple, to this circlet, to that ruby which adorned it. It was somehow, in a way I could not comprehend, a part of me. Or it was meant to become such. I strode quickly out of that room.

   The High Priestess approached me and noticed I was wearing the circlet. She smiled, and said unto me: “You are the first to have donned that, whom it did not drive insane or kill outright. You must be the one it was meant for all along.” she then bowed before me, and I felt awkward for she was one of the most high ranking holy women in the entire province. She was middle-aged, but still beautiful, and wore diaphanous robes of silky blackness beneath which she wore a tight blood red bodysuit that did cover her body, arms, and legs alike. Her head was shaven like mine was, and upon it she wore a kind of black leather headband with no adornment save for a red eye in the front and middle of it. It had the effect of making it appear that she had a third eye on her forehead. Her own eyes were jet black, and in them there was no white whatsoever. When she spoke, her voice was synthesized due to the extensive and forbidden cybernetic enhancements she had received. She was slender as a willow tree, and about as cunning they said as a serpent. I said unto her: “The first, you say? Then likely, the last as well. If it was meant for me to wear, then it should be mine and mine alone. Not the property of this temple.” To which the High Priestess replied: “That is why I am allowing you to keep it and walk out of this place with it upon your head. Believe me, had I wished to keep it I would have had you killed just now rather than bow in reverence before you. But if I did that, it would be a blasphemy! For only a god can wear that circlet as you do. If you were not a god, it would have destroyed you, and I would not have had to even consider putting you to death.” She said I was a god... and I knew that if that was indeed the case, it was the artifact which had bestowed that divinity unto me. Or, awakened it within me if it had been a dormant thing all my life previously. I smiled, and chuckled, as I answered: “I a god? Hardly! I do not feel any different than I ever did... just, more burdened with strange visions and memories. Only, I do not know if those memories are from the past, or being sent unto me from a point in the future.” That was when the holy woman stated: “That is the gift of divine sight... to see the cycles of time, and to see the circular nature of the past, the present, and the future. Only the gods possess such sight, according to the sacred texts of our order. That you speak of this without ever having read those texts is proof to me enough that I am correct about your divinity. Go from this place with honor, my count! And when people ask you about me, speak them fair of me. I have ever been the servant, and shall always be the servant, of the being that you were of old, and the one that you shall become in the future.” She had the gift as well it seemed, and may have been a divinity herself. But she was humble, and did not intend to lay claim to such a burdensome title. I myself did not want it! But I had to accept what I was told about. This woman was the wisest, they say, in all the world. If not the universe! I had to accept, her wisdom.

   I did not go home to my three beloved paramours... nor did I seek out the lady guard woman who had shared many an adventure with me in the past. I had to seek out the Matriarch and speak with her about what was revealed to me, in the hopes that perhaps she might be able to advise me what I should do. It was evident I was meant to keep the Crimson Circlet, as the artifact communicated to me telepathically that it was called. I could not simply destroy this one, nor did I desire to. But Cyndijaz Megg, she who ruled our planet with a mighty hand... she would surely know what I should do next. I took an air car to the palace wherein she resided. The same which had once belonged to my corrupt father in times past. The car flew to the landing pad on one of the palace's upper walls, and I disembarked form it and then proceeded to walk from there to the great metal gates that allowed one entrance into the palace itself. It was not the only way in... there was a ground level entrance as well... and others too. Some were part of the original building, others were added by the Matriarch later for her own personal convenience. It is not that she was a lazy woman, but rather that she was sometimes in pain from an ailment she had due to having been poisoned by an enemy, or enemies, in the past. And when the pain took her, as it did in brutal fashion from time to time... she needed more convenient ways to enter and leave the palace. The better to reach the residences of her physicians to receive the treatments that kept all those pains at bay.

   The reception chamber had been added to a great deal since my last meeting with the great Matriarch herself. The chamber had been expanded upon with a brutal looking architectural style that had the very deliberate effect of overwhelming visitors to this place. The personal taste of the woman herself tended towards the extravagant and the opulent, and those aspects were present also. Gold trim on many of the massive pillars and archways, red flame designs in mosaics and murals upon many of the walls. And all manner of paintings and tapestries depicting the history of the Matriarch's house, the House of Fire. Or, as it was more perhaps properly known, House Hara'kaon... over which the great lady held the title and rank of Baroness in addition to her governing title of Matriarch. She had grown in power, influence and respect since the days when first she seized power. The lighting in the chamber was warm and cozy, all at odds with the less refined aspects of the place's architecture. In the center of the chamber was a large open area containing comfortable couches and chairs, and directly across from that area was a massive set of double doors that led to the hall which eventually led to the Matriarch's private chambers. I went to the middle of the chamber, sat down upon one of the couches, and waited for someone to receive me. I pressed a button on a small pedestal next to the couch, to signal a receptionist, and all I could do after that was wait, as I said. After some while, a little boy with a shaved head and totally black eyes wearing a long white gown of the most expensive silk emerged from a door off to the side of the chamber. He had been genetically engineered from birth to make him as beautiful as possible, and I knew this boy. Everyone knew him, for he was one of the Matriarch's favorite paramours and playthings. His name, as we were all familiar with it, was Nymadra. The boy walked over to me, and said sweetly, in that lightly lilting, almost musical voice that he had: “The Matriarch will be meeting with you shortly, my count. If you would like, I could help you to relax whilst you await her arrival. She could well be another hour or so... she takes her time to get ready these days. And needs to also take her medications, so that she will be presentable to visitors and able to tolerate her pain.” I smiled, and motioned for the boy to sit with me on the couch. As soon as he did so, he began to kiss me... starting with my lips and then beginning to kiss me all over my face and neck, nibbling a bit at my earlobes as he did so. He said unto me in a seductive whisper: “Does this please you, Gislu?” And I said unto him, finding myself becoming very aroused: “You know that it does, Nymadra. You always know what excites me, boy! But if we get too excited, time could go by more than we might want, and the Matriarch might not like it if I had to wait to meet with her because we two became engaged with other activities of a more pleasurable sort.” He smiled, and agreed, then stopped. “Perhaps later then, my count! You are correct, as always. I think the Matriarch might understand... she being a hedonist herself... but in this case, she was in a hurry to come and meet with you, despite how much worse her pains have been bothering her of late. She cares like a mother for you, my count! Even if she can be rather blunt and dismissive sometimes.” I chuckled a bit, and remarked: “Blunt? Sometimes, I wonder if she even respects me at all. But I know she loves me... as much as she can love anybody. She just, has some odd ways of showing it to me sometimes is all.”

   I tried to be polite and tactful given the boy had her ear, after all, and oft shared everything with her. But, I had a hard time holding my tongue when things were bothering me. And sometimes, how she did treat me truly did bother me. Hot and cold was she, like fire and ice all in one. Sometimes, her words... they burned me, scalded me, with heir sharpness. Other times, she could be cold, and as I said almost a dismissive tone she would take with me. As if I was a bother to her. But she could also be warm, and cool, and kind... and everything in between. That is why I served her so loyally... because when she did show me kindness, understanding, and love it was of a sort that was deep and true and goodly to me. In all my years of service to her, I never truly did come to understand her well. But she was better to me by far than my father had ever been... and she was my family now. Her house was my house... her cause was my cause. And I was willing always to fight and to die to defend her honor. Which was our honor!

   The hour and a half wait time passed pleasantly... the boy nestled up to me and I held him, and he did sing to me as he was trained to sing for visitors. But he always sang more sweetly for me than others. I wondered what there was between us... but he was only a pleasure slave and a house servant. This was as close to a relationship, as we could ever have. Dalliances, moments of passion and love... and in the moments when time permitted, lovemaking and the sweet release of passion's heat. Today, however, it was all about tenderness and passing time pleasantly in each other's arms. No one ever needed be alone on this planet... even if they could not find love, they could at least obtain pleasure and as close to love as came with that. And there were meeting places and dating guilds that helped people to find someone to love or to spend time with, or whatever their needs were. The Matriarch had created these varieties of institutions and groups, and means of assisting people. She was a goodly woman, despite her flaws. And her flaws were many! But the people never saw them. Only her family, her kin, and myself did. In our devotion to her, we never spoke of her moments of weakness or occasional bouts of insanity. Or so many other things that plagued her. But I too could be quite mad... so I never judged her. I was loyal to a fault, and sometimes I wondered if she did not at least, sometimes, take advantage of that about me. I had no time to ponder this too deeply, however. For the electronic chimes above the great double doors sounded, and the doors slid open with a thunderous noise. Out of the hallway, the sound of heavy feet stomping upon the carpeted floor resounded, punctuated by the sound of a cane being pressed upon the floor every time a step was taken. That how we knew that Cyndijaz Megg had finally arrived to meet with me. She was a very imposing woman, to say the least. She had long wavy hair as red as an apple, and it was done up in a grand and magnificent coiffure by ornate golden hair cones. She wore a long, diaphanous to point of being transparent black and red gown which did but little to her her large and bulky form. Under the gown, she wore a loose-fitting red and gold sleeveless blouse paired with quite voluminous pantaloons of a precisely matching color scheme. Her entire outfit was embroidered with flame-like designs all across the fabric. She wore gilded bracelets encrusted with precious jewels, and a magnificent ruby necklace with a bright gold chain. Her earrings were ruby studs. And upon her thick fingers were many rings, including her house's gilded signet ring. Upon that ring was the symbol of a blood red ram skull with curved horns and tiny fiery rubies for eyes. The oldest symbol of the house to which she belonged, and the most ancient. A tribute to the antiquity of that ring! She was a big woman, a terrifying woman perhaps as well. But she was the savior of our planet, and I could not help but bow in her presence. She commanded respect, and wherever her slippers tread... people took notice. She had gained a great deal more weight than when last we had met, and this concerned me deeply. I said not a thing to betray this worry though, and smiled and said: “Mother! How good of you to come before me.”

   Her eyes sparkled as she smiled broadly and said in a warm and welcoming tone of voice: “Gislu! It is not unexpected to see you here, but what is that new fashion accessory of yours? It looks familiar to me, for some reason. The circlet, is what I am talking about! Care to explain it to me? Not that I care... but it does seem a new addition to your look, and a rather noticeable one at that.” I said unto her, in a serious tone: “I was granted it by the High Priestess of the Crimson Order, in whose temple I found it. There is some bond between it and I, and the way the priestess spoke of it... the circlet almost sounded as if it were alive in some way. I was actually rather hoping you might be able to tell me something of it so that I could figure out just what to do with it. It feels... right... upon me. And yet, wrong, at the same time. I can think of no other way to describe the sensation. As if it either did belong to me in the past... or is meant to in the future. But in the meantime... it feels strange upon me. Yet, I cannot bring myself to put it aside. At least, until I know more about it. That is the reason for... disturbing you... at present.” She then lumbered over and sat down upon the couch across from the one I had been sitting in, prior to my standing up to bow in reverence before her. She sighed, sat her cane down, and took a deep breath.

   “That circlet is an ancient artifact, my dear.” she began, then continued: “It has always... or at least as long as I have been alive for... been kept within that temple where you fetched it from. It has ever held an evil reputation, and people have gone mad, died, or both trying to prove themselves worthy of it. No one knows its' origins, but it is said that the one it accepts is destined to become the next emperor of all the known worlds. For it was worn by the first emperor, it is said, who prior to his death imbued a part of his spirit into the ruby mounted into the circlet. No one has worn it since he perished, and no one in truth has wanted to in many years. Not since the last fellow proved unworthy and had to be executed by the High Priestess. It was a mercy, that! He was insane and nearly catatonic from hallucinations, voices, and the gods only know what else. I wonder if the priestess even told you about that... or if she lied as to the details outright. Despicable woman! I do not know why I even tolerate her to live. But, religion... it has its' political uses, you see. And having a holy woman owe you certain favors can pay off in years to come.” She chuckled a bit, and shifted her bulk so that  she was more comfortable. “Tell me... am I still beautiful any longer, Gislu?” she asked, tears in her eyes as she did so. There was a long silence... an awkward one... and then I cleared my throat and replied to her: “I do not see your body, my mother. I see your soul, your spirit. And even in your body, I see beauty still... even if it has become burdened by your present condition.” She laughed loudly and boisterously, and then bellowed: “Oh, Gislu! That is, I sometimes truly believe, the reason I bestow so many honors upon you, even if you are not always truly worthy of them. You lie so beautifully, when you lie! And I thought myself a master of deceit.” I said unto her, with tears in my eyes: “Look at me, my mother! I, do not lie. It, pains me... to see your pain, to see what your condition is doing to your body and sometimes to your mind. But I love you, and because I love you, I do not wish to say anything that might hurt you. You cannot help what is happening to you, but I can help my tongue and mind what I say. If I do not say certain things, there are reasons for it. And deceit does not factor into such reasons.” She stopped laughing and smiled tenderly after she heard me say that. Then, she beckoned me to walk over and she stroked my face, my cheek, and kindly said: “In even this much pain that I am in... even with my medications to dull it somewhat... you make me happy. You think like a child sometimes, and act like a fool other times... and you tend to follow your heart in all things even when your brain should lead and not your heart and its' impulses. But all the same, you are a good person Gislu. For putting up with me alone, you clearly demonstrate patience. So that is at least one virtue you possess that I can admire in you.” I smiled, and caressed her hair. We had been as lovers when first she adopted me into her house and granted me my first honors. More than any mother and child. She was not my actual mother, anyway... but, she was better to me than even my own actual birth mother had ever been. I loved her deeply, and once it had been something even deeper between us. The spark was still there, but there was no time to rekindle the old fires and flames. I kissed her lips in a passionate way, and she winced in pain a bit. Not from my kiss... but from the ravages of her poisoning. I then withdrew, and stood before her, and bowed in reverence once more. I said to her in a cheerfully determined manner: “I will return to the priestess, to question her further, about the circlet. Perhaps she will know what it is... doing... to me. I should depart on that task, at once, Cynder. Farewell for now! I hope... I hope your physicians can make life more comfortable for you soon.” I called her Cynder, that old nickname that only those who loved her the most... or feared her the most... ever called her. She did smile, and began to show signs of having the beginnings of an emotional breakdown. “Yes! Please... do leave this place and be about your task before you see me at my worst.” I nodded, and then turned to the entrance hallway. Only after I had left the reception chamber did I allow myself to weep for her. For the Matriarch. For my mother. For Cynder. I stopped back at my home after that, had something to eat, and took a bit of a rest for a span, before heading back to the temple. If anyone knew more about the circlet than the Matriarch herself, it had to be the High Priestess of the Crimson Order. It was a good idea to go back there and question her. As to whether she truly knew anything of worth, I would discover that.

    As I approached the monolithic gatehouse that served as a the entrance to the mighty temple, I did notice that there was a strange crimson haze gathering about around the horizon to the left and right of the temple itself. I rubbed my eyes, and it was gone. And then I thought nothing of it further, until I did reach the visitor doors to the right of the main gates. I made ready to open the doors and venture within the temple once again... but as soon as my feet crossed the threshold it was as if I was simply someplace else. I was walking into a wooden building that looked like a museum. Within it were various objects... and artifacts... and other things, and all of them from what appeared to be various wars. The wars were from both the past, the present, and the future. Literally every war that humanity has ever taken part in, was taking part in at the time, and would take part in during the times yet to come... all were within the strange museum represented for visitors to see. Suddenly, the sound of footsteps could be heard and as I stood there marveling at all of this a small army of children entered the museum. They were all dressed in gray and white uniforms, gowns, dresses, and robes that had blood red trim and matching blood red colored accessories such as ribbons, headbands, headscarves, and other such objects. The children all were singing, and carrying long wooden staffs. The ends of the staffs had inverted wooden triangles, and these were held high aloft by the children. Blood red scarves were ties to the tops of the triangles. One of the children beckoned for me to follow them, and I did as I was bidden. These children were all pale skinned, but their features were representative of every race known to humankind. And ever race that was not yet existed within humanity during the era in which I beheld this vision or whatever it was. I followed the children, and they continued to sing. We passed outside of the museum through a large side hallway and side entry door. And as soon as we did so, we entered a scene straight out of Hell. All around us was an ashen gray battlefield beneath a crimson sky. There were dark storm clouds, and the sun was as blood. Black ravens gathered in the distance to pick at small hills that I soon realized were not hills at all but immense piles of corpses and human bones. I saw heaps of rubble that I noticed had once been buildings and structures... and within the rubble were unclaimed bodies and remnants of all sorts. Mass graves were being dug, and hastily dug trenches to receive the dead. Small round huts were seen in places, covered with animal pelts as well as human skins. All covered in blood. I tried to avert my eyes and not look at any of these horrors, but they were all around me, everywhere I looked. Along with massive spent artillery devices that had long been cast into disuse. And weapons of war in every style and sort, all allowed to rust and be forgotten with time. I was not seeing some apocalyptic war in the far-flung future of mankind... I was witnessing a place that was emblematic of war itself, of its' true cost, its' horrific aftermaths, and the grim fate of war's victims. This was war's true face! It was not a glorious thing, nor an honorable thing. In the end, it was ash, bones, blood, and rubble. I wanted to cry, I tried to cry... but the singing of the children was too sweet and it brightened my spirits and kept me in the end from falling into despair and tears. “Follow me!” the child before me said, and beckoned. I did follow, and this child led me apart from the others... just as the others changed their singing to a dirge. I could not tell you if this child had been a boy or a girl. Gender meant nothing in this place. All were as one, and I realized what the children symbolized... hope. These children were the future! In them, were no traces of bigotry, hatred, intolerance, greed, or anger. They were happy, cheerful even in the singing of their now mournful songs... and they knew not how to make war. They were a generation undreamed about! Both thousands and thousands of years ago in the era in which I lived as Count Gislu Ra'vann... and still today, in this modern era of the planet Earth's history in which my name is a different one than it had been then. Was it they who would inherit mankind's legacy, once  was was forgotten and peace at last established over all things? The child I followed showed me a beautiful green garden filled with all manner of flowers, trees, plants, and other lovely things. A place of cool waters, and many colors. I saw a place that was a veritable oasis of countless delights, and it existed apart from the horror of that awful wasteland we left behind. “Remember!” the child told me. How could I forget, such a vision like this?

   Soon, the garden was all there was... and, it was filled with the children, but now they were no longer nearly colorless. Every color of the rainbow they wore for their garments, and their garments were silky and light, some diaphanous and delicate. The hair of the children now appeared to be in every shade, as also the children of many races had skin in just as many colors. The paleness persisted only for some... and there was great diversity all around me. Some children were white, some black, some brown, and some yellow. Some reddish, and some more orange. Some were even of more alien shades unknown to human skin coloration such as blue and green, and purple and every variety of those colors between. It was a garden of coexistence, and some children were human... some alien... some androids. But all had only peace, love, and happiness between them. I wept, for my own world was not like this! The circlet, I knew that this vision it had previously shown to that legendary emperor so long ago, well before my time. Perhaps it was this, which led to him attempting to unite all of the known universe under a more peaceful and enlightened rule than had ever been known before! But humanity, in the end, was not yet ready for such a peace... and there was conflict still, because of that sad fact. I knew, without knowing how I knew it... that this drove that ancient emperor to put away the circlet and seal it from all who did not prove worthy to don it and receive this vision. As I am writing this recollection here on Earth in the modern era I spoke of previously... many thousands and thousands of years after my life as Gislu... I do need to state that I did dream this dream once again. The other night, on the evening of the third of June in the year 2023 A.D. Just after the third hour past midnight, when the third day of June had passed into the fourth. That was when the dream began, when it returned unto my slumbering mind. And when I so awoke, the memory if it remained with me. In my life as Gislu, it would haunt me for all of my days to come. But back to that life and what I am writing about it... the wondrous garden and all of its' peaceful splendors soon faded from my sight as a thick mist and fog did enfold all about me. All went dark, and when my sight did return I saw that I was deep within the temple and no longer in the doorway. I sat on a comfortable chair within an art gallery that was run by the temple priests and priestesses. Standing in front of me was the High Priestess herself, and she clutched the circlet in her hands. The ruby that it did contain was cracked... and the High Priestess tried to remove it from the circlet only for it to fall apart. It dissolved into a fine powder, which she cast unto the floor at her feet. “It is accomplished, my count. You have received the Imperial Vision, that marks you as the true successor to the legacy of that great and glorious emperor of long ago. Even if you never inherit his title, you carry within you a spark of his spirit even if only a small one. You now know both the worst, and the best, that people of all races and all worlds are capable of. The beauty and harmony that can be theirs, if they abandon war and conflict! And the ultimate price that is paid when paths of war and conflict, and hatred, are undertaken. I fear for the years to come... for the Matriarch has much darkness within her. One day... that darkness will bring her into a terrible conflict upon the sacred planet that I shall not name in this place. And you will be a part of that conflict! It will decide the future of the Empire, and of many peoples of many houses. It will be called the Elemental Wars... and it was revealed in a prophecy that such an event would take place in our lifetime, my count. Gislu, I would advise that you do not worry over such matters! The future shall happen whether we will it or not. Leave the worrying to me! For it is my burden as High Priestess to do so... and to watch as history unfolds in the ways that it must. This is one universe of many, within some sort of multiverse that I suspect might just be beyond peoples' comprehension at the moment. Save for only the wise and intelligent few, who could see the truth in such an enormous revelation. When you go forth from this temple, take with you only this... if nothing else...” and, she pressed her hand into mine, only to hold my hand tenderly. An almost innocent smile came upon her face, and she imbued me with a tremendous sense of warmth and well being. I smiled, and said to her: “I think I understand you now, your grace.” She then kissed me lovingly, and pressed a single finger upon my forehead. “You have my blessing, and my anointing. There is nothing more precious I can bestow upon you... than such a thing.”

   I spent the rest of my day with the three sisters who had in recent times become among the dearest of all my paramours, lovers, and companions. I told them of all that had transpired, and that I did not ever intend to inform the Matriarch of what I had learned. I feared that if the Matriarch knew of my vision... and what it meant and all that it implied about me... she might see me as threat to her ambitions, power, authority, and rule. In such a case, she could well attempt to terminate my very life. Thus it was, that I spoke of my vision only to the three sisters, and to them alone. No one else, even among those whom I loved the most in life, ever would learn of what the circlet and its' ruby had shown me. To say that this event left me quite changed would be an understatement. I became less brutal in my methods, and over time I began to realize the pointlessness of war. I questioned orders I felt were wrong, and I cared less about achieving glory for my house, and more about doing what was right. This was a turning point in my existence! And I was happier for it. I brought the three beautiful sisters over to the small palace that I shared with my young wife Sciopia Ximmsia, whom I called “Sapphira”. And there, they became her handmaidens and served her loyally and truly for all of their days and hers. It was the first great act of kindness of many to come since I received the Imperial Vision... and I hoped that in time people would stop seeing me as a wicked demon of some sort, as many who feared me had so often called me, and so start realizing that I was embarking on a path of hope. A path of change. For even a demon can become an angel, if their heart is set upon brighter and better things! Just as an angel can fall and become also a demon. I spent less and less time around the Matriarch, for now I knew of the darkness within her, I did see it clearly and saw that it was indeed growing and becoming worse with each passing day. Almost as if the poison that coursed through her afflicted body, had somehow also poisoned her very mind and her deepest soul. She was not the mother I had come to love, I realized. And not the savior this planet long had believed her to be. But in time... I would eventually leave that planet which had been my old home planet behind me, as my destiny took me to other worlds. My ultimate destiny lay with Sapphira, I did come to realize more and more, and I spent an increasing amount of time at her side. If this displeased the Matriarch in any way, she never said that it did. She left me to my own devices, and never pressed me about my personal doings. I was grateful for this, and knew that many things were about to change for the better. I often tried to forget that harrowing vision, but some part of it would be with me forever. Whatever the ruby had imparted upon me, it was now a part of me whether I so wished for such or not.

   I lay upon a soft bed with piles of cushions all about me... and Sapphira walked into the chamber, her face as bright, cherubic, and smiling as ever. She was thirteen years of age... at least in appearance and in body... when first we were bound together. And she had not aged a day since then. One day, I meant to ask her why this was so, but on this day I was not ready to ask her that question just yet. So  instead, I merely saw it as a blessing... for I had a fondness for young girls. A fondness and a passion. I thought to myself that she had to be a goddess, or an angelic or divine being of some sort. I smiled back at her and I felt as if I were in the presence of the living embodiment of Paradise itself. Her eyes were blue, and as sparkling as starlight. The hour was midday, and the moment was a perfect one that would remain with me forever. She wore her hair loose and unbound and not done up in any sort of elaborate style. It was a beautiful sight, for once her head had been shaved and the beauty of her hair unknown to me. Gold was the color of the tresses of that hair, and the innocent look she had about her face captivated me. She did spell her nickname two different ways... Sapphira and Saphirra. Each with a different pronunciation. I loved saying that name both ways, for it was all her. All the lovely girl whom I adored with all my heart and soul, and mind, and body. She had come into my life a liberated slave... and now, she looked every bit like a true empress. No! A little goddess. In that hour in which she did lay upon the bed next to me, she was wearing only a pair of pink silk knee-length bloomers and nothing else. I caressed her thighs through the silk, and was greatly aroused. She began to caress my chest. I was naked, and very content.

   She chuckled a bit, as she said in a seductive tone of voice that even thus did not seem strange as it came form one so young: “Gislu, my beloved... do you want me to call you daddy again like I did the last time we played like this together?” I smiled mischievously, and said: “Only if you wish to, child of my heart's desiring! I live to please you.” and she said back: “And I, you... daddy.” She began to caress me, and kiss me, and her hand went to work at pleasuring me between my legs. Even as my hands felt all the softness of her youthful body and its' every delight. Eventually, I pulled her bloomers off of her and she laid upon her back and opened her legs so that she could receive me. The shaft of my manhood was hard and erect for her, and I did push it into her in the way that pleased her most. We made love, as my heart blazed with passion's fire for this child of heavenly glory. She dug her nails into my back, as I heaved in and out of her... her cries were sweet and filled with ecstasy even as we both were lost to the rhythm of our coupling bodies. When I neared the moment of my climax, and felt my warmth shoot up into her as my orgasm began in earnest... she cried out something that took me by surprise, though I did not let it interfere with our beautiful moment of pleasure. She said: “Oh, Gislu! My love... my god... my Crimson Emperor. How I love you so!” and I replied by whispering into her ear: “And I love you, dear, sweet Sapphire Empress!” And we were lost in the throes of ecstasy for some time before I realized that I too had said something unexpected to her. What could this mean? Those titles had to have been more than the creations of a moment of passion that transcended reason. The Crimson Emperor, she so called me. And I had called her the Sapphire Empress. Titles my heart told me we held in an ancient past that at that time, in that life, in that life's present... we had no conscious memory or recollection of. I thought that perhaps the ruby in the circlet had done something to me. But Sapphira had never touched the ruby, nor even laid her eyes upon it. All the ruby had done, I realized, was unlock something in me that was already there. Something long dormant and forgotten by time, by history, and by all save I and the girl I loved most in all the universe. She was beginning to remember things, as was I. Neither of us was able to tell the other why they call said what they did. I asked her what she meant by calling me that, once our passions had calmed and we did lay in each other's arms blissfully. And she asked me what I meant by what I had called her. Then we laughed together, and said at the same time: “Must be a memory!” It made us giggle a bit that we had said that phrase precisely in unison without meaning to. She smiled in a somewhat impish manner, and said to me sweetly: “Jinx!” and that made me laugh. We rested for but an hour or two, regaining our energy following the intensity of our lovemaking. Then, we washed up... got dressed fully... and resumed our normal daily activities. The three sisters could be heard singing in beautiful tones of voice from the music room that I had given to them for their amusement and use. All three had angelic voices when they sang, and the eldest sister could play the synthesizer magically. In that single moment, I think I experienced what it was like to truly be in an earthly paradise. Even if that earthly paradise was on a world that today on Earth would be considered alien. I looked out the window and thought about what the future might have in store for me, for my family and I. And I felt... elation!

   Suddenly, I was not looking at the landscape that I knew should have been there to meet my gaze. As if a memory from a long, long time ago was emerging from the depths of my being, to intrude upon the present moment... I beheld a desolate planet filled with sands and wastelands. Windswept and barren. It had not always been so! Once, it had been very different than that. The sacred planet, it was, and it had names that were only ever spoken in reverence. Kobol. Kolob. Ra'qia. I knew its' names... everyone did, even if they refused sometimes to speak them aloud. Blessed and accursed was Ra'qia, loved and hated, revered and reviled. Welcoming and forbidden was that planet! My destiny would eventually take me to there... in a life long past, it brought me there. What was I remembering now? I wore a full, diaphanous gown of crimson, beneath which I had on a protective suit of some kind. I felt cool and comfortable, in that suit... even though I walked across the hot, burning sands of the wild places, with a certain purpose.

   I strode towards a great temple in the distance... and I knew that within it lay the faceless priests of an alien religion that no one in the present Empire so remembered the teachings of any longer. The present Empire did not exist yet as such back then... there were other powers, and in some places older powers. Older than humanity even! And those powers called to me, I heard their voices in my mind and heart. I had to answer their call. My name was Mara... I, do not know what my actual physical age was, at that precise point in time, but I felt young, perhaps even childlike. Mara, had been my name in that bygone era! The Child of Chaos, some called me. Or would come to call me. The Crimson Child. Yes, that was how a certain legend began. A legend no one told of any longer, nor did they know the full details and truth thereof if they did tell of it... for all who knew the factual details of it, had passed int the shadows of history. Some still remembered, though. Somehow I knew this was the case. Even as Mara, I had the gift to see what others could not... what others dared not. The ruby! It had unlocked the full powers of that sight within me once more. I was looking into the past... my past... in another life. And I shall not in this space recount what I beheld of it. I have written of my life as Mara in other works of mine, after all. And there they can be found, for the curious to read of. The vision was a powerful one, and when it cleared I was at the window once more and it was as if only seconds had passed. I stepped away from the window, smiled, and went to see if the three lovely sisters were up for spending some time with me. On the morrow, I had to check in with some of the minor lords and ladies under my rule. As a count of my noble house, that was one of my duties. It was a simple duty, and one that I had ample time for. I got so busy, so caught up in other things that I totally forgot to speak to Sapphira about that vision of my life as Mara that I had. I put it far from my mind... one could not ever hope to change the past, after all... and I focused on the moment squarely. The future was not written yet, and whatever destiny it thus was that awaited me in the end... it would do little to no good worrying over it. Sometimes it is after all, the journey that is truly important! Not so much, the destination. The journey, and the memories we can make along the way. The three sisters and I sang together for a good while, and the music we made thus allowed me to feel an even greater sense of contentment. Then, we retired to the library where the very youngest of the sisters looked for a storybook to read, as was her want. The eldest preferred art books or music history books. And the middle sister preferred fantastic fiction meant for mature readers. I found my own gaze drawn to the ancient history section, and I began to research Mara extensively. Everything that was known about her was the stuff of myths and legends... but it matched up to my memories. No sense in denying what the evidence proved! I was indeed Mara reincarnated. Her end had been tragic by every account... and, it matched what I saw of it in my vision. I began to wonder, if my own life... if my life as Gislu in what was at that time the present... would end similarly. I said nothing of this to anyone, and even the Matriarch knew not of my findings and what those findings revealed of me. Of what I now knew about myself. Some secrets, must wait before they can be told! Others must wait lifetimes before they can be revealed to all. Now you, dear reader, know of them. And in my works... the grand tapestry of all I have ever been is made manifest for you to see. For the time is right! I had not foreseen, back in my life as Gislu, the life that I live now in this modern era of the planet Earth's history. Some things are unknown even to a god or a goddess, after all! Just as when I first had placed that circlet upon my head, I could never have realized that before my life as Gislu was over, I would indeed become the emperor of the known universe. And eventually die a brutal and tragic death indeed. But of that death, I have not written! For it was a bitter memory and one I shall not commit to writing until I feel I am ready to. Back in the past, as I set the ancient history books back into their places on the shelves... I decided that I had more than enough studying of such things for one day. I sat down next to the youngest member of those three sisters, and asked her how she was enjoying her storybooks. She smiled and said to me cheerfully: “They're fun! Do you like storybooks too, Gislu?” And I said to her just as cheerfully: “Yes, I do! Most especially the ones that have those happy storybook endings.” For deep down, I was yet a child at heart.
Written by Kou_Indigo (Karam L. Parveen-Ashton)
All writing remains the property of the author. Don't use it for any purpose without their permission.
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