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Abdi’el’s eyes widen as they meet Bridge’s. “A long; long time ago when the Earth was new and her people old; men came from the stars,” Bridge says in a soft, dreamy voice; all the while stroking Abdi’el’s face with his head tilted to one side. “They built a beautiful city and bases for their armies who were fighting a war that was none of our business. We showed them the gateways to the wheel of destiny; gave them access to our Universe and all her wonders.” He tilts his head to the other side and Abdi’el shivers.
“Walking the spokes of the wheel the star men won their war and then they came back and settled in their white city on the cliff. The People lived side by side with the star men for a very long time and during that time a new race rose. They were nurtured and cherished by The People and their brothers from the bones of the earth– the ancient dragons, whose breath is the breath of the wind and whose fire is the fire of the stars and whose bones are the bones of the hills and whose tears are the depths of the oceans.”
Bridge’s voice has taken on a singsong quality as if he’s speaking the words of a poem or a story that has been passed down generation to generation as history. It doesn’t take me long to realise, that is exactly what it is.
“But the star men did not cherish the Children of the Earth; they exploited them, enslaved them when the backs of The People were turned and the eyes of the Dragons were averted. Our children were scorned and used.” He drops his hands and lowers his head to glare at Abdi’el; his eyes burning.
“And then came those who did cherish The Children of Earth. They loved and were loved. In the name of that love they were torn down. The rulers of the star men were jealous with the power they had gained. They were angry that their own kind had shared it with The Children. They punished The Children and their own star men in the most terrible way. They tore souls from bodies and opened the Void to cast them into.
“The People and the Dragons were horrified when the very fabric of their reality was torn apart. The Wheel was tilted and broken. The spirals of birth and death were twisted. The very essence of The Universe herself was spilled like blood on a battle-field. The People and brother Dragons were shut out of their own lands; caught on the wrong side of the gateways when they were closed. The balance of the universe was upset and great evil came upon us.” Bridge shakes his head as if he is coming out of a dream and when he speaks again he uses his own voice.
“Your little war caused more suffering to The Universe than you could ever atone for. Your Council and those who served them raped our world and our people, in the name of a God who does not exist and a power that was not yours in the first place. You tore and broke and twisted and we were helpless to stop you, because we were trapped on the wrong side of the gate. You leeched the magic out of the bones of the land and used it to dominate; to enslave – when it was always available for you to share. The Source: the life force that binds all and makes it whole was spilled from the bowl in which it was contained and the Earth became barren and devoid of magic and spirit.
“But no more. The People are coming again. I am their forerunner and I am here to give you a message to take back to your Council. This Earth; this Wheel; this Power is OURS and we are taking it back. You are no longer welcome here. Take your Council and what remains of your people and walk the path of the stars back to where you belong. It is no longer here.”
For a long; long moment Abdi’el stares at him and then he starts to laugh. He is well over a head taller than Bridge and of a much larger build. He looks down on the delicate, fey boy and roars.
“You,” he sputters finally, “you dare to say this to me? You and your People were never more than an irritation to us. There was never a time when we ‘lived together in harmony’. You lived the life you led because we allowed you to. And as for the Dragons…” he flicks a scornful glance across the river to Star. “I thought we had wiped them out millennia ago. They are beasts; little more than the horses we ride to war.”
My heart thuds in my chest. Even I know he’s treading a thin line now. When we first came to Earth it was inhabited by races far stronger than we were. It was meant to be a temporary base for our forces, but when we realised there were gateways here that could take us to a whole new universe we made permanent bases here. We knew full well we were the lesser race and there were contracts; agreements. I’ve no idea whether it was by accident or design that The People, as they called themselves, and the true dragons were trapped outside our reality, but neither the Council nor their followers would have been able to do what they have done since, if they’d still been around.
The Morning Star had tried his best to repair the damage and look where that got him.
A horrible suspicion is rising in my breast and, when Star steps forward I feel proud and sick and terrified all at the casino oyna same time.
“I am no beast, Abdi’el.” He walks slowly across the river to stand beside Bridge. The two ‘men’ who are holding Sacha take a step backwards and look at each other uncertainly.
Bridge looks up at them. “Make him comfortable on the couch,” he commands. After glancing at each other again and failing to meet Bridge’s eyes they back away and disappear into the mists which linger at the back of the summerhouse.
“You’ve had your moment, bitch. Now turn around and walk away, while you still can.”
“Not this time, star man.” Bridge spits back with as much venom and scorn as Abdi’el, if not more. “This time we’re taking back what’s ours. Your Council is in disarray; your people scattered, while ours are coming back. You can stand and fight if you wish but this time it’s a battle you can’t win. Take that message back to your people. Those who wish to remain with their feet on the wheel can petition our Council and if we so decide they may remain but they are subject to our will and not their own. There will be no more dominating and demanding. You will follow the rules of The Universe as we do, or leave and make your own rules elsewhere.”
“Your Council? And what, pray would that be?” He sneers.
“You are standing before it, Abdi’el and I would suggest you do nothing to piss us off or yours will be the first ass sent spinning off the wheel.”
Now Abdi’el looks even more uncertain and there is definitely a tinge of fear in his eyes. “Enough of this. You tire me, you pathetic creature.”
Abdi’el reaches out and grabs Bridge by the shoulder. Star steps forward but before he can do anything Bridge says softly. “Not anymore star man. Your time is past and mine has come again.”
Before Abdi’el can say a word or move a muscle he is lifted off his feet and slammed backwards through the mist and into what sounds like a solid object.
“If you think that you can come to our world; take its resources; use it’s people like animals; punish them and pervert them at your whim; drive away The People and their Brothers; dominate its development and twist its history for eternity then you are sadly delusional my friends. Your reign is over and ours has come again.
“Leave this place freely and never return. If you don’t then the only thing waiting for you will be death. Release our people; release those of yours who loved them and leave. Take a message back to your Council or those who now govern in their stead. The war is over; the time of the star men is over; it is our time now. The People have returned.”
Together Taz, Bridge and Rapha’el move forward. Before them the mist and smoke retreats. Star and I glance at each other and hurry to follow.
When we reach the far wall we are surprised to find that Abdi’el and his friends have gone. All that remains is Sacha; lying on the couch; cold and still and pale.
Without a word Rapha’el kneels at the side of the couch and lays his hands on Sacha; one on his forehead and the other on his stomach. He begins to glow. The light grows so bright I cannot look at him. When the light fades and we can see again Sacha is already stirring. Rapha’el moves back and we all draw closer.
When Sacha opens his eyes they are clear but confused. “What happened? Serif? What…? Why…?”
Bridge throws himself into Sacha’s arms and hugs him, laughing. “It wasn’t Serif and his name isn’t Serif; it’s Rapha’el and he’s an angel… well kind of. So is Taz… and Luma. And Star is a dragon. Me? I don’t know what I am but I think I might have been possessed for a while but I’m alright now.”
Sacha looks deeply confused and I don’t blame him because so am I. “Possessed, Bridge?”
“I think so. At least something was speaking through me. I heard what I said but it wasn’t me saying it. It was cool though, wasn’t it… when that power flowed through me? Heck, I wish it was here all the time.”
“Are you sure it’s not?” Rapha’el asks softly.
“Um… it’s never been there before; at least I don’t think so.”
“But I don’t know how.”
“Concentrate on something you want to move and then move it.”
“Just try, Bridge.”
Bridge narrows his eyes and looks past me into the distance. After a while a strange sound fills the air and before I even have the chance to work out what it is, water gushes over the waterfall and drops in foaming profusion to fill the dry river bed.
Turning back to Bridge I have a smile on my face. His is grave and thoughtful. “I remember.”
“What I am; what I’m supposed to do.”
“What are you supposed to do?”
“This,” he says as he stands and raises his arms. There is a shimmering in the air that grows until we are standing in the middle of an incandescent world in which we are the only ones who exist. I blink as I see shadows moving through the shimmering, opaque air; many figures. I blink again and the shimmering is gone; the summerhouse is gone; the maze is gone.
We canlı casino are standing on a lawn which stretches to the wall in one direction and the house in the other. It has never been here before, but I remember where I have seen it before. Once, Astaria and I walked on this lawn together. Once we loved and planned and wept here. It’s just a lawn. There is nothing to tell me that it is THE lawn… except that I know.
The waterfall and the river are still there only now they cut across the lawn and not across the wheel. In the centre of the lawn; on the banks of the river is a podium on which lies a large marble bowl. Inside the bowl is the same incandescence that so recently surrounded us.
However, I barely glance at the bowl; my eyes are too busy elsewhere. I have never seen so many people here; or anywhere near here. Well, ‘people’ wouldn’t be exactly the right word. These are The People; the fey folk, faeries, goblins, elves, forest spirits; whatever you would like to call them; as divorced in their own way from humanity as the dragons and… us.
The People are all beautiful in their own way. Those nearest to us are tall, willowy and graceful. They are all serene and restrained. They are all here. Of course they are not all present physically in one place and time, but they are all here nevertheless.
Out of the sea of fey, seven very definitely human figures squeeze and weave. It is with enormous relief that I see my boys break through and run to me. Whatever is going to happen next at least we will be together to face it.
One of the tall, serene fey detaches from the throng and approaches us, with a distant smile on her elfin face. She stops before Bridge and, taking his hand lifts it to her lips.
“Well met, child.”
“It was you, wasn’t it? You who spoke through me?”
“And was it your power too?”
She smiled gently and shook her head, dropping Bridge’s hand. “No little one, that was all your own.”
“Wow. So I can really do that? I can make things move with my mind?”
“Not your mind, little one; your energy. It will grow as your understanding of who and what you are grows.”
“What’s going to happen now?” Bridge sounds very uncertain.
“What would you like to happen?” The woman asks with an indulgent smile.
“I want to stay here with Luma and my friends. But I can’t; can I?” His beautiful eyes fill with tears and it makes them even more beautiful. Feeling fiercely protective I put my arm around him and pull him close to my side. He rests his head against my shoulder.
“Why not?” She asks gently
“They have to leave… Luma, Taz and Serif – Rapha’el. I have to make them leave and it’s Luma’s house and…”
“You do not HAVE to make anyone leave, little one. If it is your desire to extend welcome to the star men then it is your privilege to do so. There will be others who work with us; who have been our friends and will be our friends; who will enjoy our patronage. It is only those who have raped and destroyed who are no longer welcome here.”
“So… Luma can stay here? It can still be his house and I can stay here with him?”
“If that is what you wish.”
“Yes… yes it is what I wish. And the rest of us? We can all stay here?”
“If that is what you wish.”
“Yes. It is. I want to stay here; all of us together, just like it was.”
“Then it shall be so. Although, I am afraid that you will have to say goodbye to two of your friends.”
“No. Who? Oh.” Sadly Bridge turns to Rapha’el. “It’s you isn’t it: you and Taz?” Rapha’el smiles gently and nods. “But they said…” He turns to the fey woman. “You said that they could stay if I wanted.”
“As powerful as you may be little one you cannot control the hearts and destinies of others. Your friends could stay if they wished; but they have work to do elsewhere. They have worked with us for some time and will be our ambassadors with the star men. They will do this work because they can, and because they want to; not because they have to.”
“Oh. I can’t be sad about that, can I? It’s important isn’t it?” he says, his voice trembling.
“Very important,” Rapha’el says and Taz moves impulsively to hug Bridge.
“You will come back won’t you? You will visit us?”
“Of course,” Rapha’el says; smiling his slow sweet smile. “You will have many visitors, I’m sure. Now this place is as unique as you are. You are free to go and do whatever you want; all of you and all that is asked of you is that this place is cared for and protected.” While he speaks he gestures to the bowl.
“What is that?” Bridge asks curiously and moves forward to peer into the bowl. His hand reaches out to touch the shimmering liquid; if that is what it is. The fey woman is faster and intercepts it before it reaches the surface.
“That is the very essence of the universe, my child. Be careful. If you touch it you will be changed; changed beyond all expectation or return. Before you do so be very sure that you are ready to leave behind all that you have touched kaçak casino and accumulated in this life and move on to the next.”
“I’ll die? If I touch it I’ll die?” Bridge snatches his hand back, startled.
“You will be changed.”
“So what’s it for?”
“When it is time you will know little one. There will be those who will come to you and you will know when you should send them to the Source and by watching them you will know when it is your own time to move on. Until then you are its guardian only.”
Bridge turns to me as if he’s thought of something. It is clear that it is troubling him deeply. “You’re free now Luma. You can go anywhere you want to go. I need to stay here to guard the bowl. Will you leave me? Or will you stay with me?”
I stare at him; at the uncertain green eyes; the trembling lips. I think of the eons I have spent longing to be free; to be able to escape the confines of this bubble in time and space. Now I can and it’s the last thing I want to do.
“I would never leave you. I love you too much.”
“Me too.” Star confirms. “I’m here as long as you are.”
“And me.” Sacha confirms. The four of us embrace.
“What about us?” Chancey asks nervously. I realise that they have been shut out of the conversations so far and none of them have the first idea what’s going on or where they stand in it. I turn to look at them and see expressions ranging from wonder to terror on their faces.
“As long as this is my home you will be welcome in it. I couldn’t imagine my life without you.”
They smile; some uncertainly; some brightly and my heart feels warm. I am completely overwhelmed. I don’t know where to look; what to think; what to feel.
I jump at a gentle touch on my arm. I turn to find myself wrapped in two soft but strong arms. The smell of musk is overpowering but only because of its familiarity. I rest my head against a strong chest as wings unfurl and wrap around me. I am cut off from the rest of the world and my head is spinning. I lift my face and lips press against mine. I allow mine to part and the breath that flows into me is sweet.
“I’m going to miss you and I have only known you for a few days,” I murmur with real regret. Serif was always fun to be around’ but Rapha’el…
“I’ll be around. Are you sure you want to stay here?”
“No. I’m not sure at all but this is where my family needs to be, at least for the moment. They need some stability. They need security to come to terms with what has happened and to be able to move on strong. One day soon I will take them walking on the spokes of the wheel and introduce them to some of the other worlds that surround us. I have a feeling that, Bridge in particular, once he has had a taste of the wonders of The Universe will want to explore more.”
“And what about your humans? What will you do with them? Will you keep them as they are or will you change them?”
“We’ll see what happens. For now all I want is to get back on solid ground again.”
“Then perhaps we should touch down.”
I look down and am surprised to find that we are hovering over the heads of the throng below.
“You’ve swept me off my feet.”
“Just as I always did,” he whispers as he kisses me again and memories flood me that I have held at bay for so long.
“Please,” I whisper against his lips. “Please don’t. Don’t make me remember and then leave me again.”
“I never left you,” he says with tears in his eyes. “Haven’t I always been with you?”
I frown and then my eyes widen. “It’s you. It’s always been you. All these years, it’s been you… everywhere, always.” I can’t believe it. Now that I look into those blue eyes I remember. All these years they have been everywhere; the same eyes in different faces, always watching me… now I realise they have always been watching over me.
“Everywhere,” he says, smiling at me; his eyes misting, “always. And I always will.”
“Stay. Please. Stay with me.”
He smiles his beautiful smile. “It’s not our time, Lumi’el. A long time ago we were lovers but then there was Astaria. I never resented her. She filled a part of you I could never reach. And for me… another did the same.” He smiles a sad smile. “Although he is gone now there is another who calls to me.”
He laughs. “His father was my heart and soul. At first I resisted with every atom of my being but… He is so like his father and yet so unlike him. He is more fiery; stronger in many ways and more faithful. I have searched my heart in fear that I don’t love him but only the memory of his father in him… but it is not so. I do love him; for himself.”
“Then I don’t begrudge you your happiness with him. You have woken something in my heart that has been dormant for a long time. I no longer fear to remember, and when I do remember I will remember you.”
He laughs again. “Don’t be so solemn. I will not leave it so long next time. I will return and when I do we will rake over the old fires and see if we can make the coals smoulder again. These last three hundred years I have been hiding from you. Now there is no need to hide I think you will find our lovemaking more… interesting. But don’t forget in the meantime; as I have Taz, you have Star… Bridge… Sacha… Chancey…”
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