I opened my eyes to the midnight world of the Elemental. A sudden green flare to my right and there it was, hovering a few feet from where I lay. Grunting I sat up *Does that get any easier?* I asked.
*Not for you, no* it said, the feeling of a smile playing across my mind.
*What happened? Was it the stone?*
*Yes and no. When you touched it, the download began and I brought you inside to both protect you from the power of it and explain what you will see*
*But I don’t see anyth…*
Images flooded my mind, pouring in falling over each other like a burst dam emptying into my brain. Sounds crashed into and off of each other, a screaming cacophony that expanded to fill my being, touching every corner of me until I felt I was going to explode with the force of them all.
*Steady* said the Elemental, its voice cutting through the tsunami. *Hold on to me. The download will ease soon. Focus on me*
*I… The… Much… Hurts…* I managed to think. The pressure inside was rising, I felt as though my head was inflating, dozens of sizes too big and ready to rupture. The pain blanked everything out. I wanted to scream.
And then it was over. From everything to nothing in the blink of an eye. I uncurled from my foetal ball and looked up at the Elemental.
*What. What was that?*
*The treaty. Each of the Seals has the treaty built into them and available for download, but with the Seal broken and the Elemental inside it gone, the download is raw and unmanaged. It would have killed you without me to slow it down*
*That was slowing it down?* I spluttered.
*You are still alive, aren’t you* the elemental said, a sharp edge of annoyance drew across me like a knife. *Slowly look at what you now have. It will unpack for you*
I turned my attention inward; deep in the back of my skull a square hard object sat in the coils of brain and data. I hesitated for a second before touching it. For half a second nothing happened, then with almost imperceptible ‘click’ it opened and unfolded inside my mind.
I was sat on the island again, it was early morning and a cold, heavy fog hung in the air. The only sounds were the keening of some distant bird travelling out to sea and the slow steady lapping of the waves around me. Except, when I listened closely, I could also make out a pattern of rhythmic creaking and splashes. The mist cleared for a moment I saw a small wooden boat with several sets of oars propelling it towards the island. A few minutes later it beached and out climbed several figures, some in long white robes and some in loin clothes and furs. They walked in silence towards me, seemingly oblivious to my presence and circled around where I sat. One man from each group stepped forward and I caught my breath as I recognised the man in the loin cloth as the same old shaman who had found me in Cowell the previous day and then again in the lookout only a few hours ago. He was younger here, less stooped but with a presence just as commanding.
Together the two men stood and faced their fellows. To an unseen cue they began to hum, in tune at first but then discordantly. Their men joined in, the sound rising in pitch and tempo, violence in its forming, pain and fear all about it. It was loud now, drowning out all. I felt the pain inside, not my pain but all the pain of the War. I slapped my hands to my ears to try and block it out. And when I thought I couldn’t take it any more, it stopped. Gone. The air was still but felt think and bruised. The two leaders spoke as one, but neither voice was their own:
Let it be known to all throughout the multiverse and across dimensional voids that this is the Binding Seal of Treaty as agreed by All Parties. Attempts to break this treaty or in any way nullify it will be met with grid dissolution of all within the transgressing reality.
As the last word resonated through my mind the island shook and rumbled beneath me. I felt the earth and could feel a grinding, grating sensation deep down. At the feet off the two men a bulge appeared, pushing upwards from beneath the thin soil and barren stone. The land peeled back, rocks splintering and cracking as the bulge emerged. It was the obelisk rising from beneath the island. It sliced its way up slowly until it reached its full height and the island was still once more.
We call on the Guardian of The Seal to complete the Circuit and hold The Treaty.
A wash of green light sprang across all; hovering over the tip of the obelisk was an Elemental. It stayed there for a second or two before pouring itself over and into the stone until it was gone for sight. The obelisk throbbed with a new power and symbols slowly appeared on its as if being burnt into the stone.
And that was that. The men looked at each other, an uneasy silence hanging between them, before walking off back to the barge. As they left the shaman, or rather his younger incarnation, hung back a little and turned and looked in my direction, gazing at the stone with a strange expression. And then he was gone, back to the boat with the others.
To be continued…
(Note: You can read the previous posts here)