Is this consciousness real?
This is not a question that the simple mind asks itself, it’s a question that’s only pondered upon by the apt. The question ran through Fezure’s mind over and over and every time he came to a disheartening yes. It was followed by another more macabre question, “How can I end it?” He had concluded that pain was one proof that where he was was real and he had received it in spades. His bones ached from staying too long in one position. His muscles burned from strain and his skin was scarred with lashes from daily whips. His stomach grumbled from weeks of living on a meal that would barely fill a ten-year old’s belly. If death had offered a hand he would have gladly taken it.
At one end of the pit, he could see Abano Neir’s decomposing corpse. He and the other leaders of the rebellion had been castrated, burned and hung naked for two weeks before eventually they succumbed to their wounds and disease. They, however, were still alive left as examples of what happened to those who rebelled against the establishment in place. Fezure had been too young to lead and so he was considered one of the fortunate ones if been left in a barely lit holding pit could be considered fortunate.
In the meditation hall, Festaye sat in the lotus position. He shut the world out to go in. He needed to reach the inner sanctum where the emperor of souls resided. Instead, he found himself floating in a haze looking towards the dark reaches of space.
“My Lord?” he called out.
“Yes Festaye. I am here.”
“Where is this soul of souls?”
“This is the Wik Nebula where stars are born. Some, sadly, die here too.”
“What would you want of me here Almighty?”
“To show you something that happened. This place is not just the birthplace of stars but a place considered neutral territory to us for many reasons. Let me show you.”
The mist began to swirl backward, moving faster and faster before coming to a sudden stop. The soul emperor was seated on a seat. He condensed water to form a pool. A hand came out from it and the emperor of reflections floated out. He then stood over the pool forming a shadow. It began to move independently. It grew in size and developed volume until it became the form of the emperor of shadows. All three conjured their own seats and began a discussion in serious fervour. The emperor of souls appeared to be calming a disagreement between the other two.
Festaye understood why the meeting took place in such a place. Unless a surface was conjured, there was no place to create shadows and no surfaces to create reflections and there were no souls nearby. This was a place where none could attack the other. The meeting ended with the emperor of shadows and the emperor of reflections stalking off in anger.
The vision then changed. Now they were in a forest. It had just rained. A group of warriors stood facing each other by a lake. The emperor of shadows stood at one end while the emperor of reflections floated on the lake’s surface. Both raised their hands in summoning commands. From the lake, hundreds of reflections burst forth their rush met by an equal number of shadows that wrestled with them to the ground. Splashes could be heard as each tried to subdue the other. The men started to shake, some began to vomit as they lost both a shadow and reflection. The image started to blur and Festaye found himself back in the meditation hall. Sweat trickled from his forehead.
He rose and rushed to the library. He needed to confirm something.