Palladium: Reason and Existence

131. Without Mother

As the palpable light rushed between the shadows of shocked prefects to wash against them, the group witnessed many angels break and flee. Those with control of their primal responses invoked the message and vanished, whilst most simply scattered like a startled doves.

Andrakasis’ celestial prisoners maintained their protective circle around the assembled as a handful of angels took it upon themselves to do as their queen would have, and punish the mortals for their countless sins. Heedless of the dangers, Emalf pushed between the guarding angels to stumble toward the place beyond the light where Orbray-Ell had stood as her ‘mother’ was cut from creation.

Illynis struggled against the swell of pain that had come with the Queen’s fall, and looked for the comfort of Norindial‘s power in the old man’s eyes. The Mind Mage’s visage was beset with concentration, and Illynis hardly heard the words as the man whose help she had sought whispered the words that justified what he was doing: “I came here to make a difference”. Illynis felt her mind crumble before his psychic assault and she was reduced to a small voice in a mind that another had stolen.

She knew that Norindial felt none of her vehement resistance as her mind enacted his command to transport them to the dead Queen. Perhaps her fury was the reason the message ran beyond her grasp, but the message would not bend and fold to do as he asked, and the aged spy took her arm roughly to lead her between the protecting angels and into the fray.

Retribution bubbled at the edge of Norindial’s control. The inaudible promise of a woman of honour as she pledged what he made her do would not go unpunished. She watched as the enemy angels turned alien powers upon her friends and herself, hoping against hope that the Mind Mage would fall.

Echo knew the others did not feel what she felt, that something final was nigh, and that they could not be in the Halls of Judgement when it arrived. Before her, Andrakasis surveyed the battle and commanded the angels to commence a slow advance on the throne, that the company might not be so divided. As he did, Echo felt the need to shout into the chaos of sensory stimulation, though it held none of the sound of the mortal world.

She screeched in a manner she knew all could hear, “We have to go. Now. What was your plan?”. Andrakasis looked back at her before affirming her suspicion. With a hesitantly glance at the tormented girl that clung to his arm, he indicated his final recourse would cost him something he had only just regained.

A moment after Emalf stumbled past the dazzling fountain, Illynis and Norindial were standing behind the slumped shock of Perath-Ell at what he had one. Some of the hostile angels engaged Andrakasis’ slaves in efforts to reach the man himself, as the remainder of the party moved to take their fate into their own hands.

Something reckless and final crawled through the scene. Something that all were aware of, but bore deeper meaning to Echo. A voice, distant yet ubiquitous, warned that ‘Twilight is come’.

Stepping from safety to pursue Emalf, ‘The Blade’ witnessed the avatars of prophecy as a disproportionate number seemed to turn on her. Echo, with a similar goal of reaching Emalf, was just steps behind the assassin, but never questioned how the angels ignored her in favour of Natasha. Nor did she doubt for a moment that the Blade of Panath would survive all the hosts that might confront her.

Oblivious to Illynis’ predicament, Echo tried to pass close enough to touch the Paladin and the spy before finding her path blocked by a part of the message set on avenging the death of the angel Queen. She flinched as the prefect reached past her to engage the Paladin and wondered at what fate saw the assassin and the knight take attacks she felt sure she deserved.

Norindial was the epitome of determination. Across the link he had made, he emphasised the shortness of time and commanded the Paladin commit herself entirely to the task of braiding the deathlight through and around him. She fended of the blows of the angel distractedly as the fullness of her attention turned upon the part of the message flowing from where one of the oldest beings that had ever existed had been.

At first the light did not move, and Illynis invoked the memory that had changed everything she had ever known. Though her shield was in her hand, and she did not look into it, she remembered the moment she should have died, the moment when Shah Dallan’s wrath had drawn breath, when she had glimpsed a being made of light upon the inner of her shield.

With the memory, the message spoke to her in a manner she knew Norindial could not comprehend through his possession. Through it she could see the limits of his control and the consequences of his plan. She could see a light originating from the message itself whose fire had fuelled the ‘Mother’ of angel kind and knew that the knowledge in that shaft of light would burn Nordinial’s mind from existence.

The message spoke to her of the possibility she could diffuse the flow to something he might survive, but in a haze of fury, she dismissed the option entirely. Instead she invoked the anger, fear and loss of the moment her guardian had been unmade, and used it to funnel everything that had been the angel Queen into the fragile husk of a man.
*
Emalf found Orbray-Ell unconscious and hanging partially off the edge of the platform defining ‘The Judgement Hall’. Seeing the detonation of light had cast her almost into oblivion, he cradled her fearfully as he probed the link that joined them for signs that the death of her ‘Mother’ had not been her end also.

The answering glimmer at the edge of his mind wet his eyes and he struggled to his feet with the angel in his arms as Echo reach them. ‘Twilight is coming’, she said with breathy desperation.

Whilst there had been an eerie gravity to what the summoner had said, Emalf‘s eyes did not linger on her. Rather shock stole his next steps as he saw the light of the ’Mother’ passing through Norindial. It wracked the old man’s body with the violence of a lightning, whose grip was not instantaneous, but seemed to endured the length of creation. The thought of storm light seem kind by comparison.

He watched what he was sure was a life force being washed away on a current of knowledge so potent than the gods would fare no better.

Alert again, Illynis heard Echo’s raised voice crying still that they needed to leave, immediately. But Illynis knew that Norindial had prompted her to expend too much of herself, she watched the message pass her by and could find no point of purchase in the fast moving flows that would not risk her continued existence.

Then Norindial came to himself. The psychic wave washed through the eddying message and joined their minds as it had done before. With the link came the knowledge that message sensitivity had gotten the better of Illynis. Without word, the Mind Mage, impossibly alive turned his expectation through each member of the company until it came to rest with ‘The Blade’.

Natasha knew that the message and prophecy were one and the same, but the message, as it existed in the sphere of cloud, was different to the flow of prophecy across Palladium. She felt the skeins of creation move as would a waterfall compared to the convections of the stagnant pond of the mortal world.

She could almost intuit their timing, almost grasp the threads, but without Illynis’ direct connection she knew only enough to be certain a dangerous number of threads eluded her. In the face of the all-pervading warning that ‘Twilight was coming’, she abandoned the instincts that could make prophecy conform to her will and adopted the methodical training of the disciples of Panath. Doing so brought none of the certainty of prophetic intuition, but helped her deduce a safe hypothesis of which threads could effect the desired result.

Then blindly trusting that the alien flows would not interfere, she recklessly attacked prophecy with the will of one long versed in getting the world to give her what she wanted.

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