RYAN M. SMITH
This book is dedicated to Melanie Rose Smith.
Without you this book would never have been written, and even if it had, it would have been much less interesting.
“We have a problem…”
Long thin fingers, gnarled and twisted like ancient tree branches, slid across simple yellowed parchment. Lifting at edges and turning the page with agonizing slowness. The book was thick, roughly the size of a man’s forearm, and it almost seemed too large for the man holding it. He was skeletally thin and dressed in a brown monk’s robe. His pate was bare, with only a few wisps of white hair kept in a Caesar style. His eyes were the color of milk with no identifiable iris or pupil, though they swept back and forth across the page.
The world around him was black, expansive, and never ending. Books as thick as the one on his lap, sat on either side of him: Three on the right, four on the left, eight in all. When he finished filling them more would appear.
“We have a problem,” the old man said again to the four beings standing in front of him. His name, as best as any could tell (even those four in his audience) had been lost to time, and only whispers and meaningless words like Fate, Destiny, and Writer, could describe him.
They knew this wasn’t his true form. This was only the form their minds could ascribe to what he truly was. Even the nearly limitless existences of the Aspects of Life couldn’t comprehend this being.
All four of them were here; Apolla Sola, Aspect of the Sun; Terra Gaia, Aspect of the Earth; Celita Luna, Aspect of the Moon; and Shadus Nocturne, Aspect of Shadow. The four of them were the most powerful beings with a physical existence, though there were those beyond them with a nebulous existence, the one in front of them included. Each of them twitched or fidgeted in some way. Uncomfortable in the presence of a being so far beyond them and annoyed at having been call together as if they were servants.
“Out with it, old man,” Sola said his form androgynous and lit with an inner radiance. The being didn’t move. Sola’s radiance dimmed and he doubled over, clutching every portion of himself as agony wrote its way across his face.
“Arrogance shall not be tolerated, young one,” the old man replied. “Yet the problem is simple. Your powers as the Aspects shall wane the longer they remain in your forms. I’m sure you have noticed this.”
The old man fell silent and those with him stood in stunned silence at his revelation. Jaws hung open and eyes widened to the sizes of small dinner plates. It was obvious at least three of them had no realization their powers were waning. Only one pair of eyes narrowed.
“We can no longer create,” Shadus Nocturne said. Out of the four Aspects he was the smallest and frailest, his height topping out before five feet and weighing no more than ninety pounds.
A smile creased the old man’s cracked white lips. “You continue to be the most observant of your siblings, young shade. You no longer have the power to create.”
“Why?” Celita asked.
Gaia answered instead of the old man. “Because we no longer used it. We’ve not had a need to create anything since we created the platypus.”
“Yes, Lady Gaia, just as sharp as your brother,” the Writer said.
“So, we can no longer create objects out of nothing,” Sola said, his shining form ashen from the pain he still suffered. “What does this have to do with the remainder of our powers?”
“Sola, your light shines so bright, but your mind can be little more than a burnt piece of kindling. With the loss of creation the snowball has begun to roll down the mountain,” the old man said. “Your powers have begun to wane, and they will continue to wan until the universe itself begins to fall apart.”
“What?” the Four Aspects said at the same moment.
“Oh, yes,” The old man said. “Without you and your powers, the very plane your universe exists on would begin to collapse.”
“What can we do to stop that?” Celita asked. “Have children?”
“That’s one way,” the old man started. “And, I do believe that you will, in fact, provide three of our four replacements, Celita.
“This is how it shall be. You four shall each take on an apprentice. You will take the child assigned to you at the age of six years old, and you shall raise them to maturity.” The Writer shifted his position, and flipped through some more pages of his tome before continuing. “Apolla Sola, you shall train Zaverian Saraphian Tetrelian to be your replacement.”
An image of the small blue haired boy appeared before the Aspect of the Sun. Sola nodded as he memorized the boy’s features.
“Celita Luna, you shall train Kaden Atalis Star,” the old man said. A three dimensional picture of a boy with black hair and moon silver eyes appeared before her.
“Shadus Nocturne, you shall train Malak of Thrace.” The image that appeared before the smallest of the Aspects was not that of a child. A young man with platinum blonde hair and doe blue eyes shimmered into existence. An unpleasant chill ran the length of Shadus’s spine.
“And, Terra Gaia, you shall train Apophis Kain.”
Copyright Ryan M. Smith 2014