Fountain of Light
A round crystal table, red and gold, is spread with food – fish, fruits, and vegetables.
We sit for a meal, and Mayla tells us more about the city.
When we finish, she hands us communication disks.
“The disks display maps of the city,” she says, “and an index of different sites.”
“Use your disk to get directions to any location, and to configure the transport platforms.”
“Take twenty minutes to see a little more of the city,” says Mayla.
“Then I’ll call you and give you a destination where we’ll all assemble.”
Shazira and I walk through some of the gardens, while the others scatter to different places.
“How did the training go?” asks Shazira.
“We learned the Fiklow language, and I taught Berek to fly.”
“Now, he just needs practice.”
“Maybe we need you as our teacher,” says Shazira.
“Our training in weaving was a disaster.”
“What do you mean?”
“Neither of us could let go and enter the energy streams, and after a few minutes, we abandoned the weaving.”
“We asked Mayla to teach us about the city, and show us patterns for new materials to flow.”
“She also showed us how to use flow in battle.”
“How did the others find their training?”
“Balshown and Makish didn’t speak much of it, but they seemed satisfied with the results.”
We walk together quietly after that, holding hands, just enjoying the beauty around us.
When the message comes from Mayla, we use a transport platform to reach one of the river plazas, and join Mayla and Tzina near a fountain.
The light rises slowly, like a mist, from the circle of colored stones, as Tzina watches.
Then, the light jumps, filling the air with bursts of color.
The light moves in circles, high above the fountain, and hardens into an endless rain of beautiful shapes, which move and change as they fall.
The shapes fade away, seconds before reaching the ground.
“It’s beautiful,” says Tzina, as she watches the dance of light and form.
“What’s it for, Mayla?” she asks.
Mayla squeezes her hand.
“As far as I know,” she answers, “it’s only here for its beauty.”
As each ring of buildings stretches toward a river, the buildings open into Wide plazas to greet the river and its bridge.
Each side of the crossing is blessed with a plaza and a round fountain of light.
In the center of each bridge is another fountain.
The fountain seems suspended in space, a wispy cover for a ten foot hole in the bridge.
The fast current of the river is visible below, as you look through the fountain.
The light of the bridge fountain reaches down to the water below, and rises, fifty feet high.
In all, twelve light fountains dance in every building ring.
Music plays day and night in the plazas, and on the bridges, around the fountains.
The fountains whisper of peace, and bring us all to a wonderful sense of calm.
“Come Tzina,” says Mayla.
“The light fountains are beautiful, but your ina has come here for the Heart Fountain.”
Balshown stands in my way, and puts his hand against my chest.
“The Heart Fountain can wait.”
“Balshown,” I tell him, “you can’t be serious.”
“You’ve been seeking the fountain for over a hundred years.”
“Why give up now?”
“I’m not giving up,” he answers, angrily, and steps closer to me,” but we’re threatened right now by the Fiklow, the Tshuans, and another war.”
“The fountain is an unacceptable distraction and risk.”
“What will happen to us if you’re lost?”
“You can’t be killed easily, but you can be hurt or trapped.”
“Most of those who entered the Heart Fountain never returned whole.”
“Their bodies survived for a few weeks, but their minds were shattered or gone.”
“Balshown,” I say quietly, “the only way to stop a war with the Fiklow is to give back the artifact.”
“A world of pure energy is bound to the artifact.”
“I caught a distant glimpse of it, and the beings who live there.”
“This is our one chance to touch that world, before we give back the artifact.”
“Let it go, Yagrin” says Balshown.
“It’s not that important.”
“At least let me get near the Heart Fountain!” I tell him.
“Maybe I don’t need to enter it.”
“Tzina,” interrupts Shazira, “where’s Berek?”
“He said he was going to do some exploring, but I don’t know where he went.”
“He never responded to my message,” says Mayla.
“Can you locate him?” asks Shazira.
“I’ll search for his energy and his disk throughout the city,” she says, and pauses.
“Impossible,” she says.
“He’s found the Heart Fountain, even though it’s not on any of the maps!”
“Can you stop him from entering?” asks Shazira.
“No,” answers Mayla.
“He’s already by the entrance, and I have no power to seal it.”
“Hurry,” she says, and starts walking toward the nearest transport platform.
“The Heart Fountain often refuses entry to visitors, and it has never let a child enter, but Berek is Yagrin’s son.”
The transport platform brings us to a small room.
“This is the closest platform to the fountain,” says Mayla.
We walk outside, and the wind blows hard against us.
The waves are white, as they crash against the rocky shore of the island.
We’re on a small island in the middle of the sea, with room for only a few buildings.
The lights of the city are all around us, several miles away.
“Where is the heart fountain?” asks Makish loudly, trying to be heard over the wind.
“Several hundred feet below us,” answers Mayla.
We enter another small building, and within it a small room.
I look around, expecting to find an elevator, but something soft, strong, and invisible takes holds of us.
The floor opens below us, revealing a deep shaft, and we drop together in a controlled fall, held by some invisible force.
We stop gently at the bottom, and the ceiling closes above us.
Whatever held us, lets us go.
“Where’s Berek?” I ask, as we reach several sets of doors.
“He’s inside,” answers Mayla.
The area is carpeted with a material that feels like soft grass.
The feel of this place reminds me of an entrance to an auditorium.
“Only a few children have entered the fountain,” says Mayla, “and none have survived.”
“Get him out quickly!”
“I can’t help you.”
“The fountain won’t let me to enter.”
“I’ll go,” says Balshown.
“No,” I tell them, “he’s my son.”
“Both of us, then,” says Balshown, “as we first planned.”
Shazira looks at Tzina.
“We’ll wait for you here,” she says.
“I’ll stay with them,” says Makish.
“If you don’t return in time, I’ll bring the artifact to the Fiklow.”
I turn to Mayla.
“Can you disconnect the artifact and help Makish to return it, if something happens to us?”
“Yes,” answers Mayla.
I look at my family, and then Balshown.
“Time to go.”
Doors of Sorrow
“These doors lead into a transition room,” says Mayla.
“After you enter the room, touch the inner set of doors.”
“If the fountains accepts you, the outer doors will close, and the inner doors will open.
“What will the heart fountain to do us?” asks Balshown.
“There are four typical results.”
- “Some Jiku feel and experience nothing at all.”
- “Others collapse and die within days.”
- “Some go mad from the experience, and drift toward death for weeks or months.”
- “Finally, some are energized by the experience. They find their ability to perceive and work with energy dramatically enhanced.”
“There’s no way to predict what you will experience.”
Shazira and I hug tightly, and she looks me in the eyes for a long time.
“See you soon, Yagrin.
Tzina grabs me.
“It’s not fair, ina,” she says with mock anger.
“You taught Berek to fly before me.”
“I’m older than he is!”
“You need to come right back, and teach me to fly!”
“Please, ina,” she adds quietly, as her tears fall on my face.
Finally, she lets me go.
“Undress in the transition room,” says Mayla, “before you pass through the inner doors.”
Balshown and I enter the transition room and undress.
It seems odd to take off the black stone necklace.
I wear it always, except when I flow into another form.
I touch the inner doors, wondering if the fountain will accept us.
Balshown looks at me in shock.
“After finally reaching the fountain, it rejects us?”
A few seconds later, the outer doors close, and we wait another few seconds for the inner doors to open.
We step through the heavy crystal doors, and they close behind us.
The room of the heart fountain is large enough to fit hundreds of people.
Strange, when no more than a handful of people have ever entered at once.
The room is dark, and seems utterly empty.
The walls, ceiling, and floor seem made of the same, plain, grey stone.
Where is Berek?
There is a dim glow from the floor at the center of the room.
Balshown and I approach that spot.
Berek lies unmoving, his skin almost gray.
I try to fill his body with healing energy, but I can’t find the healing energy in here.
I can’t glide his body, or do much of anything with energy.
Finally, I try to pick up Berek, but his body seems held in place.
“Help me, Balshown!”
We can’t move him, and I feel weak.
I open my energy eyes, but the world seems empty of energy.
“Do you see or feel any energy, Balshown?”
“Not much, Yagrin,” he answers.
“There’s little trace of the great web in here.”
“Just enough to keep us alive, but not for long.”
I can’t find it, but I know that there’s more energy here somewhere.
Then I reach below the floor, where the dim light is.
I stagger and almost fall over from the sudden onslaught of energy.
“Feel the energy under the light, Balshown.”
“That’s incredible,” he says.
I let my intention focus on the dim light, and then I release the glow that was given me by the Feldin.
The room almost explodes with energy, surging forth from the center of the room, like an inverted waterfall.
The energy spreads out as it reaches the top of the room, and rains down upon us.
Without effort, Balshown and I start drifting around the room, through the air, on the energy web that is suddenly unmasked.
Then, our energy bodies are sucked into the center of the room, down, and through the fountain.
I wonder how Balshown is, but I can’t manage to ask.
Wave after wave of energy is pouring through me.
With each wave, I feel a tremendous burst of color in the center of my heart.
I feel like I’m going to explode, but the energy keeps moving.
Eventually, the hard, pounding waves vanish, and my energy body rejoins my physical body.
I look for Balshown.
Our bodies rest on the floor of the large room, surrounding Berek.
The fountain of energy is still moving, but it’s more gentle.
Balshown is unconscious and he doesn’t look good.
His skin is a little gray, and he’s barely breathing.
He seems held by the floor, as Berek is.
I must do somethings soon, or they’re both dead.
I hear distant voices calling me from the energy world.
Perhaps they can help, but only my fire body can travel to such a place.
I dissolve my physical and pattern bodies into a mist, and I let the Feldin glow shine from the fire body.
One side of the egg-shaped body shines brightly, and I pass again through the floor.
The waves of energy begin again, but just move around me.
I direct my glow below me, deeper into the source of the energy, and I feel myself falling.
The Living Web
My awareness is twisted and foggy, and my life as Yagrin seems far away.
Nothing is familiar, and even time moves in odd ways.
I’m floating in a sea of living energy.
The new world comes into focus, and I’m filled with thoughts, images, and sensations that aren’t mine.
“What world is it from?”
“How did it find us?”
An immense chorus of thoughts and feelings spin through me, bound together.
There are many of us here, fire bodies connected together to form a great web.
Each awareness flies through the web, touching many bodies at once.
There is one awareness, and many.
I leave my fire body behind, and my awareness spreads out across this web, always moving in a strong rhythm, following music that isn’t there.
We feel, hear, and think each other’s thoughts.
We are Seklu, energy dancers.
It’s hard to shape my own thoughts in this thick forest of awareness, but I do.
I project an image of the artifact, hidden within the Heart Fountain.
The others quiet down.
I see memories, images of fire bodies streaming here from endless worlds.
We focus on one of the worlds, and I see billions of Fiklow swimmers live and die, as ages pass.
Through the long years, a few hundred lights brighten, one after another, and leave the sea behind, finding their way to this world of pure energy.
Cities rise and fall as the lights find their new home.
The landscape of cities beneath the sea continues to change, until the sea itself is gone.
“You are Fiklow?” I ask them.
“Some of us once swam their seas and carried their form, but none come to us from that world anymore.”
“You recognize the artifact.”
“It is the path to reach us.”
“Who made the artifact?”
“We did, but not alone.”
“Why did you make it?”
“Many found you before it existed.”
“On some worlds, those who joined us left behind legends of a world of endless energy.”
“We were hunted by the hungry.”
I see great beams of energy rise from the Fiklow ocean, and reach the Seklu world.
Fiklow scientists hunt for a power source to feed their lives.
“Their search bothered you?”
“They were the first, but there were many worlds who searched for us.”
“The chaos of their energy disturbed the balance of our world.”
“We had to make it stop.”
“What did you do?”
“We touched the minds of the ones who searched, but their thoughts were dark, ignorant of the great web around them.”
“If they heard our words at all, they saw them as madness or a dream, and ignored them.”
“So we built a barrier to protect our web.”
I see a barrier rise, filled with complex patterns that no coarse energy can penetrate.
“The barrier worked, but made it impossible for physical seekers to find our world, and that was unacceptable.”
“Let them find you after their physical bodies die.”
“Our world can only welcome those who abandon their physical life to join us.”
“What did you do?”
“We built an energy path through the barrier.”
“A fire body can travel this path, even when its fire is still connected to the physical world.”
“The beginning of the path had to be bound to a physical object, and the object placed on a physical world, among living creatures.”
“We needed a physical being to finish our work.”
“We chose the Fiklow world, but at first, none of them was worthy to build the object.”
“We decided to give them a gift, to open their hearts more deeply to energy ways.”
The Gift and the Artifact
I see a bright ring of energy descend into the Fiklow world, and hover near the sea bottom in the middle of a Fiklow city.
Many pass it, ignoring the quiet voice that calls them to action.
Finally, one young one with a pure heart stops when she nears the energy pattern.
She reaches out with something within her, and the gift takes the shape of an energy necklace, and attaches itself to her fire body.
Her eyes open wide to the energy world, and the gift separates from her, but hovers nearby.
She swims faster than any other Fiklow, riding the energy web, and the gift follows her.
She goes outside the city to an ancient wild place, a forest of crystal trees.
Legend says that life began here.
She swims in a circle, touching every tree with her energy, and the gift shadows her, passing through each tree.
When they are done, the ground opens, and a sparkling egg of energy rises.
The energy necklace touches the egg, and a physical necklace of blue pearls takes shape, and binds itself to the energy necklace.
She puts on the necklace, and is filled with stories.
Then the necklace leaves her, and disappears within the egg.
The egg pierces the ground, and hides itself, a thousand feet deep, but the young Fiklow knows where it hides, and she knows that she will need it again one day.
“The gift opened her energy eyes, and strengthened her connection with the web?”
“She is the one who completed the artifact?”
“What is the egg, and where did it come from?”
“We don’t know, but it protects the necklace.”
“We spoke to the Fiklow, after her eyes were opened, and her thoughts straight.”
“We told her that how to finish the artifact.”
“We told her that it will spread our voices, and anchor the way to us, for those who wish to join us.”
I see her shape a simple disk, and bind it to streams of energy that lead to the barrier.
“It doesn’t look like the artifact we have.”
“Later, it was changed, and damaged, making it more dangerous than before.”
“One of your race, ages ago.”
“Where did the chosen one put the artifact?”
“The physical object was hidden away to keep it safe from those who don’t understand the ways of energy, but the path remains open.”
“Any race willing to give up their hard shapes, and accept formlessness, can penetrate the barrier and join us, as you have done.”
“I needed the artifact to get here.”
“That may be true.”
“For some, that is the only way, but those that truly search for us will hear our voices and find the path even if they are far from the artifact.”
I see the artifact, hidden away for ages.
Only the first chosen one knew its hiding place.
“One of your race found it, damaged it, and gave it a new physical shell.”
“That damage made the energy more visible to the physical world, and the unworthy among the Fiklow detected it.”
“They harnessed the energy that drifts from the barrier into the physical world.”
“The second artifact brought destruction to the Fiklow and many worlds,” say the voices.
“Why do you allow it?”
“Your world is not our world.”
“Seklu do not allow or repair the destruction.”
“We sent the gift, and began the artifact.”
“The balancer forbids us to do more than that.”
Are they saddened by the destruction?
I search through the sea of thoughts and feelings to find an answer.
I pull away from them for a moment when I find that they are not troubled at all, only amused by our foolishness.
“Some hear our voices, and touch the path, but never reach us.”
“Those who find us, join us, and their physical form soon dies.”
“I am not here to join you.”
“I am needed on my own world.”
“You have no choice.”
“You will never find the way back.”
“The balancer tells us that none may go.”
“I’ve met a balancer,” I tell them, “and he gave me a gift.”
The sea of voices grows quiet.
I share my memories of the balancer with them, and the rings of blue and gold.
Each of the Seklu has an egg shape, with a blue ball of energy that protrudes from the lower part of the egg.
The blue area has an edge of gold.
My egg looks like theirs, and my blue edge glows brightly.
When I’ve finished sharing my memories, I see a vision.
One Seklu hovers before a gateway of blue and gold, then passes through into a place of energy that feeds all form.
Endless rings of energy drift there, always apart.
Each of the blue and gold rings is a separate universe floating in a sea of possibility.
The Seklu expands and spreads energy tentacles that reach out into the sea, and keep the worlds from colliding.
A new balancer is born, and the vision ends.
“The balancer is born from Seklu?”
“The current one is the first chosen from us.”
“How strange that it gave you a gift.”
They are quiet for a long time, searching for answers.
“Two clusters of worlds are out of balance,” they say, “and can only be balanced from within.”
“The balancer saw this, and gave you a gift.”
“You are permitted to return to your own world, to grow the balance again.”
“Why do you let me go?”
“You don’t care about the balance of the physical worlds!”
“We don’t, but the balancer does, and it says you must go.”
I pass a message around the Seklu web.
“I need to make a copy of the artifact,” I tell them, “another object bound to the same energy streams.”
They seem amused, but they show me how.
“Some of my race were damaged by their contact with the stray energy from the artifact.”
“What can I do to remove the energy and heal them?”
“Use this,” they say, as they show me a complex energy pattern.
“Those who are damaged must must bathe in this pattern to survive.”
I don’t like the Seklu.
They seem selfish and cold, caring only for themselves and their own world.
I want to leave them, and leave this place.
I start to pull my awareness out of the web, and stop.
They have helped me, and I must find a way to thank them.
My words of gratitude are nothing to them, and the Seklu despise the physical worlds.
What can I offer them?
There are lives of energy that hide within the physical world.
I open my own memories of bridging both worlds, and of traveling.
I share images of the Feldin, the Bizra, and the Kishla, and how the great web fills their lives.
They listen quietly until I’m done.
“We have left all forms,” they say, “but it’s joyful to see those who live well at the edge of energy and form.”
“Show me how to return to where I came from.”
They brighten a point on the web.
“There,” they say.
I pull my shifting awareness back to the energy egg which seems to be mine.
Then I move quickly toward the bright point on the web, happy to be leaving this place.
“Wait,” I hear.
“For now,” they say, “this one also belongs with you.”
“The balancer says that you will need your companion to weave the balance.”
“Who?” I ask.
“I can’t remember my name,” comes the thought.
I recognize his energy, even in this place.
“Follow me, Berek.”
His egg moves with mine, and we both find the bright point on the web.
My energy eyes are blinded by the energy around me, as our fire bodies leave the Seklu, and rise up through the center of the Heart Fountain.
Those Who are Called
Berek is moaning, sweating and sore on the floor below me.
Balshown is motionless.
The room is almost empty of energy, as it was before.
Berek is weak, and Balshown is dying.”
I need a physical body to get Berek and Balshown out of this room.
I move to the transition room, and cover my energy with one of the golden physical bodies that the Gen wear.
These bodies are far stronger than those of the Jiku.
I run back into the room and carry Balshown out.
Then I return for Berek.
Berek is just barely conscious, as I bring him to the transition room.
I light the pattern that the Seklu showed me, and bathe the fire bodies of Berek and Balshown.
Berek rests quietly, sleeping.
Balshown’s color improves slightly, but he still looks like he’s dying.
Am I too late?
I fill both their bodies with healing energy, forgetting to renew my own body, until I am barely conscious from the effort.
Berek wakes, but not Balshown.
I touch the outer doors, and they open.
Berek moves slowly out on his own.
I bring Balshown to Shazira and the others, and then pass out.
When I wake up I see Shazira, Berek, Tzina, and Mayla.
“You’ve been in a healing chamber for a few hours,” says Mayla.
“You would have recovered without it, but not in time for your meeting with the Fiklow.”
“Where is Balshown?” I ask.
Mayla points to a clear chamber where he’s floating.
“He’ll need a few days in the chamber,” she says, “but he’ll live.”
“You wear an interesting shape, Yagrin,” says Shazira, “and I love your golden fur, but I still miss your familiar form.”
I transform, and renew my strength even more.
“Did you and Balshown find what you sought?” asks Mayla.
“Balshown didn’t pass with me to the energy world.”
“I learned what I needed to learn, and I brought Berek back from that world.”
“What were you thinking, Berek?” I ask.
“Why did you enter the room alone?”
“I don’t know ina,” he answers.
“Something called me, and I couldn’t resist.”
“Moments after entering the room, I followed the voices, and found myself in the energy world.”
“I started to forget our world, and I thought I would never return.”
“What does it mean, Mayla?” I ask.
“There have been others like Berek,” she says, “who felt an irresistible call from the fountain.”
“In the past, none of these masters ever returned.”
“No one who reaches that world is allowed to return,” I tell them.
“Then how did you both return?” asks Makish.
“The balancer intervened, and told the Seklu that we’re needed here.”