08 – Book One – Toll – Chapter Seven – Agápi

I feel unable to accept the information my eyes are transmitting to my brain. What I do comprehend is that Mæve knows exactly what she is doing and has in all likelihood paid witness to this event or at least a very similar one at some point in the past. We are well hidden behind some trees, as she no doubt planned, which would prove more than fortuitous in the near future.

[Break]

The bright, dense blue light floods the landscape as if an enormous bucket of blue paint has been splashed across this swathe of land. A rent has been ripped through reality; a sizable opening that my mind is constantly trying to comprehend but constantly failing. I can see the surroundings of our world clearly, albeit bathed in blue. The boundaries of our trees and bushes and ground. To the left and to the right, and down below. The rent stretches high into the night sky, becoming lost in the dark, the stars, and the swirling smoke of the many bonfires. Where it ends – and whether it ends – I know not. It is a great hole, a window providing visibility and insight into their world, but also theirs into ours.

It is a scene from another world, most likely another time. The blue light makes this clear, but also seeing the stark differences to our own.

There are five of them. I am uncertain if they are women or men or non-gendered, or multi-gendered. They are a people I have never seen before and do not want to assume anything about them. If there is one thing I have learned in my short time in this life, it is that we can never make a hasty decision about that which we either do not understand or at least are not familiar with in some way. For that way lies error and miss-judgment and ultimately our own failing. The teachings of the Circé make this adamantly clear.

The five beings of another world sit at a round table that is made of some silvery substance. It is bright and shimmering with almost liquid-like properties, but two of them have their arms placed upon it, using it as support, so I know that it is a sold object. Three of them have long straight black hair; the other two long curly blond hair. Their faces are a light tan. Their eyes . . . Their eyes are red. I can not tell from my vantage point if their entire eyeballs are red, or if it is the color of part of the eye. Nevertheless, I find it very unsettling, not for any particular negative reason, but because I have never seen beings such as these before. They are unfamiliar which puts me automatically on edge, as much as I do not want it to.

One must not jump to thoughtless conclusions with the unknown, but by the same token once must not go in completely blind and not at least somewhat prepared. On your heels and ready, as Clýstra likes to say. That does a good Circé make.

They appear not to speak, or perhaps they have no need to. It seems they are conversing with each other in some other way; perhaps through some mental transmission. Occasionally two or more of them will look up at each other, then back down again, as if a question has been asked, an answer given; or discussion conducted, a resolution reached.

As I said, the liquid-like table is a bright silvery color, but in the very center where all five appear very interested, is a smaller circle. It is a shade of blue equal to that emanating from the edges of the rift. The very color we are being bathed in.  I cannot see exactly what is in this blue circle, but there is certainly something. Dark and black shapes, as if whatever is transmitting this murky images is in motion. It seems almost fruitless on my part to continue trying to understand what they are looking at. I want to stand and come closer to the rift, perhaps even pass through it somehow. I want to know what this powerful thing is, but must force myself to remain hidden behind the trees.

Mæve senses this somehow. She looks to me. [Surprise] She is scared. Instinctively, we draw into a close embrace, sharing our warmth and our fear in solidarity.

One of the beings Mæve called elves stiffens, then the other four do likewise. The first being reaches out an arm, pointing at what is revealed in the blue circle. I hold back a gasp as I finally see what is in the circle: a smaller image of the very rift we are staring in to.

Is this the same rift? A question that comes unbidden but I push it away, knowing my mind is trying to lessen my fear. I need to remain focused and in what control I can maintain. It is the same rift. And such a thing can only have been created by immense power. Where such a power comes from and through what means, I cannot begin to fathom.

If our eyes are not deceiving us, then this means the beings are looking at us somehow.

So ff I were to turn around, what would I see . . . ?

My body does this before I realize what is happening, before I can stop myself. Mæve remains transfixed, unaware.

[Break]

The blue circle is much larger on this side. It is hovering there like an incorporeal being. It is blue, but also transparent, and I can see through to the other side. I can see the five beings with red eyes looking down upon us. Scrutinizing. Questioning.

Mæve finally turns to look where I am.

[MÆVE YELPING]

I know not if these alien beings are friend or foe, but cannot risk choosing one or tother. As a Circé, I must do what I can to end this and somehow seal the rift.

I half turn back to the tree, putting my hands to its solid brown trunk. From it I draw all the essence and life it will give me, holding nothing back. Taking all. I have performed spells such as this before, under Clýstra’s direction, on smaller trees. It results in a  dead tree and falling branches. In this situation, I have not the time to be aware of my safety.

Nor Mæve’s for that matter.

I rip my hands away from the now dead and dessicated tree and fling them toward the great blue circle.

The blinding white light comes first, followed by a sharp, ear-splitting crackling. The jagged beams launch from my hands, colliding with the blue circle, shattering it like a piece of brittle pottery.

There is silence for a moment.

Then the death of the tree, falling asunder, landing exactly where a rift through reality is no longer.

Suffice to say: the rip, the magic, and the chaotic moment are all over. The world; my world has returned to normal.

Everything is once again in balance.

[Beat] I turn and see this is not true.