The transmutation overcame him with ease. In the breath of a second, there was vertigo, the sensation of falling, and then nothing but light.
All was color, a brilliant spectrum of heliograph waves which originated from nowhere and everywhere. Nothing seemed to hold substance or form, just a vast neon empyrean; all-pervading, transcendental warmth. There he was weightless, bodiless, a being of pure poetic energy. The warmth of his surroundings cradled him, and he was content to remain in that divine tabula rasa.
Perhaps this was death. The thought came and went fleetingly enough. Somehow Stoph had managed to kill him. Sydney did not care; he was content to lie adrift for eternity, and beyond. He thought of the Writer, Lilith had called her Eve, he felt bad about leaving her, but his will was no match for the ebb and flow of this primordial realm.
It was at this point that he saw her. She was neither beautiful nor ugly, nor was she plain. Her features forever shifted, giving the impression that, like the Writer, the visage of a woman simply veiled a nominal entity beyond physical comprehension. An aura of wisdom and reverence permeated her form, as well as power and mystery. With sudden certainty, he knew that she came bearing revelations.
The Great Philosopher.
She floated towards him, dressed in a long white gown, arms hugging her breast, eyes closed. The gown was elegant gossamer that fluttered delicately as she approached. When before him, her arms parted in a gesture of embrace. Sydney moved closer, propelled by some enigmatic desire. And then, just before reaching the featureless being; el mulier de aeterna verba, the forerunner of every Scrivener, her eyes opened.
Two golden orbs that burned forth across time and space. Mesmerizing spheres of fiery electrum that reflected the brilliance of a million suns. He searched her eyes for an answer, and reeled at what he found there. He tried to look away, overcome by what he saw, but the insights reflected in those gilded pools drew him deeper. Sydney opened his mouth to gasp or cry or scream.
The universe shattered, and for the second time, he let go.
The ocean was a sapphire expanse, shimmering in the midday sun. Waves crashed onto the water etched rocks below, spewing salty foam as seagulls flew lazy circles on the horizon. All the while, Sydney watched from a bench. A soft breeze spirited pass, causing the high grass and wildflowers to dance at his feet. This was a tranquil place . . . yet he had not been summoned here to rest.
“What do you think?” a familiar voice asked.
Already knowing what to expect, Sydney turned.
The Great One sat beside him on the gray stone bench. She studied him with a face he had seen only once and very briefly, but knew with intimacy. She wore the shape of Eve.
In the white gown, her body had a sensuous quality that he, knowing who this was (and was not) became aware of with an accompanying sense of shame. She was of medium height, lithesome in some places, yet provocatively curved without effort. Her complexion was the color of warm tea and cinnamon. Dark hair fell in strands of gossamer braids.
The face of Eve was sharply defined and intelligent; full lips set in a statuesque expression, and intense eyes, which as a dead giving away, were not hazel but pupil less golden orbs.
Apart from the eyes, they looked exactly alike. Yet accompanying the doppelganger was an aura of energy which seemed to ripple of her in tangible waves. Sydney would never mistake the two.
“What is happening?” Sydney asked.
A butterfly fluttered past, a living kite of pink and yellow. He had never seen one such as it.
“That is an all-encompassing question.” The Great One said. Her voice, though bearing the same smoky timbre as Eve’s, possessed an echoing resonance, as if the being speaking was too much for one octave. “What do you really want to know?”
Without forethought, he asked, “Where is Eve?”
“She is fine for now. Our talk takes place outside the flow of time. It requires much energy, but I thought the endeavor worth it. So do not fear for your Writer, soon you will have your chance to aid her. Next question.”
“Why am I here?”
The Great One gave a musical chuckled, shook her head, and then replied, “Why anyone is anywhere is a question to be answered only in death. Yet that is always the first question that all races ask once they reach a state of sentience. We all have a purpose, and a choice, but ‘why’ you ask. It is simply your path, you can walk it, or you can avoid it, but the way is for you and you only. Next question.”
“What do you want from me?” He asked.
The Great One gave a faint smiled. It was a thing of ageless secrets.
“Right now, I want you to exorcise Stoph.” She said resolutely. He did not speak at once, but looked to the waves for guidance. He could feel the Great One scrutinizing his thoughts, testing his reaction to the request.
“Why?” he finally asked
“Why? What say you Sydney?” she responded.
“Because he is a being of destruction, and so it is only fitting that he is destroyed.”
“No, that is not it.” She said shaking her head. “Say the real reason. You have had time with Eve. Now say the real reason.”
Sydney wet his lips and considered all that the Writer had told him. “He is a threat to us all, to what we love, to what we cherish.”
“Better, not quiet the whole truth, whether you realize it or not, but better.” She looked away, distracted by something neither seen nor heard. “In a timeless realm time is still short, your answer will have to do.”
Before he could ask what she meant the Great One stood and offered her hand.
“Come.” she said. “It is time you became more than you are.”
Another round of cool breeze flitted past, teasing the hem of her gown and playing at the end of each braid. Sydney stood. There was so much left to be asked, but intuition told him that answers would come in time. For now he had to help Eve. And that meant becoming more than he was. He looked once more into The Great Philosophers’ scorching eyes, in them he saw forever. With a frisson of determination, he took her hand.
For the third and final time, Sydney let go.
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