“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” ~ Albert Einstein
Ch 26 ~ And the Greatest of them All…Love
They made it.
Dryst — with Spence cradled under his arm, dragging him forward with as much speed as possible despite the old man’s sudden lack of physical strength — spotted the way.
They darted quickly into the arching doorway of the great hall and slid quietly into the shadows that had begun to pile onto themselves across the landing. Immediately ahead outside of the hall, a stairway craned down, awkwardly so, along a narrow tunnel. It resembled a spiral staircase but it wasn’t as predictable, instead meandering in its curves from left to right, and dipping cleanly straight in some places, only to twist and curl again.
The two men rambled forward with great haste. Bloodcurtling screams gashed through the air, their striking bellows punching back the thickening purple-grey mist that persisted and reasserted itself up the stairway, charging into the great hall…exactly the place that Dryst and Spence were fleeing. The battle raged: so many voices screaming and boiling over each other that nothing was discernable; so many flashes of electrified light slicing through the air that a blinding glow bounced off of every surface like a strobe. He didn’t know who had the advantage, couldn’t discern one harsh voice from the other, barely could manage to keep his pupils focused on the perilous stairway, but from Spence’s increasingly lead weight under his arm, Dryst had the unpleasant feeling that Ophania was overpowering the Other. As if in confirmation, the strands of aura cascading from Spence’s body back into the great hall began to mutate into smoky purple-grey hues.
It wasn’t the Other in particular who Dryst worried about.
“Leave me, kid,” Spence said with a noticeable amount of effort. “It’s no use.”
Dryst lifted the old man off of his feet and tucked him even more securely under his arm. “Sorry, old man,” he grumbled through labored breathing as he carried the man and ran. “I’m just not hearing that. Not doing that.”
“Upstart,” Spence sputtered and his chest expanded in an effort to chuckle, but instead, his body fell over itself and stumbled into Dryst’s side where Dryst held him steady.
“I’ve gotten used to you, what can I say. I could’ve done without those other characters of yours back there, but, hey,” the kid grumbled to the rapidly weakening man as casually as possible in between gusts of breath.
An attempt at casual, yes, but he was alarmed. He had to dig in and mentally will the old man to dig in with him, while they raced down the stairs. He hoped and prayed Mya was on this path. A very strong part of him told him that she was.
He clutched Spence even more stubbornly to his powerful body. Dryst flung the two of them by leaps over two or three steps at a time on their way down the mountain. He hoped and prayed he wouldn’t arrive at the end of this flight only to be carrying a dead man walking. He hoped and prayed that if the Other fell, Spence didn’t fall with her.
“You don’t listen too well — ” Spence’s voice sounded far away “– do you, kid?”
But in fact, he did. And he wasn’t alone.
Mya’s ears sniffed at the air. The Warriors, the Cyborgs, and she had entered the mountain through a giant ear of all things. At first, she wondered if they were walking up through the inside of a magnificent creature’s head, but she rapidly tucked that bit of wondering near to her when she heard his voice, and sniffed at the air with her own ears.
“He’s here,” she said as powerful emotions surged and flowed into every part of her being, causing her heart to swell and sing, her legs to buckle and quiver, her torso to bend and release; her hands to spread across her thighs for support, her eyes to flood with tears. She had heard Dryst’s voice and had felt his essense merging with every part of her spirit, overflowing into and melding with every part of her heart and her soul.
“Oh my god,” she gasped through a trembling voice that shook from overpowering relief, from so very, very much more.
“He is here,” she whispered just barely enough to create sound waves. But create them, she did. And they rippled. And they flowed. And they rode — unencumbered and undenied — on the tips of the purple-grey mist. And they reached Dryst and he heard her and their whispers — tender and elated, passionate and yearning, relieved and screaming for joy — joining the two of them in their minds, in their souls, in the hearts with such utter completeness and total knowing and endless love that her gasp, his whispers, their heartbeats echoed intimately, privately and at once, unmistakably, for all to witness and for all to hear…reaching throughout the pathway on which they both travelled: she, while she stood surrounded by Warriors and Cyborgs in a giant canal that bent its way up the mountain; he, while he jumped and flew down a passage way that bent its way down the mountain. And all at once, as they had always been, they were on the same path, one in the same.
The Fierce One saw his own reflection in the wetness pooling within her eyes. She smiled without words and without description. Simply, none was needed. The Fierce One looked into the mirror she held up with her moist eyes. He revealed a silent, gentle smile.
“Dryst,” she gasped while looking into those firery eyes. The Fierce One nodded. “Always together,” he said as tenderly as a feather floating in the air.
“Always,” she gasped.
“Always,” the butterfly purred softly in his ear, then spread its wings and stroked them soothingly along the side of Dryst’s head while Dryst — just about carrying the old man who was crumbling over himself rapidly — ran with urgency down the steps.
After listening to the unfolding in the Origin, in this mountainside where a battle of the will clashed in the top and the Stream of Consciousness flowed through it all, one voice from two places along the same path whispered with a power more compelling than force:
“They are coming,” the butterly and Mya said.
Ophania reared her whisk up wildly and angrily, and her Clan followed suit, riding on the coattails of the victor.
She had flogged and pummelled the Other with merciless strikes. She had delivered them with whipping and crackling electrical jolts. She had tossed the Other’s meagerly breathing body through the solid mahogany tables until the Other crashed against the bricks and mortars of the back wall in the great hall.
The surroundings of the great hall slowly began to morph, put into motion by the strengthening will of one, as Ophania overpowered the Other.
The Seat of all Knowledge, Ophania spat in her mind and licked her split tongue across the bruisings she had had to endure from her opponent’s hands before Ophania had bested her.
Finish her, her sisters had goaded Ophania, but Ophania retained a sense of focus: the portal. Ophania had regained enough of her mind — laying steadily underneathe her fury — to hear the old man on the stairway begging for release…or that was how Ophania had interrupted Spence’s increasingly weakened state. At least his Other did not beg, Ophania thought to herself with some disgust. She commanded her whisk straightlong down the winding stairway to…the young fool, Ophania thought…a human, who insisted upon weighing down his flight with the heavy and broken will of an old man.
The young one will not leave without her, Ophania calculated in her mind. And at this rate, he will be with me — she leaned into the shaft of her whisk to accelerate her flight — before he is with her.
Mya didn’t have to utter a word. She stared at the warriors: one of her being, Locomotive Breath, she knew. one of Dryst’s being, the Fierce One.
They were coming. Ophania and the Clan of Ophania, her sister witches who followed like mindless Zombies.
And through it all, though she knew they were in pursuit, Mya would not leave without Dryst.
Her eyes just barely began to pierce out their intended meaning, compelling the Fierce One and Locomotive Breath to punch another hole into the Origin, to surprise time and space in order to bring Mya and Dryst together before Ophania and the Clan reached him…when…all at once the the two warriors and Mya flew into the air. They surged so rapidly in a whirlwind as to be moving in slow motion. Their beings transported by a rush of sparkling time and space and thought and place and heart — a rush brought about by a soothingly powerful air, glistening and dancing and that happened to be adorned with the slightest hint of cigar smoke as it flowed up from the Stream.
In less than the pre-thought of a heart beat, they were together, Dryst and Mya. The warriors and the butterfly magnificently released their forms, their particles rushing breathlessly home into Mya and Dryst, who blended in an all-encompassing manner through and with each other; enveloping together completely, feeling and knowing the truth and reality of each other together since before the dawn of time…their spirits and souls twining within the stream from that point forward and flowing through their physical hearts and bodies into every now of every moment. It was as if they were flowers or fireworks that breathtakingly erupted into an endless renewal of unfolding light and color and beauty and life smiling for all the worlds. And they breathed each other deeply to the shared knowing that was oh so achingly simple and clear and oh so breathtakingly magnificent and huge. Air and time and space and matter and spirit combined, as if together they were the very fabric of meaning, flying in the air rapidly, swirling through all eternity, gently soaring to the edges of the universes, beyond, and to the core of it all.
And what of Spence through all of this…he slipped out from under Dryst’s form, which now danced and joined, now mingled and united with Mya. Spence slipped and floated like a ragdoll, sinking slowly until the energy caught the old man and held him cradled by an all-encompassing light that smiled for all the worlds.
A breathtaking light that radiated through Mya and Dryst combined. A brilliant light that connected a parent to a child. The eternal light of being, of unending love.
The air comforted. It smelled like cigars as it swirled around Spence’s nostrils, as it carried him into the heart of the father, Danny, and into the heart of the mother, Eleanor, whose voice quietly murmurred, “Everything will be alright, honey.”
Her tender smiles floated before his eyes.
“Love. Love is all there is. The greatest of all things. Love is so very, very much.”
And as she spoke through all dimensions, the Other rose, her hair unwound, her collar undone. She blossommed into brilliant particles, her aura threading and lacing itself back to Spence, returning light into his eyes, color to his skin, a return of pieces of himself. At peace and whole. He sighed and smiled, his heart releasing the grief, replacing it with only…Love.
Ophania and the Clan burst into dust, their grains scattering to the corners of time and space and dimension…but never quite escaping all light. The chase through ages of light and dark, yin-yang, good and not so good. And all that always truly exists and forever remains: love.
They flew. Gently, they flew, through the dimension and space, giving way to the whimsy and moods of the morphing house of the tropical desert.
They spilled out softly onto the patio and landed quietly on the leaf chairs, which pulsated calmly through a serene color sequence.
Dryst could have sworn the place was now much more abundant and plush and full of life and happiness than it had ever been before…as if it was the first time he had laid eyes on it, even while knowing all along that it was so very much here. And he could have sworn he heard — somewhere off in the distance — a joyfully less than stellar rendition of Flight of the Bumblebee.” He grinned at the hearing, but even more deeply, he smiled at the seeing and knowing, at the feeling right in front of him.
They stared at each other, Dryst and Mya, with smiles so wide they thought their faces would split into two.
After a long while – that felt like mere seconds – of just gazing, after a long while – again seconds – of travelling together with their feelings to the edges of the universes and back, Dryst softly asked, through nearly a chuckle, “Did we end up finding what we were searching for?”
Mya grinned as big as the sun. “Oh yes,” she said softly, gazing tenderly with him. “Turns out, we never needed to search in the first place.”
She paused and chuckled lightly with his joyful laugh.
“Turns out…it’s always been…”
“…right here,” they whispered to each other.
National Novel Writing Month (even though Nov 30th has come and gone): Chapter 26 total wordcount: 2100 (not including this notation). Final total count: 50,720.
This has been an incredible process. And I have a great deal to say about it, but I’m, frankly, at a loss for words at this point, laughing. What I can say, however, is those persons — those rare, extremely talented persons…specifically, D — who actually do National Novel Writing Month from November 1-30th and also work full-time in important positions that carry with them great responsibility and seriousness and who also have families and mulltitude of friends (and so very deservedly so)…I am greatly astonished and greatly humbled by your awesome – truly *awesome awesome* – talents and gifts. I began this two days before November 1st and I completed the story (such that it is) three days into December. I don’t have the degree of high-level responsibility to juggle with this, nor do I have the utterly immense reserves of talent and brilliance to bring to this. D, I am forever, utterly…yes, well you know, smiles. Speechless. I have alot more to say about the nanowrimo journey, and I will. But for now…like…wow…