Chrono Shift Chapter 4

Hidden Beyond the Heavens

By Tool23X

It would be impossible to describe the place that Augur now resided in.  None of his senses seemed to be working.  He could not even feel his own arm if he moved his hand up to it.  Augur would talk, but would not hear the sound of his voice.  Augur was blind, although not in the traditional sense of the word.  Most blind people only see the color black, all the time, like when anyone else would if they closed their eyes.  Augur could not even see black.  The best way to describe it would be that the only color visible to him was clear, which is technically impossible.  Augur could not feel or hear his own breathing.  It was as if everything that was done subconsciously in his life had ceased to exist. 

Then, things began to change.  The changes were subtle at first, but with nothing except emptiness surrounding him, he noticed immediately.  Strange colors, colors that did not exist on Earth, were swirling far away from him.  They were slowly coming closer, and a high-pitched whizzing sound was now perceptible in the distance.  Augur tried to move, but his body failed him, so he sat and waited for the collision with the multitude of odd lights. 

When the mysterious hues hit him, a variety of sensations stirred within him.  All at the same time, he felt hot and cold, pain and soothing, anger and joy.  An array of emotions continued to wash over him as the multiple helixes swirled around his body.  Augur felt himself being launched forward, and suddenly he was tumbling through space, away from Earth.  Augur did not know how he knew that this was his home world, but he continued to watch his planet fade away.  It really did look quite beautiful from space. 

Augur picked up speed.  Lights from the various stars and galaxies swept by him on his voyage, and he watched as more planets soared past him.  As he observed the show, Augur became nauseous and wondered when the ride would end.  Still, he enjoyed this new and unprecedented of feeling of freedom.

The spectacular show faded behind him in the blink of an eye.  In the distance in front of him, he could make out seven small stars arranged in a circle.  As he approached them, he realized that he was heading straight towards one.  Augur became frightened, uncertain of what would happen when he reached it.

When he did, he shot through layers upon layers of clouds.  Explosions were flying all around him.  He continued to plummet, unsure of what lay at the bottom of this atmosphere.  Augur soon saw a piece of reddish land below him, and knew that he would crash into it.  Augur closed his eyes just a few feet from the ground…

And he fell right through it.  He landed softly on rocks that seemed to be cushioned.  He looked around and saw a ceiling high above his head.  This place was some sort of cavern, with stone that was soft and spongy.  It was colored a peculiar red.  Long shadows were cast by everything.

“Welcome, Stranger.” A sinister voice popped out of the air.  “This is your new home.  I hope that you enjoy torture and misery, because you’ll be receiving a lot of it here!”

A second voice now emerged from behind one of the spongy rock pillars.  “Damnit, Glock, must you scare the crap out of everyone that comes here!?  Lay off a little bit.  We don’t get company very often, you know.”  A small reddish imp creature, about three feet tall, with an oversized head, and large black eyes stepped out from the stalagmite.  “Sorry about him.  He likes to have fun by scaring people.  He really isn’t a bad guy.  My name is Kraigh.  I am the leader of the creatures that dwell these caves, mainly because I was the first here.  You would be the twelfth one of us, Augur.  That is your name, right?”  Augur nodded.

“What is this place?” Augur asked.

“Glock was also the one that came up with the name of this place.  It’s kinda eerie, but it fits it real well.  We have gave it the name ‘Valley of the Lost Souls.’”

“Valley of the Lost Souls?”

“Yeah.  It’ll make more sense when you hear the rest of the story.  First I’d like to introduce everyone.  Glock is right over their,” Kraigh said while pointing at the wall, “And the rest are in the main chamber.”

Glock stepped out from behind the wall.  Glock was a large beast about ten feet tall, with yellow skin and four arms.  He looked strong, but the overhanging belly contradicted that somewhat.  Glock looked similar to the mythical ogre back on earth, but out of his face came six tentacles, each a foot long, that contained the eyes at the end.  He also had a big mouth, both literally and figuratively.  “Let’s go,” he bellowed.  I’m anxious to see the look on the face when he meets the others.  If he thinks I look weird, wait until he sees them.”

Kraigh led the way through a winding path of tunnels.  Glock stumbled behind them, and seemed to be blocking any chance of escape that Augur might have.  As of right now, however, he did not want to leave.  He was far too curious on what fated him to end up in this place.  “So then I’m pretty much dead, right?” Augur asked.

Glock let out a long, cackling laugh.  “Son,” he chuckled, “Your about as alive as this rock that surrounds us.”

That brought up an unrelated question.  “Why did my clothes come with me to this place?”

This time Kraigh answered, “For some reason, when you die, some things get carried with you to the Afterlife.  I see that you have a couple of weapons that came with you.”  Kraigh was referring to the rapiers. 

Eventually they came to a great hall.  This must have been the area where the creatures would spend most of their time.  There was a large table for eating, and several strange machines on the walls.  At the table were nine very outlandish animals.  “I know you have questions, but I think I had better start by introducing everyone.”  Glock explained.

He went around the table introducing everyone.  The first one was a disgusting green blob of slime and gelatin, with chunks inside that could only be organs.  Its voice was shrill and whiny, and said that its name was Borgg. 

Next came the smallest of the group.  A male creature with the name of Tajj, this was a very intelligent mix between a six-inch lizard that stood on two feet and a humming bird.  He could hover and fly, but when he ran, he could go across the massive room in less than two seconds.  His claws also looked dangerous, but he was very friendly. 

Oblan was one of the stranger ones in the group.  She was a tan post about two and a half feet high and nine inches in diameter.  Where she should have had arms or legs or a tail, dark brown stumps wiggled freely.  They could extend to great lengths or contract to the inside of her body, just like a turtle could bring his legs in.  No one could tell where her ears or eyes or mouth was.

The most menacing of the assemblage was Verd.  Verd was a fat beast about seven feet tall and five feet wide.  He had eight legs to walk on, and two arms that were at least three feet wide with muscle and eight feet long.  They could bend in many different ways, almost as if he had no joints and could move them around like snakes could twist their bodies.  His hands were massive, and could probably palm Augur, if it weren’t for the many spikes sticking out from them.  Spikes also ran in various places around the back and limbs.  His head was able to detach itself, and it could move around freely, as long as the stretched out skin did not stop it.  Inside his mouth were rows of jagged fangs.  He had many eyes on his forehead, much like how a fly can have thousands of eyes making up one ‘real’ eye.

Flora was another odd one.  She was a bluish plant that Augur could not compare to any other plant he had ever seen.  Flora walked around on her roots and grabbed things with her vines.  She had a mouth placed on top of a flat blue pedal that appeared to be her head.  Flora demonstrated how you could remove a branch of her body, and she would instantly mend herself and reconstruct another in its place. 

Seria was an eight-sided land starfish that changed colors rapidly, and without reason.  For some reason, the sexless creature could float in the air, defying all the laws of aeronautics, physics, and gravity. 

Halkin could only be described as a natural giant light bulb with legs.  His glow lit the most distant corners and darkest crevices of the room.  Only a miniscule portion of his body weight was in his tiny legs, and it was amazing that he could walk.  Even when he did, he staggered uncontrollably. 

Æzirx was basically a skeleton that was gripped very tightly by scaly white skin.  All of the bones were clearly visible, and she was less than six inches wide.  She still managed to stand five and a half feet tall, nearly the height of Augur.  Augur could not make out what animal the skeleton had been of. She appeared nearly humanoid, except for the twelve arms.  There was also the factor of the useless wing bones on her back

The last of the group was Nulk.  Nulk had no sex, and was really a pool of tightly bonded water molecules.  It moved itself on the floor and up walls without effort, and could stick to anything it wanted.  Nulk was nearly invisible, and they only way that you could see him was by the light getting bent inside of him.  Nulk had no front or backside, and could move in any direction at any time. 

“So, what do you think, Augur,” Kraigh asked him.

“Well, let’s just say that I have even more questions now.” Augur replied.

“Of course you do,” the lizard creature Tajj interrupted.  “Let me tell the story, since I probably know it the best out of all of us.”  A collective agreement sounded throughout the room.  “Where do I begin?  Let’s see…” Tajj trailed off.

“Kraigh probably already told you that this place was given the name of the Valley of the Lost Souls by Glock, right?”

“That’s right,” Augur responded.

“Well,” Tajj began.  “Would you like to know why?”

“Yeah, I’ve been wondering about that.”

“It’s because none of us here were supposed to die!”

“What!?”  Augur shouted, surprised.

“Oh dear, I’ve gone ahead of myself again.” Tajj supposed.  “Let me put it this way.  Do you believe in fate?”

“Not really.”

“So you like to believe that you are in charge of your own destiny.  In a way that is true.  But you must realize that the future exists.  To people living in the future, you are a part of their past.  Therefore you are also a part of history.  This means that you cannot change your actions, or history will also be changed.  Everything that you do is fated.  Does this make sense?”

“I guess so…” Augur said between his thoughts.

Tajj continued.  “We watched you from our monitors that we have built.  It took us eons to build them, and a lot of innovation, since we had no real raw materials in this place.  We knew of your life, and we know of things that you still don’t know.  Basically, when a person that is important to the timestream dies, and they were not fated to die, they end up here.  Other people would go to one of the other six Afterlives.  These would be the other six stars that you probably should have seen on the way in.  The people that go there depend on the different types of lives that they lived.  One is for the holiest of individuals, and one is for the most sacrilegious.  The other four are all in the middle, but with many different characteristics. 

“Augur, you were not meant to die in that fight in the cave, but your planet has long been the battle ground for one of the most epic time-transversal wars that has ever occurred.  When the timestream of a planet is originally breached, it starts a group of alternate realities and paradoxes that eventually result in the end of that world.  That is what is now happening with yours.  That is what happened to all of our planets.”

Augur now questioned Tajj.  “I assume that you picked up my language by watching me on those machines over there.  What I want to know is how these time warps happen.”

“That is a good question.  Rips in time are caused by highly condensed uncontrolled power surges of immense energy.  On my home planet, as with Kraigh’s, our technology had become advanced enough that we messed around with time ourselves, which destroyed us.  As for the rest of the species here, the original time gates were caused by parasites known as lavae.  They have enough power to destroy whole planets and create large time openings.”


“I believe that using your language, Augur, lavae would be the plural of the word lavos.  They were all launched from their home planet nearly ten billion years ago.  No one knows who or what caused them.  These beasts traveled through space, seeming to find inhabited planets with pinpoint accuracy.  One would shoot down from the sky in a streak of fire and enter the terrain.  It would dig itself deep into the center of a planet, and drain all of its energy from the core.  When it has stored enough energy, it decimates the planet, leaving it ideally lifeless, although some usually survive.  Nothing can then interfere with the birth of its offspring.  They reside on the planet for only a few hundred more years, and with the final breath of the elder lavae, the planet explodes, launching the offspring into space.”

“All this happened on Earth?”  Augur was shocked.  For millennia, Lavos had been the mighty entity that kept Zeal afloat.  How could everyone be blind enough to not see the truth?  Augur wondered why he did not notice.  Augur’s mind and heart were now racing.  Everything that he loved and cared about was being used by this life destroying parasite.  Lavos was an incurable disease that no one would diagnose until it brought forth its finishing obliteration.

Tajj kept the story going.  “The lavos that infested your planet crashed from the heavens and collided with the earth in 65,000,000 BC.  This altered the coarse of history the first time, allowing humans to survive.  The Lavos would rise in the year 1,999 AD, and destroy the world.  However, A group of teenagers from the year 1,000 AD were caught in a time warp made by the lavos, and they discovered his plans.  They assembled with them a wizard, a robot, a frog knight, and a cavewoman.  Together they defeated the lavos in your planet.

“However, the wizard had a personal score to settle with the lavos.  He would have found his own way to battle the creature.  He would have ultimately perished in the fight, but with the help of the others, he defeated the lavos.”  Basically, this man was fated to die, but didn’t.”

“So for some reason, because this man didn’t die, I did?” Augur interjected.

“Correct.  When people travel through time, history gets completely erased.  This means that fate would no longer have a grip on the time period they travel to.  These people are free to choose their own destiny.  This man was not supposed to make it back to 12,000 BC.”

“Tajj, according to that man in the cave, that’s when a time change occurred.”

“Yes.  You collaborated with the warlock to travel to the bottom of the ocean to recover an ancient artifact.  The irony is that he would have made his way down there without you, so the man that had set out to correct the future killed you without gaining anything.  He should have killed the wizard.  In reality, you lead some villains to the palace under the water.  You grabbed the artifact to prevent them from getting it, and released the Chrono Shift.” 

“The Chrono Shift?”

“Listen carefully, Augur.  The artifact has the same name as the effect that it causes, and therefore, the relic was also named the Chrono Shift.  It is unstable in the hands of someone that does not understand it.  When you died, the wizard went to retrieve the artifact alone in the new future, and this time the evil man got his hand on it, and destroyed the world much more brutally than you accidentally did.”

“Perhaps I need to give a little more detail about the Chrono Shift.  It contains miniscule energy particles stored from the lavos, although not enough to cause any of the instabilities and dangers associated with it.  This energy is combined by massive amounts of its own energy, and has the ability to create a massive time gate.  It mimics the reactions involved with the formations of the time portals while working in a way that the power source replenishes itself.  The only problem is, the time gates created by the Chrono Shift are highly unbalanced when used by the everyday amateur.  In the worst-case scenario, every era is littered with parts of every other era, and time warps uncontrollably.  Nothing is able to stop these mutations from occurring, and nothing can mend the damage done by them.  This causes enough problems in time that chronological order cannot continue or be restored.  Your world essentially forfeits its right to survive.  Only one who truly knows how to handle the Chrono Shift can avoid the consequences. 

“The Chrono Shift is one of five Chrono artifacts that were created to control time on your planet.  Ideally, if they all worked right, then there would be no penalties for moving through time.  The sole setback is, if these artifacts fell into the wrong hands, then your mere planet would not be the only one to suffer.  The artifacts originated from various points throughout time, from separate sages and gurus and scientists.  They were all dispersed because they were too dangerous, even in the hands of someone with good intentions.

“The fight that you humans put up to save your world was quite entertaining, and for a while, it looked as if you might succeed.  But lavae are sadistic creatures, and the scars that are left in time will surely destroy the planet if the lavae do not survive to demolish it on their own.”

Augur was just plain stupefied.  All that had happened him in the last day had been so much to take in.  He basically discovered that he was wrong about everything he truly believed in.  He also now knew that everyone that he cared about was unwillingly serving Lavos.  Lavos had brainwashed all of them to worshiping him like a god, and like all false gods, it would only bring empty promises. 

“Would you like to see the timewave destroy your world?”  Augur turned to see Æzirx motioning to one of the monitors.  Augur figured that it would not be a bad idea.  It would help to explain quite a few things, and as long as he was stranded in this place, it would help to pass the time.

When Augur was ready, Æzirx pressed a button, and the pictures began to move on this strange machine.  He stared at the screen, which at the time, only showed the ocean, but from a rather high altitude.  Then the water began to flash and boil, and a pure white concentrate radiated from a point in the water.  A beam of energy shot up several hundred miles into the atmosphere, and its source twinkled with raw beauty and power.  The energy then surged and extended from the point of origin rapidly.  The light by the recurring visual shockwaves on the screen temporarily blinded Augur several times.  A vast tidal wave pushed in all directions, and it grew taller and taller.  The wave hit an island that could only be the earth continent, though it seemed to be exceedingly smaller than the land mass should have been.  The water drowned the land, and flooded whatever was left.  Following the wall of aqua, rings of light from the blast forever changed the face of the land.  The glowing halos encircled the planet many times over, changing it every time.  Finally, it all died down, and a ruined Earth remained in the aftermath.

Augur pulled away from the screen.  It wasn’t as hard to watch as he thought it would be.  The power of the Chrono Shift was captivating, almost mesmerizing.  The flashes that tore through time would devour everyone that he knew.  Augur sighed.  At least it wouldn’t be as bad as if Lavos had slain them all.  In the background, the others were now talking amongst themselves, in indistinguishable languages.  Augur supposed that he would learn them all during his eternal stay here.  He also wondered if there was anything to eat.

Calling on the first of his new roommates that he saw, he shouted, “Hey Verd!”  When the monster turned, he asked, “Is there anything to eat around here?”

Verd came back with, “Well, these nice reddish walls are wonderful.”

Augur ignored the harsh sarcasm in his gruff voice.  “No, really.  I’m quite hungry.”

“That’s just your brain telling you that you haven’t ate in a while.” Came the voice of Nulk.  Augur could barely see the liquid creature.  “When you are dead,” he continued, “There is no such thing as hungry.  That is one of the advantages.  You do not need to eat, drink, sleep, urinate, breathe, or do most of the other of the life processes that you did to stay alive in your world, although many of us still choose to catch forty winks every now and then.  The problem is that you tend to become really bored here.  We pass the time by watching those computers over there and gambling about whatever we can come up with.”

The days continued to pass down in the caves, or at least, that is what Augur believed.  Truthfully, there was no way to tell time in this place, or if it passed in the same way.  The more he socialized with his friends, the more he began to like them, and the gambling games did turn rather interesting more often than not.  Everyone would keep track of their imaginary credits, and to earn some back, they were forced to do humiliating things.  The monitors pursued the different lavae as they trekked across the universe, and that was usually rather boring to watch. 

One day, Augur caught a rare glimpse of a lavos entering the atmosphere of a planet.  He watched as the burning friction from the ozone tried to destroy the outer shell, but to no avail.  It crashed into the surface, and rocks ascended for miles around the crater that formed.  Immense explosions covered the surface of the planet, and underneath all the flying rubble and firestorms, Augur could make out the porcupine organism burrowing its way to the center, where it would feast on the life of the planet for millions of years, until it could unleash its reign of hell on all the inhabitants.  This made him remember that his home world was being raped of existence, and because of the dangerous effects of time travel, everything would die.  Augur came up with an idea.  It was a long shot, but he knew that he had to ask.  Augur had to find a way to get back home.  Augur thought of his family and friends, and all of his fellow community living in Zeal.  Maybe they weren’t the best of people, but the floating island was his home, not this isolated dwelling.  He yearned to see another human again, and knew that there was work to be done.  According to Tajj’s theory of fate, if he were to go back, then he would have traveled outside the timestream.  Augur could change history and save the world now that he was free from fate.  Augur decided to bring his dilemma to the assortment of freaks, which had become his best friends.  They were all in the central atrium at the time, playing another gambling game.  No one saw him until he spoke.  “I wish to leave this place,” he said.  “I want to go back to my home world.”

The chatter among the critters halted, and they all turned to stare directly at Augur.  Then a sudden, collective laughter deafened him.  What Augur had just said seemed to be the most hilarious joke ever told, not a solemn request for help.  When the laughter subsided, Augur contradicted their beliefs by adding, “I’m serious.”  Again laughter erupted from the group, but the wise Tajj darted over to him and stood on his shoulder. 

“My friend,” Tajj explained.  “What you ask is, well, impossible.  You will not be able to even achieve leaving these caves.  Your wish is so hopeless, and I mean no disrespect by this, it’s downright ridiculous.”

“What do you mean?”  Augur was dumbfounded.  “You’re trying to tell me that you can manufacture a supercomputer out of only springy red granite, but yet you can’t figure out how to get out of here?”

Brogg chuckled.  “We’re smart enough to build a computer from nothing, so you would think that we’re smart enough to know when something’s impossible, don’t you?”  The disgusting blob let all of its rolls of fat shake freely, and it made several members of the group nearly vomit.  No one said anything, however, to be courteous. 

Augur fumed.  “How can you just dismiss the idea this promptly?”  You guys never let anything stop you since I’ve been here.”

This time, Tajj interjected.  “Augur, even if we could find a way, why would you want to go back?  Sure, it may be a little bland here, but you’re safe, and you don’t have to work.”

“I don’t care about avoiding danger.  I’ll face any hazards that face me.  And I don’t care about having to work for something.  That’s better than sitting around here all day betting on absolutely nothing!  Which happens to remind me, Oblan, that you still owe me for that last game.”

Everyone was in a hasty state astoundment, and stared in disbelief as the newcomer’s surplus of courage simmered throughout the pores of his body.  At the same time, they realized his ignorance.  Augur was oblivious to the risks of what he was asking to receive.  Tajj knew this.  Kraigh knew this.  All of the alien creatures knew this.  Oblan was absolutely convinced that Augur had already been paid off for the last round of gambling. 

Tajj, being the wisest of the crowd, set out to straighten the boy’s line of thought.  “Augur, we have studied what the effects of such a thing would do.  In the end, it becomes dreadfully unpleasant.  Back in your world, your body was like a shell for your soul.  If you returned, your soul would become your body because your old body would no longer be real.  If you were to die again, your spirit would be destroyed.  For you, there would be only darkness.  There would be no Afterlife this time.  Instead, you would travel to an area known as the Tesseract, or the Darkness of Time. You will have no recollection of anything, and you will not be able to think.  It would seem as if you never existed.  Losing all proof of your existence, even to yourself, is a fate much worse than any hell can bring upon you.”

Tajj’s speech, while compelling and convincing, did nothing to crack the barrier of Augur’s determination.  “I don’t care.  If I go back, I’ll be careful and make sure that I don’t die.”

“That choice will be just as hard to make.  If you go back, there would be no way of returning here, or to any Afterlife.  There is no technology mortals can create that would reach this point in space.  You’ll be forced to wander the planet aimlessly for millions of years, only to die again when your planet is eventually and inevitably destroyed.  You must realize that all planets are ruined at some point, just like all organisms.   Your planet is no exception.  So you see, if you could go back, you would only be damning yourself.”

Kraigh added, “What reason could you possibly have to want to go back so desperately?”

Augur gave him a long, hard, and cold scowl.  “I can save my planet.  If I go back, I’ll be outside of the guidelines of fate, and can set everything right.”

Kraigh showed a look of deep perplexity.  “Such fortitude these humans have.  They always want what they can’t have, always wishing and working for the better, even if it’s impossible.  It is the remarkable ability that has allowed your species to rise, and is the attribute that ultimately caused your star to fall.  And it is also a shame, because if humans had the ability of contentment, your world would still be intact.”

Augur grabbed the imp in a rage.  “Listen, it may be impossible to send me back, but I can’t believe you would give up without even trying!  You’ve all become my only friends, and now, I would just like to ask for a favor.  Will you please help me?”

Kraigh looked down towards the red earth.  “I’m sorry, but there’s no way.”

Something deep within the recesses of Augur’s brain snapped.  He knew that he was out of line, but he was angry, and he didn’t worry about it.  He clenched his hand into a fist, and punched Kraigh in one of his oversized eyes, sending him sprawling backward.  The menacing Verd now came behind Augur, and grabbed his arms.  Verd jerked Augur around in the air, and bent his arms back preposterously far.  If Augur had any bones, they would have surely snapped.  Augur looked at Kraigh.  There were small holes around the ring of his eye, but no blood was coming out.  Blood was nonexistent, and pain did not exist, either.  As soon as Augur saw the wound, it healed. 

“ENOUGH OF THIS!!!”  Everyone froze when they heard the voice of Glock.  For several seconds, silence ruled the air.  “Thank you,” Glock said.  “I would just like to say that there might be a chance we can send him back.  It is against my better judgment…”

“You don’t have any judgment!”

“That means a whole lot coming from you, Flora.  Now shut up and let me finish.”  Glock turned to the human.  “Think about this long and hard.  Do you want to go back to Earth?”

Augur hit the ground hard when Verd dropped him, apparently because he was so surprised by what Glock had said.  Augur rubbed his head, and the soreness was oddly gone.  “So now you’re telling me that you can send me back?”

Seria fumed, “All this time you knew of a way to send us back, but you never told any of us?

Glock smiled devilishly.  There was a sly glint in his eyes.  “Well, yeah, I’ll be honest.  I was planning on leaving you all here when I worked out the details.”

All the inhabitants of the Valley of the Lost Souls were itching to be the first to rip his head off.  The looks they gave him were enough for Glock to know this.  He had deceived his friends, but he knew that the others all had their own secrets.  Glock was always one to tick people off as entertainment, and today was no exception.  “Come on, if you were in my position, wouldn’t you try to get away from all these losers?”

Nulk was understandably pissed.  “You giant asshole!  I should kill you where your fat ugly face stands.  I can’t believe the nerve that you have!”

Augur now stood back and observed the growing tensions in the group.  There was murder in the eyes of the creatures that had them.  The one thing that Augur could be glad about was that they were no longer after him.  That thought was obliterated by the fact that Glock might be his only chance of going home.  Augur jumped in front of the disgruntled individuals and prepared to protect the ogre. 

Tajj, always reasonable, commanded everyone to stop bickering.  It would do no good to kill someone that was already dead.  After they calmed down, Tajj convinced them to at least listen to what Glock had to say, although Augur could tell that Tajj was pretty steamed as well.

“Come on, Glock, tell me how to get home,” Augur demanded. 

“Well, if I tell you how to get home, I’ll never get the chance to go back.” 

Augur had never considered that everyone here wanted to go home, but he could now tell that everyone had often had thoughts of going back, and many would do anything to their friends to get the chance. 

“Why didn’t you ever use it if you knew about it all this time?”  Kraigh wondered. 

“Because of the risks that you mentioned to Augur, and because of the risks it takes to obtain it.  I would have already done it if it weren’t so difficult.”

“The other question at hand is why we should let Augur take it instead of one of us,” Nulk said.  “Sure, he’s the only one that’s really begging for it, but that’s just because most of us have dignity.”

“Or maybe it’s because I’m the only one that has faith!” Augur snapped.

“Damnit, now we’re back to fighting again.  Will you all please just shut the hell up!”  Everyone stopped arguing again to see Tajj, and again the lizard took control of the situation.  “First of all, I believe that Augur should be the one to get the opportunity to return to his world, because his world is the only one that still exists.  He is the only one that would have a chance to save his world.  Have you all forgotten that your planets are no longer alive?”  Everyone realized that this was the truth.  “Second of all,” he continued, “How about we listen to what Glock has to say before we make decisions on this.”  Tajj had a nasty habit of making everyone see things his way. 

Glock remained silenced for several long seconds, and then spoke.  “In order to get to leave this place, you need the blessings of the gods, more specifically, the leader of them.  You need the blessing of the Sanctified Deity.”

A collection of “What?” “That’s Impossible” and other gasps of disbelief arose from the creatures. 

“What’s all this about gods and the Sanctified Deity?” Augur wanted to know.

Kraigh was the one who responded.  “On your way here, you should’ve noticed the seven stars arranged in a circle, which happened to be the seven Afterlives that you can receive.  This is one of them.  A god governs each Afterlife you can receive, except for this one. All of the gods must report to the Sanctified Deity, who resides in the dark place at the center of the circle of stars.  The problem with receiving a blessing would be first finding a god, since we are not ruled by one.  We are allowed to live in anarchy.  We are the forsaken ones, the forgotten ones.  We are the bastards of the Afterlives.  None of the gods care for us.  They do not check on us, nor do they concern themselves with us.”

“So how do we get a blessing, then?” Halkin solicited.

“It can’t be done.” Oblan retorted.  “It’s obsurd.”

“No, it isn’t” Glock said.  “Apparently there is a pathway in each of the heavens that can be used to reach the Sanctified Deity.  The gods use them to get to the Deity, but also are required to protect it.  So, in theory, there should be a Holy Gate somewhere in our world.  It’ll be a real burden to find it, but there won’t be any god to prevent us from using it.  The risk that is involved to the individual is that we don’t know what happens to the one that uses it.  It is very possible that the soul of this person would be eliminated, which, as we mentioned before, us a fate worse than any hell that you could go through.  If you survive the trip, the Sanctified Deity might be upset enough to not only kill the spirit of the one who takes the journey, but also could destroy everyone of us in the Valley of the Lost Souls for aiding him.”

“The Deity is that spiteful?” Augur conjectured.

“We don’t know.  We know nothing about him.”  Æzirx answered.

Everyone sat in silence for a very long time.  They were all deep in thought.  Finally, Tajj addressed Augur.  “Augur, I don’t want to rush your decision.  You have a lot to think about.  This could be the end of your existence.  Even if you make it back, you will be vulnerable.  Should you die there, your spirit will also be lost.  Are you willing to risk everything just for the outside chance that you might be able to change the history of your planet, which will still eventually result in your sacrifice, even if you do manage to succeed?  Are you willing to lose your soul just to cling to some idea of what should be?  These are not easy choices, Augur.  I want you to take as much time as you need to decide.”

“Okay.” Augur said.  “I’m going back.  I don’t care what risks are involved.  I can’t stand by and watch everything I hold dear be destroyed, knowing that I could have done something, but didn’t even attempt to.  I could not live here for eternity with that hanging over my head.”

“Fine.  So be it.  There are also risks involved with us, so in twelve hours we will have a vote whether or not we will let you go.  It will be between the other eleven of us, Augur.  We won’t give you a vote on this.  If the vote passes, then we will search for the gateway.  As for now, I want everyone to get some sleep and think about it.”  When no one left, Tajj screamed, “Leave! You have no time to waste!”

Soon, after they all scrambled away, only Augur, Kraigh, and Tajj remained.  Kraigh was the one who talked.  “Augur, I think it would be best if you stayed away from the jury.  I also think that you should get some sleep and think some more as well.”

Augur nodded, and as he walked out of the chamber, he turned and included, “I don’t need to sleep or think.  The only thing that I do need to do is go back to my world and save it.”


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