Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Dexter Chronicles: Guardians of the Soul

 

Dexter Chronicles: Guardians of the Soul

 

            The time may change. The place. The People. But the soul? That is eternal. Yet Unity, in its quest for infinite knowledge, will never possess what it truly desires. The secrets of the spirit.—Hidan, Io Histories and Musings on the Path of the Ancients.

            The Weave created the Arcways to balance the various Ouros within each universe. Allowing souls to pass from one realm of existence to another. The Milky Way is clear. Yet there are other galaxies within Eden in need of cleansing. That is why once Throne Sight is activated: We must be ready. That will cause a cascade effect. Pushing out all corruption, with Eden being the epicenter. It is why the United Earth Front forces guard their connection to us. The signal will go out through all Thrones. Bringing the light of the Weave with it.—Recollections on the Past, Sir Avalon. In a missive to the Arcane Council. Circa 2105

            I walked through the frost, cosmic rays, the very depths of Death. But not as most people see it. I saw it through the lens of Rebirth, which was why my revulsion to Unity was even greater in those early days.—Dexter Murphy

The Inbetween

Black’s Domain

November 2nd, 2100

 

 

            The gates were shut. Beyond the thin membrane, Dexter beheld the new souls being born. His sister’s life was taking a turn as well. It was plain as day to him. How certain parties felt about her. Black stated, “You wonder why you get her memories yet it never flows from your end to hers?”

            Dexter rested a palm on the gateway. The laughter of babies and children rippled across his senses. This place was safe from Unity. For it resided within Eden’s sphere of influence. Other universes weren’t at lucky. Just remembering what Chronos had done to the Artock soul well had made him want to vomit. Their people were trapped. Behind endless webs. A racial consciousness at the brink. He had managed to sneak behind enemy lines and place a counter sigil to put the majority of that race into stasis. The real Artock. Not the cannibalistic pirates that plagued endless sectors. It was all the Typherians could do to counter them. The real heart of that race rested upon the Shadow. At the very edge of Unity’s territory.

            They wouldn’t be able to break them out now. Eliza wasn’t strong enough. The silver mantle that the Weave promised wouldn’t happen for some time yet. So he dug in. Laying the groundwork needed. Through muck and ruin. Unity made a mockery of everything. The Three remarked, “These acts of mercy you do will bear fruit for a better tomorrow.”

            He had trouble believing it.

            His sister’s soul. Past, present, and future. She would go beyond the barriers of Death itself. Even now her Ur-Stone locked self wavered in his vision. He reached out. He would have to push his sister even harder within her dreams. The missing left arm. There were times he saw her triumphant. Garlanded and walking down a revitalized Argax City. Others, one that disturbed the Three acutely, their bones sitting upon a doomed Throne Matrix. Endless corpses floating around dead worlds. Earth and Typha are at the forefront.

            Entombed within the endless void of Unity.

            He turned from that vision. Focusing on his sister.

            “It lies.” He repeated this refrain within her mind. Her tired eyes flared briefly.

Hope curled around the foundation of her soul.

“It always did.” Her voice carried. Then her outline dissipated. Until all, he could see was the Union circlet on her head. This was the milestone she would face. So while he hated the Shrouded memories, some things would never be recounted clearly.

The Weave had promised him.

This clarity of memory would be available to one other.

Without it, Eliza would be lost to the depths. Beyond the reach of the Weave.

*****

            Lorain Lanis watched this particular segment. Current Dexter pressed a finger to his lips. The others had no way to pick up on this part. Why show her this? Murphy pointed to his younger self. Moving past this moment to another. One that Lorain feared above all others. In a small grove, on the surface of Typha, was a garden. Filled with oak trees. Cherry blossoms and Midnight Bloomers. One of Typha’s most renowned flowers. Their purple hue was unmistakable at night. Under the illumination of the moon, their inner buds glimmered bright white.

            At the center of this garden was the Crystal Coffin. Dexter grasped Doc’s hand. The one with the Union bracelet. He pointed. A shade floated by the coffin. Its features were foreboding. It bowed. Its voice was deep. Masculine, “I am the Void. That which brings eternal slumber.” The Silver Lady joined it. “You must place the tether within the coffin just so.”

A bright outline danced within her mind. Unlocking hidden avenues between life and death. She fell to her knees. “This was not meant for us.”

            The beings intoned, “Indeed. We ask much of everyone. The twins most of all.”

            Doc ran a thumb on the outer edge of the crystal surface. She memorized every edge.

            They would need so much life to bring her back.

            Tears trickled down her face.

            Bardax always knew. Their Light was the strongest. Next would be Earth’s dogs. There was no filter between them and the Weave. Yet Death played its role. She wouldn’t walk alone along that path. Her brother would be beside her. As he had always been. They were linked beyond just blood. Opposing Mirrors. The raging light of Life. The controlled rebirth of Death. Fear would lead to failure. Lanis watched as the lid cracked open. A hand moved to clasp the edge. A fully formed left hand.

            Silver scales moving beneath the skin.

            Eliza’s voice was not her own.

            “With this act. The Balance will be maintained.”

            Her body hadn’t been changed to house White. It had been changed to offer a mere flicker to the entity known as the Weave.

            Lorain watched as the crystal coffin reformed around Eliza. Becoming armor.

            She noticed a younger Dexter watching this scene as well. Memorizing it.

            Black behind him. His huge tiger paws kneading the ground. As if to capture every sensory detail of this slice of time. Doc murmured, “Is time travel possible?”

            The Silver Lady replied, “Only through me. I granted some properties to the one known as Aether. To correct the Calamity. The breaking of the old world.”

            A clock spun overhead.

Silver remarked, “Yet it flows differently for all. Not always  in a linear fashion.”

 She pointed, her gleaming figure highlighting a creature. Lorain stood, her mouth gaping open, as a mummy reformed from dust. A replica of her. Yet no warmth echoed out from those dead green eyes.

            “Trust yourself. Know that Eliza will see the truth.”

            The scene shifted.

*****

            I rubbed the back of my neck. “No wonder my fighting abilities got a bit better.” Watching my brother within this memory throw me all over the place brought a weak smile to my features. Mom, Grandma Murphy, and Anna crossed their arms. Giving Dexter various levels of disapproval.

            Anna spoke first, “It's bad enough she throws herself into trouble. Yet I hate the reason why it must be so.” She meant the need for demis. Since they had shaped our world. Bringing others along for the ride.

 I retorted,” I needed these training courses. To fight someone that could take whatever I could throw at him was invaluable. How do you think I managed to prevent myself from hurting people when I lost my sense of touch? Well besides Gulliver’s device? And Doc!”

Dad stepped in between everyone, “How about a break?” Sir Avalon agreed. The world settled once more into the cool stony room of chairs and refreshments. I stood, stretching, feeling my spine pop with the movement.

Bulleteer said, “It had to be done though. If you know the basics, you can turn an enemy’s power against themselves.”

Nola arched a brow, “You may not want to kill your adversary but they will attempt to drive you to the breaking point. Keep training with that Kitan master. If you can block certain things within the Dreaming, Dark Shamans and similar beings can be rendered impotent.”

I sighed, “I know it’s a risk. Not killing soul-endowed beings. But if I cross that line? I’ll become the thing Anna fears most. A regular flying Tyrant.” I shuddered. Dexter remarked, “For all my strength I have yet to slay a true living being.”

He was right. Within his memories, we had seen his countless battles with corrupted entities. Brood beasts. Artock slavers. Feeding off the original blueprint of the mother species they spawned from. We had to find those poor people. Knowing that my brother guarded their souls was a great weight off my shoulders. It would buy us time to get to the root of the problem. A sense of unease washed over me.

Would I have to kill? The very idea was so foreign to me. White added, “It took your father giving you a pep talk to go on the offense on the Living Stone. Fat chance you’d hurt a fly.”

I frowned, “I won’t do it. I won’t kill. I’ll find a way to cleanse who I can.” Dexter nodded as if he expected me to say that. His gray-black eyes narrowing, “Our enemies won’t hold such ideals.” I remembered the All-Father’s fingers digging into my flesh.

“Why do you think I kept the All-Father distracted? If he had his way he would have bulldozed more of Typha. I’d rather sacrifice myself than lose another soul to that mad man!”

Doc flinched. Nola passed her mirror to Lanis, “I see similar threads.”

I had no idea what she meant. Nola’s readings got cryptic. Eddie stared at me hard. Not with malice. With his hidden sight. Whatever he saw reassured him.

*****

            Gwen, Jace, and Tobin pressed their heads together. Murmuring in tightly controlled mental voices. Tobin hissed, >> You saw them right? That’s us. We are the Three. Or will be.<<

            Their meeting at Whitehome’s temple was fresh in their minds.

Gwen blanched, hooking her hands behind her head as she ducked lower, hoping that her mother wouldn’t notice. >>How could we do this to our own family?<<

            She hadn’t been able to ask her future self much. Noting how stooped she’d been in those white robes? They must be ancient. Older than V’alkor even.

Jace rubbed the necklace pendant. Remembering finding it in those radiant pools.

            He calmed his siblings by stating, >>They are much older than we are now. With gray hair. With prolong, that could mean 100s of years in the future! Maybe even over 1000!<<

            Gwen bit her lip. Chewing nervously. >>I almost bought it. White Owl mulch express! So I don’t know how much of an asset I’d be as one of these mystical figures!<<

            Their heads whipped around as Dexter added, >> It's true. You are the Three. Yet not. Not always. Each cycle has a new set. In Di’axi’s time, it was two J’kua and one of Hidan’s people. You are another conduit for the Weave. Just as I am. Just as Eliza is.<<

            Dexter glanced at his parents, >>No. They cannot hear us. Not even Eliza can. The Weave hides certain things.<<

He noted wryly, >>If you hadn’t noticed….<<

            Anna snorted, “Indeed it does.”

            Dexter smirked, “Ahh. So the 4th player has joined!”

            She sat down next to the Murphy kids. Leaned back and grumbled, “Of course it’d pick me to ride herd.”

*****

            J’ino gazed out at the simulated sunlight coming through the “ceiling” of the chamber. Where exactly were they? It wasn’t anywhere near Union Hall. Thomas winked, using their wedding bands to communicate, >>Correct! Its one tiny secret I get to hide from you for a change!<<

            She walked over and huddled into his outstretched arms, >>It was so much easier when Eliza was punching demonic dinosaurs into suborbital trajectories.<<

            Thomas felt a ping of sadness. Those had been innocent carefree days in comparison. Then he pushed it aside. He had a wife to take care of. Along with so many amazing children. Ta’mathon formed the barriers within Murphy’s mindscape.

            They would have to awaken the Titan slumbering within Saturn.

            By then he hoped that Eliza would be ready. For all their sakes. 

DC Issue 1: Here

DC Issue 3: Here

 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Dexter Chronicles: Ouroborous

Dexter Chronicles: The Ouroborous

 

            It took White many years to manifest. She had been injured by Set’s cowardly attack within the old world. Rykah: Our Greatest Failure. Mine especially. I should have sensed it. The corruption of the Soul Cycle. –Black

            In my early years, the only thing that kept me afloat was sharing my sister's memories as she slept. Updating me on what was happening. Which was mostly normal for a child. Yet I remembered all her locked and shrouded memories as well. So I knew what others had to bury within her. All of those years. The vigil remains.—Dexter Murphy

            We watched it. These trials and tribulations of my brother. His commentary gave voice to my parent’s grief over certain events. Yet Gwen, Tobin, and Jace added another layer. One that none of us expected. The Weave works in mysterious ways.—Sleeping in Starlight, a memoir of the 23rd century (vol 2)

The Inbetween

Black’s Domain

November 2nd, 2082

 

            Dexter noticed the souls. They had traveled a long way. From a mirror universe. One still developing. Typherians from the looks of them. Decked out in archaic robes. They passed by: ethereal lights in the gloom. The only time there was anything concrete here was when Eliza slept. Along with the guardian chains. The mighty Ourobourous flowing overhead. It reminded Dexter of a metallic silver dragon. Constantly looping around itself. Each scale holding another connection. Another universe of possibilities.

            Its appearance changed based on who was looking at it. Litari saw bright lights. Even to a race wrapped in eternal night, they could see the cold fire of that mighty coil. Humans would see a giant Wall. Endless epochs impressed upon it. His sister would often remark, “I think it eats its tail to protect people!”

            She was right. It was how he perceived the endless cycle of death and rebirth. Some souls migrated together. Like his parents. Always resurfacing in other times or places. Sharing a subconscious bond. Eliza usually took things at face value. He beheld the cogs underneath. He had to. For Black’s responsibility was paramount. Many never realized just how vital he had been to the process of reincarnation. The Markav also beheld a Wall. Interlaced with the bedrock of souls. His soul. His sisters. From countless universes. It was always them. The Weave had made them a permanent fixture. No matter the landscape.

            The woman in Silver greeted him. Her face was obscured by the Weave’s command of this place. It rose above Black’s Authority. She pointed. Mist curled around his bare feet. His sister had pulled some clothing through the mirror during her last visit. Black had only clothed him in a black one-piece suit. Now? He had a pair of tan pants. Gray t-shirt with a green rocket ship. A set of stairs formed. Each one glowing with blue radiance. As he ascended the stars whirled past. As he reached the top the Silver Lady remarked, “It won't remain this way. The world will know of you. And your sister soon enough.”

            Her voice was muffled by an auditory device he couldn’t work around. So to his young mind, that meant she knew him. Knew where this path would lead. The pain of his parents a lance through his heart. He wished Eliza would be able to say something but upon waking those memories of hers were locked. All because White had been so mortally wounded his sister’s powers were healing her. Her body was the coil. Changing to suit White. To bring her back from the Abyss.

It would take its toll on Eliza. It ways that would wound.

He didn’t know how to balance the scales. Not yet.

            The Silver Lady bowed her head, “You are correct. White will assume that she is changing her host. When the time comes, you both will be parted from Black and White. To claim the Throne.”

            He glimpsed his grandfather through the mist. V’alkor working tirelessly to maintain C’alain’s Wall and the matrix of the Multiverse until they grew enough to assist. Another burden. He could see the threads. The clouds parted and his sister stood next to him. The area taking on a cheery light. He wandered over to what she called a couch. He sat. Reveling in the feeling of the material. It even heated his aching back. Outside the well-lit windows, the Ourobouros hovered overhead. Reminding him of his place.

            He listened as Eliza set the record on the old player.

            “Grandma loves this thing!”

            The White Lily. Eleanore Murphy.

            He’d bring up the Ourobouros later. No need to tell her about the Soul Situation.

            Eden’s Ouro was overtaxed. Taking on the souls it could from other Universes.

            The Silver Lady rested a hand on his shoulder, “There is time. Rest.”

            His awareness shrank until all he could see was his sister and this room.

*****

            I blurted out before thinking, some memories filtering through beyond the Shroud blockers, “The Silver Lady. I know her.” Dexter nodded. “Indeed you do.” After hours we had retired to a side room.

Dad posed the question, “Who is she?”

            “The Weave made manifest.” My reply soft. Filled with wonder.

            White paced about. Her rounded ears twitching as she turned. That feline form a comfort. I realized this belatedly. She didn’t want to assume a humanoid shape. The attack by Set still fresh upon her body. I had beheld it once. Back when we traveled through the Ouro. A scar of twisted black ichor. Black and White curled around each other. Forming a ying yang symbol. Their tails intertwined.

            I slept.

Dreams coming fast.

The Curator crouched, his lips moving.

It was always you two. No matter the Universe.

The Inbetween

Black’s Domain

November 2nd, 2092

 

            I hugged my brother. “Guess what!”

            He smiled. It reached his eyes. He had a few days' growths on his chin. Wish I could tell dad. I imagine they would have endless things to talk about. “What’s up?”

            I jerked both thumbs at my chest, “I passed my testing phase for the Demi training program! The Star-Spangled Banner has her flight license as well!” Seeing his eyes, so much like Mom’s and my grandfather’s, gave me pause. Would I ever know what it felt like? He punched my shoulder lightly. It still knocked me back a solid foot. I stuck my tongue out. I knew what he was doing. The Ouro swarm overhead. Its scales clinking like church bells. I felt my body relax. The Three were back. Their white robes and coverings obscuring their faces.

            Like always.

            Their gaze bore into me. Not unpleasantly but with observable stillness. Like they were memorizing every line of my face. Every reaction. They knew me as well. The Weave was a warm wind within my body.

            Ties of blood and bone. Ties of Love and Fate. Ties of Faith and Spirit. These are the things that will save you.

            A man clothed with black robes materialized. His voice was rich.

Rumbling through my bones. “I am the reflection.”

The Void Man. Yet not filled with corruption. Another face of the Weave?

            The Silver Lady waved, a silver cup with running water splashed the ground, “I have been called many things. I walk with names beyond counting. Yet all find their way to me if they believe.”

            A distant crack of thunder made Dexter glare. Beyond the silver light of Eden, curling into a mass of sludge, hisses, screams, and moans, was the corruption of Unity. My left arm tingled. A black dragon’s head lifted. Hissing in response. The Silver Lady rested her hand on its scaled head. “Hush now. Sleep.” It burrowed under my skin. Yet I felt no pain. Void raised his arm, “The Souls must be replensished. Cleanse the Arcways within your home Eden first.”

            He pointed. I saw it. Space beyond space. Red, angry, black splotches surrounding unfamiliar ships. Ours was the origin. The new origin. Black bowed his head, “I should have seen it sooner. Forgive me.” Void and Silver hugged his massive frame. He stood as tall as V’alkor. Black’s 3 golden eyes running with tears. He wasn’t alone. I hugged him too. Realizing it was White who was reaching out.

*****

            Dexter was no longer that angry frightened boy yet resentment remained towards Di’axi. There should have been another way. The Void rumbled, “There was no other way. We chose you to live within this place because you are stronger. Mentally and physically.  This is the realm of Protectors and Cleansing.”

            His fists clenched. Before he could speak the Silver Lady interjected, “Unity prizes women above all things because they create the very spark of life I bestowed upon a growing realm. Men protect that source.” Images flashed.

            Nyx. He spat at her befouled image.

            Remembering the bite of the needle. Its corruption flowing through his sister’s heart as he was ripped from proper reality.

            The Void handed him a Trident. Its pearly white contours warming to his touch. Black curled in on himself. Becoming a sash of obsidian and gold. Silver murmured, “You will be our Lance. Though your sister will have the Spear. She was made to protect Life. It is against her nature to lash out. Yet she will in time. Against our greatest mistake.”

*****

            I heard these words. Knowing them to be utter truth. I always held back. Unless it was to take the hit for someone. Knowing I could shield most demis and citizens. I approached the Three, “How can I help?”

            They replied, “Live. Love without reservation or fear. See the good within. Even the Artock can be saved. Many do no follow Unity out of Faith. It was programmed into them.”

            Another version of myself came into view. Moving through the soft mist. Her face clouded by grief, “It's my fault. All my fault. I’m sorry dad. I know you’d….” Her uniform was stark white, with a powered defender belt at her waist. It wasn’t like mine. Her’s was Scholar tech. I reached out and beheld another Earth.

They had defeated a piece of Unity!

I dived into her memories. Only brushing the surface.

Their Earth was 100s of years behind us. Unity had breached their universe thinking it was Eden. Another planted distraction by the Weave. Yet love and life had prevailed. Magic and assistance by other Scholars had been a key component to defeating Unity. Yet a Dexter of that realm had nearly fallen for Unity’s tricks. Believing that his plan was the only way to save his universe and pawn Unity off onto another sector. Yet his sister’s hope and determination had saved him as well.

Bringing light back into a darkened universe.

I pushed the images of Io into her consciousness. Her father would live. He lied deep within the Scholar complex within that planet. Not home to ethereal beings. Yet it housed the keys to a brighter tomorrow. I sent the formula for prolong as well. The Silver Lady bent down. Her hair tickling my left ear, “A mirror yet one that will help when the time comes.”

The signal to that wayward Universe burned within my mind. I would summon them when the time came. Their demis were nearly as abundant as ours.

******

            Dexter shouted, “AGAIN!”

            Eliza’s foot thudded against his chest. He barely felt it. He growled, “HIT ME! “

            This went on for what felt like weeks. Yet it was a start.

            Void observed, “They will balance one another.”

            Silver nodded, “With time.”

Issue 6 : Here

The Dexter Chronicles/Guardians of the Soul: Here

What's in a Phrase?

 carousel image 0

I usually had Star/Eliza say, "Truth, Justice and the American Dream." Mostly to tweek the saying a bit. Because in my setting? The American Dream is a constant drive. She's Texan but my world's version of a Texan.

My Earth? Most of Humanity listens to the better angels of their hearts. Robin Hood fights for his people and helps Star protect Earth. More of Earth's magic setup will be rearing up in this Book 5 but after the new few chapters of Dexter's bit of Chronicling. 

Yes, she protects more than Earth or the US of A but she's also very proud of her home. Her people. Her simple way of life and how she was raised. That is the truth I want to project onto my series. Its ok to make old style Americana. To be hopeful. Upbeat. Wanting to have faith in one's country. 

Yes, me the writer! I am tired of the over abundance of cynicism. 

I wanted to have a family that is brought together and isn't broken by secrets. Yet those secrets, for the most part, were done out of concern. Not to hurt people. I introduced Robin/Elias eariler than intended because one of my readers wanted to see what became of his country. There are countries that don't exist in Uplift Protocol because in the way back times, those demis tried to overtake the world. So Ta'mathon and the Golden City had to respond to their madness. Thus some countries didn't make it out of the ancient era.

Which had been influenced by Chronos. 

Chronos has a mindset of "Lets see how these experiments bounce off each other. For data and if one proves to be stronger, Ill abduct samples." So yes, most of the Middle East isn't actually the Middle East on my Uplift Protocol Earth. Its why the Arcane Council has members spread out across the planet and beyond now. In their olden days? They watched and monitored when outside forces wanted to use humanity as a lab rat. 

That's the wonder of an alt Earth. It doesn't have to mirror ours 1 for 1. I could have made an Earth where America was the leading Nation all over. But I wanted to keep other factors in play. Demis did change the landscape. I just poke around and pull back the onion as I go along.

There's nothing wrong with wanting Truth, Justice and the American Way. 

Don't let that flame die out.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Uplift Protocol: Point Of Origin Issue 6

Issue 6: The Eyes Have It

 

            A new system of Planets Joins the Union today. Even though they have Typherian roots they have decided to name their faction: The Whitehome Defense Force. One thing is certain, Earth and her allies have more options. Artock attacks outside the Milky Way Galaxy continue to accelerate. Most military analyzes suspect technology outside of our known universe!—Terran Alliance News Network

            Alert all agents in the field. The Arcane Council suspects a surge in enemy deployment. The presence of Void Walkers within the Whitehome Sector troubles all of us. No controller Keepers were detected. If they only operated with mere scout husks. That is troubling enough. Most times they need a driving wipe like Ishtar or Chronos.—Intel report to Sir Avalon

            After Whitehome was able to link to the wider Universe: I got an update. My brother had been highly proactive. He understood me well enough. Yet now? I had to come out of my shell even more. I know some women have an inherent mindset made for warfare but I wasn’t one. Not from the outset. Not that I was a pacifist. I knew the destructive abilities of my body. My brother’s story? He learned from his very birth what was at stake. That is a story for another time.—Sleeping in Starlight, a memoir of the 23rd century (vol 2)

Union Hall (Earth)

Hall of Records

December 8th, 2115

           

The Amazing Grace withered under the stony faces of the statues.

They were of her demi team. The Mavericks. Yet she knew what sin she had committed. Even though she had been under the influence of Chronos’ machinations. She had given Nyx the records she had desired. That of children with magic potential. Parents of ancient bloodlines. Sir Avalon thumbed a sequence of numbers into the floor at the center of the Record Hall. The Golden Redeemers were here as well. The core team that is.

            Arthon pondered, “It wasn’t your fault. I imagine some of those records were false leads as well.”  O’rioh sniffed the air. How strange. Humanity’s ties to magic. He found it thrilling that his people didn’t know everything. Emerald K-9 floated above everyone. Testing the wards. Sir Avalon pulled Grace in closer. Lightly tapping her forehead. His face relaxed. An easy quirk of his lips reassured her.

            “What Arthon said is true. Sul’sundra suspected all Muthra would be at risk so we changed things around in here. Even the Arcane Heads only have bits of the code. In case someone is compromised.”

            Grace heaved out a pent-up breath. Cradling her face in her hands.

            “Thank the creator!”

            White Lily rested a hand on the other woman’s shoulder, “You didn’t know. It’s a wonder we kept Eliza safe all this time. Considering the wider picture!”

            Augustus trotted over to nudge Star’s freshly polished red boots. She was in her old uniform once more. Anna snorted, “I saw what happened to all those old sweatsuits. Wondered who bought them all in bulk!” Eliza saluted. Her two fingers near her brow.

            “I figured they’d come in handy!”

            Anna rolled up a piece of paper and tossed it at Eliza’s head.

            It bounced harmlessly to the floor. There was no rancor in Anna’s expression. Just wry amusement. They had come a long way since that fateful day with the US Postal Trip Gone Wrong. Golden Bulleteer waved everyone down. “Let’s see what our magical chess masters have for us today!”

*****

            I watched as Lorain gawked at all the artifacts within the room.

Sir Avalon said, “This is just the basics. Zanzibar has been very prolific. Alongside those Pinkerton fellows. We have found quite a few surprises left by Thoth. We suspect others attempting to destabilize the laylines. ”

As we moved further down the hall, ice formed along the stone surfaces. Doc shot me a grateful look when I removed my cape and wrapped it around her. Eddie grinned, “I could have my wife enchant it!”

He beamed. Pride at his wife’s accomplishments. His children were already showing magical aptitude yet it would be a few decades before they’d reach any form of mastery. That development meant only one thing though: Nora’s physical makeup had been altered by carrying his children. She could perform basic cantrips now. Not just Light Shaman rites. The purple-skinned woman in question aimed a generous kiss at Eddie’s cheek. He picked her up. “Just glad that you can go around in the open now.”

That was a recent development.

We were playing it off as finding her within a magical realm. Everyone was looking for space elves now. That had been first coined to the Typherians but after E’ratha’s social media explosion most had written Typherian humor off as morose or stiff at best. Mom couldn’t disagree. Many House officials, even the ones that managed to escape with their Commons counterparts, didn’t have one humorous bone in their body. V’alkor did. So did my grandmother. My uncle indicated they were atypical though.  Mom glowered at me. She pushed my father forward. His bracers lighting up the room as Isis exclaimed, “I wondered where my old staff had gotten to!”

Yes, we were all in our demi personas.

Doc plucked it from the weapon’s rack. Testing its weight. Giving me a very light tap on the stomach. My Banner suit responded.

///Please be advised: Major magical artifact detected. Shielding down 25%.///

Isis winced. Her image fading as she ducked behind dad. The glint of her gem indicating she had decided to withdraw for now. I wasn’t able to get an empathetic reading off of her due to her incorporeal status but I could guess. Sheer embarrassment.

Her voice sputtering with what I assumed were Egyptian curses.

Sir Avalon took the weapon as Lorain’s face turned an interesting shade of pink.

I was missing the point. I asked, “So what was that staff made for?”

Sir Avalon rubbed his chin.

“It was said Isis defeated Death itself with this staff.”

Dad choked back suppressed laughter.

Based on Lorain’s elevated heartbeat, she was picking up on subtext that flew over my head. I just shrugged. “It’s pretty effective. I’d probably feel it without this suit of mine. The magic that is!”

Nola's hand thudded into Eddie’s chest, “Hush you!”

In retrospect, I am both horrified and glad  I didn’t pick up on the undercurrent.

Mom glowered at people for days.

The glowing blue doors before us swung inward. Within was someone I didn’t expect.

Dexter waved us over to various chairs set out. They were made of wood and well worn.

He began, “The Arcane Council knew of us. Even beyond Aether’s memory shielding. This is what happened on my end while Eliza was growing up.”

Black materialized behind Dexter. His three golden eyes glued onto me. “What your brother helped me protect prevented Unity from breaching the Ouroborours around Eden.”

The chairs lit up like the 4th of July.

The world around us had changed. I didn’t recognize it but my brother did. So did Black and White. The reality between souls.

The Inbetween

Black’s Domain

October 20th, 2082

 

            Dexter Murphy shuddered. The tendrils of corruption were creeping ever closer. It was seeking them. His sister had no clue. He didn’t want her involved. Her memories gave him the strength of what normalcy was. Cookouts. Hamburgers. Parents who loved him. This thing was the exact opposite. It devoured souls, places, animals, the very lifeblood of creation. At 8 years old, he had never known any other life except for the memories of his sister. Black asked, <<I wish things had been different. The Path of the Ancients wasn’t meant for our time.>>

            He glanced upward. If he concentrated enough he could see through the threads into other universes. In some? He was the villain. In others? A broken man wandering a wasted hollowed-out earth. His sister was never born. He couldn’t bear to watch it all at once. He shuddered as he beheld a world where his mother was a conqueror. His father was a despot. They were the Urraden in that scenario. He shouted, “WHY SHOW ME THIS!?”

            He often demanded it of the Weave. To provide answers.

            Three figures bloomed. The shrouded cowls familiar to him. He pointed accusingly, “You are no better!”

            One flinched as if it had been hit. The white cowled head dipped low.

            Offering a hand in supplication. Dexter raced along the In-Between. Past the figures and lives ruined by Unity. Covering his ears. “I wanted to be normal! I WANTED TO BE REAL!” Only when he slept was he truly substantial. Playing games with his sister. Even if it was through a mirror. That scholar Di'axi mocking him with his freedom.

*****

            The scene froze. Dad was holding mom. This wasn’t going to be the most pleasant of journeys but it would help me understand. My brother was a bit of an enigma to me. I smiled sadly, “Let’s go then. I have been shielded long enough.” Dexter nodded.

His face pensive. “I only ask that you indulge a terrified 8 year old. The Weave put weight on us both before we were born.” He threw his arms around our parents.

            Kissing the top of mom’s head. “I didn’t want to reveal this. Not truly but for understanding it must be done.” My father growled, “Show us all of it son. Leave no stone upturned. You’ve carried the burden alone long enough.”

            The scene resumed.

*****

            In his dreams, he ran with his sister. Skipping stones down by the lake she loved. Watching the ducks float across the water. Her back hitching with fire as she moved. A spear of guilt ripped through him. He had her nodes. She was silent. Moving through the pain with as much grace as she could. Even with some amazing demi powers developing she would never reach the physical heights he would. He apologized endlessly in these waking dreams. She would smile brightly, “I am glad I have a brother. It makes sense when I sleep. I wish I could give you food! Grandma makes good pies.”

            He shook his head. His wild brown locks were more akin to a lion than a boy.

            “It's ok. I can taste the memory of it. Mom and dad know part of the truth!”

            He hissed. Remembering that gray mottled face with the cross-shaped scar.

            Eliza bit her lip, “I know the monsters are out there. We have to get stronger!”

            He pointed at their waists, “We will. But we must feed them as well. Without us, Black and White will fall.”

            Eliza regarded her brother. Questions burning in her eyes.

            “What is that? This Black and White?”

            Dexter crouched, “A long time ago….”

Issue 5: Here

The Dexter Chronicles/The Ouroborous:  Here