Out of the Impyard, into the Jester cave

“While we are within L’Mura, it is best that you do not even mention you were once a part of Prospertum”, said Jester grimly, “albeit most of L’Mura’s mortals have died off to old age, there are those who still remember the stories that their great, great, grandparents told them”.
Eli took a deep breath and steadied himself knowing full well his question could land him in great trouble.

“If L’Mura believes in the carnal reinforced by the technological, then why does Meren and Kelendis not grant their citizens… immortality?”, he trailed off hesitantly not wishing to speak further.

Jester gazed at him for a moment, his deep emerald green eyes twinkling in the fire light. After a rather uncomfortable moment for Eli he spoke:

“L’Murians believe that that which is canal must die. For to extend a life span is to cheat the Astrale”, Jester told him as a father would address a naive child.

“Astrale?”, Eli asked.

Jester raised an eyebrow at him quizzically and then continued:

“The Astrale is the Void as we know it. As we have learned in our constant pursuit of science, electrons are capable of being in two places at once when not harshly scrutinized”, he paused once more, searching for Eli’s reaction. Jester obviously realized that Eli had none forthcoming and so he sighed.

“The point I wish to make is that the Void, or rather Astrale, as some like to call it; has a built in way of disallowing direct observation. Even the Gods themselves can not crack all Astrale inconsistencies as they too, have biological functions under their divinity. Albeit it is possible for say”, Jester snorted and spat, “… Achladus to pry into the Astrale plan and use it in his experiments, he can never fully harness it. Think of it as a sub-source code within a super computer with excessive algorithm encryption. Just as a scientist who designs a great machine, the being who made all of this possible… would hate to see it hacked”.

Mesmerized as he was by the information that he was getting from Jester, Eli didn’t notice his mouth was hanging open for a solid minute. He was so in awe that he didn’t notice that a fly had taken up residence on his upper lip. Eli spat and shook himself.

“Yes, yes, but what does the Astrale… err Void”, he changed his word choice as he saw Jester’s complexion change at his ‘Astrale’ word usage, “… have to do with disallowing immortality on L’Muran citizenry?”

Jester looked away from Eli and gazed into the primitive fire he had created in his cave. After a few moments he seemingly absently replied with:

“Heresy”.

“What?”, came Eli’s automatic question.

Still peering into the flame’s licking tongue which cackled and popped in front of them encased in a rock cluster, Jester muttered:

“To artificially extend one’s life is to cheat the Void. When one does that there are bad consequences. To return to the Void after life is natural, to avoid it is unnatural. Nature and the universe always finds ways to balance…”, he trailed off still gazing into the flames, “I’m sure read about the Blackened back in Prospertum?”

Eli felt a knot develop in his stomach as he remembered the Historical passage he had had read as a child.

“Yes…”, he croaked.

“The Blackened are a fine example of what happens to biological entities who cheat death in our physical plane of existence. Sure they gained powers nearing demigods, but at a price…”, Jester immediately looked up Eli, the ire of the fire reflecting in his eyes:

“Their mortality”.

Eli gulped and then shuddered, he knew all too well what Jester meant by “mortality”.

“Decayed black rotting corpses”, he whispered.

“Indeed”, Jester agreed in a grim tone.

Even though Eli had just met this weirdo, who seemed rather mad, he also sounded insightful. It made no sense at all and the inconsistency of his madness threw him off. Did the Void (or rather Astrale) exist? Or was Jester delusional and messing around with him? He once more gave Jester a stare, trying to deduce what was going on within that most strange mind.

Jester evidently was done with the exchange as he smiled and turned around to start working on a clay mold. Where the clay had come from Eli couldn’t phantom as he looked at Jester through the fire. What it represented completely eluded Eli as he couldn’t comprehend it. It was some sort of blob which sprouted several appendages. These appendages varied in size and seemed to lack an purpose. Eli spoke:

“What is that Jester?”

“If I told you it would defeat the purpose of the art.”

“Art?”

“The expression of the soul”

“Why not just use some technology? Say a particle re-assembler?”, Eli asked innocently.

The sudden rage that accompanied his question was enormous and unexpected. Without warning Jester took the clay sculpture in one hand, and with the other, smashed his fist into it. Jester’s face flushed a deep scarlet and looked as if he might explode.

“Why don’t you just become a Mirrorer? Why not simply become a sheep? Why be sane when you can be mad?!”, he bellowed at Eli, the force of his voice amplified and godlike.

This outburst shocked Eli to the core and he froze in place, still sitting cross-legged in front of Jester’s looming face that hovered inches from the fire. He felt as if Jester had become a dragon and could breathe fire. He gawked in shock.

“Well?! What do you have to say for yourself… you… you scientist!”, Jester snarled at him, rage still evident in his voice.

Eli tried hard to think of what on Tsarsara Jester meant by that statement.

“I was just stating a more effective method…”, he said his voice giving out with a croak.

Jester took a deep breath and was evidently was steadying himself. After a brief while, he visibly calmed down and the serenity that was once evident in his eyes returned.

“… I had forgotten that you come from Prospertum…”, there was a slight tinge to his eyes, like a tear, “Let me explain it to you Eli. Art is the expression of the soul. It’s where logic begins and creativity ends, however I am sure that no one knows this. The artist claims the irrational while simultaneously hiding meaningful reason”, Jester grinned sardonically.

“That makes no sense”, said Eli timidly scared of another outburst.

“Says the man who practices binary”.

“Stop speaking in riddles”.

“Stop breathing”.

“That’s impossible”.

“Exactly”, grinned Jester.

He lowered his gaze and looked at his clay encased hand. It was as if he had had some sort of reality disconnect.

“Well… that’s wonderful”, Jester’s voice trailed off, “I was going to shoot it when it was done”.

Eli cocked his head back, what on earth what this individual talking about?

Banquet of Tremors, massive passage.

Jester then grabbed him by the hand, much to Eli’s surprise, and led him into the audience hall. The sights that assailed Eli’s senses were overbearing. Hanging from crystal chandeliers were faerie-like girls who sparkling and danced, wings outstretched. The walls were covered with vines and roses of the most random of colors: red, blue, purple, brown, and even pink. As for the ground it was a series of inter-crossed rugs with depictions of various battles, artistic murals, and technological advancements.

Furthermore there were tables everywhere, sprawled out in completely random patterns. Some were pushed into the corners while others were right smack in the middle of the hall. The whole place looked like a myriad of chaotic jungle, where no rules or standards were followed. The majority of the crowd were humans, but there was also a wide minority of Nymphs, faeries, and advanced cyborgs posing as other life forms.

The activities that went on lacked any purpose and ranged across the disciplines. There was a group of Nymphs playing some sort of bubble dart game (where the bubbles would float in random directions and the player had to shoot them down) in the far back right corner. Whenever the dart tosser missed a bubble it would inevitably start to telepathically laugh hysterically as the dart embedded itself in one of the other Nymphs. Eli was confused at first, how can being impaled be fun? He thought to himself. His question was immediately answered when the most recent impaled Nymph took out the dart embedded in it’s torso and the wound closed immediately. Apparently the Nymphs had amazing regenerative powers, and no damage could prove fatal to them.

At another table a group of humans… or more specifically cyborgs posing as humans, were furiously typing out formula on a holographic 3D screen. Eli attempted to read what was going on on the screen, but quickly realized that it was way beyond his abilities.

“So are you going to gawk all night?”, asked Jester sarcastically, “Or are you going to follow me to the centre?”

“B-but why?”, asked Eli completely in a trance.

“To enjoy the festival more actively!”, shouted Jester, “Meren and Kelendis sit at the middle of the hall so that they can watch all of it!”

Jester didn’t wait for a response and grabbed Eli’s face and shook it without warning.

“STOP THAT!”, shouted Eli angrily, “What on Tsarsara was that for?!”

“Reality check”, explained Jester, “The Banquet can make you lose track of time, which is kinda the point really!”, Jester added a mischievous grin, “So follow me young one to Kelendis and Meren!”

I guess he is right, thought Eli, but what is the point of this place?

Oh you will learn soon enough, came a familiar voice inside of his head, just follow Jester, he’s a little nuts but he is completely aware of it.

GET OUT OF MY HEAD! Eli telepathically replied to the speaker.

That is like telling Prospertum to stop trying to destroy Gaia’s Rise or brainwashing it’s Hive, came back the reply.

It was then that Eli realized he was speaking to the ArchNymph Ilen.

Ugh I’ll never get used to you Nymphs, thought Eli back.

And we will never understand what a mouth is, what an ineffective way to speak and eat, came Ilen’s reply.

All of this telepathic think-talking took place over the span of three seconds, three seconds too long according to Jester. He once again grabbed Eli’s head and shook it.

“What are you on Eli? Did you smoke something when I wasn’t looking earlier today?”, he asked with concern in his eyes.

“Oh… Ilen was talking to me”, Eli said absent mindedly.

Jester snorted, “We all know that Nymphs don’t talk Eli”, he winked at him and took a step back spreading out his arms in resignation.

“You can hear them Jester?”

“Well DUH! I can hear them but no one else can, well except you, Meren, and Kelendis… and I guess the Nymphs themselves. It would be best if you didn’t tell anyone else about it”.

With that Jester grabbed Eli by the arm and forced him to follow him into the fray that was the banquet. Even though there were large volumes of bodies moving chaotically back and forth, somehow Jester navigated them through the crowd with no collisions. The colors that Eli saw while walking through the crowd were multi-faceted and disorienting, it really was like he was on a drug.

Eventually he and Jester made it to the center of the chamber. Sitting proud at the circular table was Meren, and at his side the fair and yet odd Kelendis. Meren’s short grey hair clung to his scalp and placed upon his brow was a crown of birch twigs. His cloak was a deep green which covered his body completely. He wore his signature black glove on his right hand, an emerald stud just over his pointer finger. His sharp face was stoic in expression and his eyes were fixed upon a display of cyborg humans arm wrestling sitting a table over.

As for Kelendis, her white-blond hair was up in a bun with a pair of sticks lodged within the bun. Her eyes were fixated upon the ceiling where several faeries were playing keep away from a rather flustered younger boy faerie. Kelendis wore a pitch black tight dress, that accented her figure, with stars etched in. Her eyes shone a deep emerald green and her lips were parted in a lovely smile. It was her who quickly looked down and noticed Eli and Jester, she quickly nudged Meren.

Meren ignored the initial nudge and so Kelendis leaned in and gave Meren’s ear a quick nibble. That got Meren’s attention immediately and he took his eyes off of the two cyborgs. He looked quizzically at Kelendis with a raised eyebrow. Kelendis giggled and then pointed at Jester and Eli smiling a deep half crescent. Meren turned to look directly at Eli, a wilful piercing gaze that made Eli feel very small. Then without warning Meren stood up and raised one of his muscular arms. The whole assembly immediately stopped making noise and Meren spoke:

“Every year on Hallow’s eve we here in L’Mura preform a great artistic dancing ritual. Humans are not simply machines meant to be used and discarded once they lack value”, Meren made a pause and looked at Eli beaming at him benevolently, he continued, “In Prospertum Zanara and Achladus inspired hatred and fear in order to get others to create for them. But no! Not here in L’Mura, we choose the Individualistic path over the Collective-Hive path”, once again he paused and looked lovingly at Kelendis, for a moment Eli thought he saw a single tear forming in his left eye, Meren shook himself and looked back at the hall, “This night is for all of you! Welcome to the Banquet of Tremors!”

Banquet of Tremors – Gaia’s parting song

Of the Twins there was always one

One of higher mind and the other of spirit

But because of Pride and Arrogance

The twins shall apart: be broken

Stars of the Ocean above will rejoice when serpents fly

For the sun has peeked through the veil of deciet

But of that lost? Of that to be found? Of that to rise?

Beware the one that shines of coal and fright yet cries alight!

The Twins shall rise rise once more but the trail will open

For destruction is creation and the air is full of spores

Thus I decay over the centuries few…

So that you may live… Two?

Banquet of Tremors excerpt 3 (non edit)

Eli remembered all too well what had happened the last time he had left the pen open. As soon as the hound-mantis realized that there was an opening in the fence that held it in shackles it bolted. It immediately targeted a fellow scientist under the name of Krin and was about to tear out his throat when Eli had a bright idea. Well, not bright, but dark. Eli had quickly shut off the lights and the thing had gone immediately limp and confused, with a lack of light it was both immobilized and blind. Krin had been furious that Eli had made such a blunder, but he forgiven him after Eli proposed to give him all his chocolate rations for three months as an apology. The science behind what had made the thing go limp was never explained or investigated. This was due to the fact that if it was investigated in the first place, the experiment would’ve drawn the question of: why had the lights been turned off? Naturally Eli, Krin, and Seil would then have to explain what had happened in the lab which would prove disastrous. Eli would’ve been stripped of his title of geneticist and the council would’ve been furious.

“Yeah… you’re right sis” Eli responded, a sad expression written all over his face, “I will double check this time”.

“Triple check sounds more like it!” Seil snapped, “Krin could have been devoured by that… that… thing! Anyways, I will see you down in the lab in thirty”.

And with that Seil slipped down the stairs in the opposite direction from whence she had came, her brown hair flipping in the wind. Eli took a deep breath and looked out at the SERP1, which was unloading it’s military personnel, once more before turning in the direction Seil had come from and took a step.

Banquet of Tremors – excerpt 2 (non edit)

Eli frowned at this and asked blankly: “Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of our whole assignment? Like I mean, shouldn’t our proposed idea of an everlasting food source be based off one organic being? If we include many we are simply reverting back to inefficient archaic methods of meat gathering?”

“Well to some extent I would propose” answered Krin through gritted teeth, “But than again it is possible to say that is still more efficient than forcing cattle to graze for months with hormonal therapy”.

“Just because you compare our innovations to more pathetic methods doesn’t mean that you’re making progress” Seil replied mechanically, “I want to make sure that the hound-mantis can properly reconstruct themselves after we scrape the meat off of them”.

“That… simply isn’t possible with the amount of data that we have gathered on bio-synthesis and genetic splicing”, replied Krin.

At this Seil looked from the laboratory with it’s wide assortment of test tubes, computer monitors, biological emulators, and then lowered her gaze upon Krin.

“Krin. . . that simply isn’t acceptable, I am looking forward to your constant vigilance and guidance”, She looked over at Eli, “Also remember Krin that Eli is also your tool in this regard and you need to help him to mold your current project”.

The obvious dislike that Seil flashed Krin’s way was completely evident to Eli but Krin didn’t seem to notice as he was gazing upon his note-tablet and furiously pressing upon it. It’s probably a good thing, thought Eli, Krin would probably lose himself and rage and say something stupid.

“Eli, would you please grab a vial and a pair of tongs?”, asked Krin, “And please be snappy about it we have to solve this problem, rather sooner than later”.

Eli nodded, quickly span around and went directly across from the table that both Krin and Seil were standing at and reached for a cupboard. The aged oak cupboard was smeared with chemical stains, as series of experiments gone haywire, and distinctly smelt of roses. Eli never understood why they smelt of roses, but then again half of the time he didn’t understand anything that happened in the lab. Seil and Krin led the more complicated experiments and any time he would ask them what was happening or how to properly execute the same methods, they would shrug or tell him that he wasn’t senior yet to learn more. He opened the cupboard through the twisting of a lever, all cupboards within this room held levers for safety reasons, grabbed a vial and was about to grab a pair of tongs when suddenly the door swung open with a deafening crash. Eli spun around and noticed out of the corner of his eye that Krin had done the same. A look of shock and curiosity sparked across their complexions.

Excerpt from Banquet of Tremors – My novel to be

Eli then realized that he was standing around staring at the retreating Grey robes and so he decided that he better get a move on. He put one step in front of the other… and then realized that he had left his Extra-Dimensional Box at home. Eli would require the device to store the goods he was after since the concept of a “bag” had been abolished when Eli had been yet a toddler, under his Ward: Matthias.

Eli thought back to when he had been given his first EDB when he was the ripe age of five. He had been playing with a molecular model given to him by Seil for his birthday before she walked up and handed him it. In fact Eli remembered exactly what Seil had told him:

“Remember Eli to never press the buttons until I tell you”.

Stubborn and childish, Eli had completely ignored Seil’s warnings and had instead pressed all six colored buttons at random: right in front of Seil! The deafening pain that had accompanied the pressing of the buttons had been enormous! One moment Eli had felt utter joy with his gift and the next he was wriggling on the floor in agony. This EDB wasn’t an Extra Dimensional Box after all. It had been a prank engineered by Seil meant to teach Eli a valuable lesson.

“The lesson here Eli is that you must obey your older sister Seil”, his ward Matthias had told him, “She means the best for you and wants you to succeed. Seil has just been accepted as a Red robe and wishes the same for you”.

Eli had internalized his EDB incident and because of it had never questioned Seil’s judgement ever again. Only two short years later Matthais had been drafted into the war against the Defiled and died in combat. Eli had been heart-broken. He would cry for hours on end and whenever he looked at his toys he would remember the horrible experience. He never touched his toys again.

Eventually Eli reached his destination at the southern war pyramid and he gazed upon the behemoth. It was completely smooth and triangular but legend had it that in times of distress it would open up and summon lightning bolts. Of course Eli had never seen this happen since Prospertum hadn’t been directly invaded by the Nymphs or Defiled in over a century.