Fantasy Fiction posted April 26, 2014 Chapters:  ...5 6 -7- 8... 


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Doctrex Leaps While Axtilla Sleeps

A chapter in the book The Trining

The Portal

by Jay Squires


NEW TO THE TRINING?  You'll get a good feel for its entirety if you read the summaries from chapters two through five.  THIS WILL BEGIN THE SUMMARY FOR CHAPTER SIX:
 
Doctrex is horrified by the Kojutake that Axtilla has pointed to.  Stretched out above them is a membrane, a skin, and behind it huge creatures Axtilla identifies as Pomnots (Pom, Dark and Not, Force. The dripping blood from the heart of their prey penetrates the skin and the skin immediately heals itself.  The Pomnots conduct their murderous activities in pantomime.  There is no sound from the other side and the Pomnots can't hear them, either.  Doctrex has trouble believing this, so to test it Doctrex dances wildly around the fire screaming at them and shaking his fist.  When he turns to smile at Axtilla he sees her face transfixed with horror.  He turns to see the Pomnot stretching the skin to the breaking point and before he can escape the Pomnot's snout is pressed into his chest through the unbreaking skin.  The skin releases the Pomnot like a slingshot back into the sulfurous fog.  Axtilla is beside herself in laughter.
 
Once she settles down and they are in a serious mode she explains to Doctrex that she has to go to the other side, has to enter Kojutake.  She has no choice
.
 
Chapter Seven

My eyes locked on hers. An increasingly familiar frustration rose in me. I couldn't believe this was coming from the same mouth that told me earlier we had to hurry to get back to the cave before dark. And, wasn't she driven by sheer panic when she made her attempted escape up the slippery hillside? I slowly shook my head, still scrutinizing her. "I can't believe what I'm hearing, Axtilla."

"Of course, you can't, Doctrex. It all happened so fast, and I didn't have the time to explain things to you in the proper order."

"Now we have even less time … and like it or not, I've kind of been a part of everything that's happened so far."

"That's true. You entered at a critical part of our history. You didn't ask for it, but you're here. The only chance that you, or anyone, will have for survival is if I go through to the other side."

"And, this revelation came to you just now?"

"I know you are angry and that's okay." She traced a small circle with a twig on the ground between us. "No it didn't suddenly come to me. I knew about it before I ever saw you lying on the shore. I knew about it since I was banished here. I fought it with everything I had. It was unfair. Why was I the only one to whom this horrible responsibility fell? I wouldn't do it! I would stay in my cave during periods of darkness and only go out during the daytime to gather food and fuel for the fire."

"Why was it left up to you in the first place?"

"For me to explain that, Doctrex ..." She took a deep breath. "... I must go back and pick up some threads I dropped earlier. We'll have to return to when the Bining occurred, about five generations ago—"

"Now—now wait! Don't even begin to tell me you were there then!"

She watched me struggling with the thought, the corners of her mouth twitched in anticipation of a smile she was able to check. "Why? What difference does it make, Doctrex?"

"Well … none, I suppose. It's just not possible, that's all."

"Okay, then … The Tablets of Kyre tell us that our ancestry stretched back over two-thousand years. They were all like the Pomnots you saw earlier. Probably more vicious. Certainly as much centered on themselves as now.

"Out of that violent, black morass, a point of the brightest light was introduced."

"And the light was called Kyre. And, it was good," I said, with all the pomp of an orator.

She shot me a glare.

"I'm sorry, Axtilla. But it seemed right out of our Old Testament."

She brought her eyes back to the front. "It is very important to my people. I suppose it's not important for you to see its power or its beauty." She took a deep breath and went on. "What is important, is that I finish the history and for you, as much as is possible, to let me finish it with few interruptions.”

"I understand." I stifled a grin. "I'm sorry."

"Remember, I told you I was the last in the line of the Encloy?"

"I do. Yes." I found myself responding as an enlisted man would to a General. It only lacked the "sir." I knew it was a sign my ego was being tromped on. I needed to show her the respect she deserved. She was, after all, in a position to help us both.

"And, you remember I explained how, over time, a growing number of the Dark Force came to recognize the force of light to be something worthwhile? And, how that group formed the third part of our population?"

"Yes, I remember."

"And, when the Bining came, some stayed and some went with the Pomnots over to the other side, depending on their strength of belief in the light?"

"Their faith."

She looked momentarily annoyed with my interruption, but responded: "It was more of the closeness in memory. Those of the three generations following the teachings of the light, almost to a person, stayed. The ones just introduced to it more than likely reverted. But, we have to remember we all came from the Pomnot stock.”

This was one more thing I found hard to swallow, but I didn't interrupt her.

"Desire, or faith, as you call it, was not enough to gain entrance to the Encloy. From its beginning the Encloy was made up of those with special skills. It is said in the Tablets that only Kyre possessed all the knowledge and skills."

"Oh, so he was—"

"Yes?"

"Nothing." I convinced myself that this small surrender was acceptable in the interests of time.

"But, since Kyre could not be everywhere at once …"

Well this was a departure! I shot her what I thought was a covert glance, but I kept my thoughts to myself.

"You're smiling," she said.

"I didn't know. I'm sorry."

"As the light separates from its source, its radiance diffuses. So, though each of the specialists was important to the whole, none was particularly brilliant by himself. But when all the specialists communed together, as long as there was a harmony among them, their combined brilliance dazzled the senses."

"That's beautiful," I said. "Was that your experience?"

"No." She paused for a long time and when I was about to ask if I’d said something that bothered her, she continued. "No, I never experienced the harmony. I was paraphrasing Kyre, from his Tablets. By the time my grandfather—my father's father—was admitted to the Encloy it already showed signs of inner disharmony. He told my father, and years later my father told me, there was taunting and bickering among the practitioners over which specialty was more valuable to our people. My grandfather was a peacemaker and a leader. And, since that was his specialty, he commanded considerable power and respect. He was a gentle man, and wise—and with patience and love he was able to restore some of the harmony. My father was next in succession when his father died. He needed to be voted in, but he had a natural charm and was loved and respected by nearly all. He was chosen after only one ballot."

"And, yet it seems like there's a world of meaning in your nearly all. Or, was I reading more into it than I should?"

"No, there was a small but vocal group of dissenters present when my grandfather and then my father took their leadership role."

"I think I see where this is going."

"No you don't, but go on."

"Did you have a brother?"

"No."

"So, when your father died, you were next in succession … you or your mother."

"My mother died giving birth to me. I was an only child."

"Well, as charming and intelligent as you are, I'm sure it took you more than one ballot to be chosen successor."

She looked down at the ground, smiling. Charm wouldn't be the reason they would reject her. I was certain of that.

"So … how many? The second, third, fourth ballot?"

She shook her head.

"What?"

"I was not chosen. It would have set too much of a precedent … just as you had so intelligently supposed."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be. I'm not sure that I, or anyone else for that matter, could have provided the leadership the Encloy needed. It was perhaps doomed to dissolution. A point of light only exhibits its true brilliance when seen against the darkness. Who would have guessed that the beginning of the extinguishing of the light would occur the moment the Pomnots were taken to the other side? If you forget everything else I've said before, don't forget this. It's a key to everything."

I nodded.

My grandfather spent his life studying Kyre's prophesies.  By correlating this knowledge with a close observation of our people, he was the first to recognize the slow, paralyzing effect of a prolonged period without outward resistance. Peace reigned for generations. My people were well on the way to becoming physically and mentally debilitated through lack of exercise. A light without the contrast of darkness!"

"I see." I remembered lying on the beach. As weak as I was, how effortlessly I threw Axtilla off my back. And, later, how winded she got as she ran from me, ending up collapsed on the ground, gasping.

"Our destiny was clear, almost preordained. We would not be prepared for what the Tablets prophesied." She paused, staring into the sulfurous sky.
I thought she was drawing me out. If so, it worked. "What did the Tablets prophesy?"

"Only that, when the Trining occurred there would be a sudden, easy and complete translation of authority."

I glanced at her in time to see the tears form in the corners of her eyes. She was staring at the ground in front of her. Not blinking, the tears hung there.

"The words seem to have a lot of meaning for you," I said. "It's like you were reading from the Tablets."

"I know the Tablets by heart." Without a pause, she turned to me. "Did you understand the words, Doctrex?"

"It was eloquent. No, should I have?"

She was briefly irritated, but recovered. "I'd have thought you would ask about the Trining."

"Is that why you stopped when you finished that part?"

"I stopped because Kyre ends the tablets there. There is no more.”

"So, I'm guessing the Trining was the end as well?"

"Is—no. Will be—yes. The Trining hasn't happened yet. You need to know about the Trining, so once again try to abstain from the unimportant questions."

"Well!" I said, feigning taking offense at her words. Finally I smiled. "Okay, you got it!"

"Kyre described the Bining—not the Trining, but the original Bining—as 'a brief, incomplete lodging, with rapid departure. It could be no other.'"

I sighed. So many questions I promised not to ask! Was Kyre describing a conscious contact with the planet? What did he mean, 'it could be no other'?

"Had the Bining been a 'complete lodging and permanent', as the earliest members of the Encloy interpreted, in their Additions to the Tablets, our civilization would differ much from what it grew to be. There was much dispute over the types and degrees of difference."

"I'm sorry, Axtilla, but now I've got to ask a question. You might assume I already know the answer to my question and therefore never clear it up."

"Go on, Doctrex, but quickly."

"Yes. Incomplete lodging … rapid departure. Why does it sound like an intelligent encounter? Should it? Was it a spaceship? Do you even know what I mean by spaceship?"

"If you must interrupt with questions, Doctrex, you must only ask the pertinent ones. The only pertinent one you asked now was whether it was an intelligent encounter. The rest was irrelevant."

I felt the heat rising in my face. "Then, answer that one pertinent question, will you, Axtilla?"

“Sure. Only Kyre knew the composition of the Bining, whether it was intelligent or not. Once recorded in the Tablets and open to the speculation of the people of Encloy, and in light of the passing over of the Pomnots from our sphere to the other, the weight of opinion is that it was intelligently directed." She raised her hand as if to stop any additional question. "But we are wasting our time talking now about the Bining, except in respect to what it tells us about the Trining. The Trining will be, without question, intelligently directed."

"How can you be so sure?"

"Because Kyre was very clear in his Tablets of the things that would come to pass before the Trining."

"As signs of its coming?"

"As its precedence."

"What do you mean?"

She took on a reflective demeanor. "You now know more about the Trining than any of my people. And, you are about to learn what only my father and I knew."

"I don't understand. Weren't the Tablets your people's spiritual documents?"

"For the people of the Encloy, yes. But, my grandfather made them—shall we say—less than accessible to the general membership when he became aware of the enemy within the Encloy. My father was party to this knowledge, of course, and shortly after Grandfather died my father had a dream. At first he thought it was his father commanding him, but he soon realized it was Kyre Himself. Kyre instructed Father to teach me the contents of the Tablets. I was in fact instructed to commit all seven Tablets to memory over a period of three years. Once Father was convinced that all were safely stored in my memory, he was to destroy the Tablets."

"What a terrible responsibility."

"What an honor to be so entrusted with my people's history."

"Did anyone ever discover this?"

"You. Now."

"Why me? Why now?"

"I will answer you that but first you need to know what only my father and I were given knowledge of. You must be given the name of the dark entity who is destined to empower the lodging on our plane. His name is Glnot Rhuether."

"Okay, but—"

"Say it, Glnot Rhuether."

I attempted it, did a poor job with the initial triple consonants. I tried it again.

"Better. Glnot … but more importantly, will you remember it?"

"I'll remember it, but I hope you're planning to tell me why it's going to be so important.

"You may not have to, but we can't take any chances. I must go over. I must confront Glnot Rhuether. My life has been entwined with yours for quite a while, as if a force stronger than either of us has been guiding our lives. If that is true then, for whatever reason, you might find yourself on the other side, too."

We were both silent for a spell. I considered her words. This force she mentioned—did she believe it was Kyre? Or, were we being Glnot Rhuether's puppets? Is that what she thought?

"Doctrex, I told you our sphere is a point of arrival for those intimately connected with a violent passing."

"A brother is what you said."

"Metaphorically, to help you with grasping the idea. Anyway …" She paused.

"Yes?"

"It's always been location specific."

"Meaning?"

"Your arrival was at a location never used by new arrivals before."

"Are you saying—it sounds a lot like you're saying—that I may not be of the recent dead?"

"Have you had any memory flashes—any at all—that might explain where you came from?"

"Why? How would that help?"

"Kyre said in the sixth Tablet that a stranger would come to my people from the sea, that he would speak in a tongue unknown to them, he would win their loyalty and by deceit would destroy us from within, all in preparation for the Trining. 'Pondria will move like sweet-tasting water among my people,' Kyre warned, 'and my people will drink the water and find it refreshing to their spirit. And even while they want more of the sweet tasting water, a slow poison will begin to creep into their spirit.'"

"I remembered it when you recited it the last time. Oh, Axtilla! I thought we'd grown beyond that. Remember? Pondria could easily have gotten himself out of where I had myself wedged in the cave wall. You told me that yourself. And, no one could doubt Pondria's thigh was more powerful than my puny one." I studied her expression, hoping for a trace of a smile. A steady, stern gaze returned mine.

Then, she stared down at a place beyond our feet and without looking back at me, brought her hand to rest on my forearm. Her eyes filled and overfilled, but she didn't turn them to me. "Doctrex, I want to believe that more than you know. Don't look at me. Please."

I found that same space beyond our feet and focused my gaze there, but I wanted, more than anything, to put my other hand on hers. Still, I resisted.

"I have told you more than my people know, Doctrex. Can you fathom that? The knowledge I have given you is treasonous. I could be put to death. If you are Pondria, I should be put to death."

I wanted to scream, to curse, to shout, to shriek: I am not Pondria! But I kept my silence.

"Do you know why I was banished? No, don't answer—I will tell you why I was banished. After my father died, I remained secluded in our home, alone. I was feeling almost—how can I say it—almost sacred. I had memorized the entirety of the tablets. I felt a closeness to Kyre that I'd never felt before. He seemed personal for the first time, not abstract. I had profound dreams that connected me with his voice, not his face, for no one has looked into the face of Kyre. But, Kyre gave me instructions in my dreams, and his voice was sweet and melodious and compelling. But, I didn't want to follow them. They frightened me and I wanted to count them as dreams only and not real. But, when I failed to follow them, Kyre came to me at night with a stronger, more urgent dream, one in which I could feel a kind of unfinished wrath.  It had to be finished … so I followed his instructions. With fear in my heart I went out among my people and gave them the message of Pondria's powers, his dreadful gifts.

"I spoke to my people one by one, in small groups, in larger gatherings. I made my presence in the Encloy, spoke before the assembly there, within which the factions of the Dark Force had gained a stronghold.

"To everyone who would listen, or pretended to listen, I told how their peace was not a true peace. With true peace there had to be constant vigilance that would guarantee its own perpetuation. Kyre's admonition about Pondria was met with laughter. They were laughing at Kyre. I persisted. The ones who weren't laughing—well they were laughing publicly, but taking it very seriously within the confines of the Encloy—were the force of darkness.

"I was brought before the Encloy's justice board where my faith was tested. When they found my belief in what I was telling everyone was unshakable, the board ordered my head shaved and banished me to the fourth quadrant—here where one month after my sojourn, I discovered Pondria, emerged from the sea, as Kyre foretold."

"I … am … not … Pondria!" I said, through clenched teeth, while managing to keep myself from shouting and still not looking at her.

At first, silence. And, then a huge exhale escaped her lips.

I swung my head in her direction.

Her eyes were closing, her head tilted toward me. Her mouth was slack.

"Axtilla! What is it? Are you—?"

"So—sleepy. Kyre wants me—"

"Wants you?"

"… wants me to sleep." Her eyes were fully closed. "…dream," she murmured.

I sat there quietly beside her, listening to her breathing, her head now on my shoulder. Resting my cheek against the crown of her head, I closed my eyes, too. After a while, I felt the faint flutter of her pulse against the side of my face; or was it my pulse up from the river vessels, crowding at my jaw? A fluttery feeling, like the teasing tickle of the foam above the gentle power of the deep-sucking tide, the swelling and releasing of her body into mine and mine back into hers. And, before releasing myself to that final, blissful annihilation, I remembered another brief tugging at my side, a slow ripping of the flesh and a remorseful separation. From what? What? Then a drawing downward into the sea and a forgetting.
 
#
 
"Help me! Help me, please!"

I reached out my dream hands through the churning water, felt it sliding obliquely from me, following its own chains, trailing graying flesh from its side. Already its eyes were open and staring, and its sea-grass hair, trailing past staring eyes, open mouth and slack shoulders, back toward me.

"Help me! Please, mister, pull me through."

Pull me through! A dreamSea-grass stringing back toward me. My eyes snapped open and I remove my face from the weight against it. A warm dampness, now cooling, on my cheek, filled me with an unspeakable sorrow as I looked down on the head that, without the anchor of my cheek, was about to slide down my arm. I stalled its descent with my left hand, while I maneuvered my right arm behind her. Edging back, I gently guided her to a lying position on her side. I smiled down on her.

"Help me, sir. Please help me."

I whipped my head around to where the sound seemed to originate. The Kojutake was back with all its silent fury. The sky was a sulfurous blaze. But, if there was no sound to the Kojutake, where did the voice come from? Did I imagine it? Was it part of the dream that bled out into my waking?

"Here, sir, please, a little behind you. Look, please help me."

Twisting from the waist, I caught a glimpse, then scrambled to my knees and spun around fully to confirm what I had seen. Out past our log, where the ground began a sharper slope down from our plateau into the darkness, I saw the young girl, barely illuminated by the fire, hanging upside-down from her waist, half in our world and half in the Kojutake.

It has to be part of the dream.  I’ll wake up from this, too ….

I got to my feet, stiff from all my sitting, and moved toward her. She couldn't have been more than seven or eight. An odd mixture of fear and relief was in her face, or what little I could see of it, her bronze-colored hair hanging down very nearly to her finger tips.

"Please, before they find me. They will kill me. Please, pull me through."

I judged how far over the slope of the hill she hung. I knew if I stood just below her, reaching up, there was no way I could reach her down-stretched hands. She was about fifteen to twenty feet out past the log.

"Oh, hurry, sir!"

"I'm trying to figure my best way of reaching you, little girl. Try to be calm. I just need a second to figure this out.”

With adrenaline coursing through my veins, I quickly realized my only chance at reaching her would be by leaping through the air. Behind me, I had a runway of about ten yards before the hill began its sharp incline toward the mountain. If I could just develop enough speed I might be able to launch off the log. If I could grab her through my leap, my momentum should pull her down out of her imprisonment.

Very slowly and deliberately I explained this to her, adding, "Now my timing may be off, so when you see me leaping toward you, if I seem to miss my mark, do everything you can to grab onto me. Do you understand me?"

"Yes, sir," she said, in a trembling voice.

"Let's do it, then," I said, with as much hope as I could muster—as much for me as for her. I counted off twenty-seven walking paces to the base of the incline. On a full run that would be about thirteen paces until I got to the log.

In my mind's eye I pictured a perfect right-footed launch off the log, a soaring through the air toward the child, a full-armed embrace as I passed within six inches of her and a half-pirouette as my body ripped her from her sheath within the other world and we both tumbled down the hill.

I took a step, stopped.

My heart was thrumping in my throat.

I can’t do this.  This is impossible!

“Please hurry, sir.” She sobbed. “Oh, hurry!”

Okay, okay… No more rehearsals. I began a slow loping, then gained speed, building to a sprint as I approached the log. I sprang with my left foot toward the log, perfectly timed so my right foot planted on the rough surface, while I simultaneously uncoiled my right thigh, pushing off the log, catapulting myself toward the girl, whose eyes were wide with fearful anticipation. As I rehearsed, within a blur of a second I was within a grasp of the little girl. My arms wrapped around her knees, precisely as I had envisioned.

Unlike my rehearsal, her down-hanging pipe-stem arms entwined my passing thighs, her tiny hands grasping my calves like a pair of vises. And, instead of my momentum ripping her from her imprisonment, I felt a slowing, a suspension, and then soundlessly, effortlessly, she dragged me up through the opening … into the Kojutake!
 
 


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