Friday, April 27, 2012
CHAPTER FORTY EIGHT
Philip Dresden sometimes felt that he was just another helpless product of fate in the universe. Rarely these days did he not know what was coming next. This was one of those times. So he was considerably reluctant to carry on... "Well we're here now," Philip informed Dr. Randolph, "So you don't have to keep trying to convince me to come back."
"I can never really get use to that... Across the world in the blink of an eye..."
He cluster-jumped Jason, Lazarus, and his son from New York to China and together, the five of them journeyed up the mountain to the temple.
"Explain to me again why you brought the kid?"
"It's not safe back home with Vlad and Moses out on patrol, and we need Lazarus here..."
"It's a very...old...temple..."
Philip knew that wasn't enough, "Consider this the last field trip these kids, and us for that matter, will ever go on..."
"That's grim." Jason commented as he walked by them.
"Not far now..."
When they got to the end of the trail it gave way to a clearing at the summit. Just as Jason and Dr. Randolph had seen in the months they lived here in the mountains. Philip had always seen this picture in his head, even when Sensei told him about the temple in the east during his training. This was always the place. The night he fell from the Empire State Building after hearing all the voices of the city, the same night his visions started...he knew his path would lead him here...to the hall of all the answers...All the questions and mysteries of his past, present, and future...
"Tonight... we find out everything." Philip told them as he neared the doorway.
There was no door. This place was built for the chosen one.
Philip walked through the archway. Inside the temple was nothing but ruins. Its decaying stone was covered in overgrown moss and the ceiling was caved in all around them. Everyone looked around at the old tragedy; only two faces were different. Lazarus, a man who could see what others could not, smiled in awe-filled eyes at all that was around him. And Philip watched Lazarus perceive the temple through the realm of the dead, just as he had foreseen.
Philip grabbed Lazarus' shoulder and closed his eyes, "What do you see?"
Lazarus panned from left to right and told him, "I see the ceiling...with the entire world in it, not our world...but one of the stars..."
Philip tried to picture it.
"...I see what lies beneath the ceiling, great white slabs..."
That is when Philip began to see it. Pure white giant tablets walling the temple. But they were not the only thing there. Lazarus stepped away and broke contact with Philip's arm. He opened his eyes and the visions remained. Philip could now see the Land of the Dead along with Lazarus, sharing in yet another ability. He was not finished.
As Lazarus touched the effervescent whiteness on the walls and informed them, "They're books!" Philip closed his eyes again and held out his other hand, facing the rest of his company. He breathed heavily.
The clouds in the sky made way for the moon whose shine washed them all over and gave Philip the strength to show them the dead temple reborn.
Dr. Randolph, Jason, and Lazarus' son, Yannie... all involuntarily changed perception filters on their eyes and joined Philip and Laz in putting the rest of the puzzle together. Yannie pulled books of pure light off the shelves next to his father while everyone else except Philip did the same. Philip kept his hands up while still facing towards them as they moved for the shelves, even though his eyes remained closed.
Yannie opened the book for what was the best moment of his entire life. It opened to a blank page, just like every other, but as he stared at it, a letter came into focus. It was an old letter, and not before long another blurred in and re-sized to fine black text next to the first. More followed and it spelled a word, word upon word wrapped next to the one before it painted a picture. In every book, on every page the picture was different, but the story remained the same. Whether it was the past, the present, or the future...the story involved the great Flood.
And Philip could see all of it.
He kept his eyes closed and channeled the discovery through them, pouring the knowledge into his head at a rate never felt before. It was inhuman, but it felt so good. It gave Philip strength, power in itself for him to keep going. A new door opened in Philip's existence, and he opened it, shedding his material bounds.
He had found the Infinite Source, lost in a cosmic abyss...
Storm clouds covered the moon and the channel were interrupted. Philip lost the source and opened his eyes. "We must go..."
"It's too late."
Thunder sounded in the distance and came roaring up. It was acting with a mind of its own, which could only mean one thing. The heavens opened and the rains came down along with a man. But it was not Fitzsimons, it was not the Storm Harvester. He walks into the temple.
The temple guardian returns to challenge the intruders.
It only appears to be a man, but once it gets close enough looks like a contained ocean riptide in human form. Philip gets everyone behind him and tries to greet the guardian. "My name is Philip Dresden, and I am the One..."
"DarkFlood... I am the created, I am Hydro, guardian of this domain, you have returned, and seen the light..." Hydro chanted like a machine giving off an automated response, "...Now all those worthy shall be tested..."
"WAIT!" The group scattered as the guardian, Hydro, began moving towards them again. The light flickered and the bookshelves returned. Hydro turned the temple back on. Yannie held his hand out and the book he was reading flew from the shelves towards him. Before it got to him he redirected it to hit Hydro. It exploded and turned some of the guardian to water sprinkling on the floor. Yannie pulled another book and another without touching it and flung it at Hydro. Philip was taken by the words of the guardian, it sounded like a message that was left for him...He feared that it was left by someone who knew him...
Yannie flew one more book into Hydro's ankle, incapacitating the ancient guard. Yannie stands before it as everyone else including his Father, cower behind Philip along the wall. "Yannie...please..." Lazarus begs him to run.
"It's fine, look!" Yannie leans over to touch the trapped guardian.
"Yannie don't!" Lazarus jumps for his boy.
Philip stops trying to figure out who left him the message to intervene. "Wait!" That's when he realizes who it was. But it was too late...
Yannie pokes Hydro and turns into water, splashing on the ground in a puddle.
The boy is gone, dead water.
"NO!" Lazarus yells at the top of his lungs. Philip grabs at him and tries to keep Lazarus from attacking Hydro. Lazarus throws Philip off in an unstoppable fury. Right before he reaches Hydro, he looks at them all one last time. His eyes are pure blazon white, like the books on the shelves, as he pulls them all along with him into Hydro.
The water collides with the light and sends everyone left in the temple catapulting through time and space. Philip can feel the Infinite Abyss calling to him, something new, another force like the Storm Harvester and the Divine Catalyst. He wants to push on in the time void but knows he must return to his world. He finds a familiar fold in the fabric of time and brings them back to Moses' Apartment in New York.
Philip had never felt such an engrossing level of power before, and it took him that much further away from humanity. He tasted existing as pure energy for the first time and now he wanted to live like that forever. But right now he followed his heart back home to save his friends; except his landing is but a fraction off. They arrive six months to the day after they journeyed to the temple in the East and the balance between human and super human has gone on without him and begun its descent into anarchy once and for all...