|Written||25 September - 18 October 2019|
|Story Arcs||Daora Meredok story arc|
|Character(s)||Daora Meredok, Gidun Yat|
|Location||Darana, Coracan, Primanna|
A giant azure sphere drifted across the sky. Serulus darkened the sky, its overwhelming size smothering the sun.
In the distance, glass towers glistened with all the colours of the sun. From white to black, with every shade of starlight in between. Yellow, orange, red, blue, indigo.
In Darana only a handful of stars ever appeared above. But there were ten thousand thousand on the ground, blasting light into the eclipse-night. Across the vast gulf of space, a single point of light poked out. This was the hope of a species, an outreach to another world. A new home, away from the only home anyone had ever known. Against the utter blackness of the twin planet, that point of light shone all the more brightly.
Daora Meredok and her grandfather stepped off the tram into the bustling market. Grocery shopping in the dark of day. Above the fumes of vehicles and the stench of second-hand smoke was a rich soup of flavours. Freshly roasted duck, hanging on skewers behind giant glass windows under golden lights. The scent of spices, from allenkut to turmeric, from capsicum to the greatest chilli pastes of all time. Steaming skewers of meat coated in a variety of thick pastes. Hot and sticky jam doughnuts oozing syrupy goodness into the air.
Daora picked out her favourite, Nasa Kaya, rice with cucumber, peanuts and chilli-paste covered anchovies.
Her grandfather ordered a potato, quartered and loaded with mincemeat and yoghurt. They sat there together, with the day’s groceries beside them. Under the warm streetlights, they absorbed the smells, the masses of people, the clatter of plates and cutlery, the clamouring of merchants shouting prices in yat for their wares, the handful of pale celestial lights, the myriad of human ones, the chill of eclipse air, the basal satisfaction of savoury food in the stomach.
All of it. And yet, something was missing. Just as she knew there was a galaxy, a universe, beyond Darana’s light-polluted skies, she knew that there were people missing closer to the ground. People far too close. Gone, like the stars here. Remembered by her, with precious fragments of proof where all else failed. The memory of the world failed, but she held fast. Like the stars, they were forgotten, vanished, with the only trace of memory in her own mind. All others’ memory of them no longer existing. Somewhere out there, were answers. The truth behind the nameless monster erasing people. Flying through the dreamworlds, learning to fight the dark spirits, anything for answers. Her grandfather led the way. Too many chunks had been taken out of her heart for her to ignore. Anything she became attached to seemed to go missing, to vanish. One day, she promised herself, she would find out why.
For a moment she pondered the institutions of faith. The Cruxis, with their transcendental monogod; the Katris, and their offerings of fire to sate the two-headed duality-gods; the Dayutras, saying that all things are one object making a winding path through time; the Jienas, obeyers of the universal Law; the Pagans, worshipping Coracan’s myriad of gods and spirits.
And then, from a dimension of mind, came the ripples. In the middle of the marketplace, time seemed to stop.
Her grandfather whispered, ‘I don’t mean to alarm you, but you need to put on your glasses right now.’
She had a pair of dark glasses hooked into the neck of her faded pink hoodie. 100% ischerite and cool as hell. But now she didn’t think about that. Everyone was looking up. For once in their lives, the people of Darana stopped looking at their toes. For once, the unsleeping, evermoving city paused. And for good reason. Ahead of schedule, the skies were light again. Auroras. Impossible auroras. Yet, they were there, all the same. In their brilliant glory: reds, greens, pinks, yellows, blues. These weren’t tourism-brochure auroras, these were something else. Something beyond extraordinary.
Spirit-birds. Swarming and flocking, flowing and shifting in iridescence.
‘We’re not just lucky, Daora,’ her grandfather whispered. ‘The world is changing.’
The birds glided down, roosting on every surface. There were thousands of them in a myriad of wild and exotic forms.
One of the birds perched at their table. She stretched out her hand and stroked its golden beak.
It opened its mind. A Gyrus of a million, billion, worlds, only a dreamwalk away. Its green glassy eyes had seen more in a month than Daora had seen in a lifetime.
It was true that their world was changing. The eternal war between the spirits escalated by the week. Though the death toll rose every day, the humans of Coracan were largely unaware.
Daora and her grandfather had dreamwalked into Gyrus and seen the war, the dysfunction of the metaparliament that was meant to keep the peace, the suffering of spirit-peoples newly-subjugated by rampaging warlords and giant swarms of id: the dark spirits. The spirit-bird’s memories only corroborated this in fresh, vivid detail.
And yet, at home, all of it was easy to forget. It was out of sight and out of mind. For now, the masses could dismiss the occasional outbursts of spiritual violence in Coracan.
The people relied on obsolete folk memory. They remembered the spirits, but only as much they remembered the homeless. There, yet willfully ignored. The rituals remained, the science was lost.
The spirit-birds crossed the barrier. Daora’s barrier between the magical dreamworlds of the infinite Gyrus, and the world she knew.
They had always been one and the same, but now Daora knew it too. And, one day, so would the rest of the planet.