Points of view: Part IV

By

Accipiter G. Goshawk

Here is the last part of the story of Trav and Cassie. It continues from where it left off in Points of View:Part III. I may one day come back to the world of the Observatory and tell a few more stories concerning the Crevasse and Remex Matthews…who knows. 😉

Enjoy!

The bright morning sun shone through the tinted glass panes of the Greenhouse, the last drops of yesterday’s rain running down the smooth surface and evaporating in the heat.

Slowly, Cassie lowered her tweezers into the dark jaws of the Hyathincthus Obscurdens. She’d been trying to extract pollen from this particular individual for the last two hours; the plant was proving very stubborn. Countless bandages lined her fingers and a small heap of twisted metal at the far end of the potting table stood as testimony to the unnatural power of the Hyathincthus’s jaws.

“Come on, you wretched…” she growled as she lowered her tweezers past the plant’s sensory organs and towards the lone speck of pollen at its core.

“Observer Zorna!”

Cassie yelped as Obseran Remex Matthews materialized on the opposite side of the table. She jumped backwards and reflexively dropped the tweezers. The dark-green jaws immediately clamped shut like a steel trap, instantly smashing the delicate metal instrument.

Silence filled the Greenhouse; Matthews stared disapprovingly at Cassie as the plant began to digest its meal, its acid excretions making short work of the tweezers.

“Well, that was quite clumsy, Observer,” said the Obseran icily staring at the large pile of ruined instruments.

“I apologize, Obseran,” said the younger woman, bowing slightly. “I’m afraid I was startled by your sudden appearance.”

She did nothing to mask the anger in her voice and her green eyes blazed under a lock of wispy brown hair. Matthews stared at her haughtily for a moment and then smiled warmly.

“Good, you have spirit. You’ll need it. I think that it is I who must apologize, Observer. It was most inappropriate of me to materialize in the Greenhouse unannounced, but I am afraid that time is of the essence. I have come to seek your help.”

Cassie’s expression relaxed slightly and she smiled back at the smaller woman.

“No harm done Obseran. What can I do for you?”

“It concerns Trav Zorn. I was told that the two of you were close friends, yes?”

The worried note in Matthews’ voice was enough to send Cassie spiralling into a full-blown panic.

Were? What does that mean? Is he hurt? Is he in the Infirmary? Can I see him? Oh gods, please tell me he isn’t dead! What in the Crevasse were you making him do up there?”

Remex made a quick slashing motion in mid-air and the babbling ceased, as the Thaum silenced the hysteric Observer.

“Calm yourself child! Zorn is alive, for the moment. He is currently trapped in the Focus, in a nightmare of his own creation. His studies of the manifestations of the Thaum have been tainted by his own fears and he has lost all control. He needs someone to pull him out of the Focus. I have chosen you for this task.”

She released the power holding Cassie’s voice in limbo; the younger woman opened and shut her mouth a few times and then went silent.

Well Observer? Will you help your friend? Quickly, we don’t have much time.”

“Why me?” Cassie blurted out, “Why not you? You know the Focus better than anyone; can’t you save him?”

“No, I can’t,” the Obseran answered softly. “I could wrench is mind from the Focus, but that might do more ill than good. Trav needs someone to show him the way past the darkness he has surrounded himself with. I’ve read your record, Cassandra Zorna; you are a bright young scholar, a tireless worker and a passable Thaumancer. But most of all, you are an empath and have been described by many of your instructors as “full of life”. That is what Trav needs right now. He needs to see that the universe, that the Thaum doesn’t only contain annihilation and death.”

They were silent for a long moment.

“Take me to him.”

***

Matthews’ thaumic manipulation had instantaneously transported them to the small room at the top of the Third Spire. Trav was standing in the middle of the room, his eyes staring into nothingness; the metal circlet on his head shone dully in the light of the two glimmering opals. His body looked impossibly thin; his cheeks were sunken and his hands were skin and bone.

“Oh Trav…” whispered Cassie.

“He will be fine, Observer Zorna. I promise. Once you have him out, I’ll see to it that he is cared for by the finest physicians in the Observatory,” Matthews said reassuringly, placing a clawed hand on the larger woman’s shoulder. The Obseran then scuttled towards an ebony cabinet from which she extracted a second circlet, a twin of the first. She placed it on Cassie’s head and led the Observer to the centre of the room to stand next to her friend.

“Remember, you will be facing a twisted version of reality within the Focus. It isn’t real; only a projection of Trav’s mind. Work through the illusions and you should soon find your friend.”

“Obseran? What happens if I get lost in the darkness?”

The fearful question floated in the air between them for a moment.

“Cassandra, I don’t think you can become lost in the darkness. You see the world differently from Observer Zorn. You may not have his incredible talent for the Thaum, but you have something else; something I think Trav will have to learn if he wishes to use the Focus in the future.”

“Will you fire him for his failures?” asked Cassie as she took her unconscious friend’s hand in hers.

Matthews sighed. “Child, I have no intention of firing your friend. He is talented and committed, like many of my past students. The truth is that the majority of them quit after their first session in the Focus. Trav is the first to persevere. I thought that he had somehow managed to overcome his mind, to silence the demons within it. I chose to ignore his weakening state and thus I failed him.”

Cassie nodded. “I’ll get him out, Obseran.”

Matthews smiled and nodded once. Then, she twisted the Thaum and sent Cassie flying into the dark maelstrom of the Focus.

***

She walked alone in the vacuum of space. Comets whizzed by and she couldn’t help but stop and stare in wonder at the beauty of the unfiltered cosmos.

Suddenly light slashed the darkness and the young woman was forced to shield herself before the merciless onslaught of green-flamed sun. Hungry flames licked at her body, threatening to reduce her to ash.

No wonder Trav’s been wasting away,” she thought to herself, straightening and ignoring the hellscape boiling around her. She turned and faced the sun, turning the Thaum to her point of view.

The flames turned red and faded to a comfortable warmth. Around her, the golden rays spread out into space, touching icy comets and lifeless planets. Cassie’s body dissolved and seemed to become one with all existence as the sun’s gentle caress coaxed life from the cold dark. Its incomparable forge worked tirelessly and the young woman found herself reaching into its molten heart to scoop up the building blocks of creation. She blew on the palm of her hand, sending a million molten motes flying into the corridors of space, flaming shards of hope and magic.

The Focus shifted, plunging her into a cold stormy sea. She was surrounded by tentacles and sharp rocks and as lighting forked down from above, she thought she could see something in the depths below her.

Water filled her lungs, but she didn’t notice as once again she lost her shape and became the sea. Life bloomed within her, in endless variations. Plants of multitudes she had never even dreamed of covered the surface of her fathomless body, even as the legions of the sea danced through her veins, whirling in a song of renewal. Prey fell to predator and predator fell to Time, nourishing the delicate tapestry of the woven Thaum.

As the Focus changed again, Cassie could feel a familiar frustration moving it.

“Trav! I’m here! Let me in! I can help!”

She received no answer and the scenery changed again. She was now running naked in a dark forest, hunted by hungry beasts under a moonless sky.

She grinned and shifted again, falling on all fours and rounding on her pursuers. They greeted her joyously as one of their own and then ran with her beneath the stars. Her paws felt the leaves and needles of tress, moss and lichen and the cool waters of a babbling brook.

The cool air brought with it the stink of death and she paused, as a giant carcass appeared before her, rotting in a barren clearing. She watched and smiled as the remains sagged and disappeared into the ground, giving birth to a field of flowers. Bees and animals soon followed, completing the cycle.

Something groaned from between the trees and Cassie immediately rushed towards the familiar voice.

“I’m coming Trav!”

She moved through endless scenarios of death and destruction; wars gave way to plagues and natural catastrophes. For each, Cassie had an answer, a twist in the Thaum, the perspective of the eternal optimist. As she progressed through Trav’s nightmare, she could feel herself drawing closer.

Finally, she emerged on to a familiar plain. On the edge of her sight, she could see the Crevasse, the purple gash in the world from which the creatures had come pouring out, destroying anything in their wake.

He wasn’t very far. She found him on a hill overlooking the dark miasma pouring from the wound in the ground. He had regressed back to his childhood; the twenty-something man she knew so well was four years old once more.

“Trav?”

He looked up at her, tears streaking down his pale little face.

“I’m scared Cass. They’ll come for me. For us all. I have seen it in the Focus; it is their nature. They will search for a way through and when they find it…”

“We will stop them, Trav. No more children will suffer, I promise.”

The small child clung to her leg as the darkness climbed the hill.

“How can you be so sure? How can you not succumb to despair that in a universe so filled with endings?”

Cassie slowly stroked his head and smiled as the first scrabbling abomination crested the lip of the hill.

“Because I look at things differently than you do Trav. There is always light, even in the darkest places. All you have to do is choose to light the candle.”

“I don’t know if I can…”

“Let me help you,” she murmured. She reached down towards the wax cylinder he was holding up towards her.

The wave of shadow fell over them and for a time, silence filled the dead landscape.

The shades shattered into a million slivers of darkness as a pillar of unending light radiated outwards from the top of the hill. Grotesque monsters fled the advancing glory; as the silver rays touched their warped frames, they screeched in agony, banished forever from the worlds.

Trav stood on the hill, adult once more. In his right hand, he held a flickering candle; in his left, he held his friend’s hand.

“Thank you,” he said softly. She simply smiled and led him down the hill, past the thaumic doors and out of the Focus.-

4 thoughts on “Points of view: Part IV

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s