Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chapter 2 - A Journey Into The Unknown

A Journey Into The Unknown

Having bridged the gap between her home and the void of the unknown, Noelle suddenly crashed upon seashore.  Surrounding the shores for as far as the mind’s eye could see spanned the universal sea, or the Lifestream.  It is through the Lifestream that all life exists and it is at this point where all matter and its opposite are connected.  In the Lifestream everything is created and destroyed and time does not exist.  This process has no beginning and no end.  The Lifestream is a complete balance of all things and it is only there where everything exists in its truest form.  The beauty of this never-ending network of energy amazed Noelle; and she realized her connection to it.  She knew what had taken place in order for her to arrive there.  She also knew her visit would be relatively brief.  Each visit only occurs for usually an instant.  Although the Lifestream was never intended to be looked upon through human eyes, it took on a visual form that she could understand.  As she bid farewell to the majestic paradise consisting of white sands and lush foliage, Noelle took one last longing glimpse at its three tranquil moons¾one pure white, another black, and the third silver.  The endless sea of energy, flickering as the visual equivalent of the interconnectedness of all things, smiled at her as she returned its fervor.  She touched the lifestream and it delivered its powerful message to her consciousness.

Noelle was now in a forest that contained plentiful life, her eyes scouring the green leafy walls that blanketed the environment.  Endless activity occurred between the species within its undisturbed ecosystem.  She heard sounds of creatures and animals that had long been extinct from planet Earth.  Noelle’s senses were keen to the low frequency wavelengths of sound emitted from green shrub to blossoming underbrush as they communicated the ancient message of the lands.  A fresh smell filled her senses, teasing her with a plethora of sensations.  A new soul in this world, she was at one with nature, yet in an environment that was unfamiliar to her.  Rich plant life flourished and it seemed as though this place was uninhabited by any organized civilization such as humans or any of their predecessors.
 A peaceful singing in the distance captivated Noelle and she began to take her first steps within the mysterious forest.  She kept alert for any sudden dangers or predatory beings and soon became lulled by this soothing sound and its seemingly electronic tone.  The sweet voice was hypnotizing, luring her to its location, calling her namelessly. 
Distracted from her previous focus, Noelle gazed upon an enormous tree, which defined colossal.  The tree towered nearly three hundred feet, at least fifty feet wide at the base of its massive trunk.  The smooth, thick bark was moist, covering the tree like armor.  Just the sight of this giant that towered the sky inflated her sense of wonder.  In addition to her amazement, something new occurred.
  A small animal called a Menfli scurried nearby through the brush in front of her.  The creature possessed a head like a koala, a beak and feathery wings, a pouch like a kangaroo and a hairy slithering tail, startling her beyond surprise.  The Menfli diet consisted of the nuts falling from the huge shadow trees.  They are the only creatures that can digest the outer shell of the sweet Linko nuts dropped from the trees.  
Excited, but equally wary, she ran after it hoping it could be a friendly companion.  She observed closely as it ran out in front of her, marveling at its uniqueness.  The Menfli paused at the sight of her, upturning the tips of its flopping ears, reading her through its senses.  Kneeling down, non-threateningly extending a hand, she was hoping to make physical contact, her knee sinking softly into the moist earth.  It slowly came toward her, inching its way to her fingertips.  Her eyes connected with those of the creature; she watched its pupils quickly dilate and contract in rapid succession at the sight of her (It was the Menfli’s way of determining if she was a threat).  Discerning it was a somewhat docile species, Noelle reached to pet its wing.  It quickly retreated, disturbed by the contact, running for cover.  Feathers floated down to the ground in waves, flung from its back by the abrupt motion.
During its attempt to flee, the Menfli discovered a quick meal ahead at the foot of the tree.  Just then, the cottony clouds drifted across the sky exposing Noelle’s beautiful skin to the powerful rays of the sun.  She shielded her eyes from the intensity of the light.  Looking at the frantic creature, yards up ahead, she observed something startling. 
The creature managed to gather handfuls of nuts in its small padded hands.  He tucked the excess in his pouch and began to disappear back into the brush.  Suddenly, the massive shadow of the huge tree came to life!  The ground beneath the tree immediately formed a dark carpet of sinuous, undulating ripples, immobilizing the Menfli.  Lying helpless, it was tossed back and forth between the waves, choked off winces and squeals filling the air.  Collapsing around the sides of the Menfli, contorting to the contours of its helpless body, the shadow began to swallow the creature, sucking the wind from his fragile lungs.  Noelle watched on, her jaw swinging open on a hinge, her eyes nearly bulging as she stared in shock.  Limbs fought, wings buckled, flinging blue and yellow feathers into the air.  Darkness seeped into its mouth, rushing into every inch of its body, pulling him into a world of shadows.  It struggled to break free but to no avail, the Menfli was taken.  The shadow now consumed the creature; only a black blob remained on the ground. Noelle witnessed the roots of the tree digest the animal; the shadow now appeared to be serving its normal purpose, covering the ground, unflinching.  Not even a feather or a patch of fur remained. 
After witnessing the horror, Noelle quickly became fearfully alert of her new surroundings.   First, she felt sorry for the Menfli, but the more she thought about it, the more she realized that everything exists to maintain a balance and she merely observed part of that natural process.  Returning to her original focus, Noelle tuned in to the sound in the distance, attempting to locate its source.  She started to walk in the direction of the sound, while remaining conscious of the presence of Shadow Trees.  Sweat beaded along her face, her nervousness causing her heartbeat to pace faster.  Her shirt clung to her back, thick with running sweat.  The reaching leaves from encroaching branches tickled her arms, her fingers nimbly dancing to scratch the itch.
After walking down a path of endless undergrowth, the singing became more vivid and powerful, luring her to its location. 
“I wonder what that could be coming from,” Noelle said to herself, as she followed the peaceful vibrations.  Noelle pursued the noise until she arrived at a crossroad where it seemed as though both contained the source of the sound.  Faced with a tormenting decision to go left or right, she contemplated for several moments, her arms crossed over her rising chest.

If I go left, I’ll always wonder if I made the right choice, but if I go right I’ll be thinking about the one I left.  Hmmm…Ok.

Noelle devised a brilliant plan.  In the midst of foreign surroundings, she decided she would mark the unselected path and backtrack if necessary.  She picked up a large stick buried beneath the brush, wiping off the unnecessary knots of dirt caked to its surface.  She stuck it in the ground in the middle of the left path.  Noelle plucked three large orange and green leaves from a neighboring tree, impaling them on top of the stick.  Managing to gather a collection of small rocks, she set them up on the ground in front of the marker stretching the entire width across the path.  She pulled a few handfuls of bright blue leaves from another tree and quickly scattered them on the ground around the post.  Her head tilted as she stepped back, analyzing her construction.  Pleased with her array, young Noelle ventured down the right path. 
Following the direction of the sound, she came closer with every step.  Noise crept into her ears, bouncing from leaf to leaf and from every branch and hanging limb in the forest.  Noelle approached a large object in the distance located just off the path.  It appeared to be a small house or cottage.  She could not clearly make out the object, appearing mostly invisible, dancing light refracting from all the edges.
  Suddenly, she heard a snap and the rustling of leaves beneath her feet.  Helplessness stripped all control from her limbs, her arms and legs retracting by force.  Before she could blink, she dangled, suspended in mid air over the path in what appeared to be some type of trapper’s net.  Limited in movement, Noelle wriggled awkwardly into a somewhat comfortable position.  Pulling the stray hair from her eyes, she fought to steal a glimpse of the ground below.  Noelle cursed her misfortune, wishing she were safe at home. 
Moments later, a young lady carrying a crossbow approached the net cautiously, her eyes hardened with intensity.  Noelle thought her to be a hunter and hoped she would be peaceful.  The scantily clad young woman let out several high-pitched sounds, reverberating through the sticky atmosphere.  Her head reeling, she looked back over her shoulder as though she had summoned someone.  Noelle knew now that the young lady was the source of the singing she followed. 
The girl shouted several words at her, urging some type of verbal response.  “Sha ti liana ni ku ha si uah.  Mitzi bu blai ueme nenitzo.  Eah neh?  Eah neh nenitzo?”  The words escaped her mouth sounding as powerful as magic.
  Lacking knowledge about the origin of the language in which the woman spoke, Noelle remained trapped as her prisoner.
As she watched below, a huge sentient being, half man and half beast, came storming through the brush, resting by the side of the trapper.  It ran upright on two legs more powerful than those of an Olympic athlete.  At the side of the young lady, the beast crouched on all fours; the woman appeared to be its master.  He was a menacing upon first site.  Standing at nearly seven feet, the beast’s mere physical presence was frighteningly intimidating.  Its perfectly sculpted upper body was adorned with fabulous body art painted upon solid pulsating sinew.  Thick beastly hands dangled from his arms, scratching away flying insects.  The head of the beast looked mostly like a raccoon, but with a sharp horn curving upward above its nose and mouth.  Fur grew in patches on its head, hands and feet.  Around his neck, he wore a gold medallion containing ancient runes circling a sun and moon insignia. 
  Out of breath, the beast panted as its gruesome grunts and gurgles echoed from its protruding mouth.  Crouching and sitting on his heels, the beast awaited instructions, prepared to kill upon command. 
The girl commanded, “Bei hai Na.  Yiou oipu liaia na teia yaajiva.  Si cu wonbispo mau jing bak.”

 The beast drew some type of energy blaster or laser, quickly releasing Noelle, shooting down the net. Her body was swallowed into the leafy underbrush, crashing down to the ground with a harsh thud. The beast scuttled to her in an ape-like manner, sniffing her motionless body as his nostrils flared. Unconscious from the fall, dangling limply over the shoulder of the beast, Noelle was carried into the lair of the trappers.
Startled, Noelle awoke in a strange place; her minor bruises were treated and her clothes were missing.  Partially disoriented, questions boiled inside her mind.  The soft blankets on the bed where she lay wrapped around her waist as she sat up, her arms crossed over her bare chest, resting on tousled strands of her long hair.  Looking around the room, she noticed a small creature watching her intently, its intelligent eyes learning as they held her.  Surprised by Noelle’s sudden revival, the creature abruptly ran into the other room followed by a loud squawking and screeching commotion.  The young lady returned with the animal perched on her shoulder.  Carefully, she sat down in the chair beside Noelle’s bed, their eyes meeting for the first time at this close a distance.  She put a small hand held metallic device near Noelle’s head and pushed a button on it.  After a few beeps and clicks, and various complex calculations by the tiny gadget, the girl spoke.
     “Hello,” she had a soft smile.     
   “My name is Klia.  I just scanned you with my, Zixoraing¾a universal language decipherer.  We can now communicate.  The technology is very simple; I have a microchip embedded in my brain that picks up the frequency that your brainwaves transmit to the decoder.  First, the region of your brain that relates to language is scanned.  Then, the device interprets that data and converts it into text data that is relayed to the microchip, thus allowing me to speak the ancient language you refer to as English.”  Her eyes became friendly, inviting Noelle to indulge in her gracious hospitality. 

     Astonished, Noelle replied, “I am Noelle.  I’m on a quest to find Xexyll Esuna,” a slight smile covered her dry lips, “the Empress Aldana has summoned me”.  She sat upright facing the woman, her hands criss-crossed, covering her round breasts.  Noelle twisted her head to one side, flinging her hair back over her shoulder.  The air in the room was cool to her skin, making the tiny blonde hairs on her arm bristle.    
For a moment, the woman mulled over her thoughts, her eyes searching the back of her head for the right explanation.  Klia lit up with a look of amazement, her eyebrows rising with her first words.  “I see.  Xexyll Esuna is a world that is only spoken of in myths.  I always have been led to believe that it was merely a legend”.
     “Then, where am I?”  Noelle asked despondently, looking about the dimly lit surroundings. 
       “You are in the Forest of Passing.  This area unites and divides the north and south of the land of Jahara.  To the north is the Outerworld.  It is a very dangerous place, however one can access other lands through the Outerworld and beyond.  In any event, attempting to do so is asking for trouble.  Well, begging for it.  Beyond the Forest, things can get really strange.”  Noelle relaxed on the bed leaning forward to listen to the young woman, a hollow forming in her cleavage.  Noelle was now consumed by her explanation.  “The south reveals the path to Exodus.  A warlike people, who have been engaged in a holy war against the Outerworld for centuries, are its inhabitants.  Near the beginning, a great chief and holy man created a pact between one another.  This pact joined all the peoples of the world in unity with the Creator.  Through time, separation caused the pact to be broken when people forgot that we all came from the same thing.  The division brought about the first Great War and was the beginning of a long period of pain and suffering for many people.  Following the division, half of the world relocated to the Outerworld where the civilizations continued to divide, as they still continue.  Driven through the Forest of Passing and past the Great River, the remnants of civilization established Exodus¾the last Holy City.  The two factions have agreed that the forest remains a neutral area because it divides the land so evenly.”
Noelle became completely engrossed in the information the girl shared with her.  She listened intently, hanging onto her every word. 
“The two sects are such vile enemies that, it is against their religions to be in contact with the likes of the people from the other side of the forest.  Such contact would condemn the guilty to the world of lost souls, bringing disgrace to their entire family bloodline.  In addition, contact is an action that is immediately punishable by death by either side.”  Klia talked with her hands, gesturing intently, explaining the history of the world.  Through the midst of the story, Noelle nearly forgot that she was still totally nude. 
“They both believe that they are right and the other is wrong.  They both believe that their people hold the power to rule all of the land.  The truth is they are both right, and both wrong.
“The people of the Outerworld believe that there should be no organized governing bodies and that people should be free to do and go as they please answering to no other being of similar species.  Living under the laws commanded by the creator, the people of the Outerworld are at peace with all other beings.
 “The people of Exodus believe in the same doctrines, but a different social structure.  The people of Exodus believe that the Creator decides through the people who should rule, and institutes this power within the body of a living being.  The remaining people should follow the ways and teachings of this leader, as his lifetime constitutes the term of his rule.  Upon the death of the ruler, a successor is chosen within the bloodline and assumes the role of the Guardian of Life.
  “The conflict lies in the Outlander’s belief that we are all free.  It is in fact true.  The original pact was made in the beginning that, all who followed the laws of the creator, would live on in spirit when they left this world as they were once again united with the Universal Consciousness.”  Listening to Klia, Noelle became captivated by her account, her mouth wide in astonishment. 
“There were initially two leaders.  The first was Seb, and the other, his twin sister Bes.  They were the first products of xenogenesis.  Pandora, their mother, conceived the two through her species’ process of asexual reproduction, thus Seb, the first man, was born.  Kukur, the first civilization of humanoids, was comprised of the Unirace, consisting of single sexed celestial beings all created equal by the Universal Megamind.  Through the process of evolution, Pandora’s offspring marked the birth of the Gemini and created the Ancient Prophecy.
“According to the prophecy, a being would be born that would restore balance and bring the return of the Unirace.  Through the birth of Bes and Seb, all people have been marked with the curse of negative evolution; hence, the entropy effect began.  All future beings since have been de-evolving from the natural state of being.  Only through the return of the Unirace, can all be united once again and balance be restored.”  Noelle kept her eyes fixed to Klia’s lips, her host equally excited with her own story.
“The pact was broken when Knibis killed his twin brother Sibink, who was next in line to be ruler.  Once this act occurred, a split formed among the people.  The twins were the children of parents from both of the royal families.  These families traced seven generations back, all the way to Seb and Bes.  When Seb and Bes were given the Commandments from the Creator through Pandora, they were commanded to be free, but not to take the life of another.  This philosophy continued through all generations and the action by Knibis marked the first violation of the law in history.  He was then cast out into the desert to rule the realm of Infinite Despair.  Being that he was part of the bloodline that linked the chosen people to Seb, Bes, and ultimately the Unirace, both families now feuded for control and power.”  Amazed and filled with questions, Noelle remained silent.  Wishing for proper attire, yet feeling comfortable enough to listen the stranger, Noelle bit her lip with anxiousness.
 “The two lands long for peace but the inevitable battle of time defeats both sides incessantly.  Only one exists who can restore balance and bring about the Second Coming of the Unirace.  Once this occurs, this individual will stand in the middle of the Trans-Dimensional Time-Space Warp Portal, delivering us all to eternity.  Until then, I exist here in the neutral territory as I am neither for, or against either side.”  Klia sat back in her chair, crossing one leg over the other, her eyes comfortably resting on the body of her guest.
Stunned by the story she just heard, Noelle leaned forward, sitting more upright than before.  Her eyes focusing on Klia, Noelle pulled the furs up, concealing her exposed body.
     “Wow. “  Noelle’s eyebrows jumped.  “How long have you lived here?” Noelle queried.
     “I was born here.  All my life.”
     “That’s an amazing story; I was deeply consumed by your words.”  She paused for a brief moment, looking down, then brought her eyes back up to meet those of her host.  “Now I have a tale for you.”
    After unraveling the news of how she arrived to Jahara, along with the story of her previous life, Klia seemed equally intrigued, almost mesmerized.  Both of them had many questions.
     “Your clothes?  I washed those hideous things and they are hanging in the other room.  Allow me to give you something more fitting for this world.” 
Klia excused herself, disappearing into the other room.
     “Feel free to explore my home; you are my guest,” Klia added, nodding coaxingly.
Returning quickly, Klia held the items that would make Noelle a warrior. 
     “Here, this is much better.  Now you won’t be an outcast.”  She chuckled softly to herself, handing the items over to the outsider.
     Noelle looked at the garments enthusiastically, admiring the “otherworldly” effect they created.  Klia handed them to Noelle and stepped back into the doorway, her right hand reaching to draw the curtain. 
     She tucked her head in, speaking to Noelle once more.  “There, I’ll leave you alone.  I know they will fit.”
     Klia exited and Noelle remained in shock.  She was stunned by the facts: she had been trapped; had been unconscious; taken in; told the history of the entire world of Jahara, and now found herself in a strange girl’s bed, naked.  Rolling her eyes and shaking her head, she kicked off the covers, letting them fall to the floor.
 The attire was fitting for a hero.  Back in her world, she never could have managed to wear anything of the sort outside of the privacy of her own home without being publicly ridiculed. 
The outfit was made from some type of animal skin.  Accented with soft animal fur, the piece was mostly black. The top portion, a tube top with holes all around it, covering the essentials.  A circular ring and metal chains linked the top piece to the bottom piece straight down the middle, the garment resembling a bikini. There were two kneepads made from a metallic alloy, accompanied by two studded wristband bangles that extended halfway up the arm.  She held a pair of black boots that nearly came up the knee, trimmed in the same fur on top, spikes sticking out of the back of the heel.  She quickly slipped into the suit, accentuating her every curve, contouring perfectly to her naked body, now feeling transformed.  The boots fit comfortably; she was finally ready.  After the complete makeover, earning her warrior status, Noelle walked confidently into the next room, her hair pulled back into a tight ponytail. 
     Klia invited Noelle to her first meal in the new world.  Noelle enjoyed the savory new tastes down to the last bite of the exotic fruits Klia offered.  The feast was full of fresh sweet breads, mixed vegetable stew, sharp cheeses, and spicy meats. 
       “Thank you so much for everything,” Noelle said kindly.
    “It is my pleasure,” responded Klia, explaining that it is not every day a visitor from another world becomes the victim of her trap.
     “I had to take you in.  You appeared to be in search of something and in need of help.  I observed the ring on your finger, as I have never seen its equal,” Klia added admiring the ring.  “I believe that you may be the one that has been prophesized to balance the turmoil here. Your eyes tell me who you are, and everyone you’ve ever been.  You must locate the Trans-Dimensional Time-Space Warp Portal and stand in the center, fulfilling the ancient legend.  The chosen one is the only being who possesses the power to activate it.  I cannot take you there,” the side of her smile curled into a look of disappointment, “but I can lead you to the Outerworld.  If you are successful in making your way to locate it, I believe, you just might find your way to this world Xexyll Esuna you speak about.  Let me help you.”
Noelle thanked Klia once again for her kindness, absorbing all of the information thrust at her. 
     “Oh, I apologize.  Allow me to introduce Zio, my soulmate.  Zio is much gentler than he appears.  He only becomes vicious when protecting me, or when he is threatened.”  The beast almost smiled, his big face softening with tenderness.  “He told me to tell you that he is sorry if he frightened you back in the forest.”  Zio shrugged, tossing his hairy hands in the air.  “We had no idea, when we first spotted you, who you were.”
    “Pleased to meet you Zio,” sincerity filled her tone and a wide smile displayed her gleaming white teeth.
Becoming more comfortable with her surroundings, Noelle inquisitively questioned her new friends.
“Are we in the building I saw in the forest that appeared to be an invisible house?” Noelle asked, her eyes looking up to the ceiling.
            “Yes we are,” Klia answered, staring into the eyes of her mate. 
“My home has a cloaking device on the exterior surface.  It is based on fiber-optic technology concealing the solid structure as it refracts the light hitting the object.  Observing directly, one can only see a minor haze along the outer edges of the house.”  Her hands acted out shapes in the air.  “This feature keeps us safe and allows us to be undetected as we peacefully dwell in the forest.  We hunt for food and clothes and we live harmoniously with other life.”
Just then, the small animal jumped on Noelle and began to make a strange purring sound.
“What’s he doing?”  Noelle asked, the creature nestling its head into her chest.
“That’s just Nobi.  That means he likes you.  He can sense your energy.  As he is absorbing yours,  he is sending you his.”
Noelle felt a tingling sensation on her shoulder and down her neck, bristling the hairs, making them stand upright.  She was immediately relaxed while the energy exchange continued. 
“I don’t know what he is; I’ve never seen his species before.  He slipped into one of our traps and killing him for food was not an option.  He was just a baby.  We decided to keep him and raise him.  We figured such a young animal needed a mother and he became our own.”  Proudly Klia smiled at the thought of her little companion.  She brought her cup up, drinking deeply from it, then held the cup to her lips, rolling the edge of the rim along them.  “Do not be fooled by the size of the creature.  If threatened, he can kill an enemy almost instantly.  If Nobi were to scratch or bite an attacker, it would cause an immediate cessation of all functions in the nervous system of the victim.  This would then cause all of their faculties to shut down, thus killing the unsuspecting opponent within seconds after contact.  He’s very tame, however, and we have never had a problem.”  She smiled at the creature, oblivious to her admiration as he bonded with Noelle.
Nearly hypnotized by the creature’s power, Noelle was fully relaxed, almost sedated.  Focusing her mind’s eye, Noelle envisioned Xexyll Esuna in its helpless state and she suddenly came to her senses.
“You can take me to the Outerworld?”
“Yes I can.”  Klia said with certainty, her thin brown hair shaking with her nodding head. “Nightfall is upon us.  It would be best to leave at dawn; the journey might be long.  Stay a while.”
          Persuaded by Klia, Noelle agreed to start the venture in the morning.  She took time now to observe the peaceful setting of Klia’s home.  The entire house appeared to be that of royalty.  The d├ęcor combined minimalist with industrial styles to produce a comfortable, yet high-tech feel.  Klia began taking Noelle through the house, as Noelle now knew what her place would look like if she ever managed to find her way back home. 
Noelle was amazed by the array of weaponry one room revealed.  The weapon room contained an elaborate centerpiece displaying a crossbow of unequaled design.  Klia explained to her that the ancients constructed the crossbow during the time when technology flourished throughout the land.  The weapon, constructed of dark wood and layered with hand crafted polished metal, had the open mouth of a fierce beast encompassing the aperture from which the arrow fired, giving the crossbow a menacing look. 
  Another room was completely carpeted from floor to ceiling with elaborate furs and it was the most unique in the house.  There were several mirrors dispersed evenly throughout the walls and ceiling.  This room contained an omnidirectional speaker coming up through the floor in the center of the room.  It emitted an ambient music completely balanced of high frequency wavelengths, perfect mid tones, and low frequency bass that entered her body through her skin as soon as she walked in.  The room had various colored lasers pulsating to the sounds in the room, dancing with life.  The floor responded to pressure as a blue light illuminated the path of her feet.  A circle, measuring ten feet in diameter, surrounded the speaker.  Several pillows outlined the circle and Noelle sat down inside it.  The dimly lit room created quite a transporting effect as its gripping force now consumed Noelle, the lights snaking along the contours of her smooth skin.  She reached out to touch the speaker as it pumped the melodic music into her body, tickling the insides of her bones.  The vibrations ricocheted throughout her spirit, increasing her level of understanding. Klia and Zio sat down in the circle with Noelle. 
“This is the room where one finds one’s self,” Klia explained, the flickering green light streaking her face.
“This room only has what one brings inside, and what one allows to enter.  It is here where you can connect to the Inner Voice as you become conscious of all your being and travel through the dimensional continuum.  I’ll show you.  Close your eyes,” Klia instructed.  “Empty your mind and allow it to be free of thought.  Feel the world around you.  Search.  You no longer need your eyes to see.  You are anywhere and everywhere.  Swim through the abyss.  Nothing can harm you here.  Allow yourself to travel deeper and deeper into the tranquil depths of the Universal Mind Lattice, the principal connection of all things.  You are free to go anywhere and do anything.  Roam.  You are anyone and no one as you are now conscious of the whole you are a part of.  Relax your spirit and allow yourself to be connected.”
         The three were all sitting on the floor with their eyes closed as they surrounded the speaker.  A force united the three and they were in close proximity to one another, however they did not touch.  The three were together, yet alone with their own consciousness, as they were consumed rhythmically by the sounds that enveloped their motionless bodies.
 Noelle was so focused and withdrawn from the rest of the world, that she experienced the sensation of leaving her body as she now existed through sound.  Klia and Zio were also in a deep form of meditative suspended consciousness, unaware of even their slow breaths.  The music became more powerful and the three were teleported simultaneously to a universal interconnected network of consciousness. 
A glow appeared around the outer edges of their bodies.  Slowly, their auras were gradually increasing in strength and they appeared to be enlarging.  After a few brief moments, they had completely transcended consciousness as they arrived to the fifth dimension.  With their eyes closed, their bodies reached out to touch the speaker in unison.
 The bodies of Noelle, Zio, and Klia were slowly transforming from solid mass to pure energy, which assumed a sphere shape.  Glowing brightly, undisturbed by the lights in the room, the spheres simply hovered, synchronized to the surrounding environment.  The shapes were composed of the colors in the visual spectrum and could be broken down into even smaller particles, which were triangles.  The three forms hovered in mid air, as they appeared to be coming together into a central point above the speaker.  The point where they adjoined became intense with heat and light and their bodies now seemed to disappear.  A large ball of light floated in the center of the room dispersing particles in every direction, as they bounced off the floors, ceilings and walls.  The particles swirled around the room gracefully, attuned to the music.  All of the particles began to intensify in brightness as they began to travel back to the central point, the various colors ranging from deep blues to fierce reds.  All of the smaller pieces of the initial energy ball converged, and the entire room flashed white for a split second, then all was quiet.
        Noelle and her two friends were now sitting in their starting positions, as they remained motionless.  The music became a dull hum, still slightly audible, yet they felt it through the vibration of the speaker.  The subjects now twitched with life and they appeared to be regaining control of their bodies. 
          “When can we go back?” asked Noelle.  Her eyes, half slits, possessing a dreamy look of utter bliss; her chest heaved sensuously.
          “Anytime you like.  Once you have been there, there is no turning back Noelle.” Klia added, closing down Noelle’s eyelids to prolong the effects of her meditative state.
         “Now you really know what life is, for you have experienced existence outside of the confines of three dimensional space-time.  Traveling higher in the dimensional continuum only increases one’s understanding of the Universal Consciousness.  You are never separate from it and you can go there anytime.  The illusion of three dimensional space-time blocks one’s mental and spiritual connection to it and only an extremely higher state of consciousness can put one there for the first time.  Once your mind expands, it can never shrink back to its original dimensions.”  Noelle found the immediate truth in Klia’s words.
“Every once in a while, a tragic incident occurs in someone’s life that makes him or her aware of it. Once you are aware of its existence, you may return as long as you open your mind, body, and soul to the power of the Universe.  One never forgets this place, as each successive visit brings us closer to infinity.  You now know Noelle.  Let us rest now.”
Klia stood up from her stationary position as Zio stretched his powerful arms in the air, his hand falling to rest around the waist of his woman.  Noelle rose to her feet, following her hosts into the main room of the house.
         The three relaxed in the main room, Noelle remaining in amazement.  Klia prepared a natural energy drink that she served to everyone.  While drinking the revitalizing beverage, Klia began to explain the plan for the morning.  The idea was to backtrack to the crossroad where Noelle stumbled upon the path to Klia’s trap and continue down the other path to the edge of The Forest of Passing.  Once they arrived there, Noelle would then be on her own as she ventured into the Outerworld. 
      “It’s getting late,” said Klia, covering her wide-mouthed yawn, eyes squinting.  “We should get some rest.  Tomorrow will be a long day.”
         Noelle nodded as she followed Klia into the room where she first awakened after becoming captive.  Klia said a few words to prepare her for the morning and quietly exited into the next room.  Noelle watched the moonlight as its orange light shone through the trees in the forest, mixing with the beauty of her tired eyes.  With quite a few thoughts on her mind, Noelle closed her eyes, slipping into a peaceful sleep.
      Morning came quickly and the sound of Klia’s voice comforted Noelle as she awoke.  Klia slowly walked in the room quietly inviting Noelle to join her and Zio for the last meal before they left for the forest.  Noelle rose swiftly out of bed, stretching her limbs in a carefree manner.  Klia began to prepare her for the road that would begin in moments. 
      “I will need you to show me where you stumbled upon the path to our home.  From there I can guide you in the right direction,” Klia explained.
Noelle gathered her wits and she had nearly finished her food, gulping down the steaming porridge.  Klia handed her a bag she packed for the journey, containing all of the essentials.  Noelle made the final preparations and geared up for travel with a new outfit provided by Klia.  She thanked Zio for the unparalleled hospitality and the unforgettable experiences.  Suddenly, Nobi ran across the room, jumping on Klia’s shoulder. 
        “I think he wants to come along,” Noelle said, gently petting the creature.
        “That’s no problem; he’s an excellent companion for travel through the forest.”
      After taking one last look around, Noelle gave the final nod.  She was ready to follow Klia’s lead into the bewildering forest.  Klia said a few words to Zio, kissing his face, while he stayed behind to watch the home.  Exiting the house, the two began the journey to the Outerworld.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chapter 1 - Pandora's Box

Pandora’s Box

by John Hall
© 2004, 2011


           There are many that I would like to thank, but I will put as many as the space of this page allows. First, I want to thank God, the Universal Consciousness, for allowing me the opportunity to deliver this message to the world. I feel extremely fortunate to be the one to share this story with you.
I have waited many years to give thanks to the following, my English mentors: Bernard McAlinden, Duane Langenderfer, Colleen Langan, Grethe Armstrong, and Dan Kuglich, and Mike Harrington.  I love all of you and thank you for helping me cultivate my talents through the years.
I want to thank my parents for bringing me into this world and for helping me along my way and never giving up on me.  You guys are the best.  And also my grandmother, Mrs. Lena Jackson, for being understanding and encouraging of my creative abilities throughout the years.
My undying thanks goes out to Miss Roberta Dempster, my dear friend.  When I had nothing left, I learned the true meaning of strength from her as she fought with cancer, never showing anything less than a warrior’s courage.  She is the true reason that this book was completed and I am eternally grateful for her presence in my life and the impact she created on my existence.
I want to give thanks to my good friend and editor, Ms. Bree Chaudoin.  Without you, this book could not be possible.
It is an honor and a privilege for Mr. Ian Marke, International Artist residing in the French Alps, to be the cover artist for this project.  A million thanks go out to him.
Also, huge thanks to Mr. Jason Fiscus, from 1st Books.  His dedication and persistence has helped see my project through to its completion.
Thank you to Mr. Brian Rust and Mr. Brian Morgan from Le Print Express in Bloomington, Illinois.  You guys really helped me get this project going when it was merely a manuscript.
Thank you to all of the fans and readers for your never ending praise and support.  You are the ones that truly make me shine.
This book is for my friend Luke Wall that passed away.  I wish you would have been able to read it, man, but here it finally is.

Pandora’s Box

She blinked, looking in the mirror, searching for the same thing she always had been.  For some reason the answers were just as elusive now as ever.  Who am I and why am I here?
Her face was beyond beautiful, etched to perfection, exotic, absolutely unforgettable.  Another blink, and then another as silence swept her luxury condominium. The mirror nearly sang with the image of her beauty, nevertheless, she was perplexed and confused, her lips twisting into a frown.  She let out a sigh of self pity; another Friday night at home alone with her computer.   
Noelle was twenty-two years of age, motivated, talented, and carefree.  Fresh from college, she recently secured an excellent paying position as the new face of P.R. for a major marketing corporation.  In no time, her work in the corporate world soon became routine and monotonous; it was not long before she began to despise her job. Stupid rules. Corporate politics.  She dreamt of everything but work, as the days passed by.
Outside of work, Noelle enjoyed a reserved lifestyle, avoiding the popular party scene, despite her prime age.  Noelle constantly sought alternative forms of entertainment.  She desired anything that would take her mind away from her nine to five life. 
Among her favorite interests, she enjoyed reading novels by Stephen King and Anne Rice, most recently, however, completing the entire works of James Redfield.  Movies, especially horror or science fiction, excited her eager curiosities.  Social networking and surfing the web was how she spent a majority of her free time.
       Noelle was looking for something new. Thrilling!  Exciting! She did not date.  She became tired of relationships and the insensitive and immature tendencies exhibited by most of the men she met.  For this reason she enjoyed being alone, striving each day to know herself better than the day before, growing as an individual.
When Noelle was a young girl she always dreamed of being a super hero.  At an early age, she excelled in martial arts, becoming an instructor at eighteen.  She loved Wonder Woman and collected all of the X-men comics.  The thought of possessing super human powers and using them to protect the Earth was quite appealing to young Noelle.  She soon began to develop interests and questions concerning various taboo subjects such as the supernatural, witchcraft, and interests in the occult, and more.  Noelle wanted to live this dream - being a hero, possessing powers - but before this dream was realized, she found herself already grown up.
      She thought about those days from time to time, and by the age of twenty- two, had become quite an expert regarding the previous subjects.  Following a very typical day at her job, and no plans on this historic Friday night, she enjoyed a relaxing evening at home living the life that she loved, sitting in front of her computer.  Tonight, dinner was carry-out from her favorite place down the street.   A shower followed, prompting her to put on her “Friday night” apparel.  Taking a sip of her hot green tea, she stretched her longs legs over the lion fur ottoman that matched her couch.  All of her entertainment took place on her 56 inch Sony flat screen and her wireless mouse and keyboard that rested upon her lap.  Smiling, she sipped her tea enjoying the solitude, marveling at the several prints by visionary artist, Alex Grey, blanketing the walls of her condo.  Following her brief moment of reflection, her hand darted toward the mouse.  Quickly, she began her ritual of clicking away in whichever direction her mind became drawn toward.  Within several minutes, she was virtually lost in cyberspace at the point of no return.  This night seemed rather ordinary, Noelle desperately craving a brand new experience.  Upon answering the last few messages from some old friends, it was now very late and she decided to call it a night.
            Noelle thought to herself.  I guess I’ll never find what I’m looking for.  As she began to shut down her system, an angelic figure appeared on her screen.  She stared at the figure in silence, and it appeared to be a real person looking at her, blinking sporadically and watching her every move.
 The figure was a beautiful woman who spoke softly with an indecipherable accent: “I hope you are there, Noelle.”
  Noelle’s eyes hypnotically fixed to the screen and she felt that she had seen the figure before.  She drew a deep breath, her eyes wide with focus, quickly looking over at the six empty cans on the floor to make sure that she had only been drinking soda.  As she collected herself, the figure spoke again.
“Remember me?  I’m Xenia, guardian of the Empress Aldana in the world of Xexyll Esuna.  We have chosen you to be our savior, for you possess the power to defeat the Yenzeti and bring balance once again to all in our world.”  
Noelle pulled her knees to her chest, focusing completely on her every word. 
“Eons ago when our first savior, Pandora, defeated all evil in Xexyll Esuna, she banished them into a world of darkness she then sealed away in a box for centuries.  Within this box lies the Ring of Ages and must be worn by the savior.  There has been an unexpected outbreak of evil in our world and it is believed that it has entered through a paradox created by the evil Yenzeti.  They have become so advanced and powerful that, through time and space, they can exit their world and enter ours.  Whenever evil enters, someone from our world is teleported back in their place into the realm of the banished contained within Pandora’s box.  Their plan is to completely filter into our world and ultimately seal all of the inhabitants of Xexyll Esuna into the world of the forgotten wanderers.”  
Noelle could not believe what was happening, her hazel eyes locking with those of the woman.  
“You have two choices.  Keep the box closed and our days are numbered in this world.  Your alternative, open the box, put on the Ring of Ages, and you will start to remember your powers that you have forgotten through time.  This will release all of the evil, however, into our world. You must then defeat it, traveling all the ends of the world, sending it back into the world of oblivion.  The choice is yours.  You and only you are the chosen one.”  Her expression was grave as the woman implored.  
“Time is running out.  You are our only hope for the future.  The image quickly faded away as Noelle sat there awestruck, wiping the sweat from her face, her body quaking with uncertainty.
Her screen was black for nearly an instant until a message read:

This message is to be presented to the chosen one.  The road that lies ahead is one of tremendous challenge and difficulty.  Even a brave soul would turn back now!  The task at hand requires the mind of the brightest scholar, the skill of the mightiest warrior and the courage of the bravest hero.  Only once in an eternity is this honor bestowed upon an individual with the ability to achieve this level of accomplishment.  Gather your wits.  Prepare yourself to face unspeakable danger amidst the most impossible odds.  When you tire, continue on your quest for the end; it is much closer to the beginning than you might believe.  Do not doubt yourself in the least, for it is the skeptic whose soul rests with those of the forgotten.  Do not look outside yourself for the unknown answer.  It lies within the event horizon of your soul.  Be cautious at all times and proceed with confidence in the direction leading you further toward infinity.  Travel with haste my dear and do not forget: Everything is.  Nothing is not.  Everything is nothing. And nothing is everything.

          Breath taken, Noelle looked on in complete suspense as the last words climbed to the top of her screen.  She was spellbound.
 Noelle asked herself in amazement, speaking out loud “Me?  They have chosen me?  How can I…”
At that moment, Pandora's box appeared in the middle of her screen, tantalizing Noelle's every emotion. She froze from the very aura of this mystic, ancient relic, hypnotized by its seductive elegant splendor and seductive facade.
 What now? Noelle thought, as an incredibly bright icon appeared below the box.  The blue icon flashed luminously as it read: “OPEN”.  Given the circumstances Noelle had just experienced, few options remained.  She now possessed the opportunity to live her dream if she succeeded, or meet her early demise if she failed, falling victim to this unknown force.  Contemplating, she realized this was not far from the truth of every day life.  She looked around the room, taking one last deep breath before closing her eyes and clicking the box, her hand shaking nervously.  At this moment, she questioned her own sanity, wondering if she had become the subject of some strange practical joke.
         Immediately her speakers began to roar, undertones of garbled digital voices scoured the air around her.   Startled, she was taken aback from the dazzling display.  Opening her eyes, she found her computer screen transformed into virtual hyperspace and millions upon millions of shimmering particles dispersed in every direction.  Some of the sounds were gruesome, while others merely electronic bleeps and zings.  Everything consisted of the seven colors of the spectrum, intense with stunning illumination.  The particles seemed to only increase in number and speed, and the sounds became higher pitched and rapid, while the light slowly began to diminish.  Suddenly, it seemed the process was now somehow reversing.  Instantly, it seemed as though all of the sound and light combined into one as it collapsed upon itself bringing about sudden darkness, then immediately the most intense white light, blinding Noelle with its unparalleled force. 
       Frozen, Noelle felt suspended in time.  For some reason she believed that she was connected to this force even though it appeared to be taking place within the confines of her computer screen.  Could this be possible?  She could feel a synergy between the force and her being, something she now understood almost like language, speaking to her through wordless riddles.  Noelle began to lose her fear and uncertainty and the answers were now coming at the speed of light throughout her awareness.  Filled with this immense enlightenment she knew now what her soul had forgotten upon its arrival into the physical realm - the secret that had been trapped in time.  This information had always been at her immediate disposal yet the illusion of reality caused her to overlook the fundamental truths that had always been apparent.  At this moment she understood who she really was, and what she was.  Noelle now knew what the world around her truly was and what everyone else was within the continuum of life.  Understanding this, she knew exactly what she had to do and how it would upset the natural order and balance if she attempted to do anything else with all of her conscious energies.  Realizing this, she embodied the meaning of destiny and the path to infinity was now made clear.  Amidst the magnificent events taking place, Noelle became increasingly conscious of the words Xenia spoke, tucking her hair back behind her ears. 
As all was quiet, the Ring of Ages suddenly floated in front of her, virtually within her reach.  At this time, Noelle realized that she was, in fact, not in her room and she was not sitting in front of her computer anymore.  Remarkably, she was completely immersed within the world around her as her former reality and the reality she now existed overlapped synchronously without thought.  She reached out as the paradox began to spiral in the distance, howling at her as it swirled.  Touching the ring, she felt a shocking sensation from its static as it enveloped her being, gripping her every nerve, telling her of its power.  Noelle grasped the ring in her hand and slid it on the ring finger of her left hand as thunder clapped, lightning flashed and she was swallowed into the eye of the vortex instantaneously.