She felt the blended wolf-human mind as well and heard the two-part harmony of her Song, unlike the singular Song as other of the Ulf’el. As they danced, they touched Mariska’s mind with their own. She felt their music, their Songs, and realized they were exposing their Truth to her on a very intimate level of consciousness. Her awareness expanded and she realized that the two spirits began to harmonize with her as well. That was strange and yet familiar. She watched them dance as she thought.
They shifted to other forms, both known and unknown to Mariska, as they twirled and undulated around each other. Then the Thorn twirled in an even spin, moving faster and faster. The Kerib’el spread out beneath him and formed a flattish puddle of liquid. As the ball-form of the Thorn spun, its myriad of vine-like branches began to open in the center. Beneath it the Kerib’el formed a needle-like point at its center and began to rise, pulling itself in towards its center line. Wider and wider the center opened as the Thorn slowly flattened out into a ring as the watery Kerib’el drew up through the opening in the center. Mariska startled.
The Thorn looked like a crown of thorns!
She felt a surge in power as the two beings approached her. She felt their minds, open and inviting. They encouraged her to hold still and trust them. Trust an alien being? For the sake of the One Song, yes – she would trust that they would not harm her. She stood still even as the barrier around them started to fade. The two were pulling all their power into a single sharp focus.
All at once, she understood their intentions even as they acted them out. Bound, spirit to flesh, Mariska would become an item of power. It was unheard of, and extremely dangerous! The extra Flux would rip her physical form apart!
The combined figured turned with a fast half-flip so that Mariska looked through the ring and at the bottom most point of the Kerib’el. Them they surged towards Mariska, the point touched her throat, and a white hot pain shot through Mariska’s entire being. Her sudden apprehension and lack of faith in the two beings caused a huge surge of dissonance.
There was a warm tingle around her neck, as if being tattooed. She reached a hand up and felt the skin around her throat raised up into an uneven circlet of some kind. Parts of it were flushed with warmth as other sections went on burning with throbbing pain. With each throb, another section of the “tattoo” faded into the tingling warmth. With each throb, the Kerib’el and Thorn faded along with the bubble of reality around them. Soon the chaos of the outside time streams surrounded them once more in all its confused glory. Mariska shuddered.
But she couldn’t trust, this was a dangerous surprise. They had to know what this meant for her physical body. Her confusion increased. Why would they do this?
The beautiful melodic duel-voice reached her mind and heart, but her anxieties refused to be satisfied. The Thorn and Kerib’el radiated peace, compassion, and an encouragement to trust. That all would be explained and she would understand. Mariska still struggled, but her efforts were less energetic. There was something she had missed. She knew it to be true, but things were hazy at best. They wouldn’t risk disruption, even for a great cause, as they would cease to exist. No being wished for that kind of ending.
“Peace to you Two-Songs.”
The unified voice was soft, gentle, and lifted her fear away from her. The voice-touch reached deeper into her own consciousness and smoothed the instinctual fears. This helped her to calm down more and relax. Understanding started to seep in around her conflicted thoughts. They pulled up memories of her timeline, of her initiation and the added physical parts thrown into the circle. Mariska shivered, the dark memory caused her stomach to twist. She was more physically stable and now she would be more fluid.
Slowly their Songs merged, harmonized, and the pain of the dissonance faded to joyous rapture. The relief was deep. An added benefit of merging with the two was both simple and profound. The chaos around them started to make sense. As their Songs merged, so too did Mariska’s understanding grow.
She was able to read the time streams. They finally made sense! She even saw her own, homed in on it, and saw what the two had seen… The Scion of the Void. She saw her fates along multiple choice paths. But she saw what they could not see. Their minds were not able to cope with the reality she understood – a dire manipulation of the worst kind. She saw the patterns of missing time lines. Choices rendered useless and paths blockaded. They did not have full omniscient, because the Void’s Scion had eradicated many of those time lines! Only a small few were left in which he appeared, and all of those were linked to her existence.
Either she was the reason he existed, or he was hiding.
The more she observed the time streams, the more she understood. Another line of reality showed itself to her that chilled her blood. The two spirits were right, in that she had plenty of physicality to share with them. But, if she tapped into their powers while in the realm of flesh and blood, she would need to feed. If this need wasn’t sated quickly, she could kill just by touch – energy drained from other living things instantly.
There was always a cost.
Her mind flickered across all the multiple time lines with the streams and found the one she needed to return home. All the various options and choices of others around her played out before her as she sailed through the time lines. Closer and closer to her own linear reality she traveled, passing events that to her physical self were merely memories. Here in the streams, they played out once more and were relived with perfect clarity. She saw the Rogues, the staves, and the void essence held within a strange orb. She watched herself as she ran across the field, bit the staff, and suffered the same draining effect as the gateways. She saw herself break free and knew for certain her efforts disrupted the ritual. That disruption sent the energy into a swirling vortex that fed on itself, expanded, and exploded.
The blast destroyed the staves, the Rogues, sent her and the Rogue that pursued her flying into the forest, and watched as their souls were forced from their bodies. She noted as well, that the explosion ripped a massive hole between the worlds. Rather than destroying the gateway, it made it larger and more powerful.
She followed the events and closed in on her particular line. The rescue, the mourning, the collation of bodies, and the trip to the ER staffed by kin to the Ulf’el. They tried to revive her. Here is where Mariska paused. Did she continue down this line, or enter here? She glanced down the line of options and saw fire, and her body’s death. Entering here would cause other disruptions. She saw those choices laid out before her, and discovered one of the spies. Her own Aunt.
No, she’d risk scaring the morgue staff instead. It would give her more time to work in the linear, physical world. She could surprise her Aunt, confront her, and find out why she was a traitor to the One Song. Mariska planned, memorized as best as she was capable the myriad of paths down that series of choices. Then she flowed to the morgue and picked the path that allowed her to be alone when she reentered physical reality and the time line.
With the blended Flux of all four beings, she sliced a fine slit between worlds, seeped through it , resealed the opening, and slid back into her body.