Chapter 50: Forever is Composed of Nows *
The sun is aslant
and the birds sing for their seeds.
Is it spring, or fall?
~ Miyara Miwa
We were successful. We returned to Kada Haluga, at the secret back door up in the cliffs. There was an army of ogres outside. We remained quiet, and we witnessed the attempted escape of King Gari, his son Men-Ri, and Osohara. And we watched the ogres catch them, bringing the king and his son down. Osohara tried valiantly to help.
Seeing this, Kyosuke, could not help himself and leapt out, followed closely by the White Faerie and the rest. I, too, joined the fight, casting aside my earlier desire to avoid changing the past.
The king's body covered that of his son, either mourning or attempting to revive him, or perhaps something else entirely. We knew that Men-Ri, the son, became king, and we knew he was suspected of having killed his father. And then the ogres surrounded the two, and that was the last we saw of them. After that, it was a straight-forward battle against ogres. I was glad to see Kyosuke's skill in battle, but it was obvious to me that we were fighting in a lost cause. We had other things to accomplish, and the faeries had lost despite our involvement. I told Shan to set up his box, and we left instantly. My intent was to return to Kara Osohara, but instead we arrived inside the temple, in the room with the pillar. I believe we this misdirection was due to the our hurry: we were not all thinking of the same place. However, in the inscrutable ways of Fate, this was where we needed to be anyway.
As we arrived in the mud, Ashe and the White Faerie immediately passed out from their wounds. I posted everyone around the room to watch for tentacles, and we waited while Ravena healed them of their injuries. She first took care of the White Faerie, and while she finished with Ashe, he replaced the Stone of Stone in the pillar for later retrieval. He was reluctant to lose it, but I persuaded him that we would return soon.
We were uncertain of the time we had arrived. All we could do was hope that we were placing in the pillar some time before we arrived the first time. The room being covered with mud and the tentacles apparently not yet arrived, we were hopeful. Kyosuke believes it does not matter, as it will simply work itself out. The rock was there, therefore that will not have changed. He is likely right, but I still worry about the influence of chaos.
We were ready to return to Kara Osohara, in our rightful time. I instructed everyone to concentrate on the clearing where we battled the green demons, and to think of the bit of leather that Baku made when we were there. I specified the clearing rather than the city itself so we wouldn't run into ourselves. We did not see ourselves then, so we should not this time either.
This time it worked, and we arrived where and when we intended to. We spent a few quiet days in the forest, and then returned to Kara Osohara. Those days were quiet, but we all had a sense of wrongness. Perhaps the simple knowledge that we were so close to ourselves was enough to cause stress. Or perhaps it was more than that. I do not know. Kyosuke and I kept a close watch on everyone to ensure nobody went up that hill. Nobody even attempted.
We spent those days considering what we were to do once we collected the four Doomstones. Res Li suggested that we use Shan's box to return each stone to the place and time of its creation, thus making their existences circular and taking them out of time. Most of us are skeptical and this item remains under discussion. None of us forget the White Faerie's vision of the apparent end of the world with all four Doomstones in one place at one time.
Shan does not like using the box at all and strongly recommends against using the box for what we can do without it. This makes sense to me: there are no shortcuts. It also reinforces to me that I must finish this task before completing Godanji's task.
After a few days, we returned to a Kara Osohara empty of us. Kyosuke paused to pay his respects to the grave of Og's master. He reported to the Chin's spirit that we were successful with Og, and he had been sent properly on his way.
We passed through the empty outer city, into the inner city, and directly to Lord Osohara's rooms, where we found him as though waiting for us. "Hello," he greeted us. "Come on in. I've had a really good night's sleep." We entered at his bidding.
He asked Sun to provide everyone with some beer, and Sun went to work. Lord Osohara spoke to Kyosuke seriously, "I remembered last night what it was you did for my king and his heir." He looked at the White Faerie and Ashe as well, seriously and appreciatively. "You made it possible for my king to pass on" some hideous faerie word "to his heir."
I relaxed. Whatever we had done had been correct, and the Lord Osohara had again found his way. I was also proud of my small troupe of barbarians, and Kyosuke bowed modestly.
"On a lighter note," Lord Osohara continued, "I had significant success in cleaning out the last of the Grey Mountain Clan." We congratulated him. "And Kara Osohara is now completely ours." I recognized that as the royal we, which most certainly excluded us completely.
"So have you had a quiet few days?"
Kyosuke simply replied, "yes," and I told him that we had reached enlightenment.
Lord Osohara looked like he didn't believe us entirely, but we said the time was proper for our meditations. I asked him, "So, now that you've cleared this place, your path is clear to you?"
"Yes, I must send a message to my liege and convince him to mount a party of colonists." He suggested a feast to celebrate, and we were to prepare it for him. Hosei and Sun did cook up a fine feast.
Our next plan: Travel overland back to Kada Haluga and retrieve the Stone of Stone. It is now late summer, and it will be late fall or even early winter when we arrive. It looks like another winter spent in Karusa Hoven.
Forever—is composed of Nows—
'Tis not a different time—
Except for Infiniteness—
And Latitude of Home—
From this—experienced Here—
Remove the Dates—to These—
Let Months dissolve in further Months—
And Years—exhale in Years—
Without Debate—or Pause—
Or Celebrated Days—
No different Our Years would be
From Anno Domini's—
~ Emily Dickinson