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Two Worlds Collide: Chapter 35A single ship lay flying alone, alone amidst a sea of stars. Its sister vessels had long since departed, returning to the bosom of the beautiful blue world far beyond. Only she had turned around and headed for the moon, another celestial body of great importance to the ancient kin that inhabited the life-sustaining world. There the masters of the ship revealed a great secret to the innocent royal beings whose lives they had protected, and now they were about to show another.Two Worlds Collide: Chapter 35 by terraluna5
And of all the secrets these innocent royal princes and princesses would learn, it is this secret that will be the most important of all.
In the darkness of the void, the lone ship Severian moved ponderously towards the Earth. She was fully repaired, all of the battle damage she had suffered only days before cleansed away in the shipyards of Luna, a moon which the innocent inhabitants of Earth had beli
And of all the secrets these innocent royal princes and princesses would learn, it is this secret that will be the most important of all.
In the darkness of the void, the lone ship Severian moved ponderously towards the Earth. She was fully repaired, all of the battle damage she had suffered only days before cleansed away in the shipyards of Luna, a moon which the innocent inhabitants of Earth had believed to be lifeless and devoid of any civilization until this moment. Now they knew that their hosts, the Imperials, had told them the truth. For Luna was indeed inhabited, but not by a kingdom or realm in the most literal sense. Instead, Luna was revealed to be a massive fortress, a so-called “fortress in the stars”. The innocent royals beheld many incredible wonders: vast moving machines that flew silently across the dead surface of the moon, enormous castles of steel and iron orbiting the gray planetoid, and twin valleys of metal girdle the moon in equidistant positions, each valley replete with thousands upon thousands of machines. This and more the royals beheld, seeing an incredible display of metal and technology as well as the lords overseeing such an impressive ballet of technological perfection. These lords of the machine were set apart from both the human royals and the superhuman Astartes, being more attached to their precious machines whilst shedding themselves of almost all their humanity. The royals could never have imagined things like these to exist, and yet here they were, all of the technology, machines, and machine-men inhabiting the pearl-white moon which they all dearly loved as a symbol of light and beauty.
A symbol which was now forever dispelled with this revelation. It begged the question: what would they now see on their homeworld? What new wonders would they see on Earth?
“We have just crossed the final Lagrange point, my lord.” the helmsman’s voice called out, alerting the royals and the ship’s master, who was currently Lord Calgar, the giant in blue standing atop his command pulpit within the Severian’s bridge. “Proceeding on course towards Holy Terra. Shall I request the magos in engineering to increase speed?”
In reply, Calgar said, “No, helmsman. Maintain current speed and heading. That is all.” The helmsman acknowledged his lord’s order and continued to man the helm, guiding the Severian towards Earth. Meanwhile, the rest of the commanders, those that remained- Loken, Ahriman, Garro- stood silently behind the royals, who were all bunched up at the immense forward viewport of the bridge, seeing the world of their birth grow slowly larger and larger. The rest of the Astartes commanders had all excused themselves prior to the ship departing Luna, each heading for their guest quarters to meditate or otherwise prepare for the coming fight. For a time none of the royals asked questions to their hosts, instead speaking quietly in hushed tones and in great anticipation at the next wondrous things they would see. This rare moment of calm passed away, though, and soon the royals were once again asking questions.
That is, before the Astartes preceded them with their own questions. “Do you any of you know,” said Garro, the noble knight-errant asking his question first, “how the lands of your kingdoms appear from high above in the sky?” To be succinct, Garro was asking the royals if they knew the geographic locations of their kingdoms, and especially, if they knew the shape and borders of their realms by memory. The royals did, for their kingdoms’ finest cartographers and geographers had traveled throughout the borders of their homelands to record the shape, topography, and terrain of the many realms. It was one of the most ancient and effective means of cartography that existed, long before the use of technology was ever used. Thus were the royals familiar with the lands within their borders, and the shape and positioning of their homelands. In no time at all, they all gave their answers to the giants.
“Of course we do!” answered Belle, the young princess sounding a little offended at Garro’s somewhat obvious question. “I myself am familiar with the intricacies of cartography and astronomy, and every one of us has learned about these subjects as befits our royal status. It’s a requirement in our royal duties to know such things as these. You offend us, good sir, with that question of yours.”
Her reply brought a chuckle from both Ahriman and Loken, the two titans amused at Belle’s bold reply. From their experience, both warriors knew that very few mortals had the audacity and willpower to face down an Astartes warrior in a battle of words. Belle had just joined that small number of brave mortals without knowing it. Garro, meanwhile, gave a wide smile and humbly bowed in apology, his right hand touching his chest. “My apologies, princess.” he replied. “It was not my intention to insult you or any of the others with my question. You are all truly intelligent beings, after all.”
An apology wasn’t enough; sometimes one needed to add a little flattery at the end to ensure the effect of appeasement and acceptance took place. It certainly did satisfy the royals, who accepted Garro’s heartfelt, respectable apology. Now the questions began anew. “What will we see next? How will the Earth be changed? What new sights will I see? Will it be magical?”
It was Ahriman who replied next. “Patience.” he told them. “We are nearing the Earth, so you will see this change with your own eyes. But I will answer one of your questions, the one about whether it will be magical. The answer is no, Princess Giselle, for I know it was you who asked that question.” Quite true; Giselle had indeed asked that question amidst all the questions that had been voiced out loud by the royals. “It will not be magical at all, but it will be wondrous, monumental even. This will be a sight and event that you shall remember for the rest of your lives. I have no doubt of that.”
His words affected all of the royals, for while they all had a sense about the importance of this remarkable occasion, they didn’t understand how important this moment was truly going to be. Ahriman’s words certainly struck home, as they could now imagine, in the smallest sense, how great this event was going to affect them, and in turn, their kingdoms and future.
“My lords,” a strong voice called, belonging to a tall man dressed in a fine uniform of blue with gold and white trimming, the mark of the Omega symbol stitched proudly upon his left side. Part of his head was plugged with numerous wires, and his right eye was gone, replaced with a mechanical one. But there was no doubt that this was the Severian’s shipmaster, its captain whilst Calgar was in absentia. “Speak, shipmaster. What is it?” Calgar asked the shipmaster, a glint in his eye being the only indicator that he already knew what the shipmaster was going to say. A moment later, the shipmaster gave his reply. “We are almost at Holy Terra, my lords.” he said, addressing his master as well as Ahriman, Garro, and Loken, the royals being alongside them. “Perhaps our esteemed guests would wish for a better vantage point from which to view their homeworld?”
“Indeed.” said Ahriman, and he began to depart the bridge, bidding the royals follow. “There is a special observation chamber just three decks above the bridge. It is used for emergency star readings should the ship’s systems fail, but it does afford a panoramic view of the stars beyond, much more so than the bridge’s viewport. Come.” With that, the royals followed him eagerly, growing impatient by the minute.
It didn’t take long for the group to arrive at the location which Ahriman had spoken of. High above the Severian’s bridge, embedded upon the topmost deck of the vessel, was a vast dome made of armored transparent glass. Supported by steel girders wrought in a lattice framework, the dome nevertheless provided a near-perfect panoramic view of the space beyond. It left the royals in awe as they followed Ahriman to the highest point of the dome, from where they would get the best view possible. Finally, they were there, seeing the universe beyond and Earth slowly getting larger before them.
“It should be daytime in Crystal Tokyo.” said Rini, the princess of the Silver Millennium wondering about home. “I wonder how our people have fared in our absence.”
Her mother replied, “I think very well, Rini. Remember, we are children of light, and evil cannot dispel such powerful light away so easily.” Serenity’s reassuring words soothed her daughter’s worries, as well as those of her fellow Senshi and her husband. “Besides,” she added, turning to gaze upon Ahriman, “I’m sure that Ahzek’s warriors have done an excellent job in protecting our home and our people. Your warriors are truly among the finest I have ever seen.” Ahriman bowed in reply, honored by Serenity’s respectable words. “You honor me, Serenity, and my brothers with your kind words. For you are right in that my battle-brothers have been ceaseless in their vigilance. I know this, for I have been in communion with my senior officers ever since we departed Terra. I possess telepathic ability, so I can speak to anyone’s mind if I so wish, even across such vast distances that go beyond the Earth.”
“Amazing.” said Odette to herself, the princess of Swan Lake marveling at Ahriman’s words. “Simply amazing.”
“Look!” cried out Snow White, her arm pointing at the Earth. “We’re almost there! And I can see my homeland, just off to the north!” Everyone followed Snow White’s gaze and beheld the Earth; they were currently over the planet’s dayside, seeing all the beautiful lands in all their glory. Soon, the observation dome’s interior rang with the clear voices of the royals as they located their home kingdoms.
“There’s Corona!” shouted Rapunzel, pointing at the southernmost landmass, just off to the left. “I miss home so much.” Her husband, Eugene, embraced her and replied, “So do I, Rapunzel. But don’t worry, we’ll be home soon.” His words gave Rapunzel hope and she gave her husband a kiss. Meanwhile……….
“Elsa, look! There’s Arendelle!” Elsa’s sister, Anna, exclaimed to her older sibling whilst pointing at a stretch of land located farthest to the north of the continent. Her older sister was much calmer than Anna, but even Elsa couldn’t hide tears of joy at seeing her beautiful home from so high up. “It’s so beautiful, Anna.” she replied. “The lush fields of the south, the snowy mountains of the north, and the rivers that flow through our land, all of it is so beautiful. I hope it always stays that way.”
Anna smiled in turn; she was just bubbling with positive energy. She shared that with her sister, giving Elsa a loving embrace. “It will stay like this forever, Elsa. Trust me, it will.” Elsa knew Anna’s words were true, and she deepened the embrace, enjoying this special moment with her younger sibling. Meanwhile……….
“There’s Agrabah, Jasmine.” said Aladdin, the prince pointing to the continent’s middle region, which was primarily a vast desert. But within that desert lay the home of Aladdin and Jasmine, the sole desert kingdom of the Earth and one of the planet’s jewels. Jasmine embraced her husband as she beheld the beauty of her desert home, so far and yet so close at the same time. “I wonder how my father’s doing, and how he’ll react to all of this.”
Aladdin replied, “Probably the same reaction we all felt, Jasmine. But don’t worry, he’ll get used to it. He’s understandable, after all.” Jasmine gave a light, airy laugh at that and gave Aladdin a peck on the cheek, adding, “So true, Aladdin. So true.”
As each of the royals beheld their kingdoms from so high up in the heavens, one among them felt alone. The young princess of DunBroch gazed out and saw her homeland. The beautiful land of DunBroch, with its green fields and high moors, stood out in all its savage beauty. It left Merida with a sense of calm and homecoming deep within her heart, and she put a hand out onto the armored glass of the dome, letting out a single sigh. I miss home. she thought. Ever since all this madness, I’ve thought of my home and how I miss riding among its fields. How long has it been since I’ve set foot in DunBroch? A day? Two? Three?
“You miss home, don’t you?” a calm, airy voice interrupted her train of thoughts, and Merida turned around to see a fair maiden with equally fiery copper hair stand beside her. Merida relaxed and smiled as she recognized the princess who spoke. “I do, Giselle. I do.” she gave her reply before returning her gaze to the Earth. “Ever since the attack upon Crystal Tokyo and all the crazy things I’ve seen, I’ve……I’ve felt a sense of longing for my home. For the simple beauty of it, the sounds of laughter and pride of my kin, and the lovely warm fires of the hearth. I miss it so.”
“I know how you feel, Merida.” Giselle answered, placing a hand upon her friend’s shoulder. “I feel the same way as you do. I miss Andalasia. I also miss having my friend Pip by my side.” Merida nodded in understanding. “Speaking of which, where did he go?” In reply, Giselle answered, “He left for home whilst we were taken up aboard this flying ship. Pip’s very good with directions, so he knows the way home. Still, I miss him, and I feel so alone up here. Everyone else in this gathering has each other, but I’m all alone, just as you’re alone too.”
Giselle’s words had an effect upon Merida’s soul, as the princess realized that her friend and counterpart understood how she felt. Knowing this, she took Giselle’s hand in her own and gave an affectionate squeeze, a mark of friendship and mutual understanding. “Thanks, Giselle.” she said to the other princess, Giselle’s smile widening even further and Merida returning it in kind. “Thank you for understanding how I feel.”
“Of course, Merida. Of course.”
“Our home looks so beautiful, even after having been attacked by a terrible enemy.” said Serenity, the queen of the Silver Millennium gazing down at the distant star that shined upon the Earth. That star was Crystal Tokyo, for the city had been designed and built with the shape of a star, and its many lights gave beauty to that shape. Her husband, daughter, and Senshi allies all gave nods and murmurs of agreement upon seeing the strength of their homeland.
“Crystal Tokyo is truly a shining star within the darkness.” said Trista, the Senshi of Time being a bastion of calm among the waves of emotion that permeated each Senshi. Happiness, joy, sorrow, sadness, these were the emotions felt by all of the Senshi. “It has never fallen in all the years since its founding, and it won’t fall anytime soon. I know this.”
“Indeed you do, Trista.” said Michelle, the Senshi of the eighth planet just as calm and serene as her older compatriot. “I feel the same way about our home. It is like a cliff against the raging sea. No matter how high or how fierce the waves become, the cliff is made of firm stone and thus has a strong foundation that can stand against anything. That is how I compare Crystal Tokyo to the recent events that occurred on its very soil. We faced a terrible foe, but with help and with our own inner strength, we survived intact, and we’ll do so again.”
“You got that right, Michelle.” Amara, the Senshi of Sky and Wind, added with a smile on her lips. “Crystal Tokyo will stand fast against any enemy, no matter how powerful they may be. It’s not only due to the strength of our people, or our own power, but also because we have the brightest light in the whole universe. Serenity is our shining light in the dark, and she’ll never die. She’ll keep on shining through until the end.”
Amara’s words were met with words of agreement from all the other Senshi, but Serenity asked her friend a question. “Are you putting too much faith in me, Amara? Are you that certain of my power?” Through the light gasps and stares of bewilderment, the Senshi of Wind stood firm against Serenity’s question and gave her response. “I am, Serenity, because I have faith in you. I trust in you, as we all do. Believe me when I say this: there’s no power of darkness anywhere in the universe that can match that of light and love. Even this new enemy, this Chaos, will never be your match. Never. And I’m very sure of that.”
Her words, full of fearlessness and boldness, warmed Serenity’s heart, washing away all the inner fear and despair the queen had felt but did not voice. She gave her friend a nod and appreciative thanks before returning her gaze to the land of the Silver Millennium visible far below, and for the rest of the voyage everyone stayed quiet.
Only a short distance away did the Astartes trio watch over the royals. The royals did not know this, but the Astartes heard every word they had uttered. This was due to the incredibly sharp hearing which the warriors, one of many traits that set them apart from any other human. What they heard lifted their spirits a little, but the warriors knew better.
“Their optimism is invigorating.” said Garro, the knight-errant having deep respect and compassion for the gathered royals. Beside him, Ahriman nodded in kind. “Indeed it is, Nathaniel.” he replied. “These innocents are possessed of truly bright souls, pure and unsullied. They are not like us, my brothers, as we bear the burden and wounds which only millennia of constant battle and struggle can give to a living soul. I can feel their positive energies, and I feel refreshed. Yet……..I feel sad as well.”
“I can understand why, Ahzek.” Loken answered, understanding Ahriman’s subtle power and its potency. He gazed at the royals with sadness in his heart. “These good people will be tested as we were, but they will suffer even more than we did. We are the end result of our trials, brothers, for we had to fight to survive and thrive at a young age. I remember the constant battle for survival in the underground hab-blocks of my homeworld of Cthonia, the endless fighting amid the reavers and kill-gangs. As a youth I lived amongst those kill-gangs, fighting and killing just to survive, and fortune smiled upon me.”
“Indeed, Garviel.” Garro replied, looking at his old friend and comrade of ages past. “Truly were you blessed to become worthy of joining the ranks of your legion, and to learn well under the tutelage of many noble warriors, including…..him.” Having caught Garro’s hesitation before uttering that last word, Loken said, “I know, Nathaniel. And you’re right about me being blessed. Even so, my legion will never be cleansed of the taint that befell it so long ago. The day my lord turned against the Imperium was one of my darkest moments.”
“But you persevered, Garviel,” Ahriman interjected, “and so did a great many of your battle-brothers. Believe me when I say this: I am truly honored to have fought beside you and the Sixteenth for so many years. You and the sons of Cthonia have proven yourselves in the eyes of He who sits upon the Golden Throne. We all have.”
“My thanks, Ahzek,” a grateful Loken replied before turning back to the royals, “but let us reminisce no more. Let us return our attention to our guests, for they are about to see the true glory of Terra.” As if in response to his words, a high-pitched cry of amazement pierced the silence of the dome. Before the warriors, one of the princesses- Snow White –pointed out towards the rim of the Earth, to a shining golden light just a short distance away from the beautiful star of Crystal Tokyo, though that distance was in truth thousands upon thousands of miles away. Even so, the golden light was bright enough to actually match the Sun’s very own light, a second sun shining so close to the Earth that was an incredible sight for the royals to behold.
“What is that light?” asked Snow White, the young princess looking with wonder at the beautiful light beyond. As the Severian flew close to the Earth, the entire group beheld the golden light and stared at it in wonder. Soon the questions arose, such as how so powerful a light could exist upon their world, but in the end, it was one voice that silenced all.
“There’s more to that light than meets the eye.” said Serenity, who gazed at the light with calm wonder. “I see a bright pillar shining forth from the light and extending out into the stars. It’s like a beacon, everlasting and undying. I don’t know how else to explain it.” The others gazed outward at the light, trying to see the bright pillar which Serenity spoke of, but after a while none could see what she saw, leaving a few unbelieving of Serenity’s words. They were swiftly corrected.
“Serenity speaks the truth, my friends.” said Ahriman, striding forth to join the group. “For I also see the beautiful pillar that shines forth from the Earth’s surface, and what’s more, I can tell you what it is.” Everyone remained quiet as they awaited Ahriman’s explanation, which he promptly gave. “You are right, Serenity, in that it is like a beacon, for it is nothing else. That light comes from only one being, a single individual that is capable of projecting such power out into the stars. You see the beautiful light which is known across the many worlds of the Imperium as “The Ray of Hope”, “The Golden Path”, and most importantly and literally, “The Light of the Emperor”.” He pointed down at the brightest source of the light.
“What you all see down there is the single greatest source of psychic energy ever seen in the entire universe. You all see the light of the Emperor, beloved by all. All that light, all that power, is generated by Him alone, and it is directed outwards into the galaxy through means of a powerful mechanism, a great machine known as the Astronomican. You have heard this word spoken once, back in the war council.”
The answers of the royals were many, and they each uttered in wonder and amazement at the sheer impossibility of such a thing. One person held that much light? How could that be? “But how is that possible?” asked Belle. “It seems magical to me.” Ahriman nodded and continued to give his explanation. “It can be imagined like that, Princess Belle, but to understand what the Astronomican is, to understand what that light is, one must first understand who the Emperor is.”
“Who is he?” asked Snow White, the princess as mesmerized as the others, if not even more. In response, Ahriman leaned down slightly, gave a little smile, and said, “Do you really want to know?” His question was answered by numerous vocal replies, and even excited nods from a few of the more innocent princesses. His smile never leaving him, Ahriman gave his answer. “The answer is this: I do not know.”
That was not the response the royals were expecting. At best, they were expecting a name and royal lineage, while a simple place of birth was the least they were expecting. But nothing? That was the last answer they were expecting. Before they demanded a better answer, Ahriman raised a placating hand, adding to his answer. “I speak the truth. I really do not know who the Emperor is, from which family he came, or even where he was born. I simply do not know, and neither do my compatriots.” Behind him, both Garro and Loken gave nods of agreement, indicating that they too had no idea who the Emperor was. That left the royals a little disturbed.
“To continue with Lord Ahriman’s explanation,” said Garro, standing beside his friend, “no one in the entire Imperium knows who the Emperor is. We simply know this: he was once a mighty warlord who united Holy Terra under his rule and founded the Imperium of Man, the empire that now rules the known galaxy. Beyond that, we know nothing else. He simply just…….appeared out of nowhere.”
“Very true.” added Loken. “To add to the mystery, no one knows the extent of his power, or of the fathomless knowledge he possesses, and the fact that all three of us have met him only once in our lives.” The tale being stirring, the royals continued to listen in whilst the three giants continued. “Nathaniel and I,” continued Loken, “only saw the Emperor from afar during the victory march at the end of the Ullanor Crusade, and as for Ahzek, he is the only one among us who walked and spoke with the Emperor himself.”
All the royals’ eyes now turned to Ahzek as he smiled again. “Garviel is right, my friends. I am the only one, perhaps the only being in the entire Imperium, to have met the Emperor in person whilst he walked among us in the flesh.” At this point in the tale, one of the princesses asked a question, timid yet clear. “What……..what was he like?” asked Giselle, the princess of Andalasia eager to know more, as were all the royals. In reply, Ahriman gave a long sigh before continuing. “He was remarkable. He was like a sun, a golden sun taken human form and chained there forever. It was during the campaign to take the island fortress of Diemenslandt (McNeill, 39) that I met with the Emperor personally, and he astounded me so. I could not see his face, for the light which he emanated all but obscured his proud features. But I could feel his wisdom, sense his limitless love and compassion for humanity. And right there, upon that battlefield of old, I somehow knew that the Emperor, beloved by all, was old, older even, more ancient than anyone else who lived. Somehow, some way, I knew that the Emperor was, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the oldest and mightiest human being to have ever lived, older than any other living being in existence. He was, for lack of a better word, immortal.”
The final word left all of the royals in shock. None of them had expected to hear this. No expectation whatsoever was in their minds about the idea of someone being immortal. All of the royals had been witness to death, and they all accepted it as a necessary part of life, for everyone in the world only had a limited time to live their lives upon the Earth, and so they all strived to make the best effort to live good, happy lives. As a result, the many kingdoms of the Earth enjoyed prosperity and harmony with one another due to the common interests of good that lay in the hearts of each person, and under the leadership of Neo-Queen Serenity, brightest light of them all, the world truly knew everlasting peace and happiness for a time. Even the Silver Crystal, the bright gem borne by the queen, granted everlasting youth and longevity for a time, immortality being the one gift it could not grant to those who bathed in its rays. But this, an immortal being, a living soul clad in a body of flesh that never died, but simply continued? It was unthinkable.
“I know about the concept of immortality,” said Belle, “having read about it in the books of my library, but even so, the idea of an immortal being seems implausible. From what I’ve heard, my lord, you are saying that this Emperor of yours has lived for millennia, never aging and leading your empire for the past ten thousand years, if that is what you meant.”
“It is true, Princess Belle,” said Garro, the knight-errant joining the conversation, “what my brother Ahriman says. The Emperor truly is immortal, and he has indeed lived as the figurehead, both physically and spiritually, of the Imperium for the ten millennia it has existed. He has not moved from his throne at all for those ten thousand years, and thus,” he continued, gesturing towards the brightest point of the golden light that shined across the horizon, “His light shines upon Holy Terra and holds the Imperium together. Without his presence and his light, we would unable to travel the stars of the galaxy to other worlds, and so would we all remain trapped and isolated where he ever to be taken away from us by death, or by Chaos.”
Though both Ahriman’s and Garro’s explanations were true to the point, they left the royals more confused than ever, and so the questions continued. “I don’t understand any of this!” cried out Triton, the sea-king’s temper rising to the fore. “Your explanation makes no sense at all! How can a single light, and for that matter, a single being, unite all the worlds of which you speak as well as your kind? Like Belle said, it seems implausible and impossible!”
“But it is true, my king.” answered Loken, joining his two brethren in solidarity. “We would not lie to you, and we have proven our friendship to you several times over, Ahzek proving himself to you the most. You do not understand this because you have not seen the mechanisms of the Imperium that keep it running and going onwards, nor have you seen the Emperor with your own eyes. For now, though, you will have to accept our present explanation, but in time we will reveal more to you and help you to understand. You have my word on this matter.”
“As you do have mine word.” Ahriman said, giving his promise to the royals, and beside him, Garro joined in swearing his own promise. “And mine. You will see the Emperor with your own eyes one day, and you will feel His glory. It will be like nothing any of you have ever seen or felt before. Trust me on this.”
The Astartes leaders would say no more on the matter, and thus the royals were forced to accept their promise. Several of the royals privately hoped that the Astartes would make good on their promise. They had no idea how right they were.
For a while no one spoke, the royals returning their gaze to the shining light below. Astonished murmurs and mesmerized whispers emanated from each prince, princess, and Senshi’s lips as they beheld the light as being the central point of a nexus, a vast latticework of smaller lights laid upon a vast stretch of land as big as any of the continents upon which the royals’ kingdoms resided. It was then the royals realized that they beheld another continent upon their home, a piece of land completely unknown and hidden from them for centuries, and apparently with a vast complex of buildings, if the enormous web of lights was any indication of such wonder.
“Yes.” said Ahriman, breaking the silence once more. “You now see evidence of what lay hidden from your eyes all this time. You see but one of the many realms and lands that truly inhabit your home, my friends.” A few nods acknowledged his words, but Snow White, ever innocent and naïve, asked a question. “What are all those lights down there? I’ve never seen so many lights across so much land! Where are the forests, the lakes, the mountains?”
“The land down there has none of those things, my princess.” Ahriman replied. “Before the second invasion of Chaos and the subsequent events that led to the concealment of our shared home and its eventual rejuvenation, Earth was actually a barren world, devoid of any oceans, forests, and mountains. Nature was completely gone from our home, destroyed by human artifice. What you see before you is but the last remnant of Old Earth, the last piece of Holy Terra before its restoration to the beautiful world of ancient times past.”
“You mean there was nothing?” piped Giselle, the equally innocent princess as shocked as her friend at Ahriman’s words, as were the rest of the group. “No trees, no animals, nothing at all?” A nod from Ahriman’s head confirmed it, for he went without his helmet. “Nothing at all, Princess Giselle, not even the smallest bird. Everything you all know to this day, every natural thing you all live in, was completely extinct in ages past, replaced with machines and vast constructions built by human hands that became so big, so enormous, that they swallowed the earth beneath. Only our final decision to hide the Earth away from Chaos in the hidden dimension which I spoke of earlier, and the slower flow of time that existed within, caused the planet to experience a rebirth of epic proportions. Forests grew once more, mountains came to exist once again, and oceans formed anew, all of it consuming and eventually burying the vast edifices and machines of human creation underneath them. One day, we will show you evidence of this truth, and you will see.”
As if the explanation that their Emperor was immortal wasn’t enough before, now this news was a lot more to take in. The Earth completely barren, without any forests or other natural formations? A world completely encased in metal and industry? It was beyond the ability of the royals to fathom, for they had never heard anything like this before. But there was the proof before them down below, a single construction of metal edifices that shone with so many lights. There was no doubt in any of the royals’ minds that if they went down there, they would see hundreds of spires, towers, and even dozens of castles! It was the best example they could think of, for they could not fathom or imagine anything else.
“What kind of buildings are down there, my lord?” asked Amy, the Senshi of Water more collected and calm than some of the Senshi and royals. In turn, Garro spoke on behalf of Ahriman, who remained silent. “That whole region down there, my dear Senshi, is known locally as the Heart of the Imperium, or simply as the Bastion. It is where all the houses of government reside, where all branches of the Imperial government can be found. Many had to be relocated here in the wake of Holy Terra’s revival into the beautiful world it is now, but here the glory of the Imperium can be felt. Down there, surrounding the golden light of the Emperor, lie the many houses and palaces from where the Imperium is governed.”
“Like what?” asked Belle, the princess now clearly interested in knowing about the Imperial government. In turn, Garro replied, “Like the Ecclesiarchal Palace, down there to the south.” He pointed to a jutting piece of land that stretched away from the massive continent, revealing a smaller web of lights that revealed another complex of immense buildings down below. “A place filled with massive temples, shrines, churches, and cathedrals, h ome to the many priests and followers of the Ecclesiarchy, the official state religion of the Imperium……and a somewhat corrupt institution. I will speak no more of them. Instead, look to the northwest and you will see the Navigator’s Quarter.” The royals followed Garro’s outstretched hand as he pointed to the far left of the continent, towards another great complex of buildings that formed part of the greater web of lights that covered the entire land. So far away, and yet so clearly visible to the royals from so high up in the stars.
“There one will find the residences of the Navigator houses, the people who possess the unique gift of seeing through the warp and thus guiding ships from one location in the galaxy to another. It is confusing at first, but eventually you will understand. For now, it is enough to say that down there, in that area of the Bastion, live the many leaders of the Navigator families, and in turn, the Navis Nobilite.”
Garro then quickly pointed to another great complex of lights farther to the north, speaking this. “There lies the Libraria Ultima, one of the greatest repositories of knowledge in the entire galaxy, and said to contain the sum worth of a thousand individual libraries, every piece of lore from the ages stored within its walls.” His words drew a gasp from Belle; it was easy to interpret her shock, for amongst the princesses, Belle was the most studious and learned of them all. Books were her passion, knowledge her treasure. No other princess among the group could match the remarkable intelligence which Belle possessed, nor could any of them even hope to match her insatiable thirst for knowledge. Belle was a true student of the academic arts, and already renowned across her kingdom and the globe as one of the greatest writers and poets of her time, as well as one of the finest teachers of lore. The library within hers and her husband’s castle was said to be one of the largest on Earth. That is, of course, until this happened.
“Did….did you say…..the sum worth of a thousand…libraries?” she all but whispered the words, barely able to make out the coherent sentence. Garro merely smiled and replied, “I did, Princess Belle. The Libraria Ultima is indeed one of the largest libraries in the whole galaxy, and without a doubt the largest on Earth. But it isn’t the only place of lore that can boast to be a vast repository of lore. Look at Lord Ahriman,” he gestured to Ahzek, “and listen to his words.”
“Indeed.” Ahriman responded, and gave Belle another shock to the system. “I come from a planet that cherishes knowledge, and so we have numerous libraries and other repositories of lore. Upon my adopted homeworld there lies the Great Library, a pyramid made of silver glass and crystal that contains the total knowledge of hundreds of libraries. The wealth of knowledge that lies within its silver walls would take you several lifetimes to read and absorb, princess. So much knowledge is in there that no learned student of lore could ever hope to read every single book and scroll within its depths.”
Belle was left dumbfounded, for Ahriman’s words had a great effect on her. From a fellow student of knowledge to another, Ahriman had left Belle in wonder with his words. She could never have fathomed or even imagined the possibility that there existed giant libraries containing hundreds of thousands of books, ten times over! Even her memory of seeing the vast library of her husband’s castle for the first time, back when Prince Adam was still a beast, was instantly replaced with this astounding revelation. In the end, all she could say was, “Incredible.”
Meanwhile, both Prince Derek and Princess Odette looked down to the east of the continent, past the shining light and beheld yet another complex of buildings, being rendered into tiny, tiny versions of their majesty due to the vast distance between the ship and the Earth’s surface. To the west lay another immense complex sheathed in a beautiful web of light, but this one appeared to join with the eastern web, forming an interconnected super-complex of immense spires, towers, temples, shrines, pyramids, domes, and acropolises that surrounded the central light which they had seen earlier. Even from so high up, the tiny specks of the many different buildings was clearly visible to both of them and the rest of the royal entourage, who saw this mega-complex with great wonder. It was clearly the center of the vast web of lights and buildings that covered the entire region of land, and no doubt the center of power from which the outsiders’ Imperium was ruled.
“Your Imperium,” began Prince Derek, speaking to Ahriman, “suggests an absolute form of government, one directly ruled by a single individual with an inner circle of advisers. Just like my castle back in Swan Lake is not only my home, but also the seat of power for my kingdom’s government, I assume that vast complex which I see down there is the central place of rule for your empire, is it not, my lord?”
In return, Ahriman nodded an affirmative whilst giving his answer. “You are indeed correct, Prince Derek, in your assumption. That is indeed the true heart of the Imperium. That entire complex which you all see before you down there…….is the Imperial Palace itself.”
Now the gasps of shock and disbelief from the royals’ lips reached their climax. They all knew what a palace was, but compared to a castle it was only slightly bigger in size and space. But this? This palace covered an entire span of land, so big it could cover whole kingdoms! Once more, Ahriman smiled in amusement at seeing the shocked gazes of the royals. “All true, my friends.” he said. “That is indeed the seat of power for the entire Imperium, and both the home and resting place of the Emperor himself, beloved by all.”
“It cannae be!” cried out Merida, her thick accent returning to the fore due to her complete shock. “It’s sae huge! Impossibly huge! How kin that be a palace, fer it’s simply tae big!”
“I see your native dialect has come back, Princess Merida,” Ahriman said back, “due to the shock of seeing the Imperial Palace with thine own eyes, but it is true. That is the home of the Emperor, a palace the size of a kingdom worthy and fit for the absolute ruler of the mightiest empire to have ever existed. It is only fitting that his abode accommodate his greatness, no?”
“Aye, but still, it’s gigantic!” Merida cried back, her accent still thick and strong. “Surely all th' buildings 'n' rooms down thare are nae meant fer a single person, are they!?" Her answer actually caused the three Astartes to laugh a little, for her question sounded a bit naïve. “No, of course not, my princess.” answered Garro. “Only the innermost sanctum of the Palace holds the Emperor’s private chambers, but he does not need them. Remember what Lord Ahriman told you all: the Palace is both the Emperor’s home and his resting place.”
“Resting place?” asked Mina, surprised to hear such words that implied the passing on of a loved one. “You mean to say that he’s dead?” Garro raised a placating hand before answering the Senshi’s question. “No, Senshi of Love, he is not dead. In truth, the Emperor is not even alive in the common sense of the word. For you see, the Emperor long ago suffered a wound so grievous, so severe, that he was forced to forever remain interred within a powerful mechanism that sustained his broken body. Even to this day, the Emperor continues to live, but it is a completely immobile existence. The wound he endured was so great that it permanently crippled his body, dooming him to live a half-life, suspended between living and dying. And so he has remained this way, alive in only the barest sense of the word, but he can never walk, speak, or move ever again. So I use the term “resting place” in a variation of what it actually means, for the Emperor, beloved by all, is neither living nor dead.”
“Neither living nor dead?” said Serenity, shocked to hear such a thing. “How could you sanction his continued existence, then? Would it not be better to simply let the Emperor pass on into death?” Her question was one she should never have asked, because immediately all three Astartes leaders stiffened in their posture, and expressions of both shock and anger fell upon their faces. Not one of the royals and Senshi could miss such a radical change in their demeanor. In the end, it was Loken who spoke.
“You hurt us with your words, my queen,” he calmly said, “but we forgive your ignorance. You do not know how important the Emperor is to the Imperium’s continued existence, so you ask this completely foolish question, one which, if you were any other citizen of the Imperium, would condemn you to death.” Serenity gasped at Loken’s direct, blunt reply, and seeing that he had her attention, he continued.
“The Emperor is absolutely vital to our Imperium’s future. Without him, the Imperium would fracture and fall apart, and the human race would destroy itself and be destroyed by powerful enemies. For the Emperor is a truly powerful being, perhaps even more powerful than you, my queen, and that is why he is the key and the source of our empire’s continued existence. Besides, we did not force him into this state of limbo, as you think. He made the choice himself. The Emperor chose to continue living like this, for the human species which he so dearly loves, so much so that he willingly forced himself to live this way.”
Now that shocked not only Serenity, but all the other royals as well. Who would willingly remain alive after suffering so crippling a wound? Would death not be the better choice? But again, it was their ignorance and innocence that led them all to think these things, and the future revelation would leave them all amazed with its absolute truth.
Meanwhile, the Severian continued its lonely travel across the heart of the Imperium, moving slowly towards the east, to lands unknown.
I'm very artistic, caring, and spiritual. I especially enjoy science fiction and, believe it or not, I do believe Atlantis was real. But I do believe in a balance between the real and fantasy worlds. I don't believe we should be addicted to anything (except art) Besides loving Sailor Moon and Warhammer 40,000 (specifically the Space Marines), I enjoy Star Wars, House, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, and many other cool genres of film. I also enjoy all kinds of music that take my fancy. I don't listen to heavy metal or death metal or rap. I consider them too primal (no offense to my viewers) I practice yoga and Buddhist meditation and I read much about mythology, conspiracy theory, and Atlantis. I love the mysteries of Atlantis. Could it have been real?|
Current Residence: Terra, the holy realm of the Imperium
Favourite genre of music: New Age and trailer music
Favourite style of art: professional art
MP3 player of choice: iPod shuffle
Wallpaper of choice: Space Marines and Sailor Moon
Personal Quote: Do not worry about the past or future. Remain in the present, in the here and now, and you will live