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Eight


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#1 Offline Enigmatic Eight

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Posted May 05 2014 - 08:08 PM

- Review -

 

Act 1

 

Prologue

 

The key was clank-ing against his breastplate as Eight laboriously trudged through the endless expanse of sand, made to shine like gold, by the gleam of the Midday Suns. The tattered cloak he wore did barely anything to keep the small grains, blowing in the wind, out of his tired joints. It was always a small, but restrained, relief when he could spot his hut through his squinting eyes. He undid the rusting latch, pried open the wooden door, closing and locking it behind him.

 

He removed his cloak, hearing the almost waterlike sound of grains hitting the stone floor. He hung the cloak over his chair in the corner and sat down at the accompanying desk. He lay his empty satchel down at his feet. Slightly annoyed at a particular and common feeling, he removed his mask and shook out whatever sand was resting in and on it.

 

Eight was not successful today. He couldn't find any more of the reeds he needed, just like yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. And the day before that.

 

But Eight couldn't know when a day ended or when a day had begun. The Suns never set - they sat there, motionless in the bright white-blue glare of a sky and stared down at him with furious and blazing contempt.

 

He was running out of parchment. He would have to paraphrase, then.

 

The key bumped up against his heartlight, as Eight carefully removed the ancient tweed lanyard holding the key from his neck, poking and twisting the key into the lock on the nearby strongbox sitting on his desk. He removed his most prized possessions from the container - a rough, pulpy and crumpled sheet of parchment paper, made from the reeds he sought, and an ancient stone stylus. He jealously guarded these mundane items, as well as the means to getting them; his protodermis key.

 

Smoothing the rough paper as flat as he could against his desk, he grasped his stylus and put its point against the top left-hand corner of the page. He sat there for a while, unmoving, as he tried to think of what to write. It might have been an hour, or a few seconds. Eight couldn't know. The Suns just stared at him, daring him to mark down a single character.

 

It may have been an hour later, or just a single minute, but Eight began to write.

 

It was something very different each day. Or, rather, every return trip to his hut, since he had no concept of time. Some days, he would write a message to himself, or to someone else, usually one of hate. Almost always one of hate. Other times he would sketch out the little jagged edges of mountains or the slow-curving mounds of sand dunes, scribbling each drawing out into a localized map. Sometimes Eight would try to assemble the pieces of the map together so he'd know where to go to find the reeds, but he always ended up frustrated and empty-handed.

 

On some days, though, Eight was happy. This was the only time of the year (or month, day, minute, second, etc.) that Eight could truly be happy. He would write numbers on these days, countless numbers of all different patterns - sometimes in groups of fours, in twos, sixes, all different kinds of numbers.

 

Eight loved numbers. He wished he could just write them forever, but not every day produced the required thoughts to write them down.

 

Today, he wrote a wonderful sequence.

 

67,45,35,44,63,47,79,44,25,53,94,56,66,33,66,43,83,37,66,66,49,56,85,66,50,54,26,47,72,27,66,33,46,77,64,37,46,37,48,43,75,55,70,56,35,54,86,63,46

 

These were some of the happiest numbers Eight had ever wrote. They seemed to just leap off the page and float and dance around him as he wrote them. Suddenly, he stopped, and the feeling passed. Emptiness returned to fill him, driving out the joy he had felt moments or years earlier.

 

He became angry. Spiteful. Why couldn't he just write the numbers forever? Why couldn't he just be happy forever? 

 

In his anger, he defaced his page of numbers with some random runes he scribbled shakily.

 

tsjl jhjn

 

Eight hated letters. He preferred to write numbers. They were perfect. Mathematical. Letters were ugly and unexpressive.

 

Frustrated, angry, tired, Eight got up from his desk, taking his silver proto-key, lanyard and all, and walked over to the other side of his small hut. A dank, ragged bed awaited him. Eight lay down and turned over left and right until he found he was comfortable on his back. Adjusting his mask, he held the key up in front of his aging eyes.

 

He studied the key intently every evening, wondering what the archaic etched messages on its side would tell him. Was it a message of happiness? Of love? Or of jealousy? He set the key down on his heartlight and closed his eyes.

 

No, he thought.

 

Always one of hate.


Edited by Enigma Eight, May 06 2014 - 07:18 PM.

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#2 Offline Enigmatic Eight

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Posted May 08 2014 - 03:08 AM

Act 1

 

Chapter 1

 

A dark night sky. Eight dreamt it. Black as his joints and plates and his mask - a tar-hued pitch that was infinite and endless. It was cooling to his sore servos and tired eyes; a coolness he had never experienced in all his moment-years.

 

Joy and ecstasy overtook Eight at the ebony void became pinpricked with points of light. They were what Eight thought stars should look like.

 

But Eight had never seen stars. He had never seen the night.

 

He had never known darkness or coolness or knew what ‘black’ was or what the word endless meant.

 

The pseudo-stars grew and grew before Eight’s eyes, swelling into shapes, not of spheres, but of numbers. Joyous, luminous numbers! An endless expanse of beauty right before Eight’s eyes.

 

But Eight did not actually see the numbers. He was dreaming. He only thought he saw the numbers - and even so, Eight did not know what a ‘dream’ was.

 

The numbers danced about in the sky - an inversion of white numbers against a black, smooth page, contrary to his black numbers penned onto his rough, white page. The numbers danced and swirled, endless in their cosmic romance.

 

Eight grew astounded as the numbers stopped as if snapping to attention, and shifted into position; a rough gridwork of mathematical precision; hosting an endless ocean of numbers.

 

Hate filled Eight. Hate and disgust. The numbers changed, shifted, tricked him. They were not numbers. They were letters. Almost every single letter he thought he knew, suspended above him in a mockery of his most passionate love. Where were his numbers? He wanted them back! He hated letters! Hated them!

 

The letters began to spin, twirling and dancing and spinning and dancing and twirling and spinning and dancing and dancing and spinning and twirling and twirling and twirling and dancing and spinning…

 

...and Eight awoke.

 

That was the first time in moment-years that Eight had dreamt. He was still angry - angry and furious at the letters for invading his mind, for pushing out the numbers he so dearly loved.

 

Eight threw off the roughspun covers of his bed and marched over to the lockbox, jamming the key into the lock and retrieving a sheet of paper and his stylus.

 

He wanted the numbers back. He closed his eyes and tried to draw the letter-grid his subconscious mind had seen. He willed the polybius into existence upon the paper…

 

E N D L S

A B C F G

H J K M O

P Q R T U

V W X Y Z

 

There they were. The letters. Eight hated letters. He wanted to burn this page, if he could find any means to do so when he’d be out looking for reeds later. Eight just wanted to get this unpleasant memory out of his head. These letters had vandalized his dreams - and he wanted to get rid of them. He took the stylus and violently crossed out the grid he had just scribed.

 

Eight put the stylus back in the lockbox and closed it. He was taking the sheet with him. He’d find a way to destroy it, somehow. He began to fold the sheet, but he realized he had just written on the back of a sheet that was already marked with his writing.

 

Carefully, Eight unfolded the sheet and looked at the back (front). It was the same sheet he had penned the previous day, before he slept. The beautiful string of numbers, defaced by hideous letters, inked by his own hand.

 

tsjl jhjn

 

Tsjl Jhjn. Tsjl-Jhjn. Eight shuddered as he repeated the letter-word(s) to himself. They (it) were (was) the ugliest word(s) Eight had ever seen.

 

But Eight did not know what a ‘word’ was. He had never bothered to write one because of his distaste of letters. Number sequences were his ‘words’. 16-12-5-19-1-5 was a beautiful one. So was 8-5-12-16. He thought 13-5 was especially brilliant.

 

Eight once again folded the Tsjl Jhjn page and shoved it into his satchel. Walking over and slowly unlocking and opening the door of his hut, Eight peeked his head outside. The Midday Suns were still there, centred above him in the sky. Eight was late. He had overslept.

 

He quickly donned his cloak and made sure his proto-key was around his neck before he stepped outside and latched the door shut behind him.

 

As per usual, Eight would begin the motions of trudging through the knee-high sand, keeping his cloak tightly wrapped around him. He always headed off in a random direction, and today was no exception.

 

Eight headed north, just like he did every other day.

 

Eight never turned around to look, but if he had, he would have seen his baked and battered wooden hut slowly disappearing amongst the gold-brown haze of sand, whipped up by ferocious winds.

 

* * *

Every so often, Eight would kneel and remove his mask to shake out any of the sand that had bypassed the cloth surrounding his head. He would also clutch the key, secured to the lanyard around his neck once in a while, making sure it was still there.

 

Today, however, Eight was occupied by another tic. Occasionally, he’d remove the Tsjl Jhjn and unfold it, looking at it intensely and wishing away the letters. He desperately wanted to find some way to be rid of them.

 

It never occurred to him to let the sheet go, and to watch it fly away on the gusts of sand and air.

 

Eight would wander for most of the day, usually until he had found what he was looking for. Some days, Eight would grow tired of walking - his joints would stiffen and his eyes would begin to flutter - and at that point, he’d know it was time to start finding his way back.

 

However, Eight was especially lucky today. He did a double-take as he spied the thin, spindly root of one of the reeds poking through the sand by his foot. He looked up, and the pale green-brown stalk was there standing there in front of him, barely visible through the haze.

 

Eight approached the plant cautiously, as if it was a bird or a beetle, easily frightened by an approaching figure.

 

But Eight did not know what a ‘bird’ or a ‘beetle’ was. He had never seen or heard of either of them.

 

He could reach out and touch the reed now - it was almost taller than he was - it would easily make for four or five pages.

 

Eight had no tools but his two hands. He would tug and pry at the base of the reed, pulling apart at one of it’s small jointed segments. No need to waste the root. It would grow back in a moment-year.

 

Strangely, Eight was having some trouble pulling the reed apart. Were the reeds getting stronger? Or was he getting weaker? Was he aging? But how could time pass for him to age if the Midday Suns did not budge?

 

Eight still had no concept of time, nor age.

 

Eventually, the reed popped free. It was healthy, fresh - not too thin. The thicker was usually the better - the resulting paper would have more area for Eight to write his numbers on.

 

Eight was about to turn back and call it a day (metaphorically), but he noticed another tall reed poking up in the distance. And another. And another.

 

After Eight slowly walked over to go collect this generous bounty, he found something he had not looked upon for a decade of moment-years.

 

The Brook.

 

It was a shimmering, impossible sight - a small oasis of water, surrounded by the reeds, growing and slowly draining the Brook of its glassy water. It was the only thing to sustain any plant life Eight had ever seen.

 

Eight eyed the plethora of plants greedily. He wanted to take them all back with them, to turn them all into paper and write number after number on each of them and make a beautiful blanket for him to sleep under so he wouldn’t dream of any more letters and-

 

But Eight knew he wouldn’t be able to take all the reeds back with him, nor would he want to. Too little, and he was starved of his precious paper. To many, and they’d become a burden for him - he’d drop them in the sand on the way home and be lost in the dunes forever.

 

It hadn’t occurred to him his Tsjl Jhjn page could bear the same fate.

 

Slowly and with patience, Eight pried apart the reeds, gathering about two handfuls of four. That was enough for today, he surmised. He removed a small length of lanyard - not dissimilar to the one supporting the key brushing against his heartlight - and tied his bounty together in a neat bundle.

 

After he had finished, Eight gazed into the Brook, staring at his own dark, shaded reflection in the undisturbed surface. Noticing some unpleasant bits of sand and pulp and mud smeared on his mask, he removed it dipped it into the small puddle, washing away the discrepancies.

 

It was only when he replaced his mask that the thought occurred to him that he could wash away the discrepancies on the Tsjl Jhjn, too. The page would be destroyed, and his beautiful numbers lost, but anything was better than having letters disgrace his page.

Eight removed the folded page from his satchel, unfolded it and tossed it, Tsjl Jhjn-side-down, and watched the brittle and pulpy paper soak with the water and begin to dissolve.

 

For a brief moment, and only just a moment, the ink on the other side leaked through the page, and Tsjl Jhjn became visible to him.

 

The only difference was that he could read the letters backwards.

 

And he hated them even more.

 

* * *

 

Eight found his way back to his hut the same way he walked out into the expansive world - he trodded on in a random direction.

 

Eight headed back south, just like he did every other day.

 

The key was clank-ing against his breastplate as Eight laboriously trudged through the endless expanse of sand, made to shine like gold, by the glow of the setting suns. The tattered cloak he wore did barely anything to keep the small grains, blowing in the wind, out of his tired joints. It was always a small, but restrained, relief when he could spot his hut through his squinting eyes. He undid the rusting latch, pried open the wooden door, closing and locking it behind him.

 

Eight disrobed, Eight set his bounty down on the floor.

 

Eight spent the next hour-second working to convert the reeds into paper.

 

Eight cut, Eight split, Eight peeled, Eight soaked, Eight pressed.

 

Eight finished with his paper-making and decided it was time to relax.

 

Eight sat, Eight unlocked, Eight wrote, Eight fumed.

 

And Eight stormed off to his bed.

 

He would not create his quilt-blanket of numbers tonight.

 

Eight slept. Eight dreamed.

He dreamed once again of the black-page sky, with its tiny white numbers dancing gleefully upon its surface as he gazed up in wonderment. The beautiful, endless numbers, as they began dancing and twirling and dancing and spinning and dancing and twirling and spinning and dancing and dancing and spinning and twirling and twirling and twirling and dancing and spinning…......................................... .... . .. . ....... . .. . .. .. . .. ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

 

 

 

The Stars shone out like beacons of solitude

 

 

 

yet

 

 

 

lonliness filled him


Edited by Enigmatic Eight, May 08 2014 - 05:58 PM.

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#3 Offline Enigmatic Eight

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Posted May 09 2014 - 07:38 PM

Act 1

 

Chapter 2

 

Wake. Prepare. Walk. Gather. Walk back. Split. Peel. Press. Write. Fume. Sleep. Wake.

 

Eight performed his routine. Days passed. Or weeks. Or centuries. It didn’t matter. There was no such thing as time to Eight.

 

All he cared about were his numbers. They were all he wanted to think about and all he wanted to write. But the letters kept invading his mind and his writing; they were there in the back of his mind, pushing forward and slipping through the cracks.

 

Eight never wanted to speak. He had nobody to speak to and didn’t think he knew how to do so anyway.

 

One night (day) after Eight had finished his paper-pressing, Eight considered something he had not even contemplated doing before.

 

Ever since his rediscovery of the Brook, Eight had found all the paper he would need for a long time, as he gathered more and more each day. Instead of picking up his stylus and writing, sure to end in anger and frustration, Eight decided to count the amount of paper he actually had.

 

Eight would stay there for moment-years, sitting quietly in his little wooden chair, as he counted, page after page, one after the other.

 

Eight wanted to sit there forever, counting his pages until he got to the end. He never realized just how many he had gathered. The only thing that stopped him was a voice, emanating from all around.

 

CEASE.

 

Eight froze. The voice flowed through his mind and perforated every synapse of his being, but it was not an uncomfortable experience. The word melted on the racket of the exterior wind and, strangely, filled Eight with joy.

 

Eight was confused, befuddled. This was a word. Made of letters. He thought he hated letters, but, for some reason, he loved this one. Was it the way it was said? And by whom? Perhaps it was they who spoke it whom he loved?

 

Eight ceased what he was doing. The voice said nothing. Moment-years passed with Eight sitting there, frozen in front of his rough wooden desk, covered in a blanket of paper, his stylus buried.

 

Eventually, Eight remembered where he was, what he was doing and knew what he wanted to do. He became overwhelmed with desire.

 

Hastily, Eight retrieved his stylus from under the delicate paper. He selected a sheet, and began to draw.

 

It took Eight considerable time, but he sketched, he shaded, and he just let go. He drew the most beautiful thing he could imagine.

 

She stood there upon the page, peering out at Eight and welcoming him with her warm, fiery eyes. But, there were some details Eight could not get right. Was that his own fault? He’d always asumed his illustration of numbers to be perfect…

 

Perhaps it was the number which was perfect, and not the illustrator. Eight pondered this for some time.

 

What was he going to name her?

 

His mind immediately jumped to a number. Name her this, no, name her that.

 

He was inexperienced at using letters, he feared that he would write something ugly. Neither did he want to give her a number as a name - numbers, he assumed, were perfect. This beauty before him was not, despite how much he loved her.

 

Struggling to make a decision, she spoke to him.

 

“Five,” she said.

 

“Is that your name?”

 

“As much as one can be named, yes.”

 

Eight thought about this. Five, Five. A number and a name. He thought it was beautiful, like her.

 

Then, he noticed he had spoken.

 

And he had someone to speak to.

 

“I can speak?” Eight wondered aloud.

 

“You have always been able to, Eight.”

 

Eight blinked, slightly confused. That was his name. He’d always known, but never thought about it. On top of that, he really didn’t know why he had a name in the first place.

Eight wanted to speak again, to try and form words, but Five stopped him short.

 

“Do you think I’m real?” she asked.

 

Eight got up from his chair. He slowly walked over to Five, eying her form all angles.

 

“You look real.”

 

“But am I real?”

 

He put his hand on her shoulder and squeezed slightly.

 

“You feel real.”

 

Five smiled slightly. “Same question.”

 

Eight stopped in front of her. He looked down at her heartlight. It pulsed brightly with life.

He realized he had to make a choice.

 

“You’re real,” he said.

 

“I’m real,” Five agreed.

 

Five and Eight stayed standing there for a while, looking into each others’ eyes, as if trying to size each other up by seeing who would blink first.

 

But Eight already knew he loved her.

 

And Five knew she loved him.

 

* * *

 

Eight awoke. Five was sitting on the edge of his bed, swinging her legs over the edge.

 

“Do you still have dreams?” Five asked.

 

Eight blinked, and then nodded, as he got out of his bed.

 

“What do you dream about?” she pressed.

 

Eight retrieved his effects. Key, cloak, stylus and paper. “Numbers. Sometimes letters. I remember the letters being very unpleasant.”

 

She smiled warmly. “Numbers were always your thing. Once upon a time, words were as well. You could speak so wonderfully. I think that’s why he liked you so much.”

 

Eight put on his cloak, and made sure his key was secured around his neck. He put his stylus and the paper in his satchel.

 

“Did you have dreams?” he asked Five.

 

She nodded. Eight walked over and sat beside her on the bed.

 

“I dreamt of life, and recited poetry.” she continued.

 

“Poetry?” Eight asked.

 

“The art of words. You wouldn’t like it-”

 

“No, I insist,” he said. ”I’ve been using letters to think and to speak. I’ve had to ask myself why I actually hate them when they’re fundamental to my being. But, I digress. Go on.”

 

Five lowered her head and closed her eyes.

 

Birds of a feather flock together, as do pigs and swine.

 

He thought that was beautiful. Five turned her head to look Eight in the eyes. He could tell what she was going to ask.

 

“I can’t,” he said. “I couldn’t even begin to think of something poetic.

 

Five looked to EIght’s satchel. “What if you tried to write something down?”

 

“That never works.”

 

“You never know, just try it.”

 

Eight hesitantly removed a piece of paper from his satchel and retrieved his stylus. Propping the page up on a knee, Eight began to inscribe letters, slowly and painfully.

 

übchi, he wrote.

 

“I can’t,” Eight repeated. He was disappointed to see her looking forwards, frowning.

 

“It’ll come back to you in time,” she reassured him, and she rose from the bed, unlocking and opening the door. The storm outside had dissipated. She nodded for him to come closer.

 

“Where are we going?” asked Eight.

 

“On a journey.”

 

“To where?”

 

“To helping you understand.”

 

“Understand what?”

 

“You’ll have to come with me if you want both the question and the answer.”

 

Simultaneously confused and intrigued, Eight followed Five to the door, but she stopped him, staring at the key hanging from his neck.

 

Carefully, she picked it up and she stared at it, eyeing the markings on its sides.

 

“I could never understand those markings.”

 

Oblivion,” she remarked flatly.

 

“What?”

 

“That’s what the key says.”

 

Eight contemplated that for a bit. A key to oblivion? He looked around and the expanse of the desert, now lulled from its storm.

 

Was that this place?

 

EIght didn’t have an answer.

 

But, he thought, nor did he have the question, like Five said. He’d have to follow her to find out.

 

But he’d follow her anyway, even if he hadn’t been looking for a question and an answer. He loved her.

 

“What should I do with it?” he asked.

 

Five smiled. “Keep it.”

 

She let the key drop back to rest against his heartlight, and they began walking.

 

But something wasn’t right. Eight couldn’t feel Five next to him. He panicked and began to question if he was real. He didn’t look over to see.

 

Instead, he offered his hand, and she took it.

 

He knew she was real.

 

The Suns began to set.

 

And they kept walking.


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#4 Offline Enigmatic Eight

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Posted May 13 2014 - 11:28 PM

Act 1

 

Chapter 3

 

They kept walking.

 

Hand-in-hand, step-to-step, trudging through the deep, warm sand. Time melted around Eight and Five as the twin orbs of amber sunk into the horizon behind them, making the ground shimmer like glass.

 

The endless oblivion of bleak terrain around them began to grow less and less hostile as the duo proceeded onward.

 

Eight’s head was swimming. He shut his eyes, leaned his head back and felt the evening’s heat upon his mask, heard the sounds of a gentle breeze rustling against the ground.

 

The world around him - at least beneath his eyelids - shifted and transmorphed. It was an odyssey of places he had never seen before - locations he had never discovered or imagined within his own mind:

 

Lush, towering trees surrounding him in a cool, dark forest; mountains of ash and fire, erupting and gurgling and spewing; silver mountains of freezing snow and glassy ice, his breath forming small clouds as he breathed the cold air into his lungs; a subterranean cave, aglow with thousands of artificial stars; an endless expanse of seawater and native greenery twisting through the shallows; towering walls of stone and dust, massive, carved heads watching him with ancient gazes.

 

Everything flowed like a stream through his mind, both enlightened and lagged by an opiate sensation of freedom.

 

He opened his eyes, and the rail fence of reality was no longer there to cage him in.

 

A massive valley lay there before him - trees and flowers graced the tall slopes and grass-cloaked valley floor, and a cloudless sky stretched out overhead.

 

His mouth agape and his eyes wide, Eight dropped to his knees, marveling at this sensation of illusion.

 

This mustn’t be real, he thought. It can’t be. He raked his fingers though the blades of grass to be sure.

 

“We’re here,” said Five, her words and tone smiling for her.

 

“What is this place?” Eight said, nearly whispering.

 

Five’s crimson form started forward, beckoning him. “Come with me and find out.”

 

Slowly and carefully, Eight got up and joined his companion.

 

Together, the walked again, closer to one of the valley’s sides. EIght took in every sensation, every moment. This place seemed so alien to him - yet so familiar.

 

Eventually, the valley bled into a vast, stone-walled canyon. The ragged rocky cliffsides were compressed and layered - jagged pieces of shale jutted out in various angles.

 

Curious, Eight picked at one of the jutting rocks as Five continued on ahead - he snapped off a piece of thin stone. It formed a perfect pentagon-shape. Eight suddenly found that he loved it and it’s mathematical precision. It made sense. He put it in his satchel for safekeeping, next to his paper and stylus.

 

Five shouted from up the canyon. “Come and see this!”

 

Eight bounded over quickly. What he saw, yet again, amazed him. Towering high above them was a massive set of carvings inlaid upon the stone wall.

 

Rahi of all forms and figures sprawled up the wall - blueprints for forms never imagined by god nor those he bore. Only one for a penchant for creation, for perfection could have imagined these.

 

The workmanship of it all impressed Eight - it must have been difficult to carve such accurate pictures with the shale shattering almost at the touch.

 

But there was one errant piece of the layered puzzle - a pair of words resting in the stone - words which all the animals etched upon their grey and brown canvas seemed to turn upon and attack.

 

YEOLDUL  IHRKE

 

Five seemed not to notice it. Eight looked between her and the puzzling word, both trying to decipher its meaning and to gauge her nonexistent reaction to it.

 

“Wonderful, isn’t it?”

 

“Yes,” Eight agreed, slightly anxious about this disconnect of vision, of reality. “The work of a master.”

 

Five began to walk off. “Truly. One who could certainly build better perfections than their master.”

 

Eight did not know what she meant by that.

 

They kept walking.

 

* * *

 

As Five and Eight began to journey through the strata of the valley, she began to encourage him to write.

 

Eight was only comfortable writing numbers. He could not write letters that did not make sense. So, he wrote his numbers instead, as per usual.

 

He pulled a page out of his satchel, grabbed his stylus, and scrawled a large number upon the page;

 

6

 

Eight let the page go and it floated away behind him on the breeze. Another.

 

18

 

Another.

 

5

 

Another.

 

5

 

Five called to him again. He put his pen and paper away and caught back up to her.

 

Five stood at the edge of the valley - its edge dropped into the abyss of shadow below.

 

Eight looked up - across the kio-long chasm lay a peaked mountain ascending through the darkness, peaked with a swirl of misty clouds that resonated with lightning and thunder. The sun rose over the peak behind it and cast glowing bands of light across the length of the canyon-valley.

 

“Marvelous, isn’t it?” Five asked, turning to Eight with a warm smile. He loved those smiles.

 

Eight regarded the spectacle. It was certainly beautiful. He nodded his agreement.

 

“Shall we cross over and see it in person then?”

 

Elight looked back at Five, puzzled. “Cross over?”

 

Five nodded towards the chasm without taking her eyes off his. Eight broke contact to see what she gestured at.

 

A great, spanning stone bridge linked the gap over the darkness. Safe passage to the great beyond.

 

Five grabbed his hand. “We’ve got a lot of walking to do.”

 

Once again, Eight nodded, pressing onward with his female friend.

 

More than once, Eight peered over the edge of the stone bridge into the depths, and, more than once, had scuttled back for fear of falling over the edge.

 

Eight tried to explain himself to Five, but she shut him up with a smile, simply saying, “If you keep looking into the darkness, you’ll fall there eventually.”

 

Eight understood what she meant that time. Or thought he did. He decided to write more numbers.

 

4. Toss the paper.

 

15. Toss the paper.

 

13. Toss the paper.

 

They reached the end of the bridge.

 

Five and Eight stepped onto the surprisingly warm rock of the mountain. Eight turned around, and the bridge had disappeared.

 

He couldn’t see the valley. All around him pooled the dark depths of an onyx sea.

 

Five put a hand on his shoulder, and Eight heeded her previous warning, turning his head to look away, to make certain he was going the direction his legs needed to take him. Five and Eight, hand-in-in hand, climbed.

 

* * *

 

Mist descended upon the duo as they ascended, the peak growing nearer with every step. The air got harder to breathe, and the sunlight became blinding, only thinly veiled by the mistclouds.

 

Five sped up and began to lead Eight once again, always one or two steps ahead.

Five disappeared over a ledge and called down to him.

 

“Come on, hurry up! You have to see this!”

 

Eight wondered about Five for a few moments as he began pullig himself up to the peak. Was she his guide? His lover? Both?

 

Always a mystery.

 

Eight lifted his body over the final ledge and hauled himself upright into a standing position beside his companion.

 

Both figures gazed down in awe at the beautiful expanse of land before them - an island of blues and greens and browns - rife and bursting with lifeforms of all kinds, all sizes.

 

He saw their history, their future - Tohunga and Turaga telling tales to one another, Toa and Rahi in combat against one another; a thousand years of life upon this paradise.

 

He thought of the Rahi from the walls of the Valley. They were here too, spread across the land, among the oceans and the mountains and rivers and streams - they, like the villagers and elders and heroes built their homes and lived life comfortably.

 

Majestically.

 

It was the perfect balance of life.

 

And it was the most beautiful thing Eight had ever seen.

 

“What is this place?” Eight remarked, his heartlight seeming to flutter.

 

“The face of god.” Five remarked. “But the better question is ‘when is this place?’’’

 

“When?”

 

“Yet to be determined. The actions of one will affect the outcome of this place. One may destroy it with the ease of a heart’s beat."

 

Eight never wanted that to happen.

 

This place deserved its place in reality. It was paradise.

 

“I think I remember this place,” Eight remarked, still awestruck.

 

Five nodded knowingly.

 

“You will,” she said.


Edited by Enigmatic Eight, May 14 2014 - 12:08 AM.

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#5 Offline Enigmatic Eight

Enigmatic Eight
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Posted Jun 24 2014 - 10:38 PM

Act 1

Chapter 4

 

Carefully, the duo descended down the opposite side of the mountain, and it wasn’t long until the tallest treetops arising from the jungle below began to brush at their feet.

 

Five leaped off the cold rock face and onto a nearby trunk, hopping from branch to branch to reach the muddy ground where the monolithic trees me the earth. Eight followed suit.

 

As Eight’s feet squelched in the watery earth, he noticed it was considerably humid, and removed his cloak, throwing it over his shoulder. Five was already well away from him again, and, once more, she called out to him.

 

But Eight was too stunned by what he saw around him to acknowledge Five’s beckoning call.

 

Birds of every colour and every hue flittered and squawked amongst the branches of the trees, as the continuous hum of life resonated in his ears through the calls of winged insects. A subtle breeze wove its way through the branches, disturbing the leaves as they danced among themselves and tried to shush the creatures around them with a soft whisper.

 

Eight began moving forward to find his companion, albeit still distracted by all his senses could perceive around him. He even noticed the coolness of the mud beneath his feet.

 

He caught up with Five, and the two continued their walk through the jungle together, moving vines and branches out of their way constantly, although no obstacle seemed to halt Five and Eight’s progress.

 

After his senses had dulled somewhat, and Eight became accustomed to all the activity of the world in miniature around him, old habits returned.

 

Eight began to count the trees.

 

1… 7… 23… 476… 8723…

 

Eight nearly counted ten thousand trees before Five stopped him. She had thought of something she thought was clever, and asked for Eight’s piece of shale, which he gave to her.

 

With the flat stone, Five found she could carve into the trees, scraping away the darkened bark at the surface and expose the lighter flesh below. She cocked her head and paused, in thought, before she carved a simple ‘8’ shape onto the wooden canvas. She smiled at her work, handing Eight the pentagon-shaped stone and instructing him to do the same as she had.

 

Once again, Eight tried to write a word, but this time, he succeeded.

 

why

 

Eight looked at the word he had just carved into history, as did Five. Both figures tried to discern its meaning, each with very different interpretations. Wordlessly, and unceremoniously, both turned away from the tree, and continued onward.

 

Their silent journey was once more interrupted, most suddenly and frightfully. Both Eight and Five staggered backwards as a young, green-toned villager swung down from the treetops upon a vine, halting in front of the pair of foreigners. He eyed them cautiously, but curiously.

 

Eight looked up and was astonished to see a plethora of faces among a construction among the tallest branches - a spanning village, made of the same wood of the trees around them, with similar tribal faces peeking over the edge of a platform, silently watching.

 

Five patted Eight’s back gently, returning his attention to the visitor on the ground in front of them. The look on her face urged her companion to speak. Eight gave her a look of confusion and uncertainty in return. Surely she should be the one to converse…?

Still, Eight took the initiative. “Hello? Can you speak?”

 

The villager remained silent, his expression the same.

 

Eight shifted his gaze back and forth. “My name is Eight. This is Five. Who are you?”

 

The villager remained silent.

 

Eight pointed toward himself. “Eight.”

 

The villager remained silent.

 

Eight pointed toward Five. “Five.”

 

The villager remained silent.

 

Eight pointed toward the villager, but Eight remained silent.

 

The villager remained silent.

 

Eight gave up and lowered his arm. He looked about, wondering what to do.

 

As he scratched his head, his arm brushed against his shouldered cloak, which spurred an idea in Eight’s mind. Slowly, carefully, Eight removed the cloak from his shoulder, and held it out at arm’s length, offering it to the villager.

 

The silent visitor reached out and quickly snatched up the cloak, never deferring from his neutral expression as he took the cloak and quickly climbed up a nearby tree, returning to the village from whence he came.

Five and Eight looked up to follow his ascent, and Eight realized that the other villagers - as well as the village itself - had disappeared. Confused, he looked to the tree that the villager had been climbing, only to find its branches empty.

 

Suddenly, a violent breeze ripped through the jungle, sending leaves and insects and branches flying. Eight and Five shielded themselves from the onslaught as the enormous trees were uprooted and crumbled into ash before them. The mud turned hard and cold, as the blackened soot of the living world around the duo dissolved into the air and the wind died down as the jungle and its inhabitants had.

 

Eight and Five looked up from their arms and hands. Around them was an empty plain of dark soil, stretching out for kio.

 

Gone was the expansive jungle and the mysterious villagers who had made their home there.

 

The only indication of anywhere to go next was a towering volcano in the distance, ash, not unlike the same ash that the jungle had collapsed into, spewed forth from its peak.

 

Eight and Five exchanged benign glances with each other, and continued walking their now-solemn journey.

 

There was no trace of the tree in which Eight had carved his eternal question.

 

No evidence of the sprawl of greenery and life that had once stood where soot now lay.

 

Five took Eight’s hand in hers, and the pair stopped. Eight’s female companion looked skyward. Eight followed suit.

 

A vast starscape unfolded before their eyes, brought on suddenly and without indication. Eight felt a pang of awe, as he remembered his dreams.

There was a tense silence as Five and Eight breathlessly watched the stars sluggishly tumble across the ashen sky.

 

Eight noticed a single discrepancy - a smear of crimson defacing the canvas of black with its pristine, pearlescent pinpricks. An error upon the heavens. Eight screwed his eyes nearly shut at the thought of an error.

 

A low, gurgling rumble filled the air. Both figures turned their gaze back towards the horizon, where fire tumbled upwards from the mouth of the beastly volcano, way in the distance. Churning smoke and soot was belched from its depths and spread into the atmosphere, blocking out the starlight, obscuring the tiny points, one by one.

 

Before Eight could protest this nature-on-nature conflict, Five put her hand on his shoulder. He turned his head to meet her eyes.

 

“We should stop and rest,” she said, tersely.

 

Eight broke eye contact to return to watching the horizon, ablaze, and meekly nodded his agreement.

 

One by one.

 

That one disappeared as the ash overtook it.

 

Then that one.

 

Then that one.

 

Five was laying on the ground, arms folded behind her head. “Come on, you can watch the stars from down here.”

Again, Eight simply nodded, and did as he was told.

 

Unlike Five, Eight folded his fingers across his torso. The ash pressed against the back of his head and got into his shoulder joints, but Eight didn’t mind that much, as long as he was here, with Five.

 

After a few minutes of further silence, Eight spoke up.

 

“Where are we, Five?”

 

But he found she was already asleep.

 

Eight lay his head back, fingers still folded, and closed his eyes, as the stars above him winked out of existence, one by one.

 

One by one.

 

One

 

by

 

one.

 

* * *

 

Eight dreamt.

 

Gone were the confined, mathematical dreams of strict lines of numbers. Eight was both unhappy, but slightly relieved - there were no numbers to cheer him up, but at the same time, if there were no numbers, there were no letters to desecrate them.

Instead, Eight’s dreams were that of something completely different. He felt much bigger, much stronger, much faster. He ran with the wild Rahi he thought he might have seen upon the walls of the Valley.

 

A figure called out to him. Five? No, her crimson form was absent. No, no, this figure was gold.

 

Who were they? Eight’s vision was a blur. He felt an odd connection with this being he could barely see. Their tone was friendly, but…

 

The figure called out to him again.

 

Eight could not make out their words. What were they?

 

Eight felt his own mouth move, forming words his mind didn’t think he could have said nor wanted or thought of saying.

 

He heard other voices, calling and calculating.

 

The voices of Rahi.

 

Of Toa.

 

Of Tohunga.

 

Of Turaga.

 

Of beings far removed from this paradise.

 

All calling to him.

 

Who were they?

 

What was this place?

 

Why?

 

Why.

 

Why

 

why

 

why

 

23 8 25

 

***

 

Eight awoke to a blue sky above him and a grey-black earth below him. A thin layer of dust and soot coated he and his companion, who was still sleeping. Carefully, Eight wiped the ash off his own mask, and gently woke Five up by doing the same to her.

 

Her eyes flickered open and she stirred.

 

“Let’s get going,” she said.

Eight simply nodded in agreement.


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