This cover was illustrated by the author.
This EPISODE is PART TWO of TWO
“Sister,” spoke the monolith. Malabeenith’s grand presence vibrated the very ground below our feet. A hologram-like vision appeared before us, fizzing into existence a corporeal individual. The person appeared to match the pyramid-headed peoples aesthetic, but slowly shifted into a human, and then eventually into a mouseling—she appeared so much like me, but with smaller ears, and brown fur. “Does this make you more comfortable, Opaline of Dahn?”
I had spent so much time amongst humans, and gremlins, and rodent-peoples, and a thousand others races, that I had not seen a true mouseling since my days on Dahn.
I would be lying if I couldn’t admit that, in a shock, looking upon one of my own—even an aspect of some outer-god merely meant to be shaped as one—made me emotional.
In Malabeenith’s mouseling black eyes, Peridot’s violet silhouette shone bright. She flew between myself and the god’s corporeal form.
“Shall we speak in tongues?” Malabeenith said, eyeing Hum Dum and I, “So that your mortals may hear us?”
“Speaking is fine,” Peridot said.
“You do speak as mortals do. Your words lack the reverence so many other divines pay to their lyrics.”
“Why speak as a Dragon? I have spent an eternity humbled in succession by my state,” Peridot said. “My time is spent entirely with mortals. Otherwise, I risk showing the wrong entity unwise possibilities.”
“A mindset we share.”
“You take the form of a monolith, worshipped by thousands,” Peridot said, “that is contrarian to my approach.”
“These thousands are mortal, on a godless world,” Malabeenith smiled, “I do not encroach on Dragon’s Spheres. I am not so foolish. As you have surely noticed in your travels, most Spheres do not belong to Loche’s Draconic children. Most planets, universes, or worlds are forged by stranger means. No need for caution unless prompted.” Malabeenith cocked her head to the side, “The Genesar coalition you fear? They claim no dominion here. I am not your enemy, nor am I allied with those idealistic zealots.”
Peridot shifted from a moth-sized Dragon into a draconic-appearing humanoid. Her body formed of translucent, violet-green crystal structures. Her head tapered in the sharp points of a Dragon but smoothed with human-like features. No tail, or strange scales, or anything. Curling violet horns edged in green light rose from her hairless scalp. Her eyes flickered golden.
Malabeenith remained a mouseling.
“May I?” I asked, politely. Both Peridot and Malabeenith nodded. I asked, “The Eldest Oldes. . . Genesar. . . how does one keep anything out of their dominion?”
Peridot turned to Malabeenith, and spoke as if explaining a child’s perspective to a fellow adult, “The last time I was summoned by Varterius and Eskithir, their call succeeded. They’d entrapped me. Opaline, is that what you’re wondering about?”
Malabeenith said, “We—collectively, all of us—are not in the reaches of the Genesar. The space between Existence and Nonexistence does not belong to them. Any who cross that threshold can never return. Though many in both states of the Garden have crossed into the Liminality, only a handful of beings Nonexistent and Existent maintain the peculiarity of Ehlonniabatur, myself, and you mortal Agglomerates.
“Genesar is a term far too often used to describe the particular group of high powered elder gods of the Uhkanadumud. When in reality, not all Genesar belong to Varterius and Eskithir’s coalition. The vast, vast majority exist in the crevices of Existence, bothering no one, or perhaps bothering other beings in the shadows.
“The coalition of Uhkanadumud can only hold domain when it, like anything else, conquers such domain. This requires action. Treaties, wars, or campaigns beyond both. Cosmic level dealings on a scale some mortals are completely unaware are even happening. Worlds are traded, planets devoured, peoples enslaved or liberated without their conscious understanding that their souls have been divinely altered. But Varterius’s council—no matter their power over their realms—only learned the extent of our Liminal ‘transgressions’ in the many millennia prior to your birth,” Malabeenith eyed me, and smiled in apology, “Do you understand?”
“They hinted at this when trying to speak with me,” I said. “But how is that possible, if they knew of me from throughout time and universes, and were aware of Peridot and other Agglomerates?” I shook my head, “Wait a moment, they claimed to have informed Peridot of her condition. The Godspeakers said that they were the ones to tell you about all of this,” I looked to her, “right?”
“Yes,” Peridot said. “But think on our time lines compared to mundane Existence? You have seen a statue of yourself before ever being to the world it was created. My first meeting with the Uhkanadumud occurred early in my curse, but millions of years after first discovering me for them. They’d learned to trap me and of my condition far, far after their initial encounters with my tales and Agglomerate traces. I blipped hundreds of times before being called upon by Varterius for the first meeting. They informed me that I needed to be destroyed. They told me of. . .” she paused a moment, solemn, and sorrowed, “they told me of exploits I had never had, and places I had never been, and things I had never done. Because I was still young, and those occurrences were eventual and not in my past, and the Genesar were at their wits end with me after millions of years searching for the source of my Curse. They told me everything, and said they’d never stop hunting. Which they have not.”
“So the last time we arrived on the White Island,” I set my jaw, “it was right after the last time you met them? Which was successive with the time before that, and so on and so forth?”
“For them, this Uhkanadumud council has been in the same meeting, summoning me over, and over, and over again, tapping into whatever forces on that world allow them to do so. Yes, Opaline. For them it’s the same meeting they’ve planned for thousands upon thousands of years, watching us grow, and change, and mature, all in the same Meeting of Many Gods.” Peridot smiled, “I may not see them for centuries, but it will be mere hours or days in their time until we face again.”
“Advantageous,” Malabeenith said, “vastly advantageous in your situation. For you have all eternity to come to terms with their plans. The Uhkanadumud have set in motion their plan to halt Nonexistence from creeping into Existence for a ‘final’ time. They think beings in the borders of Liminality pose a threat to this initiative as they themselves sow their seeds in the worlds of Ifan, Maskira, Cirsigna, Inollyn, Otec, Argurus, and Voss. Hypocrisy, heretical, hilarious.”
“Are we threats?” Peridot said.
“Such a relative concept, threats. The Dracular hunt your Agglomerates as much as the Genesar hunt you. Why? Opaline of Dahn,” Malabeenith gestured towards me, “has gravely interfered in the plans of the Starbleeder Houses. He is a threat to them. You flee the Uhkanadumud because they are a threat to you.”
Threshold had mentioned Vicar Venefica was a vampire of the Starbleeder name. Back then, I’d seen signs of hunters bearing this title. I would come to see these Dracular as vicious foes. They’d take more from me than nearly any other opponent in my long life. I’d blipped many times without directly facing the cosmic vampires sent to hunt me. In time, after a particularly troublesome journey through an endless desert and illimitable labyrinth, I’d meet these ancient foes more times than preferred.
But those are stories still to come.
Malabeenith continued, “Threats are often assumptions surmised in haste. Sometimes, they are conclusive. Sometimes, they are a fog conjured to deter from a grander vision.”
“Am I but a fog?” Peridot asked.
“No, sister. You are a threat to them. As am I. As are their allies, even. They hide in the corners of worlds out of fear for the Annihilation. They are mighty over mortals but frightened by the Other Side so deeply that they are slaves to their ideals and methodology. They deal in false absolutes given weight merely because they are gods, and gods can throw such weight when desired.” Malabeenith rose her chin, and deep in her eyes I saw stars fade from the far corners the Garden. Such depth. Such breadth. Such infinity. She said, “The Uhkanadumud believe they are the second party in a two party game: Existence comprised of their forces and resources, and Nonexistence which is the enemy. They have lost sight of the other parties. The many dozens, if not hundreds, of other, equally motivated—or unmotivated—parties of similar powers.”
“Like the Dracular,” I said. “Or other Genesar.”
“Or beyond,” said Malabeenith, “so far beyond. The Liminality and its borders are host to beings so obtuse that they defy definition. We are amongst them. My people,” she rose her arms, and the pyramid peoples—who I had forgotten surrounded the pyramid in the thousands—sung resonant in their throats, “are amongst them. We are boundless. Illimitable even to the great Genesar. They do not like this. Rightfully, they fear it.”
Peridot asked, “We are both beings of the Liminality, then? Kin in our curses.”
“We ride the waves of liminal space. The threads between where the Liminality and reality mesh together—the brackish tumult churning in the cosmos of Existence and Nonexistence. There’s no true definition, or concept, of such a state, beyond the word ‘border’ being nearest. The true Liminality?That is a realm through which you would never wish to descend.”
“There’s a difference?” I said.
“As I said, these things are not absolute,” Malabeenith rode her mouse palm as if upon waves, “but in the mind of a mortal, imagine yourself floating upon the surface of the water. You are submerged in half, taking breaths of air to stay alive, but you are pushed under again and again by the white water. Are you truly on the surface? No. Because you are also in the sea. Except you aren’t, because you are also on the surface. There is an edge without definitions, a haze of understanding, and that is where we lurk.”
I sensed that Peridot had a far greater understanding of Malabeenith than I did. There was great divinity at play. Conversations layered in the minds of two immortals. Like animals in the field, they’d caught each other’s scent, and knew more than words could tell.
But I didn’t have that scent.
I had my little mortal words, which they so kindly decided to use in speech so that I could understand anything. “These pyramid peoples, are they your equivalent of us Agglomerates?” I patted Hum Dum in my backpack, who made a burp-like sound. “Do you blip between realities as we do?”
“May I?” She reached a paw towards me.
I eyed Peridot, who nodded her draconic humanoid jaw. I leaned into Malabeenith’s touch.
Then I understood.
Because I can’t touch you, and impart these visions, let me try and explain as best I can. . .
Ten thousand worlds of every color and hue, sewn together in light beaming between space, curling like roots drawing nutrients from the veins of cosmic soup and blossoming between universes from the seeds carried by Liminal rivers.
Ten thousand minds a-joined in asexuality, beyond the limits of biological procreation and defying all sense of gender, or ideal, or spectrums. A great divinity whose magical mitosis is based in not parthenogenesis or self fertilization but in true replication of self.
Ten thousand bodies straddling the worlds, formed of whatever mortal hands may build them and worshipped for the great mighty beings they are. Replicas, clones, precise models of one another scaled in sizes according to geographic stimulus and mortal possibility. Sculptures imparted fractions of a magnificent soul by the originator, formed of sandstone or granite or black matter or glass. Identical in everything but material chemistry.
Ten thousand worlds joined by ten thousand minds split between ten thousand bodies.
One single soul.
A single entity constantly splitting between universes, communicating with itself across distances so impossible that “distance” does not do these far reaches justice. A great web of reality across all time, crafted in the soul of one called Malabeenith.
In the Draconic tongue, their name is called Malabeenith.
A translation of falsehood, impossibility, rumor, or legend.
But only one word in the tongues of mortals can capture their name:
I came out of the vision and collapsed, overwhelmed—suffocated—by the grandness and scope of Malabeenith’s existence. When I came to, their mouseling form dissolved and they returned to a voice within the monument. A feminine voice, though now I could hear they merely used a motherly tone to create comfort for mortals.
Peridot returned to her butterfly-sized form.
Hum Dum jiggled and groaned. I released her from the backpack and she sat at the base of the monument beside me.
I turned to stare across the skyless desert, taking a lengthy observation of the pyramid peoples. Pale faces, tall heads, robes so clean it appeared impossible. I said, “They built you.”
Malabeenith said, “Yes. I told them of me, and they harvest volcanic stone to build this body. Upon each new world it is the same.”
“We blip through universes, but you blip into pieces. . .” I trailed off, trying to wrap my head around that.
“No. Not into pieces,” they said, “into more. Simply, more.” They paused, and when I said nothing, they continued, “You blip from world to world entirely. Changing environments, living through each change, moving together. A glitch, yes, but a solidified one. I have glitched between the fibers of Existence in that upon each new world another me will form. And all share a soul. Individuals yet collective.”
“You can speak between times, universes, and realms?”
“I can do more than speak, Opaline of Dahn. For why else would these peoples devote themselves to me if not for a promise of something more?” The giant eye of the monument brightened like a hundred stars. The light projected millions of peoples together. Not a city, or a country, or a place. . . I couldn’t quite understand it. But together. Malabeenith said, “Sometimes, like the tides of weather, communication is choppy, or thoughts are elongated between our bodies. Sometimes it flows as if there are not worlds between us. Bodies will become cut off, isolated, occasionally. All is chaos. But amidst that chaos lies the power to shuffle information and understanding across the Garden and its countless epochs and iterations. Even the transportation of objects, or people, to other incarnations of Us, is done when the ‘weather’ is well.”
I went silent, unable to really fathom this.
The concept of other beings like Peridot always interested me. Naturally, some would be out there, but I’d never taken into consideration that Peridot’s contact with the God Glaire which produced her Curse was really a glitch. Not a law, or an expectation, or an absolute.
I mean that to me, I’d always imagined that—prior to meeting the Uhkanadumud and learning of the Glaire—others like Peridot would behave similarly. Other Agglomerates, maybe?
Even when I knew of the Glaire, I had the same thought: how different could they be, if other beings like us are out there?
But glitch—that idea which kept recurring with these powerful beings—was the only idea to describe our phenomenon.
There are no rules or outlines for dangling at the edges of reality. For us, our “blipping” works one way, for Malabeenith, their “blipping” is entirely, and frankly frighteningly, different.
“Are there others?” I asked. “Other gods like you, other mortals like us,” I patted Hum Dum’s head.
“Yes. But mortal may not be the correct term. How many of your fellow Agglomerates could be gods amongst other mortals? How many have ascended to planes of existence and levels of power no mortal could dare? Precisely. You, Opaline, whether you accept it or not, are akin to the Espari who serve the Genesar—mortals who’ve endured great Garden travel, and survivors of dead worlds—who are gods in their own right.”
“I don’t hold the power of any gods,” I said. “I bleed, and can be injured, and fail.”
“But can you die?” They held the word for a time. “You will always evade death. Many of your compatriots could crush cities with an hour of free time if they truly, really wanted to. Porbiyo of Eggnaut could summon ten thousand beasts and paint a new world. Salowyne of Ondrosir could enclose a continent within her tattoos and torture billions if she stretched her limits. Venefica, the Vicar of the Dracular could shred through thousands in a night and still have room for breakfast. Bereavus’s Agglomeration has literally translated to his devouring and collection of cities. Entire. Cities. And you, Opaline of Dahn, well. . . you are young, yet, and I am not to tell you of what is to come.”
Was Salowyne Threshold’s true name?
Did Porbiyo and Threshold truly have that power?
Bereavus. . . who was that? An Agglomeration who collected cities? It shook me to my core. How had I never heard of him before?
“This doesn’t make sense,” I said. “I’ve physically fought other Agglomerates. They can be hurt, and bleed, and never—ever—unleash the kind of power you’re talking about. The kind of power only—,”
“Syndels can produce? Dragons?” Malabeenith finished for me. “I assure you that all of your compatriots are capable of such feats. Centuries on mundane Spheres produce legendary mortals. Millenia trapped in the Liminal edges produce—in your case—Agglomerates. Why have you not seen this kind of power? Why do your peers remain tangibly mortal? Simple. . .” Malabeenith’s giant eye wandered to Peridot, “your ‘disease’ of Agglomeration stems from a grasping onto mortal life. Ehlonniabatur has changed herself from something more akin to myself and the Genesar, into a Dragon who speaks as a mortal and flies like a butterfly. The combination of Ehlonniabatur’s attempts to hide and humble herself alongside this Agglomeration phenomena produce a response which, frankly, limits you all.” Malabeenith paused, awaiting another response I could not give due to my pondering. They said, “Just as you grasp onto objects, and ideas, and collect to maintain a material presence, your souls have responded to this stimulus. . . they have been tapered, stunted, weakened. All but Bereavus, who is akin to a tandem god to Peridot’s Curse.”
I had no time to discuss Bereavus.
“My head hurts,” I said, chuckling, “but I think I understand.” I eyed Peridot and Malabeenith, “have you both already discussed all of this?”
Peridot said, “Words became too slow. Yes, we’ve gone through everything we need to know. Do you have any more questions? I can always answer them later, as well.”
“One more. Well, two more.”
“Very well.” Malabeenith said.
“How do you hide from the Uhkanadumud Genesar?” I said. “They hunt Peridot, but not you?”
“I do not hide. I simply do not occupy traditionally visible realms. If I have any sense of grand entities, I often leave that place untouched. Rarely do I build a structure as this on cultivated worlds.”
“Like the Corner of the Sphere?” I said, referring to the half century of That Time.
“That is an exception. For reasons you are well aware of.”
“Indeed. Why didn’t you contact us then?”
“Because we did not meet then. We met now.”
“We didn’t. I did not call upon you then. Simple as that. What is your second question, Opaline of Dahn?”
I took a deep breath, and exhaled slow, “Have you seen me later? Have we met far in the future of mine?”
“We meet many times.”
“I once saw a statue of myself, from a time in which I visited the same world twice, though far in the past for them and future for myself. I began to think of legacy—of what I become. You speak of Agglomerate limits, and godhood, and power, and Liminality. . . and I try to fathom my future but cannot even try. It is futile.”
“It is not futile.”
“Fathom the worst, and conjure your response. Fathom the greatest challenges, and project your approach. Thinking of the future is foolish only when passive. Cultivate your personhood through calculation and possibility, and futility is far from how I would describe your thinking. Your awareness will create the self you desire.”
“And what is that self? Who am I, in the end?”
“In the end?”
A great wind swept across the desert, and the pyramid people chanted in their throats. I closed my eyes, awaiting the response, and instead heard a song in the Draconic tongue:
“Mouse.” Malabeenith said, “You, in the end, are a mouse.”
I smiled, picking up on both their knowing of my inner tumult and the slight humor injected into their misleading response. They knew I wanted more, but would not give that knowledge to me.
I was for me to discover, not to be told and interpreted by another.
“These peoples have completed their construction,” Malabeenith said, “and I promised them a grand party. Ehlonniabatur, Opaline, Hummarie—you and your compatriots are welcome to join us. For today we celebrate as mortals. A kinship crafted, a family found, an empathy entertained.”
Malabeenith materialized as a mouseling female once again.
“Here, my midites! Your purpose is fulfilled. We have met with Ehlonniabatur, and our family is formed! You are Myth, now.”
She rose her arms to the pyramid peoples (called midites), and suddenly a hundred parade floats, and tents, and ribbons burst across the dunes. The very solemn pyramid folk jumped in jubilee and let loose their celebration.
A grand parade moved across the desert beneath the stars. Fireworks of both magic and powder, songs of the throat and lyric, drums hounding in electric glee. The other Agglomerates did not arrive. Something kept them away. But I may say that, when I first laid my eyes upon the midite pyramid peoples, I never could have imagined that the trepidation would give way to such fun.
We danced long into the night, careless of cosmic consequence.
We danced as mortals amongst the parade of pyramid persons.
We simply danced. Peridot took her humanoid form, and Hum Dum shuffled in the sand, and Malabeenith even hopped in her mouseling form. We danced as we did during That Time, in the Corner of the Sphere, with my wife and my children and the life I left behind. . .
But I didn’t cry for them. In fact I felt, finally, a hope.
That if our Curse was merely a glitch, then maybe, someday, I could glitch myself back to them. That? That made me cry. And as the fireworks shot off into the skyless stars I giggled in glee. For maybe I wouldn’t give into the Agglomeration, and stay myself, and have a chance at meeting my family again—or, even going home. . . to Dahn.
In the end, I grinned ear to ear. I could finally tell Porbiyo that he has always been wrong. I was never a rat. Even the Dragons had a word for me.
I was, and always would be, a mouse.
END & SPECIAL MESSAGE:
Malabeenith, or "Myth" as I called them in my youth, is a concept and character that my tiny elementary mind has been fascinated by ever since the days where it was punishable by a week's recess detention for exploring such ideas.
What I mean by that is simple: Myth was drawn on many homework sheets, essay pages, and even state test pamphlets over my young years. They were imprisoned by the monstrous 3rd Grade Substitute who shall go nameless, who captured by creations by the dozens and locked them away in her desk.
Then I learned how to pick locks from this new website called Youtube, and stole Myth back when 3rd Grade Substitute was busy scolding a friend for peeling oranges without a napkin. (Yes, this is a memory I do indeed have). She was cruel, and didn't know her pulsars from her quasars, and so my pretentious young self despised her, and prayed everyday that our Real 3rd Grade Teacher would come back.
Eventually she did, and she gave me a very expensive dragon book when she saw me drawing.
Thank you for that. It started my fantastical addiction to divine draconids.
Back on topic! Myth has lived on in many iterations over the past decade and a half. I'd sculpted them from clay, built them with LEGOs (this was recent, actually), drew them across chalkboards and in pencil and crayon and paints and everything else one could possibly find as a boy to draw with and/or on.
I used Little Big Planet as an excuse to build entire canonical worlds Myth inhabited, each level being intricately crafted by my skipping schools and spending hours creating new universes for Myth to reside in.
LBP, A game that, coincidentally enough, inspired Opaline's youth as a mouseling in a pastoral world (if you are familiar with LBP or LBP 2, you'll know why). I find the connection between cosmic grandeur and humble heath-life to have been seeded by Little Big Planet, and so it only seems most fitting to introduce Malabeenith, "Myth," in this story.
There are no coincidences in creativity, only culturing.
I hope you enjoy Myth as much as I have, though I doubt it. AMT is a place for my indulgences to flourish. Feel free to laugh at my odd little mind.
Myth was, in many ways, one of those first "seeds" from where a person's path grows. The ever consistent character in a vast fantasy cosmology maintained my obsession and, ultimately, aided in cultivating The Garden which Opaline inhabits. I'd forgotten about them for so, so long, until this past year when digging through my old childhood notes for AMT. How lovely for them to return.
As they say in the cinema: Malabeenith, Myth, will return.
I won't forget about them this time.