Ch. 7.2 – Sara

“…there were the Daimani,” Akira said. Max’s jaw dropped. Sara kept her smile to herself. “Some Anshin insist that we were born of the Kirbans,” he continued, and Alex’s blink seemed somehow as stunned as Max’s more overt reaction, “but the Kirbans do not speak of it, and if my colleagues were not mistaken, I am certain the ancients would confirm this.”

“Um, ‘Kirbans?’ What?” Alex blurted.

“Those who remain behind from the species who have Transcended mortal existence,” Akira explained. “They are both part of this universe and beyond it at the same time.”

“You keep this up,” Max muttered, “and I might have to start to like you.” He glanced at Alex. “Some Anshin believe their existence derives from the Kirbans. It might be metaphorically true.”

“Regardless,” Akira continued, Alex nodding mechanically, “the Daimani were the first lords of the Earth. Their eldest, the Deep Dragons, remember the time of those you call dinosaurs. The Anshin developed eons later, as the first simians developed tools.” He held up his hand, and golden light rippled from it. “We were born from the dreams of your world, but we were not of it. The Magnarium – Heaven, if you wish – is our birthplace. Yet we knew instinctively of our origin, and sought it.”

Akira sipped his tea, then looked out the window. “In retrospect, it was inevitable that Anshin and Daimani would become romantically entangled. They are incarnations of the primal, living world. We are manifestations of that which rises above it. Each saw all that we dreamed of in the other. It was the rush of first love. Cosmic puberty, if you will.”

“That couldn’t have ended well,” Sara said before she could stop herself.

Akira smiled sadly. “Indeed. Our entanglements were passionate, transformative, enlightening and doomed. We argued, fought, forgave, then clashed again. In the midst of it all, we nurtured a delightful species of primates as they grew from global infancy.”

“So we did evolve,” Alex whispered.

Akira nodded. “We guided your development, but there was no direct intervention. The Daimani ensured that your digestive systems were adaptable. We influenced your sense of rhythm and color. All of those developments could have happened naturally – we simply nudged events to ensure them. Nevertheless, we felt like proud parents as a handful of your distant ancestors became the first human Majestics.” He sighed and put his teacup back on the tray. It sank into the silver and disappeared. “And like proud parents on the edge of divorce, we squabbled over you with increasing vitriol.”

His eyes narrowed, and Sara nearly jumped. A nice angel is still a force of nature, she thought, composing herself through pure will. “That,” Akira continued, distant thunder echoing in his voice, “was when the Vortex Lords slithered in, serpents in our garden.”

“Truth in metaphor,” Alex shuddered. “Those – things, they’re the real demons.”

Max smiled. Good boy, Alex, Sara thought. Akira nodded. “They are not evil because they are different. They are evil because they disdain everything different from them, seeing all others as prey or slaves. To be of the Vortex is not to be of a particular species, but to be infected unto the soul with that particular hate.” The angel looked at his lap. “Humanity was young, vulnerable.”

“Tasty,” Max said, jaw twitching. “Gods, even I didn’t know this part. The Breaking?”

“Yes,” Akira admitted. “Anshin and Daimani were almost at war. The Magnarium Host was prepared to annex the garden. Earth.” He looked up, meeting Alice’s eyes. Sara glanced between them, surprised. “Instead, we were forced to rush in, fighting off the Vortex. Even then, there were ‘accidents,’ but the common threat largely united us. I should have told you.”

Alice shook her head. “I understand. Please, go on.”

“I don’t believe you do,” Akira told her, “but your charity is appreciated all the same. Regardless.” He glanced at his tray. Another cup of tea rose from it. “In our collective haste to drive the Vortex off, humanity was spiritually injured. Broken, as you put it. Like a badly healed bone, the Vision and Weaving energies in most of you are misaligned, warped, thanks to the predation of the Vortex Lords and our frantic response.” He drank the next cup quickly, almost like downing a shot. Huh, Sara wondered. “And then, we warred again, Anshin and Daimani. They insisted that humanity should be told the truth. We insisted that they be sheltered. Technically, the Vortex War ended with our collective victory and a truce between the Magnarium and the Deep Dragons. Effectively, we won.”

“Daimani are allowed to take apprentices,” Max explained. “One at a time, like me. The Anshin watch over humanity as a whole, preventing outside forces or powerful Majestics from taking over. When the population got to the point where teaching individuals made negligible impact, well, if the Daimani weren’t so stubborn they probably would have given up.”

“They didn’t, of course,” Akira said, smiling again, “which is generally for the best. Some of my colleagues disagree. Meanwhile, the Magnarium Host fights the Vortex, restricts Quadrum influence, prevents global disasters like nuclear war, and takes the occasional apprentice of its own.” He nodded toward Alice. “The Prime Blessings were intended as a concession to the Daimani, but even my most conservative associates agree that they were a wise addition to the majestas.”

Alex raised his hand. “Sorry, Quadrum?” Molly sighed, though her smile was fond. Alice grinned sheepishly. Sara bit back another laugh.

“An alien species. The Quadrum are your closest interstellar neighbors, alas. They also suffer from wounded majestas, though in their case it is self-inflicted,” Akira rumbled. Sara again heard a hint of thunder. “Now, they raid other worlds, stealing the Majestic power of weaker peoples. Much like the invaders of humanity’s colonial era, they exploit those they can and rattle sabers at those they cannot. A few sneak past our sentinels, but they are not a threat to humanity as a whole.”

“Unless they have their greedy gray hands in the Complex,” Max retorted.

“Not the time, Max,” Sara cut in. “We can cover the alien stuff for Alex later, the rest of us know about them.” She leaned forward, looking at Akira. “I want to hear more about you guys.”

“Another time, perhaps,” Akira said, rising. The others did the same, Sara standing last, reluctantly. “This is difficult to speak of. For now, I would return you to your homes and lives. Rest assured, you will have at least a brief respite from the so-called Mandate.”

“Thank you,” Molly replied, glancing pointedly at Sara. *Leave him be, Sara,* she added telepathically, privately to her. *I can fill you and Alex in more later.*

*You knew this stuff?* Sara blurted mentally. Akira raised his hands, gesturing and chanting.

Molly looked straight ahead, closing her eyes. *No,* she admitted, just before everything became golden light again.

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Written by Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan was born in the Bronx, New York, giving him the right to root for the Yankees while making less than six figures. After a long, largely pleasant interregnum in suburban Connecticut, he moved to the Inland Empire, California to be with his wonderful wife and muse, a stepson, and a crazed feline. An occasionally too-avid player of and writer for tabletop roleplaying games, his other passion is metaphysics, which informs most of his fiction.

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