Boon and Teg look at each other.
‘What if she kills me?’ Boon looks a bit frightened.
‘I won’t let her, I promise,’ she tells him, full of confidence.
‘She might kill me too,’ Teg says, nodding his head.
‘I won’t let that happen either,’ Alex looking a bit flustered. ‘I know it may not sound like a good idea or it’s not a good idea to do this but what choice do we have? From what I hear and what I’ve been reading, Terra hasn’t done anything too catastrophic since the great flood. Most of it are the Chaos’ doing. There’s something very sinister about them.’
‘Indeed they are,’ a voice answers from the corner of the room. Alex, Boon and Teg freeze and slowly look at the direction of where the voice is coming from. They can see a shadow walk towards them. She is wearing a simple long robe, her hair red with vines holding them in place. She looks like a woman of forty, flawless with striking green eyes and is very beautiful. Alex, Boon and Teg stand there in silence as she stops before them, with tears in her eyes.
‘My son,’ she says struggling to get the words out of her, ‘may I embrace you?’ Boon did not know what to say but even before he could decide on what to do, she took him into her arms, sobbing quietly. ‘There isn’t a day that I do not think of you and your siblings. I was wrong and I am sorry. Please forgive me, please, please, please.’
Boon can feel her broken heart. He looks at Alex, who is crying with her. Teg is looking outside the window, not showing his emotions. He finally holds her and cries with her. Terra looks up at Boon. ‘My son, you and your siblings were right. I should have done things another way,’ she says shaking her head.
‘I shouldn’t have made the Chaos. I can’t kill them anymore. They are far too powerful now. I should have listened to the sage. But I was proud. I thought, I am a goddess, no prophecies can touch me especially not one that is coming from a human but how wrong I was!’
Alex did not know how to address her – should I call her madam or your highness or what, she thought to herself. ‘M’am,’ she interrupts, ‘I am sorry to interrupt, please do not vaporize me but I just want to thank you for saving my life. I am not sure how to go on about this and I am certainly confused on what’s going on. Could you please tell me…everything?’ Alex stops to think, ‘well, maybe not everything but…perhaps like a synopsis?’ They are all looking at Alex, wondering what she is trying to say. ‘I apologize,’ she curtsies, ‘I don’t mean to be rude in anyway. I just want to help.’ Alex feels like she wants to kick herself in the nuts, if she had any.
‘I apologize, Alexandria. I was a quite overwhelmed seeing my son again. I know we have more pressing matters at hand.’
‘I don’t mean anything bad, really. I am sorry.’ Alex mutters, embarrassed.
‘No please. Please. I must start from the beginning so you can all understand what is happening now. Perhaps you would like to sit? It’s a long story.’
They settle down in the comfortable living room of the cottage. The cottage feels so homely for Alex even if the days she spent in here were being sick. Alex sits in the middle of Boon and Teg while Terra sits opposite them.
‘You look handsome in human form, my son. Reminds me of your father when he was still very young,’ she smiles. ‘Can you take other forms?’
‘This is the only human form I can do. I haven’t tried being something else.’
‘Practice makes perfect. In due time,’ she encourages, smiling at Boon. ‘Yes, shall I begin?’ she asks as she notices Alex and Teg feeling a bit left out.
‘This world was made with us. It is a part of me and Tēllus. Magia was stronger then and so were we. The Libras are our children. They are everywhere and they lived in harmony with other beings. But I will not start from that far. It all began when Stēlla was born. The shifts of the cosmos and the planets were special; you can say that she was the daughter of the universe. She was completely opposite us. She was humble, even as a child. Word spread like wildfire when she correctly predicted a fire that would have killed an Egyptian king if not, for her. Many thought that the kingdom will attack her family but instead, they showed her gratitude and earned their respect. Soon, thousands of people from all over the world travelled to see her. Whatever extravagant gifts that people brought before them, she gives away to people in need. The family lived as they always did. The family were simple farmers that live up a hill not far from a small village. I visited her once when she was still a mere child of ten. I heard and can see what is happening from afar but I had to see her with my own eyes. Tēllus was wary but my curiosity grew by the day. I stood before her, as a peasant woman. But she knew who I was. She looked into my eyes and I can never forget what I saw. It was the waves of the cosmos. It lives within her. She bowed and addressed me by my name. I was very impressed because I have cloaked myself with the most powerful magia I can conjure up to hide my identity but she saw through me so quickly. The family burned incense for me and shared what little food that they had. But I asked her for a prediction. I insisted even if the family was unsure. I understand that they were scared but I gave my word that I will not harm them. I asked her the same question again and I will never forget what she said to me:
“Chaos will reign for eternity if you do not learn humility.”
I felt appalled. I watched a stormy wave of cosmos pass in her eyes but I dismissed it as nothing. I was very proud. I am a goddess, I can change fate, I thought to myself. Why should I believe what a child tells me? I laughed while the entire family cowered in terror. All except the child. She looked at me with a blank expression on her face. Then she smiled and excused herself that she’s going to go out and play with her friends. Her parents did not stop her nor did I. When she was gone, I thanked the family for their hospitality. I felt that going there was pointless. I could have made a new flower or a new tree or a new magical creature. I feel that I wasted my time. But before I can go, her mother, still cowering in terror, had asked me to pardon her daughter. And then, she begged me to remember her daughter’s words. Her mother told me that all her daughter wanted to do is to help people. I reminded her that I am the goddess, I am Terra. Surely, they know who I am. She did not say another word and I left.
I relayed this to Tēllus who took it more seriously than I did. But don’t be mistaken. He did not wish your family harm but he was worried for me, maybe for both of us. Before I consulted Stēlla, we had decided for the Libras to bond with the humans. We thought that we can offer more help. We thought it was a wonderful balance. The bonding was simple. The Libras are spirits and they unite themselves with the humans’ soul. It’s the human’s choice, of course but everyone can bond with a Libra. And once they are bonded, they were called the Balance, a successful unity of a spirit and a human.’
‘I’m so sorry but I don’t understand that theory.’ Alex interrupts again, looking embarrassed. ‘Sorry, could you please elaborate? A little confused because of…circumstances,’ she says as she looks at Boon.’
‘In the beginning, we knew that humans have a soul, they can naturally bond with a Libra. Unfortunately, we did not foresee complications. There were humans that are unable to bond with the Libras. Some had very little spirit essence but still forced themselves to bond with a Libra. The unity was always short and unsuccessful, the humans die but they leave their anger with the Libra. Some had so much darkness in their heart. There are many causes and the influence the unity had on the Libras was so overwhelming that they started to change. Those Libras were named the Chaos by humans.’
‘The Chaos used to be Libras?’ Boon couldn’t believe what he is hearing. All this time, he thought they were created by Terra’s wrath.
‘Your father and I felt that it was for the best that you all did not know who you were killing. Or you will refuse to kill them even if they will not think twice about killing you. When they change, they become completely different. Their demeanour, their spirit, nothing is the same. You can’t even tell that they were once Libras. Humans without Libras were terrified. The horrors they spoke of and witnessed. The humans burned incenses for us every day but we were alarmed at how much terror they spoke of. They begged the Balance to convince us to save them. Tēllus and I were still very powerful in the old world. So, in order to regain peace, we, along with the Balance, hunted down the Chaos. But the hunt became a long standing war.’
‘Four thousand years,’ Alex whispers. Terra looks at her with so much sadness.
‘Yes. All that time, your family aided us. They were our best soldiers, along with the Fair Folk. Tellūs & I became disheartened. So many of our children were dying and what’s worse is that they are fighting their own sibling who doesn’t remember them. I became so bitter.’ Terra stands up from her seat and was visibly shaking. She walks towards the window and watch the night fall.
‘Mother,’ Boon finally says, ‘You don’t have to go on.’
‘But I must child. I owe you all an explanation to my actions and our decisions.’ Boon feels Alex’s hand hold his.
‘I started blaming the humans. I blamed them for their weakness. I blamed their emotions. I blamed them for everything. My children wouldn’t be what they’ve become if the humans weren’t as selfish. My wrath grew each day and all I could see was red. I told the remaining of my children to come back to us. I told them that I will make everything as they once were. Twelve of my children did not come back. They refused to unbind themselves from their humans, five from your family and the rest from other clans. I felt betrayed by my own children. I branded them as traitors.’
‘So there are survivors, Mother?’ Boon says, hopeful.
Terra turns to look at him. ‘No. We put them back to the ground.’
Alex couldn’t read Boon’s emotions but she can certainly feel so many emotions at the same time. She tells herself that she should calm down; perhaps it can help Boon to calm down too. ‘You…and father…you killed them all?’ Boon is struggling to cope with all this and he doesn’t know how to react with the truth.
‘My son, I don’t expect you to forgive me and your father but we did what was best for them. They will turn into the Chaos if we let them live. You have to understand, once the Libra unbinds with their humans, the chances of them turning into a Chaos is inevitable.’
‘So you tricked them?!’ Boon shouts. ‘How could you do such a thing? How could you live with that?’
‘I am living it my son. Your father does not fare any better than I. The only consolation that we have is that we saved them,’ Terra has tears in her eyes and she starts to sob uncontrollably. Just as she does, it starts to rain heavily outside. ‘We saved them…’
‘What about the flood?’ Teg asks this time. ‘Domina Stēlla and Boon warned us about it. My people hid underground that time. It was thanks to my father that the kingdom survived. Good thing us folks are quite the adventurers.’
‘The flood was to put the humans back to the ground, to cleanse the world. It was for a new beginning.’
‘The flood was her tears.’ Alex says suddenly. Boon looks at her confused. ‘Boon, please calm down,’ she takes his hand and holds it tight. She holds Teg’s hand and looks at Terra. ‘I am sorry for your loss. I am sorry things did not work out the way you anticipated. I know you had so much hope in humanity. The potential it holds. But why did you think killing yourselves too was the only way to make things right?’
This questions surprises Terra. ‘How did you know we were planning to do that?’
‘It was a guess. Wouldn’t it kill Tēllus and wouldn’t it kill you too?’
Terra shakes her head from side to side, looking quite defeated. ‘Yes, it would kill us too. “Chaos will reign for eternity if you do not learn humility.” We thought if this was the prophecy, then it is a fixed cosmic event. We thought perhaps, we could end it if we all die together – that is how we can stop the Chaos. Fortunately, we didn’t die but it left us very weak. We could not even tell whether anyone survived or not. On the fifteenth cycle of the moon, Tēllus felt life coming back. I was recovering as he was but he told me that it was animals, humans and the remaining Balance. We were overjoyed that twelve of our children survived.’
‘Did you not know the Chaos survived?’ Boon looking exhausted.
‘No, we did not. We planned to make amends by the time we fully recovered. We did not understand why we were so weak. We did not foresee the Chaos would still be alive. My heart, still healing, broke again when I felt my children; your brothers and sisters fall one by one once again. I wanted to save you all. I wanted to go out there but your father would not let me intrude. He tells me I will get killed this time if I do. Until now, we have not gathered enough strength to kill one Chaos soldier,’ Terra says, looking shameful for her weakness.
Boon knows what happens next and he grows even quieter and still.
‘We remember that night well. We felt that power. Stēlla killed an army of Chaos which would take at least another army of Balance to take on. The waves of the cosmos were turbulent that night. She held so much power in her but she chose to withhold it. She was overflowing with so much magia but she remained as humble as she was when I met her as a child. She only did it because she wanted to save my son. As soon as we felt her presence, she was gone again along with Boon. We were afraid that they might have perished in the great wave.’
‘You did not know she lived?’
‘No. We did not. We were in hiding all this time, just as every one else. Humanity flourished. We hid. The Chaos’ power grows and instead of being influenced by humans, the Chaos influences them. Have you seen how much killing happens? How much greed there is? How much dishonesty? There are very little people who remain like the people from the old world. I do not like to make comparison but this world is not the world that we know of anymore. We stayed weak and powerless.’
‘How did Aunt Hera find you? What happened to me?’
‘It is no secret that the King of the Fair Folk is in love with Stēlla but he held quite a large torch for Hera. Since Tēllus and I are weak, we are unable to detect the Chaos unless they reveal themselves completely. Hera will not be able to know where they are either. That woman is very intelligent. She does not have much power but she is quite resourceful. She knew you were going to inherit the stone. When one is marked with the flower of life, the successor is revealed to them.’
‘How much do you know about the flower of life?’
‘I can honestly say that we do not know much about it. It appears to be a spell from Stēlla herself. It will never reveal its secrets to me. The universe knows who shall bear the knowledge.’
‘There goes my five year plan!’ Alex says sarcastically. She looks around her and she realizes that no one gets that joke.
‘She asked the King to look after you and he did. Before I forget, the King is known to be quite tricky, no offense, fairy.’
‘None taken, I don’t like him very much because he thinks I’m overflowing with charm that he doesn’t have,’ Teg smiles.
Terra smiles at this and Alex thought it was one of the most beautiful smiles she’s ever seen in her life. ‘To continue with my story, he did look after you but he did not see the Chaos immediately but when he did, he hurt it enough so we are able to see it at all times. How it would have corrupted you and how different the world will turn out. But only we can see them, not the humans, which is a great relief.’
‘Can Aunt Hera see them? I haven’t actually seen how they look like but I know what their ankles look like…so I guess I can see them?’
‘Yes child, you can. Of course you will be able to. But not Hera, she did not see them. If she tried, she will have to use magia and her life essence will decrease. I have told her numerous times not to use her essence but she is a rare soul, a gem among the sand.’ Alex realizes that Terra must have liked her Aunt Hera a lot. It’s quite a compliment, especially coming from a goddess. ‘Hera asked the King to seek me out,’ Terra continues, ‘Before I knew about Hera, I knew you existed. When you were born, I felt the same tide when Stēlla was born. The euphoria was overwhelming but I had very little hope in you. I assumed that you were just another human who had the same cosmic wave as Stēlla but it is a different time. Magia is for play and nothing more. Your family meant nothing to me because I do not feel any magia, especially not Boon. I cut ties, thought it was for the best. How wrong I was! But do not misunderstand. When I found out that Boon may be alive, I was elated. My son is alive! There is hope. And I realize that the prophecy did not apply six thousand years ago, it applied to what was happening right now. “Chaos will reign for eternity if you do not learn humility.” I told myself, if what Hera told me is true, that you are all descendants of Stēlla, and each one of each generation holds her soul essence, then Tēllus and I can finally redeem ourselves and we can save our son. I immediately sought for help. I can’t tell you how fast I moved. I moved mountains and the sea to look for the Gorgon sisters. They were the only ones who can see what can’t be seen. They are also skilled eradicators. I managed to convince them to help us, with a favour. We managed to save you, just in time. And to know that you have her complete soul, according to your mark, you have no idea how relieved I feel. We learnt so much in such little time. But I still don’t know what the King of the Fair Folk helped so much.’
‘I believe I know why he did it,’ Alex says, smiling.
‘You are quite the intuitive. Please do tell me,’
‘He would like to resume the annual visits the mortals were permitted to during the month of May.’
‘That is quite a pardon to overrule…’
‘But he worked very hard for it, I suppose.
‘Perhaps…it can be done, just not now. I told you before, very tricky King.’
‘How did Boon survive the being unbind with Stēlla?’
‘She made him sleep. They did not actually part ways, in a sense. They waited for each other to come back. In many ways, they gave the peace the world needed for a while but without them, this is what happened.’
‘I guess it backfired.’
‘No, it worked. They have been fighting the Chaos for thousands of years. They needed the rest.’
‘I guess you can say that but that sounds kind of lame, no offense. I pictured them to be pretty epic, if you know what I mean,’ Alex nodding at Terra.
Terra looks at her confused, ‘You are a strange child but you are full of promise.’
‘Full of promise, I like that. I’ll take whatever I can. Oh! But I must tell you that they are after Boon. Somebody told me that I was unworthy of wielding the Balance’s power. Such a biatch.’
‘That must be Vlt.’
‘I can’t even pronounce it.’
‘She is one of the elder Chaos. She wants the power of the Libra herself. She believes that Stēlla is a fake. They have been enemies since the beginning.’
‘No wonder I don’t like her!’
‘Your progress is different. You have a full soul essence so we cannot tell what you will learn from a minute from now to the next few years. What magia do you know, child?’
‘Ahh…,’ Alex blushes, ‘I can make a cabinet box big and small, I know languages and oh! Oh! I can tell time….,’ Alex nods at her, looking impressed with herself, ‘..without a watch! Boom! And that’s about it.’
‘I believe…we are doomed.’
‘Mother!’ Boon says exasperated.
‘I must be patient, I must be patient,’ Terra chants under her breath. She looks like she is going to get a headache. ‘I apologize. I am not exactly known for my patience. This skill requires quite a lot from me.’
‘Please Terra. I need your help,’ Alex begs. ‘I want to save Boon and I trust him like I trust my parents and I am telling you I have huge trust issues. I am sorry if I may talk too much and I maybe overstepping some line, you know, goddess human interaction, need respect. I have utmost respect for you, especially since you saved my life and I am eternally grateful.’
‘You do talk quite too much. Stēlla did not speak so much, unless she is required to report or command. It’s quite a change of pace, to be honest.’
‘I don’t know what to do Terra. I am running away from the Chaos and I don’t know what they look like and I am scared.’
‘Do not be afraid, child. You are bringing balance to this world and you are not alone. We are all here to help you.’
‘How many are the Chaos.’
‘As many as you can imagine.’
‘That’s comforting…’ Alex gulps.
‘And we are as many, even more.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I believe it’s time to find our friends.’ Terra smiles at Alex.