Silence | Sigils of Unity Part 1
A magpie on the farthest side of his brand new clearing reminded him this ghosted road was always watching.
Aspen trees in full spring bloom greeted the edges of the greenest meadow he had ever seen. Dotted with thousands of wildflowers, waiting for him to make it his home the road ended here after all.
The stillness of the deep summer air was refreshing compared to the gusts that had broken dirt clods and dust devils across his stride and whipped sand into his eyes for the last two days.
This embattled journey twisted in elevation; uphill had turned downhill and a leveling was finally taking place.
The terrain was flattening too.
He slowed his pace to a stop, dropped his backpack and sat on it.
He was dressed in mid-calf hiking boots, jeans and a flannel over a black T-shirt. His pack was huge; it was full of his life and it echoed of the death rattle he had left behind. It was stuffed and secured on a full rack – complete with bedroll.
Everything depended on the pack since he had left the world three weeks ago.
Well, the world that most people knew. The world of stores and autos, phones microwaves and indoor plumbing had long since disappeared into his rear view and he had not even seen a piece of litter in the last week.
The mountains of Colorado (where he started at least) held vast wilderness and he had finally escaped the stain of other men and women.
They could hurt him no more.
Had returned to the roots he had sought his 35 years while hunting the greatest of treasures the promise of this elusive and forgotten road.
He had discovered it shortly over what he guessed to be a week ago. He had no watch, he had no way to track days either, just like he had planned.
No the backpack wasn’t everything not anymore…there was the road.
He was the first man to use this old wagon road in nearly a century he guessed by the barely visible wagon tracks and faint green glow. A haunted road that told secrets long dead and delivered the total oneness of self he had always needed for the good of his soul.
How he knew this was…dubious. He had doubted his sanity until the road explained it. He reviewed his last thought. Yep the ROAD was talking to him.
It had literally been whispering to him – directly to his mind…and to his ears. Yes he questioned it at first but the road brought him to the meadow as it had promised.
No other foot of man had been here and the road had proclaimed this new life for him. He aimed to take it. He of course realized what it was right after he was too late to do anything about it. He was rapt.
David Casey surveyed the meadow he now sat in.
He was dead center of a road that was dead center in the meadow that was dead center in the middle of wild nowhere.
He was lost.
He was ecstatic.
So he discarded his name – for it came with expectations and implications.
He discarded it casually but spitefully, with abandon and it rebirthed himself in a cry from his elated mouth, dry and throaty. It startled him. He jumped. He had not made a sound in days; he had grown unaccustomed to his own voice. He wished all humanity would experience this on a global scale.
He took another name that day – Silence – and one name was enough.
The road laughed at his wit. The road laughed with him in the sun.
He was happy in a way he had never known before, finally he was lost enough move forward.
He had prepared for years to take this trip. Then they gave him a reason.
He had wanted to forge his own mind and his own rules since the day it had all changed, when the spirits of the innocents and the spirits of the damned alike were set loose on the world not to torment but to enhance humanity.
It was decided by both Heaven and Hell to beset earth with the every being of the spirit – from ghost to wraith to specter – and change the written ending they had established for themselves. And after all who was to stop them.
Especially after the “Great Press Conference” which involved flaming iconic images of both Jehovah and Lucifer stating the new plan; they “had reconsidered old wounds and rewritten the end of the world for harmony and balance.” They explained that we as a species had surpassed hopes for both sides and integration was the best way to proceed.
Silence didn’t want to be integrated.
Angel and devil alike were under strict orders of truce for the express purpose of helping humanity rise to that new level of integration – mix and breed immortal with mortal. In order to do this, sides had to be chosen.
One for one, light for light, dark for dark.
In order for this to happen there was much work to be done to restore humanity to its base states.
Angels, fairies and wind wraiths among every lesser creature of Heaven were healing the sick and people were rejoicing.
They ended plague and famine, stopped wars and built trust while demons, devils, specters and the drones of Hell used their influence to use greed for common gains (not good), used their consumptions for the rots in life and in seven short years humanity had become ready for the “Great Transcendence”.
The Ouija boards were chosen as conduits for the willing and the eager. If you wanted to join Hell there was not torment, if you wanted to join Heaven there was no obligation. It was a choice that even Silence agreed had been the first free one the species had made in centuries. Hell filled up first.
For the unwilling and the dreading like Silence, there was the forceful possession like in days of old that made your choice for you. Possession and torment lead to more volunteers.
Unity became the ultimate earthly power.
Unity was the name of the man the spirits had chosen to represent them.
Sonny Unity was the first human infused with Essence though the boards. Essence is what they called a sweet stinging mixture of soul energy made into liquid; elixirs for each faction that were invented by the archangel Gabriel and the Dark Prince Leviathan themselves.
Essence was also given first to a man who claimed to be the only one equal in both camps and thus most fit to lead. The light and the dark agreed he was perfect.
He however had a hybrid Essence from both camps.
It made him insane and he tried to burn the world.
He failed; for who can kill the now immortal man and ghost alike?
But he enslaved almost every human, spirit and hybrid in the process. No one on Earth knew how. So the oppressed petitioned Heaven and Hell.
Cut off from their faithful and their legions of armies now under Unity’s thrall and intent on even handed fairness, Jehovah and Lucifer decided to let creation decide its own fate. They decided to abandon ALL of their creations supernatural and natural alike in favor of outcomes and divine plans.
The supernatural world noticed the most – trapped inside the bodies of man they seethed and rejoiced but none of them ever forgot. The most powerful of the supernatural beings were given a choice – take a different strain of the essence and remain unbound to serve as a general in Unity’s new army or be chained to the weakest of humans. All accepted the general role.
When the Unity Hordes (hybrid armies with immortal generals) rolled into Vail, Silence had begun walking with his pack.
After days of conversation the tall bulky man now knew the road was an animism soul – a TokaStar – a spirit who never received a body and became a type of object instead. This TokaStar had chosen roads because “there were so many and because they were all connected – seen and unseen.”
The soul, who liked the name Junction, had run away when the other souls were being subjugated. He had retreated into the form of the road Silence had discovered then followed.
He stood up and said, “Okay Junction, let’s build a future for all of us.”
Behind him eyes who had seen the world begin watched intently.
The Junction of Silence | Sigils of Unity Part 2
“There is a place I remember, beyond this one, where silence is currency for the lonely. I remember it almost. They trade in silence to stop the spread of it. You know, the stack of holes that pile up inside. No sound is made when a pan crashes to the floor, nor when a door slams – you see the emptiness has stolen the racket and given them all a quiet world to compensate for their noisy minds. That way they hurt no one else with their suffering. Unlike you. UNLIKE YOU!!”
Ha, I thought to myself, here is a strange bird for sure. The lunacy I heard was from the old man seated on the small town park bench with me at its opposite end.
He was dressed oddly, like some refugee from time and the black and white striped scarf about his neck was unusually tight. So much so his face was red. He wore a belt and tunic that were old in the museum sense and carried a hand carved wooden cane. With lilting gracefulness he looked to the sky and his face got redder still. His pants were denim but in the style of breeches from some Tracy Hickman fantasy novel. But his eyes were clothing made of time itself and still he pondered the sky.
Like he was painting the stars by himself with the glamor and charms of his will.
I wondered at the ability of this town to attract the types of people I now was openly staring at. To my surprise he was not talking to the gods of the insane with his rambling diatribe but to me.
Frankly I didn’t care. I was a wreck. I had been walking the streets of this God forsaken wasteland of a town for two days trying to shake the loss and the grief from my mind. She had dropped me cold with malice and resentment years deep for things she was responsible for. I reacted badly and it snowballed.
Fucking redheads and their crazy shit. Fuck ‘em all.
I had become a pariah, not one tenant of attachment remained – at least not towards me – I had plenty of attachments though to people, to things, to memories and none to call my own. Every time I blinked, I saw her. Every time I took a breath I missed them all. I was dying from inside out and the rot of the world hung on my very psyche ready to devour the first person whole upon connection. Like a psychic vampire ready to enmesh my teeth to the emotional jugular.
All the while I watched as they walked past me, literally and metaphorically – no calls, no texts no junk mail.
I hated me as much as they did.
I dug in the garbage and found a half-eaten sandwich. It was chilly tonight and I was glad. It keeps the bugs away and I was no longer in a position to be picky. I started eating it and immediately spit it out. It was rancid. No dinner for a pathetic diner, in a closed public park.
They had a right to hate me I continued my inner soliloquy…despite my alienation and confusion as to why, I knew it to be true, because truth hurts. I was definitely in pain but truth will not hide in the other pain like a good little soldier. No it stands out like a burning knife in a dark, bloodless back.
Oh the truth was I was lost. I had no sense of direction or self. I was a prisoner to my own past, because the jailors handed me the keys. Nebraska sucks.
Home was a misnomer as I was currently living in my gasless, broken down car parked in the lot of the Wal-Mart and I had taken to spending my days walking aimlessly and resting in this park. My nights were spent wandering the ghost streets where my invisibility felt complete. Even the cops sleep at night here. I couldn’t remember the last time I had actually done the Sandman’s dance. I counted…three days.
Three days since I even tried lying down. Suddenly my boundaries fell, my will failed and I began weeping.
The old man, glanced at me in pity and a slight trace of disgust crossed his features. My tears turned to anger from embarrassment and I was outraged this loon should judge me but even worse was his pity.
I didn’t need pity. I didn’t need judgment.
What I needed was a way to fix this hole inside of me…wait…holes? What had this odd man said? You know, the stack of holes that pile up inside.
Time stopped. Whether literally or figuratively was irrelevant because I experienced a sweeping expanse of self, sense of vastness of spirit. It was if right here in the moment I was all of my potential and all of my failures all at once. I experienced me in all of my toxic light and I knew the old man was involved.
“In two days every spirit, demon ghost apparition angel and more will be released into the world. I need you and you are far from ready Cyrus Calamity. If it is peace you seek you must find Silence. You must trade your pain for love. You are the light and the dark in case the tonics overtake me.”
I snorted, “LOVE??!! LOVE?!! What do you know of love old man? That it results in death? That it steals souls and leaves them to rot in a festering heap of…”
My voice ended. No matter how I tried to scream and rant at the obviously crazy (and powerful) old mage (I knew this now too) I could not utter a sound.
In my ears and in my head while time stood still I heard, “In exactly eighteen months, after I have ascended you will head for the mountains outside of the province you call Colorado. You WILL go to the man who has prepared the way, meet him at the Junction where the road ghosts have hidden.”
“Fuck you” I thought at him with all my fury and venom imagining knives flying from my eyes.
“How do you know my name? I am tired of being a pawn of others whims and I refuse to help you. You are just like her you know, lying to me to get me emotionally involved and dropping me as soon as it no longer fits your small minded plan for happiness. Go to hell.”
He laughed in my mind and it turned the night sky red. It chilled me to the bone. It was nothing to what came next. You have no choice; it is the will of God himself. Or what will some resemble Him. While I know your levels of pain and betrayal are greater than most it is nothing to what the world will soon suffer.”
“Good, let them all suffer. It serves them right for the way they treat each other. Leave me alone.”
“You are already alone. Utterly. It is why I chose you. Now, forget me. When the time comes you will remember and you WILL GO. Until then I leave you this, the Ether Lock. I am UNITY and the world is mine to save. So now do you belong to me. Remember head to the Junction of Silence.”
Upon my neck now was an amulet with a sigil across it. I knew instinctively I could not remove it. I tried anyway and was delivered into the hands of a blackout from the excruciating pain. I awoke to a morning patrolman writing me my fourth vagrancy ticket. I walked back to my car. I gotta get out of this town, I thought to myself.
When the tanks rolled into Vail, I had been two days removed from the main part of the world, into the smallest mountain towns (such as they were after the enslavement of the spirit and flesh worlds alike). I had no idea where I was going but the amulet pulsed and shocked me with ethereal energy (we had learned a lot since the Great Transcendence/ He was glad he had refused both Ouija board and essence elixir. But he was concerned it was the crazy power mage Unity who had sent him. Unity lost his mind in the Great Transcendence and to be honest I saw it coming. Still it had proved a good “suggestion” he had given to me. Everything depended on the pack on my back.
Two weeks of walking wilderness later a voice (the only one I had heard since Lake, CO) startled me as it rang exuberant and excited into my mind.
“Hi! I’m Junction.” He waited for me to respond. I tried in my head and had no luck. It was a one way transmission.
“What’s the matter can’t you talk?” Junction asked? I noticed his “voice” sounded old and otherworldly and I shook my head.
Head to the Junction of Silence…
“Well, that’s OK no one really talks here. Once you meet Silence he can give you a telepathy charm like he did Vanity and Curry. It’s OK – you made it friend. I will let Silence know then walk with you the rest of the way. Say, that is a mighty interesting amulet you have there.”
I looked down at my feet and the road was glowing, pulsing with his words. Ah…road ghost … and free at that. Junction may be the only free spiritual entity on Earth. We walked for two weeks, killing dinner and stopping for water but always trudging forward.
At the end of the two weeks we met a crossroad that dead ended on two sides. The clearing was beautiful with three stone castles built in a triangular pattern. The castles were house sized. The meadow was breathtaking and the giant communal fire pit, complete with giant wooden spit, beckoned to me for warmth. I started toward it.
I didn’t really care about any of this… I just missed her.
And the life I WANTED not the one I earned. I was openly bitter and distrusting these days – more so since the Press Conference. I hated her, I hated Unity, I hated this Silence person already and I was determined to die here.
Alone in my own castle if I could have one… finally peace.
But then two men and a woman approached. The woman (though it was clunky and unfamiliar) spoke. It was the last spoken words I would hear for a decade.
Vanity (I found out later) reached her arms out and swept them wide in open warmth.
“Welcome to the Junction of Silence.”
The road squealed with glee, “New family!!”
All I could manage was, Oh great there is a WOMAN here. No wonder this is the pain exchange.
Lord of Ghosts | Sigils of Unity part 3
Eight Years Later
The good and decent man that had been Sonny Unity on a park bench in Nebraska nearly a decade ago was long since dead, a victim of the corrupted madness of a mixed elixir outside the will of Heaven and Hell themselves. The Lord of Ghosts and current master of Earth, Unity stood in his place instead.
Standing on a balcony over the new capital of Earth – what was once Holland – he watched his latest Unity hordes march ever disciplined in legions upon the road below. He thought it so unnecessary for just a pitiful 10%, for that is what remained of the population still resisting and unchained to a spirit by elixir. But he remembered the initial wave and how he had started in New York and rolled both east and west with his armies to gain control of a world that for so long had none.
The remaining ninety were properly controlled and merged, much like the original plan from the bipolar powers of Yahweh and Lucifer had called for. Chosen for the role of Benevolent Mediator by both light and dark Unity was originally supposed to facilitate the squabbles of a free and bonded humanity but the Hybrid Essence had shown him the way.
It had shown him how to steal from Hell and betray Heaven simultaneously, for what could they do when every living sentient being they fought over was in his possession? Still, they were the creators and destroyers of creation and there was always a threat should they try to reclaim their positions and magic was still operating like it always had and part of magic was chaos. Unity hated chaos. It was so messy. But chaos was a primal force like order and magic, so he had brought all three together.
He had let the angel and the devil hook him up to the Ouija board. It was hung on a wall by one edge with an array of alchemy cylinders behind it and the vials of elixir hung down through two holes. He had let them hook the first of these machines to his chest and his temples the former for the light the latter for the darkness. He had let the white elixir and the black elixir surge unabated into his spirit through his body, into his ancient magical soul through his corrupted shell and watched as they turned gray and glowed.
He willingly endured the burning in his mind as the black overtook it, knowing he would soon clean the world with the same black fire. Leviathan had become his mind’s eternal companion as the Ether Chains bound them with malice, death and the rot of a billion lost souls.
He just as willingly let the cold, brilliant light blast his heart with the pure emotional devotion of a million redeemed hearts, of healing love and undying hope. This was far more unpleasant at first because he was also overcome with conviction for his shortcomings and his emotions burst at the seams when Gabriel came to abide with in him forever too.
But these two enemies, who had fought for a millennia, whether under direct command or not did not put their enmity aside. The five day battle that followed inside of Unity was their mightiest yet but it in the blazing end had shown him the way. It had given him the plan to usurp them both.
The mage who had walked the physical world for 650 years reflected on this and smiled. What had taken him so long? Unity collected what was left of his fractured mind and tried to remember what had led him down this cerebral path and he remembered.
Reports were coming in from all over the world. The Rogue Unbound (a designation assigned to unbound supernatural and natural beings alike) were disappearing. He had been very clear about using the boards and many did resist.
Those who were unbound were not put to death, no they were enslaved until they agreed to be bound. They were all tracked by talisman or location spell and assigned to a general of the Horde. Unity thought this was the perfect control for them. But it seems that while he was conquering humanity he had forgotten about the nature of free men. Many escaped their trackers. Most could be found when necessary but this turned out not to always be true. In fact it was failing more and more because there was no denying the chaos in these souls.
For the last five years in small increments those who were not bound were not only in hiding but they were no longer where the most powerful angels, demons, mages and every other creature of magic or otherworld could see them. This made them a threat in Unity’s mind.
He needed help. Only complete subjugational independence (a phrase he coined for his dual nature to describe his ruling style) would redeem all of them. He needed to consult the Golgotha Tree for some assistance.
Below him, unnoticed by the mad tyrant, the road pulsed with white and blue light beneath the feet of his Unity Horde. Those walking on it felt light and happy for a moment.
Behind Unity standing ever vigilant was the mage’s favorite and most loyal generals.
Esmalachus was a djinn nearly 9 feet tall in his earthly form and had lived for twenty thousand years. He had started by serving as a wish granter, worked his way up to elemental demigod. Lightning, fire, water and wind were all his to command and his once jolly demeanor had been marred forever by spending two millennia alone in a lamp, a prisoner of a boys curse.
He was crafty, devious, ruthless and powerful; none could best him in battle save the highest of angels and demons (and the occasional unicorn). He loved Unity and the new world under his vision. He was dedicated to the cause and even more devoted to the mage.
He saw the road pulse. He knew a portal ghost when he saw one. He also knew a TokaStar when he saw one. Grinning to himself Esmalachus thought, I am going to catch myself a road. He turned into wind and followed the road.
Silence, Calamity, Curry, Vanity and Junction sat in the newly constructed mega castle in the center of the once vast and empty (now vast and crowded) meadow. As the ruling body of the Junction of Silence the Council of Resistance had become the day to day crisis management for nearly 30,000 Rogue Unbound and each had come by way of Junction himself just like they did.
With each arrival a new castle was built and as the camp grew into a small city in the old ways the burden of governance had too. In fact it seemed most that lived here were now content to just stay hidden, to avoid the evil outside their door.
Hiding had not been the plan in many years and their complacency save this council made Silence seethe inside.
They had been meticulously planning the defeat of Unity and the release of all the souls since they had discovered and identified the Ether Lock amulet on Calamity’s neck. It was what made them invisible.
They were here to discuss privately the final few phases of their plan and then to practice the details in implementing it. Instead there were hundreds of people in line to complain of their neighbor’s mulch heap or beg for their families from the other world to join them despite knowing it was impossible.
Silence had had enough and he screamed into the entire city’s collective mind, STOP!
And they did. The collective mind was quiet all at once.
So everyone heard the wailing fear of Junction in their minds.
“Silence, Silence! Esmalachus knows! He saw me! The Lighting Eater is coming for me. You have to help me!”
“Junction, don’t come home, he will follow!”
“Too late! I’m here, I got away after I ditched him at Mecca. Oh Silence, we have to move soon, the world is in ruins. The boards power everything.”
“Tell me everything, my friend. Leave nothing out.”
They walked inside to Silence’s private and magically protected chamber and the eyes that lived in the meadow before Silence watched and watched like they had for eight years.
Oriffel the Renegade | Sigils of Unity – Interlude
The oldest eyes in the meadow mumbled to the shining white face beneath in the oldest language in all of creation. Only 4 of the Archangels themselves would remember it if any could hear. Being the patron angel of the wilderness had its advantages. Only a few beings he had ever met like the goddess of Anomen Taboo or Loki the Trickster could see him if he did not want to be seen.
He had observed the portal ghost Junction from the beginning and he was hoping for their success but not because he cared for them or their struggle, Oriffel the Archangel of Yahweh, Master of the Wilds and sentinel of protection over them he wanted this civilization out of his meadow sure but mostly he wanted the old system restored.
He had railed and fought for a century against the Great Transcendence and the new ending for humanity. He stood in the negotiations in Limbo and made a logical and passionate case for the Divine Plan as it was originally written and the ultimate justice for the demonic foes they had battled since The Fall.
It was left to the 7 Archangels of the Light to decide (much to Hell’s displeasure) Raphael Protector of the Eden Tree and Michael Angel of War and most beloved and mighty among us had sided with Oriffel but they were voted down by the other. The three of them had then defected and left for their own place to observe the coming plan and to reverse it if it went awry. They were declared renegades and therefore never counted among the angels released onto earth.
Zarachiel, Angel of Prayer who felt redemption for all was best was enslaved and then joined to a human when it became better than Unity’s torture demons. A similar fate was suffered by Simiel the Angel of the Unknown Hand of God but the elixir drove him mad inside the 4 year old girl he was bound to. Uriel the Angel of Light (a position once held by Lucifer) was unbound but in thrall to Unity via magical restraint. Currently he was trapped inside a Mason jar like a glow bug.
But the cause of this whole problem was Gabriel. The haughty academic angel, scientist and messenger the dreamer was always whispering in the ear of God from his Library of Life and had concocted this whole wretched debacle. While Oriffel had never cared for company of any kind Gabriel was the reminder of why. As far as the Wild Angel was concerned he deserved his fate bound to the insane mage and Leviathan.
But if Esmalachus was truly wise to the location of the Rogue Unbound the best plan that Silence had would fail. They would be discovered unless he intervened. Silence would need generals of his own both light and dark. But he would need wizards even more.
Though he hated to do so, Oriffel decided he must abandon the meadow for a brief time. He would recruit the generals; or rather get the one angel who could unite the ones he needed. There would be penalties for this course of action one day. But right now he didn’t care after all he was already a renegade and in isolation. He was going to set it all right again.
When Oriffel got to Eden he wasn’t surprised to see Raphael at his post in front of the Tree of Knowledge ever vigilant. Apparently he hadn’t understood what renegade or relieved of duty meant. It was consistent with his character. He would not abandon his post over a simple matter of policy. God had been counting on it he reckoned.
Second only to Michael himself in combat, both physical and magical, Raphael was a specimen even among angels. At 9 feet tall and all muscle the angel resembles Atlas in definition and Goliath in size. His wings were 20 feet apart at full extension; he was immaculately groomed.
Oriffel revealed himself to Raphael and the soldier angel smiled warmly and shouted “Hail wild brother! You have come to check on me. I am touched.” The playful tone was half sarcastic and half good natured ribbing and Oriffel couldn’t help but smile in return.
“Hail brother, I would have palaver with you regarding the end of Creation itself.”
Road Signs | Sigils of Unity pt. 4
When I arrived at the Junction of Silence seven and a half years ago I was a broken wretch who came to die. The others at that time had welcomed me despite my disposition and they did indeed teach me to build my own castle, but there was so much more to this group than I had ever imagined. For the first few days they let me wallow in my hole, believing I cared about the end of the world and was lamenting the days of old when souls were individuals not dualities. The truth was, though there was food aplenty, in my mind I was still eating rancid sandwiches out of park garbage cans.
I loathed myself and these new people and I was wondering what the hell I was doing here. But I knew the world back there held nothing for me. I knew this was the land the old kook had spoken of just by the feel of the place and the ghost that led me here.
“There is a place I remember, beyond this one, where silence is currency for the lonely. I remember it almost. They trade in silence to stop the spread of it. You know, the stack of holes that pile up inside. No sound is made when a pan crashes to the floor, nor when a door slams – you see the emptiness has stolen the racket and given them all a quiet world to compensate for their noisy minds. That way they hurt no one else with their suffering. Unlike you. UNLIKE YOU!!” I would never forget those words.
On about the fourth day, maybe the fifth day I was sitting on a stump in front of a huge stone fire pit located dead center of the circle being made by the location of the castle fore towers. Silence came to me and linked me to the magical network he had created with the help of Junction, who provided the psychic portal for the thought exchange.
He asked me why I came.
I told, well, I guess I thought to him is more like it, to tell me his story first.
“I am Silence. The names I have used in my previous lives are irrelevant because everyone who comes here strips away their old names with their old lives. You will as well, once you discover who you are. I was born in the 1600’s and was the first of a secret group of warrior mages.
The Thobel-Ka were a proud and powerful lot with each excelling in their specialty of magic and acting as a machine of war for kings and a hub of healing to the sick. But for some reason I did not die as everyone on earth aged around me. I am the last of my kind.
My special area of magic is divination, signs and portents. When I first got the vision of the Ouija boards and the bindings I began preparing, for I have seen totalitarians before and none more ruthless than the Light and the Darkness themselves.
Junction was a surprise and a powerful ally. In fact, his power seems near limitless as long as he can understand the task. An unbound portal ghost who trusts you is one of the most reliable beings in any realm. Together we made the first of these three castles with mine being the center. We are making a concealment spell so great the hidden gods would be proud. As we grow (and we will in great numbers, we are but the first) we will construct a spell that will itself grow exponentially based on our needs. We will have to avoid any spells that involve spirits that are not tried to be friend – and unbound. This means we will need to hunt and farm to eat, dig wells for water. There is much to be done
I told him the story about the wizard in the park. He then asked to see my amulet. Which until I recounted the tale I had actually forgotten about. It was weighted to be sure but gave the sensation of lightness to the wearer, namely me. I reached around my neck and tried to remove it. It would not budge. I redoubled my exertion and received a jolt of lightning so strong it dropped me to the ground with a shriek.
When I came to I looked up to see Vanity and Curry arguing with Silence about the amulet and to Junction’s annoying questions like, “Did you know it was the destroyer of the universe when he GAVE you the amulet?”
The rest was…messy because I was a wreck, a different person. But let’s just say that it didn’t take long for them to figure out that Sonny Unity gave me the amulet before he went cuckoo. However Curry was very much against my remaining out of fear it was a trap Unity could spring at any time. At the time I remember thinking he had a point, but hoping I could stay. The majority ruled and eventually Curry and I became best buds but that story is for another time.
Curry was a time walker who had been trapped here when his continuum spirit had been bonded in mid trip with an Irish girl who worked in a pub. Knowing that in several timelines he had been in love and forever connected to a version of Vanity he sought her out in San Francisco.
Vanity in this time and place, well the one I came from because who knows about this place, was an alpha level sorceress and cleric for a goddess so long forgotten she was literally the last to know her name. She was also three hundred and forty years old.
Curry was aging for the first time but if his speech and clothes were an indication I would put him at the 1920’s. But when a time walker gets trapped he starts to age like everyone else. He didn’t like it.
Nonetheless when Vanity and Silence activated the Ether Lock on my neck it did what only years of toil would do. In one blinding moment it released a concealment spell so powerful it hid them from the very eyes of Unity. The whole meadow radiated with a blue web of energy that was laid out in the shape of an octagon with a door rune drawn in the center. Around the edges the appearance of an open theater curtain was impressed forever in my mind. Secondly, the Ether lock once activated automatically protects the meadow from bonded creatures. I will tell you about how we found that out later.
I grew in ways I never dreamed. Vanity started teaching me sorcery and Silence taught me combat. He taught us all some about reading omens and watching for time slips around them, which Curry enhanced with as much science and insight as I could handle. I threw away my name, well one of them. After nearly burning down my castle, getting run over by an elk and nearly eaten by a bear in my first 18 months here, Calamity became who I was.
Who I am.
Calamity has another meaning and it grows every day as long as I grow. I came to trust and love the people who became the Council of Resistance, the three of us and two more.
Three days after the amulet was triggered two men just walked with Junction into the meadow. A set of twins from Gnome, Alaska Juk and Grun Wolfsnare were Inuit medicine men. Juk was an alchemist and chemist, Grun was an electrical engineer, machinist and shaman of a type of magic called animism. Basically Grun could make machines come alive. But they were strong, supportive and wise as well and over time had become trusted allies with great ideas and strategic nuance even Silence had overlooked.
In the second year we started sending Junction out to actively recruit new citizens for the Junction of Silence. Armed with a concealment spell and a revelation spell he had started out simply identifying the Rogue Unbound and leading them to the Junction of Silence. In the third year, he began teleporting them directly because he had learned how to fold space and time under Curry’s instruction and Vanity’s explanation in supernatural language. This continued for two years and we grew dramatically in these years while there were still many unbound left. We developed an entire city completely hidden from Unity and his generals.
Junction was intensely eager to learn everything he could about all forms of magic and transport. He was dedicated beyond all my hopes and he inspired us all. I was and still am always amazed how we never took him for granted, that he was never just a tool for our bidding no matter how righteous.
Damn, I am friends with a ghost.
I still can’t get my head around it but I am grateful nonetheless.
It was Juk’s idea in the fifth year (we were calling the calendar Anno Adonai) to send Junction as a spy to gather information for us. It seemed so obvious but we were hesitant to do it. It changed the game, as soon as we did this it was more than just rescue – it was open war in intent and the risks went up substantially. It was decided three to two to start spying on the outposts immediately. Curry and I argued against it. I felt it was too soon. I was glad to be wrong.
Within a year we had mapped out their entire global troop locations and movements. In the final two years we had found the essence factories. Cruel and perverse even for demons the essence factories were vast jails of tortured angels, demons and other spirits unwilling to bond where they were tortured for their very spiritual energies. The worst part, according to the portal ghost, was that all of them know they will eventually bond and the less energy they have the stronger the human bound to them will be. Basically it makes the supernatural subservient to the natural. I was horrified ad the ghost telepathically shared that report.
So when he came in screaming about the demon general and reported in I was surprised that I was afraid. I was surprised I was in awe of this being that wanted us all caught, bound or dead. The idea he could kill Junction was astonishing. He wouldn’t need the hordes if he found us, he was unbound. He could stroll right in.
What kind of bastard takes over the world AND locks God and the Devil right out of the action?
An evil selfish one that’s who.
Useful old wizard in the park or not, someone had to take him down. I hoped right then it would be me and the fancy necklace he gave me. I would do anything.
Silence rose from his chair looked me right in the eye with a tone that indicated my refusal would not be tolerated. I gulped louder than I wanted.
“I need you to go to another realm, talk to Reptus the Highlord Dragontamer and get me some dragons.” His words sounded like gibberish in my mind.
“WHAT!?” I almost mind blasted him with my agape mouth and blown mind. He didn’t repeat himself. He knew damn well I heard.
Well, I did say anything. I laughed from incredulous fear and said, “Sure, let me get a pack.”
“Esmalachus will not give up. He will eventually find Junction’s trail, which is why he will take you there and help bring the dragons back. Esmalachus will find you before he finds the meadow though. So be wary and know if you are successful not even he would try to stop you alone. Reptus is not to be easily swayed however but I have a plan.
“Grun, you are going with them.” The tall, muscular and graceful nodded and slipped out to prepare.
“Here is what you must do…” Silence thought to me.
Raphael the Archangel of the Eden Tree walked the infinite realms with haste unseen by a warrior angel. He was adamant and radiated the full majesty of Jehovah’s light. He had the list Oriffel had given him and couldn’t believe the first name on it. Michael. Beloved of Jehovah, renegade and broken he had isolated himself in a pit of onyx and glass, unable to cope without the Father he had started to go mad. He also had completely forgotten the pact they had made when Gabriel’s stupid plan was put into motion. The plan was to set it right. But Raphael was skeptical Michael could lead a choir let alone an army of unbounds.
Still this choice made sense more than the last two on the list. A half-Sun Elf half -giant and a Swamp Elf Prince – what could they possibly do against the hordes despite them being wizards.
But he, like all angels was hopeful and wished for the best from Michael and from the others. He trusted Oriffel too. Things were looking up.
As he got close to Michael’s exiled land he heard then saw in words of fire written on the air. “Get out of here Raphael or I will kill you.”
Michael the Mad | Sigils of Unity Part 5
At no point in the long linear path of time did Raphael think he would witness the most beloved angel ever created rolling on a dirty cave floor eating scraps of raw meat. Squirrel by the looks of it. His wings were matted and full of bugs, mites and ticks to be sure. He smelled of frankincense and decay, an odd mixture to say the least. There were trails from his tears made of light all down his dirty face they left a once white hot gleam and now a luminescent greenish yellow. The pristine holy blade, magically engraved and given by Yahweh himself lay dirty and stained on the floor in the corner. To think this was the angel that led the armies against Lucifer’s revolt and drove the darkness to hell was the saddest thing Raphael had ever considered in his very long life. He wept openly on sight and dropped to his knees beside the grieving, broken angel general and embraced him.
Michael continued eating and didn’t acknowledge him until he had finished. However, this at least was the same as every other day for Michael because even in the combat camps he ate and slept alone or in this trance like state. Some say it is when he talked to God, others said it was for healing, the truth was it was the only time he was ever allowed time for only himself, not in service. He took this time very seriously and would let none intrude. So Raphael waited.
For two weeks while the angel ate and slept in mock oblivion Raphael waited keeping his eye on the food stock of dried goods and of liquate (the Water of Life) that Michael had on hand. Finally upon waking one morning the unkempt dirty faced seraphim, “You are a persistent creature, Raphael, I will give you that. But whatever you require I cannot help. Since I have been cut off from the Great Father’s touch I am wretched and cold. He turned on me after millenniums of service. He cast me out! He made me a renegade! ME!! A Renegade!!! Do you know how many renegade angels I have killed in service, Watcher of the Eden Tree? Thousands I assure you, because God is just. And if God is just then his judgment on me is sound. I will still serve him.” At this he ripped his shirt and let out an anguished cry.
Raphael, ever patient and waiting for his beloved general (whom he served under as a cleric angel during the War of Satan) allowed Michael to finish heaving with grief. When he had the longtime healer spoke to him, letting the auras of light wash his mind and soul as he infused them into his words with but a thought.
“Michael my friend, my brother have you forgotten the Lord’s greatest miracle? Redemption? What if I told you it is likely that god himself chose you for a mission of utmost importance when he made you a renegade? What if I told you that we now have the means to restore the balance and redeem EVERY being back into the Kingdom? I mean all of them Michael, Satan too. Imagine the foresight of God to allow the Earth to fall under Unity only to be ultimately defeated. No more wars Michael. No more struggle. It will be like it once was before the War of Lucifer. Harmony and wholeness only the humans and elves and giants…they all will be with us. He did not lie when he said he had changed the ending to the Divine Plan. He made it greater in scope.”
“I will hear your words Raphael. But tell me, if all was harmonious and whole before, why then did Lucifer feel unease, jealousy and hate to begin with? Ponder that while you tell me your tale.”
While Raphael explained the master plan of the Wilderness Angel he noted that Michael, while better (his hair was shortening back to military length and his sword was in his hand being cleaned, anointed and enchanted to a pristine edge) was far from whole. In fact he seemed to keep his thoughts guarded. And from time to time (during the more graphic explanations of the earth’s state under Unity especially) his face would darken and brood like it did in Egypt or at Sodom.
Nothing on earth scared Raphael more than the thought of a mad Archangel, especially Michael except Unity. That was the problem was it not? Unity and the Ouija boards and the bindings have so threatened the world that a mad angel was the only hope. Sometimes he wondered what God what thinking. But Raphael never questioned Him, he had seen miracles of such intricate planning unfold before his eyes.
“Three more names on your list Raphael but Oriffel left one name off. If we are to succeed we need Belial. No one else can defeat Esmalachus, not unbound and unchecked. Even I wouldn’t try it alone and the plan calls for him to be dispatched. IF I were to join you brother I would not do it unless Belial agrees to help.”
“And why would Belial assist us? Not even Demons like to kill their own kind…unless it is an angel?”
“Because Raphael, Belial hates Esmalachus more than he loves anything else. After all, Esmalachus is Belial’s brother. His rival. His jealous twin.”
It wouldn’t be the first time the light had used the dark for its purposes (or vice versa) so Raphael said to Michael, “Come then join us.”
“I will get the woman and the demon, you get the giant and the elf,” he replied and took to the sky.
In Loving Memory of my friend Mike Ramirez or as I have always loved to call him MiXX
MIXXing with the Grumpy Monkey
I am writing this today in a state of inconsolable grief. My friend Mike Ramirez, father, writer, columnist, ENR alum and ZAPPCon founder has passed away way too soon from heart problems in his mid-thirties. I met him on Twitter, 3 years ago and he was immediately the most positive and quick to kindness person I had met in many years.
He was infectious and we connected quickly. I soon came to see a sensitive man who hinted at a less than stellar past and was not bitter in lieu of this. While everyone who loved Mike could see how good and special he was, often (just like all of us) he could not see it. I want to express it here so we all can remember.
At that time I met him, I was Senior Editor at eXPert Comics News (before the road and the rails seduced me) and I was assembling the finest team of comic journalists anywhere for the still unnamed eXPress News and Reviews.
When I was putting the team together my emphasis was less on previous qualifications and more on character, on whether the people I was going to work with would be quality individuals. Mike had already developed some great skill with his words and we had started talking on the phone.
Mike fit the bill perfectly.
Mike was everything I wanted in a columnist; he was a free thinker, polite, professional, reliable and most of all he was hungry to learn it all. He was also open to criticism without taking it personally – at least from me. He was an editor’s dream. At the time we were more thematic and everyone wrote under a name that described their content. Still do. I dubbed him The MiXX because while he was passionate and capable we needed someone who leapt out of genres every week. That is the standard I set for him right off the bat. Only now do I realize how unfair that might have been.
But my expectations were reached every week with his Title Fight (a concept he took to new levels) and countless reviews of independent titles, obscure undergrounds and alternative lifestyle comics.
In 2012 we decided to meet and go to some cons together so that I could train him in my style how to cover a con and report the articles eXPress (now named) would be most interested in. I was planning to do it with ALL of them but business plans change and so does life.
Mostly though, we just wanted to hang out.
We decided since he lived in California and I had started developing wanderlust that the Image Comics 20th Anniversary Expo in Oakland, CA would be the best place to start. It was an intimate con. It was a specialized con and it was perfect for us to media blitz together.
When he met Robert Kirkman I thought he was going to cry from joy. To see him interact with Eric Larsen was like watching dreams sing back to him. Plus we got some interviews, even if not those two. It was there his industry fire was born. When he realized he could do it too.
When we went to SDCC a few months later it was one of the finest memories of my life and career. I had tragically lost my best friend of 30+ years a few months prior and I was sick over another friend leaving me in the collateral damage from that death. Mike just knew how to handle me. I was a mess holding all my pain and grief in with saran wrap shell. And he did the one thing no one else could do to free from my prison of depression.
One night while watching Batman TAS on a laptop in a tiny dorm room in San Diego where we were lodging the exhaustion, mourning and confusion overtook me. I lost it.
When I had finished my tantrum about how I would never heal, Mike said to me five words I will remember all my life.
“But DAMM, you can write.” And he smiled the most passionate and joyous smile at me that he couldn’t conceal.
We conquered the con, returned to our lives but never lost touch. His words always echoed in my heart even though my own life seemed not to reflect it. I took a leave of absence from ENR to recharge my batteries, find some peace of mind and let go of ghosts. All the while (I never knew why at that time) working hard on my poems, short stories and journalism.
All the while I was slowly putting my life together I kept hearing, “But DAMM, you can write.”
You see dear readers; the implications of his words are greater than the content. Actually it is both. First the content (remember MJ was a writer too) is validation for me in a way few others could have reached. It immediately boosted my confidence and prevented me many times from giving up on the one tool I needed more than ever to overcome.
The implications of those five words are this: No matter your struggles or pain if you have one thing you love and are good at it then there is always hope. Other implications were in the smile it said – You are at the biggest comics’ event on earth and rolling to The Eisner’s in an hour or two so it isn’t as bad as you think. He was right.
It never is.
I get asked all the time, “How can you just get up and leave your life, risk it all on a train trip and a book?” or “Why don’t you just edit classifieds?” The answer to both is But DAMM, you can write.
I owe him for his attention to what I needed not what would soothe the pain. The mark of a good friend indeed.
Hearing he was gone was a kick in the gut I had hoped to never hear. I had last spoken to him two weeks ago. He was working on his own comic with a phenomenal artist. He was the founder, organizer and promoter of the first ever ZappCon later this year. In two short years he managed to make his dream of being an industry professional come true. There was so much more ahead of him and the industry will never know what they are losing because his potential was limitless. He let me in when he was struggling too and we laughed more than cried in the tough times since.
While he often said that I was a father figure to him make no doubt about it.
We were brothers.
Our bond that began as a conversation about the ”hideous DC reboot” led to 3 years of friendship that I still can’t believe has changed forever, because I cannot reach him. Yes he will live in me for as long as I draw breath but I will also carry an empty place…except for the sunshine he always shared.
I will miss him very much.
But I am saddest most for his children who lost their daddy far too soon to heart conditions no one knew would strike at this time. I am sad for his closest companion who walked all the hardest roads with him. You are incredible Courtney. Condolences to you all. My heart and prayers are with you.
MiXXy, Make Heaven as nice as you did earth.
all night long
all dried up
in hot sheets
no flame tongue
did I know