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|Evan finds out there's more at stake here than he first thought.||
The Soul of Thalassa
Chapter Three: Heart and Soul
Evan stared at the man. Had he just heard that? Had he really understood what the man had just said?
‘What... what happened?’ he asked, and to his surprise he realised he was talking in their language, not his own.
‘Your body was rejecting Thalassa,’ the man said. ‘You were dying, and we needed to break through your defences and let Thalassa absorb you, or at least part of you, to save you.’
‘I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I am not the person to explain it - I would probably only confuse you even further. But I’m afraid I haven’t been much of a host to you; my name is Hannir. You already met my wives, Vlachna and Kristianna, and my daughter Ember.’
‘Evan Franklin,’ Evan said, wondering if he had heard it correctly, that the man had indeed two wives.
‘Well, can I offer you anything to eat, Evan?’ Hannir asked, and only then Evan felt he was hungry.
‘Yes, please,’ he said.
‘Ember?’ Hannir said to his daugher and she looked up.
‘Oh, father, I’m not a servant,’ she protested. ‘I want to stay, to talk to him.’
‘Ember, I’m not asking you twice,’ Hannir said. ‘And you have plenty of time to talk later.’ Ember pouted but sighed.
‘Yes, your majesty,’ she said and curtsied before she left the room. Suddenly a few things became clear to Evan.
‘Your majesty?’ he said. Hannir smiled.
‘Yes, indeed,’ he said. ‘You are in the country we call the Empire, and I am indeed its king.’
‘Then I suppose I should greet you in name of my government, and thank you for the warm welcome,’ Evan said, not quite prepared to this diplomatic role, and hoping he was doing it right.
‘Well, it’s not everyday we have a guest from another world,’ Hannir said. ‘But am I right to assume your presence here is unintended?’
‘Not exactly, no. I did mean to land, but... well, not in the way it happened,’ Evan said. Hannir laughed.
‘Well, as my grandfather used to say, “anyone can keep an airship floating; it’s making it float in the right direction that’s the trick”.’
‘Airship?’ Evan asked. ‘You have the techonology to fly?’ Hannir, Vlachna and Kristianna exchanged looks.
‘Not so much technology,’ Hannir eventually said, ‘but more...possibilities. But the only functional airship these days belongs to the Soul; we had to destroy the crystals during a war twenty years ago.’
‘The Soul? Crystals?’ Evan said, now completely lost. This Soul was probably some kind of important person or god, even, though he had found nothing about him during his research. And the crystals... could these people really make a craft fly by using some kind of crystal?
‘Hannir, we can’t just tell him nothing at all,’ Vlachna said. ‘I know Xara said she would explain everything to him, but, why can’t we at least share information about our worlds?’
‘I suppose you are right, dear,’ Hannir said. ‘Well, Evan, to answer your question: until twenty years ago there existed several crystals that had strong levitational powers. We used them in ships, and for a very long time, it was a thriving business. But as I said, we had to destroy them twenty years ago. So we had the... technology to fly, but it is lost now, and hardly needed anymore.’
At that moment, Ember entered, carrying a tray filled with food. She gave it to him with a smile, and then turned towards her father.
‘Father, Xara wants me to talk to him,’ she said. ‘She says your attempts not to confuse him only make things worse.’
‘She really..?’ Hannir asked. Evan felt this conversation wasn’t meant for him to hear and tried to focus on his meal.
‘Alright, then,’ Hannir said after some whispered arguments by his daughter. ‘I’ll surrender and make way for those who do know what they are talking about. We’ll be nearby, if you need us.’ Ember smiled and sat down next to Evan while Hannir, Vlachna and Kristianna left.
‘Sorry about that,’ she said. ‘Xara thought it would be best if she explained all about what happened to you today once you had been taken to see her, but mother’s right to say we can’t just tell you nothing. I’m afraid we can’t do one thing without the other, so I’m here to answer all your questions.’
‘Why not?’ Evan asked. ‘You could show me your world, and still have me wait for the explanation of what happened to me.’ Ember shook her head.
‘No, we can’t,’ she said. ‘It’s difficult to explain. Maybe we should just start at the beginning. You asked about the Soul and the crystals, so I think we’ll start with that.’
‘Wait a minute,’ Evan said. ‘How do you know that? You weren’t here when I said that.’
Ember sighed, thought for a minute.
‘This is harder than I thought it would be,’ she said. ‘I have to explain something I have known and felt all my life, but never put into words. Our world, Thalassa, isn’t just a rock floating in space, dead and lifeless but for the life that has evolved on it. This very planet is alive, is a concious, living being. She has a soul, like every one of us. And we can communicate with her, through a single person that has a special connection to our planet, that in a way, is our planet. We call this person the Soul, and he or she looks after Thalassa. We are all connected to the Soul, and the Soul is connected to Thalassa. That’s how I know what you said while I was away.’ Evan thought he understood.
‘This Soul heard it and told you,’ he said. Ember smiled.
‘Precisely,’ she said. ‘However, the fact that everything on Thalassa is connected to her also means that anything not connected to her cannot survive here, unless Thalassa absorbs it into her system.’
‘That’s what happened to me, isn’t it?’ Evan realised, even though the idea of a living world with a soul seemed very alien to him. Ember nodded.
‘Yes,’ she said. ‘Meteorites, comets and falling stars arrive frequently on our world, either soaring across the sky and disappearing into the heavens, or landing on the surface. Usually Thalassa either absorbs them, or not. I don’t know how she makes that decision, but the fact is that she does. But when you landed, things were more... complicated. You were human, and obviously from another world. You do not belong here. But you couldn’t survive without being a part of Thalassa. So we were faced with a dilemma; let Thalassa absorb you, or not.’
‘What would have happened to me, if she hadn’t... absorbed me?’ Evan asked. Ember looked at her hands and then back at him.
‘Your illness would have become worse, until your body gave up and died. It is not a pretty sight; we have seen it before.’
‘Another one from another planet?’
‘No, one of our own; it was a punishment.’ Ember shook her head briskly. ‘But that is beside the point, right now. The point is, that by letting Thalassa absorb you, we took a great risk.’
‘Risk? What risk?’ Ember sighed.
‘What I just told you, also works the other way,’ she said. ‘Anything connected to Thalssa cannot survive without Thalassa.’
‘Meaning..?’ Evan asked, not understanding.
‘It means, that if you are too deeply connected to Thalassa, you cannot leave. You’d die before you were even out of our atmosphere.’
‘But... you just said that Thalassa did absorb me.’
‘Yes, but not completely. Only so you can survive here. You should be able to leave again, as it is.’
‘Should?’ Evan asked, dreading the answer. Ember looked at him apologetically.
‘It could be we’re wrong,’ she said. ‘It could be you are too tightly connected to Thalassa, and in any case, the longer you stay, the harder it will be to break that connection. So we think we have found a point of balance, but we might be wrong.’
‘But that means...’ Evan realised. Ember nodded.
‘If we are wrong, you will be stuck here.’
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