January 1, 2004

Aetherium Inremeabilis

The snow crackled underfoot as he trudged on wearily. The wind had been biting his skin deeply and painfully for many days now, yet the thought of returning never crossed his mind once. He did, however, stop for a moment to abate some of his thirst. As he drank, he looked up and took in the breathtaking view of his destination. His goal, far above him, was a majestic temple carved out of stone from the top of the mountain. To the villagers below, the temple stood to watch over the lands, and kept them safe from the darkness that had already taken the other half of the world. Pillars of the same stone surrounded the temple in a grand ring, and beautiful, unflinching blue flames topped each one. He took one last swig, and continued on.

Many days later, he arrived at the summit; the massive doors of the temple greeted him as he drunk the last of his water. Two cloaked monks were at either end of the entrance, brushing off snow with expert diligence. They bowed as he moved past them, and continued on their task.

He came upon the steel doubledoors of the temple, and with his walking cane, rapped on it three times. Far into the distance of its hollows, his knocking echoed, and eventually vanished. Moments later, the doors swung open slowly. The air thundered with the weight of the doors until they screeched to a halt. Inside, an old monk beckoned him to follow. He followed him until they reached a great circular hall. In the center stood a gigantic marble satue of a robed man holding up a golden shield above his head, which completely dwarfed the two men that walked up to it. The old monk stopped before the statue and waved his hand in a circular motion around the room, inviting the man to walk where he wished.

He looked on as the monk waved his hand, and found that the room was circled with multicolored orbs that hovered above intricately carved alabaster pedestals. From a distance, each orb seemed to glow their respective color, and the power that they represented seemed to flow from them. Their energy reached deep into him, and entire waves of sensation took him. He moved to the closest one as though in a trance, and reached out with his senses as he drew ever closer. Tiny points of light formed a perfect circle around it, which seemed to spin faster or slower as his heart beat. Every so often, the beads of light would pulse outward for a moment as they continued their revolution. The orb itself was made of some sort of crystal, and orange hair-thin veins exploded from the center of it. He focused in at the nexus of the veins and saw deep down that the veins were filled with a liqiud that seemed to eternally flow outwards.

In awe, he slowly reached to touch the orb. As his hands came nearer, the points of light each came to a fingertip. Slowly, they multiplied and covered his body. As they passed on to envelop him, the points of light seemed to solidify into a deep amber stone, encasing him in it, making his skin anew. It filled him with a strength so raw he could have moved mountains with a breath, and emptied the heavens with a glance. He closed his eyes as they finished covering him entirely, and instead of falling to darkness, a purely white blinding light consumed his sight.

When the brightness subsided, he opened his eyes again. Before him were vast green plains dotted with the occasional hill. Far in the distace were snowcapped mountain ranges, their peaks disappeared into the clouds above, the truest wall of stone that protected those which mattered most. A wide and quiet river ran behind him, which sparkled magnificently with the light of the sun. He knelt down on the bank and drank the sweet, clear water, and was instantly purged of all worry and pain. He splashed some of the water on his face, and felt cleaner than he had been for the past few years. He looked up and smiled at the jade-green crystalline forest that lay on the other side. They swayed gently with the wind, creating a hum and chime more beautiful than any music in all the galaxies.

He was finally home, and all was right once again.