4. The Terms of an Oath
Trish didn't dare to try and listen. Instead, she leaned against the opposite wall with her arms folded tightly. Alice was a frightened young woman, and in truth it upset her to see that.
But there were truths that far outweighed a normal, mortal life. Dating, and sports and television. They all seemed so mundane compared to the knowledge of the Court. Knowledge that Alice would soon be privy to. She knew a little – she had already been chosen after all – but she did not know of the Court's purpose yet.
She wondered about Caspian too. Would the infamous young Sephira prove to be a boon or a bane to Alice? It would all depend on the exact terms of Erebus' Gnostic Oath. She feared the worst. What was Nyx up to?
Trish moved further away from the door, pacing down the corridor, and pulled out her phone. She dialled a contact named only X in her contact list.
Trish raised an eyebrow wryly. Such a beaming welcome.
"Any updates on Caspian's actions?"
There was silence for a moment, and Trish knew something had happened.
"What is it?" she asked dryly.
"He has the tablet. The fifth."
She was not surprised, but the notion itself held much gravity. So he had acted. The wheels were in motion. Caspian was a dangerous one. No wonder Alice had been chosen so diligently by Erebus.
After all, Nyx and Erebus had once been husband and wife…
"Very well, Pandora. You will shed your name, and much of your previous life. And by the same token you will gain much power."
She held her breath for a moment as a column of flame burst up in front of her. Despite her shock, she could feel no heat. The air around the perfect pillar of fire seemed to shimmer and distort.
"Walk through the flames, enter the breach. You will hear your Oath within. Only pass through when you are ready."
The words were decisive but experienced. She was ready, and even if she wasn't, she had to do this for her friend. The first step was the hardest. Her feet felt slow and lethargic as she neared the flames. As she got closer the ambers and reds slowly cooled, shifting to blues and greens. Her heart thundered. Closing her eyes, Pandora stepped into the flames.
The experience was immediate. The flames moved, the pillar morphing into a cylinder that surrounded her. She was now standing in the eye of the storm. The air was cool against her skin, and she felt different somehow. Lighter.
"Pandora, Daughter of Man."
She gave a start at the words. They were eerily resonant. Not quite complete, but ghostly in their audibility.
"Know that you are only the seed of the Lemurians. The children of the stars. The great ancestral race. Earth is but a fledgling realm. New born."
The words took a moment to sink in. Her skin still felt strangely dry and cool. The Lemurians. She stifled a small gasp. The voice was telling her that humanity were the descendants of another race. If she weren't shrouded in a pillar of fire in a darkened office block, she probably would have passed out.
"Know that you can wield great power, passed to you by your ancestors, subsequently discarded by man for industry and war."
She knew of the power…some humans had not forgotten completely. Her grandmother had been a practising witch. And her own research had told her much about the secret societies of the human race, the freemasons and other hermetic groups that were still in tune with the universal lores.
"Know that you are Pandora, Sephira of the Court of Gods, bound by your Gnostic Oath. You will follow the orders of the Court, and complete all tasks within your physical limitations. The Court seeks the artefacts of the Old Masters. The Court seeks to bridge the gap between humanity and the children of the stars."
The more she heard the voice, the more lifeless it became. It was a voice that knew little of humanity. It only understood the cold realities of the universe; humans were ants beside a sun.
"And in return, the Court offers its mortal Sephira the completion of their desire. Your childhood companion. Fellow Sephira of Nyx, Nuit, She of the Night. Caspian. We will help with his pain."
She breathed more calmly, a smile creeping onto her face. It was all she wanted. He had tortured himself for too long, and she feared the outcome of his quest for revenge. If her Oath could cure him of his lifelong agony, her ordeals would be worth it.
The flames pulled into her, still lacking heat, but there was a unique intensity all the same. It felt like a light jolt of electricity circulating her body. Her fingers and toes twitched as the flames seemed to fold into her. Waves of light spilled out of the darkness. Her senses felt keener. She thought she could hear Trish's boots out in the corridor.
When the darkness was full again, she breathed and looked to the figure in the corner.
"And so it is done, Pandora."
She nodded, and spoke slowly, "the voice I heard…was that the voice of a Lemurian?"
Why did no one know anything? She was sick of the mystery. It had only been two weeks since she had first been contacted. Before that she had just been a part time admin assistant, going about her life like any other. Well, she thought, that wasn't strictly true. Her grandmother had been a practising witch, and had gifted her a deck of tarot cards at a young age. Her life had always been blessed with a little magick.
Trish had turned up at her apartment one day, stating she knew where Caspian was. That had gotten Alice's interest, for sure. She had known Caspian since she had been a little girl. They had been neighbours back then. And as much as she disliked admitting it, she loved him with all her heart. He was like an older brother to her – the brother she never had.
And now she was here, as a Sephira. The human charges of the Court of Gods. An organisation she still knew so little about, though the flames had spoken of their ancestors. Were the two related? All she knew was that Oaths could be made with the Court, and in turn, the Court coveted the works and artefacts of human sages and mystics.
Caspian had been a Sephira for a long time. Ever since the day he had gone missing.
"Caspian may call you," Erebus suddenly said, "he will be aware of your metamorphosis. He may be given your contact details. Do not answer the phone to him. Not yet."
Her eyes widened. She hadn't heard his voice in so long.
"Now return home, and prepare for the morning. A taxi will pick you up at seven AM, and you will change residency to begin your training."
Change residency? She decided to remain quiet and simply nodded. The journey home was quiet, even when Trish tried to ask her about the ritual. She could only think of one thing – Caspian's knowledge of her existence.
In a London apartment, the phone rang. It rang, and rang, until a voice spoke over the answering machine. In the corner of the room, a young woman watched from the shadows, but she did not move to pick up the phone.
She didn't go by the name Alice anymore. Not now. Not after… Finally, his voice stopped, and the phone beeped, screen glowing to display the missed call. She turned breathlessly into the darkness. Her fingers released, and from her hand a tarot card tumbled to the floor. She stopped, bending down to pick it back up.
On its face sat a regal woman, living by the rites of the blade. The Queen of Swords.
"Caspian," she whispered, knowing she could not cry.
There was much to do, and she was quickly running out of time. She scurried into her bedroom, a suitcase splurged open on the bed, and began to pack.
A/N: So Alice/Pandora is off to a school type setting to learn the type of magick Caspian has been practising. Next chapter we shall return to Caspian as he arrives back in London and is partnered up with an amusing fellow Sephira for a new mission.