Colby closed his eyes as he materialized down to the bottom of the Firmament Depths. They were in a large featureless cavern as Eya let out a sigh of frustration.
Azandros is blocking us out from the antechamber… She said. He is almost through, but he will be through before we get in… Let us get working.
Everything was incredibly still, and in Colby's mind, the ultimate clarity bloomed. Colby always imagined the culmination of true clarity at the bottom of the Depths would be a momentous experience he would spend hours getting over, but this… it was different. It was as if finally, his entire life finally made sense, as if everything was completely connected, all facts and knowledge finally connected to the true basis of reality… it wasn't a momentous feeling, just a very calm one, like now he could get back to being the divinity he was before he was born… he sighed and looked around.
Kyle and Kiri were on the floating platform Eya made for them right next to Colby, enjoying the clarity and looking around. Besides them was Georgi. He glowed with energy, and wasn't fully corporeal: Eya had granted him agelessness and some Veldus powers, but didn't have time to fully convert him yet. Next to him was Phoenix, who looked on confidently with his arms behind his back, dressed in regal armor that was entirely red. A Landatee flew around him for a second, and he petted it: he adopted it after they were released from Vel, but he stored in on a digital device so it wouldn't get hurt in the upcoming battle. On their other side stood Sinclair, with his black-stained sword drawn and glowing, and he was dressed in pure white flawless armor, ready to fight. Above them levitated Eya, and besides her, Wen, complete with Wendel's essence. Colby felt Sabrina in Colby's staff, giving him comfort, and knew she was a part of this… They all were here… every living person involved in their journey was here, and it ended here. All around them, in the sky, were countless Veldi, and on platforms all around, were Rolvyno troops, in the millions. They were going to fight…
"Eya." Kyle said.
Yes, Kyle? Eya asked inquisitively.
"I have a question," Kyle said, "And if I'm going to die, I'd like to know before I do."
I will answer it, Eya said, if I know what the answer is.
"What are visions?" Kyle asked.
Eya let off a soft chuckle.
They are human thought. Eya said. Energy willed into being by thinking… whenever one focused on something in the real world, their thought energy goes into it, and the energy leaks out into the Firmament Depths… what they were thinking of, and the thoughts of everyone, can animate it throughout the universe, distant from where it is thought, in a random form, from something humans imagine… They are the byproduct of thought in this universe.
Kyle looked at Kiri, smiling slightly. Kiri laughed and cradled her head.
"So I was right." Kyle said. "Visions do come out of people's heads…"
"I concede defeat." Kiri said. "You win. And… thank you for your friendship, Kyle. It's been quite an adventure."
"Of course." Kyle said, smiling.
The two smiled and Kiri turned to Colby.
"Hey." She said.
The two kissed lightly.
"It has been a journey…" Colby said. "To get this far… If we die tonight, I want you to know I love you."
"As I love you…" Kiri said. "We may not make it out… but I will fight to do such."
Colby smiled, kissing Kiri's forehead, and turned to Kyle.
"Hey." Colby said. "When I shattered that mirror, so long ago, and you nursed me back to health… I never thought that bond would make it down to the Foundational Mound… thank you for this journey."
"You are welcome…" Kyle said. "And thank you. I would not be the man I am without you. You are my best friend… thank you."
The two smiled and they all looked on. Eya however made clinking sounds to gather attention.
Everyone. Eya said. We shall be going down to the Foundational Mound in but seconds. I want you to know that all of you were meant to be here, you were all selected to fight here. I will give you my power, as will the other Veldi. You will get massive increases to any abilities you have… do not worry about anything but killing the Thanatos. If we can kill Azandros before he can revive it, we are in luck, but if not, be prepared for a massive battle. We may not be able to destroy it… But we must try. Colby Sinclair and Sinclair Isadoris, you will lead the strike, use the power you can get out of your staff and sword to do as much damage as you can. Everything boils down to this… fight for your life, and for everything you love.
The world dissipated in a puff of light blue smoke, to a large cavern, large enough to fit the entire army, funneling down to an opening down into a cosmic drop. Colby sensed long distance teleportation didn't work here, and everyone descended down as fast as they could. Going into the cavern, they saw it was… amazing.
It was roughly cylindrical in shape, with jagged, nonsymmetrical edges. At the top, around the hole, which was but a needle prick in it, were stalactites. Colby, swooshing by them, saw that they were at least ten thousand miles long each, years of journeying… But these barely protruded but a single percent down the cave. Down its edges, Colby realized his mind simply couldn't comprehend how big it was. It had a cooler than normal, almost moist feel, which if he was educated on such, Colby would have thought was strange since it should make a sky like atmosphere if it is this large… but, the powers here prevented that. Looking down, he saw the Foundational Mound. It was the biggest thing Colby ever saw, larger than his mind visualized the Firmament Depths were. It stretched over halfway up the cavern, and had a conical shape, with jagged, lumpy edges… Colby realized that as he focused his very, very best, he could see microscopic crevices in it, but he knew that in reality, each was about a year's journey long. It was just too big to make sense, it was cosmically, anciently large… Its bright peach stone glowed somewhat, illuminating the cavern completely, and seemed to have gravity in thought and view that signaled everything was attracted it to it in a way greater than imaginable. Power beyond imagination radiated from it, more than the entire army, the Thanatos, and all creation put together. It was the Foundational Mound.
Eya flew down at thousands of miles per second, but the cavern was still too large to transverse quickly. She displayed a scrying window in front of everything of Azandros standing on the Mound… if he could get around the barriers around it, it stood to reason he could teleport also, with how ever he was doing this. Colby looked at Azandros fiercely, and he looked back, his power sensing them and hearing what they spoke.
"Welcome, my friends." Azandros said, smiling with timeless evil. "I have waited for this moment… forever."
"You monster!" Colby said.
Even Eya fells silent before Colby's rage.
"You complete monster!" Colby screamed. "You have killed so much… but you are just a tool! Don't do this, the Thanatos will destroy you!"
"Oh, will it?" Azandros said. "Is this what it is? That I can just manipulate vision energy? No… I have something much grander to fight for. Something all of you can't even begin to imagine. But… tell me, why do you fight me? What purpose can you possibly have? You have fought through so much… I have killed those dear to you, cursed you, made you miserable, but you fight on with endless determination… what causes this? What, in this deplorable, wretched world, have you found to fight for?"
"I have found," Kyle said, "What friendship and love mean, things you can't even begin to imagine. I will fight to protect that."
"I have found," Kiri said, "What righteousness and justice are, and I will fight to enforce that."
"I have found," Sinclair said, "Redemption and peace, and I can't let you destroy that."
"I have found," Georgi said, "What dreams really mean to become true. As long as one person dreams, I shall fight you."
"I have found," Phoenix said, "What it means to discover the truth… I will kill you, and your lies."
I have found, Eya sad, what it means to find an equal. I will allow everyone that luxury, even if it means my life.
I have found, Wen said, what it means to fight for what is right. I plan to use that against you.
"I have found," Colby said, "the vey meaning of life: to destroy darkness, for Light to triumph over all… Azandros, give this up. You cannot win here. You cannot destroy us. The Thanatos will kill you."
"Oh, oh?" Azandros said. "Is this what you have found in this hideous world? Small, illusions of joy? I will tell you what I have found. I have found nothing. I have found that this world is just as empty and evil as the blackness of the void… There is no meaning. There is no hope. There is nothing to live for… But… What separates me from you fools is that I am not willing to settle for an illusion. I am willing to make a meaning… justice. Justice to this disgusting and incomplete world! I will make a new meaning, one of torturing every living thing, of shattering all happiness, that shall become eternal! I will destroy your happiness! I will destroy everything you live for, everything you strive for, I will reduce it all to nothing! I will show you what true pain is, I will kill every sanctuary… starting with each other."
"And how do you plan to do that?" Colby said. "You can't destroy us all, even with your fragments! And if you repiece the Thanatos, it will just kill you! You can't win, you can't control it!"
Colby saw they were getting close to the bottom, but still about a quarter ways off.
"Oh, I can't control the Thanatos?" Azandros said. "You idiot! Do you have any idea who I am? I am Thanatos! I am not some visionary chosen by it, I am the Thanatos itself! Eya, what you believe you hold is not the Thanatos's mind, it was sealed inside Veronica's ring! All the mind is is a collection of memories, knowledge and constructs, and without a soul, all of that can be duplicated… the Thanatos's soul never was in you, it was in this ring, you got a fake! And its mind was easily duplicated, forming the shattered essence of the Thanatos in it… But it wasn't enough. It couldn't control its power, it could do nothing… What it waited for was a visionary strong enough to access its power, to access every facet of the ring, and rebirth it! The Thanatos was incomplete, so I accessed its power, its shattered mind fused with my own, my mind filling in the blanks of its damage, rebirthing it into one new entity: Azandros Desaun! I am it! I have its soul, my soul, I am the Thanatos! I have its power, its knowledge… Knowledge that was so great that it made you all believe I had an impossible art, that I let you believe since you were all fools anyways! Brilliance to do all the tricks you deemed impossible by a mortal as I have all the Thanatos's wisdom! But it wasn't always this way… I had to earn the ring, it gave me no extra power to do it… contrary to popular belief, I am stronger than any Vailseer or Desaun, in both power and intellect! And but months before you came to me, Colby, after forty-five years of training my powers and accessing the ring, I accessed the final layer, by sweat and blood alone… why? Because I am the greatest Desaun! I am the greatest visionary alive! No, I am the greatest visionary to ever live! And now, you idiotic fools, I shall repiece its body… my body! To gain its power, to control it as my mind should, to become the Thanatos once more, as I have the power to do! And my essence, my soul, is stronger than the Thanatos's, I shall have even more power! But now… I, Azandros, have the desire to enslave all… and I have the creativity to do it! I am not willing to settle with the compromises the Thanatos made… It's mind has gone supernova, into a new form, even wiser, more powerful, more hateful, than it ever was before! I shall be the greatest being alive, I have the power to control the Kronos, to command all darkness, and obliterate everything that stands in my way. So, let us begin! Behold, the timeless monstrosity, the unlimited power, your end… I, Azandros-Thanatos!"
Azandros threw his hands out, and yellow mist erupted from the Foundational Mound, the final Thanatos fragment… Azandros didn't control it by projecting energy over it, but rather, moving it himself, an extension of his own body, to congeal… The strike team was just getting in striking distance when the mist congealed to a yellow orb, that crystalized into the final Thanatos fragment, and shot to Azandros. He levitated his other four… the red one, gotten in his drilling at Yarus, the blue one, where Sabrina died fighting it, the green one, where he cursed Colby and Kiri, and the black one he broke out of Rolvyno… and this final one, arriving at the others, the yellow one… they all flew into him, and he smiled, glowing with power.
Azandros exploded. Into a raging black torrent of darkness, turning into a massive black mass, larger than the whole army, like a cyclone of black thunder clouds, tormenting in a circle…
You will never destroy me! Azandros thundered. I am the greatest darkness, I shall destroy you all!
The entire team broke into formation, and released every facet of their power. Azandros, the massive cloud, released an endless wave of blackness, dissipating all of the attacks and slamming into the army. Everyone flew every which way, screaming out as impossible force smashed them across the arena. The entire army, disarrayed, and Azandros, struck. Beams of black lightning, a mile thick each, slammed into a Veldus each, obliterating them completely in but a second. Black missiles shot out, wiping out a hundred soldiers each. The army was given a major blow instantly…
Colby and Sinclair fell next to each other, and using the power of their pure visions, levitated. They nodded and flew off in different directions, to opposite sides of the Thanatos. Colby shot forward, his staff glowing with energy. He and Sinclair slammed down into it, releasing more power than Colby, Kyle and Kiri released in every single way across their entire lives to this point. The explosions blasted up against the Thanatos, completely unscathed. Kyle and Kiri, receiving the power of the Veldi, together attacked. Kyle formed eight ten mile wide metal blades and pierced them forward, while Kiri fired enough force to blast apart the rocks of the Depths for a three mile radius. The attacks skittered off the Thanatos's exterior, doing nothing at all. Georgi, releasing his full power as ten thousand energy blasts of great power, and Phoenix, releasing his full fire as empowered by the Veldi, enough to melt a tunnel through rock ten miles long, slammed into the Thanatos, doing no visible damage. Eya and Wen looped around each other. Eya fired more power than she ever had in her battle with Vel, and Wen released into existence bombs that released just as much power, both hitting Thanatos and doing nothing. More missiles and lightning bolts thinned the allies quickly.
Colby and Sinclair whirled around again, drawing into the most power they could and slammed down, ten times as powerful as the attacks last time, and Kyle fired blades of metal denser and longer on a factor of dozens, Kiri vastly more powerful blasts, Georgi ten times as many explosions, Phoenix, enough heat to burn a skyscraper in Rolvyno, Eya and Wen, even more force, and the troops and Veldi, all their full power, all at a single point on the Thanatos. The explosion was large enough to encase the whole army, and when it cleared, the Thanatos was unscathed. The group drew more power, the Veldi drawing power from the Foundational Mound and empowering the troops, while Colby and Sinclair gaining more power from their pure visions, and in succession, attacked more and more and more, blasting massive attacks… too much power to grasp… Until Colby and Sinclair, after dozens of hits, drew the power they knew was ultimate. It was even more powerful than the blast that destroyed the Thanatos the first time, in each, and the Veldi and troops fired force beyond imagination, and they all converged on the Thanatos, exploding enough to be visible in the size of the cavern. However, the Thanatos was still alive…
You actually think you stood a chance… Azandros laughed. The Thanatos was a fool. All it did was make shields and absorb the power… Though he had the knowledge to outwit it, he also had the hubris not to. I am smarter… I can dissipate it, divert it, invert it… you cannot destroy me. I offer you mercy, surrender now.
Colby looked on in horror. He couldn't destroy it! It was just too powerful… The Thanatos was impossible to kill. As he did, his faith in his power began failing.
"We will never surrender!" Sinclair yelled for Colby.
Then die well. Azandros said with wicked delight.
Colby saw a lightning bolt headed directly at him. He formed his full power from the staff, but… in this panicked state, he couldn't summon enough strength. The bolt obliterated the shield and sent Colby soaring downwards.
"Colby!" Kyle and Kiri said together.
They flew down to Colby, going out of range of the Veldus's power and becoming simple humans again. Colby used his staff to dissipate his momentum across the fall, just barely stopping himself as he landed on the Foundational Mound, apparently on its exact top. Kyle and Kiri landed the next second. Colby looked up, cringing.
The Thanatos was vastly winning… the infusion of Azandros's mind had greatly strengthened it. It was unstoppable. Veldi exploded each second, and the troops were being ripped apart. Colby clutched his staff.
"Give me strength…" Colby said.
He felt Sabrina's power activate in the staff, and he yelled through it, at Azandros.
"Azandros!" Colby yelled. "Come to me! This is about you and me, Koratarius and Kronos, not them! Destroy me and you have won!"
Sabrina's power carried it all the way to Azandros, and imprinted Colby's exact hatred in his mind. Azandros released a wall of force, blasting the army back, stunning them. A claw of darkness shot down to Colby, scooping him up and pulling him into the cloud. Colby heard an endless hurricane of the blackness whirling around him, the force of just hearing it feeling to be enough to shatter him as ever cell in his body vibrated. He looked forward, seeing the claw attaching to an arm, of Azandros's normal body. The claw shot up to it and morphed back into a hand, holding Colby by the throat, his staff giving him air and energy.
"So, Colby Sinclair…" Azandros said. "You have come to die… I want you to give me your very best final words… to be the last utterance of the age of freedom."
"I will." Colby said. "And my statement is thus… Good-bye, Azandros."
Colby raised his staff up above his head, holding onto it with both arms. Azandros smiled: go ahead, try!
Colby brought the staff down. Instead of going into Azandros, he brought it down on himself. It impaled him through the chest, and he gasped in pain, looking at Azandros with infinite anger.
"Suicide…" Azandros said. "A fitting end to the last of those that resist me…"
Colby welled with power, breaking Azandros's hold on him, as he fell down. Out of the cloud, down the whole length to the Mound. Azandros looked on with wicked delight, then resumed slaughtering the enemy, who were now horribly demoralized.
Colby dissipated his momentum just enough to hit the ground with force. The staff was protruding out his back, but the impact shoved it back up. Kyle and Kiri ran over to Colby, tears in their eyes.
"Colby!" Kiri said, "Don't give up, fight!"
"Don't let him win!" Kyle said, "Let Kiri heal you!"
Colby didn't respond. He gripped the staff. He pushed down. It didn't move. But, he pulled up higher, and pushed down. Harder and harder, drawing power from it to do so, pushing with all his might, until, it shot down. It impaled the mound, and into Colby, and poking out his chest a good few feet. The staff however glowed white. It began to shine so bright it would have incinerated the three if its power wasn't directed not to… The staff met its native ground. It was a plug now in an outlet, connecting directly to the Foundational Mound. Out of it, a ten mile wide beam of energy, glowing blood red, shot out of it, going straight up Azandros-Thanatos. The beam hit him, exploding out, and damaging the Thanatos. The beam was continuous and would have destroyed Azandros in seconds, but, it somehow gained more strength and began pushing back, containing the beam with all its power.
"It's drawing power," Kiri said, "Off the Kronos! That's its strength! Azandros's mind… it is dark enough to connect to ultimate darkness!"
And that darkness shall destroy you all! Azandros thundered. Enough of this! Kronos, destroy them, and blast a big enough hole in the Foundational Mound that this universe will be plunged into chaos forever!
The cavern rumbled. As it did, the ceiling exploded, the Kronos plowing in, bigger than the four thought possible, larger than the width of the cavern, shooting down, Azandros attracting it. In but a minute or so, it would be here… Azandros summoned it, through the shield, to destroy everything…
"Colby, do something!" Kiri screamed.
Colby, coughing up blood, focused.
"Kortarius…" he said. "You have the line to attack… fight…"
Out of Colby shot a ball of white Light, brighter than every light in the battle thus far together. It shot up to Azandros, exploding out. A massive white Light human shape formed, and Azandros became human shaped again and grew to an equal size. The two slammed their fists into each other's chest, their power flowing to each other. Kortarius drew power from the Foundational Mound, and Azandros from the Kronos, and the power manifested as a torrent of white and black slamming into each other. The power was visible easily in the massiveness of the cave, every feature of the two displayed in perfect clarity…
Colby looked up. Kortarius had to win… He had to win this battle! That was the whole point! He was just a carrying vessel, to destroy the Thanatos, but now… the forces were perfectly matched. Even though they drew power from different sources, and the rate and amount of power they could withdraw per second was different, even though a million factors lined up differently, they were exactly the same. Not so much as a quantum string of power was more on either side… the two torrents met and dissipating in a straight, flat line, straighter than anything a Veldus or human could draw or imagine. It wasn't right… they were too evenly matched! Even when they had external resources, their beings matched exactly, the resources were just a manifestation of their own concept… They weren't going to beat each other, they would just be evenly matched till the Kronos got there and killed them all…
Colby wept. It was over. He could do nothing! It was completely over… All of this for nothing… but what could he do? The troops were repelled by the sheer power of the battle, unable to get closer, and he had no vision energy at all to wield… Kiri ran over, weeping also. Colby saw in her face the answer…
"Colby!" Kiri said, falling down to his side. "Colby, listen to me! You're not a manifestation body! You are not just a tool, you are more than that! Kortarius and Kronos… they are evenly matched! They can't win on their own! Why? Because this isn't about two beings of another universe fighting! This is about us! All of us! We are the deciding factors if Light or Dark wins, it is in every human's choice that the fate of the universe is decided! What we do makes a difference, Colby, you make a difference! You are so much more than a tool, you can decide this, you can change this! The world is rebirthed with each choice, and choose to fight! Kortarius needs you! The universe needs you! I need you!"
Colby closed his eyes. These words… He knew them now. Gripping the staff, he launched forward. He was blasted up, his wounds healed, to the battle between the two forces, perfectly and evenly matched. Colby, reaching the battle, launched his hand forward. With every single ounce of his mind, in pure, unending determination, he fired all his power, every ounce he could. But he could not project vision energy on his own… in his ultimate effort, the most force he ever applied in all his life, he fired out a barely enough power to move a dust mote. It fired at Azandros, hitting his side of the torrent and exploding in a spark. Colby began to fall back and screamed as he did so.
The spark blasted away nothing. Visibly. The atomic bombs of the people of the Firmament Depths Universe couldn't make a visible amount of distortion of the two's opposition on this scale of power… But, below what the eye could see, endlessly far below, a small, microscopic bit was destroyed. The endless straight line was bent just ever so slightly… The Kronos tunneled closer and closer, only seconds away.
Kortarius's power just barely made a blip against Azandros's. It disrupted the balance… it just barely did. Kortarius's power made an inch of head way… but, unlike before, it was actually moving forward, for the first time in this war. The imbalance grew. For in reality, the ball had to go down one side or the other, and if it was balanced on an atomically thin tip, any amount of force would do that… The imbalance grew more. And more. And more. Soon, the line was distorted visibly, pushing against Azandros-Thanatos's power. The imbalance grew more and more, the endless infinite, precise, perfect alignment now disrupted. It began tipping forward. It began becoming undone. Kortarius's power slammed against Azandros's, pushing it back farther and farther, until, with a frantic cry of defeat, Azandros's power shattered.
"Light cannot prevail!" Azandros thundered, "Darkness will always exist, destroy one and another will form, on and on forever!"
Kortarius's power impaled Azandros, the Thanatos, and, with a mighty push out, obliterated it. Its energy filtered into Kortarius, meeting its exact and equal opposite, not reducing it to dust, but obliterating it from existence completely, annihilating it permanently. And Kortarius, with endless power, looked up, now not diverted and thus opened the staff, and gained the full power of the Foundational Mound. Kortarius raised his timeless hand, and, from him, his true power released, firing a cosmic beam of unlimited energy, whiter than white, brighter than Light. It slammed into the Kronos's surface, shattering the surface into a massive crater, exploding in a supernova of white Light as the broken energy was erased, and its wounded roar shook all the Depths. It rocketed back up, out of the cavern, the rocks healed, and teleported away, its attempt to destroy the Foundational Mound failing as it ran as far away as it could.
Kiri remotely dissipated Colby's momentum as he felt near the staff, and she caught him, the endlessly bright Light now gone. Kortarius, hovering with a beam of force on him, looked down at Colby, and shot down to the staff, the beam of power from the Mound dissipating as Kortarius flew into the staff. It flew over to Colby, who caught it, Kortarius returning into him. Kyle and Kiri speechlessly walked over to him, and smiled, laughing. They laughed also. Mirth, endless joy, triumph, washed over them and they wept with joy. Azandros was obliterated, the Thanatos gone, the war was over…
The army landed on the mound, all applauding and cheering. Colby saw their numbers were much thinner, but saw Georgi, Phoenix, Sinclair, Eya and Wen among the survivors. No one they knew died… Yet, regardless of that, it was a victory.
Well done, Colby… Eya said, her voice welling with motherly pride. You truly figured out what even Veldi cannot see… You were the answer all along. The keystone, the answer to the battle, the one thing Azandros didn't have… an ally.
"Indeed you did." A voice said. "My precious child… you have secured victory… you are a Titan in your own right."
Out of the Foundational Mound, in the hole Colby made, colors bloomed out, forming a human. He was tall, strong, clean cut, firm, and dressed in black and brown gray robes, with pale fair skin and black hair, and blue eyes and a powerful looking countenance.
Father… Eya said.
"The Foundational Mound." Kyle said.
"The Universe." Kiri said.
The image smiled.
"You have secured victory…" The Universe said. "You have made joy for all… you saved the universe. You saved me. I owe you my life… as do all others."
"Sir…" Colby said. "I didn't even get the answer. All I did was launched a grain of sand forth… so many people here gave their lives, but all I gave was just a push, that everyone else held me up to do… without them I would have done none of this."
"You are wise, Colby." The Universe said. "You truly have figured it out… no person in any universe, not even myself, can claim full credit for whatever they have done… everything we are able to do is a gift given by the generosity of another, given to them by another, and so on, tracing back to the First Gift… You have figured that out an eternity sooner than most. So, yes, you alone did not do it. But in you, are the pieces of everyone that has touched you, and in turn, everyone that touched them… when I thank you, I thank every noble and righteous deed in all universes, come to fruition through you.
"What you have done in your journey… when you were the inexperienced boy up on the surface, you started your steps down in a never ending quest to become a better man. You have grown. Time has flown. What used to be is no longer the same. You are a new man. You have grown in strength… so many more people have touched you, and you carry the essence of so much in you… It is by that, that the Thanatos and Azandros failed. And, it is because of that, Kortarius chose you above all other humans as his host… but you are not complete. What you carry is only a third… You must find the others. But, to do that, you must first… become who you truly are. Colby, Kyle, Kiri, your journey is not done yet. It has not even begun… you have achieved victory, and reached true enlightenment, and, now that victory must be left to mature… Your minds must birth into something new. They must become one, and ferment into the true form you are to be… I send you upon another quest. To become the true host of Kortarius. I send you on a timeless journey… I command you back here. And, you shall start your journey on the surface. Come back here… and you shall meet your destiny."
Colby looked up, smiling.
"We understand." Colby said. "We are ready."
In the most elegant and gentle white smoke, the universe dissipated, and the three were back on the surface, looking up cavernous giant pocket it was, at the bottom of a million mile wide gap to the stalactites of the caverns above, visible even here… the three looked around, feeling what felt like clinical madness bloom in their heads, as fog and disorder bloomed up, there being no clarity at all…
"Well…" Colby said. "We have to start the real journey…"
"That's it?" Kyle said, "Defeat the Thanatos, then just start walking?"
"New adventures await." Kiri said. "Ones that will dwarf this one…"
"Let's go where we always go…" Colby said.
"Down!" the three chorused.
So they walked down. For hours, calming down from the battle, and after a while, set the Eya pebble in a crevice and teleported back to her, celebrating the victory for days. However, they went straight back to the pebble, stepping behind it as to not go a step further without walking it, and continued on. For days. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, months into years, years into decades, decades into centuries… Thousands of years later, they reached the city of Orik, and Eya's chamber… Phoenix passed on well before then, surrounded by friends on his own terms, and Georgi became a true Veldus, and Sinclair became the leader of Rolvyno, and expanded its alliance out… Sabrina's energy was expended fully and her essence was released as the three wished her a fair journey in the next life. Centuries turned into millennia. Wars were fought, the three saving the universe, slaying evil Veldi, battling cosmic forces, refining their skills… And all the while, a new clarity bloomed. Their minds settled into a new form, connecting in new ways, becoming a brighter force and stronger and more whole…
Millennia turned into eons. And, when each step of Colby's thousand year life until meeting the Foundational Mound turned into a year, Kyle fell ill. He received an illness that could not be cured, by Eya or Sinclair or any force… And, as he died, Colby and Kiri absorbed his mind, his soul, his full essence, into themselves. They became Colby-Kyle and Kiri-Kyle, Kyle living on in them to the fullest degree possible, becoming one with them and thus in essence not dead in the slightest. And so the two adventured on. In this time, Sinclair Isadoris passed on, finally receiving rest after unifying the entire universe to one government. They went on journeys, for centuries, for millennia, each, living lives and joyously living, but, at the end of each, they went back to where they left their pebble, and walked on.
Twenty times their current life to this point later, Kiri began to destabilize as a living vision, and none could save her. So, Colby, with infinite love, absorbed her, and the Kyle in her, the three becoming one person. Rather than naming themselves Colby-Kyle-Kiri, they simply took up the name Sinclair, to honor their old friend, and for Colby's last name, which had so long ago become his and Kiri's last name, and Kyle took it up also just as long ago as his brother… They became Sinclair.
Endless journeys went on and on. Time passed on, and on… the point where Kiri was absorbed was but less than halfway of their journey, and this Sinclair, Colby, Kyle and Kiri as one and thus never to be confused with Sinclair Isadoris whose tales ended long ago, journey on and on, so endlessly far down… Adventures were had, saving the universe, saving other universes, doing incredible things, and Eya, Georgi and Wen became his only true companions, still alive after all this time… Until, time beyond imagination later, Sinclair came to the antechamber to the Foundational Mound.
Sinclair had enough power to teleport all the way down, and the wisdom to get around the shields… He had such endless joy, such knowledge, from such endless journeys, more than a thousand human brains could hold, in his amaranthine telepathic brain… The journey had been completed, over five trillion years later… Sinclair smiled, falling down the pit… falling for days, for weeks, for months, for years, sustaining himself with visionary powers… This entire time, he closed his eyes in perfect peace… With each step thus far, he felt his mind solidify, become more whole, and soon, he felt that finally, the final pieces of his mind were getting close to merging… each buffet of air jostled them closer, and he felt that at this point, his entire mind would be completely solid, one identity, finally enlightened enough to connect to Kortarius… Though, by now, that idea and memory had long been faded too far into the consciousness. He knew himself as Sinclair, and no one else. He felt as if they were a micron away for the past thousand years. But, finally arriving at the Foundational Mound, and stopping the momentum, Sinclair felt that the light tap of his feet against the ground finally jostled them into place. His mind was complete… the perfect clarity of the bottom of the Firmament Depths matched by the perfect peace within. The Universe formed out of the hole put there so long ago, in a journey he no longer remembered… Sinclair leaned on his staff, smiling. He had walked, by foot, without aid from vision energy or teleportation, from the surface of the Firmament Depths Universe to the bottom, every single micron in between being traversed.
"Hello, Master…" Sinclair said. "I have waited so long for this moment… I do not even remember why I journey. But, the joy I have shared… it is complete. I regret nothing…"
"My precious child…" the Universe said. "You made it. You had a journey, so long ago, that you fought against a Darkness, that you carry a Light that is foundationally opposed to it… You journeyed as three people, but now you are one… Most would weep that this journey has been forgotten, but… it is now part of you, sealed away in your memory, fully part of you and your strength… the lessons you learned, the ideas you gained, are so perfectly absorbed, that you no longer need the memories. But the memories would interrupt what would come next. There are some people you must meet. You have a destiny on you. To make a new world… to destroy the darkness… You must journey on, and I promise, the memories of what you have shared are not long in coming. Someday you shall remember all you have forgotten, that journey included, and learn much you never knew. It is your destiny. You are ready to meet the others. You are now whole, and free… You have technology, you gained so long ago, that has allowed you to leave the boundaries of this universe. Use it exactly where I shall send you, and you shall meet your destiny."
"I understand, Master…" Sinclair said. "I am glad to have completed this journey."
"Farewell, Sinclair." The Universe said. "You shall visit again, do not hesitate to do so, but now, your future… begins."
Sinclair dissipated in a strangely familiar elegant and gentle white smoke, and appeared in front of a wall of black metal, at the end of a narrow tunnel. Sinclair knew that this was adamant, the metal exterior of the universe, that was indestructible to any form of matter or energy, but, certain technologies can be acquire across the trillions of years to get through… Sinclair summoned the device, and the metal bent around him, and he shot forward with vision energy, shooting through the thousands of miles around the exterior of the universe in seconds with his now huge power… until he slowed, and finally, he broke through into something new.
It was just barely larger than twenty or thirty feet in diameter, and like a seed, an oval shape with pointed edges on top and bottom and silver metal walls. Metal scaffolding filled the room, giving it multiple levels, and was covered in furniture and technology and decorations, looking very homey… in the exact center of the room, was a floating, glowing ball of white Light, illuminating the room. However, two people were in it. One was a tall, strong looking man with black hair and a fierce gaze, and the other a professional, distinguished looking woman in formal clothing and with hazel hair. They were talking happily, but upon looking at Sinclair, immediately went at attention, raising their hands.
"Who are you?" The man said. "How did you get here?"
"We are prepared to fight for this space!" The woman said.
"I am Sinclair." He said. "I mean you no harm… I was just coming through here."
"This," the woman said, "Is the intersection of three universes. It is only twenty or so feet in diameter, the odds of you coming here, in the quadrillions of miles of space, are impossible."
"Well," Sinclair said, "Maybe I am just exactly where I should be… Who are you? I mean you no harm. If you cannot deal with me being here, I will leave."
The two calmed down somewhat at this.
"I am Vyross." The man said.
"I am Eponine." The woman said. "What universe are you from?"
"The Firmament Depth Universe." Sinclair said.
The two turned excitedly to each other.
"He's from the third!" Eponine said. "I'm sorry, I'm from the Shimmering Lights Universe, and Vyross here is from the Golden Skies Universe… you must tell us of the other universe! We cannot go into it yet…"
Sinclair smiled. He could tell the three of them got along well. He couldn't tell why. It reminded him of something, so long ago the he felt as if he just remembered them now for the first time, of a man named Kyle and a woman named Kiri, that he instantly just clicked with… like they were fragments of the same person. Sinclair walked forward, discussing his findings as the two giddily listened on.
Inside each of them, Kortarius smiled. The pieces could not simply reattach so easily as puzzle pieces, but, this place was the answer… A future was before them. A new journey was going to begin… Something incredible. And as it raged in space with infinite hatred, Kronos felt the union beginning…
This was where one journey ended. Colby Sinclair, Kyle Duvall and Kiri Vailseer ended their journey here… and Sinclair, finally solidified as his new self, all three of them in one, started his journey. A universe would be formed… a war would be fought... and the fate of everything, once again, would be decided. The cycle began again… Sinclair had no idea what adventures these two friends would bring for him. Discussing the most basic things of his life didn't seem like a grand beginning. But, then again, getting wounded shattering a vision energy mirror wasn't his ideal start for the journey to save the universe… He really didn't know what the future held. He couldn't tell in the slightest… This wasn't the moment for finales of resolutions, because, it was just the start, where it was all questions, and no answers… But he sensed something was going to happen, something amazing… What, he didn't know, but…
He was going to find out.
Thus finishes the Depths, concluding the story in full, and, the journey of the other two people in there will be chronciled in the Lights and the Skies, and their adventures together (thus revisiting this universe) in the Convergance, all of which are finished and will be posted appropriately.
The Depths took me 72 days (about 10 weeks or two and a half months) to write, which was about twice the time it took me to write most novels before that. Originally started as a on and off again project with no real plot or scale or end game in mind as purely a means of distracting me from the Forbidden Memory Series and the fact that I felt like I couldn't write any more, I worked on it very slowly until May 2014 when I explosively finished the last three chapters in 3 days, and thus reignited my passion for writing. While I always knew of the three universes around the Forbidden Memory Universe (my master project), it wasn't until I truly got into this story that I desired to make the Founders Saga, and a book for each. Thus, in many senses, I owe the entire fact that I can write again to this book.
Though I am almost never any degree happy with any of my works, and this one is no exception, I still am satisfied with what I accomplished and it remains a fond book in my mind. Eya was my favorite character to write, along with Azandros (of which his "why is everyone around me an idiot" mentality was very enjoyable to relay). Overall, being a break from the style and rhythm of my writing, it is very different than the classic sci-fi I occupy myself with and is the black sheep of the Founders Saga, but, nonetheless, I consider it a member in its own right and a prelude to the other three books that shall be posted in the coming months.
I pray you enjoyed the work and (constructive) reviews are very appreciated, and, keep an eye out for the Lights and the Skies, all very different and new stories, but, written in the same style of those here, and, all relating together in the Convergence, which deals with Kronos, Kortarius, their origins, the nature of the three universes and why the room they are now standing in will become the setting of an even grander epic. Read on!