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Enlightenment:

The Awakening of the Awakening

                               Jonathon Pierce

The Corridor extended behind Debbie, but Bronson was not concerned with his priceless collection; he was dumbfounded that his most priceless treasure had been returned to him. Bronson perused the young girl, examining every angle and curve with his appreciative eye. He smiled at his love, and walked toward her: arms outstretched. Retreating backward to avoid those arms, she nervously returned his smile. His eyes spoke to her of passion; hers only reflected fear. Just be cordial, Taft had told her. Cordial, nothing, the barwoman thought, if he lays one hand on me, I'll kill him.

Bronson advanced another step, pressing her up against Eve's glass enclosure. He licked his lips and smothered her in a breathless kiss. Debbie, my beloved Debbie, how long have I waited.

Unfortunately for Bronson, the barlady had had enough. She gathered all of her strength and slapped him across his face. Bronson immediately retreated three steps to rub his jaw. "Debbie, now could you do this to me?"

The woman, who obviously had not participated in any hanky-panky for decades, said the first thing that came to her mind, "I'm not THAT type of girl." She stared coldly at Bronson and turned her nose up in the air.

Suddenly, Bronson seemed to notice that the Ralle'an Debbie was quite unlike his own sweet, precious Debbie. "Well, then, my dear. I guess that we will just have to play a little game. It's called Living Statues." Bronson Colt Randolf, deprived of his love, shed one quick tear. He had lost a lover but gained another specimen for his collection.

Bronson turned his attention to Iffley. One brief thought released him from his hold. "And now, mighty Enchanter. I have a task for you. Remember your promise."

"I do not recall any promise," Iffley said contritely.

"Well," Bronson began, "if you don't do as I say, then I shall have to kill Asiel. You wouldn't want that to happen now, would you?" Iffley made no response, so Bronson concluded the matter for himself, "I didn't think so." He reached up and removed the Amulet from Eve's lovely, white neck. He shoved the Key at Iffley. "Your task will be to defend me. I suggest that you don't try to use that Key on me, for if you do, then Asiel's life will be forfeit."

Iffley paused a moment. "Protection? From whom am I to protect you?"

"We are going to Earth, my boy, there is one small town that seems to have survived the Radiation Demons. It seems that Destiny calls."

*  *  Yon Legend  *  *

Now, as it Once Happened, I have recorded accurately and precisely the verity of Yon Legend.

"The Future beckons us all," Phumos once said, and I certainly believed her. Past slipped from memory as Time marched onward. Present seemed only to linger about for an instant, then it, too, disappeared. Only Future remained to tantalize the mind; only Future never died. And so, Future called out to the Wizards, but only Phumos and myself answered his call.

Future coerced us to mix our Power, revealing his nature, for Future truly wanted to be free. He described to us the dawning of a New Age, and the destruction of the Old. The Key to the beginning of the New, lay in the Absorption of the One. The One, whose Powers would almost surpass those of the Wizards themselves, would Unite, and then be one. Protected by the Ambiguous Key and the Restorer, the One would travel to the Undying City, and procure the Flame. With the Flame, the One would seek out Univ Huton, and would only then achieve a true Awakening, for Yon Legend would be complete.

These words have I written through Foresensing, the greatest gift of Future. And now, Phumos and I have truly understood what is to come--The Awakening of the New Age.

*  *  Foresight  *  *

"Look about you," Bronson commanded soon after they had appeared in the desolate Domain. "This is Toth Narvil, the only city--with the exception of the City of Remembrance--that survived the Radiation Demons. Do you know what this means? I shall achieve great power here!" Bronson fished in his tunic and produced a thin parchment scroll.

Iffley unrolled the scroll and began to read. "Where did you get this scroll?"

"It just appeared one day." Bronson retorted unconvivially." I only wanted you to understand your function here. You are to protect me. Yon Legend cannot be changed. You will have to obey me."

"How am I supposed to protect you? The Amulet can only be used by a woman, you know this as well as I."

"Must I explain everything to you? You have the Ring. It will permit you to use the Amulet." Bronson said confidently, "Why else do you think that I would let you keep it? Now, go ahead and try it. And remember, Great Restorer, no tricks."

Iffley nodded and experimentally zapped a small rock with a powerful laser. The rock shattered, sending little fragments scattering across the ground. He then created a small hologram resembling Quiffy. It jumped and jiggled and cooed, stopping only when Iffley stopped concentrating. Lastly, he felt the presence of Bronson, Key in hand, with the amethysts. Iffley now understood Adena's affection for the Key. It was very powerful. "I can make it function, but only Adena actually knows all of its Powers."

"Good." Bronson led his protector into the walled city where they immediately found a sentry. The sentry led the pair to his leader, Aridax Tollfin, Bane of the Dark.

"I need the Flame," Bronson said bluntly.

"I am sorry that I cannot acquiesce, gentlemen, but the Argent Flame is the only protection Toth Narvil has against the Creatures of the Night." He noticed the pair's uncomprehension and exclaimed, "Creatures of the Night are Demons. They are nocturnal, coming out only at night to prey on the unprotected. The only thing that they fear is the Argent Flame. It is the sole protection of the city. The Radiation Demons tried to destroy us, but the Night Creatures killed them before they could. The Nocturnals guard something deep within their caves, something powerful. I have tried numerous times to reach their treasure, but even with the Flame, I have failed.'

"And now, you will give the Flame to me."

"I am sorry, but only I can use the Flame, and I will not permit its use for personal gain."

"Then, Mr. Tollfin, you shall have to be neutralized." Bronson thought swiftly, and the Bane of the Dark stopped all motion. Bronson turned to Iffley, "Okay, Suralio, lead me to the Flame."

Iffley had wanted to protest but could not. If he had had his Sceptre, then he could have teleported to safety, but, with only the Amulet, Bronson would surely defeat any attempt to escape. Iffley shrugged and let his mind flow through the Amulet. Soon, after a myriad of corridors, they stood before the Argent Flame, its silver-white light nearly blinding them.

"Well," Bronson said, "What are you waiting for? Get the Flame and let's get to Univ Huton."

"I believe that you heard Aridax state that only he could make the Flame function." Iffley replied coldly.

"Why do you always fight Power, Enchanter? The Ring will enable you to use the Flame. Only you comprehend its full uses, because only you have had it for any length of time. I know that practice makes perfect, and Iffley, you have had the most practice with the Ring. So...What are you waiting for?"

Iffley nodded and took the Flame from its pedestal. The Flame flared brilliantly, but now, Iffley was immune to it; Bronson, however, had to shield his eyes. Iffley told himself that he was only borrowing the Flame, and that he would return it later. Still, his conscience bothered him.

As they quickly left the city, Iffley noted Bronson's seemingly easy ability to paralyze any opponents. Iffley silently wondered how many people were still left untouched. They quickly approached the cave housing the Nocturnals. The Amulet shone brightly, its purple light mixing with the argent glare. The Amulet was locating Univ Huton, and something else--Demons.

The cave was dark and deep, but the Argent Flame lit the way. They continued deeper into the bowels of the earth, the Amulet pointing their most direct route. The Demons were afraid of the Flame, staying in the comforting shadows and snarling at the intruders. As the One and the Restorer approached Univ Huton, the Demons realized that they had to protect their prize. Quite unexpectedly, they attacked. Bronson halted the first few, but could not concentrate on the whole. Lasers arced through the air, scoring on the Demons, dropping them in their tracks. The Keys, however, were not killing their foes, they were only temporarily stunning them.

One Demon strayed too close to the Flame, and Iffley touched him with it. The Demon howled uncontrollablely, and turned to ash. Iffley then ignored the Amulet's defenses, only relying on It to locate the Demons, and used the Argent Flame to destroy the closest enemies. Another Demon tried to attack the pair from the rear. The Amulet forewarned Iffley, and the Demon died quickly. Iffley realized why Tollfin had failed, the Demons had attacked him from the rear, and he had barely escaped. Without the Amulet, the Flame could only protect one side, while the other sides would be open for covert attacks.

Embittered, the One and the Restorer fought ahead, until they reached the chamber. The Demons had failed to protect their prize, so they hastened to escape the wrath of their Masters.

Iffley stepped into the cavern and stared at Univ Huton. It was the largest computer that Iffley had ever seen. It was even larger than PUTR, and, Iffley was sure, more complex. Immediately Iffley knew that he was correct, for it spoke:

AT LAST! THE ONE HAS COME TO BE JOINED WITH ME.

Bronson stared as Yon Legend became fulfilled, "What do you want from me?"

I WANT FROM YOU WHAT YOU WANT FROM ME. POWER. YOU ARE MY

KEY TO SUCCESS. COME CLOSER, OH,POWERFUL ONE. WE SHALL BE

ONE. DROP YOUR KEY, YOU WILL NO LONGER NEED IT.

Bronson dropped the Tiara and stepped closer to Univ Huton. A transparent sphere descended and enclosed around him. Bronson's mind exploded with the knowledge of the universe, allowing him to experience sensations beyond perception. Finally, Bronson understood the true meaning of Enlightenment. His heart was opened, and he understood the abstract ideas of Compassion, Love and Selflessness. Even as he grasped these ideas, they slipped from him. Their knowledge was too powerful. he struggled to remain in control, but Yon Legend was too strong. Bronson realized that his life was purposeless without power. Something within him snapped, and he lost his sanity.

AT LAST IT IS DONE: WE ARE ONE.

The bubble dissolved, and so did Univ Huton. The cavern melted away, leaving Iffley and the Tiara alone on the Domain's plain. Iffley wondered if it all had been an illusion, but the presence of the Tiara dispelled that theory. Iffley stared at the Key, refusing to take it, as if the Key were some vital evidence in a homicide.

Three figures appeared before him. Iffley immediately recognized them as the Historians. "All is as it was Foreseen," Shine said confidently.

"Would someone please explain all of this? What happened to Yon Legend and Bronson?"

"Patience, Restorer. Yon Legend never existed. It was simply an illusion placed in your mind to bring you here." Beam responded.

"And what of Bronson?"

"He perceived the same illusion. His obsession for Power destroyed him. He has not died, but is far from any rational action. We will take good care of him until he dies," Beam said cautiously.

"Perhaps we owe you an explanation, Restorer." Light said. He nodded and the three Historians began to glow. Iffley hid his eyes from the light until it subsided. In the Historians' place stood three new figures. "We are, Keybearer, the last of the Wizards."

Phumos, who once was Shine, said. "Bronson became so Powerful, that he threatened our existence. We had to join forces and eliminate the threat."

"And so you tricked me into helping you destroy Bronson's mind?" Iffley asked incredulously.

"We did not try to harm him." Excho stated. "We simply showed him the Truth: Bronson finally saw his true reflection."

"And you knew that the Truth would destroy him!" Iffley shouted.

"All was Foreseen." Phumos lowered her eyes to the ground, "we told Bronson that the Enlightenment was Selflessness. But we lied." Her gaze met Iffley's, "The only true Enlightenment is the ability to survive. Survival, Restorer--there is only survival. Nothing else matters." Phumos nodded and the trio vanished, leaving Iffley alone on the plain.

Iffley shouted to the mystic winds, but they gave no answer, leaving him all alone on the desolate plain.


 © 1985, 

K. Blaire, L. Charles, D. Conrad, Enad the Great, A. Mann, J. Pierce, B. C. Randolf, and T. G. Taft

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