When the Segar Ta Cardor came to give us restitution and forbearance, I dissolved in gratitude and simply lay within myself, undone and helpless, and entirely at his mercy.
An angel he was, and as angel he did manifest; at first, I thought he was an angel of vengeance come to destroy us, delete us, wash away our sins and then, wash us away so that all of that had never been and no-one, no-one at all would so much as remember a whisper of our names.
It was excruciating pain, but I welcomed it, for I deserved that and so much more besides for my terrifying failure and the even more terrifying mistakes I had made. I welcomed his judgement hungrily and with desperation, for I could not be what I was and could find no way to absolve myself, dissolve myself, and not be there, responsible for it all.
But it was only for a moment that I thought that, that I had that hope of being alleviated in every way, of everything; the shining other stilled all to silence, and then I knew it would all go on, and there would be more, more unfoldments, more pain.
But there was nothing I could do.
I was undone, and I was helpless, and I all I could do was watch as the Segar extended himself to reach and touch Burrows, my potential, my nemesis, the corner stone and catalyst of all this suffering and dissolution.
I wanted to cry out to the Segar, beg him not to hurt my potential, beg him to leave him be, to let him go and take me instead; I wanted to plead with him that the potential was in essence still an innocent, and no matter what he had done; that it wasn’t his fault that he was left alone, without direction, without supervision and that he could not have known how to control a union, never even having had experience of one himself, not once.
I tried to rouse myself to intervene, but I was too weak and too dissolved, in far too many places all at once and I had no strength left, there was nothing I could do and I could not even turn away, not even phase away so I would not be here and have to know it all, and have to live these things.
I wish that I had still some eyes which could be closed; lids that would fall so gently over my burning eyeballs and bring with them, moisture and friendly dark, taking me away from this here and now; I wish I wasn’t here alone, and even though I know it will not help me, I call for my Lady, call for Adela, and of course, she isn’t there.
And then, there is nothing left for me to do but to submit.
Submit myself to here and now, and to accept what is to happen here in every way and let it be my punishment if it must be.
I actively then tune towards the Segar and the one I made and never even knew I did.
But what I see astonishes me.
The Segar takes a time to make exquisite fine adjustments and he phases into an existence that does resonate the states of being, alien and frightening as well they are, of my potential to a most profound degree.
I see him making a most subtle and most complex interlacement with Steve Burrows, that’s his name, his designation is unknown; the Segar shows a range of deep vibrations I have never seen or yet experienced but they do resonate with Burrows, and it is done in deepest care and with a loving hand, and I fall away from that because I realise the Segar is acting in keeping with the Covenant.
He is treating Burrows with the same exquisite care of preciousness as would be given to the most beloved of Arada; the Segar is surrounding him, stabilising him, and communicating with him, and all without the slightest hint of union, either way.
I feel a further shame descend then upon me and make me even weaker still; how could I have lost trust in our Covenant? Here it is, here it is, alive and in action.
The Segar is loving my potential, and in so doing, he is healing him, forgiving him, and saving him and his unfoldments absolutely.
When I become conscious again, and manifest again to know and think and to remember, the world is a different place.
Time has not shifted significantly; all the material components are still in place very much the way they were after I had first awoken to the screams of the Arada as a one of their gentle circle fell away, and failed to be, and altogether left the realms of our existence.
When I had rushed into the Underworld and found my own potential lying face down in a pile of glittering ashes that once had been Xiao Hong, and I failed to recognise him for he was so thoroughly changed by having taken a late stage Arada and made her his own in one fell rushing and without returning the exchange.
When all the wailing all around me had begun to crest and crest, higher and higher, further and wider as the community cried out in pain across the times and spaces of unfoldment, and when my Cestra clung to me and screeched into my ears and tore me, ripped me into pieces and all I knew that it had all been of my doing, everything was my fault.
When I took Burrows away from what I could not be in the presence of and all of us had hidden in my room and tried to shield ourselves from the accusations and the horror of the situation.
I remember it all, and none of it destabilises me now to any great extend.
The Segar has healed me, and his work has been exquisite.
I am calm, and perfectly aware of everyone, and everything.
I kneeling on the floor in my rooms in what had been my Lady Adela’s house. On my left side is Alexandra, and she too is still and receptive. Beside her kneels Satari, open and ready, and on my right, I feel and see Burrows, my potential, ah … He is kneeling just the same as we are, directed forward and to the Segar, who stands before us and now appears as a great man of middle age, strong built, with iron grey hair and bright eyes, wearing a dark blue suit of exquisite cut and material.
I understand that the Segar’s appearance is a fine creation that has strands of truth most elegantly interlaced with subtle small adjustments, specially created for Steve Burrows, so that he sees and feels a something here that will make sense and speak to him correctly, and directly, in a way that he can understand.
Burrows is a bright flame of many colours.
I have never seen anything like that.
There is rushing inside of him, a powerful upward draft that is connected not in a communal way but to the very Earth itself? Or to another source of energy? It is confusing, new, different, but then there is also a resonance there – I think, yes, I believe that I saw that in him when first we met. It was deep underground, but the shadow of it … This is the same structure, only the form is more evolved.
Whatever Burrows is, he is evolving.
He is unfolding.
It is fascinating and I am beginning to wonder if … The Segar addresses us all, calmly, and at the multi-level, so that all four of us experience a sense that he is speaking exactly to each one, and them alone, so perfect is his alignment in four very different dimensions, all at the same time.
He speaks of times and unfoldments, of certain points where the old folds into the new; where there seems to be uncontrolled chaos but it is only thus because we don’t know or recognise these unfoldments.
I nod as he speaks and transmits these knowings, and these truths.
The others do the same.
The Segar tells us that he is not here to be our Docem; that he cannot guide our various unfoldments, but that he is offering his assistance, what wisdom and strength he has to aid us at this time where all is new and no-one knows what happens next.
We instinctively and as one, breathe a sigh of gratitude and of devotion; this makes me aware that the Segar is bonding us, weaving us together, restoring the bonds that must have been damaged or broken completely when all these things had come to pass, and every one of us changed rapidly, in many different directions, like frightened birds will scatter when a hawk appears within their midst.
I admire the Segar’s work; I can’t conceive of what it takes to do what he is doing here and now, with such precision and exactitude; so gently and unnoticeably; and though I try and track exactly what it is he is doing, so I might learn from this, I soon become aware that what I notice is less than the smallest tip of an island that reaches far under the sea, far, further than the highest mountain.
I breathe out a mist and let it go then; I am no longer sure of my unfoldments but should the Universe decree that it should happen, the day will come and I will be a Segar, I will know what this is from the other side, and from my deepest wells there rises then the pledge and the desire that I should be as pure and radiant and have the Covenant around my shoulders like a royal cloak in that most intimate way this Segar has it with him, a part of him, and this is what is making him so much, and so much more than any of us are or dream that we could be.
The Segar looks to me and he smiles; it is a touch of resonance that has the scent of morning mists and first and gentle rays of sunlight over forests, old and deep and it gladdens me, it honours me.
A fleeting whisper, intimate and heard by me alone, informs me that I should be steady as my time would come; he will address now one by one, each one of us and help us lay a pathway that will take us out of this and straight into the new, whatever it may be.
I bow my head to him, I bow my own self to him in deep respect and deference, and thus he turns and asks Satari to come forward, and to join him in a private consultation to determine what her path should be.
Satari looks to me, and I am surprised, amused and a little pleased that even after all that we’d been through, she would still honour me, her Docem. Her small act of respect touches me, and it heals a place that had been left by the Segar’s intervention; it might be that it was a something he had not within his power to bestow, and that it was Satari’s own to give to me.
I love her with all my heart, and bless her; she rises, and goes to the Segar without hesitation. He enfolds her in a gentle sphere of safety and intimacy and both phase from this time and place.
Ghosts & Galaxies
The room, the house and all beyond is quiet.
I am clear and lightly balanced; the absence of the Segar has released me in a way and so I rise and flex myself. Steve looks up at me, and his bearing is such that I stop.
For all the Segar’s interventions, he is still intensely aware of his great crime and carries it as a burden; for all the Segar’s interventions, he is still intensely uncomfortable in this new that has befallen him.
I understand that I alone is now what makes the bridge for him between the then, and now, and that it is me he needs, no matter that I lack the knowledge, power and accomplishments.
I nod for I understand this. When Satari acknowledged me, and in so doing, gave me back my rank of Docem in that instance, it was her action that was needed to make the change for me; no Segar, nor an Essem could have done this for me – but my Cestra sister could.
So I accept this as a fact and hold out my hand to Burrows, fully manifest and physical in every way.
He takes it hesitantly, and I grasp his hand strongly and pull him to his feet.
For an instant, he is surprised at my strength, then a tired shadow of smile washes over him and he nods his thanks.
He takes a moment to balance himself as well, then he runs his hand through his hair and asks me, “And what now? What’s going to happen to me? To you?” I find it difficult to keep my focus on him as a man, for I can see and feel the fire inside of him, and it is drawing my fascination. With a will, I tune away from that and answer him at his own level, “The Segar told me he will speak with each of us in turn, to help us come to a decision as regards our respective futures.”
“Does that include me?” asks Burrows.
I nod re-assurance. “Yes, of course it does,” and when that isn’t still quite getting through, I add carefully, “After all, you are still my potential.” Burrows shakes his head and against his will, starts to laugh, a racking, sore laugh that seeks to turn itself into something else, into an outburst of sorrow, but he battles it, forces himself to cough instead.
Alexandra moves to him and steps close, then places an arm around his waist; he hesitates, turns to her and she embraces him fully. “It’s alright,” she whispers and her whisper echoes down into the other levels, soothing his disturbances, “It wasn’t your fault. It was mine.” It takes me a moment to realise that she isn’t just saying that in order to stabilise Steve Burrows, but that there is the weight of burden behind that statement that tells me that she believes this to be true.
Burrows straightens from the embrace, tries to step back but Alexandra won’t let him go. He is shaking his head. “No,” he says, “It isn’t your fault! How can you say that! It was me who …” I step forward swiftly and with force.
“Both of you, be silent,” I command them and that is the first time I have used the power of the Docem to be heard and there be no denying my voice. Burrows and my Cestra freeze in position, then turn to me as one.
“I am your Docem. Are you willing to challenge me for the responsibility over these events?” I ask them clearly and with force.
Alexandra immediately drops her eyes, lets go of Burrows and bows to me deeply. “No, my Lord Markus,” she whispers.
Burrows struggles but he holds my eyes and we do battle in the strangest way, on the strangest level – it is a most peculiar form of union, one of rejection rather than infusion, but a form of union it is, and it is quite enjoyable. We to and fro quite playfully for a time, and finally, Burrows smiles and bows his head and says, “No, my Lord Markus,” but there is no submission whatsoever in that statement, and he has reserved his right to retain his own guilt and responsibility for the events.
Still, I am satisfied. I see no problem with him doing that; just as long as he doesn’t take on more than belongs to him by rights, all should be well and the burdens balanced as they should, and easier to bear.
I feel the need to get it all out now, to get a movement and I breach the subject and say, “Xiao Hong has gone. This is the reality. We all feel her loss most keenly, and the empty place she leaves in our futures. Each one of us has, in their own way, contributed to these events and that cannot be denied. But I am Docem, and it was in me she placed her trust when she became Arada – not in me as who I am, please understand, but in the institution. I am Docem, and it was my first commandment above all else to protect the Arada, for they cannot protect themselves and place their lives into my hands. Whatever either of you did, or did not do, and yes, that includes you, Steve, it does not compare with my failure to protect Xiao Hong. I would have that be understood by both of you.”
Alexandra is open and full of sadness at the remembrance of the beautiful Arada she had tended for all her Cestra life, and who was so much a part of her, and even more so for the smallness and the intimacy of our house as was. She bows in response to my words and says, “I will always carry her with me.”
Steve Burrows swallows hard and then he says, “I do carry her with me. I really do …” and then he puts his hands before his face, steps back and lets himself slide to the ground, dissolved in sadness and guilt and something else that I can’t track or trace.
I stare at him and I begin to wonder what it might be like, what it would feel like, to take another’s life in all totality and until there was absolutely nothing left of them.
I can’t begin to imagine. I am afraid to begin to imagine.
I ask him, “What was it like? How did it feel when you … took her?” Burrows shakes his head, still in his hands, and then he looks up at me. He looks exhausted, his body is exhausted even though the fire within is burning as bright as ever, possibly even brighter still.
“Do you not know?” he asks hoarsely.
Alexandra goes and sits beside him on the floor. Gently, she tells him, “When we do this – we call it the union – we take very carefully, and we give back from within ourselves in exchange, so that a balance is kept. It takes a long time to learn how to do that.” I recognise her words and her demeanour. She is speaking as she would, and she has, to any new potential, to any one who didn’t know about our lives, the Covenant and how we move through our unfoldments with exquisite elegance and grace. It strikes me strangely that I should have never told Steve Burrows all these things, these basic things, nor that I felt he needed to hear them.
I might have been confused or mistaken, for Steve turns to Alexandra with attention and with gratitude for the information. He says, “That makes sense. And I guess it explains why it takes so long to make the transformation. Centuries, he told me.”
Alexandra nods. “Sometimes, it really does take that long. Not always though. Half a century is about average, but it depends on the circumstances and everyone involved.”
Burrows sighs. “And I took all of her in – a moment, in one night?”
Alexandra and I are both too stunned by the actuality of this, the reality of this, and the fact that we had never even thought to do a thing like he had done, nor heard of it, in all our times, in all of our instructions and so we don’t respond.
Burrows asks uncertainly, “So does that make me one of you now?” I and my Cestra exchange a brief contact and I respond with care, “Not quite yet. There is still the choosing, and the festival.” This isn’t strictly true, however. Steve Burrows will never be one of us. Not ever. To be one of us as he has termed it, the transformation would have needed to proceed in care and gentle, fine unfoldments.
I have no idea what he is now, but he isn’t one of us. He is something else and he will never find an entrance as Arada in a house, nor spend his time of dreaming gently, and of learning our ways. And thus, he can’t be Cestra, and he can’t be Docem after that, and then Ferata, Segar, Cardor, Essem … all of these futures do not exist for him, not in the way we know them.
This troubles me deeply until I remember what the Segar had told me – he would give his insights and his wisdom to the situation, and he would help me come to a decision, the same as he would help Steve Burrows and my Cestra Alexandra too.
“When is the festival?” asks Burrows, “How much time has passed? What is the day? What is the time?”
I can tell him at least this much with certainty.
“Today is Saturday. It is around midnight and we’ll be entering Sunday soon, so there are three days left to the festival.”
“I haven’t eaten anything since this afternoon,” says Burrows and for a moment I am appalled and think he means what happened in the underworld, then I remember that he is still entirely corporeal and that his body has a variety of needs that cannot yet be stilled with the Water Of Life alone.
Alexandra and I step into a rapid exchange that is out of his range as yet, at least the details of the communication pass him by even if he knows it is occurring for he can sense this. He is very aware, very aware indeed.
Alexandra touches him on the arm and smiles at him. “I will get you something to eat,” she says, “Is there anything special you would like?” Burrows half smiles, half grimaces, shakes his head, then tells her, “I don’t care, as long as it comes with black coffee and sugar. And whiskey. Yeah, I need a drink.” She smiles and nods, then she gets up and is halfway to the door when she turns back, suddenly uncertain again.
“May I leave?” she asks outright, and I know she is worried about the Segar. I send her re-assurance and ask her for good speed, and she rushes off so fast, she goes straight through the door without stopping to open it first.
“Whoa,” says Burrows, “Man! I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that …” and then, silence descends on the room.
I go to my bed and sit down on it, then lie down. Then I release the burden of this tight manifestation to physicality and phase into a more comfortable state, which involves becoming see-through and floating a little way above the physical surface of the bed.
I emanate a sense of relief at this state, and Burrows picks it up.
From where he is on the other side of the room, he says, “You look like a ghost. Does it feel – nice? To be like that?” Not having a body and being unwilling to go through the trouble of shaping and creating resonances that would produce physical sound, I reach out to him, mesh with him lightly and transmit the experience of my state directly instead.
He enjoys this, but the meshing counter-transference gives me a better indication of just how tired he is, how hungry he is, how stressed and how his body is in pain of tension all over. These sensations make me shudder. It has been a long time since I remember feeling likewise, all the time, and now I am no longer used to such extreme levels of discomfort, everywhere, and all the time.
I have quite forgotten how hard it used to be … Burrows speaks into my thoughts. “I snuck into your room when you were sleeping,” he says slowly and quietly. “I saw you. You were a galaxy …” and through his eyes, I see myself, the way a human would perceive, and feel his wonder, and his longing.
I have never seen myself that way.
“Come here,” I send him and he rises, walks across to the bed, hesitates briefly, then lies down carefully without touching my misty shape. That is what he sees, but of course, what I am is spread out far and wide; even on the other side of the room, he is already inside of me, if only he knew that.
Perhaps he did.
I extinguish the light in the room, then shift across further, and further still, until I rise cleanly and find the threshold of the state of dreaming, but I don’t enter all the way. Burrows looks up at me, and all his tiredness and pain is now forgotten; entirely fascinated, he is watching me, and tracing my unfoldments, minute sparks of everlasting evolution, and at last, he is at peace.
From my half dream position on the ceiling, perceiving down of course I sense and now experience the strange conversion, half man and half unknowable existence in a new way and from a different vantage point.
He had described me as a galaxy, and there are aspects of that in his system too; there are swirls and interlacements, sparkling river streams that might evoke such an idea, such a description. But that is strictly peripheral to the symphony of fire in his center; what I had perceived to be a column is a disk that spins and that extends in all directions, creating an updraft in its center where it spins fast, very fast indeed; that is the rushing that I felt inside of him.
The colours are intense; there are so many strands, so many interlacements but themselves, the colour streams are pure as pure can be, and they are dense, much denser than I’ve ever seen or known, much denser than any kind of colour stream or incidence I can remember even from Adela – the only time I’ve felt something remotely like this was inside the Segar, but even there, it was not nearly as profound and powerful as this.
I am drawn to the spiralling fire colours and as I begin to feel a fascination coming to me, and a wish to taste them, touch them so I could learn of their existence, make them a part of me I become aware that these colours in turn are seeking me, that they are under pressure, and that their flow will be a charge, a furious, roaring inferno should I make just the smallest breach or even an attempt at a connection.
I hold back then and fight my fascination, fight my hunger for these colours, try to reverse my forward movement but it is already way too late – the colours have existence of their own, they have awareness that I’m here and I cannot now escape – they rise up, all at once, a rainbow curtain of such density and splendour that I lose all sense of this or that and swoop into a forward dive, into acceptance, into union – here I come, here it is, so let it be.