The more I realise myself, the more disconcerted I become.
What is this?
Is there something wrong with me?
I feel all wrong, all displaced, I feel – “Meruvian?”
He is there, close by, my radiant beloved, and for a moment, I am relieved until I notice that the strange vibrations are a part of him as well.
This frightens me.
“Meruvian?” I call to him again, and I begin to feel a panic enveloping me.
Has it finally happened?
Has my time come?
Have I lost the battle, am I slipping away into insanity?
I don’t recognise this!
I should recognise this! I
have been here so many thousand times and it has always been the same …
“My lady,” Meruvian unfolds more strongly, reaches to me, offers his support. “It isn’t you. It is the Festival. It is different this year, something has happened.”
The Festival is different?
But that is – insane!
How can that be?
I am sure that I’m insane.
Possibly I am just dreaming Meruvian and his responses; he might not be here at all, he might not be real, and none of this might be, and I wouldn’t know and perhaps I’m already gone and I’m not here at all, I am a whispering …
Strongly and powerfully, Meruvian flares through my disturbances and terrifying spirals, burns through me like a forest fire, brilliant bright and uncompromising.
“Valia,” he says and sends with urgency, “Valia, it is not you. We are here at the festival. We are here, this is it – this is now, and there is something wrong. It came from the house of Adela Bach.”
I remember Adela. Oh but she was beautiful! She shone like the sun over spring fields, was like the rain on autumn fields, so pure and so delightful …
Adela, my beloved child, my daughter, my lover, how long has it been since I remembered you?
I was Segar at the time, and I saw her and I fell in love with her. I saw her in a town by a river; it was a spring morning and she was walking to market with her servant girls. Where she stepped, the ground laid out a carpet of flowers for her and where she had gone, she left a scent of life and wonderment that lingered like perfume.
I found a Cestra from a house nearby and made them dream their way to her; of course, he was immediately enchanted and of course, he picked her for conversion on the spot. I watched them both the entire summer long, flowed with brooks by which they sat, rustled in the leaves of trees beneath which they sheltered, and then the winter came, and the festival, and by then, Adela knew me just as much as she would recognise the wind, the moon, the stars.
What a beautiful union, what a beautiful Arada she became …
“My lady …” Meruvian embraces me gently, draws me back and down, and I am confused again.
The Festival. The strangeness.
Yes, I remember now. What did he say? What was he trying to tell me? “The strangeness … it came from the house of Adela? What happened? How can that be?”
Even as I ask it, there is another memory, far away and up above, a Cardor memory, oh, but they are difficult, diffuse and they just don’t fit into anything or anywhere. The Cardor were meeting … I remember hearing their call …
Meruvian is very concerned about me now, and this ripples into me. He isn’t sure how to hold me, and he is afraid that I will leave him.
Ah, but these older days!
Sadness there is, grief.
Love, so much love for him, for me, for everyone and everything. I can’t hold it all together. I really cannot – I am everywhere and there is too much of me. My beloved, beloved … I am so sorry. I don’t want to break your heart, don’t want to tear your soul apart with my leaving. I really don’t and I would do anything to spare you that, to return myself to a stable state and be for you what you need me to be.
But still, and even here, my love for him renews my strength and for xx a time, it will hold again, a shadow alliance of all these many times and places that are me but that are desperate to break apart, to drift apart and set me free.
I focus on him then, call to love that exists in all those islands of me, ask it to unify, one more time, just this one more time, hold me together, let me be here for him, this one last festival, make it so.
And so it does, and so it is – it gathers from everywhere, from everywhen, and it sets up a web above the singular alliances that provides a structure, a form for me to hold and have, and finally, clarity returns to me.
Here and now, we are at the festival.
Something is wrong, the atmosphere is all wrong.
There is a sharp expectation, a bright awareness, a coiled waiting with many undertones that exists in the community and reflects back upon itself, like swords drawn will reflect each other just before commencement of the battle.
The potentials are nervous and unsure; many are looking around, up at the stands and that is not how it has always been.
The music is missing.
Why aren’t we singing?
A rushing to my right takes my attention and Meruvian and I turn to see the arrival of another Essem, Andelestra. Strangely, his presence further strengthens me, comforts me and seems to support the structure I have build to keep myself together; and then, as more of our kind arrive, this resonates more strongly still.
Meruvian is relieved by that, deeply relieved; so much so that he is leaning to me, taking comfort from me being steady and strong like this, as though he was taking the opportunity to rest before the next onslaught of storm will drain his strength again.
As I hold him and enfold him for a change, I begin to reach and stretch into the unfoldments here, try and trace the sources of disturbance, of otherness – as soon as I do this, I find it.
The source of the disturbance is unmissable.
It is located in the stairwell and moving down towards us.
It is made up of many, and those many are made up of much; but these many are together and of one mind at the higher levels – no, wait.
I sharpen my focus, expand higher.
What I find, astonishes me.
I call to Meruvian to follow my trace and he does; the other Essem here have heard me too and all follow, a swooping flock of powerful birds or dragons rising, powerful lifting of beating wings.
We are Essem.
We are the ones of high, we are the ones who can fly the highest, see the most for we have known the most and we have mapped so many places, states of being; so much more than anyone in our community, that makes us more, and in the end, makes us too much to hold it all together.
And yet what I have seen is absolutely new.
It is a mystery.
Far higher than I have ever been there is a source of existence.
It is so impossibly high that I would not know how to reach there, and the only reason I can even perceive that there is such a high is because the many who are causing the disturbance are clearly radiating down from this much higher level, and they are beams of light that shine through clouds and touch the realms of which I know, yet they themselves originate not in the clouds, but way beyond.
All of us are astonished, mystified, unravelled and appalled.
All of us Essem once were Cardor, and so we know the mysteries of the Covenant; or so we thought, for even though the Covent does speak of realms beyond the realms, it clearly states that these are not for our kind, and that we cannot find an entrance there.
But someone has, and those someones are here tonight.
They are walking down the stairs, shoulder to shoulder with the potentials of this year’s festival, arriving here as the first, the newest, the youngest; arriving here as though they sought first union with our kind.
And then it shudders through me in all ways, all levels and all layers – this is the time of change.
It must be.
Tonight, right here, the oldest prophecies of the covenant are coming to pass.
It was foretold that one would come to take us home, to set us free.
They are coming.
They are really coming.
As one, we Essem embrace the thought, the concept, and the understanding; the Cardor shifting in the stands below us feel and hear the resonance enough so that they understand and they then too pick up the call; in turn, the few Ferata who have come translate it down to Docem, they in turn now tell their Cestra and when even the Arada who are here have heard and understood, a circuit is completed and the entire theatre resonates with it – they are coming.
It is the night of changes.
When I was oh, so young, I was told of the night of changes, and of the one who would take us home. When I grew up and into all the stages and the structures, I forgot about it; I was reminded though when each and every festival would come; I was reminded when I was Cestra and searched for potentials, entirely oblivious of the guiding hand of Segar, Essem, sometimes of Ferata who would draw my path towards a human of their choice and their desire.
When I was Segar, I often thought about it; when I was Cardor, I was brought close up with all the ancient prophecies and I learned that they were never ancient, never old, but they existed in a timeless space where all was now, no yesterdays and no tomorrows there, the home of our Covenant.
And still, and through it all, I never thought that it would come, or that I would be there when it would come.
Much less that I would be the oldest of the Essem, and if there had been a prophecy that had foretold that I would be so radiant and so strong, so clear and finely structured, so together at that time, I might have laughed and swirled, backwards and down, for that could never be.
And yet it is, and here it is.
There is a waiting, a stillness; this is wrong, and a smile rises within me for I know just what to do, it is natural and right – here, we come and we sing together; it was always the same song, as the festival was always the same, only the players might change, flow through the system over time as water flows over a rock, and it is always new water, and yet, water nonetheless.
I raise my voice, and in the stillness, I begin to sing a new song.
It is a song of welcome, of acceptance; it is a song about the Covenant, about my life and my waiting, about my loves.
It is a different song from that which used to be; it is brighter, it is lighter and it is far more complex, with ranges that not everyone can hear, but all can hear the pulse right at the heart of this my song, and a sigh travels throughout the theatre as at first, a single second voice joins with mine in a perfect harmony – Meruvian sings with me, a perfect foil to me, and filling in dimensions that are his own, that I could never reach.
Slowly and reverently, the other Essem start to sing with us, and then it ripples down and through as every single one of us finds their voice, and their place to add their story, add their own uniqueness, their preciousness and their existence.
The potentials are bathed in this song of welcome of the new; they close their eyes and they begin to dance; but this dance too is new and such as it has never been before, and so the potentials bring their own uniqueness to this night of changes and with the movement of their bodies, they add their welcome in their own particular way, on their own level.
Ah, but it is beautiful.
So it is that when the ones who are at the center of the change step into the theatre, they are welcomed by us all.