OV Chapter 24

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Chapter 24 – Lifeblood


It had been quite a number of generations since the proto wings first appeared. They were now looking more like the wings from my memories, though smaller in size at their current point in development. The changes to their anatomy were also nearly done. I almost couldn’t believe how quick this change was to achieve compared to the changes I had made before. My influence was certainly greater than when I had begun. After this last great change, I wondered how I was to use my ever-growing influence. I thought back to Bushtender and how much of myself it had taken to communicate with her in her dreams. It made me think that for all my great influence in being able to change their bodies, to directly communicate was the far more difficult task my influence could achieve. It could be that was where my future headed, not to influence their bodies, but to influence their minds.

Looking at how they dealt with their miniature wings, I saw they had learned how to fold them to keep them out of the way, and found they came in handy for balancing. When outstretched alongside their arms, the primary feathers extended just beyond the reach of their hands. Though not yet long enough for flight, to the lizards who had not had such wings only so many generations ago, they were still quite large.

When folded, they reached from just above the shoulders to the base of the tail. They would need to at least reach the ground in their folded position to be large enough to carry them. Despite their current uselessness for flight, they did provide a new communal activity among the winged colonies. Preening between family and colony members became a fun social activity that lizards engaged in, making sure the feathers stayed clean since they were unable to clean them completely on their own. If one lizard had discomfort in their wings, their ability to selectively shimmer could pinpoint the area of discomfort for another lizard to rectify the problem.

Such selective shimmering had become the norm for pointing to body parts for any reason around every colony, the control of which had come from Scalesinger’s excellent color mastery in her songs. Pinpoint shimmering not only worked for pointing to the body, but also developed as a form of whispering. By shimmering just one part of the body out of sight of others, lizards could effectively speak quietly to each other. The children had fun passing along secret messages, and the adults could more easily surprise loved ones. Not all whispering was for fun and games though. The hunting parties found it easier to track prey when they didn’t have to give their position away by shimmering their entire body. Being able to communicate and command from just an arm was incredibly advantageous. They never ceased to amaze me with all the wonders they could achieve outside my influence.

While watching over them, mostly just waiting for the wings to complete themselves, whatever sense it was that I had connected to earth suddenly triggered something within me. It was like a weak tug on a string. I had put so much of myself into forming and hastening the wings, I had not paid much attention to the realm in which they lived. But that tug felt important. As worry started to fill me, it began to feel more foreboding.

I decided to follow that string which connected me to the earth, taking myself away from wings for the briefest of moments. I followed the trail that seemed to pull me in, feeling through the rock the further down I went. I could feel my connections with my lizards, now so far above me on the surface, weakening. It was only my family heart that remained with them as I fell ever deeper into the earth. What was down here that called me away? Half of me wanted to race back to my lizards, not wanting to lose proximity to them, but the other half, the one full of fear and apprehension for their safety, kept me continuing downward.

I felt myself sliding into the rock, much like I had done with my lizards. I did not realize just how connected I was to the earth. Or perhaps, as time went by, the connection had become stronger. My fear of the earthquake and the tsunami had caused me to pay more attention to the earth under my lizards’ feet for some time, and though I desperately wanted to return to my lizards, to their warmth and comforting, for my love of them I dove deeper.

The warmth I felt here was different than theirs. It was hot. Suffocating. I could feel its heartbeat, as though it were living. The lifeblood of the earth flowed through here, constantly eating and renewing the rock that sat delicately above it.

I let myself fall into the hot blood that encircled the earth. My connection carried me along the flow. It was both foreign and familiar, the heat creating dazzling colors within me. A murmur and roar of noise echoed throughout.

Had this been where I was born? Was this where I slipped to when I overextended myself? It certainly felt similar. But there was the slightest discomfort about it. Was the discomfort coming from the liquid fire that flowed in the earths’ veins, or from me? As I melted further into it, it became hard to tell. I sought release for my discomfort, and eventually I found a path, and flowed through a small crack. I hoped to find release there.

I traveled through the crack, part of the surging lifeblood. From around me, I knew that this path had not existed until recently, it was newly formed. New melt flowed back into the lifeblood that had not been part of it for ages. I travelled faster and faster, desperate for that wanted release.

And then I came to it. A great and vast pool of lifeblood. No, after I came to the surface of it, I felt my senses returning, coming back to myself. A roiling, bubbling, endlessly hot substance; while it certainly was the lifeblood of the earth, that was not what my people had called it. They had given it a fearsome name, one that produced both awe and panic; lava.


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Author's Note

If you would like some mood music for the second half of this chapter, try Jack Trammel’s ‘Force of Ruin’

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