All around her was darkness and coldness. She was floating. A small pinpoint of amber light riding the ethereal winds that whipped around her in the vastness of space. She was searching, seeking.
Even though she rode with purpose, she was content there. There, of all places, she was at rest, not ruled by her turbulent emotions. She soared freely and vivaciously, molding the ethereal wind to her will. It responded to her command like an extension of her true form.
She was one with the universe.
Suddenly, space was not completely dark anymore. It was not cold anymore. Other pinpoints of light danced around her. As she floated, some passed by her, and some grew larger than suns. Others shook in violent spasms. With each passing, she felt things from them. Emotions. Sentience.
Gradually they came to her. They began to crowd around her, inspecting her as they always did when she went there. She did not need them. Did not want them.
Get away from me!
She pushed back at them, and they retreated under her might. None could breach her wall of defense. None could match her. They merely danced around her in a myriad of colors – blues and greens and yellows, reds and oranges and violets, even a few that appeared utterly black against space, darker than the void itself, and some white as pure, whole light in stark contrast to the emptiness around them.
The black and white ones dominated all the others and let off the strongest feelings. Occasionally, two of the lights collided with each other and set off an explosion of light and sensations that threatened to overwhelm her. But she would not be moved by them. She pushed those feelings back as well. When the outbursts were reconciled, it often left one diminished or consumed, and the other brimming with intensified strength.
When a colored light would touch one of white or black lights, they were consumed without contest, but it seemed to taint the pure nature of the devourer, casting a tint upon it. She felt emotions surge anew from those spirits. She knew them, Life and Death.
She repelled even them and pushed through the swarm of lights until, finally, she found what she was seeking. Another amber light. Another like her. The two danced around each other, and the energy that arced between them drove off even the fiercest of the archon onlookers.
The two amber archons swelled with each other’s energies and with each other’s wisdom, though true understanding of each other eluded them. Though she was certainly more radiant than the other amber light, the other archon was wiser and more enlightened with the way of the Astral Plane and the way of the other world – her world. Earth.
But it was not foreign like the others. She had tried to commune with the other lights in her past trips to the Astral Plane, but they were too alien for her to comprehend. More so, many tried to consume her or rule her, but she would not be contained. And so they were consumed in her fire and perished before her.
But the other amber archon was like her. A being of eminent power – fury and benevolence constantly in contention. A cross archon filled with both light and dark energy, but also human somehow. There was something there she could comprehend. Something from Earth.
She spent her time with the other archon, gleaning what knowledge she could, until her will began to fade. Her time in the Astral Plane was growing short. She was wakening on Earth.
The energies flooded into him, filling him with their power and with their influence. He closed his eyes in fierce concentration, trying desperately to maintain his awareness under the intense sensation. The world felt more alive during those moments than any others, but all was not well. There was discord in the stream of amber light flowing from the young girl before him – her face screwed up in concentration for a task that should be effortless – and into his body. At one moment it swelled with the giving, benevolent ambiance of yellow mana, and in the next it filled him with the intense craving of orange mana. The conflict of emotions would counter each other perfectly if all was in balance, but there was no equilibrium in the flow.
“Enough, girl! You must hold it. Stop reaching. You are overextending yourself!” He gritted his teeth against the torrent of energy surging through him. It threatened to consume him entirely and leave him nothing but a hollowed husk. But Donald Calvin was no amateur to the archon ways or their power. He exerted his own control over the flow of cosmic energy, for she was failing at that task.
“No! I want it!” the young girl retorted to him. “And you can’t stop me!”
“No, I can’t. But it will kill me, girl. Is that really what you want?”
Suddenly, the energy receded as the girl pulled it back into herself, but again all was not in balance. Only the yellow shade of light retreated, leaving a dark orange, chaotic maelstrom behind. The girl obviously intended to recall her mana and spare him, but her greed would not relent and continued to assail his body and mind. Donald struggled to push the invading force away from him, but the mass of swirling archonic mana refused to be tamed. It wanted, it lusted, and it needed to feed upon his life-force.
And so he did what he must to survive. He corrupted it. He gave it what it needed, but with a vile taint from his own mana reserve. They did not mix well. The resulting eruption of mana blasted them in a brilliant shower of deep orange light.
When the girl reopened her eyes, she saw that she had withstood the blast, but its effects tingled along her skin. Before her, the objects in the room had been tossed and shattered. Mr. Calvin lay prostrate on the ground nearly fifteen feet away, the wooden chair which he had been sitting in was upturned and smoking between them.
She moved to him, hoping and praying that he was still alive. To her relief, he breathed heavily, but still he would not move. She saw the waves of orange mana coursing through his body, and took them back, so they could not hurt him any more. She had done enough damage. She knew no one would come unless she called them. The room was soundproof so he could do his experiments. She didn’t want them to come. They would blame her, and they would be right. But they’d look at her with staring eyes. No, as long as he breathed, she would not call for help. She wanted to heal him, but he had told her never to try that without his supervision. It was too delicate a matter for her to handle on her own, he said. She would have to wait. He would come back. He had to.
Please come back to me.
Instantly, his body heaved and convulsed unnaturally. He writhed on the floor for a long, tense moment before his eyes fluttered open and the healing light of his yellow mana washed over him. After another long moment, his body settled and his eyes stayed open. He groaned before rising up into a sitting position. It took a few more minutes, but his breathing became even again and he seemed well again. He looked at her intently.
She turned away from him, unable to face him as the tears came to her eyes once again. “I… I’m sorry. I couldn’t stop it! I just can’t control it! I never can!”
“Easy,” the large man said to the young girl and rose, placing his hands on her slender shoulders. “You are making great strides in controlling your power, but you must learn to control your feelings, or they will consume you and everyone around you.”
“So what if they do? Then I’ll be free and won’t have to worry about all of them anymore,” she said, but regretted her words as soon as she spoke them.
“You will lose your humanity and become one of them. I would hate to see that happen to you.”
“You will become my enemy then and try to trap me like the others,” she reasoned through her tears.
“Perhaps, though I doubt I have the means for such a feat – or the heart,” he responded calmly. He breathed out slowly, but loud enough for her to hear his exasperation. It filled her with even more guilt. “I think it is time for you to learn what you truly are, girl.” He moved around her and faced the back wall of his study, pulling his cell phone out of his pocket. He whispered into it quietly, and then a few panels on the wall opened, revealing their priceless contents.
Two glowing auras of heavenly light. One shone with a deep violet hue and let off feelings of deep melancholy and infinite sadness. The other was a more vibrant and radiant fusion of green and yellow that seemed to glimmer with a reddish taint. Uninhibited joy and generosity emanated from it, but there was a mad wildness to it as well. The lights shook violently, threatening to escape their confines, but settled soon after, locked in place.
“These are Jornell and Wu Lok,” Donald stated, indicating the trapped violet and yellow-green lights, respectively. Imprisoned archons.
"There used to be another one,” the girl observed, seeing the left over energy in one of the empty spaces. “A greedy one, like me.”
Though it escaped her notice, the man beside her arched an eyebrow and studied her closely. “How did you know that?” he asked.
“I can see where it used to be, but something bad happened there. It was in pain?”
“That was Visnau. A terrible being. He and Jornell killed my wife and nearly devoured me, so I decided to destroy him.” There was great sadness in his voice when he spoke, and that was not lost on the young girl.
“You can do that? You can kill them?”
“No,” he confessed, “but they can kill each other. Wu Lok did the deed for me, consuming Visnau’s essence to make himself stronger. It was a mutual agreement at the time.”
She felt like there was more to that story, but when she looked at his face, she somehow knew that he wasn’t going to tell her any more about it. “That one is like more me,” she said instead, looking at Wu Lok. “He has yellow mana like me, but also some dark power. Is he a cross archon, too?”
“No,” Donald answered. “He is a light archon, but plagued by insanity, and the reddish taint is a scar upon him from a battle he engaged with my daughter. That was a long time ago now.”
But the girl also saw something else in the mad archon, something more familiar. “He also knew my mother, didn’t he?”
“How do you know that?” Donald gasped before he thought to hide such information. Truth be told, he was curious to know how the young girl garnered that knowledge.
“There’s something familiar in him. She touched him and left something behind,” she revealed. “I can see it in him.”
Donald looked at her with an examining gaze, but his thoughts were hidden from her. She was a force of the universe that could command vast power, but under that gaze she felt like nothing more than a ten-year-old girl being scolded. But then his stare suddenly softened.
“Yes, your mother touched that archon, and he touched her. That is why she cannot be here with us. Your mother helped me capture Wu Lok, using his own power against him, but she unwisely held on to some of his power, and his insanity drove her mad. But you saved me from that fate.”
“Me? How?” she asked.
“Before your power awakened, I was forced to draw mana from only these two archons. Jornell is insufficient for my work and drives me to depression. Drawing mana from Wu Lok would threaten my sanity as well. Now that you are here and share your power with me, I am spared from the need to tempt that disaster.”
The girl shook her head. “But what about my mother? Can I see her? Maybe I can heal her. Please, can I see her? I need to see her! Now!” Her vision began to blur with an orange haze as her wanting threatened to overcome her once again.
“Easy,” the large, blond man cautioned her, and he flooded her with the benevolent yellow mana that he held within him – mana he had borrowed from her – countering her desire.
“I’m sorry, sir. It’s happening again,” she confessed. “What am I going to do?”
“It will be alright, Danna.” He placed his hand on her shoulder again to comfort her. The yellow mana touched her again and calmed her. It reassured her more than any mere words could ever do. “I am here to help you. And so is Miss Keating. Together we will turn back the darkness in your heart and help you control your feelings. We know you have trouble balancing the light and dark sides of your soul, but you will find that balance with our help. Trust in Miss Keating and in me, and you will be safe and whole. I promise.”
Danaella, the young archon that was little more than a pre-adolescent girl, nodded with wet eyes and took him in a soft hug, thanking him. But he pushed her back and knelt down to her level. His eyes were serious when he looked at her closely, staring into her large, bright green eyes.
“Danna, something troubles me. Earlier, you referred to Wu Lok as a cross archon. I never told you that term. How did you know it?”
She bit her lip, nervously, and looked away. She brushed her shoulder-length brunette hair behind her ear. But she reached a resolution within herself and decided that she needed to trust her guardian. She thought he could be too strict with her at times, and pushed her too hard in her lessons, but he seemed to have a good heart underneath.
“I have dreams,” she revealed. “Sometimes I go to this place. It’s dark and cold, like empty space, but not all the time. Sometimes there are lights there. I’m a light there, too.”
“The Astral Plane,” he offered. “It is the home realm of the archons.”
She nodded, and he didn’t seem surprised that she was familiar with the name. Almost like he suspected it.
“I met another archon there. Another one with the same amber color. It talks to me, sort of. We don’t use words there, it’s more like feelings. But it shows me images and teaches me things somehow. It’s hard to explain.”
“What sort of things does it show you, Danna?” he asked, clearly interested. He didn’t seem mad at her.
She breathed out in relief and then said, “It shows me how the universe works, but it’s somehow different there. When I’m there with it, I can control my energies and my feelings a lot better. But then I come back here, and it’s so different, so much harder.” After a moment she continued, “It shows me things about here, too. About how the universe works here, but when I leave that other place, I can’t bring it back. It’s so hard to sort it out.”
“Is there anything else?” he asked.
“I think it told me its name. Whenever we touch, I hear the word, ‘Teijurzi,’ but I don’t know what else it could mean.”
He stroked his chin as he considered what she said. “Thank you for telling me this, Danna. This may help us. I want you to be careful when you go the Astral Plane and converse with this other archon, but I want you to pay attention. Try to find out what it wants with you. I also think it’s a good idea to keep this secret for now. Do not tell anyone else about it, not even Miss Keating.” He spoke the last words firmly, and she could tell he was being very serious.
She nodded and hugged him again for his understanding. She wasn’t sure she wanted to tell her adoptive mother about the other place or the archon, either. Unlike Mr. Calvin, who seemed to really care for her under his stern demeanor, Miss Keating was harder to read. Her heart had too many scars on it to see if it was good or not.
"We'll talk more about this later, Danna, but now we must continue your lessons,” Donald said to her.
“Do we have to?” She dreaded the thought of her lessons those days. She knew they were important for keeping her emotions in check so she didn’t destroy the people around her, but they were just so exhausting. It would be so much easier to just hide herself away from everyone, as dreary as that sounded sometimes.
“Yes, we do,” he said with a steady tone and hard stare. She knew when he talked like that, he was being serious and wouldn’t let her refuse.
They spent the next few hours going through the exercises Mr. Calvin had planned. Mostly, she would need to feed energy into him or an object he had while holding the balance between her light and dark sides. Those were the most difficult lessons. She could never seem to make her stream of light into one uniform color. It always wavered between the yellow and the orange and often left whatever object she was trying to empower as a brittle, ruined lump of formless matter. Mr. Calvin could handle her energies better, but soon even he began to burn, and his skin sizzled. Then they would have to move on to her other instructions.
They were easier, even though they were vastly more complicated. When he would ask her to use her talents to perform some act of magic, it came to her intuitively, especially if it was something she wanted or something she could give to him. Often it would be effortless and happen on its own. Of course, there were some more difficult tasks, like healing or shape shifting, that would require his guidance, but they were never as difficult as controlling her own feelings.
At the end of their session, Mr. Calvin held up his hand, breathing heavily. He had touched much more of her mana than he should have, more than she had ever seen him withstand before, and he pushed himself to make her try harder. It was one of the times he had to stop before she did. That was happening much more in the last few weeks, ever since she found the other amber archon. She was getting even stronger. More dangerous.
The thought caused her anxiety to heighten, and she had to use her calming mantra and breathing to ease her nerves and prevent another outbreak.
Donald mistook her concentration for fatigue and laid a hand on her shoulder. “That is enough for now, girl. You may go, but remember what I said today.” He straightened the jacket of his expensive suit and composed himself.
“Can I stay here with you, today,” she asked. “I don’t want to go back to my room.”
He looked at her for a moment before answering, “You may visit the grounds or use the house, Danna. You did well and should take the time to experience the world outside of your own room.”
But she shook her head. “No, please don’t make me. I’ll hurt someone. I don’t feel strong enough to stop it today.”
He sighed at her, and she could tell he was disappointed with her – again. But he just shook his head and shrugged. “Perhaps I have some work you can help me with, but this is something you must get over, and soon.”
She merely nodded.