The Outer Void was nothing like the bottom of an enormous ocean, an abyssal plain coated with the detritus of the world above, the world that felt the heat of starlight and knew the taste of air. The Void was not cold, because the existence of cold implied the existence of temperature, which itself required matter, which the Void lacked. Description failed the Void, analogies didn’t work, and similes slid off it like grease from a teflon mallard. Much like shadows, which it didn’t resemble, the Void was an absence, but not one of light, one of fundamental Reality. It was not, and therefore couldn’t be anything.
And, as Eobael drifted through the Outer Void, she didn’t see the Realms as bright islands in a sea of endless darkness, strung together by the pearlescent threads of the Aeons’ Causeways. In fact, her Sight was less focused on the nonexistence around her and more on examining the fog and fugue of dreams, recollections and prophecies through which she plotted her course. The hundreds of eyes that covered her wings watched, regarded, Saw, further than any thing bound to mere flesh and firmament was able. It was out here, in the Void, that she could See, unobstructed by matter, by the Realness of things, into the shapes and structures of the Incandescent Law, from which all things were formed, and from which the future, the past and the present could be determined, if one just knew where to look. As her eccentric orbit of the Real continued, she passed at precise angles through great drifting clouds of discarded mortal dreams, mortal thoughts, which superimposed a bewildering array of visions upon her Sight, visions she required to continue at her appointed task.
She had, on her own and during her long past conversations with a Nameless Walker, pondered the meaning of free will. Mortals, Lower Sentient or otherwise, did not have the burning words of their Directives impressed upon their minds in a Voice louder than their own thoughts, as she did. Even now, they still burned;
The axioms had hardened into her mind as it condensed from the Aetherplasmic Sea. She, like all Aeons, bore a terrible surety of purpose which her charges, those she advised, simply did not have.
Was it frightening, she would think, to not know what you are for, for what purpose your mind was placed in motion?
These concepts, things like ‘fear’, ‘uncertainty’ and ‘hesitation’, were all things she could understand in the abstract, but not things she could honestly say she had ever experienced. Maybe not forever, however – she had heard the stories of Archaic Angels who had grown new facets of mind and form across their multimillenial lifespans, changes in thought to complement their changes in form with each of their moultings. Eobael herself had only hatched from a fractured Klippah mere centuries ago, and was on her fifth moult, and had many epiphanies left before she would even begin to truly become an Archangel, capable of learning fear should it prove necessary as her self and purpose evolved. In many ways, she was still the same creature that had crawled out of the broken shell and onto the soft sands of the Beach Called Life, at the boundary of the Aetherplasmic Sea, where waves broke in great gouts of quantum foam.
With a certain degree of reluctance, she turned her attention from reminiscence to preminiscence. Viewing through the gossamer veils of probability and possibility, she started to examine the shapes that hid behind the structure, reading between the lines of Law, peering sideways along the axis of time.
A champion unchosen by the sundered shadow of the Beast will flee a great undoing.
And many shall pursue. On one hand, the blazing hatred of a shattered sun. On the other, the coiling terror of the chilling depths.
Stars innumerable reach up from the Mundus below, a call to return too late and yet too early.
Above, there comes the wet and visceral, decayed yet vibrant, who seeks many things and yet only power. A price in blood, a dowry, a monstrosity of things that will not die.
But yet, there are others. Two in halves, one with sight beyond sight, and one who sees beyond seas. The restless scholar, cautious and trusting. Last of those that trod the firmament, ever-searching, never-finding. An adventurous spirit in a cage of bone, wandering through purposes. And, at the champion’s right hand, the Beast’s betrayer.
They will face a tide of hunger.
The Reef awaits.
Eobael let the fractured images and thoughts, impressions and memories filter through her perception. She examined the correspondences, charted the omens and pondered the implications. She recognised some of the symbols, and knew with approximation that the winding path of a Nameless Walker took him through this danger, this prophecy. Whether this was a past, present or future, he was involved and would most likely see this thread through to its finish, in tragedy or triumph.
Decision moved through her thoughts with finality. When she opened her wings, alight with holy fire, she did not move with hesitation, for she knew not how. She angled herself in the space beyond spaces, beyond angles, plunging back towards the shores of the Real in the swoop of a descending hawk, at least twenty wings spread, trailing streamers of starlight in her wake as concepts of space and distance started to take hold, approaching the semi-allegorical edge of the Void.
And, in the heart of her mind, the core of her being, a directive that preceded thought burned with a smokeless fire of certainty.