Chapter 47 – Clear and Present Danger
The limpid pool that separated myself from my emotions surged and came crashing back to me. I was so shaken by the brief encounter I couldn’t keep it at bay. My mind was a whirl. How long had it been there? How long had it been watching? With its absence from the earth, I could feel my own connection dim. This gave me another thought. Could it be that all the other times I connected to the earth and felt beneath its surface, I was actually just riding along the lines of its observance?
The spread of its influence was so vast I had a hard time believing it. It seemed to be in everything, more apparent now that it was gone. But the question then became, where was it now? To what realm did it retreat? My eyes surveyed all the area they could, but my sense felt dull, and I couldn’t reach as far as I’d like. I looked in the earth, in the trees, in the mountains, but no trace of it remained. It moved so fast, it disappeared before I even really knew what was happening.
I started to fret. Panic spread through me like a tidal wave. How could there already be another one of us? I was already having so much trouble with the other two. And just what was it planning? It had been watching us, watching everything for so long…what did it want? Was it just waiting for the right time to strike, and invade us like the Madness of the World? We already had two enemies, and one as silent as the Dark of the Depths forced me to consider losing might actually be a possibility, if it was indeed an enemy. And yet…I hadn’t felt any hostility. The Madness of the world had it in droves when we met, but the Dark of the Depths…
If truly it had been watching us all this time and meant us harm, it would have known when we were most vulnerable. After the Tsunami our numbers were decimated and our spirits low. We would have been caught blindsided, perished in an instant. And through its hands, the rivers of its reach, I found the warning of disaster to come. I had a hard time believing it would have allowed me to see that if it desired our deaths.
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I couldn’t find a reason for it to desire conflict, yet not be able to act on it. Unless…unless it couldn’t engage us? The thought floated about my mind, but I couldn’t even fathom what might keep it from such an act. There were too many questions, and no real answers. I could debate with myself all day and still never reach a conclusion. And for now, my primary concern should be with the clear and present danger, The Madness of the World and the Eyes of the Hills. If the Dark of the Depths wasn’t an immediate threat, it could wait.
I felt through the family heart, using it as a guide to get me back to the surface now that my preformed map decided to rescind its open invitation. Eventually, my essence broke through, and I returned to the world of light and lizards. My one sorrow in scaring the Dark of the Depths away was that I had yet to find where the Madness of the World’s army was currently stationed. As I looked upon my lizards, life returning to the way it had been before my scream tore them apart, I wondered just how much longer we had before the enemy arrived.
I itched for action, but scarcely knew where to begin. First, I supposed, I had to know where we stood as far as tactics and resources. I looked towards the hunting parties. What started out as individual lizards scavenging for bugs, slowly changed to the Defender types grouping together with their primitive spears to catch prey. In turn, they began to split up duties between lizards, and before long the hunting parties became more sophisticated, more methodical. They taught themselves how to fight as a group, and even take on predators much larger than themselves. And now, hand in hand with the speedy riders, the quick climbers, and the trained fighters, the hunting parties rarely came home empty handed, and rarely were they blindsided by enemies. The great snakes that once stood at the top of the food chain had finally been overpowered by the ingenuity and cooperation of my lizards.
No longer did they have to scavenge, they could now grow their own food, even recently found ways of caring for their farmed plants and animals better without me even having to show them. Their arts and their culture thrived. Having advanced their ability to procure food and protect themselves from danger, they could focus their energies on more creative pastimes.
They’d come so far, and the cards they were dealt were not the easiest to work with, but with my help we made it work. And now here we were, on the precipice of something that could come to define their history. Whether they won and continued to thrive and progress even further, or lose everything they ever accomplished. It could happen in the blink of an eye.
It didn’t feel fair! Finally, they achieved an enduring stability for all lizardkind, only for another great obstacle to block their path. Why couldn’t they just leave us alone…why did the Madness of the World want us destroyed, subjugated to its whim? It knew nothing about us, not our struggles, not our pain, not our accomplishments, and certainly not our dreams. It was nothing short of infuriating, and I exasperated myself just thinking about it.
But at the same time, I realized we knew nothing about them either. I knew only what they looked like, and the insanity of their Overseer. Could anything be learned from such a being or its creatures? From what I felt while in the throes of its lunacy, I didn’t spare a single hope for a peaceful coexistence. Did that mean the same for its creatures though? It must, how could they function if they weren’t one with their Overseer like my lizards were with me? I couldn’t even imagine it. I embraced my lizards at the thought of it, of being entities that were nothing alike. Perhaps I was different in my old life, but here, now, I was one of them. They were like me, they felt like I did, and bathing in their memories and their lives brought me such joy, it made me feel complete. We were one.
I didn’t have enough time with the other Overseers to see if they felt the same, they never gave us a chance. I suddenly desired to know more about them. To know what made them like they are, to see if they were more like me than I was able to tell from our brief encounter. It was such a waste to be at war with the first being I’d found like myself, a shame to not be able to share our cultures and our experiences. If only things were different. If only.
I shook myself out of that train of thought. This was no time for ‘if’s. Maybe in another life we could meet and enjoy each others company and talk of many things, but not this one. If I thought the road ahead of me would be long and hard before, it was all the harder with the mysterious third Overseer now thrown into the mix. I didn’t have another moment to lose. It was time to teach my lizards how to overcome their adversaries, time to teach them of war.