Worlds Asunder

Chapter 6: In-Between

The world was a maelstrom of grey and black – shadows without end. There was no sight, no sound, only absolute nothingness. The fragile shell of her consciousness had collapsed and the debris were blocking all her senses. She tried to move her head, her limbs, but her brain couldn’t find the muscles to move them. Everything was wrong. She lay still for hours it seemed, years. But then, she felt a peace descend upon her thoughts. Something appeared in her mind’s eye. It was beautiful, made of light and sound and feeling. It became clearer and clearer until she could see it for who it truly was.

Xaphania! She couldn’t speak, so her heart and mind cried out instead.

Hello, child.

Even as she reveled in the joy of seeing the angel again, a frightening thought occurred to her. If this was real then… Am I dead?

No. You are very much alive.

Then where am I? What is this place?

A limbo of sorts, in between worlds.

Between worlds? How did I get here? How do I leave?

You cannot by yourself. This place is a cage for those who attempt to travel as we angels do.

Lyra’s heart fell and panic crept into her desperate thoughts. Would she have to stay here? In this haunting, not-quite world?

Do not worry, child. I will help you escape.

How?

I think in your language it could be called shifting. It is traveling between worlds at certain points where the barrier is weak, where there is a rift. At these places, the worlds are closer together and it possible to move between them.

Lyra’s heart beat excitedly, a small bubble of hope growing in her chest.

But I must warn you. This is not the answer you seek.

The bubble burst.

As with the windows made by the subtle knife, so to must these rifts be repaired.

Why?

For the same reason – the preservation of Dust. They must all be closed. Renewed despair filled the void between them. I am sorry.

But the angels. They don't have to use rifts or windows to go between worlds. Why do we?

Angels and humans are not the same. We are a part of everything and everything is a part of us. We can pass between worlds because we are built of that which makes the worlds separate.

The way you have, can humans learn it?

No.

It isn't fair!

Nothing in life is ever fair. You of all humans should know this.

There was such grief and hopelessness in the girl's mind, it hurt the angel to give the condemnation. But there was some small happiness ahead for her. There is a reason you were brought here; something we must do.

We?

You, Will, and myself.

I’ll see him again?

Yes, but only for a short while.

Her spirits began to lift. Why do you need our help?

Because you have faced this enemy before.

What do we have to do?

I will help you into Will's world. Once there you will be led to him. When you are together I will come to you both. But you must hurry. It will not be long before you must return to your own world.

Lyra nodded, and the angel disappeared. All of a sudden a terrible feeling swept over Lyra. It felt as if she were being squeezed between two plates of ice cold steel. She was squeezed and squeezed until she thought all the bones in her body had shattered and she would never breathe again. When she was on the verge of unconsciousness, it suddenly stopped.

She lay on a small patch of grass, with flowers to left and right. She looked behind her and saw something that made her heart stop – the bench. But it wasn't her bench. It wasn't in her Botanic Garden. This was in another another world. His world. She could feel it, sense it in the air.

I’m in his world, was her last thought before exhaustion claimed her and she fell asleep, head resting on the bench in Will’s Botanic Garden.

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