CHAPTER 42: Ids, Wreyges, and the Power of Two
Darrex had lost all inclinations to do any ducking and diving when the group – with one extra – returned. They simply flew directly to his tower, went to his most suitable sitting room, and took comfortable seats. Again there was a tendency to sit in pairs, and Darrex and Aiennea were no exception to this.
After refreshments had been brought by some servants who all seemed to have developed rather wide eyes and slightly open mouths, it was indicated to these that their presence was no longer needed. Only then was it possible to bring Aiennea properly up to date. Before they had set out on the return, they had only given her enough information to convince her that returning with them was more vital than anything else she could now do in the Rings.
The stone repeated its messages a few times more for her benefit, after which she was given some time to take everything in.
‘Yes, most aspects of the way forward are now made clear,’ she said finally. ‘I do so wish the pattern had not withdrawn itself from being understandable at this stage, but it is possible to tell that all that is needed at the moment has been laid down. It is up to us to use it properly. This will be a route full of dangers, and the more of those we can foresee, the better.’
‘Indeed,’ said Darrex. ‘The first thing we need to do is to get a fuller understanding of the Wreyges, and I feel this should come from the two of them we have waiting for us.’
‘That will be wise,’ Aiennea said. ‘We need to make haste, though. From adding everything together, it is clear that the start of the “shivering shocks” in the chamber on the Wranda side is a bad sign. It may be assumed that the same is taking place where Wrogen came from.’
‘Before we do anything else,’ Hugh said, ‘is there any chance we can, together, find and eliminate the Id which Wrogen created, and which you,’ he looked at Darrex ‘have managed to break away from? Even though it is too late for so many who have become addicted to the poison in it, if it is no longer there it will surely help all those who have only temporarily been contaminated.’
‘This part, I do not follow,’ Dengana said, and Lusi, Felin and Cudew murmured agreement.
‘Tell me if I’m wrong,’ Hugh said, looking at the two royals, ’but, as I have worked it out, there are various kinds of mergers or ids. At the one end of the scale are those we use for melding of minds on a conscious level. That has minds brought together to operate as a combined entity, and is the strongest. For matters of magic, such minds gain greater strengths, in particular directions, from the kinds of balance underlying them.
‘Then, there are many which work by making a sort of separate mind, to which individuals are linked. This is the sort used by creatures themselves to control group behaviour, and would be the ones created or strengthened by crecords and then manipulated by them. When they are formed by creatures like swarming bees, I don’t think they make a conscious decision to do so, but these happen automatically in response to certain situations.’
He looked enquiringly at Darrex and Aiennea. They were both nodding, so he went on. ‘Humans, Darxem and Daoine also have such minds, formed by situations or created by individuals. These individuals may not even know how they produce the effect they obtain, but the id is what is behind it. Take the stirring up of a mob, for example. Often one says they are “mindless”, but they’re not. An evil group-mind has been formed, and has taken over.’
‘One of the most extreme examples of that, on Terra, which was similar to the Wreyge situation,’ Tye said thoughtfully, ‘was a man called Hitler. He created a group called Nazis which showed all the signs of being under the control of a similar group mind, and then having had the poison increasingly feed itself.’
‘On opposite side of that scale it could be one created by those they participate in the religious experience, or the audience it responds to music?’ Lusi asked.
‘It making the sense. Another example it would be the sports event,’ Dengana said. ‘We talk about the “atmosphere” when we are there at a game – is that not also the group mind?’
‘Here, we are also conscious of that happening for our most popular games – or were, in happier times, before it was decided that such things made people “unequal”,’ Tergina agreed.
‘I think that provides a good overview,’ came from Aiennea. ‘Now that we all know what sort of thing we are looking for, shall we seek it out and destroy it?’
‘Yes, and having been part of this one until so recently,’ Darrex said grimly, ‘I have a good general idea of where to start looking.’
There and then, they moved together and effortlessly surrendered in pairs, and then in pairs of pairs, until an Id was created which they could tell was the most powerful and comprehensive yet. This ’Super-They’ probed, and found the entity of the Crow’s group mind as easily as crecords could trace those of their pets.
Then, all that their concentrated Id had to do was to will the other fragmented one to stop existing, and it did.
‘An Introduction to Act One,’ Tye said, when they emerged. ‘I hope the rest of the play will go as well.’
‘For the next part of the Introduction we need to bring on two more cast members though, don’t we?’ Tergina said.
It took a fair amount of persuasion for the respective Wreyges to come quietly. Even though Darrex, Aiennea and Cudew were not part of the party which collected them they could still both see that there were numbers enough to make good the threat that if they didn’t behave they would be carried - and not gently.
From the second they came together, the seething hatred they felt for one another was so clear it was like something solid. As a sample of their friendly communication, Wrogen said, ‘We had thought that we had done away with such vermin once and for all,’ while Wranda offered, ‘Our efforts to rid Darx of these vile creatures obviously have to be redoubled. They still ooze up, like slime.’
At the top of the staircase, both appeared to entertain an urge to make a break, but Cudew was then also in attendance to assure them that it would not be good thinking.
The recent id formation had strengthened an inclination for the various pairs in the sitting room to be close together with one another again, but when the Wreyges were told to occupy a couch facing the others they squeezed themselves up against opposite ends, and each turned away from the other.
Aiennea leant slightly forward in her seat, and said gently, ‘Now, do tell us about yourselves.’
The two sat in impassive silence.
‘You don’t really suck blood or brains, do you?’ said Hugh. ’Or eat children? You don’t even eat the dead … but you do take magic from them!’
‘Only in the smal…’ Wrogen started to protest, and then shut up again.
‘Why don’t you tell us about one another, instead?’ Darrex suggested smoothly. He turned to Wranda. ‘Is it only that your group of Wreyges, or you as a female Wreyge …’
‘I am a Wreygess, and we are Wreygese,’ Wranda snapped.
‘… as a Wreygess, simply don’t like males?’
‘For good reason,’ Wranda raved. ‘In a race practising regeneration, they are no longer necessary, and they embody all the worst features of greed and evil …’
Wrogen thumped a fist on the space between the two of them. ‘Enough!’ he exclaimed. ‘It is the females who are evil and inferior, and there is no further need for them to rob us of sustenance or to emerge, in their cycle, to pollute the minds of Darxem with the sort of lies rampant in Breena.’
‘History shows,’ Wranda spat – literally, with the ‘esses’ – ‘that it has always been the male cycles which produce the violence and intolerance and ignorance, as you have already introduced at present, but now our own cycle is coming in time to correct it.’
‘When was it you resolved to destroy one another?’ Aiennea asked in a casual ‘pass the sugar, please,’ tone. ‘Was it when the cycles last coincided?’
’Destroy one another?’ Wrogen repeated. ‘No, we resolved that it was necessary to eliminate these parasites for the future good of all, and thus we sealed our dome to destroy the Interface vital to them.’
Wranda was now looking thoughtful rather than blazing mad. ’But, we sealed our dome and destroyed your Interface,’ she said wonderingly.
‘I would say,’ said Cudew, ‘that you need to face that you have both lost face by losing an Interface which wasn’t essential to either of you, after all. Except …’
During this exchange, the expressions of all those opposite Wrogen and Wranda had been showing more and more signs of comprehension.
Tergina voiced the thought that had now come to all their minds, including that of Cudew. ’Except that it was essential, after all, but for different reasons.’
‘Although, wasn’t there said to have been a time when there was no Interface at all?’ Hugh asked.
Wrogen and Wranda both gave looks of disgust. ‘That was before any protection was put up against contamination,’ Wranda said.
‘In barbaric ancient times,’ added Wrogen.
After a long silence which would have been a deafening hubbub to a mind-reader, Hugh said, ‘Oh, just to clear up a point, you have accelerated the regeneration in all your capsules, haven’t you?’
‘You mean the cocoons?’ Wrogen said. ‘Yes, and they are overdue. The tremors to crack them open should have started days ago.’
Using all his control to keep his voice steady, Hugh added, ‘About how long does it take after the tremors start?’
Wranda was now openly staring at Wrogen. ‘One or two days, at the most,’ she answered for him.
‘It is time,’ Aiennea said in a gentle tone.
‘That it now is,’ Darrex agreed, starting to rise. ‘We know all we are likely to find out, now, and we need to try and put our knowledge into practice.’
‘Don’t tell me; I know,’ said Cudew miserably. ‘I have to squeeze myself down that twisty cheese-grater again.’
‘No!’ exclaimed Wrogen, trying to retreat further into the room.
‘Yes!’ said Wranda, grabbing his wrist and putting him into an arm-lock.
‘Yes, indeed,’ said Tergina, doing the same from the other side.
He wore a look of sheer horror and desperation as they started to march him towards the balcony, but then all fight went out of him, and he slumped. ‘Let me go,’ he said dully. ‘I will come with you.’
Hugh wondered if it was imagination that many of the Darxem seen on the way to the shaft-and-staircase tower already appeared to have added a little more colour into their lives. Then they were in the shaft, telling Cudew what a miserable specimen of mongrel he was on the way down, before corkscrewing their way to the passages.
Almost in silence, they made their way to the barrier guarding the entrance to the ‘void’ space leading to the Wreyge hall entrance. There they paused and began to pair up again to form the id. At this, Wrogen again needed to be restrained, which interrupted the process slightly. He was gabbling, ‘No, no, no, this would be pollution, no, no!’
Then the Id came into being, and took him captive into it. Finally, the same was done for Wranda. At the instant of including each, their access to magic was restored to them. Wrogen reacted by struggling furiously, this time using magic, but was subdued with ease. Again, Wranda submitted after the briefest of probes, and after that only made use of her magic to observe.
Through the first barrier and across the void into the next the Id moved, and had a feeling of collective relief to find that while the floor there was trembling in a far more violent way than had been experienced in the other chamber, no cracks were yet appearing in the ‘rocks’ now known to be cocoons.
The Id moved to the centre of the chamber and, as soon as its components were in position, directed an exploratory blast to the fault in the rock barrier closing the funnel part of the roof. From this, the Id judged that about five times the strength was needed, narrowed down to the fault, so it delivered that.
A shaft of sunlight came into the hall, and splashed onto the floor. The tremors ceased.
At the same time, it could be seen that another Interface had come into being in the ‘alcove’ at the side; a writhing wall some distance from the mouth of the ‘tube’. The Id made no attempt to enter this, but instead retreated and headed straight for the Wreygese hall, saying to itself, ‘So far, so good.’
This time, the cobley lighting enabled the Id to see right into the funnel as far as the closed part, where the Id-through-Hugh could spot a corresponding fault providing the only key to blasting this seal open. The considerable strength needed for the blast was known, and only one painstakingly focused attempt was needed. Sunlight entered, the floor became still, and another new Interface became visible in the alcove on the opposite side to the one in the Wreyge hall.
Now the Id did approach the Interface, but stopped short of it, probing. Then it said to itself, ‘This is going to take everything we’ve got,’ adding, with a note of despair, ‘and more.’
At that, there was a strange shift in the composition of the Id. The two units in thrall gradually, hesitantly, aligned themselves with one another. Then, with a joyful confidence, that new id merged with the whole. An instant later, a blast of huge intensity was directed at the alcove Interface.
The mighty flash which came seemed to happen in slow motion, giving a spectacular display of all the wide array of colours in the Darx spectrum. Then, so many further sensations arrived at the same time that it was impossible to take them all in until later, in memory.
First and foremost came an emotion of great relief, as if something placed under intolerable tension had finally been released. Then came an instant of adjustment, as if seeking and finding a balance. Closely on the heels of that came joy.
Then, there was music, blending as part of the spreading flash, with a sustained chord holding within it a million glorious melodies and harmonies, and embodying an infinite variety of harmonics.
Something like a breeze was wafting through, caressing wherever it touched. It carried exquisite perfumes, and yet on the tongue gave impressions of superb food.
The barrier had disappeared and there was now no sign of the alcove or the beginnings of the giant pipe-like tunnel. Instead there was an open space, and the rock wall round it was turning misty in an ever-widening circle. Gradually, a mirror-image of the vast chamber was becoming visible on the far side, and at the same time there was an impression of an infinitely slow but steady progress of both spaces towards one another.
When the display of the flash faded, the bar of sunlight beamed at the centre of the floor, and its counterpart visible on the other side, could be seen to diffuse and spread, giving a golden glow to everything they touched. As this glow reached the Id, a feeling of re-energising came with it – together with a realisation that without this boost there would have been no power left for returning through the barriers.
As it was, so little remained that, in the instant of coming through, the Id fell apart and so did its components. That is to say, everyone was so exhausted that they simply fell over and lay on the floor of the passage, unmoving, for many minutes.