Allen Chambers' Mindways Chronicles - Book 1 - Reflection

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Temenos (Crossroads)

As they walked the Mindways towards home, Ares told them of the existence of Temenos, a very special place.

“The Silent Room, as we call it,” said Ares. “It is the hub of all the Mindways, protector of the threads that make up the Mindways network – never static but always there when needed. During the Great Rift it was a safe resting place, a sanctuary within the Mindways to keep our people secure from harm whilst they journeyed between Dimensions. In the beginning, it was built as a temple in honour of the Pioneers(22), our ancestors who were architects of the ‘Creation’ – the Universe and the twelve Dimensions within. Before the Creation, the Pioneers were travellers of raw light and time and eventually, weary of the eternal journey, they wanted to halt the endless search for knowledge, to settle and to live life.”

As Ares recalled the history of the Pioneers and their forefathers, the four young Gods listened intently as they continued on through the Mindways, always alert and ever scanning the bleak shapeless silhouetted horizons for signs of danger, for the horizons had become strangely eerie and corrupt.

They walked wearily through one of the Mindways threads – a structured link between the dimensions that resembled the fine thread of a spider’s web. Suddenly, and without warning, the Mindways thread they walked within ruptured and was torn violently asunder, with Chronus and Ares being parted cruelly from the others. The shredded ends of the Mindways threads snaked away from each other at an alarming rate. Within seconds, they were lost to each other in space and time. The resolute group had been dealt a brutal misfortune and were now separated. Ares and Chronus had lost their charges by this cruel blow of fate; the very children they had come to save were now lost. Chronus, although tired, mustered what little strength he had left and sent forth the light of Sirius in the hope of finding the young Gods and to keep watch over them, muttering to Ares under his breath as he did so.

“Providence is playful and fickle. Their fate is now at the mercy of time!”

Chronus tried to contact his children but to no avail – neither he nor Ares could. The rupture prevented their thoughts from flowing and seeking their kin.

Ares turned to Chronus and pleaded, “We must search for them; we cannot leave them to succumb to The Darkness!”

The exhausted Chronus looked long and hard at the young warrior and said, “Ares, my son, they are awakening and know of their standing. They will be safe and they will make their way home soon. I believe this is a trial sent by the spirits of the Pioneers to teach them the ways. I am tired and we must make our way home for there is little we can do now to help.”

Ares sighed with resignation, “Yes, Father Time, you are right. We must get home to Arcturus. There you can recover and I can muster help and search. Until then, may the Pioneers protect them.”

The two of them looked longingly into the star-studded backdrop of space as the broken thread they were in hurtled through time, heading back home to Arcturus.

The four young Gods found themselves isolated, suddenly vulnerable and without the might of their kin behind them. The thread of the tainted Mindways continued to crumble behind them, falling into universal oblivion, seemingly devoured by the very power that had created it. Angie, realising the uncertain situation they found themselves in, was the first to speak.

“We’re special people. We are, without question, Gods and we have strength and power. What these powers are we don’t understand yet. However, we can protect ourselves and must abide by Ares’ advice and head for Temenos.”

Sophie, Carter and Toddy all looked at Angie and nodded in agreement. They turned to watch the collapsing Mindways thread fall away into the vast expanse of the Universe – cold and black with a glittering setting of billions of galaxies and stars.

“Come,” said Angie, “we must go.”

They all turned and headed back along the Mindways in search of Temenos.

Almost as soon as they had turned, the Mindways thread was lit up by an explosion of bright white light just off to the left of the crumbling thread. They all turned around to see a huge ragged sheet of light slowly fading. As the light subdued, Sophie was the first to spot another collapsing thread close by – one end snaking off at a terrific rate into the myriad of stars, the other hanging, suspended close by – within which there was a sprawling mass of grotesque, vicious-looking beings armed to the teeth with wicked weapons; many of these inhuman beasts, who could only be described as soldiers from hell, had fallen to their death when the Mindways had split apart.

This cauldron of hate, having regained some sense after the breaking of the Mindways thread, had spotted and recognised the four young Gods. A roar of evil, guttural curses ensued. The four had been seen and, although well out of range, several Tryxes – scaled lizard-like creatures from Hades – unleashed fire bolts towards them. Ajatars, huge fire-breathing dragons from Tartarus, ridden by Shtriga, who were vampiric witches, launched themselves into space to chase after the nervous quartet. Fortunately for the Gods, the Ajatars’ bloodlust denied their Shtriga masters any control and they flew in random formation, each Ajatar snapping and biting at their own kind, as they competed to be the first to draw blood.

Without a second thought, Carter raised his arms high and brought them round and forward in a pushing motion, releasing a solar gale of immense power, catching the Ajatars and their Shtriga masters unawares. Caught in the ferocity of the blast, they were broken – wings shattered, bodies crushed – and thrown to the far corners of the Universe. The dead tumbled down into the ever-hungry abyss below. A cry of hatred arose from the crumbling Mindways thread. The cry reached a crescendo as the demon horde army watched their allies fall to their death. The few remaining wounded Ajatars took flight and returned to the relative safety of their thread.

The demon forces’ leader, Abaddon – a short, grotesque humanoid, standing at the head of his baying army – raised his hand and a silence immediately followed.

He turned to what looked like a commander on his right and barked the order, “Bring me a Krark now!”

The commander bowed and ran back through the throngs. There was a sudden clamour of activity from the massed troops and a wide parting soon appeared, from which a Krark emerged. It was guided forth, tethered around the neck by immense black chains, secured at the end of four long steel poles, each controlled by a huge Ordog – a tall and thin dog-like creature that walked on its hind legs and had the ability to transform into any being it touched, living or dead. This demon Krark was designed by Nyx from sub-life found in the depths of some distant godforsaken underworld. It was a massive beast, at least the height of three men and almost as wide. It walked, apelike, on two huge legs, steadying itself with long muscular arms, its head swinging from side to side from the effort of carrying this bulk. Beneath a plated exoskeleton, broken and scarred from aeons of warfare, was a seething mass of molten material. Its gaping multi-toothed jaws breathed flame and brimstone as it was drawn forward, its eyes, deep saucers of fire, bright and clear of focus.

Unbeknown to the foursome, this being was one through which its masters could channel dark energy. Many demons, all at the same time, could direct their power into the Krark, which stored the energy. Once sated, the Ordogs could guide the head towards the direction of the enemy, using the steel poles. The commander would then take a lance and spear the beast between the plates of the lower back, causing the beast to send forth the combined power in the form of a deadly web of dark lightning across many miles. The beast was free of fatigue and a formidable weapon in the hands of a master strategist.

Silence fell on the scene. The demons bowed their heads towards the Krark and appeared to be in prayer. This puzzled the four young Gods, who looked at each other, waiting for an answer. It soon came. They immediately sensed a foreboding and steeled themselves, returning their gaze to the events unfolding before them. Suddenly and without warning, the heavens lit up with a ragged network of black lightning bolts, which came forth from the Krark’s chest where plates of the exoskeleton had parted. The web of lightning increased in ferocity and power as it travelled rapidly across space towards them. Instinctively, in unison and without effort, all four combined their thoughts and threw out a visible aura, which formed a protective shield around them and, at the same time, each produced a celestial weapon; Sophie – a silver bow and quiver of a huntress, Carter – the ability to harness nature’s wind, Angie – the power of mind, and Toddy – illusion.

The ever-widening web of black lightning was nearly upon them. They looked at each other, knowing what was needed from each of them. Sophie took an arrow from the quiver and calmly nocked the shaft to the silver bow. She raised and drew the bow deep and full, the long arrow drawn to its tip. She aimed at the Krark between its large fiery eyes and let fly. Toddy cloaked the speeding arrow in a misty blur whilst Carter assisted the speed of the arrow on its way with a solar wind behind it. Angie, in the meantime, was playing with the minds of the soldiers of death, causing confusion and distrust amongst them. A few began to fight between themselves, including the Ordogs who were in control of the steel rods that held the Krark.

The arrow was uncloaked by Toddy at the very last second, whereupon the army’s commander, Abaddon saw the danger, albeit too late. He shouted a warning, which, unfortunately for them all, was drowned out by the confused demons that were too busy fighting amongst themselves to take any notice of anyone. It was too late; the arrow struck home deep into the forehead of the Krark. It bellowed in blinding pain as the righteous arrow exploded in the beast’s head. Toddy whooped with delight. The Krark writhed in pain, lashing out at one of the Ordogs who had ignored his station and was fighting with one of his kin. Abaddon, seeing that control had been lost, instinctively knew what was about to unfold and mounted his Ajatar and fled in panic, flying out from the Mindways thread into deep space.

The Ordogs, having been intent on fighting each other as a result of Angie’s mind games, lost control of the steel rods, which allowed the dying Krark to reel and stumble in its death throes. The beast crashed to the ground and rolled, turning the lightning storm on its masters, causing the demon army and their Mindways thread to burst into flames. It was consumed like a gunpowder fuse, fast and deadly. The demon horde fled back down the Mindways thread from the pursuing flames, which consumed all in their path. A pall of acrid death smoke drifted across space.

At the precise moment that the Mindways thread went up in flames, the four heard an almighty roar of anguish from the very depths of space. They looked at each other in astonishment at what they had achieved – their ability to defend themselves, produce weapons at will and use them skilfully, as if they had been doing it all of their lives.

Smugly Toddy stated, “I do believe we are special.”

Angie, whose beauty shone amidst the darkness, replied, “I sense power within each of us; we hear each other’s thoughts, we sense our belonging, we are one, we are love, we are the future. Today we may have won a battle, but from the sound of that tortured cry, not the war! The Mindways are in pain and under attack. They’re slowly breaking under the strain. We must find Temenos, for I know we’ll be reviled by The Darkness for the deed we’ve done this day. They…” said Angie, looking up and pointing to a flight of distant Ajatar, circling in the heavens, “are watching us and will want revenge. Let’s go now.”

In his usual cheery manner, Toddy chirped up, “That was really scary and we can do without any more surprises, so I don’t feel the need to dwell on our victory. Shall we make a move?” He paused then added, “Where is this Temenos? I’ll be buggered if I know! Do you?”

Sophie smiled, “Toddy, we only need to think about it and we’ll soon be there. Come on, all of you, the Mindways thread is failing. We must make haste!”

Grabbing Carter’s hand, she headed quickly off into the Mindways.

Angie was about to follow instinctively but hesitated and then turned, looking at the crumbling edge of the Mindways. With deliberate purpose, and as if she had been doing this sort of thing all her life, she concentrated her mind and set down an invisible barrier to protect them from being followed. As the barrier knitted with the ragged edges of the Mindways, she found herself somewhat amazed at this newfound ability and, not surprisingly, she felt a degree of scepticism about it. To her relief, though, once the barrier had set, she noticed it had also stabilised the Mindways, preventing it from collapsing any further. With a satisfied smile on her face, Angie turned and ran after the others.

Unbeknownst to the four fledgling Gods, as they headed off once more into the Mindways, the flight of circling Ajatars contained a massive male ridden by a powerful and evil witch called Hecate(23) who happened to be the young blood sister of the Dark Lord Erebus, and youngest daughter of Thanatus and Nyx. Since Erebus had returned to the realms of the Universe, he had appointed her as one of his senior commanders. Having witnessed the rout of her demon army, she had taken umbrage at the thought that she had allowed that useless excuse of an ogre to briefly take command of her army and then fail in his duty. Hecate cautiously guided her Ajatar, who she had named Iblis, and began circling at a distance from the mouth of the Mindways thread that the young Gods had used to make their escape, always wary of a trap. Hecate, ever cautious, urged the beast closer to the ragged edge of the Mindways thread. The Ajatar hovered, beating its wings, its eyes, dark pools, searching the depths of the Mindways. Hecate, sensing the barrier, probed its strength.

She told herself confidently, “Simple tricks! Pathetic!”

Clutching the black pearl-like talisman that nestled in the shallow valley of her breasts, she waved her hand across the face of the barrier. She urged Iblis forward, whereupon it tore at the barrier with its massive teeth, whilst the long talons on its wings rendered deep gashes to the fast-failing barricade. The Ajatar flinched from the purity the barrier was made of, but Hecate urged Iblis onwards. The weight of the onslaught caused the barrier to finally collapse.

Without the stabilising effect of the barrier, the Mindways thread continued to crumble apart and fall away into the deep space below. The beast sniffed the air and found the scent of its prey. Hecate smiled and drove the beast onward into the Mindways. It launched itself into the air, its wings working hard and quietly, the only sound a muffled ‘whumph’. With each beat of its wings, it lifted its huge mass higher into the thickening mists of the Mindways, Hecate always searching ahead as they followed the trail.

Angie felt a sharp pain in her head and looked back to where they had been.

“Something’s happened. The barrier!” she gasped. “It’s been breached. We must get to Temenos quickly!”

They stepped up the pace but, no matter how fast they went, they appeared to get nowhere. The Mindways seemed endless.

“Where is this Temenos? What does it look like? Will we know it when we get there?” questioned Carter in his mind.

Sophie joined him and replied, “We’ll know when we’re there. I feel something close. Angie does too. Keep going, Carter.”

She smiled at him. He returned the smile and squeezed her hand and they walked on.

Angie stopped and turned to look behind.

The others halted and looked at Angie, asking in unison, “What is it, Angie?”

“Can’t you sense it?” replied Angie in a worried tone. “Open your minds and feel what’s out there. I think we’re in grave danger and I know we’re being followed by someone – someone strong and powerful. I sense their aura – pure evil. We must delay its progress somehow. But how?”

Carter stepped forward and offered, “I know.”

He stood, feet wide apart, bringing his arms upwards above his head and then down and forward in a circling motion. The mists around them swirled and thickened as a gale from nowhere took the thick muggy fog along the Mindways thread from whence they had come.

“That should help,” said Carter. Then he added, “Now, quickly, let’s get on and find this Temenos. Everyone, concentrate!”

The tainting of the Mindways appeared to have made the mist murkier and denser. The silhouettes were but a hazy blur and the once-distant cracking sound resonated louder and closer throughout. The four found themselves struggling with the Mindways, the tainting seemingly driving them off course. Their thoughts, once resolute on where to go, were now confused and indecisive. Collectively, they regrouped and retraced their thoughts, believing time and again they were on the right track only to find another false hope, another trail leading nowhere.

Angie stopped and sighed, “OK, guys, as much as we try, the Mindways aren’t helping us. They’re broken. We have to rely on our abilities. I fear for any further delays because, unless we reach Temenos soon, we’ll be caught by whatever’s following us. I’ve been thinking about what’s been happening and I believe the Mindways were a means for the righteous to travel between Dimensions and to explore the Universe. However, since the rise of The Darkness, the Mindways are becoming the vehicle of evil and are breaking up. As a consequence, they’ve been infected with evil and are a reflection of the way it used to be. I believe the Mindways, where tainted, are now in reverse; our thoughts and desires are being inverted – we want to go to Temenos, but never get there! I believe that, if we think we don’t want to go there, we’ll find it.”

“Sounds like a plan!” quipped Toddy.

Angie scowled at Toddy and continued, “We all have to bond physically and let the Mindways believe we don’t want to go to Temenos and I’m sure it’ll work!”

They stood in a circle, holding hands, all firmly resolute that they didn’t want to go to Temenos, closing their minds to any trivial temptation to think otherwise. The murky mists of the Mindways swirled around them, the background became a blur, the cracking of the Mindways as they crumbled was but a distant echo.

After what seemed an eternity, they were, all of a sudden, standing, still hand in hand, deep inside a mighty structure. Row upon row of Doric(24) columns soared skywards, supporting an ornate vaulted ceiling. Statues of imposing godly beings lined the walls, surreally lit by batteries of tall candles whose flickering light gave the statues lifelike qualities. The polished marble floor marched off into the distance, where great arched oak doors had been set in the end wall. At the opposite end stood an altar on a massive stepped dais, above which stood a gargantuan statue of Gaia(25), Great Mother of all the Gods of Creation.

Standing within this exalted, protective palace, they experienced a hugely satisfying sensation of being safe and relaxed for once, following what had seemed like an eternity of adventure and peril. It became apparent to them that, via their senses, this temple, this Temenos, was alive – not physically, but in a celestial way. They perceived it was uncertain about them. There was an air of mystery, of impending change.

The four released their hold on each other and looked more closely at their surroundings. The grandeur of the structure was offset by the simplicity of the furniture, which was sparse and basic. It had also seen better times; it looked and felt tired and jaded. Although someone or something was obviously tending to the candles and the altar, there was little else in the way of cleaning being done; dust was everywhere, thick and matted. The young Gods all turned towards each other. They began to feel uneasy. They smelt fear in the air. Temenos was, it seemed, frightened. The sensation of security was slowly being eroded; something was about to happen.

High up in the vaulted ceiling, a strange haze developed. The background light was absorbed by a thickening fog and a chill descended as the light was finally consumed by darkness.

Carter whispered to the others, “I believe we’ve experienced this before.”

A shower of multi-coloured lights rained down all around them, accompanied by a confusion of background voices. The laser show darted this way and that, crackling as it disappeared. Suddenly, a blackness so deep and cold fell from above, accompanied by a malignant scream that hounded the lights into nothingness. As quickly as the spectacle had arrived, it retreated. Only Carter noticed a subtle difference to the spectacle on Earth. High in the vaulted ceiling, the fog remained, shimmering, from an infusion of multi-coloured lights darting this way and that within the swirling mists. And he noticed the darkness too – a blackness so dense that any light straying too close faltered. This strange manifestation – a rippling blanket of good and dark energies – appeared to exist in harmony yet the forces were clearly adversaries, floating side by side yet not mixing, just like oil and water. Where the two did occasionally touch, violent eddies of black and blue-white sparks burst forth accompanied by crackling chatter.

The chill remained within the temple. The whole atmosphere had changed. It appeared as if Temenos had become neutral; it was once a bastion of all that was good and just, but now it was indifferent – a place where good and evil could frequent.

“A worrying development,” they all thought.

Having the presence of pure evil so close was alarming, yet, strangely, the four believed they could not be attacked or harmed whilst within Temenos. Toddy, ever the inquisitive one, had been staring at the other side of the temple ever since the amazing display had settled down.

“What are you looking at Toddy?” enquired Carter, breaking Toddy’s concentration.

“Oh, I seem to recollect there weren’t any other rooms in this place when we first got here, yet now there’s clearly a door between those two statues and behind those pillars. Look!”

As he pointed, they could just see, in the shadows, a large door slightly ajar through which a rippling light shone.

“You know, I agree, Toddy. I didn’t see a door either. Nor did I have such as strong need to enter, which I do now,” replied Carter.

He turned to Sophie and Angie, hoping to see if they, too, had the same desire to enter. He sighed with relief as they both nodded eagerly.

“Well, let’s go,” said Toddy, heading off towards the door. “There doesn’t appear to be anything else we can do in here, other than a bit of housework between worshipping an ancient God or two!”

As soon as they began walking across the marble floor towards the door, the temple shuddered and rocked violently, causing large chunks of masonry to come clattering to the floor, followed by curtains of smaller debris and dust. It stopped as soon as it had started. The loud rumbling that had accompanied the disturbance faded into the distance and the dust slowly settled. The four looked up and around, checking it was safe to move.

“Next time, don’t try to be funny about the Gods or Temenos, Toddy,” hissed Sophie.

Toddy looked a little perplexed. “Surely not?” he thought to himself.

“Surely yes, Toddy,” came the reply in his head from Angie. “Let’s not tempt fate twice now, shall we!” she concluded.

“Come on, then,” urged Carter. “Let’s go before we have another problem!”

He grabbed Sophie and Angie around their waists and headed off to the door. Toddy followed briskly, mouth firmly closed for fear of uttering another insult and checking the ceiling and all around for fear of further danger. He noticed the heavy oak doors they were heading for had been torn asunder – one only just hung from the massive steel hinges, the other was shattered and lying on the floor.

“Some powerful forces going on here,” thought Toddy.

Beyond the doors were two further doors, ornately and delicately carved in whitewood. They glowed, almost alive. Perhaps they were. All four Gods came to a halt and faced the doors. All felt an incredible desire to enter. All felt a sense of imminent danger yet, at the same time, they knew they had absolute protection. Their reasoning and instinct were equally confused. Their collective minds probed beyond the door, searching for clues, willing Temenos to give up its secrets. Nothing. It was almost a game – a gambit to test their resolve, their commitment, to trust their instinct, a trial to justify their position as Gods in the order of the creation. Angie reached out and took the ornate door handle in her delicate hand and opened the door slowly. The light came forth – pulsing, shimmering, brightening, as the door opened further.

With the door fully opened, their eyes slowly adjusted from the gloom of the temple’s main hall to witness a sight beyond comprehension – mirror upon mirror as far as they eye could see, the ceiling a myriad of galaxies and stars, their energy raining down giving life to this room of mirrors within Temenos. Their attention was drawn to the mirrors, with reflection upon reflection, infinite recurring mirror images – time on the march, the very intimate secrets from within each of the threads of the Mindways. They stood in awe at this wonder; the sight of countless Mindways threads, each one unique.

There was a chronicle unfolding within. They could see refugees escaping a doomed planet, armies of demons on the march, troops loyal to their creators, the Gods, rallying to protect their worlds, Dimensions untouched by the malevolence, where people went about their daily lives in peace, and, in sharp contrast, worlds that were at war. As this historical snapshot was being played out visually amongst the countless mirrors in the vast room, there sat in the far corner mirrors, black framed and with dark reflections. The ceiling above these was a cascade of fire and darkness. These dark mirrors seemed to be feeding off malevolence; no stories were played out within these mirrors, yet it was apparent that they were slowly corrupting the adjacent mirrors, infecting them like a malignant cancer. The lives within were extinguished by advancing demon armies and soon The Darkness overcame their worlds. The mirrors became blackened and dead. It was clear to the four that the worlds within the Dimensions in the mirrors closest to this evil disease were preparing for war, to protect themselves and their way of life, yet the demon armies appeared invincible, the malevolent cancer unstoppable, the situation dire.

Angie pointed to a mirror close to the edge of this creeping death. One such event showed two neighbouring but broken Mindways threads that were close to each other. A small group of people in one were fleeing the collapsing thread then being set upon by the demon hordes in the other. Numerous Ajatars spewed forth from the thread containing the demon army and headed to attack the tiny group. All of a sudden, the demons were blown back by a mighty wind and either fell to their death, broken, or retreat injured or unharmed.

“Well, bugger me!” exclaimed Carter. “That’s us! We’re watching a replay of what’s just happened to us back in the Mindways after it collapsed!”

They all watched intently as the scenes were rerun, showing every little detail, even Angie setting the barrier.

“My, this is so strange,” gasped Angie, looking at the others in turn.

“Wait!” interrupted Sophie, “What’s that there?”

They watched as the Ajatar, ridden by Hecate, breached the barrier and entered the Mindways thread.

“I thought I felt something back in the Mindways. We’re being followed by someone or something!” said Angie.

“What do we do now?” questioned Toddy. “We’re here, but where do we choose to go? We need to get to Arcturus. How do we do that?”

“Arcturus is our home. We must all desire to be there. In your minds, in your hearts, believe it is there, close, needing our return,” said Angie with deep unbridled passion. “We can’t stay here any longer.”

With that, she grabbed Toddy and Sophie’s hands. Sophie took Carter’s hand and looked into his eyes. She could see he was troubled. Carter completed the circle and grabbed Toddy’s remaining hand.

They focussed on each other and their thoughts of Arcturus, picturing serenity, peace, family and love – all except Carter whose concentration was broken by the vision of the largest mirror in the room visibly shaking. Its pure white frame was discolouring; although remaining white, it was tainted by a dirty black hue that appeared alive, crawling all over the mirror. He thought it strange as it was by the door that was furthest away from the corner where the darkness was spreading. The vision in the reflection was that of the four of them. The room appeared murky, without substance, as if the very structure of existence had become fluid, which was a change to the existing reality.

“Perhaps we’re about to go to Arcturus?” he thought hopefully. “But why is this mirror changing? What’s doing this?”

The answer to his question arrived as the single remaining oak door came flying into the room, having been ripped from its one remaining hinge by an incredible force. The black scaly head and long neck of an Ajatar, exhaling fire, came snaking through the opening. Hecate sat imperially astride the saddle strapped to its neck just behind its head, her flowing blood-red robes cascading down the beast’s flanks, strikingly contrasted against its scarred, black scales. Her right hand held a witch’s staff, which she pointed forward. It was clearly the object of power that had torn the door asunder. The Ajatar, eyes ever searching, locked onto the circle of friends and quickly turned to approach them. Carter broke his hold and attempted to call on the wind to protect them, yet something held him back; his powers were not with him. He tried again to muster the wind, amassing all his mental energy. Nothing.

“Hyperion, how naive you are,” hissed Hecate as she levitated off the back of Iblis and landed gracefully in front of Carter, who had instinctively placed himself protectively in front of the others. Hecate continued, “Temenos will not allow conflict within its domain. You cannot physically harm me or Iblis, my Ajatar, or anyone for that matter. We are welcome here, as everyone is. Now, what is the purpose of this little gathering, may I ask, if I don’t already know?”

“If we can’t harm you, then, likewise, you can’t harm us,” responded Toddy smugly, though with a hint of trepidation.

“Very smart, Hermes! Always the quick-witted one, are we not?” replied Hecate mockingly. She continued, “None of you will be going anywhere other than with me, for your presence is required back on Earth by the new Lord of the Universe, my brother Erebus.”

The four looked at each other, despair written on their faces.

Toddy responded, “If you can’t harm us, then why do you expect us to do as you say? We’re not going to move from here. Looks like a bit of a stand-off to me! How about you go back to Earth and we go to Arcturus? We’ll all be happy, then.”

All the time Hecate was engaged in verbal one-upmanship with Toddy, Carter was surreptitiously watching a crack that was silently appearing in the wall by the side of the huge mirror. This was a subtle, discreet change masked from the view of Hecate by the depth of the mirror’s frame. The crack slowly widened, enough for a person to get through, and he was relieved to see beyond a Mindways thread. He sensed this was the Gods assisting them and he was careful not to let his mind race ahead and lose this potential escape route. However, he noticed the portal was under great strain and, if they didn’t make a move soon, it might not last.

Hecate responded to Toddy, “Whilst I may not be able to physically harm you in Temenos, I can influence you.” With that, Hecate raised her staff, pointing it at the four of them, chanting, “Ara ber sur sha keh!”

The staff glowed with a reddish hue and emitted a fog that started to encircle them and draw closer. Carter, remembering what Hecate had said earlier about being unable to cause physical harm, summoned the wind as a protective force, directing it to form a barrier between them and the advancing fog, keeping it at bay.

The look on Hecate’s face showed distinct displeasure at Carter’s defensive move. It had clearly caught her off guard for a split second, enough for him to deal his winning hand.

Carter screamed in his siblings’ heads, “Guys, quickly, to the right, move! A crack in the wall. Safety. GO! No time to lose. I’ll hold her off as long as I can.”

Angie, Toddy and Sophie, without stopping to question Carter’s reasoning, immediately ran towards the crack, from which a bright light emanated, welcoming them in.

Hecate’s Ajatar – a simple beast from the deepest and darkest regions of Tartarus, and not under direct control of Hecate when she wasn’t riding it – instinctively bellowed fire towards the fleeing trio.

Hecate screamed, “No Iblis!” but her warning came too late.

An instantaneous blinding sheet of light swept Iblis away; it vanished without a trace, its breath of fire extinguished as quickly as it had been breathed in anger.

The three reached the crack and, one by one, entered the Mindways thread. Hecate’s concentration was lost due to the distraction and she failed to sustain the spell she had used to bring the four young Gods under her hegemony. As the fog dissipated, she and Carter turned to face each other. Hecate moved between Carter and the crack in the wall to cut off any possible escape.

“Hyperion,” began Hecate, “I bow to your talent! Despite your relative inexperience in heavenly matters, and considering where you came from, you appear to have mastered your powers in a very short time.” Hecate paused and looked cautiously around the room before adding in a seductive tone, “Personally, I admire men of strength. I find them very, very alluring. My brother, Erebus is the most powerful and attractive man since Creation. I adore him; we are very close. You and I can be very close.”

Hecate looked into Carter’s eyes seductively. Without realising it, Carter was being subtly disabled. His defences weakened. Hecate’s lilting tone drew him to her; he was becoming love-struck by the beauty before him – petite, yet of immense presence, beautiful, with long jet black hair to her waist. Hecate drew back the red velvet robes she was wearing to reveal a beautifully proportioned naked body, milky white beneath a flowing sheer black, lacy gown, a deep V-neck barely covering her pert breasts. Carter couldn’t resist the vision being unwrapped in front of him. Hecate was sublime. He sensed an unrelenting yearning to hold her in his arms, a rampant desire to take her. He had fallen for this evil temptress and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t resist.

Carter could not tear his eyes away from this dark beauty. Her spell had taken him, in fact, it could never fail. Hecate was the Witch Goddess, an unparalleled Necromancer of the Universe. She smiled seductively at her prey and moved provocatively towards him, her deep black eyes never wavering from his. As Hecate drew up close to Carter, she took his left hand and placed it on her right breast. His touch sent shivers down her spine. Her breasts heaved with the intake of breath from the sensuous shock. She guided his right hand to her moist vulva, her breath quickening as he lightly played with her, his fingers searching the moist warmth of her sex. Hecate raised her face to Carter’s and found his mouth waiting for hers. They kissed long and hard. She deftly removed his clothing and grabbed his firm manhood, pulling him down to the cold marble floor. The building resonated in their joining; a tremor was felt throughout Temenos. It was the joining of evil with an unknowing young God of righteousness. They writhed in adulterous pleasure, their bodies grinding in unison, Hecate’s deep dark eyes searching Carter’s, never losing their hold. She quickened the pace as she reached her climax, digging her nails deep into his back. As the flood of lust sated her wanton desires, Carter’s back arched as he released his seed, joining her in ecstasy. At that precise moment, the very foundations groaned and Temenos shook violently. Temenos was unable to prevent the union of two consenting beings, which may not have been violence with intent to harm, but this place was still capable of preventing further desecration within the bastion of all that was peaceful and good.

The crack in the wall that had suddenly appeared was not of Temenos’ making; it was a violation of its neutrality. Others had set it to free the four, but they had only taken three. Temenos closed it as quickly as it had appeared. Not a trace remained as the breach sealed shut. Temenos settled to lick its wounds. It had been defiled twice, but no more.

Hecate smiled. Hyperion was hers now, hers to do with as she pleased. She was confident that Erebus wouldn’t mind her having this lithe, strong, young God as surely her needs were far greater than his.

“Anyway, I needn’t report back just yet. Time can be suspended and I can ease the pain of abstinence imposed by my selfish brother. He only wants me for himself. What about my desires?” spat Hecate vilely, revealing the evil truth of her nature.

Hecate regained her composure. She was thrilled to have secured such a prize – a child of the greater Gods; she who was despised and shunned as a minor irritant to the pompous elite for so many years, she who was not worthy of her ‘exalted Erebus’.

She whispered into Carter’s ear, “Now they will see how clever and powerful I am.”

With that, she rose from Carter’s side and walked over to the nearest mirror. In the reflection, she admired her semi-naked beauty. Her deep black eyes reflected in the surface of the mirror as she smoothed her sheer gown and played with her hair. Hecate touched herself gently between her thighs and felt a deep and complete warmth within her. A subtle change was taking place. Again she smiled. She knew what she was doing. Hecate, now tidy, turned and gestured to Hyperion to get up.

“We need to go. Get dressed and follow me.”

She turned, heading for the nearest mirror. Carter grabbed his clothing and followed like a little lap dog, unable to resist the spell that had smitten him. He adored Hecate, worshipped the ground she walked on; he would destroy worlds just to be by her side. The past was now but a forgotten moment in distant time and held little meaning. His life was nothing else but devotion to Hecate and all that went before was lost.

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