At first when I arrived outside the spiritual church I thought the place was empty. I knocked on the door and moved around to the side entrance but there was no response. After a few minutes of passing the time I eventually skirted around the corner and found Chris puffing on a cigarette while sat on the bench next to the church walls.
He looked at me and nodded. For a moment his eyes closed and I wondered if he sensed the same dread that I felt.
“My friends always used to tell me that I worked too hard…” Chris said, talking to himself as much as me as I took a seat. “They told me I spent too much time working for a god who didn’t work for me. Funny thing to say, isn’t it? Here I am, though, still here. I just don’t see those friends now. They’re all married.”
“Nothing lasts forever,” I said, unable to shake off my dejected mood. “Do you think it’s all been worth it?”
“What was it that Winston Churchill once said? ‘For my part I am an optimist…I don’t see much use in being anything else.’ The people that come here are always looking for meaning, for some sort of resolution. We can’t just live in the moment.”
“I’m not sure how many moments I have left, Chris.”
“Jack…” he said, putting out the last of his cigarette and eyeing me with compassion. “What’s happened?”
“A friend of mine passed away last night for no real reason. He just…died. There was no warning or lead up to it. Are we all so fragile, in the end? Do we have any control at all?”
“I am sorry,” Chris said, his expression turning whimsical like it did the last time we had talked. “Do you truly believe he is gone?”
“Since I last saw you my memories have returned, or at least some of them. I know more about what I am now, what it means to be Pisces. I’ve lived many lives, I’ve seen so much, but I still question the Universe. Even now, I don’t really understand. So I think, maybe I’ve failed. Maybe I’m not the right person.”
“Or perhaps you are precisely where you need to be, and everything you need to know is buried right within yourself…” Chris said, with a tight-lipped smile. “You will always doubt yourself. It’s what makes you what you are…let everyone else have faith in you, because they do. You connect us all together, Jack.”
“We’re all equal, though, aren’t we? Everything in the cycle matters, every sign. All this time I’ve been helped by others, not the other way around.”
“We are all from the same essence, and we are all the best and worst that human nature have to offer. But you see, Jack, you’re the one who understands the most. It’s a journey of recovery, not discovery, and you can let go of everything that holds the rest of us in the material realm. You are the one that goes onto transcendence, which is a journey that we are not yet ready to take. Do you know what they mean about Pisces when they say, serve or suffer?”
“I think so,” I said. “If I live only for my own desires, then I won’t feel fulfilled.”
“Yes,” Chris said after rising from the bench and gesturing for me to follow. We scaled back to the entrance while he fumbled for his keys. “The nature of spirit is to serve with unconditional love. That is the secret. We’re all students and teachers to one another, and as I speak to you now, you are already teaching me a great deal.”
“I don’t understand.” I said, not able to catch his meaning. We walked along the main aisle past the rows of seats and towards the tall platform. Instantly I felt relieved and strangely peaceful in spite of my low mood.
“You never do,” Chris said, laughing. We moved closer towards the kitchen. “And yet, you always do. You’re a real enigma, you know. You remind me of Moon, in a way. That man used to drive me crazy.”
“It’s true what that poem said about me, isn’t it?” I said, changing the subject. Chris flicked the kettle down and turned to look at me with bemusement. “Four of us have already passed on because of me. For as long as I am around, everyone I love is going to suffer. I can’t carry on in this way, Chris.”
“You won’t have to,” he said, sighing. He seemed to be struggling to meet my eyes as he stared at his feet. “He’s already here, now. Can you feel him? One way or another, Jack, our lives are about to change.”
“Mercury?” I said, sensing the energy in the room changing. It suddenly dropped, becoming denser, with all of my fears rising to the surface again.
“Mercury.” Chris agreed. We slowly moved out of the kitchen and into the main room. It didn’t take long to see Adam looking back at us behind the second to last row, his face now drawn and tired.
“How did he know to come here?”
“Does it matter?” Chris countered. “The others will be here soon, too. It’s a fixed moment. We didn’t know when it would come, until this moment, and now it all makes sense. We’ve all been led for this final gathering.”
“At last, we meet,” Adam said, his voice not his own and instead deep, rich and eloquent. Mercury was using him as a puppet. “You’ve been very illusive, Pisces.”
“Be careful,” Chris said as his arm swung out to rest against my chest. “You can’t fight him. He’s too strong.”
“Ah, Capricorn…I haven’t seen you in a long time. I always quite liked you, in fact. It’s a shame I’m here to end all of this, for good. Like you, I’m serving the realms.”
“I see,” Chris said calmly. “You will spare me the excuses, won’t you? I’m sure Jupiter will be interested in your crimes.”
“As I’m sure you’ll be interested in knowing about his," Mercury said, his mouth curling into a wide grin. I looked at him and saw expressions and mannerisms in Adam that had never been present before. It was difficult to see his body being manipulated in such a debase way, but I didn’t know how to stop it. There was no running away from the fact that I wasn’t a fighter and I was facing off against a supernatural being.
“Pisces, you are too soft,” Mercury continued, remaining fixed where he stood. “You seek to enlighten humanity and allow for their consciousness to grow by bringing them into contact with the astral realm. It is a noble vision, I grant you, but terribly naïve. There’s a reason why we are the gatekeepers. We must be realistic, and keep this realm in its rightful place.”
“Hasn’t history taught you anything?” I said finally, finding the courage to speak. “Oppression serves evil, and achieves nothing. We are all from the same source, Mercury, even you! We have to move forward, not backwards.”
“I see you’re still a keen philosopher,” Mercury said, his expression becoming unreadable. For a moment I even thought there was sadness in his eyes, as if he was somehow relating to my idealism. “We were not always so cynical, Pisces. I wanted to fight the imperfections for a long time, until I realised that it wasn’t possible. Humanity will always be flawed. We are far better leaving them alone.”
There was a sudden noise that erupted from the back of the church and was followed by a group of figures emerging at the main entrance. Mercury turned to look at them from his position mere seats away from theirs. Anna, Liwanu, Harrison and Isabelle stood together in a tight-knit circle, protecting one another with their guarded expressions.
“You’re not harmed.” Anna said as a look of relief washed over her. I stepped forwards but regained my senses after seeing alarm pass over Chris’s face.
“We came as soon as we knew, Jack,” Liwanu said, his usual composure shaken. “It all came to us to come here and find you, though we didn’t know the reason. We just had to all come. Now I can see why.”
“I wasn’t going to,” Isabelle said from behind Liwanu. I couldn’t see her very well but I noticed she looked smarter and cleaner than before, after having changed into more flattering clothes. “I wanted to stay with Antoine, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. He said that I had to go in his name, as much as Virgo’s. So here I am.”
“Even now, we’re being controlled by an intelligence we don’t even understand,” Mercury said, his face lining into a contorted frown. His previous light manner had changed after the arrival of the others, now becoming agitated and impatient. “It seems that I’m being used in the same way as I’m using your Gemini friend. Our meeting has been orchestrated and we’re simply like pieces on a board. How frustrating!”
“Give it up, then,” Harrison said, facing Mercury from the side of the aisle. “Leave us in peace.”
“It’s not as simple as that,” he said slowly, as if explaining the colour of the sky to a small child. “I can’t abandon my purpose anymore than the rest of you. And the laws of nature doesn’t take sides, it has no need for those human notions. The outcome of this meeting is as closed to me as it is to any of you. I will not give up my place. This is my choice!”
“You could’ve killed us all if you wanted. What’s stopping you?” Chris said, challenging the god with strength and determination in his voice. My eyes darted over to his with a questioning look, to show that I didn’t understand his game. He winked but gave no answer.
“He can’t,” Harrison said with sudden knowing. “He’s using up all of his energy just trying to control Gemini. He’s much weaker in this realm, that’s his problem.”
“Very apt,” Mercury said coolly, sounding too confident for my liking. “There are…restrictions here. As messenger I can travel anywhere, but there are consequences. Still, you didn’t think I’d risk coming here unless I had a good reason, did you?”
“That’s what I’m trying to figure out.” Harrison said hoarsely. In that moment there was the sound of a door opening and closing behind me, with the reasoning behind the noise being revealed as Aries. She looked like I remembered as she walked vacantly from the corridor of the back entrance and towards us. As our eyes met I noticed recognition in them and felt comforted that she was free from the Magician’s curse, before turning to Chris for answers.
“She’s part of us, too,” Chris said, as if it was obvious. “I let her in before you arrived, but she didn’t want to stay in here. She must’ve known that Mercury would come in that way. She knew to come here, like the rest of us.”
“It’s not ideal, but I’m not surprised. I knew there would be others meddling to keep you safe,” Mercury said, directing his attention back to me. It unnerved me to see him smiling again. “I might not be able to gather the strength in this realm, but that doesn’t matter. Come, Pisces! We will give them a show to remember, and make them realise that free will has more power than they think!”
Instinctively I lunged forward, but I was too late to stop what happened next as my body crumpled to the ground and I watched, helpless. There were screams coming from the others as I slipped away and fell into unconsciousness. I knew I wasn’t dead, not yet, but I was being taken away from the church and drawn into another place, beyond the material structures of the physical. Mercury was ahead of me and watching with bright eyes, though not yet going in for an attack.
We were all alone in the darkness with torches lit against the walls. I looked down at my feet and noticed that I was standing on cold, stone steps that spiralled upwards as they curved towards the left. Mercury was at a higher place along the stairwell.
“Where are we?” I asked, not trusting him but knowing that there was no one else. “Is this a dream?”
“Not a dream, no,” Mercury said conversationally as we followed the stairs round, our shoes clattering loudly against the surface. “We are in a void. We walk between realms, outside the control of other beings, in a pathway that belongs to travellers alone.”
“So you’ve brought me out here to get your energy back.” I said, realising that I was likely going into his trap. Even so, there wasn’t much point in waiting around and falling into another one.
“I move upwards for the same reason you do, and that is to escape. The lower realms beckon from below, Pisces, and they follow at our heels. But yes, I have drawn you out from your safety place.”
“Adam, can you hear me?” I pleaded, trying to raise him out of his slumber. For my efforts a loud, rumbling laugh echoed from above.
“You can’t bring him back with the power of prayer, you fool!” Mercury said, farther now as he sped forwards. I rushed as quickly as I could for no other reason than to try and catch him, even though I didn’t know what I’d do if I did reach him. Mercury seemed intent on climbing to the top. No matter how many steps we walked on, however, there didn’t seem to be any end in sight. We were moving along an endless span of space that was limitless in its scope.
“Look around you, Pisces!” he said, his voice animate and moving loudly through the ethereal room. To my right I noticed the walls becoming mirrors and glimmering like ripples bubbling along the surface of water. Then, without hiding my surprise, the encompassing walls transformed into scenes that were familiar to me, with all of them spanning across all of my incarnations. There was no narrative or coherency to them, as every individual wall played its own memory, seeing all of the people I’d ever met re-enacting their parts with me once again.
“Have you done this?” I called out, trying not to look at reflections that brought with them the pain of remembrance.
“I wanted you to experience all of your consciousness before you fell into the darkness forever,” Mercury said, no longer within sight now as we raced mindlessly into the unknown. “They are coming for you now!”
“I don’t care.” I said stubbornly and with more bravery than I felt. We kept going on and on, moving in the same direction and away from the shadows that lurked beneath. There was no telling how much time passed when the feeling of lethargy wrapped around me, inhibiting my movement and slowing down my pace. In the silence I sensed the evil coming from below that drained all of my focus, my resolve and even my ability to challenge its tight hold which enveloped me wholly.
There were many voices that cut through me with their words, wearing away at my spirit with their veiled and scathing attacks. Some of them I already knew, though their voices had been contorted and demonised to expose all of my regrets and fears by bringing them to the surface. Somewhere from above Mercury howled with laughter; a mirthful sound that echoed throughout the whole chamber. As I turned to my right, feeling laden with guilt and possessed by the evil from behind, the mirrors reflected back nightmares that I had long been fighting to repress.
“You killed us all!” a familiar voice said, its tone deeply hurt and wounded. I tried to focus on climbing the stairs but my attention kept returning to the voices, louder and more forceful now as I moved very slowly upwards. The next voice that came was Liwanu, his wizened face wrought with sorrow – for his fate or my own I couldn’t tell. “Pisces, what have you done?” he whispered as his eyes glistened with tears.
“I knew we should never have trusted you!” Harrison said, his voice filled with venom. It was impossible not to be stung by their words as my eyes watered and my resolve weakened. Suddenly I became aware of the other path that I had chosen, in an alternative existence where I would become the old Pisces, after having sacrificed all of my companions for survival. I wanted to tell them that I hadn’t made those choices, that I wasn’t him, but the intensity and severity of their frustrations robbed me of my willpower.
“You let me die, Jack…” Anna. Not her. I would’ve done anything to trade places in that moment, to disappear so that she could live. I saw her face flash in front of me, looking heartbroken and shocked, but not even angry. It would’ve been easier if she had looked resentful, yet all I saw in her shimmering eyes were the immortal traces of disappointment. Then, as Mercury’s footsteps sounded loudly from a higher place, I stopped moving. Slowly, I was becoming soulless, with an overwhelming urge for it all to end.
“No, Jack!” another voice said, ringing in my ears. I looked around, aroused from my depression. This time the noise had come from a different place, without the condemning and malicious tone of the others, while carrying a deep healing presence. “You can’t give up now. Look how far you’ve come…you need to keep moving.”
“Aiden,” I said, wracked with emotion. I knew that voice from anywhere, lighting my spirit like a beacon with a strength that carried me out of the gutter. “It’s really you…”
“I told you I’d come, if I could! You can do it. Keep going. You can hear all of the evils and fears that live within all of our hearts…but it’s nothing compared to the rest of you!”
Without knowing it I took a step forwards, and then another, until my body roared back to life and raced once again up the stairway. In my mind’s eye Aiden came through with his mousey brown hair as curly as it ever was, his bright blue eyes shining with warmth, and the empowering grin I’d never forgotten etched across his features. He was, I realised, the best friend that I’d ever had – and was still saving my life even in death.
“Thank you.” I whispered, as I rushed forwards with a new sense of purpose. He gave me more encouraging words as I carried on, silencing the evil thoughts that lingered in the background. From above Mercury’s laughing had stopped and was replaced by another voice that I recognised.
“Jack!” Adam screamed, having somehow wrestled for control over his senses. “You need to smash the glass! Do you hear me? Smash it!”
“What?!” I shouted, clambering forwards as the stairs narrowed and wound ahead.
“Do it!” he said, becoming silent once again.
I looked to the side at the mirrors that hung only metres away from the railings. Desperately I tried to think of a way I could break the glass but no solutions came to mind. Here was the most bare and desolate place I’d ever been in, and there was nothing that I could do except chase the unreachable man ahead.
Then the idea came as clear as day. I knew I had to make the most foolish and dangerous decision to escape. Likely it would fail, but there didn’t seem any point in carrying on the mindless pursuit. In the distance I could hear Mercury talking again, trying to demoralise me with his insults, and inadvertently giving me the courage to leap from the top of one of the staircase and lunge right into the mirror ahead.
Once we overcome the paralysis of indecision and being afraid the consequences of taking action usually comes quick and fast. As I connected with the glass and shot through it the world around me began to spin and collapse internally, shattering all of its illusions with alarming speed. There was barely any time to process the transition when I found myself lying on my back and surrounded by the other descendants.
Gradually my senses returned and as I reeled forwards I recognised the change of scenery with immediate effect. We were in the rose garden again, the higher realm, and as I craned my neck to my left and right I saw that we weren’t alone. There was Moon, who I’d met before, as well as a few figures that I had met at some other point in existence.
“How are you feeling, hmph?” Jupiter said, his enormous frame towering over the others. “You may be in shock for some time…”
“Naturally,” Saturn said to his right. I remembered his judicial appearance and the bright, emerald eyes. “You are fortunate to have made it back here. It seems the laws are weighted in your favour…”
“You alright, kid?” Harrison said from nearby. I looked to him and smiled weakly, before turning to acknowledge the others.
“Where’s Mercury?” I asked, forcing myself to my feet.
“Over there,” Chris said, his finger pointing past where I stood. I turned around and saw Mercury and Adam lying next to one another, their bodies now separated. “They think Gemini will be okay now. Thanks to you.”
“It was Adam who saved me,” I said, studying them both. “What are we going to do with Mercury?”
“Justice,” Saturn said. “Or at least, he will be given some punishment. Jupiter, I feel, has softened in his last years…and feels he is partly to blame.”
“I am partly responsible,” Jupiter sighed, his gigantic body sloping forwards. “I should’ve known sooner that Mercury held resentments that I had helped grow. He must come with us in moving on, and we must suffer whatever will come.”
“You did well, my child,” Neptune said as she walked towards me. “Mercury had drawn you into a world of his own making, a place where he could control you. But everywhere, no matter how terrible, must have an exit point. If you can enter it, you can also leave…”
“Mother,” I said, stepping forwards. We embraced as the emotion of reunion swept through us both, her gentle touch flowing through my body. “But how are we all here? What happened?”
“This place needs a guardian, a servant that will keep out the evil that has infected the lower realms,” Moon said, smiling wryly. “This was always your purpose, Pisces, once you could overcome your lower nature. Now, here we all are, to perform the pact.”
“We are tired,” Saturn said, his gaze meeting my own. “We are moving on, to journey through the next realms. Moon has already passed through, but has come back to take us with him. Jupiter, Mars and I have done all we can for humanity. Now it’s time for someone else to take up the mantle.”
“Speak for yourself,” Mars said gruffly from within the circle. I looked at him and remembered his small stature and scarred face. To my surprise, though, there was a faint grin etched across his mouth. It wasn’t a kind look by any means, but there was some evidence of the real man who lived within the wretched frame. “I’m moving on to find something worth finding, that is all.”
“Now I must take control of the council,” Neptune said, touching my shoulder. She looked at me levelly as she spoke. “I don’t know who will join me. But the realms need protection, Pisces. They need a guardian who has walked in the shoes of many, and understands their natures the most. They need a selfless caretaker.”
Suddenly the glyph of two fishes appeared at my feet. Within the circle the other descendents looked downwards and saw their own glyphs marked onto the ground, to immortalise the Zodiac. Then, to my great amazement, the signs of Cancer, Sagittarius, Aquarius and Leo glowed brightly in the spaces unoccupied, to show that their descendants still lived on. I stared at the others and smiled warmly, with the sudden realisation that we had all arrived at a sacred moment.
“If only Antoine was here, right now…” Isabelle said softly, her face overcome with the same awe that I felt. “Can you believe it? We fulfilled his vision!”
“You have all done well,” Jupiter said, his deep voice riveting through the air. “Here comes the end of an age, and the beginning of the Aquarian age, which will bring greater awareness and enlightenment to mankind. You will all travel back to the material soon…except, Pisces, for you. You must remain here, and watch over the realms with the powers of the constellations as a guide.”
“Yes,” I nodded, feeling honoured by their trust. “I think I’ve been waiting for this moment for the longest time. The old Pisces…he refused you, didn’t he? That’s why he killed the others…to be free.”
“That’s right,” Jupiter said. He looked at me with lively eyes, perhaps measuring my resolve. “Yet your fate is different. You have already changed and walked a different path. You will not remain here forever, Pisces…we are eternal, but everything is in a state of change. Eventually you too will move on into other realms.”
“Until that time, we are all gathered here to make the pact,” Moon said, studying us all with intent. “Are you ready to complete the Zodiac, to bring harmony to the realms, to work tirelessly to enlighten the world?”
“Yes.” We all said in unison. My eyes wandered and followed the gaze of every descendant, who acknowledged me with the same determination that I hoped I felt. Aries stood strong, her posture now tall and proud. Anna stood next to her, smiling at me with warmth, but failing to hide the sadness in her eyes. We both knew that our lives had changed in this moment.
With effort I moved along and saw Virgo, still overcome with open-eyed bewilderment. Libra held her hand, looking peaceful and deeply content. In that exchange I knew without words that he had forgiven himself for abandoning his old tribe, and finally seen the wisdom in his choice to join the Zodiac. Scorpio looked resigned, ready for the next challenge, but also surrendering to his fate. Finally I saw Capricorn whose eyes were closed. He was poised and out of us all the most familiar with service.
“Those who have passed on,” Moon said while stood in the middle of the circle. “Will still be called here to send their energies, to seal their glyphs, to be forever sanctioned within you, Pisces. Gemini, though not currently present, will also give away an aspect of his essence.”
I closed my eyes and remembered everything that Antoine had said about being receptive to others. My essence, which was the only word I could use to describe my role as Pisces, involved being sensitive to other energies and the greater intelligence which connected us all together. As we held hands and immersed ourselves into the moment I could feel all of their personalities, their natures and their beings flowing into my consciousness in a seamless transition. As Antoine had hinted at, I was the receiver for the ethereal and subtle energies that existed within every living creature.
Then I realised that all along I’d been attending Tai Chi to move and flow with my own essence, to enhance my sensitivity to the Universal Intelligence that was still beyond my own understanding, and to build myself to become the cocoon for other sources to manifest within myself.
For some time I must’ve dropped into an alternate state of thought when I was aroused back into awareness. I looked around and saw the others staring at one another with astonishment. Moon stood before us all and bowed as a mark of respect. We returned the gesture and watched as he returned to the other gods.
I followed Moon and Jupiter’s movements as they wandered over towards where Mercury rested. Despite the distance between us their deep voices rumbled and travelled across the space, so that I could hear their conversation. Moon knelt next to him and seemed to sigh, shaking his head with sadness.
“He was a good man, once, Jupiter…” Moon said, more serious than I’d ever seen him. “Do you think he’ll find the right path again?”
“We are all capable of redemption, Moon,” Jupiter said wisely, placing his great palm on Moon’s gentle frame. “Perhaps Mercury will do good again in future. For now, he must come with us.” Without another word they picked the two bodies up and moved back towards us. Moon laid Adam back onto the grass next to us while Jupiter balanced his once messenger on his shoulder. They watched us all with alert eyes while Saturn and Mars stood nearby.
“It’s time for us to go, now,” Saturn said. “Neptune, are you ready?”
“Yes,” she said sadly, looking at me one more time. “We will meet again, my son, when the time is right. Remember, our thoughts are all connected. Think of me when you feel alone.”
“Goodbye, Pisces,” Moon said, his clownish grin returning. I felt relieved to see it again, knowing that we may never meet again. “You will not be alone at any time. Trust your intuition. You have journeyed this far to watch over us all…”
“Rest easy,” Jupiter said to us all. “You have all played important roles, and must continue to serve. There is still much to do. For our part, we will keep growing and learning, in realms that we have yet to understand or speak of.”
After a few minutes of goodbyes we watched them leave together, disappearing into the unknown and moving onto worlds that remained a mystery to the rest of us. Neptune waited a few moments longer, bracing herself for the responsibilities demanded of her in the astral realm, and hugged me one last time.
“Venus,” I said, remembering. “She didn’t make it, did she?”
“I like to think that she will meet with the others again, wherever she may be, Pisces,” she said, her eyes glistening brightly. “She was great. A true friend.”
“She was,” I said, nodding. “And she will, I know it.”
A part of me would always hold onto that moment as an unequivocal understanding passed between us, until Neptune finally vanished from sight. The other descendants were moving around the roses, breathing in their richness, before noticing that their bodies started to become transparent and prepared for its transition back into the material realm.
“We’re sorry to leave you alone, Jack,” Liwanu said, placing his warm hand on the top of my head and closing his eyes. I realised he was saying an old prayer in his mind and wishing me the very best of health in my new role. “You understand what has happened here, don’t you?”
“I think so,” I said, noticing Chris roll his eyes and smiling in spite of myself. “Yes, I know. I’m the servant of all the realms, the carrier of all of our signs.”
“Sounds like fun,” Isabelle said and moved in for a hug. One by one they all came over to me, saying their goodbyes and expressing their joy.
“Look after Antoine for me, okay. He’ll make it, I know it.”
Even Harrison seemed in good spirits as he held me tightly, whispering in my ear: “Keep one eye open, Jack, even in this place.”
“I will.” I said, liking the exchange. He was an old warrior, and I was developing into a peacemaker, but in the end our paths travelled towards the same outcome. We were both protectors and guardians of those we loved.
“Thank you, for everything.” Aries said, holding my hand and kissing me on the cheek gently.
“What is your name, Aries? You never had chance to tell me.”
“Jess,” she said, her mouth stretching into a wide smile. It was comforting to know that no matter how much she had suffered there was always the potential of recovery never far behind. With the help of the others, she would eventually heal.
As if to bring more reassurance Chris touched her shoulder and offered me one of his rare smiles. We moved to shake hands and ended up hugging, his face shining brightly red.
“Take care,” he said. “We’ll talk again, I hope.”
“We will.” I said, knowing that there would eventually be another meeting in some form. I watched them all with lively eyes and struggled to hold it together as they vanished from sight, to return to their own journeys and teach the material about their signs. Adam followed soon after, his awareness still shaken and unconscious, but I knew that the others would protect him and help him to achieve a new type of normality in the years to come. Like Jess, he would find his own inner peace along the way.
We were left alone, Anna and I, as the violin played loudly in the background, stringing its beautiful sound. There was no sadness in it, no tragedy, but instead a wonderfully empowering tune that enlivened our spirits. She held my hand, kissing me softly on the lips, and looked deeply into my eyes. We both touched our foreheads together as she wrapped her arms around my waist, and in the most difficult moment of all she said: “I don’t want to leave you.”
“I don’t want you to go either,” I said, holding her tightly. “But we will meet again, Anna, I know it. We are linked together, our karmic ties, and we will be together again.”
“I believe you,” she said with a slight edge of humour. Even in those moments of great tenderness we could still laugh at ourselves. That was what I would miss the most. “Until then, what are we going to do?”
“Keep at it, I guess,” I said, in my usual noncommittal way to any concrete answer. “If I could, I’d be going back with you right now.”
“I know you would, but I wouldn’t let you,” she said, smiling sadly. “This place needs you more than I do.”
“Anna…thank you for everything. You don’t realise how—” before I could finish she pressed her finger against my lips and grinned mischievously.
“Don’t say it, Jack. I know. Think of me often, okay.”
My gratitude for that moment was boundless, but it didn’t take away the loss I felt as Anna’s body disappeared to return to the material. For a moment our bodies had been linked, our souls had connected, and the great love had passed between us. In any other moment I would’ve laughed at the romance in it, only I knew it had been heartfelt and genuine, and I wouldn’t experience it again for a very long time. My only consolation was that whatever curse the Magician had put on her had been lifted when we had all come together as one.
Afterwards I began the timeless transition into my role as guardian of the higher realm. My old life had ended, as Antoine told me at the hospital, but there were new beginnings waiting for me. Finally I was the charioteer, after having evolved from what had been holding me back before. Now I was free to walk between realms, to steer them all towards their destinies.
It was a freeing sensation that enveloped me wholly and filled me with such warmth that I knew for certain I was on the right path. Eventually, when it was needed again in the material, I was certain that another Pisces descendant would be born to begin another journey. His role would likely be different to my own, but just as essential and as necessary, while the other signs would continue to interweave and connect together in unison.
As always, there was much to do, and I had plenty to learn as I sat down and allowed the roses to engulf my senses. There were many more adventures, learning curves, relationships, ideals and philosophies to grapple with as I tried to adjust to the role that I had been bestowed. It was, I realised, another stepping stone to a larger whole towards the greater intelligence that existed and flowed within all areas of consciousness. We were all moving towards it, at different levels of awareness and understanding, and as I meditated on the thought I saw the faces of all of the people I had ever loved throughout my many lives.
“Serve or suffer,” I whispered, listening to the story of the violin as I drifted off into my own thoughts. “I will serve, I think, as I have no need for suffering.”
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