“There is a Variation.”
All Five Council Members let the sentence echo in the dark conference room for a full three minutes before initiating any sort of movement. Then one of them shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
“There is a Variation,” he nervously confirmed the echo, his fingers uncontrollably drummed against the material of his robe.
The rest of them remained quiet, allowing five minutes of silence for the confirmation of the Variation that had officially taken place exactly half an hour ago. Each of them sensed the Variation at that exact time it had occurred, some of them wondered why Time would allow such an event but the fact remained a Variation had occurred. It brought a chill to the spine like the irritation of dust in the nostrils. And like dust, the Variation was something not easily wiped out, it needed to be blown out with a tissue but even then there would still be a molecule residue of dust left in the nostril exactly like this Variation feeling.
It had been thirty minutes or more likely thirty eight minutes ago, the First Council Member known as the Feng Shui Master had been trimming the hedges of his Feng Shui garden and observed that his garden was in a complete state or technically speaking incomplete state of disarray. According to the Classical Bagua (Feng Shui Plan), the 8 Feng Shui directions – North, South, East, West, Northwest, Northeast, Southeast and Southwest and their elements – Water, Earth, Fire, Wood, and Metal needed to coincide. This plan set the direction and location of significant items in relation to their energy capacity; thus the Feng Shui Plan balanced energy in the garden and the entire universe but to his amazement or rather to his muddle-ment; all the positioning of the – what he thought to be fixed – garden items had completely changed. The initial outlined plan had the entire pond in the North, but to his astonished scaled pale face, it was currently in the East.
Feng Shui was his expertise, he was the original creator and master of Feng Shui, which meant that he was in charge of identifying and managing elements and direction, in order to complement seasons, shape, climate and energy, but currently he had no clue of how an entire pond with water and Koi fish in it mind you, had moved from the North, shifting all the other landscape items within its pathway including the hundreds of individual rooted Bonsai Trees to the entire South of the garden. The South of the garden’s element was meant to be fire, and as it was well known trees should never mix with fire unless it was controlled or perhaps if there was an agreed request for firewood which according to the rules of the Arcane – the home of the Councillor’s and the highest eternal of the eternal– never ever happened. It was never cold in Arcane, it just rained and was always room temperature just as the Feng Shui Master had authorised. But back to the South area of the Feng Shui garden where clearly things were not as they should be – where trees should never be planted nor placed, especially Bonsai Trees, as they would easily act as a catalyst to increase the fire element causing it to be haphazard and according to the Feng Shui rule book and the Feng Shui Master, this was incorrect and above that it was illegal. The Feng Shui Master was adjusting and analysing his expert view on the matter when a breeze tingled the wind chimes of his disorientated garden then fell across his face and finally chilled his spine.
It was the Variation.
In the midst of the First Council Member walking through his garden, the Fourth Councillor known as the Master of Time was in the process of turning the tenth page of his book, his fingertips hovered in the air, holding on to the 90 degree angled page and then he unexpectedly coughed, a slow, sluggish kind of cough that released some sort of green slime from his throat, – it should be noted that this kind of slow cough could only be done with expert skill which this particular Councillor had – he was in control of time, he ordained when a second should be converted to a minute and when a minute should be allowed to turn into an hour, he commissioned movement yet everything about him lacked much movement.
He was far too slow to process certain or any conversations; it was only after ten minutes of a conversation whereby he would respond appropriately. But still he was the Master of Time and was an important entity to the entire universe. He swallowed some of the slime that he had coughed from his throat to his mouth, feeling relief as the slime soothed his dry throat, he continued to turn the page of his book but very slowly as if he was testing the texture of the page with his fingertips. The page moved at a less than one second pace, it was near an angle of 93 degrees and that’s when the Fourth Councillor had felt the chill against his spine.
“Oh,” he uttered, which came out like a prolonged, oooooooooohhhhhhh. Then he coughed that slow skilful cough that only the Master of Time could, but as the slime almost reached the insides of his mouth he tried to speak, forcing him to slur his words more than usual. “Thh aaaat waaas not a buuuurrrrp,” he said, swallowing the slime back into his throat.
It was the Variation.
During the slow events of the Fourth Councillor, exactly thirty-eight minutes ago the Second Councillor known as the Master of ‘almost’ Matter stood in his mirrored office, examining one of his many portraits of himself. His office was large with mirrored glass plastered on the ceiling and almost on all the walls of the room. Within these empty spaces, there hung self portraits of the Second Councillor. If one were to walk into his room, one’s reflection would be highlighted and immediately in view from all angles and be watched by the slitted eyes of the Second Councillor’s self portraits. His eyes would stare at you intently and devastate your Spark.
To the average creature this might be frightening witnessing all sides of your face and the intense gaze of the Master of ‘almost’ Matter. However to the Master of ‘almost’ Matter the room was a sanctuary, he thoroughly enjoyed admiring his reflected hooded face in all 900 mirrors in his office. When he walked in his office, he did not smile, rather he acknowledged his own presence and there was nothing like the feeling of enjoying and acknowledging his own presence.
This particular Councillor was vain beyond comprehension, he would stare at his reflection assessing his scaly pale face, inspecting if more scales had appeared on his face and then he would assess if his grey robe had a thread loose.
He would attempt different facial expressions, his angered expression which looked rather like his normal expression or his smiling expression which looked again like his normal expression. This Councillor’s narcissistic tendencies were not his only indulgence, he also enjoyed designing clothes or to be more precise robes.
He was the designer and creator of the robes adorning the Five Councillor Members. He had stitched and sewn all five robes with his bare hands – he could have created them out of nothing as he was the Architect of Matter (any physical object/subject) but that was not homely enough – he had dyed all the robes grey except the one for Death – black seemed appropriate for his profession but he had intentionally chosen the grey colour, for that was his favourite colour and he had used his special dye concoction.
Even though he lacked creativity and thinking ‘out of the box’ in terms of the current fashion in the universe, he alone considered his designs to be ‘out of the box’ for he was the only one who knew that the First Council Member’s outfit had a slight lining outside and his belt was a darker shade of grey. The inside of the Third Council Member’s robe was entirely white with a silky material. The Fourth Member’s robe was shorter in length than the others.
Was that not thinking out of the box?
It was only him, who knew of his magnificent designs, none of his four colleagues knew of his hobby to sew and that is how he desired to keep it. If the other Council Members discovered his secret that he enjoyed stitching and dying fabrics, he would be clubbed with the Fifth Council Member, Death. And if one were to be associated with Death or seen mingling with him, it would tarnish his extravagant reputation.
The Second Councillor stood staring at one of his many portraits of himself, he moved his head closer towards the painting, almost touching the surface with his nose, but his slit eyes noted that the red on the painting looked rather like pink. And this was wrong, he thought. Perhaps, the pink had layered on the red and this meant it needed to be removed. Red was red, and pink was pink. And this portrait had to remain red, not pink. He touched the ancient dried pink paint, rubbing it on to his finger, trying to get rid of the pink paint but he should have obviously known – being the ‘almost’ creator of Matter that the pink paint would not be easily removed unless chemicals such as acetic acid were added onto it.
Nonetheless, he tried vigorously, rubbing the pink paint with all his might but when nothing happened, he huffed out aggressively.
“Argh,” he sighed in frustration, then he felt it, the sudden Variation chill, it forced his face forward, slamming his face into the face of his pink portrait. His portrait shuddered and the Master of ‘almost’ Matter tried his level best to steady the stumbling portrait but as he tried, he witnessed his entire 900 reflected mirrors crack. Seven years of bad luck, he thought to himself and then his voice involuntary sang out in shock.
“Seven years multiplied by 900! What is the meaning of this?”
It was the Variation.
While the Master of ‘almost’ Matter tried to clutch his reflection in his portrait and make sense of his shattered reflections, his ancient colleague and lesser half, known as the Third Council Member was lying on his bed before the Variation chill had swept into his spine. He lay on his bed, feigning sleeping. He could not sleep as this was one of the Arcane rules – Council Members never slept, they needed to be alert and awake to manage the entire universe every nano-second – so he pretended to sleep. His eyes were closed and his leg dangled near the edge of the bed. Occasionally, he pursed his lips and blew wind into the air, and unexpectedly a whistling tune would manifest.
“It’s perfect,” he whistled. “Another perfect year, doing absolutely nothing.”
He was rumoured to be the lesser half of the Second Council Member because he was in charge of controlling only the quarter of matter – the leftovers – that needed to complete the Master of ‘almost’ Matter. However, his name did not contain any words that indicated he was the completion of the Second Councillor. All he was known as was the Master of Space, he had some control of matter but the matter he was in charge of was based on location, the creation of landscape and topography. He liked creating locations and did not care where he allocated the locations. He just enjoyed creating them whenever it suited him.
It was almost as if he was not really needed, as most matter – virtually all matter was created by the Second Councillor. The Master of Space only had a small role creating landscapes that were already made of matter and all management of time, location and matter was the responsibility of the First Councillor. The Third Councillor was not nearly necessary as Time, Matter, Feng Shui and even Death in the universe.
The Diagram of Hierarchy
The Master of Space played an insignificant support role to the Master of ‘almost’ Matter which suited him just fine. He did not have to deal with writing reports, paper work, creating nonsensical graphs and creating something out of nothing. The only time he made any effort of work was to attend the random meetings with his fellow colleagues in their dark, warm conference room. Either than that, he did not bother with anything related to the entire universe. His personality did not suit hard work, he was lazy and idling came easily. He would close his eyes for three days, not doing anything and when he got bored of the darkness he would open them and peek around his room and then proceed to close his eyes for another three days. He slanted his eyes opened and whistled another tune, rolling into a more comfortable position on the bed.
“Another perfect year,” he sang. “If only the universe could last until the big bang.”
His eyes closed again and he hummed the lyrics he had sung, easing his already relaxed mind into more relaxation. But as he hummed, whistled and sang he felt a chilly tune of the Variation seep into his song, it infused its chill into his whistle melody and pierced its shuddering note into his spine.
“It’s the Variation,” he stated, not alarmed of the chilling feeling. It seemed as though he was expecting it. “You should have come earlier,” he said.
The present time revealed the conference room to be dark and silent. All Five Members sat in their chairs with their arms folded.
“The Variation roams in the universe,” the Feng Shui expert finally announced, interrupting the silence. “The Variation has broken the natural elements, it has shattered and destroyed the virgin cycle of elements on the wind chime.”
The other Four Members tried their best to avoid the topic, none of them spoke instead they stared in the deepest thoughts of meditation, each waiting for a dignified response from the next Council Member beside them. Each of them sensed the Variation, the chilling of the spine it brought but none of them were willing to address the rather significant problem at hand.