The Story of the Elder Fear written by The Letter Zero (Pen Name of Jon Keppel)

You know only one of the twins is real, that’s how the world keeps moving.  It’s said that even the Gods and Goddesses don’t know which is real and which is make-believe. 

 

Every God and Goddess is a twin as part of a dual nature: dark and light, cold and heat, sun and moon, chaos and order and so on.  Each is a lost half and feeds off of the other to exist.  As a mirror needs something to reflect so too does each God and Goddess draw from its counterpart in endless ways.   Each is a manifestation of indefinite perfection if only for a moment in the mind of the eye that watches.

 

For as the sun chases the moon, so too does the great world below swirl like a giant dreaming clock.  Each God keeps a Goddess and vice versa while breathing life into the story of the hours as they pass through the centuries.  There are twelve GodDesses held by the face of time, each with a dual nature; one of day and one of night.  So stretch the twenty-four hours and the bounds of this world. 

 

It just so happens though that on the eve of every epoch each God and Goddess is given the task of finding a replacement for no God or Goddess lives forever.  Their lights eventually fade like everything else in this world so before they disappear they must each find an apprentice to take over their duties and continue their reign.  This is the story of one such apprentice.

 

In the tiny town of Onwee sat a modest hut on the outskirts of an otherwise thriving and vibrant little hive.  As the only child of a hardworking peasant couple, Thirteen as he was called, spent his days in what seemed to be eternal boredom.  Slight of build and young in years he languished his days playing in the countryside, nabbing fish from the stream, chasing animals in the woods and getting into whatever mischief he could find.

 

One day while winding down a lazy summer afternoon he came upon a rather odd looking fish at the far end of the stream where his father and mother had told him never to go.  The unusual thing about this fish is that he was wearing glasses just like the glasses that his grandfather had used to wear when he was very, very young.

 

“How are ya kid?” the fish muttered.

 

“Good” Thirteen replied a little unsure of what to say and wobbly on his feet.

 

“How they biting today?” the fish continued.

 

“I…I…”  Thirteen stammered.

 

“That’s okay kid I’m just kidding jeez lighten up will ya?”

 

“Well, I’ve just never talked to a fish before, that’s all”  Thirteen responded.

 

“That’s okay kid neither have I.”

 

As he said this the fish made his way out of the water and onto the bank of the stream, walking!  Thirteen stared in disbelief as he had also never met a fish that could walk upright on two fins as this one could.

 

“The thing is,” the fish continued, “I’m on my way into the wilderness and I wondered if you might like to accompany me?” 

 

Incredulous the boy started to gather his wits as he slowly took a step back.

 

“Don’t you need the water you know so you can breathe?”

 

Thirteen had no sooner finished fumbling his words than the fish with the flick of a fin transformed himself into a sleek black panther and continued to trod up the path and into the woods.  The boy lost in surprise and half shocked gaped at what he could not believe and quickly galloped up alongside the enormous cat keeping his eyes tied to his smoke-like movements.

 

“What do you mean the wilderness?  Aren’t we, ya know, in the wilderness right now?”

 

“Very good my boy.  Very good.  Yes, we are indeed.  So maybe I’m not seeing things after all.” 

 

The cat craned his neck to look the boy over inquisitively. 

 

“The wilderness is what we Gods and Goddesses call nature in your world.  And when we refer to the centuries,” the cat paused and looked deeply into the boys face “we mean your eyes.”

 

The boy stood a bit dumbfounded as the giant cat disappeared behind a looming oak tree to emerge as yet another wondrous creature.  Flying elegantly, a cluster of snowy white feathers burst out mid-air from behind the towering trunk of the tree.

 

“Your eyes will deceive you, my boy.  I beg you listen to my voice and you will see much more.” 

 

An owl now ascended through the air in swift slices upwards from tree to tree gliding forward as the boy followed below.

 

“Why do you keep changing?”  Thirteen yelled aloud. 

 

“There’s no pleasing you humans is there?”  the owl shouted down. 

 

“Let me try again.”

 

The owl swooped down abruptly multiplying in feathers ten-fold as he went until out from beneath an explosion of white and grey an old man’s face emerged. Cloaked in a blanket of feathers he paused to peer again into the young boy’s eyes. 

 

“I like to get that hocus pocus mumbo jumbo out of the way in a timely fashion, haha.  See what I mean? “ 

 

An old man, standing there before the boy plain as day, tugged at what was now a robe of feathers draped across the length of his body.  

 

“Just count your lucky stars that I didn’t take the shape of a beetle or bacteria and hop into your ear!  It’s even harder to believe what you can’t see even if what you can see defies belief.  In other words, my boy, seeing is not believing.”

 

The old man continued moving without missing a beat.

 

“I’d like to tell you a story Thirteen.” 

 

Thirteen looked befuddled and raised his arm to the nape of his own neck.

 

“Are you some sort of psychic or mystic or the like?  I’ve heard these stories about fallen creatures, half man and half beast sort of things that walk the earth.  Is that you?”

 

“My boy those are bedtime stories, tales to tell in the dark.  Let me ask you this, have you ever heard of something called the Pleborium?”

 

“I think so.  It was some sort of writing people long ago found in the sea or something wasn’t it?”

 

“HmmHmm.”

 

“But it doesn’t exist anymore or something.”

 

“Or something my boy I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Surely you have heard of the great clock?”

 

Thirteen nodded his head.

 

“And how time is held in the hands of a God and Goddess?”

 

Thirteen nodded his head again.

 

“Are you familiar with the Gods and Goddesses of our day?”

 

“Sort of,” Thirteen rubbed his face and looked away.

 

The man began to stroll along and swept the boy up in his movements guiding him with magnetic urgency.  His eyes seemed to glow with fiery blackness as a growl smoldered deep in the forest. 

 

“Let me show you truths that your heart knows yet your eyes shed no light upon.  Knowing is not believing, Thirteen, nor is seeing.  Knowing the way does not make something true.  Remember that.”

 

“Let me first share with you the names of each and every God and Goddess.  They are Dark and Light, Cold and Heat, Sun and Moon, Chaos and Order, Madness and Serenity, Black and White, Cacophony and Silence, Motion and Stillness, Life and Death, Hope and Despair, Time and Eternity, Beginning and End.  These are the pillars that keep our world together, Thirteen; the fabric of our deceits, our hopes, our fears. 

 

As the man spoke the winds grew cold and the boy's cheeks started to smart him.  The man could tell that the boy was chilled.  He noticed a small dead fox up ahead along the path whose body had been decomposing all day in the summer sun.  He deftly bent over and quickly snatched the carcass up as they approached morphing it magically into a full-length cloak that fit snuggly about the young boys back.  The colors began shining, almost glowing, with a kind of meta-natural vibrancy.  The boy thanked the man or whatever he was and continued walking with trepidation along his side. 

 

Is this the story of the elder Fear?

 

“Yes, my boy you’ve got it!  I wish with all hearts that there was time enough to go into the how and the why of it all but alas there is not.  Now that you have exposed my true aim, I have until the end of sundown to cast my shadow’s heart upon your eyes and show to you a secret fire within, the likes of which your soul has never seen.”

 

“Is it like when my head grows warm and my eyes burn bright with colored ribbons dancing in the sky when I’ve been looking at the sun for a spell, I mean for too long?”

 

“No my boy, it’s more like when you can close your eyes at night and still see the sun in your mind’s eye.  It’s similar to how before this night devoured our souls by beckoning us to sleep forever in a day, the stars were shining without the belly of its blackness above.  The stars shine regardless of whether it is day or night.  Remember what I told you, for knowing without seeing is this fire.”

 

The man and the boy now entered a clearing bathed in moonlight.  Thirteen had lost all track of time.  The man came to a halt in the middle of the small field and began to speak so…

 

“Raise your head to the sky, my boy.”  The man waved his hand in front of the boy’s eyes and through the air as the stars began to realign into two great circles that partially interlocked in the middle forming a giant oval-shaped eye.  Each circle was terribly bright in the sky and appeared to be on fire.

 

“That my boy is the great clock.  Each of those circles stands for something, one for a God and the other for a Goddess.  At the center is the forbidden eye of the elder, an all-knowing eye that peers into the hearts of men to see if they are true or not.  Each of those tiny stars represents a God or Goddess, there being twelve stars in each circle.  The eye of the elder holds power in knowing all hidden wishes and desires, even of the Gods and Goddesses.

 

The boy looked with all his might at the stars burning bright as he reached up with one finger extended.  With a wish breaking deep inside his heart he moved his finger across the face of the stars in the sky and made it so that the starred circles were interlocking one atop the other into one enormous twelve starred circle.  Just then a tiny shooting star grazed through the middle of the great circle and the boy could feel his heart grow warm.  Startled he drew his hands up to his chest.  They were freezing.  Suddenly a slew of blackbirds darted through the cool night air.  The boy turned to tell the old man about the shooting star but he was gone.   The boy rubbed his eyes and turned back to look at the stars.  The circles were no longer there.  The stars had all gone back to their normal places in the sky.  His cloak was gone.  Mist poured in and out of his mouth as he stood alone in the cool night air.  The sound of his breath was all that he could hear.

 

 

 Copyright © 2018 Jon Keppel All Rights Reserved