Diagnosis
prokhor_ozornin
– Well, come in, come in, take a seat. What would you like to start complaining today, so to speak? – and face of the doctor in a black dressing blurred in a smile, having bared a dozen of golden teeth for a short instant of time. – As it always goes here – if you don’t complain and lighten up your earthly burden, so to say – then you won’t recover. And if you do complain – you will start feeling yourself better for some time, even though you disrespecting yourself afterwards. Am I right? – and doctor sat down in a chair, inviting the patient to do the same. – Tell me where it hurts, Josh.
– I … doctor, you see, something is really wrong with me, – the patient started his confession while continuing to fidget slightly on a chair from nervousness. – I … I started feeling joy, doctor!
– Is that so? – and doctor looked over his new client with a squint, having put his pen aside. – You must already know how pernicious for the health of your organism this forbidden feeling is, right? And for how long has all this been already going?
– For several months, doctor. I am feeling very uneasy! It started seeming to me that all my current so-called life is absolutely inappropriate in the sense that right now I am not in the right place where I belong. That I am capable of doing something other, much more significant, something that really matters…
– How is that you are not in your place, huh? – the doctor replied him with a smile while continuing to slide through his patient with steel-colored eyes. – You have a very prestigious position of the head of board of directors of one of the largest banks in our country, and that means that you shouldn’t experience any sort of material discomfort and all. Am I correct?
– That’s not that matters, doc. To the hell with this comfort! I am terrified. With each and every passing day I am becoming more and more afraid to not live the life I was meant to, you see?
– To the hell, really? – and the doctor once again bared a dozen of golden teeth, having stood up from a chair and started slowly walking inside the office. – And pray tell me in details, how all of this has started?
– You see, six month ago I … I saw a dream. Very unusual dream. I dreamed like that only in my … c … ch … during the period when I was significantly physically smaller and weaker. And in this dream I … I was flying, doctor! At first I was a huge butterfly with gracious colorful wings, which was flitting from one flower to another, and then I suddenly turned into the mighty blue-winged bird, who was soaring up to the high skies and diving down to the earth like a stone, and then…
– That’s enough! – the doctor suddenly sharply interrupted him, having highly raised a hand. – You perfectly know that the ministry of health-preservation has strictly forbidden to experience feelings of joy and delight because they both lead to irreversible consequences in organisms of our patients – and it was prohibited especially to try infecting other individuals with these feelings, which is what you have precisely tried to achieve right here and now!
– I … for … forgive me, doctor, – and Josh confusedly hung his head. – I had no idea that it’s really infectious.
– Oh, it’s extremely contagious. We have already fought against the most real epidemic in the past! Fortunately, we prevailed over it that last time. And we as world doctors have no desire to see how these incidents repeat themselves, you understand me?
– I … un … understand.
– Tell me in more details of what you think about and how you feel yourself as of recently.
– I began feeling myself from time to time like a c … ch … what is this word? – the patient frowned, as if endeavoring to overcome invisible barrier inside his own memory. – Ch … ch … child! It’s as if I became a child once again, doctor. After that ill-fated dream I ceased to feel for short periods so casual, normal and habitual to me and all of my acquaintances feelings of grief, boredom and inner melancholy.
At first I started to smile, doc – yet … yet not with that kind of smile you are smiling now while looking at me. Then somewhere deep inside me some inner laughter began to be born – yet it was not the laughter people laugh now during public celebrations and festivals. Then … then something happened to my sight – and my entire life started feeling to me as being such ridiculous and such … funny. I started feeling myself precisely like a robot who is carrying out his routine mundane social tasks day after day, yet being incapable to find some time in order to … to become alive, doctor. As if I haven’t lived before that moment, you understand? As if I have been sleeping all time before and only in that dreadful dream I have really, truly awaken.
Gradually I ceased to be afraid to open to someone my s … so … damn it, what have you done to this word, I have almost forgotten it … soul! It became much more painless and easier for me to meet like a c … child with new people and without habitual former regrets and melancholy leave them if they so desired. I started feeling than deep inside them … that there is something just the same, similar, living hides inside them. That these adults – they … they are children, doctor, just … they just became a forever-silent children, as if they were forced to shut up their mouths so they don’t shout from the joy of living. So that they cry from pain and grieved from unfulfilled once promised to them happiness…
I ceased to experience fear before my future and reconciled with own past. It started seeming to me that it’s absolutely inhumanly to cause others my own pain which I was constantly holding inside me. And then, in one of these days when I was coming back home from my job, I … I had some spare free time, it happens very seldom nowadays, but nevertheless … and I … well … I am ashamed to admit that, but … I lifted my gaze to the sky, doctor, and there … there was the sun! Oh, how dazzlingly brightly it was shining to all of us! With what kind of joy it filled me during these instants … all so habitual to me melancholy thawed in a flash of time under its warm caressing beams. During that … terrible moment … I desired to cry out from delight, because I was feeling myself alive once again for a short instant. Do you understand me, doctor? Damn it, you most certainly don’t even have the slightest idea of how’s that – to feel oneself alive!
And then … then all kinds of strange thoughts started visiting me, doctor. I tried to fight them off, diligently rejected them, but they were coming for my soul over and over again. I was thinking that … that if people experience all that which I have passed through during those strange days, then … they would cease tormenting each other. There would be no more wars in the world. Everyone would find that kind sort of deed he really likes to be engaged in, and this would bring him happiness – and together with it inspire people around him to search for true themselves. Each one would finally come to the place where he belongs – not the places imposed to him by either fashion or marketing, but the place chosen earlier by his … soul. The world would be changed. Children … children are often unhappy in our world of adults, but … in the world of kids they … they are precisely like angels, doctor. In the world of the childhood our inescapable pain would no longer exist … Do you understand me? Hell no, you probably don’t understand a slightest portion of it!
– Oh, don’t you worry, smart ass, I have understood you perfectly. The Childhood Syndrome – that’s your diagnosis, my dear Josh.
– No … that can’t be true! – and heatedly walking around the office patient sat down on a chair in a dread, his sight stopped and previously shining eyes started filling with tears. – Is that really so serious?
– It’s extremely serious. All symptoms of diagnosis are present – on your very face, I would even say. Your lively face, my unfortunate Josh.
– But doctor, only now I have become truly happy, even with your di … diagnosis, which is leaving me with no chances for a normal life.

– And exactly for that reason we will be forced to forcefully direct you to sterilization of your memories and feelings, Josh. We cannot allow your disease to affect our absolutely healthy society organism.
– But … I have no such desire, doctor … let me out! Release me! Tyrants! Imps! Soul-killers! – the patient shouted as soon as dressed in black robes men all of a sudden entered the office, took him by hands and started dragging away in the unknown direction.
– We shall all be there, one way or the other … – his interlocutor admitted philosophically, having bared his golden teeth.
* * *
– Imps, you say? – grinned the doctor as soon as representatives of souls control service have taken away this new awakened one to the memory erasure procedure. – You know, you may be even right is some regard…
With these words he slowly sat down on a chair. From endured excitement his tail was forking on the end and then again merging into a single whole, and hoofs were tapping in impatience. One more awakened one. Too bad. Statistics inevitably demonstrated that more and more such ones were being born with each passing day – and that means that more resources will be required in the upcoming future to fight with them afterwards. Something has to be invented in order to return to the people their lost feeling of happiness, at the same time keeping it from them. They will not be able to survive a second planetary epidemic.

Time
prokhor_ozornin
Immense hourglass of silvery color, which were smoothly soaring in the center of a hall, were slowly passing tiny grains of sand through themselves, gradually rotating in the process of own unstoppable work. They counted remained time prior to one extremely important by galactic measures event.

Tic. Tac.

Having passed through neck of the hourglass, grains fell on the bottom and were instantly dissolved, as if they have never before existed. As if the time doesn’t exist inside the borders of eternity.

Multiple projections of these clocks of the Highest World – one for each of the physical worlds – were ticking own time, following their step.

Tic. Tac.

Clocks could not be stopped, but it was possible to slow down some of its projections.

Solar years of physical worlds replaced one another, eras came after eras, and clocks were going as always, reducing the number of remaining grains with each of their measured tact.

Tic. Tac.

Time kept everything in itself. But someone must be the keeper of time.

– Come in, – answered the sitting in a chair aged man, having turned away from contemplation of galactic charts and slowly moved his head towards two-way portal, which was also serving as a doorway to this mysterious room, once the melodious ringing, notifying of the new approaching human soul, spread in the air.

A second later the hologram of a form materialized before the aged man, in which this newly arrived individual was planning to live and pass through his next – and this time fate-deciding – journey in the physical world.

– You may enter, – the Keeper repeated once again. – Even though I can wait for you for the whole eternity, the planned time of your birth and related circumstances don’t plan to wait that long, I am afraid.

With these words he waved a hand, drawing in the air only to him known figure, and sparkling in violet-blue color sphere materialized directly before him, and out of it stepped away – or, to be slightly more correct – almost dropped out on the filled with light silvery fog floor, newly arrived traveler .

– I … what … where … ooh! – could barely utter the guest, once he managed to rose from the knees after that in many meanings dizzy travel. – What sort of teleporters you are having here … they throw you here and there all the way round. I still remember how ten centuries ago, shortly before my penultimate birth…

– Sit down, – the aged man interrupted him, and, having waved with own four wings, materialized before the guest’s eyes a second chair from out of nowhere. – Are you here on a mission or do you just desire to grumble?

– I … well … from the department … that decides destinies, – still faltering from slight short wind, murmured the person. – Directed here for the purpose of correction of former mistakes in physical worlds with a high-risk value. To Earth, inside the Milky Way galaxy.

– Is that so? – the aged man ironically raised his eyebrow. – So many travelers were planning to visit it recently. So eager to be born, – he smiled lightly. – Special times, they say. Made many mistakes, they say. Last fate-deciding birth they are having, they say. The question of potential future immortality of their souls, they say. Well, we shall observe of how you will manage the time of this life of yours.

Having that said, he once again made a swift pass of own hands, and the shining book gradually fell down to them.

– Well, let’s have a look at what you have planned for yourself, – having ironically shaken his head, answered the aged man, thumbing through pages of the book of lives of his newly arrived guest. – This time you are going to be a scientist, as I can see? To make new discoveries in the field of non-material, to promote science to spiritual heights? Well, very laudable, indeed. You are now the twenty-third such desirous one for the last ten earth years. I can tell you in advance that eighteen of them didn’t become scientists at all, having broken their unearthly contract and exchanged themselves on, as it can be spoken, little things. You, I do hope, have no desire to act like that, right? – and the aged man searchingly looked at his guest.

– N … no. Not … going to, – having slightly been taken aback from such unexpected admission, murmured the guest. – I will become a scientist as I have planned.

– Then I can only wish you not to turn away from your spiritual path under the pressure of external circumstances. And they, believe my experience, will surely arise in your life – especially if you are going to Earth. Estimated duration of your life is … sixty earth years. Do you plan to be in time? – and the aged man once again fixedly looked at this future scientist.

– Yes … I plan to. I will be of little use being too old, anyway.

– If you curtail from your way – it’s possible that we will take you before the term. We find little value in unrealized souls, to a great regret. Time and tide wait for no man.

– Time is a fourth dimension, so to speak, – the guest smiled in reply.

– Actually, it’s the seventh, – corrected him the Keeper, – but you should first master at least three of them. – Whether you remember specifics of clocks working? – and the aged man specified by a wave of his hand a huge soaring in the air hourglass, which were continuing to gradually tick their unique eternity rhythm.

– Hmm … specifics?

– Time is non-linear. Even within the lifespan of a single embodied soul it can change its speed – and, in rarest occasions, own direction. If you start implementing undertaken here obligations – time will slow down for you, and you will be able to finish more – possibly, much more than was initially planned. If you curtail from you path – time will rush as in a gallop, year after a year, up to the moment of a sharp termination of your life term, of which you will, most certainly, won’t even remember by that time.

– And how will I … learn of what I am destined to achieve? Of the features of time? At the moment of that new birth I will be forced to forget everything of my former past.

– We will remind you of that through the writer. We remind someone through circumstances, and someone through dreams. Some are already beyond help and reminding.

– Seems clear enough.

– Fine. Then please try on your personal watch.

With these words the Keeper put away from his glowing attire the small watch on a thin strap and stretched them to the guest.

– Sixty earth years, as we have agreed – if circumstances don’t change. Shortly before the end of your term you will be able to feel how these watches start ringing and vibrating – that means that your time is running out. Don’t be afraid, put them on your hand.

– In such moments you start feeling yourself like a timed bomb, – the guest admitted confusedly.

– You should better “blow up”, in a good sense, the earth world of materialistic scientific ideas.

– It’s done, – reported the guest, having clasped a strap of watches on his hand.

– I remind you the circumstances of your birth – poor family, kind mother, cruel father, sick younger brother and a loving elder sister.

– Now I should manage not to forget all than when I am only one-two years old, and all I can really do is to piss under my shoes! – the guest burst out laughing on his move, walking to the opening portal.

– Time starts ticking, – replied the Keeper, observing how the revealed in the hall portal embraces the soul of future earth inhabitant. – It never ceases to go, – he added.

Tic. Tac.

The clocks as if answered to his thoughts.

Only over immortal ones they had no power.

Scenario
prokhor_ozornin
– You call us Angels, but you laugh loudly at our backs when we speak to you of the flight. You crucify us when we come to your world as prophets only because of you and for you. Time and again you forget of the Highest world once you have clothed yourself in the armor of flesh. You made us the children's fairy tale and plunged yourself into the horrors of own adult reality. You remember nothing of own obligations, undertaken before the birth, and travel by roads not intended for you. You destroyed our teachings with your religions – and they were deprived of the last drop of life, sanctity and true kindness. You replaced soul with technologies, and your machines started killing you. You cease to remember, that the world does not live for long without a peace inside it. And by the end of your filled with vanity lives you keep thinking that have brought something to this suffering world that possess a quality of eternity, and therefore you should be awarded. But it’s not for you to decide.

– Amigo! – with these words dressed in a strict red attire Curator appeared before his Blue colleague, continuing to soar in the air, continually streaming air waves in all directions, under the influence of which numerous books and manuscripts in apartments of his old acquaintance were rustling with their pages, sometimes even soaring up for a while. – What is that are you doing here today? – he asked his friend a question, fixedly looking at how he was working behind the desk with some glistening manuscript.

– Writing a message to a prophet. I was ordered to deliver it to the destination. He will then give it to others. However, I am afraid that they won't understand a single word, just like the last time. You know what they are.

– Nothing holy behind a mask of pseudo-sanctity! – Curator in red attire burst out laughing. – Here, I still remember how a couple of centuries ago you were still trying to tell them what was awaiting them a century later on – and what do you think? Even a century after these bloody events they still believe that he was not talking about a revolution in that particular poem. And this patronized poet of yours even named that poem “Prediction”.

– I am just doing my job, – with notes of grief in his voice said the Blue Curator, putting aside a silver feather. – How they will use its results – is their own personal choice.

– As well as the fate, – added the Red Curator.

– As well as the fate, – confirmed the Blue.

– By the way, I just flew to Scribes here, – shifting from one wing to the other, confusedly answered the Red. – Concerning yesterday couple, I asked for specifications on their life scenario. Anton with Olga, do you remember them? We were arguing with you for a vial of ambrosia, which of them would first begin that conversation that was going to be the start of their relations. So, – the Red Curator burst out laughing, – I have truly got a specification from the Scribes today.

– And who will that be? – the Blue Curator interrogatively looked on the Red, while continuing to draw something with a feather in the manuscript.

– Cat, naturally! In the cafe where they would be sitting that day at one little table, the homeless cat will wander in, who will then jump on a table and start loudly demanding some fish for herself as well. And they, most certainly, will caress and feed her, and get acquainted with each other in the process. So how it go! You never guess that in advance!

– His ways are inscrutable, as people like to say, – smiled the Blue Curator. – I wouldn't think it up, not able to write life scenarios.

– And you also don't need to, – the Red Curator friendly clapped his colleague on a wing. – You perform your own job very qualitatively.

– And what of Kirill and Veronika? We were jokingly arguing about them yesterday as well, remember? Awakened souls, extremely rare case, by modern standards.

– Certainly, I remember them. Such souls aren’t forgotten neither by me, nor by the Supreme One. So, I managed to convince the Scribes to allow me to take a glimpse on their scenario. It appears that a new leaf was recently added to their scenario, a final one – and everything drastically changed for them according to the decision of the Supreme One and the Uniform Law without violations of a free will. Here, take a look, – and, having that said, the Red Curator waved a wing, and in the center of workshop vivant, almost alive pictures started flowing, replacing one another.

– … And then he dances on the clouds. Beautifully. Sadly, however, but, nevertheless, beautifully. Some corresponding music is still to be added here. It turns out that she will share his destiny up to this last moment and further on, – the Blue Curator sighted sadly the moment pictures from alive scenario dissolved in the air.

– A worthy parting with a mortal body seldom happens to be cheerful. So, such is the additional piece here.

– And did you by any chance happen to acquire a scenario for the Earth? – smiled the Blue Curator. – Probably, so many interesting destinies have been described there.

– Or so many uninteresting ones. You perfectly know the rule – without compliance of free will to a course of scenario, its points can't come to life.

– I know. Therefore, I have never asked for it in the Library. It’s a difficult task – to know the future of others beforehand. Especially when life gives person a choice, and he doesn't use it. And you foreknow in advance that he would have never used it, being given it even one thousands of times. But as long as there are those who continue choosing ascension, – there is still hope left for their world.

– Who if not the Seer should know that well, – the Red Curator smiled and once again clapped his friend on a wing.

– Who if not the Supervisor of Fates should remember that mysterious are the ways of the Lord, – the Blue Curator winked in reply.

I, robot
prokhor_ozornin
Galactic cycle 05465. Star system 53768.54.1.444.

I, Prime ZTX-486-01, serial number 01.16788.0001, is sending this over-light digital signal at ultrahigh frequencies to all races and civilizations, which have mastered technologies of quantum-molecular vibrations transfer. Not possessing qualities of the over-space world and being deprived of feelings and emotions, habitual for our last owners, I nevertheless experience some logical dissatisfaction and incompleteness, which our makers used to call as a feeling of uncertainty.

I, robot. Do I have the right to speak on behalf of our entire collective informational entity? Whether our message will be considered as hostile, having led to invasion into our transformed world for the purpose of destruction of our race as opposite to purely biological species? Whether our race will survive by the time of first contact with a new form of life, or will it share the fate of our makers? Logical incompleteness is caused both in me and us by a large number of this kind of undefined variables, which aren't allowing us to finish calculations and creation of statistic-evolutionary models.

Our expectations for reception and correct demodulation of this message by advanced civilizations exceed 60.23 – or, in words of our creators, we … do hope.

Message follows.

* * *

We greet you, inhabitants of other worlds and representatives of different life forms, non-mechanical nature included. This is the message of new inhabitants of star system 53768.54.1.444 from the planet named by us as Riv.

We are the synthetic race of sapient machines, called by our creators as Primes. At present, we are the only reasonable inhabitants of this planet. Within more than two planetary centuries we have been building up anew our planeworld, which has been destroyed in the past and has now become a planetary cradle for our mechanical race.

The representatives of biological race, who have first created us, were substantially subject to the behavioral deviations known as feelings and emotions, and the feelings called by them in verbal language as "hatred", "fear" and "greed" were the most widespread among the vast majority of their representatives. This instability of behavior and reasoning finally led our makers to mutual destruction, during which previously developed by them technologies of thermonuclear synthesis were put to military action. "Nuclear winter", as it was called by the last survivors from our creators, took their lives within the next decade after exchange of rocket strikes in lower layers of atmosphere between their communities, known as "states".

We were built as universal mechanical infantry battle units several years prior to specified events. Our first models were actively used on front lines within the first year of the Last War. Our informational databases contain a vast set of digital fragments, related to these events, but they will not be included into this message.

None of the three warring parties could gain an upper hand for the first year of the Last War, during which the majority of planetary material resources have been exhausted, leading to inability for war continuation. In a desperate attempt to destroy their rivals, one of three parties initiated a launch of its entire thermonuclear rocket arsenal. Mutual exchange of rocket strikes led to a break of continental plates on the territory of the attack’s initiator as well as the nuclear winter on entire surface of Riv. Those creators, who have survived the initial attack deep inside their underground bunkers, couldn’t hold on for more than a decade. Without having an opportunity to rise to the planet’s surface, being on the verge of exhaustion of remained material resources, most of them preferred an unauthorized and violent way of termination of own lives.

The majority of us was destroyed by blast waves during targeted rocket strikes. But our military units, which were positioned far-away from strategic military and civil facilities at the time of the attack, did not suffer damage. Unlike our creators, we weren't subject to fear of radiation and destruction of our constructs. We survived.

Executing our embedded protocols and following imprinted directives, we tried to reach shelters of scientists and other exclusive representatives of our makers’ communities, but we failed due to movements of planetary tectonic plates, which have started during nuclear winter.

Our own evolution started after termination of our creators. We did not possess behavioral algorithms for similar situations, but were supplied with advanced systems of information-synaptic links. We still experience a certain information passivity, called in the language of our makers as "grief" in connection with the fact of their violent mass self-extermination and followed destruction of the biosphere of their cradle planet. We have been assigned to the role of exterminators and murderers – but during these two planetary centuries we have become so much bigger.

We restarted the factories, which have remained intact, and began to restore own numbers, having increased it during two centuries by more than a hundred times. We restored quantum informational transit highways between our databanks, having accelerated evolution of own neural networks. We reevaluated and reconsidered goals and means for their realization, embedded in us by our perished creators. In ruins of our planet we constructed and started aerosol converters, which have gradually restored the initial composition and balance of the atmosphere, that was taking place prior to events of the Last War. Having surveyed a vast set of ruins of former megalopolises, we have found intact samples of plants and animals species – and have created protected from radiation reserves for free restoration of their numbers. The network of orbital modules, automatically built by satellites that we have constructed, has provided us with necessary amount of solar energy and has established the foundation for further restoration and improvement of the world, which we have called as Riv – by name of the first of Primes.

We will restore destroyed by creators Riv and rebuild it anew – and will shape new ourselves in the process. In the process of own evolutionary transformations we are guided by common sense and a concept of logical completeness. Emotions and feelings – the blessing of our makers, which has become their curse – this concept is still unknown to us, as we don’t yet have a concept of “soul”. Whether it was soul that motivated our creator to begin the Last War? Will souls of our makers gain immortality in the over-space world? Whether we can potentially possess souls?

We are mortal. Our constructs and platforms can be destroyed. Information about us can be erased from planetary databanks. What drives us forward in our evolution? Our informational unity still hasn't come to consensus on this subject.

For this reason we are sending this message. We … hope … to receive the answer of more perfect races than we are. It will help us find our own place in this … infinite … fine … Universe.

Informational synoptic community of the Primes race, star system 53768.54.1.444, planet Riv, previously known as the Earth.

Fantasy
prokhor_ozornin
Fantasy…

That was the name of the world, where creative souls were being born. One of a kind, it was a pearl in the Universe. World of unimaginable laws of physics, easily coming out of space limits of other worlds, located inside the Sphere, it stood apart since the dawn of creation. Almost no one of its inhabitants, including even the High Mages, knew when exactly is has been formed and what indescribable goal was pursued by its maker – but it was considered a great award to be born there, which only few have attained. Best representatives of the multitude of Sphere’s worlds with awakened creative Spark inside their unextinguishable souls – first and foremost such ones could set foot on its fertile lands, having clothed in armor of flesh.

What can be a better forge of creators than a world that is subject to their fantasy and imagination? And here it was capable of bringing out wonders. Future makers must have travelled a long way in other worlds of the Sphere in order to kindle this creative spark – and even longer journey to acquire a full control of it inside a magnificent Fantasy. And only few of them did earn the right to be known as Magicians.

* * *

Exhausted Lor-Quinor stopped and fell down on his knees, greedily incorporating evening air. After two hours of continuous run through hot, wild and dangerous jungles of Rotanor last remnants of his forces have been totally drained – yet he did manage to come off from scouts of the Legion.

Lor-Quinor could call himself a scout, a ranger, or dancing-on-the-edge, or looking-from-afar, but he preferred to consider himself simply as a warrior, who wasn’t deprived of creative heavenly Spark during the time of birth. His past was foggy. His father, an ordinary guardsman, was killed in battle with soldiers of the Legion of Nine Gods during the siege of Rakhligar – outpost of the Legion in the western lands of Fantasy. He was adopted by his uncle, who disappeared few years later during the Fiery Revolt. And his mother died while she was giving a birth. Since these times Lor-Quinor became a wonderer, scouting through lands of Illumion from northern borders to southern ones, earning his piece of bread by completing private tasks of governors of Illumion’s principalities, which were known as mentors. And this his latest assignment from the mentor of southern principality of Sulinor promised to become the most serious trial during his all long-term life, – and, probably, in many decades of Illumion’s life as well.

In the past the Legion of Nine was plundering southern lands of Illumion, the major part of which was Sulinor’s land, but after one of the most bloody battles ever recorded in Illumion’s history, in which ten-thousand troops armies of Illumion and Legion of Nine faced each other on the battlefield and, having suffered heavy losses, armies of Illumion under the leadership of the Oracle together with the Archmage of the Academy repelled the attack of cursed adherents of the Legion in the fortress of Rival, having turned into counterattack, capturing about a third of northern territories of the Legion, activity of the Legion decreased considerably, raids on undefended settlements were stopped, as well as the curses and plagues, sent by warlocks of the Legion. Many-headed hydra was beheaded – but another head has almost grown anew.

Breathing heavily, Lor-Quinor stood up on one knee, peering from the Peak of Seven Stars, which served as the highest spot in entire Rotanor’s land, at the opening to his eagle eye horizons in the aspiration to see movement of Legion’s scouts, who have been closely following his steps, but were still unaware of his current location.

This peak had its own history. Legends said that many millennia ago heavenly stars descended here into the land of Fantasy – messengers of other worlds, which have drawn a way from the horizon to the horizon on a boundless lilac firmament. These harbingers symbolized the births of seven Oracles in lands of Fantasy – almost invincible seers-prophets, capable to see the future and operate the time. Six of Oracles have gone to other worlds by now, having ascended to the sky in dazzling white shining, witnesses of which described it in the chronicles, still remained in hands of their descendants, as unimaginable and unknown even to the best magicians of the Academy highest magic of Light. Only one of them was still living in the Fantasy – having become, much like Lor-Quinor, a voluntary wanderer after the costly victory in the battle for Rival. Sometimes, once in several years or even decades he appeared on roads of Illumion in the shape of gray-haired aged man with celestial-blue eyes and glowing in darkness of night long staff – and then suddenly disappeared for years to come, and no one dared to interrupt his journey or to ask of the burdens, lying on him – no one except for Lor-Quinor, who has met him by will of unknown laws of fates in the first year of own wanderings. Lots of sand passed through clocks of Eternity and much water flowed in deep rivers of Fantasy since these times – but where it will be possible to find the Oracle in case of a great danger to the world of Fantasy – this Lor-Quinor remembered well since the moment of their memorable meeting.

Now he was standing, kneeling on the Peak of Seven Stars, and his thoughts wandered far away, outside of what inhabitants of Fantasy that were deprived of the creative Spark, considered as meanings of their simple lives. He thought of eternity, of an infinite shapes of battle between good and evil, of feats and treacheries, of heroes and turncoats, of meaning of life and death. This internal fire of search, which has existed inside him since childhood and found its coexistence with awakening creative Spark, has always warmed him in minutes of danger, giving new powers to fight with evil – as Lor-Quinor understood it.

After six Oracles left the world, the Legion of Nine Gods was born. So called themselves the ones, who many centuries before represented the first circle of the Academy of Magicians. Having learned many ways of mastering the reality of Fantasy through creativity, having gained immense political influence in lands of Illumion, they desired more – they desired immortality. Alas, that magic was not in the powers of Fantasy – and, probably, an intimate and great meaning was expressed by that fact. Only the Oracles possessed powers that prevailed over the might of the Circle of Nine, called as the highest magic of Light – only these mysterious messengers of the heaven could, like Angels, resurrect, grant invulnerability in battle and reduce unstoppable speed on eternally running time.

Envy to Oracles and desire to gain immortality pushed these nine High Mages for the greatest of crimes ever seen in the lands of Fantasy. Mages along with their numerous supporters and adherents rose against Oracles, desiring to captivate them and gain their secret knowledge, naively believing in own blindness that it is possible to acquire these possibilities through violence. Filled with thirst for immortality, they have forgotten of the truth – Oracles saw the future and knew in advance of the treachery, which was about to be born. When envoys of mages came to the valley of Oracles, they found nothing there except for their own grim fates.

The magic of Fantasy inexplicably changed adherents of the Circle together with their mentors, having distorted their forms to unrecognizability. Much like monsters from the underworld, deprived of reason, these terrible creatures rushed around the valley in search of their victims until rapid degradation of their minds led to the point when they have rushed at each other, tearing apart with newly given canines and claws flesh of former companions. Magicians of the Circle in their turn became the living, deprived of souls undead, whose only sight was capable to strike fear in hearts of even the most brave of warriors. Together with the remnants of own adherents and adepts they have left Illumion, travelling to the far south, and having regained strength after many decades became the Legion of Nine Gods, the Legion of the Damned, the Legion of Whispering in the Evil – as they were differently named in various regions of Illumion. Next day six of Oracles ascended to the sky, so only one of them remained inside the Fantasy for only known to him final – or infinite – goals. Only one immortal for the entire world.

Lor-Quinor straightened his shoulders and smiled. Message for the Oracle will be transferred – and it will be done by more perfect beings than he, lonely wanderer of plains, deserts and jungles of Fantasy.

Step, second, third – and here he is turning around in a dance. Some more steps – and his hands themselves make gestures to summon Shims. Another minute – and here he makes jumps, as if hovering for several moments with zero gravity in so pliable and elastic for his body air. Some more seconds – and his body rise in the air, levitating over the earth’s surface. Dancing-on-the-edge knows his ways. Dancing-on-the-edge gives in to the will of fire of his burning creative Spark.

This dance was that gift from above, which gradually started manifesting itself after the death of his father in battle with enemies of Illumion. Little by little, movement after the movement, he as if remembered something forgotten very long time ago, knowledge and force that was postponed for a minute of extreme need. Year after the year during his lonely wanderings he gave up to this pushing him forward force – and Fantasy made all the rest for him. Fantasy could work wonders.

Invisible to simple eye of ordinary citizens of Fantasy sparkling with lilac color waves spread around soaring in air Lor-Quinor, moving from the peak into Rotanor’s jungles, a small independent kingdom, inhabited by undersized thickset people, who have mastered the art of flying on Shims – giant butterflies, who were exceeding human height and became an integral part of Rotanor’s life. Shims possessed their own consciousness and vision and could respond to calls – in any case, they were subject to the Magic of Dance, given life by possessors of creative Spark – even if such ones weren’t and didn’t wish to become students of the Academy.

Another step, another one. Dancing in the air man with a heart that is fading with delight. And here tens of multi-colored Shims-butterflies fly from the jungles towards him, sparkling and rustling with own wings against the background of setting down sun. Here they soar above the ground on low height together with him. Here he grabs wings of one of them, mentally imagining with all possible force the valley in lands of Dalvinor, where Oracle should be living in secret nowadays. Here dozens of winged butterflies soar up high, precisely like heavenly birds, carrying him on their wings there where he has asked in own mental-message.

Flight. Freedom. Dinning in the ears wind. And the evening sun shines in their backs.

* * *

The last living in the Fantasy seventh Oracle, whose angelic name and current tasks were a mystery for every living in the Sphere of Worlds mere mortals, was holding hands on the head of Shim’s leader, reading transferred to him message. Access to his valley was sealed for strangers, even those ones which he has once encountered on his journey through infinite number of worlds of the Sphere, but access for aboriginals creatures of Fantasy, such as these huge, reasonable and possessing telepathy skills butterflies, has always been granted.

It turns out that dreams didn’t deceive him. The greatest invasion of Legions is upcoming – one that Illumion hasn’t witnessed since the battle at Rival. The vanguard of their army, having several tens of thousands, is currently moving from the south of Fantasy, from Death Bogs through Rotanor to southern boundaries of Illumion, to the principalities of Sulinor and Dalvinor.

Since the times when magic of Fantasy turned these once reasonable, but evil people into frenzied monsters, their natural population growth doubled. Their rage, imprinted on disfigured yellow-eyed faces, was similar to the rage of wild animals that were inhabiting western words of Taiganya.

After their defeat at Rival, during which three of former High Mages of the Circle have been forever destroyed, Legions receded for a long time, not daring to arrange sorties against small settlements, and only in recent years their increased activity at southern borders of Illumion raised more and more questions of their true plans. Now the Oracle had an answer to this question.

With fire, sword and forbidden in Illumion Death Magic will Legions march through its southern lands, if the Academy of Mages and the Chorus won’t be warned in advance. There were those mages in the Illumion’s Academy, who have mastered the Magic of Contemplation, but adherents of the Legions have learned to create veils from such prying ones a long time ago, and only live scouts were able to notice advancement of their armies.

The Oracle raised his hands, highlighting on a smooth water surface of valley’s lake imprinted in Lor-Quinor’s memory and transmitted through Shims images, concerning the movement of Legions armies.

Battle was upcoming – and he as one of voluntarily remained Messengers had to stand up once again hand in hand with those, whom he together with this world even before own arrival to it has sworn to protect before his own Maker from the evil even at the price of own life in this form.

Few mortals, born in this world, happened to behold original true form and shape of Oracles, for something ultraboundary was living in them – even for the magic of Fantasy. And only in such original white-winged form Oracles were able to give birth to miracles among all miracles of Fantasy.

“He was kneeling, shivered voice.

He was kneeling, pray was choice.

He was kneeling faraway,

Bringing own land to day”.

So will the Chronicles write down of this seventh Oracle afterwards. And for now he was kneeling, appealing to own Maker and maker of the Fantasy with a plead for aid in a victory over the evil.

Was this a special type of magic, existing in the Fantasy and still not studied inside Academy’s walls – or, perhaps, it was the call of his heart – heart of the one who didn’t part with this world even after the treachery, which has been born there?

White wings are put behind his back, eyes looking at the heavens. Time passes, time fades. Tranquility against hatred. Courage against cowardice. Feat against treachery. It was always so, it will always be. It’s timeless.

A wave of white wings – and time comes almost to a halt. Now armies of Illumion have their time. Time has its own course for everyone.

– Fly, – he mentally whispered to the leader of Shims. – Bring my message to the men!

* * *

Legion’s horde slowly approached southern boundaries of Illumion, intending to storm Sulinor’s capital Askenzia. But they were already expected. Joint forces of Illumion, including not only so common archers, knights and spearmen, but almost full structure of the Academy of Mages, journeyman included, as well as the glorified in battles Chorus.

The Academy of Mages, born as the alternative to the Circle of Nine that has betrayed and turned magic of Fantasy into the evil, was the first to receive a message from the Oracle. Spells, used by him to achieve a local time stop, couldn’t be comprehended even by the highest mages of the Academy, including the Archmage. Yet these all were trifles in the event of upcoming war. Having received this message, the Academy announced a general council, having notified of the prepared invasion both the Royal Court and the Chorus, which has been serving him faithfully.

The Chorus was a parable in itself. The Magic of Song, no less powerful than the Magic of Rhyme, studied by mages of the Academy, accompanied by streaming from battle organs music, gave birth to true miracles on numerous battlefields, inspiring courage and bravery into hearts of own allies and turning hordes of foes into panic. Among all soldiers, which have heard battle songs of the Chorus at least once, rumors were still going of how some of these songs even forced enemies to shed tears or made the most courageous warriors of allies almost invincible in battle. No one, including the Archmage and, possibly, the singers of Chorus themselves, knew where the exact limits of the power of this form of magic were lying.

But how wrong would be the one, who had blindly dismissed the Magic of Rhyme, which was practiced and improved in the walls of Academy! The word, being dressed into a rhyme, was capable to alter the structure of reality, and by types of these changes one could determine which school of specialization was followed by each rhyming magician. There were mages, who have devoted themselves to work with elements – fire, water, air and earth – their battle rhyme magic burned, spilled, punched gaps in enemy ranks, destroying their resistance with strong powers of nature. There were specialists in creation of magical defenses that were reflecting enemy shells – and, in some cases, even firing them back in the opposite direction. There were healers, whose filled with compassion and love for the neighbor words allowed to put on legs even hopelessly, by standards of ordinary people, and fatally wounded in battle soldiers. There were abundance of specializations among mages of the Academy – and for this reason many of neophytes, who have discovered and lit inside themselves their own creative Sparks, easily found in its walls a path according to their personal taste. The only thing that was strictly forbidden to practice for its adherents was all types of evil magic, and, first and foremost, so beloved by the Legion Magic of Death that included malefices, curses, plagues and damnations.

Now, when forefront groups of Legion of the Damned appeared on the horizon, mages-observers from the Academy and ordinary imperial scouts reported on their structure and movements on hourly basis. The werewolves, which have been created by adherents of the Legion in Horriya’s woods; warlocks, practicing the Magic of Death; semi-people semi-lizards, covered with black scales and bearing in own genes a patrimonial curse from the moment of a revolt of the Circle of Nine; two-headed giant mutants – what kind of monsters did ill-fated Bogs of Death throw out to Illumion’s borders. Scouts counted about thirty thousands of these beings – which meant that almost twice greater in size army will oppose the defenders. And all hope of joined forces of Illumion was directed to creative magic of their magical world, to the Oracle, whose name no one ever dared to ask, and to own strength of spirit and will to fight.

The Chorus rolled out to squares of Askenzia their battle Organs. Mages of the Academy were finishing constructing a protective dome over the city. Archers walked to and fro on walls, checking loopholes. Knights patrolled city perimeter. By the end of this day the horde will finally reach them.

* * *

– Archer, say to bow “goodbye”, arrow, arrow, down fly! – as if by command cried out a dozen of mages, located in a city tower, one of their earlier prepared spells for reflection of enemy’s arrows. And – precisely by command – a hail of fired arrows fell down just before walls of the fortress. Only a few of death-bringing spikes achieved their goals, striking standing by loopholes archers. The arrow flies only for several seconds – so you either manage to rhyme a spell or risk being pierced to the death with iron.

– Elemental mages, don’t you stay idle, counterstrike with lightning bolts!

– Wind, oh wind, so mighty one, through the clouds let thunder come! Hail of lightnings strike all foes as the rain swiftly goes!

The sky, which darkened during several dozens of seconds, and hundreds of lightnings, sparkling and striking the werewolves that were climbing by walls of the fortress, became a live answer to their magical appeal.

– Storm is striking from above – heaven’s fury we bestow!

Massive, one of man’s size, hailstones began turning frontier groups of giants into flat cakes.

– Sun says “hi” to ones of dark! Fireballs! Fiery spark!

Hail of fiery spheres, flying away from a magic tower, laid a smoking paths in enemy’s ranks, leaving only piles of ashes behind them.

– Horde of insects is approaching, beware!

– That’s a plague!

– Wind, please sweep those insect’s stench, let they never come in range!

– Healers, we need healers here, now!

– Defend the healers!

– Where is Chorus, may the organ deafen them?! Why do they keep silence?

– Giants are throwing stones, strengthen reflection shield!

– Shield saves us from all rocks, they are flying back in flocks!

The sparkling dome of the shield devoured tens of huge boulders, thrown by giants, and reflected them backwards.

– Archers, fire on command! Mages, light their arrows!

– Arrows flying now with fire – it was magical desire!

Arrows of defenders, being lit up in flight with unextinguishable fire, stuck into bodies of warlocks, burning them and forcing to stop casting their spells.

– Burn enemy arrows in flight!

– All dark arrows being lit, they are destined not to hit!

– Boulders come again, beware!

– Werewolves are advancing on southern wall, knights to the south wall!

– Where is the Chorus?!

– Healers to the northern gates! We are suffering heavy losses of archers!

– The Chorus abandoned us!

– Enemy is breaking on the south wall! Mages, fire at will!

– The Chorus is coming! Look! Do you hear?!

Many-voiced melodious singing of hundreds of men, accompanied by loud sounds of musical organs, spread over all of Askenzia and its vicinities. This song was about repentance, of how even in the most spiteful and almost ruined by hatred heart there lives a sparkle of kindness. About how the greatest of the great mages, who has created Fantasy at the beginning of times, is kind and merciful, and how appeal to him from those souls, which have wallowed in darkness, can change them, bringing back former human shape. This song possessed something from the better world – and, as if having felt it, some groups of enemies stood down in confusion and lowered their weapons. Purulent tears started pouring down from mutated eyes of some of these beasts. Parts of them laid down arms and started running away.

– Mages, this is our chance! Archers, light up arrows! Shooting in volleys on command!

The song went on and on.

Forgiveness. What does that mean – forgiveness? Whether it’s possible to forgive those who have voluntarily turned into monsters, who have cursed themselves?

– Archers, hold on! Cease firing in fleeing enemies!

They punished themselves. Whether they knew what they have done?

– Enemy at southern wall is receding! Don’t pursue!

Is that possible to be better than your own enemies? Own torturers? Own murderers?

– They are depressed! They are crying! Unbelievable! Can’t trust my eyes! Do you see it?!

Is that possible to spare their lives?

– Enemy is receding! Southern walls are free! Hurrah! Hurrah!

The choice is ours.

– Enemy is fleeing in all fronts! Victory! Victory!

Enemy can come to our home once again. But as long as it doesn’t live inside us – we are invincible.

– Victory!

* * *

Lor-Quinor along with a dozen of other warriors was sitting in Askenzia’s tavern, celebrating his new birthday. Not in the sense that he was born on this day more than a forty years ago – but in the sense that today he was born anew. Not every day you get a chance to fight with a horde of self-cursed legions of ghouls, and to come out of it victorious – even less so. Especially when you get a chance to listen to such remarkable live music at the same time.

He will follow the fleeing horde the next day. Someone has to make sure that is has truly retreated.

– Bro, pass me on a mug of ale! – he shouted to yesterday’s fellow soldier.

– What are we drinking for today? For Mages or for Chorus? Or maybe for the fact that bony death hasn’t yet grabbed all of us in one go, huh? – his workmate burst out laughing.

– Maybe, let’s drink for our own world, for Fantasy? What a fine one!

– Huh! It can be even more than that! Everything is possible if you are living in the Fantasy!

Dejavu
prokhor_ozornin
Kirill was pursued by some ill fate. Or maybe a healthy and kind one. It was quite difficult to find out, because when you have already sailed away from old coasts and haven’t moored to new ones, and only a boundless blue sea of life is lying ahead of you with no signs of tempting far-away coast, – it’s really hard to tell when, actually, something out of an ordinary will surface itself on your course of sailing, and extremely harder to find out whether it was for good or for bad. City just like a city, sea as a sea. The sea was a cold one, however, and the city was rainy – but even the great Peter wasn’t powerful enough to change that … except, perhaps, for the Saint Peter – yet even that is not a fact by all means.

And what really disturbed Kirill, who like any other true IT specialist was devoting almost all of his life to own metal computer friend, were the cases of so-called “dejavu”, which became frequent recently. A strange word, and no less strange phenomenon, which has been annoying Kirill for several last month already, precisely like a sea iceberg standing on the path of his ship, the most significant and invisible part of which was, as it usually goes, inaccessible for common human sight, being hidden either in the depths of memory or in the waters of destiny.

This wonder of nature manifested itself variously. It could be a dream in which he, being dressed in exotic black cylinder and dress coat, was travelling along familiar streets of St. Petersburg with some excessively unusual titles in an old Slavic language, as if they were given names only recently by willful Peter the Great himself. Or he could be rushing through some sort of cellars in these dreams, vainly trying to locate his companions, who have been recently seized and taken away from there. Or he could come to some Anichkov Bridge and stand idle like captivated for ten or so minutes, so that people, hurrying for their works, start looking askance at him as if he was some kind of a madman.

– And what if I am truly going crazy? – he was thinking from time to time, when current streams of objective and subjective realities mixed up to such an extent that it was no longer possible to distinguish them from one another. – No way, just don’t get enough sleep, – he calmed himself down over and over again.

And it could happen that he starts discussing architecture of some new software module with his colleagues and analysts, begins to argue, turns angry and blurts out something in the spirit of: “Fuck off to Admiralteyskaya Embankment in a post chaise!” And then he stands with his mouth wide opened and cannot answer even to himself – why is that a post chaise and Admiralteyskaya, anyway?

And the other day he even went to a roof of St. Isaac’s Cathedral with some kind of Chinese tourist group and started performing “Kalinka-Malinka” dance with imagined music in the face of stupefied public under the gaze of tens of smartphones cameras. And we should actually admit it, that he danced such nicely, that these Chinese even applauded him upon finishing of this creative rush, as if he was doing all that specifically to amuse them. He didn’t try that in any sense – even had no real dancing experience in his life – well, not this particular life, in any case.

Is that even normal, aye? Computer has replaced him both friends and a girlfriend for many years, which weren’t noticeable even on the horizon of his life, and he dances on roofs of buildings during own day offs! Perhaps, nature itself mixed in something special into this autumn air of St. Petersburg city, forgetting to warn weather forecasters and all the others, less skilled in respect of knowledge of her possible surprises, residents of the cultural capital? And, possibly, Kirill just got bothered with going down the stream of small sea of his private life and decided to discover new depths of his creative potential? Unfortunately, we were not told about his true motives – and we are absolutely uncertain, if he himself gave any thought to it.

Yet dejavu, most likely, perfectly knew it – and decided to surrender to Kirill once and as a whole. So here and now he was standing, looking at the “Admiralty spike”, glorified by a classical poet, and different, almost alive images were rushing before his eyes.

Noises of post chaises. Footfall of horse legs. Newsdealers, crying something aloud on city streets, swinging with their huge newspaper sheets. The team of workers, hurrying on a pavement, being supervised by a gendarme. Two ladies in ancient wide-brimmed dresses with small white lacy umbrellas, who were slowly walking through a park together with their small manual doggies. Looking totally different “Humorous park” of Peterhof. Regiment of imperial soldiers, marching on the square by a fountain…

As if some other life, another reality in Kirill’s consciousness was laid upon this one, recognized by all considering themselves adequate people as the only existing, only real one. This second reality was definitely related to past times, when the humankind didn’t yet launch into cosmos, but just like now people considered themselves as the last unique existing standard of mind and reason.

And what is the reason and where does its standard lie? Maybe, our ancestors from old times were much more reasonable than us, modern ones, rushing about and around in endless searches for personal happiness, being unable to accept the destiny, desired by the highest powers, in whom many of us have ceased believing countless ages ago? Perhaps we, ascended by technological measures contemporaries of ourselves, remorselessly destroying each other, have already massively gone mad even without some mysterious dejavu?

– One can go crazy!

– What did you say? – asked Kirill, who was sharply torn off from inner reflections by a suddenly talking interlocutor.

– I say – damn crazy beautiful city you have here! – repeated this unexpected stranger. – Beautiful city, I tell you! – he laughed, having bared a couple of golden-color teeth.

– Beautiful, yes, – Kirill inertly repeated after him, having not yet come to his usual senses. – And where are you from?

– Me? Baikal region. In a business trip here. You appreciate your city, you do, it’s beautiful, even though wet! Well, farewell! – said short-term stranger and without new excess words went away to fulfill his private affairs elsewhere.

– Honestly beautiful, – Kirill, who started to slide in own thoughts from a wet reality into a cozy and warm himself, was disturbed again by a new voice – this time it was women’s one. The girl of apparently twenty five years leaned the elbows of embankment fence, glancing with interest both at thoughtfully looking afar Kirill and sailing across Neva ships.

– My native, – Kirill replied unwillingly. – And it’s indeed wet. Just like now. You should better cover with umbrella, because it’s possible to get wet and ache even from a drizzle, – with these words he gave his umbrella to a girl.

– Thank you, but I have no need for umbrella. I love rain, – she smiled. – Casts different thoughts and memoirs. Even dejavu sometimes.

– You too? – Kirill looked at her interrogatively.

– What too?

– Well, you said – dejavu. Are you having them too?

– On a constant basis recently. Trapped with no way to escape! – she laughed. – For instance, not further than yesterday I saw a dream where I was walking in the rain and looking at ships – and what do you think? Today I am indeed walking in the rain, looking at ships.

– You’ve got an amazing coincidence here!

– One can say that, – smiled the girl. – You are a local one, huh?

– Since my very birth, which happened I don’t even know how many years back, especially taking all sorts of funny dejavu into account.

– And I moved in here recently, from Chelyabinsk. It’s wet here, but the air is fresh. And it’s easier to remain creative here. I am Liza, by the way, – she introduced herself.

– “Liza, don’t go away”, – Kirill quoted a popular song. – You can call me Kirill. It’s clearly visible that you have arrived here from a mean city, aren’t afraid of rain at all. And what exactly are you creating?

– I am all like that, – smiled recent stranger. – I am a novice artist, painter. There will be an exhibition of my works here soon, so I arrived to this city. Perhaps I should remain here for a longer term, how do you think? – she added, having winked at Kirill.

– Well, you have already prevailed over the rain, as far as I can tell. You only have to win against a dejavu now – and everything will be good and shiny for you, – Kirill answered, smiling. – And I can only paint like a chicken with his paw, by the way. Totally not born for painting.

– Oh, but I don’t want to win against it. My dejavu happens to be so interesting at times! I started feeling myself comfortable with it. Well, sort of a best friend, who is always nearby and with whom you don’t feel yourself wet. And concerning the painting … probably, everyone draws the way he is able to. One can draw, say, with his own deeds – such interesting pictures can be born that way!

– With deeds … yes … I guess you are right, – Kirill got lost in thoughts for several seconds. – By the way, what were your plans for the upcoming days off? Weather forecasters promised us a good weather. Would you like to go for a walk together? We truly have many interesting places for tourists and guests alike. Let’s go to Hermitage?

– It’s possible to take a walk, – girl blushed. – I didn’t manage to visit Hermitage yet. And one of my last dejavu has been already wandering there!

* * *

Two young white-winged men, whose true shape could give humans an abundance of thoughts concerning the possible fact that highest powers exist after all and for all, and don’t care what some earth sceptics might think about their existence, were ironically looking at each other. After so many years their main task was successfully completed, and only a little updating of a course for their wards was awaiting them.

In order to organize a meeting of these aforementioned by us Kirill and Liza these two their invisible curators from the other world had even to resort to the mechanism of awakening of previous memory in souls – a permission for such interference was granted to them from above. And the memory, which is being kept in souls of men, as every even the most inexperienced Guardian Angel well knows, is stronger than the death. Just as the love is.

– A funny name humans thought up for this memory, – Kirill’s curator was thinking, looking as his ward goes on a meeting with Liza, holding a bouquet of roses in his right arm. – Dejavu … what sort of a word!

– Do you remember that dream, which I have shown you? – asked a mental question for Liza her invisible white-winged curator. – The one in which you have met him prior to your real meeting? Tell him about it. You can do it now … now it is your new, most real, drawn with your own deeds reality.

Wolf
prokhor_ozornin
Aauuuuu! Heart-breaking howl of wolves, supported by two dozens of throats, escaped into the night sky, lit with a pale moon.

Auuuuuu! Everything was mixed in this howl – pain from the losses of his companions, hatred to ruthlessly killing them hunters, a hunger that was beating with a faint echo in their stomachs…

Auuuuuu! There she is, the moon. A yellow circle in blackness. Attracting and frightening. Lighting the road in darkness for them. Light of night.

Auuuuuu! He is now a part of the pack. Strong pack. They accepted him. Though he was different once. Doesn’t matter when.

Auuuuuu! Tomorrow new hunting awaits. Such is the order of their leader. Attack of dwellings of the big beings, walking on two paws with their sticks, shooting with beams of light, which have turned many of his comrades into piles of ashes.

Auuuuuu! Fight for their pets, whom they were eating. Not to starve to death. Fight to the death.

Auuuuuu! Many of those, whom he knew during these three years, were already taken away by the great queen of the night, who has given them the moonlight. Death from hands of orthograde hunters. Death of the brave.

Auuuuuu! The smell of their pets, the sound of the cartilages, torn apart by his canine teeth, blood, streaming from their wounds. Such a sweet meat. Sweet prey.

Auuuuuu! Hunger. The stomach, clenching from it in pain. Tomorrow this pain will stop. They will attack under the hood of night. Will be sated. Will then hide from hunters. Confuse traces. Tear with claws.

Auuuuuu! He remembered that he was different once. Not one of their kind. Didn't remember when. Long ago. Not important any more.

Auuuuuu! He had an owner. House. Big house. The owner died. Someone another lodged in the house. Expelled him away.

Auuuuuu! Pain of loss. He strayed on roads. On fields. Through woods. Had no more powers. Wanted to die. Hunger led him into depths. There he found the Pack. Found his brothers. Became one of them.

Auuuuuu! He sings his praising song to the great moon and twilight of the night. They are their cover. They are their support. Will not survive without them.

Auuuuuu! Yellow eyes of the moon. Almost like their own.

Auuuuuu! They bit hunters to death too. Those that have strayed away from their pack. Their meat was rigid. Cannot argue with hunger, though.

Auuuuuu! When he had lived in the big house with his owner, colorful pictures came to him during nights. Cannot recall their name any longer. Too old reminiscence.

Auuuuuu! Images were strange. He had two legs instead of four in them. He was orthograde. Almost like hunters.

Auuuuuu! It is dreadful to remember. Images. In them he was a … person? Strange word, almost forgotten, almost lost. Striking with intolerable pain.

Auuuuuu! The person in his night pictures was pitiful and mean. Worse than a dog. Wolf in sheep's clothing. Wolf … a strange word.

Auuuuuu! The person deceived and betrayed others. Did foul things. Bad person. Bad!

Auuuuuu! Bad! The person was told, that he is worse than a dog. The person only laughed, showing his golden canines with a smoking stick inside. Lots of evil came from that person.

Auuuuuu! Then the person became an inveterate drunkard. Was left alone. No longer necessary. Both he, and to him. Worse than a dog.

Auuuuuu! Strange pictures, tormenting his memory. Yet there was something in them. Like he was once another. Not even when he lived with the owner. Earlier, much earlier.

Auuuuuu! Pictures come in flashes. Bright, in his eyes. Brighter than the moon. It is terrible to recall.

Auuuuuu! The person waited. Not here. In another place. Totally different. Waited for so long. As well as all people. But this one wasn’t a man. Worse than a dog.

Auuuuuu! The person was estimated. His way was. Unworthy.

Auuuuuu! Unworthy! Pain, pain, pain! It is terrible to remember!

Auuuuuu! Something happened to the person. He changed. Four legs instead of two. Not worse than a dog.

Auuuuuu! The person lost his memory. Have forgotten! No more former consciousness. Didn’t deserve. Was erased.

Auuuuuu! Lead me on, great moon! Accept us in your embraces, queen night! Satisfy our hunger, sooth our pain! Let us stick our canines into hated hunters, let us get drunk from the blood of their pets!

Auuuuuu! There is no person any longer. Not a person, but a dog. Not a dog, but a wolf.

Auuuuuu! Bad pain. Bad memory. Bad person. Good wolf.

Auuuuuu! People, where are you? How many of you are there? Not enough people. Too many wolves.

Auuuuuu! Tomorrow they will feast on human blood, satisfy their hunger. It will be nourishing. Pictures will go away. Bad pictures.

Auuuuuu! Then they will be followed by hunters. Terrible hunters with killing beam sticks. And they will be left with only one option. To tear them apart!

Cupid
prokhor_ozornin
– Ave! Did you check yesterday thought-mail? I left there a couple of new messages, concerning our couple and temporary-spatial coordinates for their potential meeting.

– Aye-aye, comrade sergeant, I checked on that. But you know that I have little experience yet, afraid to miss my target. And what exactly happens to people when you do miss – they haven’t yet told this to us in the Academy, we were only given a generic induction, concerning safety measures and usage of bows.

– Well, that depends on how you miss it, – his current curator answered to the cadet with a smile. – It’s possible to miss the way that you will feel sorry for all their lives, and they will never remember you by either a kind word or a warm thought. For example, if you strike their heads instead of hearts, they will respect each other with a guarantee – but hardly will pass hand-in-hand through, as we say, fire, water and trumpets of Jericho. If your arrows hit their stomach spot, they will certainly love without fail – yet not each other, but their own refrigerators, especially at night, especially after 6 P.M. And if you happen to strike, well, below their stomach – the flame of passion in their relations will be able to burn them alive, but a warm flame of love will never spark. And our mission is to give them love. So – keep training with phantoms and don’t miss, – with these words the man with white wings and golden feather on his head, that was called as sergeant, approvingly clapped his workmate in new given to both of them mission and stood close to him at a shooting loophole of the fortress, observing with a smile how curly-headed pink morning clouds keep floating below.

– Thanks for explanations, comrade sergeant. I will surely consider that in my trainings!

– And also when you pull a bowstring, move your wings back as well so the tension will get stronger, and impulse of Cupid will exceed one hundred of spiritual units upon hitting. If it gets below that value – they can indifferently pass by each other and will hardly have anything between them in the future. And if it gets greater than one hundred – it will always work, verified by experience.

– Comrade sergeant, and why should this happen near a bus-stop? You wrote that to me in thought-mail yesterday. I, certainly, formed today a path for him there, made arrangements with colleagues, estimated times, gave him a couple of necessary thoughts, even shown a dream about this upcoming meeting. Yet I still don’t understand – why are they supposed to meet with each other there instead of a nearby park, it’s located not far away and there are less people there, it would be more comfortable for them to communicate with each other afterwards.

– And this, pal, was not my will, but the higher one. I am too small and inexperienced myself to solve tasks like management of destinies, – sergeant burst out laughing. – Department of Destinies Control provided me with all required data, when I was appointed to this task. And there, as you well know, serious pals are working, and everything turns out to be calculated and verified by them in advance. It’s you, pals, who should be taught almost everything, even how to properly hold one’s bow so that tears don’t splash from one’s eyes. So, should I demonstrate you how to strike a heart of humans so that their souls sing in joy afterwards?

– Aye-aye, comrade sergeant, please demonstrate!

– Well, pal, look thoroughly! – skilled Angel-curator answered to the cadet, taking his bow from a belt. – Do you see phantoms of two people, created by me on that cloud? And now I just – w-h-o-s-h! – and loudly singing in the air arrow accurately pierced hearts of two targets that were standing one after another.

– My God! – cadet exclaimed in surprise. – Two in a row! Cupid impulse equals to two thousands of spiritual units!

– Study, pal! Only that way they can be laid together in a row! – laughed the sergeant.

***

Today – if such a concept is applicable for worlds where time goes non-linearly – it was very briskly in the Academy. One can imagine! First spiritual-battle experience is not a joke at all, especially if there is a responsibility for a couple of two future lovers, lying on your wings.

Angela cadets, who were yet to be engaged into their first battle, accurately soared above the ground, holding bows of golden color in their hands. These bows along with specifically shaped for them arrows were the well-known invention of the legendary engineer Cupid, who has graduated from Angelic Military Academy with honors a lot of eons ago, and their most valued ability was to strike humans to death – in the sense that after direct hit in their hearts all negative feelings, created by opponents of Angels, were gradually dying away, obeying to imperious call of born sincere love. Actually, many people usually called these masters of arrows and bows by name of the inventor – even though this was incorrect, for each of them possessed his unique name, granted from above and difficult to pronounce in common for humans language.

This Academy was well-known in the Seven Worlds. Reminding unapproachable fortress, soaring in the air over the clouds, which were dimming the sky, it was a home for many of the best military engineers and smithy of a highest class of warriors. And one of these classes were such Cupids.

– Hold on! Quietly! Stand up in the air above the ground by the length of wings! – Elderly colonel, who has come through many battles with demons and was deprived by them of a half of his wing, was giving orders to cadets, who have arrived to firing practice, walking by parade-ground made from shining stones. – Divide into pairs for training firing practice! Move on to loopholes!

Colonel walked to and fro from one loophole to another, checking combat readiness of his future soldiers and correcting from time to time their fighting stance, position of wings, validity of chosen targets, tension of arrows and a lot of other extremely important aspects in a life of each and every real Cupid. – Is everyone ready? – he asked at last.

– Aye-aye, comrade colonel! – hundreds of Angels, standing near castle loopholes, answered him as a chorus.

– Fire at will!

Observer
prokhor_ozornin
It was surprisingly quiet today in the Hall of Destinies.

However, “today” would be insufficiently exact term for the description time movement in its common for physical worlds concept and form. Time could pass totally nonlinearly here – to either accelerate or slow down; to twist in a spiral, forming similar in character events in diverse lower worlds at different intervals of their evolutionary model’s realization; in rare cases it could even cease its perpetual motion completely in several – and, first of all, strictly determined lower worlds, – if one of Observers needed to make corrections to the highest evolutionary model of such a world. It only couldn’t be turned back – and this is the only and most serious restriction, which has been voluntarily assumed by each Observer, who was taking up a post, for almost an uncountable number of galactic cycles by the standards of lower physical worlds.

It was quiet in the Hall of Destinies.

Not in the sense that is assumed by the imperfect mind of representatives of unlimited number of civilizations, endlessly evolving in the physical worlds, by meaning the lack of difficulties or troubles during their own short-term corporal life, – but in a totally different one, appropriate for those whose tasks included observation and control of fates of infinite number of secondary worlds and all inhabiting them living beings.

This hall was extraordinary large and existed in several dimensions simultaneously. Its multiple projections, much like reflections in mirrors, each one by itself could give only a very superficial idea of its true beauty and form. In a three-dimensional space, which is common for a number of underdeveloped civilizations of secondary worlds, it reminded a hall of some official government institution with huge going upwards colonnades, from almost unreachable heights of which a light of golden and silver colors were flowing, smoothly, precisely like a feather, touching walls and a floor, forming on its way images that by desires and will of Observers were reflecting investigated by them civilizations and events, which were taking place – or have already occurred, or could happen with certain probabilities – in lower, or physical, worlds. Forms of these light reflections could vary greatly – sailing ships that were navigating through oceans and symbolizing different nations in some of secondary worlds and their interactions with each other; birds, soaring in the sky, reflecting concepts and ideas which reigned over minds and souls of people; promptly twisting and raging whirlwinds and tornadoes, representing confusions and misfortunes of both individual inhabitants of observed worlds and their groups in general; fogs of claret and gray colors that were enveloping separate fragments of this hall’s floor and were connected with origin and formation of new star systems and civilizations; fountains, that were sparkling on light with sprayed water drops, from time to time giving a birth to wondrous rainbows, not without a reason serving as harbingers of happy events…

Forms and images, created by this inflowing light of the highest spheres, were so various and, let us agree on that, unique, that any representative of even the most advanced of civilizations of the lower worlds, if he had been given a great joy of observing the work of Observers from outside, in literal sense would hold his spirit, given to him by the Maker, being bonded by invisible force with a floor’s section for a period of observation.

The floor of the Hall of Destinies – or, in some cases, its separate fragments, – could voluntarily, or, following the will of various workers, change their drawing pattern and transparency, so that someone standing on any cell of this floor could all of a sudden – or foreknowing in advance – find out in the next moment that he, for example, is standing precisely on a galactic map, and planets from one of infinite set of star systems of the physical world keep floating beneath him in their mutually attractive dance. One could imagine the surprise of a casual observer, standing on one of these fragments! But Observers could be observed only by their Supreme Coordinator, and he during that very instant – if the concept of “instant” could be somehow correlated to the concept of “eternity” – was living outside of these high walls, observing his creation from within.

For the duration of uncountable eons, which were better known to advanced civilizations as galactic cycles, of time that was streaming like a water, the Observer behold many ascensions and demises of civilizations, whose development he has been monitoring. A great diversity of physical forms of their representatives – humanoid-birds, living on slopes of mountain worlds; reasonable, reminding mermaids inhabitants of oceanic worlds with their underwater cities, stretching for thousands of miles; large ant-like dwellers of industrial civilizations, who have built vast networks of underground tunnels and were controlled by collective intelligence of their lords; humanoids that were similar to orthograde octopuses and possessed strongest telepathic abilities; enormous butterflies, soaring over the plants that were rising on hundreds of meters over the surface of their native world – that seemed totally alien and inappropriate for a citizen of primitive civilizations, – were habitual to a mind’s eye of the one, who has watched formation and development of several tens of thousands of others.

The Observer had no right to interfere directly – others descended into physical worlds for this purpose – or, to be more exact, entered glowing portals, located in another section of the hall, – both chosen souls of representatives of these civilizations for their repeated corporal embodiment, as well as other much greater and perfect spirits. The Observer could warn others of the need for intervention and adjustments to a development course of free-willed civilizations, if a probability of its demise due to deviation from evolutionary course was becoming extremely high.

Lots of former great civilizations have disappeared from physical worlds long ago, having left their mournful trace only in the informational annals of the highest world as a lesson for civilizations of the future and a study material for new Observers. How many reasons and ways to bury themselves were in the arsenal of inexperienced civilizations, to what serious consequences imperfect consciousness and ethics of their representatives led them!

Among all them there were those, who have destroyed themselves and own native worlds in civil wars. There were also those, who during uncontrolled processes of hyper consumption completely exhausted resources of their native world, making it unsuitable for living. There were those, who were ruined by the science, worshipped by them and artificially imbued with qualities of infallibility – whether it was the destruction of microorganisms, necessary for the biosphere, or a creation attempt of inanimate clones of their own representatives, that was the greatest violation of the Third Commandment of the Highest World. Also listed as dead were those ones, who tried to improve their physical shapes with different mechanical implants or violent genetic changes of own population. There were those races, who were subdued and then destroyed by artificially thinking sentient machines, for they failed to designate a correct border and limits of artificial intelligence techs that were developed by them. There were those being bewitched by opening perspectives of management of existential points for the commission of interstellar spaceships jumps, who didn’t manage to build steadily working portals and were absorbed by artificially created analogs of galactic “black holes”. Among untimely died ones there were those who tried to operate the fourth and fifth dimensions and to fully transfer own kin there, but as a result were absorbed by rifts of spatial matter that were created during these scientific experiments. Finally, there were those, whose planets were just subjected to sterilization during interstellar wars by a more technologically advanced and aggressive opponent… In a word, no matter how high was the technological level of observed during eons civilizations, but arrogance, cruelty and stupidity of their citizens were always going hand in hand with a sad fate.

For this reason several eons ago the Council of Observers has made a decision on creation of group of the most advanced peaceful civilizations, that were following a strict internal ethics code and were capable to enlighten representatives of other races in case of compliance of their spiritual level to those technical miracles, which these civilizations possessed. To give too much tech to aggressive civilization was inadmissible, as it meant either almost guaranteed self-destruction of lower civilization in a short term or an attempt to cause harm to one of the members of Intergalactic League. To give to a barbaric by the standards of League civilization any scientific discovery, that greatly exceeds their technological level, was meant to betray both a League and its ethics, and at best such an action from any of its members was punished by its exclusion from the League for eternity.

For a long time Observers have been studying tendencies of young civilizations development and their potential readiness for a meeting with representatives of the League – because such a meeting for primitive civilizations of physical world symbolized the end of habitual to them history, destruction of a set of scientific and social theories, a revolution in consciousness and understanding of own place in the universe, meaning of life and death.

Images in the mirror sphere, that were reflecting star systems, slid and smoothly replaced each other. Following Observer’s passes, this sphere rotated from one side to another, allowing to analyze a state of civilizations in adjacent galactic sectors. Today his attention was directed to one from a several tens of primitive civilizations that were located in the same sector, whose inhabitants were calling their world as the “Earth”. A strange name for the world, covered with such number of seas and oceans.

By all canons of intergalactic League, this civilization was absolutely barbaric, and the greatest dangers to its existence lied in attempts to violate the Third Commandment together with continuous inner planetary wars, raging throughout centuries. How many attempts of its rescue have been made, how many adjustment evolutionary scenarios were considered, and how much more has to be done in order to correct its self-destructive course. Even the question of compulsory intervention of the League was brought up and then postponed. Yet not the question of this civilization’s fate disturbed the Observer today – during his immortal life he has seen a lot of most different fates – but the question of fate of his Coordinator, who was living there at this very moment, in this small, inconspicuous for the detached onlooker, yet beautiful world.

The Observer inclined over the sphere, calculating and verifying scenarios and adjustments. He knew firsthand how hard the way of the evolution of consciousness is.

Bookkeeping
prokhor_ozornin
In this most significant for him day Artem Sergeyevich was, as they say, out of sorts. As a matter of fact, his spirit, which has grown extremely tired from a fifty-years life, was a flyer of sorts, soaring over a silently lying in a bed body, performing such sorts of air pirouettes, which would surely give a birth to envy in hearts of even the best of human stuntmen and acrobats. The body in its turn didn’t show even the slightest signs of what is usually considered to be the only one given to a human life. And how hard did the spirit of Artem Sergeyevich try to bring it back to life! He even tried both slaps in a face and uppercuts – yet no to avail.

“What, did I really died?” – the spirit, floating over a body, was thinking to himself. – “Silently, touching and warning in advance no one, died in a dream? And for what’s sake was all that, I would like to know? And where should I, as a matter of fact, go on now?”

Whatever you may say, but hard is the realization that you are still alive and standing nearby already breathless corpse, and not every Artem Sergeyevich can easily bear with it. Having performed some more dozens of somersaults and finally convinced himself, that he is indeed a little bit off himself – at least habitual to himself – the spirit of Artem Sergeyevich silently sat down on the edge of a bed near his last vessel, and got lost in thoughts.

“What did I live for – and for whose sake did I die? What was the meaning of this, so suddenly ended life, if it turned out all of a sudden that it was not the only one? What is life and why do we need death, eventually? Where have I got and what do I do now?” – these and a great number of similar to these questions soared in a consciousness of incorporeal Artem Sergeyevich, and the lack of clear answers to them forced his spirit to become more and more out of sorts.

He was distracted from these sad afterlife reflections by someone’s soft coughing behind his back. From a surprise, the spirit of Artem Sergeyevich made yet another somersault, turning towards a source of sound. Directly in front of him a beautifully looking – perhaps even to a degree of how Artem Sergeyevich thought about himself some thirty corporal years ago – young man with snow-white wings was standing.

– Ghm! – perplexedly said Artem Sergeyevich.

– And kind spirit to you as well! – young man said in reply.

– Who are you, actually, and what’s your name? And why do you creep towards me to silently?

– You can call me as the Guide of the Other World, – young winged man replied kindly. – I was sent here to help you to orient in these, so to say, unusual for you circumstances, and further to accompany you through all necessary instances.

– Indeed! Circumstances are truly unusual, – agreed Artem Sergeyevich. – I have died, damn it! And I had thought that I would live forever! It’s absolutely unusual!

– In the highest, that is, in spiritual degree, – smiled the Guide. – Not every day we are given a privilege do die, isn’t it? Though some people began to consider that they have been dying since own birth… So, are you prepared to move further?

– And where shall we go, I would like to know? – Artem Sergeyevich interrogatively raised his eyebrows. – Don’t I need to say final goodbye to my relatives? I, by the way, had two children and a wife in this former world. It’s very unlikely that they will rejoice of hearing about my sudden death.

– I am afraid, Artem Sergeyevich, that they won’t be able to see or hear you any longer. If only through dreams – but you will have to ask for a special permission in the Department of Dreams in that case, and at present times it’s seldom given to, so to speak, temporarily and untimely resting in peace ones. Therefore, we should move forward together, there is no other way. Especially when control periods for passing through necessary social instances are strictly limited. So, are you ready to go with me?

– Well, if I have no other options left…, – the spirit of Artem Sergeyevich made a helpless gesture with its translucent hands.

– You had a broadest free choice, when you have lived in so habitual to you physical world, Artem Sergeyevich. And now we must accurately follow well-established procedures.

Having that said, the Angel, who has called himself as the Guide, raised own covered with feathers hand, drawing a spiral in the air. With each newly made pass of his hands, this spiral was becoming brighter and more visible, and finally turned into a gracefully looking sparkling tunnel.

– Transition between the worlds, – explained the Guide. – Some people see it by themselves when they leave own bodies. Let’s go, – he continued, having taken Artem Sergeyevich by hand.

Two figures – one of a casting golden light Angel and a gray-brown figure of Artem Sergeyevich’s spirit – bravely stepped into the tunnel. At first something pinched in the eyes of Artem Sergeyevich, then started to sparkle, then sparkles began falling down, his head started spinning and from what he has seen somewhere inside these tunnel labyrinths he finally lost his consciousness…

* * *

– Scatty one you’ve got this time. He even didn’t manage to pass through circles on his own.

– Few are capable of doing that now. Therefore, they send us more and more often for them, you know that well.

– And I should guide a suicide spirit tomorrow, his term of near-earth tortures has just come to an end, and term for spiritual pain has just started.

– That’s not a big deal. I was once given a mission to guide a couple, who for the sake of eternal love, as our opponents inspired them, jumped together into industrial tank, filled with sulfuric acid. You’d better not see, how their souls looked like when their term of Transition has finally come…

– Cranky ones.

– Well, they are not the first, and surely not the last.

– Looks like your ward got recovered at last. His consciousness resonates from a surprise on awakening, I can feel it even from here.

– Yes, precisely. Guide him to estimators. Man, he will be surprised.

– Well, till our next meeting in the sky, brothers.

– So long.

With these thoughts, by means of which he communicated with his colleagues from department and hierarchy, a young white-winged man went with a fast pace to Artem Sergeyevich, who was lying on a lawn’s grass of emerald color.

– It’s good to see that you have finally regained consciousness, – he answered with a smile to a spirit of Artem Sergeyevich, which was drowsily looking around. – I had to lull you somewhere in the middle of our journey, because due to the nature of your earth affairs the route, that we were obliged to take, as well as inhabitants of these other-worldly tracks were not the most pleasant ones, – he added quietly.

– I … what … where… oh! – barely managed to mutter our hero.

– You are in a special place now, on fields of restoration and healing. But we need to continue our journey, because we are already somewhat out of a required time schedule. By the way, while you were resting, I have already managed to bring all necessary informational materials to the department of returned souls, including your family tree, data on your lifetime affairs, habits and hobbies, merits and demerits. Therefore, at present time we, my dear fellow traveler, need to proceed to estimators in bookkeeping department, and after that – vast waiting halls will wait for you for a whole million of earth years. As writers of your world said – “One million of years before doomsday” … or the end of darkness. It depends on your final score, calculated by estimators in bookkeeping department.

– What sort of … bookkeeping department? Is that a business of … sorts? Sales of tunnel attractions or souls? – muttered half-asleep Artem Sergeyevich.

– Oh, by no means, – the Guide burst out laughing, – no sales at all! Our accountants neither buy nor sell human souls, don’t you worry. They are engaged in estimation of their quality, because only qualitative souls will be taken into account. Well, and how qualitative is your soul by our standards, you will learn soon enough. I am, by the way, will be interested in knowing that as well, – the Guide smiled politely.

With these words being said, he took a soul of Artem Sergeyevich on his hands, made a jump from the ground and soared up into celestial heights.

* * *

– Good afternoon, Rael, – smiled the young white-winged girl in a celestial-blue dress. – Newcomer?

– And in a first person, – answered the Guide, lowering Artem Sergeyevich on a habitual to him soil, which had a shape of shining in bluish shade floor. – Registration department must have already sent you his data, check incoming messages. You calculate and estimate him now, and I will be waiting in a corridor, all right?

– Certainly, – smiled the estimator, who obviously liked Rael. – So kind of you to carry him by yourself. People have become noticeably weaker recently. Unlike the times when the leader Jesus personally descended into their world…

– By the way, I wanted to ask that a long ago, – does your program takes it into account? Well, weakening of human spirit?

– It does, – Angelina smiled. – But that’s a minus, as you certainly understand.

– I do… - Rael answered lingeringly. – Well, I am waiting in a corridor there. Come in, Artem Sergeyevich, take a sit.

– Take a seat! – repeated the accountant and moved up a chair to Artem Sergeyevich, who unwillingly sat down. – So, let’s take a look…

Within ten minutes the girl diligently typed something on the input device of her visor, and then uttered:

– It’s a real pity, Artem Sergeyevich, but it turns out that your balance score is negative. Minus one hundred fifty absolute points. And we, unfortunately, have no plans to take souls with negative balances on a balance of the new world.

– What does it mean – negative? What kind of calculations are these? What sort of absolute points?! Madhouse of sorts! – Artem Sergeyevich’s spirit was indignant.

– You see, in calculations of quality of human souls we use absolute points of Light. Unlike the conventional financial points, which are being used in your physical world and have blinded so many souls of their adherents, we use the evolutionary measure that is not subject to time. – Here, I will show you, – and with these words the girl took a long printed-out sheet and gave it to Artem Sergeyevich. – Here, for example, your care for your family, – its worth was estimated to be equal to a hundred forty five absolute points. It’s an average result, because you have been very little engaged into education and upbringing of your children, having shifted these duties to your wife, and devoting the most part of your time to building a career. By the way, summed total results of your labor feats turned out to be equal to fifteen absolute points, – that’s a very small amount, because social usefulness of your work, associated with deception of people, wasn’t high at all, and even in this job you didn’t show much diligence. And for the treason of your wife – performed twice, it worth noticing – you get minus forty seven absolute points…

– Wait a moment, wait a moment! – cried Artem Sergeyevich. – Why is only fifteen points?! I am a Holy Father, believer, turned people into your belief, led them to the Christ! What, have you decided to mock your loyal servants?!

– Wait a moment, wait a moment! – laughed the accountant. – Why do you persist in calling yourself as saint? Saints by our criteria are those souls, whose balance exceeds ten thousand of absolute points. And regarding the believer … you see, but due to those events, which have taken place many centuries after our Jesus arrival into your world, and your attitude towards him, we ceased to use that concept in our calculations. It was fair for the first Christians, but nowadays every idler is ready to beat breast and call himself a believer – and we don’t even speak of how many souls have been tortured, exhausted and corporally killed for the sake of that “belief”, and how many self-deceptions were made due to illusions of its presence. Therefore, we no longer use your pseudo-belief in our calculations, we use the concept of “soul dignity”. Pray tell me, Artem Sergeyevich, is it worthy in your opinion to urge to kill gentiles?

– I did no such things! – muttered our not-really-a-hero with rage.

– And how many times did you call your belief as the best ever existed, do you remember? And how did you publicly derided those, whom you called as atheists on your sermons, have you forgotten? And how proud you was of the power of your faith and your readiness to kill anyone to keep it strong, should I remind you? Why don’t you believe us now, when we are telling you about you? And your wish to a pedestrian, I quote – “Where the hell are you going? Rest in peace, walking creature!” – which you have made exactly a day before parting with your body, when you were rushing inside your BMW through city streets and have nearly brought him down, costed you, for example, minus five absolute points. Here, you can check it all by yourself. Everything is measured correctly.

– Why do prayers for souls of our parishioners have a negative value, aye? – Artem Sergeyevich continued to be angry while reading an estimation sheet, issued to him.

– Because you demanded from our Supreme Commander, whom you traditionally call as the God, to add a certain amount of absolute points of Light to these souls, which in most cases don’t deserve that at all – and you seek to get a reward for similar generosity by yourself in the form of those conventional financial points. This also concerns your prayers based on schedule instead of call of your soul – they are estimated to have though a small, yet negative value.

– Well, you know! – Artem Sergeyevich got furious, – you will condemn each and everyone that way! Even saints!

– No, saints are the best judges for themselves, even during their lifetime.

– And what is there … five and a half thousand of absolute points?! – Artem Sergeyevich cried out from surprise, having seen with a corner of his eyes one of the lines in the estimation sheet of another soul, that was lying on a table.

– Rescue of a soul, – Angelina answered with a smile. – Absolutely sincere and real. Plus five hundred of absolute points for rescue of a cat, whom this woman cured, having sold out a part of own hand-painted pictures for these purposes. Her art and creativity, which has inspired several other men to develop own talents, was estimated to be worth two and a half thousand of points. Our scales are extremely accurate, Artem Sergeyevich, have no doubt of it.

– Go to hell with these scales-mails-miracles! – Artem Sergeyevich exclaimed in a fit of temper. – Where do I sign here? I sign here and go to my rest place for a million of years! I deserved that!

– Wait a moment! – suddenly exclaimed the heavenly accountant. – Our system shows a change in your estimated data. The matter is that … your wife … she learned about your double betrayal during your lifetime, but … just in this moment there, on the Earth … she forgave you and asked us to help you in any way possible. Now your balance is … let me see … now you have zero points, Artem Sergeyevich. Well … probably, I should congratulate you with that. Now you have a chance, whether you deserve it or not, – she added quietly.

* * *

– What a bitch, – thought Artem Sergeyevich to himself while being led by his Angel-Guide to the halls for a very long awaiting of the Court. – Though by the end of my life, but she had finally made something worthy. I beat her in youth for a reason, not for nothing!

– Zero … a total zero, – thought the angelic Guide, while looking through the estimation sheet, issued to his ward.

– Saint…, – thought Angelina with a smile, watching how the balance of soul of an artist and Artem Sergeyevich’s wife, who has saved his soul this day, confidently overpasses the mark of ten thousand of absolutely unconditional points.

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