Storm King: Opening Moves (Episode Six)

Copyright David Mullin 1999

Saturday; August 15, 1987

I pushed the last stake into the dirt, securing the dome tent against the wind. Tom and Mike had finished setting up their tents and were starting to unpack their bedding . Where was Debra? I looked around and spotted her up at the Point, gazing at the setting sun. I tossed our blankets and pillows into the tent, and started walking up towards her.

I came up behind her, slid my arms under hers, and held her about her midriff. She put her hands on mine and leaned back against me. "It's a pretty sight," she said.

I looked out at the sun dipping below the mountains, its dying light painting the clouds a panorama of reds and browns. "Yes, it is. I'd say we picked a perfect place for the ritual. Dawn tomorrow should be equally pleasant." We watched for a while before heading back down to the campsite. Tom and Mike were starting to set up a fire.

I thought back to the discovery that had brought the four of us up into the mountains this weekend. It had been about a month ago, Mike had pulled us aside at a Saturday practice.

"I finished this book, and thought you two might be interested. This guy, Argueles, was talking about his research into the Mayan calendar. He says there is this event coming up, he calls it the Harmonic Convergence, that signifies the end of this aeon and the beginning of the next."

"Sounds interesting," I had said.

"'Interesting?' It's more than that. He says the next age isn't set yet, that it will be the events over the next few years that will determine the next aeon. He's got a pretty large following of people who are going to gather at the time of the Convergence and 'pray for peace' or something."

Debra's face brightened. "So you're thinking—"

"That, as magicians," Mike cut in, "we've got more energy than any ten mundanes. Why don't we hold a ritual of our own to align ourselves with the next aeon and, maybe, influence the way it will go."

After discussing it at greater length, we had decided that less was better, a tight knit group of truly powerful individuals. We had settled on Tom, the only other Hazard any of us were familiar with. He and I had been close since our first mission together, to Westhaven

"So," Mike said, bringing me back to the present, "is everything set topside?"

"Yes," Debra replied. "Slightly before six tomorrow morning, the sun will break the horizon and we'll be waiting."

Tom perked up. "What do you think will happen? I've looked over the ritual, and it's little more than a general energy gathering and focus on a more-or-less vague intention."

I nodded. "That about sums up what it is. I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't know what to expect, or whether I should expect anything for that matter. Assuming there is anything to Argueles, tomorrow morning should be a time of high ambient energy. That combined with the energy of the Point, and the energy four Hazards can raise, should push us up to a high level of consciousness. Nothing could happen. Or everything. I guess that we'll just have to wait until then to find out."

We chatted for several hours before we decided that we should go to bed. The next day would start very early, and we didn't want to be to wasted to enjoy it.

I was awoken by someone shaking the tent. I remembered where I was and why, and adrenaline kicked in, bringing me awake. Debra wasn't in the sleeping bag next to me.

"Rise and shine, love," her voice came from outside. I heard the other two grumbling and pulling themselves from their tent. I pulled on some jeans and a sweat shirt and grabbed my jacket before crawling out of the tent. Debra had a fire going, and I could smell the coffee.

The cold air bit at me, bringing me more awake. I pulled on my jacket and moved closer to the fire. Debra stood up from the fire and handed me a cup of coffee. I took a long drink and felt the warm liquid heat me up from the inside. I put my arm around her and pulled her close. "Thanks, lover, you're a life-saver." She smiled and I kissed her.

"Enough of that you two. It's too goddamn early to be frisky." Mike didn't sound at all pleased to be up at this hour. "What the hell time is it, anyways?"

"5:15," Debra said.

I looked at the eastern horizon, the sun just starting to lighten the sky. "We've got a little while yet. Enough for a small breakfast."

Mike and Tom took the coffee that Debra offered them and sipped at it while I fished some bagels and doughnuts out of our food pack. We all ate and drank some more coffee before tromping up to the Point.

The actual ritual site was a roughly circular stone slab about fifteen feet across and right up next to the cliff. I had discovered it about six months before on one of my regular excursions into the mountains, and had been impressed by the energy fields that formed a nexus at the center of the slab.

We took our positions around the edge of the slab; I stood in the east, Mike on my right, Tom on my left, and Debra directly across. I glanced over my shoulder, the eastern sky was brightening. We had about five minutes.

We all faced the center of the circle and calmed ourselves. I raised my arms and began. "I invoke the energy of air, the might of the raging storm. I call upon the Archangel Raphael to hold the Watchtower of the East and grant us your strength and wisdom for what stands before us." Energy began to swirl around me and mingle with my own golden light.

Debra spoke next. "I invoke the energy of water, the relentless strength of the ocean. I call upon the Archangel Gabriel to hold the Watchtower of the West and grant us your force and guidance in what stands before us." Debra's aura flared a brilliant pink and spread outwards, even as my own aura did so.

Tom raised his arms. "I invoke the energy of fire, the boundless power of the sun. I call upon the Archangel Michael to hold the Watchtower of the North and grant us your might and vision in what stands before us." Emerald green light flowed forth from him, mingling with Debra's pink and my gold.

Last, Mike spoke. "I invoke the energy of earth, the limitless soundness of the ground beneath us. I call upon the Archangel Uriel to hold the Watchtower of the South and grant us your support and comfort in what stands before us." Orange fire leapt around Mike and mingled with the energies of the rest of us. Our own strength and that of the elements we invoked combined with the nexus and intensified into a swirling mass of power surrounding us.

I felt my perception of reality shift as I leapt to a higher level of consciousness. What had remained hidden to me before suddenly became perfectly clear. The mingling energy patterns of our four souls and the alien structure of the nexus were laid out before my eyes. I could see the archangels towering behind each of the others, holding the quarters and guarding us; Michael in red with a flaming sword, Gabriel in blue with a horn of flowing water, and Uriel in green with his black wings and platter of fruit. As the energy around us intensified still further, I began to sense the gentle energies of the planet below us. Above me, I saw the shifts and eddies of the wind and suddenly knew how I controlled them. Beyond that, I perceived the lines of force of the earth's magnetic field, warping before the relentless onslaught of the solar wind.

Suddenly, everything flared even brighter as the sun broke the horizon. I redirected my gaze towards the center of the circle and we all raised our arms again. "Hail to the rising sun. Hail to Quetzalcoatl, Culture Bringer and Herald of the new age." We gathered ourselves and the tremendous energy surrounding us and projected it into the nexus and from there into the earth itself. "May the new age be an age of peace. May the earth be healed and hate be cast out. So mote it be. Thus do we Will."

The light in the center flared until it was blinding. When it receded, I beheld a tall man with close cropped red hair and beard and pale skin. He wore only a loin cloth.

Quetzalcoatl!

I didn't know if the thought was my own or one of the others, but I pushed it aside. The figure raised his arms over his head and a blazing ball of yellow fire formed between them and grew brighter until it was a bright as the sun. Wide eyed, I looked into the fire and saw four horsemen riding out of it. One mounted on a white horse and armed with a long bow, another on a red horse, a third on a black horse and holding a balance, and the last on a pale horse. My mind made the connection. The Horsemen of the Apocalypse!

The world dropped out from under me and the light flared again. Suddenly I was standing atop a tall building in the center of a vast city that seemed somehow familiar.. Portions of it were in ruins about me. Something in the sky caught my attention. I looked up to see what it was. There was a flash of light, brighter than the sun and the entire city caught fire before the shockwave from the massive explosion moved out, almost in slow motion, destroying anything it passed. I watched in horror, unable to move, as the wave struck the building I was standing on it. The flesh was peeled from my bones and my body vaporized.

Again the scene changed, and I was standing on a small hill holding a woman at my side. An unknown woman. We were looking at another sun rise, illuminating a battle-field below us. I felt sorrow mixed with joy and a sense of peace descended upon me. The light flared bright again and then finally vanished, leaving me back at the Point with my three companions.

The energy dissipated, and the world returned to normal. I slowly lowered myself to the ground and shook my head, resisting an urge to withdrawal deep within myself and hide. Mike dropped to his knee and curled into a ball. Debra's face was ashen and her eyes held fear. She slowly walked past me and down towards the camp. Tom just stood there.

Several hours later, after we had recovered from the state of shock we were in after the ritual, we gathered in camp.

"Well," I said weakly, "What did you guys see?"

Mike looked up. "I saw Quetzalcoatl. And then a war and then...I don't know. Chaos."

Tom looked at me. "I saw him too. What came after is just too confusing to try to put into words."

I nodded. "I saw him too, and a war. A terrible war. And, I think, I saw peace afterwards, but I was a long time from now and not everything was clear. Debra?"

She looked at me, here eyes still holding a slight residue of the shock. "I saw . .I saw..." She closed her eyes and began to tremble. "I don't want to talk about it." Her voice caught and she began to cry.

I moved across and put my arms around her, comforting her. "Shh. Let it out. It's all right."

She looked up at me, tears running from her eyes. "Do you love me?"

I smiled and kissed her tenderly. "You know I do. And I always will."

"Don't forget me."

Something in her voice frightened me. "I won't." I held her close and let her cry.