Quick Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or the world they inhabit. They were created by the fabulous people at Zombie Orpheus for their equally fabulous RPG, Masters of the Metaverse! Be sure to tune in to Twitch.TV/zombieorpheus every Monday at 6PM PST to see more!
Elden opened his eyes.
It took a moment for that to sink in. His eyes, his actual eyes. And they were open.
The light began to adjust and he started to make out dimly familiar shapes around him. Walls, a thatched roof, the warm glow of a fire in the corner. The sounds of people walking and talking outside. Air moving in trees and grass. Animals calling.
Home. He was…home.
Elden tried to push himself up and found that his arms felt closer to stone. The muscles protested as he moved, attempting to gain purchase on the world. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a bowl resting on a nearby table, the steam still rising from it. His nose began to pick out the known smell of the stew his mother had made for him as a child. The healing broth for the sick and weak, the soup that would save your life and bring you back. His mouth ached for a taste that his mind would remember and he found himself reaching out, fingers weakly brushing the air around him.
“Let me help you.”
Arms came under his own, gently guiding him into a more upright position. A figure reached over and grasped the bowl, bringing it closer to his lips. Elden drank it gratefully, his throat rough and ragged from disuse. Finally looking up, he took in the dark eyes of a woman with glasses. She smiled, “Hello Elden.”
He blinked and opened his mouth to speak. His tongue tripped and tangled itself on the syllables that no longer fit inside his forgotten mouth. The woman gently placed a hand on his shoulder, “That’s all right. You’ve been away for…a while. About two months now. You’re going to need a little time to come back to it all. Do you know who I am?”
Elden nodded. He had seen her. Tried to get to her, to help her, to save her. He had watched amongst a sea of voices and minds as the Nightmare had taken her for its own.
Monday. The Chronicler.
“I thought you might.” She eased him back against the pillows of his bed, regarding him carefully. “They’ve been taking care of you. Your village. They were given instructions by the ones who brought the pods. One of them is still around.” At this she looked toward the door and frowned slightly. “He’ll be here soon to check on you. Everyone will be glad to see you awake at last. They’ve been worried.”
Elden blinked. It seemed surprising that what had happened to him would warrant concern, let alone interest. He had always been on the outside of his village. Hunting and gathering as needed, not well but not terribly. Doing what was expected simply because it was what he was supposed to do, not what he wanted. Tasks completed for the sake of completion.
The truth was he had always been far more interested in the stories his Seer told. The worlds spun from the silver words of his tongue compelled Elden forward more than the duty to his village or his tribe ever had. The belief that he could perhaps, one day, make a difference like the pilots he heard about and now had seen…it was the singular driving force of his heart. He knew this at last, better than ever before.
Monday inclined her head and looked at him as if he had spoken all these things out loud. Perhaps he had done. Stories and connections fueled and lifted the Metaverse in ways he had never known possible. But his time in the space between space had given him new eyes. His ears could hear a thousand voices raised in song, their pitch rising and falling with each new choice and path. His mouth rippled with the words of the multitude, their lives a moving tapestry of hope. Now he was here. Back again with his people.
But how could he walk among them when his feet wanted to run instead?
How could he make them see and understand what he had only dreamed to be true? How could he remain as he was when he had walked beside heroes? How could his life stay its unaltered course when the sky was full of stars?
Elden felt his throat clench and he dropped his face into his hands. Air refused to pass easily to his lungs and for a moment he felt himself fading into the void again. The bed shifted as Monday came to rest near him. A gentle hand touched his arm and Elden was surprised to find himself reaching for it.
She squeezed his hand, “You feel it too, don’t you? The weight of it? The stories that fill you up and envelope you. Filling your blood to bursting until your heart almost can’t beat. It’s terrible and wonderful all at once. To live in stories. To love stories. To be surrounded by thousands of voices and minds, lives you will never lead but will know all the same. To be more alone than ever before. To understand the world in a deeper way but to also know that you yourself will never be truly understood. At least…not by most people.”
Elden looked up at her, desperately seeking some form of guidance, some sort of hope. He had been lost for so long. Trying for these many months and days to find a way back to the place that knew him. Only to find himself more unknown now than ever before.
Who was he now? No longer Elden the Lost but…not Elden the Pilot as he had wished. Elden who had stepped into the pod and dreamed of heaven. Elden who had seen miracles and watched sacrifices that ended death. Elden who had watched love save and destroy, seen magic and power rise and fall, felt the end and the beginning all at once.
Who was he now that the story had ended and he was not who he had hoped to be?
“I used to be a Chronicler. But I was never a very good one.” Monday shook her head at the memory, “I cared when they told me to record. I got involved when they told me to observe. I invested when they wanted me to go. And it took getting trapped inside a dome for four hundred years for me to finally begin to see the truth. It took pulling a man out of the way for me to start to believe. It took finally allowing myself to admit the truth in my heart for me to accept who I am.”
She looked up at him, her eyes gazing directly into his, “I am The Chronicler. Not one of many. One of few. I don’t record so that events won’t be forgotten. I write so that lives continue on and hearts never stop beating. Because that…that is what the Metaverse is. Stories. Our stories. Yours, mine, everyone’s. Thousands of tiny moments that mean everything. Golden threads in a boundless sea. And I think…I think you might understand what that means.”
A sudden sound outside caused Monday to turn, her hand still grasping Elden’s. His heart was pounding. Did he know what she meant? Did he understand? Something in the words felt familiar, a beacon in the dark, but his bones were tied to the earth…what could he do now?
Monday rose and looked down at him with a smile, “They’re coming to see you. Rest. Take your time. Then tell them your story. Tell them all of your stories. Show them the way among the stars. And when you’re ready, come find me. I think we would work well together.”
The voices and footsteps were getting closer now. Monday bent down and kissed him gently on the forehead. “Welcome home, Elden The Found…Seer Of The Metaverse.”