Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Seal of Hadruman by Ziyad Hayatli

Eli discovers a way to communicate with an ancient race from beyond the veil in Ziyad Hayatli's fantasy.

There was a time, a time of the Ancients, when strange gods, goddesses and even demons were worshipped. A time of mystery and knowledge, suffering and pleasure.

During that time there was one king who ruled, and when he died he became legend, and the throes of time turned him from legend to myth. He was King Hadruman the Wise. Kings are remembered for their deeds, good or bad. And the entire life of King Hadruman the Wise was one long terrible deed.

It said in the myths that the seal which he bore gave him a special power. It bound the spirits that came from other wordly heavens to his will. It dragged them from their own abode and into our world where they followed the bidding of King Hadruman the Wise, and they were capable of many things. He used their strength and power to build great cities and muster large armies that would destroy any foe. After looking at many writings and accounts, I have chosen to call them the Unseen. He carved out an empire under his own name across all of the Levant. He was so powerful that only one thing could eventually take his life, the thing that can and will destroy everything; time.

And so people looked for the Seal of King Hadruman - a symbol, a hieroglyph, a signature of sorts - anything that could bestow a clue as to what this power actually was. Of course, as time passed, more and more people scoffed and snickered at the myths.

Except me.

My name is Eli, and I have found the Seal of Hadruman where I live, in the depths of London.

But everything is paid with a price. And this the tale of the price that I have paid.



The Discovery of Turam

It was a day like any other. After hours of waiting tables at the restaurant, I went home with a pounding head. The fresh air felt so good it was almost painful, the drizzle of rain was a blessing after escaping the heat of the place. I could still hear the sound of people chattering and ordering, the chefs shouting constantly and the managers scowling. But now there was silence, except for the occasional car passing by or a distant wailing siren.

Tomorrow would be another day, but I have learned to enjoy the hours left to me and not dwell on the future, or the past.

Home, one in the morning, I had to be extra quiet. My friends from my days at university were kind enough to let me live with them for the time being, and I helped with the bills and rent as much as I could. Ah, but they were people with nine to five well paying jobs. I opted to take the smallest room for guilt, because they contributed much more, and this is where I spent most of my nights, my little den. What could I say? at least I am in a semi-detached house in a semi-decent neighbourhood.

I sat on my bed and double checked my calendar across the wall. Phew, late start tomorrow, I had time. The desk beside the bed was riddled with books and papers, but the thought of reading or writing threatened to put me in a coma. So I did the next best thing... I meditated. It was something I did to help the headache after work go away, and to give me a full restful sleep.

There I sat, eyes closed and emptying my mind of thoughts. And that is the most quaint thing about us as beings. We think all the time, but we do not realize it until we try stopping.

The first thoughts that entered my head were about work; the tables, the kitchens, the smell of the food mixed in with cleaning detergent. I pushed them away and focused on my present senses. The musty smell of the room entered my nose, and then the sweet sound of silence; a soft ringing that was like a phantom, something not quite there.

Then more thoughts came rushing back. The papers and books on my desk were about King Hadruman. I had been doing some personal research for a while, and he was on my mind a lot besides the drudgery of everyday life. So I started breathing rhythmically to rid myself of these thoughts too. Focusing on nothing but the sensation of the air passing through my nostrils, and coming out of my mouth, my thoughts started to slip away. All of my thoughts except one.

King Hadruman the Wise... Wise... Wisdom... Wise... Wisdom.

Everything was out of my head... every thought, except this one word, this concept that floated in the void. And then, another thought wormed its way in.

What are you doing here?

I smirked. This was not the time to philosophize and contemplate the meaning of life. And still that word turned around in my head.

Wisdom... wise.

What am I doing here?

Said the voice once again. My heart skipped a beat. There was something odd about this thought. The way it was said, it did not feel like it was a thought that came from me. Was this the inner voice? Was it my third eye of wisdom opening? I attempted to respond in the form of thought.

"What... are you?"

There was a long silence, but then it happened, the presence came. Something was sitting down right next to me, but it wasn't. It was that feeling, that you know that your friend is sitting behind you without even looking, but it was not quite so physical. After that, a response. The thought was once again alien.

"I'm not meant to be here... please, release me."

I was astonished. What did it mean? I started to feel a little afraid. These thoughts didn't feel like they were mine at all. They weren't voluntary, they were simply not from my mind and I just somehow knew it. But at the same time I was excited:

"First, answer me. What. Are. You?"

A long pause, and then a reply.

"You do not know what you are doing? Fascinating. As for me, well, your kind have many names for us; Ghosts, Spirits, Seraphim, Cherubim, Demons, Jinns... the Unseen. Take your pick. But we have one name for your kind, the Children."

My first thought was that I had gone completely mad. I'd had a long day, I needed to sleep. My fantasies were taking over my mind. I did my best to concentrate on my breathing once again. But the thought, the thing that was with me, would not go away. I decided to completely give up and I opened my eyes.

The presence was still there.

My breathing grew a little more shallow and my heart raced. Panic. And the presence, the thing, still spoke in my head.

"Calm down, there is nothing to be afraid of. You are obviously a very talented individual, and quite knowledgeable too from what I have seen on your desk here."

I shook my head as I held it in my hands. I'd gone completely mad, and without thinking I replied by speaking out loud.

"Okay then, er... what can I call you? How can I be sure you are real?"

"My name is Turam. Judging from your notes, I think you know us best as the Unseen. What may I call you, Child?"

"Eli. Just call me Eli. So, why did you come? Why have I gone mad?"

I thought that denying my madness would not be productive. The earlier that I accept that it's a problem, the sooner I can deal with it. But the thing still spoke, it's presence in the room as strong as ever.

"Ah, a very old name. And you have not gone mad, Child. I am real."

"Prove it then. Prove it, Turam."

"I am sorry, Eli. This is the only way to do it. You realize that I may observe your world without trouble, but to affect change I must use your body as a conduit. This is forbidden, but for the sake of your peace of mind... you shall feel... strange."

And so I did feel strange. A coldness emanated from my body followed by a weakness. And there, in front of me, my pen floated in the air rotating slowly. I outstretched a shaking hand, passing it over, under and around the pen. Nothing. I felt nothing. A whimper attempted to escape, but I ended up clearing my throat instead.

"Fuck."

That was the only word that came out in the end. I didn't know what to say next because there was so much to say. But before I could do anything, the Unseen who called himself, or herself, Turam spoke once again and the pen dropped to the floor.

"I know, Eli. But you must release me now... this is forbidden. Please, let me go back to my world. This is not meant to be."

"How do I do that? Why? Why is it not meant to be?"

"It is as it is, and this is your world and not mine, Eli. I advise you to not do this again. You have written of King Hadruman and you know what happened to him when he dabbled in this... practice. Just breathe again and find your peace. And then you may will me to be free."

I was afraid of course. I was very afraid of what it could do if I did not listen. So I listened. I closed my eyes breathing rhythmically once again. My thoughts started to slip away surprisingly quickly and nothing was left but the void, and the presence. And as I applied my will it started to slip away slowly, and just before it completely disappeared one last thing was said.

"Thank you, Eli."

And I collapsed on the bed and endured a long night of fitful sleep.


<
The Discovery of Turach

I awoke fatigued. There was a long day of work ahead before my day off and there would be no time to think about what had occurred. It was a day of torture as I contemplated what had happened. Was it all just a vivid dream? Should I attempt to do it again? What would have happened if I had refused to release the... thing? My deep contemplation manifested in the mistakes I kept on making in my orders and my general clumsiness. All I saw in the meantime was my own pen floating ominously before my eyes. I felt dislodged, detached from this world somehow. All the while one of the managers breathed down my neck yet I did not care.

The time to go home once again could not have come sooner. I had a late start so it was a late finish. The streets were quiet at midnight in these parts of London. And past midnight they were simply dead. The cool air was once again welcome, and the drizzle once again washed the heat from me and caressed my face softly.

I decide to attempt what I had done yesterday, whatever it was, again. As I walked I gently closed my eyes and dived into the world of my breathing; a whole different world of sensations and sounds. My thoughts slipped away with ease this time, and in the middle of the street I was in this void. I do not know if I stopped walking or carried on, obliviously crossing roads and dodging lamp posts.

And then the thoughts came again. The disembodied, external thoughts that spoke to me. This was real, yesterday was not a dream.

"Well, I have not seen your kind in a long time. Now, if you are just having fun then release me."

I felt its presence materialise next to my physical being and I opened my eyes. I had been walking, but I had not gone too far. I glanced left and right but saw nothing, yet the presence persisted. I answered the call of this Unseen.

"First tell me what your name is and the nature of your world."

I thought that communicating by not speaking out loud was in the best of my interests, I was out in the street after all. I did not want to be seen as a madman. The Unseen replied:

"So, you have recently discovered our kind I presume. I go by the name of Turach, and the nature of our world is too far gone from your abilities to conceive, Child."

It was then that I realized something bizarre. I had known that this was not Turam from yesterday. It sounds insane, but something about the tone in its communication was different. I just knew it, and I sensed something else... this Unseen was old, very old. Annoyed at it's patronising tone I said, "Why do you call me Child? How old are you?"

This time there was a hint of amusement in its answer.

"We are all children, and we are all a Child of the One. The One manifests in many gods, goddesses or whatever takes to your liking... it is, in the end, the One. As for myself, I am seven hundred and twenty three years old."

My jaw dropped. I did not know why I believed the thing, but I did. Once again thousands of questions sprouted in my head like weeds, blocking any coherent thoughts. I remembered what Turam said about their ability to observe and the history that Turach must have lived through. More than seven hundred years! But I calmed down and thought that I should start from the beginning, but just as I started I was interrupted by another voice. This one came from the physical world. It was a man who stood in front of me brandishing a mean looking knife.

"Don't move or I'll fucking kill you! Just hand over what you have and you get to live. Not hard, is it?"

I panicked. I don't know if it was some sort of instinct, if there could be an instinct for such a thing, or if it was just the sheer fear. Somehow, I drew power from Turach, whose presence was as strong as ever, and thrust my hand forward. I felt the energy leave with a force, and the would be mugger flew across the road and crashed into a lamppost violently. The light flickered and died from the impact and the man wasn't moving. I ran, ran fast for home and the presence of Turach followed close behind, forever looming in the background of my mind. A blanket of ice settled over my form and weakness overtook me. My heart quickened, my legs burned and my breath became shallow, but I refused to stop until I got to the front door.

I snuck into my room careful not to wake any of my friends. It took all of my effort and power of reasoning not to scream or cry at what I had done. The memory of the pen floating and the man flying, crashing and lying still played in my mind slowly over and over again. Despite feeling unnaturally cold I sat on my bed, head in hands. The presence of Turach was still in the room, and as I caught my breath it spoke.

"Wow. Well, next time you do that, warn me. Judging from your use of excessive force I think you are an amateur in these arts, but still very gifted. Do you want to experiment again?"

I felt fear, I felt anger, I felt confusion. But these last few words, these gave me an unexpected feeling of pure elation. The cold and weakness were mere backdrops compared to this feeling. After what I had done truly sunk in I smiled and then chuckled. I wanted to laugh at the top of my lungs, jump up and down. As I sat there thinking of all the possibilities, the feeling of this elation was building up.

"What do you mean by experiment?" I said aloud, forgetting myself.

"Step out from your home, go into the night, and see."

I was hypnotised, I lost control, I stood and walked right out of the front door of the house. Right in front of me, on the road, was a parked red Audi.

"Brace yourself, Turach."

Without thinking, I drew energy from the Unseen being and it flowed through me. I shaped it, molded it so that it did my bidding, and the car lifted slowly but surely in the air. I made it rotate this way and that, flipped it upside down and the right way up. After a few minutes I thought that I may put it gently down. But no, my thoughts ran wild, the feeling of the energy surging through me was better than the weakness that I suffered, and without thinking I hurled the car into the air, far away beyond the row of houses opposite me. As I heard the muffled crash seconds later, I did not even think of the consequences. The weakness came again, stronger than before, and a blanket of ice covered me colder than before. I couldn't stop, and so the next thing I did was something insane.

Once again, I drew energy from Turach, but instead of lifting anything in the air I lifted myself. And surely enough I levitated, but I had to be delicate or else I tipped this way and that. It was such a strange sensation now that I think back on it. A feeling of slight amusement mixed with admiration emanated from Turach, who said:

"Eli, you are very talented and... creative. Why don't you get comfortable with this and see what you can really do?"

And I did. I slowly lifted my self higher and higher into the night sky and started pushing myself forward. As the energy from Turach started to surge through me, all fear left me and I surveyed the mass of London's lights around me. I headed northeast, adding more and more power until I started flying with the speed of a bird, through the darkness. The lights of the London Eye loomed ahead, reflected in the River Thames; I shot with a magnificent speed towards the centre of the Metropolis until I found a dark place, a park of sorts that looked empty. There I slowed down and touched the ground gently with my feet. I heard a gasp, there was a man in the dark that I didn't see until now looking at me with wide eyes and trembling lips. Indeed, he must have seen me, and any words or screams that might have come out were probably trapped in his throat. He was middle-aged as I remember, in a suit and well groomed.

As I looked at his beleaguered expression, more wild thoughts ran through my head, as I remembered the mugger from earlier that night. Now, without almost any thinking, I lifted the man in the air gently. He only managed short panicked gasps as the colour drained from his face. I felt particularly sadistic, but I was not going to hurt him, oh no. I walked towards him instead and said,

"This feels so real doesn't it? You have been getting on with your day, everything is normal... and now this is happening."

I quickly scanned the place, but it was deserted.

"Hmmm, no one around. I wonder how many people will believe you when you tell them this story. More importantly... after several days, will you believe yourself?"

I let go of him, and he dropped, his knees buckling before the sudden impact as he fell to the ground. Once again, and with increasing ease, I flew upwards into the sky, the presence of Turach following close behind.

"You can be delightfully cruel, Eli," the Unseen said with an absolute joy. I decided that I liked Turach, he was more fun than Turam. Maybe not sensible, but he was fun. I wanted to laugh as I imagined what the poor man would do when he returned home, what would he say? Would he go mad? As I got lost in my thoughts I found myself floating aimlessly around London; I stopped mid air for a moment to get my bearings and then headed for home.

After a time of flying around trying to work out where I was, my feet touched the ground just by the front door of my home. I stopped drawing energy from Turach and braced for that wave of weakness that I knew would wash over me. In my excitement and elation, I didn't realize that the longer I used Turach's energies, the stronger this weakness would be. And then it hit me, spreading from my chest to my limbs, and I collapsed against the door trying to support myself. My head spun and I had the urge to retch. The presence of Turach still loomed near, and all I got was a feeling of amusement as I struggled to speak.

"Ah, Eli. You don't know anything about what you are doing. The balance must be maintained, the energy that you use through me must be... replenished."

The feeling of elation completely died away at this point, and with an iron will I reached within and severed the connection between me and Turach; the presence of the thing vanished completely just before I completely blacked out.



The Guardian

When I came to I was still lying down outside. It was still dark. The memories that came back were so vivid, but I wasn't sure if they were real or not. Yet I felt different, I felt changed. The weakness in my body was not completely gone, but there was something else. My mind felt fluid, slipping into the thoughtless state and back into normal consciousness, and I was aware on a different level. And there, on the peripheries of my mind stood another being. It wasn't Turach, the presence was actually unlike that of Turam or Turach, because it was feminine. To describe it in words is impossible, but it was there, unmoving and observing. I reached out to her almost in desperation. Thinking was less effort than talking, and so I thought to her.

"What's going on?"

There was almost a feeling of empathy and pity from the being, and she felt old... very old. Most definitely older than Turach.

"It's alright, Child. You seem to have over exerted yourself. I sensed the exchange of the energies between our worlds and came. This thing rarely ever happens in today's time. But the ease with which you saw me may mean that you will never be the same again..."

I did not know what to feel. In a sense it was a terrifying thought, and I could imagine myself cracking later in life and being sent to an institution. As more memories came flooding back I started to feel the guilt of what I had done. The mugger, throwing that car, the businessman.

"What are you?" I asked, "you seem so different from the other beings I encountered."

"I am a Guardian. I am just like them, an Unseen, but my role is to make sure that what you do never harms anyone. Most of all yourself."

"A name... do you have a name?" Knowing the name of the Unseen was something that I found comforting. It made them seem more like people.

"Call me Arak. But I would like to ask you a question. Do you know what the Seal of Hadruman is?"

For a moment I lay there, searching in my mind for the answer, and it came to me slowly but surely. Expressing it was hard.

"Wisdom. It is Wisdom. It was not his signature, his symbol, but the thing that defined him. Hadruman the Wise."

"No."

That resounding no left me in a daze. I then realized that I did not actually know why the whole thing had begun. Why now? Why not later or earlier? What was the Seal of King Hadruman? Before I could form any more thoughts, Arak the Guardian carried on.

"I am not here to teach you about this. All you need to know is that the more you do this, the lesser the balance between our worlds. Destabilising is just not good. As well as that, you could have killed yourself."

I was amused as to how she thought that killing my self was only a secondary concern, but I knew that these beings were different in the way they thought. Nevertheless, I insisted on questioning her.

"And what if I choose to carry on... experimenting... Arak?"

There was a short pause. Caution.

"Then I cannot do anything to stop you. But I can stop those who come to you. And I have."

"Turam and Turach... what do you mean? What happened to them?"

"Turam was bound by you, but he did not encourage you. In fact, he felt pity when he saw your confusion. So he only did something minor to put your mind at ease, he is innocent. Turach however, he was a malicious being. I killed him."

It did not cross my mind that these beings could be mortal. I did not know how to feel.

"I'm sorry," I thought meekly.

"Do not apologize. Humans are fickle, and this was bound to happen the moment the... discovery was made. But I must now return to my duties. I did say that such disturbances between our worlds are rare, but they are not as rare as you may think. There is a whole underworld of your kind out there, all experimenting and trying to figure out how to harness our energies. Some have died, and some will never be the same again. You shall never be the same again, Eli."

And without a trace, Arak vanished. There I was, left outside my home at the early hours of the morning, weak and confused. What is the Seal of Hadruman? I thought I knew, but it seemed obvious to me now that it was not wisdom. What I did to myself was anything but wise.

To this very day, as I live everyday life doing what I must do, I feel the fleeting presence of the Unseen pass the edges of my mind. The temptation to draw them in and bind them to me, to exploit their power, is becoming unbearable.

1 comment:

  1. Very impressive and extremely captivating. I would love for there to be a part 2! Awesome character development

    ReplyDelete