And here is, the official end. I'm so sad this story is over with, but so happy that I've finally gotten it written after I'd had it planned for so long. I hope you have all enjoyed it! I know I thoroughly enjoyed writing it. Now I shall be moving on to other stories, so please look for them in the near future. :)
Epilogue – A Second Chance
"Good day, brother mine."
"Sister." Yuchanit inclined his head to his twin when she appeared at the rim of the Cliffs of Eternity at his side.
Today was finally the day that they would go to create new souls. Though they had been debating the timing of this journey while Wenkarra had still been an Emissary, the "War of the Heavens" (as the mortals still insisted on calling it) had skewed that timeline. Birthrates had been quite low for nearly twenty years. Some souls had needed to wait almost twelve years to be reborn. For the thirty years after that, there had been a slow increase in annual births. But then there had been a sharp increase of births in the past fifteen years after everything had completely calmed.
When it had come to their attention a few weeks earlier that souls currently being reborn had been in Fesralde for just under the five-year minimum for rest between lives, they knew it was required that they journey to the Birthplace of Souls to correct that. They planned to do it in a week. Then, shockingly, only two days after that, one of the souls they had created at the time the Essence had inserted Wenkarra into the worlds had lived its last life and returned to the Essence. There were also a few others were living in their last lives. That proved the need was even more desperate them they had thought and decided to act immediately.
"How is Wenkarra?"
"She is well but busy. She's currently helping with the costume-making for a performance her temple in Batro Delaine is putting on later this month."
Besvayu lifted an eyebrow. "Helping? I knew she was a more 'hands-on' goddess and quite frequently ventured to the mortal world to interact but to actually help her priesthood with something like that?"
"Apparently some of her priestesses abandoned a neophyte who has little experience in sewing to do the bulk of the work. My beloved was most displeased and is letting them know that by assisting the neophyte. The offending priestesses were sent to do manual labor for a week at my temple as punishment. They cannot participate in the performance, either, and one had a major roll." A smirk turned up one side of his lips. "And I instructed my clerics to not be easy on them."
His sister grinned. "You two are amazing sometimes."
"Actually, my beloved wife has recently proven that she is even more wonderfully amazing than I thought before."
"Oh? What'd she do?"
"She and I got into an argument about a month ago…and she was so annoyed at me that she popped me in the forehead with her finger and I collapsed to the floor…asleep."
The Goddess of Light's eyes widened.
"I dreamed, too. It was marvelous."
"What was the dream about?"
But Yuchanit shook his head. That was for only him and Wenkarra to know. "But I asked her to do it again a few days later. And when she did, she showed me something I hadn't thought possible."
Besvayu gave him an expectant and excited look.
"Wenkarra is forming her own realm – a realm of dreams. She calls it Mirvegau."
"'Mirvegau?' That is the word for 'possibilities' in the first language."
He nodded. "When I asked her how she knew it, she said she asked Olesselt Butiva about it. Our parent also taught her how to form the new realm."
"It never helped us like that. I think it likes her more than it does us." But there was no bitterness in her voice. She sounded a bit amused by it.
Again, he nodded. "I wouldn't doubt that. She is not only the Essence's 'baby,' she is also spending considerable time with it. It's what we go into the argument over, because I had been wary of the amount of time she had been spending at the Birthplace of Souls."
For a long moment, his sister looked out over the purple expanse that was their parent's true form. "I must ask her if she can put me to sleep as well…if she could show me this realm of hers."
"I think she'll be able to. I think the reason that I could not put either of us to sleep is simple – it would have caused an imbalance. I could have lost myself in dreams with no way for you to wake me…or putting you to sleep would have given me a significant power over you. But with a triad of true gods and the one possessing sleep now not being one of us, it manifests differently."
A smile spread across her face before she nodded her head toward the island at the center of the circular cliffs. "Shall we?"
With a third nod, he traveled instantly to the island that floated just above the Essence. Yuchanit had half expected his parent to be there to greet them. While he and his sister were not omnipotent, he knew the Essence was. Everything was made of the Essence and the Essence was aware of every part of itself. But their parent was not there…
Yet someone was.
Lying at the shore before them was a spirit curled up on their side, their back to him and his sister. He turned to Besvayu and she gave him just as puzzled of an expression as he was sure he wore. Slowly, he walked forward to the soul that lay there. It felt like a normal soul but with hints of the Essence touching it. It was not like how Wenkarra had felt to him before her gift of godhood, but there was no way this was just a regular soul. And yet there was something familiar about it, too.
He walked around the prone figure to look at its face. Normal souls, upon their creation, were featureless and sexless – fresh canvases for their first life. But this soul…it was not like that. His eyes widened and he immediately looked up at his sister in shock. "It's Hanithon."
Besvayu put her hand to her mouth. "She was allowed to return?"
"I have to assume such. Granted, if this really is her, then I don't know if she'll remember anything. She may need to relive all her lives again to relearn her lessons."
Not at all startled at the voice, the two true gods turned to see a form rising from the expanse of purple energy.
"Why did you not simply reclaim her?"
"Because you need her, my son…because Wenkarra also needs her."
That made sense. He had often caught her holding and gazing at the amethyst sphere that had been left when Hanithon had vanished. He knew she sometimes went to Astrer Lake and cried, too. She still missed her friend terribly even after decades.
"Can you tell us how to properly separate soul twins, Olesselt Butiva, so that if something like this occurs in the –"
"That is not something I can teach you, Daughter." The Essence leaned over the spirit on the island its children stood upon. "Nisgramel…she will be much the same as she was during her first lives because it is part of how her soul resonates, but she will be different too, for part of disconnecting her from her twin required I replace a part of her with a piece of him. It was a terribly difficult process, slow and meticulous. It took me nearly a decade to achieve it."
Yuchanit had frowned at hearing his parent say Hanithon's soul name. It did not sound right but he did not know why. He did not dwell on that thought, though. "So a piece of her is lost."
The Essence nodded. "Yes, but…in the end she is still Hanithon. I have done nothing more than alter her being as minimally as possible. She is not my creation. She cannot become a true goddess as Wenkarra did. However, the manner in which I have touched and changed her may affect her. How, I cannot say, but I'm sure we shall all be watching her."
Besvayu walked up to the spirit and crouched down to gentle stroke her face. "It is both a blessing and a sorrow that she won't remember all that has happened to her."
"Oh, she will, but not until her new cycle of lives is over."
The God of the Dead looked up at his parent. "You have locked away her memories as you did Wenkarra's?"
"No, I removed them completely as I pulled her from Fesralde. The orb that Wenkarra keeps…it's all of Hanithon's memories – her lives and her time as your Emissary and Custodian. She is likely to still carry echoes of who she was before, but the memories themselves aren't there. I wish I could tell you more but," their parent shrugged, "this is a first for me so I'm unsure what the outcome will be."
"This is all just a chance for you to learn something new." And Besvayu looked at him with suspicious eyes.
"I do enjoying learning new things, daughter mine. However, the fear you have of me making someone for you…" The Essence shook its head. "You would expect such if ever a soul like Wenkarra comes about again so you would likely seal your heart to such feelings. Plus, because of your nature, I fear that you could possibly create life if you mate with another of my children."
Both of the eldest gods frowned. The gods' inability to have children was something they had been grateful for since they had learned the lesser gods could not procreate after their uplifting. If Besvayu were to ever have children it could throw everything in the worlds out of balance irreparably.
"However, I have begun to worry that not having a love of your own will eventually wear on you as the centuries pass."
"I believe I shall be fine, Olesselt Butiva."
"I do hope that shall be the case." Then, after a slight incline of its head, the Essence's form slipped back into the Expanse.
For a long moment, the twins looked at each other before Besvayu looked back down at the spirit lying on the ground before them. "Wenkarra is going to be thrilled."
"But she's going to have to also be cautious. We cannot allow Hanithon to know any of what transpired before. It would likely devastate her."
Leaving the returned soul where she was, though periodically watching to see if she came to wakefulness, Yuchanit and Besvayu began the work of creating souls. Yuchanit did most of the work in forming them and then attaching them to the Pool of Souls and the Strands of Life. Besvayu only lent her power a little to the proceedings to help create a fully balanced soul each time. The process was complicated, had taken them until near the end of the third world to perfect. These souls were as whole and complete and balanced as they could possibly be made.
When they were done there were thousands of new souls that had been created. Each had their own name – something the Essence itself whispered into their ears when the creation process was finished. The name was instantly committed to their memories and they would know each soul for the rest of its existence.
Today, only a handful of these souls would be taken to the mortal world, however. Over the next few months, the rest would be sent into their first lives. Until then, they were placed in a special area of his realm that only the eldest gods and the Guides could reach.
Yuchanit pulled the souls – along with Hanithon – with him from the area around the island and cliffs, leading them to where the Guides had been called to wait for them. The Guides were the ones that did all the pinning of destinies to souls then the two goddesses whisked away the ones leaving today to the mortal world once a Parchment of the Soul had been attached to each. The remaining souls were taken to where they would remain until they too could be born into the mortal world for their first lives…
…all except Hanithon, who had woken when she had left the island.
He brought the returned soul with him back to his home, where Wenkarra was now waiting for his and Besvayu's arrival.
While she at first looked like she was going to welcome them back, she froze. Her eyes had landed on the soul with them. Her eyes slowly widened before she whipped her head around to Yuchanit, confusion clearly etched on her face.
"The Essence apparently did not reclaim her. It successfully detached her from Erathore and returned her to us. But she has to live her lives again. She won't remember anything about who she was until those lives have ended. And all those memories –"
"Are in the amethyst sphere," Wenkarra said, touching the pocket of her simple blue gown that likely held that very object.
The Lord of Fesralde nodded. Then he heard his twin gasp softly. He saw Wenkarra turn back to Hanithon. When he turned to the spirit, he watched her blink slowly, her head tilting to the side even slower. Her eyes were locked on the youngest of the true gods.
"I…think…I…know…you." The voice was timid, disused, and did not hold the cadence or timbre that he remembered from his most beloved Custodian…the daughter of his heart.
Wenkarra walked forward, a smile on her face, and put her hand to the spirit's chest over where her heart would be. "Perhaps you do. I feel like I remember you as well."
And a small smile turned up the spirit's lips.
It was going to be a very interesting next few millennia…