Chapter 23

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The first sign that things were going wrong…

It was just meant to be some harmless jokes. … Toward the As. Just the As…
Friendly teasing, and nothing more.

My friends there… They felt a bit awkward about it — but it wasn’t a completely unheard-of thing. Friends teased each other all the time!
Just… I did it more than most people in that world did.
“But hey!” I think they told themselves, “She’s an interdimensional being! A dimensional traveler! That’s about as ‘foreign’ as it gets!” So they wrote it off. My angelic aura probably helped with that, too.
Eventually, they warmed up to my “sense of humor.”

Despite the fact that ALL of my teasing was aimed at the As…!

And even the As themselves joined in on the joking. Such was their trust. And if even the As were joining in, how was anyone supposed to suspect anything was wrong? No one was asking for the teasing to stop, so surely everything was fine.
And I was a being “of great wisdom,” too! So how could there be anything wrong?

It was unintentional.
But still. I was stubborn.
I wanted to be right — I wanted Mentor to be wrong!
SO badly!

I… didn’t notice the change consciously.
But somewhere along the way, the As’ and Bs’ teasing and joking… the small annoyances and the “friendly” acts of revenge against each other…
… They changed.
Ever so slowly, it all changed into genuine spite and distaste toward one another…!

And, y’know… Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad, this development.

I could have gone up there. Absorbed the demonic energy. Regained my senses — And fixed the problem.
Just like that!

-Except…

I didn’t keep going up there.
-Except, I didn’t FEEL “hungry,” so I didn’t try to absorb it all.
-Except these “friends.” The ones I spent the most time with — who suffered from my hunger the most… They were that very same group of “World Leadership.”

 

In other words, that “Demonic Energy Flame”…?
Began in the WORST.

POSSIBLE!

Spot.

And the thing about spirit hunger is, if you’re hungry long enough-
-you don’t feel it anymore.

Now, that’s not as true for physical hunger. The comparison, between spirit and physical “hunger,” isn’t perfect. But, hopefully, you’ve had a similar experience to what I mean: After a nice meal earlier in the day, you’re finally ready for another one. Your stomach is growling, maybe you’re craving something in particular, but, for whatever reason, you don’t eat. Then, maybe an hour, maybe half an hour later, you aren’t hungry anymore.

But with physical hunger, if you give it another hour or two, the hunger comes back even stronger.

Not so with spirit hunger. At least, not mine.

Granted, my spirit will still be craving “food.” But it’ll stop sending those signals that tell me I’m “hungry.”

Instead, it starts making “food” on its own.
I haven’t listened, or there isn’t anything available. So my spirit “takes things into its own hands,” so-to-speak.
In Illunira, this wasn’t a big deal. For one thing, we always had “food” available. The Dead Ones and other lower-leaders made sure of that! But also, even if I did start a Demonic Energy Flame, there were other demon-eaters who could “eat” it. Or, if it was really bad, an angel-eater could just start a rival Angelic Energy Flame to combat it!
And yet, even back in Illunira, the Balancers’ Flames were so feared that the Dead Ones made certain every balancer was trained from childhood to avoid setting one!

So you’d think I’d have been more careful, huh?
But again, I’d never set one before. I’d never even seen one set! I had NO IDEA what it was like!
I mean. I knew what it was like. But only in theory!

And ignoring my hunger, in favor of enjoying the paradise,
-the friends,
-the, just… beauty around me?

It was all too easy.

On some level, I noticed what was happening. Of course I did. But I avoided the issue as much as possible.

One of my favorite pastimes on Scarring was carving statues out of some of the benign plants there. It’s probably easiest if you think of these plants like trees. This hobby was something I carried over from the First Nav, I think. But instead of furniture (though I made some of that too), I mostly carved animals, or ambiguous shapes and patterns. Trying not to degrade the plant or leave poison on the end product added an extra layer of difficulty, too.

This let me spend a large portion of my time alone.

Or with random strangers that would just pass by, then leave.

But if I wasn’t alone carving-
-then I was talking with my… friends.

These meetings started off fine. The earlier ones usually involved a brief: “Hey, we need some more food.” “Okay. Oh, and we could use some extra hands.” “Sure thing.”
Followed by more personal, friendly conversations on upcoming holidays, family happenings, funny stories…

As time passed, more and more of the discussions would focus on resources: who needed them more, who used them better, “I thought you said we could have as much as we wanted?”
… But they’d agree. Eventually. And everything would lighten up afterwards. They’d tell funny stories. Joke about each others’ stories.
… Joke about each other.

It was so subtle. But the personal part of the meet-ups fell away. Or, rather, as the discussions became debates, and then the debates became arguments, the line between the personal and otherwise became irrelevant. And as the meetings became less and less pleasant, they also became less and less frequent.
They started settling things through messengers instead.

And as I went longer and longer periods of time without those — unconscious though they were — “meals,” the Flame I’d stoke in their spirits became more and more intense. It would last longer, spreading to more and more people. Until…

If I’d paid attention, maybe I’d have gotten “full” enough to come to my senses sooner.

I’m not sure exactly how it spread so far, but I have a few theories. Maybe the members of the World Leadership socialised with many other people. Or someone they knew did. Either way, by the time I’d reached “adulthood,” the Demonic Energy Flame had spread so far, and was so intense, that the previously perfectly balanced and loving community of Scarring… fell apart.

The Bs felt the As were taking advantage of them; that, with the technology that had been built, more As should have volunteered to work in maintaining the environmental divide. Some even thought the Bs deserved- … Thought the Bs were superior.
And the As… They believed, since the Bs could survive in the benign environment, that there was no reason to keep the poisonous one around. That it was just an unnecessary threat.

There were also some who the Flame… For some people, it manifested differently. Some people who… took it out on themselves. Thankfully, it wasn’t… as many. Or things may never have stopped.
‘Cause I would never have noticed. And would never have gotten “full.”

Eventually, there was only one thing both the As and Bs agreed on. And my friends, the World Leadership, they…
Well, of course they wanted to restore peace. To calm everyone. They’d have done anything if it meant even a temporary truce.

So…


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