Hold to me tight… this is a long journey we make.
At first Ricard thought the shock of their escape had blinded him, but then light burned from Aible's eyes—purple beacons cutting through midnight off a rocky shore. The light penetrated the darkness and revealed that blindness the aide feared was simply… a void. They fled from the asylum into nothing. There was no wind, no sound. Ricard did not even feel any ground beneath their feet. It was as if they padded silently through air on a night with no moon, through a land far from any vestige civilization.
As it turned out, his instincts were not entirely wrong.
"John? Uh… sorry, Aible? Where are we, exactly?"
Aible did not answer immediately. Were it not for the light coming from his eyes, and the vise grip he had on the Aide’s fingers, Ricard would not have known he was there at all. Finally he spoke, in a voice that grew ever more sonorous. The longer he was free of the asylum's influence, the more fully he became his former self. His hand shook in Ricard’s and the aide winced in pain. He could not escape the reborn king’s grasp if he tried.
"Imagine the multiverse is a-"
"Multiverse?" Ricard immediately cursed himself for interrupted, the king… or God, beside him did not seem like he was one accustomed to interruptions. If he was annoyed by the rudeness of it, however, it did not show in his voice.
"Cayne, my brother, like I before him and our Mother Eve before me, reigns over a cluster of universes joined together by our stewardship. Not one reality, but a collection."
How quickly one's understanding of the world grows in mere seconds.
"Now imagine that multiverse were, let's say, a castle, or a vast mansion. Every old human structure has its secrets. Doors behind paintings in bedrooms that open into ill-lit passage ways. Passage ways that splinter and lead all sorts of places. The kitchens, or stables or dining halls. If the castle is the whole multiverse, and these rooms are various sub-verses, then this, this place is those back passages. From here we can go anywhere."
Ricard rubbed his free hand across his face in an attempt to convince himself he was still there. How could this be? He stood in a nothingness conversing with God. How could any of this be real? The presence of his hooked nose, soft rounded chin—grizzled with three days of unshaved growth—was little comfort. The light, little that it was, served only to highlight how eerie were his surroundings, how quickly his life slid into the supernatural. In the blackness, visions of old violence returned to him. His hands, still calloused and hard after all this years, steeped in so much blood. A parade of empty eyes passed before him in the black, as if all his long buried sins lingered in this metaphysical corridors. Once again, he had stumbled into a struggle beyond his comprehension.
Story of my life. He thought resignedly to himself.
"And, if I may ask, where are we going?"
"Mother Eve. She has a garden. A land of her own she crafted to spend her convalescence. After my… fall from grace, Cayne banished her there. I, I am still not entirely myself. There are things I cannot remember.”
They stopped, and Aible stretched his free hand out before them. Bringing it down, light tumbled from the path it carved through the Nowhere, bringing a little much needed illumination to the void. Finally Ricard understood. Where they stood was no place. Only emptiness stretching to infinity in all directions. To be lost in such a vacuum. He shuddered at the thought, and clutched even tighter to the waking God as Aible cut a portal from no world into the realm of his vanquished mother.
“She will help fill in those missing memories. How I was defeated. How I might regain my throne.”
Before they stepped through, and Ricard truly left the only world he knew behind forever, Aible turned to him and weighed him in his serious, violet eyes.
“You are committed to me?”
“I promised I w-”
“You will obey without question?”
“I… will try. I’ve been misled by masters before.”
Aible nodded, and what might have been a smile teased his face. “Yes, I too know betrayal. Keep your faith close. What was your name, anyway?”
“Yes, keep your faith close, Ricard. It will be tested. If yours cannot bend, you may break along with it.”
And then they were in the meadow. Ricard gaped at the flowering world around him. Its beauty was beyond measure.