Unity: The Todor Trilogy, Book Three, page 1
Copyright © 2016 Jenna Newell Hiott
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
ISBN 13: 9781535503587
This book is lovingly dedicated to those who struggle with accepting their own Oneness. Know that you are not alone. There is beauty within your darkness.
THE TEN TRUTHS
as written in The Book of Life
for the Land of Todor and all its Inhabitants,
Given to them by their Creators, the Deis
Anything that can move has Life.
It is the breath of The Deis that animates all Life and this Lifeforce is called Joy.
Every Life is an expression of The Deis.
All expressions of The Deis are sacred and equal.
The Deis gifted all of Life with the power of choice.
Suffering is not necessary and is a result of choice.
Making any choice that disrupts the Oneness of Life brings suffering.
To exert power over another or to take power from another or to give up your own power is to make a choice that disrupts the Oneness of Life.
To interfere with another’s purpose is to make a choice that disrupts the Oneness of Life.
Making any choice that sustains the Oneness of Life brings Joy.
About the Author
Numa held tight to Gemynd’s hand as she scanned the horizon beyond the city walls. From the top of the Tolnick keep she could see all the way to Zoban mountain. If any fires or floods were on their way to destroy the city, she would see them. But Numa knew that destruction could come in any form, so her search brought little relief. She was taking a terrible risk and she knew it. It was a risk that could result in the deaths of thousands, but it was the only way she could think to make things right. If her plan worked, Oneness would be restored in Todor and her vision would be complete. If she failed, Todor would be destroyed.
“My queen, the people adore you. As do I,” Gemynd said gesturing to the crowd kneeling in the square below. He leaned forward and kissed Numa’s forehead. His lips were soft upon her head, and the warm skin of his neck pressed against Numa’s nose. She inhaled deeply and let his scent fill her being.
“I need you,” she whispered, wanting Gemynd to wrap his strong arms around her until she vanished beneath their protection. It would be so easy to stay in his arms forever, to let Gemynd be her strength. But Todor needed her more than she needed to feel safe.
“You have me.” Gemynd pulled back, a look of concern on his face. “I am yours forever.”
“You must stop this,” Soman growled from behind them. Numa turned and saw the flush of anger on his cheeks, his eyes filled with fury. “I cannot allow you to control the people this way.”
“Would you prefer war then, brother?” Gemynd asked, squaring his shoulders.
“You are violating the people of Todor.” Soman’s jaw clenched tight. “One way or another you will stop this. Right now.”
“Soman, my dear friend, look,” Numa said, making a grand sweeping gesture with her arm. “Can’t you see that the fields of the valley are now lush and overflowing with crops ready to harvest; and that the river runs strong and clean and pure? Can’t you see that Aerie has been rebuilt in all its perfection? Can’t you see that this city of Tolnick is as grand now as it has ever been, that the people are fed and want for nothing? There is only peace now, my friend. And, most importantly, the three of us are here together. This is the vision the Deis showed me.”
“This is madness!” Soman exclaimed, throwing his hands in the air. “I am certain your vision did not include Gemynd controlling the minds of the people. Even if you truly believed this was the way to peace, you must know that it cannot go on indefinitely. There will come a time when Gemynd must sleep. And who will control the people then? They will not kneel in obeisance of their own accord!”
Gemynd smiled at Soman. “It is not my intention to control them indefinitely. At least not directly.”
Soman narrowed his eyes, but Numa understood Gemynd’s meaning immediately. In fact, she had been counting on it. “You have the power to place a fabricated memory within their minds?” she asked, trying not to sound too hopeful.
Gemynd nodded and patted Soman on the shoulder. “My plan was never to control the people forever,” he said. “I have fulfilled my father’s dying wish by taking the throne, but now I must find his killer. I will have my vengeance. I will psychpersuade the people to help me find Keeper Sam and then I will deliver Sam’s corpse to them. They will know that Sam is their true enemy, and only I was able to restore order. Then, for all the people of Todor, I will create a beautiful memory of how they chose me to be their king.”
Soman’s eyes went wide and Numa stepped between them before he could react. “Listen to me, Soman.” She set her hand on his arm to calm him. “I support Gemynd’s plan with one modification.”
“Numa! You can’t seriously support this!” Soman snapped.
“What modification?” Gemynd asked at the same time.
Before Numa could reply, Soman spoke again. “You look like Numa, but I do not know this woman before me.” He sighed and looked down at the ground. “The Numa I’ve loved all my life would never support such suffering.”
“This is me, Soman.” Numa lifted her chin. “My mothers taught me that the Oneness of Life means the Oneness of myself. I am at once beautiful and ugly; wicked and divine. I am just as capable of healing as I am of causing great harm. To embrace all that I am is to fully embrace my power. I allow the people to be controlled this way because my heart is cold enough to look upon it without shame; yet it is because of the warmth of my heart that I know the people suffer less this way. My choice is between allowing suffering in order to save the people of Todor, or watching every last man, woman and child perish from the land forever.”
“You think they would perish if you set them free?” Soman asked.
“There’s something you must know,” Numa said, addressing both Soman and Gemynd. “I had to make my vision a reality or all of creation would be destroyed. The fire, the earthquake, the flood all happened because I had given over control of my creation to Keeper Sam. The destruction would have continued until there was nothing left. I had to do something. I had already made Todor look like the land in my vision. The cities and valleys and mountains had been restored. I even recreated Aerie as it had always been. The land was perfect. But I was left with the problem of how to get the people to cheer for the three of us as we stood up here. I knew if I could not get that done, there would be more destruction and more people would die.”
“But the people did not cheer of their own accord,” Soman argued. “This is not your vision!”
Numa squeezed his hand and continued. “When Golath died, I watched Gemynd react the way he always has to hear
Soman closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “You cannot ask me to help you with any of this.”
Numa’s chest tightened with anxiety. If she didn’t choose her words exactly right, she could very well lose them both. “Soman, you are right that what is happening now cannot go on indefinitely,” she began tentatively, chewing on the inside of her lip. Appeasing Soman was difficult enough, but convincing Gemynd of her plan would be the hardest part. She turned to face him. “My love, I need you to listen to me with an open mind. I need you both to set aside your anger and your fears and trust me.”
Soman sighed and Gemynd nodded. “Go on,” they said in unison.
“Only hours ago you were both for the Peace Council,” Numa continued.
“All of Todor was for the Peace Council,” Soman added.
“All but one,” Numa said. “I believe whoever killed Golath did it to incite war. There was no other reason to kill him. He was not on the council. He was no longer Director of Iturtia. The only reason to kill him was to provoke Iturtians into wanting revenge.”
Soman nodded reluctantly. “We did see that Iturtian woman calling for war right after Golath’s death.”
“Hildegaard,” Gemynd said. “She’d love nothing more than to go to war against the Zobanites.”
“Knowing that, I think the thing that would unite Todor right now is a common enemy,” Numa said. “We will give them Golath’s killer. Then, as Gemynd said, we will implant a memory into the minds of the people. A memory of the people coming together over their common enemy; a memory of them unanimously--and with grateful hearts--choosing their new leader.”
Soman adamantly shook his head. “No, I cannot go along with this. We don’t even know that Keeper Sam is the one who killed Golath. We cannot deliver an innocent man as an enemy of the people!”
“Of course not!” Numa reached for Soman’s hand. “We first need to discover Golath’s killer. Gemynd may be convinced that it was Keeper Sam, but I do not yet know who was responsible.”
“And then what?” Soman continued. “Perhaps we do find Golath’s killer and the people of Todor are united as you say. You cannot expect me to stand back and allow my people--my father!--to bow before Gemynd as their king because of a false memory in their minds. I know that Archigadh would much prefer death on the battlefield to bowing before an Iturtian king.”
And here it was. The part Numa dreaded most of all. She tried to swallow, but a giant knot had formed in the center of her throat. Somehow, she would have to say the words. The future of Todor depended on it.
“That is the modification I mentioned,” she forced herself to say, then looked deep into Gemynd’s eyes, anticipating his reaction. “There will not be an Iturtian king. There will be an Empyrean queen.”
Gemynd closed his eyes to blink, but his lids did not open again. Numa tilted her head and started to ask if he was well when she noticed Soman’s left hand frozen in mid-gesture. “Soman?” she asked, looking into his eyes. But he had become a statue.
“My love, can you hear me?” Numa asked Gemynd, panic rising in her chest. She pressed her hands against Gemynd’s cheeks. His skin was warm, but what she could see of his Lifeforce had nearly stopped its moving. Numa shook his shoulders, desperate for a response.
“Surely you are the most foolish of all Empyreans,” Radine said as she shimmered into form before Numa. “You can’t possibly believe this is the Todor of your vision.”
“What have you done?” Numa asked, her gaze moving from Gemynd to Soman and back again. “Are they in pain?”
“I have slowed time to give you the chance to makes things right. They are aware of what is happening, though it appears to them as if we are moving very very fast. I promise they are well,” Radine answered. “For now. Your entire creation is doomed, however, so they will fall to ruin with all else. It is only a matter of time.”
Numa felt anger brewing in her stomach. “What are you talking about?” she asked. “I did what I had to do to make my vision a reality, just as you instructed.”
Radine chuckled. “None of this is as I instructed,” she said. “You did nothing but go along with Gemynd’s plan.”
Numa narrowed her eyes. “I used Gemynd’s plan as an opportunity to take charge of my creation.” She squared her shoulders. “That’s not the same thing as going along with it.”
“You cannot create your vision by forcing the wills of others--even if it is through Gemynd’s powers. You know that, child. You know that the people kneeling here did not truly cheer for you. You have not created your vision and now Todor will be destroyed.”
“Please, help me, then. What must I do to save it?”
“Do what you have to in order to make your vision a reality.” Radine’s tone was growing impatient.
“That is precisely what I thought I was doing.”
“Well, you are doing it wrong.”
Radine’s arrogance, coupled with the fear that had seized Numa’s chest, was all she could take. “If you’re not going to help me, then leave me be!” she snapped.
“Dear child, I am not here to harm you,” Radine said, her tone firm. “You believe that I am harsh, but I am only here to remind you that you have abandoned your creation yet again. You still have yet to remove your greatest obstacle and now you have given control of your creation over to Gemynd just as you previously gave it to Keeper Sam.”
“No,” Numa said, shaking her head. “As I said before, this is all part of my plan. Gemynd is not controlling my creation.”
“My child, who is wearing the crown?” Radine asked, her face smug. “Why do you insist on making everything so difficult? It is easy, Numa. Create your vision without forcing the wills of others. That’s really all there is to it. But because you have allowed Gemynd to control your creation, it must be destroyed.”
“Radine, wait, please. Give me the chance to be queen as I have planned. The people will cheer for me then, I am certain of it.”
“It is not up to me, Numa. As I said, I merely came to warn you. I am not the one destroying Todor.”
Radine turned from Numa and glided over to Gemynd and Soman. As though they were life-sized dolls, Radine began moving them around. She positioned Gemynd with his head tilted back, mouth open. She put Soman directly behind him with one hand poised in front of Gemynd’s open mouth.
“What are you doing?” Numa asked as she watched a wooden cup suddenly appear in Soman’s hand. “What is in the cup?”
“Watch carefully to what happens when you force the will of others,” Radine said, moving away.
“No,” Numa gasped. The instant Radine put time back to its normal speed, Soman would pour the contents of that cup down Gemynd’s throat. “Do not harm him!”
“I am not the one,” Radine answered cryptically.
Numa took a step towards Soman, realizing she would not have time to get to him and take the cup; and she was no match for his physical strength anyway. She would have to find another way to stop him. “There is only one thing in Todor that is stronger than a Zobanite,” she thought aloud. “Uruz wood.”
In the same instant that time resumed its normal speed, Numa created a cage of Uruz wood around S
“Gemynd!” Numa shouted, running to catch him as he fell to the ground. “My love, wake up.”
Numa shook Gemynd’s shoulders, but he was already in a very deep sleep. She patted his cheeks, but his head only lolled lifelessly from side to side.
As Numa gazed at Gemynd’s sleeping face, she felt a fierce nudging in her mind. It came from the Iturtian warrior, Tatparo. Numa hesitated then nudged him back.
“Empyrean Numa, I ask of you, please remove my sister, Toa, from here,” he pleaded. “I am afraid I cannot keep her safe. The soldiers are growing restless.”
A cold surge of dread stilled Numa’s breath and for a moment she could not move. Then she forced herself to look right at Radine. “What have you done?” she asked before she stood and walked to the wall overlooking the city square.
A new tension filled the air as the crowd got up from their knees. Most were Zobanites, clothed in their simple white garments, and they appeared to be awakening from a long sleep, their movements slow and unbalanced.
Along the north side of the square, like a living shadow, lurked a band of dark-clothed Iturtians. Although they were far fewer in number than the Zobanites, Numa knew they were the greater force.
Suddenly, the young girl, Toa, appeared next to Numa and took her hand. “Numa,” she said and grinned.
Numa felt her eyes go wide. “I did not bring you,” she said. “How did you get here?”
“Glinting,” the girl replied, mischief sparkling in her eyes.
“Yes, but whose glinting?” Numa asked, then looked over her shoulder at Radine.
“I did not bring the child,” Radine said before she was asked.
Numa felt Tatparo in her mind once again. “Thank you,” he said. “As always, I pledge my life to you.”
Numa did not reply. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, strengthening herself for whatever might come next. When she opened her eyes, she watched as, one-by-one, the Zobanites reached for their blades.