December 16, 2022

Stolid’s Inadequate Explanation

By aarondkey

They sat together briefly while Timonthy recovered and then continued climbing.

“I can’t believe that Stolid has so little self control that he would let this happen,” Timonthy shouted over the roar of the wind. “Endangering people you said he wanted to protect: Paris his own daughter, and his own brother, never mind everyone else.”

“No, I don’t understand it either,” Gerard shook his head. There was an ominous crack of land beneath them and a large portion of the level three steps below them fell away. “He wanted to protect you,” Gerard said loudly, as they stared at the devastation briefly before continuing their climb.

“He never told me what danger he thought you were in. I wonder if he foresaw this. Still, I have very few resources to protect you against danger this encompassing, although he did tell me to consciously think about telling him what was happening and he would come to our help if we needed it. It might be a good time to do that.”

Timonthy could tell that Gerard was concentrating. He had a distracted look on his face for a second and then as another segment of land fell away he regained his focus. He held out his hand as Timonthy almost lost his balance and grinned. He dragged him onto the next layer of land and they both stood for a second, holding hands until they suddenly dropped them in embarrassment.

Stolid was stood in front of them, looking dry. Not like someone who’d just been swimming. He looked shocked as he encompassed the scene with his gaze and then waved his hand. The sudden silence that replaced the howling of the wind was thick like a woollen blanket.

Timonthy instinctively looked at Gerard to see what his reaction was but he was standing in an unmoving pose as if rooted to the spot with surprise. The longer he looked the more unnatural his sudden stillness became until Timonthy turned to Stolid, he meant Damon Ich, for an explanation.

As he turned he saw that he was in a place like his own vision of heaven. Everything was white apart from Damon Ich and him. Even Damon Ich was reflecting the bright white light to look half-angelic, half-devilish. The silence was almost more than he could bear.

If Gerard hadn’t been there Timonthy would have been certain that he had died and was experiencing some inexplicable afterlife and Damon Ich was still looking at him as if willing him to understand.

“What’s happening?” he barked at last.

“Which do you think should be pitied more: the heart that loves in vain or the heart that does not know how to love?”

The question jumped into his head fully formed but soundless. Damon Ich still said nothing so Timonthy stared at him closely to make sure that he was not in the same unmoving state as Gerard. Damon Ich turned away from him so he knew he was able to move.

“Why is Gerard stuck like that?” Timonthy persisted. He held out his hand and rested it on Gerard’s shoulder. It was cold like ice and electricity.

“He’s fine,” Damon Ich’s voice blew across the distance between them as if it were a cavernous gorge. He began to walk away by the side of a pond edged with white stone like warm ice.

Timonthy hurried to catch him up and stood in front of him so he couldn’t walk any more. In this place Damon Ich was different. He was not the man that Timonthy thought he knew: barely even a man. As Damon Ich grew close and looked at him with narrowed eyes Timonthy felt afraid but he stood his ground and stared back angrily.

“What are you playing at?” he snarled this time, his fear making him aggressive. Damon Ich seemed to notice that Timonthy was frightened. He shrunk a little bit, in Timonthy’s mind at least, to his normal height and turned back to Gerard’s motionless form.

“I just wanted to talk to you,” Damon Ich admitted like a breathless child. “I thought it safer to bring Gerard with us rather than leaving him in the aftermath of the storm. So I stopped time for him. When he wakes up he won’t even notice that anything odd happened. This is a safe place. The safest place I know.”

Timonthy was slightly appeased. He looked around him carefully. Strong white light reflected on still water in the shape of a eight-pointed star. Under foot was white stone like porcelain and this seemed to carry on forever: at least until the eye could no longer see the boundary between the white stone and the white sky.

“Where are we?” Timonthy asked. “Nowhere,” Damon Ich twisted his lip as if ashamed of the answer.

“Don’t you think I deserve an answer?” Timonthy persisted.

“That was an answer. We are nowhere. I can’t explain it any other way. This place doesn’t exist. We don’t exist while we are here. Time doesn’t happen and anything you see is just my delusion persisting in your head.”

“Very helpful,” Timonthy criticised. “And why am I here? Can you tell me that without waffling?”

“I need to talk to someone,” Damon Ich mumbled. “My head is all over the place. I’ve talked to all the voices in my head, even the ones who tell me I’m making a mountain out of a molehill but I don’t trust myself anymore. I need to talk to someone whose opinions I value. I hoped that you wouldn’t mind if that were you.”