They made their way down a labyrinth of tunnels, further down than either Duroix or Crische
had suspected the facility would run. It got warmer the lower they went, until the stone walls beaded with perspiration. Finally
they arrived at a small, dimly lit hall, in which they could see the bodies of their crew, laid neatly next to one another,
seemingly dead or asleep, all wrapped in the blankets they were given earlier.
"What have you done?" screamed Crische, bolting to examine some of the crew. She frantically
held a hand in front of their mouths, and felt the low pressure of breath, felt warmth still in their bodies.
"Don’t worry, they’re alive," assured Colep. "They are all connected through
colvition, on a virtual landscape—a dreamscape, if you will. They are happy, and content. We just couldn’t have
that many people wandering around our facility—we don’t have enough servants to cater to them all. This way they
will be warm and content, until you decide to leave."
"It’ll be alright," said Duroix to Crische. "I trust these people."
"I don’t ," she replied firmly. "I’d be happier if a few more were
awake, like me."
"They will be fine, Crische," said Colep, with a genial smile that was at once distant
and insincere. "Now, we have much to do, my brother. Follow me."
Colep brought them to an empty, adjacent room. A simple, small table sat off to the side,
and on it sat an ornate silver container, in which rested over a dozen brush-like implements. The glistening stone walls were
faceted like a jewel, with long planes of a smooth, glass-like material running from the ceiling to the floor, cast in an
orangish hue that turned green the closer it came to the ground. The walls were divided into planes, arranged in a symmetrical
geometric fashion, seeming to focus all light and sound back in on the room. As Duroix moved slowly inside, he felt his mind
more focused, his thoughts clearer, and less prone to distraction.
"What is this place?" he asked, utterly amazed.
Colep motioned Duroix towards the small table. "Don’t you know? You are one with
us now, and you know what we know. It’s just that your mind doesn’t want it all—it still needs to be led.
You need to overcome that—to lead, instead of follow."
Duroix walked over to the small table and picked up one of the brushes. It reminded him
of a paintbrush, only it was longer, and instead of a wooden handle it had a metallic one, which seemed to have some connection
to his mind. When he held it in his hand, it didn’t feel like a separate object. Rather, it felt as if his fingers blended
into the handle, that the bristles on the end were his fingers, and that he could move them with the slightest of effort,
if he chose.
"This room is called ‘The Cradle of Creation,’ or ‘The Cradle,’
for short. Think of those brushes as extensions of your conscious mind," said Colep, motioning Crische back towards the entrance.
"Let yourself go, Duroix…"
Duroix made a swipe with the brush, and he could see a faint brush mark hover in the air.
It was transparent, and a faint shade of green, and it held in space, as if it were on a canvas. He walked around it, and
the stroke even had a slight depth. He reached out to touch it, and it felt wet, though it left no residue on his hand.
"Can you feel it?" asked Colep.
Duroix reached out again, and this time he could feel a faint sensation of anxiety, of
doubt. The depth of the brush stroke was shallow as those feelings were shallow, as if they lingered from a previous state
"Good!" cheered Colep, as he clapped his hands together. "You understand the relationship
between what is created, and what is felt. Now, focus on something—something important in your life."
For a moment, Duroix thought of his wife, then of Crische. He was about to lift the brush,
when another image hit him.
His brush flew through the air, making volumes of color and form. He slashed down through
surfaces, arced up gently around newly created shapes. He picked up one brush after another, delighting in the variety of
color and thickness of line. Soon, he was surrounded by a three-dimensional painting, one that hovered like a sphere around
"That is a good start, Duroix," said Colep with sincere approval. He walked forward, to
the outer barrier of the painting, admiring it from all sides. "Now, let me help you bring it alive."
Colep lifted his hands, and Duroix did the same, his motions mentally guided by Colep.
He could feel Colep examining his thoughts about Iobi: her mystery, her beauty, her strength and intelligence. He felt Colep
sum up those feelings in his mind, felt him draw together all Duroix’s impressions and hopes, his doubts and concerns.
Duroix looked down, and a light began to emanate from his hands, filled with a full spectrum of color. Colep pushed forward
with one hand, and a portion of the painting pulsed with oranges and reds, the colors swirling within Duroix’s lines
and forms, like some mist that added even more depth and substance. Colep directed Duroix’s hands several more times,
pushing and pulling at his original composition, bringing life and harmony to his disparate elements. Colep stopped, and mentally
"Now!" yelled Colep.
Duroix felt his mind pushed to recall a sensation he felt, just for a moment, near Iobi.
One of familiarity, of recognition, of desire. The mere three seconds were interwoven into the fabric of what lay before him,
and in that moment, it all crystallized in Duroix’s mind.
"This…this is what I was creating?" he asked, awed by the beauty of what lay before
watch the finished “painting” was to stand and experience it for a time. It pulsed and moved for three minutes,
bringing the viewer along for a journey, one that touched the soul as well as the eyes. Duroix walked out from within it,
standing near Crische as they watched it pulse and breathe. He kept glancing down at his hands, still unable to believe he
had created such a thing.